The hilarious Kevin Hart guide to playing poker, part 1

Kevin Hart has succeeded in many forms of entertainment over the years, from starring in hit TV shows and breaking records as a stand-up comedian along the way to becoming today's Hollywood superstar in hit movies such as Get Hard and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

But for his latest role, just days after starring at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Kevin Hart is trying something else entirely; he's becoming a teacher. A poker teacher, in fact. Since announcing his partnership with PokerStars in April 2017, Kevin Hart's mission was to make poker fun again.

Now, in partnership with our friends at PokerStars School, he has released the first of Kevin Hart's How To Play Poker series. It's all about etiquette at the poker tables, and you'll learn what really gets on his nerves.

You can watch the entertaining results below. And once you're done, check out PokerStars School's amazing promotions and bonuses to see how you can improve your game.

There's no doubting Kevin Hart's teachings on how to play poker aren't what you'll read in a text book or see on a poker training video, but they are fun. And that's just the way that PokerStars's favourite partner likes it.

Source: poker stars

PokerStars Festival London kicks off a busy calendar for 2018

You might have noticed that the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is the centre of the PokerStars world right now. But the PCA is just one event in a big PokerStars calendar for 2018. We're happy to report that the action continued almost as soon as the PCA shuts up shop for another year.

We'll go light on the fluffy stuff and let these events speak for themselves.

The first PokerStars Festival of 2018 will be in London, at the stunning Hippodrome Casino in London's West End.

The festival runs from 22-28 January. Not only will there be great prize pools on offer but PokerStars will be awarding three Platinum Passes, those exclusive tickets to the PokerStars Players Championship in the Bahamas in January 2019, which are fast become the most coveted prize since Willy Wonka opened up his chocolate factory.

In addition to these Platinum Passes (the first to be presented on UK soil), the Main Event will boast a £500,000 guarantee and a £990 buy in. It's a multi-flight single re-entry event, and you can re-enter each day (two entries in total).

New MegaStack events are now on the 2018 PokerStarsLive calendar. They take place in Sanremo in March, London (again) in February, and Manila (dates tbc), with yet more planned. On top of that you can add the Asia Pacific Poker Tour making a welcome return to Korea in April.

It's all part of the blossoming 2018 PokerStars calendar, which you can check out in full on the website.

Other events include those kicking off the return of the European Poker Tour, in Sochi, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Prague. Then there is the Latin American Poker Tour in all its green finery, in Chile.

And a reminder of those Platinum Passes. Here are just some of the places these will be cropping up in the next few weeks:

• Italian Poker Open January 3-8, 2018 - 1 Platinum Pass
• ACOP Platinum Series 20 January 5-14, 2018 - 1 Platinum Pass
• PCA Bahamas 2018 January 6-14, 2018 - 5 Platinum Passes
• PokerStars MEGASTACK Ulster January 12 -14, 2018 - 1 Platinum Pass
• PokerStars Festival London January 22-29, 2018 - 3 Platinum Passes
• BSOP SAO Paulo January 25 -30, 2018 - 2 Platinum Passes

Check out for details of all PokerStars live events in 2018 and how to win your seat to each of them, and how to win an exclusive Platinum Pass to the Bahamas next year.

Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley.

Source: poker stars

Jason Mercier bids farewell to Team PokerStars

Editor's note: Jason Mercier wrote the following after the decision to step down from Team PokerStars Pro at the start of this year. We've published it here in full, with a footnote from ourselves below.

"I knew I would eventually write a piece like this. The question in my mind was always when.

It's ironic that I'm starting it now on January 6, 2018. This day has several important meanings to me. Most importantly my son Marco turned three months old today. My wife Natasha and I spent the morning taking our son for an unplanned doctor's visit. We drove 30 minutes away from our home in Fort Lauderdale to a different doctor than we would normally see, because Marco seemed to have a cold for a few days now. Natasha was concerned that he might have an ear infection because he had a low-grade fever. Thank God, he just has a head cold, which will pass over time.

Jason Mercier in (relaxed) action

After we got home from the doctors, I spent the rest of the day watching sports and sitting on the couch. Outside of a few random husband tasks, that was my day. I watched the NFL playoffs, NBA and college basketball, and even some NHL. After all the sporting events were finally over, I sat down to write this to all of you.

The irony of today, January 6, was that on top of my son turning 3 months old, it was also the start of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas. Not only was it the start but the $100k super high roller event kicked off the festival.

This is my first time missing the PCA since I started traveling to play live poker. Up until this year I had gone ten years in a row. It was at the PCA that I had my first taste of live poker. I also had played the $100k super high roller event every year that is has been offered there (seven years).

Jason Mercier has been a familiar face at PokerStars events for nearly ten years

My choice to skip the PCA was hard, however all the choices that eventually led me to that decision were quite easy.

It all started in the summer of 2016, when I decided I was going to propose to my girlfriend. She said yes, and the next decision was when and where to get married. We had a short engagement, followed by an amazing wedding. We both knew we wanted to have kids right away, and luckily she got pregnant just two months after we married.

Our baby boy Marco Henry was born October 6, 2017. My life was changed forever that day, and for the better. Becoming a parent brings about a complete transformation of who you are. I no longer let myself be so concerned with what I want, but more so the well being of my wife and my child (and future children). Serving and leading my family is of utmost importance.

After my son was born, I knew things were going to be different. One of the major things to address was my relationship with PokerStars. My contract was set to expire at the end of 2017, and I wasn't sure what exactly was going to happen there. I had a lot of questions rolling around my head. Do I even want to travel now? How much can I travel? Should I continue playing poker so much? How's it going to be on the road with a baby? Does PokerStars want me to do more? Is my wife going to continue to play poker? DO WE NEED A FULL TIME NANNY!!??

As the end of the year approached, I delayed my inevitable contract discussion with my liaison at Stars. When my wife and I got married, and then when she became pregnant, we initially thought we would continue to travel even with a baby, at least for a year or two.

So I tried to think about all these questions and decide what was best.

As I thought more and more over the days and weeks, the answer seemed simple. This was probably going to be the end of my relationship with PokerStars, and the end of my full time travel schedule.

The conversation about my contract was short and sweet. There were no hard feelings and there never would or could be. I was a PokerStars Pro for eight and a half wonderful years. I'm forever grateful that they took a chance on me when I was just a 22-year-old kid who had just captured his first gold bracelet in the summer of 2009. There were times when I thought I might be a PokerStars Pro for the rest of my life... hey, a kid can dream can't he? Thank you to all of the wonderful people I worked with at PokerStars, your support and friendship has been invaluable.

The Mercier family

I also want to thank all of my family, friends, and fans for supporting me throughout my career. Just to be clear, I'm not retiring from poker by any means. Not only will I be back at the PCA next year and look forward to playing the PokerStars Player Championship, I still plan to play all the big Florida series events, and as of now I plan to go to Las Vegas for the WSOP this summer. But my most important concern now, and my priority, is being a full time father and husband.

Footnote by the PokerStars Blog

We first met Jason Mercier at EPT Sanremo back in 2008. We picked him out to talk to at the end of Day 2 because he'd just finished the day with the chip lead. He was happy to talk, pretty excited, and well mannered -the type of behaviour you expect goes down well with mothers worried about their sons travelling abroad, like Jason was, for the first time.

A day or so later he'd won the lot, thrilling the poker world with a win best described as incendiary. He did it in record time too. To date his EPT winners' photo remains the only one taken before sundown.

Soon enough he was a Team Pro and a regular feature both at PokerStars events and on the Blog. Not only was he fun to watch (Jason has never really stopped winning since that Sanremo week) he was great to talk to about the game - a sentiment shared by the entire poker media. And while he loved the game, he came across as a man who valued nothing more than the trappings of his family, and his friends.

So it was not really surprising to hear that it was his wife Natasha, and young son Marco took priority over a poker career at this stage of his life. The pride he takes in being a father and husband is clear for anyone to see. So while he'll be missed as a PokerStars regular, we pass on our thanks and best wishes to Jason and his family, and look forward to seeing him at a PokerStars event soon. - SB

Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley.

Source: poker stars

Nick Petrangelo brings PokerStars Championship to a close winning POTY title

Last night the first event of the PCA played down to a winner, at the same time closing the lid on the PokerStars Championship.

The PokerStars Championship Player of the Year title would be won by Nick Petrangelo, winner of an exclusive six-max sit and go with seats filled by the leaderboard winners of each of the six Championship events.

Nick Petrangelo wins the 2017 Player of the Year title

In the shadow of a TV set still having the finishing touches applied before it comes to life in a couple of days, Petrangelo, who topped the leaderboard in Macau last year, won the lot, defeating Vladimir Troyanovskiy (Sochi) heads up to take what will go down as a unique title.

Here's how things unfolded.

Having started well Chris Hunichen out in sixth place. Hunichen, who topped the leaderboard in Panama, 5-bet shoved with Jacks and lost a race to Nick Petrangelo's ace king. His five big blinds were gone a few minutes later.

Daniel Dvoress, leaderboard winner in Monte Carlo, busted in fifth place. Knocked out by Vladimir Troyanovskiy, ace-six against Troyanovskiy's ace-ten.

Koray Aldemir, who won the Barcelona leaderboard, was out next. He three-bet shoved with seven big blinds with [as][5s] only for Troyanovskiy to call with [ac][6c]. A six on the flop did it for Aldemir.

Three-handed Nick Petrangelo had more than half the chips, and never really looked like giving any of them up.

Play went heads up when Bryn Kenney busted. Kenney, who won the leaderboard here in the Bahamas a year ago, shoved with [qd][ts] which Petrangelo called with [ah][th]. That was that.

Petrangelo was way ahead against Troyanovskiy, who at least put up a fight, doubling twice before shoving with [ah][2d]. Petrangelo took him on with [ac][8d] and came out best.

So we bid farewell one last time to the PokerStars Championship. Meanwhile, welcome back to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley.

Source: poker stars

2017 PokerStars Year in Review

There is a concept that exists in many cultures called the "gap year." The idea is beautiful in its simplicity. Young people take 12 months or so before heading off to university studies and use that time to mature, prepare, and, if truly fortunate, find a truer version of themselves. That version represents who they are at their cores and a prototype for who they hope to be in all the years to come.

In many ways, 2017 was PokerStars' gap year.

This is not a concept you will see taught in business schools, and as a marketing concept, it's probably one that wouldn't make it past the whiteboard stage. In practice, however, it looks very much like something that could revolutionize the world's biggest online poker company and the game it loves for many years to come.

PokerStars' 2017 was one of exploration. The company experimented with a lot of new things. Some worked. Some didn't. The company reshaped itself, and it took a good long look at itself in the mirror. As the months went by, a clarity emerged, one that was impossible to deny, one that made it clear the gap year was over and the future was at hand.

Though it will take some time to know for sure, as 2017 ends, it feels very much like a very important beginning.

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Let's start at the end.

In the waning months of 2017, there was a secret percolating at PokerStars' headquarters. After a year in which the company's entire live events profile had been turned on its head, people started to hear whispers outside their offices. Changes were happening, and one in particular was about to explode.

David Carrion had been around PokerStars in several capacities for many years. He successfully ran the Latin America Poker Tour and the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. He did a lot of behind the scenes work, too. In June, however, Carrion took on the role of Director of Marketing. While it seemed like a simple staff change at first, people who knew Carrion were sure it would be much more than that.

Carrion had a bold idea. He had watched the experiments of 2017 and evaluated them for what they were worth. After years of success, the EPT, LAPT, APPT and all the regional tours had been shelved in favor of the PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival series. At first it seemed like that the new look would suit a new generation of poker, but over the course of the year, that optimism began to wane. That's when Carrion's brainstorm began to take shape.

"One of my dreams has always been to create--if such a thing exists--a perfect poker tournament," Carrion told us earlier this month.

Carrion's dream is now realizing itself in the biggest thing PokerStars has done in recent memory. This time next year, we'll be on our way to the first PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em Players Championship, a $25,000 buy-in marquee event in the Bahamas that will be unrivaled anywhere in the poker world. To ensure its success, PokerStars is literally giving away more than 300 Platinum Pass prize packages to seed the field and prize pool with millions and millions of dollars.

"We want it to become the players' tournament," Carrion said. "If people give us an opportunity to do this and build on this, they are going to see we can create excitement in poker that at the very least gives us an opportunity to get together once a year and say, 'Yeah, this is our thing. This is our tournament. This really is the best.'"

What's more, while everyone knows the big-time pros will be showing up for the value, the field of the PSPC will be packed with people like you and me: recreational players, dreamers, hopefuls, grinders, and your average folks who have been watching the big tournaments for years and thinking, "I wish I could be there."

Those people have been around for years. They watched the EPT on TV. They saw amateurs turn into pros. They saw unknowns turn into stars. It was a time when anybody could be the next somebody. Over time, a lot of those people started to watch and not see reflections of themselves anymore. The PSPC could change that. Moreover, the tours that made us all dreamers are coming back.

In 2018, the EPT, LAPT, APPT and more will be returning to the PokerStars schedules as the Championship and Festival series take their spots on the storage room shelves.

As this year ends, this crazy dream of bringing poker back to what it once was doesn't seem so crazy anymore. It feels very real, and that's because within just a few days, people are going to start getting their Platinum Passes for the PSPC and planning for 2019.

Taken on its own, all of that could be the PokerStars Year in Review. Full stop. The PSPC and the return of our favorite tours is representative of what PokerStars is. What's more, it is representative of what PokerStars is all about: the players.


Aditya Kumar may end up being the coolest story of 2017. We don't know yet, and we won't for a few weeks. Regardless, he is in the running right now.

Last month, Kumar was messing around and ended up winning a free seat to a PokerStars Caribbean Adventure satellite via the PokerStars Twitter account. Then he ended up winning that satellite. Now, we'll be seeing him in the Bahamas next week.

"One my friends asked me some time back if I had the choice to attend just one big live event [what would I choose]? I said the PCA any day, if only because of the ultra-sick location," Kumar told us.

Aditya Kumar

In a way, Kumar is representative of The PokerStars Player, the one who had hope, kept playing and was given a chance.

A quick story:

2018 will mark the the 15th anniversary of Chris Moneymaker's World Series of Poker win. At the time, I was working in a television newsroom, one with an internal messaging system that seemed very cool then. The producer of the 5pm newscast pinged my screen across the room. The text was an Associated Press article celebrating how Joe Sixpack had won the biggest poker tournament in the world. Before the end of the day, we were rounding up people for a game.

In those days, the general public found inspiration in an Everyman finding success among the pros. Over the time, PokerStars' began to specialize in helping young hopefuls find a ladder (or sometimes rocket ship) to the top. While some folks began to focus on other kinds of success and huge buy-in tourneys, PokerStars continued to give players their chance to hit the big time.

Aditya Kumar is one of those people, and there's a chance he becomes the next big star after playing in the PCA in January.

Whether it's a situation like Kumar's, the ongoing jackpots in The Deal, or the Spin & Go spin-ups, players are getting chances to turn very little or even nothing into something big.

One of my favorite videos from this year was one you might not have seen. It wasn't for a huge amount of money and it involved a pretty brutal suckout, but the reaction from the winner was priceless. Player MousePo, looking like he's wearing fatigues and sitting in a dark underground bunker ended up in a Spin & Go and ended it like this.

Beyond lucky situations like that one, there have been a lot of times where people have seen other players' success and turned that into a win for themselves. Perhaps the best of those happened after Lex Veldhuis won the Thursday Thrill while streaming on Twitch.

After that happened, we took note of a guy who had not yet landed on our radar. Andy "BowieEffect" Wilson, inspired by Veldhuis' performance, decided to try the same thing himself, beginning with a $55 satellite.

Wilson told us later, "It is surely my most defining moment in my career by several hundred orders of magnitude, due to the difficulty and prestige of the Thursday Thrill, and the sheer ROI I made from a $55 satellite bink."

Andy "BowieEffect" Wilson

It's no surprise this kind of inspiration came from Twitch. Fifteen years ago, we had to wait until poker came on TV to be inspired by those who had managed to make it to the big time. Now all we have to do is find some WiFi and watch the stars of today (and tomorrow) turn themselves into celebrities from the privacy of their own homes.


I'm comfortable calling Jason Somerville a revolutionary. He may not be clad in fatigues and leading protestors through the streets, but the movement he began in the poker community several years ago has done nothing less than change the game. Over the course of two decades, poker swung back and forth between being about the intricacies of the game and about the people who play it. Somerville and Twitch managed to combine the two into one.

It wasn't long after that when Jaime Staples showed that Somerville success was replicable. By last year, PokerStars was all-in on the platform. Its members of Team Online started their own streams. PokerStars even signed up a low stakes player, Kevin Martin, to show any level of the game could be interesting to watch.

This year, that platform simply exploded. By way of example, PokerStars and Twitch put together a Charity Cash Game with Veldhuis that had 20,000 viewers watching at the same time. Along the way, most of the PokerStars streamers have been running regular streaming schedules and inspiring new streamers like Andy Wilson to go big.

Of all the streamers, Veldhuis is probably the reigning PokerStars' king. He's the company's top streamer, and there's no question why. While he's entertaining in any venue, Veldhuis has proven himself to be the most engaging (and hilarious) while grinding through hours of streams. Back during WCOOP, he had more than 15,000 people watching him make a WCOOP final table.

Lex final hand.png

Again, it goes back to PokerStars' people. Veldhuis and his fellow streamers are there front and center interacting with people who are inspired by talent, performance, and success. In the end, that's what PokerStars has always been about.

Which bring us back to...


It's very easy to get caught up in the bright lights and shining screens of televised and streamed poker. But for most, that's simply the destination. Since PokerStars began, the journey has always been the thing, and that trip has almost always centered on PokerStars' greatest creations: the COOPs.

The World Championship of Online Poker was the first, followed by the Spring Championship of Online Poker, and Turbo Championship of Online Poker. This year, those marquee tournaments continued to turn out some of the biggest wins of the year (not to mention the biggest day in online poker history).

Over the years, those tournaments have been the jumping off point for people who would go on to be some of poker's biggest stars. Sometimes, like this year, those tournaments make existing stars even brighter. In May, the big SCOOP Main Event did not go to a relative unknown. It went to one of poker's most colorful stars, Charlie Carrel. It happened again in May when pro Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff won the WCOOP Main Event.

Charlie Carrel

vanzadelhoff-1-thumb-450x300-325657.jpgSteven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff

Those tournaments and several other big events turned the spring seasons into one giant flashing beacon in its own right. In just a cope of months, PokerStars minted eleven new millionaires, bringing its grand total of PokerStars millionaires to more than 200.

Making millionaires is something PokerStars has done for many years. It's something has happened time and again. There are a lot of reasons behind the phenomenon, not the least of which is PokerStars' constant focus on innovation and growth.


As poker players, we tend to ask, "What's in it for me?" quite a bit. If something happens outside our frame of reference, we might not give it the kind of attention it might deserve. What we sometimes fail to see is how the little things can add up to something big for everyone.

It's the type of thing you might not recognize unless you're paying close attention. Earlier this year, PokerStars became the first and only poker operator in the Czech Republic. PokerStars celebrated its first year back in the United States.

Again, those might have flown below your radar, but in the meantime, Pennsylvania became the next state to allow online poker in the U.S. For every small step there and around the world, poker and PokerStars are growing around the globe.

That growth is driven by innovations like Power Up, Spin & Go Max, High Roller cash game series, and Usain Bolt Zoom. It's supported by the Stars Rewards program and other player-focused promotions and instruction.

Perhaps the best of those is the PokerStars School which stepped forward with a new platform this year. The new platform came with a new website and new strategy series on six-max cash games. It also has its own Twitch channel and regular bonuses and jackpots.

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Growth means more than what we can all do with our bank accounts. Throughout the year, PokerStars and its Helping Hands programs have continued to do work online and around the world to help people who aren't as fortunate. That has resulted in huge fundraisers in SCOOP and WCOOP to support the REG charity. What's more, PokerStars has continued to support CARE International, Autism Speaks, and Right To Play.

Of course, that growth and innovation is just one element in what's happened over the past 12 months and the many years since we began writing. You readers have continued to be our driving force as we travel the world and keep our eyes stuck to our screens. We've written hundreds of thousands of words this year in an effort to take you inside this world. If you want to look back at all of our coverage, we'd invite you inside our Live Poker Coverage, Online Poker Coverage, and PokerStars News coverage.

Why? Because it will give you a good foundation for what we're about to do in 2018. Expect a new look and coverage here at the PokerStars Blog. Expect us to give you the best live poker coverage on the planet and the easiest place to find it. And expect us to introduce you to the people who stand a good chance at being the next big poker stars.


All of what you read above is a personal take. I asked for input from people I respect, but all in all, it's what I've been thinking over the past few weeks as I've seen PokerStars start looking ahead. I've been watching this company for a very long time, and I can honestly say I'm excited about 2018. David Carrion's vision for the PSPC is ambitious and bold. His insistence that we offer everything we can to PokerStars players is real. It's inspiring and it is genuine. When you put those two things together, you've got a recipe for a good future.

So, if this was a gap year for PokerStars, consider this post where the gap ends. In a few hours, it will be 2018, and if everybody behind the scenes at PokerStars has their way, this indeed will be the end of a year and the beginning of a PokerStars that is both what you always loved about it and what you will love for many years to come.

Thanks for sticking with us all these years. Happy New Year, everyone.

Previous Years in Review:

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005

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

Source: poker stars