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Gossip Column: Jason Koon Single No More, Nathan Manuel Finally Wins A Platinum Pass & More

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  • PG News October 30, 2018
  • 7 Minutes Read

If excitement of live poker is what gets many a poker player hooked to the mind sport, then the interesting details of their lives off the felts is what adds spice to the gossip mills! We’ve heard, that Jason Koon has finally decided to get caged for life, or was it ‘engaged’? Koon’s love interest Bianca Armstrong shared a photograph with Koon on Instagram, one that clears all doubts on the soon-to-change marital status of the player.

And while the two lovebirds are basking in the happy news, Nathan Manuel’s year-long struggle to win a Platinum Pass that saw him travel to different countries, and even learn Japanese has finally fructified, with a $30,000 Platinum Pass to the PokerStars’ Players NLHE Championship firmly in his name.

Meanwhile, online poker legend Chris Moneymaker has been keeping real busy. Moneymaker participated in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session with Reddit users a week back, along with poker announcer Norman Chad and the duo had some pretty serious questions, and some not so serious questions, to answer.

Jason Koon Proposes to Girlfriend

Poker pro Jason Koon has had a really eventful week but it was not about poker, really. Koon proposed to his girlfriend Bianca Armstrong and got a “Yes” for an answer!

Jason Koon & Bianca Armstrong
Jason Koon & Bianca Armstrong

How do we know, by the way? Armstrong shared the news on her Instagram handle. “Fiance alert!” she wrote, sharing a photograph of her with Koon. Needless to say, congratulations poured in.


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Fiancé alert! @jasonkoon

A post shared by Bianca Armstrong (@biancaarmstrong) on

Nathan Manuel Gets What He Wants: A Platinum Pass!

If there is any player who could be called the ideal role model for patience and perseverance, it’d be Nathan Manuel who outlasted an 825-strong field in the $86 Moneymaker Spectacular at the popular Run It Up Reno VII that was hosted at the Peppermill Hotel Casino, Nevada, and walked away with a $30,000 Platinum Pass to the PokerStars Players’ NLHE Championship (PSPC).

Nathan Manuel with wife Claire
Nathan Manuel with wife Claire

But Manuel’s ride to winning a Platinum Pass wasn’t a smooth one. When the PSPC was first announced this year, he had made up his mind to snag a pass.

Manuel traveled to UK just to play the PokerStars MegaStack London for a shot at the coveted pass. Victory eluded him, however. All he could manage was a min-cash of £286. “Four starting flights and I literally played every one of them,” Manuel recalls.

Then he heard that Team PokerStars Pro Jaime Staples has announced his own ‘UltimateSweat’ challenge for giving away a Platinum Pass, and Manuel was right on it. He decided to learn Japanese and even reached the finals of the challenge, but was ousted.

Early this month, right in the run-up to the finals of Staples’ challenge, Manuel shared the details on Twitter.

We’d have imagined that Manuel would give up. But he committed himself to the chase, and entered a number of Moneymaker PSPC Tour events, leaving aside the fact that he had a wedding to plan.

Manuel was seen in action at the Moneymaker Event at Stones Gambling Hall in California in August, where he finished 34th, and the event was won by Cliff Ellefson. Manuel almost gave up but then destiny finally decided to let him have his way. The Run It Up veteran returned to what was his nerve centre of action, the Run It Up Reno. Having attended every one of the previous six editions of the event, Manuel finally made his dream come true right there!

“If you’re going to give up time doing something that’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, getting married, it better be worth it. It’s so reassuring that I’m now gonna go play poker for $25,000,” he said, adding, “I feel really amped, really excited! I’ve committed so much time, effort, resources.”

Manuel also updated his fans on Twitter about his win.

While Manuel has returned home a happy man, there’s someone else who’s glad he’s done it, his wife Claire. “Nathan has worked endlessly for this opportunity and I know how much he wanted this, I’m so proud of him and I love him immensely.”

Not just Claire, Staples’ also took to Twitter to congratulate Manuel.

Chris Moneymaker & Norman Chad Feature in an AMA Session on Reddit

Right after Chris Moneymaker was spotted on an ESPN ’30 for 30’ podcast, the famed poker pro returned to the spotlight, and this time with poker announcer and World Series of Poker (WSOP) co-host Norman Chad giving him company.

Chris Moneymaker
Chris Moneymaker

The duo appeared in an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) session with Reddit users last week, allowing fans to catch up with them and shoot questions on their lives and poker. There were some serious questions that Moneymaker answered, like how he felt the WSOP Main Event had changed over the years.

“Shorter days for sure. We played from noon till sometimes 4 a.m. It was brutal. Most days now you are out the door by 10 p.m. Least was the November 9 concept which has since been undone thank goodness,” he said.

When asked whether Atlantic City was undergoing a revival of sorts in the live casino scene, Moneymaker felt that the charm and pull of Atlantic City had dimmed due to casinos and poker rooms mushrooming in almost every city.

Chad, in the meantime, was asked why he liked to hand out signed cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) beer. “I write a weekly newspaper sports column. I always have an official beer I drink in the column. It used to be PBR, it now is Yuengling. When I go to a Deepstacks Charity Poker event every year in Florida, I hand out signed cans of PBR.

While its commendable how the two handled the session, there were some personal and candid questions as well, but Chad was all for it.

“On my third, as of 8:55 a.m. PT this morning,” He responded when asked how many times he was married. “Wife No. 3 left mid-morning to get cigarettes and has not returned. P.S. She doesn’t even smoke.”

So these were all the latest tidbits brought to you straight from the gossip hallways of poker. We leave you now, and shall be getting back with an all new collection of interesting and shocking reads soon enough. Stay tuned!

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