NASCAR Foundation Teams With Annie Duke to Create Charity Poker Tournament

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In some interesting news to come out, it seems that Annie Duke has teamed up with the NASCAR Foundation to create a charity poker tournament which will fall four days before the Daytona 500.  NASCAR is set to kick off its 2012 season, and this charity event will fall just before the start of their biggest event.  It is set to start on February 22nd, and will be called the “High Speed Hold’em on the Halifax”.  As far as where it will be played, it is set to run at the MG on the Halifax from 7:00pm to 10:00pm.  The MG on the Halifax is a luxury waterfront right by the Daytona International Speedway.

The charity event is going to be done for the pediatric unit at the Halifax Health Medical Center, called Speediatrics.  It is an invitation only tournament which will feature more than 200 total players, with a buy-in of $500.  As far as current names who will be participating, Duke will be the honorary tournament director, Betty Jane France, who is the NASCAR Foundation Chairwoman, and Rusty Wallace, who is the NASCAR Foundation Board Member will all be a part of hosting the event.

In total there are 22 different tables set up, and the plan for the celebrities involved is that there will be one at every single table.  A few people who are already locked in for the event are Brad Daugherty, who is a former NBA player, and Dale Jarrett, who is a former NASCAR champion.  As far as the award that will be given to the winner of the charity event, they will automatically win a spot into the $1,500 Epic Poker League Pro/Am event.  Players can also win their way into the event by registering online at

Speediatrics is a great charity, and this event should raise over $100k just from buy-ins, but there will also be different auctions and ways for people to be a part of the cause.  This company was founded back in 1999 and works with more than $2,000 children per year!  Don’t forget to go online and register for the chance to be a part of this tournament for a great cause!

Official Schedule Released for 2012 World Series of Poker

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WSOPIt’s finally the time for poker players around the world to get excited about the biggest poker tournament series out there.  Caesars Entertainment Corporation has officially released the schedule for the 2012 World Series of Poker, and it’s one that looks more than just a little bit interesting.  For starters, when you look at the schedule you’ll see that there are now a total of 61 events, a number which is definitely higher than last year.  There have also been some interesting additions made in terms of tournament styles as well.  The action will begin at the end of May, on the 27th to be exact, and will run over a 50 day span until July 16th.  Just like normal though, it will kick off with the $500 Casino Employees event.

A few of the newer events that are featured include a $3k Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha mixed event, a $5k No Limit Hold’em Mixed Max event, a $1,500 Ante only NLH event, and of course the $1 million tournament called the “Big One for BIG DROP”, which features 11.1 percent of the buy-ins to go towards the charity for ONE DROP.  Each of these events should be fun to watch, and should draw quite a bit of interest as well.  Other additions to the tournament will include the “exhibition events”, which won’t give out any gold bracelets to the winners, but will feature smaller buy-ins.  These tournaments will be $560 events and the first one will be on June 30th.  It is a Doubles No Limit Hold’em event which features two players to a team, and the players will play through each level attempting to build their stack.  The other one is on July 6th and is a bounty event which will place bounties on every player in the tournament who has won a gold bracelet before.

One last interesting thing to note about the WSOP is that the final nine players are no longer the “November Nine”, as they have decided to move the final nine players of the Main Event to the end of October, since the US Presidential Election will be going on in November. The Main Event will be have three starting days instead of four this year as well, but has added about 92 tables to the poker room in order to accommodate all of the players.

2012 Aussie Millions $100k Event Crowns Winner

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The 2012 Aussie Millions $100k buy-in event drew in only 22 players, but it was some of the biggest names in all of poker who participated.  We saw the likes of Jason Mercier, Phil Ivey, and Erik Seidel all eliminated before the final table was decided, but even the remaining eight had some power behind it.  Our final table included Joe Hachem, Gus Hansen, Sam Trickett, Sorel Mizzi, and Tony G to round out the “popular” players, but we also had three up and coming players in Dan Smith, Mikhail Smirnov, and Nam Le who were right there in the action as well.  The final table was made up of eight players, but only four were going to make the cash when all was said and done.  The total prize pool was a very nice one, with first place getting paid out over $1 million for whoever could outlast the other 21 players.

The action started with Hansen and Hachem leading the field with over 535k chips a piece, and after that the closest was Dan Smith was 346,500 chips.  After that everyone fell under 270k with Smirnov holding 265k, Mizzi holding 228,500, Tony G with 102k, and Nam Le and Sam Trickett rounding out the field with 79,500 chips and 73k chips respectively.

When we finally made it down to the cash it was Hachem, Tony G, Smith, and Smirnov who were the final four.  Dan Smith simply went to work, and eliminated both Tony G (4th place), and Hachem (3rd place) to set up the heads up match between him and Smirnov.  Smith’s hot run continued on as he seemed to hit all of the cards he needed and make all the right plays at the right times as well.  Smith went on to knock out Smirnov in 2nd place, and take home the win and the $1,012,000 first place prize.  Smirnov received a nice consolation prize of $616k as well though.

This was definitely the biggest win of Smith’s live tournament career, but he has had some nice finishes outside of this big score as well. Winning $1 million over a two day span will typically be the highlight of most players’ careers, but before this Smith had won over $600k on the live poker tournament circuit as well.

Three Poker Players Have $26k Confiscated by Customs in Bahamas

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usaIf you are flying from out of country back into the United States after a poker series, you should definitely take this story into account before making any final decisions about what to do with your winnings.

This story relates to three poker players who were playing in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) in the Bahamas, and were headed back after the tournament series had ended.  They were going through customs in order to get back to the United States, and had their winnings carried on with them.  Now, between the three of them there was $26k, but the law states that players cannot travel with more than $10k in cash.  The three players thought that they were in the clear, as they split the $26k between the three of them, which meant that all of them were under $10k each.  The only problem with this though, is that the law actually says that the $10k limit is for entire families.

The three players who were involved are all related as well, and it included 18 year old Sean Ruane, 23 year old Michael Ruane (his brother), and their cousin, 18 year old Thomas Freeman Jr.  They headed through customs, and the youngest brother became nervous and started sweating, which led to the officials at customs looking more in-depth at the situation.  When all was said and done, the three were detained for falsely declaring the amount of money that they were carrying with them.

Fortunately for the three of them, the Deputy Chief Magistrate Carolita Bethell who handled the case, wasn’t incredibly hard on them.  She did make them sweat a bit before laying down their final sentence though.  In the end, while the three players’ defense attorney was asking for the judge to waive the custodial sentence, the players decided to plead guilty to the charged that was given to them.  What this meant was that the players were forced to give up the money that they attempted to bring back to the United States.  The reason for this was because of their clean records, and the fact that they did not “waste the courts time” since they pleaded guilty.

Two Former World Champs Win Side Events at PCA

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2012 Pokerstars Caribbean AdventureCurrently in the Bahamas, the popular talks around town are about the current PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.  Whether it is the $100k entry High Roller event that drew in a first place prize of over $1 million, or the PCA Main Event which is nearly its way down to the final table, people are talking about this incredibly popular tournament series which has started 2012 off with a bang.  What many people aren’t talking about though is the fact that we have now seen two former World Series of Poker Main Event winners take down side events at the PCA this year as well!

The first big time player to take down a win was Jonathan Duhamel, who was in the news just a few weeks back for some non-related poker news, as his house was the target of a home invasion and a robbery.  Duhamel has recovered from everything though, and has pulled in some nice results at the 2012 PCA.  First off, Duhamel had a nice fourth place finish at the High Roller event, in which he took home a payday of $313,600.  Then came his win at the $5k No Limit Hold’em 8-max event this week, in which he had to beat out a star-studded final table that included Jason Mercier, Pius Heinz, gold bracelet winner Kevin Stammen, and two online poker pros in Owen Crowe and Laurence Houghton.  Duhamel beat out 157 other players, and won the first place prize of $249,830.

Cada’s win on the other hand came from the $2k No Limit Hold’em event, that drew in 348 players.  Cada won $175,550 for his strong run, and he beat out a player who many people feel is on the rise in Michael Telker in the end.  The final table of this event also included two well-known pros in Shannon Shorr who finished in 4th place, and a PokerStars pro in JC Alvarado who wound up in 6th.

Both Cada and Duhamel are two of the more liked poker pros in the game, and also two players who could be looking at having some impressive years in 2012.  Keep an eye out for them at some of the coming poker tournament series’ in the next few months, including the WSOP!

PCA Main Event Down to 24 Players

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2012 Pokerstars Caribbean AdventureThe 2012 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure has had some exciting poker to this point, and it started off with their $100k buy-in High Roller event.  Now, the PCA Main Event is down to only 24 players at the end of Day 4, and one player finds himself at the top of the leaderboard and sitting pretty heading into Day 5.  Faraz Jaka may not be incredibly well-known to the common poker fan, but his play has been stellar, as he has found himself almost always near the top of the leaderboard throughout this tournament, and heading into Day 5 he sits alone at the top.

Jaka has a total of 4.1 million chips, and continued to grow on his lead throughout the day.  Currently, his closest competitor is Alex Fitzgerald (2.70 million), but he is still over 1.4 million chips behind Jaka.  There are quite a few players who are still within striking distance of course, and one hand can change everything, but it’s hard not to like the way that Jaka is playing currently.  To round out the top five, you’ll find Phil D’Auteuil with 2.28 million, Anthony Gregg with 2.14 million, and Byron Kaverman with 2.13 million chips. Close behind is Sam Greenwood in 6th with 2.10 million chips, but after that the remainder of the field finds themselves below 2 million chips.

As far as other players who are remaining in the field, there is one female player remaining, as Xuan Liu is sitting with over one million chips, at 1,082,000.  Liu has been impressive in this past year, as she had some nice cashes at the World Series of Poker, and also had a third place finish at the European Poker Tour’s San Remo event.  Some of the other players that you may know by name are Daniel Shiff with 834k, Ruben Visser with 461k, and David Peters 424k, who all have a shot to be able to make a run when it matters most.

Something interesting to note about the event in terms of players who were sent home already, was that well-known golfer Sergio Garcia took his seat, and even made a run into Day 4!  He was eliminated though when his A-J couldn’t catch up to the pocket queens of his opponent.  Garcia did make it into the top 50 though, and took home a payout of $35k for his efforts.  Other well-known players who have been sent home are Galen Hall, Chris Klodnicki, and Arnaud Mattern.  Barry Greenstein also has been sent home, but he made it into the cash, as he finished in 25th place and took home $46k.

Action will continue at Noon local time on Thursday, and players will play down until we have a final table set.

Viktor “Isildur1” Blom Wins PCA High Roller Event

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2012 Pokerstars Caribbean AdventureThe PokerStars Caribbean Adventure High Roller event featured an incredible $100k buy-in, which explains why there were only 34 total players who registered for the event.  Regardless though, 34 players with a huge buy-in like that, makes up quite a nice prize pool in the end.  While there were 34 players in the event, you can bet that it included quite a few well-known players, and also players with some deep bankrolls as well, in order to afford this buy-in.  When all was said and done though, it was a player who not all poker fans know well, but many online poker players are well aware of, who ended up taking down the championship.

Viktor “Isildur1” Blom is a big time high stakes poker player on the popular poker site PokerStars.  He decided to take his poker talents to the live tournament scene over the weekend though, and headed to the Atlantis Resort in Bahamas to compete with big names like Daniel Negreanu, Bertrand “ElkY’ Grospellier, Jason Mercier, Jonathan Duhamel, Dan Shak, Erik Seidel, and many others as well.  When all was said and done, Blom outlasted the rest, and beat out Shak for the nice payday of $1,254,000 in the end.

When the final day of action kicked off, Blom found himself right in the middle of the remaining eight players.  The issue was, that only the top five were able to make it into the cash, so all remaining players had to be careful with those chip stacks.  Blom didn’t do much until they were into the money, as he saw the likes of Mike “Timex” McDonald, Humberto Brenes, and Scott Seiver, all sent home in 8th through 6th place.  It was then that he turned up his aggression and started winning big pots, and actually eliminated every player at the final table on his way to the championship.  The first to go was Negreanu in 5th, then Duhamel in 4th, Galen Hall in 3rd, and then he eliminated Shak in their heads up match in 2nd place.

This would be Blom’s first live tournament win, and it was an incredibly impressive one at that, as he played with the biggest names, and beat out the biggest names on his way to the victory.

PCA Super High Roller Event Draws 32 Players

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2012 Pokerstars Caribbean AdventureThe 2012 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) has one of the biggest poker tournament buy-ins that is offered on the board today.  The Super High Roller event is a $100k entry tournament, that has a smaller field than the normal big time events, but it also draws in a nice prize pool, and some of the biggest names in the game as well.  This year, the event drew in 34 total players, which means that the top five players will be making money.  What’s interesting about this, is that making the final table isn’t enough in this tournament, as they’ll have to make an even deeper run to get a big payday.  The perks of this event are big for both sides, but the fans definitely get a ton of action with quite a few of their favorite players.

As far as the players who are involved in this years Super High Roller event, you’ll see names like Jonathan Duhamel, Jason Mercier, Daniel Negreanu, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Erik Seidel, Viktor “Islidur1” Blom, and Eugene Katchalov.  As far as the top five players who cash, this is how the payouts will work:

  • First Place- $1.25 million
  • Second Place- $846k
  • Third Place- $470k
  • Fourth Place- $313k
  • Fifth Place- $250k

When Day 1 ended the top three players featured Ike Haxton in first, Viktor Blom in second, and Seidel in third.  Blom is one of the more interesting stories in this event, as he’s an online high stakes cash game player, who has made quite a bit of money in the past two years.  He doesn’t have very much live poker tournament experience, but he’s looking to bring in a big payday in one of his few tries.

Currently, the action is down to the final eight players though, with Galen Hall leading the way, and Blom and Negreanu still involved in the action.  One other name who is near the top of the leaderboard is Jonathan Duhamel, who is currently sitting in second place and has rebounded in a big way after the home invasion that three people had on his house in Canada.  He had his WSOP gold bracelet stolen, as well as a $5k Rolex, and over $100k in cash as well.

The final eight of this tournament should be fun to watch, and the winner will definitely have to earn their way to the big payday by beating out a stacked field.

Ben Lamb Takes Down Two POY Awards

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ben lambI don’t think there’s much of a doubt that most of the poker world feels that Ben Lamb was one of the best players in the world this past year.  Lamb was absolutely incredible at the 2011 World Series of Poker, and for his efforts across the board, he has taken down not one, but TWO player of the year awards.  What’s even more impressive about this though?  Try the fact that Lamb is now only the second player in history to win both the World Series of Poker Player of the Year Awards, AND the Card Player Magazine Player of the Year Award.  Lamb made poker look easy at the WSOP this year, and you can bet that this won’t be the last time that we hear his name come up in the talks for Player of the Year.

There were obviously quite a few things that make winning these awards so impressive, but part of it is the fact that Lamb’s efforts at the WSOP were definitely enough to win the WSOP POY Award, but the Card Player Magazine POY Award is based on many different events throughout the year.  Lamb’s cashes this past year came over a span of three weeks at the World Series, but they were so impressive that it locked him in for both awards.  The WSOP Award is over a span of the 55+ Events, which Lamb pulled in results that were almost numbing to read.

For starters, let’s look at his cashes in WSOP Events.  The first came on the 17th of June with a 2nd place, $259,918 payday in a $3k event.  After that he entered two $10k events in the Pot Limit Omaha Championship, and the No Limit Hold’em Six Handed tournament; he went on to win the PLO event to take home $814,436, and finished in 12th in the NLHE for $56,140.  After that came the month of July, in which Lamb pulled in a total of around $4.2 million in winnings, thanks to an 8th place finish in the $50k Players Championship, and his third place finish worth $4 million alone in the Main Event.

For those fans out there who are curious, the only other player to pull off this feat is the great Daniel Negreanu, and this was back in 2004.  Keep an eye out for Lamb in the coming years, as he’s definitely one of the best players in the game today.

Four People Arrested For Robbing Duhamel

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Last week there was an interesting story released about the home invasion and robbery of a winner of one of the largest online poker tournaments out there, the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event.  The report said that two men rang the doorbell of Duhamel’s home in Montreal, Quebec at about 9:15am on the 21st, and the men forced their way into his house and beat the man.  They also stole his WSOP gold bracelet, an engraved rolex, and quite a bit of money.

Four people have been arrested for the incident now though for the crime.  It was three men and one woman who were involved, and the first arrest came on the 24th of December, which was a 20 year old woman that was charged with conspiracy.  After that two men, ages 22 and 26, were arrested for attacking Duhamel, and they were charged with breaking and entering, forcible confinement, assault, and possession of stolen goods.  The fourth and final arrest came on the 29th, and it was a 20 year old male.

The arraignment came on the 28th for three of the four suspects at the Longueuil Courthouse.  The Rolex that was stolen from Duhamel was recovered, but his World Series of Poker gold bracelet is still MIA, which has led to Duhamel offering a reward of $10,000 for any information about the thieves and the recovery of the items that were taken from him.

After the incident Duhamel dialed 911 and was taken directly to to the hospital.  After the incident occurred, he released a statement saying that he “spent the night at the hospital and was black and blue all over but had no broken bones, no blood clots, and nothing to worry about.”  He also went on to state that he was exhausted but happy to be alive.

It’s definitely good to see that the four people involved in this situation were arrested, and it helps raise the awareness of how careful poker players need to be in general, and that especially includes if they are able to take down big prizes like the $8.9 million grand prize that Duhamel took down at the World Series!