Day 3 Completed
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Day 3 Completed
Years ago, very likely in 2009, Jason Koon attended what was then the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for the first time. At the time, he was grinding it out in live satellites just trying to get a seat into the Main Event. Walking out of the venue, he saw Scott Seiver strolling in, headphones on, getting ready for the $25,000 High Roller final table.
The moment sticks in Koon's memory, as he thought to himself at the time that he hoped to one day be playing in those same events. Now, at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas in 2017, Koon has realized the optimistic version of his dream; winning the $100,000 Super High Roller in a field of 54 players to take down a career-best prize of $1,650,300.
"Sitting there with the trophy in front of me was kind of a surreal moment," he said of fulfilling that goal.
It's the continuation of what's been a scorching hot run for Koon in some of the biggest tournaments in the world. From July 2016 to the end of the calendar year, Koon tallied six scores worth between $273,765 and $1,000,000, the latter coming when he won the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in August. Koon has been a monster in the high roller circuit during that stretch, with only the SHRPO win coming in an event smaller than $25,000.
In this particular tournament, Koon ran headlong into another player on a white-hot heater: Charlie Carrel. Both players cashed for north of $2 million in 2016, and they battled heads up after outlasting a final table that included the likes of Daniel Colman and defending champ Bryn Kenney to name just two of the crushers.
While both had locked up six-figure cashes, only one could make history as the first $100,000 Super High Roller champion of the PokerStars Championship era. The match would not disappoint, getting underway after the two looked over the payouts but decided to go ahead and play things out instead of making a deal.
The young British star entered with almost a 2-1 lead and just shy of 90 big blinds. Fresh off a second-place finish at European Poker Tour Prague in the $50,000 Super High Roller, Carrel surely felt confident and ready to close things out as he moved quickly to more than a 3-1 lead.
The turning point came on a board of . Koon check-raised the flop and then fired big bets on the turn and river, the latter being an all-in shove. Carrel seemed to indicate he had ace-high and thought things over while working his typical verbal probe before he ultimately decided to fold.
"That's just a spot where I shoved for full pot on the river because I'm repping at very worst a very good king," Koon said when asked to analyze the hand. "I'm repping a very thin range of hands there."
"Who knows what we had?" he said with a straight face.
With that, Koon evened things up and then grabbed a lead he wouldn't relinquish. The two continued to battle but Koon got the better of the majority of the skirmishes and finished Carrel a little over an hour later. The American was nothing but complimentary of his British foe after lifting the trophy.
"He seems like a really incredible guy," Koon said. "Whenever I was that age, I was a total trainwreck. It looks like he's figured some stuff out that took me a decade longer to figure out."
Koon called his current heater "just ridiculous." It comes at a very opportune time for him, coming off of a 2015 that saw him cash for "just" $842,084. That might sound like plenty, but with the stakes Koon often plays, he said it represented a roughly break-even year.
Still, he didn't let things get him down. He has strong understanding of how sample sizes work, and he knows a year full of tournaments alone is not enough to overcome variance.
Personal relationships also played a big role in Koon's ability to shake off the slump. He began dating his girlfriend for one thing and also had the security of knowing at least one of poker's greatest minds, Ben Tollerene, had faith in him.
"It does a lot for your confidence to know that some of the best players in the world believe in you and they're there to help you," Koon said.
Koon also said he believes he was one of the first tournament players to start incorporating game theory optimal concepts into his play. That strategic shift propelled him from playing $500 events to crushing at one of the highest levels in the game, piling up $7.5 million in live cashes now to go with heaps more online.
Koon now bases his entire strategy around GTO play. It's helped him stay out of what he called "leveling wars and ego-fests" and left him secure in the knowledge that he had made strong strategic decisions even in spots that ended in elimination.
"It's like the worst feeling in the world to walk out knowing you punted a tournament because you got tricked by some dude," Koon said.
It's certainly served him well given all the results he has put up, and Koon ranks this win as possibly his best yet.
But, he isn't ready to rest on his laurels or start slowing down. He feels the window is closing on the opportunity to make big money playing no-limit hold'em tournaments, so he's looking to keep rolling and make his mark on the game. In order to retire knowing he was one of the game's best, Koon knows he will have to keep ignoring results and putting in work to keep skilled rivals like Carrel at bay.
"I think it's really important to keep my eye on the rail, stay grounded and realize that I'm having a mini-Fedor moment and that's awesome," he said. "But at the same time, there's a bunch of guys that are more talented than I am so I need to work hard and stay on top of it."
|1||Jason Koon||United States||$1,650,300|
|2||Charlie Carrel||UNited Kingdom||$1,191,900|
|3||Daniel Colman||United States||$759,660|
|5||Byron Kaverman||United States||$445,320|
|6||Connor Drinan||United States||$340,540|
|7||Bryn Kenney||United States||$275,060|
Photos by Neil Stoddart, PokerStars.
One player who has a reason to smile upon arriving at the PokerStars Championships Bahamas $5,300 Main Event is Brazilian legend and Team PokerStars Pro Felipe Ramos. He’s already cashed in a $2,000 side event and will play tomorrow’s Main Event Day 1b and is all about the positive mental element of success.
“I cashed in the last event of the year and my first event of the year," he said. "It doesn’t get much better than that!”
Ramos, who worked his way up from the slums of Sao Paulo to poker’s top table, has earned a reputation as one of the stars of Brazilian poker and the game worldwide. Friends with FC Barcelona’s legendary forward Neymar, Ramos is the go-to guy on social media, having become Snapchat and Instagram king to his legions of followers. But his family upbringing and father’s strong sense of professional discipline have taught him how important the fundamentals are:
“Momentum is insanely important," Ramos said. "As a poker player, the most important thing is consistency. If you’re a consistent player, you’re always making money. In 2016, I had five final tables in a row, it was insane. Some were small events, some large events. But it keeps that momentum.”
His many fans around the world follow his every move online, and after his recent trip back to Brazil, he found that some of his supporters had been concerned of his whereabouts:
“I took 24 hours to travel home. I landed and my phone lit up with a bunch of random messages asking ‘Are you sick?’ or ‘Are you OK?’ I’m like ‘It’s fine, guys, I’m all right!' I can’t believe there isn’t Wi-Fi on every flight in the 21st century — it’s unbelievable.”
Ramos the Nomad
It doesn’t end there for the Brazilian. The next 12 months are scheduled to be his busiest yet as he pushed to win the biggest tournaments of his life so far.
“I’m going to play everything in 2017," he said. "I sold my house back in Brazil, so that I could have no expenses and travel the world. I’m going to play everything. I go from the Bahamas to London to play the first PokerStars Festival which is going to be huge. I’m going everywhere.”
Unlike the actor and comedian Kevin Hart, who is here with a huge entourage of supporters, Ramos frequently travels solo, with just his guitar — quite literally — on the former musician’s back.
“I like to travel light," he said. "At the PokerStars BSOP, I took two or three people. At the biggest stops such as Monaco and Barcelona where there are a lot of events and I need some help, I’ll have people with me, but at small to medium events I like to travel alone.”
Ramos traveled to the Bahamas following a traditional family Christmas. While so much of his year is spent at poker events, surrounded by people he hasn’t met before, there is no substitute for family.
“Christmas is our biggest holiday including the Rio carnival in February," he said. "We’re very traditional Christians, so Christmas is a huge deal. I spent it with my family and friends, drinking beers with my Dad; there’s nothing better than that.”
Legend has it that every baby boy in Brazil receives a football at Christmas. Ramos confirmed that for him, it was even sooner than his first Christmas.
“Before I was born, I had footballs — I had a bunch of them!" he said. "My whole family are Corinthian fans, but my uncle was a Palmeiras fan and another uncle supported FC Santos. They all gave me team jerseys and balls to try to get me to support their teams. My grandfather saw the things for the other teams and he told me to ‘throw this stuff away!’”
His love of football has grown and grown, leading to Ramos recently giving a seminar on the mental aspects of poker to a professional under-20 team in Brazil. They won the next game, and the coach contacted him personally to tell him what a difference it made.
While he supports Corinthians, Ramos was one of the worldwide football community affected by the tragic air crash transporting Chapecoense players, media and staff to the 2016 Copasudamericana Final. Only six people survived of the 77 passengers aboard, just three players from the fabled team.
“That was really terrible," Ramos said. "I was playing the BSOP Millions, a huge PokerStars event in Brazil when we got the news. I remember that day, I couldn’t do anything. I was devastated.”
It’s clear that for all of his positivity at the felt and on the rail, Ramos was deeply affected by the events of that day. It left him with a lasting message to apply to his own life.
“You can’t imagine such a terrible tragedy," he said. "I was incredibly sad, but because it is something that can happen to any of us, it made me realize that we must live in the present moment as much as we can.
"If you want to say ‘sorry’ or 'forgive me,' do it now and live better. Because you may not have the chance to say it. The tragedy made me much closer to my family. I have a grandma who is 79 and she’s the oldest person in my family. I already told my dad that we’re going to have a huge party when she turns 80. It will have samba, with music and I’m going to play and sing. It’s important.”
With that, Ramos is on the move again, hopping from friend to friend across the tournament floor in much the same way as he’ll travel from tournament to tournament in 2017.
If his life continues on the same track, you’ll be hearing about a major trophy heading the Brazilian’s way very soon... probably because your friends shared it on social media.
Follow along with the $100,000 Super High Roller action over on the PokerStars Blog.
There's no stopping Charlie Carrel! After an amazing 2015 with a win in the EPT Grand Final High Roller and an even better 2016 with numerous big scores (amongst others a runner-up in the EPT Prague Super High Roller), he's back at it here in 2017. The ever smiling Carrel leads the final table of the $100,000 buy-in Super High Roller at the inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas!
While Carrel has become a household name for poker fans from all over the world after making final table after final table, he's not the only one with a thick Hendonmob to back up his reputation. In fact, all six of his opponents are world class players with all a poker resume we could write extensive profiles on. There are no wild cards, no qualifiers on the run of a lifetime; it's seven regulars who are going to decide who takes down the top prize today.
Play resumes at noon local time (in about 2.5 hours) with about 20 minutes left in the 20,000/40,000/5,000 ante level. The next level on the schedule for is 25,000/50,000/5,000 ante. Update will be available via the PokerStars Blog while we at PokerNews focus on the Main Event today.
Final Table Line Up
|Suit||Player||Country||Chip Count||Big Blinds|
|1||Dan Colman||United States||2,690,000||67|
|2||Bryn Kenney||United States||740,000||19|
|3||Byron Kaverman||United States||970,000||24|
|4||Charlie Carrel||United Kingdom||3,710,000||93|
|6||Connor Drinan||United States||1,455,000||36|
|7||Jason Koon||United States||2,305,000||58|
|Player||Earnings||Best Result||All Time Money List Ranking||GPI|
|Dan Colman||$26,039,557||1st||2014 Big One for One Drop||$15,306,668||4||355|
|Bryn Kenney||$11,909,746||1st||2016 PCA Super High Roller||$1,687,800||30||10|
|Byron Kaverman||$8,123,642||2nd||2014 WPT World Championship||$727,860||71||21|
|Charlie Carrel||$3,819,248||1st||2015 EPT Grand Final $25k||$ 1,241,682||245||29|
|Daniel Dvoress||$2,134,848||3rd||2016 ACOP High Roller||$293,840||598||55|
|Connor Drinan||$10,162,522||3rd||2015 Super High Roller Bowl||$3,225,000||48||13|
|Jason Koon||$6,492,780||1st||2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open||$1,000,000||101||20|
The $100,000 Super High Roller at Atlantis
|2013||59||$5,724,180||Scott Seiver||United States||$2,003,480|
|2016||58||$5,626,000||Bryn Kenney||United States||$1,687,800|
The player profiles below are courtesy of PokerStars:
When talking about Dan Colman, the juiciest part of his story begins in 2014. He began that year with a seven-figure score, winning the €100,000 Super High Roller at the EPT Grand Final for a cool €1,539,300. That was, by far, Colman's biggest result at the time, but that would not be the case for long. A couple months later, he took down the $1 million Big One for One Drop, pocketing $15,306,668 after defeating Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu in the heads-up match to secure one of the few eight-figure paydays that have ever been awarded in poker. In total, Colman has accumulated more than $26 million in live earnings, which puts him in fourth place on poker’s all-time money list. In his time away from the live felt, Colman can sometimes be found dominating high-stakes heads-up SnGs under the moniker "mrGR33N13".
Bryn Kenney continues to bolster his record as the most successful $100,000 Super High Roller in The Bahamas. He's now locked up his fourth cash out of the seven tournaments that have met the criteria. He started his collection with a third-place finish worth $643,000 in 2011, then repeated that result in 2014 for another $873,880. His best performance came last year when he emerged victorious, beating the 58-entry field to scoop the prestigious title and the top prize of $1,687,800. Kenney's total earnings from those three events exceed $3.2 million, putting him in the top spot on the virtual PokerStars $/€100k Super High Roller all-time money list. The 30-year-old from Long Beach was one of the last entries into the field, jumping straight into Day 2 in defense of his title. Kenney has been doing well even in another destinations. Just two months ago, he banked $1.4 million for a runner-up finish in the Triton Super High Roller in the Philippines. Kenney's career earnings will break the $12-million mark tomorrow as he continues to climb his way through the top 20 on the USA's all-time money list.
Byron Kaverman's first huge live poker success came six years ago in the Bahamas when he won the $5,000 event for $320,840. Since then, the 30-year-old from Ohio has added close to $8 million to his résumé. Kaverman had a tremendous 2015, winning nearly $3.5 million. That heater included a title-winning campaign in the WSOP $10k NLH 6-Handed Championship, on a star-studded final table featuring Doug Polk, Fedor Holz, Thomas Muehloecker and Sam Greenwood. Kaverman beat all the heavyweights to collect more than $650,000 along with his first bracelet. He also won the 2015 Global Player of the Year race. And the American pro didn't slow down in 2016, either, notching five additional six-figure cashes. Kaverman has established himself among the high roller elite, crushing the $25,000 events that run semi-regularly in Las Vegas. He also has a PokerStars High Roller title under his belt from EPT12 Malta.
Charlie Carrel is a 23-year-old professional poker player from London, England. He’s usually pretty easy to pick out of a crowd, often decked out in brightly colored attire at the tables. He’s a colorful character metaphorically, too, his smiley extroversion falling right in line with his typical wardrobe choice. Carrel’s cheery exterior hides a monster of a poker player, though. He’s been playing live tournaments for less than three years, but he’s already amassed nearly $4 million in earnings, including a small handful of previous cashes at Atlantis Resort. He’s also experienced considerable online success prior to and during that stretch, playing as “Epiphany77” on PokerStars. Carrel is riding a serious heater over the last 14 months, in particular, and he'll enter Sunday's finale as the chip leader with nearly 100 big blinds.