#1. PokerStars came out on the losing end of last week’s legal battle with the Atlantic Club Casino. But given the latest statement from PokerStars, and the fact that they’ve sunk $10mm+ into the deal to date, I expect PokerStars to file new litigation in the days ahead.
#2. iPoker has given skins until May 20th to verify the identity of all players referred by certain affiliates. Sources report the action is linked to suspected VPN play from banned countries – including the United States.
Watch iPoker’s traffic – and the traffic of major US-facing sites – this week for clues to the scope of the issue. Based on back-channel chatter, it’s potentially huge.
As chief regulator for New Jersey’s struggling casino industry, Matthew Levinson has an interesting balancing act.
The Casino Control Commission must ensure the market is free of corruption. At the same time, turning away potential investment could be viewed as counterproductive.
Levinson, 33, was appointed to a five-year term as the commission’s seventh chairman in August by Gov. Chris Christie.
In less than eight months on the job, he has experienced the gaming market’s financial ebbs and flows, the weeklong closure of casinos in October because of Superstorm Sandy, the emergence of online gaming giant PokerStars as buyer of a struggling Boardwalk casino, and the application of MGM Resorts International to regain its gaming license that it surrendered in 2010 after a stipulated agreement with the Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Also, New Jersey lawmakers approved legislation allowing Atlantic City casinos to offer Internet gaming, and Christie has pushed the casinos to allow sports wagering, a move being fought in federal court.
#1. PokerStars’ apparently failed deal for the Atlantic Club Casino dominated discussion last week. But based on statements from Stars, this story is far from told. Hopefully this week we’ll get some more information about the nature of the contract between PokerStars and the ACC. And if the deal is dead, perhaps we’ll learn more about who is swooping in to buy the ACC out from under Stars. Could it be Station?
#3. Ultimate Poker rode a crush of publicity to a launch that saw reasonable traffic but was riddled with technical trouble. And not everyone thought it was such a big deal. Key thing to watch this week – the performance of next Sunday’s major tournament. It hit the cap of 200 players yesterday, so that’s the bar.
Correction: Last week I wrote that the MA House passed their budget bill with an online poker amendment intact. The amendment was removed prior to passage.
Chris Reslock $18,200 – WSOP-C Harrah’s Philly $580 NLH
Chris Reslock $8,820 – WSOP-C Harrah’s Philly $365 NLH
Jae Kyung Sim $98,700 – APPT Cebu Main Event
Chris Reslock is having a good week at the WSOP Circuit series in “Philly”. The Atlantic City regular tied Alex Masek for Circuit victories with his 6th ring on Thursday and then took the overall lead early this morning with his 7th title in the short-field $365 NLH tournament. On top of his seven WSOP-C rings, Reslock also has nine other Circuit final tables on his resume, including two runner-up finishes, and a World Series of Poker bracelet in 2007.
In the online world, Ultimate Poker held it’s first “major” tournament with the regularly scheduled Sunday $10,000 guarantee event. The field hit it’s 200 player cap and the first big winner on the site was “d4heals” for just over $4,000. Meanwhile on PokerStars, “friend of Pokerati” Katie Dozier scored her biggest online title for $10,624 (and a soft drink) in their $30,000 2x-Turbo.
Tweet of the Day – Good to see Marafioti is staying well grounded heading into his summer at the WSOP including some weird bet with Yevgeniy Timoshenko. Can’t wait for the 2013 version of the Adzizzy Bunny Hop.
People on 2+2 talk about me non stop. I’m the most talked about, hated, + imitated player in the game. #QuietInPerson+JealousOnline! #UMad?
Lock Poker Shadiness 101 – Lock poker did not have the Best Week Ever. Never a big fan on linking up a 2+2 post because I’m afraid it won’t wash it off the Silkwood shower, but this seems to be the most comprehensive list of things going south for Lock Poker, player cashouts, and the pros who support it via Todd Witless and h/t to @Kevmath.
Blair Hinkle $121,177 – WSOP-C Council Bluffs Main Event
Roger Campbell $131,681 – Heartland Poker Tour St. Louis
Terry Fan HK$1,771,000 – Red Dragon Main Event
Daniel Pidun €880,000 – EPT Berlin Main Event
A historic day here in the States for online poker with the live launch of the Station Casinos/UFC backed Ultimate Poker. The client was opened to the public this morning and the first hand was dealt shortly after 9am Vegas time. Which prompted someone to immediately complain about a bad beat after busting on that very same hand. Welcome back online poker to the States!
Some questions have been answered about the process involved with the Nevada based site. Players do not need to be located within the state to signup and create an account, thus preventing another unprofitable hack from stealing the AlCantHang username. Players can deposit on the site from outside Nevada, which will allow them to load up on the site before traveling and play as soon as they are within the state lines. Deposit options include MasterCard, echeck, real check, bank wire, and the option to walk up to the main cage in any of the 16 Station Casinos in Nevada.
It seems the only downside so far, besides the small player base currently offered, is the system judging a player’s geographic location based on their cell phone signal. Verizon customers are unable to access the site and word is coming out about other smaller carriers being blocked as well. I can only assume these issues are being dealt with to allow everyone access.
All things considered, it’s a pretty big day for online poker back in the US. The first step in the process which includes interstate compacts and hopefully Federal regulations as quickly as possible. WSOP grinders can start loading up their accounts because they now have a legal online solution for playing away from the Rio.
In non-online poker news, poker good guy Blair Hinkle won his 2nd career WSOP Circuit ring at the Council Bluffs Main Event. He became the first player to win the same Circuit event twice with the first ring coming there in the summer of 2010. This 2nd ring will go along nicely with his WSOP bracelet for 2008, setting him nicely for a big run at the 2013 WSOP.
Tweet of the Day – Ultimate Poker pro Antonio Esfandiari tweets a screencap of the first hand played on the site. For the record, I want to play every one of these min-raising (redacted) online players.
Duke on Decisions – Seems my former Epic Poker boss has been making her rounds on the corporate speech circuit. Short-stack Shamus has a run down of a recent article about Annie Duke’s latest appearance.
PokerStars Blog turns eight years old – I remember running off to the Bahamas years ago to provide a little moral support to Otis during the PCA (and cause myself severe liver damage) and now the PokerStars blog has turned 8 years old. The site has long been a strong supporter of the poker writing community and deserves all the kudos they receive.
Phil Ivey is God – A deleted scene from the upcoming BET RAISE FOLD documentary, this one all about Phil Ivey. It’s good to see a flashback to Gloria Balding on camera along with Dr. Pauly and Jesse May.
SecureTrading Inc., a Las Vegas-based subsidiary of UC Group, has been licensed by Nevada gaming regulators to provide online gambling payment processing, identification verification and geo-location services, the company said Monday.
“We began developing our tailored payments, ID verification and geolocation solution for the U.S. market a few years back in anticipation if a regulated Internet gambling marketplace”, said Chris Thom, chairman of SecureTrading.
Thom said the firm was prepared to serve as a one-stop shop for licensed gambling operators.
#1. Pennsylvania representative Tina Davis (finally) introduced a bill to regulate online gambling late last week. Expect more specifics to emerge this week; early word is that the license fee is $5m and the tax rate is 28%.
#2. Illinois members of the PPA just received a survey concerning PokerStars, leading one industry observer to speculate that Stars is considering buying their way into Illinois’ online gambling market. PokerStars wouldn’t need to take over a full casino to get in; electronic gaming license holders and advance deposit wagering license holders are also eligible to apply under proposed online gambling regulation in Illinois.
#3. Caesars is reportedly considering a sale of NJ property Showboat - and the eligibility to apply for a New Jersey online gambling license that goes with it. It will be interesting to follow the story (and reaction from the markets) in the coming days. Will Caesars get a premium for the online component? And, if so, will that spark the sale of more New Jersey land-based properties?
Courtesy of Nathan Vardi, today comes news that Chad Elie, a Black Friday defendant now serving federal time, has sued Washington D.C. lawyer Jeff Ifrah and his law firm, Ifrah PLLC, whom Elie alleges were retained to represent him. The complaint was filed yesterday in the District Court in Clark County, Nevada; a copy of the complaint is available here.
Part of the complaint is devoted to Ifrah’s defence (or purported lack thereof) of Elie in a prior case commenced in Nevada state court and subsequently removed to federal court.
But the potentially explosive part of the claim concerns alleged payments that Ifrah received payments from Elie’s LLC (21 Debit) as “commission[s] on procuring the deals with the banks which processed poker transactions.” In so doing, Elie alleges that Ifrah acted in a conflict of interest vis-a-vis Elie and his other clients and withheld critical information from Elie about the illegality of payment processing for online poker in the United States. Elie states that Ifrah received $100,000 per month as his cut for this processing and more than $1M in total therefrom.
The other incendiary claim is that Ifrah disclosed privileged and false information to the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York “in order to avoid indictment from the US Attorney’s office for his own illegal activities.”
This is just a complaint at this stage; none of this is evidence and nothing has been proved in court. Ifrah will doubtless respond. Given the seriousness of the allegations, the response should be every bit as good a read as the complaint.
With that subhead above, thus concludes the only attempt on my part to do anything for April Fools’ Day. Carry on.
There was plenty of potential for a first-class WPT Venice final table but instead it was just relatively historic. With just two tables remaining, the field still included WSOP bracelet winner Mike Sexton, former November Niner Martin Staszko, former EPT Champion Ludovic Lacay, poker player/producer/writer extraordinaire Matt Salsberg, and our bestie Kara Scott.
Unfortunately for televised poker history, all of them would be eliminated before the official final table except for Mike Sexton. This was the 2nd final table for the WPT commentator on their tour after his 2011 Bay 101 appearance. He collected just shy of $70,000 for his 3rd place result with the victory ultimately going to Italian Rocco Palumbo.
Tweet of the Day – I feel bad for poor Geno, friend of Pokerati and former professional poker writer. Not only is he stuck living in Pennsyltucky but he also fell for a prank on this of all days.
Just fell for an online April Fool’s joke. Want to burn the Internet to the ground, salt its fields, foul its wells, etc.
Apple’s poker app may be illegal here – News from Australia isn’t all sunbeams and wallabies. Word from Down Under that some bigwigs in government aren’t too happy with Apple and PokerStars since their mobile app is available for download in Australia complete with real money deposits and games.
Digging into the AGA / PokerStars New Jersey War – Missed this link a few weeks ago but worth a spot in the link dump. Haley Hintze gives her opinion on the battle in New Jersey between the American Gaming Association and PokerStars. Nothing is ever clear cut when it comes to all the players involved.
Google Glass At the Poker Table? – There’s been some interesting oh-god-we-are-living-in-the-future talk about Google Glass, headgear which looks/acts like something out of Star Trek. The gang over at CardChat took an amusing look at what it would be like have Google Glass at the poker table.
#1. Full Tilt Poker’s traffic slide just won’t quit. PokerStars has tried bonuses, splashy promotions and even PR stunts to prop up Full Tilt, so it will be interesting to see how PokerStars reacts this week – if they react at all – to FTP’s recent drop into 4th place (by cash game traffic).
#2. PokerStars & NJ: The online poker giant has yet to complete its NJ application. But the PR war between PokerStars and the AGA continues, and looks set to escalate as NJ marches closer to launching real-money online gambling.
The Department of Justice has brought in a third-party claims administrator to help eligible American online poker players reclaim funds that were lost to Full Tilt Poker after the companys access to the United States was cut off in April 2011.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said Wednesday that bringing aboard Garden City Group was a significant step forward in the process of compensating victims of the Full Tilt Poker scheme.
Attorneys for online gaming giant PokerStars said an attempt by the American Gaming Association to block the company from buying a failing Atlantic City casino was a thinly veiled anti-competitive campaign to keep new ownership out of the market.
In a lengthy letter to New Jersey gaming regulators, attorneys for PokerStars ownership, The Rational Group, said the American Gaming Association lacks standing in the matter.
Attorneys also raised a reported offer by Caesars Entertainment Corp. to sell the Rio to PokerStars. According to the letter, Caesars offered to sell the off-Strip casino to PokerStars because it would better the two companies relationship and would help PokerStars earn a Nevada gaming license.
PokerStars declined the offer because it had no plans to acquire another casino in the near term, according to a letter dated March 10 from Washington, D.C., attorneys Jeff Ifrah and David Deitch. Within weeks the AGA submitted its petition to the (New Jersey Casino Control) Commission.
#1. PokerStars and the AGA threw first punches last week in what could develop into an extended and mutually bruising battle. Are they interested in cooling down, or escalating further? This week should provide some clues. Also: It turns out PokerStars’ NJ application could drag out well into summer.
#2. IL and PA could both take legislative steps toward regulation. PA State Rep Tina Davis “might” introduce her bill mid-week (20% gross tax, no compacts, licenses to existing operators only). As for IL, look for clarification on the next step for online gambling after a planned Senate vote on the combined live/online gambling expansion bill was scuttled late last week. Seems like some IL Dems didn’t like what they saw?
#3. New Jersey was supposed to finish up a first draft of online gambling regulations last week. No word on what shape they’re taking, but with the pace to date I would expect more details – and more launch projections – as we move into the middle of March.
Kai Chang $1,138,350 – Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event
Nick Schulman $270,480 – Bay 101 Shooting Star High Roller
Another big WPT event finished up, this time in North Cali at the Bay 101 Shooting Star tournament. The price reduction from $10,000 buyin to $7,500 had a double positive impact with both an increased field and prizepool. Paul “paulgees81″ Volpe (West Chester, PA represent) continued his hot streak with his 2nd straight WPT final table and 3rd place finish for $435,610. That puts him just over $1,000,000 in tournament earnings for $17,500 worth of buyins for the last two WPT events, not a bad ROI.
Kai Chang won the tournament for $1,138,350 plus a seat in the WPT Championship for topping the 643 entrants. No word on how many bounties he collected during the event but it probably was a decent addition as well.
Some big results expected in the next few days from the Heartland Poker Tour and WSOP-C. The HPT had another successful event at Black Hawk with over a $1,000,000 prizepool and the WSOP-C Caeasers Atlantic City Main Event will give away another ring within days.
Tweet of the Day – Euro-Schecky tweets from the completely spontaneous, not-at-all corporate set up, Full Tilt Poker versus PokerStars Heads Up competition. Rumor has it PokerStars stars won the day.
My Choice Center Experience – Daniel Negreanu responds to the article from Bryan Micon about the Choice Center. It’s totally not a cult and completely legit, guys, because he said so. I was finally convinced after he also told me I inherited a million dollars from some guy in Nigerian.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. reportedly offered to sell the off-Strip Rio and the World Series of Poker to PokerStars, a spokesman for the owner of the online gaming business claimed in an email Tuesday.
The statement by Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications for The Rational Group, came a day after attorneys for the American Gaming Association wrote in a legal brief that PokerStars had been a “criminal enterprise for many years.”
The Washington, D.C.-based trade organization wants New Jersey gaming regulators to reject PokerStars’ application to operate the failing Atlantic Club Casino in Atlantic City.
Caesars representatives declined to comment on any “assertions” made by PokerStars.
Hollreiser, who is based at The Rational Group’s corporate offices in the Isle of Man, said PokerStars “declined the offer because we had no plans to acquire another casino in the near term.”