2015 World Series of Poker Dates Announced

sarang ahuja wsopThe dates for the 2015 World Series of Poker, which will take place at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, have been announced. It will begin on May 27th, with the final table set for July 14th, after which the competitors will have been whittled down to the top 9 players who will compete for the title the following November. As poker seems to gain more and more popularity every year, and plenty of financial incentive with millions in prizes up for grabs, the WSOP plans to host the largest tournament field in their history this year.

This will be the 46th World Series of Poker. In that time the tournament and poker playing in the US in general has expanded exponentially. There is an interesting statistic listed on the Word Series of Poker website: when the tournament began in 1970, there were fewer than 50 poker tables in the entire city of Las Vegas, and only 70 in the entire state of Nevada. Hilariously, the final round of that first tournament was held in a room about the size of a hotel room with about thirty fellow poker players watching. What a far cry from the huge poker rooms in casinos and national television coverage that is the norm today.

One other thing that has expanded since the early days of the tournament: the size of the pot. The WSOP website doesn’t say what the prize for the first year was, but the second year included 7 players posting $5,000 in a winner-take-all event. That means the total prize was $35,000. This coming year, the WSOP is again guaranteeing a $10,000,000 prize for the winner of the main event.

The Horseshoe in Baltimore

Sarang Ahuja HorseshoeThe Baltimore Orioles gave people a lot to root for this year in Charm City. Actually, if you walked down Eutaw Street during any of the home playoff games, you know that Mobtown was a more apt nickname for the city at the time. And with tight standings in the AFC North, the Ravens are giving people in the city a lot to root for, too. But Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium are no longer the only big venues on the south side of Baltimore that offer entertainment and excitement near the Inner Harbor.

The Horseshoe Casino, which opened in the area this past August, provides an excellent alternative or complement to everything you were already able to do in the Inner Harbor area. If you’re not in the mood, can’t get tickets, or find yourself in the wrong season for a baseball or football game, you can head over to this giant hub full of things to entertain you, including an excellent variety of restaurants, live performances, and nightlife. It also features a brand new 25 table poker room, so as far as poker players are concerned, the Horseshoe is bound to be more of a primary destination than a fallback plan. The poker room is definitely the part of this new casino that I am most excited about.

Less than a year after opening its doors, the Horseshoe in Baltimore will find itself in the poker spotlight when the World Series of Poker hosts a tournament here this winter from February 26th to March 9th. This is a pretty exciting development for poker players in Baltimore, considering that it has only been about two years since table games in the area were approved for operation in casinos. I definitely plan to participate in the upcoming World Series of Poker event.

Massachusetts Casino Repeal Effort Fails

Sarang Ahuja mgm_grandAccording to cardplayer.com and the Boston Globe, an effort to repeal a 2011 law that authorized the building of three casinos and one slots-only parlor has failed, so it appears that there will finally be a casino poker room in the Boston area, to the delight of poker enthusiasts in the area.

MGM and Wynn resorts, as well as Penn National plan to get in on the recently re-approved casino plans in New England.  In fact, Penn National has already broken ground on building the slots parlor.  They were, evidently, very confident that the recent vote would turn out in their favor, and their gamble paid off.  They will be able to open the doors to their parlor six months earlier than if they had waited until the failure of the repeal effort was certain to begin construction.  Though MGM and Wynn have not yet broken ground, the companies combined plan to sink in over $2 Billion into redeveloping the areas in which they plan to build their new casinos.

It seems that, though some people in the area are opposed to hosting casinos, a larger margin are interested in the prospect of creating thousands of jobs during the building projects that are to come along with the approval of the casinos, as well as the jobs and money the casinos themselves can bring once they become fully functional.  The primary reasons for opposition to the building of the casinos is concern from residents in the area over increases in gambling addiction, increased traffic, and crime.

Now that casino proponents have won out, there will soon be another casino hub along the Eastern Seaboard for poker enthusiasts to enjoy.

Money Earners of 2014: Top Earners so Far

2014 is winding down and it’s a good time of the year to check out the top money earners of the year.  In a recent Sporting News article the top 10 earners are identified.  Here are some highlights from the article about the men who are the most successful this year.

Poker NewsThe Top

The number one money earner so far this year at just north of $21 million is Daniel Colman.  Colman, an online star, hit it big with this year’s Big One for One Drop when he beat out Daniel Negreanu, a win that ended up giving him $15,306,668.  He totaled more than $6 million from other events meaning, even if he’d lost the One Drop tournament, he still would be placing second on the list.

And speaking of second…

Second on the list features Daniel Negreanu, the former World #1 ranked player.  Negreanu has nabbed another successful season already with nine cash outs.  Starting his season out right in Australia with $492,000 and $1.1 million in winnings over a couple events, he’ll be headed back down under to finish up his season at the Main Event for the Asia-Pacific WSOP.

The Notable

Phil Ivey has been in the news a lot lately for negative reasons but he falls in at number six on the money earners list at $3,787,707.  A consistent earner throughout his professional playing days, Ivey won the $250,000 Melbourne Challenge, taking home $3,582,753, which was enough to put his career winning totals over $20 million.

The Number One

Falling in at ninth on the 2014 earners list is World #1 Dan Smith.  This last summer he was able to walk away with over $2 million after winning the Super High Roller event at the Bellagio.  Smith will be looking to end his season on a high note like he did last year after he took the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic home at the end of 2013.

For the full list read more here.

Some Poker Hands

Poker Hands | Sarang Ahuja from Sarang Ahuja.

The Worst Bad Beat in Poker History

Everybody who has played the game of poker remembers their worst bad beat.  Holding great cards and still getting beat in one of the most gut wrenching things in the sport.  For anyone who thinks that they have had the worst bad beat or think they’ve seen it, every single one of those people probably now agree that Connor Drinan’s bad beat is the worst.  On Tuesday night the World Series of Poker held the Big One for One Drop.  The Big One for One Drop is the only tournament of its kind where every player buys in for a 1 million dollars and the winner takes home $15,306,688.  For so much money you can only imagine how horrible one could feel if they are eliminated but after Connor Drinan’s exit you can say that no one felt more horrible than he did.



With 18 players left in the tournament, Connor Drinan and Cary Katz both drew pocket aces.  With pocket aces naturally both players went all in.  Drinan was the only one at risk by doing so.  After both players showed their cards it seemed that everyone in the room thought it would draw.  Drinan held the ace of diamonds and ace of clubs while Katz held the ace of hearts and the ace of spades.  There was a 98 percent chance that the pot would end in a draw and be split and only a 2 percent of a player winning.

After the flop came out 2 of diamonds, king of hearts, and 5 of hearts.  Katz had a five percent chance of winning on a flush but Drinan didn’t seemed too worried.  At one point of the exchange Katz actually said to Drinan, “Save your money kid. You can’t win every pot.”

And he was right.

After a turn card of a four of hearts each player stood at an 80 percent chance of splitting the pot while Katz had a 20 percent chance of taking the pot if a heart came on the river.  And after players all around the table where talking about the odds, the river card was a two of hearts.  Lon McEachern, the longtime ESPN poker commentator mentioned that it was “the worst beat in the history of tournament poker.”  No one is disagreeing with his statement.  When you consider the stakes, the odds, and the way it happened, it will be a long time before we see a bad beat like this again.

Haixia Zhang Wins Ladies WSOP

For the ladies championship at the 2014 World Series of Poker, Haixia Zhang became the second female to win the series and she took home the gold bracelet and $153,470.  Only playing poker for fun, reports Bluff Magazine, Zhang is a mother of two and her and her husband run a strafing company and have done so for 14 years.

sarangahuja_haixiazhangNormally her and her family take a week long trip to Vegas.  Before the the trip was never to play poker but Zhang mentioned her husband told her that she should just play.  After the last two years of visiting the city but playing in the tournament, Zhang decided to enter for the 2014 WSOP.

Zhang mentioned that she wasn’t nervous during the tournament and she just played her game but there were some tense moments where she was down to four big blinds and that she had lost most of her chips on a hand where she held jacks and another player held eights, hitting the set on the flop.  She even text her husband that she thought she would be done very soon after playing with the four big blinds.

For the majority of the day on Saturday, Zhang was in the middle of the pack with chips, the average being 311,000.  Mikiyo Aoki held a commanding chip lead at 742,000 when the opening ceremony of the Big One For One Drop.  This forced the players to pause until the poet finished his speech.  The starting line-up of chip introductions continued after ward and the first official shuffle and deal happened at 1:15 which happened with only seven minutes left in the level 19 kick off.

After it was all said and done Zhang was the one holding the gold bracelet.  She mentioned that she is hoping to play a couple more events before she puts in her name to the main event.

Mukul Pahuja left finance for a new career

sarangahuja_mukulpahujaMukul Pahuja once worked on Wall Street but decided to make a career change and follow in his brother Vinny’s footsteps to become a professional poker player.  Sitting as the leader in the World Poker Tour Player of the Year race, according to Poker News, Pahuja has recorded more than $2.1 million in live tournament winnings in just three years.  Pahjua moved from New York to his new home in Florida and soon after making the move Pahuja got the biggest score of his entire career when he finished third at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in which he took home $872,625.  He wasn’t done there though and three months after that finish he again was in the top three taking the runner-up position at WPT Montreal, nabbing $362,430.  He has also started 2014 strong and landed a fourth place finish at WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars as well as eighth place at WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open.

There are many tough players still in contention for the spot of Player of the Year and the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open $10 Million Guarantee was nearly a World Poker Tour sponsored event.  There was a WPT Alpha8 held on the property during that tournament and the event hosted a $5 million guarantee at the event.  If the $10 million guarantee was a WPT sponsored event, Pahuja would have held the most Player of the Year points in WPT history at 3,350 which would have smashed the current record of 2,575 that Matt Salsberg achieved in Season XI.  Pahuja also has been ranking in the 2014 Global Poker Index Player of the Year race after his hot start in 2014 and he’s not complaining.  He is content with being a newlywed to his new wife Alexis though and stated, “I’m ecstatic about the life we built for ourselves.”

Drubetskoy makes his debut on Poker Night in America

On Poker Night in America one amateur and seven pros sat down to play a high-stakes game.  Before the first hand was dealt, amateur Gene Drubetskoy put down a brick of $10,000 worth of 20 dollar bills.  It was his first high-stakes game on the made-for-TV poker game as a Washington Post article states.  Drubetskoy is a 33 year old from Maryland and works his day job as a mortgage consultant.  The amateur got on Poker Night in America through the open casting call sent out by the show.

The producers of the show had invited professional poker players from all around the world but to add another dimension to the storyline they sent out the casting call to print in an amateur as well.  Nolan Dalla, creative director for Poker Night in America, mentioned that they wanted to make the television good by bringing in the best of the best but the show is also aiming to create new stars.

sarangahuja_pokerchipsDrubetskoy had played at the Maryland Live poker room on many occasions but usually at stakes from $2 to $10 on no limit hold’em tables.  While the amateur joked that not much was different, “it’s just poker,” the stakes were much higher than he has ever played before.  Situated at $25 and $50 with a minimum buy-in of $5,000 there was a total of $68,500 up for grabs on the table when the cameras started rolling.

The amateur was sitting amongst some of the best in the world including Greg Merson, winner of the main event in the 2012 World Series of Poker.  Amongst the seven pros at the table there were nine World Series of Poker championship bracelets spread among them.  Drubetskoy felt honored to sit with such esteemed individuals.

By the time the cameras stopped rolling, Drubetskoy had lost his $10,000 in a $30,000 pot when he held two kings and professional David Baker held two aces.  Drubetskoy put another $10,000 in before the broadcast came to a close.

Maryland Gets ‘Poker Night in America’

sarangahuja_pnaThe first televised max-volume poker tournament in Maryland is happening right now.  Poker Night in America has decided to film the $1 Million Maryland Live Poker Classic with its conclusion on March 25 with the final table.  The event is $3,500 buy-in and will feature some big names including, Greg Merson who won the 2012 World Series of Poker, Gavin Smith, the Canadian pro, Darvin Moon, who made the ridiculous World Series of Poker in 2009, and Christian Harder, who has played at Maryland Live on multiple occasions.  An article from the Washington Post mentions that Darvin Moon still views poker as a hobby and he arrived from his job working in the woods just before the even started, making cash games a rarity for him.

Maryland Live is typically one of the busiest poker rooms year round and often all fifty-two tables are filled with a wait list of 100 more people out the door.  The poker room has only been open for six months and with the current business it is getting isn’t important for the show to bring in more business so much as demonstrate “our coming out party” as Maryland Live’s director of poker operations Mike Smith mentioned.

Televised cash games will have a minimum buy-in of $5,000 with a maximum of $20,000.  The producers of Poker Night in America have cast a variety of people that will be sure to entertain.  The games are more social than the typical productions and will allow the players to be more animated and social because they will not be playing for as much money that they often play for.  Christian Harder expects the entire production to be “a bit different” with its unique cast of characters.  This is the first time poker has ever been filmed for TV in Maryland and you can look for it starting in April.

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