January 11, 2017
The PokerStars Championship has crowned its first-ever Super High Roller Champion. Jason "jakoon1985" Koon took down the inaugural $100,000 event, besting the field of 41 players (+13 re-entries) to claim the trophy and the top prize of $1,650,300.
Koon is a 31-year-old professional poker player from Weston, West Virginia. He’s only been playing live tournament poker since 2008, a year in which he earned just less than $2,000 from the game. Since then, he’s gone on to earn more than $8 million, with more than a quarter of that coming during a career-best year in 2016. The heater is still intact in 2017, apparently, and Koon has already come close to matching last year's earnings barely a week into the new year.
"The past six months have not sucked," the champ said with a hint of disbelief, posing for photos with his girlfriend Bianca perched atop his lap. "What's going on? I mean... what is going on??"
That photo session was the culmination of a long stretch of hard work against some of the best professional poker players in the world. It took two full days of action to whittle the field from 54 entries down to the final seven players. Late on Day 2, Sam Greenwood was eliminated by Charlie Carrel in 8th place, bursting the bubble to mark the conclusion of the night's action.
The seven finalists returned to play it out on Day 3, and it took just about eight hours to decide a winner. Defending champion Bryn Kenney continued his remarkable success in these $100,000 events at Atlantis, notching his fourth cash out of the eight Super High Rollers that have been held here. This time, though, Kenney entered the decisive day with the shortest stack, and his bid to defend his title ended in seventh place at the hands of Koon.
That exit left Connor Drinan with the shortest stack at the table, and he was the next man to fall. Drinan took his last stand with ace-four, but Charlie Carrel found a dominating ace-king to put his opponent on the ropes. Drinan managed to flop a pair of fours to take the lead, but Carrel found the knockout card with a king to match his own on the turn.
The table continued to shrink in chip order, with short stacks Daniel Dvoress and Dan Colman hitting the rail on consecutive hands, both victims of Carrel's seemingly unstoppable run. Dvoress' king-jack of hearts was no match for Carrel's ace-king, the latter rivering a full house to shrink the field to three. One hand later, he found pocket kings and called a shove from Colman and his ace-jack suited. The board ran out blanks, sending Colman to the rail and giving Carrel a significant lead entering the duel with Koon.
From the middle stages of Day 2 up until that point, it looked like Carrel would be hard to beat. He's been on his own heater of late, earning more than $2 million in 2016 and piling up huge results over the past few months. Koon proved to be too much for the young Brit, though, making several big hands to turn the tides in short order. On the tournament's final hand, Carrel bet the river of a very wet, king-high board, and Koon moved all in to put him to the test. Carrel eventually called off the rest of his stack with top pair, only to see that Koon had turned a winning two pair with queen-eight. Handshakes and congratulations were exchanged, and Koon let out a satisfied sigh as he basked in the moments of victory.
In his postgame interviews, Koon provided plenty of insight into his mindset and his performance over the recent months:
On his 2016 heater:
"I think it's really important to keep my eye on the rail and stay grounded and realize that I'm having a Mini Fedor (Holz) moment, and that's pretty awesome. But at the same time, there are a bunch of guys that are more talented than me, and I need to work hard and stay on top of it."
On where this win ranks for him:
"This could the best. There's something about -- I've won the $50Ks and the $25Ks before, but I've never closed out a $100K. And this is the $100K, you know?"
On dealing with a downswing:
"I understand the sample size of tournaments you can play in a year in live poker just isn't relevant. You're going to have to play 10 or 20 years before you reach any kind of sample size. So I kept my head and realized I had the right group around me. It does a lot for your confidence to know that some of the best players in the world believe in you, and that they're there to help you."
On how his game has grown in recent years:
"In order to win at the highest stakes, you can't be -- this is not gonna make some people happy -- but I don't believe to be the best player in the world you can be a purely-feel player. I'm not saying there isn't a live element, and it still exists, and you need to be great at live reads and tells and things like that. But your fundamentals have to be precise if you want to win at the highest stakes. It helps from an execution standpoint, and it also helps from an ego standpoint, because I execute the strategy that I think is best. I don't get caught up in these leveling wars and ego-fests. If I make a play and I bust -- if I thought I was the right play, I don't feel so bad about it."
On the heads-up match with Charlie Carrel:
"I don't know him very well, but we met this tournament and played together a little bit together the last three days. He just seems like a really incredible guy. He seems to have it together, and he's really humble, and -- very young, I think? He's really killing it. When I was that age, I was a total train wreck. It looks like he's figured some stuff out that it took me a decade longer to figure out."
On his goals:
"I do have a lot of goals. Mainly just personal goals -- understanding myself better, getting better at the game. I think there's a finite amount of time and the window is closing on making a good limit at no-limit, and I'd like to ride that out because I love the game. And I'd like to retire thinking that I put the most into it and that I ended up being one of the best players. Just working on my skills at the game -- trying to stay humble, trying to stay hungry."
1st: Jason Koon (USA) - $1,650,300
2nd: Charlie Carrel (England) - $1,191,900
3rd: Dan Colman (USA) - $759,660
4th: Daniel Dvoress (Canada) - $576,300
5th: Byron Kaverman (USA) - $445,320
6th: Connor Drinan (USA) - $340,540
7th: Bryn Kenney (USA) - $275,060
NINE DAYS OF ACTION
PokerStars Championship Bahamas, which runs through January 14 at the sun-drenched Atlantis Resort in Nassau, is the first event of the all new PokerStars Championship tour. Poker players from around the world have been qualifying for as little as $10 at PokerStars.com. The event has an action-packed schedule of 92 tournaments, cash games, and non-poker activities, and attracts thousands of international players who will dust off the holiday cobwebs to play in the nine-day Bahamas poker extravaganza.
- $100,000 Super High Roller (January 6-8, 2017)
- $2,200 PokerStars National Championship (January 7-9, 2017)
- $5,000 PokerStars Championship Main Event (January 8-14, 2017)
- $50,000 NL Hold'em Single Day Single Re-Entry
- $25,750 PL Omaha Single Re-Entry
- $220 PokerStars Open (January 10-12, 2017)
- $25,750 High Roller (January 12-14, 2017)
- $440 PokerStars Cup (January 12-14, 2017)
POKERSTARS TV MAIN EVENT BROADCAST
The ever popular PokerStars TV broadcast returns to the Bahamas with a five-day filming schedule. The stream will air daily from January 10, broadcasting the action from the PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event from Day 2 all the way through to the cards-up finale. The broadcast will be available in a wide number of languages, on desktop and mobile on PokerStars.tv, YouTube, Facebook and Twitch. For cards-up finals, please ensure you do not post ANY action until it has appeared on the live stream. No live streaming is allowed - on any channel (including Facebook, Periscope etc) - from any tournament.
HOST OF #STARSFUN ACTIVITIES AWAY FROM POKER TABLES
Along with the immense poker action, the players and visitors can choose from a host of activities away from the tables, provided by #StarsFun. Taking place at the event are NFL Play-offs tailgate & squares competitions for great prizes (Jan 7-8) as well as virtual reality gaming stations with a chance to win daily prizes and a special basketball 3-on-3 competition on the Atlantis courts, awarding members of the winning team with a $1,000 tournament credit apiece. The official players's party will take place at Aura Nightclub on January 13.
The PokerStars Championship Bahamas will also see the return of the popular "Breakfast with the Pros" Q&A sessions, with a variety of topics to chat through, such as strategy, regulation and future of the game. All players and media have the opportunity to come and ask our sponsored pros and celebrities a question. Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu will run a Q&A session before play starts for the $5,000 PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event. The Q&A, which will be open to all players, guests and media, will focus on adapting to and dominating live poker. For further information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEAM POKERSTARS PROS
Along with Negreanu, fellow Team PokerStars Pros are flocking to the Bahamas - WSOP Player of the Year Jason Mercier, Chris Moneymaker, Andre Akkari, Liv Boeree, Celina Lin, Victor Ramdin, Vanessa Selbst, Jake Cody, Jason Somerville, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Barry Greenstein, Felipe Ramos and former PCA champion Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier will all be in attendance. Team PokerStars Online will be represented by Randy “Nanonoko” Lew and Twich stars Jaime Staples and Kevin Martin. To arrange interviews with Team PokerStars members, please email email@example.com.