Online Report

The PocketFives.com player rankings are compiled based on a number of criteria, the most important of which being that the top ranked players must be consistently playing and succeeding in the biggest online tournaments. Top players’ opinions are regularly sought on who the best players are, but the main source of information is the rigorous observation of tournaments on a daily basis by the PocketFives staff. Rankings are updated weekly to reflect recent results, but the players at or near the top have all been proving their abilities over a longer period of time.

Two new players have moved into the PocketFives.com Top 10 since last month’s update. One of them is JJProdigy, who has emerged in the last six months as an absolute force in multi-table tournaments. As you may have read in the November edition of Bluff, he was the winner of the August Tournament Leaderboard on PokerStars, which was the most hotly contested leaderboard race in the history of online poker. He piles on big wins week after week, and in fact, just as I’m writing this, he finished second in the $100k guaranteed on Paradise for more than $16k!

The other new addition to the top 10 is colson10. Colson10 became known after finishing second in the European Poker Tour event in Deauville, France, but he has had many very impressive online results since, and those are what give him his Top 10 résumé. His biggest online win was a little over $50k in one of the WCOOP (World Championships of Online Poker) events, the $500 Pot Limit Omaha.

JohnnyBax continues to be the most dominant tournament player on the internet, despite the fact that he’s been away much of the time at live events. He currently leads the yearly Tournament Leaderboard race on ’Stars, and he has already surpassed the total of last year’s winner. Amazingly, he spends just as much time in tournaments across the other major sites, UltimateBet, ParadisePoker, and PartyPoker, and yet he continues to beat out many tough players who play exclusively on ’Stars.

Ozzy 87, formerly known as bigslick789, has recently been flat out destroying the online majors. In the past three weekends leading up to this article, he has won the $60k guaranteed on Full Tilt, finished second in the $150k guaranteed on UltimateBet, and narrowly missed the final table of the $500k guaranteed on ’Stars. He often changes his identity, which makes him a difficult player to follow, but if you can find him, you’ll have the privilege of watching one of the world’s most brilliant young poker minds at work. Rumor has it that he’s cleared well over half a million in wins in 2005, and he’s only 18 years old!

As we move into the new year of 2006, these guys are some of the best to seek out on the net, so you can watch and learn. The best place to look for them is at the final table.

ONLINE PLAYERS TO WATCH

BRAINWASH – An 18-year-old poker genius, who finished in the top five of the two biggest weekly tournaments on the net five times in a five month period, each of which guaranteed a prize pool of at least $350k. He won the PokerStars $500k guaranteed $500+30 tournament in April for well over $100k, and regularly cleans up in the Step sit-n-go tournaments on PartyPoker.

GREEN PLASTIC – 22-year-old Taylor Caby, a senior at the University of Illinois, who has elevated his play to world-class status, regularly beating one of the toughest games in the world, the $50-100 NL game on UltimateBet.com. Many of his opponents in this game are well-known professionals, such as Prahlad Friedman, Freddy Deeb, Bobby Hoff, and Phil Hellmuth.

HIGHROLLER48 – Also known as madhattter and Rock Eater, Billy Hill was recently the winner of a live TV tournament that paid $200k to first place. He has won numerous major online tournaments over the last year, and he is now focused primarily on some of the bigger NL cash games.

RAGDE – Winner of the 2004 WCOOP (World Championship of Online Poker) Main Event, which at the time was the biggest prize pool ever for an online tournament (over $2 million!). Hailing from Norway, he is one of the most feared players in any tournament he chooses to play, and he has had success in several venues, both online and live. He had another six-figure score on Ladbrokes in 2005, taking second in their $2,500 buy-in event.

STRASSA2 – Jason Strasser, a junior at Duke University. He has made the final table of the biggest tournament online (the PokerStars $500k/$700k guaranteed) twice this year, for about $80k in combined winnings. He regularly beats up on his opponents in the $10/$20 NL games on PokerStars, and he has recently moved up to the $25/$50 game on UltimateBet.

THETAKEOVER – Nick Schulman, who recently won the Foxwoods WPT event for more than $2 million, and also finished fourth in the WSOP Circuit event in Atlantic City for another $75k. Before becoming a big winner in the live arena, he had been crushing just about every game on the net, including a $175k win in the $700k guaranteed tournament on PokerStars.

ZEEJUSTIN – Justin Bonomo, fourth place finisher in the 2005 EPT event in Deauville, France. He recently won more than $136k for first place in the PokerStars $500k guaranteed, a win that came only six weeks after he’d taken second, for over $110k, in the $1 million guaranteed on PartyPoker. He’s well known as being one of the best single table tournament players alive.

A LOOK AT… STRASSA2 – A.K.A JASON STRASSER

Quick Glance

FAVORITE SITE: PokerStars

LEAST FAVORITE SITE: PokerRoom

WORST GAME: Any form of Omaha

FAVORITE ONLINE PLAYER: My favorite to watch is Mahatma

BEST ONLINE PLAYER: Hard to argue with Mahatma/GreenPlastic. John D’Agostino plays a pretty tough shorthanded NL game, too.

BIGGEST WIN: Stars for 56k on a Sunday.

I can hardly believe that this game I started as a hobby during my freshman year in college has turned into what it has. I began playing poker online around two years ago, with low limit SNGs, MTTs, and the occasional NL ring game. I got decent at SNGs and moved my way up to the $30 level, and then with around 2k in the bank, I decided one night to take a shot at a Super Monday Party tournament. I got lucky and cashed in second for $17k. I moved up in stakes, lost a bit because I still had no idea what I was really doing, and then finally found twoplustwo and other resources which got me thinking the right way about the game.

Now I predominantly play in cash games, ranging from $10-20 NL to $50-100 NL. I’ve had a few tournament scores since my initial one, chopping one ’Stars weekend tourney for 56k and then finishing 7th in another for 26k. I plan to play in many more live events when I turn 21 this December, and when I can get a break from work at college (Duke University, majoring in biomedical and electrical engineering).

The best advice I can give is that the justifications behind your actions in poker are more important than the actions themselves. You need to know exactly why you are making a certain play, not just doing it.

People always say you need math skills to be good at poker, but let’s get real. The majority of the math in poker is what people learned when they were in 4th grade. It’s about the logic behind your actions that most people struggle with; that’s the hard part.

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February 2006