2021 Poker Yr In Assessment: Polk Defeats Negreanu, U.S. On-line Poker Will get Large Spice up

Take a look again at a few of poker’s greatest tales of 2021.

This 12 months we’re doing one thing a bit other and breaking down our annual Poker Yr In Assessment into 3 other portions – the Flop (January-April), Flip (Might-August), and River (September-December). We’re wrapping up 2021 by way of having a look again at a few of our greatest tales, winners, and surprises that spread out in some of the distinctive years within the historical past of the sport.


Despite the fact that we had been formally in 2021, one of the crucial maximum vital trade of 2020 had but to be determined at the start of January as Damian Salas and Joseph Herbert met at a most commonly empty Rio All-Suites Resort and On line casino in Las Vegas to play heads-up for one million greenbacks and resolve who will earn the authentic identify of 2020 International Sequence of Poker Major Tournament Champion.

The finale used to be no longer with out its detractors as a web-based model of the WSOP Major Tournament have been performed out on GGPoker previous in 2020, however Salas – who had made a prior are living WSOP Major Tournament ultimate desk in 2017 – proved to be a worthy winner, taking home an extra $1 million and the WSOP Main Event bracelet.

“I don’t play for the cash, that’s no longer my purpose,” Salas mentioned after his win. “My fundamental motivation is to change into higher and higher each day and stay a member of the world-class poker elite.”

READ: Desire To Remain Elite Drives New World Champ Damian Salas

Whilst January persevered to be stuffed with fascinating participant information, together with Chance Kornuth surrendering to Phil Galfond within the Galfond Problem, Ilyas Muradi taking down the wildly successful WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open, and Jack Hardcastle winning the WPT Montreal Online Main Event for $447K, it used to be poker trade information that ruled the primary month of the 12 months.

READ: Chris Moneymaker Reflects on 17 Years as Poker’s Everyman Ambassador

For the fourth time in 12 years, the World Poker Tour had been sold in a deal with Element Partners, LLC for more than $78 million.

“This deal will permit the International Poker Excursion to do a lot of issues that its at all times sought after to do,” International Poker Excursion CEO Adam Pliska mentioned on the time the deal used to be introduced, not able to fully increase at the nature of the takeover. “What I will be able to say, alternatively, is that for myself and my control staff, we’re nonetheless right here and it’s trade as standard and we look ahead to this thrilling subsequent bankruptcy of the International Poker Excursion.”

That very same week, possibly one of the most greatest tales of the 12 months broke when The First Circuit Courtroom of Appeals dominated in desire of the New Hampshire Lottery Fee of their case towards the U.S. Division of Justice, reversing a revised opinion of the Wire Act. In brief, it used to be a large win for on-line poker gamers within the U.S., environment the degree for a possible growth of on-line poker in america in years yet to come putting off criminal limitations for would-be states to get in at the motion or even sign up for multi-state compacts to increase the full liquidity for American citizens.

Virtually as though on cue, PokerStars officially launched PokerStarsMI.com, turning into the primary operator to supply Michiganders (and guests to the state) the way to play on-line poker, legally and controlled, from throughout the state.

To near out the month, Brazil’s Brunno Botteon stored his 2020 sizzling streak in tact and ended up because the Online Player of the Month for January.


February began off with a bang. The months-long heads-up grudge match between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk came to an end after 91 days and 25,000 palms. Polk wrote his identify within the historical past books, soundly defeating Negreanu and strolling away a winner of more or less $1.2 million.

“I’m more than happy that I spent such a lot time making ready and I felt it actually ended up serving to me vastly and that I were given to execute at the sort of excessive degree over the sort of lengthy time frame,” Polk mentioned simply moments after the remaining hand of the problem.

Over the process the fit, the feud between the 2 perceived to morph into a deferential contention and Negreanu gave credit score the place it used to be due when it used to be over.

“He deserved it. He performed smartly. I believed he made actually excellent changes. I believed he progressed because the fit went on. I believed he were given higher and higher and sharper, in numerous other strains,” Negreanu mentioned.

However that wasn’t the one high-profile high-stakes poker happening in February as Tom Dwan emerged to take a seat in the newest iteration of High Stakes Poker on PokerGO and collected a $300,000 win. Dwan’s look used to be a thrill for fanatics who had been similarly excited to have the preferred programming again “at the air”.

Phil Hellmuth

READ: Hellmuth Rants, Palihapitiya Wins Big On Latest High Stakes Poker

Prime Stakes Poker wasn’t the one poker mainstay to make a go back in February as, after greater than a 12 months clear of Las Vegas, the World Poker Tour was back in Sin City for the first time with WPT Venetian. The overall desk featured the aforementioned Jack Hardcastle, in addition to the 2015 WSOP Major Tournament champion Joe McKeehen, however it used to be Qing Liu who took home the trophy and the $752,880 first-place prize.

Brazil’s Yuri Dzivielevski was climbing into contention for the worldwide #1 spot within the On-line Poker Ratings (one thing he ended up keeping for the simpler a part of 2021) and he additionally walked away with Online Player of the Month honors for February.


Polk and Dwan weren’t performed retaining the poker international entertained because the season of Prime Stakes Poker stretched into March and each high-profile gamers persevered to provoke. Polk made what some have called “one of the best laydowns ever” in an enormous hand towards Phil Hellmuth that had the poker international humming for days whilst Dwan’s domination earned him another half-million win, appearing that regardless of no longer being within the public eye he wasn’t appearing any signal of rust.

READ: Tom Dwan, Bryn Kenney Star in Biggest Pots of High Stakes Poker S8

Every other huge winner in March used to be Vanessa Kade. Coming off her high-profile social media conflict with Dan Bilzerian, Kade took that energy into the PokerStars Sunday Million 15th Anniversary online event and walked away with the win for a life-changing $1.5 million payday.

Taking a look to duplicate the similar fervor of Polk and Negreanu’s heads-up fight, former #1-ranked on-line professional Fedor Holz sparked a beef with high-stakes cash game crusher Wiktor Malinowski and the pair agreed to take their feud to the felt. The feud used to be most likely manufactured, and the warmth wasn’t extremely popular, however fanatics had been handled to a couple of high-stakes professionals dedicating a while to entertaining audience with the four-session problem.

Brunno Botteon misplaced his grip on the best of the On-line Poker Ratings as Bert ‘Girafganger7’ Stevens took his third turn at the top however by way of the top of the month he made manner for the surging Yuri Dzivielevski who took control and held on it in for the next six months.

For those who neglected those widespread profiles of a few of poker’s highest we talked with Alex Butcher about becoming the #1-ranked player in the United States and the paintings he had to do on himself with a purpose to get out of his personal manner and be open to luck.

Talking of luck, Kevin Rabichow opened up about what led him to switch gears from being one of the most international’s best on-line money sport grinders to taking over tournaments and dedicating himself to luck.

By means of the top of the month, Joao ‘Naza114’ Vieira took home the title of March Online Player of the Month.


One in every of our hottest articles of the 12 months used to be printed in April when PokerStars discovered Isai Scheinberg agreed to be interviewed for the first time after settling all of his criminal troubles stemming from Black Friday. Scheinberg stepped into the highlight and talked concerning the early days of PokerStars, the start of the poker growth, the fallout from Black Friday, and what he’s doing together with his existence after promoting the corporate for almost $5 billion.

“I valued privateness, however I used to be no longer secretive. That’s no longer the similar factor,” Scheinberg mentioned speaking to the media for one of the most first actual instances. “I used to be running onerous. I used to be very busy and I’m no longer the kind of man to head out and do PR.”

READ: Isai Scheinberg: His Company, His Legacy, and How Black Friday Impacted Both

The heads-up craze persevered in April as Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu played in the first of three High Stakes Duel matches on PokerGO. The primary used to be, for lots of, essentially the most memorable as Negreanu had Hellmuth right down to a 19-1 chip drawback. However Hellmuth used his #WhiteMagic to spin it again up and defeat Negreanu in what used to be about to change into a reoccurring theme for Prime Stakes Duel.

Each PokerStars Spring Championship of On-line Poker and GGPoker’s Spring Pageant took over the web poker scene, each providing huge promises and continuous motion in the course of the pandemic. One person who couldn’t get enough used to be former #1-ranked Niklas Astedt who couldn’t stay himself out of the headlines, taking down multiple GGSF titles and adding to his SCOOP Legacy.

Talking of former #1’s appearing within the spring, Simon ‘C Darwin2’ Mattsson picked up two SCOOP titles on the same day. Plus, Chris Moorman finally added a SCOOP title to his resume, after taking house the primary SCOOP in his occupation.

READ: Joakim Andersson Ships GGSF MILLION$ Main Event for $1.5M
READ: SCOOP: Series Concludes As ‘kZhh’ Wins $10L Main Event TItle, $878K

With an accumulation of an enormous quantity of leaderboard issues, high-stakes legend Sami ‘LarsLuzak’ Kelopuro took down the Online Player of the Month title in April.

The 2021 Poker Yr In Assessment will proceed!

Author: Bradley Watson