Soininen won his spot in the World Poker Crown through a freeroll at Pacific Poker hosted exclusively for PokerListings.com players. All he had to do was collect five player points during the seven-day qualification period before the freeroll.
The qualification was no sweat for Soininen, who is a full-time poker player specializing in cash games. He plays poker online for a few hours a day and visits Pacific Poker on a weekly basis.
"I really like the site and the software," Soininen said about Pacific Poker. "Games there are very good. The only thing that bothers me is that I can't play more than four tables at a time."
The 29-year-old only needed to be able to play one table at a time to win his ticket to the World Poker Crown. He took down the very first PokerListings.com freeroll for the event at Pacific Poker back in February.
"There were about a hundred players, and the play was rather tight," Soininen said. "I tried to start with tight, solid poker. I had some setbacks but stayed alive."
Soininen, who plays as Mahve78 on the poker site, changed up his style to play more aggressively as the blinds increased.
"During the play, I got lucky a few times, and I managed to double up," Soininen said. "Overall, I achieved my win with a combination of good cards, good timing and aggressive play."
Soininen has been playing poker for about two years and he said he would consider this freeroll win his biggest tournament win so far.
His ticket to the World Poker Crown is worth $1,050, and gives him a chance to win part of a $3 million guaranteed prize pool. Better yet, it's a shot at the $1 million guaranteed first-place prize.
"I am very excited about playing," Soininen said. "For sure, it's life-changing money. I've tried not to think about it too much."
Going deep in the World Poker Crown could also mean a trip to Barcelona, Spain. When play gets down to the final table online, the game will be stopped so that the final players can finish the game live in Spain.
Soininen and five other PokerListings.com players won seats in the World Poker Crown through exclusive freerolls at Pacific Poker. The poker site opened up a few more freerolls for seats this week for PokerListings.com players in Italy, France, Germany and Spain as well.
Now there's one more chance for PokerListings.com players to get into the WPC without having to shell out the full $1,050 buy-in themselves.
On Friday, April 25, Pacific Poker will offer a $25+$2.50 tournament open only to PokerListings players that will guarantee one seat per 10 players. The tournament will be open to all PokerListings players who have an account at Pacific Poker, and it starts at 4 p.m. Pacific Poker Time.
The World Poker Crown begins April 26 at 10 a.m. Pacific Poker Time. The final table will take place May 6-10.
- 888 Offers 1¢ Qualifiers for WPC
- Pacific Poker Adds WPC Seats for PL.com Players
- Pacific Poker Gives WPC Seats to PL.com Players
WSOP champs: Where are they now, Part 5
The fourth installment featured Tom McEvoy, Berry Johnston and Johnny Chan who've each put their unique stamp on the poker world. This week the reign of the Poker Brat begins, plus we look at the first European to become the world champion as well as the first million dollar champion.
Phil Hellmuth (1989)
Since winning the World Championship in 1989, Hellmuth has been a dominant force in the poker world. Not only does he continue to reign as one of the best No-Limit Hold'em tournament players, he's used his popularity to enter into all sorts of business ventures as well.
Looking just at his poker career over the years, the Poker Brat has gained a reputation for his table antics, but he also has a record-setting 11 WSOP bracelets to back up his attitude at the table. Adding to that are his 12 World Poker Tour cashes, with five of those landing him at the televised final table, and the more than $10 million he's picked up through tournament play.
His success at the poker table has led to him authoring and coauthoring several poker books as well as the creation of his own poker tutoring video series and a poker camp. Hellmuth has also promoted an energy drink aimed at poker players and is a sponsored pro for UltimateBet.
In 2007, Hellmuth was inducted into the WSOP Hall of Fame, but he has many years of playing ahead of him.
Poker fans can be sure they'll be seeing him at televised events for years to come, and soon he may be heading to the big screen as well. A screenplay about his life has been optioned to be made into a movie.
Mansour Matloubi (1990)
Matloubi might be what some would call a "forgotten" World Champion. He won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 1990, making him the first non-American player to do so. It was a sign of things to come as more and more players have made their way to Las Vegas as the game has grown in popularity.
The championship win was just the beginning of a decade of great tournament play for Matloubi. He made the money of several tournaments each year, most notably racking up 15 WSOP cashes including his win in 1990.
However, his last WSOP cash came in 2001, just a couple years before the poker boom kicked off in full force with Chris Moneymaker's Main Event win.
He has since been quiet on the U.S. tournament trail, and Iranian-Welshman is thought to be sticking to European tournaments. Even so, his only noted tournament cash since 2001 is from the Betfair Asian Poker Tour in Singapore in 2006, bringing his tournament winnings up to more than $1.9 million.
Brad Daugherty (1991)
The WSOP Main Event first broke the million dollar mark for a first-place prize in 1991, and Daugherty was there to scoop it up and take it home.
Though he hasn't been able to duplicate that success, Daugherty continues to play on the tournament circuit. He's built his tournament winnings to more than $1.7 million now and has cashed in many prominent events over the years, including the 2007 WSOP Seniors Championship.
Perhaps his biggest influence on the poker world since becoming the first millionaire champion is co-authoring a couple poker books.
Daugherty teamed up with Tom McEvoy to write No-Limit Texas Hold'em: The New Players Guide to Winning Poker's Biggest Game as well as Championship Hold'em Satellite Strategy.
Stay with us next week as we bring you three more WSOP champions and take a closer look at what they've been up to since they won the big dance.
- WSOP Champions: Where are They Now, Part 4
- WSOP Champions: Where Are They Now, Part 3
- WSOP Champions: Where Are They Now, Part 2
- WSOP Champions: Where Are They Now, Part 1
Shannon Elizabeth Report: Week 6
Her scores took a dip last week as the judges criticized her lack of hip movement during an awkward-looking samba. The dancing gods didn't do Shannon Elizabeth any favors this week either as she ended up with another Latin dance, the rumba.
The rumba was Priscilla Presley's downfall last week as the slower dance made it hard to hide any missteps or other mistakes. Elizabeth didn't have the same problem with it as Presley did, however.
Her footwork was good, the poses she and her partner struck were strong and the overall feel of the dance was spot-on.
However, the judges still harped on Elizabeth about her lack of hip movement during the dance. There was definite improvement from the previous week in that area, and she performed the rumba better than many of the dancers who had to perform it the week before, but the judges didn't seem to think she had fared that much better.
The best comment she got was from Len Goodman, who said, "I thought you did a very good job, and I was very pleased with your performance."
Otherwise, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba both criticized her technique, though they both also admired her tenacity in trying to improve.
Elizabeth seemed as tired of hearing about her great attitude and tenacity despite her lack of natural dance skills as Marlee Matlin probably was of hearing how good a dancer she is for a deaf woman. Elizabeth ended up in tears over the judges' comments, and wasn't all that excited about her score of 24.
The score was an improvement, if only a small, one-point increase, from the previous week, but it still left her near the back of the pack when all the dancers were done on Monday night.
The producers of the show may have taken some pity on Elizabeth on Tuesday night, however. She could have easily been in the bottom two if her voters hadn't come through for her, but instead she was the first person declared safe for the night.
Instead, it was Marlee Matlin, the lowest scorer this week, and Mario who ended up in the red lights, and it was Matlin who took her final bow.
Here's how Matlin and the others fared during performance night as well:
Matlin was certainly not the mambo queen on Monday night. Her performance looked a bit awkward and stilted, and it's never a good sign when the judges start out talking about how good the performer looks rather than about the actual dance. Inaba pointed out that it looked like Matllin and her partner were forcing and struggling with the dance.
After a few weeks right on the heels of Kristi Yamaguchi and achieving his best scores so far last week, Taylor fell in the standings this week. The judges weren't as impressed with his cha-cha. There was plenty of content in the performance and they captured the flavor of the dance according to Goodman, but Taylor messed up the timing a little and it was obvious he was counting out the steps.
Marissa Jaret Winoker
Winoker continued her climb into the judges' good graces with a Viennese waltz this week. Tonioli pointed out all the technical moves she was able to perform in the dance. During the first few weeks Winoker seemed shaky and unsure of herself on the dance floor, but Goodman commented that she seems to have found her confidence now. Even her harshest critic is now on the "Winoker wave." Inaba loved Winoker's dance this week, saying it had all the right elements.
Cristian de la Fuente
Decked out in a charcoal suit with pink accents, de la Fuente was the picture of a gentleman on Monday night and his fox-trot suited him just as well. It was his best dance yet, with excellent footwork, and he finally found that middle ground where his arms aren't too robotic or too loose. "If you're in the bottom two tomorrow, I'll show my bum in the supermarket," Goodman told him. Tonioli called the performance an "unexpected treat," and Inaba said he passed from being rigid into refined this week.
Mario has been sizzling hot in pretty much every dance he's been giving, so the rumba was a perfect dance to harness that. Inaba's reaction to the performance was "that was better than good sex." However, she was going to have to dock them for a lift. Tonioli agreed that the performance was supremely hot, but Goodman thought it went a little over the top. The rumba is the story of a developing romance, "not of a strumpet and a gigolo," Goodman commented.
Before this dance was over, it was obvious Yamaguchi was going to get the first perfect score of the season for it. It was full of energy and precision footwork. There was a high degree of difficulty, plus it was a great performance to watch. Inaba called it her favorite dance so far this season. Not only did Yamaguchi nail it technically, she gave her best emotional performance as well. "It was absolutely great. It was a smorgasbord of dance - I loved it," Goodman said.
The remaining six celebrities will be back on the dance floor Monday on Dancing with the Stars and the next elimination will take place on Tuesday. Come back Wednesday, April 30, to see if Shannon Elizabeth continues in the competition or if she'll be sent back to the poker tables.
- Shannon Elizabeth Report: Week 5
- Shannon Elizabeth Report: Week 4
- Shannon Elizabeth Report: Week 3
- Shannon Elizabeth Report: Week 2
- Shannon Elizabeth Report: Week 1
Upsets, deals mark Caesars Palace WSOPC
Event 1: $500+$50 No-Limit Hold'em
Sometimes you can come to the final table with the chip lead and cruise to victory. Unfortunately for Anthony "Big Boy" Romanelli, Event 1 at Caesars Palace wasn't one of those occasions.
Romanelli, a pro player and retired brick mason, entering with over 20% of the total chips in play, appeared to have by far the best of it from the time the final table started, and his lead only grew as the table played out.
When play was three-handed, Romanelli dealt a crushing blow to WSOP bracelet holder Mike "Little Man" Sica on a strange hand. On a flop of J-2-4, Sica bet $40,000 and Romanelli called.
When the turn came a six, Sica bet $90,000 and Romanelli pushed in $155,000, thinking he was calling Sica's bet. The floor ruled that Romanelli had to raise the full amount, to $180,000, because he had put in more than half a raise.
Sica called the forced raise and then moved in with his last $65,000 on the river when a six came. Romanelli called with 8-2 for a pair of deuces, good enough to send Sica home in third place.
In all, Romanelli knocked out four of his eight opponents en route to heads-up play. By the time he faced off with Alaska high school teacher and basketball coach Brandon Blake, he was holding more than $1.2 million of the $1.5 million chips in play.
Of course, even the best-laid plans can be brought to a grinding halt by the right combination of aggression and cards, as Romanelli found out.
Just four hands after heads-up play began, he was standing on the sidelines as runner-up. His K-Q lost to Blake's A-2 to bring the chip counts back to even, and then he had the misfortune of running his A-9 into Blake's A-10 on the final hand.
The win over a field of 508 runners is certainly the highlight of Blake's poker career: his previous biggest finish was a 22nd-place finish in a WSOP $1,000 rebuy event. Newly flush with cash from the victory, he says he has his eyes on a return to the WSOP this summer.
|Place ||Name ||Hometown ||Prize |
|1st||Brandon Blake ||Palmer, Alaska ||$71,454 |
|2nd||Anthony Romanelli ||Valley Stream, N.Y. ||$37,696|
|3rd ||Mike Sica ||N. New Brunswick, N.J. ||$19,710 |
|4th ||James Cox ||Cary, N.C. ||$17,247 |
|5th ||Michael Best ||Lone Tree, Colo. ||$14,783 |
|6th ||Lorie Bodfield ||Laughlin, Nev. ||$12,319 |
|7th ||Tim Frederickson ||Long Beach, Calif. ||$9,855 |
|8th ||John Stanfield ||Overland Park, Kan.||$7,391 |
|9th ||Cristian Avendano-Barrera ||Las Vegas ||$4,928 |
Event 2: $1,000+$60 No-Limit Hold'em
Ben Fineman came to the WSOP Circuit to play poker and ended up riding a roller-coaster instead.
The 24-year-old Las Vegas-based professional poker player, originally from Philadelphia, built his starting stack up to $38,000 through the first four levels of Event 2. Then he managed to distribute the majority of those chips to his opponents, leaving him short-stacked heading into the second half of the day.
Fineman persevered, though, employing a highly aggressive style to run over his opponents and claim the chip lead heading into the final table.
Once he faced down his final eight opponents, Fineman shifted gears once again and played tight-aggressive poker. His strategy served him well, as he really only had to get involved in three big pots - one of them against former WPT Foxwoods champion Raj Patel - to make it down to the final two.
Fineman entered the heads-up match with a lead of $790,000 to Mike Peters' $160,000.
Peters managed to draw the match out for 31 hands, but he never made up enough ground to mount a serious challenge to Fineman. He got in with the best of it before the flop on the last hand, holding A-9 against Fineman's suited A-4, but a flush came for Fineman to end the tournament.
The win wasn't Fineman's first big cash at Caesars Palace. He took down a $1,000 event there in the 2007 Caesars Palace Poker Classic, good for $65,485. He also won $100,431 in last year's $3,000 NLHE event at the WSOP.
|Place ||Name ||Hometown ||Prize |
|1st ||Benjamin Fineman ||Las Vegas ||$73,566 |
|2nd ||Michael Peters ||Toledo, Ohio ||$40,461 |
|3rd ||Adam Murphy ||Muskego, Wis. ||$20,690 |
|4th ||Panayote Vilandos ||Houston, Texas ||$16,092 |
|5th ||Charles Thorneycraft ||Port Harbour, Ontario ||$13,793 |
|6th ||Raj Patel ||Rocky Hills, Conn. ||$11,495 |
|7th ||Joshua Ewing ||Berkeley, Calif. ||$9,196 |
|8th ||Artuyun Nalbadyan ||N. Hollywood, Calif. ||$6,897 |
|9th ||Yong Ho Harrison||Honolulu, Hawaii ||$4,598 |
Event 3 - $500+$50 Limit Hold'em
Anyone who plays poker online has probably registered for a tournament at some point without realizing they'll be playing Limit Hold'em instead of No-Limit. Dan Kaesser of Las Vegas made that mistake, but he made it live at Caesars Palace - and then went on to win Event 3 of the WSOP Circuit anyway.
Only 81 players showed up for the Limit game, making Kaesser's workload a little lighter than it might have been otherwise. He came into the final table in a comfortable second place in the chip standings and never found himself in any real danger throughout the day.
Kaesser entered heads-up play with $255,000 in chips to Ronie Nesheiwat's $71,000, and held on to take down the title and top prize. The championship ring, meanwhile, went to Nesheiwat in a heads-up deal.
On a side note, Event 3 was the first WSOP Circuit event for Jimmy "Gobboboy" Fricke, the American online phenom who finished runner-up to Gus Hansen in the 2007 Aussie Millions main event.
Fricke turned 21 just three days before the final table, making him legal and ready to start taking down prize money in U.S. casinos. His $2,750 prize for a fifth-place finish at Caesars Palace is a humble beginning to what promises to be a great live poker career in America for Fricke.
|Place ||Name ||Hometown ||Prize |
|1st ||Dan Kaesser ||Las Vegas ||$14,143 |
|2nd ||Ronie Nesheiwat ||Tinley Park, Ill. ||$7,857 |
|3rd ||Corey Edelman ||Las Vegas ||$4,321 |
|4th ||Scott Silverman ||Lone Pine, Calif. ||$3,143 |
|5th ||Jimmy Fricke ||Mahomet, Ill. ||$2,750 |
|6th ||Chris Winchester ||Las Vegas ||$2,357 |
|7th ||Erhart Edquist ||San Diego, Calif. ||$1,964 |
|8th ||Michael Lena ||Indio, Calif. ||$1,571 |
|9th ||Theodore McCollom ||Seabrook, Texas ||$1,179 |
Full Tilt finds PL.com winners across the globe
Abbott, who lives in Leeds, England, picked up his win April 12, while Indiana native Joel Mohr picked up a win in the freeroll April 19.
Abbott is an IT project manager and has been playing poker for about five years. He said he plays probably four or five days a week at Full Tilt Poker.
"[Full Tilt Poker is an] excellent site with good user interface and some pretty loose action," Abbott said.
His play at the poker site resulted in qualifying for the weekly $3,000 freeroll for PokerListings.com players. Any player who signed up at Full Tilt Poker through a PokerListings link is eligible for the freeroll if they earn 150 player points during the seven-day qualification period leading up to the weekly freeroll.
The April 12 and April 19 freerolls both had good turnouts with 90 qualifiers showing up to play.
"I had some pretty good cards early and mid tournament and took the lead toward the end without endangering my stack with sub-premium hands," Abbott said of his freeroll.
"I used my lead to pressure the small stacks late in the tournament and was the aggressor heads-up, eventually winning despite a couple of all-in outdraws by the second-place finisher."
The April 12 freeroll final-table results were:
Abbott, who is married and has a daughter and another child on the way, didn't waste any time putting his freeroll winnings to use either.
"I have already bought a new mattress for my pregnant wife!" he said.
Mohr, a 21-year-old college student, isn't sure yet what he'll be doing with his $960 win. He was really happy to have the win because his bankroll was almost gone, and he said he's sure glad to have the extra cash now.
"I've been playing poker for about five years, I would say," Mohr said. "What got me attracted to poker was watching the '03 WSOP on TV. I just thought it was the coolest game and I've watched pretty much every WSOP episode since."
His interest in the game led him to playing online at Full Tilt Poker as well, where he plays almost every day.
"Full Tilt is a great site; they have the best pro players," He said. "I love to watch them play high stakes."
Mohr, who plays as JOELPOKERGOD at Full Tilt Poker, isn't much of a high-stakes player himself. This freeroll win is his biggest win so far.
"The freeroll playing field was interesting. I pretty much got off to a nice start early in the game [when I] had like 4,500 chips and I pretty much stayed in the top 10," Mohr said. "From there, when we got down to two tables, I became the chip leader."
Mohr didn't play a lot of hands as the playing field was getting closer to the final table, and he said play ended up being 10-handed for a grueling 30 minutes.
"When I got to the final table, I had about an average stack," he said. "People seemed to just be blowing up left and right, so I just let them take each other out and really didn't play many hands while four or five people got KO'd moving up the money ladder."
Mohr got more involved when play was down to the final four.
"I just played my game and tried not to make any mistakes," he said. "There were some ups and downs, but I eventually got the win."
The April 19 freeroll final-table results were:
Full Tilt Poker also hosted a World Series of Poker* freeroll exclusively for PokerListings.com players on Sunday. Out of 78 entrants, FreakshowGE1904 came out on top to pick up a $12,500 prize package for the 2008 WSOP Main Event.
The prize package includes the buy-in for the WSOP Main Event plus money for travel and accommodations.
There are seven exclusive WSOP freerolls left for PokerListings players at Full Tilt Poker. The next one is May 4 at 1 p.m. EDT, and players have from April 19 to May 3 to accumulate the 300 player points to qualify. There will also be WSOP freerolls May 18, May 25, June 1 and June 8 with a WSOP seat up for grabs.
Full Tilt Poker is upping the ante for PokerListings players in the June 15 and June 22 freerolls by offering two prize packages for each freeroll. That doubles players' chances of being able to go to the World Series of Poker on Full Tilt Poker's dime while still only having to earn 300 player points to qualify.
*World Series of Poker and WSOP are trademarks of Harrah's License Company, LLC ("Harrah's"). Harrah's does not sponsor or endorse, and is not associated or affiliated with PokerListings.com or its products, services, promotions or tournaments.
- German Man Has Full Tilt Win on His Mind
- Full Tilt Poker Reloads for FTOPS VIII
- Canuck Wins WSOP Seat at Full Tilt
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