Posts Tagged ‘2015’

2016 World Series of Poker, Preliminary Events: Colossus II Falls Short of 2015, $10K Stud Led by Steve Weiss

 2016 World Series of Poker, Preliminary Events: Colossus II Falls Short of 2015, $10K Stud Led by Steve Weiss

The first Saturday of the 2016 World Series of Poker saw the tournament arenas around the Rio packed with a plethora of players of all types. For those with a shortened bankroll, the “Colossus II” rumbled on with its final two flights, while those with a bit more change in their pockets chose to take on the challenge of Seven Card Stud to the tune of $ 10,000.

Event #2 – Colossus II $ 565 No Limit Texas Hold’em

After the four previous flights garnered a total of 12,271 entries, it was obvious that WSOP officials were hoping the final two flights for “Colossus II” would be gangbusters. Although the two flights were the largest of the six openers, they failed to draw in enough players to eclipse the numbers from the inaugural tournament. After these totals were tacked to the end of the list on Saturday:

Flight A:  3249 registered players/121 remaining players
Flight B:  2153/69
Flight C:  3770/139
Flight D:  3099/105
Flight E:  4855/219
Flight F:  4487/192

21,613 entries had been received for the tournament and 845 players will come back on Sunday for Day 2 of “Colossus II.”

To compare the 2016 version of the event – which featured six starting flights – to the 2015 version – which featured four starting flights – there is room for concern. The 2015 event was monstrous in drawing out 22,374 entries, by far the largest ever event in WSOP history (estimates are that there were approximately 14,000 singular people in the tournament). The 3% drop in players might not be tremendously significant but, if it starts to stretch out across the other events at the WSOP (next weekend’s Millionaire Maker, for example, with its $ 1500 buy in), it could pose a problem.

With all the flights in the books, here are your Flight Leaders who will be around the top of the leaderboard when action resumes on Sunday at 2PM:

Flight A:  David Polop, 513,000
Flight B:  Jason James, 407,000
Flight C:  Ben Lindemulder, 362,000
Flight D:  Brian Graham, 416,000
Flight E:  Hai Nguyen, 392,000
Flight F:  Norman Michalek, 531,000

Everyone who returns on Sunday is guaranteed a payday that will be a minimum of $ 2155 (the WSOP paid out each Flight’s top 15%, meaning some players were eliminated on Day 1 but still received a payday for their efforts), but that number might be flexible pending final counts from WSOP officials. The big prize that all are looking at is the $ 1 million guaranteed for the first place finisher, which will be awarded on Tuesday along with the WSOP bracelet.

Event #3 – $ 10,000 Seven Card Stud World Championship

It is where everyone normally – at least prior to 2000 – got their start playing poker. Seven Card Stud is the game that families most often spread with each other when playing nice home games for M&Ms on the kitchen table. It is, however, one of the more difficult disciplines of poker to master as reflected by the 87 players who came to the felt for the WSOP’s $ 10,000 Seven Card Stud World Championship on Saturday afternoon.

There was nary a table that wasn’t replete with top professionals looking to potentially get their first action of the 2016 WSOP and, for some, it worked out better than others. Down to his last chips at one point in the tournament (literally, he had one bet left), Jean-Robert Bellande demonstrated tremendous resiliency in coming back to finish the night’s work with 282,500 in chips. Others such as former WSOP Player of the Years George Danzer (274K) and Jeff Lisandro (141K) were joined by 14-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth (65K) and Brandon Shack-Harris (79K), who had a particularly interesting clash during Saturday’s action.

With his four up cards showing K-8-7-9, Hellmuth went to Seventh Street with Shack-Harris, who showed 10-A-4-J for battle. According to WSOP live coverage reports, Hellmuth commented over to Shack-Harris, “I had kings up (two pair) early,” but he didn’t show his cards. Meanwhile, Shack-Harris showed his down cards – A-10-8 – to show that he held a better two pair. “Are you f****ng kidding me?” Hellmuth fumed as his cards went to the muck. He would continue to berate Shack-Harris for a bit before regaining his composure.

If those thunderbolts weren’t enough, there was also the reemergence of former World Champion Chris Ferguson on the WSOP stage. Not seen at the WSOP since 2010 due to “Black Friday,” Ferguson was one of the last players to register for the event, but the rust was obvious. After only 90 minutes of play, Ferguson was eliminated from the tournament, joining 54 other players who plopped down $ 10,000 for a shot at this title.

Leading the final 33 players will be Steve Weiss, who quietly worked his way through Day 1 to eclipse Bellande for the chip lead:

1. Steve Weiss, 301,500
2. Jean-Robert Bellande, 282,500
3. George Danzer, 274,000
4. Chad J. Brown, 238,000
5. Rod Pardey, 215,000
6. Calvin Anderson, 209,000
7. Frank Kassela, 199,000
8. Matt Grapenthien, 178,500

The top 14 players will earn at least $ 14,500 from the $ 817,800 prize pool, but the champion will earn the lion’s share of $ 242,662 and the WSOP bracelet.


Two more tournaments will get underway on Sunday alongside “Colossus II” and the Stud World Championship. At 11AM today, the $ 1000 “Top Up” Turbo No Limit Hold’em tournament, Event #4 on your schedule, this event allows players to earn an extra 5000 starting chips by playing on or by outright purchasing an additional 5000 starting chips before the event starts. As it is a new event, there are no indicators how well this tournament will be received by the players.

At 3PM, the $ 1500 Six Handed Dealer’s Choice event will begin. This event allows each “dealer” (player) to pick from one of 19 different poker variants and basically “name the game.” The usual suspects are there – Texas and Omaha Hold’em variants and Stud – but such games as Badugi and No Limit Five Card Draw High also are available for the players to pick. Carol Fuchs defeated a 357-player field to capture a $ 127,735 payday and her first WSOP bracelet in the 2015 version of this tournament.

Poker News Daily

Hialeah Park to Pay Large Fine in 2015 Tournament Fiasco, Real Perpetrators Get Away

 Hialeah Park to Pay Large Fine in 2015 Tournament Fiasco, Real Perpetrators Get Away

Wrapping up a fiasco that dates back to last summer, Florida gaming officials are expected to hand down a massive fine against one of the state’s most popular poker rooms. The fine is the result of a tournament that still has several question marks as to the integrity of the event and the racetrack where the poker room is located is not answering any further questions on the subject.

The situation dates back to the last week of August 2015, when the Hialeah Park Poker Room was allegedly holding a poker tournament to celebrate its second year of existence. The tournament, a $ 250 buy in event with a $ 200,000 guaranteed prize pool and a first place guarantee of $ 60,000, drew in competition from other poker rooms across Southeast Florida as players were drawn to the sizeable prize pool. According to Florida gaming journalist Nick Sortal, one of the players in that event was T. J. Shulman, whose Hendon Mob resume lists nearly $ 500,000 in tournament poker winnings over the last ten years. While the “regulars” in the Hialeah Park room saw the big money Shulman, who was used to tournaments like the one being run at the Hialeah Park Poker Room, was more interested in watching the operators of the tournament.

As the tournament proceeded through Shulman’s Day One (one of five that were operated in the tournament), Shulman noticed oddities that he hadn’t seen in other events. Players would be speaking with the floor staff and management, then seat themselves without explanation (Shulman said another player relayed to him, “They were talking in Spanish and the guy understood another player saying he was getting 20% of the winnings and giving the staff 80%”). Other personnel would handle money at the sign-up desk rather than the appropriate cage locations. What got Shulman, though, were the numbers. “I told a Hialeah supervisor, ‘You’re missing $ 48,000 from the prize pool,’” Shulman stated to Sortal. “The supervisor told me, ‘If you don’t like the way we’re playing here, go back to the Hard Rock (the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood).’”

This lines up with reports from other players who participated in the event. There was an attempt by the staff to “clear up” the issue but, instead of clearing things up, they instead clouded the waters even further. Additionally, once the tournament was completed there was no listing of winner of the tournament or the final table finishers, nor were there any listings offered for players who cashed in the estimated 1000 entry field.

Not surprisingly, the players rebelled against the Hialeah Park Poker Room. In September, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (the regulatory body overseeing poker rooms in Florida) opened up an investigation. After a nearly three-month investigation, the state investigators issued their report on December 29, listing a litany of offenses regarding not only the tournament but also other actions around the poker room itself, including lack of video surveillance, no receipts for cash in or out of the cages, improper handling of money, even supervisors pocketing cash. “(The investigation) confirmed what the players suspected,” Sortal wrote, “Hialeah’s poker managers ran a dirty tournament.”

By the time this report from state officials came down in December, however, the culprits had already left town. The manager of the poker room at that time, Nelson Costa (who was also alleged to have run a poker dealer school that provided dealers to the Hialeah Park room; he would then take a cut of the dealer “tokes” in some arrangement with the dealers), resigned his position in October and three other assistants were fired following the conclusion of the tournament in question. The Hialeah Park Casino’s Director of Compliance, Angel Garcia, is working as the poker manager in addition to his other duties and the casino has brought in other personnel from as far away as Atlantic City to operate the poker room properly.

Hialeah Park isn’t talking anymore about the situation. The organization had until January 18 to respond to the state’s report and apparently didn’t disagree with any of the findings. As such, Sortal expects that the Hialeah Park Poker Room will receive a six-figure fine over the poker tournament but no one will face any criminal charges in the case. Sortal also indicates that, when he was asked about the situation, Hialeah Park President John Brunetti “declined to comment.”

Although Hialeah Park officials should be held for more responsibility in the case (hopefully that six-figure fine is a BIG six-figures), the real culprits – Costa and his assistants – are the ones that state officials should be on the lookout for. In fact, any state that has gaming should have their information on file as persona non grata for employment in the gaming industry for the actions taken in the Florida event. If such situations aren’t punished thoroughly, then people will believe they can get away with ripping the customers – in this case, poker players – off, something that should never happen in a casino setting.

Poker News Daily

2015 – The Year in Poker, Part 3: The Weird World of Poker Off The Felt

 2015 – The Year in Poker, Part 3: The Weird World of Poker Off The Felt

As we enter the final week of the year 2015, it is time to take a look back at some of the great moments of the past year and maybe even some of the less popular times.

If there is one thing that is known about the world of poker, it is that there can be some weird, wild and abnormal news that comes out regarding the game. Whether it is involving the players or a particular game or situation, the game of poker always seems to provide fodder. A quick look over the last 12 months will give everyone a chance to remember these times.

In a case that would take up much of the early half of 2015, businessman/high stakes poker player Paul Phua and his son were denied the right to return to the poker tables by a Las Vegas circuit court judge in January. Citing the charges against Phua and his son, Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman called Phua “a danger to the community, especially the casinos” in denying the two men the right to gamble in a Las Vegas casino. What made this particularly rich is that, in some ways, the federal agents investigating the Phua case were somewhat more criminal than Phua was.

As more evidence came out during the discovery phase, the methods that federal agents used to infiltrate Phua’s villas at Caesars Palace in July 2014 came under fire. By cutting the internet capabilities of the villas that Phua was in, federal agents were able to enter and clandestinely video that there “might have been” a massive bookmaking ring being run out of these villas for the 2014 World Cup. When they obtained the warrant to raid the villas, these federal agents didn’t inform the judge granting the warrant that their methods might have violated privacy laws, which would have seen the judge prohibit them from using the videos to obtain search warrants.

This situation would eventually rise up to crush the government’s case. Twice in the case – in February and again in April – two judges saw that the evidence uncovered through the usage of the warrant obtained by the illegal interruption of internet service should be inadmissible and, in June, U. S. District Court Judge Andrew Gordon agreed, tossing out virtually the entire case against Phua (his son, by this point, had pled guilty to return to Malaysia). Lacking any evidence from federal prosecutors, the judge then summarily dismissed all the charges against Phua, who also returned to Malaysia where his mother was ill.

In February, poker professional/maybe online poker room operator Bryan Micon had his own travails, this time with the state of Nevada and the Gaming Control Board. Micon, who was one of the major proponents of the Bitcoin-currency online poker site SealsWithClubs, was the subject of a raid by NGCB authorities and Nevada law enforcement, who cuffed Micon and ransacked his house for eight hours and removed several computers and pieces of electronics. After being released, Micon immediately shut down SealsWithClubs and, along with his wife and daughter, jetted off to Antigua, where he reopened another Bitcoin-dependent site, SwCPoker.

Charges of illegal gambling were levied against Micon in April, basically giving the NGCB their first chance to enforce their regulations protecting their online poker industry. After first valiantly saying he would fight to the end, Micon quietly came back to the United States in June and plea-bargained to a lesser charge to stay out of jail. In November, that plea deal took effect, with Micon given two years’ probation and a $ 25,000 fine. Micon is reportedly serving that time in Nevada and, once the legal situation has been settled (his probation is ended), he will return to Antigua.

In March, the Tournament Directors Association – the group fronted by Matt Savage and featuring veteran TDs such as Linda Johnson and Savage himself – found themselves under fire for their 2015 TDA Summit. After the poker community learned that the Summit would be held at the Venetian – the land of anti-online poker kingpin and billionaire Sheldon Adelson – there was a vehement uprising against the TDA. Savage pointed out that, because the Venetian was willing to offer several perks to the organization to be there including some material for free, there wasn’t much of a choice.

The verbiage continued to escalate until Global Poker Index maven Alexandre Dreyfus stepped forward. In offering to support the costs of the Summit through the GPI, Dreyfus stated that the only rule would be that the conference would be held anywhere but the Venetian. Eventually the TDA Summit was held at Aria and, for the most part, was an outstanding two days of meetings for the tournament directors in the world of poker.

Online poker had its difficulties in the month of April. The online site Lock Poker disappeared from the industry after more than two years of problems in paying off players from the site. When the doors were closed in late April, it was conservatively estimated that it owed players in the neighborhood of $ 15 million. Also in April, several online poker sites – including the powerhouse PokerStars and the U. S. facing Winning Poker Network – were the victims of DDoS attacks, which flared up again from time to time as the year continued.

During the heatwave in June, Daniel Negreanu was concentrating his efforts on bringing an NHL expansion team to Las Vegas. If that weren’t strange enough, Vanessa Rousso decided to skip out on much of the World Series of Poker to compete on the reality show Big Brother (she would eventually finish third). As the month came to a close, the World Poker Tour was sold by to the Chinese conglomerate Ourgame for $ 35 million.

In mid-July, one of the venerable institutions of poker – at least since the boom of the early Oughts – shuttered its doors. Bluff Magazine, owned by Churchill Downs Inc., ended publication and pulled the plug on its website with no reason given as to the closure. Without Bluff, only the longtime poker industry standard CardPlayer Magazine and the schizophrenic All In Magazine remain in the industry.  

August brought news to the poker world that a 24/7 poker “television station” would be coming to the air in the fall. Poker Central, with an all-poker lineup and a cadre of poker professionals including Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and Antonio Esfandiari supporting it, was looking to bring the world of poker to its fans as never before. When it dropped on October 1, however, it proved to be a little less than previously thought.

What was expected to be a 24/7 poker “television station” turned out to be a streaming channel more likely to be found on such devices as a Roku or a ChromeCast. Although Poker Central recently signed a deal with a cable provider who can push for its inclusion on cable networks’ lineups, it has yet to be actually aired over a cable or television network. Additionally, as 2016 approaches, there is talk of new programming that will be on the channel, but much of what is offered is old broadcasts of tournaments from the EPT and Europe as a whole.

In September, the long, national nightmare that everyone was waiting for with bated breath came to a close. After a long delay, Amaya Gaming and its online poker softwares for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were licensed for operation in New Jersey’s online gaming industry. While many thought that it was imminent that the arrival of PokerStars would be the punch in the arm the New Jersey gaming industry needed, the remainder of 2015 has gone by without nary a breath as to when PokerStars and Amaya gaming will open for business.

As the needles begin to fall off the Christmas tree, the end of 2015 is beckoning. But something that will never change is the oddities that occur in the poker world over the course of a year!

Poker News Daily

2015 – The Year in Poker, Part 4: In Memoriam

 2015 – The Year in Poker, Part 4: In Memoriam

As we enter the final week of the year 2015, it is time to take a look back at some of the great moments of the past year and maybe even some of the less popular times.

For all the frivolity, riches and personalities who made 2015 a fun ride, the poker world also lost some people that will never be replaced. While this isn’t a comprehensive list (writer’s note:  Paul “Eskimo” Clark, who was not included in this list when it was initially published, passed away in April at the age of 68), it does remind us that our time is short on this mortal coil and, above all else, to enjoy those around us and our activities until our time is nigh.

That suddenness of mortality kicked the poker world in the teeth just as the New Year began. Poker journalist ‘Diamond Flush’ passed away in January after fighting cancer for many years. She was an unbiased journalist in that she neither accepted nor sought out any type of accolades for her work in the poker industry, preferring to remain anonymous to the general poker public. ‘Diamond Flush’ was remembered in a particularly surprising way, being feted at the iGaming North America awards as Operator of the Year in March. The poker world lost a great voice when it came to coverage of the industry.

In March, one of the “good guys” in the game of poker and Hollywood left our embrace. The Simpsons creator Sam Simon succumbed to colon cancer at his Los Angeles home at the age of 59. While mostly notable for his efforts in entertainment, Simon was also known for his penchant for poker. He cashed 27 times in the tournament poker arena, including six times at the World Series of Poker, and earned some cash for his efforts. He was more interested in the people around the game and animals, however, and used his fortune to support charitable endeavors such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; PETA’s headquarters in Norfolk, VA, were renamed the Sam Simon Center in 2013.

The start of April brought arguably the saddest loss of the year. British poker legend David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott played his final hand on Earth after an extended battle with bowel cancer. Only 61, the raconteur Ulliott overcame a difficult early life to become one of the “poster boys” of the poker boom, first as the overwhelming star of Late Night Poker in England and then in the United States on the World Poker Tour and the WSOP. The rakish charm of Ulliott reached everyone he touched whether they were on the felt or around the tables and his passing stunned many in the poker community.

In May, one of the poker world’s “grinders” went to the game in the beyond. Robert ‘Uncle Krunk’ Panitch passed away in his sleep at the age of 63 from a heart attack. While he wasn’t known to those whose only connection to poker is through television, Panitch was able to put together a solid career on the felt. He captured the title of the WSOP Circuit Main Event stop in St. Louis in March 2014, earning his second WSOP ring. Panitch also finished in third place in the 2013 WSOP National Championship, earning his career best $ 156,743 of his $ 469,362 in career earnings.

In June, one of the voices of the early WSOP broadcasts – and the father of one of poker’s best known announcers – laid down the microphone for the next great trek. 86-year old Dick Van Patten, who served as the announcer for the WSOP Championship Event from 1993 to 1995 and is the father of current WPT announcer Vince Van Patten, would expire having lived a very full life. Better known for his acting exploits on such television fare as Eight is Enough and his 27 appearances on Broadway, Van Patten still had a connection to the game through his previous work and his son’s connections to the business.

August brought news of the passing of one of the original wunderkinds of the online poker world. Chad ‘lilholdem954’ Batista passed away at the young age of 35 after fighting difficult health for much of his life. Once considered one of the best online tournament poker players in the world, Batista was arguably one of the people most affected by the 2011 “Black Friday” shutdown of online poker in the United States. Although he was able to go to Mexico to compete online, he never acclimated to having to leave the U. S. and his beloved dogs to ply his trade. Batista wasn’t just an online player, though; he earned almost $ 1 million from live tournament play in his career.

Another character of the game cashed in his chips in September. While some nowadays may not remember the name Ellix Powers, his run during a 2004 WSOP final table entranced a captive audience that couldn’t get enough of his antics. Giving “the business” to such notables as T. J. Cloutier, An Tran and eventual champion John Hennigan, Powers made the most out of his seventh place finish (at one point, an exasperated James McManus said he was “disrespecting” the game of poker with his antics). Powers, who passed at the age of 57, only made about $ 125,000 for his entire tournament career, but his memory will stay with many.

December would deal a double dose of sadness for the poker community. In Las Vegas, longtime poker advocate and former Poker Players Alliance Nevada state director Dianna Donofrio-Trigatzi fought to the end against cancer, something that she had been battling as she became an advocate for the game. Born in 1946, Donofrio-Trigatzi worked in the casino industry under such luminaries as Poker Hall of Famer Jack McClelland and former WSOP Tournament Director Robert Daily before embarking on her work with the PPA.

On the East Coast, the poker community was hit hard by the passing of Frank Vizza. A staple at many of the Atlantic City casinos and their poker rooms, Vizza racked up an impressive 24 cashes in a nine-year period, earning over $ 700,000 in that timeframe and perhaps even more through plying his cash game skills. His biggest achievement on the felt was a championship on the WSOP Circuit, but the record books of both the WSOP and the WPT note Vizza as a longtime participant in their events.

While they may be gone, these people would have wanted the games to go on. In their memory, we pause for a second before the next card hits the air.

Poker News Daily

Hossein Ensan Wins 2015 EPT Prague Main Event

 Hossein Ensan Wins 2015 EPT Prague Main Event

For many people, making it to a final table in a major live poker tournament just once would be a great accomplishment. It would be enough. Big money, lots of fun, a great memory…maybe we wouldn’t say, “Now I can die happy,” but we very well might be content if that’s as far as we ever got in poker. But for Hossein Ensan, just making it to a final table was not enough. Last week, after twice reaching European Poker Tour final tables in the last year and a half but failing to collect the ultimate prize, Ensan broke through, winning the 2015 EPT Prague Main Event and just over three-quarters of a million Euro.

His first journey to an EPT final table came in August 2014, when he finished third in the EPT Barcelona Main Event, good for a healthy €652,667 ($ 860,091). Prior to that success, he Ensan had never even had a five-figure cash in a live tournament, according to his resume at Less than a year later, in March 2015, Ensan again made a final table, this time bowing out in sixth place in the EPT Malta Main Event. That run made him €153,700 ($ 166,263).

Ensan had the second smallest chip stack going into the final table: just 2.715 million chips compared to the chip leader, Ilkin Amriov’s, 9.975 million. He looked like he was going to be done quickly, as Ensan fell to a million chips after three hands, but he soon doubled-up to get back in the game. He continued to grow his stack as the orbits went on and ended up eliminating Thomas Butzhammer in fourth place to give his stack a boost.

Going into heads-up play against Gleb Tremzin (who, by the way, has an awesome name and sounds like he should be a character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Hossein Ensan had a 17.5 million to 13.8 million chip lead. The one-on-one confrontation was a little bit anti-climactic as the two men agreed a deal beforehand, each taking €724,510 and leaving €30,000 for which to compete, in addition to the title.

At the same time, though, while players who cut a deal often don’t let the heads-up match last a long time because the money motivation has largely disappeared, this contest still lasted another five hours. On the final hand, Ensan limped pre-flop, Tremzin raised, and Ensan called. They checked the flop of Q-7-7 and then Ensan called Tremzin’s 1 million chip bet after a 9 was dealt on the turn. With the 4 on the river, Tremzin bet 1.9 million, Ensan moved all-in, and Tremzin called. Ensan revealed pocket Aces, which beat Tremzin’s Q-J, to take down the tournament.

2015 European Poker Tour Prague Main Event – Final Table Standings

1.    Hossein Ensan – €754,510
2.    Gleb Tremzin – €724,510
3.    Ilkin Amirov – €391,910
4.    Thomas Butzhammer – €294,180
5.    Slaven Popov – €226,330
6.    Olivier Ferrero – €166,080
7.    Onur Unsal – €122,530
8.    Vlado Banicevic – €87,700

Poker News Daily