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Tadas Peckaitis

Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at mypokercoaching.com where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips. Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S. He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit www.mypokercoaching.com

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Top 10 poker moments from 2021

27 Dec 2021

By Tadas Peckaitis
Ever since the days of the Poker Boom in the early 2000s, the game of poker has grown into an international phenomenon with millions of fans and massive media coverage.

2021 was no different, with multiple special moments marking a year that saw live poker come back in style and plenty of action in all types and formats of poker.

Today, let’s look back at the 10 biggest moments and stories from the poker industry in the last 12 months, with a special focus on those that included some of our favorite big-name players like Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu.

10. PokerStars celebrates 20th anniversary
The emergence of online poker in the early 2000s completely changed the game and brought in millions of fresh players who may have never played poker otherwise.

In late 2021, the most successful online poker room of all times, PokerStars, celebrated its 20th anniversary since launching in 2001.

The operator celebrated this with a massive $5,000,000 tournament we could enter for just $55, along with a range of other celebratory promotions, tournaments, and more.

The PokerStars celebrations were a fitting way to put an end to a year that was overall truly great for poker and set the stage for what’s to come in 2022.

9. Eli Elezra Inducted into the Hall of Fame
Every year, the poker world inducts new members of its Hall of Fame, and this time around, it was the poker champion and legend Eli Elezra who got his name listed along with the likes of Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar and Johnny Chan.

Elezra is also a sports fan who has been an influential character in the world of poker for decades and a proven winner in both tournaments and cash games.

The Israeli-born Elezra is also a bigger-than-life character, and seeing him enshrined into the Hall of Fame was a bright moment for any true poker fan, marking another great moment for poker in 2021.

8. New home for World Series of Poker

For a number of years now, we have grown accustomed to the WSOP being hosted at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, but 2021 was the last year that this held true.

Starting in 2022, the WSOP will be moving to Bally's – Las Vegas and Paris Las Vegas on the Strip, which means the 2021 Series was one we should all remember as the last one played out in the Amazon Room and other famous rooms of the Rio’s massive poker floor.

While we absolutely expect WSOP to get bigger and better as it moves over to the Strip, there will certainly be some nostalgia among players and fans alike at the mention of the Series played out at the Rio.

The announcement that the WSOP will be changing its home next year was one of the big moments for poker in 2021 that everyone in the community felt to some degree.

7. Arieh crowned WSOP Player of the Year
The WSOP Player of the Year title is something that every tournament poker player dreams of winning, as it represents more than just a win in a single poker event.

Going into 2021, the likes of Shaun Deeb and Daniel Negreanu were the favorites to win the title, and a few weeks in, it seemed like there was no stopping Phil Hellmuth.

Yet, as the WSOP progressed, one player broke from the shadows and made sure that everyone who bet on the favorites lost their money.

New York-born Josh Arieh took home the coveted title this year, following an impressive run that saw him win two gold bracelets and over a million dollars in cash.

Arieh’s bracelets came in Event 39, the $1,500 PLO, and Event 66, the $10,000 PLO Hi/Lo, both worth significantly more than Hellmuth’s 2-7 Lowball win.

Mixed in with his other results, Arieh’s titles were enough to win POY and cause a major upset at the Series to the dismay of many other contenders.

6. Aldemir captures WSOP Main Event
The WSOP Main Event, was always considered the biggest tournament of the year, but over the years, it's been won by a fair share of players who didn't actually know what they were doing or couldn't back their profile with any significant prior results.

In 2021, that was dramatically changed, as the eventual winner already had over $12,000,000 in tournament winnings to his name.

For years, German Koray Aldemir has been a familiar face on the tournament circuit, making his way up from lower stakes during a decade at the felt.

This year, Aldemir dominated the tournament and absolutely crushed the final table, showing off all his skills and playing an impressive game all the way down to the final hand.

Poker pros worldwide felt like Aldemir’s win was a win for them all, as skill and talent prevailed in the biggest field of the year, which earned Koray a cool $8 million in cash and a bracelet he will cover forever.

5. The return of Texas Dolly

Doyle Brunson is one of the biggest legends of poker, and unlike many who have marked the game over the years, he is still alive and still playing his beloved game.

At the age of 88, Doyle has not been appearing at the WSOP in recent years, but in 2021 we got a surprise visit from the Godfather of Poker in the $10,000 Main Event and the $1,000 Seniors NLH Event.

Don’t get me wrong, Doyle certainly didn’t pick this one for the low buyin, but probably for the company, as he still regularly plays some of the highest stakes cash games in Las Vegas.

Seeing Doyle back at the tournament table was a great sight for anyone with love for poker and an ounce of nostalgia, so I had to include it as one of the top poker moments of 2021.

4. Polk beats Negreanu in the Grudge Match
2020 was a year marked by one thing, and it was neither poker-related nor very fun. The COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed the world in more ways than one, and live poker was on a break of sorts.

While many poker players took the year off or dedicated their time to other ventures, Daniel Negreanu decided to take poker seriously and study hard to try and beat one of the best heads-up players at his own game. Saying that people were excited to see this happen and many bet types were flying in on this match would be an understatement.

The grudge match between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk started in 2020, but the fun part came in 2021, including the final sessions that sealed the deal on the question of the eventual winner.

When all was said and done, Doug Polk took the victory and $1.2 million in cold hard cash from Kid Poker's piggy bank, demonstrating the power of GTO poker and his heads-up skills.

This heads-up match was streamed simultaneously on several YouTube channels as the 25,000 hands of top-notch heads-up action kept us all well entertained through a fairly dark period.

3. Dwan defeats Hellmuth in High Stakes Duel
A decade ago, anyone who watched TV poker will remember the feuds between Phil Hellmuth and the “young guns” of poker, including the poker prodigy Tom Dwan.

Back then, Phil warned Tom that he would not be around in ten years, but in 2021 Dwan showed him that he was wrong in a big way.

The Poker Brat was coming off a winning streak on the "High Stakes Duel" and bragging about how no one could beat him at heads-up poker until he ran into his old nemesis.

In August 2021, the pair played on the PokerGO hosted show, with both ponying up $100,000 for the heads-up match.

Although Tom came away with the win, Hellmuth did say that “he would like to play him heads up forever,” so we are hopeful that more action between the two legends of the game will be coming our way in 2022.

2. Hellmuth extends WSOP bracelets record
People like to debate about everything, especially when it comes to sports. Discussing who are the fastest soccer players, who is the best in basketball, or who is the greatest in poker is just a norm in everyday chat.

One of the big debates that have been dividing the poker world for decades is the one on Phil Hellmuth.

Over the years, Phil has done more than alright for himself in tournament poker while often avoiding playing against the very best and putting in a massive volume at the WSOP that was almost guaranteed to land him quite a few bracelets.

That said, the Poker Brat has also exceeded the average in terms of the number of jewelry pieces he landed at the WSOP, although many would still debate it’s all due to variance.

Whether it was luck or skill, Hellmuth was the big story at the WSOP once again this year, especially during the early weeks. He landed his 16th bracelet in Event 31, the $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball, which did pay only $84,000.

Phil had a very good WSOP aside from that win as well, as he almost captured another bracelet in a high-stakes event, coming second in the $50,000 PLO High-Roller at the end of the Series.

In the end, the Poker Brat managed yet another memorable year with a close miss on the POY title and even more bragging rights. After 2021, perhaps a few extra people actually admit there might be more to the “magic” than meets the eye.

1. High Stakes Poker returns
If you are anything like me, one of the main reasons you got into poker was seeing the game on TV, and the one show that stood out from all the others was GSN’s High Stakes Poker.

The show first aired in 2006, and it was the first time we got a true look at the world of high stakes poker cash games on TV, with some of the biggest names in the game battling it out for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The massive bricks of cash on the tables, billionaire players like Guy Laliberte, top pros like Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius, and prodigies like Tom Dwan and Andrew Robl… This show had it all!

In 2011, High Stakes Poker aired its seventh season, and it seemed like that was that. Despite all the success and popularity, there simply wasn’t enough interest in the show to keep it alive, or so it seemed.

That was all until PokerGO came around, a true TV studio focused on poker alone. High Stakes Poker got its brand new Season 8 in early 2021, and we could not have been more thrilled.

The early year was marked by the reappearance of the game’s biggest TV show, and it lived up to all the hype.

We got to see some of the biggest names back in action, with Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, and Phil Hellmuth joining the game along with the likes of Nick Petrangelo, Doug Polk, and billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya.

The High Stakes Poker Season 8 kicked off the year in the right way, with million-dollar pots and the kind of banter we all know and love coming back to our TV screens.
 
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