Poker News

2018 WPT Tournament of Champions Day 1: Record Setting Field Comes Out, Dennis Blieden Takes Day 1 Lead

Poker News Daily - 3 hours 31 min ago

The final event of the Season XVI schedule for the World Poker Tour is underway as the WPT Tournament of Champions kicked off action at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on Thursday.

The third running of the tournament was expected to be a bigger affair than its two predecessors and the players didn’t fail to deliver. The first ever tournament (won by Farid Yachou) was held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, and drew out a respectable 64 player field. Last year, the ToC came back to the Hard Rock for the second running of the tournament and saw a slight uptick with 66 players in attendance (and the tournament won by David Weinman).

For 2018, the “powers that be” at the WPT decided to bring the tournament a little closer to some of its champions in an effort to bring out some “fence riders” who might not otherwise play. With all the champions of the Season XVI schedule automatically in the tournament (courtesy of having $15,000 deducted from their winner’s checks), any person who had previously won a WPT Main Tour event was eligible for entry (provided they put up their $15K). Having the tournament in Florida previously was good; WPT officials were hoping the change in venue to ARIA would make the event better.

From the start of the day’s play, the decision to move to Las Vegas looked to be a good one. Season V champion Adam Weinraub and Season IV champion Gavin Smith were some of the distantly past champions who joined up with newly crowned WPT Player of the Year Art Papazyan (who had to sweat Joe McKeehen’s run at the final table of the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic before taking the crown) and Season XVI champs Darryll Fish (WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open), Maxime Heroux (WPT Montreal) and Dennis Blieden (WPT L. A. Poker Classic) to start the day. After two levels, 52 former champions were in the field and only grew from that point.

Blieden was the player who enjoyed the opening day festivities the most, seemingly never making a mistake through the day. In an early hand, Blieden would battle against Guo Liang Chen on an 8-4-9-8-7 board. Chen would fire out a 11K bet into a roughly 15K pot. Blieden tanked for quite a bit of time, even using a time extension chip, before he would make the call. It turned out to be the right move; Chen tabled a Q-J for a blown straight draw while Blieden tabled a 10-9 for a flopped top pair that improved to two pair to take the hand.

If there was an active pot going on, it seemed that Blieden was a part of it. Battling against Rens Feenstra, Blieden would put Feenstra at risk on a 5-2-10-4-5 board by betting out 38K chips, roughly what Feenstra had in front of him. After some deliberation, Feenstra decided discretion was the better part of valor and let the hand go and Blieden’s stack grew again.

Blieden continued to run over the players that crossed his path, taking out Andy Frankenberger in a rather fortuitous fashion. On a 6-4-2 flop, the duo went back and forth until all Frankenberger’s chips were in the center. While Frankenberger had pocket Aces, Blieden’s set mining had paid off with his pocket sixes finding another on the flop. Another four on the turn improved Blieden to a boat and, needing to avoid the two Aces in the deck, saw a Jack finish the board to eliminate the Season 9 Player of the Year and push Blieden into the chip lead.

After a break following Level 5, the final field was set for the event. 80 former champions had come out for the 2018 WPT Tournament of Champions, by far setting a record for the tournament. The top ten finishers in the tournament will earn a piece of the prize pool, with $463,375 going to the eventual champion. The eventual champion will return in 2019 for the ToC and will also receive a Hublot Big Bang Unico Titanium Ceramic Watch, a $50,000 membership to JetSmarter and have their name etched on the Tournament of Champions trophy.

While Blieden kept climbing, other former champions found the rail. Daniel Negreanu, Heroux, Joe Tehan, James Calderaro, Mike Vela, Season II WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic champion Paul Phillips, Mike Leah, Brandon Cantu and Matt Salsberg were unceremoniously sent from the tournament. After the carnage subsided, only 29 players were left from the original 80 runners that came to the line.

1. Dennis Blieden, 593,000
2. J. C. Tran, 305,000
3. Marvin Rettenmaier, 234,500
4. Erik Seidel, 223,000
5. Asher Coniff, 187,500
6. Justin Young, 176,000
7. Darren Elias, 170,000
8. Art Papazyan, 166,500
9. John Hennigan, 143,500
10. David Benyamine, 139,500

Play resumes at noon on Friday at ARIA in Las Vegas and will play down to the final six players that make up the official WPT final table. Those players will then step to the new eSports Arena Las Vegas on Saturday for the crowning of the 2018 WPT Tournament of Champions victor.

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Categories: Poker News

Chris Ferguson Issues “Apology” Before Start of 2018 WSOP

Poker News Daily - Thu, 2018-05-24 15:46

After facing the slings and arrows of the poker community – especially over the past year as he captured the 2017 World Series of Poker’s Player of the Year award – poker professional Chris Ferguson has issues what he believes was an apology for his actions with Full Tilt Poker and “Black Friday.”

In a brief, 42-second message that appeared to be read from either a prepared statement or a Teleprompter, Ferguson issued his mea culpa to the poker community. “I’d like to take this brief opportunity to address the poker community, which I love and have been a part of for a long time,” he begins. After a lengthy pause, Ferguson continues, “I deeply regret not being able to prevent “Black Friday” from happening. After “Black Friday,” I worked relentlessly to ensure that all players got paid back (pause) and I sincerely apologize that it took as long as it did.”

“I also realize that it has taken me a long time to make any sort of public statement and I appreciate my fans and the poker community as a whole for their patience and support,” Ferguson states. “One day, the Full Tilt Poker story will be told and, like many of you, I look forward to that day. I hope to see you at the World Series of Poker this summer. Thank you and good luck.”

As apologies go, Ferguson said as little as possible to mollify the poker community. His hesitations at several points in the short speech, especially when talking about his “regret” for his part in “Black Friday,” indicate that he wasn’t fully committed to what he was saying. It was as if the statement had been drafted for him by a third party and that it wasn’t in his natural cadence of speech.

The one statement that may come off to many people as being disingenuous is that regarding the telling of the Full Tilt Poker “story.” As one of the people on the inside when it was going down, Ferguson already knows the “story” fully. Those that were outside the company, however – including customers, fellow players and others that were adversely affected by the seizure of the site and its eventual shutdown – aren’t of benefit of this knowledge. Thus, it is up to Ferguson to tell people why his trust and good name should be restored.

The video message is Ferguson’s attempt at what another alleged perpetrator of the Full Tilt fiasco pulled off a couple of years ago. Back in 2016, Howard Lederer reached out to poker pro and friend Daniel Negreanu and released a letter “to the poker community.” In that letter, Lederer “apologized to everyone in the poker community” regarding what happened at Full Tilt Poker. “When Full Tilt Poker closed in 2011, there was a shortfall in funds, a distressed sale to recover those funds, and a long delay in repaying players,” Lederer wrote. “Throughout this period, there was little explanation for the delay, and no apology. Players felt lied to. They trusted the site, and they trusted me, and I didn’t live up to that trust.”

Further into the letter, Lederer stated that “I take full responsibility for Full Tilt’s failure to protect player deposits leading up to “Black Friday,” and Negreanu seemed to forgive him for his transgressions. The poker community, however, wasn’t as forgiving. Throughout the 2016 WSOP (where Lederer made his return to tournament poker), he was faced with an irate poker community who were looking for more from the person they believe caused the problems with Full Tilt Poker.

In 2017, Lederer once again came back but this time was joined by Ferguson. Unlike Lederer, Ferguson issued no statement to the poker community, he simply waltzed back in and thought all was well. In several instances during the run of events in Las Vegas, however, Ferguson was challenged on his actions regarding “Black Friday.” Perhaps pouring salt into the would more, Ferguson would go on to win his sixth bracelet (during the WSOP Europe) and take down the WSOP Player of the Year race, further irritating the poker world.

Overall, it appears that the poker community isn’t exactly embracing Ferguson’s statement (for the record, they didn’t really embrace Lederer’s either). “He did basically just say “f**k you all” for a second time, only a lawyer wrote it,” one player commented on Facebook. Negreanu, who accepted Lederer’s apologies, wrote on Twitter, “It took all this time for Chris Ferguson to come up with THIS apology?” Todd Witteles wrote, “With all the money Chris Ferguson stole, you’d think he could afford to hire a writer and public speaking coach.” On Ferguson’s side, however, is Phil Hellmuth, who stated “It’s a shame that so many of the younger poker players have JUDGED Chris so harshly.” (Would the aliens that possess Hellmuth please let him return home?)

Will Ferguson’s attempt at an apology satisfy the poker world? Or did he just light the torch on more controversy when he shows up next week to play? It will be something to watch at this year’s WSOP.

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Categories: Poker News

Darren Elias Makes History, Wins Fourth WPT Championship at WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic

Poker News Daily - Thu, 2018-05-24 14:50

Etching his name into the history books, Darren Elias made history last night in defeating Kitty Kuo to capture his fourth ever World Poker Tour championship in winning the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic.

It seemed as if it were almost predestined for Elias to rewrite the record books on Wednesday. He sat on nearly half of the chips in play (2.127 million, 44%) and none of his other final table mates were even over the million-chip mark. Dietrich Fast (801,000), Kuo (683,000), Sam Panzica (566,000), Joe McKeehen (385,000) and Jonathan Little (300,000) faced the task of building up a stack to challenge Elias. Regardless of who walked away with the championship, it was arguably one of the most accomplished final tables in the history of the WPT, with eight WPT titles and almost $40 million in tournament earnings between the six players.

Surprisingly, the battle down to the final two was rather quick as players looked to make their moves. Little was the first to go off his short stack, even though he won the first three hands he played (the first three hands of the day, actually). The fourth hand, however, saw Little limp out of the small blind and Panzica put him to the test by declaring all in. Little made the call to put himself at risk and certainly had to be pleased to see his A-J was a significant leader over Panzica’s A-4.

That confidence disappeared when the 4-2-9 flop hit the felt. Panzica took over the lead in the hand, which expanded once an eight came on the turn. Down to roughly a 6% chance in one of the three Jacks remaining in the deck, Little instead saw a worthless five come on the river to see the end of his tournament in sixth place.

After Little’s knockout, there was a bit of a lull before the next would occur. On Hand 42, Panzica would suffer the fate that befell Little when, after he bet out under the gun, Elias three-bet the action to 110K. With only about 400K in front of him, Panzica decided to make his stand and pushed his stack to the center. Instead of pondering the situation, Elias made the call quickly and the cards went to their backs.

It was a classic race situation, Panzica’s Big Chick (A-Q) up against Elias’ pocket sixes, and the 5-10-3 flop did nothing to change the hand status. A second five on the turn left Panzica drawing to six outs for his tournament life. None of those six, however, would appear, as the trey on the river helped no one, kept Elias in the lead and sent Panzica to the rail in fifth place.

About 20 hands later, the foursome left on the felt became a trio. After a Fast limp and an Elias call, Kuo decided to push the gas pedal in popping her tablemates with a 125K bet. Fast pondered his action, using a Time Bank chip for a few extra seconds, before making the call and Elias left skid marks leaving the hand. A two-diamond K-3-6 flop saw an out-of-position Kuo move all in to test Fast, but it wasn’t even a test. Fast immediately called and tabled his pocket Aces for the lead hand, although Kuo’s A♦ 10♦ had a plethora of outs to draw to. Those outs came home on the Q♦ turn, leaving Fast drawing dead; after the formality of the final card (a trey), Fast packed up and left the felt in fourth place.

Down to three players, it looked as if Elias (2.422 million) and Kuo (1.662 million) would be the ones to battle it out as McKeehen (778K) looked for a way to get in the mix. Ten hands after Fast’s knockout, McKeehen would find the hand to go to war with, going up against Elias and his A♣ 2♣ with an A♦ Q♦ of his own. The dealer, however, held the cards and handed out a 7-2-K that immediately changed leadership in the hand. A five on the turn kept Elias in the lead and, after an eight hit the river, McKeehen was done for the night and out of the tournament in third place.

With the win in the hand, Elias held 3.562 million chips to go against Kuo’s 1.3 million heads up. Simply because of the chip edge, Elias was a huge favorite to win but Kuo would prove to be a formidable opponent. Elias was able to get Kuo close to the felt on a couple of occasions, but Kuo would come back strongly. On Hand 155, Kuo’s pocket Kings doubled through Elias’ Big Slick to pull her within 440K of the lead, but that would be as close as she would get.

That would be her final stand, although it would take another 19 hands for the end to come. On Hand 174, Kuo moved all in immediately and Elias called just as quickly, with Elias’ A-10 off suit holding the edge over Kuo’s A-5 off suit. When the Jack high board ran out (4-J-8-7-2), the tournament was over and Darren Elias captured the inaugural championship of the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic.

Darren Elias, $387,580
Kitty Kuo, $248,380
Joe McKeehen, $178,610
Dietrich Fast, $130,895
Sam Panzica, $97,795
Jonathan Little, $74,520

With the win, Elias breaks the logjam that had developed atop the all-time winners on the WPT list. In taking his fourth WPT championship, Elias steps above Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen, Anthony Zinno and David ‘Chino’ Rheem (all with three titles) to stand alone on top of the WPT mountain. He also will be participating in the 2018 WPT Tournament of Champions that begins today (he was eligible to play as a former champion if he ponied up the buy in but, with the victory in the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic, he now is in without having to pay).

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Categories: Poker News

PokerStars Launches Showtime Hold’em

Poker News Daily - Thu, 2018-05-24 05:37

Last week, we talked about PokerStars getting rid of the goofy Split Hold’em, a game in which two different sets of community cards were dealt and how Poker Industry PRO discovered table graphics which indicated some new games were coming. And sure enough, PokerStars announced on Wednesday that one of those games has arrived: Showtime Hold’em.

The speculation was that, based on the name alone, Showtime Hold’em would be Texas Hold’em with some sort of twist where players had to show their hands at some point (other than when they would in a normal game). That’s exactly what’s going on here.

Showtime Hold’em is just a regular hold’em game, save for one minor (read: not minor) detail: when a player folds, their hole cards are displayed face up for everyone to see. The cards stay face up on the table for the entire duration of the hand. So, if a player folds pre-flop, his or her cards will be known to everyone else through the pre-flop stage, flop, turn, and river, or however long the hand lasts.

Naturally, this presents all sorts of issues with strategy. When everyone knows what cards you folded, they know a hell of a lot more about your decision-making process. You could quickly be found out as the tightest player in the world if you constantly fold strong hands early, or be looked at as a maniac if you’re folding hands late, but playing almost anything. It could make for some interesting strategy shifts, perhaps tempting people into playing against type in order to throw people off.

For the people remaining in the hand, they will now have much more information than they otherwise would have. Someone with Kings might feel more confident when they see you folded an Ace. Or maybe you’ll think otherwise about going for that flush draw if half the table folded the suit you needed.

PokerStars has said that, like Split Hold’em, Showtime Hold’em will only be a limited time offering.*

The other two games that Poker Industry PRO found table graphics for have not been introduced yet. One was Spin & Goal, which is just about guaranteed to be a special Spin & Go in conjunction with the FIFA World Cup. The other was PokerStars Fusion, which Poker Industry PRO thought might be some sort of hybrid game. I tend to agree with this guess, as unlike Split Hold’em and Showtime Hold’em, PokerStars Fusion does not have the name of a specific poker game in the title. Also, the word “fusion” would seem to indicate a combination of multiple games. And it probably won’t be mixed games, as in game types that rotate, or else it would be called “mixed games.” We’ll have to wait and see on that one.

*I also stand corrected in my previous article on Split Hold’em, where I thought that the game was possibly dumped because it didn’t generate enough revenue. I did not realize (or remember) that it was meant to be a temporary product.

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Categories: Poker News

Portugal Joins Spain, France in Online Poker Player Pool Sharing

Poker News Daily - Thu, 2018-05-24 04:52

On Wednesday, PokerStars announced that Portugal has merged its online poker player pool with those of Spain and France. PokerStars is currently the only site on which players from all three countries can compete against each other.

The three countries were formerly ring-fenced from the rest of the world, meaning that poker players could only sit at online poker tables with other players located within their own country’s borders. That is, people in Spain could only play against others in Spain, and so on. Naturally, this led to suppressed player traffic, so last year, the three nations agreed, along with Italy, to share online poker player liquidity.

Spain and France combined their player pools in January 2018, while Italy is still a bit of a mystery, having made little progress toward shared liquidity.

“We have worked hard to become the first operator to bring the benefits of shared liquidity to Portugal,” said Guy Templer, Chief Operating Officer of The Stars Group, in Wednesday’s press release. “Our players will see a huge increase in the variety and scale of our tournaments and promotions and will enjoy more excitement, more competition and more fun! This dramatically strengthens our offering and demonstrates our commitment to the Portuguese market. We look forward to working with the Portuguese regulator to further improve the poker product offering for Portuguese players, and additionally hope that Italy will soon progress so that their players can also enjoy the significantly better experience that shared liquidity brings.”

And while the merging of player pools among the three nations is a good thing – and certainly much better than anything the United States has done in online poker – it is interesting to note that Portuguese players will actually be absent from the standard cash game tables. It looks like the reason for it has to do with varying regulations among the different countries and how much rake PokerStars can charge. Have a look at what Severin Rasset said on the PokerStars blog:

We work closely with regulators to get the best outcome between regulations and our offering. With the introduction of Portugal, we had to take into consideration one regulation which has an impact on our offering in Spain and France, albeit quite a positive one. The maximum rake that can be charged on ring games in Portugal is 5%. Currently, our rake is 5.25% in ZOOM cash games and 5.75% for regular ring games for France and Spain. In my previous post, I discussed some changes in pricing that had to occur in order to find a middle ground for the ring game rake in France and Spain. This meant decreasing it for France, increasing it for Spain, and decreasing for both in ZOOM cash games. We also pay gaming duty for France based on bets, not on rake meaning we have to pay the tax pre-flop even though we don’t charge a commission (rake) at that point.

With this regulation to consider, we decided to simply lower the rake in ZOOM from 5.25% to 5% with no change in caps. This is a clear decrease in pricing that we are happy to make because we want Portuguese players to be able to enjoy the experience alongside Spanish and French players. We continue to work with regulators on offering shared liquidity in regular ring games, but for now these will remain separate. All other games and MTTs will be shared, with the pricing the same across all three countries.

It seems like PokerStars can’t include Portugal at the regular cash game tables yet because it would be forced to lower the rake more than it would like. Hopefully something will be figured out in the near future.

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Categories: Poker News

Darren Elias Leads WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic Final Table, Sights Set on Fourth WPT Title

Poker News Daily - Wed, 2018-05-23 21:26

Big-time poker is coming at us fast and furious right now. The final table of the 2018 World Poker Tour (WPT) Bobby Baldwin Classic is here, then it will be the WPT Tournament of Champions, followed by the World Series of Poker. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves (then again, we’re talking a matter of days here, so it’s not all that far), let’s focus on the Bobby Baldwin Classic, where Darren Elias has a massive chip lead going into the six-handed final table.

Elias will begin Wednesday’s action with 2.127 million chips, nearly as many as the next three players combined. He has more than two and a half times as many chips as his closest competitor, Dietrich Fast. Needless to say, Elias is in the driver’s seat at the final table. This is poker, though, and the tide can turn quickly. And if one of the other players does much of the dirty work at the final table, things could get very tight in a hurry.

Beyond the size of his chip stack, the importance of Elias’ position is that he has an excellent shot at becoming the first player in history to earn four World Poker Tour titles. There are currently five men who have three titles: Elias, Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen, Chino Rheem, and Anthony Zinno. Jonathan Little, who is the short stack today with 300,000 chips, could match them provided he goes on a hell of a run.

Elias also made history in November 2014 when he became just the second player in history to win back-to-back World Poker Tour titles. He won the WPT Borgata Poker Open that September and followed that up with a victory at the WPT Caribbean. Marvin Rettenmaier was the first player to do so, but the difference in his effort versus Elias’s was that Rettenmaier’s spanned two seasons. He won the season ending WPT World Championship in 2012 (which in itself is probably a more “prestigious” win than either of Elias’) and then kicked off the next season with a win at WPT Cyprus.

Not long after Elias accomplished the feat, Anthony Zinno did the same, winning the 2015 WPT Fallsview Poker Classic and then the WPT L.A. Poker Classic. Zinno edged out Elias for the WPT Player of the Year title that season.

While many people would be thrilled to make the final table of the WPT event and cash for six figures (the top four will make at least $130,895), Elias is not one of those people today. He is well aware of the position he is in and has no interest in anything but his fourth title.

“No, no, if I don’t win, I’ll be pretty disappointed,” he told after Day 3. “I had a similar situation in Jacksonville earlier this [season] and I wasn’t able to win. Hopefully, I can redeem myself this time.”

Five other players will have a say in that.

2018 World Poker Tour Bobby Baldwin Classic – Final Table Chip Counts

Darren Elias – 2,127,000
Dietrich Fast – 801,000
Kitty Kuo – 683,000
Sam Panzica – 566,000
Joe McKeehen – 385,000
Jonathan Little – 300,000

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Categories: Poker News

Boomtown Reno Casino Runs Afoul of NGCB for Real Money Gaming Affiliate Links

Poker News Daily - Wed, 2018-05-23 05:08

Have you ever heard of the Boomtown Casino Hotel in Reno, Nevada? Well, the casino execs probably wish you hadn’t right about now because they are in some shit. On May 15th, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) filed a complaint against Boomtown’s parent company, BCH Gaming Reno, LLC for putting affiliate links on its website to offshore real-money online gambling sites.

The meat of the complaint begins about halfway through the eleven-page document. In it, the NGCB explains that Boomtown, which does not hold an interactive gaming license, began to look into how to offer free games on its website around September 2016. It determined that it would be too expensive to develop the games itself, so it then considered providing links to gaming offerings on other sites. In October 2016, it made a deal with Affiliate Edge, based out of and regulated in Curacao, and put links on the Boomtown website to various gaming brands of Affiliate Edge.

“Sometime before July 17, 2017,” Boomtown did the same with Deck Media, also in Curacao. While Boomtown was originally looking for free-to-play offerings, both Affiliate Edge and Deck Media give commissions to referrers when players they refer lose money on the sites. Real money danger zone approaching.

In March and April 2017, two different visitors to the Boomtown website contacted the NGCB to ask if the games linked to were permitted. The answer, simply, is no, as stated in the complaint.

In Count One of the complaint, the NGCB says that “sometime” from March 2017 through August 17, 2017 (when the NGCB contacted Boomtown about the matter), Boomtown’s website had links to fifteen (FIFTEEN!) different online gaming websites. Eleven of those sites has options to gamble for real money. Three of those sites readily advertised that they were “US Friendly” or some variation thereof.

Boomtown’s account statements show that people who clicked through the links did played on Affiliate Edge’s sites for real money. Boomtown even received a commission check for $1,621.03. There is no mention of a check from Deck Media, but the complaint does say that Boomtown referrals deposited money with Deck Media sites.

Count Two essentially discusses how the Boomtown powers that be were stupid.

“It appears Boomtown ceded complete control concerning links to online gaming on its website to one employee of Boomtown: its graphic and web designer,” the complaint reads. “It appears this person had little, if any, understanding of gaming laws. It further appears that Boomtown exercised little, if any, oversight concerning this employee’s actions with regard to placing links to online gaming on Boomtown’s website.”

[face palm]

The complaint goes on to say that Boomtown didn’t supervise the employee and the website properly in order to keep illegal links off the site and that it didn’t even bother to ask what sites the links led to when it received a commission check.

Summary: Boomtown was so eager to have even the smallest online gaming presence that it let its web designer figure everything out even though the web designer was just a web designer and had no knowledge of gaming law, nor should that person have even been in the position to make such business deals. Then, when a commission check came in, Boomtown execs were all like, “Yeah! Sweet! What’s this for? Who knows and who cares?”

The Nevada Gaming Control Board recommends that the Nevada Gaming Commission slap Boomtown with a fine (probably a steep one) and possibly do something about Boomtown’s gaming license. Hoo boy.

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Categories: Poker News

2018 WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic Day 2: Jonathan Little Aims for Third WPT Title

Poker News Daily - Tue, 2018-05-22 22:26

We have entered the most exciting time on the poker calendar! The World Series of Poker begins next week, but before that, the sixteenth season of the World Poker Tour will draw to a close. The WPT Tournament of Champions begins in a couple days and right now, the final open event of the season – the $10,000 WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic – is taking place at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. After just two days, only 20 players remain from the original 162 entries with Jonathan Little – no stranger to these situations – holding 763,000 and the chip lead.

Little is in position to become just the sixth person to win three World Poker Tour titles, looking to join Darren Elias, Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen, Chino Rheem, and Anthony Zinno. Elias himself is still in the tournament, though near the bottom of the chip counts, so he has a chance to be the first to win four. It’s been a while for Little – he previously won the 2007 WPT Mirage Poker Showdown and the 2008 WPT World Poker Finals.

He has earned $6.7 million on the live tournament circuit in his career, according to, and has another $1 million in recorded online tournament cashes.

As my colleague Earl Burton mentioned the other day, the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic is a bit of a throwback event on the Tour, as it goes back to the $10,000 buy-in that used to be the norm and there were no re-entries or additional starting flights. Just a good, old high buy-in freezeout.

As one might expect in a $10,000 tournament (except for the WSOP Main Event), the remaining field is littered with top players. In second place is Stephen Chidwick, about 200,000 behind Little. Also set to play on Day 3 are such names as Sam Panzica, Bryan Piccioli, Joe McKeehen, Phil Hellmuth, and the aforementioned Elias.

Little surged to his lofty chip position in large part because of a couple big hands near the end of the night. With 23 players left, he and Andrew Lichtenberger got involved in a hand which saw Little raise pre-flop, Lichtenberger re-raise to 23,000, and Little call. It went check (Little), bet, raise, and call on the 4-3-T turn. When a 9 was dealt on the turn, Little shoved and Lichtenberger – who was covered – called for 143,000 chips. Little had him, holding pocket Tens versus Lichtenberger’s pocket Nines. The river bricked and Lichtenberger was out of the tournament while Little grew his stack to 620,000.

A few hands later, Tim Reilly bet pre-flop and Little called to see a flop of J-J-7, two clubs. Reilly bet 5,000, Little raised to 18,000 and Reilly called. On the turn 8, Reilly slowed down and checked, but then called when Little bet 45,000. The river was a K, which made a diamond flush possible, and Reilly once again check-called, this time for 110,000 chips. Little revealed 9-T of clubs for a straight and Reilly mucked. Little was up to 760,000 chips, just about where he ended the night.

World Poker Tour Bobby Baldwin Classic – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1. Jonathan Little – 763,000
2. Stephen Chidwick – 576,500
3. Sam Panzica – 411,500
4. Bryan Piccioli – 395,000
5. Joe McKeehen – 332,500
6. Kevin Eyster – 259,000
7. John Krpan – 230,000
8. Ralph Perry – 226,000
9. Dietrich Fast – 225,000
10. Rex Clinkscales – 222,000

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Categories: Poker News

NFL Commissioner Outlines Desires for Federal Sports Betting Legislation

Poker News Daily - Tue, 2018-05-22 05:24

The National Football League (NFL) has long tried to keep itself at arm length from sports betting. Everyone knows sports betting helps the league, but the league itself has never wanted to admit it publicly. With the reversal of PASPA by the U.S. Supreme Court last week, the NFL still hasn’t admitted to liking sports betting, but it has admitted it has been preparing for this day. In a statement on Monday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that he and the league want federal regulation of sports gambling and laid out what he wants from legislation.

As always, Goodell talks about the “integrity of our sport,” as if sports betting finally being legal across the U.S. (pending state laws, of course) is going to make things worse than it already being legal in Europe and other parts of the world and it already existing in black market form in the United States. Here is his complete statement, published on the league’s website:

As it was for my predecessors, there is no greater priority for me as the Commissioner of the National Football League than protecting the integrity of our sport. Our fans, our players and our coaches deserve to know that we are doing everything possible to ensure no improper influences affect how the game is played on the field. This week’s ruling by the Supreme Court has no effect on that unwavering commitment.

We have spent considerable time planning for the potential of broadly legalized sports gambling and are prepared to address these changes in a thoughtful and comprehensive way, including substantial education and compliance trainings for our clubs, players, employees and partners. These efforts include supporting commonsense legislation that protects our players, coaches and fans and maintains public confidence in our games. We are asking Congress to enact uniform standards for states that choose to legalize sports betting that include, at a minimum, four core principles:

1. There must be substantial consumer protections;

2. Sports leagues can protect our content and intellectual property from those who attempt to steal or misuse it;

3. Fans will have access to official, reliable league data; and

4. Law enforcement will have the resources, monitoring and enforcement tools necessary to protect our fans and penalize bad actors here at home and abroad.

It’s all pretty straight-forward, though the second and third points are interesting. According to, this is where the NFL is going to try to profit off of sports betting. The NBA, PGA Tour, and MLB have been talking to state lawmakers about an “integrity fee,” where sports books would hand over 1 percent of all wagers (they have since lowered their request to a quarter of a percent) to the leagues. It’s a rip-off and hopefully state legislatures won’t go for it, but that’s what the leagues want.

The NFL, according to ESPN’s Don Van Natta, wants the sports books to pay for the rights to statistical data and video. It’s almost as if it sees the other leagues looking like the bad guys, so it’s opting for a line that looks more reasonable. Thing is, getting paid for data might be the more profitable route for the NFL.

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Categories: Poker News

Who Are the Best Players in the “Rest of the World,” Part I

Poker News Daily - Mon, 2018-05-21 01:07

Citizens of the States of America can have the tendency to think that they’re the only country that matters. This creates a bit of animosity, especially when the international community is called the “rest of the world.” With this in mind – and with the World Series of Poker around the corner – we here at Poker News Daily have decided to look at the players who are considered the “best” in their respective countries for this year ahead of the action in Las Vegas.

U. S. Players Dominate World Rankings

Whether it is because of the number of players or the number of tournaments, U. S. players dominate the upper echelons of the world rankings. The Top Five players in the U. S. – Justin Bonomo, Joseph Cheong, Isaac Haxton, Timothy Miles and Dylan Wilkerson – hold five of the top nine places on the Global Poker Index 2018 Player of the Year race and the sixth best player, Brian Altman, is #10 on the GPI POY. Overall, the Top 10 players in the U. S. ratings have exactly half of the Top 20 places worldwide and any of these men are a threat in Vegas this summer.

Canada Claims the Best Female Player

In looking at Canada, there may not be the numbers that once were, but they can claim the best female player in the world. As Sam Greenwood holds the top slot for all Canadians in this year’s POY race, it is Kristen Bicknell who is making some noise as the second best Canadian poker player. In addition to that prestigious slot, Bicknell is also the 12th ranked player in the world, according to the GPI POY. Considering her previous work at the WSOP, you can’t count Bicknell out for making some more noise on this list.

Rounding out the Top Five for the “Great White North” are players who are readily recognizable for the poker world. Ari Engel, Daniel Negreanu and Timothy Adams are in the three through five slots, respectively, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they were a force during this year’s WSOP.

All Hail the U. K.? Not So Fast…

While they have been a threat in tournament poker for decades, it hasn’t come to pass that a player from the United Kingdom has taken the top slot in the worldwide rankings. That was until now; Stephen Chidwick ascended to the top of the GPI Player of the Year race, thus it is natural that he would be the #1 player in all the U. K. The problem is that his countrymen aren’t exactly racing up the charts after him.

You must go to the #25 slot on the GPI POY, where Jack Sinclair is located, to find the #2 player in the U. K. this year. The news gets worse when you look at the #3 through #5 players – Toby Lewis, Guy Taylor and Chris Moorman, respectively – who barely make the Top 75 in the world or don’t make it at all (Moorman is #140). Considering that any player coming from outside North America is playing a “road game,” it is going to be tough on them – but don’t count them out of the mix.

What About Germany?

For the past couple of years, the Germans have been the dominant players in the High Roller field. But how have they fared in the total arena of tournament poker? The answer:  not so well.

Other than Rainer Kempe, who is the #1 player in Germany and the #2 player as far as the GPI POY, there isn’t another German pro in the Top Ten. Manig Loeser is the second-best player in Germany so far this year, with Dominik Nitsche, Ole Schemion and Jan Eric Schwippert rounding out the Top Five; those four players are all in the Top 50 for the overall POY.

What about some of the German wunderkinds like Fedor Holz, Steffen Sontheimer and Martin Finger? They are down the board on both the German rankings (#17 for Finger, #23 for Sontheimer and Holz doesn’t even SHOW for 2018) and the overall 2018 POY race (#461 for Finger, #704 for Sontheimer).

There’s some other countries to look at out there, with players who might be ready for prime time and ready to explode at the 2018 WSOP. We’ll look at them in the second part of this look at the best of the world later this week.

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Phil Ivey Plots Return to 2018 World Series of Poker

Poker News Daily - Sun, 2018-05-20 20:07

With his absence being one of the biggest mysteries over the past couple of years in tournament poker, one of the legends in the game, poker professional Phil Ivey, has stated that he plans to participate in this year’s World Series of Poker.

In an interview with Frank Op de Woerd and Laura Cornelius of PokerNews, Ivey reflected on his tournament trek over the past couple of years. Naturally, the discussion occurred after his victory in Montenegro during the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series, when Ivey defeated a talented final table of Dan Cates, Jason Koon and Mikhail Smirnov to win over HK$600,000 in the HK$250,000 Short Deck Ante-Only Hold’em event. In that discussion, Ivey gave some glimpses into his mind and the new game he was playing.

“I started recently with short deck, in the last year and a half,” Ivey noted to PokerNews. “It’s become quickly one of my favorite games.” In the unique variation, the deuces through fives have been removed from the deck, making for a 36-card deck instead of the usual 52. With the shortened deck, it makes for fewer players at a table (more action) and bigger hands required to win a pot. It also seems to be something that Ivey has taken to rather quickly; a few days following his victory in the tournament, he would finish third in another, larger HK$1,000,000 buy in event.

The big story from the PokerNews interview wasn’t the thrilling new game that Ivey was playing, however. It was the fact that, after not attending the WSOP since 2014, that Ivey would return to the sacred stage in Las Vegas this year. “I plan on playing this year. I want to start playing some more tournaments; I kind of announced that at the beginning of the year. I plan on playing the World Series of Poker.”

This would be news because, as previously stated, Ivey on the tournament poker stage has been non-existent. After winning his tenth (10th) WSOP bracelet in 2014 in the $1500 Eight Game Mixed Event (tying him with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan behind Phil Hellmuth’s 14), Ivey disappeared from the tournament poker scene. He would make a quick appearance in Australia for the Aussie Millions for a couple of tournaments in 2015 (where he won the $250,000 LK Boutique Challenge and cashed in the Main for a total of $2,245,000 Australian), but then almost drop off the face of the earth as far as tournament poker.

Ivey once again teased the poker world by coming out in January 2016 for another Triton event, their $200,000 Super High Roller event during the World Poker Tour National stop in the Philippines, but not get close to a tournament poker room for the remainder of the year or for the entirety of 2017. Instead, Ivey was content to sit in the cash games in these far-flung locales (and in Macau, where he has reportedly been engaged in some sizeable cash game action) instead of trekking to Las Vegas for “summer camp.”

Or was that all to the story?

Over the past few years, Ivey has been involved in litigation in both the United Kingdom and the States of America regarding his “extracurricular” activities outside the poker room. To be precise, it was the legal case that saw the poker legend going against a London casino over £7.7 million in punto banco winnings that Ivey racked up in 2012. That case, after winding its way through the British court system, saw the High Court decide in 2016 to uphold a previous court decision that Crockfords didn’t have to pay out Ivey because of his utilization of a controversial “advantage play” technique known as “edge sorting.” Things didn’t get better for Ivey after that. In December 2016, Ivey was ordered to return a $10.1 million casino win at the Borgata for employing the same tactic in their casino.

Whether he’s stayed away because of the court cases, because the cash game action has been “too good,” or because he just needed to take a break, the return of Phil Ivey to the WSOP in Las Vegas is certainly welcomed. Whether his “run good” from overseas will continue in Sin City will be something to watch, however.

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World Poker Tour Wraps Season XVI with Two Stops At ARIA

Poker News Daily - Sun, 2018-05-20 15:01

As the Grateful Dead once said, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” Then again, you could say that about pretty much every season of the World Poker Tour! Over the next week, the WPT will wrap up its Season XVI schedule with two tournament stops at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

What started over a year ago (the first official tournament on the Season XVI lineup was in Beijing back in April 2017), Season XVI has crowned 18 champions to this point. Over the next week, two more men will pick up the moniker of “WPT Champion” as they battle through some of the most difficult competition in the world. It will all kick off on Sunday afternoon as the final “open” event on the WPT schedule for this season takes place.

Announced during the run of the Season XVI schedule, the first of those two tournaments will be a newcomer to the WPT family. The WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic is a $10,000 ($9600 to the prize pool, $400 to the “juice”) buy in event that is a throwback to the “old school” ways of tournament poker. No multiple Day Ones, no rebuys, no bells and whistles. Day One will start at noon on Sunday and that is the ONLY “first day” of the tournament, although late registration will run until the start of Level 11 on Monday. Not only is it a throwback in the structure of the tournament, it is also one of the few $10,000 buy in tournaments on the WPT schedule (the L. A. Poker Classic and two tournaments at the Bellagio, the WPT Bellagio Elite Poker Championship and the Five Diamond World Poker Classic, round out the $10K roster).

The tournament is named for one of the venerable legends of the world of poker. Bobby Baldwin has pretty much done it all in in his time in poker – winner of the 1978 World Series of Poker Championship Event, four WSOP bracelets in total and an extended time as one of the most feared cash game players in the world that was elected to the Poker Hall of Fame in 2003 – and in the business world. In 1982, he became a consultant with the Golden Nugget casino and, two scant years later, was named the president of the casino.

Baldwin moved on from the Golden Nugget to helm some of the biggest casino operations in Las Vegas. In 1987, he would move to the Mirage and, in 1998, was named the president of the Bellagio. Only two years later (after the merger of Mirage Resorts and MGM Grand), Baldwin became the Chief Executive Officer of the Mirage Resorts arm of MGM Mirage. Because of his presence in the world of high stakes poker and legend in the game, the poker room at the Bellagio was christened “Bobby’s Room” when it was built and now he has a tournament in his name on the WPT circuit also.

The eventual champion of the inaugural WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic, which will be crowned on May 23, will be the last qualifier for arguably the biggest show on the WPT calendar. The WPT Tournament of Champions begins on May 24, featuring a unique roster of players that can take part. The champions of the Season XVI schedule have had $15,000 removed from their prize pools to be able to participate in this tournament, but what makes it special is the other players who can participate in the event.

While the Season XVI champions are automatically qualified for the event, every previous champion on the WPT – roughly 220 players – can take part in the tournament, if they pony up their $15K entry fee. This is the third running of the event, with the first two events being contested in Florida at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL.

Those two tournaments, to be honest, were a bit smaller than perhaps expected. In 2016 (the first year of the event), only 64 players took part (with WPT Champions’ Club member Farid Yachou taking the title; he has had two tournament cashes since then and hasn’t cashed since 2016). In 2017, Daniel Weinman emerged from the 66-player field to capture the title. It is hoped with the move to Las Vegas (and the upcoming 2018 WSOP on the schedule afterwards) that there will be more former champions taking their shot at the WPT Tournament of Champions (which replaced the WPT World Championship).

However you look at it, the next week will be filled with poker action and the WPT will be in the middle of it. For more info on the tournament or to follow the live action, be sure to visit the WPT website to learn more.

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World Poker Tour Announces WPT Japan, WPT Korea Dates

Poker News Daily - Thu, 2018-05-17 05:39

The World Poker Tour announced Wednesday that it is continuing to increase its presence in Asia, returning to both Japan and Korea with WPT Japan and WPT Korea at Paradise City, respectively. Both tour stops will take place in September.

“The World Poker Tour is thrilled to announce WPT Japan and WPT Korea as part of our 2018 schedule,” said World Poker Tour CEO Adam Pliska in a press release issued to poker media outlets. “Asia played an important role in the WPT’s success in 2017, and we are proud to return to the region in 2018. Last year, the WPT historically kicked off Season XVI with WPT Beijing and held the first-ever WPT Japan. We are honored to have the opportunity to continue to fuel poker’s growth in this burgeoning region and showcase the wealth of talent Asian players have to offer.”

The World Poker Tour is once again partnering with Japan Poker Union Corporation for WPT Japan, which will be held in Tokyo September 15th through September 17th. The buy-in will be JPY 30,000 (approximately USD $272). When WPT Japan was announced last year, there was some confusion initially as to whether there was actually a buy-in, but there was: JPY 25,000. All prizes, though, were in the form of WPT event packages. For instance, the winner of the WPT Japan Main Event won a $10,000 “multi-passport.”

WPT Korea will be September 18th through September 24th at Paradise City Casino in Incheon, South Korea. The Main Event will begin on September 21st. In a player-friendly setup, the World Poker Tour will give players at WPT Japan the opportunity to play the early stages of the WPT Korea Main Event while still in Japan and then join up with the rest of the field in Korea later. Buy-in for the WPT Korean Main Event is KRW 1.1 million (approximately USD $1,018).

WPT Korea is also unique in that it will feature the first-ever $5,000 WPT Teams Event (yes, it’s in U.S. currency, not Korean currency). Not much detail has been given as to the structure, but each team will be composed of four players. Each team will also represent a country and only one team is permitted per nation, with 16 teams max. The teams will battle it out in “up to” six events, all variations of No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha. That’s all the detail the World Poker Tour has put out there for now. We don’t know if it will be a tag-team type of event, if all members of every team will be competing simultaneously, or if each team will select one player to represent it during each event. In any case, it’s interesting. The players on the winning team will receive entries into the WPT Korea Main Event.

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Senator Orrin Hatch Wants Federal Regulation of Sports Betting

Poker News Daily - Thu, 2018-05-17 04:52

So this week has been an exciting one in the gambling world, hasn’t it? The United States Supreme Court deemed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) unconstitutional, making it permissible for states to legalize and regulate sports betting. A handful of states, including the state we have to thank for this legal victory, New Jersey, will likely have sports betting going within weeks. A number of others have legislation in the works and might not be too far behind. And then there is Senator Orrin Hatch (R – Utah), one of the original authors of PASPA, who announced just after the PASPA ruling that he wants sports gambling regulated on the federal level.

On his Congressional website, Sen. Hatch said:

The problems posed by sports betting are much the same as they were 25 years ago. But the rapid rise of the Internet means that sports betting across state lines is now just a click away. We cannot allow this practice to proliferate amid uneven enforcement and a patchwork race to the regulatory bottom. At stake here is the very integrity of sports. That’s why I plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to help protect honesty and principle in the athletic arena. I invite stakeholders and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in addressing this important issue.

And then, for some reason, his office made a statement, which read, “It will be up to each state to decide whether to legalize and sports gambling and how to regulate it. But given that sports betting activity can now be conducted across state lines via the Internet, Senator Hatch believes we need to ensure there are some federal standards in place to ensure that state regulatory frameworks aren’t a race to the bottom.”

Hatch definitely sounds like an old man scared of the internet and the untold horrors of gambling (he represents Utah, after all, a state which has no legalized gambling of any kind), but trying to regulate sports betting on the federal level – as long as it isn’t banned – is not unreasonable.

On the web page that includes Hatch’s statement, a few bullet points are laid out, including one that says, “The Supreme Court has acknowledged that Congress can regulate sports betting directly.”

This is true, the Supreme Court’s majority opinion concluded with, “The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.”

Though the sports leagues have been the ones lobbying and running up legal bills to keep sports betting illegal, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been in favor of legalized sports gambling for a number of years. Like Sen. Hatch, he would also like to see it regulated federally, rather than state-by-state:

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court opens the door for states to pass laws legalizing sports betting,” Silver said earlier this week. “We remain in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it, but we will remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures. Regardless of the particulars of any future sports betting law, the integrity of our game remains our highest priority.”

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PokerStars Dumps Split Hold’em, More New Games Teased

Poker News Daily - Wed, 2018-05-16 20:43

PokerStars removed the new cash game Split Hold’em from its lobby this week, but according to Poker Industry PRO (pay wall), it will soon be replaced with another new game type.

Split Hold’em was well received by players, but it must not have generated the rake that PokerStars wanted, or else it would still be alive. The game was just like regular Texas Hold’em, except for one very important difference: two sets of community cards are dealt simultaneously. In order to win the entire pot, a player must have the best five-card hand twice – once with the top board and once with the bottom board. Obviously, this changes strategy, as, for instance, a player can flop something great on one board only to be stoned on the other. Do you just go for a split pot? Do you try to force others out of the hand? Is the player to your right betting hand into the top board or the bottom board?

It was an interesting game and many players will likely be sad to see it go.

According to Poker Industry Pro, PokerStars has updated its software client with three new table images depicting three new games: Showtime Hold’em, Spin & Goal, and PokerStars Fusion. The question is, of course, will these all be temporary promotional offerings or does PokerStars intend to have one or more of them possibly be permanent fixtures?

Let’s get Spin & Goal out of the way, as it is almost certainly not going to be a permanent offering. PokerStars has a history of introducing short-term promotional Spin & Go’s in conjunction with some sort of event and I’d bet my bottom dollar that Spin & Goal’s will be run in conjunction with this summer’s FIFA World Cup.

That brings us to the other two, neither of which provide a ton of clues as to what they actually are. Anuj Arora of Poker Industry PRO thinks this Showtime Hold’em could be a variation on traditional Hold’em (makes sense, since Hold’em is in the name). The “Showtime” part is the question. Arora believes it could involve players “showing” a hole card at some point.

“The name hints that players will be showing one of their hole cards at some stage of the hand — perhaps before the betting on the flop, turn or river,” Arora wrote. “Alternatively, it could be mandatory to show one or both hole cards at showdown.”

Then there is PokerStars Fusion. Considering the name, both I and Arora guess that it will not be a Hold’em variant, as it would probably have Hold’em in the name. The “Fusion” portion hints that it may combine a couple games. Arora points to Irish Poker as an example of this; it is a combination of Hold’em and Omaha in which everyone is dealt four hole cards and then must get rid of two after the flop. Full Tilt once offered this game and since Full Tilt is owned by PokerStars, speculation is that PokerStars Fusion might end up to be a rebranded Irish Poker, but I have my doubts. Irish Poker already has a name – the only reason to rename it PokerStars Fusion is for marketing purposes.

Then again, PokerStars does lots of things for marketing purposes, so I wouldn’t rule it out completely.

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PokerStars Responds to Gordon Vayo Lawsuit

Poker News Daily - Tue, 2018-05-15 04:59

Last week’s big news in poker circles was the lawsuit filed by professional poker player Gordon Vayo against PokerStars in U.S. District Court. We covered it, every poker media outlet covered it (mainstream news site, Forbes, covered it before everyone), and the poker internet message forums are talking about it. On Monday morning, The Stars Group provided a statement to Poker News Daily and other media outlets about the matter.

The brief on the record statement is as follows:

We cannot comment on pending litigation matters and our investigation into this particular matter is ongoing. However, as operator of the most regulated poker site in the world we believe that we have a duty to protect the integrity of the game and ensure we provide a safe and fair poker platform by enforcing our terms of service. We have paid out over half a billion dollars in tournaments winnings this year alone and will continue to implement rigorous security procedures to protect our players.

Vayo’s case revolves around the $692,460 he won for claiming the top spot in the first event of the 2017 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP). Vayo, an American, has residences in Canada and Mexico, and says he played in the SCOOP event from his place in Montreal (people located in the U.S. are not permitted to play on He says that when he attempted to cash out, PokerStars did not allow him to do so, claiming that he had been playing from the United States.

In the lawsuit, Vayo and his legal team said that they provided more than enough evidence to PokerStars that he was in Montreal during the tournament:

… Mr. Vayo had submitted uncontroverted evidence – which Defendant [PokerStars] did not contest – that he was in fact in Canada on the first two days of the SCOOP tournament, on May 20 and 21, and it would have been virtually impossible (not to mention inexplicable) for him to travel to the U.S. in the middle of an active, intensive, major tournament that required nearly around-the-clock play and focus, leaving time for only brief periods of rest and nourishment.

Though it appears that PokerStars agreed Vayo was in Canada during the first two days of the tournament, the world’s largest online poker site said “….that Mr. Vayo’s documentation of his whereabouts was insufficient because he had not proven that it was ‘inconceivable’ that he had “travelled to the US and was present in the US on May 22” when he won the SCOOP tournament.”

The complaint explains, in some gory detail, that PokerStars showed Vayo evidence that he played 56,000 tournament hands between March and July 2017, including some in the SCOOP tournament, from the U.S. Vayo’s team says he only played 8,800 total during that time, so that information couldn’t be correct. PokerStars also showed evidence of 54 alleged connections from the U.S., none of which, says his counsel, were during the tourney.

Interestingly, Vayo and his team admit that he uses a VPN sometimes, a software program which for the purposes of online poker, disguises one’s location. The complaint says that within two hours of when PokerStars informed Vayo of his suspected U.S. connections, the site was told of a VPN malfunction that he had been experiencing. This could certainly raise some eyebrows. The complaint goes on to state that many of the alleged connections from the U.S. were made the same day that there is evidence of logins from Canada, something that Vayo and his counsel believe supports their claim that PokerStars has bad information.

Later in the complaint, Vayo goes hard after PokerStars, saying that the site readily allows people to play from the United States, only objecting when someone tries to cash out a large sum of money.

“In this way Defendant was able to take the money of Plaintiff and other users of the site with impunity, while depriving the same users of their largest wins if and when such wins occurred,” the complaint states.

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Categories: Poker News

Sports Bettors Rejoice: U.S. Supreme Court Overturns PASPA

Poker News Daily - Mon, 2018-05-14 21:52

It was a day that everyone assume was coming, but until this morning, there was always going to be at least some doubt. In a 6-3 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state of New Jersey and against the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, and NCAA, striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) and opening the door for states to legalize and regulate sports betting.

PASPA was a straight-up ban on sports betting, a federal law which said that individual states were forbidden from authorizing the activity. States which had regulated gambling for the previous ten years were allowed to be grandfathered in to sports betting, but only four – Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware – took advantage of that. Nevada is the only one with traditional casino sports books; the others have various forms of lottery-based sports wagering and are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

In recent years, especially with Atlantic City’s economy struggling, New Jersey began to regret its choice to forego sports betting, so it passed laws legalizing it (it even passed a statewide referendum). But whenever it did so, the leagues sued, pointing to PASPA. The leagues kept winning the cases, but New Jersey fought back, claiming PASPA was unconstitutional, and eventually had its appeal heard by the Supreme Court.

The six Justices who voted to reverse the decision of the U.S. Appeals Court that had been in favor of the leagues (and therefore, as the saying goes, consign PASPA to the ash heap of history), were Chief Justice John Roberts and (alphabetically) Justices Samuel J. Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor voted for the leagues, while Justice Stephen Breyer wrote an opinion which partially dissented and partially concurred with the majority decision (which counts as a dissention).

There is a lot to dissect in Justice Alito’s opinion – and not being a lawyer, I’m not really going to try to dive too far into it – but the essence of it on a very (VERY) basic level is that PASPA violated the “anticommandeering doctrine,” which says that the federal government can’t pass a law that tells states what they are allowed or not allowed to do with their own laws. From Alito’s opinion:

The PASPA provision at issue here—prohibiting state authorization of sports gambling—violates the anticommandeering rule. That provision unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may and may not do. And this is true under either our interpretation or that advocated by respondents and the United States. In either event, state legislatures are put under the direct control of Congress. It is as if federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals. A more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine.

Alito’s majority opinion concludes with the following:

The legalization of sports gambling is a controversial subject. Supporters argue that legalization will produce revenue for the States and critically weaken illegal sports betting operations, which are often run by organized crime. Opponents contend that legalizing sports gambling will hook the young on gambling, encourage people of modest means to squander their savings and earnings, and corrupt professional and college sports.

The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not. PASPA “regulate[s] state governments’ regulation” of their citizens,
New York, 505 U. S., at 166. The Constitution gives Congress no such power.

The judgment of the Third Circuit is reversed.

From here, it is up to the states if they want to legalize sports betting. New Jersey clearly will do so soon. Delaware likely will, too. Pennsylvania passed an over-arching gambling expansion bill last fall which legalized online gambling, daily fantasy sports, online lottery, and sports betting, among other things, so expect that state to rev things up quickly. A number of other states have sports betting bills in progress, so we could see an explosion of sports books in the coming months.

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Categories: Poker News

Poker Central Brings an “Insiders” Look at Players Preparation for SHRB

Poker News Daily - Mon, 2018-05-14 02:55

With the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl only a couple of weeks away, Poker Central – through their streaming outlet PokerGO – is airing a new documentary filmed in partnership with CakeWorks.

The seven-part series is called “INSIDERS: Super High Roller Bowl 2018” and focuses on three participants in this year’s festivities at ARIA in Las Vegas. The show will give a behind the scenes look at all-time leading money winner Daniel Negreanu, Brandon Adams and Seth Davies as they make their preparations for one of the biggest buy-in events in tournament poker. The promise is that viewers will see a side of the players that isn’t normally known to the fans.

“We wanted to give our fans a new perspective on poker – an inside look at the training it takes for these high stakes players to be at the top of their game,” said Sam Simmons, the vice president of content at Poker Central. “We look forward to highlighting the intense preparation that Daniel, Brandon and Seth undergo in their own unique ways leading up to and throughout the Super High Roller Bowl.”

Produced in partnership with CakeWorks, the series premiered on May 10 and will be aired up to and including the play of this year’s tournament. CakeWorks and the producer of the series, Emmy winner Jesse Cook, have had experience with this type of show before, having worked on the Showtime series “All Access” that has focused on teams and “big moment” events such as college football, boxing (the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor series was one of its most popular) and hockey (the Stanley Cup playoffs).

“We’re delighted to debut this intimate series on PokerGO with our long-time partners at Poker Central,” said Rebecca Paoletti, the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of CakeWorks, stated during the announcement of the program. “Poker Central’s extraordinary access gave us the ability to go beyond the tournament and peek inside secret poker worlds, both on and off the felt.”

The three players chosen for the show should appeal to the poker community as a whole and to the North American poker fans especially. There isn’t much that can be said about Negreanu that hasn’t already been said, with the six World Series of Poker bracelets, two World Poker Tour titles and over $36.5 million in tournament poker winnings in his career. Those accolades led to his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2014.

While not nearly as decorated as Negreanu, Adams and Davies have earned their stripes in the rugged tournament poker arena. Adams has racked up over $3.1 million in career earnings, including a victory in the 2017 Poker Masters series, but he is also known as one of the best cash game players in the business. Davies has almost $2 million in earnings and a major tournament championship in the 2016 WPT Canadian Spring Championship on his resume.

Negreanu has been on the roster of players every year that the Super High Roller Bowl has been played (four). For Adams and Davies, this will be their first visit to the $300,000 buy-in tournament, something that should be of interest to INSIDERS viewers.

The 2018 Super High Roller Bowl will take place May 27-30, with 48 players heading to the felt. Currently 45 of those players are known, with the remainder of the field to be filled out by a satellite event at ARIA and two more “wild card” choices by ARIA and Poker Central. With the $300,000 buy-in, a prize pool in excess of $14 million is guaranteed and the victor will walk away with a $5 million first place prize. The entirety of the action will be broadcast on PokerGO, the streaming channel for Poker Central and the home of the SHRB since its inception.

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High Stakes Player Bill Perkins Offers Reward for Information on Texas Poker Club Shooting

Poker News Daily - Sun, 2018-05-13 15:56

After more than a week with little to no information or developments in the case, popular high stakes poker player/businessman Bill Perkins is dipping into his own pocket to offer a little incentive for information.

Perkins, who routinely is found in some of the biggest High Roller tournaments around the world and in the biggest cash games, heard about the story of Tom ‘3betpanda’ Steinbach. Steinbach was the victim of a robbery outside the Texas Poker Club in Austin on April 30, where he was shot in the stomach and spent several days in critical condition in the hospital afterwards (Steinbach is recuperating now and no longer in the hospital). What happened next in the case has had many scratching their head.

Steinbach’s assailant was able to leave the scene before anyone could nab him, but the club itself had an array of cameras (some media reports suggest as many as 26 different security feeds) that should have been able to capture some image of the attacker. Although police say that one camera was able to get a good video of the shooting, they haven’t said whether it was a good image of the perp. As a result, there has been little action by police and, at this time, no arrests have been made.

Enter Bill Perkins.

Perkins, who has been known to make some outlandish proposition bets against many members of the poker community, this time is pulling out the wallet in an attempt to flush out the shooter. According to a Tweet from Austin’s CrimeStoppers, Perkins is offering an additional $10,000 on top of the maximum $3000 that CrimeStoppers will offer for information that leads to the arrest of Steinbach’s attacker. “We need to protect our community from all threats,” Perkins simply stated on Twitter about his reward offer.

While Perkins has stepped up with his own money to find the perpetrator of this crime, the poker community has also stepped up to help Steinbach. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with the medical bills and other costs that Steinbach has accrued. Since it was opened on May 4, the poker community has donated $8559 towards a planned $25,000 program.

Texas has long had a love/hate relationship with the game of poker. The tales of Doyle Brunson and the “road gamblers” of old are replete with having to sometimes sacrifice some money in robberies, to unscrupulous game runners or to people who pulled weapons because they thought they had been cheated. In those cases, it was often easier for those gamblers to give up a piece of their roll rather than something more valuable (like their lives).

For years, the underground games in Texas have been legend, especially in cities such as Dallas and Houston. From those underground games came the current situation in the Lone Star State – the development of the private “poker clubs” –  and it is one that has been fraught with different opinions as to its legality. The clubs believe they are operating legally because they are not taking any rake from the games, the typical way that poker rooms make money. Instead, the management of these clubs charge a membership fee or a seat rental fee that allows players to take part in the games (the players bring in a bankroll for play also) and offer food and drink for the players.

The opinion of law enforcement and the different District Attorneys and other politicos is the tough thing to nail down. Some jurisdictions have given the rooms freedom to play, with the police and DA’s choosing not to interfere in the business. Others, however, have gone to the point of threatening legal action and arrest of the owners and any players that might be in the establishment at the time. With the inability (or, perhaps to put it better, the lack of will) of legislators in Austin to clean up the laws in Texas, this seems to be the accepted norm – for now.

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