Weekly Poker Update: February 22, 2021

Weekly Poker Update Text and Full Tilt Screenshot

One of the most distinguished brands in the world of online poker fell by the wayside this past week. On a micro level, the news is about the end of Full Tilt Poker as an entity.

But on a larger scale, the news is emblematic of the shift to a few power players in the poker realm at the expense of some smaller operations.

In actuality, Full Tilt was a pretty big operation in its heyday, boasting the stamp of approval of some of the biggest names in the game. But a combination of factors knocked it from its perch, including the UIGEA and the infamous Black Friday when so many players couldn’t access their funds.

The last stretch of their existence was spent as an offshoot of PokerStars.

Still, that time wasn’t wasted by Full Tilt. They developed the concept of Rush Poker, which was an immediate hit. It allowed players the opportunity to immediately start up new hands at fresh tables once they folded on another, speeding up the pace of play immeasurably.

The good news is that the players who were still using Full Tilt Poker as their chosen online format for playing real money poker will not be out at sea. They can still use their usernames and passwords at PokerStars. In addition, any bonuses will be honored.

Still, it’s a bit of a sad day for those who loved Full Tilt action, either once upon a time or even right up till the very end. All things must pass, as they say. But it’s most likely that Full Tilt Poker will stay in the category of “gone but not forgotten” for quite some time.

Hellmuth in High Demand

There is something to be said about the notion that only the truly best in a sport or endeavor develop rivals. After all, if you’re only a mediocre player, nobody is going to be too hyped up about beating you. But if you’re on the top of the heap, you’re going to have a whole bunch of people trying to knock you off.

The poker world being as fragmented as it is, it’s hard for anyone to claim the title of best player.

And one could argue that Phil Hellmuth isn’t the powerhouse that he was in the first decade of the millennium. But how do you explain the fact that Hellmuth seems to have the fullest dance card when it comes to willing opponents for head-to-head challenge matchups?

Poker Player Phil Hellmuth

Hellmuth helped to spark the recent trend toward the format with his battles against Antonio Esfandiari, battles which Phil has mostly won.

Last week, Daniel Negreanu took exception to Hellmuth’s criticism of Negreanu’s play against Doug Polk. As a result, it looks like those two will be going head to head in the near future.

Now comes word that another old rival of Phil’s is looking to take him on in a one-on-one contest. Lithuanian Antanas Guoga, better known in poker circles as “Tony G,” has thrown down the gauntlet for a high-stakes challenge against Phil for charity.

Tony intimated on Twitter that this would happen when travel was easier, and there’s no indication that Phil is going to take the bait yet.

For those who don’t know, the most infamous hand between these two came years ago in a televised battle when Guoga promised that he would go all-in regardless of what he hid if Phil raised before the flop. Phil did, and Guoga did as he promised but eventually turned over a suited ace-king. He knew he had a potent hand all along, and Phil didn’t take kindly to the lie.

Hellmuth is a guy who is going to draw a lot of challenges simply because of his demeanor at the table. But the bottom line is that he sports a pretty impressive record in those head-to-head games. In other words, if you shoot at the king, you better not miss.

High Stakes Check-In

We’ve been taking a look here and there at all the action going on in the world of High Stakes Poker, the former cable television stalwart poker show that has now found a home online at PokerGo. The online play has been as spirited as one might have hoped, and the games have drawn some huge names.

It’s also nice to see live players sitting at a table going at it like in the old days.

Throw in the welcome presence of Gabe Kaplan on the microphone, and you’ve got a formula that has proven to be pretty resilient considering all the time that it had been away. This week’s action was typically compelling. And surprise, surprise, Phil Hellmuth was in the middle of it.

Poker Player Gabe Kaplan

In the hand in question, Hellmuth was dealt pocket jacks and raised but apparently didn’t intimidate anybody with it; three other players stayed in the hand.

One of those players, James Bord, raised after the flop to force out everybody but Hellmuth, even after he didn’t have anything particularly promising. That changed when Bord received an ace on the turn, giving him a lead in the hand that he would not relinquish.

Hellmuth stayed in the hand all the way, although neither player really went crazy with the betting. When the cards were turned over to reveal Bord’s win, Hellmuth had a fit, complaining at the way his competitor had played out the hand. He then continued to complain for several minutes afterward, with Bord sitting and taking it all.

It wasn’t a massive hand in terms of the money that changed hands. But it was emblematic of what happens when people are in a room playing poker together instead of doing so via the internet. A different dynamic emerges, as do the personalities of the individual players.

If that hand had occurred online, chances are that nobody watching would have batted an eye. Instead, the whole thing was pressure-packed, surprising, and ultimately extremely entertaining. It’s good to see High Stakes Poker still offers those qualities even after all these years.

Jersey Jackpot

It’s the dream of every poker player, and pretty much ever casino-goer for that matter, to walk into the joint with a handful of dollars and walk out a millionaire. For a New Jersey man this past week, the dream became a life-changing reality. That’s because Frank Nagy turned a $5 poker wager into over $1.1 million.

The reason that the prize was so big was because it was a progressive jackpot. For those who don’t know, a progressive jackpot is one that keeps rising over time until it’s hit. In this case, the jackpot was in play at three different Atlantic City casinos (Harrah’s Resort, Caesar’s Atlantic City and the Tropicana) and had last been hit back in 2019.

Atlantic City Beach

Nagy managed the feat at the Tropicana, where he is somewhat of a regular. He achieved it playing Four-Card Poker; the other games included in the promotion were Mississippi Stud, Let It Ride, Texas Hold’em, and Three-Card Poker.

The winnings set a record for a progressive jackpot, in terms of those offered by Caesars Entertainment.

As it turned out, Nagy wasn’t the only one who had a good day at the casino. Showing outstanding etiquette and overall benevolence, he didn’t forget the casino employees. Nagy tipped the dealers working at the time about $50,000.

That’s pretty good karma for him, even if it did only take a small chunk out his total winnings of $1,105,757.10. It just goes to show that you never know in the world of poker. That kind of money will go a long way to putting any bad bests from the past out of one’s mind.