2013 PokerStars Year in Review
When 2013 began, it started with the same promise as any other PokerStars year: anything can happen.
Now, as we close out this year, we look back to discover we had no idea what that "anything" could be. In just 12 months, PokerStars dealt its 100 billionth hand; Daniel Negreanu found a way to make his legend get bigger; Vanessa Selbst established herself as a young legend of the game; and live PokerStars rooms continued to pop up around the globe.
Included below are the biggest things that have happened in the PokerStars world since last January. It's been a heck of a ride, and we're thrilled you stuck with us through the whole thing. We've made a lot of friends out of our readership and supporters over the years, and 2013 was no different. So, thank you for being part of the PokerStars and PokerStars Blog family.
Happy New Year to you all, and thanks for a great 2013.
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ALEX WICE BLAZES TO FIRST SUPERNOVA SEAT--It took grinder Alex Wice fewer than 40 hours to achieve Supernova status in the PokerStars VIP Club. It kicked off a spectacular race to Supernova Elite with MouldyOnions.
SCOTT SEIVER WINS PCA SUPER HIGH ROLLER--To kick off the 2013 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Scott Seiver took down the PCA $100,000 Super High Roller event for more than $2 million.
JAKE CODY JOINS TEAM POKERSTARS PRO--In an inevitable marriage that was long-coming, poker's Triple Crown winner Jake Cody joined the world's most elite stable of professional players, Team PokerStars Pro.
RUSSIA WINS WORLD CUP OF POKER--In a year that would see Russians taking a great many titles across the poker world, Team Russia won the World Cup of Poker at the PCA.
DIMITAR DANCHEV WINS 2013 PCA MAIN EVENT--At 27 years old, PokerStars qualifier Dimitar Danchev won Bulgaria's biggest ever poker title and more than $1.85 million.
VANESSA SELBST WINS PCA HIGH ROLLER, BECOMES WINNINGEST FEMALE PLAYER--In a move that surprised absolutely no one, Team Pro Vanessa Selbst won the $25,000 High Roller at the PCA. It moved her winnings to $5,855,655 and put her in 58th position overall on the all-time money list. It made her the winningest female poker player in history.
OKAWA WINS RED DRAGON--It was the first Red Dragon contest of the year in Macau, and the top spot went to Yoshitaka Okawa of Japan. His efforts earned him HK$1,123,000.
VILLA-LOBOS TAKES DOWN UKIPT EDINBURGH--He may have started the final table desperately low in chips, but Brazil's Nicolau Villa-Lobos came back to win UKIPT Edinburgh for £61,000.
RAFA NADAL WINS FIRST POKER TOURNAMENT--Rafa Nadal may have won a lot of things in 2013, but his very first victory of the year came in an online PokerStars tournament.
TCOOP MAIN EVENT CROWNS CHAMPION--The second running of the Turbo Championship of Online Poker drew thousands of players from all over the globe. The Main Event championship went to Sweden's frma1103 who pocketed more than $326,000. Jaroslav Tjepan won Player of the Series.
POKERSTARS WINS ONLINE POKER OPERATOR OF THE YEAR--PokerStars was among 15 nominees for the International Gaming Awards Online Poker Operator of the Year Award and came away with the win. "This has been a year of great achievement for PokerStars, and this award is recognition of the hard work and dedication of our employees around the world who are setting the standard for quality in the industry," said Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars Head of Corporate Communications.
RUZICKA WINS EPT DEAUVILLE HIGH ROLLER--Until February, Vojtech Ruzicka's most memorable tournament score was a second place finish in the 2011 WCOOP. He changed that after besting a stacked field to win the title. He earned €313,000 for the High Roller title at EPT Deauville.
REMI CASTAIGNON WINS EPT DEAUVILLE MAIN EVENT--It was a field stacked with French players. There were nearly 800 total entrants in the field, and Remi Castaignon kept the title at home for France. He banked €770,000 for the win.
RAFA GETS BACK ON THE CLAY--After winning his first poker tournament in January, Rafa and his newly rehabbed knee got back on the clay. His runner-up finish was just a warm-up to how he would spent the rest of the year...or even the rest of the month. See the next entry.
RAFA COMPLETES COMEBACK WITH WIN--After seven months of waiting to stand atop the platform, Rafa proved he still had it with a victory at the ATP Brazil Open in Sao Paulo.
THOMAS FINNERAN TOPS ALL AT UKIPT CORK--Thomas Finneran was a man known only to play a few tournaments a year, and his friends said he always found a way to make a couple of final tables. In February, he proved he could win one, too.
POKERSTARS LAUNCHES NEW MACAU POKER ROOM--PokerStars has had a long presence in Macau, but it's newest and most lavish is at the City of Dreams. It's since been host to countless big money events in the world's big money gaming capital.
DIVKOVIC WINS ANZPT PERTH--It's a long way from Bosnia to Perth, but Bosnian Dejan Divkovic made his home country proud with an ANZPT win. He picked up $114,000 for his efforts.
RAFA WINS AGAIN (THIS TIME IN MEXICO)--After picking up his first win of 2013 in February, Rafa Nadal showed it wasn't a fluke and posted another ATP win in Mexico.
SUNDAY MILLION CELEBRATES SEVEN YEARS--The world's richest weekly poker tournament celebrated seven years in existence with a big $7 million prize pool. The lion's share of it went to benislovas who won more than $800,000.
POKERSTARS DEALS 95 BILLIONTH HAND--The Road to 100 Billion had one final pit stop, and it meant RichB17 won nearly 150,000 big blinds.
LEO MARGETS JOINS TEAM POKERSTARS PRO--Who is that Spanish marathon runner with the red spade on her shoulder? That's none other than Leo Margets, 2013's second new member of Team PokerStars Pro.
RED SPADE LUCA MOSCHITTA WINS IPT SAINT VINCENT--Getting a red spade on your arm doesn't guarantee you victory, but it's a nice way to fly the PokerStars flag. Luca's Moschitta's Italian Poker Tour win in Saint Vincent earned him €188,000.
POKERSTARS LIVE AT HIPPODROME OPENS--PokerStars has long been a fixture in London, but in March the world's biggest online poker company opened its first live poker room in the city. The room at the Hippodrome has since been home to UKIPT and EPT events.
RED SPADES BEAT THE PROFESSIONALS--At EPT London, the PokerStars Red Spade crew took on Full Tilt Poker's group of Professionals and gave them a proper beat-down.
RUBEN VISSER WINS EPT LONDON--It was one of the most talented final tables of any EPT event in history, and getting the title wasn't going to be easy for anybody. It ended with longtime EPT player Ruben Visser picking up his first tour title.
APPT SEOUL AWARDS LIM WITH TITLE--It took an epic heads-up match, but Aaron Lim walked away with the title to the APPT Main Event in Seoul, Korea.
TAVITIAN DENIES BARBERO THIRD LAPT TITLE--Nacho Barbero was just a breath away from winning his third title on the Latin American Poker Tour. Pablo Tavitian made sure that didn't happen by winning the Main Event in Vina del Mar, Chile.
GUESS WHAT? RAFA WON AGAIN--In what would become a recurring theme throughout the rest of 2013, Rafa Nadal won another title, this time at Indian Wells.
PESSAGNO WINS TLB FOR THE RED SPADES--In the history of the PokerStars Tournament Leaderboard, no member of Team Pro or Team Online had won the weekly contest. Caio Pessagno changed that with a TLB win in mid-March.
ALT WINS ANZPT SYDNEY--In a riveting few days of play and controversy at ANZPT Sydney, Dinesh Alt denied Dejan Divkovic back-to-back titles with a $226,320 win.
LYBAERT TOPS THE FIELD AT EUREKA CZECH REPUBLIC--Just a month after notching his first-ever live event cash, Bart Lybaert won his first live event. It happened on the Eureka tour in the Czech Republic.
MAX LYKOV WINS SUNDAY WARM-UP--It's not uncommon to see Team Pros at the top of tournament fields, but it's not as common to see one of the red spades at the top of one of the biggest Sunday majors. It happened in March when Max Lykov took down the Sunday Warm-Up for $110,000.
GES26 WINS MICROMILLIONS MAIN EVENT--The buy-in may have only been $22, but it was worth $140,468 to Ges26 after he beat out a field of more than 68,000 people for the MicroMillions Main Event title.
POKERSTARS DIGS DEEP IN DEVASTATING SNOWFALL--After an historic snowstorm on the Isle of Man, dozens of PokerStars employees took the day off to help their neighbors dig out and save their livestock.
JAKE CODY WINS FIRST UKIPT SERIES EVENT--In April, the UKIPT launched a small buy-in series, and one of the newest Team Pros, Jake Cody, thought it would be cool to win the very first one.
NEGREANU WINS WSOP APAC--Kid Poker was bound and determined to win his next WSOP bracelet, and though he had to travel all the way to Australia, he did it. Not only did he win a bracelet, but he added another $1 million to his money pile.
PIDUN KEEPS EPT BERLIN TITLE AT HOME--Though the EPT had become a fixture in Berlin, no German had won it before. Daniel Pidun changed that after winning €880,000 and the EPT Berlin title at home.
NADAL NOTCHES EIGHTH BARCELONA WIN--After several weeks without a win, Rafa Nadal headed to Barcelona to record his eighth win in a tournament that might as well be called The Rafa.
TERRY FAN WINS LARGEST RED DRAGON--In April, the MPC Red Dragon assembled the largest field ever in China. Terry Fan defeated everyone for the HK $1,771,000 win.
POKERSTARS WINS BEST MOBILE POKER OPERATOR--After a year of showing off its mobile product, PokerStars earned the praise of the iGaming Business Awards with the laurel for Best Mobile Poker Operator.
SBRISSA WINS LAPT BRAZIL IN FRONT OF HOMETOWN CROWD--It's always fun when hometown hero wins, but Victor Sbrissa's rail made sure nobody forgot where their man was from after he captured the LAPT Brazil title.
SIMBA WINS APPT CEBU--In May, the Asia Pacific Poker Tour returned to the Philippines where Jae Kyung "Simba" Sim won the Cebu Main Event for PHP 3,948,000.
NICOLA SASSO WINS IPT SANREMO--The Italian Poker Tour event in Sanremo was a monster with a prize pool worth €830,320. When it was done, Nicola Sasso had the title and €185,000.
CASH GAMES GET HUGE AT EPT GRAND FINAL--With the introduction of cash games to the EPT Grand Final festival in Monaco, a few high-rollers decided to do it right and started of with €3 million on the table.
RAFA GOES ON WINNING RUN--In May it became clear that Rafa Nadal was going to make 2013 not just his comeback year, but a year people in the tennis world would remember for years. To kick off the month of May, he won the ATP event in Madrid, Spain. Later on in the month, he won in Rome, Italy.
STEVE O'DWYER WINS EPT GRAND FINAL--Steve O'Dwyer had been threatening the EPT fields for way too long to not have his own title. So, he went and won the Grand Final in Monaco.
ALTERGOTT WINS FINAL EVENT OF EPT SEASON 9--The last event of the European Poker Tour's ninth season was a big one, a €100,000 buy-in Super High Roller event. It ended with Max Altergott pulling down a first prize worth €1,746,400.
VIKTOR BLOM WINS SCOOP MAIN EVENT--This year's Spring Championship of Online Poker was one for the record books. Daniel Negreanu won his first online title, tons of other stars won big money, and Viktor Blom won more than $1 million in the Main Event.
BOZSO WINS EUREKA CROATIA--A man from Croatia had a chance to keep the Eureka Croatia title, but Hungarian Achilles Bozso beat Boris Kuzmanovic in a heads-up deal to win the €59,100 first prize.
GEORGE LIND EARNS MILLION VPPS IN A MONTH--Team Online's George Lind is no stranger to weird challenges, but in May, he decided to earn 1 million VIP Player Points and lose ten pounds in one month. And then he did it.
ANTHONY HACHEM WINS ANZPT REPECHAGE--It's not uncommon for someone named Hachem to win Down Under. This time it wasn't Joe, nor was it his brother Tony. This time it was Anthony Hachem who booked the $181,460 win.
GDAM AWARDS $4.5M to CHAMPION HEINECKER--It was billed and turned out to be the richest poker tournament ever in China. Germany Niklas Heinecker beat a star-studded field for the $4.5 million first prize.
RAFA NADAL WINS 8TH FRENCH OPEN--It was a history-making day in June when Rafa Nadal became the first man in history to win the same Grand Slam title eight times. It happened at Roland Garros where Nadal won the French Open.
GUTIERREZ WINS LAPT COLOMBIA--Weider Gutierrez still had fresh memories of getting three-outed at the final table the last time the LAPT went to Colombia. This time, he made it all the way.
POKERSTARS DEALS 100 BILLIONTH HAND--The Road to 100 Billion hands at PokerStars was one that took nearly 12 years to travel, but in June, it finally reached its end. As part of the big celebration, microulis69 won more than $100,000.
CHINA GETS FIRST APPT CHAMPION--Until June, through six-and-a-half seasons of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, there had never been a winner from China. That changed when Alexandre Chieng won APPT Macau.
POKERSTARS HOSTS WORLD RECORD TOURNAMENT--How many people can you fit into a poker tournament? Well, as of June, that number--and the standing world record, was 225,000.
MARBELLA PARTY ENDS WITH GEILICH WIN--PokerStars threw a big poker party in Marbella with the UKIPT crew, and it ended with Ludovic Geilich winning €130,000.
DRAGOMIR TOPS UKIPT SERIES 2--In the second running of the popular UKIPT Series, Gabriel Dragomir won £16,480.
TEAM PRO HITS WSOP--Team PokerStars Pro made its annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the WSOP where Humberto Brenes recorded his 72nd WSOP cash. Meanwhile, five other Team Pros cashed in the Main Event with Marcel Luske going the deepest for a 102nd place finish.
MACHLUF WINS EUREKA BULGARIA--It took him three hours of heads-up play, but in the end Liran Machluf managed the win at the Bulgarian Eureka Poker Tour event. It earned him €93,000.
STYGHER WINS MICROMILLIONS MAIN EVENT--The MicroMillions rolled back around in July with 100 events and millions of dollars on the line. The biggest win went to PokerStars player stygher who took down the Main Event for more than $160,000.
PATRICIO ROJAS ROLLS OVER LAPT PERU--Chile's Patricio Rojas may have been more an online player than live champion, but that didn't matter in Lima, Peru where Rojas won the LAPT Peru title.
MAN WITH KINGS UP SLEEVE WINS IN QUEENSTOWN--In one of the most heart-warming and spectacular wins of the year, Jonathan Bredin won the APPT Queenstown event.
RAFA TAKES DOWN ROGERS CUP--Continuing his winning ways, Rafa Nadal headed to Montreal and won the Rogers Cup. It reprised the very first time he won a hard court title and set him firmly on the path to becoming No. 1 in the world.
ALAN GOLD TAKES TOP HONORS AT UKIPT GALWAY--UKIPT Galway hosted a lot of firsts. It was the first time Full Tilt Poker had sponsored an event. It was the first time for the so-called "poker village." It was also Alan Gold's first major title.
RAFA SCORES NEW WIN--There weren't a lot of things Rafa Nadal hadn't done yet, but one of them was notching a win in Cincinnati, Ohio. So, of course, he went there and won in August.
TOM ALNER CLAIMS RED DRAGON--They call Tom Alner "Baby," but he put on a seriously grown-up performance in Macau when the August running of the Red Dragon came around. He won HK$723,000.
TALONCHICK WINS ONLINE TOURNAMENT WHILE ON A BOAT--Adrienne "talonchick" Rowsome loves her PokerStars Mobile, but she showed just how much when she won the Women's Sunday event from a boat on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
DI GIACOMO DOWNS FABRETTI ON IPT--Team PokerStars Pro Pier Paolo Fabretti came close to scoring his second live title but just missed out heads-up to fellow Italian Claudio Di Giacomo. Fabretti scored €70,000 for his runner-up finish, but Di Giacomo pocketed €90,000.
ESTRELLAS BARCELONA FIELD BREAKS RECORD--Proving once again that Barcelona is one of the most popular stops of any tour that goes there, the Estrellas Poker Tour's Barcelona event broke a lot of records in August.
EPT CELEBRATES TEN SEASONS WITH RAP VIDEO--When September rolled around, so did the first events of the EPT's tenth season. To celebrate, PokerStars created a rap video with Nick Javas called "Ride the River."
LUNKIN TAKES DOWN SEIDEL IN BARCELONA SUPER HIGH ROLLER--Erik Seidel may seem to make all the Super High Roller final tables, but he can't win them all. As Season 10 of the EPT kicked off in Barcelona, Vitaly Lunkin won more than €700,000 after defeating Seidel heads-up for the Super High Roller title.
MUHLOCKER DROPS NEGREANU FOR HIGH ROLLER TITLE--EPT Barcelona not only had a Super High Roller, but it hosted a regular High Roller, too. Daniel Negreanu continued his amazing year with a runner-up finish, but Thomas Muhlocker took top billing for the €390,700 first prize.
MIDDLETON MAKES NEARLY A MILLION IN EPT BARCELONA MAIN EVENT--With a mighty rail behind him, Thomas Middleton won €942,000 in the EPT Barcelona Main Event.
RAFA NADAL WINS U.S. OPEN--In the 37th meeting between the longtime rivals, Rafa Nadal dispatched No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic in four sets to win the U.S. Open.
LAPT GETS FIRST PANAMANIAN CHAMPION--Playing his first LAPT event, Galal Dahrouj outlasted a field of 570 players to take down LAPT Panama and $132,535. It was the first time anyone from Panama had won an LAPT Main Event.
NGUYEN A WINNER ON UKIPT SERIES--PokerStars LIVE at the Hippodrome reprised its UKIPT Series and paid out the first place prize to Dinh Tuan Nguyen.
PLAYINWASTED WINS WCOOP MAIN EVENT--It was a year for the Germans in the World Championship of Online Poker, and Germany's own PlayinWasted won the big $5,200 Main Event for nearly $1.5 million. In all, WCOOP was worth $62,362,757 over 66 events. Norway's Sykoen won Player of the Series.
NATALIE HOF MAKES FRIENDS WITH POKERSTARS--PokerStars likes to make friends and when Germany's Natalie Hof sidled up, PokerStars didn't waste any time making her an official Friend of PokerStars.
ROBBIE BULL BUCKS TO UKIPT LONDON WIN--When the UKIPT rolled into London, Robbie Bull made it a Scottish hat-trick today when he became the third Scotsman in a row to win a UKIPT Main Event title.
MARTIN FINGER WINS SUPER HIGH ROLLER IN LONDON--The buy-in was a cool £50,000, and when Martin Finger stacked up all the chips at the end of the EPT London Super High Roller, he pocketed £821,000.
RAFA BECOMES NO. 1--If you've read this far in the Year in Review, it will come as no surprise to you that PokerStars SportsStar Rafa Nadal assumed the No. 1 position in the world tennis rankings.
JASON LAVALLEE TOPS EPT LONDON HIGH ROLLER--After several high-profile finishes short of the top spot, grinder Jason Lavallee won his first big title and more than £350,000 in the EPT London High Roller.
ROBIN YLITALO TRIUMPHS IN EPT LONDON MAIN EVENT--Sweden was looking for its first title on an EPT in ten months, and it came in the form of Robin Ylitalo who beat down the EPT London Main Event for £560,980.
DANIEL NEGREANU WINS WSOP PLAYER OF THE YEAR--After a year where he seemed to win just about everything, Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu won his sixth bracelet (this time at the WSOP-E) and clinched the WSOP Player of the Year Award.
POKERSTARS OPENS DOORS TO DATA CENTER--As part of the historic UKIPT Isle of Man event, PokerStars opened the doors to its highly-secure data center to show people how it works in the belly of the beast.
IPT SANREMO CROWNS PIRODDI--It was the second visit to Sanremo for the Italian Poker Tour this year, and it drew more than 1,000 players. When it was over, Federico Piroddi had won €125,000.
JIAN YANG WINS ASIA PLAYER OF THE YEAR--It took three big finishes to do it, but Jian Yang set himself apart with the 2013 Asia Player of the Year Award.
SUNNY JUNG SHINES OVER ACOP MAIN EVENT--It was the heads-up battle everyone thought might never end, but when it was over, the sun rose for Sunny Jung as the ACOP Main Event champion.
MCLELLAN DEFEATS DE MELO FOR UKIPT TITLE--The UKIPT headed to the Isle of Man for the first major tournament there in nearly 15 years. When it was over, Duncan McLellan had defeated SportsStar Fatima Moreira de Melo for the title.
LIM REIGNS AT ANZPT AUCKLAND--The ANZPT hosted its final event of the year in Auckland, New Zealand, and the title went to David Lim who picked up NZ$110,760 for his win.
CARTER GILL WINS FIRST MAJOR AT LAPT URUGUAY--Carter Gill has been shocking poker fields for a very long time, but until this year had yet to win a major live title. He changed that at LAPT Uruguay when he took first place for more than €218,000.
THEMANM STANDS FOR MICROMILLIONS IN MAIN EVENT--November hosted the final running of the MicroMillions series for the year 2013, and the Main Event title went to TheManM, who banked $126,000 for the title.
MAYHEW VICTORIOUS AT UKIPT NOTTINGHAM--The UKIPT wrapped up its 2013 in Nottingham with its first 6-max event. The title and £72,840 went to an emotional Ben Mayhew.
RAFA NADAL WINS EPT PRAGUE CHARITY TOURNAMENT--Up against the likes of Daniel Negreanu and some of the greatest sports stars in the world, tennis legend Rafa Nadal won his first live poker event at EPT Prague.
HOLDEEW TAKES DOWN EUREKA PRAGUE TITLE--After a successful year traveling around eastern Europe, the Eureka tour finished up the year in Prague where Dimitri Holdeew won the Main Event for €226,400.
SELBST CAPS BANNER YEAR WITH WIN IN PRAGUE--Vanessa Selbst started the year with a major win at the PCA, and she ended it in similar fashion with a side event title at EPT Prague. It helped her move into the Top 40 of all-time live tournament money winners.
JULIAN TRACK RECORDS SICK WIN AT EPT PRAGUE--Suffering a fever and a 14-hour marathon final day, Julian Track notched a Main Event victory at EPT Prague for €725,700.
WCOOP CHALLENGE MAIN EVENT AWARDS HALF-MILLION TO WINNER--To close out the year, PokerStars hosted the WCOOP Challenge with a huge Main Event that paid out more than $500,00 to winner DEHELLHOUND.
And that is how 2013 played out on PokerStars. Many thanks to you all for your continued support.
All of us here at the PokerStars Blog wish you a wonderful 2014.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging