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My Trip to the PCA, Part I



The PCA is considered one of the biggest events of the year and kicked off this January with its eighth incarnation. I had the opportunity to cover the PCA as part of the PokerNews Live Reporting Team, and was very excited for my first trip to the Bahamas. I arrived in the middle of the $100,000 Super High Roller event which exceeded even the most optimistic expectations by drawing 38 entrants, including many of the top poker players in the world.

Humberto Brenes, Andrew Lichtenberger, Nicj Schulman, Tom Marchese, Hoyt Corkins, Antonio Esfandiari, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom, and Jonathan Duhamel were just a few of the players in the field. Our own Phil Laak even partook, but couldn’t get much going and was eliminated on Day 1.

The event was also special because it saw Daniel Negreanu finish in second place. Why is that so special? Because his $1,000,000 cash pushed him ahead of Phil Ivey on the all-time money winners list. I was reporting on Day 1 of the PCA Main Event when the third-place finisher, Bryn Kenney, was eliminated and the tournament staff announced Negreanu’s accomplishment over the P.A. system. The whole room broke out in applause, including Ivey.

Speaking of the Main Event, this year’s tournament was the most successful to date. It drew 1,560 players, 31 more than 2010, and created a prize pool of$15,132,000. Among those were competing for the first-place prize were the Unabomber, who was eliminated within the first three levels, and the Unabombshell, Jennifer Tilly. In one hand, a player in early position opened to 350 only to have Tilly, who was stacking chips after knocking out an opponent in a previous hand, tossed out a blue T5,000 chip. It was a huge raise and the dealer even made sure she intended the action. Tilly confirmed and action folded to Evelyn Ng, who moved all in for 29,925. Tilly eventually made the call and created a 60,000-chip pot in just Level 2 of the PCA. Not surprisingly, it was a race, Tilly’s Ah-Kd against the pocket queens of Ng. The board ran out Ad-9c-3h-5d-Jc, ending Ng’s tournament and pushing Tilly up to the 90,000-chip mark.

On Wednesday, January 12, 2011, I actually had a day off from my PokerNews duties and decided to enjoy the Bahamas. We were staying at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island so I decided to see what they had to offer. I woke up early and ventured down to the beach. I’m from Wisconsin so I don’t get to see the sand, sun, and sea very often. From there I went to the waterpark. It was fun but I wasn’t overly impressed, which isn’t surprising considering I grew up in Wisconsin Dells, the home to America’s largest waterpark and numerous indoor waterparks. However, I did work up the courage to do the “Leap of Faith” waterslide. This thing was crazy, literally straight down. I don’t know how people don’t get hurt or die. Regardless, I knew if I didn’t do it I’d regret it, so I sucked it up and took the plunge. Not only that, former EPT-Copenhagen winner Tim Vance wanted me to go on it with him, so I ended up doing it twice!

After the waterpark I had an appointment to snorkel the Atlantis Ruins. The ruins are simply the resort’s outdoor aquarium, which is filled with millions of gallons of water,  stingrays, grouper, zebra sharks, two giant manta rays (named Apollo and Poseidon I believe), and thousands of different fish. I can’t even begin to tell you how cool that experience was, and all for only $80.00! If you ever go to the Atlantis Resort, be sure to snorkel the ruins, it is simply amazing.

Once I was done I want out for drinks with my fellow reporters/blogger and capped off the night. Speaking of my coworkers, I had the pleasure of working with some of the best in the poker business. The PokerNews crew included Donnie Peters, Eric Ramsey, Mickey Doft, Rich Ryan, Kristy Arnett, Sarah Grant, Gloria Balding, Will Thomas, and Tennille Olsen.

Sticking with the poker media theme, a huge story developed in the PCA Ladies Event this past weekend. Kristin Bihr, who is more popularly known as “change100”, cleared a 98-player field to go heads up against Lauren Kling. Bihr, who is the girlfriend of poker blogger Pauly McGuire, has been one of the best poker writers for years so the whole poker community was pulling for her. I was ecstatic to see her take it down. "I'm a poor poker writer, so this kind of money really means a lot to me," Bihr said in an interview after her $29,798 win. Congrats change100, no one deserves it more.

There was plenty of other action from the PCA, much of which I will recap in my next blog in just a few days. Be sure to check back then to learn more on the Main Event, the $25,000 High Roller tournament, and the $5K Bounty Shootout.

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Hellmuth’s Charity Event, Going to the Bahamas and Happy New Year



On December 18, 2010 I had the opportunity to attend Phil Hellmuth’s Hold’em with HospiceCare Poker Charity Event in Madison, Wisconsin. I live about 45 minutes north of the venue so it was a perfect fit. I was really excited to attend a poker event that was designed to raise money for a great cause in HospiceCare:

As the flyer states: “Since 1978, HospiceCare Inc. has worked to bring exceptional end-of-life care to patients and their families. We serve more than 650 patients each day throughout south central Wisconsin. HospiceCare’s goals, such as enhancing the quality of our services and expanding our reach to all those who need us, are supported by Phil Hellmuth’s Hold’em with HospiceCare.”

I arrived early and grabbed my media pass (I was officially working for PokerNews.com). I headed up to the penthouse area and was immediately impressed with the set up. There were about three dozen poker tables, a silent auction, a VIP area, full bars, a buffet, and plenty of room to move around and socialize. As I made my way into the room, 2009 Player of the Year Eric Baldwin said hello to me. He is from Wisconsin and it was great to see him out supporting a great cause. Other notable poker names in attendance, many of whom hail from Wisconsin, included: Mark “PokerHo” Kroon and Gary “Debo34” Debanardi, Shawn Rice, David Plastik, Dixon Ruecker, Jon Green, Morgan Machina, and 1998 WSOP Main Event fourth-place finisher Dewey Weum.

Aside from poker personalities, the event drew a plethora of celebrities, both national and local. They included Olympic gold medalist speed skater Casey Fitzrandolph, PGA professional Jerry Kelly, NASCAR professional Matt Kenseth, radio personalities Johnny Danger & Van Edwards, NBC-15 News Anchors Leigh Mills & Charlie Shortino, former UW Badgers football head coach Barry Alvarez, and former Madison mayor Paul Soglin (he actually announced his candidacy—officially—for the office yet again, meaning he was going to run for the office in the next election). In addition to all the poker pros and celebs, a few hundred poker players and aficionados bought a ticket to play in the event.

I had the chance to play but didn’t do too well. In the first hand, I looked down at two black nines, the same hand Hellmuth won the 1989 World Series of Poker Main Event with, and ended up losing a decent-sized pot. Too bad, I thought doubling up with Hellmuth’s hand in his tournament would have been somehow ironic. Speaking of Hellmuth, I got to play with Phil Hellmuth Sr., who sat to my immediate right for much of the tournament. He went on to make the final table while I busted about two hours in. 

The eventual tournament winner was actually Mark “P0ker H0" Kroon! Pretty amazing that an established pro cleared the minefield of amateurs. In addition, Darren Berg won a custom-made autographed poker table; Art Luetke won a 2-year lease on a Zimbrick Honda Accord LX; and Joe Anderson won a seat to the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event. While the official number hasn’t been release, approximately $140,000 was raised for the patients and families served by HospiceCare Inc. Clearly this was a fun and successful event.

In other news, I will be heading to the PCA tournament in the Bahamas January 7-17th, 2010. I wish I was playing but instead will be reporting for PokerNews. Oh well, getting the chance to leave Wisconsin in the winter for the Bahamas is a dream come true, no matter the capacity! I’ll be staying at the Atlantis Resort in Nassau and that place looks simply amazing. I’m really looking forward to seeing some big poker names down there and hanging out in the Caribbean. I’m not sure if the Unabomber will be there, but if so I’ll be sure to grab some pictures. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter @ChadAHolloway . . . I’ll be updating live from the Caribbean! In the meantime, have a Happy New Year!

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Poker Pros Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho Back on Amazing Race?


Looks like Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho are returning to the Amazing Race.

Previews for the upcoming 18th season of the CBS reality TV series, “Amazing Race” showed couples who had competed and lost in previous seasons returning for another shot. Among the contestants seen in the season dubbed, “Unfinished Business” were poker pros Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho.

The two must be happy to be included in this next season as it’s composed of “favourite teams” from the past, so it’s a nice compliment to go along with the $1 million freeroll.

Ho and Michelle compete on Season 15 where they were ultimately eliminated in sixth place after being unable to complete a challenge on a makeshift golf course with high winds. The ladies simply didn’t have the strength to complete the challenge and were eliminated on the spot.

When asked by Poker News Daily whether she and Ho would consider returning to the “Amazing Race”, Michelle said, “The ‘Amazing Race’ was the adventure of a lifetime. Clearly with how we were eliminated from our season, we’ll always feel like we have some unfinished business and would jump at the chance to do it again.”

Oh she even used the name of the season in her quote so you know it’s got to be true, right? Well not necessarily. While a number of sites are reporting that Michelle and Ho are indeed part of the next season, some sites have reported seeing the teams racing around Oceanworld in Australia at the same time that Maria Ho was tweeting from the Heartland Poker Tour in the US. 

You can find out for sure whether Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho are on or not by tuning into the first episode which airs Sunday, February 20th. If you're like me you might prefer your reality TV mixed with some online poker. Grab your laptop and grind it up while you watch Ho and Michelle gunning for the $1 million.

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2010: Year of the Bad Beat


I've been running cold but at least my buddy Boosted J made a nice cash.

It’s been way too long. I went to Singapore, ate a lot, and enjoyed hanging with the family. I have decided to become a professional traveler. I leave for the Caribbean in 3 weeks, Italy in February, and Alaska in May. In between, I’ve been trying to qualify for Bahamas in January like an idiot. Why do I set myself up for dumb ass failure? And how do I do this? I will tell you how. I understand now why women get a bad rap in poker. I’ve seen firsthand that poker is more 90% luck, and 10% skill…when it comes to ladies’ tournaments. I am a glutton for punishment. I am running so bad right now, probably the worst ever. However, running badly in ladies’ tourneys is very consistent. All losses are bad beats. I am ALWAYS leading at showdown and end up getting raped on the river. Amazing. The cure? Stop playing ladies’ tournaments. But I am such a dumb ass that I can’t stop. A true degen. Terrible. And to console myself from these ridiculous beats? Book flights around the world. Rent villas in Tuscany and hire a private chef to teach me how to cook. Take weeklong cruises.

Now I am seriously debating whether or not I should play the NAPT at the Bike this weekend. I don’t know if I can handle another 1 or 2 outer. My patience has torn. Thank God I don’t allow poker to affect my personal life. I still see it as a part-time job. But lately, it’s become a cancer eating away at me.

So I even decided to try something new. I dabbled at the limit tables for a couple of weeks. Tried my bad luck at $5/$10 and $10/$20 tables. Shockingly, I was doing well. Then it came crumbling down. Thank God I have no bills to worry about. No credit cards. No debt. Just a disease. The degen disease. How do I stop it? Do I really want it to go away? Uh, no. That would make life too boring for me. I need to get angry at something once in a while. If I was happy all the time, people would think I was a freak. No balance. Surely one cannot be happy all the time? So I need an anger outlet and poker is the perfect scapegoat.

I am waiting for Season 9 of WPT to premiere. I wanna see how fat I look on tv again. I was cheering for Justin Smith at the final table of the Bellagio Cup where he took out Phil Ivey, but only took 2nd. We were sitting with Matusow and Forrest in the stands cheering for Justin. Nice cash for Boosted J. We were hoping for Justin and Phil to go heads up, but Justin busted out Phil. Oh well. I chatted with Phil last weekend too and he remembered my “soft hands”. Just ask me out already. I won’t turn you down. Geez! Who knew the greatest poker player in the world is shy? I thought I was the shy one.

I am planning a surprise birthday party for BFF and it’s in 2 weeks!! Gonna be the  biggest party of the year! Everything’s all set! Been so busy with poker and oh yeah, the 9-5. Thank God for a real job. A nice paycheck every 2 weeks is amazing. It allows me to still shop well, eat well, and play well, especially when poker is killing me.

A big CONGRATS to Unabomber for winning his first WSOP bracelet. Just the first of many to come, Boss Man! You rule.

Now, a promise to all of you. I will blog a lot more again. Cuz I am going to focus on playing live more now. Will be hitting the LA casinos again to grind some supplemental income. With the holidays fast approaching, my time will only get busier, but I want to keep y’all in the loop. I love Turkey Day cuz I love food. Then with Christmas around the corner, I love even more food. I can’t wait for 2011. Supposedly, 2011 is going to be a very profitable year for me. Please Chinese zodiac, be right!!!

In the meantime, I must make Unabomber proud and continue my degen ways. So see y’all at NAPT this weekend. I’m the playa with the Unabomber gear on, yo!

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