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Joseph Smith

2014 WSOP Fun Facts Part 3

by Joseph Smith Sr.

We begin with another archive image from the 2004 WSOP Main Event.  We see Winner Greg Raymer keeping a close watch on the table.  More importantly, we see the hauntingly intense face of Josh Arieh staring down the barrel of the camera.  This is a well documented, historic time slice of the famous WSOP tournament and you can read about it here on Wikipedia.

Although we have published most of the press releases from the 2014 WSOP we will continue to point out what we consider to be interesting and important facts from the summer event.  OK. Let's get right to it.

The range of players' ages ranged from just 21 to 93 years old.  Can anyone out there list a sport that has such an age spread among competitors?

This year's youngest player was Zachary Zaffos of Weston Beach, Florida whom turned 21 on Day 1B of the Main Event and then played on Day 1C in the Main Event making him 21 years and one day old.  The oldest player was William Wachter of Carmel, NY whom was 93-years-old.  Both of the players were eliminated on Day 1.

The oldest player to cash in the 2014 WSOP Main Event was 90-year-old Henry Orenstein.  He finished 8th in Event #61, the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud World Championship and collected $31,419.  For those wondering how tough the competition was, Phil Hellmuth finished two spots up from Orenstein in 6th place.

Mr. Orenstein is the inventor of the game changing hole cam that allows TV viewers to see a player's hole cards.  He is also a member of the Poker Hall of Fame.  In 1996 he entered the Seven-Card Stud championship and took home the WSOP gold bracelet.  Surviving the three days of intense, world class competition is quite a feat for any player, much less a 93-year-old poker player.  

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2014 WSOP Moving On Up

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Looking over the vast amount of data from the recently completed World Series of Poker reveals a few trends that point to a bright future for the world's favorite game, poker.  When you hold a poker tournament and 82,360 players from 107 countries pay buy-ins into 65 events that offer a collective $225,584,873 in prize money it's easy to see the popularity of poker.

I can trace my poker roots all the way back to Texas in the 1860's as a result of one of my distant grandfather's many documented arrest records for playing poker, owning a house where poker was being played and even one charge of accepting a challenge to a dual.  In my lifetime I've watched poker move from the smokey game rooms within one of my many uncle's East Texas homes to the world stage at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino before the cameras of the world's foremost sports network, ESPN.   

Even through the minefields of legal challenges, the moral 'right' roadblocks, cheating scandals at both the individual and corporate level and the fallout of Black Friday, poker is very much alive and well.  And for the past 45years a grand celebration is held every summer and it is called, The World Series of Poker.

For those that question the current and future state of the sport and believe the card game will eventual burn out and once again be demoted to the dingy backrooms where old men meet to tell lies and cheat read the following quote from Ty Stewart.  Mr. Stewart is the Executive Director of WSOP Poker.

“We’re humbled to have seen this kind of response to our 10th series at the Rio.  More than ever before, we embraced the challenge to have something for everyone who loves the game. With some of the biggest events ever organized it is clear poker remains strong and its best days are ahead. We can’t wait to start planning for next year.”

For the tenth consecutive year, the WSOP generated a total prize pool well in excess of $100 million, and for only the second time in its history, topped the $200 million mark.”

Additionally, in the 45 year history of the World Series of Poker more than $2 billion in prize money has been awarded to players and more than a billion of this total has come in the past 6 years.  Still a doubter of the health of poker?

The WSOP is the barometer for poker and its health and growth sustainability.  All the facts support what most all of the world's poker players have been saying for years.  “Spread it and we'll come.”  Next time you sit down to enjoy a game of poker give thanks to those that keep the game on the path to   continued success.

From a humble beginning of 8 players participating in one event with a total prize pool of $80,000 we have progressed all the way to 82,360 players participating in 65 events for a total prize pool of $62,820,873.  From where I have sat watching the action over the years this is proof positive that we're going to see the sport of poker just get bigger and better regardless of the political winds that often try to blow down the house.

And I often wonder what that grandfather of mine from more than a century and a half ago would think if I walked into the Rio with him?  Probably he would be drooling with the excitement of anticipation when he would tell me, “Get me a seat Sonny Boy, times a'wasting.”

We've included a vintage photo from our archive of WSOP photos.  This image demonstrates the incredible changes that Caesars Entertainment has brought to the famous poker tournament.  The year was 2004.  The place was Benny's Bullpen at Binion's Horseshoe, downtown Las Vegas.  The two players were a very young David Williams and attorney Greg Raymer, both relative unknowns in the poker world.  They are playing heads-up in the WSOP Main Event and only minutes away from Greg Raymer claiming the title.

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2014 WSOP November Nine Bruno Politano Ninth on Chip List T12,125,000

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Bruno Politano is the first Brazilian to claim a seat at a World Series of Poker Main Event final table.  He will come into the final two days of the Big Poker Show in November at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino as the table's short stack with 12,125,000 in play money.  He will also bring a lot of enthusiasm and a rail that's proven to be among the most boisterous of all time even when we include Joe Hachem's infamous – “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!” –  “Oi!, Oi!, Oi!” – support group at the 2005 Main Event final table.

Politano's resume includes three prior WSOP cashes for a total of $25,404.  The biggest win before the 2014 Main Event's award of $730,725 for making the November nine was $47,493 he collected for third place in the 2013 Brazilian Series of Poker Main Event.  His first WSOP cash was for $2,548 when he finished 148th in a $1K No-Limit Hold'em event in 2011.  He collected some prize money during two events in the 2014 WSOP, 17th in event #39 yielded $20,148 and 135th in event #58 provided another $2,708 in prize money.

Our 2014 Main Event's short stacked player began the journey to the November Nine on Day 1C as part of the prevailing insanity of the largest ever WSOP Main Event Day 1 flight at 3,768 players.  Politano finished this grueling day with 66,800 in chips.  Day 2 pushed the stacks to 72,400 and Day 3 he made it into six figures at 110,000.  Day 4 saw a startling advance in chip strength when Politano finished with 2.289 million in play money.  Day 5 produced a more than double resizing of the chip stacks and the 5.475 million landed him in the 4th spot on the chip leader board.  When the dealing was done on Day 6 the chip stacks contained 11,625 million in checks, good for 6th on the leader board of 27 remaining players.  Day 7 brought a modest increase to 12,125,000, a seat at the November final table and the short stack label.

Every tournament final table has a player that is short stacked.  Most of them are just happy to be at the final table which generally means some serious money.  If you're going to be the short stack can you think of a better time or table than the WSOP November Main Event final table?  Politano will have about 30 big blinds at the current levels when play resumes in the fall.  His uber-Brazilian aggressive style of play will probably produce either chips for his anemic stack or a quick exit to the condolences of the anticipated hundreds of rail birds cheering him on.

The 31-year-old Politano plans to play in the EPT and the WSOP Australia during the long break as he tunes his game for the upcoming uphill challenge.  He also signed with 888POKER as their fifth 888POKER Ambassador for the online casino website.  Sounds as though the Brazilian has things well in hand to perhaps win the race to that elusive gold bracelet.  Can he win?  Ask him, he'll quickly tell you he not only can win, he will win.

This concludes our November Nine bios and overviews.  Looking forward to seeing everyone in November, Flipchip.    

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Poker Says Goodbye to Tony Korfman (1942-2014)

by Joseph Smith Sr.

The poker sphere lost one of the last old-school characters last Monday,  August 8, 2014.  Following a routine hip surgery, Tony Korfman succumbed to life-ending complications.  He was a man of many talents – author, casino executive, and poker player _ whom lived most of his adult life at his home in Boulder City, Nevada.  

The Bronx, New York native  is a graduate of The University of San Francisco.  In 1966 he married his lifelong wife, Linda, in Carson City, Nevada.

His career in executive casino management included the CEO position at The Gold Strike Casino and the Edgewater in Nevada.  He is listed as a working author of five books on Amazon.  Of Note, the 'how to gamble' series of books have one thing in common, thay all include the word 'humorous' in the title.

Tony Kaufman's poker resume shows a documented career earnings record of $355,320.  This includes the $217,503 he collected in the 2007 WSOP Seniors Event #41 when he finished in second place.  The photo with this article shows him at play in that event on Day 2.

At the poker table he could be one of the funniest people you had ever played with and never knew what he would say next.  He could also be one of the most abrasive, berating individuals you had ever run across.  There seemed to be no static state with Tony Korfman, he attacked life with a passion.

Having photographed Korfman on numerous occasions I always knew that going to his table would be an experience.  The other players would be close to tears from laughing so hard or plotting his demise.  The poker world truly lost one of the last of the true poker characters when Tony Korfman left us.

A Celebration of Life will be held for Tony Korfman this Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 2 PM at the Boulder Creek Golf Club,  1501 Veterans' Memorial Drive in Boulder City.

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2014 WSOP November Nine Martin Jacobson Eighth on Chip List T14,900,000

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Martin Jacobson is one of the five non-US players at this year's World Series of Poker Main event final table scheduled for November 10-11 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.  Traveling all the way from his current home in London, England, the Stockholm Sweden native stands in the second spot on the all-time WSOP Swedish poker player winner's list behind behind Chris Bjorin.

Jacobson, a 27-year-old single professional poker player, is the class of the 2014 WSOP November Nine and the only player with more than $1 million, $1,224,706 to be exact, in WSOP earnings.  He has 15 previous WSOP cashes and played in 27 events during the 2014 summer WSOP which yielded 3 cashes and includes the Main Event final table finish.  He has also accumulated $4,807,316 (does not include any 2014 ME winnings) career tournament winnings even though his success in the 2014 Main Event is his first ever WSOP Main Event cash.

Day 1A saw Jacobson take a seat and play his way to the top of the day's leader board when he finished with 200,100 in tournament chips.  Day 2 added more chips to the stacks to bring the total to 342,700 and Day 3 he more than doubled the amount to 721,500.  Day 4 play pushed Jacobson beyond the million chip mark and ended with him bagging 1.594 in play money.  Day 5 saw another doubling of the bullets to 3.925 million and Day 6 was a rocket ride to 22.335 million and a finish, once again, in the top spot on the chip leader board.  The final Day 7 play saw the first finish with less than the starting amount when Jacobson finished the summer's final play day with 14.9 million in chips to place him in the #8 spot for the upcoming November final table.

A few interesting notes about this player's journey to the final table and his spot in the 2014 November Nine.  He never finished below the top thirty on the chip leader board during his seven days of Main Event play.  Jacobson's only the third player, along with Joseph Cada and Ben Lamb, to finish Day 1 as the chip leader and hang-on to claim a seat at the final table in the eight year history of the November Nine Main Event format.  During the concluded seven days of Main Event play he never had to put his seat at risk with an all-in and a call bet.

And let us not overlook one of his final hand's of the summer when William Tonking doubled through Jacobson to take down an 11+ million pot.  Had a club appeared on the turn or river Jacobson would be sitting in the third spot on the chip leader board.

Martin Jacobson's style of play can best be categorized by the the Santana song, “Smooth.”  That's how the man plays poker.  He always shows up with an 'A' game that's well developed, many layers deep and highly polished.  Even though the 2014 November Nine chip leader, Jorryt van Hoof, has a more than two and a half chip advantage over Jacobson the Swede definitely remains a contender to not only move up but to win it all.  His spot as one of the short stacks does not reflect on his abilities but rather on the turn of a single card.

Don't be more than a little surprised to watch Martin Jacobson putting on poker's most prestigious trophy, the Main Event Gold bracelet while claiming the $10 million in cash winner's prize.  As we stated at the start of this he's the class of the 2014 November Nine.  Don't expect to see him in a roller coaster ride come November.  The only part of a roller coaster he seems to understand is the long, slow rise to the apex.

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2014 WSOP November Nine William Tonking Seventh on Chip List T15,050,000

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Sitting in the November Main Event final table seat #6 is 27-year-old William Tonking holding 15,050,000 in tournament chips.  Coming to the Big Poker Show from Flemington, New Jersey Mr. Tonking is another November Nine player with no cash experience in any WSOP Main Event even though he played in the 2008 and 2013 WSOP $10K Championship.  He began the 2014 Main Event with a little WSOP prize money in his jeans from his cash in event #58 for $13,421 when he finished 77th out of 1,417 entrants.

Tonking is single and a former economics major at the University of South Carolina whom now makes his living grinding the legal online cash games in New Jersey.  His career live tournament earnings are $93,306.  Of course, we expect a number of changes in his current status after receiving the $730,725 each of the November Nine collected at the end of Day 7 for ninth place.  Tonking may also add up to $10,000,000 to his bankroll depending on his finish in November.

William Tonking's resume is short on tournament experience and not much information is easily obtainable in the public domain.  He spends his time playing cash games and most poker media believes the bulk of readers are not interested in the mundane of the daily grind so doesn't provide much coverage.  As a result we have highly skilled players such as Tonking that arrive at final tables without a virtual portfolio of facts.  Most strategist would consider this an advantage for the relatively unknown player.

This journey to the November Nine and a seat at the final table began on Day 1C.  Tonking, along with the other 3,768 seated players, had one objective in mind, end the day with chips and return to play Day 2.  That's exactly what he did finishing the first day with 45,275 in chips.  Day 2 was another grind with the chip stacks slowly going to 158,200 by day's end and Day 3 saw a modest increase to 179,000 in play money.  Day 4 completed with a comfortable 740,000 and then the million mark was topped on Day 5 at 1.295 million.  Day 6 followed with another nice increase to 5.87 million and Day 7 ended with a final table seat and 15,050,000 in chips.  An interesting fact, William Tonking along with the chip leader, Jorryt van Hoof, were the only two players of the November Nine to not finish any day before the final day in the top ten on the leader board.

William Tonking could be the little known sleeper in this field.  A few more chips would certainly help his cause but he comes with enough ammo to do well in the battle and could even win the war.  He has demonstrated the ability to put it all in even though failure means a final walk to the parking lot.  When the Day 7 ten-handed final table was looking for the bubble he went all in with a J – 9o and never broke a sweat.  We're looking for this player to move up the board before the 2014 WSOP November dealing is done.   

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2014 WSOP Main Event More Fun Facts Part 2

by Joseph Smith Sr.

$28,980,121 or twenty-eight million nine-hundred eighty-thousand one-hundred and twenty-one US dollars.  Doesn't matter how we express it that's a lot of money.  And, that's exactly how much the 2014 WSOP November Nine will be chopping up during the November final table.

If you had to carry the money to the final table and it was in one dollar bills how many trips would you need to take?  Well, considering the total weight would be just over 63,730 lbs or for Dennis Phillips that would be about 31 tons or close to a truck full.  Even in one hundred dollar bills you would have to move 627 lbs.

If we applied the same weights and measures to the 2014 WSOP Main event total purse it would probably take most of a day or two because the $62,820,200 pile of money in one dollar bills would weigh 138,368 lbs or just over 61 tons.  One hundred dollar bills would lighten your load all the way down to 1,384 lbs.

Moving on, we will now talk a little about the WSOP Main Event we compare all others to, the 2006 gargantuan event that seated 8773 players and featured four day ones.  By the time the final river card was tossed onto the table a relatively unknown player with the unlikely name of Gold, Jamie Gold, became the owner of the largest and still the record Main event purse of $12 million in cash when he eliminated professional player Paul Wasicka.

Interesting note, Paul Wasicka collected $6,102,499 for second place and is listed in the 20th spot on the WSOP all-time money winners list with a total of $6,304,388 but has never won a WSOP bracelet.  In 2007 he defeated a blue ribbon field of invited pros in the NBC National Heads-Up Championship to win one of the most prestigious poker tournament that's played annually.

Jamie Gold won the largest WSOP Main Event purse to date at $12,000,000.  This record will probably fall to an even larger winner's purse sometime in the foreseeable future.  Gold is listed in the #5 spot on the all-time WSOP winner's list with $12,073,794 total winnings.  He has only won one WSOP bracelet, but what a bracelet to win.

We've included a nostalgic photo with this article from the “old” days when the WSOP  was played at Binion's Horseshoe and the cash they piled next to the final table was the real stuff.  They also had a cadre of guards with loaded large bore riot guns.   

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2014 WSOP Poker Players Living the Dream

by Joseph Smith Sr.

How many times have you sat around and dreamed of winning an event at the World Series of Poker and becoming a member of the WSOP millionaire's club.  Living the good life, eating steak and lobster for breakfast, driving the best German engineered ride to your spacious high rise condo overlooking your personal playground, the Las Vegas strip.  Jumping on the private jet for a ride to the next big money tournament.

Rubbing elbows with the who's who of the game, meeting sports celebrities, 'A' list movie stars and having fans point and stare any time your out and about.  What a life.  No worries, no problems, only fun times.  Fun at least until something or someone decides to rain on your dream.  

It could be a drought on winning cards that rivals the drought on rain in South America's Atamaca Desert, four inches of precipitation every one thousand years.  Maybe it's the often impossibly long hours you're forced to sit in one of the world's most uncomfortable chairs that has damaged your lower spine causing constant pain even when infused with heavy duty legal drugs that cloud your decisions.  Or perhaps trying to find a place for your elbows without touching the rash inducing polymer cover of the poker table's rimming parapet has you frantically searching for a talented dermatologist on the eve of the 'big one'.  The list of health issues goes on and on.  If it can happen it will happen, no one is immune.

More likely it will be the tap, tap, tapping of the tax man come knocking on your condo door.  As with all things that produce obscene piles of cash and expensive perks a certain high percentage of participants will somehow manage to hire a crook to handle their new wealth and end up not just broke but way, way into the red side.  And that's when those always fun show-me-the-money tax guys show up and show you their guns and tell you they can haul you away in handcuffs for a long stay in a dormitory setting in a place called La Tuna or Lompoc or Leavenworth.  All we have to do to learn first-hand about this fall into the tax abyss is just read some of the “where are they now,” articles.

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2014 WSOP November Nine Billy Pappaconstantinou Sixth on Chip List T17,500,000

by Joseph Smith Sr.

A nine time world foosball champion best defines the stage for our bio of William Pappaconstantinou.  Traveling all the way from Dracut, Massachusetts, the 29-year-old has career poker earnings of only $16,379, most of which came from a cash in a WPT event.  None of the earnings came from WSOP events, in fact, Pappaconstantinou's WSOP earnings are zero and his WSOP experience prior to the 2014 Main Event are non-existent.  His poker table experience is headed by a continuing stint working as a poker dealer at a Salem, New Hampshire charity poker room, Rockingham Park Poker Room.

This unlikely WSOP Main Event final table player appears to be perfectly suited to compete with the other eight members of the 2014 November Nine.  During my brief conversation with Billy Pappaconstantinou I got the definite impression that he hadn't quite fully realized he now has a 1 in 9 chance of banking $10,000,000.  He will be coming to the November final table with the 6th largest chip stack at T17,500,000 and will occupy seat #1.

William Pappaconstantinou's journey to the 2014 World Series of Poker final table is almost as unusual as the player himself, an individual that never finished high school and has never held a driver's license..  He started this WSOP adventure in Canada teaching a man how to play championship foosball.  The foosball player he was coaching took an interest in Pappaconstantinou's dream of playing in the WSOP Main Event and sponsored him for his trip to the Big Poker Show at the Rio in Las Vegas.

Pappaconstantinou began his Main Event with the Day1B crowd and finished with 68,775 in chips.  Day 2 saw his total climb to 104,900 while Day 3 was not re3corded.  Day 4 was the start of his climb to nose bleed levels when he finished with 757,000 in play money.  Day 5 the climb into the rare air of the stratosphere produced a day's total of 3.37 million in chips.  Day 6 Pappaconstantinou finished in 4th place on the chip leader board with 15.64 million in his stacks.  Day 7 locked up his November Nine position and seat at the Main Event final table scheduled for November 10 and 11 with 17.5 million in tournament chips.

What an amazing adventure for this New Hampshire poker dealer.  Billy Pappaconstantinou is considered to be the only amateur at the 2014 Main Event final table.  He plans to spend his break time pursuing his world class level of play in tournament foosball.

When questioned about his success at this year's event the personable  player summed up his feelings about his journey with, “This isn't realistic to me,” followed by, “I'm just a poor kid dealer trying to live a dream.”  When asked if he thought he had a chance to win it all he responded with exactly the right statement, “We all have a shot.”  

We wish you all the luck at the 2014 World Series of Poker's November final table so your first time living the dream can become a reality.  

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2014 WSOP More Positive Facts

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Anyone out there remember when there were no poker tournaments, even for the high end player?  Can you remember the very first time you played in a poker tournament?  Did you win, anything?  How about the first time you heard of satellites.  What was this?  You play in a tournament and if you win you get a seat in a bigger tournament.  Who would want to do that?  Anyone remember Satellite Sam?

Did you know the first WSOP $10,000 Championship event won by a player that won a satellite seat was Tom McEvoy.  If you know that then you probably also know that McEvoy is the most prolific author of poker books.

Now for some more fun facts from the 2014 World Series of Poker.  The Big Poker Show dates back to 1970 when the World Poker Champion was decided by a ballot vote of the few players that gathered at Benny Binion's Horseshoe.  The 2014 summer event at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino attracted 82,360 entrants representing 107 different countries all vying for some of the $225 million in prize money.

United States poker players won the most WSOP gold champion bracelets taking home 52 of the 64 bracelets offered this summer.  The usual second place country, Canada, was shutout of the 2014 meet.     

All fifty states of the U.S were represented at the 2014 WSOP while 10 Canadian Provinces sent players.  To date 8,730 players cashed during the summer tournaments.

Now's the best time to start planning your journey to poker stardom so get busy and schedule your trip to the 2015 WSOP.  Remember, you can't win if you don't play.

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