888 XL Blizzard Review
The spectacular 888 XL Blizzard series has kicked off the new year in roaring style. An incredible 34 champions have been crowned in a festival of events covering the whole spectrum of normal buy-ins.
A Showpiece Event to Start the New Year in Style
During 11 days of poker, 34 events catered to the widest range of players possible in today’s poker landscape. Tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $5 to $2,100 displayed guarantees totalling more than $2.8 million, meaning we were sure to see an impressive number of participants.
There was also the remarkable $1 million Winner’s Promotion aimed at players who thought they were capable of winning more than a single tournament. On a sliding scale, if you could take down a pair then an extra $1,000 would be yours. A trio would send $10,000 your way. And as unlikely as it might be, if you could win a monumental five tournaments you would be the proud recipient of a $1 million prize. A great piece of marketing from the 888 team looking to take back poker to where it belongs.
Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights of the series.
Jans "Graftekkel" Arends Wins the Opening Event
It took many hours of play to get some chalk on the board, after Jans "Graftekkel" Arends shipped the $80,000 guarantee opening event. In what was a $109 buy-in tournament, 667 players made 279 rebuys, taking the prize pool up to $94,600.
888 Ambassador Chris Moorman, as you might expect, was up for the action, even if it was a relatively small buy-in compared to what’s normal for him. He finished in 62nd place and collected a $302,72 prize.
Pepepepepe Takes Down the $1,050 Main Event
After a long five hours of late registration there were 730 players who had donated 272 rebuys to just make the $1 million guarantee by $2,000. This meant that the winner would receive $183,867. But it wouldn’t be easy, as the line-up was looking seriously tough with a long list of big names ready for action. Jon Van Fleet, who recently took down his first ever seven-figure score, was alongside names such as Domink “888Dominik” Nitsche, Adrian Mateos (2017 GPI Player of the year), and Chris Moorman.
As it was, none of those guys came close to the money. 888 brand ambassador Parker Talbot came the closest, finishing only two places away from claiming a prize.
When we reached the final table stage, TAPIS_TAPIR was the first to leave, picking up $13,026 for ninth place. Next to go was proplatish from Russia. He had his chips in the middle with pocket kings against Vienas2 who was holding J8, and managed to hit a runner runner jack and eight on the turn and river. Vienas2 then, almost immediately, sent home Spowi07 in seventh after smashing pocket jacks with J6.
After hanging on for a while with a crippled stack eight0808 then left the field in sixth place, collecting $42,084 for his efforts. Then Vienas2 was eliminating yet another player, but this time with the best hand. His AQ was all in against Kamphu94’s A8, and held to knock out the German.
Next up was dr.hAni who was butting heads with the chip leader, and eventual winner, Pepepepepe. He felt top pair was enough to get it in at this late stage, but Pepepepepe turned a set of eights to leave the action only one player away from the heads-up stage.
Only a few hands afterwards wellyxx left the stage in third place, with a $99,198 prize, setting us up for a 15-minute heads up session.
From Argentina, Pepepepepe didn’t take long to accomplish his mission and beat Lithuanian Vienas2 into submission. The tournament ended in classic style with Pepepepepe getting his AK in pre flop against pocket fours for a standard race situation. He won the tasty $183,867 first place prize, and his opponent walked away with $131,262. A great performance by both players.
The High Roller
Event #16 was the $2,100 buy-in High Roller showing a $250,000 guarantee. This ended up with 118 players signing up giving them a slight overlay and some great value for such a tournament.
Hailing from Mexico, SteveyBG fought as hard as is possible for nine hours to ship the most expensive event in the series. He was up against another roster of household names, including new 888 signing Martin Jacobson, a former WSOP Main Event winner.
Parker Talbot was the only 888 sponsored player to make the final table, and he ended his run in ninth place with a $7,5000 prize.
Fabricio "DrMiKee" Gonzalez was next to go after jamming his last eight blinds into pocket sevens and missing completely.
It took another half hour to lose another runner. summuNNN defended his big blind with T8 hitting top pair, only for OINKOinkOink to snap call the Brit’s flop shove with AA. $13,125 for sixth place wasn’t too shabby though.
Ukraine’s yarik1903 was battling to become the first player to collect a prize from the $1 Million Winner’s Promotion after taking down the $55 rebuy and add-on a couple of nights before. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, after A6 proved insufficient against aIderfaIder who showed AK. The Brit was now up into second place in chips, with only four players remaining, but then disaster struck. Eventual winner SteveyBG jammed pocket tens preflop and aIderfaIder felt that he was short enough to justify a call with pocket sixes at this stage. A flopped 10 made a set and we were down to three.
Sebastian "p000cket000" Sikorski then made what he thought was a standard shove with J3 only for OINKOinkOink to call him off with A7 and hold. The German then quickly made a deal with SteveyBG before the heads-up stage got underway, where he would lose out in the end. OINKOinkOink had earlier in the day won a title, but this defeat would have been softened by the $51,303 runners up prize.
All-in-all this XL Blizzard Series has been a roaring success, and looks to be one the players and fans alike will be hoping comes again next year.