Posts Tagged ‘Profile’

Poker PROfile Q&A: Rising Live Tournament Star Pratyush Buddiga

In the early 2000’s it seemed that every week there was another “young gun” making a name for himself on the live tournament circuit. In the wake of Black Friday, there have been fewer and fewer players who make their way from online tournament grinder to high-stakes live sensation.

One player who has successfully made that transition in recent years and earned the title of “one to watch” is Pratyush Buddiga. Over the past few years he has put together over $ 1.3 million in live earnings, with a big win at the 2014 Fallsview Poker Classic that put him into contention in this year’s Card Player Player of the Year race.

We caught up with Buddiga at the 2014 Irish Poker Open main event to talk about his background in the game, how WSOP main event champ Pius Heinz and Mike McDonald helped him with his game and more.

Erik Fast: So Pratyush, I’ve been seeing your name in the results for more and more live tournaments in recent years. Can you tell me a little about your background in poker?

Pratyush Buddiga: I started playing poker a little bit in high school, but it was never very serious. By the time I went to University I essentially stopped because I was always busy with school. In 2010, I had this one pretty easy semester so I started playing more and made some friends with some poker pros through AIM (instant messenger). One of the guys who helped me a lot ended up being the 2011 WSOP main event champ, Pius Heinz. He helped me a ton with my game and I went from playing $ 20 tournaments online to the mid-stakes. I graduated from Duke in 2011 and after Black Friday I decided to just see where poker might go.

Pratyush Buddiga at the WSOPEF: What did you study in school?

PB: I studied economics, which isn’t directly applicable to poker necessarily, but it is a decent major and I am glad I got my degree at least.

EF: You say that meeting Pius was very important to improving your game. How did you connect with him?

PB: I met him on a poker forum, where I had hired this guy as a poker coach and he was in the same chat group with us. By the time Pius won the main event he was playing mid to high stakes online, and we became good friends. He is sort of semi-retired now so he doesn’t play as much, but in the beginning he was the biggest influence on my game.

EF: How did you start making the transition to the live game?

PB: I had started to get better online and in the beginning of 2012 I started to get coached by Timex (Mike McDonald) and from there my results started to get better and better. In the spring I had two big results on the European Poker Tour, finishing eighth and 16th in back-to-back main events, and that gave my bankroll a pretty big boost. In the summer of 2012 I moved in with Timex, and since then things have kept improving. Mike’s been an awesome coach for me.

EF: So you reached out to him for coaching?

PB: Yeah, I started playing more high stakes and was getting crushed. Moving up from mid-stakes, where I played pretty ABC and didn’t bluff a lot outside of some occasional three-bets. In the high stakes you can get run over pretty easily playing ABC so I reached out to Mike and his coaching helped me a lot. We became pretty good friends and after a while he told me that he had an extra bedroom up there (in Canada) and I thought, why not?

Buddiga moves all inEF: So in 2012 you had some live results, but all of a sudden last year I saw that you played in a $ 130,000 USD buy-in super high roller in Macau, where you finished eighth for $ 772,870. How did that come about?

PB: Basically, I was in Monte Carlo with Mike for last year’s EPT Grand Final and he heard about this tournament that was going to take place in Macau and it sounded like the best tournament that has ever been run. It’s going to be a $ 100,000 buy-in with more than 120 entries and mostly businessman, maybe only 30 big name pros in the field. He said I should try to play it, but I was hesitant because I hadn’t even played a $ 25,000 at that point. He insisted that it would be the best tournament ever run in the history of poker in terms of one that’s open to the public. So he said, “No matter what, you should try to get in.” These German kids were interested in buying my action, so I played.

EF: So how was that whole experience? Had you ever been out there before?

PB: No, I had never been to Macau. It was definitely pretty nerve wracking in the beginning. I hadn’t worn sunglasses at the table in forever, but on the first day I realized that it was my first really big buy-in so I should probably be extra careful about giving off tells. There were a lot of businessmen in the field, but there were also a lot of the high roller regulars like philbort (Phillip Gruissem) and Igor Kurganov, and if I end up at the table with them I don’t want to give anything away with tells. So I ended up wearing sunglasses. It was definitely nerve wracking, but probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing an event.

EF: The field definitely seemed a bit different than most $ 100,000 buy-in events, with a few more mid-stakes players.

PB: Yeah, it was definitely a unique tournament. I think if they run it again it will probably be worse because more pros will know how good it is. I think a lot of people didn’t bother because it was during the World Series of Poker, but this year they would probably make the trip.

Buddiga on day 1 of the 2014 Irish OpenEF: So just a few months ago in Canada you won the Fallsview Poker Classic $ 2,500 event for your first big live win after a deal you made three handed. As a result you’re now inside the top 50 in the Card Player Player of the Year race. Can you tell me about that experience?

PB: That was a pretty fun tournament. I was originally just going to head out there for the $ 5,000 main event, because I was in Colorado at the time visiting my girlfriend. Mike told me the tournaments were really good though, and encouraged me to make it out for the $ 2,500 as well as the main event. So I flew back to Canada and drove down with Mike. I ran hot immediately and chipped up incredibly quickly. I had around 80,000 at 150-300 blinds, which I never have, so it was pretty sweet and it was just smooth sailing from there. It was nice to finally close it out, after having the close results in the EPT events and the eighth in the Macau tournament, it felt good to get finally close it out.

EF: So where do you go from here, as far as your career is concerned?

PB: The main thing is for me to just keep working on getting better. I would like to be one of the elite tournament poker players. I’ve had pretty good results but I still think there’s a long way to go. It would be nice to win an online major, as I’m still playing a lot from Canada. After the Irish Open and the EPT Grand Final Mike and I are going back to Canada to play SCOOP (the Spring Championship of Online Poker on PokerStars). After that I’m heading to the WSOP for the whole time. Last year I only did the last few weeks, as I’m not a huge fan of Vegas, but now that my girlfriend is out in Colorado it’s a little easier for her to visit me, so I’m just going to be there from the very first event.

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Published on 6:30 pm by Administrator

Category: Poker

Tags: , Buddiga, live, Poker, Pratyush, Profile, Rising, Star, Tournament

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Poker Pro-File Q and A: Jake Bazeley

Jake BazeleyJake Bazeley has quietly put together a really solid 12 months on the circuit. The 31-year-old tournament grinder made two final tables at the 2013 World Series of Poker and then final tabled the Heartland Poker Tour main event in St. Louis.

He then started of 2014 with two more final tables before earning the biggest score of his career, a $ 371,931 payday for finishing fourth in the World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, the largest WPT event in history with 1,795 entrants.

Card Player spoke with the Cincinnati native to discuss the ups and downs of his eight-year career, his online poker travels and how there seems to be a lack of younger new players in the game today.

Julio Rodriguez: Congratulations on your latest score. Was it bittersweet to finish in fourth?

Jake Bazeley: When I busted, I was fine. Getting fourth in any tournament for that amount of money is so absurd, you just can’t help but be happy. But at the same time, I had a real shot at seven figures and came up short. You really just have to focus on the positives. For this particular tournament, I reminded myself that I’m normally playing in WSOP Circuit or HPT tournaments where the top prize is $ 100,000 to $ 150,000, so it’s really like I won three tournaments all in one shot.

JR: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned in your eight-year career?

JB: I have lived every possible stage of a poker career by now. I’ve been rich and broke three different times. I’ve been backed, I’ve backed other people. I’ve seen it all and I’ve really learned from my mistakes. I think right now I’m playing my best poker ever and it has started to translate into some success. I think I’m picking my spots better and that gets easier with time and experience.

JR: Like most poker players, you’ve become friends with a solid group of successful players. How hard is it to not be jealous when someone in your circle makes a big score?

JB: When you’re not hitting your scores, you have to be positive and be happy for your friends. It’s kind of sick, because I can almost always tell who is happy for me and who is going through the motions of congratulating me when I do well. There is obviously a lot of jealousy in the game. I’ve always been ready to celebrate and share in the success of my friends, but that’s a skill that comes easier to some people than others. I totally understand it too. This is a tough game and everyone is trying to get their hands on the same chunk of the prizepool. There isn’t always enough to go around.

JR: When someone is suddenly swimming in cash thanks to deep run or big win, how often do you think it affects their future performance?

JB: I see it all the time when someone gets a huge score in a tournament and all of a sudden, they think they’ve got it all figured out. The buy-ins don’t matter to them anymore and they’re on autopilot and half-assing everything for the next six months to a year. Before you know it, they’ve given it all back. You have to be really on top of your game every day to win consistently. Every decision you make has to be your best. The competition is just too good to rely on the cards to get you there.

I definitely had times in the past with online poker where I found myself just clicking buttons for a month straight. Because there was always another tournament starting, I never really gave myself the chance to step back, evaluate and adapt. But with live poker it’s much easier to really think about your game. When you bust a live tournament, you have nothing to do but think about it.

JR: Speaking of online poker, you were one of the top online players before Black Friday. How often do you get to play online these days?

JB: I usually just travel to play online poker for a couple of series’ each year. I have some buddies who live in other countries who are doing it on a more consistent basis than me. If I wasn’t currently in a relationship, I might be more inclined to making the move more often. So far, I’ve traveled to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica to play online. This time I’m going to Amsterdam.

Costa Rica is a beautiful place, but then you go to Rosarito, Mexico and you never want to leave your condo because you’re so uncomfortable outside. Even when I was in Windsor, Canada, it wasn’t the greatest area. It’s unfortunate that U.S. players have to do it, because I’d much rather be playing from home in Cincinnati.

JR: It seems like there aren’t very many young American poker pros these days. Even in some of the states where poker is still booming, such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio, it feels like the newer players are more likely to be retirees or successful businessmen.

JB: I agree, there aren’t very many young American players jumping into the game right now. All of the 21-year-old sickos are European online pros that we really don’t get to see until the WSOP rolls around. When I was in my early twenties, there were dozens of American pros that young. Today, in the tournaments that I play in, I never really see that anymore. Obviously, that has a lot to do with the fact that there is no online poker, outside of a few states, to introduce the game to a new players. Even if a young kid wanted to break into the game, he’d have to do it live, which makes it so much tougher. Everyone is on their computer all day, every day, so if we want the game to continue growing, we need online poker to appeal to these new players.

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Published on 6:30 pm by Administrator

Category: Poker

Tags: , Bazeley, Jake, Poker, Profile

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World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table Profile — Jesse Sylvia

Jesse Sylvia will enter the 2012 World Series of Poker main event final table as the chip leader, with his 43,875,000 representing approximately 22% of the chips in play. The 26-year old American’s biggest previous score was a runner-up finish in a Caesar’s Palace $ 225 buy-in event for $ 15,000. Now, he’s a favorite to capture the $ 8.5 million first-place prize and the title of 2012 WSOP main event champion.

Sylvia’s late-game rise to the lead got started when he won a massive coin flip when his KSpade SuitQHeart Suit overcame Robert Saluburu’s pocket jacks to double his stack to 17 million, and he continued to build from there.

“It’s very exciting to have the chip lead. A lot can still happen, and a lot will happen, but it leaves me room for bad stuff to happen and I can still recover, which is all I can ask for in a tournament,” said Sylvia. “The structure has been more than amazing, and I have stack right now where, some things can wrong and I’ll still be able to push my edges. I think I have a big edge, so I’m going to go ahead and keep doing that.”

The West Tisbury, Massachusetts native has been a professional live cash game player for a number of years. In 2010 he rented a place in Las Vegas during the World Series with a few online poker players, including fellow October Niner Russell Thomas, who Sylvia credits as being a huge formative influence on his poker game.

With a nearly $ 7.8 million difference between finishing ninth and winning, Sylvia decided to seek out the coaching of two-time gold bracelet winner Vanessa Selbst to help develop his tournament game and give himself the best shot to convert his chip lead into a win.

Selbst finished 73rd in this event herself, and along the way was able to spend a number of hours at the table with Sylvia and some of his final table opponents.

“We played together a little bit on day 6, and we met there,” said Selbst. “He is going into the final table with the chip lead, and I’ve had a number of times when I have had the chiplead going into the final table I have had good results based on that, so I think he was interested to hear my thoughts and work with me.”

With his experience as a cash game player, his coaching from Selbst and the chip lead, Sylvia is definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with at this final table.

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CardPlayer Poker News


Published on 6:31 pm by Administrator

Category: Poker

Tags: , Event, Final, Jesse, Main, Poker, Profile, Series, Sylvia, Table, World

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World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table Profile — Andras Koroknai

Andras Koroknai, a 30-year-old poker pro, ran better than most at the end of the main event.

He was short at one point before doubling up with A-9 versus the A-10 of 14th-place finisher Danny Wong, and then won a massive cooler when his ace-king made the nut flush versus Marc Ladouceur’s ace-king.

(The hand against Wong)

(The hand against Ladouceur)

However, no hand on day 7 was quite like the one he played against Gaelle Baumann the day before.

Baumann started the action by raising under-the-gun with two kings. It was folded to Koroknai in the small blind. He shoved, and the big blind got out of the way.

Koroknai mucked without realizing Baumann was in the hand.

The problem was that one of Koroknai’s cards was irretrievable.

After much deliberation, the floor ruled that Koroknai, rather than be eliminated from the tournament, would simply lose 60,000, the size of Baumann’s bet.

(The hand against Baumann)

Koroknai said that after the blunder and fortunate ruling he was “freerolling” the tournament.

“I’m so lucky,” Koroknai said of his run of cards.

The Hungarian is a World Poker Tour champion. He won the 2010 L.A. Poker Classic for a score of $ 1,788,001.

Altogether, he has five career major tournament cashes. The main event was his one and only cash at the 2012 World Series of Poker.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus

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Published on 12:32 pm by Administrator

Category: Poker

Tags: , Andras, Event, Final, Koroknai, Main, Poker, Profile, Series, Table, World

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World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table Profile: Greg Merson

Greg Merson, a 24-year-old high-volume online grinder from Maryland, has likely played more hands of poker than anyone else in main event history.

He said he has played about seven million hands on the virtual felt.

“I’ve been playing 20-24 tables at time, putting in 1,500-2,000 hands an hour, for the past four or five years,” he said. “There aren’t many people who do that.”

Merson, a bracelet winner from this summer, has also dealt with personal issues leading up to his historic run. He was abusing a slew of drugs in 2011, before fearing death en route to getting clean about 10 months ago.

Since doing so, Merson hasn’t looked back. He entered the WSOP on a huge heater.

The key for Merson is knowing when to quit.

“My emotional control and ability to walk away when I’m tiling or about to tilt is so sick these days,” he said. “I avoid the super big losing sessions.”

Merson was out of debt to Anthony Gregg, his backer for live games, before the $ 10,000 buy-in shorthanded event, but he decided to keep the deal in order to feel less financial pressure. The decision paid off. Merson won the event for more than $ 1 million. With the bracelet and all the attention it brings, Merson had some tangible proof that he had turned his life around.

Less than two weeks after his huge win, Merson outdid the performance.

He was standing among the final nine in the main event, poker’s most prestigious and largest tournament of the year. He now has a shot at millions more, a lot of which will be sent to Gregg thanks to their business relationship.

“I will be writing him a big check,” Merson said. “But, I’m not bitter at all. He’s done so much for me in my career. To repay him like this is so cool.”

Aside from playing more and spending some money on his family, Merson said he has only spent about $ 500 on himself — just some new clothes. Online grinders like Merson are known for playing for hundreds of thousands of dollars in mesh shorts and the most casual of t-shirts while in front of a computer. Don’t expect Merson to change if he soon has multiple millions sitting in a checking account.

Merson, while humble, said that it’s been nice to obtain some recognition after spending years grinding almost anonymously. But, again, it likely won’t change him: “I’m not going to think that I’m better than I actually am. There’s still plenty I need to improve on.”

“The six-max victory validated him as a live pro, and the main event is making him a legend,” Gregg said shortly after Merson, who was down to just a handful of big blinds on day five, made the final table. “It’s crazy. It doesn’t seem like real life.”

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus

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Published on 12:30 am by Administrator

Category: Poker

Tags: , Event, Final, Greg, Main, Merson, Poker, Profile, Series, Table, World

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World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table Profile — Russell Thomas

Russell Thomas enters the 2012 World Series of Poker main event final table with 24,800,000 in chips, which puts him third of nine. As far as his table position is concerned, he has the two shortest stacks directly to his left in Jacob Balsiger (13,115,000) and Jeremy Ausmus (9,805,000).

Thomas also once lived with chip leader Jess Sylvia while the two friends rented a place in Las Vegas to play the 2010 WSOP.

The 24-year-old from Hartford, Connecticut has worked for two years as an actuary, dealing with the financial impact of risk and uncertainty for a health insurance company. He graduated from Temple University, and his background in math could prove valuable, with more than $ 27 million dollars still to play for and $ 8,531,853 set to go to the winner.

His academic training is not the only asset Thomas will bring to this final table. He has three World Series of Poker cashes, including a fifth-place finish in a WSOP $ 1,500 no-limit hold’em six-max event in 2010. His total tournament earnings outside of this main event total $ 137,199. He also has years of experience playing online and live cash games, but says he still has a lot to learn about tournament poker.

In preparation for this massive final table, Thomas has hired WSOP gold bracelet winner Jason Somerville as a coach, and has undergone an intensive three-month training program while living with Somerville in Stony Brook, New York.

“We spent all of August working general poker concepts… In September we honed in on poker tournament concepts, and then in October we ran final table simulations, getting more and more focused on the main event final table itself,” Somerville told CardPlayer. “About 14 or 15 people flew in for the first 20 days of October, and we just played the final table out ten different times, simulating the actual final table and talking about the spots that arose. I think that experience, for Russ, is going to be invaluable.”

Somerville also helped produce a short documentary series documenting Thomas’ preparation titled “The Final Table,” which can be found on his youtube channel.

For complete coverage of the summer poker festival, check out our WSOP landing page.

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Published on 12:30 pm by Administrator

Category: Poker

Tags: , Event, Final, Main, Poker, Profile, Russell, Series, Table, Thomas, World

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World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table Profile — Michael Esposito

This week, Card Player will be looking at each of 2012 World Series of Poker main event final tablists, starting with the shortest stacks and working our way up to the chip leader. Be sure to check back each day to read more about the October Nine.

At the age of 44, Michael Esposito is officially one of the elder statesman of the final table, in an event that has been dominated by the younger players in recent years. The Seaford, New York native is the father of two children and is a commodity broker by day in the city.

Esposito has live tournament results dating all the way back to 2002, where he was mainly focused on seven card stud. Between 2002 and 2005, Esposito had stud final table appearances at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods and twice made final tables at the U.S. Poker Championship at the Taj Mahal.

In early 2005, he got his first taste of television exposure when he finished ninth in the $ 10,000 WSOP Circuit main event at Harrah’s in Atlantic City.

Since then, he’s managed to put together a string of small cashes, for a total of $ 164,339 in live tournament earnings. The main event is Esposito’s second cash of the WSOP, after he finished 209th in a $ 1,000 preliminary event for $ 2,377.

After making the final table and becoming an official member of the October Nine, Esposito claimed that he would spend his time off relaxing and spending time with his family, with little to no time allocated for poker studying.

Although he is in the middle of the pack with just 16,260,000 in chips, Esposito finds himself in a good spot at the table, seated on the left of big stacks Greg Merson, Jesse Sylvia and Andras Koroknai.

For complete coverage of the summer poker festival, check out our WSOP landing page.

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Published on 12:30 am by Administrator

Category: Poker

Tags: , Esposito, Event, Final, Main, Michael, Poker, Profile, Series, Table, World

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World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table Profile — Jeremy Ausmus

This week, Card Player will be looking at each of 2012 World Series of Poker main event final tablists, starting with the shortest stacks and working our way up to the chip leader. Be sure to check back each day to read more about the October Nine.

Despite entering the final table as the shortest stack, Jeremy Ausmus remains confident in his ability to battle back and play his way into contention for the title and the $ 8,527,982 first-place prize.

At the age of 32, Ausmus is surprisingly the third oldest competitor left in the tournament. The Colorado native now calls Las Vegas home, and has been grinding out both cash games and tournaments, live and online for the better part of the last seven years.

“This whole experience has been incredibly exciting, but there were times when that feeling wore off a bit, when I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming,” Ausmus said. “For a while, the final table just felt so far away. Now that it is just a week from happening, that anticipation is starting to build back up along with the nerves.”

The Colorado State University graduate turned pro in 2005 and has since cashed for a total of $ 375,000 in online tournaments under the name “TheTaker” and an additional $ 425,000 in live tournament earnings. No matter what happens on Monday night, Ausmus has already locked up an impressive $ 754,798 for ninth place, which will nearly double his career tournament winnings.

“I’m not going to lie, the pay jumps, even from ninth to eighth are huge and would definitely be great, but I’m in a good financial position to go for the win,” said Ausmus. “Half of the players at the final table don’t play for a living, so they’re more likely to sweat the jumps. While the initial jumps are big, they are not nearly as big as the jumps in the top three spots.”

His 2012 WSOP campaign was already his most successful to date before becoming a member of the October Nine, cashing an impressive eight times during his summer run. That being said, he hasn’t exactly put in a bunch of hours on the felt since.

“I’ve had a lot of distractions since the WSOP wrapped up,” he admitted. “My wife and I just had our second child, a boy, who was born six weeks early and spent almost a month in the hospital. I had originally planned to go to Europe to play the WSOP events over there, but obviously I’m glad I decided to stay home so I could help my wife with her bed rest and take care of our two year old. After the series, I took almost three weeks off from playing, got back into it for a short period of time and then took another five weeks off for my son’s birth. So, I really haven’t been able to hire a poker coach or run simulations like the other guys are doing. I’m sure that I’ve played the least out of anybody at the final table during our off time.”

Even though he took a prolonged break from the game, Ausmus likes his chances heading into Monday night’s finale.

“I don’t feel rusty or anything. I’ve put in a ton of hours over the years and I know that I can play situational poker quite well. Some of these guys have been going over various scenarios over and over again, but I know I’ll be able to adapt. I have the worst, maybe second worst seat at the table with the two biggest stacks sitting on my left. With 33 big blinds, however, I’m not in any real danger. I’m the shortest stack, but I’m not short stacked. It’s going to be an uphill battle. I know I’m an underdog to win, but there’s not really an overwhelming favorite to win either. If I can get a double up, I’ll be right back in the mix.”

Ausmus was one of the more fortunate players to capitalize on his position as a member of the October Nine, signing sponsorship deals with Hog Wild Poker, an online poker league community and TTAGIT, a web application that allows users to group online forum and social network comments under a single profile.

For complete coverage of the summer poker festival, check out our WSOP landing page.

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Published on 6:29 pm by Administrator

Category: Poker

Tags: , Ausmus, Event, Final, Jeremy, Main, Poker, Profile, Series, Table, World

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Player of the Year Profile — Dan Smith

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CardPlayer Poker News


Published on 6:33 pm by Administrator

Category: Poker

Tags: , Player, Profile, Smith, Year

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