As 2005 comes to a close and the poker world reflects on another fantastic year, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at the past 365 days. We hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have.
John Gale and his winning hand
PokerStars.com EPT Scandinavian Open–Noah “Exclusive” Boeken was already well-known for his success online at PokerStars. At the European Poker Tour Scandinavian Open in Copenhagen Denmark, the young gun proved he had live poker skills as well. Boeken worked his way through the field and then defeated Ram Vaswani in a heads-up match for the ages.
Noah “Exclusive” Boeken in his winner’s interview with the EPT’s Caroline Flack
Brandon Schaefer (front) and Carl Olson in Deauville, France
Moneymaker–In February, 2003 World Series of Poker Champion Chris Moneymaker’s long-awaited biography hit the store shelves.
Happy birthday, Shaq!–When it was time for #32 to turn 33, PokerStars.com was in Miami to throw Shaquille O’Neal a star-studded bash. From Donald Trump to Tara Reid, the stars came out to celebrate with the Heat. While Shaq drew a lot of attention, the live PokerStars charity SNGs drew crowds away from the dance floor and to the felt.
Shaq at the poker table
Brandon Schaefer and Rob Hollink heads-up
PokerStars featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes–In another example of online poker moving into the mainstream, CBS newsman Dan Rather interviewed Team PokerStars’ Chris Moneymaker about the online poker explosion and his key role in the poker revolution.
PokerStars Caribbean Adventure hits the airwaves–After a long wait, the Travel Channel aired the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, brought paradise and poker to millions of viewers, and turned John Gale into an international poker star.
Two-time World Cup of Poker champions, Team Costa Rica
Lee Jones releases third edition of Winning Low-Limit Hold’em–Not one to rest on his laurels, PokerStars card room manager Lee Jones revamped his book “Winning Low-Limit Hold’em” and released it to eager readers.
Wil Wheaton joins Team PokerStars–As the World Series of Poker approached, Team PokerStars’ added Wil Wheaton to its membership list. Since then, the noted film and TV actor (Stand By Me, Star Trek: TNG, CSI, etc), writer, and poker enthusiast has gone on to host charity tournaments for Hurricane Katrina relief and weekly private tournaments on PokerStars.com.
Joe Hachem wins 2005 World Series of Poker–With a cry of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!” Joe Hachem won the 2005 World Series of Poker. Hachem, a long-time PokerStars player, traveled to the World Series with a friend who had won a WSOP seat on PokerStars.com. The record-breaking tournament featured Team PokerStars’ Greg Raymer making an amazing run that ended with a finish in the top 30 and two PokerStars qualifiers at the championship final table.
PokerStars breaks another weekly tournament record–In July, PokerStars’ weekly $200+$15 Sunday had more than 3000 entries and crossed the $600,000 prize pool mark, crossing yet another milestone for the biggest weekly tournament on the planet.
Deep Stack Tournaments–In a move widely applauded in the serious tournament poker community, PokerStars began to offer deep stack tournaments, with 30 minute levels and 5000 in starting chips.
Isle of Man welcomes PokerStars.com–In August, PokerStars obtained a gaming license on the Isle of Man. The island government subsequently announced PokerStars would soon be moving to the island to establish a new headquarters.
Hurricane Katrina relief–In response to the tragedy on the American Gulf Coast, PokerStars and its players donated more than $100,000 to the relief effort. Team PokerStars Wil Wheaton hosted a series of charity tournaments that helped raise funds and PokerStars matched every donation 100%. Poker professional Barry Greenstein also donated his winnings from a WCOOP event to the campaign.
PokerStars.com EPT Season 2–In its second season, the EPT once again visited Barcelona and the Victoria Casino in London. In two huge events, France’s Jan Boubli won the event in Barcelona and Mark Teltscher won the event in London.
Weekly tournament breaks another record–It seemed nothing could stop the Sunday $200+$15. By October, the tournament passed 3500 entries and the $700,000 prize pool mark.
Commemorative medallions released–October marked the release of the first PokerStars commemorative medallions. The first released was the silver Chris Moneymaker coin.
WCOOP makes CardPlayer cover–After becoming one of the biggest tournament series in the world (and, by far the biggest online tournament series), the World Championship of Online Poker made the cover of CardPlayer magazine.
PokerStars EPT hits Austria and Ireland–After two successful tournaments in September, the EPT traveled to Baden, Austria and Dublin, Ireland. Patrik Antonius won the event in Austria. Mats Gavatin took down the event in Ireland.
Joe Hachem joins Team PokerStars–It was such a perfect fit, it had to happen. Joe Hachem, the 2005 World Series of Poker champion, signed an agreement with PokerStars.com to play for Team PokerStars. Hachem, who won the record $7.5 million top prize at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas in July, now represents PokerStars.com as a sponsored player and ambassador. During the month of November, Hachem further proved his ability as a poker player by making the final table of a World Series of Poker Circuit event at Bally’s in Las Vegas. Hachem was poised for a top finish, but fell to a rough bad beat.
Evelyn Ng makes CardPlayer cover–Once again, a member of Team PokerStars has graced the cover of CardPlayer magazine.
World Poker Blogger Tour–Once again showing its dedication to the blogging community, PokerStars co-sponsored the WPBT Winter Classic in Las Vegas. Team PokerStars’ Wil Wheaton played along with his fellow bloggers in the event.
Free money–Finally, over the course of 2005, PokerStars gave away more than $22 million in deposit bonus money and tournament freeroll entries.
There is no denying 2005 was a spectacular year in the PokerStars community. The 2006 horizon looks just as promising.
Happy New Year to everyone.