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.

Check it out!

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