Caesars Entertainment Corp. said last week that it will spin off its interactive gaming business, Planet Hollywood and a planned casino in Baltimore into a separate company owned in part by the casino operator, the company’s stockholders and private equity firms Apollo and TPG.
Apollo Management and TPG Capital are expected to invest a combined $500 million in cash into Caesars Entertainment as part of the deal, which would create a “growth-oriented entity” controlled by Caesars Acquisition Co., a company created to facilitate the transaction.
Caesars Interactive CEO Mitch Garber will serve as CEO of the acquisition company and continue in his role with the interactive division, which owns the World Series of Poker.
In a statement, Caesars Entertainment, which has long-term debt of more than $20 billion, said the transaction would allow the company to fund growth opportunities in “a less levered and more flexible vehicle.”
Station Casinos-owned Ultimate Poker, which has yet to launch its pay-to-play website in Nevada, has a brand ambassador.
The company, which has been licensed by state gaming regulators but is waiting for approval of its technology by testing laboratories, announced Tuesday that it has signed poker champion Antonio Esfandiari to promote the website.
Esfandiari has made a name for himself behind the microphone as a commentator for ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker and at the tables for his victories on the World Poker Tour.
He made his biggest splash last summer when he won a record poker jackpot of $18.3 million in capturing the World Series of Poker’s $1 million buy-in “Big One for One Drop” at the Rio.
Daniel Negreanu $1,038,825 – WSOP APAC Main Event
Phil Ivey $51,840 – WSOP APAC Mixed Event
Philipp Gruissem $825,000 – WSOP APAC High Roller
Aaron Lim $233,800 – WSOP APAC Six Handed
It was a fun weekend in Australia as two of the biggest names in poker captured WSOP APAC braclets. Phil Ivey won his 9th career bracelet in the Mixed Event, a tournament on the smaller side but impressive none the less. This win puts him in a tie with poker legend Johnny Moss and just one behind Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan. After his run at the WSOP in 2012, there will be a lot of money on him winning another this summer.
Daniel Negreanu ended his 5 year WSOP drought by taking down the APAC Main Event for this 5th career bracelet. The title puts him in a tie with a boatload of other top players including Allen Cunningham, Ted Forrest, Scotty Nguyen, Jeff Lisandro, John Juanda, and the late great Stu Ungar. This was Negreanu’s second big chance to win a WSOP Main Event title after finishing 2nd at the WSOP Europe in 2009. It was probably fortunate he had to battle Daniel Marton heads up instead of having Barry Shulman own his soul.
Representatives of Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings wanted to assure the Nevada Gaming Commission that the company, which operates legal Internet gaming websites in Europe, would comply with the state’s regulatory structure.
After the company spent almost two hours earlier this month making its case to the Gaming Control Board, the commission needed less than an hour Thursday to unanimously approve 888 for an interactive gaming license.
“Much has been put on the record in regards to 888,” Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Pete Bernhard said. “All my concerns have been addressed.”
The company, which was found suitable in 2011 as a business partner with Caesars Entertainment Corp. to operate World Series of Poker-branded websites in Europe, will partner with Caesars on interactive gaming in Nevada.
Approval of Internet gaming bills in Nevada and New Jersey less than a week apart helped fuel investors’ interest in the gaming industry during the last half of February.
The largest beneficiary was Caesars Entertainment Corp.
Nevada and New Jersey began implementing online gaming websites directed at customers gambling on computers or mobile devices within state borders.
Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Nevada’s interactive gaming bill Feb. 21 after less than one day of debate. Not to be outdone, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed his state’s online gaming bill Tuesday after state lawmakers approved changes suggested by the governor when he vetoed the initial legislation.
Caesars owns four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos. In Las Vegas, Caesars operates 10 casinos on or near the Strip.
But the company also owns the popular World Series of Poker.
The Gaming Control Board spent almost two hours Wednesday delving into the background of European online gaming operator 888 Holdings, which is seeking an interactive Nevada gaming license.
After recommending that Gibraltar-based 888 be approved the state’s 20th interactive license, the three control board members spent all of five minutes discussing Treasure Island’s request to hold the state’s 21st interactive license.
“I don’t have any questions, unless you want me to make some up,” Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett told Treasure Island attorney Frank Schreck.
It took board member Shawn Reid longer to read the license conditions into the public record than it did to approve Treasure Island.
Chris Reslock $25,480 – WSOP-C Caesars NLHE Prelim
Martin Bader £56,000 – GUKPT London Main Event
There were less than 200 entrees into the WSOP Circuit $580 NLHE event at Caesars in Atlantic City, but the final results were worth notice. AC and east coast legend Chris Reslock joined a very small club when he won the tournament and captured his 5th WSOP-C ring. He joins Ari Engel, Kyle Cartwright, Mark Smith, and Kurt Jewel in the 5 ring club and just one victory behind Alexandru Masek. Reslock has one WSOP bracelet as well, in the 2010 $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament, and over $1,000,000 in career tournament earnings.
Also underway this week is the price-reduced WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star tournament, the buy-in reduced from $10,000 to $7,500. It looks like the discount is producing similar results as seen at the Borgata when they dropped their price to draw in more people yet still end up with a larger prizepool. Moon Kim is the defending champion.
Tweet of the Day – Tournament Director extraordinaire Matt Savage made it “official” with this tweet, the Bay 101 Shooting Star will top attendance and prizepool numbers from last year’s event.
Not too late to jump on a plane and get out to @bay101casino @wpt. Prize pool is bigger than last year already at a smaller buy in $7,500!
The death of Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss was felt not only in the sports world, but within the poker community.
Buss, who died Monday at 80, was an active poker player in Las Vegas, especially at the World Series of Poker, where he was a participant for decades.
Buss had four career cashes at the World Series of Poker, including a third-place finish in 1991 in a seven-card stud limit event. His total earnings at the WSOP came to $45,926.
In 2011 Buss played in 22 events, World Series of Poker spokesman Seth Palansky said.
In a statement, he said players enjoyed interacting with Buss.
“Jerry epitomizes what makes the game of poker so great,” Palansky said. “Everyone is on equal footing when you enter a poker tournament. And Jerry Buss acted and carried himself as a dignified gentlemen throughout.”
According to PokerNews.com, Buss played in big-money cash games in California and appeared on the television show, “High Stakes Poker.” The website reposted a 2011 podcast interview with Buss.
Buss told ESPN in 2010 that he thought about playing poker professionally.
Men Nguyen $21,255 – 2013 LAPC $125 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy
Jon Seaman $10,080 – 2013 LAPC 2-7 Triple Draw/No Limit SD
Ryan Wince $29,010 – 2013 LAPC NLHE Doublestack
The big news over the last few days, unless you are Jean-Paul Pasqualini or Cedric Rossi, was the World Series of Poker finally releasing their summer schedule. Some players were getting ansy, now they are all settled down and able to make their plans to invade Las Vegas for the 2013 WSOP, whether they are a small ball newbie or an “every event” grinder.
The series will feature 62 bracelet events along with the standard non-stop non-bracelet side tournaments and their crazy draw. The WSOP always likes to throw something new at their customers (2009 Stimulus Event anyone?) and this year around is The Millionaire Maker on the opening weekend. This tournament will be a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em with two starting flights on the same day and players can re-enter 1B if eliminated in 1A. The big twist is the guaranteed 1st place prize money of $1,000,000 to the winner. Guarantee should be in quotes since the payout structure will be adjusted to make this work, not money added to the standard structure.
Last year’s Big One for One Drop was so successful they will have two smaller versions this summer. The $111,111 One Drop High Roller and $1,111 Little One for One Drop which will feature unlimited re-entries through 4 levels. There is also some pretty decent buzz around for an event which won’t even award a bracelet. The WSOP will run a trial $5,000 Open Face Chinese poker tournament during the Main Event. This is the newest, latest, greatest big thing for the youngns.
Perhaps the biggest change this year is to the Ladies Championship, where now it’s technically a $10,000 event but women will receive a hugely discounted price of $1,000. It’s probably the best way to severely discourage men from entering the tournament as their EV is ridiculous. Poker legend Linda Johnson expects that any man in the event would need to make the final table just to have a positive ROI.
I am interested to see how they handle any issues which arise with post- or pre-operative transgender players trying to enter the tournament. If they’ve made a comment about it, I haven’t seen it.
Don’t get cheated on the Open-Face Chinese app – Huge news for those playing on the popular Open-Face Chinese Poker app and wagering on the side (as opposed to through the app itself, for now). There is obviously a HUGE security hole, so buyer beware. I’m surprised this hasn’t made a bigger splash but maybe most people already know who they’re playing against and trust them. Barry Greenstein is not one of those people.
Global Poker Index “suspends” two players from the system – GPI savior and guru Alex Dreyfus announced last week they were “suspending” Jean-Paul Pasqualini and Cedric Rossi after some very shady behavior at the 2009 Partouche Poker Tour final table. Seemingly well earned but does this restart the “Standards and Conduct Committee” discussion? Please say no.
Newsjacking and Poker Marketing – Speaking of the GPI, Barry Carter with a look at the trend of “newsjacking” to market a poker product. Not that uncommon or remotely new.
We’ve got two One Drop events … the Little One for One Drop — for players thirsty for charity action in a small four-figure range … and the Medium One for One Drop, aka the High Rollers event for a $111,111 buy-in.
Other than that, on quick scan it seems to be a lot more big-field no-limit hold’em … maybe with a few gimmick Savage Tournament knock-off events (ante-only, re-entry, etc.) thrown in for good measure. But lest you accuse Caesars Interactive of not being able to jump on a trend du’jour … there’s also an Open Face Chinese Poker exhibition event.
62 bracelets (I can’t remember, is that a lot or a little?) over 48 days, May 29-June 15. Final nine resuming in November.
You can expect at least 50,000 poker players to end up with broken dreams … and probably a few dozen shattered marriages to boot! But hey, so long as Caesers keeps it fun, players keep coming back for more … and it’s like every year you have a whole new crop of 21-year-olds coming of age!
(Of course there the battle is with Zynga, which has a unique advantage of being able to market their soon-to-be gambling Texas Hold’em social poker game — and slot machines — to 13-year-olds. Seriously, give it 5 more years …? NGCB stamp of approval pending.)
You probably can also expect continued Cold War with PokerStars. Because for all the positive spin that goes along with an official tournament schedule announcement, and for all the hype of rags-to-riches jackpot dreams — they’re calling one $1,500 event “The Millionaire Maker” … the press release makes 0 (zero) mention of Chris Moneymaker on the 10th anniversary of his historic WSOP run. But hey, with or without the marketing power of PokerStars’ World Champion Everyday Joe Pro, the WSOP has done a good job over the years of keeping their brand at center of the poker universe burning bright — almost like a supernova! — particularly during the dead heat of Las Vegas summers.
Here’s a quick little slice-of-life glimpse that, imho, is quite revealing … as two free-play online poker ops compete for my mobile attention. Zynga, whose marketing seems to be more and more about side-cleavage these days, is apparently hoping to entice me to their tables with an FYI that the ever lovely (and presumably unpaid) Danielle Ford is playing … while the WSOP, by comparison, relies on a semi-anonymous player-friend, a machismo-based poker challenge, and virtual trinkets to keep me from a pleasant walk in the park with two living beings I love. But notice the clock … you can see how if I worked a normal job in an office the decision of how to spend my time would actually be that much easier.
Vanessa Selbst $1,424,420 – 2013 PCA High Roller
Dimitar Danchev $1,859,000 – 2013 PCA Main Event
Travis Williams $49,581 – Delaware Park Winter Classic
The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure knows how to end things with a bang. After an entire festival of big results, it was the final tournament to supply the biggest story. Vanessa Selbst entered the $25,000 High Roller final table needing a 5th place finish or better to pass Kathy Liebert as the highest earning female poker player. Selbst did much better than 5th as she rolled to the title for another impressive victory putting her over $6,000,000 in lifetime earnings. The stacked final table included Shaun Deeb, Mike Watson, Chris Klodnicki, Brynn Kenney, Micah Raskin, and Tobias Reinkemeier.
Selbst adds the PCA High Roller victory to her two WSOP bracelets, two NAPT Mohegan Sun (back-to-back) wins, a Partouche Poker Tour win in 2010, and a boatload of other titles.
Interesting results during the 2013 PCA included wins by Scott Seiver, Peter Jetten, John Dibella, and Alexis Gilbard plus two trophies presented to Marcel Luske. With the wrap-up of the popular event, players will now take off for various parts of the world including the Borgata Winter Open, the LAPC, and getting ready for the Aussie Millions.
National Heads Up Poker Championship confirmed list – (Seriously, the list was released as a Google doc?) The popular NHUPC is back after a year off and we now know the first 32 confirmed players for the event including one Mr. Phil Ivey. No big surprises so far but it’s good to see Will “The Thrill” Failla and Maria Ho in the first release. A few other names have already stated they received an invite including Weeds producer Matt Salsberg.
WSOP Asia-Pacific Announces 2013 Schedule – Another big festival is now officially scheduled for Melbourne, Australia following the popular Aussie Millions. There will be 5 events including the Main plus a $50,000 High Roller (with rebuys) plus another go at the Caeasars Cup Invitational.
The World Poker Tour made its Chinese debut this weekend at the MGM Grand in Sanya. That’s some 400 miles down shore from Macau, where PokerStars recently hosted the inaugural “Asia Championship of Poker”, and next month will hold something similar called the Red Dragon. These events come just as Caesars, unable to get properly licensed in China, is officially retreating from the Communist gamblers’ promised land.
Game of Risk: Live Poker in an Online Age Redrawing the Battle Lines
Check out how the three biggest brands in poker (and the online gaming sites behind them) stack up against each other. I make no claims of these maps being to scale nor anything more than “pretty accurate, I think,” but look past my amateur cartography to see how three Poker World superpowers — the biggest American casino corporation, the biggest European internet gaming company, and the biggest “offshore” online poker operator — have been competing fiercely to corner your neighborhood tournament market.
A World Series of Poker real money website based in Nevada took a step forward Wednesday.
The Gaming Control Board tentatively approved Caesars Interactive Entertainment to operate online poker in Nevada.
The company, the interactive arm of the Caesars Entertainment Corp., manages the promotion and advertising aspects of the annual World Series of Poker.
Caesars Entertainment general counsel Michael Cohen told the board during a meeting in Carson City that the Nevada website would be run as a World Series of Poker brand.
If approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Dec. 20, Caesars would become the 17th company granted an interactive gaming license to offer online poker to players who are physically within the state’s borders.
It’s a fascinating tale, I swear, how the WSOP and their new mobile online poker app won over my free-time play … and actually got me to pony up cash for playable chips — a conversion the game-greats at Zynga Texas Hold’em could never achieve with me. (Though Scramble with Friends did get a few of my bucks once.)
Zynga Poker, apparently recognizing a decrease in my “Texas Hold’em” play, buzzes me mid-Omaha in a failed effort to win me back to their handheld digital tables.