Poker News

Viktor Blom Has the Onions, Wins partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Germany Main Event

Poker News Daily - 5 hours 50 min ago

I once made a pretty big call in a tournament for a couple hundred dollars. I lost, but I ended up coming in third and won $3,500, which is this high roller’s most sizable tourney score. I know, I know, stop bragging already. I cannot imagine, though, making a call with almost an empty hand and €100,000. But that’s what Viktor “Isildur1” Blom did this weekend in the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Germany €5,300 Main Event and that is why he is a pro and I am just here writing about it.

Of the more than 1,000 players who started the event, just 13 remained going into the final day and when the official eight-handed final table was set, Blom was second in chips with 144.8 million, nearly tied with Pavel Pesluv (143.1 million) who was coincidentally the man he would face at the end. Ondrej Drozd was way ahead with 258.6 million.

But you’re here to read about what happened to close out the tourney, so let’s skip to that. During heads-up, Plesuv went on a tear, building as much as a 9-to-1 chip lead on Blom, clearly looking like he was going to take home the title. But Blom roared back, eventually taking the lead.

On the final hand, Hand 242 of the final table, blinds were 6 million/12 million with 12 million chip ante. Holding K♥-6♦, Blom raised pre-flop to 35 million and Plesuv called with Q♦-7♦. Clearly, neither man had an incredible hand, but this was heads-up, so a face card is pretty solid.

The flop was Q♥-9♥-K♦, pairing both players’ top cards and giving both backdoor flush draws. Blom bet 45 million this time and Plesuv check-called. The A♦ was dealt on the turn, now giving Plesuv a flush draw. He check-called a huge 105 million chip bet from Blom to bring on the river 5♥. At that point, with just third pair and a busted flush draw, Plesuv moved all-in for 299 million.

Blom tanked. He had just 344 million chips remaining, so if he were to call – with just second pair, mind you – he was crippled. And then, casually, he made the call, picking off Plesuv’s bluff and sending the announcers on the telecast into a frenzy. I couldn’t hear what Plesuv said to him, but he was smiling and frankly seemed impressed that Blom was able to read him correctly.

From the brief commentary that I heard in the video clip I watched, the analysts seemed to reason that Blom may have figured the only hand he was losing to was an Ace-high flush based on Plesuv’s play. Since Blom had the K♥ and Plesuv check-called an Ace on the turn with a heart flush draw out there, Plesuv either had worse than a pair of Kings or was waiting on his Ace-high flush to come in. Blom took the chance that Plesuv didn’t have the flush and he was right.

Before heads-up, Blom and Plesuv made a deal to in which they would each win €750,000 and leave €100,000 plus the trophy for which to play. Of course, after the Mike Leah controversy, people may be skeptical as to whether or not making a deal tarnishes Blom’s victory, but it certainly looks like both men played all-out, like both were definitely trying to win (Blom probably wouldn’t have come back from 9-to-1 down if this wasn’t the case). Plus, €100,000 is nothing to sneeze at, so it was not likely that either would’ve just thrown away a chance to win the extra dough once the deal was made and the money was there for the taking.

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Categories: Poker News

Poker Players Alliance Calls for Financial Donations

Poker News Daily - Sat, 2018-02-17 17:19

For the first time in the organization’s history, the Poker Players Alliance has sent out a desperation call for donations to aid in their work.

After taking the helm of the PPA last week from the departing John Pappas (who will depart the organization at the end of February), new PPA president Rich Muny issued an e-mail to their members and e-mail followers. Citing the decrease in donations from online poker sites and other internet gaming advocates, Muny admits to the constituency that the PPA is not doing well. “Over the past several months, we have been adjusting to a significant reduction in donations from the internet gaming industry, this despite our successes in Pennsylvania just a few months ago,” Muny writes in the e-mail. “We now find ourselves possibly shutting down right before what could be the biggest year for iPoker and iGaming yet.”

How bad could the situation be for what is supposedly a million-member strong organization, which seemingly had support from many of the major players in the live and online world? “(The) PPA cannot continue fighting for poker if we do not meet our fundraising goal of $25,000 by the end of March,” Muny continues. “With support from poker players and enthusiasts like you, we can easily make this goal.”

“Every dollar donated will go toward core operational expenses of our grassroots communications and advocacy, as our communications tools are crucial to PPA’s mission,” Muny concludes. “Please be sure to help ensure PPA’s continued leadership for our game!”

It must be stated that the PPA has never required a fee for membership in the organization. When it was initially founded back in the early Aughts, it depended on donations from members and others who believed in the goals of the group – to defend the rights of poker players and the ability to play the game either live or online. The group was able to raise a good deal of its base funding through the grassroots of the game – the players – and advocate in several arenas.

After the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act in 2006, however, poker players lost faith in the PPA. Despite pleas from the PPA leadership that they had staved off passage of the UIGEA longer than if they hadn’t been around (and, to be honest, the UIGEA was a tack-on to a must-pass piece of legislation in the dark of night in 2006), the very people that the PPA was looking to represent began to lose faith in the organization itself.

There was an eager party willing to step in at that time, however. Online poker sites, looking to either keep the lights on the U. S. market or to get passage of pro-online gaming and poker regulations, began to supplement the PPA’s legislative and lobbying activities. As such, the PPA swung most of its efforts into working for online poker, to the point of putting some of the executives from these online poker sites on the Board of Directors of the PPA. This would prove to be another dagger in the heart of the group, though.

When “Black Friday” came in 2011 – the seizure and shutdown of the three biggest online poker operations in the U. S. – players once again complained about the lack of success from the PPA. When it was discovered that members of the ownership of Full Tilt Poker were intricately involved with the PPA’s Board of Directors, those complaints grew louder about how the group was now an “AstroTurf” (instead of grassroots) organization defending the online sites rather than the players. Although those involved with FTP were expelled from the PPA’s leadership, it was a bit too late.

Over the past seven years – with other online sites shutting down left and right and players losing millions of dollars – the PPA was unable to draw attention to those “screw jobs” from those sites. Instead, they concentrated their efforts on a low-cost means of advocacy through Facebook and Twitter called the “Daily Action Plan.” Although those actions would have both a good and detrimental effect on the debate, the money began to dry up from the online sites.

As little as four years ago, the PPA was drawing in roughly $5 million per year in donations and “membership fees” (parenthesis because members of the PPA do not have a set fee to pay yearly, it is by donation). Over the past couple of years, though, the monies coming in have dwindled to roughly $2-plus million and, it has been argued, led to the departure of Pappas.

Whether this fundraising effort will be successful is unknown. The PPA has a contingent that still believes in their work. They also have another contingent that doesn’t believe that the PPA is giving the right “bang for the buck” when it comes to lobbying for poker players’ rights and online and live poker. It remains to be seen what will become of the organization in what is a very pivotal year for online gaming, poker and perhaps other forms of internet gaming.

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Categories: Poker News

Controversy Emerges Over Mike Leah’s WPT Victory at Fallsview

Poker News Daily - Thu, 2018-02-15 18:33

Earlier this week, veteran poker pro Mike Leah was able to capture another leg of poker’s Triple Crown, topping the field at the World Poker Tour’s stop at the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic. Along with his victory in 2014 at the WSOP Asia/Pacific, it now leaves the popular Canadian pro only one step (an European Poker Tour victory, now that series has resumed) from that magical poker achievement. But there is a significant taint to the WPT championship, one that has left Leah explaining his actions and others wondering if it was an acceptable way to win the championship.

First, the details of what occurred. Beginning heads up play against Ryan Yu, Leah was at a 2.5:1 chip disadvantage. The two took an unscheduled break from the action and, after their return, the cards hit the air to determine the champion. On the very first hand, Yu stuck four million chips in the center and, after Leah responded with an all-in, Yu folded despite the fact it was only another 695K to call. This move gave Leah the lead and it would get worse.

On the very next hand, Leah limped in and Yu raised five million of his 6.76 million stack. Leah came over the top for the additional chips that Yu had and, amazingly, Yu folded his hand. On the VERY NEXT HAND, Yu raised for 1.7 million chips, leaving 40K behind, and after Leah came over the top of THAT bet, Yu folded once again. With scraps left, there were a few more all ins that Yu would win before he was eventually eliminated with Leah taking the title.

Those are the facts. Now for the additional harsh reality.

There is some discussion as to whether the WPT has or doesn’t have a rule against making deals at the final table. In the 16-year existence of the organization, there has NEVER been a blatant chip dump such as this that determined the champion of the event. Because of the factor of Player of the Year points, the potential future bonuses (a WPT champion automatically qualifies for the WPT Tournament of Champions and has the right to play in subsequent years) and other benefits of the victory – not to mention the “competition” that was supposed to be evident in the WPT product – the WPT founders implemented the “no deal” rule.

However, that is being questioned by the very person who should have overseen the action, WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. In response to a Tweet Savage – who is currently on the floor at his home casino, the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, overseeing the action at the L. A. Poker Classic – indicated that he had changed the “no deal” policy when he took the position with the WPT in 2010. If this is the case, then it was the quietest rule change that has occurred in the history of poker because no poker media outlet nor anyone else can recall the “rule change.”

While there is debate as to whether this violated the rules of the WPT, there is the question as to whether it violated the rules of the casino or the gaming body overseeing it. Quite frankly, in no casino in the world would such a blatant chip dump be allowed. That the Fallsview staff ALLOWED for such an action to occur in their casino is utterly surprising, not to mention that there are allegedly laws against chopping tournaments in Ontario (the Canadian province where the event took place).

According to some involved in the discussion, Ontario’s Alcohol & Gaming Commission does not allow casinos to facilitate any “chops” in poker tournaments. If there is any private decision by the players to chop the tournament, the tournament still is to play out and then the money handled by the players AFTER the tournament has been completed.

Poker Fraud Alert’s Todd Witteles also brings up other uncomfortable issues regarding the chip dump. In particular, Witteles asks when it was determined that such an arrangement took place. If it took place BEFORE the third-place finisher had been determined, then there could be the potential for collusion between Leah and Yu to ensure that they would reach heads up against each other with a deal in place.

Leah, for his part, has taken to social media to defend himself. In a Facebook post, he admitted that “(he saw) how it’s embarrassing/disappointing for the WPT” for he and Yu to have done what they did. He falls short of any apology for their actions, however. Poker News Daily has also requested comment from Savage as to the actions in Canada and, as of press time, no comment has emerged (Poker News Daily will update as appropriate).

What is obvious is that there was a massive chip dump in a major poker tournament, not the daily 2PM event at the Mirage. What actions can be taken to ensure that this type of situation either doesn’t happen again or, at the minimum, is exposed to the light of day to provide transparency for these events (the EPT perhaps had it right when they allowed for chops and even added it to their commentary so that fans knew what occurred; they also reserved some of the prize pool and the trophy for the players to play for)? There will be ramifications of what took place at Fallsview and some in the poker community may not be comfortable with those changes.

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Categories: Poker News

What the Hell Happened at the End of Mike Leah’s WPT Fallsview Win?

Poker News Daily - Thu, 2018-02-15 06:03

On Tuesday, I posted a quick write-up of the 2018 World Poker Tour (WPT) Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event final table, won by Mike Leah. Leah was understandably thrilled – it was his first WPT title after coming close a few years ago and he did it essentially in his own backyard. But as I read and subsequently wrote about the heads-up portion of the tournament, it looked really fishy. I didn’t say much about it in the write-up, other than it being “strange,” as I didn’t want to start launching any accusations, but a day later, the poker community has been abuzz with discussion about the end-game, so I am certainly not alone in thinking something was amiss.

To set the scene, Mike Leah and Ryan Yu were heads-up for the WPT Fallsview title. Yu had more than a 2-to-1 chip lead, 10.800 million to 4.715 million with blinds and antes at 60,000/120,000/20,000. Things instantly appear borked. Here is how the first three hands of heads-up play went, according to (hand numbering by this writer):

Hand 1: Ryan Yu raises to 4,000,000 from the button on the first hand of heads-up play, Mike Leah (pictured) reraises all in for 4,695,000 from the big blind, and Yu folds.

Mike Leah – 8,735,000
Ryan Yu – 6,780,000

Hand 2: Mike Leah limps in from the button, and Ryan Yu raises to 5,000,000 from the big blind. Leah reraises all in for 8,715,000 and Yu folds.

Mike Leah – 13,755,000
Ryan Yu – 1,760,000

Hand 3: Ryan Yu raises to 1,700,000 from the button, and Mike Leah (pictured) pushes all in for 13,735,000 from the big blind. Yu folds, and Leah captures this pot.

“When you’re beat, you’re beat!” says Yu.

Mike Leah – 15,475,000
Ryan Yu – 40,000

So, on the first hand of heads-up play, Yu had already put in 4 million chips and only had to call another 695,000 with about 6 million left behind to possibly win the tournament right there. His fold after Leah’s all-in is puzzling, but I suppose in a vacuum one could think that maybe he was completely bluffing and didn’t want to throw good chips after bad.

The second hand is where things really start to look weird. Yu raised to 5 million pre-flop, nearly three-quarters of his chips. Nobody does that without just moving all-in. And then, once again, Leah himself shoved, forcing yet another Yu fold. It just didn’t make any sense.

Already questioning the validity of what was happening, the third hand absolute clinches that some funny business was going on. Yu raised to 1.7 million pre-flop, leaving 40,000 chips behind, one-third of a big blind. Once in a while you might see someone do something like this when the stacks are more even to save a bet for the flop, but in this case, Yu was as good as all-in without technically being all-in. BUT THEN when Leah shoved, YU FOLDED. On top of that, he had the audacity, to break out the “When you’re beat” line.

So to answer my “what the hell happened” question, it seems obvious that Yu and Leah had agreed to a deal before heads-up (the report said there was an “unscheduled break” after the third place elimination). Deals are very common at final tables, as often players don’t want a large money jump to ride on the high variance of escalating blinds. But they still typically play it out, often leaving a little money on the table as an incentive.

But this was unlikely to be a typical deal. What probably happened was that Leah agreed to give Yu more money in exchange for the WPT title. Essentially, Leah may have “bought” the victory, perhaps by giving Yu first place money. For the win, Leah also received a seat in the WPT Tournament of Champions and first place points in the WPT Player of the Year race.

That seems like the only realistic explanation. Throw the match and I’ll make it worth your while. What is nuts is that the two men – Yu, especially – made it so damn obvious. I have heard people suggest that perhaps Yu just wanted to be done at that point, that maybe he just didn’t care and was happy with second place money, but that makes no sense. He had more than a 2-to-1 chip lead. He could very well have won the tournament fairly quickly. Additionally, if he really didn’t care and didn’t have a deal with Leah, he would’ve just gone all-in every hand. If he lost, he would’ve been fine with it and if he won, all the better. By betting heavily and then folding to Leah’s all-ins, Yu signaled his intentions to everyone.

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Categories: Poker News

NGCB Rules in Favor of Players in Stations Casino Bad Beat Jackpot Controversy

Poker News Daily - Thu, 2018-02-15 05:23

And now for the other bad beat jackpot story of the day. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has ruled in favor of the players who stood to win money in the Station Casino bad beat jackpot after Stations management refused to pay out because of an inadvertent rule violation by one of the players involved in the hand.

As we reported about two months ago, the hand occurred at Red Rock Resort on July 7th. Both Len Schreter and Avi Shamir hit monster hands – straight flushes – but Schreter hit the top-end of the straight flush, resulting in what would normally be one hell of a cooler for Shamir. But this triggered the bad beat jackpot of about $120,000, which meant that as the loser of the hand, Shamir had won $60,000 (approximately). Schreter was due $30,000 as the winner and more than 80 players who were active in hands at bad beat jackpot tables across all of Stations’ properties got to split the rest.

To the shock of everyone involved, though, Red Rock poker manager Forrest Caldwell (after sending it up the ladder) ruled that the Schreter had violated the rules of the promotion when he turned over his cards out of turn on the river. The rule in question was “discussion of hands during the play by players, at the discretion of management, may void a Jumbo Hold ‘Em Jackpot.”

The thing was, it was not only completely inadvertent by Schreter, was he was a recreational player and extremely excited that he was about to make an enormous score, but it had no effect on the hand, as all the chips were already in the pot.

As a result, several players, including Shamir and Schreter, filed complaints against Stations to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Investigator Bill Olliges determined that Schreter’s action had no effect on the hand and therefore Stations should pay out. Stations, though, appealed and a hearing was held in December. Olliges took up the investigation again and again saw no reason that Stations should not award the jackpot. Thus, the Gaming Control Board reaffirmed its decision last week.

There is a chance that Stations Casinos could appeal again and actually go to court, but one would think that the company would be insane to do that. At no point has anyone involved in the process been on Stations’ side and going to court could be disastrous from a public relations standpoint (as if things weren’t already bad).

It’s actually odd that Stations would put up such a fight in the first place. All or most of the jackpot is created from the extra drop at the bad beat jackpot tables, a drop paid for by the players. Stations would probably be out exactly zero dollars by paying the jackpot (“probably” because I’m not 100% certain if Stations put in any money to start the jackpot). What Stations was likely trying to do was avoid payment so that the jackpot would stay high and therefore draw more customers.

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Categories: Poker News

Dealer, Player Arrested for Bad Beat Jackpot Cheating

Poker News Daily - Thu, 2018-02-15 05:00

Bad beat jackpots have been in the news lately and today we continue that trend with not one, but two BBJ-related articles. In this first one, a poker dealer and player were arrested in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish for conspiring to rig the Boomtown Casino’s bad beat jackpot.

The Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations Gaming Enforcement Division arrested Ashley Solomon, 66, the dealer in the game, after he turned himself into authorities on Thursday. 51-year old Dale Foret was apprehended on Friday after an investigation in the bad beat jackpot incident. The two men were charged with “Conspiracy to Commit Theft over $25,000 and Attempted Theft over $25,000.”

As readers of this site probably know quite well, at a bad beat jackpot table, an additional rake is taken to fund a progressive jackpot. The jackpot is triggered when a player loses at showdown with an extremely strong hand. We don’t know what Boomtown’s rules are, but the minimum hand is usually quads or better, sometimes as low as Aces over Kings or better and sometimes as high as quad Jacks or better. In any case, both the winning and losing hands generally need to use both hole cards and a certain number of players must be dealt into the hand.

There is no dispute as to whether or not the bad beat jackpot hit at Boomtown Casino in January; the problem was that it was not hit honestly. According to investigators, it was determined that Solomon and Foret had concocted a plan ahead of time in which Solomon would set the deck and deal a hand which would trigger the bad beat jackpot assuming all players played a in predictable manner. He gave the monster losing hand to Foret and the winning hand to someone else, who was not involved in the scheme.

From the police news release:

The investigation began on January 19, 2018, when detectives were notified by the casino staff related to several inconsistencies with a “Bad Beat” poker game, with a jackpot of $166,471.00. The investigation revealed that Solomon was the poker dealer and intentionally stacked the deck of cards for a favorable outcome. Solomon then conducted two false shuffles. The second false shuffle resulted in a “Bad Beat” jackpot. Foret was one of the players at the table and the recipient of the larger “Bad Beat” jackpot. The investigation later revealed that Solomon had communicated with Foret prior to and after the poker game. Detectives obtained arrest warrants for both individuals on February 5, 2018. Both individuals were booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.

Needless to say, the jackpot was not paid out; one would hope the hand’s winner understands. It has continued to build from its pre-cheat level.

It has not been explained how Solomon was able to arrange the deck without initial detection, nor was it explained how the “inconsistencies” were suspected before the investigation commenced and before security camera footage was likely reviewed.

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Categories: Poker News

Mike Leah Wins WPT Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event

Poker News Daily - Tue, 2018-02-13 21:22

Let’s just say that the Fallsview Casino Resort overlooking the Canadian side of Niagara Falls isn’t a venue that Mike Leah is going to stop visiting any time soon. On Monday night, Leah won his first World Poker Tour (WPT) title, taking the crown at the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic in what was the tournament’s largest field ever: 517 entries. His purse for the win was CAD $451,821 (about USD $358,520).

Leah isn’t going to be a repeat customer of Fallsview just because he won last night. Leah actually has quite the history at the casino, one which has treated him extremely well. Prior to his victory, Mike Leah won the CAD $1,100 preliminary event at the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic three out of the last four years: 2014, 2016, and 2017 for a total of CAD $573,334.

“To do it here, where I’ve had so much success winning three tournaments already, is pretty cool,” the Ontario native told afterward. “So close to home, in my home country, it’s a pretty special tournament to win. I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet.”

Leah had gotten tantalizingly close to a WPT once before, finishing second to Anthony Zinno at the 2015 WPT L.A. Poker Classic. He doesn’t have any World Series of Poker bracelets, either, but he does have a number of WSOP Circuit wins.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Leah said to “Winning a WPT has been near the top of my goal list for a long time, especially getting so close almost exactly three years ago when I lost to Anthony Zinno heads up at LAPC, so I’ve been pretty hungry to get back here again since that.”

He’ll have a chance to improve on that runner-up finish soon, as the L.A. Poker Classic is the next stop on the World Poker Tour. Leah now has almost $7 million in live tournament earnings.

Unlike many major tournaments, the final day of the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic did not begin at the final table, but rather with 20 players remaining. Leah was third going into Monday’s action with 1.235 million chips, 600,000+ behind the leader, Joe Ferrier.

For much of yesterday, Leah stayed in his general starting range. He dipped below 1 million chips for a little bit, then rose back up to around 1.6 million, but for the most part, he was in that 1-1.5 million chip range. The big move came with just seven players remaining when he moved all-in after some raising pre-flop and doubled through Tim Rutherford with A-K versus A-Q to jump to 3.105 million chips and into the lead. When he eliminated David Eldridge to clinch a spot at the official final table, he was in second place with 3.970 million chips.

He kept climbing from there, knocking out Joe Ferrier on the ninth hand of the final table to move to 6.930 million chips. At the start of Level 29 with four players remaining, he was at nearly 8 million. Leah couldn’t keep up the hot run for much longer, though, steadily dropping chips until, by Hand 75, he was back to second with 4.835 million. Ryan Yu had taken over the lead with 6.185 million. It really looked like Yu was going to steamroll from there, as he knocked out Carlos Chadha in third place to grow his stack to 9.630 million and then bounced Tim Rutherford in second to go into heads-up against Leah with a huge lead, 10.800 million to 4.715 million.

On literally the first hand of heads-up play, though, Leah made a bold move. Yu raised to 4 million pre-flop (the big blind was 120,000) and Leah, either holding a great hand or sensing a big bluff because of that strange bet, moved all-in. It was barely more than what Yu had put in, but Yu folded, giving Leah the chip lead.

On the next two hands, Yu continued to play rather strangely. Leah limped pre-flop and Yu raised to 5 million. Leah re-raised all-in and Yu folded, leaving him with just 1.760 million chips to Leah’s 13.755 million. Then, Yu raised pre-flop to 1.700 million and Leah shoved. Obviously, Yu needed to put his last chips in, an amount that was less than the small blind, but for some reason, he folded AGAIN, leaving himself with just 40,000 chips.

Yu survived a few more hands, but it was academic from there as Leah won his first WPT title. Unfortunately, this event was neither live streamed nor televised, so I don’t know if we will find out what Yu had in those key hands. It was bizarre.

Cover Photo Credit: World Poker Tour via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Categories: Poker News

Parx Casino to PA Gaming Control Board: One Skin Per Licensee

Poker News Daily - Tue, 2018-02-13 06:05

First reported by GamblingCompliance (paywall alert), the Parx Casino has written a letter to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), requesting that online gaming license holders only be allowed to have a single skin.

The letter sums up the request as so:

The Board should establish a limitation on the number of interactive gaming skins an Interactive Gaming Certificate Holder (“Certificate Holder”) may operate, and that limitation should be one skin per Certificate Holder, with the different categories of interactive games the Certificate Holder is authorized to offer on that single skin limited to the different categories of interactive games approved in its Interactive Gaming Certificate(s).

As it goes on to explain, Parx seems to not like the idea of multiple (or even unlimited) skins per license holder because it supposedly does a few things: 1) effectively puts the license holder in the role of regulator over the operators who run the skins, 2) allows software providers to effectively become online gaming licensees for less money than the license holder, and 3) essentially renders the ceiling on Pennsylvania online gaming licenses (currently twelve, soon to be thirteen) meaningless.

Parx Casino also wants the PGCB to require that each online gaming site go by the same name – or similar name – as its license holder. Thus, Parx Casino’s online poker site would have to be ParxPoker, SugarHouse Casinos’ site would have to be SugarHousePoker, and so on and so forth, or at least names that resemble the casino/company that holds the license.

“The Board should require that any branding associated with a skin match, or be predominantly the same, as the brand of the Certificate Holder as noted on the Interactive Gaming Certificate,” is how it is worded in the letter, with little additional explanation.

One could surmise that the reason Parx Casino wants these rules in place is to limit competition. Parx is the casino market leader in Pennsylvania with about 18 percent of the market share as of December 17. Sands Bethlehem is close behind with over 17 percent. As said market leader, Parx probably wants to keep its brand name strong and allowing multiple skins per license holder could dilute that brand.

On top of that, it would prevent a license holder from partnering with, say, PokerStars as its software platform provider and then branding its poker site something like PokerStars obviously has gigantic name recognition in the online poker world and Pennsylvania players very well may gravitate toward a Stars-branded site rather than a Parx-branded one, even though Parx is the brick-and-mortar market leader.

Online casino games and slots will likely be bigger money makers than online poker, but a Stars-branded site could possibly even do better than Parx in that realm, too (keep in mind, I am just speculating). Whether its Stars or any number of other experienced operators, Parx does not want others infringing on its territory if it can help it.

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Categories: Poker News

Nominees Announced for 2018 American Poker Awards

Poker News Daily - Fri, 2018-02-09 02:33

After taking nominations for the different awards that will be offered, officials with the Global Poker Index announced the final nominations for their Fourth Annual American Poker Awards.

There is a slew of familiar names that dot the different awards that are being offered. Joe Ingram, who for years has offered up his views on the poker world through his “Poker Life Podcast,” is up for a couple of awards this year (Podcast of the Year and Video Blogger of the Year), joined by Daniel Negreanu (Biggest Influencer and Video Blogger) and Matt Savage (Biggest Influencer and Industry Person). By far, however, the output from the stables of Poker Central dominated the nominations.

Poker Central topped everyone in the field with six nominations, ranging from their “made for television” events such as the Super High Roller Bowl and the Poker Masters to their broadcasting team of Ali Nejad and Nick Schulman. Even their financial backer, Cary Katz, was named one of “Poker’s Biggest Influencers,” an award which should garner a great deal of attention.

These awards will be voted on by a blue-ribbon committee the day of the 2018 American Poker Awards on February 22:

Breakout Player

DJ Alexander
Michael Del Vecchio
Alex Foxen
Art Papazyan

Tournament Performance of the Year

Scott Blumstein (WSOP Main Event)
Darren Elias (WPT Fallsview)
Bryn Kenney (PSC Monte Carlo Super High Roller)
Doug Polk (WSOP One Drop High Roller)

Moment of the Year

70-year old John Smith makes back-to-back WSOP $10K Heads-Up Final Table
Ema Zajmovic – First female player to win an open Main Event on the WPT
Vanessa Selbst and Gaelle Baumann – Selbst loses full house to Baumann’s quads during first round of WSOP Championship Event)
Tom Dwan Returns to the States of America on “Poker After Dark”

Event of the Year

Super High Roller Bowl
partypoker MILLIONS North America
Poker Masters Event #1
WSOP Championship Event

Mid-Major Circuit

Mid-States Poker Tour
RUNGOOD Poker Series
WSOP Circuit

Journalist of the Year

Drew Amato
Lance Bradley
Bj Nemeth
Steve Ruddock
Jessica Welman

Broadcaster of the Year

Nick Schulman
Joe Stapleton
Lon McEachern
Ali Nejad

Media Content of the Year

Adrian Moreno in Tears following Win in WSOP Little One for One Drop (Amato)
Dead Money: A Super High Roller Bowl Story (Poker Central)
Poker Brat: The Phil Hellmuth Story (Phil Hellmuth)
Resilience Defined: Sheddy Siddiqui Raising his Two Boys (Bradley)

Podcast of the Year

PokerCentral Podcast
PokerNews Podcast
Poker Life Podcast
TwoPlusTwo Podcast

Video Blogger of the Year

Joe Ingram
Daniel Negreanu
Andrew Neeme
Doug Polk

Poker Streamer of the Year

Jeff Gross
Bill Perkins
Jason Somerville
Jaime Staples
Parker Talbot

Industry Person of the Year

Tony Burns
Sean McCormick
Adam Pliska
Matt Savage

Poker’s Biggest Influencer

Cary Katz
Daniel Negreanu
Doug Polk
Matt Savage

There will be other awards handed out the night of the American Poker Awards that have already been determined:

2017 GPI American Player of the Year:  Bryn Kenney
2017 GPI Female Player of the Year:  Kristen Bicknell
Award for Lifetime Achievement
Award for Charitable Initiative
Jury Prize
PocketFives Legacy Award
People’s Choice Award – Poker Personality of the Year

The People’s Choice Award is being voted on at this time by the general public. Visit the dedicated page for this award and be sure to cast your vote. It is also the only vote that is handled by the voice of the poker community. Counting that award, there is a total of 20 awards that will be handed out during a very busy ceremony!

The 2018 American Poker Awards will be handed out on February 22 at Andaz in West Hollywood, CA, beginning at 7PM.

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Categories: Poker News

U. S. Poker Open Rolls Along with Little Fanfare

Poker News Daily - Fri, 2018-02-09 01:39

The inaugural U. S. Poker Open is rolling along at ARIA in Las Vegas, with its $50,000 Main Event set to begin on Friday. The question is, though, if you throw a poker tournament and no one pays attention, did it happen? If you’re looking at this tournament, then it hasn’t happened as it has been going on with little fanfare.

The schedule was that it may have been very popular for the top professionals in the world. A collection of poker tournaments, none under a $10,000 buy in, testing the world’s best players as they vied against each other for glory. Looking at the individual events so far, however, there hasn’t been the horde of professionals (or deep-pocketed amateurs) swarming Las Vegas for the schedule.

The first event, a $10,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, only drew out 68 ENTRIES, not players, for the event, which was eventually won by Justin Bonomo. What was supposed to be one of the more intriguing events, the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hold’em tournament, only 64 entries were received (the tournament was won by Mike Gorodinsky). The numbers didn’t improve with a raise in the stakes, either.

The first $25,000 event, a No Limit Hold’em affair, brought 44 entries as Stephen Chidwick emerged victorious. Chidwick wasn’t done, however, as he came back in the very next tournament, the $25,000 Mixed Game Championship, and won it, too. Still, the 45 entries that came in for that tournament had to be a bit disappointing. The last completed event, Event #5’s $10,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, saw 67 entries and crowned Ben Tollerene as the champion.

So, what has been the problem with the U. S. Poker Open, as it seems as if the same players are just sitting there pitching in their donations? First off, that is what has been happening as several players have taken part in every tournament and taken part in several reentries, such as Daniel Negreanu. What is happening, however is an example of perhaps some bad scheduling on the part of the U. S. Poker Open and Poker Central, which envisioned the tournament schedule.

Poker Central, together with its streaming channel PokerGO, is always in need of programming. There’s only so many times you can run repeats of past events (as Poker Central learned when they were trying to cut it as a cable network) until the viewers start to tune out. In the past, they’ve struck gold; the creation of the Super High Roller Bowl and last year’s Poker Masters series have both been well received by the poker community.

You can only go to the well so many times, however. The U. S. Poker Open seems to be contrived, unnatural, rather than something that organically grows. It was bad enough that there was already an event that was once called the United States Poker Open (I do wonder if Poker Central tried to get the rights to that name), but to put something up with a name that acts like there is so much gravitas to it without any history makes it appear it’s being jammed down people’s throats.

Then there’s the scheduling. The start of a New Year is ALWAYS crowded in the tournament poker world. Beginning with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure through the Aussie Millions to the Borgata Winter Poker Open to the L. A. Poker Classic, there are a plethora of tournaments with long histories and a boatload of prestige and respect (and this isn’t even counting the mid-major league tournament circuits). If a player has a budget for tournaments, they’re more likely going to look at these established events rather than something that has no history to it.

So when would you schedule a prospective “U. S. Poker Open?” Well, there’s a lull in the last half of December. You want to influence the tournament poker scene? That would be the perfect spot for a 4-6 event series of high dollar buy in tournaments that would have an effect on Player of the Year races and, perhaps, set a player up nicely for the New Year.

Finally, there is that old poker adage of “sharks don’t eat other sharks.” Professional poker players aren’t going to go where they get the “greatest challenge.” They are going to go where the game is soft and the opportunity to make money is rampant. Thus, you’ll see pro players taking part in that 700-800 player tournament in the Bahamas or in Melbourne (and, if they fail, dive into cash games) rather than trying to outdo 40-50 other players who are just as talented as them in several $10K buy-in (minimum) tournaments.

Perhaps with time the U. S. Poker Open will become something. But it should be noted by Poker Central that the well is almost dry on this “High Roller” spree they’ve been on and they should consider some other options for programming (here’s one off the top of my head:  Poker House, a “Big Brother” type competition where 12 poker players are watched 24/7 as they live together, work together and…well, let your mind wander…with a tournament each week to knock off a competitor…or will they be knocked off?) When the U. S. Poker Open Main Event concludes on Sunday, will anyone really care?

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Categories: Poker News

WPT Partners with Zynga Poker

Poker News Daily - Thu, 2018-02-08 06:28

The World Poker Tour (WPT) announced Wednesday that it has entered into a partnership with Zynga “to bring the WPT experience into Zynga Poker,” which means the launch of WPT-themed tournaments to Zynga Poker later in 2018.

“We’re incredibly proud to bring the World Poker Tour to Zynga Poker,” said Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour, in a press release. “Zynga has built the largest social poker game, and we are confident their millions of players will enjoy their experience even more with the introduction of WPT-themed tournaments in Zynga Poker.”

Zynga does not offer real-money online poker, but when it comes to play money poker, it is easily the largest operator in the world. According to PokerScout, Zynga Poker has a seven-day average of 38,500 cash game players, dwarfing every real-money site out there. For comparison, PokerStars has an average of 11,000 players. In the past, Zynga’s number has been in the six-figure range.

As Pliska said, Zynga Poker is a “social” poker game in that Zynga encourages players to share their results and progress with their friends on social media. Games are available with an Android or iOS app as well as on Facebook.

Zynga Poker is not for the serious poker player. Don’t get me wrong, the games are legit as far as play money games go, but the whole thing, really, is just a mess. While it is play money, players can purchase chips with real money if they would like. The app bombards the user with opportunities to buy chips; I just logged into the Facebook app and had to close three or four windows with chip deals before being able to see the lobby. Really, nearly everything you click on opens a window for some sort of special chip purchase.

Like most mobile games, Zynga Poker is designed to incentive players to “level up.” Players gain experience points for playing poker – I earned XP buy winning hands and even folding hands. Leveling up gives access to various cosmetic goodies that players can purchase and place at their virtual seat. These objects serve zero purpose aside from decoration. Completing various challenges can also earn a player XP (I won three hands and completed a challenge).

As much as my head spins when navigating the lobby and looking at the tables, there are countless numbers of players who love Zynga Poker (well, I guess considering I gave a number early, “countless” would be the incorrect word here). And while most readers wouldn’t really get the point of playing poker for fake money, I suppose I can understand the appeal. I play a different mobile game on my phone and there really isn’t much reward in it aside from the satisfaction of doing well and the enjoyment I might get from acquiring the “next thing” as a reward for progressing and leveling up. Most of these mobile and social games are just ways for us to grind until the next level, to satisfy our need to collect things. Zynga Poker isn’t much different and you get to play poker at the same time.

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Categories: Poker News

John Pappas Stepping Down as PPA Executive Director, Rich Muny Elevated to Position

Poker News Daily - Wed, 2018-02-07 21:16

After more than a decade at the helm, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) announced Wednesday that John Pappas will be stepping down as the poker lobbying organization’s Executive Director at the end of February. PPA Vice President of Player Relations Rich Muny will take over the Executive Director role.

In a press release issued Wednesday morning, Pappas said:

There has never been greater momentum than right now for the advancement of sensible internet gaming policy in the U.S. Whether lawmakers are considering poker, casino gambling or even sports betting, a strong and organized grassroots effort will be critical to legislative success. I am proud of the work I have done with the PPA board of directors and the amazing PPA staff to bring us to this point. I will miss working for the poker community on a day-to-day basis, but I am confident that the PPA will continue its great work with Rich Muny at the helm.

Pappas, who has testified at many an online gambling legislative hearing, will remain on the PPA’s Board of Directors and will still be involved with the organization as a strategic advisor.

Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson, who was once Chair of the Board of Directors and is the longest tenured member of the Board, said of Pappas, “John is a tremendous leader and a true professional. Under his guidance, PPA has emerged as a policy advocacy and grassroots powerhouse in Washington D.C. and in state capitals across the country.”

“For almost a decade, he has been the political voice and face of the poker community and regulated internet gaming advocates. He leaves the organization in a strong position to continue to ensure that consumer voices drive the internet gaming debate.”

The Poker Players Alliance says that financial support from the online gambling industry (read: online poker rooms like PokerStars) has declined substantially in recent months, thus making grassroots efforts that much more important. As such, Muny seems like the natural choice to be tabbed as Executive Director.

Muny, using the screen name “TheEngineer,” became very active on poker message boards during the runup to the passing of the UIGEA in 2006. He was one of the key figures in getting the poker community organized in political efforts to support online poker and was named to the PPA’s Board in 2007. Outside of top poker players, Muny’s is probably one of the most known names in the poker community, as he has – for years – been the one to send out the “Poker Action Plan,” containing pre-filled poker tweets to U.S. lawmakers, virtually every day. All of his work was done as a volunteer until 2011, when he was made VP.

“I am honored that the PPA Board of Directors and the poker community have entrusted me with this role, and I join my fellow board members in thanking John Pappas for his decade of outstanding leadership in the fight for poker,” said Muny. “I look forward to leading the poker community in this fight, building on the terrific successes of 2017.”

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Categories: Poker News

UK Regulator Settles on Agreement with Gaming Operators Over Unfair Deposit Bonus Practices

Poker News Daily - Wed, 2018-02-07 05:16

The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority [CMA] announced last week that three online gambling operators who were under investigation for unfair promotional practices have agreed to change said practices to make them more consumer-friendly. The three operators – Ladbrokes, William Hill, and PT Entertainment – have all signed documents laying out what will now be expected of them.

The issue at hand has to do with deposit bonuses and how they are promoted and marketed. Anyone who has played online poker or tried their hand at online casino games in the past decade and a half (at least) is familiar with the banner ads: “Deposit $100 Get $100 Free!” or “25% Deposit Match up to $1,000!”

Of course, it is not as simple as that. There are playthrough requirements, withdrawal restrictions, and more. And that’s where the CMA’s problem with the gaming operators lies. When it launched an investigation last June, the CMA was concerned that “people often don’t get the deal they are expecting as the promotions come with an array of terms and conditions that are often confusing and unclear and, in some cases, may be unfair.”

The press release at the time continued:

Customers might have to play hundreds of times before they are allowed to withdraw any money, so they don’t have the choice to quit while they’re ahead and walk away with their winnings when they want to.

Even when players haven’t signed up for a promotion, there are concerns that some operators are stopping customers taking money out of their accounts. The CMA has been told by customers that some firms have minimum withdrawal amounts far bigger than the original deposit, or place hurdles in the way of them withdrawing their money.

“We know online gambling is always going to be risky, but firms must also play fair. People should get the deal they’re expecting if they sign up to a promotion, and be able to walk away with their money when they want to,” CMA Senior Director for Consumer Enforcement Nisha Arora said.

“Sadly, we have heard this isn’t always the case. New customers are being enticed by tempting promotions only to find the dice are loaded against them. And players can find a whole host of hurdles in their way when they want to withdraw their money.”

The bottom line of the agreement with the operators is that all playthrough requirements – the amount of gambling that is required to earn a bonus – must be very clear and easy to access before a player signs up and while the person is playing. Additionally, players must be able to cash out their original deposit whenever they would like.

The CMA’s summary of the rules is as follows:

• Players won’t be required to play multiple times before they can withdraw their own money
• Gambling firms must ensure that any restrictions on gameplay are made clear to players, and cannot rely on vague terms to confiscate players’ money
• Gambling firms must not oblige players to take part in publicity

UK Gambling Commission Executive Director, Sarah Gardner, chimed in:

We back the action taken by the CMA today. Gambling firms must treat their customers fairly and not attach unreasonable terms and conditions to their promotions and offers.

We expect all Gambling Commission licensed businesses to immediately review the promotions and sign up deals they offer customers and take whatever steps they need to take, to the same timescales agreed by the three operators, to ensure they comply.

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Categories: Poker News

Partypoker to Roll Out Software Update, New Power Series Schedule

Poker News Daily - Wed, 2018-02-07 05:12

On Friday, partypoker announced that it will release a software update on February 24th which will “see a number of significant improvements to the playing experience.” In the same blog post, the online poker also revealed that it will launch the new Power Series on March 5th. Let’s take a closer look at each.

The software update appears to largely cosmetic, though cosmetic can be good if it makes it easier to see what’s going on at the virtual tables. In the partypoker blog post, the following changes were listed:

• Re-introduction of the oval shaped table alongside the existing table design
• New and improved player plates with larger fonts, improving players’ multi-tabling experience
• Improved display of player notes
• A brand new time-bank indicator
• A number of smaller enhancements, improving the look and feel of the tables

So, nothing earth-shattering, but if things on the table are easier to see and read, especially for multi-tablers, these changes should be positive.

As for the Power Series, we will have to wait and see, as the new schedule won’t be revealed until March. Partypoker says the new schedule will have “increased guarantees, an improved mix of game types and optimised structures.”

And since this is online poker, there will be leader boards. The weekly Power Series leader boards will start March 5th and will be divided into low, medium, and high buy-in levels in order to give as many players as possible a chance to earn rewards. The top ten players each week on the high leader board will receive a $5,300 seat to the Millions Online tournament later this year. Those who finish in the top ten more than once will receive $5,300 in tournament dollars.

The top twenty players on each leader board will receive prizes. The medium and low winners won’t get Millions Online seats, but rather tournament ticket prizes valued at $22 to $530.

Partypoker says the leader boards will pay out $60,000 per week in prizes, though it was not exactly clear in the blog post if that means $60,000 per leader board or $60,000 total across all three leader boards. It is likely the latter, as the ten $5,300 buy-in awards would leave $7,000 in prizes for the remaining 50 winners. That works out to an average of $140 per person, which seems reasonable, considering many of the prizes on the low and medium leader boards will probably be in the $22 range or slightly higher. $60,000 split among twenty people on a low buy-in leader board would be a bit much.

In the first month, the leader board prizes will be doubled in total value, as will the number of winners.

On the blog, partypoker Managing Director Tom Waters said:

We know that our players were expecting our 2018 Leaderboard promotion to start immediately after Powerfest, however we want the players to benefit from the enhanced playing experience on the new tables when working towards the leaderboard prizes. Therefore we have decided to delay the Leaderboard promotion until Monday 5th March to coincide with the launch of the new MTT schedule. We wanted to ensure that the players do not miss out on any value and therefore we have doubled the Leaderboard giveaway for the first month.

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Categories: Poker News

Hard Rock Atlantic City to Use GiG Platform for Online Gambling Offering

Poker News Daily - Tue, 2018-02-06 23:53

On Monday, Malta-based Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) announced that it has entered into a five-yar agreement with Hard Rock International to be the company’s online gambling provider for its Hard Rock Atlantic City property, set to open this summer. The two companies had signed a Letter of Intent in late October, though at the time, GiG did not make it public that its partner was, in fact, Hard Rock International.

Gaming Innovation Group was founded in 2008 and has offices in six cities: Malta, Marbella, Gibraltar, Oslo, Kristiansand, and Copenhagen. It owns seven business-to-consumer online gambling and sports betting brands, focusing on European markets. That is, until now. The venture with Hard Rock will be GiG’s first foray into the young United States regulated online gambling market.

GiG explained what it will provide in Monday’s press release:

The agreement will see GiG furnish Hard Rock with a state of the art digital consumer portal, as well as the back-end platform to manage their operations. GiG has communicated ambitions to expand its platform services, focusing on larger clients by utilizing platform scalability. The agreement is a breakthrough for GiG’s platform services as it marks the first agreement with a major global brand and land based casino chain. GiG will also supply Hard Rock with its new front-end casino service, GiG Magic.

“We are excited to be part of Hard Rock’s inspiring and innovative plans,” said Robin Reed, CEO of GiG. “This agreement confirms the attractiveness of the GiG platform and the ability to support major operators in the industry. By adding a New Jersey license, we will move into our third regulated market, positioning GiG towards an important and growing iGaming market.”

Added SPV of Online Gaming at Hard Rock, Kresimir Spajic, “Hard Rock has an ambitious plan to become a global leader in the international online gaming space. We are confident that, together with GiG, we can disrupt the market, through product innovation and unique user experience.”

Hard Rock Atlantic City is the former Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in October 2016. Things were a mess leading up to the closure (aren’t they usually?) as Carl Icahn, the largest debtholder of Trump Entertainment Resorts took control of the casino when the company came out of bankruptcy in February 2016. In the months that followed, he refused to invest $100 million into the casino that he promised, holding out for tax breaks from Atlantic City and New Jersey. He got concessions from the Unite Here Local 54 union, causing its members to lose pension and health benefits, but when the union later tried to negotiate to get their benefits back, Icahn wouldn’t budge. The workers went on strike and the Taj eventually closed, Icahn blaming the union.

Hard Rock International acquired the Trump Taj Mahal in late March 2017. It has plowed $500 million into the property, converting it to its Hard Rock brand and plans to re-open this summer. The online gambling products are expected to also launch this year, though GiG did not specify if this would happen when the casino opens its doors.

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