2015 – A Walk Down Poker's Memory Lane

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joe mckeehen WSOP 2015 winner. Joe Mckeehen
It’s been a whirlwind year in the poker world, and 2015 certainly didn’t disappoint on most fronts. Names like Joe McKeehen jumped to the forefront, while several poker legends also remained in the spotlight by continuing to build up their staggering career numbers in dramatic fashion.

Here’s a look back at just a few of the biggest and most interesting stories in poker this year.

Daniel Colman Seals Sweep of Industry POY Awards After Tremendous 2014


For a year that only truly started in earnest in late April, Daniel Colman was certainly able to accomplish a staggering resume of results in the last eight months of 2014. All-told, Colman logged 11 total cashes - four of which were for at least $1 million and a fifth just shy of that amount - all highlighted by his victory in the $1 Million Big One for One Drop.

With victories on all three major tours in a wide variety of buy-ins and field sizes, it came as little surprise that Colman completed a true rarity in poker - a clean sweep of the three major Player of the Year awards. Despite the dramatic differences in calculation in the Card Player, BLUFF and GPI Player of the Year awards, Colman ran away with the first two awards and held off defending 2013 GPI POY Ole Schemion to grab the third.
wsop 2015 The Rio - the home of the WSOP

World Series of Poker Guarantees 1,000 Players Paid in 2015 Main Event

After awarding $10 million to 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Martin Jacobson, the brass at the WSOP were in search of a new promotional tool to attract more attention and potentially boost attendance numbers. They listened to feedback and chose to look at the opposite end of the payscale, guaranteeing 1,000 players would walk away from the 2015 Main Event with a cash.

“The series is always scheduled for between November and January, which is our peak as far as numbers of players. During this week, we see many of our players increasing their volumes, as well as players returning after being less active.”

“The dream of life-changing money is core to the DNA of the WSOP Main Event and we also want to make it easier to experience playing in poker’s Big Show,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “Our players understand numbers, and 2015 now presents the best odds ever to leave the Main Event a winner.”

Phil Hellmuth Wins 14th WSOP Bracelet in $10K Razz Championship


For most of his career, Phil Hellmuth had one glaring hole in his career results. Through 2007, Hellmuth had won 11 WSOP gold bracelets in various disciplines of Hold’em - enough to give him the all-time lead - but he’d never won in any other kind of game. Hellmuth broke a five-year drought with his first non-Hold’em bracelet in 2012, in Razz, and added a 13th career bracelet later that year.

After another three years, with the likes of Phil Ivey and a couple of others starting to charge up the all-time list, Hellmuth struck gold again in Razz by winning the $10,000 Championship event in that discipline. His 14th WSOP bracelet - his third in an event with a buy-in of $10,000 or more - puts Hellmuth four clear of his nearest competition in the all-time race.

Trump Taj Majal Closes Poker Room Indefinitely, Aviation Club de France Closes Doors After More than 100 Years


February was an unfortunate month for two of the most iconic poker rooms in the world, with both of them closing their doors without a plan in place to reopen. The Trump Taj Mahal’s poker room - the second-largest in Atlantic City behind only the Borgata - was shuttered in mid-February with some plan of reopening in a smaller form in the Summer. The room, infamous for its appearance and inclusion in the iconic poker movie Rounders, has yet to reopen as 2015 winds to a close.

Just a few weeks later, one of Europe’s most iconic poker rooms met a similar fate. The Aviation Club de France, which was open for over 100 years on the Avenue de Champs-Elysees in Paris, was officially closed for good when the club was not granted a renewal of their gambling license. It had been closed for five months running after the police raided the property and shut down the room for transgressions including money laundering and employment irregularities.

Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott Passes Away


Few players popped off the TV screen more than British poker icon Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott in televised poker’s earliest days. His popularity carried him through many years of success, in a career that earned him more than $6 million, but Ulliott died in April when he succumbed to terminal bowel and liver cancer at the age of 61. Ulliot’s successes on the felt included a WSOP bracelet and a WPT title, but he truly embraced the spotlight after winning the first edition of Late Night Poker in England. He’s survived by a wife and eight children.
Poker Bots Artificial Intelligence in Poker

Top Heads Up Online Players Beat Poker-Playing Computer


The processing power of computers is growing at a tremendous rate every year. And, as computers have grown ‘smarter’, it’s been a tradition to test that power against some of the brightest human minds in the world in an area of their specialty. In days past, Deep Blue took on and defeated world chess champion Gary Kasparov, but these days scientists are testing the awesome power of supercomputers against poker’s best.

Former challenges by programs like Cepheus and Polaris took place in Limit Hold’em, a game with far fewer variables. But, in April, some of the brightest minds at Carnegie Mellon took their creation Claudico up against the likes of Doug Polk, Jason Les, Dong Kim and Bjorn Li in Heads Up No Limit Hold’em. Over the course of two weeks, the four top-level heads up players compiled 80,000 hands against Claudico at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, winning a virtual $732,713 to claim the $100,000 prize.

The 2015 World Series of Poker Kicks Off in Las Vegas; Additions Include Record-Setting ‘Colossus’


The biggest WSOP of all time got underway in late May, with 68 different bracelet events on the schedule and a host of brand new events. New additions included a second Turbo style tournament, a ‘Super Seniors’ event for an even older crowd, a bigger buy-in Dealers Choice Championship and an ‘Extended Play’ tournament with longer levels - but one new tournament stood out above all the others.

The ‘Colossus’, a $565 No Limit Hold’em tournament with four starting sessions, drew a seemingly impossible 22,374 entries - absolutely blowing away every live tournament attendance record in the books. The prize pool swelled to over $11 million, with eventual champion Cord Garcia outlasting them all to take the $638,880 first place prize. If that wasn’t enough, his roommate and long-time friend Ray Henson was there for almost the entire ride, finishing third.
14th bracelets. Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth Wins 14th WSOP Bracelet in $10K Razz Championship


For most of his career, Phil Hellmuth had one glaring hole in his career results. Through 2007, Hellmuth had won 11 WSOP gold bracelets in various disciplines of Hold’em - enough to give him the all-time lead - but he’d never won in any other kind of game. Hellmuth broke a five-year drought with his first non-Hold’em bracelet in 2012, in Razz, and added a 13th career bracelet later that year.

After another three years, with the likes of Phil Ivey and a couple of others starting to charge up the all-time list, Hellmuth struck gold again in Razz by winning the $10,000 Championship event in that discipline. His 14th WSOP bracelet - his third in an event with a buy-in of $10,000 or more - puts Hellmuth four clear of his nearest competition in the all-time race.
Tommy Yates Probably the highest ROI ever

Tommy Yates Turns a 1 Cent Satellite on 888 Into Almost $20K in WSOP Main Event


Making something out of nothing has provided for some of the most compelling stories that the poker world has to offer, but the path Tommy Yates took to WSOP Main Event success verges on the most truly unbelievable.

The 58-year-old British expat was running a bar in Rhodes, an island off mainland Greece, when he decided to play a 1 cent Step 1 tournament on 888poker. The ‘Steps’ tournaments on 888 allow for an increasing set of benefits and tournament buy-ins along the way. Yates decided to take it all the way up the ladder to a $1,050 Step 7 event after winning at one table after another.

While he considered purposefully taking the $6,000 cash fourth place prize in that Step 7 tournament, he ultimately decided to take the $14,000 WSOP Main Event prize package that included airfare to Las Vegas, hotel accommodations and more - and the story only gets better from there.
Neil Blumefield $3,398,298. Neil Blumenfield

Joe McKeehen Leads 2015 November Nine, Joined by Neil Blumenfield and Tom Cannuli


The 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event featured a number of big names making deep runs, including Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu (who finished 11th), but neither of them was fortunate enough to make the November Nine.

Headlining the group was Joe McKeehen, who first surged into the chip lead on Day 4 of the tournament and made another run that carried him into the chip lead going into November. He’d eventually agree to represent Team 888 at the final table, and he’d be joined in that regard by Neil Blumenfield and Tom Cannuli. All three would find tournament successes in the lead up to the Main Event final table.
dominik nitsch Great summer. Dominik Nitsche

Team 888 Ambassador Dominik Nitsche Chops Bellagio Cup ME to Cap Big Summer


After six cashes over the course of the 2015 World Series of Poker, including a third place finish, Dominik Nitsche capped off another in a long series of strong summers by chopping the Bellagio Cup Main Event.

The Team 888 Ambassador has been one of the most consistently successful No Limit Hold’em tournament players in the world over the last few years. With all the success he’s had in every corner of the globe, he’s set his sights on even bigger targets as he looks to make his mark on the High Roller circuit as well.

John Juanda and Jennifer Harman Elected as Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2015


As has become tradition during the weekend of the WSOP Main Event final table, the year’s two new Poker Hall of Fame inductees joined the annals of the game’s history in early November. John Juanda and Jennifer Harman have each put together a tremendous body of work in their careers, and each has their own unique qualifications that have got them to poker’s highest peaks.

Harman has three WSOP bracelets, and she’s spent more than a decade in some of the biggest cash games Las Vegas and the world have to offer. Juanda has five WSOP bracelets and a tremendous amount of success worldwide to his credit, along with a great effort to build the game of poker throughout Asia. He’s also still at the top of his game, having captured an EPT title in 2015 as well.
$7,683,346. not bad at all

Joe McKeehen Wins 2015 WSOP Main Event, $7.68 Million


For the first time ever, the action at the WSOP Main Event final table was spread over three days in 2015, as nine fortunate players competed for an enormous custom-made bracelet (made to contain the winning cards) and a chance to join the pantheon of former champions.

In one of the most dominant performances in WSOP Main Event history, Joe McKeehen absolutely ran away with the title on the way to his first career WSOP bracelet and $7.68 million. Team 888poker had a tremendous showing across the board, with Neil Blumenfield taking third and Tom Cannuli falling in sixth - and even then, only because his pocket aces got cracked.

888poker Live Local Brazil Held at the Historical Mineirão Football Stadium


The very first 888poker Live Local Brazil event kicked off earlier this December. It was held in the famous, newly renovated Mineirão Stadium, with tables arranged in the VIP Lounge. An affordable R$490 buy-in and R$500,000 guaranteed prize pool meant that the turnout would be historical. And, it was.

In an attempt to erase the memories of the 7-1 Brazilian loss in the 2014 World Cup to Team Germany – in the very same stadium - 1,404 runners showed up for the Main Event, and more than 2,500 overall in the series of 7 tournaments. And, with Team 888 pros, Bruno Foster, Bruno Kawauti and Nico Villa-Lobos on hand, to not only play, but also conduct poker seminars, the event was a tremendous success.
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