2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas

$100,000 Super High Roller
Day: 1
Event Info

2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas

Final Results
Winning Hand
Event Info
Prize Pool

$100,000 Super High Roller

Day 1 Completed

Kevin Hart Plays $100,000 Super High Roller at PokerStars Championship Bahamas: "I don't need luck! I'm gonna fucking win!"

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart

The inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas kicked off today with the $100,000 Super High Roller. Just about all of the usual suspects showed up; Daniel Negreanu, Steve O'Dwyer, Adrian Mateos, Nick Petrangelo and Ivan Luca were just some of the familiar faces we expected and who sat down early on.

And while a lot of railbirds were star struck by their poker idols so close by, it was a different player getting the most attention all day. None other than actor and stand-up comedian Kevin Hart sat down, and jaws dropped.

Sometimes, mainstream celebrities try to blend in when they play a poker tournament and just keep to themselves. Sometimes, they wear sunglasses and tuck their heads away in hoodies to not attract too much attention. Not Hart though, he was as loud as you'd expect him to be if you're familiar with his stand-up shows and movies.

"I had a good time but I was card dead all day"

"Are you prepared to go eight rebuys today?" shouted Hart across the room to Bill Perkins at a neighboring table when play was just five minutes underway. "Depends!" Perkins responded with a smile. Tablemate Jason Koon told the story of once firing three bullets, prompting Hart to admit he was willing to do 22 buy-ins if needed. "Yeah, $2.2 million!" All Koon could say was "That'd be a big boost to the prize pool,", according to the PokerStars Blog who were there to write down the specifics of the interaction.

If that was Hart's first big bluff of the day or if he really was willing to go that deep, we'll probably never know. But the question if he could afford to do so, is one that can be answered positively with relativele certainty. He ranked number six on Forbes' 2016 World's Highest-Paid Celebrities Top 100 List with $87.5 million in earnings. The site credited Hart for having changed the economy of the funny business:

"Comedian Kevin Hart is the biggest year-over-year gainer, more than tripling his 2015 earnings from $28.5 million to $87.5 million. His secret? Touring like a rock star. He performed over 100 shows at stadiums and arenas around the world during our scoring period, grossing over $1 million on average per gig. This makes him not only the highest-paid comedian on our list, but also the first jokester ever to make more money than Jerry Seinfeld, whose earnings clock in at $36 million this year."

At the end of the day, Hart wasn't in for $2.2 million, but he hadn't escaped the eight levels of play totally unscathed either. "I can say I lasted till about 35 minutes left on Day 1. And then I rebought." Hart told PokerNews at the end of play. He had gotten short and had made a move with pocket fives in a blind battle against high roller regular Jason Koon. The latter called with jacks and send Hart to the rail, a position he wouldn't stay long as he headed for the cage right away and put another $100,000 on the counter to give himself another shot at eternal poker glory.

Even though he had to buy back in to bag chips, he wasn't at all disappointed. "I'm happy with making it that far," Hart told us after play wrapped up. "I had a good time but I was card dead all day. It wasn't like I had a run of cards, so hopefully I can run into a string of cards tomorrow and match it with some good play. If that's the case, things will go better."

While it cost him $200,000 total so far, Hart was satisfied with things; "The fact that I'm in Day 2, I'm happy about. I'm ok." Hart was happy with his performance, despite busting once: "Just being able to compete, being amongst them and being here all day, I take that as a pad on the back for myself."

Hart certainly showed his excitement and was the life of the party all day. He interacted with a lot of players, but Bill Perkins certainly was the one he bantered with the most. "I play big cash games and I know some of the guys here that play cash. We play pretty big no limit hold'em." Hart told us when we asked him if he had played a lot with Perkins before.

"I don't need luck! I'm gonna fucking win! You quote that!"

The fact that Hart plays big cash games wasn't a secret anymore after Dan Bilzerian tweeted a photo of the two of them playing, together with Jean-Robert Bellande, back in June of last year. Hart, however, hadn't shown his face in tournaments before: "I'm not the tournament player so coming into this world is definitely new for me," Hart told us.

His first experience here at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas was a positive one; "It's good to be embraced. It's good to come, step in, be accepted and be treated well. And, you know, people actually are giving me credit so that's a good thing." Hart had a good time and loved interacting with players he already knew from playing with them but was just as chatty with players he knew from just reading about poker and new players he had never seen before. "Seeing them is all fun and games, there's nothing but love," Hart said with a big smile.

Hart battled with the best of the best all day, and at no moment seemed outwitted. He did, however, realized he was dealing with elite players; "These guys are good. They don't make mistakes. Which is good."

The plan for Day 2 is simple, according to Hart: "Tomorrow is just about doing more like I did today and we'll see how far I can go. Tomorrow is when it counts, Day one is bullshit!"

As we wished him good luck on Day 2, Hart had one final quote for us. It was like the famous Rounders quote where Mike McDonals rolled his eyes over people insisting calling poker luck, but with a Hart twist: "I don't need luck! I'm gonna fucking win! You quote that!"

Tags: Bill PerkinsHigh RollerKevin HartPCAPokerStarsPokerStars Caribbean AdventurePokerStars ChampionshipPokerStars Championship BahamasSuper High Roller

Nick Petrangelo Looking for First $100K Win After Bagging Day 1 Lead

Nick Petrangelo
Nick Petrangelo

Nick Petrangelo raced ahead of his high-rolling rivals, turning 250,000 into 861,000 and the chip lead at the conclusion of Day 1 of the $100,000 Super High Roller at PokerStars Championship Bahamas.

Hot on Petrangelo's heels is Steve O'Dwyer, who has been among the most successful players on the high roller circuit in recent years. He ended with 801,000. Daniel Dvoress (720,000), Connor Drinan (639,000) and Jason Koon (624,000) round out the top five.

One of the biggest hands Petrangelo played came at the expense of Christoph Vogelsang late in the day. In the last level, with the big blind at 5,000, Petrangelo opened early for 12,000 and got action from Vogelsang in the big blind. On a board that ran out {3-Clubs}{3-Spades}{4-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}, Vogelsang check-called three barrels, the last for 91,000, and got shown two eights for top full house by Petrangelo.

Petrangelo has posted good finishes in $100K's before. He finished second in a World Poker Tour Alpha 8 event in 2015 for just over $1 million and seventh in the $111,111 One Drop last year for $628,679 but has yet to grab his first win. With 36 players bagging chips and 50 total entries logged — 11 were reentries — there's still a long road ahead for Petrangelo.

Other players making it through included PokerStars Team Pros Jason Mercier and Daniel Negreanu, as well as 2015 WSOP champion Joe McKeehen, 2016 GPI player of the year David Peters, and EPT Grand Final High Roller champions Charlie Carrel and Mustapha Kanit.

Popular American actor Kevin Hart also made it through to Day 2. The popular comedy star kept up a running banter with his tablemates all day but did wind up needing a reentry after he was down to 16 big blinds and check-shoved an eight-eight-nine flop with pocket fives only to see Koon turn over jacks. No five appeared for Hart but he bought straight back in. He ended up losing about half of his second starting stack as he ended with 130,000.

Anthony Zinno, Timothy Adams, Erik Seidel, Isaac Haxton and Bill Perkins were a few of the players who went bust on Day 1. The latter three reentered and bagged, and everyone still has the option to buy a stack until the start of Day 2. For live coverage on Saturday, head on over to the PokerStars Blog, while PokerNews will continue to bring feature coverage right here.

Here's who'll return for Day 2. Blinds will be 3,000/6,000 with a 1,000-ante.

PlayerCountryChip Count
Nick PetrangeloUnited States861,000
Steve O'DwyerIreland801,000
Daniel DvoressCanada720,000
Connor DrinanUnited States637,000
Jason KoonUnited States624,000
Sam GreenwoodCanada605,000
Leo Yan Ho ChengCanada571,000
Koray AldemirGermany552,000
Jason MercierUnited States517,000
Byron KavermanUnited States461,000
Sean WinterUnited States450,000
Dario SammartinoItaly423,000
Joseph McKeehenUnited States405,000
David PetersUnited States393,000
Charlie CarrelUnited Kingdom379,000
Orpen KisacikogluTurkey377,000
Dan ColmanUnited States363,000
Erik SeidelUnited States299,000
Fabrizio GonzalezUruguay295,000
Stephen ChidwickUnited Kingdom284,000
Dan ShakUnited States281,000
Christoph VogelsangGermany250,000
Anthony ZinnoUnited States250,000
Ben HeathUnited Kingdom250,000
Timothy AdamsCanada250,000
Isaac HaxtonUnited States248,000
Adrian MateosSpain227,000
Pascal LefrancoisCanada211,000
Cary KatzUnited States193,000
Daniel NegreanuCanada188,000
Ivan LucaArgentina188,000
Justin BonomoUnited States187,000
Vladimir TroyanovskiyRussia171,000
Bill PerkinsUnited States170,000
Kevin HartUnited States130,000
Mustapha KanitItaly128,000
Paul NeweyUnited Kingdom124,000
Sergio AidoSpain120,000
Benjamin TollereneUnited States107,000

Photos: Neil Stoddart/PokerStarsBlog.com

Tags: Nick Petrangelo

Jason Koon Unveils Upcoming Biohacking Seminar

For years, Jason Koon has been a model of fitness. Recently he credited trainer Ben Greenfield for helping him reach even more powerful levels of mind, body and spirit continuity. Together, they are embarking on a new journey to create a seminar which focuses on using biohacking to increase performance in poker. Sarah Herring gets some more details on the course which is planned for the first week of April in Las Vegas.

Although, the interview doesn't stop there. Jason also reveals an Uber horror story from a recent Florida tournament. You won't want to miss this!

Tags: Jason Koon

Bill Perkins Gives to the People, Stirs Up Prop Action at PokerStars Championship Bahamas

Bill Perkins (L)
Bill Perkins (L)

Bill Perkins may be known as a high-living, big-spending baller, but it wasn't always that way.

Years ago, Perkins worked as a clerk. In need of more income to make ends meet, he took on night work as a limo driver. Chauffeuring people miles above him on the income scale opened Perkins' eyes to a whole different lifestyle.

"It was motivating," he said. "Just seeing people enjoying life and what their excess capital afforded them."

Now that Perkins has made his millions and become a member of the class he once looked to as inspiration, he wants to help those who are in his old proverbial shoes. So, he had an idea. Why not stake a bunch of micro-stakes grinders into some events at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas? He could turn it into a contest and use it to promote his Twitch channel.

The idea turned out to be a bit impractical because "it was too complicated working the money." But, Perkins pivoted to giveaways of PokerStars Championship Bahamas packages that would cover rooms, airfare and $1,500 worth of tournament buy-ins to 20 lucky players who tuned in to his channel.

Twitch giveaways are nothing new, but Perkins decided to take things to a level that's rarely, if ever, seen.

"Why not amp it up?" he said of his thought process. "I think that's a better promotion for my show than, here's a t-shirt and a mug."

Perkins' channel itself can be a window into his lifestyle. He plays cash games and streams from his sleek boat, altering his playing style and making things fun for his audience. Micro-grinders and poker superfans make up much of his audience and he saw a perfect opportunity to give them a taste of the life he loves, just as driving a limo once gave him a taste of extravagance.

"The way I look at poker is it's kind of a lifestyle," he said. "It's not just grinding and a job, it's also traveling to places, meeting people, having fun and playing in a competitive...I'm going to call it a sport.

"Most of them are playing for a lot smaller stakes, so giving them $1,500 in buy-ins allows them to have that experience. A lot of people who were watching the show trying to get in are poker fanatics or grinders. I thought it was just a great thing to do. Bringing them to the Bahamas... there's waterslides and dolphins and stingrays and turtles and beach and sand and poker and pros. I want everybody to share that experience."

Those people include amateur poker player Dan Jones, who hails from London.

As Jones related in a featured listing on the PokerStars Blog, he faithfully tuned in to all of Perkins' broadcasts but failed to win any of the packages given away. Then, Perkins offered a final lifeline for those looking to score the dream poker vacation. Perkins announced he would be giving away a package to whoever could post the funniest comment on his girlfriend's Instagram page.

Jones racked his brain for clever ideas and decided his best bet was a recreation of an Instagram post of the bikini-clad woman. He donned a bathing suit owned by his own girlfriend and posed in his bathtub, sporting a sign reading "send me 2 the PCA" in reference to the now-retired PokerStars Caribbean Adventure that has become the PokerStars Championship Bahamas.

Perkins must have gotten a good chuckle out of the ploy because he tabbed Jones as the winner. The wealthy venture capitalist has enjoyed the overall response he has gotten from the poker community with his giveaways, something that's clear from his animated, earnest description of his goals.

"Just get people excited," Perkins said. "This is what I want to strive for. People might come down to the Bahamas and not bink it but go home and be re-invigorated with either passion for the game or travel."

He confirmed more giveaways will take place for future events, particularly if he finds time in his schedule for destination events in Europe. He squashed rumors of a pile of World Series of Poker packages, though.

"That was a joke," Perkins said with a laugh. "Joe Ingram put out a joke of 500 packages. The number keeps gaining. I'm rich, but I'm not that rich."

He's rich enough to fire away in the $100,000 Super High Roller here at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, at least. And here, Perkins is doing another thing he's widely known for: stirring up prop action with side bets and challenges. Things aren't going too deep yet, as Perkins and his fellow high rollers engaged in an early game of Lodden Thinks for $1,000 per question.

"I'm crushing them right now," Perkins declared on first break of the event. "Well, I'm only up $4K."

The best question and response so far, he said, came with the following query: “What's the number of people on Friday night and Saturday morning who have sexual intercourse in North America?”

The massage therapist serving as the thinker apparently came up with 200 million.

"I'm doing life wrong if this many people are having sex," Perkins joked. "I gotta stop playing poker."

Perkins has famously been the source of a number of physical challenge props, inciting Dan Bilzerian to undertake what ended up being a controversial bicycle journey last year. He also made an infamous prop bet with Antonio Esfandiari that wound up with "The Magician" disqualified from the Main Event here last year.

Nothing like that has been booked so far, but Perkins did say he's working on some ideas.

"I want to get Kevin Hart; he thinks he's in shape," Perkins said of the popular American actor who is also participating in the Super High Roller. "He's working out, posting pictures of himself doing all kinds of crazy stuff in the morning. He works out a lot, so we should test him for like $50K.

"No lunges... we don't want anyone peeing in bottles any more. Allegedly."

Tags: Bill Perkins

Swimming Pigs, High Cholesterol Iguanas and a Bunch of Sharks

Is there life after death?

Are there creatures on other planets?

Can pigs swim?

Those are some of the great questions of life. Unfortunately, for most of them, getting to the bottom of them is just about impossible.

When I got to The Bahamas for the inaugural PokerStars Championship, I had the unique opportunity to answer the last of those. Instead of Googling it, I set out on an adventure to see proof of swimming pigs. The title of the tour, "Visit the Swimming Pigs of The Bahamas!" already kind of gave it away, but I had to see with my own eyes to make sure.

And so the PokerNews camera crew and I sat in the hotel lobby at 8 a.m. to start our journey through the Caribbean Sea. It was 8:30 when the minivan picked us up — because that's The Bahamas, chill man. When we arrived in the marina, besides rose wine, crisps and energy bars, the boat was loaded with grapes and carrots. While I was all ready for some healthy food after a period of excessive Christmas dinners, the fruit and vegetables turned out to be not for me.

The powerboat we boarded had three 300 horsepower Yamaha V6 Four Stroke outboard motors, and Captain Troy was putting them to good use. Within minutes, the Atlantis resort was nothing but a small dot on the beautiful Bahamian horizon before dissolving entirely.

After about 90 minutes of swishing through the water, we arrived at one of the smaller islands of Exuma, a district of The Bahamas consisting of some 360 small islands. While we were all ready to see some swimming pigs, the first animals we would encounter were a whole lot slimmer and weren't swimming at all (although they can — I saw Planet Earth II). With the excessively hard music still playing, we descended to see hundreds of iguanas running around on a small rock of an island.

Our tour guide supplied us with grapes and pointy sticks and set us on our way. The only request was not to stab the iguanas with the sticks (note: I wasn't really planning to do that anyway). And so we moved to the beach and fed the sometimes hesitant iguanas. One of the sneaky creatures planned a big attack, coming out of nowhere to bite my finger. That little bite was probably his revenge for us giving him diarrhea and high cholesterol, but I didn't know that at the time so I was still pissed off at him. Other than that, everything was peachy.

After running through all our grapes, we set foot for the boars after which the tour is named. Another hour of navigating through the water at 53 miles per hour, we arrived at Pig Beach. Dozens of pigs, and many more tourists, initially wandered the beach. Some of them, only prompted to do so by pesky tourists like me who lured them into the water with vegetables, were actually swimming. After the other tourist boats left, it was just our crew cuddling and feeding the pigs.

According to Wikipedia, the pigs are said to have been dropped off on Big Major Cay by a group of sailors who wanted to come back and cook them. The sailors, though, never returned; the pigs survived on excess food dumped from passing ships. One other legend has it that the pigs were survivors of a shipwreck and managed to swim to shore, while another claims that the pigs had escaped from a nearby islet. Others suggest that the pigs were part of a business scheme to attract tourists to the Bahamas. If I was a betting man, and I am, my money would be on the latter.

Anyhow, the pigs seemed to enjoy themselves just fine and were only annoyed once when one of the ladies tried to ride them. They just flounced in the water a bit, sniffed the beach looking for roots and truffles they never seemed to find, and just minded their own business.

I filled the gigabytes of storage on my GoPro and iPhone with photos and videos of these beautiful animals, just to show my family and friends proof that pigs can actually swim. They're not Michael Phelps by any means — really my 2-year-old nephew is probably a better swimmer — but they manage. When they smell food, they're on it. According to our guide, they fancy hot dogs better than vegetables, but they had stopped feeding them fast food not too long ago. Probably gave them diarrhea and high cholesterol.

Two little piggies on the beach

With no more carrots to hand out, we once again boarded our boat to have lunch at one of the bigger islands close by. Outside was another animal begging to be fed by humans. Nurse sharks swarmed around a few steps that descended into a little bay and I couldn't wait to jump in. Last time I was in the proximity of sharks was in a big cage in South-Africa over the summer, but this time no steel was necessary to protect me. Nurse sharks were harmless, our guide told me. That was all I needed to hear and I splashed in the water to feel their sandpaper-like skin. They turned out to be not completely harmless, as one of the girls was bitten. But she had it coming since she stuck her hand in one of the shark's mouths.

Less than three hours later, we were back on Paradise Island and my big adventure had come to an end. I had a wonderful day in the sun, but I do feel a bit weird with having visited these animals turned tourist attractions.

I'll be covering all the big events at the PokerStars Championship this festival, and I couldn't be happier. What a privilege it is to be in a place where the sun always seems to smile, animals swim that I didn't know could swim, and poker is played all day long.

I'm pretty busy, but I'll see if I can find a definitive answer to the other big life questions here in The Bahamas as well. Not today, though, as I'm swimming with the sharks again, though now talking about the poker players that signed up for the $100,000 Super High Roller. The only pig that I'll be feeding today is me myself when I go to Anthony's for dinner tonight. I promise.

PokerStars' Neil Johnson Explains Rationale Behind Tour Changes

Neil Johnson
Neil Johnson

It's a new year and a new poker tournament. While the tournament here in The Bahamas was known as PokerStars Caribbean Adventure up untill last year, now it's the PokerStars Championship Bahamas. We talked about that change and more with PokerStars Department Head of Live Poker Operations Neil Johnson.

PokerNews: There's a different logo on the tables.
Neil Johnson: There's also more gold-colored branding in the room.

Besides the different logo, it does feel like the same event it was last year. What has changed for you?
Ironically, the change that I'm most interested in seeing actually has very little to do with the rebranding of the event. We have so many Spin & Go qualifiers and that really makes a big difference. We started it in Monaco and there really was a different vibe in the venue with all these people who had gotten in for €10 or €20.

This event, the one in The Bahamas, has always been a very reg-heavy event, probably the reg-heaviest event of the year because we get more of the US guys. But now, I'm expecting a little more of a 2007 kind of vibe here. A lot of people are going to come to this event who've never been here before. The weather has been gorgeous since we got here, so it looks like we're really able to show off both Atlantis and the event.

As far as the actual rebrand itself, I think it has a minimal impact on places like Barcelona, Monaco and here in The Bahamas. You'll see a significant impact on places like Panama and Macau which haven't done these massive festivals with big buy-ins and the heavy push of Spin & Go qualifiers.

It's the same, but different. It's everything that players have come to expect from what is a PokerStars live event. All that still exists, all that's still here. If anything, things have been simplified. The registration, structures, payouts and rake models are standardized. Before, we had differences from region to region and from venue partner to venue partner. We hope that that, for the players, everything gets a bit easier.

I'm as nostalgic as the next person. I've been on the tour since Season 1 so Prague was a sad time for me with the EPT saying it's farewell. But it hasn't really faded away. It's the same, but different. You and I can talk about going to Copenhagen, Kiev, Loutraki and what not, but for lots of people who have jumped in from Season 10 onward, when things really started to explode, they have no idea what we're talking about. For them, the majority of the destinations will still be there.

These standardizations you talk about are more beneficial for regular players. They're the only ones that actually are affected by this, as they're the only ones that go to places all over the world to play these events. PokerStars, in all other areas really, is more focusing on the recreational players.
That's actually a spot-on observation. The traveling community, or whatever way you want to refer to them — the O'Dwyers, the Ikes, the Timexes of the world — they benefit of the standardization. They now know that if I inform them on Macau having a $50,000 Super High Roller, they'll know it's the same as in Barcelona.

The vast majority of players that come to our events are local players. Their only concern usually is the buy-ins, and they want decent structures. But we still want to give them the same experience. And while the guy who plays the PokerStars Cup in Macau probably won't be playing the PokerStars Cup in Barcelona, it doesn't mean that what we learn from one event doesn't apply to another one. If a player in Macau is happy with the structure and buy-in, one will be in Barcelona as well probably.

And with expanding the festival, we have room to experiment as well. When it was "just" an LAPT for 5 days, we didn't have room to experiment a lot. But because we now have 10 days and we have a lot more events, it gives an opportunity to try a few things out.

Bahamas, Panama, Macau, Monaco and Barcelona have been announced. Is that Season 1 of PokerStars Championship, or is there more to come?
Not all the contracts have been signed yet, but there will absolutely be more. While two 2017 PokerStars festivals have been announced there are plans for more in all the places where PokerStars Tours previously existed. Asia, Europe, LATAM and we’ve already debuted in North America with Resorts in Atlantic City. So there will definitely be more Festivals and more Championship events to come.

On top of that, there will continue to be the brands players have seen develop within our Live Rooms like Red Dragon, ACOP, and Manila Mega stack as well as our tremendously successful partner, the Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP).

But the UKIPT, EPT, LAPT and what not were strong brand as well, right?
The brands of the tours were absolutely very strong, but PokerStars, that's the name. As an example, how many people know that the PCA stands for PokerStars Caribbean Adventure?

A couple years back, when we were in a big meeting discussing the possibility to do something like this, I heard an example that kind of swayed me from being against the name change to be for it. Let's say the EPT Grand Final final table has eight Canadians on it, and we're talking big names like Mike McDonald, Daniel Negreanu, and the likes. There would still be nothing we could do to ever get that on Canadian television because the name is "European Poker Tour." There's no amount of money we could pay a television station to get that show on the air and get it watched. At that point in time, I was like, "That makes sense."

I'm very nostalgic for what was lost, and I was bummed at the end of Prague when the EPT came to an end. With the amazing video the TV team made about the 13 years of EPT history rolled, it was very emotional. It almost felt like an "in memoriam" moment while also having a bit of a triumphant feel of, "Look what we all did."

But I consider the opportunities in countries like Panama and Macau so big that it makes up for it. It's much easier now to roll out an event in a place like the States, Canada, Brazil or any other place in the world.

Two weeks ago in Prague, two extra €25,500 Single-Day High Rollers were held at last minute notice, upon request by the players. Players were able to play a high roller every day. What are your thoughts on these impromptu events?
I was surprised actually. When we introduced the Super High Rollers, I was against it, to be honest. At the time, and this was 2011 with Eugene Katchalov winning the first one, it felt to me like something more for Full Tilt and not really a PokerStars thing to do. We actually weren't really sure if it was the right thing to do.

We went with it and we allowed the event to grow gradually. When they started, we didn't want them to be excessive, we didn't want them to be hurting people's bankrolls. Hurting the bankrolls of the players, and the poker economy itself, was a legitimate concern in the early days of PokerStars Super High Rollers. As it has grown, the super high stakes world has moved to a level that didn't exist six years ago. It's a unique subset of the poker world and they have found a way to make it work.

If you've watched over the years, we have gradually grown the schedule of high rollers and super high rollers because we feel the players wanted that. The Single-Day High Roller, and I call them the Bryn Kenney invitational since it was his idea, is an example of that movement to a wider offer of high rollers. Adding a $10,000 event at the start is another example, as is the Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller we've run since Barcelona.

We always felt there had to be a balance. But you see the demand for High Rollers is huge. The Aria runs multiple $25,000 events a month sometimes and the Bellagio had several during their WPT Five Diamond. We've had two open One Drop events and the Super High Roller Bowl in Vegas. So, when the question came during the EPT Prague if an extra €25,000 Single Day High Roller could be organized, we were like, "Why not?"

Will there be multiple of those events here?
I wasn't in Prague so I didn't have the chance to talk to them. I talked to the Super High Roller players and I’m busy adding five-figure events to the Bahamas schedule right now, so there will be more here and more added to future PokerStars Championships.

The EPT always had a Grand Final in Monaco. Are there plans for a season finale for the PokerStars Championships?
Not really. It made a lot of sense when the EPT was launched but things are different now.

The Grand Final in Monaco was always the big thing, the €10,000 event. Bigger buy-in, better structure. It was the reason you got people like Ivey and Antonius and all the American players came over. Nowadays, the buy-ins are huge at every event and the structure is the same for each and every event. To call something the Grand Final implicates that it's bigger and better. And that's not the case with all events standardized.

When the major tours started, they built their schedules around the World Series of Poker. You start after, and you finish before. That's why Barcelona is in August and Monaco is in May. But what makes more sense, and you really want to be doing, is run an event over a calendar year. All our tours, except for the EPT, ran over a calendar year. When we had the chance to reset everything, I was a huge advocate for running it from January through December, instead of August till May. Even backend things like budgets and to be able to cut finances off at year's end, that's huge for an organizer. With that in place, the Grand Final would be in Prague. There's nothing wrong with having a final in Prague, but The Bahamas is 14 days later. No parade, no time to celebrate, things would go straight on to the next season and in my personal opinion is that it's a little unnecessary.

There are absolutely people that like the idea of a Grand Final and I don't believe the idea has been buried — the idea could be resurrected — but for 2017 I don't anticipate a Grand Final.

Neil Johnson talking to Steve O'Dwyer in Barcelona

Tags: Neil Johnson

Hart Got Heart! $100,000 Worth of Heart!

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart

Guess who's playing in the $100,000 Super High Roller here at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas. If you guessed Kevin Hart, you'd be lucky but you'd be right.

The actor, known for movies such as 'Get Hard', 'Barbershop', 'The 40 Year Old Virgin' and classics as 'Superhero Movie', 'Extreme Movie' and 'Epic Movie', is an avid poker player and makes his debut here in The Bahamas with a $100,000-bullet fired in the festival's biggest event.

Head over to the PokerStars Blog to see how he's doing. Spoiler alert: he's talking about firing a maximum of 22 bullets.

Tags: Kevin Hart

Live Coverage Over on the PokerStars Blog

PokerNews is on the floor for the inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas and we'll be here the entire festival. Today, we'll focus our attention on the big stories in the Bahamas with a series of features on the Super High Roller and the inaugural PokerStars Championship itself.

You won't find any live updates and chip counts on PokerNews.com today, we'll leave that to the PokerStars Blog. Our partners in crime have a battalion of reporters ready to cover each and every step of all the players in today's event. So head over to PokerStarsBlog.com for live updates, chip counts.

From the Main Event on, PokerNews.com is your one-stop shop for all the updates one can wish for. We'll be on top of all the action for all the big events and will feature the live stream on a dedicated page so you don't have to miss a thing.