Online Poker Superstars Making Marks in the 2006 World Series of Poker

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For professional football players, it's the Super Bowl. For poker players amateur and professional, it's the World Series of Poker. This Las Vegas event enters its 37th year of play, this time from the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino. This year's Main Event, one of many poker tournaments at the WSOP, promises to attract over 8,000 people. People of all backgrounds will congregate to pursue one dream: a WSOP bracelet and a huge payday. At the heart of the action is the online poker player, who dominates play mediated through a computer, but must now face "live" players in an intimidating setting. PocketFives.com (http://www.pocketfives.com), devoted entirely to online poker, is at this year's event with a large contingent.

For professional football players, it's the Super Bowl. For poker players amateur and professional, it's the World Series of Poker. This Las Vegas event enters its 37th year of play, this time from the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino. This year's Main Event, one of many poker tournaments at the WSOP, promises to attract over 8,000 people. People of all backgrounds will congregate to pursue one dream: a WSOP bracelet and a huge payday. At the heart of the action is the online poker player, who dominates play mediated through a computer, but must now face "live" players in an intimidating setting. PocketFives.com (http://www.pocketfives.com), devoted entirely to online poker, is at this year's event with a large contingent.

So far, PocketFives members in Las Vegas have racked up over $850,000 in earnings. The big winners so far include Justin "Looshle" Pechie, who finished third in the $2,500 No Limit Holdem Event for $206,027. Right behind him was Corey "muchaka" Cheresnick, who cashed fifth for $118,860. Josh "sdouble" Schlein finished third in the $1,500 Limit Holdem Event for just over $101,000. An incredible 54 PocketFivers have made the money in an event thus far, with over 100 PocketFivers slated for the Main Event. "Having so many of internet poker players in the Main Event will make for an exciting atmosphere on our site," says PocketFives President Cal Spears. "We've opened a whole new section of the site called PocketFivesLive.com just so our members and guests can follow the action of their online favorites at the biggest poker tournament in history."

One online favorite is Eric "Rizen" Lynch, a 27 year old-old professional poker player from Kansas City, Missouri. Lynch finished third in the $1,500 Pot Limit Holdem event and cashed for $104,544. Along the way, he battled poker pros John Juanda and Dewey Tomko, making a flush on the river to knock out Tomko. Lynch had pocket fours versus Tomko's ace-queen. When the ace fell on the river, Lynch thought he had lost and even said "nice hand." Lynch was then shocked to see he had a flush: I "was too busy stacking chips from the previous hand."

Harry Thomas is a 62 year-old real estate developer from Cincinnati, Ohio. He recently finished 16th at the Bay 101 Shooting Stars of Poker, a World Poker Tour Event in San Jose, California, for $65,000, bringing his career winnings to just under $700,000. Thomas finished 14th in the $2,500 Short Handed No Limit Holdem Event this year for a $14,000 payday. "I made a questionable call against 2005 WSOP Champ Joe Hachem," said Thomas. "We both had aces He hit his 7 kicker and it was exit stage right for me."

Devin "TranquilChaos" Porter has made two final tables on the World Poker Tour during the previous year, capturing fourth at the Aruba Poker Classic and third in the Mirage Poker Showdown. The 22 year-old continued his dominance in Las Vegas, winning $10,478 in the $2,000 No Limit Holdem Event at this year's World Series of Poker. Porter tangled with poker pro Carlos Mortenson to seal his fate. With blinds of $2,000/$4,000, Mortenson raised to $15,000 to go. Porter sensed an over-aggressive Mortenson making a move and moved over the top for $37,000. Mortenson retaliated by pushing all-in, forcing Porter to call the rest of his $53,000 stack. Porter turned over ace-eight and lost the race to Mortsenson's wired pair of sevens. Porter's advice for newcomers: "There is no reason to be scared of anyone at the table."

One such newcomer to the World Series of Poker is Chris Hogan, who will make his debut in this year's Main Event. The 24 year-old Kansas City native spent the 2005 WSOP with his family gazing at the action from the rails in Las Vegas. "This year, I'm looking forward to walking into the room knowing I'm a player, not a spectator," says Hogan. "My mom and brother will be out there cheering me on." Hogan won his way into the Main Event by dominating a 55-person tournament on Paradise Poker. He was ahead from wire to wire to take home one of four WSOP seats.

Pete "TheBeat" Giordano is a 47 year-old professional poker player from New York. He has played in four WSOP Main Events and his goal is to make the money in 2006. Giordano believes the key is to survive day one: "For most poker players it is the day the wait for all year long. Unfortunately, for two-thirds of us that get knocked out on that day, it is also the worst day of the year." Giordano has cashed in Main Events in the past and offered the following advice to newcomers in the WSOP: "If you play scared, good players will pick up on that and eat you alive." Giordano turned pro in 2003 and is one of the Top 10 online poker players according to PocketFives.com.

With several weeks to go before the final cards are dealt in the Main Event, PocketFivers will continue to make their mark on a monumental tournament. Will the total money won be over $10,000,000? Will a PocketFiver win a treasured bracelet? These and more questions will be answered over the coming weeks from the WSOP.

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Dan Cypra
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