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Bulgaria’s Milen Stefanov Earns First Major Title in Winning WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open

Fri, 2019-12-06 04:22

Riding the chip lead that he came to the final table with, Bulgaria’s Milen Stefanov earned a few firsts at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Wednesday night. First, he earned his first major championship in winning the World Poker Tour’s Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open. Second, Stefanov gave his home country their first ever WPT champion, surprising in that it hadn’t occurred before in the 18 years of the WPT.

Come and Get Him!

Stefanov was sitting atop the standings at the start of action on Wednesday, but it was a tenuous lead. Holding just under nine million chips (8.925 million, to be exact), Stefanov had to fend off some tough competition. World Series of Poker bracelet winner Roman Korenev was right behind him with an 8.175 million stack, while three other players – Cesar Fuentes (7.55 million chips), David Novosel (7.525 million) and Fabian Gumz (5.15 million) – were packed tightly in pursuit of the top two. The short stack at the table, Francis Anderson, still had a formidable stack of 2.175 million, just enough to be a threat to any stack that wanted to try to take him out.

Stefanov came out of the gate firing, benefitted by some good cards and good fortune. On the fourth hand of action, Anderson would get his short stack to the center and Stefanov would look him up. Holding pocket sevens, Stefanov had an edge over Anderson’s K♦ Q♦ pre-flop, but that would disappear once Anderson caught a Queen on the turn after a 10-6-2 flop. With a 5% chance of winning the hand (two sevens), Stefanov would miraculously hit a seven on the river to steal the hand back from Anderson and send him to the rail in sixth place.

While players would pull close to him and even pass him for a brief moment, Stefanov would always find a way back to the lead. He knocked out Fuentes in fifth place, his Big Slick in clubs reigning supreme over Fuentes’ Q-10 off suit on an A-8-7-J-4 board. He then would take down Korenev in fourth place when his pocket Aces never were challenged by Korenev’s Q♠ 10♠.

Train Kept ‘a Rollin’

Dominating with three players to go, Stefanov didn’t let his foot off the gas. With a J-10-2-10-6 in front of them, Novosel and Stefanov locked horns in a hand that would see Novosel end up on the short end of the stick. After seeing Stefanov shove enough chips to require Novosel to call for his tournament life, Novosel made that choice and was dismayed to see Stefanov turn up J-10 for the flopped two pair and the turned full house. Novosel disgustedly turned up only a K-6 that had rivered a crushed two pair, tens and sixes, which earned him a trip to the cage for his third-place effort.

Stefanov began heads up play with Gumz with more than a 5:1 lead (33.275 million – 6.225 million), but Gumz would prove to be a formidable opponent. It would take 50 hands for Stefanov to vanquish Gumz, which came when Stefanov shoved off the button and Gumz read him for a steal attempt. Stefanov had at least an Ace with his A-2, massively better than Gumz’s Q-8 off suit, but his cards were live as they went to the flop.

An Ace on the flop (A-J-5) nearly ended any drama, but the “poker gods” had to give a sweat by throwing a Queen up on the turn. Looking for another Queen or an eight to give him a critical double up, Gumz instead saw a ten on the river to give the title to Stefanov.

1. Milen Stefanov, $545,070
2. Fabian Gumz, $353,380
3. David Novosel, $260,845
4. Roman Korenev, $194,605
5. Cesar Fuentes, $146,760
6. Francis Anderson, $111,895

With the conclusion of the festival in South Florida, the WPT now packs up the trucks for action nearly 3000 miles away. The WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, the traditional stop by the WPT before the Christmas holiday, begins on December 16 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. That tournament, one of the few $10K events still left on the WPT circuit, is a favorite of the professionals who are looking for some action around their homes and the amateurs looking to take their shot at the “big time.” While that tournament looms on the horizon, Milen Stefanov will bask in the glory of being the latest WPT champion and some notoriety from his Bulgarian countrymen and women.

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Categories: Poker News

888 Changes BLAST Poker Structure

Wed, 2019-12-04 23:50

Like most online poker rooms or networks, 888poker has its version of the jackpot Sit-and-Go called BLAST Poker. Recently, the poker room adjusted the structure of these quick Sit-and-Go’s to bring them a bit more in line with those of its competitors.

A chair has been removed

BLAST poker games are now three-handed, super-turbo contests. Like always, the prize pool is determined before the game starts, based on a pre-determined probability table that varies depending on the buy-in.

At the lowest prize pool multipliers (2x, 3x, 5x), the BLAST games are winner-take-all. When the prize pool is 10x or 25x the buy-in, the top two finishers win money, and above that, all three players get something.

The primary differentiator that remains for BLAST Sit-and-Go’s is that after a certain amount of time, everybody remaining in the match is put all-in. The higher the prize pool multiplier, the longer players have before they are forced to go all-in.

In FAST BLAST games, the time to all-in is reduced, hence the name.

BLAST Poker games were previously four-handed, a characteristic that separated them from the pack. When questioned as to why the site decided to make the chance, an 888 rep on 2+2 said, “We wanted games to start faster.”

It makes sense. Reducing the field by 25 percent should make games end more quickly and thus new games will start sooner.

Payout structure tweaks

888poker has also changed the payout structure of the BLAST Poker games. In the old games, the possible multipliers were 2, 5x, 10x, 100x, 1,000x, and 10,000x the buy-in. Now 888poker has inserted a 3x multiplier and swapped out the 1,000x multiplier for one that is just 25x. The 888poker’s New Jersey site has not made the changes yet, so the differences can be seen if you bring up both BLAST Poker pages.

Using the $5 BLAST Poker table as an example, the odds of hitting the highest multiplier has been reduced significantly, from 10 in 1,000,000 to just 1 in 1,000,000. The percentage is still virtually zero, but that’s still large difference on a relative scale. There is now a 91.4 percent chance of hitting a multiplier of 5x or lower, compared to 95.9 previously. Of course, that 3x multiplier was inserted and most of probability of the old 5x multiplier has been shifted to the new 3x multiplier.

The odds of hitting the 10x multiplier have increased eight-fold, but the chances are still very low. It moved from 5,000 out of 1,000,000 to 40,390 out of 1,000,000. On the flip side, the chances of hitting a 100x multiplier have been slashed from 400 in 1,000,000 to 75 in 1,000,000.

Probabilities vary as you go up the buy-in scale, but the top three multipliers – 10,000x, 100x, and 25x – all stay the same. The differences per buy-in level are in how the probabilities are shuffled in the lower multipliers, but none of those differences are all that significant.

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Categories: Poker News

2019 WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event Final Table Set

Wed, 2019-12-04 22:34

The 2019 World Poker Tour (WPT) Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event final table is all set, with Milen Stefanov holding the chip lead going into six-handed action on Wednesday.

Stefanov has 8.925 million chips to set the pace. It is one of the closest WPT final tables in recent memory, though, as virtually everyone is in immediate striking distance of the top. After Stefanov, Roman Korenev has 8.175 million chips, Cesar Fuentes has 7.550 million, and David Novosel has 7.525 million. Expect the top four standings to change frequently on Wednesday.

In fifth place is Fabian Gumz with 5.150 million. Gumz entered Day 4 as the chip leader and though he lost about a million chips on the day, he is still right there for the Champions Cup. Francis Anderson is the short stack with 2.175 million, but considering the other players might be wary to take too many risks early on since they are so bunched up, he might have room to pick up some chips.

Of those six players, only Korenev and Anderson had cashed on the main tour before this event. All are looking for their first World Poker Tour title.

Though Gumz ended up below what he started the day with, it could have been much, much worse for him. Gumz was cruising along most of Day 4, but ended up in a set-over-set loss against Novosel during Level 29 (the night ended during Level 32) to see his stack shrink to 1.225 million.

He doubled-up shortly thereafter, but then took another tumble, scraping the felt. Anderson had moved all-in for 1.625 million pre-flop and Gumz did the same for just a bit more. Gumz had A-Q against Anderson’s K-Q, but a King flopped to give Anderson the double-up. Gumz was down to 225,000 with a big blind of 125,000. Blinds and antes added up to more than his remaining stack.

He immediately tripled up to nearly a million and kept it going from there. One of the key hands was when he moved all-in pre-flop for 1.625 million with K-Q and was able to catch a Queen on the river against Novosel’s Tens. That took Gumz’s stack to 3.5 million and gave him some breathing room.

The six-handed final table was determined when Jeff Blenkarn shoved for 2.650 million with A-Q, only to get looked up by Korenev and his A-K. The King held (and improved on the river) and Blenkarn was gone in seventh place. The pot also elevated Korenev from the bottom half of the standings to second place.

The six survivors are back today and we will have a champion by the end of the night.

2019 World Poker Tour Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event – Final Table Chip Counts
  1. Milen Stefanov – 8,925,000
  2. Roman Korenev – 8,175,000
  3. Cesar Fuentes – 7,550,000
  4. David Novosel – 7,525,000
  5. Fabian Gumz – 5,150,000
  6. Francis Anderson – 2,175,000

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Categories: Poker News

NFL Player Suspended for Betting on His Team’s Games

Wed, 2019-12-04 03:25

The National Football League announced on Friday that Arizona Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw has been suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games. The suspension will go through at least next season. On Monday, ESPN reported that not only had Shaw bet on NFL games, but he actually bet on his own team’s games, as well.

According to ESPN’s sources, Shaw, who has been out of action all season with an injury, placed a parlay bet on November 10th. The bet involved the second halves of three games that weekend, including the game between the Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Shaw bet on the Bucs, who were 1-point favorites for the second half. Despite losing the game, Arizona won the second half by a point, resulting in Shaw’s parlay to lose.

Shaw was placed on injured reserve in August and has not been around the team much this season. He was in Las Vegas with friends when he placed bets at local sportsbooks. When filling out information for an account, he was honest and listed his occupation as “professional football player.” Caesars reported Shaw’s wager to the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the NFL as soon as it was noticed.

The NFL said that it found no evidence of anything associated with Shaw’s betting that would affect the integrity of the game. No inside information was used. It would be unusual for someone trying to compromise a game to utilize a parlay bet, as winning requires other bets to come through. Plus, Shaw was not playing and therefore could not directly affect the game.

The NFL did find that Shaw bet on NFL games on more than one occasion this year.

In a statement on Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said:

The continued success of the NFL depends directly on each of us doing everything necessary to safeguard the integrity of the game and the reputations of all who participate in the league. At the core of this responsibility is the longstanding principle that betting on NFL games, or on any element of a game, puts at risk the integrity of the game, damages public confidence in the NFL and is forbidden under all circumstances. If you work in the NFL in any capacity, you may not bet on NFL football.

Shaw is not eligible for reinstatement until February 2021.

This is not Shaw’s first encounter with controversy. While in college at USC, he suffered a high ankle sprain, which he said was the result of jumping out of a second-story window to save his 7-year old nephew from drowning. He later admitted that he lied – he did not divulge how he actually hurt himself – and was suspended indefinitely.

The most famous instance of NFL players being suspended for gambling was when the Green Bay Packers’ Paul Hornung and the Detroit Lions’ Alex Karras were suspended for the season in 1963. Hornung, one of the best players of Vince Lombardi’s dynasty, went on to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Alex Karras made the Pro Bowl multiple times and later gained fame in retirement as an actor, playing Mongo in the movie Blazing Saddles and George Papadopolis on the TV show “Webster.”

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Categories: Poker News

French Court Rules Poker is Game of Chance, Denies Rick Salomon $2.8 Million Lawsuit

Wed, 2019-12-04 00:26

A French court ruled against professional poker player Rick Salomon, who sued wealthy Saudi Arabian Raad al-Khereiji for $2.8 million in unpaid poker debt. The poker game in question took place at the Tiara Miramar Beach hotel in Théoule-sur-Mer, France in 2014.

Gambling law goes back to start of Napoleon’s reign

The court made its decision based on an antiquated law that dates back more than 200 years. The law states that only debts incurred in games “involving weapons, foot or horse racing, chariot races, tennis and other games of the sort which involves physical skill and exercise” enforceable.

As such, the court found that poker was a game of “chance” and did not require any “physical skill and exercise.”

Salomon’s attorney, Ronald Sokol, said that it was easy to prove that poker was a game of skill, but it was much more difficult to convince the court that poker “involved the exercise of the body.”

Those of us who play poker certainly understand that while poker does not take the sort of physical skill that traditional sports do, it does require stamina. Sitting for long sessions, especially in poker tournaments, can be exhausting. This is one reason why bots are such a threat in online poker. They never get tired. People do and thus see their decision making skills fade over time.

Silver lining for Salomon?

According to the UK newspaper, The Telegraph, it was not a totally lost cause for Salomon and his legal team. The court did agree to see Khereiji’s gambling records, obtained via court order.

Sokol said that they “show he spent $34 million in 29 months in the Ivey Room (at the Aria Resort and Casino and since renamed Table 1) where the minimum bet is $100,000.”

This is likely important because of the story of the poker game presented during the trial. A number of players who participated in the game testified that Kherejii was on a massive downswing and promised Salomon that his lawyer would be in touch to arrange payment of his poker losses. Seven months later, that lawyer told Salomon that he would not see the money, as Kherejii thought the game was a “friendly part with no financial stake.”

While I am not a lawyer, it seems to me that by showing that Kherejii was no stranger to the world of high stakes poker, Salomon’s legal team aimed to shoot down the defense that Kherejii thought they were just playing for shits and giggles. An avid poker player, especially one who played for millions upon millions at Ivey’s Room, would know better.

Kherejii’s lawyers may have figured out that the 1804 gambling law would work in his favor, thus his changed story on payment.

Salomon’s attorney said they are considering appealing all the way to the French Supreme Court, if necessary.

Rick Salomon has a short live tournament resume, but nearly $10 million in cashes. He has been married four times: to voice actor Elizabeth Daily (Rugrats, The Powerpuff Girls), actor Shannen Doherty, and twice to actor and model Pamela Anderson. He also gained fame for a 2003 sex tape in which he appeared with then-girlfriend Paris Hilton.

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Categories: Poker News

Coral Poker Leaving iPoker Network for partypoker

Tue, 2019-12-03 23:34

Coral Poker surprised the online poker world over the weekend, announcing a sudden jump from the iPoker Network to the partypoker Network. In fact, there was no formal announcement on its website, just an e-mail sent to customers. Coral Poker will shut down its iPoker operations tomorrow.

The e-mail reads as follows:

Hi ….

We’re making big changes: Coral Poker are joining the GVC PartyPoker network, the safest and most established poker network in the world.

These changes won’t affect your cash balance, but unfortunately they will reset your Poker Points and Bonus balances.

Points, Bonuses, Golden Chips & Free Spins will remain in your account until 23:59 on 3rd December, 2019.

Coral Poker Team

Naturally, even if players are not bothered by the move, they are perturbed about losing all of their loyalty perks. Online poker rooms often make some arrangement to have benefits carry over in some form to a new site/network, but they do not have to. Many, if not most, Coral Poker players will not even see the e-mail before finding out that their points, bonuses, etc. are gone. I know I had a separate poker e-mail back in the day and did not check it very frequently.

It does seem that Coral might have had at least a partial change of heart, as one poster on 2+2 received a message from the site saying that “Points, Bonuses, Free Spins & Golden Chips will remain in your account for now – we’ll be sure to give you another heads up when we’re all set..

It was not immediately clear what that exactly means. Perhaps the site is at least giving people a bit longer to do something with their loyalty benefits, but there is no indication that they will carry over to partypoker.

Coral’s re-opening on the partypoker Network is not expected until later this month.

While the move is quite sudden – especially announcing it on a Saturday when the iPoker version of Coral will close on Wednesday – it really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. GVC Holdings, the parent company of partypoker, acquired Ladbrokes Coral in 2018. It is only natural that the company would want to have its poker brands under the same roof.

Ladbrokes, which has a separate skin, is expected follow Coral in the first quarter of next year.

Don’t cry too much for Playtech’s iPoker Network, though. While it is losing Coral and Ladbrokes, it is gaining Russia-based Red Star Poker. Red Star announced its exit from the Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) just a couple weeks ago. MPN is shutting down completely in May 2020; expect more migrations in the coming months. The iPoker Network believes it will be bringing over additional MPN skins.

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Categories: Poker News

WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event Day 3: Fabian Gumz Opens Wide Gap on Field

Tue, 2019-12-03 19:47

The 2019 World Poker Tour (WPT) Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event (I’ll admit, having to type that out bothers me, for some reason) heads into Day 4 today with Fabian Gumz leading the 17 remaining players. This is Gumz’s first trip to Florida and so far, it’s going swimmingly; Gumz takes 6.620 million chips into Tuesday’s action.

Of course, anything can change in poker, but right now, the race for the Champion’s Cup is not particularly close. Cesar Fuentes is in second place, way behind with 4.075 million chips. And he is the only player above the 4 million chip mark. Only three other players have more than 3 million. It is Gumz’s tournament for the taking at the moment, but again, a single hand can flip things in a hurry.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Gumz told of his day afterward. “This is a huge tournament and 90 minutes ago before the last level I was below the average chip stack. I was on a heater the last 90 minutes.”

The hand that got him going came during Level 25 with blinds at 20,000/40,000 and a 40,000 chip ante. Jonathan Jaffe limped from the small blind pre-flop, Gumz raised to 140,000 from the big blind, and Jaffe re-raised to 400,000. Gumz made the call and the flop came down 8-J-J. Jaffe bet 350,000, Gumz called. With another Jack on the turn, Jaffe bet 500,000 and after using a time extension chip, Gumz again made the call. A 5 came on the river and Jaffe led out with a 300,000 chip bet. Gumz then moved all-in for 400,000 and Jaffe called, showing pocket Queens for a full house. Gumz, though, had Q-J and quads to double-up to 3.340 million.

Gumz soon increased his stack to about 4 million and then made another huge jump. With community cards of A-T-7-K and a pot of half a million chips, Jerry Wong made a bet and Gumz raised to 505,000. Wong shoved for 1.785 million chips and Gumz called with pocket Tens. Wong had T-5 of clubs, giving him a flush draw and he would need that flush to beat Gumz’s set. The river did not help Wong and he was eliminated in 20th place, while Gumz took his chip stack up to nearly 6 million.

Every player remaining in the tournament is guaranteed at least a $22,975 payday, but most are gunning for the $545,070 first prize.

Though the action tends to slow the further you get in a major poker tournament, it should be a relatively short day today, as play will stop once the six-handed final table is reached.

2019 World Poker Tour Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event – Day 3 Chip Leaders
  1. Fabian Gumz – 6,620,000
  2. Cesar Fuentes – 4,075,000
  3. Danny Fuhs – 3,715,000
  4. Milen Stefanov – 3,115,000
  5. David Novosel – 3,055,000
  6. Jeffrey Colpitts – 2,570,000
  7. Jeff Blenkarn – 2,215,000
  8. Bin Weng – 2,185,000
  9. Aaron Mermelstein – 1,950,000
  10. Antonio Mallol – 1,585,000
  11. Francis Anderson – 1,500,000
  12. Roman Korenev – 1,425,000
  13. Arkadiy Tsinis – 1,375,000
  14. Mitchell Smith – 1,375,000
  15. Toby Joyce – 1,345,000
  16. Jonathan Jaffe – 790,000
  17. Hiroaki Harada – 635,000

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Categories: Poker News

Poker Central Announces New Super High Roller Bowl for Australia

Mon, 2019-12-02 03:26

The start of the calendar year is normally very jammed for the top tournament poker professionals in the game. With the ending of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (R.I.P., old friend), however, there’s some room that opened up on the calendar. Just as quickly as it opened, that door has been slammed as Poker Central has created a new tournament poker series capped by another version of the Super High Roller Bowl.

Australian Poker Open to Run in January

The inaugural running of the Australian Poker Open will commence on January 25 at the Star Gold Coast in Queensland. The roster of events for the tournament will hold with their past national events, a group of tournaments with buy ins of at least $10,000 and a variety of No Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha Hold’em options. There will three $10K events, two $25K tournaments, a $50K warmup for the Main Event and the $100K Main Event.

It will all be capped off by the Super High Roller Bowl Australia. This will be a monstrous $250,000 buy in No Limit Texas Hold’em event. The Australian Poker Open and the Super High Roller Bowl Australia will be exclusively live streamed over the streaming outlet for Poker Central, PokerGO, with the Super High Roller Bowl Australia beginning on February 2.

In a change from their other High Roller series, the Australian version will be a partnership with the World Poker Tour. “Coming off the heels of the highly successful WPT Australia, the World Poker Tour is thrilled to partner with The Star Gold Coast once again as part of Super High Roller Bowl Australia and the Australian Poker Open as we expand our global partnership with Poker Central,” Angelica Hael, the Vice President of Global Tour Management for the World Poker Tour, said during the announcement of the new series.

“Creating the Australian Poker Open and Super High Roller Bowl Australia represents a key milestone for Poker Central and an important moment for our business as we further our international reach,” Sampson Simmons, the president of Poker Central, stated. “As we bring our premier high roller event brands to new players and new destinations around the globe, PokerGO subscribers continue reaping the rewards of captivating poker content featuring the world’s best players.”

But Will the Players Come?

As with any new event, there are challenges that the new Australian Poker Open and the Super High Roller Bowl Australia will face. The 2020 Aussie Millions, the largest poker tournament in the country, takes place from January 4 through January 24. To start the event in Queensland the day after the conclusion of the Aussie Millions is putting a lot on poker players to make the trek; it is a 1200-plus mile journey from the Crown Casino in Melbourne to The Star in Queensland.

The other events that Poker Central puts on with its High Roller series also have built in conveniences. The PokerGO studios serve quite well for doing the Super High Roller Bowl and the U. S. Poker Open in Las Vegas. It’s a little more difficult in jolly old England, but the Super High Roller Bowl U. K. and the British Poker Open ran last year with few difficulties.

The bottom line is will the players turn up. The Las Vegas events usually have a sizeable number of players stepping up to take part, especially since they have normally been held before the start of the World Series of Poker. The British Poker Open, in its first run in 2019, saw entry numbers ranging from 18 to 46 through its events. The £250,000 Main Event was even worse, only drawing in 12 entries for the tournament. If it turns out that this will be another series with a handful of people shifting money around, people may not bother tuning in.

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WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event: Total Field Tops Last Year’s Record, Audrius Stakelis Overall Leader

Sun, 2019-12-01 14:41

Two massive days of poker at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, have created what looks to be an outstanding tournament for the World Poker Tour. Although it is only in its second year of existence, the WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open smashed its inaugural year record, bringing in over 900 entries. After the smoke cleared from two Day Ones, it is Lithuania’s Audrius Stakelis sitting with the overall lead.

Day 1A Sets Stage for Massive Tournament

Friday saw the tournament arena at the Seminole Hard Rock flooded with poker players who were ready for action. At the start of Level 2, there were already 172 entries on the tournament board and the numbers only ratcheted up from that point. Along the way, some of the more notable names from poker took their shots at winning this title.

Julien Martini would take more than one shot at building a stack on Friday, losing his first 40K in chips when his 8♠ 6♠ failed to catch up with his opponent’s pocket treys. He would fire a second bullet, however, and run that up to 205,000 by the end of the night. Several of the WPT Champions’ Club members, including hometown favorite James Calderaro, Jonathan Jaffe, Aaron Van Blarcum, James Mackey, Faraz Jaka and Anthony Zinno would join Martini in building up enough of a stack to come back for Day 2 on Sunday.

By the end of the action on Friday night, 447 entries had been received and 176 players remained from that carnage. Leading the way was Jason Wandling, who seems to enjoy playing on the Hollywood grounds; earlier this year, he cashed in two tournaments at the Seminole Hard Rock and is looking to add a third WPT cash to his resume.

1. Jason Wandling, 405,500
2. James Calderaro, 321,500
3. Nathan Watson, 288,000
4. Rafael Bertani, 245,500
5. Fabian Gumz, 241,000
6. Florian Ribouchon, 237,500
7. Marcus El-Huaick, 236,000
8. Jackob Datashvili, 233,000
9. Hiroaki Harada, 224,000
10. Jonathan Jaffe, 220,500

Day 1B Completes the Deal

If Day 1A was outstanding in the response from the players, Day 1B was phenomenal. By the start of Level 2, Day 1B was keeping pace with its predecessor by racking up 169 entries. Instead of matching the pace of Day 1A, however, it ramped up massively during Day 1B, ensuring that not only the guarantee would be met (roughly 625 players needed to be hit for the $2 million guarantee to be covered) but also putting possibilities of hitting the $3 million level for the prize pool into action.

Many in the tournament arena were watching the actions of the ambassador for Zynga Poker, Hugh Grant, and how he would fare in the tournament. Grant would give up some chips on a 3-7-6-8-8, three-spade board when he was raised on the river by Scott Eskenazi. Down to just over 16K in chips at the time, Grant would bide his time until he actually had something for the battle. Unfortunately, the fates would have their say.

After Landon Tice opened the action, Grant three-bet him and Tice called. A J-7-10 flop hit the felt and, after a check from Tice, Grant fired a continuation bet. This time around, Tice came over him with a check-raise and Grant moved all in. He couldn’t have been happy with the immediate call from Tice, who turned up pocket Jacks for the flopped set against Grant’s pocket Aces. His tournament life on the line, Grant saw a four and a five finish off the board as he was eliminated from the event.

As the final level of the Day 1B action began, it looked like Wandling’s stack from Day 1A would reign supreme for the overall lead. Making an under the radar run was Stakelis, however, who was able to amass a 408,000-chip stack to eke out the lead over Wandling as the play enters Day 2 on Sunday.

1. Audrius Stakelis, 408,000
2. Howard Mash, 331,500
3. Wagner Wysotchanski, 329,000
4. Carlos Guerrero, 279,500
5. Nitis Udornpim, 273,500
6. Nicholas Tanner, 269,000
7. Greg Levine, 264,500
8. Pavlin Karakikov, 253,000
9. Ronit Chamani, 252,000
10. Kwynn Richards, 242,000

Day 2 Ready for Action with 387 Players

Overall, 988 entries were gathered for the 2019 version of this tournament, besting its inaugural year by 90. 124 players will earn a piece of the $3,161,600 prize pool, with a min-cash earning $5985. All eyes are up top for the $545,070 first place prize, however, with these players in the overall Top Ten having an inside track to the money.

1. Audrius Stakelis, 408,000
2. Jason Wandling, 405,500
3. Howard Mash, 331,500
4. Wagner Wysotchanski, 329,000
5. James Calderaro, 321,500
6. Nathan Watson, 288,000
7. Carlos Guerrero, 279,500
8. Nitis Udornpim, 273,500
9. Nicholas Tanner, 269,000
10. Greg Levine, 264,500

Cards will hit the air at noon for Day 2, with another ten levels of action set. It is possible that the field will hit the money on Sunday, but it will take a lot of work – or a lot of gamble from the players – for that goal to be reached. Wednesday is Championship Day for the WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open, when the next victor on the WPT Season XVIII will be crowned.

The post WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event: Total Field Tops Last Year’s Record, Audrius Stakelis Overall Leader appeared first on Poker News Daily.

Categories: Poker News

Former LAPC Champion Dennis Blieden Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Sat, 2019-11-30 03:27

In an interesting and unfortunate case, former World Poker Tour L. A. Poker Classic champion Dennis Blieden has pled guilty to several charges of embezzlement of millions of dollars. While he hasn’t been sentenced yet, it is highly likely the poker champion will not see the outside world for some time.

Charges Include Identity Theft, Wire Fraud

The U. S. Attorney for the Central District of California, which covers the area of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Bernardino counties (among others), has confirmed for several outlets that Blieden changed his plea in his case earlier this week. The plea deal accepted by Blieden covers all the charges that were presented against him, including one charge of identity theft, two charges of unlawful forfeiture and 11 counts of wire fraud. Those 14 charges cover more than $22 million that Blieden unlawfully took from an employer.

In 2015, Blieden went to work for a company called StyleHaul, Inc, and Blieden would pillage the company’s accounts for the entirety of his four years of employment with the company. Over that time, Blieden would use the money to fund his poker play around the world, his travel and even his debts to other players. Perhaps the biggest crime in the eyes of the authorities, however, was Blieden’s investment in cryptocurrency, in which Blieden took over $8.4 million.

With the guilty plea, Blieden is looking to avoid a massive amount of time in prison. If he had been convicted in court of the charges, Blieden was looking at over 200 years as a sentence. By accepting the plea bargain, Blieden is potentially looking at a sentence of 22 years, of which he’ll probably only serve three-quarters depending on his conduct in prison. Blieden is due to be sentenced in March 2020 and he will be staying in prison until that sentencing as the courts have determined him to be a flight risk.

The Fall is Worse than the Climb

It is truly a monumental fall for a poker player who seemingly once had it all.

While employed by StyleHaul (it is entirely possible, but unproven, that Blieden used some of the funds from his embezzlement operation to enter this tournament), Blieden entered the 2018 World Poker Tour L. A. Poker Classic Main Event, one of the few $10,000 events left on the WPT and also one of its most prestigious events. Battling through the 493-entry field, Blieden was able to defeat such players as Garrett Greer, Anthony Zinno, and Toby Lewis on his way to claiming the title and the $1 million payday that went along with it.

A taste of the “big time” proved to be too much for Blieden to handle, however. Blieden would not cash again in 2018, despite being a fixture on the tournament circuit. He wouldn’t make another cash until the 2019 World Series of Poker, where he min-cashed the $1500 Bounty event, and made a deep run in the partypoker MILLIONS Las Vegas, finishing 17th in that tournament for a $35,000 payday. It was after that finish in the MILLIONS that Blieden was arrested and taken into custody.

It is somewhat surprising that Blieden wasn’t caught before he was arrested. Many of the checks he wrote were directly to others in the poker community. He also leased property in Mexico in the company’s name without telling the company about it. Companies of this size usually have auditors that would catch such acts, but Blieden apparently covered his tracks well – well enough to get away with the crimes for almost four years.

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Categories: Poker News

WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Begins Today

Fri, 2019-11-29 13:54

The World Poker Tour has packed up the trucks for their first foray into Florida for their Season XVIII schedule. The place to be this Thanksgiving weekend may not be the malls but very well could be the grounds of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL, as the WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open riffs the decks for action. This is the first of three stops by the WPT in their 2019-2020 tournament poker season.

$2 Million Guaranteed Prize Pool

The Seminole Hard Rock is pulling no punches in trying to build a nice field for this tournament. There is a $2 million guaranteed prize pool on the line for the players. With a buy in of $3500 (of which $3200 goes to the prize pool), it would take roughly a 625-player field to crack that guarantee. The Seminole Hard Rock is making sure that there’s plenty of opportunities for that magic number to be reached.

There will be two Day Ones, starting on Friday and Saturday, with unlimited reentry into the tournament until the start of Level 9 on each day. If a player is unable to build a stack on Day 1A, they are allowed to come back on Day 1B and take some more shots at running up some chips. Late registration for the tournament will also be open until the start of Level 9 on each Day One.

The Big Blind Ante will be employed once the antes are reached on Level 3 and, once the tournament reaches one table before the money bubble, the action clock will go into operation for the duration of the tournament. The tournament will play through the weekend, determining the final table on December 3 (Tuesday). The final table on December 4 will be live streamed beginning at 2:30 and run until a champion is crowned. That victor will walk away with a good six-figure score, a seat at the 2020 WPT Tournament of Champions and their name on the WPT Champions’ Cup.

History Building for the Tournament

This is only the second year of the tournament but, if it holds true to its inaugural running, it should be a highly entertaining event.

In the 2018 version of this tournament, 898 entries came out to completely obliterate the guarantee. In creating over a $2.8 million prize pool, 113 players took home some cash from their sojourn to South Florida, with a min cash walking off with $5845. The final table was also entertaining in crowning a first-time champion who had a tremendous 2018 tournament poker season.

The six-man final table was headlined by former WPT champion Ravi Raghavan, but he would be the first one busted from the tournament and on only the second hand of the final table. He would try to double up through Marius Gierse, but his A-J didn’t have any answers for Gierse’s A-K and left in sixth place. After this, the eventual champion would take command of the table and the tournament.

Pavel Plesuv was already having a good 2018 and he made it great in storming to the title. He would be responsible for the elimination of every other player from the event, eventually running up against James Gilbert for the crown. With a 6:1 lead, it was thought that it would be a quick run before Plesuv would take down Gilbert. Instead, it would take 68 hands before Plesuv finally vanquished Gilbert, with his A-J scoring against Gilbert’s pocket nines on a A-Q-3-J-Q board, to pick up the $504,820 payday.

After scoring more than $3 million in winnings in 2018, it has been a tough year for Plesuv. He has only earned $114,666 in 2019 (courtesy of the Hendon Mob database), but all could be rectified with a strong defense of his 2018 title. The cards will hit the air at 11AM on Friday as the WPT, and the players themselves, looks to enjoy their first trip to South Florida for the Season XVIII schedule.

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Categories: Poker News, partypoker Giving Away Trips to the Super Bowl

Wed, 2019-11-27 20:10

As a Green Bay Packers fan, I am still reeling a bit from the team’s egg-laying in San Francisco this past weekend. It is still great, though, to realize that the team is 8-3 and is probably heading to its first playoff appearance in a few years. Hopefully, they will be able to make it all the way to the Super Bowl (or “The Big Game” if we’re afraid of getting a cease and desist letter from the National Football League), but even if they do, there is no way I’ll be able to afford to go to the game. If you play online poker at partypoker or, though, you might be able to be my surrogate in Miami, as both sites are running promos to send customers to – as Stephen Colbert would phrase it – the “Superb Owl.”

partypoker’s “Road to the Super Bowl”

Both promos are basically raffles, so don’t get overly excited and think that if you grind like crazy or win a big tournament that you’re guaranteed to go see the Packers play the Patriots in the Super Bowl (we all know it’s going to be the Patriots, no matter much we don’t want it to be).

Partypoker’s promotion actually started over the summer, but it goes all the way through January 2nd, so there’s still plenty of time to get in the game. To enter, players need to either play poker or bet on sports to earn tickets into a drawing.

For poker, it’s generate $50 in rake, play 10 MTTs with a buy-in of $5 or more, or play 10 Sit-and-Go’s with buy-ins of $5 or more in order to earn one ticket. Players can only earn one ticket per month via poker.

On the sports betting side, customers need to bet $/€/£50 on any of a select list of sporting events. That list can be found on partypoker’s promo page. One ticket can be earned per event.

The prize draw will be made on January 3rd.

Three Super Bowl VIP packages will be awarded. Per partypoker, the prize packages consist of the following:

  • Return flights for two from London Gatwick to Miami. (For non-UK winners, alternative locations of departure may be arranged).
  • 5* hotel with a welcome package (3-night stay)
  • Tickets to Superbowl LIV, including hospitality at The Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida
  • Limousine transfers to and from Miami International Airport, Superbowl and pre-booked restaurants
  • Fine dining at selected restaurants
  • A VIP day out – details TBC’s “Sit’N’Go to the Super Bowl”

At, it’s more about winning than it is about pure grinding. Some people, though, will get at least a couple entries with zero effort.

Those who register for a account using the signup code HOTDOG and those who make a first deposit with the code MIAMI will win entries (one each). After that, every win in a Sit-and-Go with a $1 buy-in or greater will earn an entry, as will playing in a $100k guaranteed Sunday tournament.

The promo runs through January 19th.

The grand prize on is two tickets to the Super Bowl plus $3,000 for travel expenses. Winners have to pay for their own hotel room.

There are additional prizes, as well. will give away one $500 NFL Shop gift card, five $150 gift cards, and 15 $50 gift cards.

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Categories: Poker News

MPN Sets Closure Date of May 2020

Tue, 2019-11-26 23:45

The Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) announced that it was going the way of the dodo about two months ago. The exact termination date was still up in the air, though. Last week, things were brought into focus as it was revealed that MPN will shut down on May 19, 2020.

The information was divulged by Red Star Poker Operations Director Alex Manilov in an interview with Russian poker site, Pokeroff. Red Star was recently the first MPN to announce its plans with the impending network shutdown, saying that it was jumping over to Playtech’s iPoker Network.

Apparently, the Microgaming skins, including betsafe, 32Red, and NordicBet, were informed of the date by the network last week. Manilov’s interview with Pokeroff quickly followed.

When the MPN closure was announced in September, it was explained that it was simply a business decision. It sounds like Microgaming will continue or eventually resurrect poker in some form, but it decided that owning a poker network isn’t going to work.

Here is what Microgaming CEO John Coleman said:

The network model no longer fits with our strategic vision for poker, and this is the right time to announce the closure as we focus on redistributing key resources and personnel across the business. While the network will be closing, this is not the end for poker at Microgaming, which is driven to create the most enjoyable entertainment experiences, leading the way with world-class gaming content. Ultimately, this move will help the business to achieve that vision as we follow a new strategic direction for the vertical, details of which will be revealed in due course.

MPN’s Managing Director Alex Scott has been on the front lines of the network for years, keeping players informed as to the goings-on. He, too, discussed the network’s doom on the MPN blog.

“All of us in the Microgaming poker team are committed to seeing this out with dignity,” Scott said. “More than that – we want the poker community to have fond memories of the network we have invested so much of our time and energy in.”

Scott assured readers that everyone’s deposits are safe:

As a condition of operating on the network, each of our poker rooms is required to, at minimum, segregate all player funds from its operating expenses. There is no reason to believe that any of our poker rooms is in financial difficulty and our plans to close the network have no impact on the safety of your funds.

The Microgaming Poker Network is still open for business until its final day, so players who enjoy MPN can continue playing poker there for six more months.

MPN is one of the internet’s oldest poker networks, going all the way back to 2003. The poker boom essentially started that same year, when online poker, live poker, and a great story converged with Chris Moneymaker’s World Series of Poker Main Event victory. It was called the Prima Poker Network back then; the Prima name lives on as the name of the network’s current poker software.

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Categories: Poker News

partypoker Rolls Out Mobile App Update

Tue, 2019-11-26 22:06

partypoker released an update to its mobile client this week, the first stage in a major makeover that will last into the early months of 2020. The update currently affects only SPINS games and features a new portrait orientation and social poker additions.

One-handed multi-tabling

We are all used to seeing online poker screens oriented in landscape. Our desktop monitors and laptops are all naturally oriented that way, and mobile poker apps rotate the screen appropriately. It works fine. It’s the norm.

But partypoker decided to implement a new portrait orientation mode not to stand out from the pack, but seemingly to make it easier to play online poker. In landscape, you generally have to hold the phone with two hands. In portrait, you can hold your phone (or tablet, I suppose, if you have enormous hands) with one hand and do all the tapping and bet slider…um…sliding with your thumb.

Jaime Staples, a member of partypoker Team Online, is naturally going to sing the site’s praises, especially when he’s quoted in a press release, but you can see the point he is making here:

This app brings poker on your phone into the modern age. The experience of just being able to play with one finger is something I have never had the chance to experience before. It’s so simple and intuitive!

partypoker has managed to make portrait orientation useable for multi-tabling, as well. Players can open a new table while at their current one by pressing the one of the plus-signs at the top of the screen. The window then goes into tiled mode and the player can choose where the new table goes.

Everybody do the mess around

And then there are the new social features. “Social” poker is nothing new to partypoker. The poker room jumped onboard that train a long time ago, even revamping its website to look more like a social network/blog and less like a poker site. But this takes it further, adding a mobile gaming/social feel to regular online poker.

Players can earn a new “social currency” called Diamonds by playing poker like they always do. Diamonds will also at some point be earned through accomplishing certain tasks, possibly something like making a straight or winning with a high card. Who knows? It sounds very similar to “achievements” in online games.

Right now, Diamonds are not particularly useful, but expect their utility to increase as the software update rolls out to games other than SPINS in the coming months. One thing they can be used for is to “pay” to rabbit hunt.

The other thing is something we have seen more in virtual reality poker. Players can spend diamonds for objects at the table that can be used to – wait for it – throw at each other. Yes, it sounds extraordinarily dumb, but there’s nothing wrong with a little dumb fun while you’re trying to take each other’s money. So if you want to call someone a fish, just buy a fish with Diamonds and chuck it at them.

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Categories: Poker News