2009 PokerStars Year in Review
As the calendar trips from one year to the next, folks tend to find moments of introspection. We look at ourselves and wonder what we might have done better, what we could've done worse, and what we hope to achieve in the coming 365 days.
We here at the PokerStars Blog are no less reflective. Each December since 2005, we have taken a look back at the previous 12 months at PokerStars. Each year we revel in how much the world's biggest online poker site has accomplished and how exciting it continues to make our favorite game.
With more than 28 million players signed up, PokerStars is still the biggest poker site around, and there is little question why. Over the past 52 weeks, PokerStars has done no less than stun us all with its improvements and reach. It has broken all the major records in online poker. It has introduced new poker tours. It has set up Euro currency accounts, instituted synchronized tournament breaks, improved the T$, and introduced heads-up SNG rematches. It, quite simply, has been awesome.
With that, we'd like to take a brief look back at some of the highlights from the past year on the PokerStars Blog. We hope you have enjoyed it all as much as we have enjoyed writing about it. We look forward to what PokerStars has to offer over the next 12 months and we hope you'll stick with us in 2010.
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Poorya Nazari wins 2009 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure--The sixth annual PokerStars Caribbean Adventure was bigger than it had ever been and featured some of the world's top competition. The first prize clocked in at $3 million. The final table featured Team PokerStars Pro Alex Gomes, an appearance that featured one of the world's most brutal final table exits (see it on PokerStars.tv). When it was all said and done, Canada's Poorya Nazari finished with the trophy.
Bahbak "bigredAK" Oboodi Wins 2009 World Championship of Battleship Poker--In a field that saw Sorel Mizzi and Justin Bonomo make it to the quarterfinals, the best-of-three showdown put Jared "Harrington10" Bleznick up against Bahbak "bigredAK" Oboodi. First place went to Oboodi.
Germany crowned World Cup of Poker champions--Led by Team PokerStars Pro from Germany Jan Heitmann, Team Germany made its way through a worldwide field and bested the ten-hour final to take poker's biggest worldwide trophy and $100,000.
Peter Eastgate wins...AGAIN--Just a couple months removed from winning the World Series of Poker Main Event (and doing so as the youngest ever), Peter Eastgate went to the PCA and won a $5,000 side event for $343,000.
Fabian Ortiz stages LAPT's greatest comeback in Chile--At one point during the final table of the first LAPT event in Chile, you could've gotten 1000-1 on Argentina's Fabian Ortiz winning the tournament. He was down to one small blind and looked to have no chance. By now, everybody knows Ortiz came back for the win and the greatest story to come out of the LAPT all year long.
Moritz Kranich wins at EPT Deauville--After a one-year layoff in France, the EPT returned to Deauville and saw Germany's Moritz Kranich take down €851,400 and the EPT trophy.
Oleg Suntsov wins first Russian Poker Tour event--After starting a final table with barely enough chips to stack, Oleg Sunstov came back from the brink to win the first-ever Russian Poker Tour tournament in St. Petersburg.
ANZPT crowns first champions--In what would prove to be the biggest poker tour in the region, the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour kicked off in Adelaide and crowned Karl Krautschneider as its first-ever champion.
PokerStars deals its 25 billionth hand--After a countdown that lasted through a couple weeks in February, PokerStars dealt out its 25 billionth hand and gave the winners some pretty serious prizes. What started out as $100,000 in prizes got bigger after the hand ended in a split pot at an Omaha-8 table.
Jens Kyllönen wins EPT Copenhagen--In one of the quickest EPT Copenhagen final tables to date, Jens Kyllönen won the title in less than five hours. He walked away with €878,057 for his quick work.
J.C. Alvarado joins Team PokerStars Pro Mexico--After leading Team Mexico to the live finals of the World Cup of Poker, J.C. Alvarado found a much-deserved place among the ranks of Team PokerStars Pro.
PokerStars 8-game goes high-stakes--Initially, Barry Greenstein and Daniel Negreanu wanted to play some high-stakes games. PokerStars accommodated them. Then, next thing everybody knew, PokerStars had a high stakes 8-game mix going on.
Rousso makes history in Heads-Up Championships--At the NBC Heads-Up Championships, Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso beat Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, and ElkY and went deeper in the event than any woman ever has.
Sandra Naujoks wins EPT Dortmund--Sandra Naujoks went to Dortmund as a 27-year-old poker beauty and came out as only the second-ever woman to win a European Poker Tour event. You will now find her on Team PokerStars Pro Germany.
PokerStars opens China's first live poker room--After some rousing APPT success in Macau, PokerStars opened PokerStars Macau at the Gran Lisboa hotel. The room on the second floor of the famous hotel in Macau is the biggest poker room in continental Asia.
LAPT Mexico?--After a very, very long story not worth telling again, the protracted, disrupted, and ultimately relocated LAPT Mexico event crowned Rory Cox as its champion.
Houdini Hevroy earns his nickname, LAPT title--Norway's Karl Hevroy is a poker player with a knack for getting out of tight spots. In Punta del Este, Uruguay, that knack also managed to earn him $283,500, and an LAPT title.
PokerStars Blog gets a facelift--After years of appearing with the same design, the PokerStars blog introduced a brand new look.
Johnny Lodden joins Team PokerStars Pro--In a long-awaited marriage of talents, one of Europe's greatest players finally joined hands with Team PokerStars Pro. He was the first-ever Norwegian to get a spot on the elite team.
Boku87 turns nothing into something big--Thomas "Boku87" Boekhof decided to do something few people can do, and do it in record time. He took $100 and turned it into $10,000 and he did it in two weeks.
Fernnadez, Mayrinck join Team PokerStars Pro--It what would eventually prove to be a run on the best South American players, PokerStars snapped up Argentina's Leo Fernandez and Brazil's Maria "maridu" Mayrinck.
Team PokerStars Pro wins first All Star Week--In March, PokerStars started up its first competition between its team PokerStars Pro and a team of some of the best online players. When it was all said and done, Team PokerStars Pro won in a squeaker.
2009 finds its first Supernova Elite--The past couple of years have introduced us to a new level of distinction. The Supernova Elite level of the VIP Club is the most difficult and profitable level to reach. This year, skilled_sox became the first Supernova Elite of 2009.
Ante Up for Africa goes to Europe--After a couple of successful years in the U.S., the Ante Up For Africa charity event headed to Monte Carlo and joined the EPT. In all, the event raised 250,000 euros for relief efforts in war-torn Darfur, Sudan.vThe smiling face you see below won the whole tournament.
ElkY wins WPT player of the year--After a spectacular season on the World Poker Tour, Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier took third in the $25,000 championship event and won the WPT Player of the Year award.
Constant Rijkenberg wins EPT San Remo--In what has become one of the EPT's best new events, EPT San Remo crowned Constant Rijkenberg as its newest champion after he beat Finland's Kalle Niemi heads-up to claim a check for €1,508,000.
Eastgate, Demidov join Team PokerStars Pro--From the files of "Well, Duh!" PokerStars grabbed the top two finishers of the 2008 WSOP, Peter Eastgate and Ivan Demidov, and signed them to Team PokerStars Pro.
j.thaddeus wins big one in first ever SCOOP main event--2009 saw PokerStars introduce the Spring Championship of Online Poker. Each event featured three buy-in levels and attracted bankrolls of all sizes. The event had a ton of big stories, including Terrence "Unassigned" Chan winning two buy-in levels of the same in event in one night. New Team PokerStars Pro J.C. Tran also impressed with his medium buy-in main event win. The biggest story of the series, however, was j.thaddeus taking down the big buy-in main event for nearly a million bucks.
Dominik Nitsche wins LAPT Grand Final--To close out the second season of the LAPT, 18-year-old German qualifier Dominik Nitsche traveled to Mar Del Plata, Argentina and won $387,030 for his first place finish.
Paren Arzoomanian wins ANZPT Sydney--In the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour's first season, cancer survivor Paren Arzoomanian finished a round of chemotherapy and conquered the tournament field for a first prize of AUD $246,500.
Pieter de Korver wins EPT Grand Final--After clocking in 13,000 miles to eleven different cities, the EPT once again held its Grand Final in Monte Carlo and crowned Pieter de Korver as its champion. The Team PokerStars Pro from the Netherlands won €2,300,000.
Vanessa Rousso wins EPT High Roller--Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso had nothing to prove going into the EPT High Roller event in Monte Carlo. Still, she beat a field of 79 players and walked away with the high roller title.
Vitaly Lunkin wins PokerStars RPT Moscow--2009 saw PokerStars introduce Russia's first poker tour. When the series went to Moscow, rising star Vitaly Lunkin won the title.
Monkey man wins 100,000 FPPs--In May, PokerStars held a contest to see who could take the best photo of the PokerStars plush monkey. No question why the photo below won the grand prize.
Greg Raymer takes third place in WSOP $40,000--To celebrate the 40 years of the World Series of Poker, Harrahs threw a special $40,000 no-limit hold'em event that drew some of the top names in poker. No big surprise then when WSOP champ Greg Raymer made the final table and placed third for $774,927.
PokerStars' Tom McEvoy wins WSOP Champions Invitational--This was quite a year for Team PokerStars Pro Tom McEvoy. He was nominated for the poker Hall of Fame (didn't quite get there, but it's only a matter of time). He also sat down for the WSOP Champions Invitational and beat out a field made up of nothing but former WSOP winners. For his win, he got a Corvette and the continued respect of his peers.
Italian Poker Tour kicks off in San Remo--It was certainly a year for new poker tours, and PokerStars led the way in Italy. In June, the IPT opened with its first stop in San Remo. The first event title went to banker Stefano Puccilli.
LAPT mourns passing of Chiquitita--In June, the Latin American Poker tour lost one of its most beloved players, Jyries Saba. He will be missed when Season 3 returns the LAPT to Chile in March.
Angel Guillen wins bracelet and $530,548--Just a couple weeks after finishing runner-up for a WSOP bracelet, Team PokerStars Pro Mexico Angel Guillen did himself one better and won more than half a million bucks in a WSOP $2,000 event. It was his first World Series bracelet.
Alex Gomes wins on World Poker Tour--Alex Gomes had threatened to win a major title earlier in the year. Most folks knew it was only a matter of time before Gomes did something big. How big? How about the $1,187,670 first prize he won for taking down the Bellagio Cup?
PokerStars breaks World Record--In what would prove to be a bit of a trend in 2009, PokerStars broke the record for the biggest-ever poker tournament. Sixty-five thousand people showed up. This seemed pretty significant until December. Standby for that.
Danny Chevalier wins ANZPT Queenstown--The ANZPT continued its run across Oceania and crowned its newest champion, a hometown hero.
PokerStars players make WSOP final table--For the second year in a row, the WSOP delayed its final table until November. Once again, PokerStars was ready to represent. Three players headed to November flying the PokerStars flag, including qualifier Kevin Schaffel. Check out the November section of this report for how it turned out.
Matt Perrins wins PokerStars IPT Venice--The Italian Poker Tour continued its trek across the country. The Venice stop saw a man from Britain win the title.
Scott Kerr wins ANZPT Queensland--The ANZPT closed out its first season in Queensland and crowned Scott Kerr as its final champion of the year.
Maxim Lykov wins EPT Kyiv--For the first time ever, the European Poker Tour traveled to the Ukraine. Maxim Lykov was the first Russian player to claim an EPT title.
Dermot Blain wins APPT Macau--For the first time, the APPT event in Macau was held at the stunning Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino, and in the largest poker room in continental Asia, PokerStars Macau. Dermot Blain walked away with the title.
Sweden takes over Italy--22-year-old poker pro Ramzi Jelassi flew down from Sweden specifically to play in IPT San Remo and ended up as the only non-Italian at the final table. The prize for taking the title out of Italy and back home to Sweden? A sweet €170,000.
Brazil wins first Americas Cup of Poker--PokerStars traveled to Patagonia to host the first-ever Americas Cup of Poker. In a battle between counties from all over the Americas, Brazil took the title and the $100,000 first prize.
Carter Phillips wins EPT Barcelona--In a battle between the UK and the US, the western side of the Atlantic emerged with the victory and the EPT title. Carter Phillips won €850,000 for his victory.
Team PokerStars Pro scores WCOOP bracelet--George Danzer, the Team PokerStars Pro from Germany, stepped up to score the Team's first 2009 WCOOP bracelet. He won $109,545.00 in Event 19, $320+R PLO.
Chad Brown wins Gulf Coast Championship--Team PokerStars Pro Chad Brown traveled with wife Vanessa Rousso to the American Gulf Coast. While there he managed to take down the Gulf Coast Poker Championships.
WCOOP raises the bar--Not only did the World Championship of Online Poker break all money and participant records from previous years, but it also welcomed three brand new double WCOOP bracelet winners. Ryan "g0lfa" D'Angelo won Event 18 ($320 8-Game) and Event 29 ($320 Mixed Event). Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier took down Event 38 ($530 No Limit Hold'em 1R1A) and Event 43 ($215 No Limit Hold'em).
Daniel "djk123" Kelly, however, was the breakout player of the year. He first won two bracelets in Event 2 ($215 Razz) and Event 44 ($10,300 HORSE High Roller). Then he went on to play the $5,200 Main Event, made it all the way to the final table, and placed fourth for $643,200. That incredible performance earned him the Player of the Series trophy and a premium package to this year's PCA.
The event that put Kelly over the top was the same that saw Yevgeniy "Jovial Gent" Timoshenko outlast a field of 2,144 of the world's best online players to claim the coveted WCOOP Main Event title and $1,715,200. Timoshenko had already proven himself on the world stage with a title in Asia and a first place finish on the World Poker Tour. The WCOOP win sealed his spot as one of the top tournament pros around.
World Cup of Poker sets live finals--Once again, the live finals of the World Cup of Poker will be played out at the PCA (stay tuned for live coverage). Once again, the final field is a true worldwide battle. The United States, Germany, Canada, Italy, Finland, Norway, Croatia, Taiwan and Chile will all be fighting for the World Cup of Poker title.
PokerStars breaks its own record--Once again, PokerStars went after a record: its own. In late September, 307,016 people logged on to play PokerStars at the exact same time. They filled more than 42,800 tables and destroyed the old record for most players at a poker site by more than 100,000 players.
Negreanu becomes all-time tournament money winner--Daniel Negreanu came very close to winning the World Series of Poker Europe main event. He missed it by just one place. In the meantime, he won enough money to become poker's biggest tournament money winner.
Hachem wins EPT London 8-game event--Joe Hachem may have made his name playing no-limit Hold'em, but he's apparently got game. Eight off them, in fact. He traveled to EPT London and managed to take down the 8-game tournament there.
Jason Mercier wins another pile of money--Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier is known to win just about everything he plays. So, when he went to EPT London and played in a side event there, well, you know what he did.
William Thorson joins Hachem and Mercier in side event winners' lounge--EPT London's side events was where the Team PokerStars Pro shined. Just a day or so after Hachem and Mercier won a bunch of money, William Thorson took down the PLO side event for his own title.
Gustavson defeats Eastgate for EPT title--In what was the biggest EPT London ever, American qualifier Aaron Gustavson played WSOP champ Peter Eastgate heads-up for the title and £850,000.
Simon Watt ushers APPT into Auckland--The Asia Pacific Poker Tour headed down to the land of the Kiwis and crowned the newest champion, Simon Watt.
Old timer schools the kids at EPT Warsaw--Christophe Benzimra sat down as the oldest player at the EPT Warsaw final table and managed to outplay and outlast the kids for a €358,644 win.
Baltic Poker Festival goes to Brits-- Two British poker players flew to Tallin for the first PokerStars Baltic Festival and got heads up for the championship. When it was over, Thomas Partridge took the title and €76,750.
Joe Cada becomes youngest WSOP champion--In a final table comeback that will be the stuff of legend, PokerStars player Joe Cada won poker's biggest and most prestigious title. He is now the youngest-ever WSOP bracelet winner.
APPT gets first Korean champ--Korea's Dong-bin Han traveled to Cebu to become the winner of the biggest and richest poker tournament ever played in the Philippines. He beat out a field of 319 players for the title.
Local hero wins EPT Vilamoura--For the first time in its history, the EPT went to Portugal. The people there wanted to make sure someone from outside didn't steal the limelight. So hometown hero Antonio Matias took it down.
Canadian takes LAPT title--Season 3 of the LAPT kicked off in Playa Conchal, Costa Rica. The final table was, for some reason, awash with Canadians, including the eventual winner, Amer Sulaiman.
APPT closes Season 3--After a more than successful third season, the APPT headed to Sydney for its final event of the year. Aaron Benton won that tournament and $594,000.
Jan Skampa wins EPT Prague--Two weeks after becoming the first Czech player to make an EPT final table, Jan Skampa became the first Czech player to win an EPT main event.
Padraig Parkinson wins UKIPT Galway--The very first UKIPT event saw yet another hometown hero take a title. The inaugural event of the the UK & Ireland Poker Tour event in Galway, Ireland went to Irish poker legend Padraig Parkinson.
VIP Club adds Stellar Rewards program--Ready to make money just for playing on PokerStars? Click that link and learn how.
PokerStars breaks record...again--Less than six months after breaking its biggest-ever tournament record, PokerStars did it again at the end of the year when nearly 150,000 players sat down for one tournament.
9/11 hero wins PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge--In the very first season of the PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge, 9/11 hero Mike Kosowski beat Daniel Negreanu heads-up for and won $1 million in front of millions of people on FOX television.