Posts Tagged ‘Down’

Scott Margereson Takes Down Faraz Jaka to Win WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown

 Scott Margereson Takes Down Faraz Jaka to Win WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown

In one of the longer final tables of the Season XVI schedule, Scott Margereson was able to vanquish Faraz Jaka to win his first major live tournament championship, the 2018 World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, early on Thursday morning.

Margereson, who was a fixture in the Top Ten since Day 2 of the tournament, started off the day as the third largest stack among the six men at the final table. Brian Hastings had a massive 12.855 million stack, but Joey Couden (8.255 million) and Margereson (8.195 million) were within shouting distance. Looking to come off the short end of the game were Jeff Fielder (4.32 million), Matt Stout (3.19 million) and Jaka (2.45 million).

The sextet would play out the remainder of the level from the night before (40K/80K, 10K ante) and jump to Level 30 (50K/100K, 15K ante) before the action would get warmed up. On Hand 34, Couden took enough chips from Margereson and Fielder to move into the lead over Hastings, but ten hands later the tide would swing in Margereson’s favor. After a raise from Jaka, a call from Margereson and Fielder and a completion from Hastings in the big blind, a 10-10-4 flop greeted the players. Hastings would be the only one who dropped from the action after Jaka popped a 325K bet in the center and the 7♣ put two clubs on the baize. Jaka now checked his option but, after Margereson bet 1.35 million and Fielder called after some thought, Jaka cleared out of the way.

Now down to two players, the 6♣ put the possibility for a flush on the board. Margereson used up a Time Chip to consider his action before he settled on an all-in move. Fielder, thinking he had trapped Margereson, immediately called and spiked his 5♣ 4♣ on the felt for the rivered flush. That wasn’t good enough, however; Margereson turned up two red fours for the flopped boat that had Fielder drawing dead from the start. After the chips were counted, Fielder was determined to be the player at risk for elimination, leaving the tournament in sixth place.

Only three hands later, another player would go down. Stout would open the betting and Jaka would three-bet him until Stout’s remaining stack was in the center. Stout turned up pocket tens for the fight, but Jaka had the goods for battle with pocket Queens. A Queen on the flop left Stout drawing way thin and the case Queen on the turn left him drawing dead, sending the popular philanthropist (Stout is the founder of the Charity Series of Poker)/poker professional to the rail in fifth place.

Now down to four players, Couden (12.14 million) and Margereson (12.005 million) were the massive leaders, but Hastings (9.045 million) and Jaka (6.075 million) looked to make a run at the top. Hastings drew first blood, doubling up through Couden when his pocket Aces defeated Couden’s pocket sevens after both players flopped a set, to take over the lead. Margereson, however, would fight back to take the lead away from Hastings again as Level 32 began.

With the blinds beginning to catch up with the stacks, the swings became more massive. Over the span of 20 hands, every man at the table held the lead. Another 20 hands, however, would lead to another player leaving the tournament.

After a Couden raise under the gun, Jaka woke up in the big blind and three bet the action. Couden would move all in and Jaka snapped off the call, showing pocket Kings that served as a cooler to Couden’s pocket Queens. Once no ladies came to the flop, turn or river, Couden was out of the tournament in fourth place as Jaka took over the lead with more than half of the chips in play.

The trio of pros (while Jaka and Hastings have quite a bit of live success, Margereson’s has come online, where he has earned over $ 4 million in tournament earnings) battled it out over 45 more hands before someone took command. That “someone” was Margereson, who knocked out Hastings after he rivered a flush and headed to heads up action against Jaka with nearly a 3:1 lead.

The twosome would play for 30 hands without a significant move in the chip counts, but on the 200th hand of the final table the drama became more intense. After Jaka limped in and Margereson checked, a K-8-7-9 flop and turn only brought a before from Margereson on the turn and a Jaka call. An Ace on the river brought another bet out of Margereson, this time for three million chips, but Jaka read Margereson for a bluff and called. Jaka was correct as Margereson, holding a 10-5, had air as Jaka tabled his 7-5 for bottom pair, good enough to take the pot and tie up the event as each player held 19.6 million chips.

With the match even, any hand held the potential for a player to be eliminated. That outcome arrived on Hand 232 after Margereson moved all in and Jaka made the call. Jaka’s A-8 held the advantage pre-flop against Margereson’s Q-J, but the poker fates put a Q-J-9 flop that switched the advantage to Margereson. The turn seven teased Jaka with the inside straight possibility, but the Ace on the river slammed the door and knocked Jaka out in second.

1. Scott Margereson, $ 696,740
2. Faraz Jaka, $ 454,496
3. Brian Hastings, $ 336,466
4. Joey Couden, $ 251,523
5. Matt Stout, $ 189,880
6. Jeff Fielder, $ 144,775

With the completion of the tournament in Florida, the WPT will now head to Las Vegas for a spate of tournaments to complete Season XVI. The WPT Bellagio Elite Poker Championship will be conducted from May 1-6 and a WPT High Roller event ($ 25,000 buy in) will take place from May 5-6, with the final table of that tournament being played on May 25 at the sparkling eSports Arena Las Vegas. The WPT will give one more shot for players to win on the Season XVI schedule with the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic from May 20-23 before bringing together as many current and former champions as possible for the WPT Tournament of Champions. That tournament will run from May 24-26, with the final table also being held in the eSports Arena Las Vegas.

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John Pappas Stepping Down as PPA Executive Director, Rich Muny Elevated to Position

 John Pappas Stepping Down as PPA Executive Director, Rich Muny Elevated to Position

After more than a decade at the helm, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) announced Wednesday that John Pappas will be stepping down as the poker lobbying organization’s Executive Director at the end of February. PPA Vice President of Player Relations Rich Muny will take over the Executive Director role.

In a press release issued Wednesday morning, Pappas said:

There has never been greater momentum than right now for the advancement of sensible internet gaming policy in the U.S. Whether lawmakers are considering poker, casino gambling or even sports betting, a strong and organized grassroots effort will be critical to legislative success. I am proud of the work I have done with the PPA board of directors and the amazing PPA staff to bring us to this point. I will miss working for the poker community on a day-to-day basis, but I am confident that the PPA will continue its great work with Rich Muny at the helm.

Pappas, who has testified at many an online gambling legislative hearing, will remain on the PPA’s Board of Directors and will still be involved with the organization as a strategic advisor.

Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson, who was once Chair of the Board of Directors and is the longest tenured member of the Board, said of Pappas, “John is a tremendous leader and a true professional. Under his guidance, PPA has emerged as a policy advocacy and grassroots powerhouse in Washington D.C. and in state capitals across the country.”

“For almost a decade, he has been the political voice and face of the poker community and regulated internet gaming advocates. He leaves the organization in a strong position to continue to ensure that consumer voices drive the internet gaming debate.”

The Poker Players Alliance says that financial support from the online gambling industry (read: online poker rooms like PokerStars) has declined substantially in recent months, thus making grassroots efforts that much more important. As such, Muny seems like the natural choice to be tabbed as Executive Director.

Muny, using the screen name “TheEngineer,” became very active on poker message boards during the runup to the passing of the UIGEA in 2006. He was one of the key figures in getting the poker community organized in political efforts to support online poker and was named to the PPA’s Board in 2007. Outside of top poker players, Muny’s is probably one of the most known names in the poker community, as he has – for years – been the one to send out the “Poker Action Plan,” containing pre-filled poker tweets to U.S. lawmakers, virtually every day. All of his work was done as a volunteer until 2011, when he was made VP.

“I am honored that the PPA Board of Directors and the poker community have entrusted me with this role, and I join my fellow board members in thanking John Pappas for his decade of outstanding leadership in the fight for poker,” said Muny. “I look forward to leading the poker community in this fight, building on the terrific successes of 2017.”

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Massive NFL Survivor Pool Shut Down by Feds

 Massive NFL Survivor Pool Shut Down by Feds

I know sports betting is illegal in most of the United States, but dammit, it still really grinds my gears when a sports betting or betting-related enterprise, event, or site that otherwise isn’t hurting anyone gets busted. That’s what happened last week when federal agents shut down Ron & Mike’s Football Pool, seizing money and the business’s documentation.

First reported by ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Ron & Mike’s Football Pool had been run by Ron Kronengold and Mike Bernstein for at least eight years. It was an online “survivor pool,” in which participants picked one NFL team to win each week. If that team wins, the participant moves on to the next week. If the team loses, the player is done in the contest. The big catch is that a player cannot choose the same team more than once.

These types of pools are common, both online (ESPN.com has one called the Eliminator Challenge) and among friends or in the workplace. They are a fun way to get a sweat during the NFL week and not only require at least a some sort of skill in picking a winner, but also to strategize picks, knowing you can’t just pick the team with the best matchup every week.

But Ron and Mike, based out of New York, ran their pool online for real money. If they did not take a rake from the entry fees, this would not be illegal in the state, so it is still a bit of a mystery why their site was shut down or what charges they might eventually be facing. According to ESPN.com, there was nothing in the contest rules that said the site was getting a cut.

That said, there was a lot of money involved, with total prizes this season estimated to be more than $ 2.5 million. ESPN reports that there were two pools initially this NFL season, each with a maximum of 10,000 entries at $ 100 apiece. Because of their popularity, a $ 200 “second chance” pool was created. A $ 100 mid-season pool and a $ 500 high-roller pool were also available. There were more than 23,000 entries across all of the pools.

Ron and Mike clearly didn’t hide the pool, as players could register at ronandmike.com (the URL is no longer active) and Kronengold himself received a trademark on the name “Ron & Mike’s” in 2012. At the same time, they only took cash for entry fees and players had to mail it to “Green River” at a Plainview, New York UPS Store P.O. Box.

Players who were still alive in the pools received a communication from Ron & Mike’s which read:

Please be advised that the Ron and Mike website has been forced to shut down at this time and is unlikely to open again. We understand your frustration and anger at this time but closure of the pool is beyond our control. We apologize to those that are still alive in our various pools and we ask for your patience and understanding while we contemplate the next steps. Unfortunately at this time we cannot make any additional comments.

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New Hampshire Online Gambling Bill Quickly Shot Down

 New Hampshire Online Gambling Bill Quickly Shot Down

Two weeks ago, I wrote an article titled, “New Hampshire Online Gambling Bill in Play.” Well, it isn’t anymore. Halloween was truly a day to realize our fears, as in an Executive Session, the New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee unanimously struck down HB 562, a bill which have legalized online gambling in the state.

This wasn’t entirely unexpected, as it was probably a longshot that the bill would pass, but seeing it demolished so definitively is a bit eyebrow-raising.

HB 562 was originally introduced on January 5th and quickly referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. It had a public hearing and then an Executive Session (essentially a committee meeting to deliberate the bill) in February, but that was it.

All of a sudden in mid-October, though, a new Executive Session was scheduled for the bill. At the end of the session, the committee members would submit a report to the Clerk of the House denoting “Ought to pass,” “Ought to pass as amended,” “Inexpedient to legislate,” “Refer to interim study,” or “Re-refer to Committee.”

The first two options were the good ones, the third – Inexpedient to legislate – the very bad one. And guess what was submitted to the Clerk by a 23-0 count? Yup. The baddie. Online gambling is now dead in New Hampshire until next year.

Even had the bill passed committee and eventually made headway on the floor of the House or even the Senate, regulations still needed to be hashed out. HB 562 was really just a skeleton bill with the majority of the text in just one paragraph:

This bill exempts gambling done over the Internet from gambling offenses under RSA 647. The Department of Justice to date has neither investigated nor prosecuted online gaming offenses and therefore does not expect this bill to have any impact on expenditures. To the extent this bill legalizes a form of gambling, it may have an indeterminable impact on lottery and charitable gaming revenue. Lottery and charitable gaming revenue is credited to the lottery fund, with net revenues after Lottery Commission expenditures being credited to the state education trust fund.

Going back a few paragraphs, I should amend my statement that “Online gambling is now dead in New Hampshire until next year.”

That is not exactly true. Online poker and casino games are, but in July, the state legislature passed a bill to permit online lottery ticket sales. No tickets have been sold over the internet yet, but they will start early next year. An optimist might think that if online lottery sales do well and the lottery commission is successful with its regulation of them that it might make lawmakers more confident that online poker regulations could work.

New Hampshire would certainly have to form an internet gaming compact with other states if online poker even becomes legalized, though. With an estimated 1.3 million residents, it is less than half the size of Nevada, which can barely support one online poker room. New Jersey recently decided to merge player pools with Nevada and Delaware and Pennsylvania, which last week legalized online gambling, is expected to do the same. If online gambling ever becomes a reality in New Hampshire, the state would have to join forces with other states.

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Breaking Down The 2017 World Series of Poker Final Table

 Breaking Down The 2017 World Series of Poker Final Table

After heading off on an unknown road a couple of weeks ago – and, instead of having to wait 100 days to come back as in year’s past – the final table of the 2017 World Series of Poker’s $ 10,000 Championship Event is ready for action on Thursday night. In front of the cameras of ESPN, poker’s next World Champion will be determined. But who will it be? Let’s break it down and determine who will eventually emerge as the “last man standing” in poker’s premiere event.

Because there is no longer a “November Nine,” momentum is going to count for something when the players come back. Those players who were cruising on Monday when the final table was determined are still going to be feeling good about their chances. But, as any good poker player knows, “feeling good” isn’t the same as playing good. Thus, this is how the Poker News Daily Crystal Ball sees the action breaking down over the next three nights.

Just to update those who have come to the party late, here’s the breakdown (by seat) of the players remaining:

Seat 1:  John Hesp, 85.7 million
Seat 2:  Scott Blumstein, 97.25 million
Seat 3:  Antoine Saout, 21.75 million
Seat 4:  Benjamin Pollok, 35.175 million
Seat 5:  Jack Sinclair, 20.2 million
Seat 6:  Damian Salas, 22.175 million
Seat 7:  Ben Lamb, 18.5 million
Seat 8:  Bryan Piccioli, 33.8 million
Seat 9:  Dan Ott, 26.475 million

And now, the predictions:

Ninth Place:  Damian Salas

Salas is one of the unknown factors at the final table, but he’s surrounded by a slew of sharks. With Lamb on his left and Pollok on his right, he will be under siege almost from the starting gun. I see Pollak being the beneficiary of most of Salas’ chip stack in knocking him out, but Salas will get the nice parting gift of a $ 1 million payday on his way out of the Rio.

Eighth Place:  Jack Sinclair

Sinclair has a similar problem that Salas has, bereft of ammunition while the armies mass around him. He also doesn’t have a great deal of experience in this situation; he has a grand total of three cashes in his poker career, with two coming at this year’s WSOP and the other (and previously his largest payday) coming at the partypoker Millions Live in April, where Sinclair made £7500. For his departure, I see a race situation between he and Saout, with Saout emerging on top as Sinclair heads to the door in eighth for $ 1.2 million.

Seventh Place:  Ben Lamb

Lamb is arguably one of the best players at the table, but you can’t last on the short stack that he’ll start the day with on Thursday. People know Lamb’s history and talent and aren’t going to mix it up with him unless they have a monster, meaning that Lamb will have little opportunity to pick up chips to bolster his stack. With both Salas and Sinclair out, I see the chips heading to the stack of Pollak, who also is a veteran of the international poker wars who can trade chops with Lamb without breathing hard.

Sixth Place:  Dan Ott

Ott will be able to squeak through the Thursday segment of the final table – playing down from nine to six – but that’s where the road will end. He won’t be too disappointed, however, with the $ 1.675 million that he will take home for his two weeks of work. His only other cashes came at this year’s WSOP in two preliminary events for career earnings of slightly more than $ 3500.

Fifth Place:  Bryan Piccioli

Piccioli has the experience to come from the pack, but it is going to be tough to get any action with both the big stacks Hesp and Blumstein on his left. As such, his ability to get chips by stealing from the late positions – the button, the cutoff, and the hijack – is going to be severely limited. It will wear on his stack and, while Piccioli will get through Thursday’s play, I can’t see him going beyond Friday.

Fourth Place:  John Hesp

Everyone loves Hesp because of his freewheeling attitude, his age, and the fun he’s having on the felt during his run to the Championship Event final table. These are all great, but the inexperience he has on the table – he’s never played a tournament larger than £100 prior to this – and the pressure will eventually catch up with him. Hesp will be having fun all the way to the bank with the $ 2.6 million he’ll get for his finish on Friday night.

Third Place:  Antoine Saout

Saout will be one of the shorter stacks to start the day on Thursday, but his experience will be able to carry him to the final night of action on Saturday. He’ll be the third-place stack, however, with Blumstein and Pollak having vacuumed up sizeable stacks of chips through the first couple of days. It won’t be such a bad thing for Saout, who finished in the same position back in 2009, and he’ll earn a similar payday ($ 3.5 million versus the $ 3,479,670 in 2009) for his second trip to the WSOP Championship Event final table.

Second Place:  Scott Blumstein

Blumstein seems to have the magic touch to this point in the tournament, but the heat eventually has to cool. The heads-up battle between he and Pollak will be epic – I can even see Blumstein entering the mano y mano fight with the chip lead – but Pollak’s overall skills will allow him to eventually wear down Blumstein. All it takes in heads up play is a couple of mistakes and I don’t see Pollak making them.

First Place:  Benjamin Pollak

The Frenchman is a veteran of the international tournament poker battles, thus he won’t be unnerved by the situation. He’s battled the biggest names in the world, won almost $ 3 million and been to the Winner’s Circle across Europe. Pollak came into Day 7 back on Monday as one of the shorter stacks and he only ratcheted up his play and his chip stack as he motored through the field that day. He should keep the ship steaming forward – all the way to the WSOP Championship Event title.

Whether the Crystal Ball’s predictions come true or not, it promises to be an exciting three days of poker coming from the Rio starting on Thursday night. By the time Saturday comes around, we will know who poker’s next World Champion will be.

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