Thursday December 26, 2019 at 5:49 pm

We're quickly approaching the end of 2019 and the end of the decade. So much happened in 2019, we have a special two-part series highlighting the best and most interesting stories of 2019. In the first half of 2019, some of the big stories involved Chino Rheem winning the 2019 PCA and Spain's Roman Colillas taking down the inaugural PSPC in the Bahamas for $5.1 million. Bryn Kenney shipped the largest Aussie Millions in history. Just before the WSOP, Daniel Negreanu stepped down after 12 years as a sponsored pro and ambassador for PokerStars. Gianluca 'Tankanza' Speranza won the SCOOP Main Event in back-to-back years.

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As 2019 quickly comes to and end and the decade of the 2010s comes to a close, we compiled a list of some of the top stories and weird things that happened along the way. It's like how Kierkegaard wrote about life is lived forwards but understood backwards. It's also how like Joe Walsh explained in the Eagles documentary, "You look back and life seems like a finally crafted novel, but at the time it isn't because it's a bunch of random and chaotic events crashing into each other." Or something like that.

We compiled a fancy link dump of the best of the best from the first part of 2019.

JANUARY 2019

January 2019 started out like mostly every other year with everyone positive about the how the new year will shake out at the tables with personal goals and resolutions.

Who would have thought that the 2019 PCA down in the Bahamas would be its last ever? Chino Rheem went to the Bahamas and shipped the 2019 PCA for a $1.5 million score and he picked off Daniel Strelitz heads-up for the title.

Meanwhile, the first ever PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) concluded with Spain's Roman Colillas defeating French pro Julien Martini heads-up for the inaugural PSPC title and $5.1 million in cash. Colillas, dubbed Spain's Chris Moneymaker, turned a modest satellite buy-in into $5 million to bink the first PSPC.

Phil Hellmuth went to Atlantic City to play at the annual Winter Poker Open and the Poker Brat won a heads-up title.

PokerStars introduced 6+ Hold'em or their version of Short Deck Poker.

Gavin Smith passed away at the end of January, which totally shocked the poker community. There were no shortage of eulogies and stories being shared about Gavin Smith's hijinks and other wild anecdotes.

FEBRUARY 2019

In February, the suits at PokerStars did not wait very long to tap Ramon Colillas (aka the Spanish Chris Moneymaker) as the newest ambassador for the Red Spade.

David Peters capped off February by winning the 2019 US Poker Open Main Event for $1.32 million to secure the overall USPO Championship. Meanwhile, Stephen Chidwick shipped two 2019 USPO events.

Top Twitch and YouTubes streamers, Jaime Staples and Jeff Gross, left PokerStars after several years as sponsored players.

Bryn Kenney went down under and won the largest-ever Aussie Millions when he shipped the 2019 Aussie Millions Main Event for $1.27 million.

MARCH 2019

In March... PokerStars' loss one again became partypoker's gain. Both Jeff Gross and Jaime Staples joined partypoker as their newest members of partypoker Team Online, which was a huge undertaking by partypoker to bolster their roster of sponsored players with two of the most influential poker streamers and other online pros.

A suspect robbed the Bellagio poker room and then died after a fatal shootout with police at the Bellagio valet.

Meanwhile, a wild poker fight broke out in the Arena Poker Room at Talking Stick Casino in Scottsdale, Arizona.

West Virginia became the fifth US state to legalize online poker.

Vinicius Lima took down the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open for $728,430 at the HyperX eSports Arena in Las Vegas during an experiment in which the WPT postponed the final table of an event to be played out in Vegas.

Old David Baker also won a WPT final table in Las Vegas when he won the conclusion of the 2019 LA Poker Classic, which started out at Commerce Casino in LA and ended up in Vegas at the Luxor.

Timothy Adams won the 2019 Triton High Roller Series in Jeju, Korea for $2.34 million, while Jason Koon took down the Triton Super High Roller Short Deck title for $2.9 million.

APRIL 2019

In April, former poker player and current sports bettor, James Holzhauer, took the world by storm when he went on an epic winning streak on Jeopardy.

Rumors began swirling in Las Vegas that the Rio Casino would be sold to a one of two groups that would either use the space to create a train station for a high-speed rail from LA to Vegas. Or, a group that wanted to bring a MLB franchise to Vegas would use the area to build a brand new baseball stadium.

MAY 2019

In May... Gianluca 'Tankanza' Speranza, an Italian pro living in Austria, shipped the 2019 SCOOP Main Event on PokerStars in back-to-back years. He took down the 2018 SCOOP Main Event and successfully defended his title and won a little more than one million.

Maurice Hawkins won a record-breaking 13 th WSOP Circuit ring with a score at the 2019 WSOP Circuit Horseshoe Tunica.

James Carroll took down the 2019 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown and that final table played out at the Luxor in Las Vegas.

Mikita Badziakouski, Steve O'Dwyer, Winfred Yu, Bryn Kenney, John Juanda, Rui Cao, Ben Lamb, and Jungleman won Triton Super High Roller events in Montenegro. Bryn Kenney kept up his hot 2019 with a victory at the 2019 Triton Montenegro Main Event for $2.7 million.

Maning Loeser picked off Wei Huang heads-up to win the 2019 EPT Monte Carlo for €603,777.

Just before the start of the 2019 WSOP, Daniel Negreanu stepped down as a pitchman for PokerStars. Shocker, eh? KidPoker and the red spade went hand-in-hand for over a decade.

Latest news
Tuesday March 31, 2020 at 5:31 am
2020 WSOP Online Super Circuit Series: Champie 'kiddchamp' Douglas wins Main Event

The 2020 WSOP Online Super Circuit Series at WSOP.com came to an end with the $525 buy-in Main Event championship. Event #16 Main Event attracted 1,134 runners and a prize pool worth $567,000. Champie 'kiddchamp' Douglas defeated Scott '2Due4U' Blumstein heads-up to win the title, Circuit ring, and $130,410 in cash. Meanwhile, Matt Stout shipped two events including Event #2 NL Monster Stack for $43,286 and Event #11 NL Big $500 for $63,234.

Monday March 30, 2020 at 12:17 am
Galfond Challenge: Deficit Cut to €154K, VeniVidi's downswing continues

After 31 sessions of the Galfond Challenge on Run It Once Poker between Phil "OMGClayAiken" Galfond and VeniVidi, Galfond is down - €154,287 as they approach 20,000 hands of their 25,000-hand heads-up bout playing €100/€200 PLO. Galfond stormed back after losing 900K during the first 15 sessions. His heater continued after he banked another six-figure winning day with a€106K score on Day 31. The Challenge resumes on Monday.

Friday March 27, 2020 at 1:38 pm
PokerStars introduces Swap Hold'em cash games

Over the years, PokerStars introduced various new versions and tweaks on traditional Texas Hold'em. In their latest new format, PokerStars introduced Swap Hold'dem. The game is essentially Texas Hold'em, except you can swap out one or two cards at any given time, but can only do so one time. Unlike some of the weird gimmicky game, the fun and exciting Swap Hold'em should stick this time around.

Tuesday March 24, 2020 at 7:26 pm
Galfond Challenge: Phil Galfond +€580K upswing, VeniVidi calls timeout

The Galfond Challenge on Run It Once Poker is on a short pause after VeniVidi asked for a couple days off during their recent downswing. Phil Galfond stormed back in the last two weeks while playing two tables of heads-up €100/€200 PLO against VeniVidi. After 28 sessions, Galfond is only stuck €319K after wiping out €581K in previous losses. The two have less than 7,500 hands to go in the first installment of the Galfond Challenge and action will resume on Thursday.

Friday March 20, 2020 at 4:35 pm
partypoker to host online version of Poker Masters Online

The Poker Masters quickly became a popular series among the high roller crowd. With the quarantine underway during the coronavirus pandemic, the Poker Masters teamed up with partypoker to create the Poker Masters Online. The first installment will include 30 online events -- with buy-ins from $10K to $50K -- running from Sunday, April 12 through Sunday April 26, 20200 on partypoker. The first Poker Masters Online has a guaranteed prize pool totaling $15.2 million including a $2 million guaranteed Main Event.

Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 12:22 am
Las Vegas and Reno on Lockdown, All Casinos Closed for 30 Days Due to Coronavirus

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced that all non-essential business will be shut down due to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak. That decree particularly included shutting down all casinos including adjacent shops and restaurants for 30 days. Social distancing is the most effective way to slow down the spread of the virus, much to the dismay of gambling enthusiasts. At least Nevada residents have online options, but nothing in the virtual world can ever compare to the glitz and glamour of Sin City.

Monday March 16, 2020 at 3:29 am
The Bike and Commerce Casinos in LA, Plus Wynn and MGM Las Vegas now closed due to Coronavirus

Coronavirus has officially shut down the Wynn and MGM properties in Las Vegas after Sin City saw their infection rate spike over the weekend. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, the major casinos and card rooms closed including Commerce and the Bike. Not all casinos in America or around the world are closed, but major ones on the West Coast took drastic measures during the pandemic.

Thursday March 12, 2020 at 7:30 pm
Daniel Negreanu calls on all US poker rooms to close during Coronavirus Outbreak

Daniel Negreanu tweeted his thoughts on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that has hit the US. He wants all poker rooms to close to help prevent the spread of the virus that the WHO upgraded to a pandemic. Meanwhile, earlier in the week PokerStars announced they were suspending tournaments in Europe through April due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

Tuesday March 10, 2020 at 4:54 pm
Galfond Challenge resumes, Phil Galfond storms back with €308K swing

After taking off a couple of weeks to catch his breath after a tremendous downswing in the inaugural Galfond Challenge on Run It Once, Phil Galfond and VeniVidi resumed their match with five sessions. They finally passed the mid-way mark of the 25,000-hand heads-up battle. On Day 20, Galfond won €92,803 for his third winning session since resuming the challenge. He's now stuck €592,309, which is a huge improvement from when he was €900K in the hole after the first 15 days.

Monday March 9, 2020 at 9:58 pm
Sam Trickett, Xia He Jiang, and Wai Leong Chan ship partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Super High Roller Series Sochi events

The 2020 partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Super High Roller Series Sochi kicked off. Xia He Jiang won Event #1 $25K Short Deck for $378,000 after defeating John Cynn heads-up. Sam Trickett banked $435,000 for winning Super High Roller Series Sochi Event #2 $25,000 NL. The UK pro faded 58 entrants to take down the second event in Russia. The final seven also included Ivan Leow, Matthias Eibinger, Adrian Mateos, Timothy Adams, and Phil Ivey. In Event #3 $25K Short Deck, Wai Leong Chan defeated Paul Phua heads up for the trophy and $457,500 in cash.

Sunday March 8, 2020 at 7:59 pm
PokerStars Sunday Million celebrates 14 year anniversary with $12.5 Million guarantee

PokerStars will celebrate the 14th anniversary of the Sunday Million with a special event on Sunday, March 22, 2020 with a $12.5 million guaranteed prize pool, which will be the largest single tournament in PokerStars history. The 14th anniversary Sunday Mill is a re-entry event (up to three re-entries) has late registration open until Day 2. First place will win at least a cool million. China's Wang 'wangli0402' Li won last year's record-setting Sunday Million 13th Anniversary event.

Thursday March 5, 2020 at 2:42 pm
Balakrishna Patur leads 2020 WPT LAPC Final table

The 2020 WPT LA Poker Classic at Commerce Casino on the outskirts of Los Angeles attracted 490 runners this year. With six to go, Balakrishna Patur heads into the final table with the chip lead. The final six also includes Matas Cimbolas, James Carroll, Ka Kwan Lau, Scott Hempel, and Upeshka De Silva. The final table resumes on April 2 at the HyperX eSports Arena in Las Vegas. First place pays out $1,015,000 plus a freeroll into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.

Wednesday March 4, 2020 at 4:27 pm
Telex
The Galfond Challenge Resumes

Phil Galfond decided to finish out his first round of the Galfond Challenge against VeniVidi after taking a couple weeks off during an ugly stretch of PLO. You can watch Session #16 right now via Twitch.

Tuesday March 3, 2020 at 7:08 pm
Shiva Dudani wins 2020 WSOP Circuit Chicago (Hammond, IN) for $258K

Chicago's Shiva Dudani outlasted a field of 989 runners to win the $1,700 buy-in Main Event at the 2020 WSOP Circuit Horseshow Hammond (Chicago) for $258,078. His final table included Casey Carroll, Firas Sadou, Evan Bethyo, Bryan Skreens, Pat Steele, Hussian Sajwani, Nicola Ditrapani, and Voytek Glab. Dudani earned his second WSOP Circuit ring.

Tuesday March 3, 2020 at 2:17 am
2020 WPTDeepStacks: Sonny Franco Shines in Paris with €200,000 score

The WPT returned to Paris for the first time since 2013 with the inaugural WPTDeepStacks Festival at Club Pierre Charron. The €1,500 buy-in Main Event anchored the return of the WPT to Paris. Ten players entered the final day of action and Sonny Franco was the last one left standing. Franco banked €200,000 (or approximately $222,420) for first place after fading a total field of 853 runners. The final six also included Ouassini Mansouri, Lianmin Bai, Florent Estegassy, Marcin Wydrowski, and Jean Paul Pasqualini.