Archive for February, 2017

New York Assemblyman Confident Online Poker Bill Will Move Forward

 New York Assemblyman Confident Online Poker Bill Will Move Forward

Last year, arguably online poker’s biggest supporter in the New York legislature was the one who put the kibosh on the possibility of the game becoming legal in the state. Now, Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow has expressed confidence that something will get done on the matter this year.

In 2016, a bill which would legalize and regulate online poker passed the New York Senate easily by a vote of 53-5. Pretlow had a similar bill in the Assembly and had been championing poker for a number of years, so one would have thought that the bill would at least have a fighting chance after it moved on from the Senate. Not so. Pretlow had concerns about the ability of online poker operators to prevent cheating and to ensure that only players from within state borders could access the sites, so the bill was never even voted upon.

Speaking with Andrew Whitman of New York’s FIOS1 News last week, Pretlow said his concerns have been alleviated. He made a “field trip” to New Jersey, where online gambling is legal, to speak with the Attorney General to learn more and to view gaming technologies in action. He came away “satisfied” that geolocation technologies works and that there are sufficient barriers to cheating in place. Thus, he feels comfortable moving forward in New York to try to get online poker legalized.

Whitman asked him about the reclassification of poker from a game of chance to a game of a skill. Though Pretlow did not straight-out say that poker is definitely a game of skill, he made his case in a round-about way, saying that it just depends on the player. For some, chance plays a greater role and for others, skill plays a greater role.

While Pretlow does not know if the Governor would eventually sign an online poker bill into law, he feels confident that he will have enough support in the Assembly to get it through.

“When I do sign off on something,” he told Whitman, “my colleagues feel that it is a good deal and they don’t question why I made a certain decision. They know that if that decision was made, it’s for good reason. So I don’t really see there’s going to be much opposition to moving this along.”

The process of legalizing and regulating online poker in New York has already gotten underway this year. A couple weeks ago, Senator John Bonacic’s bill, S 3898 easily made it through the Senate’s Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering by a unanimous vote. It will now be looked at by the Senate Finance Committee.

It is a fairly straightforward bill, allowing a maximum of ten online operating licenses with a fee of $ 10 million each. Though the bill only specifically mentions hold’em and Omaha, it is assumed that most forms of poker would be permitted. Players must be at least 21-years old and be within state borders, though the bill opens up the opportunity to form interstate compacts so that New York could pool its players with other states.

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3rd Annual GPI American Poker Awards Winners Celebrated

 3rd Annual GPI American Poker Awards Winners Celebrated

The important poker people were in Beverly Hills last Thursday receiving their shimmering trophies at the 3rd Annual GPI American Poker Awards. It was kind of like Sunday night’s Oscars except nobody posted about it on Facebook and David Peters was correctly announced as GPI Player of the Year on the first try.

Many of the usual awards were handed out (if a two-year precedent can establish the “usual”) like GPI Player of the Year, Female Player of the Year, Moment of the Year, and Tournament Performance of the Year. Times change, though, and so do the awards. One sign of the times was the addition of Twitch Poker Streamer of the Year and Poker Podcast of the Year.

Some awards were eliminated: Poker Presenter of the Year and Poker Innovation or Initiative of the Year are gone. Event of the Year was also consolidated into one award, rather than having two separate ones for tournaments with different price points.

It should also be noted that the two Player of the Year awards were based on the Global Poker Index’s scoring rankings in 2016. It was a completely objective award; everyone already knew who won it, as opposed to several awards whose winners were up to the voting committee.

The winners of the categories with multiple nominees are indicated in italics.

GPI Player of the Year

David Peters

GPI Female Player of the Year

Cate Hall

Lifetime Achievement Award

Mori Eskandani

Charitable Initiative of the Year

Dan Smith Charity Drive

PocketFives Legacy Award

Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy

The Hendon Mob Award

John Holley

Jury Prize

Matt Savage

Tournament Performance of the Year

Kristen Bicknell wins 2nd WSOP bracelet ($ 1,500 Bounty)
Ari Engel wins Aussie Millions
Maurice Hawkins wins WSOPC Cherokee, back-to-back WSOPC
Mike Sexton wins WPT Montreal

Moment of the Year

Griffin Benger’s AA vs William Kassouf’s KK showdown at the WSOP Main Event
Jason Mercier goes on heater: captures (2) WSOP bracelets and a 2nd in a week to secure WSOP PoY
David Peters needing 3rd at EPT Prague to win GPI PoY does exactly that and takes the title from Fedor Holz
Mike Sexton mounts unbelievable comeback to win his first WPT title at WPT Montreal

Breakout Performance of the Year

Ari Engel
Maurice Hawkins
Ankush Mandavia
Sam Soverel

Event of the Year

Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
Super High Roller Bowl
WSOP Main Event
WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic

Mid-Major Circuit of the Year

Heartland Poker Tour (HPT)
Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT)
World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC)
WPTDeepStacks (WPTDS)

Industry Person of the Year

Tony Burns (Seminole Hard Rock Tournament Director)
Jack Effel (WSOP VP Intl’ Poker Operations, WSOP Director)
Sean McCormack (ARIA Director of Poker Operations)
Matt Savage (WPT Executive Tour Director, TDA Founder)

Media Person of the Year

Lance Bradley
Sarah Herring
Joseph Stapleton
David Tuchman

Media Content of the Year

Bob, Charlie and a Life-Changing WSOP Main Event Journey (Lance Bradley, PocketFives)
Life’s a Gamble (Mike Sexton, D&B Poker)
Stu Ungar’s Last Chance Gone Wrong Documentary (Matthew Showell, PokerListings)
Jason Somerville provides live Aussie Millions coverage on his Twitch channel

Twitch Poker Streamer of the Year

Kevin Martin “kevinmartin987”
Jason Somerville “jcarverpoker“
Jaime Staples “pokerstaples”
Parker Talbot “tonkaaaaP”

Poker Podcast of the Year

Poker Life Podcast with Joe Ingram
Full Contact Poker with Daniel Negreanu
PokerNews Podcast
TwoPlusTwo Pokercast

Poker News Daily

2017 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Day Two: Nick Maimone Maintains Pole Position

 2017 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Day Two: Nick Maimone Maintains Pole Position

The World Poker Tour (WPT) L.A. Poker Classic has been a part of the WPT since the tour’s inception, but in recent years, it has become almost an outlier. It is one of the few WPT Main Events that still costs $ 10,000 to enter and is also one of the few that is a good, old freezeout, rather than a re-entry tournament. The WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event finished its Day 2 on Sunday and with 111 players remaining, it is Day 1 chip leader Nick Maimone who held onto the top spot for a second straight day, finishing the night with 567,400 chips, the only player above the half-million mark.

My colleague Earl Burton was dead on when he said yesterday that because of the late entry possibilities on Day 2, “There’s a good possibility that the 2017 field will eclipse that of last year (515 players), but it will be a stretch to see it go much further.”

In addition to the 498 players who started on Day 1, another 23 entered the tournament on Day 2, resulting in a field of 521 players, just beating out last year’s total and, as Earl put it, not going much further.

Literally one fewer player would have put the total prize pool below $ 5 million. As the tournament did get to 521 players, the prize pool ended up at $ 5,001,600. 66 players will make the money with the winner taking home $ 1,001,110.

Maimone readily admitted to that the poker gods smiled on him at a couple key points.

I got very fortunate in a couple of hands,” Maimone said. “I got pocket queens against ace-jack on a jack-high board to bust a guy. In one of the biggest hands of the day, I had queens against ace-queen on a Q♠-8♠-2-2♣-2♠ board.

On the latter hand, Maimone knocked out Stefan Schillhabel. They four-bet up to 20,000 chips pre-flop and after the flop came down, Maimone bet 13,000 and was called by Schillhabel. Another bet and call on the turn and when the river produced the third Two, Maimone bet enough to put Schillhabel all-in. Schillhabel called instantly, but his Deuces over Queens full house was destroyed by Maimone’s Queens over Deuces.

“Nothing he can do, I was very blessed there,” Maimone said.

He also noted he got lucky late in the night when he raised pre-flop with just J-7 and was called by Jordan Cristos. Maimone flopped two pair and the two men got all their chips in. Cristos had pocket Aces and couldn’t catch any more cards.

“There wasn’t really much else I could do,” Maimone said. “He had aces and I held.”

Day 3 has just gotten underway at the Commerce Hotel & Casino as the remaining players set their sights on at least making the money.

2017 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic Main Event – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1.    Nick Maimone – 567,400
2.    Matt Berkey – 493,100
3.    Mohsin Charania – 435,400
4.    Daniel Strelitz – 410,000
5.    Bryce Yockey – 354,800
6.    William Vo – 350,000
7.    Antonio Esfandiari – 349,300
8.    Daniel Lawrence – 317,200
9.    Igor Yaroshevskyy – 314,400
10.    Mike Sexton – 270,400

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2017 WPT L. A. Poker Classic Day One: Nick Maimone, James Romero Take the Helm

 2017 WPT L. A. Poker Classic Day One: Nick Maimone, James Romero Take the Helm

So how much of a break did the WPT staff and professional players get after the crowning of Darren Elias for his victory in the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic late Friday night before they had to jump back into action? How about just a scant few hours as Saturday saw the start of one of the venerable tournaments on the WPT circuit, the WPT L. A. Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino in Bell Gardens, CA.

The first leg of the WPT “California Swing” (with the other two events being the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star and the WPT Rolling Thunder at Thunder Valley Casino), the LAPC has been a part of the WPT schedule since the origination of the circuit. It’s roll of champions lists such names as Anthony Zinno, Phil Ivey, Michael Mizrachi, Antonio Esfandiari and Gus Hansen, who won the inaugural WPT event way back in 2003. The $ 10,000 event (and it has remained that since the beginning) usually draws the crème of the poker world and the 2017 version hasn’t disappointed.

From the opening call of “shuffle up and deal,” the potential dangers were obvious around the room. Just the former champions of the WPT – including former World Champion Joe Hachem, eight-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Erik Seidel, Mohsin Charania and former WPT LAPC champion Sean Jazayeri – would have presented a daunting task, but adding in such players are Aaron Massey, Ari Engel, Justin Bonomo, Dan Heimiller and Faraz Jaka and the minefield became even more treacherous. This wasn’t even broaching those that were on the way to Cali for the tournament and taking full advantage of the late registration period (such as Elias, jetting from Canada to the West Coast after winning on Friday).

After the first level was in the books, 320 players were on the tables with the field still growing with the likes of WPT Montreal champion Ema Zajmovic, fellow WPT Champions’ Club members Marvin Rettenmaier and Jared Jaffee and defending Super High Roller Bowl champion Rainer Kempe entering the fray. With the 30,000 chip stacks, the players were a bit cautious – none of the flailing around as in multiple rebuy events because the LAPC is a one-shot freeze out tournament – but they would mix it up when the situation called for it. By the time Level 3 began, 416 players had ponied up the “dime” to take part in the tournament.

Over the span of eight hours of action, there were those that stretched themselves away from the field. Zajmovic was able to triple her starting stack, but it was Romero (the champion of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December) who was a real surprise. Late in the evening, Romero was able to rack up five times his starting stack (150,000) and, if it weren’t for Nick Maimone’s sneaky route through the field in earning six times his starting stack, would have been the chip leader. As it is, he’ll have to settle for second going to Day Two of one of the most prestigious events on the WPT.

1. Nick Maimone, 187,000
2. James Romero, 153,600
3. Sam Phillips, 143,000
4. Daniel Strelitz, 127,600
5. Marco Cavallaro, 126,800
6. Seth Berger, 115,400
7. Niall Farrell, 108,200
8. Bart Hanson, 105,400
9. Ivan Karim, 102,000
10. Jake Schwartz, 101,300

At this point, the 306 players that remain from the original 498 entries still don’t know what they’re playing for. With late registration going on until the start of Level 10 (approximately 1:45PM Pacific Time), there is plenty of opportunity for those in the area to scratch up their $ 10,000 to still get in. There’s a good possibility that the 2017 field will eclipse that of last year (515 players), but it will be a stretch to see it go much further. With that said, it is still one of the jewels on the WPT circuit and the next champion of the WPT L. A. Poker Classic will earn quite the payday for their efforts.

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Darren Elias Makes History, Wins WPT Fallsview Poker Classic

 Darren Elias Makes History, Wins WPT Fallsview Poker Classic

In what was one of the longer final days of a World Poker Tour event, poker professional Darren Elias – who just over two years ago joined the ranks of players who have won back-to-back tournaments on the circuit (Anthony Zinno and Marvin Rettenmaier) – battled through the final 22 players to win the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic late Friday night.

Elias started the penultimate Day Three in the middle of the remaining 22 players with 617,000 in chips (good for 10th place). He looked up the ladder at Ron Laplante, who held almost three times the chips of Elias (1.724 million) and David Eldridge (1.7 million) and would start the day as the chip leaders. Along with Elias, Kristen Bicknell was looking to add to her two World Series of Poker bracelets by adding a WPT title to her trophy collection.

It looked bleak for Elias at the start of the day. He would double up Manig Loeser within minutes of the opening bell to drop to only 370,000 chips, then would do the same for Paul Pritchett. After Elias opened the betting to 55K, Pritchett dropped his remaining 218K in the center and Elias had to have a look. He was live with his Q-10 against Pritchett’s A-J and found some fortune in the K-Q-2 flop to take the lead, but the ten on the turn to give Elias Queens up also gave Pritchett a Broadway straight. After the river blanked, Elias saw his once bountiful stack shriveled up to just 230,000.

Elias started his comeback by doubling through Mark Zajdner in a blind versus blind battle, his pocket Kings holding from the big blind over Zajdner’s Q-9 push out of the small blind. Elias would eliminate Danny Noseworthy in 18th place to get back over his starting stack for the day (660K) and then river a straight against Laplante to crack the million-chip mark. By the time the unofficial final table of ten was set, Elias was once again a contender in the middle of the pack behind Abdull Hassan, Laplante, and Bicknell.

After chopping a pot with Buck Ramsey when both players had pocket Aces, Elias would make his big move two hands later. After a raise to 105K from Chrishan Sivasundaram, Elias moved all in from the button for 885K. Believing himself to be priced into the call, Sivasundaram made the move and winced when he saw Elias once again holding pocket Aces. Sivasundaram could only muster pocket tens for the fight and, after the board only improved Elias in coming down 7-6-4-3-A, Elias saw his stack crack the two million mark.

After a level up, Elias would finish off Sivasundaram to take over the chip lead from Eldridge, but that would be short-lived. Eldridge took a hand off Elias to reach 3.3 million and, after he eliminated Laplante in ninth place, saw his stack reach 4.475 million. When Eldridge knocked off Bicknell in seventh place to set the “official” WPT final table, his chip lead was firmly established with 5.175 million chips, roughly 2.3 million more than Andrew Chen and more than three million more than Elias.

Elias got back into the middle of the fray in doubling up through Chen. With all the chips in pre-flop, Elias was in tough shape with his pocket nines against Chen’s pocket Queens. That all changed when the 9-7-6 flop gave Elias a set to push him to the lead. Needing to dodge one of the two ladies remaining in the deck, Elias saw a trey on the turn and a five on the river to seal his double up and push him into second place behind Eldridge with 3.2 million chips.

Surprisingly, Eldridge and Elias were very active not only against the rest of the table but also against each other. After Eldridge eliminated Loeser in fifth place, Elias would take two of the next four hands with both coming against Eldridge. Once Elias sent Chen out in fourth place and dismissed Jean-Christophe Ferreira in third, he went to heads-up play against Eldridge with a slim 1.1 million chip lead.

Instead of a drawn-out affair, the heads-up match was decided in only three hands. On Hand #69 with an A-A-4-Q-Q board showing, Eldridge oddly couldn’t find a call to Elias’ all-in move (with Elias covering him) after Eldridge had started the betting with a million-chip raise pre-flop and folded his hand, leaving him with only 750K behind him. Two hands later, those remaining 750K in chips were in Elias’ hands as, holding a J-6 off suit, he was able to turn a King-high straight against Eldridge’s 10-9 (a flopped pair of tens and rivered two pair) to win the championship of the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic and tie the record for most wins by a player in the history of the WPT (three, held by Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen, Chino Rheem and Zinno).

1. Darren Elias, $ 449,484*
2. David Eldridge, $ 300,982
3. Jean-Christophe Ferreira, $ 193,583
4. Andrew Chen, $ 143,199
5. Manig Loeser, $ 107,399
6. Abdull Hassan, $ 86,184

(* – Canadian dollars)

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