Poker News

PokerStars Cuts Cash Game Multi-Table Cap to Four

Poker News Daily - Wed, 2019-08-21 21:29

PokerStars stunned the poker world on Tuesday when it announced that it is capping the number of simultaneous cash game tables at which one can play at just four. This number, down from 24, applies to “regular” cash game tables. Zoom Poker games and tournaments are unaffected.

PokerStars liked what it saw in tests

The decision comes after a test in Italy in which PokerStars limited multi-tabling to six tables. The poker room said that it wanted to see what impact it had both on players who usually played more than six tables at once and those who only played a single table at a time.

It was thought at one point that these table limit tests had to do with pace of play, but PokerStars supposedly found that average pace of play didn’t vary much when people multi-tabled. What multi-tabling did affect were the peak delays; when a multi-tabler slowed down to make a big decision, he really slowed down, holding up all the other tables.

Goal is to be more rec-friendly

But yesterday’s announcement had very little to do with slow downs. Instead, it had to do with protecting recreational players:

Without careful management, we risk ending up with an environment where the majority of players find themselves at tables disproportionately populated by multi-tabling players. This can lead to a difficult playing experience. Action at the tables can be regularly interrupted, and many players can feel outmatched and that their chances of winning are diminished.

The announcement explained further:

We want to maintain a sustainable poker ecosystem and a platform that players of all abilities are excited to play on well into the future. Attracting and retaining new poker players is crucial to the future of the game. By reducing the table cap from 24 to 4, we are reducing the number of multi-tabling players and increasing the number of more casual one-table players at each table. This should lead to increased win rates on any individual table for the strongest players, while increasing the likelihood that single-table players will meet others like themselves. As a result, they’ll have more chance of experiencing winning sessions and continue to play in the longer term.

So the idea here is that multi-tablers are usually pros or very strong amateur players, which makes sense. They are trying to maximize earnings and playing lots of tables at once gives them more volume with which to add up even small win-rates. Rakeback amasses more quickly, as well. But the more highly skilled players there are, the harder it is for recreational players to win.

Poker world reacts negatively

The poker community, for the most part, is quite upset with this. PokerStars has historically been the best place for pros to grind, but with these new restrictions, many cash game grinders are going to look elsewhere unless they want to play Zoom Poker.

PokerStars certainly understands the concern, but it is ultimately making the decision it thinks is best for its bottom line.

“We’re poker players ourselves,” PokerStars said. “We understand that this change will have a very real impact on many players, particularly those of you who rely on multi-tabling as professionals. We haven’t taken this decision lightly, and we are confident this is the right thing to do for the future of the game.”

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Categories: Poker News

PokerStars Publishes 2019 WCOOP Schedule

Poker News Daily - Wed, 2019-08-21 01:37

Fall is one of the best times of year for online poker. The weather begins to cool so people have more of a desire to stay inside (unless you are me, can’t stand hot weather, and prefer to venture outdoors when it cools off). The kids go back to school so we grown-ups have more time to play. And it is the season when PokerStars hosts the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP), whose schedule was published on Monday.

There will be 73 events this year, spanning September 5th through September 23rd. Each event will have three tiers – High, Medium, and Low – except for the Main Event, which will have just two. Speaking of which, the $5,200 Main Event (High buy-in) will start at 1:00pm server time on September 22nd and will have a $10 million guarantee. All told, there is more than $75 million in guarantees across the entire 2019 WCOOP.

Buy-ins range from $2.20 to $25,000.

As always, there will be a WCOOP Leaderboard, where players earn points for their finishes in WCOOP events. Points vary based on tournament structure, but it is general 100 points for a first place finish, 80 for second, and down to 5 or 10 for the lowest places to cash. For reference, a player named “aDrENalin710” took the overall leaderboard title last year with 1,325 points.

Each buy-in tier has its own leaderboard, with the top three points earners in each winning cash. The overall points earner will win $20,000 cash and a trophy.

There are also loads of satellites via which players can qualify, as well as special 2019 WCOOP Spin & Go’s. As always, the odds of playing for the grand prize, a WCOOP Main Event ticket, are very low, but overall, the probabilities of good prizes aren’t all that bad. For example, in the $25 WCOOP Spin & Go, the chances of having either a $5,200 Main Event ticket, a $215 WCOOP ticket, or a $109 WCOOP ticket be the prize are 11.6 percent. That’s not great, but I would have imagined it to be worse.

Anyone who qualifies for a WCOOP event via a satellite will be automatically registered for the applicable tournament and will not be able to unregister. Subsequent wins for the same event will be paid in PokerStars tournament dollars.

Deals will be permitted at final tables of WCOOP events and PokerStars will even help facilitate them. Deals are not, however, allowed in WCOOP satellites.

Because it is the “World” Championship of Online Poker, there are also national bragging rights at stake. It was a close one last year, with Brazil eeking out a title against the United Kingdom, 23 WCOOP wins to 22. Russia was a distant third with 14 wins. And if you were wondering, even though PokerStars has a New Jersey-based site, the United States is not part of the WCOOP. New Jersey is ring-fenced from the international PokerStars sites, so players in the Garden State will only be able to participate if they fly to a jurisdiction where PokerStars operates.

The complete 2019 WCOOP schedule can be found here.

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Categories: Poker News

Hard Rock Las Vegas to Close for Most of 2020 as It Becomes Virgin Hotels Las Vegas

Poker News Daily - Tue, 2019-08-20 22:06
Renovations would impede operations

It seems like temporary casino gaming shutdowns are a theme today. I wrote about some games at Wind Creek Bethlehem being taken out of service during the casino’s rebranding, but what will be going on next year at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is much more extreme. As the familiar off-Strip landmark is renovated to make the change to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, the property will close completely from early February 2020 until close to the end of the year.

The plan had been to complete the first four months of the renovation in phases so that the property could be kept open. After four months, the entire property would close until everything was done. But as plans were developed, management decided that it would be too difficult.

Hard Rock/Virgin Hotels partner and CEO Richard “Boz” Bosworth said of the decision in a media statement:

We determined that a phased closing of four months, followed by a total closure of four months was not efficient from a construction process nor could we provide a hospitality service experience our guests deserve. Therefore an approximate eight-month closure would be most efficient and ensure a timely opening prior to January 2021. We might be ready in October, but construction is an imperfect process. Until early February 2020 it is business as usual at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. Virgin Hotels Las Vegas promises to be one of the most exciting, vibrant, and anticipated properties to open in Las Vegas in years.

Company trying to help employees

An unfortunate biproduct of the extended closure is that more than 1,600 employees will be without jobs post-Super Bowl. While no solution is perfect, Hard Rock/Virgin is trying to right by its workers with something called the “Stick Around and Come Back” program.

Naturally, a lot of the staff are going to start getting their resumes out to other casinos immediately, as they don’t want to be stuck come February. Their departures, of course, will make things harder for the casino while it is still open. Therefore, the casino will reward employees who stay until the closing date with a cash bonus of up to 10 weeks pay. In addition, those who want to return to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas when the doors open back up in late 2020 will not need to interview for their old jobs. They can just apply and get their positions back.

Maybe I’ll buy the guitar

Virgin Group acquired Hard Rock Las Vegas in March 2018 with the intention of rebranding it to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The immediately recognizable giant Fender Stratocaster out front will disappear, though Virgin founder Richard Branson said that his company’s logo does have a “giant V” that is “sort of guitar-shaped,” so there might be a replacement that somewhat, kind of resembles the guitar. It is kind of a shame, to be honest.

Renovations are expected to cost more than $200 million, up from an earlier estimate of $150 million. The Joint rock club, pool deck, and all 1,500 guest rooms will be renovated, among other changes.

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Categories: Poker News

Wind Creek Bethlehem Temporarily Shutting Down Games During Branding Transition

Poker News Daily - Tue, 2019-08-20 19:50

Many patrons of the Pennsylvania casino Wind Creek Bethlehem were likely surprised today when they walked in to play some blackjack, only to see the blackjack tables closed. Same for craps, three card poker, roulette, and every other manually dealt table on the casino floor. This is because beginning at 6:00am, all non-electronic table games were taken offline as the casino put new, Wind Creek-branded chips in play. Everything is expected to open back up at about 10:00pm tonight.

The chip change is part of the property’s transition from Sands Bethlehem to Wind Creek Bethlehem. Sands Bethlehem, owned by Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp., was acquired by Wind Creek Hospitality, an affiliate of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians of Alabama, for $1.3 billion in March 2018. Casino management had told its employees a year prior that a buyer had been found, but it was expected to be MGM, not Wind Creek. Sands Bethlehem, the second largest casino in Pennsylvani by revenue, immediately became the giant of Wind Creek’s portfolio.

Wind Creek also operates Wind Creek-branded three casinos in Alabama, as well as other-branded casinos in Alabama, Florida, Nevada, Curacao, and Aruba.

The sale of the casino was completed in late May of this year.

The branding turnaround began immediately. One of the most daunting tasks was removing the 3,187 square-foot “Sands” sign on the face of the old ore crane at the Bethlehem Works site and replacing it with 3,880 square-foot sign containing the “Wind Creek” name and company logo. Locals have been having fun with it, as the letters are not going up in order, making it look like a “Wheel of Fortune” puzzle. The order is not random, though, but rather planned in order to make installation easier.

Next week, there will be two more gaming outages. On Monday, August 26th, about 1,200 slot machines will be shut down while the casino’s systems are upgraded. Another 2,000 or so will remain in service. Then, beginning at midnight, the slot FREE play will be out of service for system upgrades. They are expected to get back online by about 2:00pm Tuesday.

Total rebranding efforts will cost $15 million.

One of the big, long-term plans for the property is to turn the former Bethlehem Steel site’s No. 2 Machine Shop into a 300,000 square-foot adventure and water park with a 400-room hotel. The project is expected to cost $250 million. $100 million of the funding used to buy Sands Bethlehem was earmarked for the project, but Wind Creek is still seeking a cash injection for the rest.

In the meantime, Wind Creek does have $90 million for a smaller project to build a 276-room hotel on the property. In addition, it will build out 42,000 more square feet of meeting space. Nothing has happened with this yet, as it still needs to get the approval of the local government.

Wind Creek Bethlehem will eventually have online gambling, including poker, casino games, and sports betting. The irony of this is that Sheldon Adelson, who, as mentioned is the Chief Executive of the casino’s former parent company, is online gambling’s enemy number one in the United States.

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Categories: Poker News

DOJ to Appeal Wire Act Lawsuit Defeat

Poker News Daily - Mon, 2019-08-19 21:08

We all hoped they would just go away. Just stop. But we knew they would be back. On Friday, the Department of Justice filed a Notice of Appeal of the US District Court for the District of New Hampshire’s Wire Act ruling from June. In that ruling, US District Judge Paul J. Barbadoro said that the DOJ’s 2018 opinion on the Wire Act was invalid.

The issue goes back to late 2011, when the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued an opinion on the Wire Act, saying that it only made interstate online sports betting illegal, not all online gambling. Before then, though any reasonable person would read the Wire Act as only applying to sports betting, the DOJ had operated as if all internet gambling was illegal. This revised opinion opened the doors for states to launch their own online gambling industries. Last year, somewhat out of the blue, the DOJ, now under the Trump Administration, issued a new opinion, saying that all online gambling was illegal.

Shortly after the opinion was made public early this year, it was reported that the re-examining of the Wire Act was done largely at the behest of Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson, a staunch opponent of online poker and online gambling in general. He has said he wants to protect children and problem gamblers, but it is widely known that he wants to protect his own gaming interests, that he doesn’t want added competition.

The New Hampshire Lottery Commission (NHLC), in turn, sued the DOJ. The NHLC believed that the new interpretation of the Wire Act was so broad that it could outlaw multi-state lotteries such as Powerball and Mega Millions, as well as online lottery sales. The DOJ filed a motion to dismiss, which Judge Barbadoro denied:

In summary, I deny the Government’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction because the plaintiffs have established standing, and the Government has not met its burden to show that the case is moot. I grant the plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment and deny the Government’s cross-motion for summary judgment.

I hereby declare that § 1084(a) of the Wire Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1084(a), applies only to transmissions related to bets or wagers on a sporting event or contest. The 2018 OLC Opinion is set aside.

The DOJ said it would appeal, so this was expected, even if we all hoped they were just spouting hot air. The DOJ is not likely to win its appeal, but the fact that there is an appeal means that there is still a threat to online poker. Plus, this continues to make gaming companies and states slow their plans to expand online gambling in fear of running afoul of the law.

Judge Barbadoro not only knew this was coming, but in his ruling, he said he expected the case to go all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

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Categories: Poker News

Poker Professional Michael Borovetz Arrested for Bilking Travelers

Poker News Daily - Sun, 2019-08-18 17:09

A poker professional who routinely crisscrosses the States of America and the tournament poker circuit will have plenty of opportunities to meet and socialize with the people of this country (and, in some cases, the world). One of those poker pros allegedly took it a bit farther than that, bilking fellow travelers out of thousands of dollars in cash as he traveled the country in pursuit of poker glory.

Michael Borovetz Arrested in Detroit After Multiple Complaints

The interesting story of Michael Borovetz and his trip to Detroit earlier this week is one that many wouldn’t believe. According to police reports, Borovetz was traveling from Seattle to Miami and was connecting to his next flight in Detroit when airport police arrested him. From their investigations, Borovetz was accused of two counts of “false pretenses with intent to defraud,” according to the report.

“Borovetz is known at airports across the country for approaching passengers with a sad story in an attempt to get money, while promising to pay it back,” airport officials said in a statement that was released to the media. “Once Borovetz receives the money, the victims never hear from him again.” Apparently, this wasn’t the first time that Borovetz had done this; he apparently had run this ruse for at least four years but, without knowledge of his travel habits, the Detroit authorities couldn’t get a line on when he would be in their jurisdiction. When they received info about his travels to Miami earlier this week, airport law enforcement set a plan to capturing Borovetz.

While there was no dollar amount mentioned in coordination with this scam, it could be well into the thousands of dollars. Wayne County Airport Authority spokeswoman Lisa Gass stated that they were receiving “many” phone calls from others who potentially had been defrauded by Borovetz. Additionally, their investigation led them to find that Borovetz had a lengthy criminal past, including fraud convictions, that covered 13 states. Borovetz’s bond was set at $100,000 and, if convicted, he could face up to a year in jail on each count against him.

Borovetz Has Prior History

While it would be easy to dismiss the charges against Borovetz, he apparently has a prior history of such acts, especially in New Jersey. According to Daniel Smyth at CardsChat, Borovetz was arrested by the New Jersey Port Authority for allegedly bilking a fellow ferry rider out of $200. In April 2018, he was charged with “theft by deception,” but his comments after the arrest were what were the most interesting turn.

Smyth’s sleuthing revealed that Borovetz had allegedly admitted to such actions previously. In 2014 Borovetz, using the alias “PSUMike,” allegedly wrote a lengthy post on the chat boards at Two Plus Two regarding allegations brought on the forum. In that post, Borovetz admitted, “I just now read through the whole thread and let me state this emphatically: Everything the initial op has stated is 100% true.”

Smyth detailed out what Borovetz wrote on the Two Plus Two forum, which followed the modus operandi of the actions alleged by the Detroit authorities. Blaming a “gambling addiction,” Borovetz said he would:

1) Give story to try and [sic] get money.

2) Gamble money to try and [sic] win more money so I don’t have to go to airport anymore.

3) Lose all of the money in the pit and go back to #1 or win money, leave, come back the next day thinking I can win more money and proceed to lose it all.”

Borovetz a Veteran of the Poker World

Since 2004, Borovetz has been a stalwart of the tournament poker world. He has racked up almost $600,000 in tournament cashes ($598,958, according to the Hendon Mob Database), with a victory on the World Series of Poker Circuit in 2006 in Atlantic City as the highlight. Over the span of his career, Borovetz was able to rack up 16 cashes in WSOP sanctioned events, along with that ring victory in 2006, and was a fixture on the World Poker Tour circuit.

There is no word on whether Borovetz has made bail as of yet nor any information as to court dates for him. Poker News Daily will continue to follow the case.

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Categories: Poker News

Houston’s Prime Social Poker Club Announces Reopening Date

Poker News Daily - Sun, 2019-08-18 14:35

After being shut down due to a raid by law enforcement earlier this year, there were questions as to whether Houston’s Prime Social Poker Club would ever reopen. Those questions have now been answered as the owners of the membership only poker club have stated they will reopen in September.

September 5 Official Date for Reopening

According to KPRC Houston Digital Editor Aaron Barker, spokesman Wayne Dolcefino issued a statement on the behalf of the ownership of Prime Social Poker Club with the details that many were waiting for. In that statement, Dolcefino said that September 5 would be the official reopening of the club, with the business contacting prior employees in a way of getting the business back up and running quicker. “We look forward to our 11,000 members coming back and bringing a bunch of friends with them,” Dolcefino said.

There was no statement from the club regarding any changes to the club with the reopening, but its business format was something that was sweeping Texas as a whole. Because of laws in the state prohibiting Texas Hold’em (and gambling as a whole), many entrepreneurs – the owners of Prime Social Poker Club – felt they had found a loophole in the laws. Opening up as “membership only” clubs and charging a membership fee for entrance, these new poker rooms offered cash games and tournament poker to a ravenous audience. The businesses didn’t take any rake – another issue that plagues poker businesses – and instead made revenues (after the membership fees) through the sale of refreshments.

For more than a year in Houston, these clubs were allowed to operate and became quite popular. In the city, Prime Social Poker Club and one of its rivals, Post Oak Poker Club (there has been no announcement as to a reopening for Post Oak), became the two biggest operations in the city, extremely popular with poker players who could now settle in for a game in their home town rather than take a long trip to Louisiana or Oklahoma. That was until this spring, however, when the local District Attorney started a strange journey that ended up leaving law enforcement highly embarrassed.

Ending Up with “Ogg” on Their Faces

In a stunning raid in May Houston law enforcement, acting at the behest of District Attorney Kim Ogg, entered both the Prime Social and Post Oak Poker Clubs, arrested the ownership of the operations (charging them with money laundering), seized over $200,000 in cash on the premises and froze their bank accounts. In total, nine people from both clubs were arrested and, naturally, the businesses were shut down after the raids. On the way to their day in court, however, a strange twist occurred.

Almost as stunningly as the raids happened, Ogg would drop the cases against the nine owners in July after evidence appeared that the two businesses had solicited the District Attorney’s office for legal guidance on their operations and had been given the go-ahead. In particular, a consultant to Ogg was allegedly paid $250,000 to work on an ordinance that would make the clubs fully legal in the city limits and avoid the potential for such a situation as what occurred in May. That ordinance never came to light (another long story), but it was enough to demonstrate that the DA’s office was not acting as a neutral arbiter in the case.

Faced with these mistakes, Ogg was left with no choice but to drop the charges against the Houston club owners. Another lawsuit, charging the clubs with violations of “nuisance” laws in the city, was dropped also because the criminal investigations that they came from were rendered moot by the dismissal of charges. The best that Ogg could do was to forward the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigations for further examination as her office was left highly embarrassed.

What Will Happen?

In roughly two weeks, Prime Social Poker Club will reopen and probably will have a throng of players waiting to get to the tables. Prime Social Poker Club has stated that they are “reviewing their options” as to reclaiming any lost revenue from being shut down since May, potentially revenues that could total into the high six-figures. But Prime Social Poker Club will be back come the beginning of September – and hopefully without the harassment from law enforcement.

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Categories: Poker News

Poker Central Names New Sponsor, Reveals Dates for 2019 Poker Masters

Poker News Daily - Sat, 2019-08-17 02:33

Poker tournaments, and their specific Player of the Year races, haven’t usually gone the natural route of having a title sponsor. Unlike their tournament brethren in golf (which seems to have a sponsor for every tournament it runs), poker runs off the monies generated by the players themselves. Poker Central is looking to change that, however, by announcing a major sponsor for their High Roller of the Year race and simultaneously announcing the next dates for one of their popular “made for streaming” High Roller series.

Poker Central, Automotive Giant Jeep Partner for POY Award

Already running their High Roller of the Year competition, Poker Central signed up Jeep as their new partner, officially making it the Jeep High Roller of the Year. For most of 2019, players have been taking part in a select list of 35 High Roller events. These events have buy-ins that range from $10,000 up to $100,000 and bring in a select group of players that have become recognized as some of the best in the game.

“The ongoing success of the High Roller of the Year structure and the growth of Poker Central’s events domestically and globally are evident as we welcome Jeep as our partner,” said Sam Simmons, the president of Poker Central. “Jeep’s support of the High Roller of the Year award demonstrates the broad appeal of poker and the passionate community that surrounds it.”

The High Roller of the Year competition includes many of the featured tournaments on Poker Central’s streaming outlet PokerGO, including the Super High Roller Bowl, the U. S. Poker Open and the Poker Masters. In its inaugural season, Sam Soverel was the overall champion and, in 2019, he’s well on his way to defending his title. Currently he sits atop the 2019 High Roller of the Year standings, but there are some strong players that are stalking him on the leaderboard:

1. Sam Soverel, 1160 points
2. Ali Imsirovic, 995
3. Cary Katz, 925
4. Stephen Chidwick, 910
5. David Peters, 865
6. Sean Winter, 810
7. Keith Tilston, 665
8. Jake Schindler, 660
9. Brandon Adams, 590
10. Nick Schulman, 410

At this time, there is no information on whether Jeep’s new sponsorship deal will add anything as to an award for the ultimate champion.

2019 Poker Masters Dates Announced

While announcing the new partnership with Jeep, Poker Central also revealed the dates for the upcoming Poker Masters series. The dates for the schedule will be November 1-10 at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, with 10 High Roller tournaments set to be played out. It all starts with a $10,000 buy in tournament on November 1 and concludes with the $100,000 buy-in Main Event. Last year, the champion of the $100,000 Main Event was David Peters, but it was Imsirovic who had the best series of all and won the coveted Poker Masters purple jacket.

While the Poker Masters looms on the horizon, it is the inaugural event for Poker Central and PokerGO in London that many have their eyes on. The British Poker Open, a 10-event schedule of High Roller tournaments, will begin on September 2 and should draw the deepest pocketed pros from across the European continent for battle. After the conclusion of the British Poker Open, the Super High Roller Bowl London will take place beginning on September 13.

Poker Central seems to have gone, no pun intended, all in with the High Roller format. These tournaments have gained in popularity over the past few years, but little is known as to how successful they are as far as viewership goes (for that matter, it isn’t known what PokerGO’s viewership is; as a private entity and a streaming outlet, there are few ways to measure their audience). And with the new sponsorship with Jeep, Poker Central is beginning to market these tournaments so that they might stick around.

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Categories: Poker News

Pennsylvania, West Virginia Slow-Walking Online Poker Rollout

Poker News Daily - Fri, 2019-08-16 13:43

Back in 2013, after three states – Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware – passed online gaming and poker regulations, it was thought that there would be a “gold rush” for other states to get their intra-state industries established. In the more than six years since then, there have been relatively few states who have entered the game and, of those that have, online poker seems to have been an afterthought. Two states that have recently entered the game are demonstrations that it is online gaming and sports betting that are driving the industry, not online poker.

Pennsylvania in “No Hurry” to Start Online Poker

In the past month, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been bringing its online casino gaming and sports betting industry online. To this point, all looks to be running smoothly for the industry (more will be known with the first reports of revenues from the outlets). But what hasn’t been seen on the Pennsylvania market are any of their casinos starting up online poker operations.

When the online gaming industry debuted last month in the Keystone State, three casinos hit the internet and were soon followed by a few more. None of them, however, opened the doors to an online poker site. In fact, those places that have online poker licenses available to them have literally said they are in “no hurry” to open these outlets, in some cases opting to hold off until 2019 before they enter the game.

West Virginia? Don’t Expect Anything Soon…

In Pennsylvania’s neighbor West Virginia, the story is even more disheartening.

Although they passed legislation earlier this year to open for online gaming and poker, West Virginia lawmakers are still in the process of penning the regulations that they would need to govern the industry. The expected completion date for this is the summer of 2020 and the story gets even worse after that.

If it were to be mid-2020 that West Virginia would even start accepting online gaming license applications, the review process and testing would take several months on its own. That means that it wouldn’t be until 2021 that there would be any online casino gaming or poker in the Mountaineer State.

To pass the time, it seems that West Virginia is looking towards sports betting to pick up the slack, passing laws for both live and online sports betting. Three casinos in the state offer live sports betting – Hollywood Casino, Mountaineer Casino and The Greenbriar – but there is currently no outlet for online sports betting. That was shut down earlier this year when a dispute with a third-party vendor caused Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island to shut down their online (and live) operations.

So Why the Delays?

The reason for the delays is a simple one – money.

Online poker hasn’t shown that it is a massive moneymaker for any online gaming operation. In New Jersey (the biggest state to have both online casino and online poker offered to its citizens), monthly revenues from online casino gaming – including slots, blackjack and other table gaming – outpace online poker revenues tenfold. Add in the sports betting offering and the story gets worse; in New Jersey, it only took a few months before sports betting began to rival online casino gaming in “take” (revenues) and, in some cases, pass it on the revenue board.

Without big bucks coming in for the operation, casinos are examining their online operations and giving the people what they seem to want: online sports betting and casinos. Poker, in most of these cases, is an afterthought and, if it were possible, some of these operations may not consider it critical to have an online poker outlet at all. Unless there is a way to pool the players through compacting (something that has been placed in doubt by the insistence of the federal government to revert their interpretation of the Wire Act to pre-2011), there isn’t going to be massive revenues created for online poker operations.

There very well may be other states that enter the game this year (Illinois and Michigan are both on the “watch list”), but they won’t be throwing the switch on their games immediately. And, with the 2020 elections looming on the horizon, some of those in power in state capitols won’t want to offend any of their constituents with an approving vote for gambling. Thus, we may be looking at the end of any legislative action and/or openings regarding online gaming and poker for 2019 – and we may not see any action in states that have approved online poker for much longer.

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Categories: Poker News

Chinese Government Vows Crackdown on Philippine Online Gambling Sites

Poker News Daily - Wed, 2019-08-14 23:36

The Chinese government is not known to be the most forgiving. A soft touch it does not have. In its crosshairs at the moment is online gambling and more specifically, online gambling sites based in the neighboring Philippines. Last week, the Chinese Embassy issued a lengthy statement on the problems it has with such sites.

“According to the Chinese laws and regulations, any form of gambling by Chinese citizens, including online-gambling, gambling overseas, opening casinos overseas to attract citizens of China as primary customers, is illegal,” the statement says. “The casinos and offshore gaming operators (POGOs) and other forms of gambling entities in the Philippine target Chinese citizens as their primary customers.”

The statement goes on to discuss the problems these sites pose for China. The complaints are largely the same as what we hear from anti-online gambling opponents in the United States:

1) Money is exiting China and going to illegal gambling sites in the Philippines. Money laundering ensues. China believes the monetary sums add up to “hundreds of millions of Chinese Yuan (Renminbi) every year” and have found their way to Philippine real estate.
2) “Crimes and social problems” are on the rise in China as a result of the online gambling.

One gripe China has with these sites, though, is fairly unique. The opening of the Chinese Embassy’s statement reads:

The Chinese Embassy has taken note of recent remarks by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGOR) vice president Jose Tria that Chinese working in Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) will be transferred to “self-contained” communities or hubs. The Chinese Embassy expresses its grave concern over such potential move by PAGOR, which may infringe on the basic legal rights of the Chinese citizens concerned, and strongly urges the Philippine government to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens in the Philippines.

Later on, the Embassy says many of these Chinese citizens working in the Philippines are “modern slaves,” who have their passports taken away by their employers.

“They are confined to live and work in certain designated places and some of them have been subjected to extortion, physical abuse and torture as well as other ill-treatments,” the statement reads. “At the same time, dozens of kidnappings and tortured cases of Chinese citizens who gamble or work illegally in gambling entities in the Philippines have taken place. Some Chinese citizens were physically tortured, injured or even murdered.”

Similar abuses have been documented in Qatar as the country imports workers to prepare for the 2022 World Cup.

The Chinese government has pledged to “crack down” on cross-border online gambling, aiming to “destroy networks of criminal organizations” that open online gambling sites and attract Chinese customers. It is also going to go after “underground banks,” payment processors, and domestic network operators that facilitate online gambling and financial transactions.

According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping will discuss the matter at a meeting later this month.

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Categories: Poker News

Sports Betting Push Knocks Poker Down The Stars Group Hierarchy

Poker News Daily - Wed, 2019-08-14 22:26

The Stars Group, parent company of PokerStars, reported its second quarter results this week. In what the poker world is wondering if it is a sign to come, the percentage of poker as a portion of revenue compared to the rest of the company sharply decreased. Sports betting took over as the top vertical in the company, though overall, sports betting, casino, and poker are all bunched together.

On the second page of its press release, The Stars Group said that sports betting made up 36 percent of the second quarter’s revenue. Online casino games were second at 31 percent, while poker came in third at 30 percent. In the same quarter last year, the numbers were 20 percent, 25 percent, and 53 percent, respectively.

While that drop from 53 to 30 percent is jarring, it is not as bad as it seems for poker. The company said that overall revenue, which increased by 55 percent quarter over quarter, was affected primarily by the July 2018 acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming. Sports betting naturally swelled as a result and PokerStars’ portion of the pie deflated.

The Stars Group is definitely banking on sports betting to be a growth driver in the near future. In May, it booked a deal with FOX Sports to create FOX Bet, a real-money and play-money wagering platform. It also, just last month, inked a huge deal with Penn National Gaming in which The Stars Group will gain online sports betting access in up to ten states in which Penn National has brick-and-mortar casinos.

Looking at the company’s “international” poker revenue numbers, they decreased by 11.7 percent from the second quarter of 2018 to the second quarter of 2019, dropping under $200 million. It seems that The Stars Group does not feel this is a particularly bad sign, pointing to external factors:

Poker revenue for the quarter decreased year-over-year primarily as a result of adverse foreign exchange fluctuations and continued disruptions and regulatory headwinds in certain markets, including reduced deposits by customers as a result of local restrictions on some methods of payment processing and on certain methods of downloading The Stars Group’s poker applications, which was partially offset by continued organic growth in most other markets.

“2019 has been and remains a year of integration, execution and debt reduction,” said The Stars Group’s Chief Executive Officer Rafi Ashkenazi. “We are committed to those key strategic priorities for the rest of the year while we also build our foundation and momentum to become a market leader in the U.S. We are confident that the actions we have taken over the last year, and are pursuing now, including to reassess our fixed cost base, put us in a strong position to deliver our mid-term growth targets from the end of 2019.”

Now that half the year has elapsed, The Stars Group has adjusted its financial forecasts downward, citing, “negative foreign exchange fluctuations, a historically low Betting Net Win Margin in the first quarter for the United Kingdom segment, the slower than planned recovery in certain disrupted markets and some delays in launching The Stars Group’s newly licensed operations in certain jurisdictions, such as Switzerland.”

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Categories: Poker News

Competitors Feeling the Heat from Encore Boston Harbor

Poker News Daily - Wed, 2019-08-14 21:14

The Encore Boston Harbor casino opened less than two months ago, but its impact is already being felt in the region. And that impact is not always a positive one. According to reports, both regional casino competitors and local restaurants have experienced struggles since the Wynn Resorts property cut the ribbon.

Ripples felt an hour and a half away…

WJAR News, Providence’s NBC affiliate, is reporting that the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island has warned that it might have to layoff staff because of plummeting revenues. Last month, table game revenue was $3.9 million lower than it was in July 2018, a 34 percent plunge to $7.6 million. Slot machine revenue was down $6.4 million, a 17 percent drop to $32.2 million.

As a result, Twin River Casino spokeswoman Patti Doyle said that as many as 30 table games supervisors could face layoffs. She added that the casino is looking to see if some employees would be willing to voluntarily reduce hours so that nobody would have to be out of a job completely. WJAR

“We are effectively staffing to the present volume of business on the table games,” she said.

Casino management has informed its employees of the situation. In a memo obtained by WJAR, company officials told employees, “Business levels have dropped significantly, and we are faced with the need to reduce staffing levels accordingly.”

The casino, about 54 miles south of Encore Boston Harbor, hopes that business will increase after Labor Day and that employees can be re-hired.

…and right down the street

Closer to Encore, local Boston restaurants are finding that it has become harder to staff up because Encore Boston Harbor has hired so many hospitality workers. Casino spokesperson Rosie Salisbury told the Boston Herald that they have already hired 5,200 people and are still looking to hire 200 more. 135,000 employment applications were filed.

“We already had issues with finding staff — the casino has added a whole other dimension to it,” Mark D’Alessandro, general manager of Mistral and operations manager for the Columbus Restaurant Group, told the Herald.

It is a simply supply-and-demand issue. Encore Boston Harbor has scooped up much of the supply, so not only are there fewer qualified people to work at local restaurants, but wages are going to have to go up to bring them in.

“That’s one of the fears that we have,” Massachusetts Restaurant Association chief Bob Luz said. “You reach a breaking point because you can’t just keep passing it onto the consumer.”

Glynn Hospitality operations manager Sheldon Cohen told the Herald that more than ten bartenders and cooks have bolted his nine restaurants for Encore. On top of that, the restaurants are having to negotiate with current employees to get them to stay, which often means increasing their pay.

Luz did say that Encore has not played dirty, that it has not actively recruited people directly from competing restaurants. It is just that its size and resources have made it a “disruptive force” in the city.

Even those restaurants and bars who have not had employees leave are finding it much more difficult to attract new staffers. Many are having to use different methods of recruiting that they have not had to resort to in the past. What was once recruiting by networking has now become internet ads or the use of headhunters.

Lead image credit: Encore Boston Harbor / Barbara Kraft

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Categories: Poker News

Parx Casino Celebrates New Sportsbook Grand Opening

Poker News Daily - Tue, 2019-08-13 23:26

When I covered the World Series of Poker live at the Rio in Las Vegas nearly a decade and a half ago, one of my favorite things to do when I took a break from the action was to pick up some food at the casino’s Chinese restaurant, then walk a few steps and sit down to eat my dinner at the sportsbook. I didn’t sit right in the midst of everything – I left those seats for the gamblers – but it was fun to enjoy my dumplings while catching up with the umpteen games that were being shown on the giant screens. This was back before streaming was really a thing, so it was one of the only ways I could catch an inning of my Milwaukee Brewers at the time. These memories make me happy for Philadelphia sports fans and sports bettors, as the Parx Casino held the grand opening of its slick new retail sportsbook on Thursday and by the looks of it, it is something else.

The new Parx Casino sportsbook is 7,400 square feet, which is somewhere around three times the square footage of my house. 36 games can be shown simultaneously on the 156-foot high definition “media wall.” Don’t sit too close or you’ll go blind. There are 196 seats, a 38 by 14-foot bar that can fit nearly 40 people, and three VIP areas. The entire space can hold more than 400 people.

As for the actual betting, there are six live tellers and 18 self-serve kiosks. The live tellers should be open anywhere from 10 to 16 hours per day, depending on how busy the sports world is. The sportsbook itself will be open 24/7.

Parx Casino’s Senior Vice President of Interactive Gaming & Sports Matthew Cullen was the main cheerleader last Thursday for the grand opening, saying in a press release:

Parx aims to set the industry standard in this new and fast-growing arena. The timing couldn’t be better as we head into football season. We felt our local Eagles fans deserved to have the ultimate game day destination to cheer on the Birds. Game day will soar to new heights as we present the absolute best gaming and entertainment experience of its kind. We have worked for nearly two years to expand our portfolio of offerings to give patrons the best of all types of legalized gaming. After the recent launch of online sports betting and our real money online casino, the grand opening of Parx Casino Sportsbook completes this mission.

Parx Casino launched its previous brick-and-mortar sportsbook on January 10, the fourth sportsbook to open in Pennsylvania. According to the latest financial figures put out by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Parx churned $39.15 million in handle through June, producing $4.44 million in revenue. Parx also has a nascent online sportsbook, which launched on June 27. Casino management has said that it will be focusing on building its online customer base, especially as the football season approaches later this month.

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Categories: Poker News

Lawsuits Against Two Houston Poker Clubs Dropped

Poker News Daily - Tue, 2019-08-13 17:35

The Harris County (Texas) attorney dropped civil suits against Houston’s Prime Social Poker Club and Post Oak Poker Club last week, citing the lack of a criminal case. The two poker clubs were raided in May and their owners and management were hit with illegal gambling and money laundering charges. Because those charges were dropped last month, the county now feels that it can’t go forward with any lawsuits.

Though the county said the two clubs were operating illegally, neither Prime nor Post Oak was hiding anything they were doing. They were not “underground” clubs at all; they had rather elaborate operations and advertise openly with well-made websites. It is illegal in Texas to run a poker game and take a rake or a fee to play, but the two clubs believe they were within legal guidelines by not doing either. Instead, they had a cover charge to get in, as well as a membership fee. Food and drink also brought in revenue.

Nevertheless, they were raided, principles were arrested, and more than $200,000 was seized.

Conflict of interest in DA’s office

In July, though, the charges were dropped and money was returned (or is in the process of being returned) because a conflict of interest was found in the Harris County District Attorney’s office. Prime Social Poker Club’s attorney, Joe Magliolo, presented evidence that Prime had paid a consultant in DA Kim Ogg’s office $250,000 on his promise that he would get an ordinance drafted and presented to the City Council that would assure the club would experience no legal hassles going forward. That ordinance never even materialized and Prime’s owners believed they had been scammed.

The consultant, Amir Mireskandari, was also a big supporter of Ogg’s political campaigns. He and his wife contributed more than $14,000 to her campaigns from 2016 to 2017. They also hosted two fundraising events at their home, paying more than $5,000 for catering at one of them.

Though the charges were dropped, the case was still referred to the FBI, so neither Prime nor Post Oak are totally out of the woods just yet.

Lawsuits gone, not forgotten

Harris County was still hoping to nail Prime and Post Oak on civil “nuisance” charges, a murky and controversial part of Texas law. I am not a lawyer, but it seems like it would have been a stretch. Nevertheless, those lawsuits have now also been cancelled.

“These nuisance lawsuits rely on criminal investigations,” First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard told the Houston Chronicle. “If we don’t have a criminal investigation to rely on, it doesn’t make sense as civil lawyers to pursue it in civil court.”

The county said it still could re-file the lawsuits at a later date if it feels it has a case.

Both the Prime Social Poker Club and Post Oak Poker Club plan to reopen in the coming weeks.

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Categories: Poker News

PokerStars Launches All-in Cash Out at Real Money Tables

Poker News Daily - Tue, 2019-08-13 02:39
All-In Cash Out only for micro-stakes

A few weeks ago, PokerStars began testing a new All-in Cash Out feature on its play-money .NET client. Apparently, that testing went well, because the poker room announced on Monday that the feature is now live on the real-money, .COM client. It is only an option at the micro-stakes ($0.01/$0.02, $0.02/$0.05, $0.05/$0.10) levels of No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, and 6+ Hold’em cash games.

All-in Cash out will be available for every player at every eligible table, but if players do not even want to see the option, it can be turned off in the poker client settings. Everyone else at the table may use it, though, even if an individual player has turned it off.

Players can lock up their equity

The All-in Cash Out option is presented to players when someone is all-in and called and there is no other action to come. At point, two buttons appear for those players still in the hand, one which allows them to immediately cash out of the hand and the other which tells PokerStars to resume play. Players who wish to cash out must pay a one percent fee of their hand value.

If both players just want to resume, the hand continues as normal. If a player elects to cash out, he receives an amount equal to the probability of him winning the hand times the total pot. If, at the same time, the other player (we’ll assume it’s two players) wants to resume, the hand plays out for that player only. If he wins, he wins the pot.

There are a couple scenarios that a little odd, though. If one player cashes out and wins, he can’t win the pot, since he cashed out already. In that case, the pot actually goes to PokerStars, meaning that PokerStars profits from the hand above the one percent fee. PokerStars got the entire and only gave the cash out player a portion of it. On the flip side, if the cash out player loses the hand, the pot goes to the other player, so PokerStars loses money, having paid the cash out player.

Many in the poker community were worried that this would take the place of the Run it Twice feature. It does not; PokerStars said that players can opt to Run It Twice if the feature is enabled.

PokerStars assures everything is cool

Because All-in Cash Out means the players are actually competing against the house in some instances, PokerStars addressed a potential conflict of interest, saying:

In no way whatsoever will PokerStars manipulate the dealing of any cards. The only way that PokerStars will make any direct revenue from this feature is through the 1% surcharge. While PokerStars will take the pot in hands where a player has Cashed Out but then goes on to win the hand, overall the number of pots won and lost will balance out according to Expected Value (EV).

Therefore, PokerStars will only break even in this regard, and subsequently the only revenue we will receive will come from the 1% surcharge.

As to why All-in Cash Out has been introduced, PokerStars said it is “always looking for ways to enhance our offering” and sees it as a way for players to lower their variance. PokerStars also views All-in Cash Out as “a more advanced version of Run It Twice, but without the requirement for both players to agree.”

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Categories: Poker News

WSOP-E Champion Barry Shulman Sounds Off on Nick Marchington Controversy

Poker News Daily - Sun, 2019-08-11 18:57

While the 2019 World Series of Poker Championship Event may have concluded about a month ago, there is still a hubbub about one particular part of it. According to many reports, including one from my friend and colleague Dan Katz, Nick Marchington, who earned his third ever cash in only the biggest poker tournament in the world, allegedly stiffed some backers who thought they were in on his good fortune. Instead, they found themselves given the cold shoulder from Marchington, who denies he had a deal with them for the WSOP Championship Event and, therefore, didn’t owe any money from his $1.525 million in winnings to them.

Now a respected figure in the poker community, two-time WSOP bracelet winner, 2009 WSOP-Europe champion and CardPlayer Magazine publisher Barry Shulman, has spoken up with his thoughts on the subject. When someone in such a position takes the time to respond on a subject, it is advisable to listen.

Marchington “Not Honorable,” Shulman Says

In an op/ed penned on, Shulman takes the time to look over the situation regarding Marchington. For those of you who may have missed it, Marchington was allegedly staked by a group called C Biscuit Poker Staking, with a contract signed between the parties and C Biscuit Poker Staking paying 10% of Marchington’s action. Marchington suffered through an awful run in the early segments of the WSOP and, a week before the Championship Event, offered a refund to the group to cancel the deal.

This is where the story gets a bit cloudy. The staking group alleges that Marchington got a better deal from someone else to play in the WSOP Championship Event and wanted to take that staking action and sought to end his relationship with C Biscuit. Marchington doesn’t deny this and says that, once he had returned their stake before he started Day 2 of the Championship Event, the relationship was over. Of course, Marchington would go on a run that saw him make the final table of the WSOP Championship Event and earn his new backers a nice chunk of change.

Shulman takes a look at this situation through two angles, the poker angle and the business angle, two areas that he would know well. While stating that he wasn’t an attorney (his wife, Allyn, IS, however), Shulman states, “Marchington and C Biscuit Staking had a contract. That means there was an offer and acceptance. That means it was binding. Unless that contract said he could renege if he got a better deal, then Marchington was clearly out of luck.”

But C Biscuit did accept some of their money back, which changes the situation, Shulman notes. Although he says that Marchington was “not honorable” in trying to break the agreement with C Biscuit, Shulman says “In my opinion, (Marchington) acted quite immorally, but may have legally canceled the contract when they (C Biscuit) accepted his amended deal that got them back their money.”

Our Take…

First, Marchington is a bit underhanded in seeking out other backers when he already was being staked by someone. When you’ve got all the “ducks in a row” – a signed contract, an exchange of money, etc. – you don’t go looking for another party that will usurp the people that believed in your skills. In this manner, Shulman is dead on that Marchington was “not honorable” and will probably have to live this down for the rest of his time in the poker community.

As to the contract, however, once C Biscuit accepted back the part of the stake that he hadn’t used – the part that was supposedly putting him in the WSOP Championship Event – the relationship between the two parties was terminated. They don’t deserve any of the windfall that Marchington received, even if he had utilized their financial support for earlier events (and not gotten a return).

This isn’t a suggested course of action, for those of you wondering. Marchington has completely damaged his reputation in the poker world (Does he care? That’s a very good question.). And while it is a course of action to take in their situation, C Biscuit probably shouldn’t make a practice of suing its horses when they have an issue (many contracts have a binding arbitration clause for that very purpose). The entire sordid affair once again shines the spotlight on what some might call a “dirty” reality of the poker world, the world of staking deals.

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Categories: Poker News

Editorial: Time to Separate the “High Rollers” from the Record Books

Poker News Daily - Sun, 2019-08-11 15:04

The history of tournament poker isn’t a long one. At best it dates back to the 1960s, when the first “Texas Road Gamblers” (the predecessor of the World Series of Poker) convention was held in Reno. Even in 1970, when the late Benny Binion brought the convention to his Horseshoe in Las Vegas and rebranded it as the WSOP, there still wasn’t a great deal of “tournament” style poker played – cash games were the primary draw. It would take a couple of years before the Championship Event – now known as the “Main Event” – became a fixture on the WSOP schedule.

Ever since the WSOP began, tournament poker has crept across the globe. First to Ireland (the late Terry Rogers’ Irish Poker Open is the second longest tournament in existence) and then to Europe, tournament poker has become an integral part of the game. Today, it is (for better or worse) recognized as the pinnacle of poker, a complete reversal from 50 years ago. But there is something happening to tournament poker that is disturbing arguably one of the most important parts of the game – the record books.

High Roller Tournaments – Destroying the History of the Game

The glut of what has become “High Roller” tournaments – tournaments that routinely have a buy-in larger than $25,000 and can range up to over $1 million – in the 2000s has not only completely changed what is considered a “skillful” player but also completely shattered such things as the all-time money earners list. It has now reached a point where these style tournaments have altered the record books too much, so much that they should be removed from the overall record books and put into their own category.

The recent Triton Poker Super High Roller Series in London is one example of this. Wrapping up on Thursday with its £1 million (that’s right – a $1.32 million buy-in tournament, after conversion, the largest tournament ever) invitational tournament, the Series also offered a plethora of events that had buy ins over £25,000. There were two of those £25K tournaments, two £50K events and two £100K runnings, all in the No Limit Texas Hold’em format. Over £109 million in prize pools were generated, more that what the recent WSOP Championship Event, as the second largest WSOP Championship Event in history, generated as the “greatest tournament in the world.”

But there’s a problem with this…the high entry fees are guaranteeing that the “Average Joe” cannot get into the game, thusly removing it from the egalitarian status that tournament poker is supposed to be. Additionally, the money that is being won in these tournaments isn’t in the “poker community” at large but being shuffled amongst a select few in the profession, making a mockery of the measuring sticks that are used to ascertain poker skill and greatness.

Blame It On…

In a way, the WSOP Championship Event is the one to blame for how this all started. When the “poker boom” started in the early Aughts, casinos and tours wanted to try to replicate the prize pool generated by that event. First, they did it with rebuys and then reentries, but the casinos and tours didn’t like how they would have final tables that would lack “star power” – players known to the casual poker fan to get them to watch the events. As such, the casinos and tours had to come up with a way to keep the prize pools high but also bring in the players that were recognizable to the fans to get eyeballs on their product. The European Poker Tour then brought about the concept of the “High Roller” tournament and it took off.

It started innocently enough, with buy-ins of about $25,000, or 2½ times the buy in of a normal tournament. And, for a bit, it was enough to limit the field to an elite few who could afford the buy-in. When the “unwashed masses” began to step up to that level to play, however, there was a push to take the buy ins higher to keep the same “known players” quality to the field.

$50,000, then $100,000 was the limits set. It was the inaugural $1 million buy in “Big One for One Drop,” however, that exploded the format. Started in 2012, the million dollar buy in – and the capped field size – was bigger than even the deep pocketed pros could play on their own. That’s when an “old school” form of play – pooling funds – took over, as the pros pooled their money to put the horses in the field and received a payout from said pool once the event was over.

The Problem…

The problem with these events is it is usually the same 40-50 competitors that make up the field, meaning the money doesn’t circulate through the poker world. In the “normal” tournament poker world, the winner of the event would enter other poker tournaments. Because “normal” poker tournaments don’t have the same winner all the time, that money would eventually work its way around the poker world.

In the “High Roller” world, that money stays with the staking groups or the 40-50 or so players who are participating in the events. For example, businessman Paul Phua has 11 cashes so far in 2019 – and ALL of them have been in “High Roller” events. He has earned a total of $10.6 million in 2019 alone, enough to catapult him into the race for the 2019 Player of the Year and crack the Top 40 in all-time money winnings.

Look at the Top Ten in all-time money winnings and you’ll see the same effect. With his runner up finish in the Triton Poker £1 million event, Bryn Kenney became the all-time leader in earnings with over $55 million. Seven of his 12 cashes in 2019 have come in events with a buy-in higher than $25,000 and the ratio is even more in the favor of the “High Roller” events in his previous seasons.

With the exception of Erik Seidel in fifth place (and, even with this said, much of his tournament cashes in the past few years has come through “High Roller” events), the remainder of the Top Ten have built their resumes through “High Roller” tournaments (Justin Bonomo, Daniel Negreanu, Dan Smith, David Peters, Fedor Holz, Stephen Chidwick, Jason Koon and Dan Colman make up the rest of the Top Ten). You’d arguably have to go back to former World Champion Martin Jacobson and he won $10 million in one swing at the WSOP.

And for those who argue there’s more “skill” in these fields, are you the same people who chide the “old school” players for “inflating” their WSOP bracelet records by playing through “small fields?” Playing when there was “only 30-40 people” playing in the tournament? That in itself is pretty hypocritical as there could be just as much argument given that it is MORE difficult to navigate through a multi-thousand-person field rather than the same 40-50 people you see all the time (and learn their styles and idiosyncrasies intimately).

…and How to Fix It

The way to fix this situation is a simple one. Have separate records kept for tournaments with buy-ins over $25,000 (that seems to be where the level for “High Roller” events has settled in at). We then would get a true look at where people have made their money and how well they have actually done when faced with more than 100 people to play against. If the Hendon Mob can break it down to the individual states in the U. S., it can filter the rankings and set a special “High Roller” record board.

They already do this somewhat. One of the filters on their rankings is the “All-Time Money List” but excluding invitational events and tournaments that have a buy-in of more than $50,000. On this list, Daniel Negreanu holds the all-time lead with slightly more than $20 million, but it is from his work in non-“High Roller” events over his 20-plus year career. Names that don’t show up in the Top 20 on the “overall” list include Phil Hellmuth, Michael Mizrachi, Jacobson, Joe Cada, and the current World Champion Hossein Ensan (in 20th place).

Nobody is looking to get rid of the “High Roller” event, people are just looking for some reality in the history books regarding poker. The champion of the Triton Poker High Roller Series, Aaron Zang, catapulted into the Top 40 of ALL-TIME earnings from this event alone – previously he had under a million in career earnings (and if that doesn’t raise the suspicions of  conspiracy theorists, nothing will). That’s not the reality of tournament poker and the record books should demonstrate that.

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Categories: Poker News

Split Decision on Player of the Year Races Moving to Final Third of the Year

Poker News Daily - Fri, 2019-08-09 20:49

As we prepare to enter the final third of the 2019 tournament poker calendar, the battle for the prestigious title of Player of the Year couldn’t be hotter. In fact, with the two major POY races, there is a split decision on who is in the lead, with wide discrepancies between the two tabulations.

Stephen Chidwick Seizes CardPlayer Magazine POY Lead

On the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year leaderboard, it is the United Kingdom’s Stephen Chidwick who finds himself sitting at the top. The British pro made most of his hay at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series in London, where he cashed four times for an unbelievable $6.5 million plus in cashes. Only two of those finishes were scoring points for him on the CardPlayer rankings, however, because CardPlayer has certain requirements on tournaments that they have a minimum number of players to be considered. Despite two of his Triton finishes not counting, Chidwick was still able to sweep into the lead with his 5751 points.

The runner up in the largest buy-in poker tournament ever, the £1,000,000 Triton Super High Roller Main Event in London, Bryn Kenney has long been a staple of the High Rollers around the world. In fact, over the last few years, at least three-quarters of his cashes have come from such events, which feature huge buy-ins but usually feature smaller fields. But that second-place finish in London didn’t add any points to Kenney’s total (due to the field not meeting the minimum number of players), meaning he sat stagnant (despite earning $20 million plus for his performance) at 5174 points for the year.

You’ll notice a familiar refrain in most of the POY race here on the CardPlayer boards – the players are quite often found on the High Roller circuit and make most of their money (and POY points) from their performance in those events. In third place on the CardPlayer rankings is Rainer Kempe, a familiar face on the High Roller circuit but one who has been taking a bit of a break after the 2019 World Series of Poker. His 4701 points is good enough for third place over Paul Phua, who had done nothing but play the Triton Poker High Roller Series around the world. After hitting Jeju, South Korea, Montenegro and the London stop, Phua has come from nowhere to amass 4697 points for fourth place.

Rounding out the Top Ten are such names as Jeremy Ausmus (4344 points), Shannon Shorr (4191), WSOP Championship Event runner up Dario Sammartino (3750), Nicholas Pupillo (3724), Ali Imsirovic (3475) and Ramon Colillas (3456) in fourth through tenth places, respectively.

Rainer Kempe Reigns Supreme on Global Poker Index POY Standings

If you’re looking for Chidwick in the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race, you’re going to be looking outside the Top Five for the Brit. That is one of the biggest differences between the CardPlayer and the GPI tabulation systems is that, with the GPI, your top 13 finishes are all that count. At a certain point, you can’t improve on your finishes anymore and you stagnate on the list. In fact, there are many differences between the CardPlayer and GPI rankings to fuel plenty of discussion amongst poker’s denizens.

Rainer Kempe is the man on the GPI POY and, as stated before, he has been able to do this while sitting on the sidelines after the 2019 WSOP. Kempe’s 13 best finishes (through the complicated GPI tabulation system) has earned him 3401.13 points. Although he hasn’t earned points since his final table finish in the partypoker MILLIONS Vegas Main Event, that is good enough to thrust him into the lead overall.

It’s a significant lead, especially when it comes down to just a few points usually on the GPI rankings. Kenney eases into the second place slot on the GPI POY, racking up 3254.17 points, while a new name, Sam Greenwood, pops up in third place on the GPI rankings with 3233.32 points. Greenwood picked up a large number of points in the “smaller” events on the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series London stop but, as a comparison, it wasn’t enough to even get him into the Top Ten on the CardPlayer board (he is 15th).

Another name that doesn’t show up on the CardPlayer standings – at least high up on the standings – is Manig Loeser. Loeser has been able to put together enough good finishes to sit in fourth place with 3052.91 points. Here’s what may make Loeser a contender; Loeser still has some room for movement with his “best finishes,” whereas much of his competition is already maxing out their numbers. This also applies to Sean Winter, another player who doesn’t appear up on the CardPlayer rankings (he’s 18th); Winter’s 3031.11 points are good for fifth place.

More deviations appear as we look at the second five on the GPI POY. Chidwick finally shows up on the countdown in sixth place with 2985.80 points, followed by Ausmus (2943.48), defending GPI Player of the Year Alex Foxen (2883.81), Daniel Tang (2786.47), and Michael Soyza (2782.41) in the sixth through tenth places. On an interesting side note, the ladies are being represented by Kristen Bicknell, who is in 12th place on the GPI POY leaderboard; Bicknell doesn’t even show up in the CardPlayer Top 50 and isn’t even the highest ranked female player (that honor goes to Maria Ho).

On Your Mark…

After a brief respite from the tournament grind after the WSOP, the players are champing at the bit to get back on the felt. They’ll have plenty of chances to do that over the next couple of months as the European Poker Tour and the World Poker Tour kick up their action. The partypoker MILLIONS will be visiting the King’s Casino in Rozvadov for a stop and the WSOP Europe is looming on the horizon. While the players that are battling it out for supremacy now may have made their mark, there will be plenty of opportunities for someone to come from the pack to make a wire charge as we move to the final third of the season. While the players that are battling it out for supremacy now may have made their mark, there will be plenty of opportunities for someone to come from the pack to make a wire charge as we move to the final third of the season.

The post Split Decision on Player of the Year Races Moving to Final Third of the Year appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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