Vice Covers Poker’s Charlie Carrel

July 29, 2016

charlie-carrel-pokerBritish poker pro Charlie Carrel has established himself as one of the best young players in the world, tallying over $2.4 million in live tournament winnings at age 21. And Vice Magazine has taken notice of the young Brit’s poker acumen, writing a feature on him.

In an article entitled What It’s Like to Win Millions Playing Poker in Your Twenties, Vice not only covers Carrel’s poker career, but also his early life.

“Intelligence and no social ability to hide it is not a great mix,” Carrel told Vice. “I was severely bullied for quite a large part of my childhood.”

Despite how rough his childhood was, Carrel says that his lack of popularity has helped him at the poker tables.

“Having no more than one friend—shout out to my best friend, Matthew Pettit — for a long period of time definitely stunted my emotional and social development,” said Carrel. “I created a defense mechanism — I can detach from my emotions. A poker example would be how I never feel stressed if I’m on a final table. I can turn it off. I’m grateful for that.”

After bouncing around to different hobbies, he finally found his calling with poker as a teenager. After depositing just $13.27 on an online poker site, Carrel won his first tournament along with $39.84, and he never had to make another deposit again.

He was hooked after this, dedicating hours to the game through studying and playing.

“My social life was annihilated by poker,” Carrel admitted. “I lost contact with 90-something percent of my friends because I knew that poker was likely going to be one of the most important tasks of my life.

“I had a bankroll of around $2,500 and a target that I didn’t want to leave Jersey (Channel Islands) before I made $100,000. So the only points of socialization I had were the various Skype groups and study groups I participated in to learn the game and develop a more rounded approach. Safe to say, my social skills deteriorated along with my social life.”

Carrel realized that he’d made it after winning the PokerStars Sunday Million tournament along with $201,711.

“Suddenly I was getting messages from people I once met at a festival, to people that used to bully me in school, to distant family members that I hadn’t spoken to, to complete strangers,” he said.

A victory in the Monte Carlo Grand Final High Roller (€1,114,000) along with several other big live cashes has only furthered Carrel’s fame. At only 21 years old, his star will only grow even more in poker.

If you’d like to see the entire Vice article on Charlie Carrel, you can read it here.

2016 WSOP November Nine Set

July 19, 2016

2016-wsop-main-eventWhat began with 6,737 players is now down to just nine players as the 2016 WSOP November Nine is complete. Come late October/early November, the finalists will play for over $25 million in prize money, including the winner’s $8 million payout.

Cliff Josephy, a two-time WSOP champion, leads the field with 74,600,000 chips. Josephy won gold bracelets in 2005 and ’13, and he’ll be searching for a third-career victory.

The player who’s second in chips, Qui Ngueyn, isn’t quite as experienced as Josephy. Nguyen, who has $52,986 in career winnings, has 67,925,000 chips and will look to add a significant amount to his live tournament earnings.

Gordon Vayo, third in chips with 49,375,000, is an experienced player with $974,714 in winnings. The San Frandisco resident is looking forward to practicing for the event over the summer.

“I played well, sure, but I’ve never ran this good in a tournament in my life,” said Vayo. “I’m going to do a lot of playing, and run simulations. I have some friends that are really good poker players and hopefully they can emulate some of the styles of these guys and we can run some good simulations to prepare.”

Here’s a look at all of the players’ chip totals along with the payouts that they’ll be competing for.

1. Cliff Josephy, 74,600,000 chips: Josephy has the best track record at the 2016 WSOP with wins in a 2005 $1,500 Seven Card Stud ($192,150) tournament and 2013 $3,000 NL Hold’em tourney ($299,486). The New Yorker is the oldest-remaining player at 51.

2. Qui Nguyen, 67,925,000 chips: The 39-year-old Las Vegas resident has one of the smallest tournament resumes, with $52,986 in live winnings. But his chip count is looking good in comparison to the field.

3. Gordon Vayo, 49,375,000 chips: Gordon Vayo, a 27-year-old from San Francisco, has $974,714 in tournament earnings. With 21 WSOP cashes, he has plenty of experience in big tourneys at the Rio.

4. Kenny Hallaert, 43,325,000 chips: A native of Hansbeke, Belgium, Hallaert makes this two years in a row that a Belgian is on the Main Event final table. Former Hasbro executive Pierre Neuville, a.k.a. the “Serial PokerStars Qualifier,” finished seventh last year ($1,293,293). As for Hallaert, he has $1,317,530 in live tournament earnings thanks to a large number of cashes.

5. Michael Ruane, 31,600,000 chips: A native of Hoboken, New Jersey, Ruane has $44,962 in live tournament winnings.

6. Vojtech Ruzicka, 27,300,000 chips: Ruzicka is the first Czech to make the final table since Martin Staszko, who finished second in the 2011 WSOP Main Event ($5,433,086). Ruzicka won the 2013 EPT Deauville High Roller along with $426,907, and he has $1,149,027 in overall winnings.

7. Griffin Benger, 26,175,000 chips: Champion of the 2014 Shark Cage tournament ($1 million) and an online poker whiz, Griffin Benger is looking to add to his storied poker career with another huge cash. The Toronto resident has $2,395,406 in career earnings along with a 2013 EPT Berlin High Roller title.

8. Jerry Wong, 10,175,000 chips: Wong had his biggest cash ever in 2013, when he took third in the PCA Main Event and earned $725,000. The Brooklyn native is already guaranteed to pass this amount.

9. Fernando Pons, 6,150,000 chips: Pons, who qualified via 888, was shortstacked throughout the final day. Nevertheless, the Palma, Spain resident snuck onto the final table and has the smallest chip count.

2016 WSOP Main Event Final Table Payouts
1st. $8,000,000
2nd. $4,658,452
3rd. $3,451,175
4th. $2,574,808
5th. $1,934,579
6th. $1,463,906
7th. $1,250,000
8th. $1,100,000
9th. $1,000,000

Jeopardy Champ Alex Jacob Plays in 2016 WSOP

July 13, 2016

alex-jacob-2016-wsopLong before he won the 2015 Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions and $250,000, Alex Jacob was a highly successful poker player. And Jacob returned to his roots this summer by playing in the 2016 WSOP.

The day trader hasn’t played in the event since 2012, spending most of his time studying the stock market. But Jacob made a solid run in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker, placing 52nd and earning $21,635. He also competed in the 2016 WSOP Main Event, surviving deep into Day 2 before busting out.

So why did he wait four years to return to poker’s biggest stage?

“I kind of lost my enjoyment for the game,” said Jacob of his decision to quit playing. “I was burned out. I felt like I wasn’t playing well and wasn’t enjoying it really.”

After landing a job as a day trader at a proprietary Chicago company, Jacob began putting time into another passion of his – trivia. This culminated in six straight victories on Jeopardy! before he finally lost. He also won the aforementioned 2015 Tournament of Champions, hauling in $400,000 total from the famed game show.

“It’s always been a hobby, something I’m interested in and good at,” he said. “I’m really good at recalling facts and I love to learn new things.”

Jacob said that he built his Jeopardy! skills the same way that he did his poker skills – by working hard and putting hours in.

“I guess putting in work really,” said Jacob. “I put in work toward poker and I put in work to prepare for Jeopardy!. It’s not just something where I fell out of bed and knew every fact. I really had to work.”

Despite now working as a successful day trader and having triumphed in Jeopardy!, Jacob admits that he missed what poker has to offer.

“I missed it a little bit,” he explained. “I kind of hated not playing the Main those years, but I was kind of new at this job and didn’t want to take a lot of time off.”

Having now played the 2016 WSOP Main Event, it’ll be interesting to see if Jacob keeps returning to the game that initially made him famous.

Brian Rast Wins 2016 WSOP Poker Player Championship and $1.3m

July 7, 2016

brian-rast-wsopBrian Rast triumphed over an elite 91-player field to win the 2016 WSOP Poker Player Championship and $1,296,097. The 34-year-old now has three gold bracelets and over $17.7 million in live tournament winnings.

It wasn’t easy for Rast to claim victory in the $50k buy-in Poker Payer Championship, given that he was often the final table player with the lowest chip count. Nevertheless, Rast did everything within his power to come back and win.

The toughest stage of the event for Rast was when he was facing a 4-to-1 chip disadvantage to Justin Bonomo in heads-up play. Rast fought back to grab the lead, but Bonomo seized the lead back. This left both players in a back-and-forth battle that finally ended with Rast getting a full house to trump Bonomo’s straight.

“This final table was really tough,” said Rast. “I was really low on chips for a lot of it. The heads up match was a really long battle. And, it was definitely satisfying. I would agree it was both my toughest and most satisfying win.”

With the victory, Rast now joins Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi as the only person to win the Player Championship twice. Rast claimed victory in 2011 and this year, while Mizrachi did so in 2010 and ’12. Other players who’ve won this event include David Bach, Freddy Deeb, Scotty Nguyen, Matthew Ashton, Johnny Hennigan, Mike Gorodinsky and Chip Reese. The latter passed away, which is why the WSOP honors this tournament’s winner with the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy.

Now a two-time winner of the Player Championship, Rast knows that he holds a prestigious place in history. However, he’d also like to be known for his willingness to play any high stakes game.

“For me I play so much poker, I play for really high-stakes all the time,” said Rast. “So, I’m not always playing tournaments – I’m mostly a cash game player. But since I play the biggest cash game limits in almost every game, I think that does say something professionally. Tournament results have a lot of luck involved. I was blessed to run really good in events that were so big. There are plenty of other great players who weren’t as fortunate. While I feel I played well, that’s not all of that and I realize it.”

2016 WSOP $50k Poker Players Championship Final Table
1. Brian Rast – $1,296,097
2. Justin Bonomo – $801,048
3. Eric Wasserson – $545,772
4. Michael Mizrachi – $380,942
5. Wil Wilkinson – $272,558
6. Ray Dehkharghani – $200,027
7. Tommy Hang – $150,672
8. Daniel Alaei – $150,672
9. Elior Sion – $116,571