Archive for January, 2018

partypoker Inks Philipp Gruissem

 partypoker Inks Philipp Gruissem

Hey, it’s a day of the week and partypoker has added yet another player to its list of sponsored pros. This time it is German poker player Philipp Gruissem, also known as “philbort” online. Gruissem only started playing poker nine years ago, got hooked when he won a tournament for $ 200, and is now a poker playing fiend, having won approximately one gazillion dollars.

“I feel great about joining partypoker!” Gruissem said on the partypoker blog. “They are now bringing healthy competition back into the market and partypoker has a new and fresh vibe that will grow our poker community.”

According to, Gruissem has won more than $ 3.5 million in online poker tournaments, though it could be more, as those results are only from tournaments the site tracks with the screennames Gruissem provides. He is currently 423rd in PocketFives’ rankings, though he peaked at 23rd in 2010.

On the live tournament side, Gruissem has amassed more than $ 11 million in earnings, his best live cash coming in 2013 when he won the WPT Alpha8 £100,000 No-Limit Hold’em event for $ 1,379,840. In April 2014, he won almost exactly the same amount ($ 1,378,059) for taking the title in the EPT Grand Final €25,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller 8 Max.

If you look up and down Gruissem’s resume at, you can see that theses sorts of high roller events are his specialty. Gruissem has yet to win a World Series of Poker or World Poker Tour title, though.

“I am honored that Philipp has agreed to join us at partypoker,” said partypoker Managing Director Tom Waters. “Philipp is such a well-respected player both in the German and global poker community that he is a perfect fit to join the team. He also has a great character and experience and will bring something a little different to the team.”

Gruissem is one of the four co-founders of Raising for Effective Giving (REG), a charitable organization which practices “effective altruism” in an effort to (put way too simply) target charities that can help the most people per dollar donated and in areas where those dollars can be used most efficiently. Gruissem founded the organization with fellow poker pros Liv Boeree, Igor Kurganov, and Stefan Huber.

Currently, Raising for Effective Giving targets three charitable causes: poverty alleviation, animal welfare, and risks from emerging technologies.

Gruissem has jumped right in to his relationship with partypoker, playing the Powerfest tournament series, which runs through this weekend. He plans on playing in the $ 5,200 buy-in event (wait…this is online poker, not the WSOP?) with a $ 1 million guaranteed prize pool on Sunday. That same day, he will make his first appearance as a partypoker ambassador in a live tournament when he plays in the MILLIONS Germany.

Cover photo credit: partypoker blog

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2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Opening Flights in the Books

 2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Opening Flights in the Books

The two starting flights of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event have come and gone and tournament organizers can breathe a sigh of relief, as the tournament has eclipsed its $ 3 million guaranteed prize pool. Through Days 1A and 1B, there were 1,023 entries ($ 3,300 + $ 200), allowing the total prize pool to just break that guarantee. Re-entries are permitted through Level 10, which is just about to end as this is being written, so we’ll see if last year’s Borgata Winter Poker Open record of 1,312 can be beaten.

Leading the field into Day 2 is Shaun McBride, who amassed 224,200 chips during Day 1B, easily more than Day 1A’s leader, 191,100. That’s not entirely unexpected – Day 1B had twice as many entries as did Day 1A, so there were more chips in play and therefore a better chance that the chip leader would gather a few more than his or her counterpart in the previous flight.

McBride has earned more than $ 200,000 on the live tournament circuit, sticking mainly to smaller buy-in regional events. According to his profile on, he looks like he has become a regular on the World Series of Poker Circuit, with eight cashes in the past year or thereabouts. He had three small cashes at the 2017 WSOP in Las Vegas and cashed twice in preliminary events at the Borgata Winter Poker Open. McBride’s largest cash was one of his first: just shy of $ 100,000 for winning an event at the Deep Stack Extravaganza III in 2009.

The rest of the top of the leaderboard is largely filled with players whose names most readers wouldn’t recognize. Jonathan Little is there, as are Shankar Pillai and the seventh place finisher at the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open that just finished, Nick Schwarmann, but that’s about it. Poker veteran Amnon Filippi, who used to be a regular in WPT events, but hadn’t played in one for quite some time until now, told, “It’s unbelievable how many new people are playing here at Borgata. I only recognize about 10 people.”

And that’s one of the great things about poker. Anyone with a buy-in can play and who knows, maybe one the “no-names” listed below will become the next household name in the poker world.

2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event – Day 1A Chip Leaders

1. Luke Blindert – 191,100
2. Ricardo Amidani – 179,200
3. Geoff Cudd – 167,600
4. Denys Shafikov – 166,500
5. Joseph Giulino – 165,100
6. Eric Panayiotou – 143,500
7. Jose Cayetano – 142,600
8. David Butkus – 140,800
9. Ken O’Donnell – 133,200
10. Thomas Reynolds – 128,800

2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event – Day 1B Chip Leaders

1. Shaun McBride – 224,200
2. Nick Schwarmann – 177,700
3. Johanssy Joseph – 176,000
4. Troy Longo – 166,700
5. Raghuram Jonnalagedda – 154,400
6. Jonathan Little – 148,800
7. Almedin Imsirovic – 146,500
8. Chris Orme – 143,200
9. Christopher Thompson – 131,900
10. Shankar Pillai – 125,100

2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event – Combined Day 1 Chip Leaders

1. Shaun McBride – 224,200
2. Luke Blindert – 191,100
3. Ricardo Amidani – 179,200
4. Nick Schwarmann – 177,700
5. Johanssy Joseph – 176,000
6. Geoff Cudd – 167,600
7. Troy Longo – 166,700
8. Denys Shafikov – 166,500
9. Joseph Giulino – 165,100
10. Raghuram Jonnalagedda – 154,400

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partypoker Releases 2018 Tournament Series Schedule

 partypoker Releases 2018 Tournament Series Schedule

One of the nice things about the beginning of the year is that we move away from the holiday live tournament doldrums and get right into tournament season. The same holds true online and on Friday, while the site is in the midst of its Powerfest series, partypoker announced the full schedule of 10 online poker tournament festivals for 2018.

There are five different types of tournament series this year on partypoker, but two – the MILLIONS Online and High Roller Series – only happen once, at the end of the year. The Knockout Series, Monster Series, and Powerfest each occur three times and on the same rotating schedule.

Players on partypoker may already be familiar with the Monster Series and Powerfest, but the Knockout Series is new to the site this year. In the Knockout Series, every player starts a tournament with a bounty on their head; for every elimination, the player who wins the hand wins the other player’s bounty. It’s not all puppies and rainbows for the victor, though, as that person’s bounty increases, making them a juicier target. There will be three buy-in levels for each Knockout Series tournament, with buy-ins starting at $ 1.10 and going up to $ 530. The first Knockout Series will begin February 25th.

The High Roller Series, also new, is fairly straight-forward. It is simply a series with higher buy-ins than normal, $ 530 and up. It will last eight days starting November 25th and will run at the same time as the insane $ 20 million guaranteed MILLIONS Online.

On the partypoker blog, site ambassador Patrick Leonard said:

Festivals to me is what tournament poker is all about. You slog about all year honing your skills and testing strategies that you work on off the table all for that one big moment you get during a festival where you’re playing for huge prizes with great structures. Both live and online partypoker festival titles are seen as important as any to players through all stakes.

As mentioned, partypoker’s first tournament series of the calendar year, Powerfest, is going on right now, having started a week ago. It runs through this weekend and features 147 tournaments with $ 15 million in guaranteed prize pools. Like the Knockout Series, Powerfest has three different buy-in tournaments per event.

partypoker’s 2018 tournament series schedule follows. Detailed tournament schedule breakdowns can be found on partypoker’s website for the current series and usually for series starting in the near future.

partypoker POWERFEST – January 21st – February 4th
partypoker KO Series – February 25th – March 4th
partypoker Monster Series – April 29th – May 6th
partypoker POWERFEST – May 6th – May 20th
partypoker KO Series – June 2nd – June 10th
partypoker Monster Series – July 29th – August 6th
partypoker POWERFEST – September 2nd – September 23rd
partypoker KO Series – October 28th – November 4th
partypoker Monster Series – November 18th – November 25t
partypoker MILLIONS Online + HR Series – November 25th – December 5th

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Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier Latest Team PokerStars Pro to End Sponsorship

 Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier Latest Team PokerStars Pro to End Sponsorship

Continuing the exodus from the world’s number one online poker room, poker professional Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier announced yesterday that he was ending his association with PokerStars and its Team PokerStars Pro stable.

In a Twitter announcement yesterday, Grospellier issued his decision to his fans and the poker community. “After 11.5 years of a great partnership, it is time to move on for PokerStars and I,” Grospellier began. “We had a wonderful journey together and I am glad for all the great people it gave me the chance to work with and befriend…2017 showed it was time to stop and open a new chapter.”

“Team Pro used to be a core part of their (PokerStars’) strategy,” Grospellier continued. “It has become evident this was not the case anymore, during the last few years. I respect that. On my side, I am happy to have been involved – except those last few years unfortunately – on how PokerStars could offer the best Poker (sic) experience…it was an amazing privilege, especially during the Scheinberg era…when their vision brought poker, PokerStars and the players to constant new heights.”

Grospellier didn’t explain any further what the difference was since 2014, when the Scheinberg Family sold PokerStars to the then-Amaya Gaming (now the Stars Group), and he only cryptically offered a view to his future. “I am too young to only be sponsored,” he finished. “I want to bring added value and be consulted for strategic decision as I used to be. I am now content and eager to start a new and very exciting challenge – more info soon 😉.”

Originally one of the top video gamers in the world, Grospellier easily moved his mind and his skills into the world of poker back in 2004. He was the first player to reach the vaunted “SuperNova” and “SuperNova Elite” levels over the years, but his skills weren’t limited to only online (two World Championship of Online Poker titles and a Spring Championship of Online Poker win). He won a World Series of Poker bracelet in 2011 in a $ 10,000 Seven Card Stud tournament and was a terror in High Roller events around the world. His more than $ 13.5 million in career earnings seat him firmly in the Top 50 in the 29th place slot.

The continued exodus of Team PokerStars Pros is something that must be concerning to The Stars Group, however. Earlier this month both Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier, for their own reasons, chose to leave what is considered THE top sponsorship that a player can earn. Especially when you look at the length of time that Selbst, Mercier and Grospellier had been with the organization (all were around a decade in their sponsorships), there gives one pause to think about what might be causing these departures.

There is no doubt that the “culture” has changed at PokerStars. During the days of the Scheinbergs, the players were the focal point of the business and the management and Team PokerStars Pros went out of their way to make the experience special for those who played on the site. The players, for their part, were also integral to marketing and (some) management decisions that they could offer their expertise for.

That all changed – and changed rapidly – once Amaya Gaming purchased PokerStars and its related entities in 2014. Now faced with having to please a Board of Directors and stockholders, the decisions were made more on the financial side and input from the PokerStars Pro members wasn’t as valued as it once was. It is something that is significant and cannot be ignored in considering the moves by the pros.

You can believe that Mercier, with a new wife and a child, is now wanting to change his life. You MIGHT even believe that Selbst’s statement about poker “not being fun” anymore is the truth. But when Grospellier steps up and says that he is leaving because his input wasn’t being requested anymore, then you know there’s some issues coming out.

We more than likely haven’t seen the last of Grospellier. At no point did he say he was “retiring” from poker and the cryptic statement at the end of his announcement leads one to believe that he will be getting into another online poker endeavor in some manner. What we can do is just as we did with Selbst and Mercier – wish him the best and look forward to when he does make any type of return to the game.

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WPT Announces Schedule for Tournament of Champions, New Event

 WPT Announces Schedule for Tournament of Champions, New Event

Originally set as a singular event, the World Poker Tour recently announced that the third running of the WPT Tournament of Champions, this year being held for the first time at ARIA in Las Vegas, would be joined by a new tournament previously unscheduled as well as other preliminary tournaments.

What is now being called the “Season XVI WPT Tournament of Champions Festival” will kick off on May 17 with its first event, a $ 10,000 buy-in Omaha Hi/Lo tournament. There will also be four one-day $ 25,000 “High Roller” tournaments and a solo $ 100,000 “Super High Roller” event. What will close out the festivities are the two official WPT events on the schedule, one the previously known Tournament of Champions and the other a new event.

The final official stop of the Season XVI schedule will now be the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic, a $ 10,000 buy-in event that wasn’t previously part of the discussion. The tournament is named for the former World Champion whose prowess on the poker tables and the boardrooms of Las Vegas have become legendary. With one opportunity for re-entry into the event, it is possible that the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic – which replaces the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale of the past two years – could be one of the bigger tournaments of this year when it begins on May 20.

“ARIA takes great pride in being the host of the Season XVI WPT Tournament of Champions,” said Sean McCormack, director of poker operations for ARIA. “We have developed a tremendous festival of events, highlighted by the premiere of the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic, and are excited to welcome the biggest names in poker to Las Vegas in May.”

Adam Pliska, the Chief Executive Officer of the World Poker Tour, added, “The World Poker Tour is thrilled to bring the illustrious WPT Tournament of Champions to the luxurious ARIA, as we close out a historic Season XVI. The WPT Tournament of Champions is our most prized event, and the winner will join Farid Yachou and Daniel Weinman as a WPT Tournament of Champions winner. We look forward to returning to Las Vegas, the birthplace of the WPT and the global home of poker, to crown this season’s champion of champions.”

Once the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic has concluded, the WPT Tournament of Champions will kick off its action. On May 24 (the day after the conclusion of the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic), the ToC will open play for its third ever event. All the champions of the Season XVI schedule will be in the field (they have already had $ 15,000 deducted from their prize winnings) and, if any previous WPT champion wishes to join the tournament, they will put up $ 15K to get in the game. In the past two seasons, there have been other additions to the prize pool, including last year’s tournament which saw an Audi up as one of the spoils to the victor.

One problem that the ToC has had:  getting the players out to take part in the tournament. Once you limit the field to only previous WPT champions (now totaling 237 players; it will be 243 by the end of the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic, if no previous champion wins again), you then must look at who is going to show. Some former champions, including Doyle Brunson and Mel Judah, aren’t as active in the tournament world anymore. Someone like Howard Lederer isn’t exactly considered welcome in tournaments (outside the WSOP, it seems) and unfortunately others have passed away (David ‘Devil Fish’ Ulliott). A look at the first two staging’s of this tournament demonstrate this difficulty in getting players.

When it was originally held in 2016 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, 64 players came out as Farid Yachou captured the inaugural championship. Fast forward to 2017 and the number clicked up to 66 as David Weinman defeated Michael Mizrachi to capture the title. With the move to Las Vegas for the 2018 ToC, it is perhaps thought by WPT officials that more former champs will come out and take part in the tournament rather than go across the country to play the ToC in Florida.

It promises to be an outstanding week of poker in May as the WPT wraps up its Season XVI schedule by crowning its final champion, its Player of the Year and the next “champion of champions” with the Tournament of Champions!

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