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by Warren Lush |  Published: Dec 31, 2008


Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 - 12 p.m.

J.C. TranIt has been a busy month or so. Preparations are moving full steam ahead for the third season of the Premier League, and we have started to announce the stars invited. Two definite newcomers are J.C. Tran and Nenad Medic. Both are serious players and should bring a lot to the event. There's no doubt they have the pedigree; I just wonder how they will mix amongst the verbal war that is likely to ensue between Hellmuth, Devilfish, and Tony G. My guess is that they will both stir the pot somewhat, having looked at its history. Tony G has already said that his express wish is to "crush the Devilfish," while Roland De Wolfe and Juha Helppi have already made public their desire to destroy each other. Perhaps the key to success in the Premier League is working out who is after whom and staying out of the way.That said, this is probably flawed logic, as everybody will be after Hellmuth … again! Tony G once brought a bike into the poker den and tried to get Phil to get on it; I expect something similar this year. Premier League Poker III sees the buy-in elevated to $75,000 and the added money raised to $350,000, making a total prize pool of $1.25 million. The next event wasn't due to take place until 2009, but the demands of international broadcasters for coverage of the event has brought it forward. The series developed by Matchroom Sport features 12 of the world's best players playing in a unique league format. All 12 players will play six times in the preliminary stages. The leading four players will then progress to the final table, where they'll battle it out in heads-up matches for the final two seats. Season one saw Juha Helppi emerge victorious, and season two saw Andy Black shrug off his king of chokers reputation to overcome Roland De Wolfe.

October saw the conclusion of the Women's World Open II, which was won by Germany's Soraya Homam. One player left a really strong impression, however, and that was Spain's May Maceiras. She was truly outstanding and looked like she was going to win the tournament. She certainly wasn't afraid to make a move. The runner-up was Germany's Stefanie Bergener, a delightful and glamorous lady who played very well throughout.

In mid-October, I went to the Fallsview Casino at Niagara Falls for the World Poker Tour North American Poker Championship. There were 18 online qualifiers taking part, including Alexander Jung, champion of the 2008 Million. It was an interesting tournament, though I had never seen such poor access to the action. With only one rail available for spectators, you could see only three tables, so it made following the players very difficult. The last qualifier running bubbled the final table, but it still provided a nice payday for Sam Greenwood from Toronto. I went out a couple of nights at the Dragonfly bar there, and it was swarming with top players. The waitresses are like spies. Everybody knows that high-rolling poker players like to order a bottle of Belvedere and mixers, but the waitresses themselves come around and comment if someone appears to look a little drunk! I cannot really imagine that happening in Vegas!

After the Premier League, the next big event for me will be the Irish Poker Championship in Galway, starting on Jan. 2, 2009. The hospitality there is legendary, and it is always one of the players' favourite events. Last year, it was won by local boy Jude Ainsworth, who I am sure will be back to defend his title. Online qualifiers are running at, as are satellites for the Asian Poker Tour Manila, which runs from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, 2009.