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.
Two more well-known pros are no longer sponsored players and members of Team PokerStars. Igor Kurganov and Liv Boeree are no longer with PokerStars as the online poker giants shifts away from traditional sponsored pros. Meanwhile, PokerStars is also pulling the plug on Power Up Poker, one of the many new formats they introduced in the last few years that was more like a video game than old school poker.
Pennsylvania, now the fifth largest state in America after edging out Illinois with 12.8 million residents, officially has online poker again when PokerStars PA went online during a soft launch on Monday. The official launch will be Wednesday, November 6, 2019.
Ten days after the Mike Postle alleged cheating scandal hit, new evidence in coming in every day and the story has hit the mainstream media like ESPN and The Ringer. In his latest daily video, Joey Ingram shared intel from a member of the gaming community who pinpointed the date in July when Postle began manipulating his phone to gain an advantage on his opponents. Since then, Ingram estimated Postle won over $330,000 playing low-stakes poker on the stream.
Imperial Companies, a real estate company based out of New York City, purchased the Rio for $516.3 million from Caesars Entertainment. Imperial will lease back the Rio to Caesars for the next two years. Meanwhile, the Rio will continue to host the World Series of Poker through 2021.
World Series of Poker vice president of communications Seth Palansky confirmed that the 2020 WSOP is planned to take place at the Rio Casino and Convention Center in the summer of 2020 despite numerous rumors that Caesar's is selling the Rio and the WSOP would migrate to a new convention center off The Strip.
When Phil Ivey finished in 8th place in the2019 WSOP 50K PPC, his winnings were garnished by the Borgata as part of the $10 million he owes to Casino after the edge sorting baccarat scandal. The Rio withheld Ivey's score worth $124,410. His backers, Jungleman and Illya Trincher, are seeking their half of Ivey's score per their staking arrangement.
Daria 'Scarlett_D' Feshchenko, a 26-year old poker pro from Russia, is the newest ambassador for 888poker. Feshchenko plays high-stakes cash games in Russia, but you can find her online playing $50/$100 NL under the moniker Scarlett_D.
In an unexpected move, six-time WSOP bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu announced on Twitter that he stepped down as an ambassador with PokerStars. Kid Poker, who is second on the all-time money list with $39.8 million, ended his 12-year relationship with PokerStars as a pitchman and consultant. This abrupt news comes one week before the start of the 2019 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
The poker industry got a little love in the mainstream media with a 22-minute video piece by CNBC titled "Who Makes Money from Professional Poker?" The piece goes deeper into the business side of being a professional including staking and included interview bites with Ryan LaPlante, Derek Wolters, and Jeff Gross.
The Rio Casino in Las Vegas has been on the block for a while now. The latest rumor coming out of Sin City suggests that Virgin Trains bought the Rio and will turn the site into a train station for the express train running Los Angeles to Las Vegas. The previous rumor suggested that the Rio would be leveled to build a baseball stadium for a future expansion team. If either of these rumors are true, then the 50th anniversary of the WSOP might be the last to be played out at the Rio Casino.
Over the weekend, someone walked into the Bellagio poker room and pulled off a brazen Friday night robbery without anyone even noticing. The thief fled out the Bellagio's side entrance by the north valet and four Las Vegas cops confronted the suspect when he failed to carjack a vehicle in the valet. The robber pulled out a gun and shot at the police, who instantly returned fire and struck him. The suspect was taken to the hospital and later died from his wounds.
At the start of January, Ramon Colillas was one of a couple hundred fortunate winners of a Platinum Pass to the Bahamas. A month later, he's now a Team PokerStars Pro after binking the largest tournament in the history of poker tournaments. PokerStars tapped the Spanish Chris Moneymaker to join Chris Moneymaker and help promote PokerStars throughout Spain, Europe, and the rest of the world.
Popular online streamers Jeff Gross and Jaime Staples are no longer sponsored players by PokerStars. Both pros announced their departures via their channels on YouTube. Staples ended his four-year run with Stars, while Gross spent nearly two years with them. Both pros will continue to stream on their personal channels, while looking forward to new opportunities.
Thor Hansen passed away at the age of 71 after a prolonged battle with terminal cancer. The Olso-born Hansen is regarded as both the Godfather of Norwegian Poker as well as the Godfather of Scandinavian Poker. Hansen won two WSOP bracelets with his first occurring back in 1988 in Seven-card Stud. Hansen finished his illustrious career as third on the all time Norwegian money list.
Virtual reality and poker have intersected thanks to PokerStars. The news out of PokerStars HQ today is glowing news about PokerStars VR. Coming soon! Get those head sets ready. By the way... supposedly there will be pet donkeys.
Poker is a not a competitive sport or mind sport in China. As a result, many popular poker sites and apps are being shut down by Chinese authorities. Tencent Gaming will be shutting down their popular poker app, Everyday Hold'em, on September 25. Players will be compensated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, one of the founders of Full Tilt Poker, posted a 42-second video in which he apologies to the poker community. Ferguson won his 6th bracelet last year at the WSOP Europe on RozVegas, and locked up 2017 WSOP Player of the Year, much to the dismay of the majority of the American online poker community. Jesus Ferguson's video created an instant tsunami of ire on social media, with the start of the 2018 WSOP right around the corner.
The dispute: $692,460. The crux: America or Canada? 2016 WSOP Main Event Runner-Up Gordon Vayo provided proof he was in Montreal, Canada during the duration of his SCOOP victory last year. The security squad claimed he violated TOS by connecting to the site using a VPN. Vayo responded with a lawsuit against the biggest online poker operator on the planet.
Eleven women were nominated this year for induction into the Women Poker Hall of Fame. The nominees include Shirley Rosario, Jennifer Tilly, Kara Scott, Maria Ho, Haley Hintze, Angelica Hael, Terry King, Karina Jett, Lupe Soto, Hermance Blum, and Mandy Glogow. The current Women Poker Hall of Fame has 19 members.
The house always wins, eh? Bettors and gamblers dropped $1 billion in Nevada during the first month of 2018. That's the 36th time since March 2005 that casinos in Nevada won $1 billion in a single month. January 2018's haul is the best month for Nevada since last March.
Ludovic Lacay was recently profiled in Business Insider for his work with a tech start-up. Lacay was one of the top poker players in Europe and an integral member of Team Winamax. After a decade a grinding, the French pro took a shot at an entirely different career in the tech world. Lacay secured an unpaid internship at a health-based startup in London called Tictrac and quickly moved his way up the ladder. In a short time, Lacay went from poker pro to product manager of a tech start up. Along the way, he implemented many on-the-felt strategies to improve their product.
Another high-profile player joins Team partypoker. German pro Philipp Gruissem is the most recent addition to the ranks of partypoker's sponsored players. In only nine years as a professional, Gruissem won $11 million in live tournaments. Known as ‘philbort' at the virtual tables, Gruissem won another $3.5 million playing online poker. Gruissem is heavily involved in philanthropy and co-founded Raising for Effective Giving, in which poker pros donate 2% of their winnings to high-efficient charities, where donations will have the biggest impact.
Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier tweeted a brief statement explaining he is no longer a member of Team Pro at PokerStars. Add ElkY's name to the growing list of pros, including Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier, who departed from the ranks of PokerStars in 2018. No other French player has won more money that ElkY, who banked over $13.5 million in live tournament winnings. In 2008, ElkY won the PCA in the Bahamas for a $2 million score and he won the WPT Bellagio later that year. ElkY completed the "Triple Crown" in 2011 after winning his first WSOP bracelet. Let's not forget, poker is ElkY's second career. The professional gamer and esports legend is currently a member of Team Liquid and a Hearthstone pro.
American pro Issac Haxton joined the ranks of Team partypoker. Haxton tweeted he "really pumped" to join partypoker, who has been aggressively signing high stakes pros over the last year including Fedor Holz and Jason Koon. "Party is doing great things," added Ike Haxton, who joins other members of Team partypoker including Sam Trickett, Dzmitry Urbanovich, and Kristen Bicknell.
Quad Queens vs. quad treys for $1 million. The largest bad beat jackpot in American casino history occurred Tuesday night at the Motor City Casino in Detroit, Michigan. The loser of the hand with quad treys and winner of the bad beat took home over $427K. The player with quad Queens earned nearly $213K. With only six playing at the time, the other four earned the table share worth nearly $107K each!
American pro Jason Mercier will no longer be a sponsored pro for PokerStars. After 8.5 years as a Team Pro, Mercier decided to not renew his contract, which expired at the end of 2017. Mercier is a new father and he made the tough decision to stop traveling internationally to play tournaments, while focusing on his family instead. For more details, read Mercier's farewell post on PokerStars Blog. In addition to Vanessa Selbst's venture into hedge funds, Mercier is the second high-profile American pro who did not renew their sponsorships with PokerStars in 2018.