Cubs

One of these poker players will win 8.7 million

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One of these poker players will win 8.7 million

From Comcast SportsNet
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The final nine players in the World Series of Poker main event, as determined July 19 after an eighth session of no-limit Texas Hold em at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The finalists emerged from a field of 6,865 players and were competing Nov. 6-8 for the tournament's top prize of 8.72 million. Ninth place won 782,115, paid to all finalists in July; higher finishers win at least 1,010,015 and will be paid the difference from ninth-place money after they finish their run. Players are in order of their seating arrangement at the final table with their chip counts, with those eliminated at the bottom. ------ 1. Pius Heinz (107,800,000) AGE: 22 HOMETOWN: Cologne, Germany OCCUPATION: student, poker player PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: one cash in 2011 for 83,286 ------ 2. Ben Lamb (55,400,000) AGE: 26 HOMETOWN: Las Vegas OCCUPATION: poker professional PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: leads 2011 Player of the Year race; one bracelet, 12 cashes for 2.16 million ------ 3. Martin Staszko (42,700,000) AGE: 35 HOMETOWN: Trinec, Czech Republic OCCUPATION: poker professional PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: four cashes for 22,875 ------ ELIMINATIONS: 4th Matt Giannetti (3,012,700) AGE: 26 HOMETOWN: Las Vegas OCCUPATION: poker player PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: eight cashes for 205,541 THE BUST: Eliminated by Lamb after Lamb had taken most of his stack with a flush. Moved in with an ace-three and Lamb called with pocket kings. Lamb caught two kings on the flop to crush Giannetti's hopes with four of a kind. ------ 5th: Phil Collins (2,269,599) AGE: 26 HOMETOWN: Las Vegas OCCUPATION: poker player PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: eight cashes, 48,769 THE BUST: Eliminated by Heinz with ace-seven of diamonds. Heinz held pocket nines, and Collins failed to overtake him. ------ 6th: Eoghan O'Dea (1,720,831) AGE: 26 HOMETOWN: Dublin, Ireland OCCUPATION: student, poker player PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: five cashes for 37,516 THE BUST: Shoved his last 2.6 million in chips -- less than three big blinds -- with a queen-six and found a caller in Staszko with pocket eights. O'Dea didn't improve. ------ 7th: Badih Bounahra (1,314,097) AGE: 49 HOMETOWN: Belize City, Belize OCCUPATION: grocery wholesaler PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: one cash in 2008 for 7,582 THE BUST: Eliminated with ace-five to Staszko's ace-nine. Neither player hit the community cards. ------ 8th: Anton Makiievskyi (1,010,015) AGE: 21 HOMETOWN: Dnipropetrous'k, Ukraine OCCUPATION: poker player PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: none THE BUST: Eliminated by Heinz with two-pair versus Heinz' full house. Makiievskyi moved in with about a 50 percent chance to win and pulled ahead on the flop, but Heinz caught a third nine to match the pair in his hand to win. ------ 9th: Sam Holden (782,115) AGE: 22 HOMETOWN: Canterbury, United Kingdom OCCUPATION: poker professional PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: none THE BUST: Moved all-in before the flop with an ace-jack and was called by Lamb's ace-king. Lamb hit a flush on the turn.

"He belongs here": What to expect from top prospect Adbert Alzolay's first major league start

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USA Today

"He belongs here": What to expect from top prospect Adbert Alzolay's first major league start

A big part of the Cubs’ MO during the Epstein Era has been the team’s reliance on veteran pitchers. Whether it’s Jon Lester’s cutter, Cole Hamels’ changeup, or Jose Quintana’s sinker, it’s been a while since other teams have had to step into the box against a Cubs starter without much of a scouting report. On the surface, uncertainty from a starting pitcher may sound like a bad thing, but it’s that same apprehension that makes Cubs’ prospect Adbert Alzolay’s first major league start so exciting. 

“There’s energy when you know the guy’s good,” Joe Maddon said before Tuesday’s game. “There’s absolutely energy to be derived. But there’s also curiosity. Let’s see if this is real or not. I think he answered that call.” 

The good news for Alzolay and the Cubs is that much of the usual baggage that comes with one’s first major league start is already out of the way. All of the milestones that can get into a young pitchers head -- first strikeout, first hit, first home run allowed, etc -- took place during Alzolay’s four-inning relief appearance back against the Mets on June 20th. 

“I want to believe that that would help,” Maddon added. “It was probably one of the best ways you could break in someone like that. We had just the ability to do it because of the way our pitching was set up, and I think going into tonight’s game, there’s less unknown for him.”

It also helps that Alzolay will have fellow Venezuelan countryman Willson Contreras behind the plate calling his first game. There’s even a sense of novelty from Contreras’ end too. 

“[Catching someone’s debut] is really fun for me,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s a big challenge for me today. I’m looking forward to it. I’m really proud of Alzolay, and I know where he comes from - I know him from Venezuela. It’s going to be fun.”

Tuesday's plan for Alzolay doesn’t involve a specific innings limit. Maddon plans to let the rookie go as long as he can before he “gets extended, or comes out of his delivery,” as the manager put it. On the mound, he’s a flyball pitcher with good control that works quickly. Expect to see a healthy dosage of 4-seamers that sit in the mid-90’s alongside a curveball and changeup that have both seen improvements this year. 

Against the Mets, it was his changeup was the most effective strikeout pitch he had going, with three of his five K’s coming that way. It’s typically not considered his best offspeed offering, but as Theo Epstein put it on Monday afternoon, “[Alzolay] was probably too amped and throwing right through the break,” of his curveball that day.  

It’s obviously good news for the Cubs if he continues to flash three plus pitches, long the barometer of a major league starter versus a bullpen guy. Even if he doesn’t quite have the feel for all three yet, it’s his beyond-the-years demeanor that has those within the organization raving. 

“The confidence he showed during his first time on the mound, as a young pitcher, that’s a lot,” Contreras said. “That’s who he can be, and the command that he has of his pitches is good, especially when he’s able to go to his third pitch.” 

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

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USA TODAY

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

Akiem Hicks finally earned the recognition he deserved in 2018 with his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and playing on the NFL’s No. 1 defense provided the national attention he should have received in his first two years with the Bears.

He’s a solid interior pass rusher, but where he dominates is in run defense, leading the NFL in run stops last season according to Pro Football Focus.

When Hicks beats an offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage to make a big tackle in the backfield, it’s a work of art, and he revealed the secret to those flashy plays on NFL Game Pass.

He broke down the film of a play against the Green Bay Packers where he beats center Corey Linsley because he knew right guard Jordan McCray was going to pull to the left.

“I read it before the snap happens. I know that McCray is going to pull just based off his stance,” Hicks said. “I know his stance for every play that he’s going to do. I’m going to be at least 75 percent right.”

Hicks looks at how much weight an offensive lineman is putting on his hand, how far apart his legs are and how much bend is in his hips.

“If you do your due-diligence as a defensive lineman and prepare like a professional during the week, you’re going to know,” Hicks said.

Any little deviation from a normal stance is an indicator to Hicks of what the play is going to be, and that pre-snap knowledge keeps him a step ahead of the blocker in front of him.

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