Posts Tagged ‘Scene’

2017 Year in Review: The Tournament Poker Scene

 2017 Year in Review: The Tournament Poker Scene

If you’ve looked at a calendar lately, then you know that it is the completion of another “trip around the sun,” as Jimmy Buffett famously put it. It is a time of reflection and examination of the future, so let’s get to the reflection part of the equation. In 2017, there were some great tournament moments, a popular pro who had some difficulties in the courts, and a World Champion who believes he’s ready for retirement. Without further ado, here’s a few highlights from the tournament poker scene.

The PokerStars Championships…Wait, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (Again)

At the start of January, poker players headed the Bahamas, but there were changes in the air and they all wouldn’t be for good. Instead of heading to Atlantis for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, online poker’s best and, in some case, luckiest players were met with the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, the replacement for the PCA, and the new PokerStars Championships Series, replacing the European Poker Tour. The name change of the long running tournament wasn’t the only facelift that players found once they landed on Paradise Island.

To start with, the ten days of poker action was just a little more active than players really liked. Amaya Gaming and PokerStars officials SCHEDULED 90 TOURNAMENTS for the span of the schedule, basically averaging about nine tournaments a day, not counting those in their Day Two proceedings. Many of those on the ground felt this was overkill. Add on the lack of other amenities that once made the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure one of the jewels of the tournament poker world such as player parties, SWAG and other VIP treatment and many players left the Bahamas saying they would never return.

The other events on the PokerStars Championships schedule featured tournaments that weren’t well attended, forcing The Stars Group (the renamed Amaya Gaming) to rethink its strategy. By the time the PokerStars Championships reached Prague in December, the decision had been made to bring back the old PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and the EPT monikers. While those are popular moves, it remains to be seen if, in a crowded tournament circuit arena, that the players will come back to the PCA and the EPT.

I’m World Champion – Now What?

First off, the officials at the World Series of Poker made one of the biggest (and arguably best) moves of the year in ending the decade-long “November Nine” format. For the first time since 2007, the WSOP Championship Event was played straight through, with only a two-day break once the final table was determined. A sizeable contingent of the poker world widely praised that move and, in an unprecedented three-night event, the final nine played down to a champion who now could be considering retirement.

Eventual champion Scott Blumstein used a big double up through then-chip leader (and beloved amateur and grandfather) John Hesp to basically skate his way to the World Championship. Entering the final night of the tournament, he dominated Benjamin Pollak and Dan Ott, vanquishing Ott in heads-up play to capture poker’s World Championship and an $ 8.15 million payday.

Since winning poker’s greatest tournament, Blumstein has been making the rounds of the tournament poker world, but he admits that it doesn’t have the same draw as it did previously. In an interview with CardPlayer Magazine, Blumstein said he feels he’s “kind of beat the game of poker” and that there “aren’t many other goals that I can come up with right now.” While stopping short of saying he would completely quit the game, Blumstein said he is entertaining what to do with his life – and some of what he talks about aren’t poker related – post-WSOP.

It’s Tough to Be Phil Ivey

Normally anyone would give their right arm to become Phil Ivey. The ten-time WSOP bracelet winner and high stakes gambler travels the world, earning a great deal of money (from appearances) and basically betting huge stacks of money on anything. But there was one room in 2017 that Ivey found he couldn’t beat – the courtroom.

In a major decision this summer, the British Supreme Court found in favor of Crockfords, a high-end London casino, in a dispute between Ivey and the casino. Despite saying that Ivey didn’t cheat, the Court did decide that he “deceived” the casino as he won around £7.8 million (roughly $ 11 million) and that the casino did not have to pay him his winnings. After losing another case in New Jersey, where it was also concluded that Ivey’s tactics were illegal and ordered him to repay over $ 10 million, Ivey is out roughly $ 21 million. Perhaps that is the reason that Ivey, who has been a ghost on the tournament poker scene for several years, says he will be returning to the circuit in the coming year.

Anyone Got a Spare $ 25,000…$ 50,000…$ 100,000 Laying Around?

In 2017, tournament poker was put on steroids by the number of High Roller and Super High Roller events that were a part of the circuit. Usually with buy-ins from $ 25,000 to $ 100,000, these tournaments were normally well outside the budget of the average poker player. As such, these events also became the primary domain of many well-heeled players (or, some would accuse, a group of players pooling money and reaping the rewards) who were vying for the different Poker Player of the Year awards.

Bryn Kenney was the leader of many of these awards for nearly all of 2017. While there is no doubt as to the skill of Kenney, the man didn’t play the WSOP at all in 2017 and, coming to the final week of 2017, is still in the lead (or near it) in those POY races…how? Kenney has primarily played the high dollar tournaments; in the entirety of his 2017 record, only four of his 29 cashes in 2017 was in tournaments with lower than a $ 25,000 buy in.

Should tournament poker be the domain of the nobility of the poker world? Part of the charm of the game is that the Average Joe can take down even the best in the game on the right day. By secluding themselves off in the High Roller world, they’re not exactly taking on all comers. Perhaps the ranking systems will find a way to drag these players (Kenney is far from the only one who does this) into the Main Arena but, until they do, their performances must be viewed with a bit of a jaded eye.

There were plenty of other occurrences during the year…what were some of your choices for the best in tournament poker for 2017?

The post 2017 Year in Review: The Tournament Poker Scene appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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Report Draws Attention to Portland Poker Scene – And Perhaps Its Demise

 Report Draws Attention to Portland Poker Scene – And Perhaps Its Demise

In the past, there have been thriving live poker scenes that have brought the game to people without having to go to Las Vegas or an Indian reservation casino to take part. The New York underground poker rooms are legendary, in part due to the seminal poker movie Rounders and part due to the legend of such rooms as the Mayfair Club (which spawned such famous professional poker players as Erik Seidel, Dan Harrington, Steve Zolotow, Howard Lederer and the late Stu Ungar, among others) and the Diamond Club. Writer Brad Willis penned an epic four-part piece about the South Carolina poker scene – and its unfortunate ramifications – entitled Bust:  An Insider’s Account of Greenville’s Underground Poker Scene,” for the website Bitter Southerner. For the most part, however, these ties to poker’s legendary past have been eradicated except for the Northwest, where poker rooms thrive but are facing a challenge.

In an outstanding piece for the Willamette Week, journalist Nigel Jaquiss examines the history of Portland’s poker room industry. While “social gaming” was allowed in many areas of Oregon beginning in 1973 that would allow for poker in “businesses and private clubs,” that social gaming wasn’t allowed in Portland until 1984. Even with that law in place, it wouldn’t be until 2007 that licensed poker clubs began to spring up around the City of Roses. Today, 13 poker rooms exist within the city limits.

The problem is the monumental opposition that these rooms are facing. Because of the outdated laws on the books that allow for these poker rooms to exist while there are laws against gambling, Portland’s city commissioners will convene next month to try to shut down these clubs. Two of the most popular rooms in the city, Final Table and Portland Meadows poker clubs, will be on hand to defend the honor of the poker rooms against the opposition.

As is the case in most locales when a disagreement comes up regarding gambling, there is a powerful Indian casino industry that thrives in the state of Oregon. Indian tribes operate eight different casinos, including the Klamath Tribe, the Coquille Indian Tribe, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, which operates arguably the most notable Indian casino in the Wildhorse Resort & Casino. These casinos are not pleased that they are losing a conservatively estimated $ 10-$ 15 million per year in revenues from Portland because the poker rooms exist.

The state of Washington is also watching the proceedings with interest. Washington’s Indian casino and card room industry encompasses more than 50 businesses, with most of those casinos located within driving distance from Portland. Those businesses, alongside the Oregon Indian casinos, would stand to see a huge increase in players if the Portland card rooms were to be shut down.

Over the past year, Portland law enforcement has also been surveilling the poker clubs, Jaquiss states. As the clubs are not allowed to employ dealers for the games – the deal is supposed to be performed by the players at the tables, not a designated person – the undercover work by Portland police focused on this rule (Jaquiss points out several highlights from the laws that govern Portland’s poker clubs). Four clubs, including Final Table and Portland Meadows, were found to be employing dealers and were penalized with a two-week closure and further examination to ensure they were abiding by the law. Two of those clubs accepted the decision and penalties; Final Table and Portland Meadows didn’t, bringing about the hearing in front of the city commissioners in April.

The eventual outcome of the Portland poker room industry is cloudy at best. Because of the conflict in laws between the licensing of room and the actual activities that violate state laws, the city commissioners would love to be able to force the closure of those operations. The poker rooms, naturally, are fighting the elected officials tooth and nail to be able to stay in operation. One thing that is clear from Jaquiss’ investigation is that there is an appetite for poker in Portland. What those people – the players – will do if the rooms are shut down is unknown.

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