No 2016 WSOP Bracelets for Phil Hellmuth – But He Feels Great

June 30, 2016

phil-hellmuth-2016-wsopThe first couple weeks of the 2016 WSOP were tough for Phil Hellmuth because he failed to even register a cash. But his results have picked up lately, with three cashes, and he feels great moving forward.

Mostly recently, he took eighth place in the Event #48 $5,000 NL Hold’em tournament, earning a $46,553 cash. Hellmuth wasn’t able to extend his record count of 14 gold bracelets, but the deep run has definitely helped his mindset.

“I just finished eighth in the tournament,” said Hellmuth. “But my energy’s so good, I worked so hard to get here, I’ve been working out hard almost every day, sleeping, resting, doing everything I possibly can to play great.”

The $66k that he’s earned through three cashes will barely make a dent in his career winnings of almost $21 million. But Hellmuth certainly hasn’t lacked focus as he charges ahead for a 15th bracelet.

“I’ve been analyzing every hand I play in every tournament,” said Hellmuth. “It’s been a lot of work and a lot of frustration, and it’s unfortunate that I ran out of cards there at the end.”

Hellmuth offered some vintage Poker Brat talk on the final table, with the eventual winner, Ankush Mandavia, drawing his ire at one point.

“You’ve been doing this to me all day, buddy,” he said after laying ace-queen down face-up.

Hellmuth was addressing the aggressive style that Mandavia used throughout Event #48 to pressure opponents and force folds. And the Poker Brat insists that he just needed a little more time to catch the eventual winner.

“I’m also frustrated because I showed the ace-queen laydown, and I talked about folding tens earlier, which nobody else on the planet would’ve folded,” he said. “I’m sure of that. When I talked about that, it slowed down the action. These guys were cutting their throats all day long for no reason, playing way too fast, thinking that the math called for that. It didn’t.”

Despite busting out of Event #48 without another bracelet, Hellmuth was upbeat when describing how he feels to PokerNews.

“I have amazing energy right now, it’s flowing,” explained Hellmuth. “I think I’m going to have a really great last week and [second] half. I already thought that before, but my mind is just right now.

“It’s taken a lot longer than I wanted [to get to this point], a lot more work than I wanted, a lot more effort than I wanted, but that is why the World Series of Poker is great, because you have time to make those adjustments, time to get better, time to get your head in the right spot, and now I’m in a great place. I look forward to the last few weeks of this thing.”

Hellmuth isn’t on pace to match last year’s stellar performance, when he cashed seven times and won the $10k Seven Card Razz Championship ($271k). But with the way he claims to be making reads right now, anything seems possible for Hellmuth now.

Johnnie Craig Wins 2016 WSOP Seniors NLHE and $538k

June 21, 2016

johnnie-craig-wsopAttracting 4,499 players, the 2016 WSOP $1k Seniors Hold’em Championship became the largest seniors poker tournament in history. And after topping this massive field to win $538,024, Johnnie Craig now lays claim to the largest seniors prize ever.

Craig, a Texas native who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, battled through the loaded field over the course of four nights. And he topped Jamshid Lotfi ($332,213) heads up to complete his big victory.

“I can’t even describe this feeling, it’s amazing,” said Craig. “I had the feeling I was going to win, and it worked out.”

The 54-year-old owns a restaurant in Baytown, Texas, and runs some snow-cone stands too. In his free time, Craig plays poker with friends, but he’d never experienced anything of this magnitude prior to winning the Event #27 Seniors Championship.

“I felt really good coming into the final table,” said Craig. “I was fourth in chips. I lost a pretty big hand off the bat, but I was still in the middle of the pack. From that point on, I decided I wasn’t going to make any big moves unless I had a really big hand. I started to chip away and got the chip lead, then once I did that I began to apply pressure.”

During his 25 years in the army, Craig developed the poker skills that would propel him through the 4,499-player field. He not only played against fellow army buddies, but also read poker books to improve his skills.

“Those got me here, the boot camps made all the difference in the world,” he said. “They add years of experience to your play. I mean years of experience. Without that, I never would have made this final table.”

Now a WSOP champion, it looks like all the home games with friends and studying while on tour has paid off.

2016 WSOP $1,000 Seniors NLHE Championship
1. Johnnie Craig – $538,20
2. Jamshid Lotfi – $332,413
3. Roger Sippl – $245,389
4. Joseph Somerville – $182,536
5. Wesley Chong – $136,829
6. Paul Runge – $103,366
7. Eugene Solomon – $78,699
8. Mike Lisanti – $60,392
9. Alan Cutler – $46,713

Jason Mercier Wins 2016 WSOP $10k HORSE Championship

June 18, 2016

jason-mercier-2016-wsop-second-braceletLast week, Jason Mercier made 2016 WSOP headlines for winning the Event #16 2-7 Lowball tournament ($273.3k). And he didn’t wait long to strike again, winning the Event #24 $10k HORSE Championship ($422.9K) along with his fifth-career gold bracelet.

Mercier beat out a 171-player field to win the HORSE Championship. But it was far from easy because he was sitting in last place when play became six-handed.

Using his wealth of experience, Mercier would battle back and meet James Obst heads-up to decide the title. Obst had a 3-to-1 chip advantage, and increased this lead even more, almost knocking Mercier out at one point.

But the Florida pro battled back to make this a see-saw contest that eventually went in his favor.

This is the second bracelet that Mercier has won in the 2016 WSOP. He almost won a third in the $10k Seven Card Razz Championship; however, he finished second and settled for a $168,936 payout. Mercier now has over $850k in winnings this summer.

But he stands to earn even more money if he gets one more bracelet and wins a $1.8 million prop bet with Vanessa Selbst. In a drunken state, the latter gave Mercier 180:1 odds on his $10,000 bet that he wouldn’t win 3 bracelets this summer.

With 2 wins down and 45 events left, the 30-year-old poker pro has a better chance to accomplish this goal than anybody would’ve ever thought. If Mercier gets the third bracelet, he’ll not only be $1.8 million richer, but also become only the sixth player to do so.

The only other players to accomplish this feat are Puggy Pearson (1973), Phil Hellmuth (1993), Ted Forrest (1993), Phil Ivey (2002), and Jeffrey Lisandro 2009)

2016 WSOP $10k HORSE Championship Final Table
1. Jason Mercier – $422,874
2. James Obst – $261,354
3. Nick Schulman – $183,779
4. Adam Friedman – $131,519
5. Mikhail Semin – $95,817
6. Jesse Martin – $71,089
7. Yuval Bronshtein – $53,729
8. Bryn Kenney – $41,383

Ben Keeline wins Colossus II and $1m – No Longer Broke

June 8, 2016

ben-keeline-colossus-iiThe second edition of the Colossus was once again a huge tournament, with 21,613 players anteing up the $565 buy-in to compete for the $1 million top prize. But aside from the sheer size of this tournament, what may have stolen the show is the winner, Ben Keeline.

After playing professional poker for years, Keeline was struggling financially and working as an Uber driver to make ends meet. Only…this wasn’t even enough to pay his bills.

“I had to ask my father (for a loan),” the 30-year-old said, “who I hate asking for loans.”

Even making the choice to come from his hometown of Westminster, Colorado to the 2016 WSOP was a big decision.

“The two biggest scores of my life have come when I have been at the hardest points. And I’ve had a really hard time lately,” said Keeline. “I almost didn’t come to the series because I could not pay my bills if I didn’t have a winning series.”

Things weren’t going well in the Colossus either since Keeline got down to a single chip during Day 1B of the tournament. But he battled back to start the final table second in chips. By the time that Keeline met the Czech Republic’s Jiri Horak heads up, he was the chip leader.

“I felt good heads-up. I felt like I had an upper hand a lot of the way,” he explained. “He was very value oriented. He didn’t seem to get out of line much. It eventually became pretty easy to play, I just needed to acquire chips to make it happen.”

It took Keeline just over an hour to finish off Horak and book the massive $1 million payout.

Now that he doesn’t have to worry financially for a while, Keeline expects to lead a more-normal life that doesn’t include professional poker.

“I might just go play occasionally and keep (being an Uber drive),” said Keeline. “I keep saying how I wish I had been doing that for the last two years.”

Bill Perkins and Byron Kaverman Make $50k Bet on Ironman Triathlon

June 1, 2016

byron-kaverman-ironman-betBill Perkins hasn’t wasted any time getting into his next big prop bet. Just weeks after making a $600,000 bike bet with Dan Bilzerian, Perkins has made a $50k Ironman bet with poker pro Byron Kaverman.

The stipulations of the bet are that Kaverman must complete an Ironman triathlon in under 13 hours, and he has six months to train for the event.

An Ironman triathlon consists of a 112-mile bike ride, 26.2-mile run (marathon) and a 2.4-mile swim. Athletes don’t get any break when performing the three parts of the race, and the average finish time is 12.5 hours.

Given that Kaverman must complete the race in less than 13 hours, it seems very likely that he could win the bet with 6 months of training.

“I like to have something to work towards,” Kaverman told PokerNews’ Sarah Herring. “I think that it’s gonna give me a lot of motivation to get in good shape and take care of my body as far as eating and drinking.”

Perkins says that he made this bet with Kaverman because he wants to win some of the money back that he lost to Brian Rast in another recent prop bet.

“Somehow Byron just jumped in like ‘I can do it,'” said Perkins. “So we said six months (training), 13 hours … he never ran a marathon before, he doesn’t swim, but he’s fairly athletic and he just felt like he could do it. And I was surprised he was going to do it for so little. It’s a little bit of entertainment, a little bit of torture, a little bit of you can win some money.”

As for the aforementioned bet involving Bilzerian, Perkins bet $600k that the King of Instagram couldn’t bike from Vegas to LA in under 48 hours. Bilzerian completed the task in 33 hours, and although there was some controversy since he drafted behind a van, Perkins paid the money anyways.