Whether this week’s action had to do with stimulus checks or vaccine rollouts or the arrival of warm weather, the poker economy is continuing its churn, and appears to be building momentum. Regional casinos are drawing huge, record-setting crowds, recently launched online events are showing they have staying power, and in Las Vegas, some fields keep getting bigger, while others miss their guarantees — just like old times, right? But we never would’ve guessed in 2021 a match between Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu, featuring a comeback like something out of March Madness, would only be #5 on CardsChat’s list of big wins for the week ending Saturday, April 3, 2021:
EPT Sochi Main Event
Casino Sochi, Russia
COVID-19 may have moved the goalposts in terms of how live events are run but that doesn’t mean bars can’t be raised. The first live European Poker Tour main event of 2021 not only gave Martirosyan his maiden title but was bigger than last year’s. With 852 entries in this ₽175,000 ($2,311) main event — consisting of 548 players and 304 reentries — almost all hailing from Russia, the total field size saw a 51% increase over 2020. Martirosyan’s first EPT trophy was his second-biggest live score (behind $495K in the Partypoker Millions Live super high roller event in March 2020, just before the world started to shut down). “The trophy has such a cool design,” he said to event reporters after the final table. “It was one of the reasons why I didn’t cut a deal.”
MSPT Iowa Main Event
Riverside Casino & Golf Resort
With two Mid-States Poker Tour series within a week (and one in January), Iowa has become a hotbed for mid-stakes poker in the COVID-19 era. Sepiol, an Indiana native with a reputation among his peers as a tough grinder, won the 862-player, $1,100 buy-in tournament, which featured a $300,000 guaranteed prize pool that was completely obliterated ($836,140). After all was said and done last Sunday, he picked up the biggest score of his career. He now has over $400,000 in live tournament cashes, including a MSPT title.
DeepStack Showdown: NLH MonsterStack
The Venetian, Las Vegas
He may be the publisher of our poker news rival Card Player Magazine, but we gotta give props to a poker media legend showing he’s still got what it takes to deliver at the tables. With two WSOP bracelets and a tournament record of wins going back to the 1990s, Las Vegas resident Shulman has more than $5.6 million in career tourney earnings. This $365 event, with a whopping 1,992 entries across five Day 1s, smashed its $200k guarantee, generating a nearly $600k in prize pool. The final day started Sunday at 12 noon and didn’t finish until 1:45 am on Monday with a two-way chop. Supposedly Shulman’s been working out and eating well in recent months, which his wife credited on Facebook for giving him the stamina needed to stay focussed.
WSOP Silver Legacy Circuit
6-Max High Roller
Cheong is no stranger to winning WSOP bling. He has one gold bracelet (won in $1,000 NLH Double Stack in 2019), and now three WSOP Circuit gold rings. Despite falling short in a golden WSOP online opportunity in January, his win Wednesday night, in the $1,000 6-max High Roller (open to WSOP.com players in Nevada and New Jersey was his first WSOP hardware from an online event. Cheong, playing as “blueberry” instead of his better known avatar nickname of “subiime,” topped a field of 266 for his 45th WSOP-branded cash, and his 22nd online.
High Stakes Duel
PokerGO Studio, Las Vegas
Why anyone continues to doubt “White Magic” is mind-boggling. It took a six-hour grueling marathon for Hellmuth to erase a 19-1 chip deficit against Daniel Negreanu on Wednesday and book his fourth win in as many appearances on the PokerGO show “High Stakes Duel.” Hellmuth talked a big game entering the $50K buy-in contest, which is perfectly okay if you can back it up, and he did on Wednesday for the umpteenth time in his storied career. You haven’t heard the last of Negreanu, however, and a rematch later this month is in store.
Liam Flood 6-Max Turbo
The Irish Open
COVID-19 means players are enjoying the craic online again this year and, as is tradition, paying homage to an Irish poker legend. The Liam Flood Memorial is an annual reminder of his contribution to the game. This year, playing online at Partypoker, 161 competitors anted up €265 both to win some cash and commemorate Flood. He was known as “the Gentleman,” and was a close friend of Irish Poker Open creator, Terry Rogers. He ran the event after Rogers’ death in 1999 until he, too, died in 2014. When the chips had fallen on Tuesday night, Brown ensured the title stayed in Ireland after beating Brit Andrew Hulme heads-up.
Bally’s Power Poker Series Spring Festival
NLH Ladies Event
Maybe not the biggest win ever, but hey, it was better than what we accomplished at the tables this week. Welman, a longtime poker media personality and former managing editor of WSOP.com (and now a corporate director for Catena Media), booked her first Hend0n Mob-worthy 1st place finish in this $150 No-Limit Hold’em tournament. Admittedly, this addition to her resume came with only seven players, 10 entries, and a friendly three-way chop (with Terry Hatcher and Kathy Chang), but that’s how it goes when a $2,000 guarantee results in a nice overlay.