Your guide to Sochi and the PokerStars Festival

Sochi cover image.jpg

You've got your visa. You've booked your flights. Maybe you've even bolstered your bankroll with a nice online score. There's nothing left to do now but get excited about one of the more unique poker stops out there.

Following on from May's PokerStars Championship, we're returning to the Russian city of Sochi in October for what's sure to be an amazing PokerStars Festival. Kicking off on October 16th and running until the 22nd, the Festival offers a healthy schedule of affordable tournaments and cash games - with healthy guarantees to boot - all set on the beautiful Black Sea coast.

You might remember Sochi from its hosting duties at the 2014 Winter Olympics, but this city doesn't have to be covered in snow to be enjoyed. In fact, it's known as a summer beach resort for holidaymakers, and throughout the Festival the weather is expected to be warm and sunny.

So if you've been too busy planning for the poker to see what else there is to do out in Sochi, we've got you covered. Here's your guide to Sochi and the PokerStars Festival.


All the poker action takes place at the elegant Sochi Casino and Resort. The casino is attached to the Sochi Marriott Krasnaya Polyana Hotel, which is where all online qualifiers will be staying. Due to its location it's ideal for this poker stop, but if you're making your own arrangements here are some other suggestions.

Casino_sochi_16oct17.jpgThe Sochi Casino and Resort is where all the exciting action will take place

If you want to remain close to the poker action, the Hotel Calipso is just a short walk away. A modern ski resort complex, the hotel offers everything you'll need including restaurants and bars, with at very reasonable prices per night.

However, if you're looking for something a bit more extravagant, the Rixos Sochi hotel is just a 15-minute drive away from the casino (and there are shuttles that can run you back and forth). Set high on a mountain, the luxury hotel offers incredible views and is complete with a spa and a choice of fantastic restaurants.


Kicking off with the 11,000P (approximately $180) PokerStars MEGASTACK event (with one re-entry per flight), the Day 1A flight begins at 2pm on Monday 16th October. Players get a 50,000 starting stack with blinds beginning at 100/200/25, and with 30-minute levels throughout there's plenty of play to be had.

Should you bust two bullets, don't worry. Not only can you re-enter the next day, but now you get your first chance to get out and about.

Sochi is simply stunning to look at, and all the better from the highest vantage point. We recommend beginning your explorations by taking a hike up the mountains (helped by a cable car, if the thought of trekking it terrifies you), where on clear, sunny days you can look down upon the city and see all the sights. Along the way you'll spot several Olympic sites, from ski-jumping slopes to luge tracks.

Winter Olympics_16oct17.jpgSochi's Olympic legacy is clear for all to see throughout the city

Evening recommendation: For a fun yet relaxing environment, wind down at Harat's Irish Pub, just a short walk from the casino. If you're looking to watch live sports with some good grub while in Sochi (or you want to do some late-night drunken karaoke!) this is the place to go. If that's not your thing you can cross the road and check out Burger Pub Khorosheye Mesto for a great selection of burgers (obviously), steaks and local Russian craft beers.

Depending on how you did during Day 1A, you can either take Tuesday 17th off or hop in the MEGASTACK Day 1B at 2pm. There's also a reduced-clock Day 1C flight at 8pm, should things not go to plan.

If you're taking the day off from poker, you might want to spend it down the beach. You can get to the Black Sea coast via trains that run from Krasnaya Polyana (just ask in your hotel reception for more information), or alternatively it takes around an hour by car.

Dinner recommendation: take a short taxi ride from the poker rooms down to the Rosa Khutor hotel, and enjoy an amazing meal at the Red Fox restaurant. Widely considered one of the best restaurants in the area, you can enjoy local delicacies including lamb neck with oyster mushrooms and pear sauce, or some of the finest seafood around. It's on the pricey side, but it's well worth it.

Wednesday 18th sees the Day 1 MEGASTACK survivors merge for Day 2, while also hosting PokerStars Festival Main Event satellites and a Win the Button side event.


Things really start to heat up on Thursday 19th, with Day 1A of the PokerStars Festival Main Event. The 66,000P (~$1,100) tournament comes with a massive prize pool worth $500,000 (~RUB 30million), so is sure to have a great turn out. Play kicks off at 12pm.

Pavel Shirshikov took down the Championship Main Event in May, beating Russian poker legend and high roller regular Vladimir Troyanovskiy heads up. You can expect plenty of Russia's best players to be in this event too. After all, while Day 1A is underway there's also a satellite to the High Roller taking place at 6pm.

Shirshikov_16oct17.jpgPavel Shirshikov won the first major PokerStars tournament in Sochi in May 2017

Should you bust the Main Event during Day 1A, don't fret. Day 1B begins at 12pm Friday, with a turbo Day 1C flight starting at 9:30pm for everyone who played and busted one of the other starting flights.

However, if your Main Event is over for good but you still want to play some poker with a lower buy-in, you can hop in the 22,000P (~$370) Sochi Poker Cup. These tournaments are incredibly popular at every Festival stop, and with two starting flights (and one re-entry per flight) the eventual prize pool is sure to make this event well worth a shot.

Evening recommendation: If you're looking to try some traditional Russian fare for dinner, head over to the River Cafe situated right in the Sochi Marriott hotel. Try some Classic Borscht - it's delicious!


By the time Saturday 21st rolls around, the Main Event will be moving onto Day 2, while the Sochi Poker Cup holds its Day 1B. If you're out of everything and have the bankroll to keep on grinding, then the 132,000P (~$2,200) High Roller is where you want to be.

Players begin with a 30,000 starting stack and blinds at 50/100, with 40-minute levels increasing to 60-minute levels on Day 2. There is also a single re-entry option in this one, just in case your aces get cracked.

Of course, while we love poker (and trust that you do too, as you're reading this), it's always worthwhile getting away from the tables for a bit.

If you need some fresh air, head down to the Sochi Arboretum where you'll find more than 1,800 exotic and rare plants that are brought to the park from different parts of the world. There are also rare animals and birds living within the arboretum, and if you enjoyed your first cable car experience earlier in the trip you'll be happy to know there's one here too. It gives you spectacular views of the mountains and the sea, which open at the top point of the arboretum.

History buffs may want to check out Stalin's Summer Residence, and the Stalinist period Empire Style buildings. And then there's the StarsFun events, including the player's party, and the chance to meet and greet the Team PokerStars Pros in attendance.

The Main Event, High Roller and Sochi Poker Cup all come to an end on Sunday, drawing a close to the festivities. In this article we've listed only a handful of possible attractions and activities you could see and do while in Sochi; there are dozens more, so you'll never be bored.

Ultimately though, we hope you go deep and take down the Main Event. Good luck!

Source: poker stars

Weekend Review: Sunday Million no longer a pipe dream for Dietrich

A brief round-up of the world of PokerStars this past weekend...

Weekend highlights on PokerStars

Pipedream17 wins the Sunday Million
New look PokerStars School launched


Pipedream17 wins Sunday Million

A two way deal secured Mike "Pipedream17" Dietrich a first prize of $142,000 in this week's Sunday Million, with $131,000 to second placed RichieA7s.

As Jason Kirk reported, it marked a personal best for Dietrich, who adds a Sunday Million title to his already sparkling resume.

Here's the result in full.

Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold'em) results
Entries: 5,948 (4,853 entries, 1,095 re-entries)
Prize pool: $1,166,400
Places paid: 1,052

1. Mike "Pipedream17" Dietrich (Canada) $142,031.04*
2. RichieA7s (Lithuania) $131,300.13*
3. mr.sun279 (China) $79,098.40
4. Evoryan (United Kingdom) $55,508.87
5. Robert "Little Kraut" Deppe (Canada) $38,954.52
6. botteonpoker (Brazil) $27,337.12
7. CrazyLissy (Russia) $19,184.44
8. Vissam78 (Netherlands) $13,463.17
9. xXOLIVATOXx (Brazil) $9,448.16
* denotes results of a heads-up deal leaving $20,000 for the winner

Weekend winners

A look at the top ten results from the weekend on PokerStars.

$215 SUNDAY MILLIONPipedream17Canada $142,031.04
$215 Sunday Warm-UpheyalissonBrazil $48,352.84
$700 Super-Sized Sunday [Progressive KO]CinguzisLatvia $36,064.98
$1,050 Sunday Grand NLHE12u55Canada $35,531.82
$215 Sunday Supersonic [6-Max, Hyper-Turbo]Fear1sWisdomUnited Kingdom $34,831.82
$1,050 Sunday Grand PLO [6-Max]Fresh_oO_DGermany $27,707.14
$11 Sunday StormSaquirdNetherlands $24,164.93
$109 Sunday Cooldown [Turbo]MendaLerendaUnited Kingdom $21,251.02
$22 Mini Sunday MillionThe39playerRomania $19,264.45
$320 Saturday KOKaktus26rusRussia$15,410.85

Click here to pick out some of the other big winners from the weekend of October 14 to 15, 2017 on PokerStars.

PSO becomes PokerStars School

Countless poker journeys have begun on PokerStars, specifically what was formerly known as PokerSchool Online, where amateurs and professionals alike learned about the game and refined their skills.

Last week PSO become PokerStars School with a new look, some new features, and what we think is a more interactive and user friendly website. Check out the PokerStars School homepage here.

Did we miss anything? Email us at, or tweet us @PokerStarsBlog.

Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley. Don't forget to follow the Blog on twitter: @PokerStarsBlog.

Source: poker stars

Extending the runway: The flightpath of a recreational poker champion

As far as you and most of the rest of the poker world are concerned, there is a Finnish grinder who goes by the name messigoat10 who does pretty well for himself. Everyone can be forgiven for imagining this dude sitting in some Finnish outpost and using his winnings as mere accessories to his dashing Nordic good looks. I mean, we're prone to do the same. Just a few weeks ago, we talked all about Finland's latest WCOOP winner, messigoat10. Wasn't our face red.

"My brother's gotten a kick out of calling me a Finnish grinder from Cincinnati," the guy revealed.

There is no direct flight from Cincinnati to Finland, but Tom Uebel found his way there regardless. The departure lounge will be familiar to most American players. The eventual destination? That one is a bit more remote, and that's just how Uebel likes it.


It's a far-flung tale of a man who had barely played poker in six years, a couple of badly-timed blackouts, and a poker championship that means something a lot different than your average win.

It begins, as many of these stories do, on a Friday in April 2011.


It was his last semester of college. He had just one class on Friday. It was the kind of red letter day that might allow a young man to walk with a sense of optimism into his college home. It was the kind of day the same man might find his neighbor and friend waiting for him. It was the kind of day the poker world would eventually come to know as Black Friday.

Uebel's buddy looked up and said, "Hey, did you hear all the poker sites got shut down?"

By that point, any American who played poker online had steeled themselves against this kind of news. Most of them remembered the American UIGEA law that came out of nowhere in 2006 and turned the industry on its ear. Most folks had come to believe that if online poker could survive that, it could survive anything. Uebel was no different.

"I didn't take it very seriously at first since the environment was clearly in flux for a few years to those of us paying attention," he said this week. "I figured this was another false alarm."

He had a reason to be hopeful. His post graduation plans were more ambitious than the average poker player. He intended to travel, make an income from poker, and then use his own money to start a business, a venture known as bootstrapping in the start-up world. He had big dreams, and poker was part of them.

By the time Uebel made it upstairs to his room, he'd seen the FBI notices on all the major websites. If the UIGEA was stiff breeze, Black Friday was a tornado. In the span of just a few hours, thousands of lives all over America began to look a lot different.

Everything went black. Tom Uebel's dream was going to have to wait.


In the months following Black Friday, it became clear, reputable online poker was finished in America for the foreseeable future. Online poker grinders expatriated by the hundreds. Communities of online poker players popped up in Mexico, Vancouver, Toronto, and many other places that were easily accessible from America.

Uebel didn't go. Though Black Friday had dashed his plans to self-fund his own business, it didn't darken his dreams to be an entrepreneur. After graduation, he packed up and moved to San Francisco. He dove headfirst into the tech world working for both an education technology company and a venture capital firm. After a few years, he finally made good on his plans to travel. He left his job, set up a home base in, of all places, Helsinki, Finland, and then started traveling the world. It fed the same fascination he'd found when he played online poker for the first time.

"When I was first playing online, one of the things that stuck out to me was the diversity in terms of countries and professions of other players," he said. "I thought it was the coolest thing that after sitting around the poker table in my basement with friends in Cincinnati on Friday night, I then sat at my desk upstairs in my room on Sunday playing tournaments against people from all over - some from places I'd never heard of, with playing styles that seemed even more foreign."

tau_colosseum.jpgHanging out at the Colosseum

And so he traveled as much as he could, seeing those cultures he only imagined from his Cincinnati home. Along the way, he started laying the groundwork for his own business. He went to the Olympics in Brazil, saw Michael Phelps' swan song, and reveled in his life--a proud American living abroad.

"In all my travels, few things have compared to hearing the Star Spangled Banner on foreign soil," he said.

His national pride notwithstanding, he still couldn't play poker when he was home. In fact, until spring of 2017, Uebel hadn't played a single hand of poker in six years. Once or twice a year, he popped into the poker forums to see what was up, but that was about it. He had his mind on other things.

But, as sometimes happens to people like Uebel, the memories of what might have been hung around. In the year leading up Black Friday, Uebel had been making the transition from cash games to tournaments. He hadn't hit it big yet, but he could feel himself getting close.

So, earlier this year, he played some SCOOP events. That led to playing WCOOP this year and booking his first Online Poker Championship title. It was a breakthrough, but not necessarily the kind we've come to associate with a player's first WCOOP title. This one involves a runway.


In the start-up community, the ability to get up and running involves something entrepreneurs call "runway," otherwise known as how many months they can operate on the amount of money they have. More money means more months, and that means a longer runway. The longer the runway, the longer the companies have to figure out how they are going to stay up and running. Uebel has been thinking about his own personal runway for a long time.

"Since I first moved to San Francisco in 2012, I've made a point of living below my means so I could build my personal runway to give myself the ability to take a real crack at starting a company without a ton of added financial stress. The WCOOP win extends my runway in a meaningful way, so I'm extremely happy about that,"

That means Uebel can now go, as he puts it, "heads down" on his company, giving his idea and plan his full attention from a home he is setting up in Vancouver. Poker will remain a recreational pursuit for him. Despite having clear card playing ability, he's ready to put himself in the start-up game. To do that, he knows he needs complete focus. To do that, he's taken a lesson from one of poker's most successful players.

"You can go back a few years and see Bryn Kenney talking about how he doesn't like taking any time off because his only goal was to be the #1 tournament player in the world," Uebel said. "I think that level of focus and drive is why he's now there, and I only have that level of interest in certain parts of the tech world right now."

So, Uebel is betting on himself. It's worked out before. It worked with poker. Now, it's time to taxi down his personal runway and see how high he can climb.

"There have been a few times in my life where I've taken the road less traveled, where I've bet on myself, and thus far those have all turned out well," he said.

Nevertheless, even those moments weren't free of blackouts.


Uebel isn't the kind of guy who believes he has it all figured out. He's willing to put his money in, but he won't pretend to know exactly how everything will turn out. Just look at the way his WCOOP championship played out.

Despite having a home base in Helsinki, Uebel decided to play WCOOP from a rented place in Mexico. He had a beachfront pad with just about everything he wanted, including a good pizza joint next door. While sunny and beautiful, that situation involves its own special subset of problems. Chief among those issues: reliable internet. Uebel had done his research, but that could only take him so far.

Fast forward to his big WCOOP day. He was as ready as he could be. The internet though...

"My place has two wifi connections, which has come in handy because the connection, while fast, occasionally hiccups," Uebel explained. "These wifi hiccups happened three times at the final table, but the first two times--including a big ~20m pot--I luckily was able to swap over to the other network without it disrupting the hand thanks to disconnect protection."

The third time?

It was the very last hand of the tournament. His internet connection held just long enough to get all of his chips in the middle...and see his opponent call.

And then the internet blacked out.

So there he sat with no idea what was going to happen. He waited. And waited. And then his internet signal came back. He looked up and saw the message.

"This tournament is over."

There, the American in Mexico, the one who had come by way of Helsinki, Brazil, and all of the other places who hosted a man without a poker country, realized that blackout or not, he had won in more ways that one. He had, unlike a lot of American poker players, survived Black Friday. He had traveled the world and seen things most people could never imagine. He had learned all he could about start-ups and conceived his own. Now he had a much longer runway than he could've dreamed. When everything turned back on and ended the blackout, Uebel was a winner in more ways than one.

"I knew it had worked out," he said.

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

Source: poker stars

Big Things

I came to Las Vegas this summer to attend the WSOP, same as I have annually since I was 20 years old. I had fallen in love with poker before I was old enough to battle at the Rio, and gladly spent that first pre-21 summer grinding online while rooting on my friends from the rail. Ever since, competing in the June-July WSOP with those same friends has been my favorite time of the year.

This summer, I played a whopping zero hands of poker at the Rio, a tiny bit fewer than I anticipated.

This year was always going to be a turning point for me. I celebrated my 30th birthday in April, and I took hitting 30 as a signal to pause and evaluate what I was doing and what I envisioned for myself and Run It Up. I had set up all my partnerships and commitments to expire in 2017, giving me the chance to pivot if I chose to. But as these conversations loomed, for the first time in my business life I felt anxious, not excited. I really didn't know what I wanted to do next.

8G2A8196_PCA2016_Jason_Somerville_PCA.jpgJason Somerville at the PCA

I ended up spending June and July focusing on getting into healthy routines, the likes of which I've never had before in my adult life. Sorry Annie's, but I only ate mac-and-cheese for breakfast like six times this summer. I haven't checked, but that stock has to have plummeted. I made a concerted effort to read (even though I mostly read about baseball) and tried to spend 12 minutes outside every day, a feat I may have accomplished accidentally a few times in middle school. Small but fulfilling victories all around for a lifelong dirty basement resident.

Turns out, normal human things can be pretty fun. I enjoyed my summer and never found the competitive desire to go wage war for hundreds of thousands of dollars at the WSOP. And amidst this rather wonderfully tranquil summer, I was able to invest heavy time deep in the tank, pondering what could be next. It didn't take long. By the end of July, I had sketched out a vision for a new streaming project. Momentum gathered, I met with partners old and new, and big dreams started becoming Big Things.

Gaming has been a staple of my life since my Dad gave me a Commodore 64. Twenty years or so later, the first esport I fell in love with was Starcraft 2. I gladly stayed up until 5am every chance I had to watch professional matches live from South Korea. Captivated by those livestreams, I remember asking myself about what kept poker streams from reaching that same level of popularity and broadcast production. A few years later, I asked the same questions about poker on Twitch, but this time, I was in a position to try and produce answers.

Twitch has already been a powerful engine for growth in poker. Hundreds of thousands of fans have tuned into Run It Up each month since I began streaming, consuming over a billion minutes of poker content. But I don't think we're even close to peaking (_/_). I see Twitch Poker as the single best way of introducing people around the world to the game we love. Illuminating the strategic beauty of poker draws new players and rekindles former players' interest in the game. Let's raise the bar for poker content so that one day our major events rival marquee esports championships. I want to build Twitch Poker and help our dedicated and talented poker streamers reach new heights of success.

Twitch's positive impact on our industry is only just beginning.

Winner Jason Somerville_winning_ways.jpgJason Somerville in winning ways

I promise to continue to work hard for the good of poker. I will seek partnerships and alliances across and outside of our industry in an effort to build our game and community. I've never been accused of thinking small, and there's a long road ahead filled with challenges. Let's get there together. I deeply appreciate everyone's love, support, and patience - these last few years on Twitch have been the best of my life, and I'm not going anywhere. I'm glad to have you with us as we embark on this new chapter of Run It Up, and I'm stoked to see many of you at Run It Up Reno October 16th-23rd!


Source: poker stars

Weekend Review: ad144 wins online as McGinty and Silver do same in Dublin

A brief round-up of the world of PokerStars this past weekend...

Weekend highlights on PokerStars

ad144 wins the Sunday Million
Wins for McGinty and Silver at the PokerStars Festival Dublin
PokerStars London Series begins this week


ad144 wins 148 in Sunday Million

When does ad144 add up to 148? Well, when ad144 wins the Sunday Million, and you're thinking of a neat way to describe how much he won, that's when.

The Brit logged off with $148,801 added to their bankroll after cutting a heads-up deal with CrownUpGay, also from the UK, at the business end of the weekend's main attraction.


Jason Kirk had the write up for this one, which documents the key hands, including some big pairs for the eventual winner, and the near miss for second placed CrownUpGay. That's not a typo.

Here's the full result, with a link to the report.

Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold'em) results
Entries: 5,980 (4,864 entries, 1,116 re-entries)
Prize pool: $1,196,000
Places paid: 1,052

1. ad144 (United Kingdom) $148,801.83*
2. CrownUpGay (United Kingdom) $126,000*
3. JAGUARRRRRRR (Bulgaria) $79,523.95
4. Vitor "VitinhO Dzi" Dzivielevski (Brazil) $55,807.51
5. knockoutian (United Kingdom) $39,164.09
6. Therealkuch (Switzerland) $27,484.19
7. Mikal "mikal12345" Blomlie (Norway) $19,287.65
8. deivid29 (United Kingdom) $13,535.61
9. Regadeitor (Mexico) $9,498.99
* denotes results of a heads-up deal leaving $20,000 for the winner

Weekend winners

Here are the top ten winners from the weekend...

$215 SUNDAY MILLIONad144United Kingdom $148,801.83
$1,050 Sunday Grand NLHEAggro SantosMexico $45,970.87
$700 Super-Sized Sunday [Progressive KO]bigstealerUnited Kingdom $39,751.95
$215 Sunday Warm-UpFr@n_4774Austria $39,584.44
$215 Sunday Supersonic [6-Max, Hyper-Turbo]iissrrRomania $34,864.78
$1,050 Sunday Grand PLO [6-Max]caIcuIer_United Kingdom $29,386.35
$109 Sunday Cooldown [Turbo]Keep2p34Ch"Morocco $21,484.23
$11 Sunday StormDiman6899Russian Federation $18,239.11
$109 Sunday KickoffMysters_YRussian Federation $17,540.85
$320 Saturday KODixyDixUnited Kingdom $15,649.39

Click here to find all the results for the weekend of September 30 to October 1, 2017 on PokerStars.

PokerStars Festival Dublin concludes

While the online poker world grinded through the weekend, events in Dublin were in full swing, concluding late last night with a win for Gary McGinty in the Main Event and Max Silver in the High Roller, which allowed us to say that "Silver had won gold." Don't frown - that means a lot when you're scratching your head all morning trying to make ad144 add up to 148.

gary_mcginty_winner_psf_dublin_2oct17.jpgMain Event winner Gary McGinty

PSF_Dublin_2017_MickeyMay_Max_Silver_2oct17.jpgHigh Roller winner Max Silver

Check out the reports of McGinty's win, and that of Silver, on our Dublin coverage page.

PokerStars London Series

PokerStars is heading back to The Hippodrome in London this week.

The October London Series begins this Thursday, concluding on Sunday, with a £40,000 guaranteed main event with a £275 buy-in being the highlight.

PSL Series October 2017)2oct17.jpg

This is multi flight single re-entry event, which means you can have of a single re-entry per flight and you can re-enter each day. There is no stack surrender you may only re-enter if you bust.

The London Series has four starting flights (2 flights per day);

Flight A starts at 14:00pm on Friday the 6th of October,
Flight B starts at 20:00pm later the same day, Friday the 6th of October,
Flight C starts at 14:00pm on Saturday the 7th of October,
Flight D starts at 20:00pm later the same day, Friday the 7th of October.

If you haven't played at The Hippodrome before, it's one of those destinations that as well as being a treat to play in, is a great way to get the PokerStars experience without the high stakes buy-in. It's a great opportunity to test yourself against quality opposition, in what is arguably London's best poker destination.

For the full schedule and more details on the event please visit the PokerStars London homepage.

That's all from what was a busy weekend. If we missed anything email us at, or tweet us @PokerStarsBlog.

Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley. Don't forget to follow the Blog on twitter: @PokerStarsBlog.

Source: poker stars