My finger moves into my mouth with all the grace of a teenage lover; past the oily residue staining my lips, the remnants of a mandu-guk New Year’s Day slobfest, and out it comes, into the air.
I am not a statistician; I’m more of a gut feel man, and right now, other than telling me that I’ve overeaten fried food, it’s telling me that 2018 was the year when High Roller hoodies paralleled the jackets of four-star Generals.
Millions moved through the ranks.
There were more personal bests in 2018 than at any other time in the history of this rich lineage of our beloved game.
All of which means, 2019 is going to have to be extra special if it’s going to keep the speeding fines coming in, and it’s beginning startlingly with three global venues hosting events carrying buy-ins of $25,000 plus, and we begin in The Bahamas.
The New Year begins with the event that places high rollers, and the working class into the same melting pot – the $25,000 buy-in PokerStars Player’s No-Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC).
PokerStars has invested more than $9.6m into this event, handing out 320, $30,000 Platinum Passes to a pocket of players for whom competing in a $25,000 buy-in event is as realistic as your funeral director going all Frankenstein on your arse and bringing your grandma back from the dead for a spot of Seven Card Stud.
And they haven’t finished yet.
The winner won’t only walk away with a mega-million first prize – PokerStars will hand that man, woman or Frankenstein an additional million bucks.
The event will be bigger than a Chinese atheist convention.
The whole thing takes place at The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas Jan 6 – 10 as an expensive prelude to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA).
And these three bad boys each earned a freeroll into the event.
1. David Peters ($10.7m in 2018 earnings)
2. Mikita Badziakouski ($14.5m in 2018 earnings)
3. Stephen Chidwick ($10.1m in 2018 earnings)
The PCA officially gets underway on Sat 5 January with a $2,700 PSPC qualifier and ends on Wed 16 Jan.
There are five events for High Rollers on the card including two $100,000 events, a $50,000 and two $25,000 games.
The $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em takes place 9 Jan, the $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em PCA Super High Roller 10-12 Jan, a $100,000 No-Limit High Roller on 12 Jan, a $25,000 No-Limit Hold’em on 13 Jan and a second $25,000 event 14-16 Jan.
The $100,000 Super High Roller has been a permanent fixture in the poker calendar since 2011, and here is the current rogue’s gallery.
$100k SHR Winners
2011 – Eugene Katchalov (38-entrants) $1,500,000
2012 – Viktor Blom (40-entrants) $1,254,400
2013 – Scott Seiver (55-entrants) $2,003,480
2014 – Fabian Quoss (56-entrants) $1,629,940
2015 – Steve O’Dwyer (66-entrants) $1,872,580
2016 – Bryn Kenney (58-entrants) $1,687,800
2017 – Jason Koon (54-entrants) $1,650,300
2018 – Cary Katz (48-entrants) $1,492,340
After the barmy Bahamian blitz, it’s time for a 20-hour flight to Australia for the 2019 Aussie Millions. The Crown Casino, Melbourne, once again plays host, and there is an AUD 25,000 (USD 17,600) No-Limit Hold’em Challenge scheduled for January 25, and an AUD 50,000 (USD 35,000) No-Limit Hold’em Challenge on the card for Jan 27-28.
The Aussie Millions is the spiritual home of the high roller circuit with the AUD 100,000 Challenge* in situ since 2006, and the AUD 250,000 Challenge running from 2011 until its demise in 2016. The three most significant Aussie Millions winners are Phil Ivey ($7.9m), Erik Seidel ($4.8m) and Sam Trickett ($4m).
The Aussie Millions tournament organisers introduced the AUD 50,000 Challenge to replace the AUD 250,000 Challenge in 2016, where Mikita Badziakouski beat a measly 6-entrants to win the AUD 176,400 (USD 133,062) first prize. Last year, things worsened when Sam Greenwood beat a dire 4-entrant field in the same event before launching a Twitter tirade aimed at the German stable for refusing to get their hands dirty.
*The AUD 100,000 event takes place on Feb 1, hence its absence in this piece.
Japan High Roller Festival
There is one other $25,000+ buy-in event on the poker calendar according to Hendon Mob. The Japan High Roller Festival has a KRW 30,000,000 (USD 26,000) No-Limit Hold’em High Roller taking place 3 – 6 Jan, and as officials have banned live poker in Japan, the event takes place in the Paradise Casino, Incheon, South Korea. The Japan High Roller Festival debuted in the Paradise Casino back in 2017, but they have never held an event of this magnitude before.