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Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #13 Phil Laak and Gus Hansen win bracelets

December 26th, 2010 No comments
Laak and Hansen Win

Phil Laak (pictured left with girl friend Jen Tilly) and Gus Hansen both took down their 1st career bracelet's at the 2010 WSOP-E

The World Series of Poker events in the month of September tend to get much less publicity than the events in June and July.  It has much less to do with the fact that the September events take place in London than in Las Vegas, and everything to do with perception from poker players here in the U.S.  Many devalue the tournament series of the WSOP-Europe because it’s an “extension” of the WSOP, and no the actual Series.  But it doesn’t stop the series from dishing out their coveted bracelets, and the crème de la crème of poker turn out to play their events in stocked, albeit smaller fields.  At the 2010 WSOP-E, there were two specific stories that emerged which stood out.  Two individuals added to their already impressive poker resumes an achievement that every poker players aspires for and many were surprised that they had not yet achieved.  Bracelet’s finally found their way to the wrist of Phil Laak and Gus Hansen. Read more…

Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #14 Gavin Smith

December 23rd, 2010 1 comment
Gavin Smith

Gavin Smith winning his first WSOP Bracelet was one of the best stories of the year

When you’re able to see something in person it typically has more meaning.  I was in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker to cover Event #47, a $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Event for the Twitter Poker Tour.  One of our own was playing, and was entering into Day 1b on Sunday.  When I arrived on Saturday, I decided to check out action in the other tournaments running, and a special event had evolved at the ESPN Featured table in the Amazon room at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino.  Event #44 (a $2,500 Mixed Hold’em Event) had played down to a final table, revolving between Limit and No Limit Hold’em.  Also playing was Event #45 which was a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Event and their Day 2 was winding down. Because a friend of mine (Alex Outhred) had a good sized stack in that event, I stuck on his rail for the remainder of the evening, and all the while kept sending glimpses over to the Featured Table where a unique event continued to unfold.  When play wrapped for the night, I finally headed over to watch and claimed a seat to witness an event that I will remember forever. Read more…

Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #15 Sammy Farha

December 22nd, 2010 No comments
Sammy Farha

Sammy Farha booked WSOP Bracelet #3 in an epic heads up battle.

Sometimes, all it takes to make a great story in poker is to have one player win a championship.  At the 2010 World Series of Poker, event #25 produced such a story when Sammy Farha found himself heads up for a bracelet against young British Poker Pro James “Flushy” Dempsey.  The $10,000 Omaha high-low split eight or better event isn’t typically a tournament that most pundits circle on the calendar as being a “can’t miss tournament.”  But when heads up play began, a drama unfolded that made it more of a Hollywood Script than a WSOP Event.

To set the stage, most people remember Farha from his 2003 WSOP Main Event Final Table, where he chomped on his unlit cigarette all the way to a heads up duel with Chris Moneymaker.  After getting bluffed off a gigantic pot, Farha would finish runner-up and very unintentionally launch the poker boom.  But Omaha was the game that Sammy really excelled at, booking a bracelet in the $2,500 PLO event in 1996 for $145,000, and a 3rd place finish in the $1,500 PLO event in 2002 Read more…

Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #16 The Brunson 10 and the WSOP

December 20th, 2010 1 comment
Brunson 10

The WSOP Race for the next member of "The Brunson 10" had David Sands (left), Faraz Jaka (center), and Dan Kelly (right) competing in one of the most interesting races of the year.

On the outset of the 2010 World Series of Poker, a contest was set up with a group of hand picked poker players to earn a spot among an up and coming elite group. Doyle Brunson played the role of grandmaster for DoylesRoom.com choosing a few young online poker pro’s to represent the site known as “The Brunson 10”.  Already with 6 players inked as representatives of the site and wearing the Brunson 10 logo, the group was looking to get closer to completing their group and add another name to the impressive list of poker pro’s.  The seventh spot was going to be given to a player who finished the World Series of Poker with the most Player of the Year points.  The front runners for the 7th spot were David “Doc Sands” Sands, Faraz “The-Toilet” Jaka, and the soft spoken Dan “djk123” Kelly, and they would put on a contest for the ages. Read more…

Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #17 David Williams

December 20th, 2010 No comments
David Williams

David Williams had another stellar year, highlighted by winning the $25k WPT Championship

In 2004 the WSOP Main Event had swelled to 2,576 players, up from the 839 the year before when an accountant named Moneymaker won the main event.  When the heads up play began, it was Greg Raymer who was the biggest stack versus David Williams, who was fighting an uphill battle.  Raymer’s aggressive nature secured the victory, as David Williams took the second largest payday in poker history at the time with $3.5 million ($1.1 million more than Moneymaker had won the year before).  The poker boom was on, and Williams was now everywhere as the man that finished runner up on TV had become a poker superstar.  His next cash was another $573,800 for a runner up finish at the WPT Borgata Poker Open, and then finally a win for $121,057 at the Five-Diamond World Poker Classic.  But after a dream year in 2004, he just kind of fell away from the spotlight for a little.  I’m not exactly certain why, but a lot of people wondered if David Williams had fallen off the map completely after that score, or that he was a “one-hit-wonder” because of the lack of giant scores that he’d receive.

But Williams was still crushing the poker scene, actually booking 6-figure earnings in every year since his brides maid finish at the main event, including a $1 million year in 2006 capped off with 2 more WPT final tables, and a bracelet win at the WSOP.  Read more…

Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #18 Randal Flowers

December 19th, 2010 2 comments
Randall Flowers

Randall Flowers becomes the youngest 2 time WPT Champion

They say that you need luck to win a poker tournament, but that players that are more skilled just need less luck than other players.  Without the years of experience that some of the poker old guard has had, Randall Flowers has already been on the fast track to racking up good scores beginning at the age of 18.  Using online poker as a vehicle to really learn the game, Flowers has to date more than $2.3 million in online tournament winnings.  But the now 22-year old poker phenom took to the casino’s in Verona, New York to really jumpstart his live play, as they allowed players to compete from the age of 18.   Flowers booked several final tables in New York, including a 3rd place finish for $72,480 in the $5,000 buy-in Empire State Hold’em Championships, and rode that wave of live success to the EPT in San Remo in 2008, where he’d bubble the final table by losing a flip for a huge stack.

But in 2009, the 21-year old Flowers final tabled the WPT Barcelona with a huge stack, en route to besting Per Sjogren heads up to claim a WPT Title with more than $380k in prize winnings.  The WPT win made history as Flowers became the youngest player ever to win a WPT title at 21 years old, and placed him on the map as one of the brightest tournament pro’s on the circuit, with the poker world waiting to see what would happen in 2010. Read more…

Top 2010 Poker Player Stores – #19 Liv Boeree wins EPT San Remo

December 18th, 2010 No comments
Liv Boeree

Liv Boeree's win at the EPT San Remo was one of the best stories of the year

If you were a close follower of the game of poker prior to 2010, you may have been familiar with the name Liv Boeree.  The beautiful brunette with a thick British accent had been selected as one of the five entrants into a reality show “Ultimatepoker.com Showdown” where she received some in depth poker training from the likes of Dave “Devilfish Ulliot, Phil Hellmuth, and Annie Duke.  The appearance landed her a gig as a Television Presenter for Gutshot TV, where she worked at the WSOP in Las Vegas in 2006.  After a few years in front of the camera, Boeree turned her attention to the poker felts as a player, where she began collecting several good scores at the casino’s including more than $170k in earnings in 2009.  By August that year, her play had garnered her interest from some of the poker sites as an up and coming female poker player.  That’s a demographic that online marketers covet, and Liv fit the bill to a “T”, inking a contract with UB.com.

Liv’s 2010 began with a bang, making the final table of the $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event at the Southern Poker Championships in Biloxi, Mississippi.  She then finished 16th at the L.A. Poker Classic in Los Angeles, California.  But it was at the €5,000 Buy-in Main Event at the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour stop in San Remo, Italy that Liv made a huge splash for all the world to see. Read more…

Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #20 Eric Baldwin

December 17th, 2010 No comments
Eric Baldwin

Eric Baldwin followed up his 2009 Player of Year performance with another stellar year in 2010

2009 was a breakout year for Eric Baldwin.  After all, winning your first WSOP Bracelet and $1.5 million in live tournament earnings is nice, but adding the title of 2009 CardPlayer Player of the Year to your trophy case is something that can be remembered forever.  So how do you follow up a year in which you were player of the year?  Well leave it to “Basebaldy” to show you how.

2010 began well for Baldwin who’d finish runner up at the $2,000 buy in Pot Limit Hold em’/Omaha event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas.  Then after a min-cash at the L.A. Poker Classic, Baldwin found another coming out party at the WPT series of events, beginning with a runner up finish in the $1k buy in at the Five Star World Classic at the Bellagio.  He’d follow the $1k runner up finish with another final table at the $5k event just a few days later, finishing in 6th place.  Not a bad start to the series. Read more…

Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #21 Jason Mercier Makes a Million, back to back to back

December 17th, 2010 2 comments

Jason Mercier

Jason Mercier hits the $1 million in earnings mark in each of his first 3 years on the tour.

First of all, my apologies for not updating Pablosplace on a regular basis.  Over the last few days, travel has stepped in the way of sending out the stories as regularly as I would have liked.  As a result, I’m going to send out 2 stories each day until I’m all caught up, beginning with this one about Jason Mercier.

At the 2008 European Poker Tour at San Remo, nobody had really heard of the name Jason Mercier.  When he finished the event with all of the chips, we didn’t realize exactly what kind of a star was born. The €869,000 (or $1.3 million USD) win was the first live score at a major tournament in his professional career, and really Mercier hasn’t slowed down much.  He finished 2008 with $2.7 million in earnings, and would return to the live circuit in 2009 with another $1.3 million in earnings. Back to back million dollar years aren’t something that just happen to everyone.  But three years in a row?  Is that even possible?  The question coming into 2010 was could Jason Mercier accomplish something that would place him in rarified air?  Could he make it 3 years in a row with $1 million in earnings at the live poker tables?  If you had to place a bet on anyone achieving the mark, Mercier had to be at the head of the class. Read more…

Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #22 Dean Hamrick

December 10th, 2010 No comments
Dean Hamrick

Once known as the first bubble of the November 9, Dean Hamrick wins a World Series of Poker bracelet in 2010

In 2008, the World Series of Poker introduced a concept that was new to the poker community called “The November 9.”  The WSOP Main Event was stopped when play reached the final table in July, and would resume play in November, offering the WSOP the chance to market the 9 players who made it through to the final table, provide for better TV ratings, and let the players secure deals and sponsorships for the big event.  It was common practice by the time that they did it this year, but in 2008 the process was brand new, and nobody really knew if it was going to be a good idea or a bad idea, and what it would really mean for the players.  So when the play wore down to just 10 remaining players at one table at the 2008 Main Event, the goal wasn’t “just make the November 9.”  The goal was “put myself in a position to win the event.”

With that in mind, Dean Hamrick opened a pot by moving all in for his last 3.2 million chips, and Craig Marquis moved in over the top of him.  When the cards were turned up, it was As-Jc for Hamrick, and Qh-Qc for Marquis. Read more…