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The Nightly Turbo: WCOOP Champ Maratik's Identity Revealed, Ongame Network Sold, & More

Nightly Turbo

Who is the mysterious man behind the "maratik" account who won the PokerStars WCOOP Main Event? We'll bring you that story, plus the reported sale of the Ongame Network, in this edition of the Nightly Turbo.

In Case You Missed It

Dan O'Brien fell just short of his first World Series of Poker bracelet on Thursday. Read about his heads-up defeat, plus Brandon Cantu's dominating performance in Event #5, in the WSOP Europe Day 7 recap.

Photographers Jonathan Boncek and Remko Rinkema were on hand to capture all the the tough decisions and the winning moments from the first week of the WSOP Europe. Take a look at some of their best shots in the 2012 World Series of Poker Europe Photo Blog.

How was the high-stakes action at the PokerStars tables this week? Read the Online Railbird Report to find out the week's biggest winners and losers.

The replacement refs were replaced just in time for Week 4 of the NFL. Rich Ryan looks story at and more in the latest Pigskin Diaries.

Did you miss anything from the past week? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Sarah Grant breaks down all the big stories in the PokerNews Weekly.

"Maratik" Speaks

When Russian microstakes grinder "maratik" won the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) Main Event this week, it created one of the most inspiring stories poker has seen in recent years. At the time, little was known about the player who turned 40 Frequent Player Points (FPPs) into more than $1 million. But that changed on Thursday when the PokerStars spoke with the man behind the "maratik" moniker, Marat Sharafutdinov.

Sharafutdinov navigated a field of 1,825 to win the $5,200 WCOOP Main Event, outlasting a handful of world-class players along the way. It isn't often you see a microstakes regular playing with the world's best, but qualifying into PokerStars' flagship tournaments has apparently become one of Marat's talents over the years.

"I noticed that with enough luck you can qualify for just a small amount of FPPs so I began to play them often," he told the PokerStars Blog. "It was the same way I won a couple of seats in the $215 Sunday Million and in one of the nightly $150 tourneys."

Despite sitting beside some of the game's top talents, Sharafutdinov didn't shy away from playing big pots, as he explained in one key hand around the money bubble. "There was a hand where I had queens and the big blind three-bet me and then bet all three streets," he said. "It was not far from the money and I understood that it was a regular who was trying to push out a micro-limits player. He thought I would be afraid of elimination, but I called without much doubt. He had bluffed and after that sat out for some time."

From there, Marat was patient, playing a "maximum of five hands in four hours," and eventually approached the final table. It was then that he really started opening up his game. "I started using my rock image to start opening with bluffs," he explained.

Sharafutdinov's story is one for the ages, and he was kind enough to offer some advice for players wanting to following in his footsteps, saying, "Take risks, but remember about bankroll management."

To read the full interview, check out the PokerStars Blog.

Bwin.Party Sells Ongame

After months of negotiations with potential buyers, has reportedly come to an agreement to sell the Ongame Network to Montreal-based Amaya Gaming Group Inc.

Pokerfuse reported Friday that Amaya will pay between $6.5 million and $8 million for Ongame, an asset that has been trying to unload for nearly a year. An announcement could be made as early as next week, according to the Pokerfuse report.

In February, gaming provider Shuffle Master signed a definitive agreement to buy Ongame for €19.5 million, but the company withdrew its offer in June because of declining industry conditions. had since been speaking with numerous companies interested in the poker network, including social gaming giant Zynga.

According to, Ongame ranks fifth worldwide in real-money ring game traffic, trailing ony PokerStars, iPoker, PartyPoker and 888poker. The network, which hosts poker rooms like Betfair and, climbed past and in PokerScout's rankings but will lose Bwin's poker offering to PartyPoker.

Pokerfuse has more.

LAPT Panama

The Latin American Poker Tour's (LAPT) first Main Event in Panama kicked off Thursday with 338 players putting up the $2,500 buy-in for a chance to make LAPT history. The top 48 finishers will take home at least $3,910, with the winner collecting $171,930 on Sunday.

At the end of Thursday's Day 1 flight, only 111 players remained, with poker pro John Hewitt leading the way with 155,400 in chips. The former November Nine bubble boy leads a slew of notables who built large stacks Day 1, including former LAPT Uruguay champion Alex Komaromi (140,300), Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez (118,200) and American pros Darryll Fish (108,600) and Carter Gill (94,800).

Here's a look at the Top 10 stacks heading into Day 2:

1John Hewitt155,400
2Martin Gabriel Diaz155,200
3Mathew W. Lapossie150,100
4Andres Herrera136,500
5Alex Komaromi136,300
6Zhou Zhiwei135,100
7Carlos Mauricio Ponce Ligorria130,100
8Leo Fernandez118,300
9Carlos Alberto Mejia Mora109,600
10Darryll Fish108,600

In addition to the Main Event, LAPT Panama will host a series of side events, including a two-day $4,700 buy-in High Roller starting on Saturday, Sept. 29. The full schedule of events can be found at

To follow along with live updates from the Main Event, be sure to visit the PokerStars Blog all week long. We'll also provide recaps right here in the Nightly Turbo.

Win Tickets to Manchester United vs. Braga!

PartyPoker has launched a promotion that will see someone — hopefully you — walk away with two tickets to the Manchester United versus Braga UEFA Champions League match on Oct. 23 plus expenses thrown in for good measure!

All you need to do to qualify is play poker at a real money table on PartyPoker between Sept. 24 and Oct. 7, and take a screenshot of anything you think may be interesting. If you are involved in a massive bad beat or cooler hand, take a screenshot of it. Then share it with the world. The owner of the screenshot with the most likes will win the package!

The one lucky winner will walk away with:

  • Two tickets to the Manchester United versus Braga UEFA Champions League match
  • Travel expenses
  • Legendary Treble Suite hospitality

Read more about the promotion here at

Dannenman, Hachem Reunited

In 2005, Steve Dannenman and Joe Hachem played heads-up for the title at the World Series of Poker Main Event. They were seated together again at the WSOP Europe on Thursday, and Sarah Grant caught up with Dannenman to talk about the fun table dynamic.

Follow PokerNews on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.

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