Archive for December, 2014

The 20 Best Moments in Poker in 2014: #5-1

Every year PokerListings attempts to rank our 20 Best and Worst Moments with varying levels of success.

Is it impossible to categorically “rank” the numerous complex breaking stories and moments of the poker world? Probably yes. But that doesn’t keep us from trying.

Today we’re taking a look at the top-five best moments from 5-1. Enjoy and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

You can also embrace your dark side and check out the 20 Worst Moments in Poker 2014.

5. Online Poker Returns to USA in Earnest with Party Poker,

Greg Merson
Greg Merson has been playing plenty of

While Party Poker and technically opened for business in 2013 it was 2014 that saw legal online poker really get rolling in the USA.

Although the industry is still limited to select states and desperately needs an intra-state compact, there were some large online tournaments held in New Jersey this year., Party Poker and 888poker all have sites that are worth playing in New Jersey and Nevada respectively.

It was incredibly positive to see people finally finding games in the USA after years of being locked out of all poker sites.

We’re still a long ways from the glory days of online poker prior to Black Friday but 2014 was a step in the right direction. 

4. Main Event Sees First Increase in Participation Since 2010 Thanks to $ 10m GTD

Day 1c Field
2014 WSOP Main Event

It was a bold plan by the WSOP to offer a $ 10m GTD first-place prize (OK it wasn’t that bold since they were mostly just making the payouts more top-heavy) but it paid off.

The 2014 WSOP Main Event drew 6,683 players, which first increase in participation since the 2010 WSOP.

In a time where tournament participation seems to be levelling out and even declining it was a massive achievement by the folks at the WSOP and good for poker in general.

The only problem is coming up with something top it in 2015. How about an $ 11m guarantee?

3. Vicky Mitchell-Coren wins Second EPT

Victoria Coren
Vicky Mitchell Coren

There have been over 100 EPT Main Event champions spread across 11 seasons and incredibly until this year nobody had two titles.

Victoria Mitchell-Coren put that old record to bed by winning EPT San Remo for her second title on the tour in dramatic fashion.

She started out as the short stack at the final table but slowly chipped her way up throughout the final table until she finally won a pivotal hand against Jordan Westmorland, which gave her a giant stack. She made short work of Italian Giacomo Fundaro to secure her second EPT title.

A long-time member of Team PokerStars Pro (although she left the team in late 2014) Coren-Mitchell won her first title way back in Season 3 at the London stop.

It was perhaps the perfect end to her tenure as a Team PokerStars Pro as she left behind an incredible legacy with the site.

As a side note there was something special about that San Remo tournament.

Over the years it was the site of both Liv Boeree and Jason Mercier’s famous first wins and now Mitchell-Coren’s historic second EPT title.

2. Mark Newhouse Goes Back-to-Back

Lightning doesn’t strike twice but Mark Newhouse does.

Mark Newhouse completed arguably the most impressive feat in the history of modern poker when he made back-to-back final tables at the WSOP Main Event this year.

Mark Newhouse
Mark Newhouse

He outlasted 6,344 players in 2013 and followed that up by outlasting 6,675 in 2014.

The end result was not what he was looking for (he finished ninth at both final tables) but no one can ever take away his place in the history books.

It will likely be a long time before Newhouse can look back positively on the experience but that shouldn’t take away anything from what he accomplished.

Going back-to-back is also one of the single greatest arguments for poker as a skill game as the odds of someone going back-to-back in some sort of roulette tournament are astronomically small.

1. U.S. Full Tilt Players Paid in Full

Dan Cates
Dan “jungleman12″ Cates was one of the many US players who was refunded.

There was a time when thousands of Full Tilt Poker players were starting to believe they would never see a dime of their frozen account balances.

In 2014 every last player in the USA that made a claim was given their account balance back, marking an end to a torturous three-year period that had as many ups and downs as an Isildur1 graph.

It was all thanks to PokerStars purchasing the assets of Full Tilt Poker and agreeing to pay back every player in 2012.

It took an incredibly long time but it could have been way worse when you consider the offers that were on the table from controversial figures like Bernard Tapie (who has since been charged with fraud).

Everyone from Blair Hinkle, who received over $ 1 million from the site, to the average grinder got a welcome check in the mail this year.

Perhaps no other move in the history of the industry has benefited as many poker players (except maybe Chris Moneymaker winning the Main Event in 2003).

The best poker moment of 2014? Yes. Easily. Of course.


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The 20 Worst Moments in Poker in 2014: #5-1

OK; no one really says that.

In a lot of respects 2014 was another banner year for poker. Attendance was up at major events around the globe. Dan Colman won $ 22(!) million in tournaments, large and small. The Battle of Malta went off like a rocket.

We’ll save talk of all good that stuff for our “Best Poker Moments of 2014” series, though. This is where we delve into the dark side of poker in 2014.

5. Durrrr Has Issues; Stiff Arms Jungleman

Tom Dwan
Poker’s Human Highlight Reel facing dark times.

He was once poker’s equivalent to the “Human Highlight Reel” and maybe the most electrifying poker player ever.

To paraphrase Daniel Negreanu, he just “durrrred” people at the poker table.

Now he’s, well … we’re not exactly sure what Tom Dwan is these days. High-stakes cash-game specialist? Full-time Macau resident? Retired?

Sightings of Dwan at poker tournaments have been few and far between on the poker circuit since a virtual no-show at the 2014 WSOP.

He’s been spotted playing in Vegas and we assume hits up his usual Macau haunts. Otherwise it seems he’s reading CIA torture reports and avoiding his neverending durrrr Challenge with Jungleman.

About that Challenge … after numerous chances to resume play and gain back some of the $ 1m+ he’s lost since it started — plus attempts by Cates to force the action with penalties — there’s no doubt durrrrr is now ducking it for good.

To some that’s made him a scammer; mostly it just makes people bummed out. He’s alluded to lingering issues with Full Tilt and he’s been connected to two high-profile indictments over the past couple years, so who knows what’s going on.

Worst of all – maybe Phil Hellmuth was right all those years ago when he said “we’ll see if you’re even around in five years, kid.”

4. Gus Drops $ 5.5m, End of the Professionals

Gus Hansen
Is this the end of Gus?

Speaking of fallen poker idols it’s been a very tough year (or years) at the poker table for Gus Hansen.

Despite the occasional mention of some big cash-game wins or binking a squash result Hansen has had nothing to report in 2014 but losses it seems.

Massive, massive losses. At last tally Gus was down over $ 20m on his Full Tilt account – $ 16m or so of that since Nov. 2012 when FTP resumed its services.

Along with his losses Hansen also saw the termination of his Professionals sponsorship contract with Full Tilt.

Does he have any money left at all? Has the game (and his game selection) quite literally passed him by? Is Hansen done with poker altogether?

Rumors are, of course, rampant and not seeing Gus at recent EPTs has only furthered talk of the end of Gus’ glory days.

Only time will tell but any way you read it the Gus Hansen story was not a heartwarming one in 2014. Let’s hope for a return to better times for one of poker’s most entertaining and memorable players.

3. Newsweek Publishes Sham Article on Online Poker

C’mon, now.

It pains us to even bring it up again for the simple fact it deserves to be put to bed and never spoken of again.

But it happened, so we have to.

In August mainstream newsmagazine Newsweek published a pretty ludicrous hatchet job on the “dangers” of online poker.

It clearly tried to manipulate its findings and its readers with a sensationalized headline and image of a child holding an iPad on its cover.

To make it even more cliche, the iPad had an image of Royal Flush on it. Blergh.

Thankfully the piece was poorly researched and haphazardly put together so it shouldn’t have much long-term resonance.

But still.

Not a pleasant image to have lingering in lawmakers minds as state-by-state legislation continues its slog towards poker freedom.

2. US Poker Players Still in Exile

Black Sea beach

Progress has been made; new routines have been settled into; online poker players continue to find silver linings in the forced exodus from the US after Black Friday.

Still, it’s 2015 and thousands of Amercians who just want to make a living playing online poker are exiled from homes, family, friends and their chosen career because of outdated laws and hypocritical cavemen.

Can we please stop that, please?

1. Johannes Strassmann and Chad Brown Pass Away

Johannes Strassmann
Johannes Strassmann

Very different circumstances; equally painful losses to family, friends and the poker community.

German high-stakes genius Johannes Strassmann went missing in Slovenia before being found days later, accidentally drowned.

PokerStars pro Chad Brown finally succumbed after a three-year battle with cancer.

Two inspiring people who enriched the lives of people around them, both in poker and out, won’t get the chance to continue doing that in 2015 and beyond.

And there’s no worse moment than that.


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