Posted on 6th December 2017 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission’s most recent annual report offers worrying numbers for the online poker community.

Despite the overwhelming surge in overall gambling industry in the UK over the past couple of years with online casino games and sports betting in particular going through a tremendous rise, same cannot be said for online poker.

In a report dealing with employment, participation and revenue during the period that covers the time between April 2016 and march 2017, online poker industry in the United Kingdom has generated approximately $136 million.

To put it in perspective, during the same period of time online casino games niche amassed $2.2 billion whereas the sports betting sector contributed with whopping $2.5 billion.

Online poker contributed to just little over 5% of the casino gaming’s gross gambling yield in a 10.1% percent year-on-year increase and the number do not look promising as far as poker market is concerned.

Online poker is expected to play a less and less significant role in the ever-expanding gambling market and poker operators are facing a struggle to keep up the pace behind other forms of online gambling.

Over the past couple of years operators have introduced a wide variety of different playing options in order to keep the audience engaged. As a skill-based game poker is now becoming a fun-seeking activity aimed to appeal more and more to recreational players.

Poker operators will need to step up their game and to innovate in order to stay relevant and that’s the biggest challenge. One idea is to introduce online poker events and tournaments with larger jackpots and games that have a higher chance factor as opposed to skill-based factor that is predominant in poker.

Apart from the downtrend in numbers reported by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, PokerStars as the authority figure in the poker landscape also indicates that poker numbers will continue to decline as casino and sports betting numbers continue to grow.

In the end, it will be interesting to see what changes will regulators and operators introduce in order to help poker catch up with its industry’s peers.

Posted on 29th November 2017 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Only a month ago, Pennsylvania became the fourth state in the U.S. to legalize online poker and gambling and joined New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

If you recall, the legislature passed the gaming bill in October, and after the senate and the House voted, the bill pended Governor Tim Wolf to officially sign it. Wolf signed bill H 271 and it became the law so daily fantasy sports, sports betting, online poker and gambling became legal.

And now, two U.S. Senators, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), are trying to revert the trend and ban online poker in the United States.

The two senators sent the letter on November 21, to Trump Administration and specifically to U.S. Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, asking him to reverse the Wire Act Clarification. The clarification was issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2011 and allowed the states to launch online betting industries. Should he reverse the clarification, online gambling would immediately become completely illegal in the U.S.

This is not the first time Graham and Feinstein oppose to online gambling.

With the help of billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who owns and operates some of the world’s largest land-based casinos, the senators asked California lawmakers not to legalize online poker and to restore the 1961 Wire Act.

Wire Act was originally designed to prevent organized crime by making sports betting over phone lines illegal. Decades later, the Department of Justice included all gambling over the internet in it but the Office of Legal Counsel clarified it in 2011, so the Wire Act applied to sports betting only.

Their most recent letter is said to be full of misinterpretations and even says that “the FBI has concluded that ‘online casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes,’ including money laundering and ventures by transnational organized crime groups.”

What the FBI actually said is that illegal, offshore online gambling could be used for criminal activity and that a prudent online casino could easily detect and sanction such illegal methods and activities. The difference between legal and illegal gambling wasn’t made anywhere in the letter.

The letter came in just in time for the United States Supreme Court Hearing on December 4, on constitutionality of a 1992 federal law that bans sports betting outside a few states and as soon as sports wagering is legalized, online gambling will follow right behind it.

Posted on 22nd November 2017 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Treasury Department fined Artichoke Joe’s Casino, a California card room of 17 poker tables and 35 traditional card tables, with $8 million for “willful violation of anti-money laundering controls”.

Artichoke Joe’s Casino has been accused of deliberately overlooking anti-money laundering regulations and turning a blind eye to money laundering activities from 2009 to 2017. This is the largest amount ever fined to a card room since gaming violations first came under the purview of FinCEN 20 years ago.

The $8 million fine reflects the severity of violations and the lengthy duration in which it occurred, and will definitely set an example to other cardrooms that ignore money laundering and loan sharking. All casino operators and cardrooms in the state must fully comply with the regulation and report any illegal activities or they will be faced with similar penalties.

Artichoke Joe’s casino was already raided in March 2011, by the feds and two people were charged with shark loaning. This raid had a role to play in the size of the fine since the management of the casino appeared to look the other way as crimes were committed under their noses.

Loan sharks reportedly provided AJC chips to customers on the gaming floor in front of the AJC employees. Besides the $8 million fine, the property is being investigated by California gambling regulators for allegedly failing to disclose the money laundering probe. Their license could be revoked. Loss of the license would end a business that lasted 101 years in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This is not the excluded example as FinCEN discovered similar illegal activities.

Two years ago, the agency issued its first ever legal action against a California card room, Oaks Card Club. The card room paid $650,000 for willful violation of Bank Secrecy Act. Hawaiian Gardens Casino was fined $2.8 million last year for repeated money laundering violations.

The Bicycle Casino, a famous 185-table venue, was even shut down briefly this April over a money laundering investigation. Nine state and federal agencies were involved in this investigation so we can freely say that shark loaning and money laundering are a huge problem in California.

California has 88 active cardrooms all over the state according to California Gambling Control Commission. That is 1,997 total tables operating so they should all consider the risk of exploitation by criminals and face charges and fines if they don’t respect the law.

Posted on 13th November 2017 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Online 888poker qualifier, Marti Roca De Torres, is the winner of 2017 World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE).

The WSOPE is a tournament keenly awaited every year and since it attracts the most famous names in the poker business, it always provides some interesting stories. We already wrote about Boris Becker who tried to solve his money problems by participating, and now, Spanish poker player who is not a globally recognized name, won the event.

Marti Roca De Torres won the WSOPE bracelet at no-limit Hold’em main event. A total of 529 entries were made in the WSOPE €10,350 main event at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. Roca De Torres was the least experienced player at the final table since he previously earned only €30,000 in poker tournaments prior to this event, and this event included some of the world’s top poker pros.

What strikes us most is that Torres secured the seat at this tournament by winning an entry through a €222 online satellite in a poker room 888poker. After a hard final that lasted about 14 hours, 36-year-old Roca De Torres won €1,115,207 earning his first bracelet.

Marti started the final day at second place with six players remaining and with Maria Ho leading the board. Niall Farrell, UK pro and recent bracelet winner put an end to Ho’s dreams who finished at sixth place earning the comforting €174,365. Farell came fifth with €239,639. Rober Bickley was left in fourth place winning €335,089, Mathijs Jonkers busted out in third place winning €476,585, leaving Gianluca Speranza and Roca De Torres to battle it out for the bracelet. The two played 75 hands before the champion was decided and Speranza was sent to the rail as the runner-up earning €689,246 for his impressive game.

Roca De Torres recently quit his job as an economy teacher to pursue his passion and a career as a poker player. He is the fourth player from Spain, and the first Catalon to win a WSOP bracelet. His victory paid him well and he thanked his friends and family for the motivation and support, especially his daughter and partner with whom he is expecting another child. Lucky both in love and in gambling, he now has 1,115,207 more reasons to be happy.

Posted on 8th November 2017 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Former tennis star, Boris Becker, has reportedly entered a poker tournament hopping to win €4 million and solve his money problems.

Becker played High Roller Event at World Series of Poker Europe held at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic on November 7 but he didn’t win. The prize was €4 million and the event had a €111,111 buy-in but reportedly, Becker paid only €10,000 won in previous poker tournaments in August while his sponsor, Party Poker, covered the rest.

Becker fell short of the money on the eighth level and dropped out. The competition was really tough though. Canadian Daniel Negreanu who has won $33 million in live tournaments and was ranked as the best player of the decade in 2014 was among his rivals. Fedor Holz, last year’s winner at WSOPE and American Eric Seidel who has won $32 million throughout his career were also participating.

Dominic Nitsche from Germany won the tournament and scooped his fourth WSOP bracelet and first since a $1,000 buy-in Hold’em event in 2014 in Las Vegas. Nitsche, a member of German poker invasion, outlasted 132 players at second high-roller charity event at WSOPE in Chech Republic. He won whopping €3,487,463. Fellow German Andreas Eiler came second and scooped €2,155,418 while Mikita Badziakousi was third and pocketed €1,521,312.

Boris Becker, 49-year-old former tennis player, once had a fortune of more than $130 million but he filed for bankruptcy in June this year.

This three-time Wimbledon champion and six-time Grand Slam winner lost his fortune after some bad business deals. Going through divorce from his model wife Lily after 8 years of marriage just put him in even worse shape financially.

Rumor has it he is in debt of some €50 million but he claimed to be only €3.34 million in debts. He could be even forced to sell his Wimbledon trophies that have been ordered to stay in his London home in case they are seized and sold in auction. Becker took a job in August as a head of German Tennis Federation which is the largest of its kind in the world.

Posted on 1st November 2017 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Phil Ivey, one of the world’s leading poker players, lost his case in the UK Supreme Court to recover $10.2 of his winnings from a London Casino.

Back in 2012, Ivey played a card game Baccarat known as Punto Banco at Crockfords Club in Mayfair and won. The owner Genting Casinos UK said that he used a technique called “edge-sorting” that is not a legitimate strategy and refused to pay him out.

Edge-sorting is a technique that involves identifying small differences in the pattern of the back of the playing cards and exploiting that information to increase the chances of winning. Ivey didn’t personally touch the cards but tricked the croupier to rotate the most valuable cards under the pretext he was superstitious. This allows player to increase a chance of winning by getting the cards already played arranged in such a way that when a next card emerges, the gambler knows whether they are of a high or low value.

The croupier thought this was irrelevant, but in a game, which depends on random delivery of unknown cards, and judging by the Supreme Court’s decision, this is inevitably cheating. Ivey admitted that he noticed small irregularities on the back of the cards but that his win should be upheld as he just “exploited casino’s failure to protect itself from the player of his caliber”. Phil thought that it was a legitimate “advantage play” and after the final decision he said that the court has no experience or understanding of casinos.

Ivey, a 40-year-old American poker player, is a 10-time winner of the World Series of Poker and is often referred to as “Tiger Woods of Poker”. He earned more than $23 million during his gambling career. He pursued this case because, being a professional player, his integrity is everything to him.

In the Court of Appeal, Lady Justice Arden said the Gambling Act from 2005 provided that someone may cheat “without dishonesty or intention to deceive, depending on the circumstances it may be enough that he simply interferes with the process of the game” and that’s exactly what Phil Ivey did in this case.

Anthony Hughes, Supreme Court Judge explained that the integrity of the game Punto Banco baccarat depends on the cards being dealt at random, without gamblers knowing their face value and that what Ivey did was a “staged a carefully planned and executed sting”.

Paul Willcock of Genting UK, said: “We are delighted that the High Court, the Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court have all found in Genting’s favor, confirming that we acted fairly and properly at all times and that Mr Ivey’s conduct did indeed amount to cheating.”

Posted on 25th October 2017 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Poker could become an Olympic sport in the future since it has been recognized by an international sporting body for the first time.

Global Association of International Federations announced earlier this month that poker, pole dancing, arm wrestling, foosball and dodgeball had received what is called “observer status”. This basically means that they are now provisionally regarded as sports and that is the first step in the process towards the potential debut at the Olympics at Tokyo 2020 and the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics.

This decision to grant them “observer status” was unanimously voted earlier this year in Denmark at the Global Association of International Sports Federations General Assembly, which works closely with the International Olympics Committee (IOC).

“This is an exciting time for them and for us and we will do everything within our remit to help them realize their full potential as International Federations within the global sport’s family and, one day, maybe become part of the Olympic program.” said Patric Baumann, the President of GAISF, welcoming the first observers.

The poker community is thrilled that poker is on the radar but IOC has a lot of requirements that poker would have to meet before being considered as an Olympic sport. Firstly, it must be played by at least 75 countries and on 4 continents. Then it has to be played by women in 40 countries and on 3 continents, and finally the element of chance has to be removed completely from the “core” of the game.

If we live to see poker at the Olympics, it would be a Match Poker, a kind of Texas hold’em where the element of chance has been removed in the random draw of cards. Teams are split at different tables and each member of the team has different seat positions. For example, all players in seat 1 in each group receive identical cards on a digital device and start each hand with equal number of chips. The same is true in every other seat. The same cards are dealt at all tables. Each teams’ combined chips are compared after every hand and points are allocated accordingly. After resetting their stacks, the next hand starts. The team with most points wins.

Just imagine the world’s most famous players fighting for a gold medal. It would definitely be one of the most interesting poker events ever.

Posted on 17th October 2017 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

The Stars Group announced the launch of a PokerStars Power Up this week, the latest innovation from this world renowned member of the gaming industry. The

The power up was created and developed in-house and represents the combination of traditional poker and video games.

Back in August, during the PokerStars Championship Barcelona Series, the company held a presentation and explained the need for this project.

Besides the company’s vision of poker moving forward, an internal survey conducted by PokerStars showed that 42 percent of lapsed players found the game of poker boring and not engaging. Thus, they decided to make the game fun, complex and innovative but keep the competitiveness and strategy of traditional poker.

PokerStars even brought the most skilled poker players and professional gamers to offer their own changes and input after testing the game for 6 months, 40 hours a week.

The game has specially designed graphics, immersive visual and audio effects and multiple avatars that bring the game to life.

Power up is, at its core, No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker tournament, with three players facing off across an agreed upon buy-in stake of $1, $3, $7 or $15. Players start the game with the same amount of 2,500 chips and two cards as usual but also have two randomly selected powers “Clone”, “Intel”, “Disintegrate”, “X-Ray”, “Upgrade”, “EMP”, “Reload”, “Engineer” and “Scanner”.

Powers use energy and regenerate during the game and can be used to rapidly change the flow of the match. Players receive a copy of the last power used, peek at a deck, eliminate a card and force an opponent to reveal one of his cards. Players keep track of their energy level and use their power when it matters the most. The special powers are fantastic but PokerStars was careful not to make them too powerful.

The special power cards add additional layers of complexity to Power Up and make it an incredibly skillful form of poker.

Therefore, PokerStars provides a tutorial all new players must watch before playing at the tournament. The game is definitely an intriguing and polished modern twist on traditional poker and we’ll see how it would stimulate current players and help reconnect with players that are less active or their former players.

Posted on 11th October 2017 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Maryland’s poker market is one of the nation’s fastest growing.

These days, Maryland has a larger gambling market than Iowa and Michigan. Ohio’s market is roughly the same size while only Pennsylvania beats them with a market worth about double the Maryland’s. According to figures released by gaming regulators, a record-breaking year continued for Maryland casinos with poker rooms generating a $3.6 million in revenue from their tables in September.  In comparison to September 2016, that’s a 33 percent increase.

Poker rooms have raked $33.5 million in the first nine months of the year while the state record for poker revenue was set back in January at $3.92 million which is also a 33 percent year-over-year gain. The state has six casinos but two of them don’t offer poker. MGM Harbour led the way with $1.7 million poker revenue and then Maryland Live! followed with $1.4 million. Horseshoe Casino Baltimore generated a combined $436,000 and Hollywood Casino Perryville generated $94,000 during the month. Maryland Live! has the largest poker room in the state with 52 tables, followed by $1,6 billion MGM with 39 tables. Horseshoe has 25 while Hollywood has 8 tables.

Back in September 2016, Maryland Live! had $2 million revenue so apparently the MGM Casino had an impact. MGM opened in December and has significantly grown the poker market. The fact this casino is approximately 10 miles from Washington D.C., it’s proving to be an advantage in the summer tourist season when tourists flock to the USA capital. Back in June, MGM held almost 40 percent of the state’s $130.5bn casino revenue, leaving its competitors fighting over the scraps.

Players lost, or were raked a total of $134.5 million at all six casinos of the state. That was an increase of $37.4 million in comparison to the September 2016 figure of $97.1 million. That’s a 38.6 percent increase. But if we exclude MGM from a year-to-year comparison, the casino revenue in September decreased by 12.3 percent or $11.9 million. So MGM has definitely helped the Maryland gaming market but also pinched out a piece of existing revenues for its competitors.

Record revenue from all six casinos was set at $141.2 million in March this year.

Posted on 3rd October 2017 by Maya Michaels in Poker News

Reports say that at least 59 people were killed and nearly 500 wounded when a shooter fired on 22,000 Jason Aldean concert visitors on world-renowned Las Vegas Strip Sunday night.

The shooter opened fire using long-range rifle from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Hotel and early Monday police identified him as a 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock.

Paddock, a Nevada resident, died of self-inflicted wounds, had no criminal record and wasn’t connected to terrorism but critics of the media coverage of the event say that this shooting should be definitely be labeled as an act of domestic terrorism.

The shooting temporarily blocked flights at the McCarran International Airport, casinos were locked down and MGM resort cancelled Monday shows. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval called the shooting an “act of cowardice” and MGM send “thoughts and prayers” to the victims of the horrific event.

Poker player, Dan Bilzerian was attending the concert at the time of the shooting and posted first-handed video to his 22.7 million followers on Instagram. The video shows Dan running after apparently witnessing a victim got shot in the head. He left grounds to get a gun and head back to help if he could, according to his posts.

After the deadliest shooting in modern United States history, the poker community expressed their emotion and sympathy on social media.

Sarah Herring was at Mandalay Bay few hours prior to incident and condemned the shooting sending her prayers for the victims and their families.

“It is such a shame that the actions of one sick person or one group of sick people can have such a devastating and frightening effect on the lives of so many others. I will be praying for all the innocent people and their loved ones and pray that God would soften the hearts of those who intend to hurt others.”

Mike Leah criticized the fact people are allowed to buy guns legally and asked common people to smarten up. Liv Boeree, Danielle Andersen, Scott Seiver, Phill Hellmuth and Ryan Laplante are among many to show their love and support.

“Can we come together and make a difference in the name of all those lost their opportunity to last night? I urge us all not to get stuck in fear and anger. Separation and hate will only move us backwards. Unity and love will give us a chance to move forward. Who you are, the choices you make and the words you choose are never neutral. You are either contributing to more hate or more love, “ Kristy Arnett wrote on Twitter.

The perpetrator was a passionate gambler himself and according to his brother, he moved from Florida to Mesquite, Nevada a few years ago in order to be closer to Las Vegas gambling. New York Post stated that he was a “degenerate gambler” and quoted his neighbors who often heard him playing video poker all night long. He had no gambling debt and investigation in the weeks ahead will surely shed light on his motives for this dreadful mass shooting.

After this terrifying act life across the gaming community continues as normal today with Global Gaming Expo G2E opening on time and according to schedule despite the torrid event.

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