Weekly Poker Update: June 1, 2021

Weekly Poker Update Text and Tony Parker

Tony Parker was known during his basketball-playing days as being a cool customer who didn’t flinch under pressure.

That demeanor, along with his undeniable skills, helped him become one of the finest point guards to ever play the game the game both internationally (Parker is from France) and here in the US. Now, he gets to exhibit that cool in another pressure-packed situation in the ultimate real money poker game.

From NBA to WSOP

Parker became the first player to qualify for this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event, which will take place this November in Las Vegas.

The tournament, which returns to live in-person action this year is the most prestigious in the game. And Parker, long known as a poker enthusiast, gets the opportunity to prove himself on that stage this year.

Tony Parker punched his ticket, so to speak, when he won a charity event known as the Big Game Poker Tournament, which was held in January of 2021 in Parker’s old NBA stomping grounds of San Antonio. In that tournament, he beat out 218 players.

While the caliber of competition in that event obviously wasn’t what it will become in November at the WSOP, it’s still a pretty good indication that the guy can play.

Celebrities and poker go hand in hand, of course, from the behind-the-scenes machinations of high-stakes cash games to more public affairs (don’t forget Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown series).

Very few moonlighting celebs have ever made a dent at the World Series of Poker Main Event. But you would think that Parker, who unflinchingly handled the pressure of the NBA Finals over the course of four championships with the Spurs, might be better suited than most.

Venetian Tourney Winners

Over the past seven days, The Venetian Resort has been ramping up the high-stakes action. A pair of tournaments featured hefty buy-ins and six-figure paydays for the winners.

And some big names also figured into the action as well.

First up was a $10,000 buy-in event no limit Hold’em event. 77 players entered, with the top 11 sharing in the purse. Daniel Negreanu, who hasn’t had the best stretch lately, had the bad luck of finishing 12th, just missing out on a cash-in.

One of the hottest players on the professional poker circuit ended up being the guy to take down the top prize. Ali Imsirovic, the 26-year-old out of Bosnia, bagged the winner’s share of the purse, which came to $200,200.

That was his fifth live title already this year out of ten final tables made, as he pushed his tournament earnings for 2021 to just shy of $1.8 million.

Venetian Las Vegas Poker Room

Imsirovic knocked out Shawn Daniels in head-to-head action for the win. Daniels won over $146,000 for his runner-up, but he didn’t sit too long to either celebrate his win or dwell on his loss.

Daniels hung around to enter another event at the Venetian just a day later, forking over $10,000 of his winnings as a buy-in for yet another high roller dust-up.

This time around, 65 players signed on. And would you believe it, Daniels was there battling it out in the final head-to-head once again. But this time around, he dispatched Sergei Rexbach to get the victory.

For his efforts, Daniels was paid another $175,500. That made his total, achieved in the span of only about 48 hours or so, a whopping $321,800. Those winnings were around a third of what Daniels had earned in his career for tournament play up to that point.

Massachusetts Poker Tables Remain Shuttered

Little by little, casinos are returning to some semblance of normalcy after the chaos of the last year. We’ve talked in previous weeks about how many of the precautions that were put in the place as part of health and safety protocols have now been removed.

But that doesn’t mean that everything is all the way back, and that goes for poker as well.

Take, for example, the state of Massachusetts gambling. The Bay State, like many others, has pretty much lifted all restrictions that had been placed on their two land-based casinos.

That includes removing plexiglass dividers and allowing full capacity again. But one major element was left out of the equation.

MGM Springfield Casino

The poker rooms in the two casinos (MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor) remain closed. There is no indication when they might return. Part of the problem is that one of the few restrictions that hasn’t been lifted refers to poker—only four-handed tables are allowed.

That makes the decision for the casinos one of profit. It’s hard for the casinos to justify opening up the poker rooms for games that are so limited. And it doesn’t look like anything will change the casinos mind on that front.

The reports are now that the casinos may address the poker issue at the end of this year. As a result, CardPlayer is assuming that there won’t be any return to the tables until 2022 for Massachusetts casino-goers.

That’s a long-time away from the felt, which is why poker enthusiasts in the state should seriously consider one of the top online casinos to get their action.

Big Head to Head Tourney Coming Up

Over the past year or so, head-to-head matchups have been all the rage in the game of poker. Many of the biggest names in the game have paired off in Hold’em battles to see who would come out on top.

Now, Poker King is taking the concept to the extreme with a knockout-style tournament that could have poker fans checking their brackets as if they were watching March Madness.

In this case, it will be June madness.

The 32 top players are scheduled to do battle from June 18 to 22. The buy-in of $25,000 should scare away any interlopers. Ultimately, the winner of the entire event, dubbed the WPT Heads-Up Championship, will have to endure five grueling showdown-style battles before they can be crowned champion.

In an interesting twist, Poker King has indicated that the action could be divided up between live and online battles. The logistics of that haven’t been worked out yet. But if it comes to pass, it would force players to be adept in both formats if they want to be crowned champion.

Poker King has already announced that transcendent stars Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan will be part of the field. Cabo San Lucas will be the setting for those who are actually on the scene. In addition, the site has also promised that the action will be streamed for all to see.

With interest in the head-to-head battles at a fever pitch right now, the timing for this event couldn’t be better. Let’s hope that it’s well-run and that the idea of half-virtual, half-live is pulled off effectively.

If so, it could be the model for an event that becomes a staple on the yearly poker schedule a la the World Series of Poker Main Event.

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