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PokerStars 2005 Year in Review

Jonas came from Denmark on a plane ride that lasted too long to allow sleep when he reached Atlantis. Perhaps it was his fatigue. Perhaps it was pot odds. Whatever it was, it helped him chase his nut heart flush to the river. Whatever it was, it laid the two of hearts at the end of his 20-hour journey and filled in his flush. The man they call Jona2 had the nuts and cracked a pair of kings wide open. It was the first legal hand of live poker ever dealt in the Bahamas. And it was the beginning of an amazing year of PokerStars news.

As 2005 comes to a close and the poker world reflects on another fantastic year, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at the past 365 days. We hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have.


January

2005 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure--For the second year of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, PokerStars moved from a cruise ship to one of the biggest five-star resorts in the world. Players came from all over the world to compete the in the WPT event. While there, PokerStars introduced live poker to the Bahamas. It began with a $10/$20 limit hold'em game and blossomed into a week full of big live games. That's not to mention a huge PokerStars-sponsored World Poker Tour event that ended with English gentleman John Gale winning first place and nearly $900,000.



John Gale and his winning hand

Tsunami relief--Just one month after the devastating tsunami of 2004, PokerStars joined the world in raising money to help the relief effort. In an online campaign combined with a live effort at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, PokerStars and its players contributed more than $400,000 to the relief effort, more than any other company in the gaming industry.

PokerStars.com EPT Scandinavian Open--Noah "Exclusive" Boeken was already well-known for his success online at PokerStars. At the European Poker Tour Scandinavian Open in Copenhagen Denmark, the young gun proved he had live poker skills as well. Boeken worked his way through the field and then defeated Ram Vaswani in a heads-up match for the ages.



Noah "Exclusive" Boeken in his winner's interview with the EPT's Caroline Flack

February

PokerStars.com EPT French Open--In February, two online poker buddies decided to go to Deauville, France together. Carl Olson had qualified on PokerStars for a seat in the European Poker Tour. His friend Brandon Schaefer was going to tag along and play some side games. Then, at the last possible moment, Schaefer won a seat on PokerStars in a Frequent Player Point qualifier. It became a heads-up match no one predicted. Olson and Schaefer were the final two players left in the event. In the end, FPP-qualifier Brandon Schaefer emerged victorious. And if you find this impressive, keep an eye out for what happens in March.



Brandon Schaefer (front) and Carl Olson in Deauville, France

PokerStars sets weekly tournament record--In what would just be the beginning of a record-breaking year, PokerStars weekly $200+$15 tournament crossed 2500 entries and built a prize pool of more than half a million dollars. The milestone made the weekly Sunday event the biggest-ever weekly poker tournament on the planet.

Moneymaker--In February, 2003 World Series of Poker Champion Chris Moneymaker's long-awaited biography hit the store shelves.


March

Tom McEvoy wins PPT event--Team PokerStars' Tom McEvoy showed he's still a tournament threat. McEvoy defeated 168 other players to win $225,000 at the Professional Poker Player event at Bay 101.

Happy birthday, Shaq!--When it was time for #32 to turn 33, PokerStars.com was in Miami to throw Shaquille O'Neal a star-studded bash. From Donald Trump to Tara Reid, the stars came out to celebrate with the Heat. While Shaq drew a lot of attention, the live PokerStars charity SNGs drew crowds away from the dance floor and to the felt.



Shaq at the poker table

Monte Carlo Grand Final--To close out a very successful first season, the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour concluded in Monte Carlo with the Grand Final. Dutchman Rob Hollink emerged as the victor, defeating none other than French Open winner Brandon Schaefer heads-up.



Brandon Schaefer and Rob Hollink heads-up

PokerStars segregates players' fund accounts--In March, PokerStars became the first and only online poker site to segregate its players' funds from normal operating expenses. In arrangements worked out with the Royal Bank of Scotland, PokerStars keeps its players' money completely segregated, safe, secure, and ever-available.


April

PokerStars Blog launched--In April, PokerStars became the first online poker site to chronicle the daily news events of its community of players. Since then, the blog has covered everything from the weekly Sunday $500,000 guaranteed tournaments, to the EPT, to the World Series of Poker.

PokerStars featured on CBS' 60 Minutes--In another example of online poker moving into the mainstream, CBS newsman Dan Rather interviewed Team PokerStars' Chris Moneymaker about the online poker explosion and his key role in the poker revolution.

PokerStars Caribbean Adventure hits the airwaves--After a long wait, the Travel Channel aired the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, brought paradise and poker to millions of viewers, and turned John Gale into an international poker star.

May

PokerStars World Cup of Poker--In a stunning repeat, Team Costa Rica traveled to London and won a second World Cup of Poker title.



Two-time World Cup of Poker champions, Team Costa Rica

June

PokerStars hits two billion hands--Just halfway through the year, PokerStars dealt its two billionth hand. At the time, that would seem like a very big deal. But just wait until November...

Lee Jones releases third edition of Winning Low-Limit Hold'em--Not one to rest on his laurels, PokerStars card room manager Lee Jones revamped his book "Winning Low-Limit Hold'em" and released it to eager readers.


Lee Jones

"One of a Kind" hit the shelves--With the coming of summer came the best poker story of the year. Nolan Dalla released "One of a Kind," the true story of poker wunderkind Stu Ungar. Word on the street is that the book could soon be a major Hollywood movie.

Wil Wheaton joins Team PokerStars--As the World Series of Poker approached, Team PokerStars' added Wil Wheaton to its membership list. Since then, the noted film and TV actor (Stand By Me, Star Trek: TNG, CSI, etc), writer, and poker enthusiast has gone on to host charity tournaments for Hurricane Katrina relief and weekly private tournaments on PokerStars.com.


July

PokerStars qualifies record number of WSOP players--After just a few months of qualifying satellites, PokerStars qualified more than 1100 people for the World Series of Poker, nearly 20% of the more than 5600-strong field.

Joe Hachem wins 2005 World Series of Poker--With a cry of "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!" Joe Hachem won the 2005 World Series of Poker. Hachem, a long-time PokerStars player, traveled to the World Series with a friend who had won a WSOP seat on PokerStars.com. The record-breaking tournament featured Team PokerStars' Greg Raymer making an amazing run that ended with a finish in the top 30 and two PokerStars qualifiers at the championship final table.

PokerStars breaks another weekly tournament record--In July, PokerStars' weekly $200+$15 Sunday had more than 3000 entries and crossed the $600,000 prize pool mark, crossing yet another milestone for the biggest weekly tournament on the planet.

August

PokerStars holds 10 millionth tournament--As if breaking all the weekly tournament records wasn't enough, PokerStars passed the 10 million tournament milestone in August. In the same month, PokerStars would start to award more than $100 million in tournament prize pools EVERY MONTH.

Deep Stack Tournaments--In a move widely applauded in the serious tournament poker community, PokerStars began to offer deep stack tournaments, with 30 minute levels and 5000 in starting chips.

Isle of Man welcomes PokerStars.com--In August, PokerStars obtained a gaming license on the Isle of Man. The island government subsequently announced PokerStars would soon be moving to the island to establish a new headquarters.


September

PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker--September was a banner month for PokerStars players. The 15 WCOOP events generated an amazing $12,783,900 in prize money, making the 2005 WCOOP not only the biggest ever online poker event, but the third biggest poker series (live or online) in all of 2005. In the championship event, the final three players chopped the remaining prize money, each earning more than half a million dollars. Panella86 walked away with the championship WCOOP bracelet.

Hurricane Katrina relief--In response to the tragedy on the American Gulf Coast, PokerStars and its players donated more than $100,000 to the relief effort. Team PokerStars Wil Wheaton hosted a series of charity tournaments that helped raise funds and PokerStars matched every donation 100%. Poker professional Barry Greenstein also donated his winnings from a WCOOP event to the campaign.

PokerStars.com EPT Season 2--In its second season, the EPT once again visited Barcelona and the Victoria Casino in London. In two huge events, France's Jan Boubli won the event in Barcelona and Mark Teltscher won the event in London.



Jan Boubli


Mark Teltscher

PokerStars moves HQ to Isle of Man--Just one month after receiving its gaming license, PokerStars opened up it brand new headquarters on the Isle of Man.


October

PokerStars.com Blogger Championship--Having long-recognized what bloggers bring to the table, PokerStars hosted the first-ever Blogger Championship. The freeroll tournament awarded everything from iPods to the championship prize, a seat in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. PokerStars player easy_wind won the event and will be playing in the Bahamas next week.

Weekly tournament breaks another record--It seemed nothing could stop the Sunday $200+$15. By October, the tournament passed 3500 entries and the $700,000 prize pool mark.

Commemorative medallions released--October marked the release of the first PokerStars commemorative medallions. The first released was the silver Chris Moneymaker coin.

WCOOP makes CardPlayer cover--After becoming one of the biggest tournament series in the world (and, by far the biggest online tournament series), the World Championship of Online Poker made the cover of CardPlayer magazine.

PokerStars EPT hits Austria and Ireland--After two successful tournaments in September, the EPT traveled to Baden, Austria and Dublin, Ireland. Patrik Antonius won the event in Austria. Mats Gavatin took down the event in Ireland.



Patrik Antonius


Mats Gavatin

November

More huge milestones--During the month of November, PokerStars continued to put up incredible numbers. The 11th month saw PokerStars deal its three billionth hand. What's more, during peak hours, PokerStars saw more than 75,000 players playing at the same time. It also held its 15 millionth tournament and was named Best Poker Operator of the Year by eGaming Review.

Joe Hachem joins Team PokerStars--It was such a perfect fit, it had to happen. Joe Hachem, the 2005 World Series of Poker champion, signed an agreement with PokerStars.com to play for Team PokerStars. Hachem, who won the record $7.5 million top prize at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas in July, now represents PokerStars.com as a sponsored player and ambassador. During the month of November, Hachem further proved his ability as a poker player by making the final table of a World Series of Poker Circuit event at Bally's in Las Vegas. Hachem was poised for a top finish, but fell to a rough bad beat.



Joe Hachem

December

PokerStars VIP Club--In a move that drew praise across the poker community, PokerStars unveiled its new VIP Club. Beginning January 1, 2006, PokerStars players will be getting brand new rewards for their regular play on the site. What's more, they will now be able to buy everything from electronics to WSOP seats with their Frequent Player Points.

Evelyn Ng makes CardPlayer cover--Once again, a member of Team PokerStars has graced the cover of CardPlayer magazine.

World Poker Blogger Tour--Once again showing its dedication to the blogging community, PokerStars co-sponsored the WPBT Winter Classic in Las Vegas. Team PokerStars' Wil Wheaton played along with his fellow bloggers in the event.

Free money--Finally, over the course of 2005, PokerStars gave away more than $22 million in deposit bonus money and tournament freeroll entries.





There is no denying 2005 was a spectacular year in the PokerStars community. The 2006 horizon looks just as promising.

Happy New Year to everyone.
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