2016 PokerStars Year in Review

November 30, 2021inPoker

It was the year PokerStars made it back to the USA for the first time since 2011. It was the year we said goodbye to the European Poker Tour and many other regional circuits that spread the gospel of PokerStars for more than a decade. It was, no matter how you slice it, a year we will never forget.

This year marked the PokerStars Blog’s eleventh trip around the world, one where we chronicled the best and worst of poker and all the people who make the game what it is. We’re honored you have continued to come back here for so many years to keep up with the game you love.

Thanks to all of you who have landed here over the years. From all of the PokerStars Blog team, Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.

Previous years:

2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Click the headlines to read the original story.


BRYN KENNEY WINS $100,000 PCA SUPER HIGH ROLLER–Though no one knew it at this time, the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure would be the last under that name. Bryn Kenney kicked it off in style with a win in the $100,000 Super High Roller event. .

GEORGIOS SOTIROPOULOS TAKES DOWN LAPT BAHAMAS –Georgios Sotiropoulos had one of the biggest names in the Latin America Poker Tour Bahamas field, and he brought the talent to match, winning more than $300,000 for first place.

SURPRISE! STEVE O’DWYER WINS $50,000 SINGLE DAY EVENT –To cap off a run of huge Super High Roller wins, Steve O’Dwyer kicked off his 2016 by winning the $50,000 Single Day High Roller at the PCA.

Steve O’Dwyer

ANTONIO ESFANDIARI WINS PROP BET AT EXPENSE OF PCA SEAT–In the first “what in the world just happened?” moment of 2016…Antonio Esfandiari…well, just click on the story and read it.

Antonio Esfandiari

NICK MAIMONE LOCKS UP PCA $25 HIGH ROLLER TITLE–Nick Maimone had long been an online force as FU_15, but he showed his live chops in the Bahamas to win the $25,000 High Roller.

MIKE WATSON WINS FINAL POKERSTARS CARIBBEAN ADVENTURE MAIN EVENT–In an honor he didn’t even know he was earning, longtime poker veteran Mike Watson earned the final PCA Main Event title.

Mike Watson

ALVAN ZHANG BESTS FIELD AT MACAU MILLIONS–It was Macau’s biggest-ever poker field, and it earned Alvan Zhang his first major title of the year.

ARI ENGEL COMES OUT ON TOP DOWN UNDER AT AUSSIE MILLIONS–Speaking of veterans of the game, Ari Engel showed the poker world he still had it by taking down the Aussie Millions Main Event at the end of January.


POKERSTARS WINS BEST OPERATOR AWARD–Four the fourth consecutive year, PokerStars won the International Gaming Awards “Best Online Operator of the Year” honor.

SPIN & GO PAYS OUT FIRST MILLION OF 2016–It took 39 days, but by February 8, the Spin & Go money machine turned out its first millionaire in the form of Russia’s Rainman751

MUSTAPHA KANIT GRABS EPT DUBLIN €25K HIGH ROLLER–It’s not a new year unless Mustapha Kanit wins something, so Kanit made it official by binking the EPT Dublin €25,000 High Roller event.

Mustapha Kanit

VLADAS TAMASAUSKAS CELEBRATES UKIPT DUBLIN WIN–As the final year of the UKIPT began, Vladas Tamasauskas won the UKIPT Dublin Main Event for nearly €177,000.

CHARLIE CARREL WINS DUBLIN SINGLE DAY HIGH ROLLER–He had to beat Dominik Nitsche to do it, but wonderboy Charlie Carrel made it happen to win the EPT Dublin €10,300 High Roller event.

SAMUEL PANZICA NETS EPT DUBLIN HIGH ROLLER–Not to be outdone in the high roller category, Samuel Panzica won the multi-day High Roller at EPT Dublin for €375,000

DZMITRY URBANOVICH EXTENDS HOT STREAK WITH EPT DUBLIN WIN –At just 20 years old, Dzmitry Urbanovich took his lifetime live earnings over the $5 million mark with a win in the EPT Dublin Main Event.

Dzmitry Urbanovich

JOE GIRON WINS AMERICAN POKER AWARD –Longtime PokerStars Blog contributing photographer Joe Giron took the most iconic photo of the year when he captured Daniel Negreanu’s moment of defeat at the 2015 WSOP Main Event

Joe Giron’s award-winning image


YIN LAU CHUA SCORES MACAU VICTORY –As March began, the Macau Poker Cup hosted its Red Dragon event and the biggest field it had ever seen. That event ended with Yin Lau Chua winning it all.

IVAN LUCA DEFEATS GIRLFRIEND FOR EUREKA TITLE –It’s not often somebody knows their heads-up opponent in a tournament. What happens less often? When that opponent is your girlfriend. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happened when Ivan Luca won Eureka Rozvadov.

RODRIGO STRONG WRESTLES AWAY LAPT WIN –The LAPT made its last stop in Chile, and Rodrigo Strong muscled up to take the victory and more than $120,000.

POKERSTARS RETURNS TO USA –After a five year absence on American soil, PokerStars made a triumphant return to the States after receiving its license in New Jersey.

SUNDAY MILLION CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY –With ten years of Millions under its belt, PokerStars celebrated the Sunday Million’s tenth anniversary with a $10 million guarantee. The massive top prize went to Canada’s a.urli


USMAN SIDDIQUE CRUSHES ALL COMERS AT UKIPT LONDON –“It was just golden like a dream really. I ran really pure throughout the tournament. I kept expecting to get a beat somewhere along the line but it never really happened!” Usman said after winning UKIPT LONDON. It was worth £84,100

CHANCE KORNUTH CELEBRATES DREAM YEAR WITH HIGH ROLLER WIN –In one of the least climatic wins of the entire year, Chance Kornuth took the trophy in the EPT Monte Carlo High Roller. “It’s just a dream year,” he said. “Almost every single stop has been somewhat like this and poker doesn’t get any better when times are like how they are now. It’s pretty spectacular.”


STEPHANE DOSETTTO TOPS FRANCE POKER SERIES MONACO –His name might have translated to seven-deuce, but that didn’t stop Stephane Dosetto from winning the Monaco Main Event on the France Poker Series

FABIAN QUOSS WINS EPT MONACAO SUPER HIGH ROLLER–He had to defeat fellow wunderkind Ole Schemion to do it, but Fabian Quoss made it happen and took down the €50,000 buy-in event in Monaco for €848,059.

Fabian Quoss

ALEXANDRU PAPAZIAN WINS €1.2 MILLION IN MONACO HIGH ROLLER–It may not have signaled the Year of Romania, but it did give the alpha papa Alexandru Papazian a big shot in the arm when he won the EPT Monaco High Roller.

GAMBLER JAN BENDIK BEATS YOUNG CROWD FOR EPT MONACO MAIN EVENT–At 51 years old, Jan Bendik may have thought of himself as a gambler, but he beat all the young wizards to claim the last EPT Monaco Grand Final Main Event.

Jan Bendik

SCOOP BREAKS ALL RECORDS AS STARS SHINE BRIGHTR–The 2016 Spring Championship of Online Poker was another monster series that saw James Obst win his fourth SCOOP title, (a feat bested by Shawn Buchanan a few days later), Stephen Chidwick win his third COOP, and Calvin Anderson win a record seventh. It was something to behold. As it happened, Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier won his fourth SCOOP title, to boot. At the end, well-known high roller Talal Shakerchi won the high-buy-in Main Event for nearly $1.5 million. When it was all said and done, the SCOOP series awarded more than $90 million in prize money, and Shaun Deeb won Player of the Series.

JASON SOMERVILLE BRINGS RUN IT UP TO RESORTS IN NEW JERSEY–Proving both his star power and the hunger for poker in New Jersey, Team PokerStars Pro Jason Somerville hosted a crowd at the first Run It Up Resorts Rumble in New Jersey.

ANDRES CARILLO CAPTURES LAPT PANAMA TITLE–After carrying one of the top chip stacks through most of the tournament Andres Carillo took down the LAPT Panama Main Event for more than $138,000.

POKERSTARS JOINS FORCES WITH TEAM LIQUID–It was only a matter of time before it happened, and that time was May when PokerStars teamed up with Team Liquid to take on the world of e-gaming.

AVISHAI SHITRIT WINS FIRST EUREKA BUCHAREST MAIN EVENT–It was the first time the Eureka Poker Tour had visited Romania, and when it did, it crowned Avishai Shitrit as its champion.

JIAN GUO SUN SHINES AT APPT MACAU–When the Asia Pacific Poker Tour hosted its Main Event in Macau, the title went to 52-year-old coffee shop worker Jian Guo Sun just two years after he took up poker.


KID POKER DOCUMENTARY DEBUTS ON NETFLIX–After receiving great reviews in screenings around the world, Daniel Negreanu’s life story, Kid Poker, showed up on Netflix.

JASON MERCIER WINS FOURTH WSOP BRACELET–While engaged in a much ballyhooed bracelet bet, Team PokerStars’ Jason Mercier won his fourth career World Series of Poker bracelet after taking down the 2-7 Lowball Championship. Don’t stop reading now…

RONALDO & NEYMAR JR #RAISE IT–In what would turn out to be a very popular series, Brazilian soccer legends Ronaldo and Neymar started up their #RaiseIt challenge battle.

…AND THEN JASON MERCIER WINS HIS FIFTH BRACELET–That bracelet bet started getting a lot sweatier when Jason Mercier won his fifth WSOP bracelet in the HORSE event for more than $400,000.

JONATHAN SCHUMAN TAKES OVER MARBELLA WITH UKIPT WIN–Everybody needs a vacation from time to time, so the UKIPT took off for Marbella where Jonathan Schuman won the Main Event title.

ALBERT PAIK WINS AT APPT SEOUL–As the Asia Pacific Poker Tour made its annual pilgrimage to Korea, Albert Paik won more than $100,000 for his Main Event title.

ARGENTINA WINS AMERICAS CUP OF POKER–For the first time ever, the Americas Cup of Poker happened in New Jersey. Nobody had to travel farther than the eventual winners, Team Argentina.

GEORGE DANZER WINS FOURTH WSOP BRACELET–It’s hard to compete in a Stud field when poker stud George Danzer brings his Mohawk to the game. This was never more evident than when Danzer won the Stud-8 championship at this year’s WSOP to win his fourth career bracelet.


LOVE BLOOMS AT WORLD SERIES OF POKER–While the WSOP Main Event didn’t provide a lot in the way of excitement for PokerStars pros, that didn’t stop the news. After all, you can’t beat a love story like Jason Mercier proposing to his fiancée when she is at a final table.

Jason Mercier proposes to Natasha Barbour

JASON MERCIER WINS WSOP PLAYER OF THE YEAR–Not only did Jason Mercier pick up a bride-to-be at this year’s World Series of Poker, but he also won the Series’ Player of the Year honors.

SOLID PENIS (YES, SOLID PENIS) WINS QUARTER MILLION–You didn’t think we were going to make it through this Year in Review without mentioning this story, did you?


LINH TRAN TRIUMPHS AT APPT MANILA–In a super-quick final at APPT Macau, Linh Tran beat Sam Razavi heads-up for the title.

NICK PETRANGELO TAKES MAJOR TITLE OF EPT BARCELONA SERIES–He had to stay up until 2am to make it happen, but Nick Petrangelo kicked off the EPT Barcelona festival with a €400,000 win in the €10,000 High Roller.

FEDOR HOLZ CONTINUES ROLE AS HERO, WINS BARCELONA SUPER HIGH ROLLER–There wasn’t any question before Barcelona, but Fedor Holz made sure everyone remembered his name by winning the Super High Roller at EPT Barcelona.

PRATYUSH BUDDIGA TAKES DOWN BARCELONA €25K–Meanwhile, in the same room, fellow young grinder Pratyush Buddiga was winning the €25,000 High Roller for nearly €700,000.

POKERSTARS ANNPOUNCES CHAMPIONSHIP AND FESTIVAL TOURS–In an announcement that would mark the end of an era, PokerStars revealed it was ending most of its regional tours and starting the global Championship and Festival tours.

CONNOR DRINAN FINISHES BARCELONA WITH HIGH ROLLER WIN–As the Barcelona Main Event edged toward its conclusion, Connor Drinan won the €10,000 High Roller for €849,200.

POKERSTARS QUALIFIER SEBASTIAN MALEC BESTS EPT BARCELONA MAIN EVENT FIELD–In a performance that will be talked about for ages, a PokerStars qualifier put on an amazing show to win the final EPT Barcelona Main Event.

Sebastian Malec


WCOOP STARS MAKE SEPTEMBER SHINE–WCOOP kicked off with Conor Drinan (yes, the won who just won an EPT Barcelona High Roller), winning one of the very first events. From there, it was a month of stars doing what they do best, including Shaun Deeb winning a fourth WCOOP while his wife was in labor, Dzmitry Urbanovich winning his fourth COOP, Andrey Zaichenko getting his second WCOOP win, and Dan Kelly getting his fifth. Meanwhile, WCOOP hosted the first $102,000 Super High Roller where bencb789 beat Fedor Holz heads-up. What’s more, because it’s not WCOOP without a big name win, Daniel Negreanu won a WCOOP title in the $2,100 HORSE championship and beat Viktor Blom to do it. In the end, llJaYJaYll won the Main Event for $1.5 million and SixthSenSe19 won Player of the Series. Later we learned that WCOOP Main Event winner was Jonas Lauck, and he talked about his win here.

TOM ALNER BECOMES FIRST TO WIN TWO RED DRAGON TITLES–Nobody else has done what Tom Alner did this year: win a second Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon title. Meanwhile, James Chen won the High Roller title there.

PEDRO CLAUS GIFTS HIMSELF LAPT URUGUAY TITLE–For the final time, the LAPT traveled to Uruguay, and there Pedro Claus took down the championship.


DINESH ALT WINS EUREKA HAMBURG TITLE–In a first for a player from Switzerland, Dinesh Alt captured the Eureka Hamburg Main Event title.

TED JACKSON-SPIVACK CLEBRATES BIRTHDAY WITH UKIPT WIN–Who needs a cake and candles when you have a trophy and load of cash? That’s what Ted Jackson-Spivack discovered when he won UKIPT Birmingham on his birthday.

ANISH GUPTA WINS APPT MELBOURNE –Always watch out for the local cash game grinders. That’s the lesson Anish Gupta taught the Melbourne crowd when he won the APPT Main Event there.

DIETRICH FAST PICKS UP QUICK WIN AT EPT MALTA –When the European Poker Tour pulled into Malta, it opened with a €10,000 High Roller. Dietrich Fast made quick work of taking it down.

IPT MALTA MAIN EVENT TITLE GOES TO ISMAEL BOJANG –As the High Rollers finished up, the IPT Malta Main Event played out in the same room, a tourney that eventually crowned its champion Ismael Bojang

STEPHEN JEDLICKA CRUSHES MALTA –After racking two profitable deep runs and an IPT High Roller title, Stephen Jedlicka remained hot to win the €10,000 High Roller.

ALIAKSEI BOIKA SECURES EPT MALTA MAIN EVENT WIN –Aliaksei Boika had to come back from being last in chips with six players left, but he managed to make it happen to get the Main Event title in Malta.

Aliaksei Boika

POKERSTARS AND RIGHT TO PLAY VISIT GHANA –In October, a delegation of PokerStars and Right to Play representatives visited Accra, Ghana to see what the charity has accomplished there. More news about the trip can be found here. and here.


POKERSTARS HONORS CHAD BROWN–For the third annual Chad Brown Memorial Tournament, organizers took the event back to Brown’s old stomping grounds. At the New Jersey event, Jason Somerville took the title.

JASON ACOSTA WINS FIRST POKERSTARS NEW JERSEY FESTIVAL–It was a landmark event for PokerStars as it re-entered the United States for the first time since 2011. The PokerStars New Jersey Festival Main Event went to PokerStars qualifier Jason Acosta. In other news from the festival, Jason Somerville brought a special kind of magic to the event, while Jack Duong won the High Roller.

YUAN LI WINS ACOP SUPER HIGH ROLLER–When the Asia Championship of Poker Super High Roller Final Table began, Yuan Li was in last place. When it was finished, he had all the chips.

FELIPE RAMOS WINS MOST INSPIRING PLAYER AWARD–Though we already knew it, it was nice for the world to confirm (via a PokerListings Spirit of Poker award), that Team PokerStars Pro Felipe Ramos is poker’s most inspiring player.

DAVID PETERS CEMENTS YEAR WITH ACOP HIGH ROLLER WIN–After an amazing performace at EPT Malta, David Peters showed up at the Asia Championship of Poker and took down the High Roller there.

VLADIMIR GESHKENBEIN MAKES HISTORY WITH ACOP MAIN EVENT WIN–To close out this year’s Asia Championship of Poker, Vladimir Geshkenbein made history by becoming the first person to win an EPT and APPT Main Event. Meanwhile, Jack En-ching Wu took Asia Player of the Year honors.

Vladimir Geshkenbein

DAVID PETERS CEMENTS YEAR WITH ACOP HIGH ROLLER WIN–After an amazing performace at EPT Malta, David Peters showed up at the Asia Championship of Poker and took down the High Roller there.

#RAISE IT GETS NEW COMEPTITORS–Over the summer, it was Brazilians Ronaldo and Neymar Jr. who took on the #RaiseIt challenge. In November, Cristiano Ronaldo and Dwyane Wade took over.


NACHO BARBERO CLOSES LAPT IN STYLE–As the Latin America Poker Tour played its final event, Jose Nacho Barbero became the only person in the tour’s history to win three Main Events.

MONTREAL NATIONALS WIN FIRST GPL FINAL–The Global Poker League finished its first year with the playoffs and finals in Las Vegas. When it was done, the Montreal Nationals took the first championship.

POKERSTARS.PT OPENS ITS VIRTUAL DOORS–After becoming the first site to be licensed under the new Portuguese regulatory scheme, PokerStars.pt quickly jumped to become the third and second most trafficked cash game site in the world.

EUREKA POKER TOUR CLOSES WITH MARATHON FINAL–It took more levels than the structure sheet had planned to finish, but the final Eureka Poker Tour Main Event final ended with Hubert Matuszewski as the winner.

LEON TSOUKERNIK WINS PRAGUE SUPER HIGH ROLLER–He had to get past Charlie Carrel to do it, but Leon Tsoukernik made it happen in the final Super High Roller of the European Poker Tour in Prague.

IKE HAXTON WINS (ONE OF THE) PRAGUE SINGLE DAY HIGH ROLLER(S)–Though the players would end up getting more on the schedule, the first of the single-day €25,000 High Rollers at EPT Prague went to Isaac Haxton.

SPIN & GO AWARDS WINNER INSTANT $1 MILLION–One minute, he was a 30-year-old history teacher in a $100 three-man tournament. Eight minutes later, he was a millionaire.

Minutes later

EPT CLOSES DOORS IN PRAGUE WITH MAIN EVENT PUTTEN WIN–In the final Main Event of the European Poker Tour, Jasper Meijer van Putten took the title. Meanwhile, William Kassouf (after a bit of bartering) finished with the trophy in the final EPT High Roller.

Jasper Meijer van Putten

EUROPEAN POKER TOUR SAYS GOODBYE–After 13 seasons of traveling all over Europe (and beyond) the European Poker Tour bid its final farewell.




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is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Follow him on Twitter: @BradWillis.



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