Posted on 4th September 2018 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Essel’s Group PokerNation has announced they will stop operations and part ways with its international software provider Microgaming Poker Network from 15 September.

The online poker website operated by Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group, stated they will resume operations within 90-120 days with their own customized software and upgraded features and capabilities.

The news was confirmed on the website itself.

“PokerNation has made the decision to part ways with its partner Microgaming, its current software provider. We would be taking a break and discontinue our poker operations as part of a re-structuring process from 15th of September, 2018.”

The re-launch date is still unknown but the operations on the current site will stop on 15 September and all customers are welcomed to withdraw their funds until 30 September.

PokerNation should invest a lot of money into revamping the site and its operations but the legal situation in India makes it uncertain to guarantee success. The first online poker license was issued in 2016 but only within Nagaland region. In July, India’s Law Commission recommended creating a new set of laws regarding the industry to stop them acting in the grey area, which is a huge step forward.

“Since it is not possible to prevent these activities completely, effectively regulating them remains the only viable option,” states Gambling and Sports Betting India report.

If poker becomes legal in all India, it will boost the player base and therefore make easier for sites to maintain their businesses.

Mumbai-based Sachar Gaming Pvt. has also closed its poker site Khelplay.com in March under the explanation of restructuring process but it was speculated at the time that Microgaming’s India Poker Network has failed to create a substantial player pool and maintain liquidity in India.

The site continued operating under their rummy brand, and Khel Play Rummy is now, next to Microgaming’s Poker Lion and Poker Yaar, a place where Indian players can enjoy playing online poker.

In a previous hit to Microgaming operations, Thrill Poker has also closed its operations earlier this year. It was one of the first sites to join hands with Microgaming in 2014 but then turned to Swedish software provider Cubeia a year later before winding up operations.

With only two operational sites, Poker Lion and Poker Yaar, Microgaming’s foray in India didn’t quite go as planned but things can change pretty fast if federal regulations on poker are passed.

Posted on 29th August 2018 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

In the midst of a debate held in several countries about whether poker is a game of chance or sport, Ukrainian lawmakers decided to set an example and classified it is the latter.

Poker is now listed in Ukraine’s Register of Recognized Sports as a part of the Ministry of Youth and Sport of Ukraine’s Document 3780. This means that anti-gambling legislation from 2009 no longer applies to the game and poker is on the right path to once again be offered in the country after eight years.

Poker was initially put on the sports list prior to 2010 when then a Minister of Sport saw the difference between poker and blackjack, roulette and slot machines but a justice minister thought otherwise. The country ultimately decided that poker was in direct conflict with the Ukrainian anti-gambling law and removed it from the list.

Poker Groups took the case to Supreme Court and made a breach in 2013 to enssure that poker was allowed in tournaments only but not as regular poker games. This small victory allowed venues to stay open and operate in gray areas while facing prosecution ever since.

Big poker operators had to leave the country including the largest one, consisting of 29 skins, iPoker in 2016.

It was not until Russia and Ukraine started disputing over Crimean region that poker emerged from the underground, although still being illegal. Despite all the predicaments, Ukraine has an active poker presence in the poker community with the country’s two most prolific players Eugene Katchalov and Yevgeniy Timoshenko.

Katchalov sits on the top of Ukraine’s all-time money list with more than $9.2 million. The International federation of Matchpoker has a Ukrainian division making it one of the more active in the Eastern European region.

Now that poker has been redefined as a sport again, the introduction of new legislation is certain although there are no indications this will happen any time soon. The news was out without much publicity, published by the Ministry of Youth and Sport and listed as a “sport poker”.

It is just the beginning of a journey but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

Posted on 6th August 2018 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Microgaming has launched its new Prima poker software on the MPN and therefore is fully prepped to deliver a premium experience to poker players worldwide.

Once being one of the biggest names in the online poker business, Prima is back, big style. Microgaming overhauled the Prima client with brand new software and hopes to restore the glory days with a bunch of software improvements.

“This is our biggest and most important poker release, and the culmination of a multi-year strategy to revitalize our product and leapfrog the competition,” said Microgaming head of product Alex Scott.

Microgaming’s new poker client boasts some brand new features “keeping players in mind”. It possesses high definition graphics to deliver superb gameplay resolution, fully optimized for premium viewing on all devices. Players can turn their hand history into a GIF and share it on social media.

A streamlined interface provides easy navigation to cash, tournament and casino games include a blind cash game lobby and a simplified rewards system and there’s a strong focus on enhancing the user experience and promoting responsible gaming with increased transparency. There is also a player history tool that shows overall profit and loss across all game types. Players can set the tool for any time period and therefore review their gameplay and improve it.

Prima poker software was designed in a modular fashion and is powered from the same codebase that will empower Microgaming to deploy new updates easily across all platforms simultaneously. Using cross-platform technologies, the latest features will be delivered to users and new markets at a record speed.

Jean-Luc Ferriere shared his enthusiasm about the launch.

“It is an exciting and pivotal time for the Microgaming Poker Network. The launch of Prima marks another move in our strategy to continue developing products centred around giving players the best poker experience with a more intuitive client, optimized for any device.”

Microgaming definitely had an interesting couple of weeks. Jean-Luc Ferriere was appointed as the new chief commercial officer at Microgaming in July, while John Coleman was named as its new chief executive. Roger Raatgever, previously chief executive of Microgaming Software Systems, took on the role of executive chairman on the newly-branded Apricot Investments.

The whole team is excited about the future successes and can’t wait to see what they will build together.

Posted on 1st August 2018 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

The Australian state of Victoria is pushing for a new bet limit on poker machines ahead of the state election.

Victoria is pushing for a new legislation that will reduce bet limit on 27,000 poker machines from $5 to $1 and the move is already getting the huge support. Eighteen municipal councils have signed up to the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR) and a list of policies was revealed last week.

The main change is reducing late-night trading hours for hotels and pubs with poker rooms since some of them are open 20 hours a day, and also reducing bet limits in order to “significantly reduce rising levels of gambling harm” in the community. They will also seek to cut the maximum ATM cash withdrawal permitted in gambling venues from $500 to $200 a day.

This political effort to reduce the maximum wager allowed on the state’s poker machines cut to just one fifth of the current limit, comes only four months before the general election in Victoria. The AGR attempts to place the topic of addictive-gambling in the center of the election campaign.

Poker losses in the state have never been higher in more than ten years and have approximately risen from $1.9 billion to $2.5 billion in the last twelve months.

Mayors from five major metropolitan councils — Yarra, Moreland, Whittlesea, Darebin, Wyndham — gathered at Parliament House last week to say “enough is enough”.

“This is a crisis,” said Moreland mayor John Kavanagh, “and we are here to make sure reducing poker machine harm is a crucial state election issue.”

The Productivity Commission recommended $1 cap on poker machines back in 2010 because problem gamblers’ share of total losses was about 40% but there wasn’t enough support to push the proposal although Victorian Greens supported it from the beginning.

“The Andrews government’s complete lack of will to put people ahead of gambling profits means local councils have no choice but to take their own action,” Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said. “It’s no wonder these councils are fed up with the inaction from their state government.”

“Councils such as Moreland, Darebin, Whittlesea, Yarra, Hume, Brimbank, and Greater Dandenong are at the coal face of gambling harm and I sincerely welcome the commitment of their mayors and councilors to the cause of fixing this blight on Australian society,” AGR spokesman Tim Costello said.

A record 18 Victorian councils have signed up to financially support The Alliance, up from 12 in 2016, and they are all committed to “ensuring the next election delivers real reform.”

Posted on 25th July 2018 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Poker has always been a favorite pastime in Sweden although the state has been monopolizing the market for many years. Now a new law has just passed which means Swedish players will soon be able to compete on sites other than the state-owned Svenska Spel and dive into the European poker player pool.

The new law will allow international online poker sites to gain a license from the country and therefore enable them to offer their poker service to the residents.

The state’s monopoly will come to an end after the EU Commission chastised Sweden for its EU gaming law violations in 2013. Sweden was accused for failing to comply with the EU Treaty by not allowing operators outside the country to be licensed. But it was just the first step. It took years to clarify this and Svenska Spel held monopoly all this time. They even asked Apple to remove all gambling apps from its Swedish store. Providing a solid ground for criminal activity, the changes had to be made to the system in place.

Swedish and European authorities have come to the realization that it is too hard to enforce such a strict monopoly on residents of Sweden, considering the fact that the “internet and its multiple workarounds not being able to effectively drive such a law”. Multiple operators have been active in Sweden without holding a license from the country, including platforms from 888Poker, PartyPoker and PokerStars.

“Unregulated gambling has taken over and gambling is used in criminal activities. It is now time for us to move from words to action and regain control of the Swedish gambling market,” Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi said in an issued statement.

International online poker operators will be able to apply for the license starting 1 August and those approved will be subject to an 18% tax. The tax does not refer to Svenska Spel and the company hopes to remain popular with the residents.

“Now we can look forward to a gaming market with equal conditions for gaming companies, increased revenue to the treasury, clear rules to protect customers from excessive gaming,” Svenka Spel CEO Lennart Kall said in a statement.

The newly opened market definitely opens a lot of doors and possibilities for the online poker operators and we can’t wait for 1 January 2019 for the new law to officially come into play.

Posted on 18th July 2018 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Asian Poker Tour (APT) announced a new deal on Monday with Baadshah Gaming to bring more Indian players into the spotlight.

The new partnership is set to welcome more players from India since online poker site Baadshah Gaming, part of the Casino Pride group will now be hosting a series of APT satellites and therefore enhance the growing poker scene in India.

“The goal of the partnership is to increase the presence of the Indian players at each and every APT event and we believe, with Baadshah Gaming having the capabilities of running both online and land-based qualifiers, this will happen,” said the APT executive tournament director Lloyd Fontillas.

Indian players will now have the chance to take part in APT events through satellite packages, live or online. Baadshah Gaming will organize online qualifying contests where Indians can win tournament packages for APT events in Asia and the Pacific region.

It is every poker player’s dream to win a prestigious title like the Asian Poker Tour and now that dream can be made a reality by simply winning small buy-in satellites on Baadshah Gaming and flying out to various APT tournament series across Southeast Asia,” said Madhav Gupta, co-founder of Baadshah Gaming.

Baadshah Gaming online gaming portal launched in March 2017 and has already hosted live tournament series in December 2017 and April 2018. The events were really well received by the Indian poker community and this partnership will take them to the next level. Running both online and land-based qualifiers will definitely increase the presence of Indian players at APT events.

APT is one of the biggest poker tours in Asia and has added multiple destinations in its annual tournament schedule since its inception in 2008. The Asian Poker Tour is currently hosting the APT Vietnam Ho Chi Minh Championships and has coming events in Korea, the Philippines and two in Macau scheduled for the remainder of 2018. Philippines-based APT now has a new official partner in India and the deal will be a game-changer for the Indian players. They can bank on gaining more exposure to international tournaments in Asian-Pacific region.

The APT has staged more than 80 events in the region, including venues in Macau, Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Australia and New Caledonia. These events combined raked over $30 million in prize money, all awarded to players.

Posted on 12th July 2018 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

All poker players that are also a reality show lovers have really something to look forward to this summer since Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, Khloé Kardashian and Kendall Jenner will each host their own table at the first annual “If Only” Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament.

This inspiring and noble fundraiser is taking place on Sunday, 29 July at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

Doors open at 12 p.m. with the games beginning at 1 p.m. The event will be hosted by Shelli and Irving Azoff, Madison Square Garden and City of Hope, and will feature celebrity appearances of the members of the famous family. Since the event and the stars’ preparation will be filmed for the fall episode of “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, poker players can also hope for some face to face time with their favorite celebrities.

Non-player tickets cost $250 and higher while player tickets begin at $1,000 and go up to $50,000. The amounts will cover food, amenities and some pretty amazing prizes.

Featured food and beverage offerings include Boo’s Philly Cheesesteaks, Hansen’s Cakes, Tyler Texas, Cookie Good, Carney’s Cake, Justin Wines, champagne from the Bubble Tap Trailer and tequila from Casamigos. Visitors can also enjoy foot spa treatment from the Barefoot Trailer and hair and make-up glam experiences by Mane Addicts in the Forum’s backstage and much more.

Tournament players can look forward to some interesting prizes. The winner will be awarded with front row tickets for the Eagles’ performance at the Forum in September and a backstage VIP meet and greet while the second place wins front row tickets for Fleetwood Mack in December and a backstage meeting with Stevie Nicks. Other prizes include everything between iHeartRadio Festival tickets, customized Callaway golf clubs and a Lorraine Schwartz Diamond Against Evil Eve bracelet.

As huge long-term supporters of a non-profit clinical research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases City of Hope, all members of Kardashian-Jenner clan jumped to the opportunity to help raise more money for this noble cause. They will use their popularity and millions of followers on social media to advocate for this worthy cause.

The Azoffs are bringing together celebrity friends and entertainment industry impresarios to benefit City of Hope. Long-time City of Hope campaigner Tyler Barth was instrumental in bringing all parties together for this once in a lifetime event. Online registration for the charity poker tournament is open at the Forum.

Posted on 4th July 2018 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

After a public nomination process and the voting by the PHOF Governing Council, the WSOP announced ten candidates for the Poker Hall of Fame’s 2018 class.

Since its establishment in 1979, all poker players strive to be among the finalists. Two new names will be added to the current 54-member Hall of Famers on 13 July. The two most deserving poker players will be determined by the 28 living members of this prestigious list together with the 18-member panel consisting of media members.

They will all send their official ballots to the WSOP Governing Council until 8 July and the newest members to the Poker Hall of Fame will be announced as part of the WSOP Main Event final table festivities on 13 July.

Two new candidates, David Oppenheim and John Henningan, joined the eight players who have been finalists in previous years. Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Mori Eskandani, Bruno Fitoussi, Mike Matusow, Chris Moneymaker, Matt Savage, and Huck Seed have already been nominated before and they all hope for better luck this year.

To get inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, players must be at least 40-years-old, to have played high-stakes poker against acknowledged top competition and stood the test of time.

The other criteria they have to fulfil is they have played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers. Non-players can also find their way to the list of top ten but only if they are deemed to have contributed to the overall growth and success of the game like Matt Savage, WTP Executive Tournament Director.

Being one of the most recognizable faces in poker, Savage has done huge work in the promotion and standardization of the game. Savage has been lobbying very openly to convince voters he is a deserving candidate since he created tournament rules that casinos around the world implemented in the gameplay. Many doubt the voters will vote in the favor of an industry employee rather than in the favor of a player but we’ll have to wait and see.

No doubt the voters will have a very difficult job to elect only two out of ten really impressive candidates. We can’t wait for the results.

Posted on 27th June 2018 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Delaware Lottery announced the figures for the online poker revenue in May and they show the first rise since July last year. The addition of New Jersey to the existing interstate online poker network of Delaware and Nevada was a real boost to Delaware revenue.

Nevada and Delaware have been sharing poker liquidity across 888’s interstate network since March 2015 and New Jersey joined on 1 May 2018 following the signing of Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) announced that WSOP.com will begin sharing liquidity as well as 888Poker.com in the tree states and create a new large-scale multi-state offering that will “propel the industry forward”.

Nevada and Delaware have together a population of 4 million people which makes it hard to achieve a critical mass large enough to support online poker but with additional 9 million people in New Jersey, the situation changes a lot. The full potential of the shared pool is yet to be discovered in the future. Pennsylvania is expected to join MSIGA in early 2019 and the addition of 13 million people will once again double the size of the regulated US online poker player pool.

The increased poker liquidity from New Jersey had a huge impact on Delaware’s online poker industry since the country reached the $20,000 mark the first time since July 2017. In total, three Delaware casinos reported $24,300 in rake and tournament fees in May, with Delaware Park collecting a whopping $14,600 which represents 60% of the market.

The $24,300 is the highest amount since January 2017 when they reported $25,000 and although May 2018 saw online poker revenue rise 15% year-over-year, Delaware online poke is still well below the level it was at in the period 2014 to 2016. At the time the monthly revenue was between $60,000 and $50,000 which means revenues had been declining nearly 30% on average over the last 18 months.

New Jersey joining the shared pool promises to really be a game changer for Delaware. Three Delaware casinos, Delaware Park, Harrington Raceway and Dover Downs reported really impressive number of new registrations1,394. If May numbers are any indication, interstate online poker is growing the Delaware online poker market and this is just the beginning.

Posted on 20th June 2018 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

PokerStars has announced a brand new addition to the European Poker Tour on a lower prize-point so players of all bankrolls can compete between 21 and 29 September in Sochi, Russia.

EPT Open Sochi confirmed dates for the Main Event and High Roller but the full schedule will be announced later. EPT Open Sochi Main Event will take place from 25 to 29 September with a buy-in of $2,125 (RUB 132,000). The guaranteed prize pool is nearly $1 million (RUB 60,000,000) and the lucky winner will walk away with a Platinum Pass for the PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship (PSPC) that takes place in early 2019.

Satellites to the EPT Open Sochi are available online with a variety of different buy-ins that start from $22. Main Event packages worth $3,100 that include accommodation and Main Event buy-in, are also in the offer via satellites.

Platinum Pass is worth a whopping $30,000 and includes $25,000 entry for the PSPC event, six nights at Atlantis Resort, Nassau in the Bahamas as well as $2,000 in food and beverage allowances. This one will be one of the five Platinum Passes that PokerStars promised to reward to EPT Open Sochi participants. PokerStars will award more than 300 Platinum Passes throughout 2018 via PokerStars specific tournament, random prize draws or fun free-to-play competitions.  PokerStars expects the 2019 PSPC event to be the biggest high roller poker tournament to date.

Players of the EPT Open Sochi will also have the chance to meet Team PokerStars pros, PokerStars Ambassadors, receive free merchandise and enjoy the luxury of Sochi Casino & Resort. If you need the reason to stay in Russia a little bit longer, Sochi Autodrom kicks off after the EPT Open so you can enjoy one of the most popular forms of motor racing.

This will be the second time EPT visits Sochi this year since the regular stop took place between 20 and 29 March. The winner of the Main Event was ArseniiKarmatckii winning a hefty prize of $478,451 (RUB 27,300,000).

PokerStars Ambassador, Mikhail Shalamov, sees EPT Open Sochi as a great opportunity to gather all kinds of players from around the world.

“It’s great to see the EPT returning to Sochi but with a slight twist as the EPT Open Sochi. The smaller Main Event buy-in this time around will make it a brilliant opportunity for players of all bankrolls to play on home soil and give Russian players the opportunity to take to the felt against some of the best players from around the world. At the EPT event earlier this year there were more than 1,300 players from 61 different countries!”

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