The WSOP announced today a multi-year deal with the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic to host the WSOPE in 2017, 2019 and beyond.
Already the largest poker room in Europe with 150 tables and 24/7 cash games King’s will also undergo a huge expansion prior to the start of WSOP Europe in the Fall of 2017.
Also agreed to in the deal were 2 WSOP Circuit Events per year in both 2018 and 2020 and 1 WSOP Circuit event per year in 2017, 2019 & 2021.
10 Gold Bracelets, €5m Guarantee
After a fairly modest turnout in Berlin in 2015, where the Main Event was won by American Kevin MacPhee, the WSOPE should make a bigger splash in Rozvadov next fall, even if it’s just a town of 500.
Said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart:
“I have really bought into Leon’s vision for creating a poker-first destination in Central Europe.
“The existing set up already reminds me of the Amazon Room at the Rio and it’s only going to get bigger.
“When the new hotel and the renovations are complete, and considering the way Leon and staff cater to poker players, this is going to be a very comfortable environment for a large festival such as ours.
“With King’s backing large guarantees and media coverage, we believe we have found a long term home for WSOPE to replicate the scale we enjoy in Las Vegas.”
Added King’s owner Leon Tsoukernik:
“Last year alone we brought over 250,000 poker players to Rozvadov. Although this is already a great result for a town of 500, I believe we will be able to double that number as soon as our plans for expansion are completed and people will get the opportunity to come here for a proper poker holiday …
“… Not only are we adding 1,800 square meters of Las Vegas-style casino space with 40 more poker tables, we are opening an amazing new hotel with 218 additional rooms.
“The first three floors of the new building will be a four-star hotel while the fourth floor will be a five-star one with 18 luxury suites to accommodate even the most demanding of guests. The last floor of the new complex will be home to a fully-equipped wellness center with Jacuzzis, saunas, massage rooms and a fitness center.”
All bracelet events in 2017 and 2019 will have widespread content distribution and each WSOP Europe Main Event will be filmed for television. Other bracelet events will get both live reporting and live stream coverage.
Exact dates for the 2017 events will be released when finalized. Read more on the future plans for the WSOPE and the King’s Casino here.
The outside temperature in Malta has reached 27°C (81°F) as we speak and it doesn’t look like it’s going down much next week.
What better time, then, for a Flash Sale on the last few remaining packages for the 5th edition of BoM.
Right now we’re offering single and friend packages for €200 less than the original price. And while the EPT Main Event is experiencing a player decrease this year, player numbers are expected to rise again for the Battle of Malta.
The Heat is On
As we said, temperatures are expected to be in the mid-20s all next week so when you’re packing your bag to fly to Malta, leave your coat and add your swimming trunks.
That will also leave you more room in case you go back with one of our beautiful BOM trophies.
We’re making the Battle of Malta package even more attractive for a last-minute poker holiday.
You can now book your own VIP package or Friend package for you and one additional player for €200 less than the regular price.
That’s a reduction of almost 14%!
There are only a few rooms left in our BOM hotels so hurry up and book.
They’ll be gone soon. The complete package includes:
- Five nights at the 4* Corinthia Marina Hotel in St. Julian’s
- Tickets for all four major parties – Karaoke with Maria Ho, the BOM cocktail party, the All-in Friday, and the big VIP players party at the Sky Club
- A €550 ticket to the BOM main event
- Daily buffet at the casino/daily breakfast buffet at hotel
Original price for the VIP package was €1,459; now €1,259 = 14% off. Original price for the friend package was €2,159; now only €1959 = 9% off!
Click through here to go to our booking page and make your purchase. It’s fast and simple.
Numbers are Rising
While the fifth edition of BOM is only a week away the European Poker Tour is running its Malta stop for the third time. However, the growth curve for the two big autumn poker events in Malta couldn’t be more different.
Check the numbers in the main events of both tournaments over the past couple of years:
BOM ME players
EPT ME players
*Event took place in March 2015, but was part of prior season.
In fact the current EPT stop is the smallest EPT main event since Copenhagen in 2012.
Whether the diminishing numbers at the EPT are a direct consequence of PokerStars’ announcement to cancel the EPT isn’t clear but it doesn’t seem Malta is a point of focus for the new PokerStars Championships. Perhaps maybe for the smaller “Festivals” – but rumors about skipping it certainly aren’t helpful.
On the other hand the Battle of Malta is unique in every sense of the word. It’s a standalone event – although every year we add more side events – and it’s the one that combines poker and a late summer vacation better than any other poker event anywhere.
Watch the video below to feel the BOM vibe:
We’re expecting to grow again this year and the intent is to reach the magic number of 2,000 players.
That would give the BOM a €1 million prize pool and again ensure that the top three or four players will again walk away with more than €100,000 and a main prize of way over €150k.
Time is running out fast! Get your VIP package now and you’ll soon find yourself playing in an international top class poker event hosted by Maria Ho on a beautiful island in the middle of the Mediterranean where the sun almost always shines.
Or, you can sit back in your chair, put some extra socks on and look out of the window while the rain comes down.
You can always make suggestions for future 3-Bet pieces in the comments section below.
In today’s Daily 3-Bet we’ll take a look at a new partypoker signing, Jennifer Harman’s recent jab at former Full Tilt CEO Ray Bitar and the boisterous William Kassouf pulling a groundhog day at EPT Malta.
1) Jen Harman Questioned Ray Bitar as CEO
Someday someone is going to write an incredible tell-all book about the rise and fall of Full Tilt Poker.
It’s just a matter of when the people who were involved in the company are willing to talk.
That may be starting to happen as former FTP member Jen Harman went on Daniel Negreanu’s Full Contact Poker podcast yesterday and dropped a few knowledge bombs.
Perhaps the biggest reveal was that she had a bad feeling about disgraced CEO Ray Bitar from the very beginning.
In fact after meeting Bitar for the first time, Harman pulled Howard Lederer aside and said, “You’re kidding right? This is not our CEO.”
Harman did not think Bitar was competent at the time and said she was scared. Howard Lederer defended Bitar.
Harman said the team was kept in the dark and Negreanu actually knew more than she did at the time.
“They wanted us to keep representing Full Tilt in tournaments and I was like, ‘Bullshit, you need to pay back these players.”
Harman also alleged that certain members of Team Full Tilt tried to take control of the company during that period but it didn’t work out.
2) partypoker Signs Joao Simao
There are many markets where poker seems to have plateaued. Then there’s Brazil.
The South American country is in the midst of a poker boom so strong that mainstream celebs like Neymar Jr. have been signed by online poker sites and the WSOP is even hosting circuit events there now.
Well partypoker is getting in on the fun by signing noted Brazilian grinder Joao Pires Simao.
Simao has over half a million in lifetime live tournament earnings and recently was a part of the underrated Sao Paulo Metropolitan squad that snagged a spot in the GPL playoffs.
His record is even more impressive online where he has amassed over $4.5m in online earnings with the majority coming under the famed screen name “INeedMassari”.
Simao will represent partypoker at both the upcoming WSOPC event in Sao Paulo and the Caribbean Poker Party.
partypoker has been on a bit of a signing spree lately with Jackie Glazier and Beata “Wild-Hungarian” Jambrik joining the squad.
3) Kassouf Goes KK < AA Yet Again
Try as he might, William Kassouf just can’t talk himself out of being on the wrong side of kings versus aces.
Incredibly it happened yet again yesterday, this time at EPT Malta.
Kassouf was once again on the wrong side of aces and even used the “How far is it to Hollywood from here?” speech again.
OK, it was a little different this time around as Russian Vladimir Troyanovskiy was also in the hand with pocket deuces but the result was the same: Aces scoops the pot and Kassouf heads for the exit.
Say what you will about Kassouf but he takes bad beats well.
He knows it’s a long shot, sure. A very long shot. But he’s not backing away from giving a repeat title his best effort.
One week before he tries again in the tournament’s fifth edition we met up with him to discuss his approach for this year’s tournament and how life has changed since his big win.
PL: Nicolas, let’s start with how your year has been since your victory.
Nicolas Proust: It really didn’t go as I imagined (laughs). I wanted to spend most of my time playing poker and play much more live.
In the end, even though I have played quite a lot of tournaments, I haven’t done what I wanted to – especially because I didn’t go to the WSOP in Vegas, for various reasons.
I got a little bored of poker. I don’t know if it’s because I won a big tournament and a lot of money, but it made me want to do other things outside of poker, like travel.
I did do a lot of this and it was an amazing year, almost a sabbatical (laughs). I went to Thailand, it was magical.
I didn’t see that many different countries but I took advantage of my newfound freedom to visit everyone – family, friends…
After that it was tough to really get back into it. My live tournaments didn’t go well, with no cashes in any of the €1Ks and €2Ks I played (EPT, FPS, Eureka), which didn’t help.
So it has been a bit of a dead year. I wasn’t even sure I would stay in Malta.
I like my job, I like tennis, and I could see myself in a tennis club while still playing poker.
PL: Did you receive any offers from sponsors or poker rooms?
NP: No, I didn’t, but I’m not someone with a lot of visibility. Maybe I have the qualities to be sponsored but I don’t advertise them.
I didn’t do anything to get a sponsor. And outside of the Internet, where I’m a little bit well-known, live no one knows me except in Malta.
And as I said I didn’t do much this year, which is probably not a good way to attract sponsors.
PL: How do you explain this bad run?
NP: It’s not just luck. It’s about the state of mind, the commitment. They’re essential.
Another thing is that I don’t necessarily have the opportunity to talk and share with players that are better than me, which would help me work on my weaknesses.
I think part of the reason I lost my motivation is because I felt I wasn’t progressing anymore.
But what I miss most lately is to play just for me. It’s annoying, because I have already fulfilled all my goals for this year.
They weren’t huge but it went quick. I did great online after my victory at the BOM because I was very confident.
But they’re not very exciting goals either, so I kind of lost my motivation afterwards. I was playing mechanically, without any pleasure.
Money isn’t really my main motivation, even though I would like to be rich, like everyone. What I miss is having another reason to play.
In tennis, a very individual sport, what I liked were the team competitions during the year. It gives you a sense of belonging.
So I have a few projects, like creating a poker team. I think there is a way to create something so that you don’t just play for yourself.
PL: What are your goals for the 2016 Battle of Malta? Are you coming to defend your title?
NP: Definitely! This year I’m intent on making it two in a row and making history, no doubt about that. If I haven’t been ITM this year it’s because I was waiting for the BOM! (laughs)
Here’s a message for those who will want to bust last year’s winner at any cost: guys, don’t hesitate. I want you to spend as many chips as you can.
Please bluff and use crazy moves. (laughs) Maybe it’s my only chance for another deep run. (laughs)
But yes, I would really like to go deep again. The odds of winning a tournament like this twice in a row are close to zero but the mere idea that it’s a possibility is exciting.
This time I will be playing for something else than money. I will be playing to make history. It can be a way to start it all up again.
With the Battle of Malta coming up, motivation is coming back. This tournament is the reason people know me. People talk about it all the time here.
They’re pushing you, want you to do the impossible. It really is a nice feeling.
PL: Will you feel any particular pressure as the title holder?
NP: No, the other players will feel the pressure, I can tell you. (laughs)
As I said the odds of winning twice are so low that there is no pressure at all. The only pressure I have is to play my best game and to enjoy being at the table.
Pressure has always been a good fuel for me. It prevents me from doing crazy things. I was serious last year, I was focused.
I would really like to get back in that state of mind. When you play a sports tournament you need this will to do your best, even throughout your preparation.
I had never taken another tournament so seriously. Before the Battle of Malta I was going through a tough time. I was running out of money, times were hard. I got to Malta after the worst year of my life.
It was my last chance for poker and I wanted to do my best to seize it. Preparing is essential, even though luck plays a part.
But all in all I really hope I’ll do well. It’s sentimental here and always will be. It was the first time poker gave me such emotions.
Feeling so much thanks to a card game, it seems crazy. And people who don’t play poker don’t understand. (laughs)
It’s such a positive feeling with so many people around you … They’re magical moments that stick with you forever. To me, they’re the best reasons to want to play.
But I would be ok with cheering for a teammate who would have a good run.
PL: Do you have any advice for Battle of Malta first-timers?
NP: If I wanted to bluff, I could say ‘Every night, you need to go out for drinks and go hard!’ (laughs)
But really the best advice I can give is to do what you want to. If you’re here to play and win, then do everything you can to do so.
And enjoy it. Poker is still a game. So really, enjoy it. When you enjoy it, you will play your best game and you will want to improve.
Ivey and his partner, Cheng Yin Sun, did not commit fraud, as the Borgata alleged, when the two took the casino for $9.6m over several specifically arranged baccarat sessions.
They did however, says U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman, breach their contract with the casino by exploiting manufacturer defects in the playing cards to win.
What does it all mean? Well, we’ll know in 20 days. Or not.
20 Days to File Order, 20 Days to Respond
Despite not “winning” its lawsuit per se to recoup all of the money Ivey and Sun won the Borgata now can pursue damages.
How much those damages might be are still to be determined.
Judge Hillmandid determined that edge-sorting “violated the language of the state’s Casino Control Act” and that Ivey and Sun “altered the odds in their favor in violation of the act.”
Therefore, the Borgata has a legitimate claim to repayment of the money.
Hillman gave Borgata 20 days to file an order outlining the amount of funds it wants back. Ivey and Sun will then have 20 days to respond.
“We appreciate the court’s thoughtful decision,” said Borgata counsel Joseph Corbo in a statement, “validating our claims that we were harmed by defendants’ actions.”
Ivey’s lawyer, on the other hand, emphasized the “loud and clear” ruling that Ivey and Sun committed no fraud.
Ivey is also currently involved in an appeal of his lawsuit against Crockfords Casino in London after it withheld £7.8m the two similarly won playing baccarat there.
Have a hot tip for an upcoming 3-Bet? Lead us to it in the comments below.
Today in the 3-Bet we find poker’s public enemy #1 in stereo in Malta, a big upside to upswings and how to be Phil Hellmuth for $169.
1) A Dream Within a Dream
The hand we’ve all been waiting for finally aired last night on ESPN’s WSOP coverage and it was, as expected, a doozy.
Poker’s public enemy #1 – at least according to his feature table ‘mates’ last week – Will Kassouf was brutally bounced from the Main Event in 17th place at the hands of Griffin Benger.
As if it being a sickening cooler with KK vs. AA wasn’t enough, Kassouf also got an unwelcome lecture on ‘bullying’ and ‘privilege’ from Benger on his way out the door. It was certainly must-see TV, although you can also debate whether it was a ‘highlight moment’ or not.
Swathed in his newfound celebrity Kassouf was back doing what he does on Day 1B of the EPT Malta main event today and it was at least a small spectacle when he took his seat.
Thanks to the glorious future we live in with tableside wi-fi and handheld miracle boxes, his table also got the pleasure of experiencing its Kassouf moment in stereo, as PokerStars photog Neil Stoddart captured so well above.
Follow Kassouf’s progress (or demise, if you so prefer) over in the PokerStars blog live updates.
2) It Pays to Be Good at Poker
Speaking of Benger … the noted Blue Jays fan was shorted a chance to catch his beloved Jays in the World Series this year when they lost in 5 games in the ALCS to the Cleveland Indians.
Had they made it to the series, which starts Tuesday, he would have had a tough decision on his hands anyway as he’ll kind of be in the middle of the biggest final table of his life. The $1m he’s already locked up for being in the Nov. 9 would likely have covered his ticket needs, though.
Doug “WCGRider” Polk, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same scheduling restrictions and Benger himself caught Polk enjoying Game 6 of the NLCS in Chicago.
Lookin sharp @DougPolkPoker pic.twitter.com/EPq155sFBF
— Griffin (@GriffinBenger) October 23, 2016
Given that Cubs World Series tickets are already running at well over $3k apiece for standing-room only we can imagine that seat Polk is in also cost him a pretty penny.
After a recent $1.7m downswing it seems Polk has at least righted the ship enough to experience some baseball history first-hand. Isn’t poker the best?
3) Paging Chamath
Speaking of premium sporting event seats, it seems Erik Seidel has found the secret to being Phil Hellmuth on a budget … if only he could get his hands on some courtside Warriors tickets:
Live like @phil_hellmuth for $169. Flying private Burbank to LV on @JetSuite Now I’ve just got to score GSW floor seats pic.twitter.com/iyFZzdOtH2
— Erik Seidel (@Erik_Seidel) October 24, 2016
We’d also like to know where he’s getting that discount Dom Perignon.
Kassouf made it to the final two tables thanks to his gift of gab but the remaining players at the final two tables refused to give the former Lawyer anything on his final day.
Still, it would take two dramatic coolers to send the Englishman packing. In the first hand Kassouf got wamboozled by Gordon Vayo turning a flush, which depleted a third of his stack.
The second hand, which some have pegged as the “hand of the tournament”, saw Griffin Benger finally lose his cool and angrily berate Kassouf right before busting him out of the event.
It’s Day 7 of the Main Event and there are 17 players remaining.
Approximate stack sizes:
William Kassouf — 15,700,000
Griffin Benger — 17,475,000
The blinds are:
200,000/400,000 with a 50,000 ante
Kassouf just lost a cooler to Gordon Vayo when his set of aces ran into a turned flush. Kassouf has been somewhat quieter than usual on Day 7 but still taking his time. The entire feature table is firmly anti-Kassouf by this point.
Griffin Benger opens to 875,000 from UTG.
William Kassouf (in the hijack) goes into the tank contemplating his next action.
The Englishman is actually very quiet at this point in the hand and seems very serious.
The rest of the table on the other hand looks impatient.
Eventually Kassouf decides to 3-bet to 2,300,000. Everyone else gets out of the way and Kassouf starts monologuing stating that he thinks he has the best hand at the moment.
Benger considers his course of action while Kassouf continues to talk. Benger is stone-cold serious and Kassouf even tells him to smile at one point:
Benger ignores the talking and decides to 4-bet to 5,600,000.
At this point Kassouf tries to probe Benger for information. He asks Benger a series of questions but gets nothing back. Eventually he asks Benger for a count but the Canadian won’t even give him that and eventually Gordon Vayo steps in gives Kassouf the count.
Since Benger won’t talk Kassouf starts talking to himself.
“Is this another cooler?” he says. “If you’ve got it, you’ve got it. I don’t think I can pass here.”
Kassouf then turns to Benger and asks him what he wants.
“Want me to go all-in or fold?” he asks. “Talk to me. If you don’t saying anything I might have to ship it here.”
“You want to gamble?”
After a a little over two minutes of non-stop talking from Kassouf, Benger finally breaks character and sighs.
At this point Jerry Wong calls clock on Kassouf.
Benger is clearly upset by this point and launches into an all-out assault on Kassouf and his style of play.
“You’re just an abusive person, man. It’s just not funny. It’s not a game. You’re being abusive to me. It’s called verbal abuse.”
Kassouf disagrees and asks how he is being abusive.
“You’re a bully,” said Benger. “It’s rude. It’s mean.”
“It’s called speech play,” says Kassouf.
“It’s not called speech play, it’s called being a bad person,” said Benger. “You should really check yourself. You should check your privilege.”
“I’m trying to get information,” says Kassouf.
“This is verbal abuse,” says Benger. “This is what it feels like. Everyone is staring at you now.”
Kassouf looks to TD Jack Effel but Benger retorts, “He’s not your Dad. He’s not going to help you. No one is going to help you.”
“You don’t need to go on tilt,” says Kassouf. “It’s called speech play.”
“No one is going to help you, the bet is 5.6 million chips,” responds Benger.
“I understand that,” said Kassouf. “I’m trying to get information from you. That’s not verbal abuse.”
“Yes it is,” says Benger. “Ask anyone else here.”
“You want to gamble?” asks Kassouf. “I’m all-in.”
Kassouf puts his entire 13.4 stack in the middle.
“I call,” says Benger instantly.
The players reveal their hands:
“Come on baby!” exclaims an emotional Benger. “LET’S GO! Whatever happens, he’s coolered. WHATEVER HAPPENS HE’S COOLERED.”
“Put a king, I don’t care,” says Benger as he stalks around the floor. “I’m fine! My life is good.”
“Now we’re having fun,” laughs Vayo.
“Give it to him,” says Benger. “I don’t care. He’s still miserable. I’m happy.”
“You can’t take it,” says Kassouf. “You let it get to you. You’re losing it. I got under your skin man.”
The flop comes:
“This feels like Will against the world,” says commentator Norman Chad. “And the world is winning.”
Despite taking a massive lead in the hand, Benger looks nervous.
“What’s that?” says Kassouf putting his hand to his ear. “King on the river? King on the river. One time? One time.”
“COME ON!” exclaims Benger as the crowd cheers.
Benger takes the entire 30+ million chips pot (which would help propel him to the 2016 November Nine) while Kassouf busts in 17th place to earn $338,288.
“Nice hand,” says Kassouf quietly.
Vayo and Wong complain that Kassouf should have gotten all-in much faster.
Kassouf shakes everyone’s hand (although Michael Niwinski appears to snub him) and heads for the exit.
People really didn’t like playing against William Kassouf. Just ask Gordon Vayo, Stacy Matuson, Cliff Josephy and various others.
On the other hand audiences would probably point to Kassouf as the single most entertaining aspect of the 2016 WSOP.
Kassouf does have a few big names in his favor too, with Daniel Negreanu being one of his more boisterous advocates.
Audiences seem split right down the middle as to whether Kassouf is good for the game or not but we’ll definitely be seeing the Englishman at the tables again.
Ka Him Li captured the main event, Eric le Goff the High Roller and plenty of stars including Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Moorman and Sam Grafton all made final-table appearances
“Make it Big” was the theme of this 888poker Festival and it certainly delivered with a £228,096 main event prize pool and plenty of smiling faces around.
And while the main event has just ended, there are still at least 10 tables still buzzing with cash games in the 888poker room.
Cavalcade of Stars
The £200,000 Main Event guarantee was reached quickly on Day 1B over the weekend and players were off on the hunt for the ITM places. Among the big names in the field were 888poker team pros Moorman, Sofia Lövgren, Dominik Nitsche and Kara Scott.
Joining in from points near and far were Esfandiari, Grafton, Michael Mizrachi, Melanie Weisner, Tom Middleton, Steve Watts, Leo McClean, Oanh Bui, Christopher Brammer, Adrien Allain and former world champion Martin Jacobson.
All told there were 288 entries, 172 of them on Day 1B.
Moorman was among the re-entries when he flopped Broadway with K-Q but was sucked out on by a set of jacks hitting runner-runner full house.
He bought back in but still couldn’t survive Day 1, busting within minutes of his wife.
Scott and Grafton Thrive
Kara Scott turned out to be the 888poker ambassador to carry the largest chip stack on to Day 2 with Mizrachi, Natalie Hof, Lövgren and Nitsche following her.
At the end of Day 2 Scott remained the only 888poker ambassador in the field and she had had a tough go to get that far. Being short-stacked she hung in there and managed to get her chips in good three times but each time the showdown ended in a split.
Eventually she managed to double with pocket tens through pocket nines so she came back into the final with a proper stack.
On the other side of the table Sam “@SquidPoker” Grafton was one of the big stacks heading into the last day.
Having run deep at EPT Barcelona and excelled as a commentator for the Global Poker League, it’s been a good year for the English player now living in Warsaw.
On the final day Scott was the second player to go, finishing in 13th place. She 3-bet all-in with 25 bb and pocket tens but was called by two mighty kings which stopped her run right there.
Grafton then looked like the boss of the table and went into the chiplead until there were just four players left.
But then thunder struck and he lost not only the chiplead but his whole tournament life in a matter of three hands.
Two hands later Philippe Souki lost his stack, too, and both times Ka Him Li was the man to benefit. Li went into the heads-up with a 6.7-1.9 chiplead but Shah Raza made a quick double-up.
When Raza won another big hand, the players discussed a deal. They came to an agreement that should go down in poker history as one of the – let’s say most unconventional – deals we’ve ever seen.
Corresponding to the chipstacks Li was granted £5k more than Raza – £45k and £40k, respectively – and that left just £300 to play for or 0.35% of the money for the top two spots.
What’s even more amazing is that the heads-up went on for another 45 minutes before the winner was found.
Congratulations to Ka Him Li, winner of the first 888poker “Make It Big” live poker festival at the Aspers Casino in London. It was literally a full week of poker for Li as he had already played in the opening event, finishing in 35th place out of 700.
888poker Festival Main Event Final-Table Payouts
Ka Him Li
Enzo del Piero
Esfandiari/Moorman Make HR Final Table
Thirty-seven players and 10 re-entries made up the field of the £2,000 high roller and of the 888poker ambassadors Esfandiari and Moorman both made the final table.
They both made the top six players, too, which meant they were in the money.
But then Esfandiari was the first to leave the table when he couldn’t find a fold with top pair against a well-hidden full house.
Moorman led the chipcount with four players left but went on a downhill spiral and busted in fourth place.
It was Tom Middleton, then, the former EPT Barcelona winner, who was the favorite but eventually had to settle for second place as French player Eric le Goff was invincible on that night.
It was a short heads-up but still enough time for Esfandiari to sit down in the main event and bust it before the high roller was finished.
888poker Festival High-Roller Payouts
Eric le Goff
Click here for a full replay of the final-table live stream.
PokerListings will soon meet up with 888poker again when the best low buy-in poker tournament in Europe – the Battle of Malta – kicks off in just 10 days
If you want to play in a live poker event with 888poker, head to our review page and create your own account in just a couple of minutes.
Her life is now centered around her chosen home in Los Angeles but she’s come to London this week to play and be an ambassador for 888poker.
Despite her impressive success on the poker circuit Weisner isn’t just a poker player, though. She’s also a musical singer and a director – and, so it seems, a bit of a foodie.
PL: According to your Twitter feed you’re looking for a star or two here in London.
Melanie Weisner: Yes, Michelin stars! I’m obsessed with food.
I paired a lot of my poker travels with going to the best restaurants in the world. I lived in London briefly and I’ve been fortunate enough to go to some amazing places here.
PL: You wouldn’t have a food blog or something.
MW: You know, I don’t, but I’ve been whining about this for such a long time and I promise I’m going to do it this year. Keep an eye out for it.
PL: Has your focus in life shifted since you moved to Los Angeles in 2014?
MW: I’d say poker is still my profession. The beautiful thing about poker is it allows you to spend time on other passions and I’m taking full advantage of that.
So now there’s a multitude if things going on in my life. I grew up in an artistic family and there’s always been that creative side in me. In my case directing is the outlet for it.
PL: What’s your current artistic project?
MW: At the moment I’m directing a play for a company called Pop-up Theater LA. It’s called Becky Shaw and it was written by Pulitzer nominated playwright Gina Gionfriddo.
It’s a great piece of art and it’s a real pleasure to work with it.
PL: Do you act at the table?
MW: Yes. I definitely use my psychological skills. I think these are very important for live poker.
I think it’s not only necessary to read other people but also to portray whatever you want to portray to manipulate other people to do what you want them to do.
PL: We heard you reciting Goethe’s Erl King the other night – in German! Where do the language skills come from?
MW: I took up German in middle school.
You had the choice between different languages but German was the one where you could win an oversized Toblerone (laughs). So I chose that.
Memorizing the Erl King was part of a project and it kind of stuck with me.
PL: Is German also part of your ancestry?
MW: My ancestry is half Polish, a quarter Russian and a quarter Austrian so there is some German language involved.
Many people think Weisner is a German but it’s technically Austrian.
PL: You were the second-last woman standing in this year’s WSOP. Do you appreciate this “title” or is this a category that shouldn’t even exist?
MW: I’d say it’s neither. The truth is that poker is a male dominated sport and females represent a very small percentage of the field.
I think it’s nice to have that category because you are representing women as a whole when you’re playing and you might entice more smart women to enter the game, so it would have been kind of nice to be the last woman in the field.
As a professional, and I’ve been playing professionally since I was 20, it’s more about capitalizing on the opportunity as a whole.
To be deep in the Main Event, to have a stack I can work with and to go as far as I can get as a player and play in a way that’s representative of my abilities – and I think I did that.
It’s nice to represent women in poker but you could also say you’re just representing one of several small subsets in the poker world.
Of course there is also that typical feminine pressure, the disproportionate attention you get when you’re one out of two female players left. (Ed. note: the other player being Gaelle Bauman who finished 102nd; Weisner finished 127th)
But it’s obvious that the eyes are on you in a situation like this, and I know the year when Gaelle just missed the final table everyone was pretty excited because it would have been such a cool thing to have a woman in the final.
Something that never happened before except for Barbara Enright, but that was a long time ago when the fields were much smaller.
PL: So, you’d say that virtual title “Last Woman Standing” is more of an appreciation?
MW: I understand both arguments. I understand it’s appreciative, but I also understand you can take it the wrong way and find it a little bit patronizing – like it’s “the not-last real person standing,” you know.
I don’t think it’s meant that way. I think it’s meant to celebrate a small minority in the field and encourage women to play. I don’t think it’s meant to say they’re second class.
You can have the same argument about Ladies events. I personally don’t like them, although the main reason is I get really tilted easily in those.
I don’t know why that is. There’s something about that female-female dynamic that gets me.
PL: So you play better in a male-dominated environment?
MW: You know, I do. Maybe it’s because I was already an accomplished online player when I joined the live arena.
I didn’t have to face the same challenges women face when they start out playing live today.
I’d already been successful and I’ve acquired quite a thick skin. I did still feel pressure to establish myself in live poker and I understand why women don’t want to play poker as much as men do.
Ultimately, it’s a question of respect. If everyone treats everyone else like a human being there’s not much of an issue.
PL: Other groups are also treated stereotypically. The elderly guy is always seen as a nit, for example.
MW: Sure. And then you’ll have to ask yourself how politically correct you want to be. As a poker player it’s part of your job to stereotype, evaluate and make judgments on people.
Someone’s typical group tendency can give you valuable information and it’s not in your best interest to ignore that. Stereotypes exist, and a good player will take reputations into account and then mash them up with what they experience at the table.
Math teacher Valentin Vornicu was having pretty much the perfect tournament.
Then, in more or less just two decisions, it all came crumbling down in no time.
Flop to River
It’s Day 7 of the 2016 WSOP Main Event. 25 players are still in the mix and they all have $269,430 in the bag. The next pay jump is at 18th place and is worth almost $70,000.
The blinds are 100,000/200,000/30,000 which puts 540,000 chips in the pot before any action. From the hijack Kenny Hallaert (13.2 million chips/66 big blinds) raises to 475,000.
Valentin Vornicu (20.9 million/104 bb) finds on the button. Vornicu – winner of eight WSOP Circuit rings – re-raises to 1.1 million.
The blinds fold but Hallaert calls. There’s 2.74 million chips in the pot and effective stacks are at 12.1 million. The flop is
Hallaert checks, Vornicu bets 1.225 million and gets a call. The pot grows to 5.19 million with the effective stacks now at 10.9 million. The turn is the
Hallaert checks again and Vornicu fires another bullet – 2.2 million chips – but Hallaert calls again. The pot is now up to 9.59 million and effective stacks are at 8.7 million.
The river is the Hallaert checks a third time and Vornicu decides to have another go at it. He bets 2.65 million but now Hallaert moves all-in for 8.7 million.
There’s 21 million chips in the pot. Vornicu doesn’t give it a lot of thought. He puts in the 6 million he needs to pay.
Hallaert shows and wins a pot of 27 million chips. Vornicu loses almost two-thirds of his stack and drops to 7.7 million corresponding to 39 bb. Soon after he busts in 23rd place while Hallaert is now waiting to take his seat at the November Nine.
At first glance you might think Vornicu just got really unlucky with his big overpair against a well-hidden hand. But the truth is he overplayed his hand massively.
Let’s see how and why. Hallaert raises and Vornicu finds himself in the perfect spot. He’s on the button and holds the third-best hand in Texas Hold’em.
But his range is also so much wider than it would be in any other position at the table. There are plenty of players who re-raise from the button for position or to exploit specific tournament situations.
This is why Hallaert can’t fold to the re-raise, although his starting hand A-T is rather mediocre and he doesn’t have position – plus he’s getting excellent pot odds.
Hallaert’s Big Hit
The flop really couldn’t be much better for Hallaert. His hand just turned into a monster. He checks and Vornicu has no reason to slow down.
He’s almost always ahead and middle pairs like 9-9, 8-8, or 6-6 or even A-X hands will often call the bet. If they don’t he’s successfully protecting his hand.
The turn doesn’t change much. The six fills up 8-9 and 6-6, but these are the only hands that would really improve.
When Hallaert checks Vornicu bets quickly, which obviously isn’t a big mistake but maybe not the best move either.
Way Ahead or Way Behind
This is a typical case of “way ahead or way behind” and if you’re way behind you don’t have many outs to come back.
More important, however, is the fact that the aforementioned hands like middle pairs and A-X will never pay three streets. They would just have to fold.
But after a check-check on the turn and a brick on the river, they might pay one more bet.
So when Hallaert calls the second bet, it should have set off Vornicu’s alarm bells. Instead, things get even worse.
Disaster On the River
Hallaert checks the river again, almost robbing himself off a very reasonable value bet.
Two calls on the flop and turn have raised the value of Hallaert’s range considerably. It’s now pretty strong and Vornicu should check behind to see if his hand is good.
Let’s face it; which hand worse than jacks can still possibly call another bet on the river?
It looks like the math teacher couldn’t get away from putting the Belgian on nines, eights, or A-X. There’s almost no other way to explain his small river bet.
But his quick call after Hallaert moves all-in is much worse.
A check-raise for six million more chips and Vornicu still doesn’t think it’s necessary to sit back and think about what’s happening.
Vornicu made two bad decisions on that river and they pretty much cost him the Main Event that had been running so well for him.
After that, he didn’t find any more luck and finished in 23rd place. Hallaert used his big stack to move on to the November Nine.
Valentin Vornicu makes a pivotal mistake by not analyzing his opponent’s range properly, or at all, which leads him to overplay his overpair by a mile.
His opponent Kenny Hallaert doesn’t really have to do anything and he’s visibly relieved when he sees Vornicu’s hand. The way he played he could well have had a full house with sixes or sevens, too.