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Chance Kornuth takes lead in stunning session of Galfond Challenge

Last week, we reported on perhaps the worst sessions of Chance Kornuth’s Galfond Challenge. Up against Phil Galfond, the Chip Leader Coaching owner was down to the tune of €280,000.  

The comeback may well have only just begun, as in this week’s sessions in the Galfond Challenge, Chance Kornuth has wiped out that debt and moved into a slim lead in the contest, as he was happy to tell his fans about on social media.  

Kornuth’s comeback hasn’t just been credited as terrific by poker fans, pundits and the media. Galfond himself has called out the bravery of his opponent taking him on. With any victory, no matter how slim, Kornuth would win a million euros, having agreed to a 4:1 side-bet that roughly reflected the Poker Shares odds on offer at the start of the battle.  

While Kornuth, if he loses, would have to hand over €250,000, Galfond’s bounty is a cool million and he admitted on Twitter that he may end up paying this out. He did add, however, that Kornuth was not the only professional poker player that he offered those odds to.  

Kornuth’s comeback began on Day 10 of the challenge, when he booked a win for a little under $80,000. He repeated the trick on Day 11, thanks in no small part to getting it in with made hands against huge draws for Galfond. Marginal play-outs and big swings are the make-up of Pot Limit Omaha and Kornuth was landing on the right side of those swings.  

On Day 12, Kornuth saw his opponent brick more draws, especially between turn and river, and on Day 13, found himself on the right side of some cold decks for the host with one particular late hand seeing Kornuth holding jacks and threes, with a flop of 8-3-9 including two clubs, of which he had a jack and three in, pop up.

After riding out the last few hands, Kornuth’s recovery was complete and his slight lead of €33,000 going into the next session will fill him with hope. Having played 6,900 of the 35,000 hands to be played, there is still a lot of poker to be played, but having been behind for four weeks since September 24th, Kornuth is finally in the lead.  

It is not one that the former WSOP bracelet winner will want to relinquish any time soon.  

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Phil Hellmuth wins $400,000 Winner-Takes-All High Stakes Duel against Antonio Esfandiari

Phil-Hellmuth-wins-400000-Winner-Takes-All-High-Stakes-Duel-Against-Antonio-Esfandiari

The third and final heads-up battle between Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari took place last night on Poker Central’s PokerGO streaming service and after eight levels of top quality action, it was The Poker Brat who emerged as a 3-0 winner, taking home $400,000 after winning three in a row against one of his oldest frenemies.

Hellmuth taking on Esfandiari has been the perfect way to start the new series High Stakes Duel on PokerGO, and with less original poker content around than normal due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Poker Central should take a bow for the series. The concept is very simple; both players put up an amount, which starts at $50,000 in Series 1, before that amount doubles with each rematch. If a player wants to quite either while behind or ahead then another poker player can step into the hot seat and take up the challenge.

Hellmuth had gone 2-0 for the first two bouts with Antonio Esfandiari, known as ‘The Magician’ since he used to be part of the Magic Circle. It was Hellmuth who played tricks with his opponent across the first two rounds of the High Stakes Duel, however, and he was going into the match with a lot of confidence. As we found out in the ‘Weigh-In’, hosted by Nick Schulman, it was perhaps Esfandiari who was feeling the pressure. 

“You win the first two and it’s huge,” Esfandiari said in the pre-match show which acts as the ‘trash-talk’ section of the heavyweight bout. “If I win the third one, I’m actually up more money. I used to care about the glory. These days, I care way more about the money.” 

“You know what pisses me off?” Hellmuth said when asked about his reputation or otherwise amid high stakes players after receiving a volley of criticism from Oliver Busquet last week on Twitter. “What pisses me off is that these kids, they couldn’t see my hole cards for all those final tables. For all those championships.” 

You can watch the weigh-in for free and in its entirety right here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcY3NIPbC34

With the talk over, the action could begin, and it was Hellmuth who went on a charm offensive, hugging his opponent before the match could get under way. Once it started, a couple of bluffs on the river were called by the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner Hellmuth, who edged into an early lead.

Things got worse for Esfandiari before they got better. A made set for Hellmuth and trips against two pair saw The Magician desperately reaching into the metaphorical top hat for a rabbit. 

When Hellmuth won a huge pot on the river after raising Esfandiari off the hand when Hellmuth himself held a flush, Schulman commented “I think Antonio’s soul just left his body.” from the commentary booth. Esfandiari was dejected.

“I just can’t beat you Phil.” He said, calling to see another big pile of chips pushed towards Hellmuth, who had established a 3:1 chip lead. Despite battling back a little, Esfandiari would never regain the lead and found himself all-in with ace-three for 43 big blinds. Hellmuth made the call with ace-ten and while the board looked for a while like it might lead to a chopped pot, with nine outs to that eventuality being available for the river card, the fates didn’t save Esfandiari and Hellmuth had the win.

Despite his undefeated back-to-back-to-back heads-up victory in the High Stakes Duel, Hellmuth didn’t feel like he in any way had the edge over his opponent.

“He’s just a great player and he’s beat me lots of times in lots of tournaments. I don’t really consider that I have the edge. It feels more like I’ve evened it out between us. Maybe I’m ahead a little bit. I’m just glad it’s over because Antonio is just a great player. I’m ready to hang it up.” 

Hang it up Hellmuth did, ending the battle not just for Esfandiari but himself too, taking the $400,000 and quitting while he’s ahead. While he won’t face off against a new opponent in Round 4 of the 8 scheduled to play out, Hellmuth is keen to kick of Season 2 of the show.

“I hope that somebody else challenges me for $50,000, and I’ll try to win another three-in-a-row. There are some great players out there that want a shot. I hope I can open Season 2, but we’ll see.” 

Who’ll take to the High Stakes Duel felt next? You can rely on one thing that we’ll tell you exactly what happens here at CalvinAyre.com

You can watch the third and final High Stakes Duel between Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari right here on PokerGO (subscription required).

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How playing among us can improve your poker game

How-Playing-Among-Us-Can-Improve-your-Poker-Game

Amid a slew of ways to spend lockdown and the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic restrictions, there has emerged one, perhaps bizarrely popular pursuit.

Playing the hyper-addictive mobile game, Among Us.

How to Play

The aim of the game is strikingly simple. You start the game as one of 10 people on board a spaceship drifting in deep space. Nine of the starting players are crewmates, with just one player actually faking the whole thing. They are the ‘Imposter’ and it’s their mission to survive at the expense of the crewmates.

The imposter is chosen at random at the start of the game. As a crewmate, your job is to root out the imposter and fix the stricken spaceship by completing all your tasks around the ship, such as flushing out dead leaves, mending broken wires and topping up the fuel in the reactor. You know, regular spaceship chores. If all the crewmates complete their tasks and there are still some of them alive, then the crewmates win the game and the imposter is defeated.

There is another, much more popular way to win, however, but we’ll come to that.

As the imposter, it’s your job to kill crewmates and sabotage the ship. You can set the reactor core to meltdown, cut off the oxygen supply and whittle the crew down to just one. Once you’ve done that, you’re the winner as by default, left alone with the imposter, the crewmate would merely be another victim.

Here’s a short tutorial on gameplay and exactly how to make your way around the ship:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnpjpdhUNjY

How to Win

Among Us is remarkably similar to poker once Emergency Meetings are called, or a dead body reported. This is your chance as crewmates to discuss others behaviour and root out the imposter among you. If the majority vote for the imposter, then the crewmates win as you flush the imposter out into space (or into lava). If, however, it’s a tie or more players skip the vote – and remember, the imposter has one crucial vote to cast – then players return to their work on the ship, leaving themselves open to another imposter slaying.

This part of the game is hugely relevant to poker and table talk when someone is bluffing. Disguising your behaviour in a poker hand is difficult. Making a bet can look strong, looking away from the table can be a tell, there are a million ways to give yourself away. But where Among Us excels is in the devious nature it prods you in the direction – or rather misdirection – of. You’ll have to convince others to vote for a different player to you if you’re the imposter. Sometimes this can be achieved with silence, but other ties you’ll need to use persuasion. Every game, and every player is different, just like in poker.

Working out what to say is difficult and takes practice to get right. As the imposter, it’s a lot harder than you might think to kill another player and get away with it. While there are vents you can use around the ship, only the imposter can do so, so if another player sees you, they can report you by calling an Emergency Meeting and there’s a kill ‘cooldown’ period where you will be dobbed in.

Just like in poker, you need to choose your moments for conflict very carefully and take in information at all times. If you pass someone in the corridor and they don’t kill you, they’re less likely to be the imposter, right? But if you’re the imposter, ignoring several players before killing another can give you the alibi you need. It’s a little like getting credit for strong hands in poker at showdown then using that perception of you by other players to run an outrageous bluff when the moment calls for it. The table has seen you show strong cards, so why would they doubt you have the nuts now?

Among Us is Poker on a Spaceship

While Among Us is a game designed for all, there’s no doubt that being a poker player helps when it comes to both getting away with murder and establishing who committed the crime. Overall, Among Us will help you as a poker player because it improves your powers of both observation and persuasion, often in equal measure and in the same 5 or 10-minute game.

The game is free to play and available on most mobile devices app stores now. We’d highly recommend that you download and play it if you’re a poker player or just with your friends and family to stave off lockdown boredom – it’s a lot of fun and playing it with poker-playing friends in a private game is absolutely hilarious.

Just remember, if you happen to be in a game with us, we didn’t sabotage those comms and we definitely didn’t just lock you in the MedBay in order to do away with you in a cartoonishly gruesome fashion. Honest.

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Poker on Screen: Lucky You (2007)

poker-on-screen-lucky-you-2007_CA

Each week, we look at a movie or television programme that features poker. This week, it’s a 2007 film called Lucky You. Would you be lucky to watch it? We’ll explain how and why, or why not.  

poker-on-screen-lucky-you-2007_CADirected by the man behind L.A. Confidential and 8 Mile, the movie itself was a financial disaster, with a budget of $55m and box office receipt totalling just $8.4m – a loss of $47m but in and of itself, it’s actually a decent poker movie. Eric Bana is a convincing lead character as Huck Cheever, even if he lacks a little of the charisma needed to carry off winning at poker and love at the same time.  

The plot centres around Huck’s ability as a poker player and his relationships with aspiring singer Billie – played by Drew Barrymore – and Huck’s father L.C., from whom Huck is at times distant and others best pals. Huck is a bit of a rogue, but you get the feeling that his luck is always going to come out on the right side of the coinflip.  

The film’s issue might have come with the romantic interest side of the script, with Drew Barrymore playing Billie Offer, one of the worst names in celluloid history. They might as well have called her Yvonne Buy-One-Get-One-Free. Think of the greatest poker couple relationships that you can think of and you can probably count the legendary romances on the fingers of one finger. This is true of the journey between Huck and Billie, who sound more like a boy and his stray dog best pal rather than a man and a woman. Sadly for Eric and Drew, the chemistry is severely lacking between the pair of them.  

The relationship between the father and son duo who somehow both make it to the final three of the WSOP Main Event is a strong one, however with Robert Duvall impressing in the role of L.C. as the pair make it to the final table of the WSOP Main Event – a highly improbable scenario.   

Overall, Lucky You came along at the wrong time and in a poker era where it didn’t appeal to enough aspirational dreamers four years on from Moneymaker winning the Main. That is referenced heavily in places but feels like a poker picture that has been superimposed over the blueprint of the movie rather than a justifiable second layer to the overall piece as a whole.  

Having flopped at the box office and failed to convince both poker audiences and mainstream movie fans of its charm, Lucky You ran out of luck when it moved its considerable chips over the line in 2007. A full 13 years after its release, perhaps now is the best time to appreciate the film for what it is; a cosy movie to watch on a night in. If you choose to do so, well, lucky you. 

Perhaps the best scene in the movie takes place with three left in the Main, and a choice that Huck is clearly agonizing over as much as his Dad.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n23ISvkbFQ

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Poker in Print: Hold’Em wisdom for all players (2007)

Poker in Print

Poker in PrintWith the heads-up battle between Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu just kicking off on PokerGO, the poker world is looking to Kid Poker to see if the six-time WSOP bracelet winner can beat Polk with some of the skills that he has taught poker fans over the years. 

Skills that he reveals in his 2007 book, Hold’Em Wisdom for all Players

With well over $40 million in live tournament earnings, Negreanu is probably the most well-known poker player in the world and has featured in Hollywood movies in cameos, too, though the less said about the 2018 film Bodied the better. Suffice it to say that Negreanu’s appearance is, well, bizarre. 

Negreanu’s first tome of poker wisdom is put together a little like Lou Krieger’s 52 poker tips, in that it has roughly 50 nuggets of information, it’s just that there’s more information at your fingertips in ‘DNegs’ book. 

The book is put together pretty well and reads well, too, unlike plenty of other poker strategy books. It’s easy to bore your audience in poker and lose fans due to being less than entertaining. Negreanu – we’re sure with a bit of help too – keeps the tone conversational and gets to the point about the knowledge that he’s passing on. 

There is a little of a dated nature to some of the tips, but that’s to be expected as the information in the book comes a good three or four iterations of optimal play in the game ago. 

From switching up the script on play in both cash games and tournaments to asserting control against bullies – something Negreanu himself might claim to have mastered in Twitter terms over recent years – there’s a pro-active, productive bent to the book. 

While some of the looser points could use tightening up, for a book written in 2007, there’s a surprising amount of the advice that still rings true. While poker as a game may have changed immensely at the highest level, even a profit-making level, there is a lot of life in the best at the game over the course of decades. In particular, that applies to Negreanu and while he is the underdog to beat Doug Polk in the bitter ‘heads-up-for-a-small-portion-of-your-millions’ battle, his overall reputation is propped up on being in the game for a quarter of a century and still winning big. 

You can buy Hold’Em Wisdom For All Players right here, and it’s a poker strategy classic. 

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Poker on Screen special: Negreanu draws first blood against Polk

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It was always going to be entertaining, but last night’s premiere of the PokerGO programme Negreanu vs. Polk: Heads-Up Feud got real.  

graphicstock-full-house-in-pok(1)

With 25,000 hands to play in their epic heads-up battle, the fact that Daniel Negreanu ended the night six figures up will not overly worry Doug Polk, who will pay the other 99.2% of the match online where he is something of an overwhelming 4/1 favourite.  

The manner of the victory for Negreanu will annoy Polk. That’s no shock; virtually everything Negreanu does annoys Polk and it’s clear to see that from the intro and outro to the entertaining 3 hours and 43 minutes that PokerGO put out for free to their fans last night. A couple of Kid Poker’s calls on Polk’s bluffs will have given the latter pause for thought, however.  

Before we talk about the show, let’s get down to watching it if you haven’t already. It’s great stuff.  

The match started pretty aggressively with the opening hand earning Negreanu a big lead, Polk’s bluff picked off by top pair. Negreanu would build and build upon that lead, with Polk never at any point holding the chip lead, but it was the smallball manner that Negreanu was allowed to do so which will anger Polk’s fans.  

Of course, that situation is to be more than reversed, and this reporter for one is a little disappointed that there isn’t more of a split between the hands that will take place between live and online. A weekly live showdown followed by the same time at the virtual felt for four days a week would be ideal, especially in terms of keeping it a little more balanced but we have what we have and the rest of the fight will currently go on via WSOP.com and feature live commentary that includes WiFi lag along with the wisecracks.  

While Negreanu will be delighted with the win, it’s only a very small head-start and he’ll be taking nothing for granted. ‘DNegs’ needed the fast start and he acknowledged that after the show.  

One particularly big hand was one where Negreanu flopped trips and managed to get Polk to bluff his entire stack into the middle on the river. Even at that point, there was some deliberation with Negreanu’s decision but he made the right one and was happy about the session overall on Twitter afterwards.  

The war may be far from over, but the first blood in the battle has gone the way of Daniel Negreanu. A huge fan of the Rocky films he may be, but this fight has got many more enduring rounds to go.  

Ding-ding. 

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High Rollers week returns to GGPoker with $22 million in guarantees

Cards and chips

Cards and chipsWith a massive 20 events and $22 million in guarantees, the GGPoker High Roller Series is sure to be a massive hit when it returns on November 8th. 

Lasting until November 15th, the series is bound to feature most big-name pros and even a few GGPoker ambassadors, though it unlikely that the GGPoker ambassador Daniel Negreanu will be playing due to his ongoing Heads-Up Feud with Doug Polk that takes place on WSOP.com. 

There are several big money prizepools on offer, though it will take a rich player to afford the eye-watering sums needed to pony up every buy-in across this series of high roller events, and the Main Event alone boasts a massive $5 million prizepool. 

Overall, there are seven events promising more than a million dollars in the prizepool, and they include the GGMasters High Roller. That has a $1.5 million prizepool and costs $1,050 to play and starts on November 8th. Starting on the same day, the Super MILLION$ $10,300-entry two-day event has $3m in the prizepool and we’ll be covering that one as we do every week, just like this week when Sebastien Grax ended up the event winner. 

Other events on the High Roller Series calendar include the PLO High Roller, which costs $10,300 to enter and has a $1,000,000 guarantee, the NLHE High Roller which again is $10,300 to play and has $1,250,000 guaranteed. The NLHE Super High Roller on November 12th costs $25,000 to buy-in and has $2,500,0000 guaranteed, while on November 15th, the GGMasters High Rollers event costs $1,050 and has a $1,000,000 guarantee, enough to attract some recreationals taking a shot, surely? 

On November 15th, it’s the Super MILLION$ Main Event again, but this time, with a $10,300-entry with a boosted $5,000,000 guarantee. Will it get more players? We shall see. 

“GGPoker is online poker’s true home for high-roller tournaments and massive prize pools – and we’ve got the Guinness World Record to prove it!” said Paul Burke, spokesman for GGPoker this week. “We’re looking forward to seeing the world’s top tournament players go for glory during High Rollers Week.” 

Burke – and GGPoker – have the right to be excited, and with all the details available on the GGPoker website, you can join in and play with the high rollers too.