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The 20 Best Moments in Poker in 2014: #5-1
It was another roller coaster of a year for poker news with dizzying highs and stomach-churning lows.
Every year PokerListings attempts to rank our 20 Best and Worst Moments with varying levels of success.
Is it impossible to categorically “rank” the numerous complex breaking stories and moments of the poker world? Probably yes. But that doesn’t keep us from trying.
Today we're taking a look at the top-five best moments from 5-1. Enjoy and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
You can also embrace your dark side and check out the 20 Worst Moments in Poker 2014.
5. Online Poker Returns to USA in Earnest
While Party Poker and WSOP.com technically opened for business in 2013 it was 2014 that saw legal online poker really get rolling in the USA.
Although the industry is still limited to select states and desperately needs an intra-state compact, there were some large online tournaments held in New Jersey this year.
WSOP.com, Party Poker and 888poker all have sites that are worth playing in New Jersey and Nevada respectively.
It was incredibly positive to see people finally finding games in the USA after years of being locked out of all poker sites.
We’re still a long ways from the glory days of online poker prior to Black Friday but 2014 was a step in the right direction.
4. Main Event Sees First Increase Since 2010
It was a bold plan by the WSOP to offer a $10m GTD first-place prize (OK it wasn’t that bold since they were mostly just making the payouts more top-heavy) but it paid off.
The 2014 WSOP Main Event drew 6,683 players, which first increase in participation since the 2010 WSOP.
In a time where tournament participation seems to be levelling out and even declining it was a massive achievement by the folks at the WSOP and good for poker in general.
The only problem is coming up with something top it in 2015. How about an $11m guarantee?
3. Vicky Coren Mitchell wins Second EPT TItle
There have been over 100 EPT Main Event champions spread across 11 seasons. Incredibly, until this year, nobody had two titles.
Victoria Coren Mitchell put that old record to bed by winning EPT San Remo for her second title on the tour in dramatic fashion.
She started out as the short stack at the final table but slowly chipped her way up throughout the final table until she finally won a pivotal hand against Jordan Westmorland, which gave her a giant stack. She made short work of Italian Giacomo Fundaro to secure her second EPT title.
A long-time member of Team PokerStars Pro (although she left the team in late 2014) Coren Mitchell won her first title way back in Season 3 at the London stop.
It was perhaps the perfect end to her tenure as a Team PokerStars Pro as she left behind an incredible legacy with the site.
As a side note there was something special about that San Remo tournament. Over the years it was the site of both Liv Boeree and Jason Mercier’s famous first wins and now Coren Mitchell's historic second EPT title.
2. Mark Newhouse Goes Back-to-Back
Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but Mark Newhouse does.
Mark Newhouse completed arguably the most impressive feat in the history of modern poker when he made back-to-back final tables at the WSOP Main Event this year.
He outlasted 6,344 players in 2013 and followed that up by outlasting 6,675 in 2014.
The end result was not what he hoped for (he finished ninth at both final tables) but no one can take away his place in the history books.
It will likely be a long time before Newhouse can look back positively on the experience but that shouldn’t take away anything from what he accomplished.
Going back-to-back is also one of the single greatest arguments for poker as a skill game as the odds of the same in a roulette tournament are astronomically small.
1. U.S. Full Tilt Players Paid in Full
There was a time when thousands of Full Tilt Poker players were starting to believe they would never see a dime of their frozen account balances.
In 2014 every last player in the USA that made a claim was given their account balance back, marking an end to a torturous three-year period that had as many ups and downs as an Isildur1 graph.
It was all thanks to PokerStars purchasing the assets of Full Tilt Poker and agreeing to pay back every player in 2012.
It took an incredibly long time but it could have been way worse when you consider the offers that were on the table from controversial figures like Bernard Tapie (who has since been charged with fraud).
Everyone from Blair Hinkle, who received over $1 million, to the average grinder got a welcome check in the mail this year.
Perhaps no other move in the history of the industry has benefited as many poker players (except maybe Chris Moneymaker winning the Main Event in 2003).
The best poker moment of 2014? Yes. Easily. Of course.