Archive for the ‘Wider World of Poker’ Category

New Poker World Order [Maps]

by , Dec 17, 2012 | 5:44 am

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.

Meanwhile, Stars is apparently trying to  get (back?) into North America by buying a distressed brick-and-mortar casino in storm-ravaged New Jersey — this according to an announcement that may or may not have been conveniently timed to steal buzz from a WSOP circuit event going on in Atlantic City.

Game of Risk: Live Poker in an Online Age
Redrawing the Battle Lines

Game of Risk: Live Poker at the Dawn of the 21st Century

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.

 WSOP / Caesars / 888
 WPT / BwinParty / MGM Resorts /

See below to for some historical perspective on how the current live-tourney landscape took shape over the first decade of the 21st century.


Wider World of Poker

by , Oct 20, 2012 | 3:21 am

After very literally emerging from a Soviet bunker over the past week, I’m finding it difficult to integrate myself back into sublime British capitalism. Having a Russian man dispassionately tell you that, “now vee are in nuclear war,” as an alarming red light flashes in an underground corridor will do things to a man. Luckily there’s a whole warhead’s worth of worldwide poker news to help me readjust to society. Read on, you snivelling imperialist dogs. Oh, sorry.

Bodog Shifts Priorities

Making good on last week’s threats, Bodog have undertaken a daring raid into Asia. After abandoning their poker products throughout Europe, the copmany have welcomed onto their network, in an attempt to shift the focus of their business from West to East. [CardPlayer]

Possibly, but probably not, coincidentally, on the same day as Bodog confirmed their new parternship Sunderland A.F.C. – a mid-table team in the highest echelon of English football – announced as their official betting and gaming partner. []

France Masters Tournaments

There’s a distinctly Gallic feel to the big tournament results this week. Firstly the France Poker Series event in Mazagan, Morocco reached a dénouement. The victor was Karim El Rharbaoui, who picked up around €44,000 for his efforts. [Poker777]

Meanwhile, down in the boot of Europe, the EPT San Remo was grinding its way to a finale, with the French-sounding Canadian Jason Lavallee and actual French person Ludovic Lacay engaging in a swift heads up battle. Real France beat out psuedo-France to take the title. [Poker News Daily]

PokerStars Macau Announcement

I don’t often include tournament announcements in this roundup, but I think that news of anything new coming out of Macau is particularly interesting, given how under exploited it is. In fact, only PokerStars seem to have really grasped the bull by the horns (dragon by the ears?) so far as tournaments are concerned. To stand alongside the likes of the Macau Poker Cup, Stars have announced the Asian Championship of Poker – a $13k NLHE event that kicks off in just over a week. [Tight Poker]

Full Tilt Reward System Teased

If you were fond of building up Ironman streaks and cashing in 27% rakeback deals on your Full Tilt account then you’ll have to carry on pining. Full Tilt’s new reward system, details of which have been dribbled out onto 2+2, is a totally different animal. There does appear to be the possibility of earning a decent internal rakeback, but a move to the Weighted Contribution method will reward the aggressive player more than the tight. [Poker News Daily]

Dwan and Isildur on Tilt Again

Speaking of aggressive poker, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom and Tom “durrrr” Dwan will be reuniting on the virtual felt of Full Tilt as paid up members of the site’s new roster. Respectively the most exciting names in high stakes cash games for the last few years, Blom and Dwan join Gus Hansen in Full Tilt’s reformed team of sponsored pros. [PokerNews]

France and Spain Cosy Up

No doubt hastened by the news of massive contractions in the Italian gaming market, Spain and France have agreed a deal to share regulatory data. A deal which many see as a precursor to a shared player pool. The French have been running their own insular market for a while now, but newly regulated Spain will likely have some legitimate concerns about their ability to support their own isolationist economy. [PokerFuse]




Wider World of Poker

by , Oct 12, 2012 | 3:28 am

Huddle close comrades. I come to you this week from a small apartment bunker deep within Russian territory. There are Muscovites on all sides. So far at least two people have asked me for directions in a language I didn’t understand. It was harrowing. Meanwhile it’s been a busy old time for poker news, so strap on your ushanka, down a bowl of borshch and join me for this week’s roundup.

Hellmuth Conquers Europe

The Poker Brat confirmed that this week that he is back among the game’s elite by taking down his 13th bracelet in the WSOPE Main Event. By his own admission, Phil was caught up in his own travelling carnival during 2009 and 2010, but after a period of self-reflection his skills on the felt appear to be back in full bloom. [Poker News]

Bodog Abandons Europe

The wheels are not so much coming off Bodog Poker’s European operation as they are careening over a cliff as the car does somersaults on the asphalt. Its last remaining bastion – – has now officially closed its doors to poker customers, focussing instead on casino games. The company are moving on the relatively underexploited Asian market. []

Italy is in Europe

Italy was one of the first European nations to enact a regime of tight intranational online poker regulations. While early signs were positive, recent financial figures raise fears about the future for other isolationist licensing systems. Gaming revenues have fallen over 40% since January of this year, with the decline chalked up to a very limited player pool and high taxes. [PokerFuse]

Full Tilt’s New Island Home

Full Tilt’s rebirth is another contraction closer as they are granted a license by the Isle of Man, a short hop around the UK from their old home on Alderney. It is my considered opinion that a very large factor in ensuring that PokerStars emerged so positively from Black Friday was down to their license in the Isle of Man. Specifically the clause that requires licensees to keep a segregated fund equal to player deposits. [BBC]

Hansen on Board

Full Tilt built their reputation on having the biggest and most star-studded stable of pro players and while those pros mostly fled the paddock after Black Friday, at least one will be returning. Gus Hansen has been unveiled as Full Tilt’s primary brand ambassador. The Dane was long associated with the old site and has declared that he is “coming home.” [Gambling Kingz]

High Stakes Intrigue in The Big Smoke

A notorious high roller enters London’s oldest casino with a mysterious Asian beauty on his arm. He sits in a private room and wins $11.7 million, but the house won’t pay. Turns out his date has a chequered past and the British Gambling Commission are called in to investigate. No, not James Bond; Phil Ivey. [CNN]

And with that I’m off to take refuge. There’s this colourful fort in the centre of town that looks pretty safe, I think I’ll start there.

Wider World of Poker

by , Sep 27, 2012 | 1:03 pm

Discussing the weather is a national past time for the British. Entire friendships can blossom from the comparison of one year’s inclement summer with the previous year’s inclement summer. Weather is a pervading social lubricant that unites all classes, creeds, and religions. Simpy describe the current climate and you’ll be instantly engulfed by a torrent of meteorological exhortations. What I’m trying to say is, it’s become a bit colder lately. On with the news.

Esfandiari et al

Not so cold, both actually and figuratively, is everyone’s favourite magician-turned-poker player, Antonio Esfandiari. Fresh from his $18 million score in the WSOP’s One Drop event, the all-time leader in tournament winnings picked up his second bracelet in Event #2 at the WSOPE in Cannes, France. [Wicked Chops Poker]

The World Series also crowned its very first Tunisian tournament winner in the form of Ben Mahmoud. He picked up €147,099 for first place in WSOPE Event #1, a €2,700 six-handed NLHE contest.[ESPN]

Meanwhile Frenchmen all along the Croisette were tossing their berets in the air with joy as Gallic poker stalwart Roger Hairabedian picked up a bracelet of his own in Event #3. [ESPN]

WCOOP Main Event

If the WCOOP were a televised event this might have been another Moneymaker moment. A Russian player known as maratik battled his way to a $1 million score from beginnings so humble they make Oliver Twist look like a oiled-up oligarch. Despite typically sticking to buy-ins around the $1.50 mark, maratic managed to freeroll his way into the $5,000 main event and on to victory. [PokerNews]

PokerStars Announce Full Tilt Launch

Along with the announcement that PokerStars are preparing to re-launch Full Tilt in the first week of November the company also revealed their plans to reimburse every player whose money was locked away following Black Friday. Users from France, Spain, Denmark, Estonia, and Belgium will have to access their cash through PokerStars itself, while the rest of the world should be able to jump back into Full Tilt and see things just as they left them. That just leaves Italy, where the details are still a little hazy, and the U.S. – who need to have their reimbursements processed through the Department of Justice. [PokerStars]

Mickey Peterson Wins EPO

I first met Mickey Peterson two years ago when he was sleeping on a coach at my friends’ place. Since that day Mickey has gone on to win EPT Copenhagen and, most recently, the English Poker Open for a cool £78,660. Coincidence? You decide. [PokerPlayer]

Mixed News from India

Good news everyone! The Indian government has officially declared that poker is a skill game. Bad news everyone! They still won’t let you play it for money. This following a tentative enquiry by university graduates planning to start a website that allowed wagers on poker and other skill games, including chess. [India]

Now you’ll have to excuse me while I stare at some pegs and try to decide which thickness of coat to wear. It’s dangerously temperate out there and the wrong choice could cost me everything. If I survive exposure to London’s mild Autumn, I’ll be back next week with another sack full of poker news.

Wider World of Poker

by , Sep 20, 2012 | 3:16 am

I really hope the Lederer Files are building towards a dramatic finale. Maybe Chris Ferguson could storm into the room demanding a paternity test or something. Whatever transpires, I’m definitely be picking up the special edition DVD with exclusive commentary by Annie Duke. Until then, I guess I’ll have to settle for some more worldwide poker news packaged into neat bite-sized chunks.

Zynga Bolsters its Troops 

Zynga continue to gear up for their assault on all things online gambling with the hire of Maytal Olsha – former senior vice president at 888. Olsha has been appointed as the Chief Operating Office of new markets. Those “new markets” most likely being the ones with friendly online gambling regulations. [Bloomberg]

A Trio of Tournaments

Prepare yourselves for a potent laser beam of pure tournament news. First let’s skip over to Macau for the conclusion of the Macau Poker Cup Championship. Surely either ‘Cup’ or ‘Championship’ is redundant in that title? Either way, Rui Chen is the guy who won it, taking home HK$1,108,500 (US$142,996). []

A mere 1117.733km away in Paris, France, Matt Salsberg was wrapping up his victory in the WPT Grand Prix de Paris. He beat the likes of Theo Jorgensen at the final table to capture the €400,000 ($521,000) first place prize. [Poker News]

And deep within PokerStars’ digital tournament hall, Olivier “Adonis112” Busquet bested all comers in the WCOOP $10k No Limit Hold’em High Roller event to the tune of $224,000. [Poker News]

Scamming Afoot at Lock Poker?

Twoplustwo, the first refuge of all jilted poker players, has been the sounding board for another sorry tale of online poker drama this week. Lock Poker regular ‘GimmeDAT’ was the victim of a $100k scam after accidentally downloaded keylogging software that allowed a hacker to gain access to his account. The scammer, using the name ‘highgrind22’, was later seen losing around $80k to an Omaha regular, who has posted on 2+2 under the name ‘FWHITNEYDOH’ claiming ignorance. [4Flush]

Entraction Ends

After years of sloshing about in the middle ground of online poker’s network soup, Entraction is on the way out. It’s parent company, International Game Technology, are cutting their losses and shutting the network down, choosing instead to focus on their other online gambling products. The company blames increasingly varied regulation in Europe for the decision. [Business Week]

British Poker Award

A gaggle of Britain’s poker elite, and a decent clump of interested onlookers, gathered in London this week to celebrate this nation’s finest people and places. The big winner was Sam Trickett, who, among many other successes over the past twelve months, finished second in the One Drop for over $10 million. [Poker News]

While everyone’s getting hot under the collar about Full Tilt, we all seem to have missed the fact that the WSOPE starts tomorrow. Under the palm trees of Cannes, bracelets will be won, stories will be forged and, traditionally, the Octo/November Nine have a chance to prove their worth. Check in for the biggest stories, next week.

Wider World of Poker

by , Sep 12, 2012 | 7:41 am

Neil Armstrong’s departure got me thinking. What’s the over/under on the number of years until there’s a tournament in space? Perhaps it’s a moot question. Maybe astronauts on the International Space Station have already gambled for rights to powdered space rations. At any rate we, sadly, aren’t able to leave the Earth during these week’s roundup of poker news, unless you count exploring the depths of a Frenchman’s imagination.

Gallic Theatre

If you’ve not been following the Cirque de Partouche over the last few days, here’s a quick summary: A smaller than expected crowd turned up to what they thought was a €5 million guarantee, expecting their hosts to fill in the missing €750,000. Then, the silver-haired Monsieur Partouche himself appeared on stage to tell everyone that, not only were they not going to honour the guarantee (that he denied even existed), but that this would be the last ever Partouche event.

Cut to a few hours later and the company are announcing that they will in fact bump the prize pool up to €5 million, but that this is still definitely the last ever Partouche Poker Tour. At some point during all this a poker tournament happened and Ole Schemion from Germany won it. [Card Player]

ISPT Adds Spokespeople

Speaking of a French-led spectacle, the much-trailed International Stadiums Poker Tour just added a few more pros to its list of representatives. The ISPT squad now includes David Beyamine, Patrick Antonius, Liz Lieu, Michael Mizrachi, and Sam Trickett. Expect to see them all in London for the first event in May 2013. [Poker News Daily]

Bwin.Party Poker on a Downswing

Sometimes I worry about a terrifying dystopian future where Daniel Negreanu is president and we need to use our PokerStars bankroll to buy bus tickets. You’d be worried too, if you’d taken a look at’s financial results from the first half of 2012. Overall, their revenues where up, but poker took a big hit. Thankfully, dishevelled underworld hero co-CEO Jim Ryan has vowed to fight on, “against a backdrop of an ever strengthening PokerStars.” [The Guardian]

Blacklisting in Belgium

After Black Friday I think you’d be hard pressed to argue against nationwide regulation for online gambling. Although I’m sure that Betfred and William Hill could put forward a case, after the Belgian government blacklisted their domain names and made it illegal for anyone to play there. That leaves only a handful of approved online poker operators for Belgians to enjoy. [Poker News Daily]

Excuse me while I unscrew my head and place it back among the stars. It’s lovely up here, but while the asteroids whizz between my ears I’ll remember to keep an eye on terra firma and keep track of all its poker doings. Until next time, pokernauts.

Wider World of Poker

by , Aug 30, 2012 | 4:39 am

I can feel the damp chill of Autumn encroaching as the last rays of a surprisingly vibrant summer ebb away. At last the British skies can get back to what they do best: ineptly ferrying about sacks of floating water. Excuse my while I pull on this cardigan and open up the umbrella of news.

Dan Smith Does Not Win EPT

The world is in shock after two EPT events concluded without Dan Smith winning either of them. Frenchman Laurent Polito caused an upset in Barcelona by taking down the €10,000 High Roller, only for Mikalai Pobal to complete the anomaly by rudely winning the Main Event for just over €1 million. [Poker News Daily]

Play It Again Sam

If you’ve ever wanted to feel like Doyle Brunson, but don’t fancy ageing a thousand years and putting on a stetson, chances are you’ve taken the opportunity to “run it twice” a few times. Full Tilt added it as an online feature a few years ago and, probably non-coincidentally, PokerStars are set to unveil their own version in the next few days. [Poker Fuse]

888 Hitting the Jackpot

Since Black Friday, it’s been mostly doom and gloom so far as online poker revenue goes, so it’s nice to hear about a company doing well off the back of its digital offering. 888 is reporting a big increase in first-half earnings, with its online poker division contributing heartily to that figure. I’m not sure if those numbers include subsidiary Dragonfish, but their recent successes could be playing a part in this uptick. [Reuters]

German Licensing Confusion

The dissident German province of Schleswig Holstein is being welcomed back into mainstream Teutonic legislation, which puts the online poker companies they recently granted licenses to in a tricky spot. The German Treaty does not allow for such licenses to be issued, although given that a handful have already been given out it is not clear whether or not the local government will be legally obligated to honour them. [Gambling Kingz]

Ground Control to Major Kyllönen

I thought that Finland was already in space, so I’m pretty surprised to hear all the hubbub surrounding Jens Kyllönen spending €160,000 on a trip to the stars in 2014. Circus man Guy Laliberte also has a ticket as a part of a journey to his Martian homeworld. [4Flush]

Before I go, I’d encourage you all to take a look at Phil Galfond’s fraternal dissection of Viktor Blom. It’s not really news, but it’s rare to hear the very top pros talk about each other in detail and even rarer for that pro to be a clear and engaging writer. Click this now.

Wider World of Poker

by , Aug 22, 2012 | 9:57 am

Let me tell you, a party isn’t a party unless the night ends with two male revellers waxing intimate parts of their bodies. At least, that’s what I am forced to conclude after an initially civil gathering at my place devolved into a test of hairless endurance. Consider this column my rehabilitation.

Catalan Poker

London might have a poker festival just around the corner, but right now Barcelona is the place to be if you’re the sort of person who likes levels and prize pools. A few days ago a man known as the “Ox of Rome” avoided being murdered by Hercules to take down the Estrallas Poker Tour for €200,000. []

And with barely time to draw breath, we’re straight into EPT Barcelona, with the €50,000 Super High Roller event already completed. The victor was rising star Dan Smith, who cut a deal at the final table to walk away with €962,925. [PokerStars Blog]

High Rollers en Cannes

Speaking of High Roller events, the World Series of Poker Europe – which kicks off at the end of next month – has announced its own big buy-in tournament. A €50,000 Re-Entry tournament starts on October 2nd and, while it will have a large prize pool, it sadly won’t award any of those shiny bracelets everyone seems to be so keen on. [PokerNews]

Lock Poker Accused of Misleading Users

What with government intervention, bank fraud, and trojan viruses to worry about, people don’t seem to complain about rigged shufflers anymore. That said, having an independently certified random number generator is a vital part of any reputable operation. Which is why organizations like eCOGRA give out special badges to companies they deem to have fair and balanced software. It’s also why 2+2 users are in an uproar over Lock Poker neglecting to remove their old certification, despite having left the Merge Network 6 months ago. [4Flush]

Bwin Fails in South America

Continuing their crusade to make more money fight for the rights of online gambling, Bwin have been going mano-a-government in Argentina. In a frankly un-shocking result, the courts decided to uphold the rights of the country’s gambling monopoly. []

Nokia Calls on Zynga

I feel a bit weird reporting on non-gambling Zynga news, but I guess they’re a relevant force in our industry these days. Plus, we all know that Dan is one of the biggest Facebook sharks of all time. Maybe he’ll be buying a Nokia Asha Touch, now that Zynga Poker has been announced as launch software. [Card Player]

I feel like I should have made it clear up there that I am not one of the unfortunate souls now in possession of a streamlined undercarriage. Not nearly enough alcohol had passed my lips to make that seem like a good idea. Which means I’ll be fighting fit for next week’s column, provided I don’t accidentally throw any more parties in the next seven days. Wish me luck.

Wider World of Poker

by , Aug 15, 2012 | 8:18 am

Excuse me while I shed my Union Jack trousers and put this flag back into its pouch. The Olympics are over and the unseasonal wave of athletic patriotism that has washed over the UK is finally abating. It’s a relief, let me tell you. Now we can get back to moaning about the transport network and being rained on. If only the sun would stop shining.

Worldwide Tournament Update

We start this week with some glorious victories. First up there was Robbie Renehan proving true the maxim that ‘Wherever you go, you will always find the Irish’. He somehow managed to outlast a horde of locals to win the Colombian National Poker Championship, which forms part of the Latin American Poker Tour. []

Doing even more winning is Marvin Rettenmaier, who has garnered praise for becoming the first person ever to win back-to-back WPT events. PokerNews have even penned this paean to his glory, detailing his recent results and tournament strategy. [PokerNews]

Fresh Scandal on 2+2

A slew of worrying, but frankly engrossing, cheating accusations are unravelling on 2+2. It all begins with an anonymously posted chat log which alleges that poker pro Matt Marafioti and reported hacker Samer Rahman had been colluding to steal money from other online pros by installing a program on their computers that revealed their hole cards. The discussion has now evolved into claims by several Swedish pros that they have been scammed and threatened by a notorious biker gang with ties to Rahman. [2+2]

Euro Council Enshrined

PokerStars has set up a European Players Council to look out for the needs of its EPT competitors. It follows the example laid down by the WSOP equivalent, whose founding members included such trusted names as Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer. [Card Player]

Facebook Gets Real Money Bingo

The online gambling world has been going all social lately, so it was only a matter of time before the social media sphere went all gambley. Facebook has allowed the first ever real money gambling app onto its platform. The horrifically named Bingo Friendzy has only launched in the UK so far. [The Telegraph]

London Poker Festival on the Horizon

The London Poker Festival is on the horizon, featuring a cavalcade of card-slinging endeavours, including the (sort-of) prestigious British Poker Awards. London’s various casinos and poker clubs are running a huge number of tournaments, including the English Poker Open and various GUKPT events. [British Poker Festival]

Bye-Bye Blom

Despite completing their Full Tilt takeover, it’s not all been roses for PokerStars, as they this week bid farewell to volatile high-stakes phenom Viktor Blom. After rocketing into the spotlight with his insane swings as the anonymous Isildur1, Blom has gone on to become one of the online game’s most captivating players. [PokerNews]

Ah! I forgot that we still had the Paralympics to come. It’ll take me a full week to reaffix all my British paraphernalia. Which is conveniently just about the right amount of time for the wider world of poker to generate enough news for another post. Serendipity at its finest.

Wider World of Poker

by , Aug 2, 2012 | 2:16 pm

Today the world reels from the shocking news that I will be getting my $20 back from Full Tilt. For too long I have lived under the tyranny of not having $20 and it comes as a great relief to me and my family to know that this money will soon be returned. All hail PokerStars, unimpeachable bastions of justice and buying your way out of trouble.

Bwin’s Woes

Not everyone is super-stoked about PokerStars riding in on their white horse. Specifically Bwin’s stock holders, who expect the company’s already shaky online poker numbers to become even more shook-up by the return of Full Tilt. Many shareholders had also been uncharitably hoping that Stars’ legal troubles would also see European legislators bringing down the hammer, but a clean bill of health from the U.S. has seen that possibility swept firmly off the table. [Proactive Investors]

A Whole New World

Look out guys, the universe is about to be turned on its head by “a whole new way to play poker.” Ladbrokes have unveiled Blaze Poker, which is pretty much the same as PokerStars’ Zoom Poker, which is in turn almost identical to Full Tilt’s Rush Poker. Look for the groundbreaking ‘Going Really Fast Poker’ announcement to hit next week. [Poker News]

Asian Victory

With the WSOP on pause, the high-profile tournament lens has switched its focus to Asia-Pacific. Two big events to slalomed to the finish line this week, the first of which was the (deep breath) Australia New Zealand Poker Tour Queenstown Snowfest. Aussie David Allan took home the NZD$110,600 ($89,697) first place prize. [PokerNews]

If you had travelled north from that point you might have bumped into the Carlos Chang, who would have looked quite pleased with himself, having just won the Asian Pacific Poker Tour in Macau. The title was worth HKD1,913,100 ($246,692), or just about enough to buy your way into Tom Dwan’s Macau cash game. [Card Player]

Zynga Makes it Official

It’s seemed likely for a long time, but it wasn’t until last week that Zynga CEO Mark Pincus came out and confirmed his company are preparing to launch a suite of online gambling games. Following the runaway success of their play money Texas Holdem Game on Facebook – and a brief dalliance with live poker – Zynga have plans to, “release [their online gambling games] in markets that are regulated and open, subject to our getting licensing.” []

Bond Heading Stateside

Very much an “…and finally” story, but also an excellent catch from Brian Pempus at CardPlayer. A cute TV ad featuring former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan has been airing in Italy for the VegasClub casino. The group that owns the site are looking to get involved with Nevada’s new online poker market and one wonders if the Irish smoothy might not make an appearance in Las Vegas in the near future. [Card Player]

I’m off to celebrate my returned $20 by purchasing $400 worth of tickets to Olympic handball matches. Join me next week for more news-based celebration and a countdown of my top 100 handball goalkeepers.

Wider World of Poker

by , Jul 25, 2012 | 11:37 am

Here in London, I’ve been doing warm-up stretches for over a month just in case I’m called up to the Olympic poker team at the last minute. People keep telling me that poker isn’t in the Olympics, but I know they’re only testing my bluffing reflexes. I’ve got their number, let me tell you. Just for now, however, I’ve suspended my gruelling training regime in order to put together this collection of worldwide pokery news. I hope you appreciate my sacrifice.

Bwin United

Taking pride of place this week are my beloved Manchester United, who I have supported through thick and slightly less thick since I arbitrarily picked them as my team at the age of 7. They’ve sidled their way into the column by virtue of new shirt sponsor, Bwin. The Austrian half of Bwin.Party already have a big name sponsorship on their books, as the primary sponsors of Spanish giants Real Madrid. Although that contract expires at the end of the 12/13 season. Forbes recently rated United the world’s most valuable sports team, so it should generate Bwin, and online gambling in general, a lot of of exposure. [Online Casino Reports]

Norway’s Maiden Fair

For a few days we all held our breath, hoping that at least one of the two (extremely marketable) women would make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker. Alas, it wasn’t to be, but that hasn’t prevented 11th place finished Elizabeth Hille from reportedly picking up a sponsorship deal with Betfair. Hille is expected to join former champ Peter Eastgate and former WSOPE runner-up John Tabatabai on the Betfair squad. [WPT Magazine]

The Irish Omission

The details of new online gambling bills are always big news, but it’s what’s missing from proposed tax laws in Ireland that’s most interesting. The mooted legislation makes no mention of poker, which is particularly strange for a country that formerly cradled the headquarters of Full Tilt Poker in its Guinness soaked arms. [PokerNews]

‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’

Disgruntled users have taken to the internet to report serious poker troubles at BetOnline. There have been frequent server outages and, most worryingly, players have been told that they will be unable to cash out any money before September at the earliest. [4Flush]

Meanwhile Poker 5050 are delisting themselves from the Swedish Stock Exchange after being dumped by software provider Microgaming. The company are on their way into liquidation, with a paltry 15% of player funds the best they can offer their shafted user-base. [Compatible Poker]

Party Poker Lower the Stakes

There are no more nosebleeds at Party Poker following the closure of their highest high-stakes tables. Party chiefs claims it has to do with improving their “poker ecology” which roughly translates as: Forcing the fish with big bankrolls to dump their cash at lower limit tables. [Card Player]

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to fine tune my soul-staring muscle in time for the opening ceremony. I’ll see you again next week when we call admire my shiny gold medal.

Wider World of Poker

by , Jul 18, 2012 | 3:29 pm

With the WSOP once again hogging the headlines, we’re wandering off the beaten track in search of a few scraps of worldwide poker news. Expect fresh new ideas, slightly-older-but still-pretty-fresh ideas, and very-old-not-at-all-fresh ideas.

Very Betable

The buzz word for online gambling in 2012 seems to be ‘social’ which admittedly makes the industry a little late on the uptake. When even the hulking behemoths of national news have integrated social media into their cluttered offerings you know you’re a little behind. Thankfully a new company called Betable are looking to make that integration a little easier by offering to handle the gambling side of things all by themselves. Players can wager via Betable on any service where their API is integrated and they will handle the calculations and payouts. That has the excellent fringe benefit of meaning that your company isn’t technically providing any gambling services. Definitely worth keeping an eye on. [Betable]

Wham Bam, No Thank You Pam

Less exciting is the new venture from entrepreneurs Elton Pereira & Jeremy Nichele. Their new Facebook game, BamPoker, basically brings play money poker software up to the standard of real-money clients 5 years ago. It includes all the basic features you’d expect of a poker client, including at least one sound I’m pretty sure is directly lifted from Full Tilt. Oh, and I forget to mention the least exciting part: It’s spokeswoman is Pamela Anderson, in all her glorious cultural relevance. [Marketwatch]

Bwin Lament Zoom Poker

The fast paced stylings of Rush Poker are looking positively ancient in this fresh-faced company, but that hasn’t stopped PokerStars’ strikingly similar Zoom Poker from putting the hurt on its competitors. In a recent financial report, Bwin.Party attributed a sharp drop in poker revenues to the success of Zoom Poker. Bwin promised that they’d have their version of super-fast poker active in the near future. [BwinParty]

Cyprus Instates Online Ban

This idea, sadly, is pretty old. The Cypriot House of Representatives have outlawed online gambling. The island nation seem to be mainly concerned with the lack of tax revenues resulting from a lack of up-to-date legislation and locals preferring off-shore operators. The new laws also impose taxes on land based gambling which will all be funnelled towards the country’s sporting endeavours. As ever in the EU someone has complained about the ban contravening free trade laws. This time its Betfair, who are yet to decide if they’ll actually launch any legal proceedings. [iGaming Business]

Endurance Record Does Not Endure

A British soldier has gone where Phil Laak could not, breaking his record for the longest session of poker ever played by a human being. At the G Casino in Manchester, Barry Denson completed 120 hours and 20 minutes of on-felt action. He hopes to raise money for military charity Help for Heroes and is awaiting confirmation from Guinness World Records before he can officially claim the title. [Poker News]

Rafael Nadal is Playing Poker

I really feel like I need to ram home how big of a deal it is that PokerStars have Rafa Nadal playing for them. He might have crashed out of Wimbledon in the early stages but he’s still a sporting superstar in every corner of this, admittedly very round, Earth. Anyway, the first promo video featuring him and his poker coach Isaac Mayolas has hit the intertubes. Take a gander at it, if you so fancy. [Youtube]

After all that innovation I feel inspired to explore new frontiers, so I’m off to Mars. See you next week, shortly after my return pod bursts through the atmosphere in a ball of flaming glory. Don’t panic, I’ll bring you back a souvenir.

Wider World of Poker

by , Jun 22, 2012 | 3:41 am

We are in the midst of the World Series of Poker, which makes it silly season for gambling news from the rest of the world. Expect next week’s column to feature a giraffe that won a razz tournament and Epic Poker’s zeppelin-based relaunch. Right now you’ll have to settle for stories about trains, Italians, and reality TV.

Run on Time

Let’s start with the trains. Australian website have been politely asked by Melbourne locomotion provider, Metro Trains, to stop taking bets on whether their services will run on time. There were fears that enterprising degenerates might take it upon themselves to sabotage the lines in order to guarantee a payout. [The Age]

Italian Stallion

This story, while fairly ludicrous, raises some interesting moral questions. Bruno Venturi, an everyday Italian man who works in a pet shop, is fighting to claim a £650,000 jackpot he won from Eurobet. They are refusing to cough up the cash on the grounds that a software error caused Venturi to pay for only one in every six bets. The dispute began in 2009 and has now made it all the way up the chain to Britain’s High Court. [Telegraph]

Reality TV Sparks British Dust-Up

This could have been a nice story about a young poker player raising his profile in the media by doing a good deed, but Andrew Feldman’s upcoming appearance on the UK reality show Secret Millionaire has devolved into scandal. Last month British pro Sam Trickett claimed he would out a fellow player who had “stolen” a large amount of his cash. Since then he’s remained silent, but it seems that Feldman’s pending TV fame has sparked Trickett and co. to more or less publicly accuse Andrew of borrowing €25,000 from Trickett, then refusing to pay him back on the grounds that he is quitting poker. [Poker News]

Tapie’s Wembley Tourney

He might have lost the race to buy Full Tilt Poker, but Frenchman Bernard Tapie has not lost his ambition. This week he announced the first venue for the International Stadiums Poker Tour, a series of events which will cram 30,000 poker players into the world’s largest sporting arenas. The series kicks off at Wembley Stadium – the more or less sacred home of English football – during May 2013. For the first two days 30,000 players will sit in the stands and compete online, from which 3,000 will win their way onto the turf to play in a €4,500 buy-in tournament with a guarantee of €2 million. [ISPT]

Social Gaming Under Scrutiny

Over the past couple of years Zynga have slowly edged their way onto the poker radar thanks to their immensely popular Facebook version of Texas Hold’em. They also managed to avoided any kind of legislation by pointing at the tables and shouting, “look, no money!” The UK Gambling Commission aren’t so sure, however. Zynga make their (not inconsiderable) profits from users who purchase extra stacks of worthless chips with real cash. The Commission are now working on a investigation into social gambling in an attempt to discover if the industry needs to be licensed and regulated. [Online Casino Archives]

Playtech’s Unsettling Dealings

Playtech have long been the kings of third party gambling software, but their financial antics are making people with briefcases and stock portfolios very nervous. The company have purchased a large bundle of stuff from their largest shareholder, Teddy Sagi – the company’s founder and owner of 48pc of Playtech stock. His new venture, Skywind, have sealed a €6 million deal with Playtech, who are also renting a London office from their former chief at £750,000 per year. [Telegraph]

Nadal Joins PokerStars

Stop the presses! While nobody was looking, some real news has snuck in at the back door. Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal has joined Team PokerStars. Undoubtedly one of the greatest players ever to hit a furry ball over a net, Nadal will represent Stars in the freshly minted Spanish market. I can’t recall a bigger sports star than Nadal being paid to represent poker in any capacity. Certainly not one with such worldwide pull. [PokerStars]

Well that was quite a shock. What’s more we’re only three days away from the start of Wimbledon. The centre-piece of professional tennis and the pride of upper-middle class British people who like things that happen on lawns. What with Rafa, some positive news out of Nevada, and Ivey’s return at the WSOP, I dare say that things are looking quite positive for poker. I think I need to lie down.

Wider World of Poker

by , Jun 9, 2012 | 12:55 am

It’s been a busy old time here in England. Last weekend, a lot of people crowded into London to shout at an old lady on a boat, as part of a big ‘thank you’ party for giving us two days of extra holiday, or something like that.

Meanwhile the rest of the world sent their poker ambassadors to Las Vegas for the WSOP, so you might think this would be a quiet week for non-American poker news. You’d be right of course, but it hasn’t been a totally barren period so stop looking so smug.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

There’s a lot of talk among poker players about the nobility of their business. Such as a man only being as good as his word. The flipside of this is that when something goes awry all that dirty laundry gets a very public airing. The latest whistle blower is Douglas “WCGrider” Polk, who is claiming missing payments from Brad Booth. The player known as “Yukon” lost over $1,000,000 in the Ultimate Bet cheating scandal and has reportedly been borrowing money left right and centre. That includes $30,000 from WCGrinder, of which only $2,000 has been paid back. Booth has now changed his phone number and left the country. [TwoPlusTwo]

British pro Sam Trickett is threatening to reveal the identity of his own bad debtor, unless the unnamed (but apparently well-known) player pays up. [Tight Poker]

Spanish Freedoms

After a couple of minor bumps in the road, Spain has finally put its new regulatory plan into action. Companies hoping to operate in the country are required to apply for a license, which the Spanish seem only too happy to grant. PokerStars are already up and running, alongside familiar names like, 888, and Bet365. The latest company to be granted an Iberian permit is British betting exchange, Betfair. [Reuters]

Dutch Poker Plots

Online Casino Reports suggest that the Netherlands are looking to “adopt the Danish model”. Presumably this news concerns online gambling regulations and not foster parentage of a pastry statue. The Dutch currently have laws in place to prevent their citizens playing online, but much like UIGEA-era U.S.A everyone just ignores them. Unlike America, the government’s response has been to draw up plans for an open, regulated market. It parallels the system in Denmark, in that online casinos will be charged a lower rate of tax than their bricks-and-mortar counterparts. [Online Casino Reports]

PokerStars Tournament Hubbub

The huge jumble of tournaments over at PokerStars is undergoing some reconstruction. First up, the Macau Poker Cup has been cancelled. No reason has been given other than, “events beyond our reasonable control,” which could be pretty much anything. Maybe they got wind that the high stakes cash game players aren’t planning to trek back to Asia after the WSOP finishes. [Card Player]

It’s OK, dry your eyes, there’s a new online jem to take your mind off Macau. The MicroMillions festival is like the World Series for people who pay for things with loose change. There are one hundred events of all different shapes and sizes, with buy-ins ranging from $0.11 to $22. [PokerNews]

There’s a lot of Jubilee detritus littering the streets right now. I’ll do my best to avoid it and so long as I’m not swallowed up in a storm of bunting and miniature flags, I shall see you next week for more news from the Wider World of Poker.

Wider World of Poker

by , May 26, 2012 | 5:02 am

A wise person once said, “money is very important in poker.” That was me. I said that. You might have thought, with your steam-powered brain, that this nugget concerned only towers of plastic chips being shuffled around in a million simultaneous cash games. Simpleton! Even away from the felt, fiscal forces buffet the poker industry, as we shall shortly see in this week’s Wider World of Poker.

Spanish Money Grab

I imagine that many of you have spent hours telling various friends why it would be a good idea for the U.S. government to legalize online poker. So fish out that tattered sheet of arguments and remind yourself of example 3.5: tax revenue.

The equation simply goes, if you allow online poker companies to operate in your country, you can generate piles of money and make a lot people happy. A manoeuvre hitherto considered impossible.

Cash-strapped Spain have taken this a step further. In anticipation of granting their first official licenses, Iberian authorities have suddenly decided to demand back taxes from all companies who were operating in the country from January 2009 to May 2011. The legal bedrock for these demands come from repurposing two old laws, created in the 60s and 70s. [Tax News]

Aussies Get Legal

With a glacial pace that befits government, country after country are laying the groundwork for their own regulated online gambling industry. Latest to fall into line are our friendly cousins from downstairs, the Australians. It’s all still rumour at the moment, but important people with fancy job titles are suggesting that regulations for online poker and in-play sports betting could become a reality in 6-12 months. [Daily Telegraph (AU)]

Grippo Grabs SCOOP Title 

The Spring Championship of Online Poker is over, a tradition used to mark the beginning of Summer since the ancient Egyptians invented multitabling. The victor of victors was Nick “GripsDsNutz” Grippo. He took down the $10,000 Main Event – the most expensive selection from three different buy-in tiers. His prize was around $800,000, earned not only by great play, but also a savvy piece of negotiation. Rich Ryan over at PokerNews has a great breakdown of how Grippo managed to walk away from a three-way deal with $100,000 in bonus equity. [Poker News]

40K Sit & Go Challenge

When sites like PokerStars announce that they’ve passed their seventy twentieth billionthty hand, it’s difficult to process just how vast that volume really is. With data collected over such a large spread of time that’s to be expected, but I never thought I’d have trouble comprehending the amount of poker one man plans plays in a single month.

Nevertheless that’s how I felt while hearing about Martin “phasE89” Balaz’s decision to play 40,000 Sit & Go tournaments in 30 days. The Czech pro has form in this seemingly insane arena, have previously completed a 24,000 SnG prop bet. I’m definitely pulling for him, if only thanks to the brilliantly grandiose trailer that he and a friend put together to advertise the challenge. That, and when PokerNews asked why he was doing it, he said, “I like popularity.” I can get behind that kind of honesty. [Poker News]

PokerStars a Fine Place to Work

It’s easy to be (often justifiably) cynical about the behemoths of online poker and their occasionally dubious activities, but hats off to PokerStars. Even amid the tumult of Black Friday, a survey of their employees by Great Place to Work have named them one of the UK’s finest workplaces. [Gaming Intelligence]

After that uncharacteristic burst of positivity, I need a rest. The sun has launched a surprise assault on my beloved London, so I’m going to do my part for the nation and lie down on the grass in an attempt to deflect the fiery orb’s attack rays back into space. If this glorious struggle doesn’t cost me my life, I’ll see you again next week for another Wider World of Poker.