Online Poker Now
February 26th Poker news ... Online Poker Now at online-pokernow.com
TWO MORE EVENTS START AT W.S.O.P. (Update)
Poker's most prestigious tournament continues to pack 'em in
27 survivors from a starting pack of 3,144 gathered Tuesday for the third and hopefully last day of event 34: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em, with Michael Souza leading the hunt for the bracelet and the $488,283 that this competition awards the winner. Souza started the day comfortably ahead of nearest rival Rob Verspui as the only other player above the 600 000 chip mark.
Mark Schmid had a 200 000 chip lead on Trevor Vanderveen, Justin Cohen, Robbie Verspui, Benjamin Volpe, Andrew Rudnik and Jonathan Clancy as the last 7 players fought it out Tuesday evening Vegas time, with the first four players all holding over a million chips apiece at the start of level 27.
The second day of event 35: $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Six-Handed commenced Tuesday with 105 players surviving an initial first day field of 507, and notable names like Vanessa Selbst (chip leader), Eric Lindgren, Shaun Deeb, Mike "timex" McDonald, and Gregory Brooks still very much in contention, along with David “Devilfish” Ulliott, Joe Hachem, Brian Rast, Layne Flack, Andy Seth, Jeff Lisandro, Jason Mercier, Chance Kornuth, and the always exciting Tom Dwan.
There's a good reward of $548,095 attached to this new event, together with a coveted WSOP bracelet.
By level 18 on Tuesday evening the field was down to 21 players with the top ten chip counts held (in order) by Gregory Brooks (725,000), Erick Lindgren (500,000), Vanessa Selbst (485,000), Joseph Ressler (435,000), Tom Dwan (400,000), Michael McDonald (380,000), Jared Bleznick (340,000) Steven Merrifield (320,000) Jason Mercier (315,000) and Peter Jetten (315 000).
Clearly there is a lot more action in store in this event.
Event 36: $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em launched Tuesday with a field lower than that achieved last year; only 1,734 signed up for the 2011 competition, nevertheless creating a major prize pool of $3.94 million.
The registration list showed an eclectic mix of amateurs, celebrities and professional players that included Ludovic Lacay, Shannon Shorr, Jeff Williams, Scott Montgomery, Jordan Young, Beth Shak, Brad Garrett, Vivek Rajkumar, Lars Bonding, Eric Baldwin, David Pham, Andre Akkari, Alex Gomes, La Sengphet, Erica Schoenberg, Jason Somerville, Dan Fleyshman, Joe Cada, and Jonathan Duhamel.
Playing into Tuesday night the field was down to 490 at level 9, with Chance Kornuth holding a 25 000 chip lead over his closest adversary but many ace players still in the running.
Event 37: $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship also kicked off Tuesday with a star-studded entry field of 240 (one player less than signed up for the event last year) generating a prize pool of $2.25 million.
This competition is the final mixed game championship of the 2011 Series, attracting many pros anxious to show off their skills in a range of games as well as earn some money and a bracelet.
Late evening Tuesday Vegas time saw the action reach level 6 with Eugene Katchalov leading on 64,000, with Jimmy Fricke and Andrew Barber biting his heels on 63,000 apiece, and a slew of top players still in a remaining field of 238.
CAESAR'S CEO SPEAKS UP FOR ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION
But Loveman insists on a federal solution, and it only embraces poker
Achieving wide coverage that included major newspapers, CNN Money, Fortune magazine and Associated Press articles this week was an op-ed article written by Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman, supporting the idea of legalised online poker in the USA through the federal rather than individual state route.
The piece was prompted by the recent enforcement actions against major online poker sites (see previous InfoPowa reports), which Loveman sees as an opportunity for the United States to fully
legalise and regulate the $6 billion industry...but the tone of the article suggests that he's focused particularly on internet poker.
“Only federal legislation can clear up the current ambiguities in U.S. law and crack down on other online gambling like sports betting and casino games,” Loveman wrote.
Loveman appears to share the controversial US Department of Justice view that internet poker is expressly illegal in the United States, asserting: "Online poker is currently illegal in the U.S. and, as a result, the $6 billion industry has developed overseas, catering to the wishes of millions of Americans playing from their homes in Ohio, California, Mississippi and every other state. That's crazy."
But the land gambling executive points out that legal actions against PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker won’t change whether millions of Americans want to play online poker.
“Instead, the question is this: Should we seize the moment to legalize online poker, permit a safe and legitimate industry in the U.S., and bring these jobs and revenues home?” Loveman wrote.
“Unequivocally, the answer is yes.”
Associated Press noted that Caesars has long espoused the need to regulate and tax online gambling, and that Loveman’s comments are the first public statements about the indictments from the company that owns the World Series of Poker.
In his piece, Loveman compares the current US market enforcement moves to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, saying adults are being hamstrung by a law keeping them from activities they consider appropriate.
“Business is being diverted from legitimate, respected companies that employ thousands of people to fly-by-night, underground (and in this case, foreign) operations,” Loveman said in his article, titled "Online Poker - Legalize It.”
"Just like Prohibition, consumers lose all of the protections that come with a government-regulated onshore business. And millions of otherwise law-abiding adult Americans are hamstrung by a law they disrespect and consider to be a barrier to a perfectly appropriate activity," he warns.
Loveman claims that the latest Department of Justice actions have created a unique opportunity to "...bring thousands of jobs home to America, to generate revenues that benefit Americans rather than foreign companies and to bring clarity to the current ambiguous set of federal laws.”
And he recommends: “We should seize the moment."
He adds: "The question we face isn't "will there be online poker?" Millions of Americans have already answered that question through their regular play, and the latest indictments won't change that. In fact, less than 24 hours after the three poker sites were closed, other foreign operators began filling the void."
Turning to the mechanics of regulation, Loveman emphasises the need for a federal solution, saying: "Unfortunately, however well-intentioned it may be, state level legislation will not adequately address the problems that currently exist.
"The goals of legislation are simple: let Americans play online poker in the privacy of their homes, and create jobs and revenues here in America. Only federal legislation can accomplish that, by creating a well-regulated system of online poker. And only federal legislation can clear up the current ambiguities in U.S. law and crack down on other online gambling like sports betting and casino games."
Loveman goes on to detail the generally accepted requirements for sound regulation, covering fair gaming, problem gambling and under-age precautions, financial probity, measures to guard against criminal involvement, money laundering and cheating, and shielding the privacy of players.
"In short, this bill should recognize the reality of the world we live in....And it should acknowledge that as a game of skill, poker deserves to be treated differently than other forms of gambling," Loveman opines.
He optimistically concludes: "One day, we'll look back at 2011 and laugh at the folly of a ban on Internet poker -- just like we now think about Prohibition. The sooner that day comes, the better."
POKER TV SHOWS PULLED (Update)
Another side effect on 'those' indictments
Among the many sad aftershocks of the US federal indictments against executives of leading online poker companies is a report that two popular poker television shows, the “PokerStars Big Game” and the “PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge,” have both been pulled from Fox TV.
Early reports indicate that the cancellation was agreed by both Pokerstars and Fox following the unsealing of the federal indictments last Friday.
The Pokerstars Big Game was hosted by Amanda Leatherman and featured many of the top pros on the international poker scene.
It is not yet known whether the next series of the show will be prepared and presented elsewhere.
In the Pokerstars Million Dollar Challenge, celebrities and online qualified players faced off in four heads up matches of NLHE. Those players who won against their celebrity opponents went on to play professional poker players on the Pokerstars roster - again highly respected names on the international poker circuit.
Winners of this second round then faced Daniel 'Kid Poker' Negreanu heads-up for a chance at $1 million.
ESPN announced earlier this week that it has canned the PokerStars-sponsored “Inside Deal” show, although it appears that another sponsor has been found for future issues of the program.
More bad news is that the indictments and reduction in US activity has reportedly resulted in lower prize pool guarantees on Sunday's tourneys by the leading internet poker companies - some slashed by almost fifty percent.
Poker News Daily reports that PokerStars cut the guaranteed prize pool of its Sunday Million by $500 000 to $1 million, and chopped its Sunday Warm-Up down by a third to $500 000. The guarantee on the Sunday 500 was reduced to $250 000 and the Sunday Second Chance was cut to $125 000.
The impact of the US situation was felt in lower entry fields, although the guarantees were all passed.
For example, 6 475 players entered for the Sunday Million, a significant drop from the previous week's 8 200.
At Full Tilt Poker the guarantee on the first event in the XX FTOPS sank from $3 million to $1 million, but almost 7 000 players still entered for the event. The Sunday Brawl also suffered, with its guarantee slashed by half, and the Sunday Mulligan was cut from $200 000 to $50 000.
UB.com, also involved in the indictment debacle, cut its $200 000 guaranteed tourney to $75 000, a number that was just topped by player buy-ins of $87 000.
It appears that the indicted companies were the only ones to reduce guarantees; reports indicate that Party Poker, Titan Poker and Bodog maintained the values of Sunday competitions.
The independent online poker monitor Pokerscout has been keeping a careful watch on traffic developments since the indictments were publicised last Friday, and according to its latest assessment on April 18 the global online poker market shrank by 23 percent in the wake of Black Friday.
The site informs that PokerStars traffic is 25 percent down; Full Tilt Poker 48 percent and the Cereus Network 39 percent.
Non-indicted but US-facing networks that have benefitted from the decline of the three main operators include Merge - up 23 percent; Bodog - up 26 percent; Cake - up 19 percent and the small Everleaf network, up 8 percent.
Non-US facing sites in Europe also saw improved traffic, with Party Poker rising by 9 percent; iPoker Network up 4 percent, PKR up 21 percent and 888 Poker up 5 percent. Ongame reported no change.
On a lighter note, one of the 11 persons indicted, Chad Elie has something to take his mind off his troubles.
Shortly after he was released on bail, the news surfaced that he had celebrated his release by marrying former Playboy Playmate Destiny Davis in Las Vegas.
Elie was one of the first of the indicted managers to be arrested and stands accused of facilitating financial transactions and other banking and financially oriented offences.
Federal officials claim that Elie and others worked with the poker companies to disguise money received from US gamblers "as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants purporting to sell merchandise such as jewellery and golf balls". He faces up to 30 years in jail on charges of bank fraud.
WYNN EXPLAINS CHANGE OF HEART IN POKERSTARS DEAL (Update)
"I had only misconceptions...." says erstwhile online poker opponent.
Steve Wynn, the owner of Wynn Resorts and a central figure in that company’s recently announced partnership deal with online gambling giant Pokerstars (see previous InfoPowa reports), has expanded on his change of heart from being an opponent of online poker to a supporter of the industry.
Speaking to Nathan Vardi of Forbes Magazine this week, Wynn said that he previously had only misconceptions about online poker.
"I thought it would be difficult to regulate, and if the Internet people got in trouble it would bring the wrath of the government down on us in the live gaming community out here in Las Vegas. I didn't see the business opportunity, I just saw problems, he said."
Then he was approached by the Democratic Party Nevada Senator Harry Reid, Wynn recalls.
"Harry Reid called me and said, 'Steve, there are millions of people playing poker, and it's as American as apple pie. I want my office to look into this and see if we can regulate it.'
"Harry and I have been friends for 40-odd years, we ran marathons together. . . . And I got contacted by the people at PokerStars, who asked, 'Why are you not interested in this? Take a minute and learn the truth about this.'
"That began my exposure to that company and that business and what they do, and I have to tell you I was shocked."
Wynn explained that he had had no idea on a number of aspects of online poker, such as Pokerstars being highly regulated in Europe, employing 1 300 highly skilled people with an average salary is $110,000.
"One of my concerns was about young people playing," said Wynn. "It turns out they have more control about young people playing than we do."
Wynn went on to rationalise the Pokerstars argument regarding the legality of online poker in the United States, namely that the Justice Department opinion is untested in the courts, and that at state level there have been rulings that poker is a game more of skill than of chance.
"I say there is a bit of sophistry here clearly," Wynn told the Forbes writer. "What difference does it make what PokerStars or the Justice Department says? The point is millions of people are playing poker, and they are going to continue to play poker legally or illegally."
Wynn makes the surprising admission that he is not a technophobe, preferring to rely on his staff when it comes to computer and internet issues.
The land gambling mogul gives an interesting insight into his dealings with Pokerstars founder and owner Isai Scheinberg, who explained his motivation for a partnership by saying that Pokerstars had a multitude of American customers, and the company therefore wanted to "do it right".
Scheinberg apparently told Wynn: "I don't want to look over my shoulder at this point of my life."
Wynn responded by emphasising that he would only take his company into a putative online gambling venture if it was legalised at federal level, and if it was a 50-50 deal.
"I know that as a nonbeliever I was convinced by the logic of the argument," Wynn said. "And when I learn something and change my mind I may have the naive notion that other people might be enlightened by the facts themselves."
But he ended on a cautionary note, warning that his conversion "...doesn't mean I am right, especially in Washington."