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Poker Hand of the Week: Dwan Unmatched, Robl Unbeatable
The comeback of iconic poker TV show Poker after Dark last week was highly appreciated by poker fans the world over.Especially because it also brought about the spectacular return of Tom "durrrr" Dwan. Dwan won almost a million dollars on his return to PAD but Andrew Robl showed some astonishing moves as well, demonstrating that he’s still in the top class of live cash-game players. Flop to River This is Day 3 of the PAD cash game and apart from Robl and Dwan there are also Jean-Robert Bellande, Matt Kirk, Lauren Roberts and Bill Klein at the table. The game is $200/$400 No-Limit Hold’em but we’ve long reached a phase where one or two straddles have become the rule more than the exception. In this hand Dwan has brought in the $1,600 double straddle and after Lauren Roberts folds Robl - $1.3 million stack – raises to $4,500 with     Klein gets out of the way but Bellande calls from the big blind with a stack of $270,000. Kirk folds and the action moves to Dwan, who has a stack of $285,000 and re-raises to $26,500. Robl calls, Bellande calls and suddenly we have $80,900 in the pot. The effective stacks are at $260,000. The flop falls       Bellande checks and Dwan bets $45,000. Robl and Bellande both call. The pot has grown to $215,900 and effective stacks are down to roughly the same - $215,000. The turn is the   It's checked around on fourth street. There's still $215,900 in the pot and the effective stacks remain the same. The river is the   Bellande checks again. Dwan bets $120,000 and Robl goes into the tank. When he makes his decision he announces all-in and both his opponents fold. Bellande was playing     and Dwan was playing     as if they’d been something completely different. The $645,000 pot goes to Robl, though. Unfortunately you can’t watch how this hand played out on YouTube as it isn’t available. Analysis This is a highly interesting hand even if the best hand wins -- mainly because the best hand also bluffs for a $645,000 pot. Not thinking fold. How did Robl come to the decision to make a move on the river that's pretty much the opposite of textbook poker? Pre-flop, Robl finds A-Jo and raises like you’d expect. Bellande flat calls, which is a smart move. If he raises it up again he would build a big pot with his pocket pair and there’d be a big risk of facing overcards on the flop -- plus one of the toughest players on the other side of the table. If you know Tom Dwan, you also know that after this action and holding a veritable monster in 9-3o, the last thing on his mind is a fold. Instead he elects to re-raise to $26,500 with what many people would call “total garbage." You really shouldn’t try this at home too often. However, it’s good to include the odd bluff-raise into your arsenal to balance your ranges. If you only re-raise with aces and kings, you’ll never get paid off. On the other hand – quite literally – this means Robl and Bellande can’t just throw away their good hands here. A-Jo and 10s are pretty much automatic calls. Decision Postponed The J-6-2 rainbow flop is very dry. It hits the range of the re-raiser the most as this would generally have a lot of big pairs and high cards in it. When Bellande checks, Dwan consequently follows up with a c-bet. If this $45k bet works 1 in 3 times, it’s already profitable. But Robl has flopped top-top and has no reason to give up his hand. His call is a mandatory one. Things are different for JRB. His pocket tens might still be the best hand on this kind of flop, but making the overcall isn’t easy as he has to continue the hand out of position. A fold from Bellande would also be justifiable. 10s just keep losing value. The Twilight Turn With no less than $215,900 in the pot they go to the turn. It now becomes a major factor that both Bellande and Dwan only have about a pot-size bet left. How does the K♥ affect the players’ ranges? Dwan might have A-K here just as well as the other players so we can’t pretend it's helped one of the players in particular. But Bellande’s pocket pair keeps losing value so there’s no good reason for him to bet. Dwan seems to give up now as well to limit his losses. However, going all-in wouldn’t have been a bad move at all as he could have credibly represented A-K or better. This would probably have won him the pot, but things sometimes turn out a weird way. Robl also doesn’t see a reason to bet as his pair of jacks might still be the best hand. Now It Becomes Spectacular This hand’s been pretty interesting already but now it becomes spectacular. The river Q♥ fills up possible flushes and straights which also opens up bluffing possibilities. No slouch. When Bellande checks again, Dwan decides to take a stab and exploit the situation. Betting $120,000 into $215,900 is smart because it only has to work 35% of the time. But it also has a significant disadvantage -- he can’t properly represent anything. Pocket queens would be possible because of his 3-bet pre-flop, bet on the flop and check on the turn. A-T is also realistic, but all the other strong hands like flush draws or sets would certainly have moved all-in on the turn. Robl apparently recognizes this and is bound to think his jacks are still better than Dwan’s hand. However, he must be worried about Bellande. In this spot Robl uses his PLO experience and goes for the full push. As he’s holding the A♥ he’s blocking the nut flush while simultaneously representing it. This doesn’t only win him the pot if he has the best hand (which he does) but he can also make several better hands than his fold. Although Dwan’s getting fantastic odds to call, $90,000 is still a lot of money and you can’t call that off lightly. Conclusion Once again Andrew Robl proves he can think along different lines than many other players and that he’s an extremely tough opponent. Tom Dwan, on the other hand, missed the opportunity to run a big bluff. At the end of the hand his range had become almost empty and he was facing an opponent at eye level. Respect, Andrew Robl!Visit

Severin Rassét: “Power Up Poker is About Bringing People Back”
It’s clear that Power Up Poker is a huge deal to PokerStars.The upcoming poker variant, which is basically an all-new game that uses poker hand rankings, is looking to shake up the industry and give poker players some entirely new strategies to master. It’s something that has been attempted before but never really caught on as poker players always seem to migrate back to the classic game. Power Up Poker for Real-Money Play Power Up Poker may be the most compelling offering in the poker/video game category yet, however, and PokerStars Director of Poker Innovation and Operation Severin Rassét took some time at PSC Barcelona to tell us how the game came to exist. PokerListings: Who is the target group of Power Up? Severin Rassét Severin Rassét: Short term it’s mostly about re-activating existing players – to bring those players back to the tables who dropped because of lack of interest or other reasons. Long term we’ll try to improve and evolve the game and get some experience and then we can think about tapping into other fields like the gaming industry but we’ll be humble and take it one step at a time. PL: The graphics of the game are impressively crisp. How did you achieve that almost industrial look? SR: We’re using a new graphic engine that’s been in use for other video games, so it’s not one that we created ourselves. We integrated that into our own engine. It’s a different way of working because before we needed to code almost everything that we wanted to do in animation. Now we can build the graphics and drop them into the engine, which allows us to work much faster. PL: Poker players often play other games, too. It looks like you’re trying to implement elements from these other games into poker to make it more appealing. Power Up Poker's Disintegrate ability. SR: Yes. We want to stress the unique aspects of poker -- the gambling aspect and the competitive aspect -- something that no other game has to offer. Then we’re taking that and improving the environment, giving the game a universe and in the long run, we’re hoping that this will attract new players to the game. PL: Why did you go the futuristic way regarding the graphics? You could for example have gone fantasy, too. SR: It had to do with feedback from players and our own decision process. Obviously, the Lord of the Rings world is great, but it’s been emulated by thousands of games. We wanted a poker universe that is positive and futuristic, because we’re taking poker into the future. If you go down the fantasy road, you have to follow a thousand rules that already exist. Going into the future made it easier for us to create our own world. PL: What’s the point of the avatars? They have individual backstories, but they don’t have anything to do with the game, or do they? A look at the Power Up Poker avatars. SR: For now -- and this is just a starting point -- you might think they’re just there. But we want to reinforce avatars because we believe it will make a difference for you and how you play depending on which avatar you pick. It’ll show some part of your own personality and that’ll be different from one person to the other. PL: But the avatars won’t ever have any influence on the game themselves, like characters in fantasy games do, for example in games like Baldur’s Gate? SR: I don’t want to completely rule this out but we’ve made the decision that your choice of an avatar cannot give you an unfair advantage or an edge over other players. It can’t even be perceived as if there was that advantage. There’s money involved in this game so we have to keep the balance. PL: Will there always be three players at the table? Pro gamer/poker pro ElkY is a fan of Power Up Poker. SR: We’ve tried different numbers. It seems that with four or five players the game starts to slow down a little bit. We’ve also tested heads-up but that gets very stressful as you’re under constant attack by your opponent. For now, three players is where we want to be. PL: How do you keep the game from slowing down by stallers? SR: For once the blinds go up after a number of hands, not after time. The number of hands per level is one way for us to control the length of the game. We’re aiming for ten minutes per game, give or take one minute. We do have several ways to control the game length. For example, we can change the energy costs for the special powers, the amount of energy that’s replenished, the level structure. We’re quite confident that we have a lot of control and that we can achieve our goal regarding the maximum length of the game. PL: Poker has been around for a long time but it’s so complex that it hasn’t been figured out. It’s a bit like chess in this regard. Why would you take such a complex game and make it even more complex? RS: Poker is a simple game with a lot of depth. It’s not a complex game in the sense that the rules are complex. You can learn the rules in minutes. Power Up is a little less simple, but you’ll still be able to learn the rules and get a handle on the game within half an hour. PL: It seems that poker operators today think they have to come up with something new all the time. Is there a feeling of panic because eSports is growing so quickly? eSports are blowing up. SR: eSports are very interesting. I see it more as an opportunity than a threat. There are many parallels but the gambling part is unique in poker. Also, the beauty of this market is that it is big enough for all of us. The video game industry has a turnover now of about 100 billion dollars. That means we can continue to grow and take advantage of the development. PL: There are a lot of smart players out there who’ll figure out the optimal way to apply those special powers and find an edge. What can you do about that? SR: We’re going to change the rules on a regular basis. We will force the players to reconsider the game all the time because some things that used to be important might not be relevant anymore tomorrow. Just like with LOL or Dota where they regularly change what they call the metagame, we’ll do similar things, for example by introducing new powers and removing others and enabling new combinations. It’ll be a constantly changing challenge. PL: Will the game be available for real money play? SR: Yes. We’re planning to keep the buy-ins relatively low, but we could for example push them as high as Spin & Go's. But we’re really going to decide this as we go along. PL: Thank you, Severin Rassét.Visit

Flopomania Draws in Record Numbers in 888poker Debut
Following in the popular footsteps of its fast-fold SNAP Poker and hyper-fast BLAST SNGs, 888poker has launched another innovative game into the poker world – Flopomania.It's a fast-paced new No-Limit Hold'em game where every hand goes straight to the flop. Its purpose is to create more and faster action and it's already delivered with several records in 888poker’s online history broken over its debut weekend. Flopomania Reels 'Em In It seems that Flopomania struck a chord with a big set of online players. Compared to the day BLAST went online Flopomania attracted 50% more players to the tables. That also translates into an 11% increase of overall players on the website compared to any regular Sunday. In fact last Sunday marked the day with the most active cash game tables of the whole year on 888poker. “The first day of Flopomania was a blast, no pun intended,” said three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Dominik Nitsche. “The timing was perfect as players logged on to play online tournaments like the Mega Deep and Whale and had the opportunity to check out a new game - one with a unique twist. "I know I had a lot of fun going straight to the flop and putting my skills to the test.” More Hands Per Hour Sunday also saw more flops in cash games than any other day in 888poker’s history -- which isn't exactly surprising as Flopomania is a game that literally begins on the flop. More significantly, though, the average number of hands played per hour on any given Flopomania table was 15% higher than on regular 6-max cash game tables. Dom dug it. If you haven’t heard of Flopomania yet, it’s essentially NLHE without the pre-flop play. All players at the table get their two hole cards and then the flop is dealt straight away. From then on the betting rounds work just as you know it from regular Hold’em. As everybody goes to the flop with any two given cards there's an Ante that all players have to bring in. So there's more money in the pot when the action starts and there are much more random hands to play against – or with. Start Flopping Flopomania is now available at low stakes at 888poker so join in and try it out. If you don’t have an account yet, go through to our 888poker review page. You’ll find all sorts of useful information about special freerolls, our $888 sign-up bonus and find direct download links. Once you’ve downloaded the software all you need to do is register and you’re good to go. Special hint: Use the promo code FLOPOMANIA10 and you’ll take part in a scratch card lottery that’ll give you the chance to win $100,000! Check the infographic below for an overview of the records Flopomania broke on the first day. Visit

PokerStars Shows Off Power Up Poker Potential in Barcelona
At long last, PokerStars is ready to unleash its experimental Power Up Poker variant on the general public.Now scheduled to release in the fourth quarter of 2017 PokerStars hosted a demo of the game during this week's PSC Barcelona. PokerStars is hoping the new game will shake up a stagnant poker meta and potentially reverse some of the decline in traditional poker over the last few years. The game will hopefully attract new players and give existing players a reason to play again. Enter the Supercharger Poker players often play other video games in their spare time so it seems natural to create a game that brings poker closer to eSports. One of the new Power Up powers. For years video games like League of Legends or Hearthstone have had one component that poker has never been able to offer: Thematic flavor. PokerStars is trying to change that with Power Up and even hired several writers to create an in-game universe for the game. Power Up has its own background story and players will choose from an array of avatars that all have their own individual features and story. To improve animation the new game uses a special graphic engine that is also used in other games. Supernova players were invited to test the first version of the game to find out weaknesses and/or bugs. “We wanted fun to be the main focus and move away from the hoodies and sunglasses type of game," said PokerStars Director of Poker Innovation and Operations, Severin Rasset. “The concept was to add new powers and features to poker without destroying the natural balance.” What’s New About Power Up? In Power Up you’ll sit at a 3-max table -- at least for now. You’ll get cards like a standard game of poker but you’ll also receive special power up abilities. You start with three different powers out of a total of nine. These powers include things like: Liv Boeree testing Power Up Poker in Barcelona Reload – exchange one of your hole cards X-Ray – lets you see one of your opponent’s hole cards Scanner – shows you the first two cards of the deck Upgrade – gives you a third hole card and lets you discard one Disintegrate – lets you destroy one community card All the powers cost you energy units, of which you only have a limited number, so you can’t just keep on using your special powers. Players will be able to generate some of their energy with every hand played. At the presentation in Barcelona Team PokerStars Pros Bertrand Grospellier and Liv Boeree joined in to give a practical demonstration. It became quite clear rather quickly that the special powers give the game a hitherto unknown depth. Powers can be combined so there will be dozens of different potential combos, each having a different effect on how the game will play out. Also, whenever you’re using one of your powers, you’ll receive a new one randomly chosen from the original nine. A Constantly Shifting Meta Game As we know there are a lot of very smart players out there and they’ll figure out quickly what the optimal strategic use of these powers is. However, PokerStars has taken measures to stop anybody from getting a real edge. A look at all nine current Power Up abilities. In the future there will be powers added and others removed and the price of individual powers might go up or down. Thus the game will always be changing and it will be difficult for anyone to dominate forever using one strategy. Power Up Poker also alleviates concerns over stalling. Blinds don’t go up after a certain amount of time but rather a defined number of hands. Therefore stalling is essentially impossible. Still, it’ll take you some time to figure out how and when to use the different powers. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes a very fast-paced, action-packed game that turns out to be a lot more than traditional Texas Hold’em. Parallels to HoldemX Anyone who follows poker closely will instantly be reminded of HoldemX, which the GPI introduced last year but which never really went anywhere. HoldemX Both games were based on very similar concepts and it seems like that concept was taken up by two parties at the same time. We can’t say for sure who originally had the idea, but what we can say is that the PokerStars product is a much more polished one. Whereas HoldemX was abundant with powers, many of which were not very useful, Power Up is a more thoroughly thought-out product and the graphics are a mile away from what HoldemX was. In fact, the graphics are a large part of the fun in Power Up. They are reminiscent of the worlds of Terminator, Robocop, and Cube, and the avatars recall fantasy characters from Lord of the Rings and Gormenghast. Target Date: Q4 Making predictions on how successful a game will be is incredibly difficult but Power Up will surely find its spot in the poker world. Power Up brings with it an almost board game-like interactivity, the way you might know it from games like Catan or El Grande. The target date for the full version to go live is the last quarter of 2017. Power Up will also be available for Mac and Mobile and it will come with a full tutorial. Create a new account at PokerStars via our review page to get ready to give it a go.Visit

Spragg & Hand: PokerStars’ Breakout Powerhouse Streaming Duo
Streamers Fintan Hand and Benjamin Spragg aren't the most well known poker players PokerStars has ever signed to its online team.They could, though, play a pivotal role in the years to come. Spragg and Hand were only announced to PokerStars Team Online Pro last month but they add yet another valuable weapon to a streaming arsenal that already includes Jason “Jcarver” Somerville, Jaime Staples and Kevin Martin. The pair seem like long-time friends but in reality Hand, who hails from Ireland, and Spragg, of England, met just three months ago. Both have been playing online poker since they were 18 years old but mostly low limit cash games and tournaments. Two Poker Streams, One Poker Channel They both started streaming full-time and PokerStars soon took notice. Spragg and Hand bring a unique low-stakes angle to poker streaming and could potentially bring a new generation of players into the fold. We caught up with the pair at PSC Barcelona and tried to get a read on the future of streaming and how Spragg and Hand got involved with it in the first place: PokerListings: What do people like to watch the most? Fintan Hand: They prefer big tournaments to Sit & Go’s, mostly because an MTT is like a long story that has a beginning, a middle and an end. In Sit & Go’s you just play for 40 minutes, which isn’t long enough to really engage people. Benjamin Spragg in his natural habitat. Benjamin Spragg: It’s definitely easier to engage people through tournaments than cash games as well. If you have a really good day in cash and win ten buy-ins, that’s $1,000, which is good money but not exactly life changing. I recently turned $7.50 into five grand in one tournament and it’s much more interesting to watch that than to watch a cash game player grind out the same amount of money. PL: There are many who play well but only few who want to show others how they play. Why did you get into streaming? FH: Oh, we’re not really that good, though. We’re really more of attention whores. BS: Well, you are. I’ve always enjoyed the entertainment aspect of things so I would have liked to stream any game. The problem is I’m not good at anything else and I’m only passable as a poker player. Nobody would watch me stream anything else because I’m terrible. FH: We’ve been grinding for a number of years and it can get a little tiresome because you’re mostly just sitting at home. Twitch gives you the chance to build and be part of a community. It’s just far more social. PL: Isn’t live streaming a lot more about entertainment than just poker? Because most of the time you’re not actually doing anything. Fintan Hand announcing his deal with PokerStars. FH: Yes, even a short 30-second gap where you’re not saying anything is horrible. You need to be talking all the time without being repetitive. You need to be talking all the time without being repetitive. BS: You’re just talking completely nonsense all the time. PL: Which is probably the best you can do in these situations... FH: Only if you’re one of the top 20 players in the world could you stream without talking and still get a big following. BS: Yeah, Phil Ivey could probably sit there without a microphone and would still have a huge following… FH: …but most people actually would need a personality. PL: Where are you going to go with these streams? Fintan Hand wearing a clover suit at the Irish Open. BS: The idea is to bring our two streams together under the PokerStars channel so that at some point we can stream simultaneously and the people can see both our hole cards and our tables on one screen. It would give us much more action. Also, if we’re playing in the same tournament and one of us busts there’s still a good chance that the other one goes deep into it. FH: Even before we were streaming together we would look into each other’s streams and… can I say “take the piss” out of each other? PL: Yes. FH: Ok. It got to a point where people actually thought we don’t like each other. BS: Which we don’t, by the way. FH: Well, we get along very well but there was a night when I was teasing him about his clothes and some people took it the wrong way and thought I stepped over the line. PL: Since you were sporting a clover suit at the final table of the Irish Open, we’re not sure you’re in the position to tease anybody for the way they dress. Benjamin Spragg and Fintan Hand vlogging. FH: I killed that suit. BS: It was shocking. I know you think that was funny but it wasn’t. FH: I got free drinks and everything. Everybody loved it. BS: The thing is that he craves attention and I don’t. He’s very outgoing but I don’t like having fun. I enjoy being miserable. PL: Have you ever tried something else. Like… a job? BS: I’ve never had a job. I’m fine with video games. But to get an audience streaming video games, you either have to be very good or very funny. FH: I used to be a dealer. I also had a couple of other jobs, like stacking shelves in a supermarket. I worked from 16 to 21, and then I got into streaming. PL: What are your next projects? BS: When we’re done here in Barcelona we’ll be streaming the WCOOP. FH: After that I’ll be at the PokerStars Festival in Dublin. BS: And in October we’ll be at the TwitchCon in Long Beach, California, so if any of your readers will be around there, come and say hi! PL: Thank you Ben and Fintan.Visit

Liv Boeree: “It Was the Right Call to Carry On with PSC Barcelona”
There are some things you simply can’t account for when planning a poker festival.This year’s horrific terrorist attack in Barcelona, which led to 14 fatalities, qualifies as something no one could have predicted. The attack took place while PokerStars was holding its massive PSC Barcelona festival just a few kilometers away. Despite the serious nature of the attack, PokerStars decided to move forward with the event and Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree believed it was the right decision. Boeree: Media Coverage is a Difficult Subject We caught up with Boeree and talked to her about what it’s like to play cards while having to deal with an omnipresent threat in the back of your mind. PokerListings: Do you remember where you were when you first heard about the terror attack that happened here in Barcelona last Thursday? Liv Boeree: I was at the table, deep in the €10k High Roller event. My mom messaged me and then tried to call. I was surprised at first. She asked if I was okay and I said, "sure, why?". Then she explained to me what had happened. PL: What was your initial response? LB: My initial response was to make sure Igor [Kurganov] was okay. And then… it’s difficult to put in words, and I don’t want to use the word desensitized but this has unfortunately become a part of life. Igor Kurganov It’s not that I don’t realize what has happened, but there are 20,000 people dying every day for needless things, terrible things that are avoidable. There are murders all the time, committed by horrible -- but also mentally ill people -- but they don’t get as much press, so they’re not even at the forefront of our minds. The media coverage is a difficult subject to talk about here. Of course these terrorists have been brainwashed and believe stupid things but they also want the notoriety. They see other attacks making the front pages, and that inspires them. It makes them want their own moment of “glory”. The more we make of it the more we’re going to have it. Something’s gotta give there. We obviously need to try and minimize terror and remember the victims but we also can’t overhype it because it becomes a self-perpetuating thing. These people want fame and they want it for really bad things. We shouldn’t give them that. PL: Did you go to La Rambla where the attack happened? Casino Barcelona LB: No. Not only because I was very busy but also… I’m sad enough about what happened. I don’t need to go there and make myself even sadder. PL: What do you think about the way Barcelona is handling the situation? LB: I’m very impressed with the city in general. I love how the next day there were people out on the beaches. People went to work. There was a more sombre mood but people were getting on with their lives because that’s what we have to do! If we don’t, the terrorists get what they want. They want fear, they want disruption and they want to be talked about. We have to carry on and not give them what they want. PL: One question on everybody’s mind here was whether this poker event here should carry on. Liv Boeree LB: Of course it should! It’s not even close! What else would we do? Let the terrorists win? Cancelling the event can’t be an option unless there was a chance that it wasn’t secure, but security here has been the strongest I’ve ever seen at any event, which is reassuring. There’s always a risk to anything that anyone of us is doing but it’s comparatively small. It was absolutely the right call to carry on. In fact, now you can see the poker community being even nicer to each other. It has given everyone a bit of perspective. It shows that we’re all here for the same thing and we all want to live our peaceful lives. That was nice to see. PL: Looking at bigger events, they didn’t stop either. The CF Barcelona played yesterday, almost as if to make a point. LB: Exactly and good for the Spanish that they did this. We should not forget that the chances of being hit by a terrorist attack are tiny, compared to almost anything else. We have to be aware that our minds are playing tricks on us, overvaluing some things and undervaluing others. We’re getting bombarded by the media with some things but not others. Air pollution is much more likely to kill us but we don’t hear much about that all the time. PL: Have you ever experienced that this religious conflict – if you can even call it a conflict – in the poker community? LB: Never. Literally, no time. I highly doubt it ever will. PL: Thank you, Liv Boeree.Visit

Record-Setting PSC Barcelona Continues to Spark PokerStars LIVE
The more things change, the more they stay the same.While the online poker world has changed drastically over the last few years, Barcelona remains a centerpiece of the PokerStars Live Tour. In fact it could easily be construed that the latest PSC in the city is proof that PokerStars is edging further away from the competition in the live arena. The numbers are, quite simply, staggering. It hasn’t been easy lately for poker’s biggest operator. Several measures that PokerStars has taken in online poker have raised the eyebrows of more than a handful of players in the last couple years and the re-branding of the EPT didn’t have the desired effect either. Barcelona, however, remains a success story for the company. And things are once again looking up. Numbers Climb to Record Heights Pundits have been predicting the demise of poker and big live festivals over the last few years but the number of new players taking up the game is nothing to scoff at. The PokerStars National Championship is an example of a tournament that just continues to grow no matter what expectations you throw at it. The first National Championship was played in 2012 and it attracted a huge field of 1,037 players. The number exceeded expectations at the time. In the following years the numbers not only went up: they exploded. The field over the last five years: 2012: 1037 players; €1,004,940 prize pool2013: 1798 players; €1,744,060 prize pool2014: 2560 players; €2,483,200 prize pool2015: 3292 players; €3,193,240 prize pool2016: 3447 players; €3,343,590 prize pool In 2017 PokerStars guaranteed €4 million in the prize pool for the first time ever and expectations were at an all-time high. Somehow the tournament continue to smash estimates. By the time the smoke had cleared the event claimed 4,557 entries, of which about 1,000 were re-entries. It was enough to qualify as the biggest PokerStars live tournament ever. The National Championship is slowly catching up with some of the bigger events at the WSOP. The prize pool tipped the scales at €4,420,290 with €575,000 for the winner. That’s more than 50% of the inaugural event’s full prize pool. The National Championship isn’t the only tournament that’s drawing big, however. The new PokerStars Cup, a €330 buy-in tournament, attracted nearly 2,400 runners this year. A Trend Towards Lower Buy-ins PokerStars also offers a slightly bigger version of the National Championship at a buy-in of €2,200 and that event attracted 1,470 players this year. That’s almost 300 players more than last year. Pedro Cairat, winner of the National Championship. On the high end of the scale the €50k Super High Roller event shrunk from 102 to 86 entries. Of course the number of players in these events is so small that this doesn’t really give us enough information to call it a trend but the growth in lower buy-in player fields is significant. Meanwhile the Main Event started earlier today and in the first couple of hours the numbers looked similar to last year’s event. With its buy-in of €5,300 the Main Event could signify the threshold between the lower and higher buy-in tournaments regarding attendance. Last year 1,785 players entered the Main Event, which was a record high. Actually, it was a record high for the seventh year in a row as the field in Barcelona has been growing every year since the inaugural one in 2004, except once in 2009. The final numbers for the PSC Main Event will be released in the early afternoon on Wednesday. It’s unclear if the tournament will top last year’s attendance but it’s going to be a big one, regardless. Could this be the year that the PSC Barcelona hits 2,000 players? It certainly seems more possible than ever before.Visit

Daily 3-Bet: Igor the Great, Cash Game Goodness, $33m Payout
The Daily 3-Bet is a delicious and nutritious smoothy made from grinding up the very best mid-afternoon poker news ingredients with a 1,560-watt blending machine.You can always make your own suggestions for future 3-Bet pieces by plunking them in the comments section below. In today’s Daily 3-Bet we’ll take a look at Igor Kurganov grabbing yet another SHR title, a great Live at the Bike lineup and the massive $33m UB/Absolute payout. 1) Kurganov Snags Barcelona SHR Title Because Igor Kurganov always comes across as such an incredible nice, generous guy it’s easy to forget he’s a beast at the tables. Also at the final table. Kurganov reminded people in Barcelona this week by taking down a hefty €50,000 buy-in PSC Super High Roller for €1m. The Team PokerStars Pro overwhelmed a final table that included Daniel Negreanu, Koray Aldemir, Ivan Luca and Dietrich Fast. Kurganov out-dueled Polish pro Bartlomiej Machon to clinch the title and €1,078,106. There was a heads-up deal, however, so Machon likely wasn’t that disappointed with his €864k haul. It’s been quite a year for Kurganov as he won his first WSOP bracelet with girlfriend Liv Boeree in the $10k Tag-Team event. Last February Kurganov also got a sponsorship deal with PokerStars. The Russian-born pro is now up to $2m in earnings in 2017 alone and $14m lifetime. Definitely one of the most consistent high rollers around. 2) Live at the Bike Line Up What’s with the recent glut of high-profile, high-stakes cash games getting streamed lately? We’re not complaining but with the revitalized PAD hitting it out of the park on PokerGO earlier this month and a new Live at the Bike line-up set for this Friday it’s getting tough to find the time to watch it all. The Live at the Bike game will kick off at 2 p.m. on Friday and include the likes of Antonio Esfandiari, Ryan Fee, Lauren Roberts and Ronen Porat playing $50/$100 No-Limit Hold’em. Perhaps Esfandiari can find a way to make up for that nasty KK vs. Tom Dwan’s AA hand that saw him lose close to $700k on PAD last week. At the rate we’re going it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see GSN’s classic High-Stakes Poker or even Full Tilt Poker’s Million Dollar Cash Game make a return in the near future. Don’t hold your breath for those two, though. As per usual you’ll able to watch the entire Live at the Bike cash game on the Live at the Bike live stream. 3) DOJ to Dole Out $33m in UB/Absolute Repayments It’s actually happening. UB and Absolute Poker are set to return $33m to former players who’ve had their accounts frozen since Black Friday rocked the poker world in 2011. Took long enough. It’s taken over seven years but the US Department of Justice finally approved the first round of payments from UB/Absolute to former players. Garden City Group, the group handling the re-payments, estimates 7,400 former players will be included in the process with nearly $33.5 million being returned to players. Players have until Sept. 7 to file a claim, so make sure you get in there if you have an outstanding balance on either UB or Absolute Poker. It’s somewhat incredible it’s actually gotten to this point as even some of the most optimistic poker pros didn’t have a lot of hope about ever getting their money back after Black Friday. Apparently the US government was able to acquire enough money from Black Friday that it was able to officially repay players. It’s the second major payout in regards to Black Friday as Full Tilt Poker, thanks to being acquired by PokerStars in 2012, was able to return more than $100m to players.Visit

888poker Announces XL Eclipse Schedule w/ 197 Events, $9m GTD
Hot on the heels of an actual solar eclipse, 888poker is prepping its biggest XL series ever, which is fittingly called XL Eclipse.Having rebranded and boosted the XL series, 888poker is about to flood the online poker world again with more tournaments than most people play in an entire year. Taking place from September 10-24, 2017, the latest edition of the XL series will offer a total of 197 events spread across two action-packed weeks of poker. Over $9,000,000 in Prizes Once again this is the biggest guarantee yet for an XL series. The overall series will offer a total of $9.17m in guaranteed prize money with the Main Event alone featuring a $1.5m guarantee. 888poker ambassador Kara Scott. That’s quite a journey from the $2 million guaranteed over the entire span of the first XL series that 888poker ran several years ago. Every single one of the 197 tournaments has a prize pool guarantee and judging from experience with the XL Inferno, which had $7.5 million guaranteed, there will be very few overlays. XL Eclipse, and its nearly 200 tournaments, will play out over a span of just two weeks, which means that on average there will be 13 tournaments offered each day. So if you want to benefit as much as possible from the XL Eclipse you had better take some time off from work and stock up on food and drink. And just in case you’re thinking you might want to do something else with your vacation, have you ever come back with more money than you went with on a holiday trip? Playing the XL Eclipse, you might. With with such a vast schedule you’ll find a couple of tournaments to play no matter when you have time. Multiple Main Events, $5,200 SHR Returns The most important event is always the Main Event. This one will be a $1,050 buy-in Deepstack NLHE event with $1.5 million guaranteed. Big tournaments, big money. As usual at 888poker, the Main Event will come in four different variations. Apart from the $1,050, there will be a $215 Mini Main Event, a $109 Turbo Main Event, a $75 Super Turbo Main Event and a $30 Micro Main Event. There will also be two “Whales” with $1,050 buy-in. They will run on Sundays as usual. There will also be $2,100 High Roller Event with $500,000 guaranteed on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Of course, all the eyes will be on the $5,200 Super High Roller. All the top pros and ambassadors will play in this one to get the most coveted title of this series apart from the main event. The Super High Roller event also has a guaranteed prize pool of $500,000. The Opening Event is also available in four different buy-in and speed levels from $12 to $160 and it has up to $300,000 guaranteed. On the other end of the scale, you’ll find four tournaments for just $5 and with guarantees from $3000 to $10,000. Eight events will have just $12 to play, and among them is also an Omaha tournament. Freeroll your way into the XL Eclipse Main Event 888poker is running freerolls that award tickets to the $1,050 Main Event several times a day. Open your 888poker lobby and spin the wheel, you’ll soon find tickets for the freerolls in your account. Play to win, register to play This will be a series for all levels and bankrolls, and you shouldn’t miss out. Do you have an account at 888poker? Then you’re all set. If you don’t check out our 888poker review page, where we’ll guide you through the registration process.Visit

Hand of the Week: Tom Dwan Scoops $700k in PAD Blockbuster
This week saw the highly anticipated return of “Poker after Dark” – and Tom "durrrr" Dwan.Dwan used to be a trademark of the highly popular poker show, but then disappeared from the TV poker scene for several years. On his return he first turned his attention to the one-and-only Antonio Esfandiari. It was the first episode of the new season of Poker after Dark, and “The Magician” found himself in a terrible spot versus Dwan and Daniel Negreanu and simply couldn’t find an escape. From the Flop to the River Poker After Dark is back, and the game is No-Limit Hold’em $200/$400 with a $400 button ante. Six players are in the game, and Antonio Esfandiari has just turned his UTG position into being the last player to act by putting in a straddle of $800. Also at the table are Lauren Roberts, Bill Klein, Jean-Robert Bellande, Tom Dwan, and Daniel Negreanu. Roberts and Klein throw their hands into the muck, and then Daniel Negreanu raises to $3,500 from the button. Bellande folds, but Tom Dwan re-raises to $14,000. Antonio Esfandiari checks his cards. They are     Esfandiari 4-Bets to $41,100 and Daniel Negreanu is not backing down. He thinks about it for a while and decides to call. The pot is now up to $96,800 and the pre-flop action is not yet over. It’s back to Tom Dwan, who also takes his time and eventually goes all-in with $328,000. The action goes back to Esfandiari who calls. Negreanu lays his cards down with a smile. He had     But Tom Dwan has something better. It’s showdown time and he turns over the best starting hand in Texas Hold’em.     They’re dealing it twice, but Esfandiari fails to catch and Tom Dwan takes the complete $697,100 pot. Do watch this hand again as it played out: Analysis Obviously there has been a lot of discussion about this hand on the internet and there were quite a few people who seemed astonished about Esfandiari not being able to fold his kings. Others claimed there was no way out for “The Magician” and that he was doomed from the start of this hand. Who’s right? We need to take every involved player’s position to find out. Daniel Negreanu - Q♦ Q♣ The Canadian pro finds pocket queens and makes a standard raise from the button with the third-best starting hand. Daniel Negreanu Then things get interesting. First, Dwan raises to $14,000 and then Esfandiari pops it up again to $41,100. Negreanu can now reasonably choose any of his three options. Raise – Negreanu might put in a 5-bet here. This would mean, however, that he would cross the all-in threshold and can’t fold anymore. With this hand, that would put Negreanu into a really bad spot, because the only hands he would get called with are A-A, K-K, and A-K, and the best-case scenario would be a coin flip. Considering how the other two players in this hand play, aces or kings are definitely in their ranges. Call – By calling, Negreanu gives himself a chance to stay in the hand and watch what Tom Dwan is doing behind him. If Dwan just calls, his range is weaker than expected and Negreanu gets to see a flop. If, however, Dwan raises again, then Negreanu will get more information by what Esfandiari is going to do, and then he can still decide to lay his hand down relatively cheap. Fold – If Negreanu folds here, he’s making sure to stay completely out of trouble, and he’s limiting his investment to $3,500. But he’s facing two very aggressive players at a six-handed table, so he can’t just fold such a strong hand just because there’s some resistance. Making the call is clearly Negreanu’s best move here, and when both Dwan and Esfandiari are all-in, folding becomes inevitable. Tom Dwan - A♠ A♣ Pocket aces play very nicely and easily when things go like this but there is one move that is of crucial importance. Tom Dwan When Negreanu makes the call, should Dwan raise again to $100,000 or should he just go all-in? As it were, Dwan – after taking some strategic thinking time – opts for the all-in, which is the best option. Now you might think that sounds wrong as Dwan really wants to get called but does his best to drive away his customers, but at the end of the day, the opposite is true. By going all-in, Dwan adds A-K to his range. Being known as an extremely aggressive player, he can now get a call not only from K-K, but from Q-Q, too, and even from A-K. If he would on the other hand 5-Bet his hand, it would basically scream “I have aces and want you to call me”, and that would have everyone get suspicious.With this, let’s look at the last player involved. Antonio Esfandiari - K♥ K♣ In the first betting round, Esfandiari plays everything correctly. He sees Negreanu raise and Dwan re-raise, and since he's holding the second best starting hand, he doesn’t mind building an even bigger pot and maybe eliminating one of his opponents along the way to improve his own pot equity. But then strange things happen. Daniel Negreanu calls his 4-Bet although he’s sandwiched between Esfandiari and Dwan, and then Dwan comes back with another raise all-in! Let’s look at his opponents’ ranges. Antonio Esfandiari Negreanu plays like he has a strong, but not very strong hand. It looks a bit like T-T, J-J, Q-Q or A-K and he wants to see a flop. Esfandiari’s kings are ahead of this range, but then there’s still Dwan. When Dwan is all-in, Negreanu’s range becomes secondary. The crucial question is, which hands would Tom Dwan push all-in in this spot and how do Esfandiari’s kings play against them? We’ll have to take a look at numbers. Pocket kings versus a loose range – A-A, K-K, Q-Q, and A-K – a tight range – A-A, K-K, A-K – and a very tight range – A-A, K-K. Against the loose range, kings win 55% of the times, draw 5% of the times, and lose 40% of the times. Against the tight range, kings win 44%, draw 7%, and lose 49% of the times. Against the very tight range, kings win 16%, draw 14%, and lose 70% of the times. We also have to take into account the money in the pot. Esfandiari has to pay $287,000 into a pot of $410,500 to call, giving him pot odds of 1.4 to 1. That means he has to win 41% of the times to make his play profitable. Is that enough if your opponent is Tom Dwan? Very likely, yes. If Dwan pushes all-in with any more hands than aces and kings, Esfandiari is generally on the profitable side. But then all the cash game players have one thing in common: They don’t like to call with kings. Conclusion It’s an unfortunate spot for Antonio Esfandiari. He loses a gigantic pot of almost $700,000 because his opponent Tom Dwan is not a rock who only plays the nuts but has a wider range. Mental note – If your stack is over 100 bb deep, or even 800 bb like in this case, kings become a dangerous hand for pre-flop all-ins.Visit

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