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Updated: 1 hour 17 min ago

Man Scammed Car Dealers Out of $1.77 Million, Laundered Money Through Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati

8 hours 30 min ago
Cash on delivery would have been wise

A man running a car sales scam laundered his ill-gotten gains through a casino, so says an FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court. 36-year-old Ismail Shalash, a citizen of both Jordan and Palestine, is now on the lam in Morocco.

Shalash’s scheme began with a “business” he operated selling luxury cars online to car dealerships. At times he went by the name Armand Brigante, representing the company MDDI Inc. The scam was pretty simple: he got the dealership owners to send him payment before receipt of the vehicles and lo and behold, the vehicles never existed in the first place.

Shalash took five victims in four different states for $1.77 million and attempted to scam eight others in five states out of $3.48 million.

Washed the money through Hard Rock

Then, according to the affidavit, “almost immediately after receiving funds from victims, Shalash would make withdrawals of large sums for the purposes of transferring those funds into the casino.”

It was at the Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati that Shalash did his money laundering. From May 24 through August 24, he cashed in $464,796 at the casino and cashed out $789,541. Many of his deposits were “front money” deposits, essentially money he left in the casino’s hands for what he claimed would be future gambling.

Not only did Shalash cash out funds “totaling significantly more than the amount of deposit,” but documents from the casino show “patterns of suspicious activity in which Shalash’s casino account was used as a conduit to transfer significant amounts of funds he received from victims through financial transaction channels.”

Though record keeping regulations and electronic payments have made it more difficult in recent years, casinos are still businesses through which criminals can find ways to launder money, as they are cash-intensive.

True love

Though his wife, Abir Mulawwah, was arrested about a week ago, Shalash has been able to evade authorities. His lightning-fast courtship with Mulawwah also feels like it could be a way for him to launder his fraudulent earnings. She lived in Houston, they met on Facebook, and she flew to Cincinnati not long after, where the two wed.

They soon fled to Morocco, but before doing so, Shalash drained his bank accounts, withdrawing $500,000 by cashier’s check. Mulawwah opened a safe deposit box at a bank in Houston, where the FBI believed she was stashing some of Shalash’s scam money.

Federal agents figured out that Mulawwah had plans to return to the United States to get the safe deposit box money and sure enough, she flew to Houston on November 19. She proceeded to go an a luxury shopping spree and had further plans to keep coming back to the States to both gradually take cash back to Morocco and buy more luxury goods to sell back in the African nation.

Four days after Mulawwah arrived in Houston, FBI agents got a search warrant for the safe deposit box, in which they found $300,000 in cash. She was later arrested at the airport. Mulawwah told the FBI that she is not married to Shalash anymore (a whirlwind marriage!), has not been in contact with him since September, and has no idea where he is.

The post Man Scammed Car Dealers Out of $1.77 Million, Laundered Money Through Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati appeared first on Poker News Daily.

Categories: Poker News

2021 WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event Final Table Set

Wed, 2021-12-01 17:17

They are down to the final six players at the 2021 World Poker Tour Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event in Hollywood, Florida and it is a close race at the top of the leaderboard. Sitting in the pole position going into Wednesday’s final table is Harout Ghazarian with 17.4 million chips. But right behind his is Jacob Ferro with 16.4 million.

Ghazarian channeled his inner Phil Hellmuth on Tuesday, arriving late to the party, a bold move when there are just 15 players remaining to start the day. He finally showed up halfway through the opening level and it obviously didn’t do him much harm.

Scott Levitt, the chip leader going into Day 4, may have wished he slept in a bit. He immediately doubled up Steve Buckner, not a gigantic chip loss, but a bad start, nonetheless. He later lost a sizeable pot and to Jacob Ferro, then doubled up Ari Dinov. At that point, he was down under 5 million after beginning the day with 11 million.

Levitt kept the charity going, doubling up Nicholas Davidson to drop below 2 million. He was eliminated in 13th place shortly thereafter.

Ghazarian rose to the chip lead on the final hand of the night. Willie Wiggins raised to 375,000 pre-flop and Ghazarian called. On the 8-5-2, two-spade flop, Ghazarian bet 250,000 and Wiggins made the call. The turn was the Ace of spades, making a flush possible. Ghazarian checked, Wiggins bet 500,000, and…uh,oh…Ghazarian check-raised to 1.7 million. Wiggins shoved and Ghazarian called. Wiggins had A-8 for a turned two pair, but he saw the bad news when Ghazarian revealed that he had turned the nut flush, holding K-6 of spades. The river was a Jack and Ghazarian shipped the final pot of the night while Wiggins no longer had to worry about playing the next day.

While the top two players at today’s final table are very close in chips, most of the rest of the final table members should keep it competitive. Clayton Maguire has 10.325 million chips, while Gediminas Uselis and Selahaddin Bedir both have nearly 9 million. The only person who looks to have no chance is Anshul Rai, who has just 875,000 chips. But then again, this is poker, a game which shows us every day that we really have no idea what is going to happen.

The final table will commence at 2:00pm ET at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. There are four minutes, 34 seconds left in Level 29 with blinds at 75,000/150,000 and a 150,000-chip big blind ante. The World Poker Tour will stream the action on Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube starting at 2:30pm ET.

2021 World Poker Tour Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event – Final Table Chip Counts
  1. Harout Ghazarian – 17,400,000
  2. Jacob Ferro – 16,400,000
  3. Clayton Maguire – 10,325,000
  4. Gediminas Uselis – 8,900,000
  5. Selahaddin Bedir – 8,700,000
  6. Anshul Rai – 875,000

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Categories: Poker News

Sportsbooks Made a Killing on NFL Games in November

Wed, 2021-12-01 03:16
Does everyone really love an underdog?

The betting gods giveth and the betting gods taketh away. After an ultra successful October, NFL sports bettors got destroyed in November, leading to what Superbook executive director John Murray told ESPN was “one of our best hold months in Nevada on record.”

Jeff Stoneback, who heads BetMGM’s Nevada sportsbook, told ESPN’s David Purdum, “There was one week where the players had only one game that they won, and another week they only won two games.”

“We did have big wins, yes, but the number of wins, percentage-wise for us, was unbelievable,” he added. “I was shocked.”

The reason sportsbooks made a mint in November: underdogs kept winning. Going into last night’s Monday Night Football game, underdogs covered the spread in almost 60% of the NFL’s game in November and 23 times they won outright. Oh, and Washington Football Team was a 1.5-point dog to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday and won the game, 17-15.

The most shocking upset of the month was when the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the normally high-scoring Buffalo Bills on November 7 by a pitiful score of 9-7. That screwed all the over bettors, too.

“Dominant teams earlier in the year have come down to earth, and dogs have been covering at a much higher clip,” said Station Casinos bookmaker Chuck Esposito. “There are 24 teams that are still fighting for playoff spots.”

Historically, Nevada sportsbooks average 5.5% hold, which means they make 5.5% on the bets they take (they “hold” 5.5%). As November wound to an end, the famed Superbook at Westgate Las Vegas was on track for a 6.25% hold.

Confidence in intuition plays a major role

From a casual observer’s perspective, it is logical that the betting public would pick favorites more often and thus a slew of upsets would be good for sportsbooks. But’s Nate Silver looked into why (and if) this is actually the case back in 2014. According to experts he spoke with, it has to do with people having confidence in their intuitions.

“When people decide how to bet on a game, first they identify who is going to win,” Leif Nelson, associate professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley told Silver. “The faster and easier it (the decision) is, the less concerned they are with correcting that intuition when answering the more difficult question of whether the favorite is going to beat the point spread.”

Nelson and Joseph Simmons, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, analyzed betting data from over 1,000 NFL games from 2009 to 2012 and found that “the average share of money bet on the favorite was 65 percent.”

In a similar study from the 2003 and 2004 NFL and college seasons, they found that favorites beat the spread about half the time, but bettors picked them more than two-thirds of the time.

The post Sportsbooks Made a Killing on NFL Games in November appeared first on Poker News Daily.

Categories: Poker News

Scott Levitt Takes Big Lead Into Day 4 of WPT Seminole Hard Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event

Tue, 2021-11-30 20:22

Forgotten with all the excitement of the World Series of Poker Main Event and the winding down of the WSOP in general (even by me!) was that the World Poker Tour got back in action this past week. Currently underway is the WPT Seminole Hard Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event in Hollywood, Florida. Heading into Day 4, Scott Levitt has an even 11 million chips to lead the remaining 15 players.

Levitt’s biggest hand of Day 3 came close to possibly being one of his last. With the board reading T-6-4-K with two spades, Michael Shanahan pushed all his chips into the middle and Levitt called. It had to have been a great feeling for Shanahan, who had pocket Fours and a flopped set, especially when Levitt showed that he had pocket Aces. But another Ace landed on the turn, giving Levitt a better set and knocking Shanahan out in 23rd place.

That 12 million-chip pot vaulted Levitt into the lead and from there, he cruised to the day’s finish.

While there are very few players who enter Day 4 in really bad shape, Levitt also stands alone at the top. After him, the largest chip stack belongs to Harout Ghazarian, who has 6.915 million. Close behind is Joseph Cheong with 6.820 million.

Nobody at Levitt’s table has more than 4.5 million, so he may be able to swing his stack around a bit. And of the eight players, five have below 3 million chips. The other table, the one both Ghazarian and Cheong will inhabit on Tuesday, has just seven total players. One player has over 5 million, while two others have over 4 million.

Regardless of who emerges with all the chips, we know we will have a new WPT champion, as Pavel Plesuv was eliminated in 16th place, the last former WPT champ to bow out of the tournament.

The entire 2021 Seminole Hard Rock Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open got started on November 17 with the first of over 30 events and it showing that people have really missed live tournament poker during the pandemic. The very first event, $400 Deep Stack No-Limit Hold’em drew 6,196 entries across eight starting flights, making it the largest live poker tournament ever held in the state of Florida. The previous record was 5,018 at the 2016 Seminole Hard Rock 2021 Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open.

The 1,566 entries for the Main Event is the most that tourney has ever seen. Its guaranteed prize pool was $2 million, but that was a pittance compared to the more than $5 million prize pool the entries generated.

2021 WPT Seminole Hard Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event – Day 3 Chip Leaders
  1. Scott Levitt – 11,000,000
  2. Harout Ghazarian – 6,915,000
  3. Joseph Cheong – 6,820,000
  4. Daniel Rezaei – 5,485,000
  5. Selahaddin Bedir – 4,690,000
  6. Gediminas Uselis – 4,470,000
  7. Jakob Miegel – 4,410,000
  8. Jacob Ferro – 4,150,000
  9. Anshul Rai – 2,665,000
  10. Ari Dinov – 2,430,000

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Categories: Poker News

Partypoker Updates Software, Revamps Tables

Tue, 2021-11-30 04:20
Table facelift

On Monday, partypoker unveiled its new-look poker tables. They aren’t a drastic change from the previous iteration, but there are clear improvements that the online poker room believes will make players quite happy.

The most obvious changes are the visuals. Again, it still looks like partypoker – it’s not unrecognizable or anything – but it looks much better. The player avatars are larger, the graphics are just a bit cleaner, and things feel a little more crisp and vibrant.

Next, players will notice four buttons/icons, curved vertically to the left of the user’s avatar. The top two are used for interacting with other players at the table, just fun things to encourage players to be social. The first one, the one with the rocket icon, allows players to choose a “throwable” to toss to/at an opponent. Each throwable costs diamonds, partypoker’s in-game virtual currency, but diamonds are easy to earn just by playing. And throwables are just a superfluous extra, so there’s no need to worry about it if you don’t have diamonds.

The next button is for emojis, fairly self-explanatory in 2021. The third button down let’s you turn on and off a hand strength indicator, which can be helpful to beginning players who are still learning how to read the board. The bottom button shows you how much time you have in your time bank.

Another major change is the ability to change table settings while you are sitting there playing. Oddly, partypoker’s software always required players to tab over the to lobby to adjust settings, something the site has all but admitted was poor design. Now you can open an options window right there to change various table setting like card backs, felt color, and bet buttons.

More info at the ready

Player avatars now also provide more information. The ring around the avatars flash different colors depending on if the player has folded, bet, is all-in, or is waiting to act. A player who is all-in also shows an all-in triangle on their avatar, just to make it clear that they have risked all their chips.

The ring around the avatars also reflects notes the user has made on their opponent. Players can be labeled and color coded, so if, say, you think an opponent is easy to roll over, you might color code them green and label them “weak.” When they are at your table from then on, their avatar will have a green ring around it to quickly remind you of your categorization. You can also hover over their avatar to see any notes you have taken on them.

During tournaments, there is a box in the upper left corner on the table window that gives some basic information like what place you are in, how many players are left, what the next spot pays, and how much it pays. Once the tournament is in the money, an “in the money” indicator appears, just so there is no confusion. The tournament info box can also be expanded to show further detail.

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Categories: Poker News

Ali Imsirovic in Position to Take Major POY Awards

Mon, 2021-11-29 04:15

After a year of poker that was primarily dominated by High Roller events, it should not come as a surprise that one of the High Roller regulars is poised to take the major Player of the Year awards. Ali Imsirovic’s play on those High Roller circuits has been nothing short of stunning, giving him a sizeable lead in one countdown and a slim lead in the other. It also will lead to some questions as to whether there is any legitimacy to the POY award if all that has to be done is dominate the upper echelons of the game.

Imsirovic Holds Large Lead on CardPlayer Board

Imsirovic’s lead in the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race is as close to a lock as you will get. Imsirovic drew most of his points from buy-ins that skew northward of the $10,000 mark – the High Roller circuit that is pushed by PokerGO and the poker room at ARIA, in particular. He has been able to rack up 29 final tables and 13 wins, mostly in these events with smallish fields of players he is used to playing against. Along the way, Imsirovic has been able to earn $5,213,800 and 7218 points, with his earnings only eclipsed by Michael Addamo and World Champion Koray Aldemir (neither of those players are in the overall POY Top Ten).

If you are looking for someone who has done it the “old fashioned way” – actually played with the “riff-raff” in tournaments under $10K that can be highly unpredictable – you need to look no further than Qing Liu. The March champion of the 2021 World Poker Tour DeepStack Showdown at the Venetian, Liu normally plays in the smaller buy in events, defeating all comers and racking up over $1.2 million in earnings for 2021. His 5080 POY points, however, lag way behind Imsirovic.

Here is the current Top Ten on the CardPlayer leaderboard with only one month to go in the 2021 season:

1. Ali Imsirovic, 7218 points
2. Qing Liu, 5080
3. Sean Perry, 4945
4. Chad Eveslage, 4535
5. Sam Soverel, 4518
6. Matas Cimbolas, 4490
7. Alex Foxen, 4228
8. Chris Brewer, 4190
9. Sergi Reixach, 3932
10. Brian Altman, 3878

Closer Race on GPI POY Standings

In the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race, Imsirovic has a lead, but it is far closer than the CardPlayer rankings have it. With his 3250.06 points, Imsirovic is less than 96 points clear of Chance Kornuth in the battle for the GPI POY award. Imsirovic has a problem on the GPI board, however.

Because he has amassed his limit on tournaments that would count towards the 2021 GPI POY, the only way that Imsirovic can add points is to top one of his previous efforts, which will be VERY difficult to do at this point in the year. Kornuth, however, has more play in his numbers and, with only 96 points to make up, it is possible for him to take the title.

Possible…but not likely. Here are the current standings on the GPI Player of the Year leaderboard:

1. Ali Imsirovic, 3250.06 points
2. Chance Kornuth, 3154.47
3. Sergio Aido, 3090.55
4. Uri Reichenstein, 3058.07
5. Sean Perry, 2997.08
6. Chad Eveslage, 2971.32
7. Alex Foxen, 2926.56
8. Stephen Chidwick, 2926.50
9. Daniel Negreanu, 2917.94
10. Brock Wilson, 2912.25

Time to Fix the POY System

All you have to do is look at the rankings – and note the domination of the High Roller events on the standings – to understand that there is a need to revamp the POY methods.

While the GPI rankings take many varied factors under consideration, including the buy-in of a tournament, number of players, prize pool, and other factors (the CardPlayer rankings supposedly do the same), it is obvious that the criteria used by these two institutions are not weighing the results properly. Does it take more skill to beat 30 players you take on all the time? Or does it take more skill to navigate through a hundreds (maybe even thousands) player strong field?

It is time that the GPI and CardPlayer simply create a “High Roller” leaderboard. If PokerGO is going to create a tour around events of this nature, remove them from the rank-and-file “normal” poker tournaments. They can have their own standings while those who actually have to research their table daily through a four- or five-day event to learn about your opponents – you know, actually PLAY POKER instead of shuffle money between backing factions – earn their own POY award.

This would do two things. It would show who is the best among the 50 or so players who frequent the High Rollers. It would also allow for REAL poker players who fight it out on any battleground, at any price, to receive recognition for the work they have done. Right now, it is simply who has deeper pockets to buy a POY award.

With one month to go, it is going to be difficult to catch Imsirovic. There is another “High Roller” event on the PokerGO Tour schedule at the Bellagio from December 2-14 and wrap their season up with the PokerGO Tour Championship on December 22. There are also stand-alone “High Roller” tournaments at the WSOP Europe, the WPT Seminole Hard Rock event currently running and the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. That will about do it for the poker tour season, as the European Poker Tour’s stop in Prague has been postponed. With that said, anything can happen, and it is not a done deal for Imsirovic yet.

The post Ali Imsirovic in Position to Take Major POY Awards appeared first on Poker News Daily.

Categories: Poker News

COVID Variants Wreak Havoc on European Poker Tournament Schedule

Sun, 2021-11-28 15:51

There are a tremendous number of people who are looking forward to the November/December period for tournament poker in Europe. That is, they “were” looking forward to the events; as new COVID variants emerge, it is leading to the altering of the tournament poker schedule across Europe, including the abbreviation of the 2021 World Series of Poker Europe at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov and the postponement of two other major tournaments on the roster.

2021 WSOP-E Sees Altered Tournaments, Capped Fields

The 2021 WSOP-E was expected to deliver the WSOP experience for those international players who could not make it over to the U. S. for the fun in Las Vegas. Alas, the tournament schedule in Rozvadov has been altered by Czech Republic government officials who have announced significant restrictions due to an uptick in COVID infections. These new restrictions were seen foremost in what was expected to be the biggest event of the WSOP-E, “The Colossus.”

After over 27,000 new cases of COVID were announced countrywide on Friday, Czech officials announced a “state of emergency” and enacted several public guidelines as to curb mass gatherings. Drinking in public (bars) is, for the next 30 days, prohibited, and all restaurants, nightclubs, and bars must shut down by 10PM local time. This also applies to sporting events, which is where the WSOP-E would be affected.

In addition to the shutdown at 10PM, the King’s Casino staff and officials also had to implement a new quota on the number of participants in the events. Part of the new regulations is that no more than 1000 people can gather for a sporting event, meaning that “The Colossus” was going to be severely cut. WSOP-E and King’s Casino officials conferred and were able to produce a plan that would allow for the event to continue.

First, two days were eliminated from the original six Day One schedule, so as to allow the other tournaments on the WSOP-E schedule to be played. The four Day Ones of the “The Colossus” saw Friday and Saturday action capped at 1000 players to abide by Czech health guidelines. Finally, play in all events in Rozvadov are starting at 10AM, to give the tournaments enough time to be able to play down to their target numbers each day.

So far, these guidelines seem to be working. 2478 entries were received for “The Colossus,” which continues Day 2 action on Sunday with 308 players still in contention. WSOP-E and King’s Casino officials will continue to monitor the situation with future events on the schedule, including the €10,000 WSOP-E Main Event, which has a €5 million guaranteed prize pool; it is possible that the guarantee may be altered because of the restrictions placed on public gatherings.

EPT Prague, partypokerLIVE Irish Tournaments Postponed

At least the WSOP-E was able to get out of the gate. Two other events, one sponsored by PokerStars and the other by partypoker, will not be held as scheduled due to the resurgence of COVID on the European continent.

The European Poker Tour Prague was scheduled to start on December 8, the first time the PokerStars-sponsored tour has been in action in more than two years. After the introduction of the new COVID restrictions by the Czech government, however, PokerStars chose to postpone their comeback in Prague. “We understand that this will be disappointing news to our players,” the EPT and PokerStars stated over the PokerStars blog. “But we must follow the government guidance given to us. The health and safety of our staff and players is a top priority and we will look to run EPT Prague at a later date when we are safe and able to do so.”

Ireland is another country that has instituted tougher COVID restrictions due to the resurgence of the virus and partypokerLIVE is feeling the brunt of that move. One of the comeback events for their tour, their stop for the Grand Prix Dublin in January 2022, has been postponed. The reasons? The new regulations instituted by the Irish government.

“Last week, the Irish government introduced new restrictions surrounding COVID in Ireland,” the communique from partypokerLIVE began. “Unfortunately, it has left us with no choice but to postpone this event until further notice.” In Ireland, there will be a midnight curfew put in place, with all public activities (bars, restaurants, other events) shuttered also. According to partypokerLIVE, there is also the chance that further restrictions putting more of cap on activities could take place, thus their reasoning for postponing the event.

“It is very disheartening that we have had to make this decision again at a time where we believed the Irish poker industry was just getting back on its feet,” partypokerLIVE officials stated. However, it is more important to take the precautions to protect players and their own staff, much like PokerStars, WSOP-E and King’s Casino officials have done.

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Categories: Poker News

Michael Addamo Wins Second Bracelet of 2021 WSOP, Fourth Overall

Thu, 2021-11-25 05:04
Another highlight performance

We were all unsure what to expect with the return of the World Series of Poker this year. One thing we did get was a ton of amazing performances. From Main Event champ Koray Aldemir to Player of the Year Josh Arieh to final table record breaker Phil Hellmuth, the 2021 WSOP featured individual feat after individual feat. Wrapping up the Series, Michael Addamo added his name to highlight list, continuing his scorching fall by nabbing his second bracelet of this year’s WSOP and the fourth of his career.

Addamo won the second-to-last event of the 2021 World Series of Poker, $100,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em for a fat $1,958,569 first prize. As is typically the case for such a high-dollar buy-in tournament, it was a very small field, with just 64 entries and ten places paid.

Addamo went into the final day with a huge lead, but lost it temporarily three-handed when Sam Soverel doubled through him. He regained the lead shortly thereafter, eventually eliminating Soverel. Addamo went into heads-up play against Kevin Rabichow with a massive lead, 28 million to 5 million.

On the final hand, Addamo raised, putting Rabichow all-in for 5.5 million. Rabichow called, flipping over A-6, ahead of Addamo’s K-2. A deuce showed up on the flop and everything else bricked, giving Addamo the hand and his second bracelet of the Series.

In his post-match interview, Addamo said he was thankful to win the tourney right then and there: “Kevin (Rabichow) is a heads-up player originally, so it would’ve been quite tough with double up there.”

He just keeps winning

The Aussie now has over $17.7 million in live tournament earnings, much of it coming in just the last few months. He has been on an insane tear since September. In the middle of the month, Addamo won back-to-back events at the Poker Masters, $50,000 and $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em. His wins not only totaled $1.84 million in earnings, but also got him the Purple Jacket as the Poker Masters’ overall champion.

Later that month, Addamo finished second in the $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em event at the Aria High Roller Series for $322,000 and then won the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl, good for $3.402 million.

During the WSOP, Addamo also finished third and first in two other Aria High Roller tournaments. All told, he has won over $9.4 million this year in live tournaments.

After his latest World Series victory, Addamo said it was time for him to step away from the tables for a bit. “I’ve been playing non-stop for three and a half months straight so I am ready for a break,” he said.

Addamo added, however, that we should all expect him to get back to it next year, both at the WSOP and at plenty of other high roller events.

Image credit:

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Categories: Poker News

Federal Judge Strikes Down Seminole Tribe’s Gaming Compact With Florida, Threatening Sports Betting

Thu, 2021-11-25 03:54

A major question mark hangs over the sports betting industry in Florida after a federal judge ruled on Monday that the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe violates federal law. As a result, all sports betting in the state will likely have to come to a halt.

That has not stopped the Seminole Tribe yet, though. The tribe has continued to keep its sports betting app running. In a statement filed in federal court on Tuesday, Seminole chairman Marcellus W. Oceola said, “The tribe’s online sports betting authorized by the compact is now in operation, and is generating millions in revenue per week.”

One federal judge had already thrown out one of three lawsuits challenging the compact in October. In that one, US District Court Judge Allen Winsor said that the West Flagler Associates lacked standing in its suit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

The lawsuit in focus this week was similar, but was filed against US Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. This time, Judge Dabney Friedrich agreed with West Flagler Associates that the Seminoles’ compact with the state of Florida violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

In May, the Florida state legislature approved the compact after DeSantis signed it, but the DOI still had to give its thumbs-up. The department had 45 days to make a decision, but in the end, took no action, which meant approval by default. The Seminole Tribe launched its Hard Rock Sportsbook at the beginning of this month.

The issue at the center of the legal battle is where sports betting is taking place. According to IGRA, any gambling authorized by state compacts must take place on tribal lands. The Seminole Tribe accepts bets from anyone of legal age anywhere in the state, as one might expect with internet gambling (though there are some tribal apps in other states that can only be used when on tribal property or in a tribal casino). And there is the problem. If someone is placing a bet on the app in most locations around Florida, they are not situated on tribal land.

The tribe argues that the bets are technically made on the server and since the servers are on tribal land, it doesn’t matter where the customer is located. Judge Friedrich didn’t buy it, though. Calling the argument “fiction,” she said, “When a federal statute authorizes an activity only at specific locations, parties may not evade that limitation by ‘deeming’ their activity to occur where it, as a factual matter, does not.”

As mentioned, the Hard Rock Sportsbook app is still running. In the meantime, it would not be surprising at all if the Department of the Interior files an appeal and/or as for a stay on the opinion.

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Categories: Poker News

Four Men Sentenced for Scamming UK Betting Shops Out of More Than £600,000

Wed, 2021-11-24 18:11
Huge haul in a short time span

In a variation of an old casino scam, a gang of four men defrauded UK betting shops out of more than £600,000 this summer. All four men have since been caught and handed varying prison sentences.

I’m the kind of person who actually kind of appreciates a good con if it is clever, creative, or well-executed, while at the same time naturally disapproving of it. It’s why we like heist movies, right? We can be entertained by Danny Ocean’s crew while still believing what they are doing is wrong (if it was real life, of course). I also shake my head in some form of disappointment when the criminals do something so incredibly stupid to get themselves caught. Again, I don’t approve of their actions, but I also dislike stupidity.

Enter Thomas Wheatcroft, Charlie Shaw, Michael Sadgove-Tarrant, and Paul Hubbold. During June and July they hit Ladbrokes and Coral betting shops in London, Yorkshire, Merseyside, Essex, the West Midlands, Cambridgeshire and Surrey to the tune of £663,556.

Effective, yet basic scam

What they did was fairly simple. The men inserted laminated £20 and £50 notes into betting machines just far and just long enough for the machine to register the credits, then pulled them out using a plastic lead. Rinse and repeat at many different shops and they had hundreds of thousands of pounds of deposits for no more than the cost of the few plastic-coated bank notes.

It is unclear whether or not they actually proceeded to place bets or if they just cashed out their ill-gotten credits, but we would guess they engaged in some “cover play” to make it look like they were actual customers. It is also unknown as to exactly why they laminated the bills, but it is probably one or both of a) it guaranteed they remained in good condition so that the machine would accept them on the first try, and b) it made it easier to attach the lead to the bills so they could be yanked out of the machine without tearing.

It’s fairly surprising that something this simple would work in the year 2021 and that machines are not designed to prevent it. As mentioned, it is a variation on an old casino scam. Back in the day when gambling machines like slots and video poker accepted coins (some still do in a couple casinos), a common scam was to simply attach a string to a coin, drop it into the coin slot until the machine registered it, then pull it back out. Same concept.

It’s like they wanted to get caught

As for the stupidity part, according to the Liverpool Echo, all four men were wearing the same clothing, quite the tipoff when law enforcement checked security footage after employees reported that the machines contained many thousands of pounds less than they were supposed to. Then, when the men were arrested, police found the clothing in bags, including 20 baseball caps. I mean, come on, guys. You’re not on a sports team. You don’t have to wear the same uniform AND keep the evidence.

Wheatcroft and Shaw are definitely seeing time behind bars, sentenced to four-plus years and two years, respectively. Sadgove-Tarrant and Hubbold were sentenced to shorter terms, but theirs were suspended, so if they live on the straight-and-narrow, they might avoid incarceration.

“I am pleased that Wheatcroft and Shaw, who were the main offenders, received custodial sentences, and I hope this provides some relief for the companies who have been affected by their actions,” said Detective Constable Kevin Parley of the Met Police.

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Categories: Poker News

Josh Arieh Crowned 2021 WSOP Player of the Year

Wed, 2021-11-24 04:15

It seems like just yesterday that Josh Arieh found himself playing the role of semi-villain in the World Series of Poker Main Event, but that was 17 years ago. Now he is the wise poker veteran, still living in Atlanta where there is absolutely no poker except for underground games. And now he is also the World Series of Poker Player of the Year thanks to a boatload of cashes and two gold bracelets.

Arieh reacted like most of us would had we won the POY title:

Holy shit! I can't believe this really happened! I fkn won @wsop POY….what in the actual fuck!

— Joshua Arieh (@golferjosh) November 23, 2021

In a year filled with incredible individual efforts at the WSOP, Arieh’s was one of the best we’ve seen. Look at this string of live cashes:

$1,000 GGPoker Flip & Go – 46th place
$1,500 Eight Game Mix 6-Handed – 64th place
$1,500 H.O.R.S.E. – 53rd place
$1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha (8-Handed) – 1st place
$50,000 Poker Players Championship – 6th place
$10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Championship – 1st place
$10,000 Main Event – 411th place
$1,500 Mixed NLH/PLO – 40th place
$10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Championship – 9th place
$50,000 High Roller Pot-Limit Omaha – 7th place
$1,000 Super Turbo No-Limit Hold’em – 10th place

Plus he had another cash in a online bracelet event. That’s a dozen cashes, six top-ten finishes (in the span of a month), and two bracelets. Even without a points system, that’s a pretty damn good convincing argument for Player of the Year.

“It’s just really cool, it’s weird,” Arieh told PokerNews. “My whole life and my career, whatever I do, I build momentum, so when I’m going good, I’m really good. When I’m going bad, I go really bad. It means a lot because my daughters will be really proud.”

Player of the Year and poker, for that matter, is interesting, as one man’s great success is another man’s disappointment. Take Daniel Negreanu. He finished in the top ten seven times in this year’s World Series of Poker, cashed 18 times, profited about $400,000, and finished third in the POY race, but because he was unable to nab a bracelet, running his bracelet drought to eight years, the WSOP wasn’t a complete success.

At the same time, however, Negreanu understands that poker is a fickle game and prides himself on being a “consistent performer.”

Then there is Phil Hellmuth, who finished second in the Player of the Year standings after setting a WSOP record by making seven final tables in a single Series and winning his 16th bracelet. It was his fourth time finishing as the runner-up for POY. Again, for everyone but Hellmuth, this would be a Series after which you would toast yourself.

But like a student who can’t stand a B when he expects to always get A’s, Hellmuth’s second place finishes gnaw at him (I mean, really, they are still A’s). Not only did he come in second in the POY race, but he finished second at three of his final tables.

Second again, sigh…I officially finished 2nd in @WSOP “Player of the Year” for FOURTH time. I’m feeling really down. I’m aware that I had a really good WSOP, but only 1 bracelet…I’m aware that second place 4x in POY is a testament. But, I can’t see the forest through the trees

— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) November 23, 2021

Hellmuth is the GOAT World Series of Poker player, but at least for now, those near misses hurt more than the wins.

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Categories: Poker News

Phil Hellmuth Sets Record With Seven Final Tables in a Single WSOP

Tue, 2021-11-23 00:52

He may not be a tremendous fan of the World Series of Poker Player of the Year formula, but Phil Hellmuth certainly did his darndest to finish atop this year’s POY rankings. It doesn’t look like he will pull it off, but “The Poker Brat” has etched his name into the record books once again, making seven final tables, the most in WSOP history for a single Series.

The previous record was set by An Tran back in 1993, well before most of us probably knew anything about poker (I wasn’t even old enough to play in European casinos yet). Tran made six final tables that year.

It is probably a bittersweet record for Hellmuth. Of everyone in the poker world, he likely enjoys being the “best” more than anybody, so setting another record is more validation for him. And he did win one bracelet, extending his own world record to 16 total pieces of WSOP hardware (Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, and Doyle Brunson are tied for a distant second with ten each). But at the same time, he only won a single bracelet in seven trips to the final table, which might gnaw at him.

And he came in second THREE times! That’s amazing! But kind of like the Buffalo Bills, who got to the Super Bowl four times in a row and never won, coming up short repeatedly might hurt more than had he not gotten that far at all. Of course, the difference between Hellmuth and the Bills is that again, he has won 16 WSOP titles, including one this year.

Here is the list of Phil Hellmuth’s final table appearances at the 2021 WSOP, in chronological order:

$25,000 H.O.R.S.E. – 2nd place
$10,000 Omaha Hi Lo Championship – 5th place
$10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship – 4th place
$1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw – 1st place
$10,000 Dealers Choice Championship – 2nd place
$10,000 Razz Championship – 8th place
$50,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller – 2nd place

But as we mentioned, he is probably not going to be the 2021 World Series of Poker Player of the Year. That title looks like it will go Josh Arieh, who won two bracelets this year and cashed 11 times overall.

According to the WSOP’s official Twitter account today, Arieh extended his points lead Sunday night and is now the only player with over 4,000 points, accumulating 4,194.59. Hellmuth has 3,664.09, while Daniel Negreanu has made a late charge and is up to 3,531.03. Hellmuth tweeted a little while ago that he could still overtake Arieh if he wins the $5,000 8-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event, but it looks like that was based on Arieh’s total before the latest update, so he may or may not have a chance at this point.

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2021 WSOP: Jeremy Ausmus, Adrian Mateos Take Down Big Money in High Roller Events

Mon, 2021-11-22 04:36

The 2021 World Series of Poker is still creeping along, using the days after the conclusion of the $10,000 Championship Event to wrap up some unfinished business (or, perhaps, to milk a little more out of the cow). The High Roller tournaments have been the featured events over the weekend, with two of them actually reaching a conclusion. In those tourneys, Jeremy Ausmus emerged victorious against two Poker Hall of Famers, while Adrian Mateos rode a monster stack all the way to the title in a Super High Roller event.

Adrian Mateos Collects Fourth WSOP Bracelet

To say it was a foregone conclusion that Adrian Mateos was going to win the $250,000 Super High Roller No Limit Hold’em tournament at the 2021 WSOP was an understatement. Mateos walked into “The Mothership” in the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino on Saturday with more than half of the chips in play in the event. Mateos’ 25.5 million chips dwarfed all four of his opponents – Keith Tilston (8.9 million), Ben Heath (6.5 million), Seth Davies (4.55 million), and John Kincaid (3.925 million – but there was that slim chance that an earthquake might open up and suck Mateos under before the tournament resumed. That did not happen, however, so they went about the formalities of playing it out.

Mateos at least stayed out of the way while the other players tussled to earn the right to face him. First to go was Tilston, surprisingly, who shipped his stack to Kincaid after his A-3 was crushed by Kincaid’s A-10 on a Q-A-J-9-8 board. Davies exited soon after Tilston’s departure at the hands of Heath. In the battle, Davies’ A-7 found absolutely no help against Heath’s pocket Jacks on a ten-high runout.

Down to three players, there was a momentary change at the top of the leaderboard. Heath earned a double through Mateos after the Spaniard got a little adventurous with A-J against Heath’s pocket treys. On the very next hand, however, Mateos would retake the lead by eliminating Kincaid in third place, picking up a set of Aces on the flop and rivering a full house against Kincaid’s thoroughly crushed pocket nines.

Mateos went to heads-up against Heath with a nine million chip lead and would not even breath hard in getting to the finish. Within 15 minutes of the start of heads-up action, the chips found their way to the center on a 7-6-5-Q-2 board. Mateos turned up a Q-10 for a top pair of Queens and Heath flashed a 5-3 for an inferior pair and his coronation as champion of the Super High Roller was complete.

1. Adrian Mateos, $3,265,262
2. Ben Heath, $2,018,148
3. John Kincaid, $1,370,575
4. Seth Davies, $930,791
5. Keith Tilston, $632,124

Jeremy Ausmus Defeats Hellmuth, Negreanu on Way to PLO High Roller Title

34 players came back from the 85 entries that started the tournament, but it was only important the final 13 players. That is because it was those men who took home some of the $4 million-plus prize pool for their efforts. That goal was reached when Alexander Petersen was able to take out Dan Cates on the money bubble, ensuring everyone left in the tournament of a minimum $83,951 payday.

From there, the eliminations all took home some money. Gavin Cochrane and Henrik Hecklen took down the minimum for their thirteenth and twelfth place finishes, respectively, while Shaun Deeb and Scott Seiver took home $91,821 for finishing in eleventh and tenth places. With those eliminations, the final table was set with a star-studded final table that included 2021 double bracelet winner Josh Arieh, Jeremy Ausmus, Ben Lamb, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth, all looking up at chip leader Laszlo Bujtas.

At one point, Ausmus was the short stack on the table. He would persevere, however, and watch the talent fall around him until it was just he, Negreanu and Hellmuth left on the felt. All three men would hold the chip lead at some point in their three-hour battle, but it would eventually come down to just Ausmus (14.5 million) and Hellmuth (11 million) to decide the title.

In a rarity, the heads-up match lasted all of one hand. After Ausmus ponied up 1.8 million and Hellmuth made the call. A juicy 7-9-6 flop saw Hellmuth check his option and, after Ausmus fired two million chips, Hellmuth responded with an all-in pot raise. Ausmus calmly made the call, and the cards went to their backs:

Hellmuth: K-9-7-6 (flopped two pair)
Ausmus: A-8-5-2 (flopped nine high straight)

Needing to see another nine, seven or six hit on the turn or river, Hellmuth instead saw a ten on the turn and a Queen on the river, denying him his 17th bracelet victory and giving Jeremy Ausmus the championship of the PLO High Roller and his third WSOP bracelet.

1. Jeremy Ausmus, $1,188,918
2. Phil Hellmuth, $734,807
3. Daniel Negreanu, $519,764
4. Alexander Petersen, $376,376
5. Laszlo Bujtas, $279,168
6. Jared Bleznick, $212,223
7. Josh Arieh, $165,452
8. Ben Lamb, $132,370
9. Veselin Karakitukov, $108,753

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Categories: Poker News

Does Poker Even WANT To Be Mainstream Anymore?

Sun, 2021-11-21 04:28

The 2021 World Series of Poker has come and gone and, for the most part, it was a highly successful run. Almost 90 tournaments, all run very well, and the threat of COVID-19 was pretty much nonexistent save for the end of the schedule. But there was one thing that, while on its face looked like a good move, turned out to be detrimental for the game.

Months before the start of the 2021 WSOP, Caesars signed a new, long-term deal with the streaming outlet PokerGO and the broadcast outlet CBS and its CBS Sports Network to manage the coverage of the tournament. Although they used the same on-air talent and production company that was used during its highly successful run on ESPN, “the powers that be” either could not get a satisfactory deal with “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” or thought that this other arrangement would be better for the organization. The changeover in the airing of the WSOP leads one to ask the question – does poker even WANT to be mainstream anymore?

A Highly Resilient Game…

Poker has, in its history, been a tremendously resilient game. Born on the riverboats of the Mississippi (we could go back further, but not necessary) at the beginning of the 19th century, it was originally a simple game of “I’ve got a better hand than you” played between four players. There were 20 cards, nothing under a ten in the deck (A-K-Q-J-10 of the four suits) and the cards were dealt and you bet – those were the origins of Five Card Stud.

That did not provide enough action for enough players, however. With the introduction of the 52-card deck, other variants of the game could be developed such as draw games and Seven Card poker. The additional cards also allowed for more players to take part in the game. Toss in a war (the Civil War was not all bloody battles and dysentery) and soldiers waiting for the next fight and poker blossomed into “America’s Game.”

The game traveled westward with the expansion of the U. S., with the gamblers of the Mississippi migrating to the cow towns and mining enclaves of Texas, Arizona, California, and Nevada. As with most things, there was the need to continually invent options for playing the game of poker, leading to the development of Texas Hold’em in the 30s (according to the legislature of Texas) and, eventually, such creations as Omaha Hold’em, Chinese Poker and many other variants. But one thing has consistently eluded the game of poker – mainstream respect and credibility.

The “poker boom” of the Aughts – brought by the convergence of online poker, televised poker in the World Poker Tour (the first legitimately successful poker “tour”) and the unlikely named Chris Moneymaker winning poker’s pinnacle event, the $10,000 WSOP Championship Event – was the closest that poker has ever come to “mainstream” acceptance. Because of that trinity of occurrences, suddenly it was cool to be seen as a “poker player.” Celebrities embraced the game on television, “made for television” events regarding poker were created, and there was an abundance of broadcasted poker content.

But alas…all good things must come to an end.

The Scourge of “Black Friday” Stopped the Mainstream Train

April 15, 2011, otherwise known as “Black Friday,” stopped the mainstream train in its tracks. In one fell swoop, the U. S. Department of Justice did what two World Wars, the Great Depression, and several “police actions” could not do – stopped the growth of poker. Not only did it severely impact online poker play in the U. S. and dented the worldwide nature of the game, but it also stopped mainstream companies from getting further involved in poker. Instead of getting sponsorships from mainstream companies for its players and events, poker went backward.

This was no better seen than in the decision this year for the changeover from ESPN to the PokerGO/CBS Sports Network combo platter.

It does have to be said that, production wise, the WSOP was well done. In the hands of Mori Eskandari, however, that was to be a given. Although people want to complain about the commentary booth, the stalwarts of Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, this year joined by Jamie Kerstetter for a fresh voice, continued to demonstrate the excellence that they have since they stepped into the booth what seems like ages ago but was only 2002. The problem lies in that nobody saw the content.

With the departure of ESPN, one of the questions asked was “who was going to provide the live coverage?” The answer, unfortunately, was nobody. PokerGO had the streaming rights for the WSOP and they put the clampdown on those rights, offering the first hour for free over their YouTube feed before pulling the plug and shifting to an entirely streamed production. And CBS is about to learn something that ESPN could tell them – few watch a poker tournament that they already know the outcome.

Poker is in a challenging time. In 2019, the world of poker was just beginning to pull out of the power dive that “Black Friday” had hit it with. The Championship Event was the second largest of all time and 2020 looked so promising. Then…came COVID.

Now poker has to stand back up after another body check. While the numbers for the 2021 WSOP were decent, there’s a long way to go to get back to 2019’s promise. Part of that promise could have been aided by having the festivities of the WSOP shown on network or cable television for the next generation to see.

Many who are at the apex of the game today were initially spurred by that moment in 2003 when that amateur Moneymaker stunned the world with an all-in bluff of Sammy Farha, the man who looked straight out of Central Casting when you said “poker player.” It was “the bluff of the century,” as Norman Chad called it. And if streaming had been around at that time…nobody would have seen it.

PokerGO is a very private company. They have never stated how many subscribers they have, nor have they ever stated how many people watch their live streams or even watch their catalogued programming. And, if those numbers are not so great, they sure as hell aren’t going to be broadcasting it (no pun intended), especially if they are able to rope in CBS Sports Network to pay part of the bill for the WSOP.

The Game Needs to Grow

Instead of locking the game behind the digital curtain of streaming, as PokerGO seems to be doing with a great deal of content, there needs to be live poker programming done. It should NOT be specially created “made for television” poker – which PokerGO also has with the “High Roller” events that constantly show the same 30 players – but it should be the big events that draw casual eyes…like what happened nearly 20 years ago. The WSOP should be seen live, on broadcast or network television, not shuttered off to streaming sites or to be broadcast at a later date on a sports network that has trouble making the main tier of many cable services.

Here is something that PokerGO should consider. Every once in a while, toss out an ENTIRELY FREE broadcast. No matter if it is the World Poker Tour, the WSOP, one of their “High Roller” championship events – give people a taste of what they might see, not just a snippet that an hour gives. Try to grow the game through the casual fan seeing what is going on, because hard core people are not going to help keep you in business…you are going to have to try to appeal to a larger group than JUST “poker players” to make your channel successful.

CBS is going to have to step up, too. Instead of shuffling the edited broadcasts off to something that people have to hunt for on their cable dial, put it on during your weekend broadcasts on mainstream television – yes, that means you might have to miss putting on that Alabama/Georgia Southern beatdown or not run the Professional Bull Riders latest hoedown. And hey…doing it LIVE might be even better – but that is something for you and PokerGO to work out.

Poker has been around for over 200 years now in the U. S. But does it want to be a part of the mainstream? Having our biggest events in the face of the general public is something that might help to achieve a more mainstream acceptance. While poker purists and the hard-core fans might like having their own private club, it is not going to bring any new blood – or new money – into the system, whether you are a streaming channel or the game itself.

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Categories: Poker News

2021 WSOP: Final Events Clearing Off Schedule, “Super High Roller” Draws 33 Entries

Sat, 2021-11-20 15:56

While many may have thought that the 2021 World Series of Poker concluded with Koray Aldemir’s dominant run to the World Championship, there are some odds and ends that remain to be cleared up. One tournament on the schedule yet is the $250,000 “Super High Roller” No Limit Hold’em event, which naturally was a star-studded affair. It also saw a strange occurrence in a contract signed between the players that might have been difficult to enforce.

“Contract” to Counter Potential COVID Infection Signed

After seeing players withdraw from the Championship Event because of potential COVID infection, the players in the Super High Roller took a different tack that might have been difficult to enforce. Because of the fact that the players were putting up $250,000 (and some would put in another buy in after being eliminated from the re-entry tournament), a majority of the players signed a contract that, if they became ill during the tournament, they would be refunded by ICM count their money. In essence, it was an insurance policy for the players that, if they had COVID symptoms arise during the tournament that would prevent them from coming back to play, they would get a part of their money back from the prize pool by what their chip stack dictated.

While it has not come into play (and hopefully will not be necessary), it would be difficult to see this “contract” enforced. Once the Super High Roller players paid their $250,000 to the WSOP cage, that money is no longer theirs – it becomes the property of the WSOP to award as the tournament played out. Furthermore, the WSOP was not a part of any of the contract discussions nor did they sign on to the deal that the players put forth. Thus, it may have been a symbolic statement by the participants in the tournament more so than any binding contract that would have been enforced.

Fortunately (so far)…the “contract” has not been enforced because nobody has come up ill.

Adrian Mateos Rides Hot Streak on Day 2 to Chip Lead

 25 players came through the Day 1 festivities, and they saw some new faces on the felt to start Day 2. Eight more players would come to the cage before the start of Day 2 and before the end of late registration to get back into play, including four newcomers to the battle. Those who came back for a second taste – or for a first run – including Jake Schindler, Cary Katz, David Peters, Seth Davies, Nick Petrangelo, Orpen Kisacikoglu, Keith Tilston, and Nilesh Patel, as they looked to run down the white-hot Michael Addamo to start the day.

The start of the action on Friday in the Super High Roller also set the prize pool for the tournament. With the new entries, a total of 33 entries were received in the tournament. It established a prize pool of more than $8.2 million, but only five men (alas, only men entered this tournament) will take a piece of the pie home with them. The eventual champion of this tournament earns a payday of $3,265,362 and, oh yeah…the WSOP bracelet that goes along with the victory.

Day 2 action did not treat the chip leaders well. Addamo may have come into the proceedings with the chip lead, but he would see those chips disappear quickly. After a raise from Stephen Chidwick, Addamo would defend his big blind to see a 10x 9♣ 5♣ flop. Addamo decided this was the time to make his move, pushing his shorter stack to the center against Chidwick, and the cards went to their backs:

Addamo: 8♣ 3♣
Chidwick: K-J

It was a neck-and-neck battle, with Addamo searching for a baby flush and Chidwick holding over cards and a potential straight draw for improvement. A six on the turn brought an additional straight draw for Addamo, but it nor the flush would come with the J♥ river to pair up Chidwick unnecessarily and send Addamo to the rail.

Adrian Mateos began his run at this time, albeit he was quite fortunate to even start the trotting process. Going up against Patel’s pocket Aces, Mateos could only muster pocket eights for the fight. But the “poker gods” smiled on Mateos, running out 6-10-7-7-9 to deliver an unlikely straight to the Spanish poker champion and knock Patel out of the event.

Mateos would also bring the tournament down to the unofficial final table. After seeing a J-10-4-3-10 board run out, Mateos would put out a bet that required an all-in call from Dan Smith to stick around. Smith would do this, but it turned out to be the wrong call; his A-4 had flopped bottom pair and made two pair on the turn, but Mateos’ Q-J had a higher pair and better two pair to win the hand and go to the unofficial final table in second place behind Peters.

After the dinner break, Mateos dominated the remaining players. He took the lead from Peters, who had been the first player to crack the 10 million chip mark, and punished Tilston to approach the 20 million mark. By the time that Christoph Vogelsang was eliminated on the money bubble by Tilston, Mateos had amassed more than half the chips in play:

1. Adrian Mateos, 25.5 million
2. Keith Tilston, 8.9 million
3. Ben Heath, 6.5 million
4. Seth Davies, 4.55 million
5. John Kincaid, 3.925 million

Much like Aldemir’s run to the World Championship, this tournament is Mateos’ to lose. With his dominant chip stack, it is going to be difficult for any of his four opponents to mount an offensive, especially if Mateos remains active and knocks out a short stack or two. The action will resume at 4PM (Pacific Time) and it will be a part of the streaming action at PokerGO.

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Categories: Poker News

Koray Aldemir Dominates En Route to WSOP Championship Event Victory; Eli Elezra Elected to Poker Hall of Fame

Thu, 2021-11-18 20:00

Putting on a display of poker prowess that has not been seen in some time, Germany’s Koray Aldemir completed the task that he started at the beginning of November. In a dominant fashion, Aldemir rode the chip lead he had built at the start of the final table of the 2021 WSOP Championship Event to the World Championship. Prior to the start of the festivities on the last night of the battle, one of poker’s venerable “living legends,” Eli Elezra, was honored with induction into the Poker Hall of Fame, the only person inducted for 2021.

Aldemir Avoids Pitfalls, Powers to Title

At the start of the action on Wednesday, it was plainly obvious that it was Aldemir’s tournament to lose. Aldemir’s 264.6 million chip stack dwarfed the COMBINED efforts from the two men that would oppose him, the United Kingdom’s Jack Oliver (77.3 million) and the United States’ George Holmes (57.4 million). At stake for the eventual winner was the title of World Champion, the special 2021 WSOP Championship Event bracelet and the $8 million bounty that came along with those prizes.

Aldemir was content in the early going to let Oliver and Holmes slug it out for the right to play him. That would turn out to be a drawn-out affair, as the duo battled back and forth for two hours total. Holmes, however, was able to work his way in front of Oliver and knock him out, although he needed some luck to do it.

After Oliver pushed all in, Holmes would make the call with a lesser holding:

Oliver: A♣ 8♦
Holmes: Q♠ J♠

Oliver had the lead at the start of the hand and, after an 8-7-5 flop, pulled even further out in front of Holmes. Needing the double up, Oliver’s dreams were crushed when a Jack came on the turn to shift the fortunes over to Holmes. Now looking for another eight or an Ace, Oliver instead saw an innocuous nine come on the river to end his tournament in third place.

Even with the knockout of Oliver, Holmes was still looking up at the mountain of chips Aldemir had in front of him. At the start of heads-up action, Aldemir had 261.9 million while Holmes had the other 137.4 million on his side of the table. While it might have seemed to have been a foregone conclusion, the real battle was just starting.

Stunningly, Holmes not only caught Aldemir but passed him within 30 minutes of heads-up play. Perhaps a bit complacent after watching his tablemates battle it out with each other, Aldemir for the first time at the final table found himself knocked off the top slot of the leaderboard. He would persevere, however, slipping back in front of Holmes after demonstrating some power poker in betting pre-flop, on the flop and on the turn before getting Holmes to fold to a river bet on a J-10-J-Q-7 board (Holmes showed he had two pair with an Ace kicker; Aldemir did not show…).

That had put Aldemir back into the lead and he would not look back. With only about ten million chips separating the twosome, a 10-7-2-K-9 board brought an all-in move from Holmes for 133 million (larger than the pot) that put Aldemir to the test. He weighed his options – and the fact that he would have bare scraps if he were wrong – before making the call. Holmes had found gold on the turn with his K-Q, but Aldemir had him beaten; he slapped his 10-7 on the felt for two pair, tens up, to win the championship of the poker world and the WSOP bracelet.

1. Koray Aldemir, $8 million
2. George Holmes, $4.3 million
3. Jack Oliver, $3 million
4. Joshua Remitio, $2.3 million*
5. Ozgur Secilmis, $1.8 million*
6. Hye Park, $1.4 million*
7. Alejandro Lococo, $1.225 million*
8. Jareth East, $1.1 million*
9. Chase Bianchi, $1 million*

(* – part of official final table, eliminated during Tuesday’s action)

Eli Elezra Chosen for Poker Hall of Fame

During a pause in the action on Wednesday night, the Poker Hall of Fame took to the stage of the WSOP to announce that the living members of the Hall had chosen their 60th member. After the votes had been tabulated, Israel’s Eli Elezra was chosen for induction into poker’s Parthenon. By inducting Elezra, the Hall elected only their eighth international member (after Nick “The Greek” Dandalos, Sir Edmund Hoyle, Henry Orenstein, Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, Carlos Mortensen and David Ulliott).

Elezra began his tournament poker career back in 1996 by making the final table at an event at the United States Poker Championship in Atlantic City, but he would make his bones three years later in making three final tables during the run of the 1999 WSOP. Over the years, Elezra played at the highest levels of the cash game world, traipsing the globe to the best games running. He would also remain a strong part of the tournament poker world, winning the World Poker Tour stop at the short-lived Mirage Poker Showdown in 2004 and, in 2007, earning his first WSOP bracelet in Seven Card Stud Hi-Low.

Elezra was a staple on televised poker shows during the “poker boom” years. He was frequently seen on shows such as High Stakes Poker and Poker Superstars, but the draw of tournament poker always kept Elezra in that world. While picking up four total WSOP bracelets in his career, Elezra also plays in “The Big Game” in the Bellagio, where he routinely squares off against Poker Hall of Fame members Doyle Brunson and Daniel Negreanu. As of 2021, Elezra’s total tournament earnings sit at more than $4.5 million.

(Photo courtesy of PokerGO)

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