Opens Account Pre-Registration for Upcoming Interstate Network Opens Account Pre Registration for Upcoming Interstate Network and 888 Poker are quite confident that the approval process for their new software will go off without a hitch and as such, has sent out e-mails to players and published a press release announcing the opening of registration for new accounts. The software is being reviewed by the regulatory bodies of Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey and if approved, New Jersey will finally share poker player liquidity with the other two states on the WSOP/888 network. The target date for the new interstate network to go live is May 1st.

Last week, and 888 Poker announced that they submitted a new version of their software to regulators in the three states; the end result of the approval would be that the three states would be together on an interstate network. Delaware and Nevada joined forces in 2015, but New Jersey has been the holdout. And considering how much larger New Jersey’s population is than the other two states combined, the Garden State’s team-up was very much coveted.

The interstate player pool sharing will only be on the network, though, so players on PokerStars and the Party/Borgata Network in New Jersey will not see any benefits. For players on in New Jersey, the big deal here is that they will get to compete for official World Series of Poker bracelets in the four online events this summer. These events were previously restricted to people on in Nevada.

Nevada and Delaware players will need to create new accounts on the network. In the announcement made yesterday, the WSOP said that pre-registration for said accounts is open starting today, so those who have their hearts set on a specific screen name should hop to it. Everyone who pre-registers will be entered into a drawing for a seat in the WSOP Main Event. Those who already had accounts in Nevada or accounts on the 888 network in Delaware will have all of their funds, tournament tickets, and loyalty points transfer to the new account.

“We can’t wait for our existing players and hopefully a host of first-time players to experience the new,” said Head of Online Poker Bill Rini in a press release. “With the advent of tri-state shared liquidity, we have completely revamped our tournament schedules, our cash games offerings, our loyalty program and our promotional calendar to deliver the best online poker experience in this new world order.”

When the new network launches on May 1st, will also introduce a new loyalty program called Poker Rewards with 32 percent rakeback at its highest levels. The new loyalty levels will be as follows:

• Player (Monthly) – 0-199 APP’s ($ 0-$ 99 in rake) = 0% rake back
• Bronze (Monthly) – 200-749 APP’s ($ 100-$ 324 in rake) = 8% rake back
• Silver (Monthly) – 750-1,499 APP’s ($ 325-$ 749 in rake) = 20% rake back
• Elite (Monthly) – 1,500-19,999 APP’s ($ 750-$ 9,999 in rake) = 25% rake back
• Champions Club (Annual) – 20,000+ APP’s ($ 10,000+ in rake) = 32% rake back

I honestly have no idea if this is better than the current rewards program, but it certainly looks simpler. The number of monthly levels will be cut in half, as will the annual levels. It also looks like WSOP point multipliers might not be a thing anymore, but we will see once the new program launches.

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Rens Feenstra Wins WPT Amsterdam Main Event

 Rens Feenstra Wins WPT Amsterdam Main Event

With the World Poker Tour (WPT) Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown taking place last week and drawing one of the biggest crowds in Tour history, it was easy to forget that there was another WPT event going on across the pond: WPT Amsterdam. The €3,000 + €300 Main Event drew 207 entrants, generating a prize pool of nearly €600,000. Home town hero (well, home country hero) Rens Feenstra won WPT Amsterdam, cashing for $ 192,335 (converted from Euros).

The win put Feenstra over the $ 1 million mark for lifetime live tournament earnings. This was his first World Poker Tour title, but he was quite familiar with tournament end-game situations, as he has a number of tournament wins, including two others in the six-figure range.

Feenstra was the overwhelming chip leader going into the six-handed final table, so it certainly appeared that he was destined for at least the top two. With 2.949 million chips, he nearly as many chips as the other five players had combined. His closest competitor, Ema Zajmovic, had just 793,000 chips.

Zajmovic actually took a big chunk of Feenstra’s chips right from the jump, doubling through him to escalate her stack to 1.742 million. And within a few orbits, she had grabbed the chip lead. In fact, what looked like a cruise for Feenstra turned into quite the competition, as by the 48th hand, he was down to fourth place. It was as tight match, though, with the spread between first and fourth being only about 300,000 chips.

Feenstra was close to gone by Hand 100, falling to 325,000 chips, but he doubled to stay alive while Zajmovic was rolling. He managed to double through Zajmovic to get his stack into “I need to be taken seriously again” territory and eventually it was the two of them heads-up for the title, Zajmovic holding a 3.910 million to 2.135 million chip lead.

Within 20 hands, Feenstra had wrestled back the lead and was finally above the mark where he began the final table (which shows how huge his lead was). Zajmovic took the lead right back and so the see-saw began. Both players kept tilting the table, but neither could pull away. Neither could, that is, until Zajmovic doubled-up on Hand 213 of the final table to grow her stack to 5.310 million chips, leaving Feenstra under a million.

But you know Feenstra won, so forget all that “pulling away” business. Within a few hands, he had doubled-up twice to take about a 2-to-1 lead. But Zajmovic herself then found a double and again the lead went back to her. Back and forth they went.

The most significant hand was Hand 235, when both players made a straight on the turn, so all the chips got in the middle. Feenstra’s straight was better, though, and he zoomed up to 5.310 million to Zajmovic’s 915,000.

A few hands later, Feenstra sealed the deal, his K-9 out-kicking Zajmovic’s K-4, denying his opponent her second WPT title.

2018 World Poker Tour Amsterdam Main Event – Final Table Results

1. Rens Feenstra – $ 192,335
2. Ema Zajmovic – $ 123,320
3. Firoz Mangroe – $ 73,972
4. Gary Miller – $ 45,258
5. Louis Salter – $ 34,950
6. Paul Berende – $ 28,967

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Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier Signs Deal with partypoker

 Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier Signs Deal with partypoker

Only a couple of months after announcing his much-ballyhooed departure from PokerStars, French poker professional Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier has revealed his new online home.

Beginning immediately, Grospellier will now don the patch of partypoker, the main rival of his old online home. “It is with great honor and pleasure that I can announce I’m joining Team partypoker,” Grospellier happily declared in the announcement of the partnership. “It is very refreshing to be in touch with a company which prioritizes the well-being of the game and its community.”

“I am very excited about being able to be closely and actively involved in the renewal partypoker is bringing to the poker, LIVE and online,” Grospellier continued. “Our aim is to become the reference in both and I am confident that with partypoker expertise and ambition, it is an achievable goal in the foreseeable future.” He concluded the announcement by encouraging the poker community to reach out to him, saying that he and partypoker were looking to build a “poker universe” for the players.

Grospellier’s arrival on Team partypoker brings more star power to what was already a potent lineup of players. ‘ElkY’ will be a part of a crew that includes Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton, Sam Trickett, Fedor Holz, Jason Koon and Kristen Bicknell. It also comes at a critical point for partypoker as they look to reestablish themselves in the online poker industry.

One of the big moves from partypoker has been in their live efforts…or perhaps that should be their LIVE efforts. The partypoker MILLIONS LIVE events around the world have been garnering a great deal of attention and players, while PokerStars’ efforts have floundered in 2017 after they ended the European Poker Tour (and brought it back, in a limited form, in 2018). The MILLIONS LIVE tournaments have almost eclipsed any offering from PokerStars due to something that once was a staple of the PokerStars product – accommodating their players. The next event, the MILLIONS North America, begins on Tuesday with the first of five-Day Ones looking to build a $ 10 million (Canadian) prize pool, the very definition of a major tournament.

There are also battle lines being drawn regarding the European poker market. Although PokerStars has long dominated this arena, the recent move by Spain, France, Italy and the European Union to compact their players is opening new doors on the European continent. To say partypoker is looking to make inroads on this new frontier with a highly improved Team partypoker stable – and looking to promote not only their pros but also their qualifiers to major events – cannot be dismissed.

Overall Grospellier was a quality addition to the partypoker fold. When he left PokerStars after a decade-long partnership, ‘ElkY’ noted that part of the reason for his departure in January was that he wasn’t involved in making the site and its offerings better for the players. “Team Pro used to be a core part of their (PokerStars’) strategy,” Grospellier said in his departure statement. “It has become evident this was not the case anymore.” With partypoker, apparently Grospellier has found that his voice will be heard and that he’ll be able to formulate the product that he is promoting.

Grospellier also brings a high-quality poker game to the partypoker fold. First making his mark in the eSports arena and on the online poker world under his ‘ElkY’ moniker, he exploded on the live poker world in 2007 with his second-place finish in the EPT Copenhagen Main Event. In 2008, Grospellier won the EPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event for a $ 2 million payday. Along with his 2008 World Poker Tour championship (at the Bellagio Festa al Lago) and 2011 championship at the World Series of Poker ($ 10,000 Seven Card Stud), he is one of only eight men to have won poker’s Triple Crown. Grospellier has a total of over $ 13.5 million in live tournament earnings.

At 37, Grospellier has a long poker life ahead of him. By joining with partypoker, Grospellier is looking to continue to have an impact on the game for years to come.

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Kenney, Holz Join Former Champion Kempe in Being Chosen for 2018 Super High Roller Bowl

 Kenney, Holz Join Former Champion Kempe in Being Chosen for 2018 Super High Roller Bowl

After missing out on being selected in the “blind draw” for the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl, former champion Rainer Kempe and high roller stalwarts Bryn Kenney and Fedor Holz have been selected to play in this year’s event.

The “second round” selections by the host casino, ARIA Resort & Casino, and the broadcaster of the tournament, Poker Central (through its PokerGO streaming outlet), were announced on Thursday. Although it lacked the fanfare that came with the lottery draw of the “first 30,” it is arguable that these 15 players chosen are players that deserve to be in the field. The 15 players who have been added to the capped 48-player are (and in alphabetical order):

Brandon Adams
Dennis Blieden
Antonio Esfandiari
Seth Davies
Antanas ‘Tony G’ Guoga
Fedor Holz
Matt Hyman
Rainer Kempe
Bryn Kenney
Jason Koon
Tom Marchese
Bill Perkins
Doug Polk
Jake Schindler
Dan Smith

Perhaps because of the “blind draw” of the first round, one of the former champions of this tournament, Kempe, wasn’t chosen for the tournament (something that the “powers that be” should rectify through some sort of automatic entry for former winners). That has been rectified with his selection by ARIA and Poker Central in this round, however. Holz and Schindler were both previous runners-up in this tournament (Schindler in last year’s tournament), thus their inclusion were good for the quality of the field of the tournament. Kenney’s selection also isn’t out of line as he is one of the strongest “high roller” players in the world.

“We welcome the 15 VIPs to the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl field, who are comprised of some of the most notable names in high stakes tournament poker,” Vice President of Content at Poker Central Sam Simmons stated during the announcement of the 15 men who will take part in the tournament. “These names, alongside the 30 selected at the annual Super High Roller Bowl lottery, are sure to make for the most star-studded tournament field of the year.”

There are three more slots remaining to be chosen for the tournament. Two of those seats will be other VIP additions from Poker Central and ARIA and will be chosen before the tournament starts on May 27. The final seat will be contested in what is promising to be an exciting finale.

On May 24, a $ 550 super-satellite will be held at ARIA, with a seat in the $ 10,000 Super High Roller Bowl Qualifier for every 20 players who enter the tournament. On May 25, that Qualifier will be played IF 30 players step up for the tournament. That tournament will be rake-free to those who register before noon (Pacific time) on May 25, with people who register after that time tossing another $ 500 in as juice. If more than 30 players show, then the additional money will be dispersed among those who do not win the seat to the Super High Roller Bowl tournament, which will kick off on May 27.

The $ 300,000 buy in tournament has quickly become one of the preeminent stand-alone (not associated with any tour, such as the World Poker Tour or the World Series of Poker) poker tournaments in the game today. Originally conceived as broadcast material for the then-fledgling cable television outlet Poker Central, the original event was a $ 500,000 buy in tournament in 2015, won by Brian Rast, but it quickly settled into its $ 300,000 buy in format the following year. In 2016, Kempe was able to outlast Holz to capture the $ 5 million first place prize, but Kempe was unable to defend his title. Last year, it was Christoph Vogelsang etching his name into the history books in defeating Schindler for the championship and the $ 6 million first place check. After the decision by ARIA and Poker Central to include Kempe, all three former champions will be back in 2018 to attempt to become a two-time champion.

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New Jersey Online Gaming Industry Breaks Record with Biggest Month in History

 New Jersey Online Gaming Industry Breaks Record with Biggest Month in History

Signaling the vibrancy of its online gaming industry, New Jersey was able to bank its biggest online “win” rate in its history in the month of March 2018.

Over the 31 days of March, New Jersey’s citizens seemed to flock to the offerings from the casino operations in the state. For the month, the five online operations in the state – the Borgata’s poker and casino sites, Caesars’ poker and casino sites, Resorts’ poker and casino sites and the individual casino operations of the Golden Nugget and the Tropicana – pulled in a record $ 25.6 million. That was by far the biggest month in the history of the Garden State’s online gaming industry, beating its previous best by almost $ 4 million (the previous record was $ 21.7 million in March 2017).

Breaking down the numbers from March, it was casino gaming that once again carried the online industry. Of that $ 25.6 million, $ 23.6 million came from the virtual slots, table games and other offerings by the online casinos. Online poker brought in almost $ 2 million ($ 1.996 million) on its own accord, its best performance since August 2017, but it is still having troubles bringing in traffic.

It is thought that the new compact with Delaware and Nevada will assist New Jersey with their numbers regarding online poker, but that is difficult to see. First, the compact is only for two rooms that exist in the Jersey market – and The other online poker sites in New Jersey – Borgata/partypoker and Resorts/PokerStars – are not licensed for operations in either Delaware or Nevada, meaning they cannot participate in the new compact. Also problematic is that people who want to participate in the new compacted action will have to download new software and it may be a few months before we see if the new compact is helping the New Jersey industry.

For the poker industry, it was Resorts/PokerStars that was the leader of the pack. Bringing in a neat $ 778,949 for the month, they showed a slight increase over their February 2018 numbers ($ 767,600). Making a nice jump was Borgata/party, who brought in $ 622,620 (compared to $ 590,036 in February), while Caesars pulled up the last place slot with $ 564,797 in revenues. Caesars was also the only online poker operation who showed a decline from February to March ($ 605,315 in February 2018).

On the casino front, the Golden Nugget was the big winner. In fact, the Golden Nugget vastly outpaced their opposition in drawing in $ 8.65 million for the month of March. This handily beat their competitors at the Borgata, who brought in $ 3.96 million. Caesars attempted to keep pace with the Borgata, pulling in a $ 3.84 million “win,” while the Tropicana’s online casino popped into the mix with $ 3.69 million in revenues. Resorts earned the least of the five operations, taking in “only” $ 3.455 million from its online casino operations.

In existence for just over four years (November 2013), the state’s online gaming (casino and poker) industry has been growing consistently since its inception. In its first full month, the New Jersey online gaming industry drew in over $ 7.3 million, with $ 2.8 million of that coming from online poker. In each year since then, the numbers have only increased, although the disparity between casino gaming and poker has grown significantly.

In 2014, the New Jersey online gaming industry pulled in about $ 125 million, far short of what then-Governor Chris Christie estimated, but still a good start for what was, at that point, an industry in its infancy. 2015 saw those revenues tick upwards to $ 148 million and 2016 was even better, falling just short of $ 200 million with its $ 196.7 million. 2017, of course, blew past 2016 in bringing in $ 245.6 million.

The explosion in online casino gaming has been driven by the casino side and not online poker, however. In fact, online poker has lost ground over the four years of the New Jersey industry, with online casino gaming increasing by 15.6% from 2016 to 2017 to offset the losses of online poker (down 7.82% in year-to-year comparison). With two new casinos joining in in the coming year – the Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino – it is highly likely that there will be more records fall over the next few months. Whether poker is a part of those records remains to be seen.

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