WPT Releases Deep Schedule of Ladies Events for 2023; Prime Gold Coast Event Breaks Record

In conjunction with International Women’s Day, the WPT announced several new ladies events running throughout Season XXI on Wednesday..

In conjunction with International Women’s Day, the World Poker Tour announced several new ladies events on Wednesday.

The new events are scheduled throughout Season XXI and the announcement comes after the first WPT Ladies Championship was held in December at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

As part of the announcement, the tour outlined dates for the second version of that tournament as well. The schedule also includes several tournaments at international stops.

“At WPT we take pride in the efforts we have put forth to increase women’s participation in poker,” WPT CEO Adam Pliska said in a news release. “As we recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day, we look forward to these record-setting initiatives throughout Season XXI and seeing more women play in our events around the world.”

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A look at the WPT ladies schedule

In Season XXI, ladies events will be held at 13 WPT festivals. That includes seven tournaments at WPT Prime stops and six at Main Tour stops. The grand finale will again be the Ladies Championship at the WPT World Championship festival.

Numerous women are a part of the leadership team at WPT, tour officials noted. Vice President of global tour management Angelica Hael was a 2022 Women in Poker Hall of Fame inductee.

Some other key female leaders in the company include Vice President of finance Deborah Frazzetta, Vice President of marketing Hermance Blum, executive producer Mandy Glogow, and Vice President of studio, distribution, and ad sales Loc Sondheim.

“Fostering the presence of women in poker has always been a natural part of the WPT ecosystem,” Hael said. “This year, we are proud to present dedicated ladies events at an overwhelming majority of our global festivals, culminating with the 2023 WPT Ladies Championship at Wynn Las Vegas.”

A look at the schedule, TV events

In celebration of Women’s History Month, WPT will air episodes from various ladies events across TV and streaming platforms every night in the month of March. The Season XXI scheduled ladies events include:

  1. WPT Prime Cambodia
  2. Prime India
  3. WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown (Main Tour)
  4. WPT Choctaw (Main Tour)
  5. Prime Slovakia
  6. Prime Vietnam
  7. Prime Taiwan
  8. Prime Liechtenstein
  9. WPT Australia (Main Tour)
  10. Prime Madrid
  11. WPT bestbet Scramble (Main Tour)
  12. WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open (Main Tour)
  13. WPT World Championship (Main Tour)
Sheng Ye celebrate winning the WPT Prime Gold Coast. (photos courtesy WPT)

WPT Prime Gold Coast winner

In other tour news, Sheng Ye came out on top in the second WPT Prime Gold Coast on Sunday night. He topped a record-breaking field of 1,224 entries in the AUD $2,000 buy-in main event at The Star Gold Coast in Queensland.

Ye grabbed AUD $374,953 for the win, which also includes a package to play in the season-ending WPT World Championship in December.

Just a month after Prime Paris broke the “non-championship” Prime entries record with 1,071, the Gold Coast event topped that by 153 entries. That entry total produced a prize pool of AUD $2.2 million. Ben Richardson finished runner-up, securing AUD $238,978.

WPT Prime Cambodia at NagaWorld Integrated Resort in Phnom Penh is next up on the tour. The festival runs March 9-21 with the $1,100 main event set for March 16-20.

Poker Podium: Online Qualifiers Crushing, Ambassadors Chalk Up Nice Wins, Big Bluffs, & More

While it may have been a short month, some big online poker winners rose to the top in the month of February.

While it may have been a short month, some big online poker winners rose to the top in February. Online operators offered plenty of action with a few players also reaping massive rewards in live events after qualifying online.

Severa site ambassadors also recorded nice scores including Lex Veldhuis, Ian Simpson, and Vivian Saliba. Here’s a look at the latest Poker Podium and some players recording some wins in February.

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PokerStars

The ability to qualify for major online events remains a nice incentive for many online poker players. PokerStars offers numerous opportunities, whether just smaller buy-in satellites or major promotions like Platinum Passes.

The last month saw some of these qualifiers win big. That includes Razvan Belea recently winning the European Poker Tour Paris main event title for $1.2 million. He secured his seat via a €530 online qualifier and is more accustomed to playing low roller events, especially freerolls.

The Romanian may now be tempted to move up in stakes after such a life-changing win.

“This is unreal,” he said after the win. “It’s all I’ve ever dreamed of since I started playing poker.”

If that weren’t enough, the series also featured a stop on the France Poker Series. Another online qualifier found the winner’s circle with France’s Alan Gaosdoue taking down the €1,100 Main Event for €287,830.

PokerStars ambassador Lex Veldhuis also showed off a massive hand in February when heads-up in the $540 Marathon. He ran a huge bluff with 5-high to take a massive pot and then went on to win the event for $5,213.

GGPoker

The $150 Overlay Edition highlighted much of the online action at GG in February. That culminated with Germany’s Philipp Gruissem taking the title earlier this week for $806,385.

The tournament brought in 64,622 entries for an $8.9 million prize pool. As part of the overlay, GG added $1.1 million to the prize pool. The win came after Gruissem took some time away from the game.

“I can still do it,” he noted on Twitter.

In other action, Collin Capone offered a look at what it’s like to win a GG Bounty Jackpot. Playing in a $10.80 Bounty Hunters event, he cashed in for more than $1,000.

Some good vibes also headed the way of GGPoker ambassador Kevin Martin recently. The Canadian poker pro and former Survivor contestant made quite the hero call in a huge pot with only Ace high. His instincts proved correct, eliminating his opponent in a $100 Sunday Hyper event.

888poker

A few days remain in the 888poker Mystery Bounty Series. The action runs through March 7 and the entire series features $2 million guaranteed.

The festivities kicked off on Feb. 19 and 888 ambassador Vivian Saliba making a deep run on the first day of action in the $109 Mystery Bounty Opening. The tournament came with a $120,000 guarantee and saw 1,032 entries. Players also vied for a top bounty of $12,000.

Saliba, of Brazil, ultimately finished fourth for $4,002. A pair of fellow Brazilians took the top two spots with “Leofoliveira” winning the event for a total of $10,812. “perrivini” took runner-up for $9,210, and here’s a look at the final hand.

As of March 1, Brazilians were dominating the series with six titles. The closest other countries were Montenegro, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom with two each

One of the other big events so far included the $109 Mystery Bounty Eight-Max, which came with a $150,000 guarantee. The action produced a field of 1,820 entries for a $182,000 prize pool with a top bounty of $15,000. 

player named “Anywayz” entered the final table in the middle of the pack, but was able to move up and take the win. Anywayz scored the $15,633 top prize plus $1,215 in bounties for a total of $16,848.

Another 888 team member scored a nice run in the series. In the $109 Mystery Bounty ($15,000 guaranteed), StreamTeam member Josh Manley made a final table appearance, finishing eighth for a total of $540.

Fellow ambassador Ian Simpson has quite the celebration after scoring a bounty tournament win for a $5,000 night.

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PartyPoker

This operator recently announced a new tournament schedule including the weekly $109 Sunday Party. The PKO (progressive knockout) event comes with a $150,000 guarantee. Online qualifiers start at just $0.01.

The first event debuted on Feb. 6 with 1,608 entries, topping the guarantee by $10,800. “BinkusMaximus” took the inaugural Sunday Party win for a total of $15,955.

On Feb. 26, Party boosted the prize pool to $200,000 and saw 2,014 entries for a $201,400 prize pool. In the end, “Nepomniachtch” ended the party on top, scoring $10,985 with an additional $13,014 in bounties for a total of $23,999. “Takafogonela” took runner-up for a total payout of $13,634.

The new $22 Sunday Carnival includes a $50,000 guarantee and saw a boost to $75,000 on Feb. 26. The tournament saw 3,436 entries for a small overlay. In the end, “Spakman0888” grabbed the win in this PKO event for a payout of $4,254 plus $2,900 in bounties for a total of $7,154.

In other news, PartyPoker ambassador Jaime Staples remains a popular Twitch streamer and recently gave fans a look at how he streams on Twitch. Not a bad online poker setup.

MASSIVE RETURN: Germany’s Philipp Gruissem Wins GGPoker Overlay Edition for $800K

After more than 64,000 entries, the Overlay Edition wrapped up at GGPoker on Tuesday with Philipp Gruissem winning more than $800,000.

After numerous $150 starting flights and more than 64,000 entries, the Overlay Edition wrapped up at GGPoker on Tuesday night with Philipp Gruissem taking the top spot.

The win rewarded Gruissem with a payout of $806,385, a massive online poker score for the German poker pro. The event is billed as the Overlay Edition because GG basically builds in an automatic overlay with some free money rewarding the site’s players.

The tournament promised a $10 million prize pool, doubling last year’s $5 million guarantee. The 64,622 entries produced a prize pool of $8.9 million, meaning GGPoker added an additional $1.1 million in overlay to that total.

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Scoring big in GGpoker Overlay Edition

After three days of action, Gruissem eventually found himself heads up against a Brazilian player named “GuGaGi.” Gruissem held just under a 2-to-1 chip advantage when heads-up play began – 404 million to 234 million.

GuGaGi battled back, however, and eventually took the lead with 500 million chips to Gruissem’s 125 million.

The former partypoker ambassador  began to turn things around after that, picking up some pots without reaching a showdown. When the stacks were about level, Gruissem moved all in on the river of a board of 6-8-A-8-10 for the last of his 222 million chips.

GuGaGi folded and Gruissem recaptured the lead, 475 million to 165 million. The final hand saw both players get it all in with Gruissem holding A Q versus GuGaGi’s K 4 .

The board brought a flop of 7 3 K , giving GuGaGi some hope by pairing his Kings. But the A on the turn moved Gruissem ahead.

The 9 on the river brought no help for GuGaGi and the title went to Gruissem. For runner-up, GuGaGi collected a nice payout of $572,777.

The top seven players all earned payouts of at least six figures. In total, the tournament paid out 6,383 entries with $362 paid out for players scoring a min-cash.

A look at the winner

On Twitter, Gruissem has documented his “comeback” to poker recently after some time away from the game. He’s even offered players a chance to stake some of his action. That comeback attempt looks to be complete with the huge score from this week.

“I can still do it,” he noted on Twitter.

At the live poker felt, Gruissem has more than $11.5 million in lifetime winnings. However, his last tournament score was two years ago.

Gruissem’s biggest win came in 2014 when he won the €25,500 High Roller at the PokerStars European Poker Tour Monte Carlo stop for $1.4 million. A year earlier, he took down a $100,000 World Poker Tour Alpha8 event for $1.1 million.

Gruissem’s poker results include other big finishes at events around the world in a tournament career stretching back to 2009.

After welcoming a new baby to his family in the last couple years, Gruissem looks to have decided to spend some time away from the tables. But it appears the German poker pro was ready for a return to the action.

“I’m back in the game!” he posted in January. “After getting a baby and opening up the HPO stable I discovered I still want to play and challenge myself to new heights! Poker never lets me go, so there must be something more in it for me! Different approach, same game! Let’s go!”

That approach certainly paid dividends so far and he now has a herculean win under his belt.

Lead image courtesy WPT

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No Need for a ‘Real Job’ – A Life in Streaming With PokerStars Ambassador Ben ‘Spraggy’ Spragg

PokerStars ambassador Ben "Spraggy" Spragg spoke with PokerScout about his transition from university to poker streamer and more.

Ben “Spraggy” Spragg has never had a “real job” and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Life as an online poker Twitch streamer and poker player certainly worked out for the longtime PokerStars ambassador.

During his studies at university, Spragg wasn’t sure what career would be a good fit. Poker seemed to interest him most and those college years actually proved to be his poker education.

“I had no real career plans,” he says. “I never really knew what I wanted to do. I was a first year politics student. And then I dropped politics because there’s just too much politics.”

Eventually, Spragg switched to a journalism, film, and TV degree, all the while playing semi-professionally. After graduating at age 22, the player from the United Kingdom transitioned into card playing full time.

The new media landscape presented a way to play poker and express his personality. Eight years later Spragg has one of the most popular poker channels on Twitch and continues to roll without that “real job.”

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“I kept playing once I graduated, and then started streaming when I was 25,” he told PokerScout while at the PokerStars No Limit Hold’em Players Championship (PSPC). “I had an audience of 10 people, but thought it’d be a fun thing to do, but then it just kind of snowballed. And then PokerStars saw the audience and they’re like, ‘why don’t you work with us?’”

Spragg has now worked with PokerStars for six years and lives the life many players dream of. He represents the new breed of poker site ambassador – having an audience in place, building content, and engaging with other players.

“Now I get to travel around the European Poker Tour and here in the Bahamas, and play all these big events,” he says, “and be a real part of a very fun team and a lot of fun projects.”

Online poker streaming with PokerStars

An affable personality and humorous approach is a major reason for Spragg’s success. His Twitch channel has more than 150,000 followers with 38,000 on YouTube.

He’s now been streaming for eight years. Looking back, could he have imagined playing poker full time representing PokerStars and achieving a major following online? Probably not, but there are some challenges that can come with managing his streaming enterprise and hitting the poker road so frequently.

“It’s very unique to not have had a job, straight from university into poker, and then into streaming,” he says. “Obviously, there are ups and downs. Poker is a very stressful situation because you don’t have a guaranteed paycheck, and you have to be very strict and responsible with yourself. And everything that I do now is streaming and commitments and traveling. I’m not going to sit here and say the job that I do is really hard. But there is a lot of work that goes into streaming.

“So whilst there are stressful days, there are days where I’ve got a lot going on or you lose at poker, and then people get on your back perhaps in chat or dealing with people or whatever. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to do what I do. I do think that comes from a certain amount of disgusting luck. But then you’ve got to work at it. It’s not just ‘come to the Bahamas and sit by the pool and play poker.’”

New projects in the works

Beyond simply streaming on Twitch, Spragg enjoys new experiences and opportunities to keep his creativity flowing. He’s now moving beyond online poker and appearing at more live events. That includes playing a full European Poker Tour schedule this year.

In the Bahamas, Spragg recorded three cashes and is hoping to build on that. He’ll also be building his YouTube platform as part of those travels.

Some new content with fellow PokerStars ambassador Parker Talbot. The Canadian streamer recently spent a few weeks at Spragg’s home and the two are fleshing out some ideas.

“Parker and I are working on a YouTube-type show that’s in its infancy at the moment and hopefully grows into something really fun,” he says. “I love making stuff with Parker because we’re not only very good friends, but I think we have a really good rapport when we’re on stream together.

“I’ve been streaming for a long time and still love streaming. It’s kind of the core of what I do, but I think we can do a lot more fun stuff.”

Considering his current role, those media skills learned in college actually helped after all. Spragg believes Twitch fits well for his personality and talents.

“I think it suits me very well in terms of just being off the cuff and riffing, and I can feel eight hours and hopefully have fun with it.,” he says. “But it can get repetitive after eight years. So it’s nice to engage in perhaps more creative stuff and try my hand at different things or working with some different people.”

Bringing Will Jaffe to the PSPC

Perhaps the recent Will Jaffe-PokerStars controversy serves as an example of Spragg’s wit and how he thinks on his feet. Jaffe is known for his fun “tough conversations” videos on Twitter and created one when he found out he’d been blocked by PokerStars for some reason.

Spragg was enlisted to help ease the tension and created his own video in response. What seemed like his own “tough convo” instead turned into quite a fun ending.

“That was one take, I didn’t script anything,” he says. “I had kind of had an idea of what I wanted to say, but I was on a tournament break. So I had 20 minutes. With a video like that, I think the more takes you do and the more you try and script it or plan it, the worse it’s going to end up because you sort of to be off the cuff.”

Spragg offered Jaffe a Platinum Pass if the poker pro could find his way to the Bahamas. But he didn’t spill the beans in the video until right at the end.

“He sort of did this whole bit of being upset with PokerStars,” Spragg says. “So I thought I’d scold him a little bit first. But then the big reveal at the end was that he won the Platinum Pass.”

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Some fun but striking out

The two then found some synergy at the PSPC. That all didn’t quite work out as hoped, however, and the Twitch streamer uses some of that typical humor to describe how everything turned out.

“I really like a lot of Will’s videos,” Spragg says. “I think he’s a very funny guy. And I think poker is more entertaining when you have characters like Will doing things like that. So it was quite an honor really to be a part of that and be able to invite Will down here to play the PSPC.

“But he busted. So I mean, what a loser really. I busted, he busted, we had a lot of swaps so that we could sweat each other and then we’re both just out. He did some great videos. We had some fun with the video back to him. But ultimately, zero dollars ahead.”

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Nightclubs, Pool Halls, & Playing Cards: PokerStars Ambassador Sam Grafton’s Wild Poker Journey 

Sam Grafton spoke with PokerScout at the PCA about his journey from playing in pool halls to becoming a PokerStars ambassador.

On a warm afternoon in the Bahamas, Sam Grafton is sporting a Phoenix Suns jersey as he sits outside the tournament area of the PokerStars No Limit Hold’em Players Championship (PSPC). The poker pro from the United Kingdom isn’t necessarily a fan of the team or even claims to be a follower of the NBA. He simply enjoys collecting jerseys, no matter the sport or how obscure.

“I don’t know anything about the Phoenix Suns,” he says. “It’s a great jersey though. When I’m in Vegas, I just buy some throwback sportswear and stuff like this.”

His interest in American sports gear occasionally leads to some humorous interactions.

“I’ve got like this Pittsburgh Steelers letterman jacket with all their championships on it,” he says. “I’ll be walking down the street sometimes and someone will be like ‘Steelers!” And I’m looking around and going, ‘Oh, yeah, go Steelers!’ Because to me, it’s just like nice clothing while I don’t really know so much about it.”

While Grafton may not know the ins and outs of the NFL and NBA, the Stars ambassador certainly knows his way around the poker table. He has $13.2 million in live tournament winnings and recently spoke with PokerScout at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, where he found a deep run in the PSPC.

Grafton discussed his life in the game, including learning the ropes in a pool hall and cash games after late night working in a London club.

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Competitiveness & PokerStars PSPC success

Grafton’s interest in sports jerseys may come with some ulterior motives. He brings a few on the road for poker tournaments and feels a bit more of a competitive mindset come with donning some basketball or football gear.

That seemed to work out in the Bahamas. He took 12th in the PSPC for $238,700 , but that came with some mixed emotions after such a huge 2022 and coming so close to another massive final table appearance. He also scored 52nd in the PCA Main Event for $29,400.

“In one sense, it’s really nice to run deep to day three, so you feel like you’re deeper in the tournament,” he says. “You feel like ‘I’m in with a chance of winning this thing.’ Obviously with 1,000 runners, to get 12th is a very, very deep finish.

“So in one sense, it gives me a sense that I’m playing well and very proud of how I played. On the other hand, it’s a little bit of a crossbar moment, not quite getting there, not quite finishing things off.”

Despite some of those misgivings, Grafton loved the experience in the Bahamas

“I think the atmosphere is unbelievable,” he told PokerScout. “Because people are bringing their families, girlfriends, partners, husbands, and loved ones. So that’s really nice – being able to just spend the morning on the beach, get the sand between your toes before you go and play poker.

“There’s just a very convivial atmosphere at the tables. And then I think, not to blow our own trumpet, but I think we’ve done a really good job of making this a great event. We’re setting the gold standard for how live events are conducted and I really think that we’ve done that here.”

A massive 2022 tournament record

Last year proved to be a big time for Grafton. In November, he scored a runner-up finish in the €50,000 Diamond High Roller in the World Series of Poker Europe for $465,852.

September came with a win in the $200,000 Triton Poker Coin Rivet Invitational, taking down a massive $5.5 million. In the same series, Grafton grabbed a runner-up in a $50,000 event for another $994,500.

In May he landed a fifth-place finish in a €100,000 Triton event for $756,631. March included a win and runner-up in European Poker Tour Prague events for a combined $300,000. Throughout much of the year, deep tournament runs kept heading Grafton’s way.

Winning pool hall poker sessions

Many of those skills at the poker table came after learning the game late in his 20s. After graduating from university, Grafton moved back home for a while. His brothers regularly played cards and some snooker at a local billiards hall. Grafton soon joined in.

“I used to go down there with the little bit of money I’d earned and play,” he says. “And I was always interested in winning because I couldn’t really afford to lose. I needed it to be a sort of self-sustaining hobby where I could at least break even, so straight away I was interested in the strategy of things.”

Grafton joins a long list of players who found poker at the pool hall. That includes legends like Bobby Baldwin, Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston, and Daniel Negreanu.

In his autobiography The Godfather of Poker, Doyle Brunson even described playing in the back of a billiards hall when someone was shot. He escaped through a creek behind the building. Grafton’s games were a bit more docile than that story.

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Sam Grafton battling on Day 2 of the PokerStars Players Championship in the Bahamas. (photos courtesy PokerStars/Joe Giron)

Sober guy at the poker table

After moving to London, Grafton took a job at a nightclub making about £80 a night. After those late night hours, he’d then hit a poker room. Working the front of the club instead of being a patron came with an advantage. 

“It was probably a good time to play because I was stone cold, sober having finished my shift and everyone else was drunk,” he says.

At the end of the night, Grafton often came out ahead. While doing an unpaid internship at an NGO, poker seemed like a nice way to pay the rent. He’d play up to five nights a week and just seemed to keep winning.

“I came to love it,” he says. “I’d finish my shift and I’d get the train from south London to east London, and go in and play and get the last tube home. During the days, I’d just be thinking about poker hands and I’d be so excited to go and keep playing. When the internship finished, I just kept going.”

With millions of dollars in winnings and now representing PokerStars, that looks to have been a wise decision.

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Triton Vietnam Features GGPoker Qualifiers, Live Super MILLION$; Overlay Edition Now Underway

After announcing a partnership with Triton Poker last year, GGPoker is now sending online qualifiers to the upcoming stop in Vietnam.

After announcing a partnership with Triton Poker last year, GGPoker is now sending online qualifiers to the high stakes series’ upcoming stop in Vietnam.

The series will see Average Joe online poker qualifiers taking a shot on one of poker’s biggest stages. These players will take on some of the best and well-heeled players in the world, adding a unique twist to the nosebleed stakes festival. The event also marks GG’s first live Super MILLION$ tournament. 

In other news, the Overlay Edition event is now underway, offering players a shot at a big payout for a small buy-in. The event features several days of starting flights and an eight-figure guarantee.

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Previewing the Triton Vietnam series

The Triton Super High Roller Series Vietnam is set for March 1-13 at the Hoiana Resort. Players will find 13 events with buy-ins ranging from $$15,000 to $100,000.

Events feature No Limit Hold’em as well as Short Deck, and two championship events highlight the schedule. The $100,000 NLHE Main Event begins on March 8 with the $100,000 Short Deck Main Event set for March 12. The series also includes a $20,000 Mystery Bounty event on March 3 as well.  

Triton has become a popular series for poker fans to check out online. Organizers offer viewers a high-quality streaming production available on the Triton YouTube and Twitch channels.

As organizers told PokerScout in August, the company has also invested heavily in the Triton app. This allows poker fans to easily follow the action at home as well with updates, chip counts, and more. Here’s a look at the entire Vietnam schedule.

Triton Super High Roller Series Vietnam

DateEventBuy–inDay
March 1#1 GG SUPER MILLIONS LIVE$25,0001
March 2#1 GG SUPER MILLIONS LIVE$25,0002
March 2#2 NLHE – 7 HANDED$15,0001
March 3#2 NLHE – 7 HANDED$15,0002
March 3#3 NLHE – 8 HANDED MYSTERY BOUNTY$20,0001
March 4#3 NLHE – 8 HANDED MYSTERY BOUNTY$20,0002
March 4#5 NLHE – 7 HANDED$30,0001
March 5#5 NLHE – 7 HANDED$30,0002
March 5#6 NLHE – 8 HANDED$50,0001
March 6#6 NLHE – 8 HANDED$50,0002
March 6#7 NLHE – 8 HANDED$75,0001
March 7#7 NLHE – 8 HANDED$75,0002
March 7#8 NLHE – TURBO$25,000single
March 8#9 NLHE – MAIN EVENT$100,0001
March 9#9 NLHE – MAIN EVENT$100,0002
March 9#10 NLHE – TURBO$50,000single
March 10#9 NLHE – MAIN EVENT$100,000final table
March 10#11 SHORT DECK ANTE ONLY$25,0001
March 11#11 SHORT DECK ANTE ONLY$25,0002
March 11#12 SHORT DECK ANTE ONLY$50,0001
March 12#12 SHORT DECK ANTE ONLY$50,0002
March 12#13 SHORT DECK MAIN EVENT$100,0001
March 13#13 SHORT DECK MAIN EVENT$100,0002
March 13#15 SHORT DECK ANTE ONLY$20,0001

Triton online qualifying at GGPoker

Once again, GGPoker is a Triton title sponsor for the Vietnam stop. The site has run numerous satellites, allowing players to potentially score a hefty five-figure buy-in for a much lower price point.

Players can begin in a $25 Road to Triton qualifier, which then leads to a $250 satellite. Players advancing in those then move into $2,625 Road To Triton super satellites.

Those guarantee one live tournament seat for every $26,500 in the prize pool. These lucky players will then take a seat in Event 1: $25,000 GGPoker Super MILLION$ Live on March 1.

“As the event is a high roller tournament, there’s not massive numbers going but I would expect a dozen or so GGPoker players will qualify,” company head of media relations Paul Burke said.

This is the first of the new live GGPoker Super MILLION$ events as well. Players can earn points for the SuperRanking leaderboard, which GG announced in January.

The leaderboard combines live and online Super MILLION$ results. The top players at the end of the year is designated as a “SuperPro” and receives:

  • Super Platinum level designation in GGPoker’s Fish Buffet loyalty program. This entitles the player to the equivalent of 100% cashback at GGPoker and in all online and offline Super MILLION$ events.
  • A custom GGPoker SuperPro avatar.
  • Additional benefits revealed throughout the year.

The second- and third-place finishers also earn the same benefits (except for the SuperPro avatar).

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Overlay Edition kicks off, $10 million guaranteed

Along with a chance to get in the Triton action at a small buy-in, GG is also offering the GGMasters Overlay Edition for players with smaller bankrolls. The event features a $150 buy-in and offers a $10 million guarantee, meaning plenty of bang for the buck.

The site is also offering numerous qualifiers starting at just $2. GG is promising at least $1 million of overlay no matter if the tournament meets the guarantee or not.

Starting flights began on Sunday with numerous opportunities to enter until Day 2 gets started on Feb. 27.

“We’re happy with the participation so far,” Burke said. “We are still confident there will be a big overlay, a minimum of $1 million to be added by either GGPoker or (site ambassador) Daniel Negreanu, depending on the final prize pool generated by players. There is still lots of time for players to take part though, so we won’t know numbers for sure until after the weekend.”

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Poker, Travel, & Content Creation: A Conversation With PokerStars Ambassador Parker Talbot 

PokerStars streamer and ambassador Parker Talbot spoke with PokerScout at the PCA about being poker nomad, new projects, content creation, and more.

PokerStars streamer ambassador Parker “Tonkaaap” Talbot has hit the poker road for the long haul. The Canadian has $1.1 million in live tournament winnings and hopes to boost that with some time away from home.

Talbot has been a bit of a poker nomad lately. More travel is in the works for the coming months, he told PokerScout while at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

“It’ll be fun,” he said of the continued travel. “I’m still young and hip with it enough that I can get away with that. I feel like I’m getting a bit old for living out of a suitcase, but it’ll be alright. I’ll enjoy it for sure.”

Recently Talbot visited the Bahamas, Croatia, and other parts of Europe. More live poker and more travel certainly seem on his menu. He spoke with PokerScout about poker in Canada, travel, streaming, new projects, and more.

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Poker changes in Ontario, hitting the road

Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Talbot (pictured in lead image courtesy PokerStars/Eloy Cabacas) witnessed the online poker changes in his home province last year. Ontario went from a wide-open market to a ringed-in environment.

Some skilled players, like fellow Stars ambassador Arlie Shaban, have found success in smaller fields. Others would rather be part of the larger international online poker landscape.

So far, Talbot hasn’t played in the Ontario market after hitting the road for more live action. 

“I was only really home for a couple of weeks over the holidays,” he said. “I basically bounced from Ontario when it happened.

“I stayed at Spraggy’s (Ben Spragg) house for a couple months, just bopping around and playing on the .com client. So I’ve just stayed out of the Ontario player pool and stayed in the main player pool outside of Ontario. I’ve just been traveling around and that’s going to be the plan for the next few months.”

The road trip paid off in December with a fifth-place finish in the European Poker Tour Prague Main Event for $293,352.

More travel on the horizon

Croatia has been a particular favorite. Talbot visited a friend in the country for a couple weeks and is eager for a return trip.

“I might end up there for a couple months this year at some point just to chill and whatever,” he says. “It’s just a really nice place. Everybody’s really friendly, everything’s cheap.”

Some other potential trips include South America, notably Brazil, as well as Asia. Also next up for Talbot is a poker trip to the EPT stop in Paris, France. Life as a full-time poker player has gone hand in hand with traveling for those who enjoy life on the road exploring. That seems to describe the Canadian poker pro.

“I really need to do some traveling abroad,” he says. “I’ve literally just spent my life in North America and in Europe more or less … but not really outside of those. I could just bounce around. I like to plan to go to places where I have friends or know people already.”

Moving beyond streaming

Many poker fans know Talbot from his Twitch channel, which has 125,000 followers. He’s also active on social media and has a YouTube channel with 69,000 subscribers.

Talbot has streamed less lately, but still plans on some upcoming month-long stints of major online series. Some new media projects are also ahead including teaming up with Spragg

“I’ll be doing a lot of YouTube this year, playing and doing some live poker vlogs,`” he says. “Spraggy and I have got a bunch of YouTube cooked up for the pipeline this year. So you’re going to do a bunch of YouTube content this year in a couple of months.”

Returning to YouTube brings Talbot back to a place earlier in his career. He regularly dropped stream highlights on the site and had one of the biggest poker YouTube channels at one point. The new effort will offer more unique content.

Viewers may not realize just how much work goes into creating video content, Talbot notes. Seeing return on investment requires plenty of effort and content creators do much more than turn on the cameras.

“I’m not editing videos myself or doing anything like that, I’ve got a team for that,” he says. “But even on the content side, obviously it’s a grind. During the whole back end of uploading and editing and all that, the people who do YouTube and do all that stuff on their own, I have mad respect because it’s serious. It’s a lot of work.”

Bringing something new

Finding an audience among a packed Twitch, YourTube, and podcast environment isn’t easy. A quick search for “poker” among any of these platforms yields dozens and dozens of options. Finding a niche can be challenging. Talbot sees YouTube as quite different however

“With YouTube, I find that there’s really no reason to separate each other,” he says. “YouTube is really a different beast than Twitch. On Twitch, you have a listing and you’re competing with everyone in the listing for viewers. The top dog is always going to get the most viewership.

“Whereas on YouTube, if you have similar content you can just push people toward each other. Because you don’t watch a video at the same time – you watch a video and then another video and then another video. So if you have a whole bunch of similar content like me, Fintan Hand, Lex Veldhuis, and Spragg all in the Twitch poker listing, obviously we’re going to be cutting each other’s throats battling for viewership.”

However on YouTube, Talbot sees more of a team approach with his fellow PokerStars ambassadors and streamers.

“I think we can push viewers to each other’s channels and kind of grow together,” he says. “So I don’t think it’s necessarily that important to differentiate each other – just make good content.”


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Advice for others & fun times in the Bahamas

As poker streaming and vlogging continue to grow in popularity, more players seem ready to fire up the microphone and camera. With hundreds of hours on stream, Talbot offered some advice for those looking to dive. Making sure there is some consistency is a major part of that.

“If you want to do it, just do it,” he says. “It’s not that hard. We’ve all got iPhones these days with good cameras. You can vlog if you want to.

“Once you make a go of something, be it streaming, YouTube, whatever, you have to make a schedule and stick to it. It’s the most important thing with any kind of social media, influencing, Twitch, YouTube, anything like that. Hopefully have a personality for it and be a little bit entertaining.”

Talbot was pleased to see the PCA return this year. He thinks the series served as a great way to bring players of all levels together, especially for the PokerStars Players Championship.

“Four years later, finally,” he says. “It’s incredible. I haven’t heard any bad things yet. Everybody that I’ve talked to just had a good time.”

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ON THE BUTTON: Rafael Moraes Talks Brazilian Poker, His Father’s Approval, Twitch, & More

PokerStars ambassador Rafael Moraes spoke about his poker life, winning his father's approval to play full time, Twitch, and more.

Brazil has become a booming market for online poker and the game in general over the last few years. That ranges from seeing major tournament winners to the rapid growth of the online game in the country.

Companies such as PokerStars are investing heavily in the market with events like the Brazilian Series of Poker and other events. Stars ambassador Rafael Moraes has seen that growth in the land of samba and sun first hand. He believes Brazil’s passion for sports and a deep sense of community go hand in hand with poker’s surge in popularity.

“It’s crazy,” he told PokerScout recently while playing in the PokerStars No Limit Hold’em Players Championship. “I think the Brazilian community is so strong. We have a culture for football (soccer) and we love competition. We all love to be together, we love to root for friends.”

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And while many in the country may not have the funds to play at higher levels, seeing countrymen do well is a major part of players’ interest in the game.

“We are a country with a lot of difficulty, a country without so much money for basic things,” Moraes says. “And when we see some Brazilians doing nice things in the world, it’s amazing. They are representing us, so I think in the last five years that has come to poker. That kind of social game and competition does really well in Brazil.”

Moraes has his own Brazilian poker success story to add to that dynamic.

Father gives poker life the thumbs up

Like some other poker pros, Maroes gravitated to poker from another game – chess. But as a teenager, he realized some of those same skills could apply to a game that offered a better chance at a payday.

“I was an amateur chess player,” he says. “A lot of chess players in Brazil started to migrate to playing poker because there are better odds to make money. Poker is a mind game like chess. So I started playing at PokerStars when I was 18, and started to make some money playing tournaments while in university at that time.”

Those winnings continued to grow and Moraes soon faced a crossroads – whether to launch into poker full time or not. Making that jump isn’t always a popular choice among players’ family members, at least initially. However, Moraes experienced quite the opposite when he decided to see where the game could take him.

“I asked my father if I could try to play poker for a living,” he says. “And my father said, ‘but son, what’s poker?’”

Poker is more of a family game in Brazil, Moraes says. Many don’t realize there is serious money to be made for skilled players.  He asked his father to read a book on poker, which he did in one day. After understanding how the game works, Moraes’s father gave his blessing.

“He’s an engineer, so he knows a lot about mathematics and odds,” Moraes says. “It’s amazing how he understood that game. He said it was good that I was making money.”

Moraes’s father said his son was still young and could see how things went. If the poker career didn’t pan out, he could return to his university studies.

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Streaming, playing, and finding poker success

Now age 30, that choice has worked out well. He now has more than $1.9 million in live tournament winnings. The biggest of that came in 2016 when the player originally from Sao Paulo scored third in the €25,750 High Roller at the European Poker Tour Monte Carlo. That brought a payday of $655,779.

In 2022, Moraes won a Brazilian Series of Poker event for $60,762. When not playing live, he can also be found streaming on Twitch. He loves that aspect of his poker life because Maroes sees Twitch as a way to spread his love of the game in Brazil.


“The people in Brazil can see me playing, teaching, making final tables, and running deep,” he says. “Every week I run a freeroll on my home game on PokerStars. They can start to play without a bankroll. Because in Brazil a $10 buy-in is too much for a lot of people. With my freerolls, community, and teaching classes, people can start playing without putting up much money.”

Looking back, Moraes knows his father’s blessing helped launch him to success on the felt. He’s happy to be living his dream.

“Now I’m a high stakes poker player,” he says. “And I’m traveling abroad, playing the biggest PokerStars events on the road, and I live stream my play on Twitch.”

For Moraes, that’s the perfect poker life.

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WPT Roundup: Fabrice Bigot Wins France Event, Tour Teams Up With One Drop Foundation, & More

The WPT's latest international stop concluded recently with Fabrice Bigot taking down the €1,100 Prime Paris event for $193,291.

The World Poker Tour’s latest international stop concluded recently with Fabrice Bigot taking down the €1,100 Prime Paris event for $193,291.

This marked the biggest cash of the Frenchman’s poker career. He now has more than $715,000 in live tournament winnings.

In other news, the WPT also recently announced a new partnership with the One Drop Foundation. The agreement brings a new initiative to the tour’s own charitable foundation. Here’s a quick look at the events as well as some WPT tournaments on the horizon.

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A look at the WPT Prime Paris event

The event at the Club Circus Paris in France marked the first event for the WPT of 2023. The tournament wrapped up on Feb. 5 and the event saw 1,071 entries for a $1.1 million prize pool.

Along with the payout, Bigot (pictured in lead image courtesy WPT) earned a $10,400 seat to the 2023 WPT World Championship. The December event at the Wynn Las Vegas proved popular with players and saw big numbers. The tour is once again running the championship this year with event winners grabbing a seat throughout Season XXI.

Bigot finished Day 2 second in chips going into the eight-handed final table. He sat just behind Sabare Atmani, but continued to grow his stack throughout the day.

 

The two eventually faced off heads up for the title with Bigot holding more than a 2-to-1 chip advantage – 22.3 million to 9.9 million. That proved too much and after 11 hands, Bigot finished off his opponent.

The final hand saw both players see a flop of J♠10♠9♦. Atmani checked and Bigot made a bet of 800,000. Atmani then moved all in for the last of his 6.8 million.

Bigot called with A♥J♦ and top pair while Atmani held 10♥7♣ with middle pair and inside straight draw. The 6♠ and 2♥ brought no help for Atmani and Bigot had the title.

“I feel like I am where I should be,” Bigot said before the final table got underway. That certainly proved to be the case. Here are the final table payouts.

WPT Prime Paris

  1. Fabrice Bigot – $194,390
  2. Sabare Atmani – $123,934
  3. Alexandre Le Vaillant – $92,128
  4. Federico Cirillo – $69,096
  5. Antoine Labat – $51,548
  6. Manuel Coimbra – $39,483
  7. Hakim Chniyat – $30,709
  8. Timothee Scotti – $24,129

Tour announces new charity poker initiatives

In other news, the WPT announced a new deal with the One Drop Foundation this week. The agreement sees the organizations teaming up for charity poker initiatives in the coming year.

One Drop, which has also worked with the World Series of Poker, helps provide access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene to impoverished communities. Tour officials promise charity events hosted by WPT casino partners around the world.

“WPT has always committed to giving back to those in need both locally and globally,” WPT CEO Adam Pliska said in a news release. “Through the WPT Foundation, we have utilized our position in the poker community to raise millions of dollars in funding for non-profit organizations, and we are eager to continue this charitable thread by teaming up with the incredible One Drop Foundation.”

Over the past 10 years, the WPT Foundation has helped raise more than $45 million for numerous charities including: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Conservation International; Education Reform Now; K9s for Warriors; the NASCAR Foundation, Special Olympics, World Central Kitchen; and more. One Drop officials were pleased to join that group of beneficiaries.

“The One Drop Foundation has raised more than $25 million through poker events over the past decade,” One Drop Chief Marketing Officer Alexandre Meunier said. “We now look forward to the next milestone in our mission to improve access to safe water and living conditions for millions across the globe. We are confident the WPT is the ideal partner to help us achieve that goal, hand in hand with the global poker community.”

Since 2012, the WPT and One Drop foundations have raised a combined total of over $70 million for global causes.

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Looking ahead at upcoming WPT events

More action is on the horizon for the WPT. While the first Main Tour event isn’t until April, some other Prime events are in the works.

The Prime Gold Coast heads to The Star Gold Coast casino in Australia. The festival runs Feb. 23 – March 6 with the main event running March 2-6.

Two more Prime events are also set for the same month with the Cambodia main event running March 16-20. That’s followed by the stop in Amsterdam, Netherlands, from March 28-31.

The First Main Tour event of the year is the $3,500 Rolling Thunder in California, set for April 1-4. That’s followed by the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Florida from April 28 – May 2.

Kicking It With PokerStars Ambassador and Former Football Player Steve Enriquez

PokerStars ambassador Steve Enriquez spoke with PokerScout at the PCA about his life in poker and football.

Looking back on his life in football (“soccer” for those in some countries), PokerStars ambassador Steve Enriquez was torn. He had a real passion for football but also loved poker. A competitor at heart, he faced a dilemma.

Enriquez was playing in the Spanish third division, between the semi-pro and professional ranks. Some time with clubs like Atlético Osasuna and Real Racing Club de Santander was nice, but the goal-scorer seemed stuck. Could he rise up to higher levels of play or be relegated to the lower divisions?

On the other hand, Enriquez seemed to be finding success playing poker online. He faced a crucial decision.

“At some point I had to decide between football and poker,” he says. “And it was a bit tricky for me because my heart was in football. But my head was saying, ‘Let’s go for poker because you can reach much more.’”

So far that has proven to be a nice choice. Enriquez is now living a life many poker players dream of – becoming a member of Team PokerStars, playing plenty of cards, and traveling the world.

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Life on the pitch & the online poker felt

Like many football players, Enrriquez fantasized of landing a nice pro contract. Even signing a decent deal in the second division would have been a huge achievement. But despite being a top scorer in the league, a promotion never materialized.

Instead, he’s now as heavily involved with poker as a player can probably get – playing online, producing YouTube content, Twitch streaming, and since 2013 working as a Spanish commentator on PokerStars broadcasts.

That recently included calling much of the streaming action from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA).

“My future was very clear and I decided to keep improving my poker,” he says.

By the time he left football behind, Enriquez had already put in hundreds of hours of online poker. He was also a regular in live poker events when not scoring goals. The soccer player was certainly a busy man.

“I was doing everything, playing the regional circuits in Spain and also traveling to Las Vegas,” he says. “I was able to come to Las Vegas in June because that’s when the season is over. So I had time to come for two or three weeks. But during the football season, it’s very tough to travel to some poker events because Saturdays and Sundays are match days. So you are not able to travel that much.”

Team dynamics at the poker table

Steve Enriquez battles it out at the table. (photos courtesy PokerStars/Danny Maxwell)

Sometimes Enrqiuez’s life on the pitch and at the poker table intersected. Playing in the lower divisions often involves plenty of travel time and breaking out some cards and chips was a regular part of his team’s routine.

“In Spain, football is very related to poker,” he says. “We played on the bus going to the next match. It could be four hours by bus. Or even on the train, we loved to play card games on the bus including poker.”

By this time, however, Enriquez had already been playing for years and most of those team games were pretty low-stakes affairs. His participation often involved providing some poker pointers.

“I didn’t want to take the money from the guys,” he says. “I was just having fun – I normally just watched the game and helped out.”

Action at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure & making his Super Bowl pick

The athlete turned poker player remains a huge sports fan, even checking out American football. During his time at the PCA in the Bahamas, Enriquez checked out the NFL playoffs and believes the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl.

While he excelled on the soccer pitch, would the PokerStars ambassador have liked to play football as a youngster?

“Yes, I was actually very fast so I could probably run like a wide receiver or a  running back for sure,” he says laughing. “I can kick too. Those are the two talents I have – running and kicking. That’s it.”

Obviously, some poker skills and talents behind the microphone could be included with those talents as well. He was happy to call much of the action on the PokerStars Spanish stream at the PCA.

The event turned out great, he says, and provided a real chance to bring together a diverse group of players from around the world hoping to live out their poker dreams.

“I think the word that describes what players are feeling is joy,” he says. “Everybody wants to be the new Ramon Colillas.”

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