Until a couple of days ago, many that feared the U.S. online poker industry was going to be legislated into extinction during the lame duck session. Recent developments have all but assured no movement on online poker in 2014, and this should be considered a win by the industry. Immigrantion Reform Stole Sheldon Adelson’s Bill If you were to read the various analysts out there, you would think that a showdown surrounding RAWA was coming and could possibly result in a “doomsday scenario” for online poker. Then President Obama threatened to exercise his executive authority to ease deportation policies and suddenly RAWA is on the back burner. Regardless of your opinions on immigration laws in the United States, the issue is actually helping the cause of online poker as it provided an unexpected roadblock to RAWA passage. Hearings have already been scrapped and experts are already claiming that the bill is all but dead. Republicans are more concerned about stopping the President and avoiding yet another government shutdown than they are about online poker. For once, that works in our favor. No Chance for Legalization During Lame Duck While the stalling of RAWA is welcome news for online poker supporters, it also means that there is no chance that an online poker bill will even be introduced during the Lame Duck. Even before the immigration issued heated up, the odds of a bill being introduced were as likely as an Adrian Peterson return to the NFL in 2014. Soon to be former House Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already admitted that he will work with and compromise with Republicans. This essentially raised a white flag as it pertains to online poker legalization and there hasn’t even been a hint of movement on an online poker bill from the Reid camp. No News in Lame Duck is Good News for States While everyone would love a dream scenario where online poker is legalized nationally, that’s not going to happen this year, and likely not in the next couple years at least. However, should RAWA indeed stay on the back burner, this would prove to be a win for state legalization. While RAWA has some support in Congress, it doesn’t quite have enough support to make it through on its own. An addition to a Lame Duck session bill was the most likely way to get this bill passed this year. If it fails, it’s almost back to square one for Adelson and his Coalition. A stalled RAWA should serve as a wake-up call for states on the fence regarding online poker legalization, especially California. If these states could move forward with legalization and enter the industry, it would help to bulk it up to the point where supporters and lawmakers could reasonably fight RAWA. A four to five state industry including California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania would bulk up the industry to the point where they could reasonably argue against killing it. The losses of state tax revenues and the loss of jobs would be at a tangible number that lawmakers could appreciate. It is hard to imagine Republicans killing a job and revenue producing industry in the current economy. Don’t Dismiss Adelson While a stalled RAWA is a good thing for the industry, we can agree that Sheldon Adelson and his coalition have proven to be bigger threat than anticipated. Steve Ruddock warned that we should take Adelson seriously and provided several sound points that should be retained. The ones that we have to remember are that he has the money to spend against online poker and his argument makes sense to those that are not part of the industry. The game we take for granted is looked down upon by the average voter and by many lawmakers. He will continue to use this view against us until we can either prove him otherwise or can present reasons why the industry should live, such as massive state tax revenues and job creation. We dismissed him at the end of 2013 and a year later, we had to suffer through the biggest sweat since Black Friday. Our industry cannot take him lightly again. Previous Post Next Post online poker legalization|online poker regulation|sheldon adelson About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

The Pala Band of Mission Indians have officially launched (beta) in New Jersey and are the only tribe in the nation offering fully legalized and regulated iGaming. When the tribe announced their partnership with Borgata, some were speculative considering the recent failure of Ultimate Gaming. While concern regarding New Jersey is understandable, one should take a broader view of Pala’s involvement. The tribe is very possibly positioning themselves to become a major player in California online poker with New Jersey merely proving a fertile testing ground. Regulation Changes in New Jersey Can Help Keep Pala Competitive Recent regulatory changes in New Jersey could provide a way for the Pala and other online casinos to remain competitive with Borgata and Caesars. Casinos are now allowed to offer their own gaming products and do not have to share them with other sites as was the case for much of the first year of New Jersey iGaming. Pala is already taking advantage of this with the Spin for $1 Million promotion. No other casino is currently offering users a daily free spin win cash prizes ranging from $1 to $1 million. This exclusive promotion will certainly draw players to the site and if the site can continue with these types of unique ideas, it will help make them competitive. Platform Will Be Ready and Tested When California Legalizes When we went to, the first thing noticed up top was a little banner box for That’s right folks, Pala is going to launch a poker site in New Jersey. With PokerStars supposedly still on the way to New Jersey, this move seems a bit futile. PokerStars, Borgata and Caesars will certainly dominate the New Jersey marketplace, so why make a site? The answer is California. Regardless of whether it is 2015 or 2016, most feel online poker is coming soon to California and Pala is going to use New Jersey to get ready. Pala Poker will launch in New Jersey and they have a state full of players that can test the software, kick the tires, and give feedback. They can use New Jersey to perfect their online poker platform for the eventual rollover to California. When California legalizes the game, Pala Poker will be ready to launch and the Pala tribe will be ahead of every other tribe in the state besides the Morongo – that assumes PokerStars is allowed into the state right away. If PokerStars is delayed, Pala could become one of the early frontrunners in California online poker with Caesars. PokerStars Delay Could Make Pala a Player in New Jersey Poker While Ultimate Gaming ultimately failed in New Jersey, it did prove that there was a bit of a market for poker outside of Caesars and Borgata. Most will agree that any wiggle room in the market will all but be eliminated once PokerStars hits New Jersey. But what happens if PokerStars continues to be delayed? We heard that PokerStars would be in New Jersey before Halloween, then Thanksgiving and now rumors say that early 2015 is the expected launch. If Pala Poker launches and PokerStars is nowhere to be seen, this could open the door for them to take the market share once enjoyed by Ultimate Gaming. What happens if Pala Poker is able to gain a foothold in the New Jersey market? It helps the site improve and grow, making it a stronger company for California online poker. Previous Post Next Post new jersey|online gambling|pala About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

Beginning on January 1, 2015 the iPoker Network (owned by PlayTech) will implement a new rake allocation system for their skins in an effort to fix what the company feels is a flaw in player valuation. The new rake allocation model, which iPoker is calling “Source Based Rake” or SBR, was first reported by I was also able to procure a copy of the network’s 26-page SBR manual to assist with writing this column. The new method will not affect the amount of or how rake is collected at the network’s online poker tables, nor will it affect a player’s allotted contribution to the rake. SBR is only used on the backend to determine the allotment of revenue sharing between iPoker and their many skins. iPoker hopes SBR will balance the ecosystem iPoker is hoping SBR will improve their current player valuation model by rewarding skins that are bringing in new players and frequent depositors, and at the same time disincentivizing sites from focusing their marketing efforts on grinders. The current model used by iPoker is to allocate rake to their skins based on each player’s contribution to the rake at the tables. This has led to a focus on attracting high-volume (usually winning) players who play a lot of hands and generate a lot of rake, but do not deposit and are not good for the health of the poker ecosystem. How SBR works This isn’t iPoker’s first attempt at solving this issue. Beginning in 2012, iPoker began separating their skins into two tiers. A top tier (with exclusive games) for skins that help the poker ecology of the network by meeting certain performance thresholds, such as bringing in new recreational players, and a second tier for skins that are not attracting new players and have a preponderance of winning, high-volume players. Unfortunately, this tiered system doesn’t seem to be working, and its relative ineffectiveness has led to the development of SBR. SBR is designed to tag all of the money in the system (across all skins) to the player who originally made the deposit (and by extension the skin they registered with), until that money leaves the economy through rake or withdrawals. In order to do this SBR essentially creates two separate categories of player funds:
Money being wagered for the first time*
Money that has changed hands *Bonus and promotional money is tracked as new money. SBR tags all “new” money (money deposited) to the depositing player. This money will now be tracked within the system in what is effectively a “shadow balance” only visible to iPoker. The shadow balance is tracked and rake is allocated to the player and skin where the money originated regardless of who currently possesses it. Example: “CHRIS” on Poker Site X deposits $100 and loses it in a single hand to a “STEVE” on Poker Site Y. The total pot is $198 (suppose $2 of rake was taken) and both players generated $1 in rake, CHRIS for Site X, and STEVE for Site Y. Under the old system STEVE and Site Y would be credited with any rake CHRIS’s money generated from here on out. Under the new SBR system, Site X would continue to receive credit from CHRIS’s $99 that is now in the possession of STEVE. If STEVE also started with $100, his balance would now read $198, but his shadow balance (seen only by iPoker) would have $99 tagged to him and Site Y, and $99 tagged to CHRIS and Site X. If this player then uses these funds to continue playing, then Site X will be credited with the rake even though CHRIS is no longer an active player – it should be noted that iPoker’s SBR model uses oldest money first, so if CHRIS deposited before STEVE, Site X would be tagged for STEVE’s future rake until that money changes hands or is lost to the rake. Basically, under SBR, Site X will continue to be rewarded for bringing this money into the system even if it their player is no longer in possession of it. Potential impact of SBR on players SBR does not impact the rake paid on the players’ end (unless they read this column players will not even know SBR exists), but it will likely impact the rewards programs and promotions offered by iPoker skins moving forward. With high-volume, non-depositing players losing value, and new and frequent depositors gaining value, sites will be forced to shift their focus from attracting high-volume winning players to depositing players, and this likely means a retooling of their VIP programs. A suggestion made by the iPoker Network in their SBR manual was for skins to lower the % of rewards offered through a site’s VIP program and target new and frequent depositors with personalized promotions and offers. Potential impact of SBR on skins SBR is a major change from the top down. Skins that have focused on grinders will be hard hit with the implementation of SBR on January 1. iPoker outlined in their SBR manual that they have gone back some two years to determine the source of all funds in the current economy, which means current skins that rely on a small percentage of winning high-volume players for the bulk of their rake allocation will soon see their worth drop dramatically – perhaps to near 0. Other skins that have been doing things the “right” way all along, will likely see their share of revenue jump significantly, even if most of the players they brought into the network are long gone. Potential impact of SBR on affiliates Affiliates are also likely to be hard hit by these changes as they have spent the bulk of their marketing efforts in recent years attracting these high-volume players. The adoption of SBR will likely require affiliates to move away from a rakeback based model into a free bankroll or gift based model. Previous Post Next Post ipoker About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including,,, and USA Today.

Online poker operators like to talk about how they’re adapting a more recreational player-friendly model. And to their credit, select measures have been taken of late ensuring that Recs won’t spend the majority of their time online harassed by bum hunting grinders:
The inclusion of casinos and jackpot type poker games have done their part in promoting a more lighthearted atmosphere.
Anonymous tables effectively prevent high-volume players from preying on the weak.
Sites are spending less money on high-profile sponsorships and convoluted rakeback programs, and more on “fun” promotions. Yet, here we are, well into the fall months, and online poker traffic has only recently begun to recover from a 10-month long swoon that resulted in total liquidity losses of 26%. Clearly, more changes need to be instituted, and I’d argue that one of the first areas operators should look to improve is their much maligned welcome bonuses. The Problem With Welcome Bonuses Today’s welcome bonuses are little more than exercises in deception designed to mislead new signups into thinking they’re getting a fantastic deal. Visit any poker room’s website, and I can virtually guarantee that one of the first things you’ll see is a banner ad proudly proclaiming the following: “Sign up now and receive a 100% match bonus up to X on your first deposit”, with X ranging anywhere from $400 to $4,000. Sounds like a good deal, right? It’s not. Here’s an example of how welcome bonuses really function:
Player X signs up for a site currently offering a 100% match bonus up to $1,000. Intrigued, our value seeking player registers, then uses his credit card to load $1,000 in his account.
After fumbling around the lobby, Player X finds a $.25 / $.50 game. He sits down, plays for a few hours and loses two full buy-ins.
In the process he accumulates 50 player loyalty points, which equates to $25 in contributed rake.
The next day, Player X notices five extra dollars in his account. Apparently, to unlock $1 of his bonus, he must contribute $5 in rake.
Player X proceeds to read the fine print, and realizes that in order to actually receive the full $1,000, he’ll be forced to pay $5,000 in rake over the course of 90 days or lose all uncleared bonuses forever.
Reasoning that he’ll lose more than $1,000 learning the game, he ends up only playing sporadically.
In the end, the bonus amount Player X clears isn’t even enough to cover the cash advance fee his credit card company charged him for loading funds on to an online gambling site. And that’s an example of how a lenient welcome package works. Sadly, some sites only release bonuses in a few sizable increments or require players to clear bonuses in as little as 30 days. I often wonder what percentage of the poker playing populace contributes $5,000 or more to the house on a monthly basis. 5%? 1%? Less? And of those that do, how many are enthused hobbyists? My guess is next to no one. Welcome bonuses weren’t always bad. In the early-to-mid 2000s, when sites were throwing bricks of money at their customers, a recreational player could sign up, clear their bonus with ease, and cash out. Given the generally poor level of play, it wasn’t inconceivable for them to win a few shekels in the process. But today’s poker landscape is a vicious hunting ground, and odds are new players will go bust before clearing even a minuscule fraction of their bonus. Frustrated and dejected, they abandon online poker in favor of a another hobby. Compounding matters, even casual players have become privy to the fact that today’s welcome bonuses are essentially a sham, and may choose to disassociate themselves entirely with an industry they perceive as shady and deplorable. Something’s got to give. A Few Possible Solutions Abandoning the current model entirely would likely prompt the 1% of players that actually make full use of the bonus (and account for roughly 95% of Two Plus Two forum posts) to brandish pitchforks and call for the exiling of any and all executives that supported the decision. Instead, operators may want to consider altering their welcome bonuses to read: “Sign up today and receive a 100% match bonus up to X on your first deposit…”: OR 20-40% of your first deposit in tournament dollars Entice casual players by giving them the option to pad their bankroll by 20-40% right off the get. Players who know they have no realistic chance of clearing a full welcome bonus will relish the opportunity to receive a smaller, yet guaranteed, percentage of their initial deposit as tournament bucks. This solution benefits the operator as well, as it will have a direct and immediate impact on tournament turnouts, and subsequently, cash liquidity. And by rewarding tournament dollars as opposed to real-money, it effectively prevents players from gaming the system. OR a 5% match bonus for every daily challenge completed The casual gaming crowd loves daily challenges – especially if the reward for successful completion is cash in hand. Why not implement a system where players have two weeks from the time of initial deposit to complete a series of daily challenges. Accomplishing a task results in the player receiving a small percentage of their initial deposit as cash. Daily challenge promos have had profound short term effects on player liquidity. By adapting the described model, operators all but ensure that these gains, while less pronounced, will be continuous. AND 50% cash back on all net losses for 30 days Online casinos roll out promos like this all the time: “If you win, you get nothing, but if you lose we’ll refund a portion of your losses.” Although no poker player likes to admit that he or she is a losing player, the overwhelming majority are. By ensuring a return on first month losses, it guarantees newcomers a second chance – not only to utilize their newfound experience, but to win. Or, should players decide after a month that they’re tremendously awful at online poker, their hard lesson will only have cost half the price. Admittedly, in the short-term, the aforementioned solution will cost operators’ money. But isn’t spending money now better than the alternative, where the poker ecology is left in a perpetual state of imbalance? Previous Post Next Post About Robert DellaFave Robert DellaFave writes for a variety of online gaming sites and is also working on programming a poker simulation creative enough to beat the best. Follow Robert on Twitter @DivergentGames and on Google+

On Wednesday November 12th,‘s Board of Directors confirmed via statement to the London Stock Exchange that the company has entered preliminary discussions with “a number of interested parties regarding a variety of potential business combinations” and that “such discussions may or may not result in an offer made for the Company.” The statement was issued shortly after Financial Times Alphaville Editor Paul Murphy suggested on Market Live that newly-minted PokerStars owner Amaya Gaming was prepping a $1.2 billion takeover of Read the full transcript of Market Live session here. However, the London Evening Standard has gaming software development company and iPoker platform provider Playtech as the one interested in acquiring after the latter announced that it “was raising a $315 million war chest, via convertible bond issue, for acquisitions and ‘organic opportunities’”. In either case, shareholders responded positively to the news, as the company stock soared 12.52% to 121.3p on Wednesday, effectively negating the losses of the prior five months.’s recent woes Rumors of a possible takeover have been swirling since June, when Bloomberg reported that it was “considering selling some or all of the company”. Although Bwin denied the allegations, it’s now clear that the company is at least entertaining the prospect of an acquisition. has struggled mightily of late, largely due to its poor performance in the online poker sector. According to data gathered from Pokerfuse Pro via PokerScout, 7-day cash game averages on PartyPoker have fallen an alarming 59% since February 2013, causing the former market leader to drop to sixth place in the global industry rankings. In PartyPoker’s defense, the global iPoker industry hasn’t fared well as a whole, falling victim to the European economic crisis and the increased costs that come with national regulation. That being said, Party has underperformed the market by a more than 2-to-1 margin. On a somewhat brighter note, the licensing partnership of the Borgata and is currently the market share leader in New Jersey. However, it’s the Borgata, not Party, that has reported profitability. Compounding matters further, will soon face increased pressure in the U.S. regulated market when online gaming behemoth PokerStars throws its hat into the arena.’s casino and bingo operations also experienced year-over-year losses from 2013 to 2014, which were only partially offset by a solid performance from sports betting. The company reacted to the poor showing by instituting a number of cost cutting measures and simplifying its strategic approach. Will be acquired as part of a takeover? Given the extenuating circumstances and the recent statement issued by, it does seem likely that all or part of will be sold. However, at this point, who eventually takes over the company, and how/when the deal transpires is anyone’s guess. Should Amaya acquire, it would strengthen its position as the most dominant force in the online poker industry. While the prospect of gaining a near-monopoly over the iPoker market and a significantly stronger foothold in the sports betting and online casino spheres may sound enticing, consider that Amaya financed 95 percent of its $4.9 billion acquisition of the Oldford Group (parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt) by debt. In the comments section of the Financial Times Alphaville piece, stockbroking and advisory house Peel Hunt comments: To which I concur. In order to acquire, Amaya would willingly bury itself further in debt, and be forced to divide its strategic focus between two of the world’s largest digital gaming firms in PokerStars and bwin.Party – a lofty task by any stretch of the imagination. It would be one thing if, like PokerStars, was at the top of its game. But is in the midst of restructuring, and will task any new owner with investing significant resources, both financial and in man hours. In either case, any plans Amaya has for will likely be revealed when the company publishes its financial figures on November 14. Moving on to Playtech, the company was previously deemed a “bad actor” by Nevada’s poker regulators and failed to meet the stringent licensing application requirements imposed by NJ DGE, thus forcing it to temporarily abandon its plans to enter the Garden State. Acquiring would prove an excellent gateway into the U.S., and lines up nicely with Playtech’s stated strategy to focus on regulated markets. The problem is cost. $315 million is not nearly enough to acquire the totality of the enterprise. One theory suggests that Playtech will purchase the online poker portion of’s business, with Amaya acquiring its casino and sports betting operations. Again, it’s all speculation at this point, but one thing is clear: major changes at are on the horizon. Previous Post Next Post amaya|party poker About Robert DellaFave Robert DellaFave writes for a variety of online gaming sites and is also working on programming a poker simulation creative enough to beat the best. Follow Robert on Twitter @DivergentGames and on Google+

In between the news of the Ultimate Gaming shutdown, California Tribes signing deals and Lame Duck speculation, there was actual poker being played. Martin Jacobson is poker’s newest golden boy after winning the WSOP Main Event. Meanwhile, Jesse Wilke takes down the Lake Tahoe Circuit title and qualified for the National Championship. Finally, Ryan Van Sanford just turned 21 and celebrated by winning a WPT title. Martin Jacobson Wins 2014 WSOP Main Event Poker has a new world champion and he has 10 million reasons to celebrate. Martin Jacobson of the Netherlands took down the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event on Tuesday to become the new world champion of poker. He also received $10 million in prize money, the second largest Main Event prize in history. Jacobson started final table play as the second shortest stack and played patient poker to put himself back into contention. Heading into the final table, the big story was Mark Newhouse. Newhouse had made back-to-back November Nine final tables, the first player to do so. He started the final table in third place but picked a bad spot to race against a larger stack. As a result, he finished in ninth place. Jorryt Van Hoof started the final table as chip leader and retained that lead heading into the final day. Jacobson was second in chips with Felix Stephensen the short stack. Van Hoof struggled on the final day and ultimately fell in third place when he ran Ad-5d into the As-10c of Jacobson. Jacobson took a nearly 2.5 to 1 chip lead into heads-up play against Stephensen and regularly applied pressure to the short stack. Stephensen was unable to get anything going and eventually decided to take a stand with Ah-9h. Jacobson woke up with pocket tens and it was “Tens for Ten” million. A ten on the flop sealed Stephensen’s fate and Martin Jacobson is the 2014 WSOP Main Event Champion. In addition to the title and $10 million, Jacobson won a bracelet from Jason’s of Beverly Hills worth over $500,000. Jesse Wilke Wins Lake Tahoe Circuit Event – Steve Foutty Qualifies for National Championship While Jacobson and company were busy playing the November Nine final table, the Main Event final table played out at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe. Four Californians made the final table but it was Washington poker pro Jesse Wilke that took the title. Wilke came into the final table as the chip leader and held onto that lead for much of the final table. His heads-up opponent was Barry Kay of Incline Village, NV. Kay went on a rush at the final table and chipped up from being a short stack to playing Wilke heads-up for the title. Ultimately, the two tangled in a monster hand where both caught a straight, but Kay had the sucker end of the straight and had to settle for second. Wilke’s win earned him $125,401 and pushed him over $245,000 in career earnings, most of them coming this year. Back in February, he finished 8th in the Main Event of the Tunica circuit stop and cashed twice at the World Series of Poker. According to Wilke, he was chip leader at one point during Day 4 but went cold and failed to make Day 5. He finished in 374th. Wilke’s circuit Main Event win also earned him a spot in the WSOP Circuit National Championship to be held at the end of the season. Also earning a spot in the National Championship final was Steve Foutty. The Mill Valley native cashed three times during the Tahoe circuit stop, making two final tables and winning one gold ring. The National Championship awards a WSOP bracelet and will have a prize pool of up-to $2 million. Van Sanford Celebrates 21st Birthday With WPT Title How do you celebrate your 21st birthday when you’re a poker player? With a major tournament victory, of course. Ryan Van Sanford won his first major poker title just three days after his 21st birthday after taking down the World Poker Tour bestbet Bounty Scramble in Jacksonville, FL. Van Sanford came into the final day of play as the chip leader, one that featured three poker pros, a businessman, an Ophthalmologist and a wine consultant. The featured player was Jason Helder. The Pennsylvania pro earlier this year won The River Poker Series Main Event at the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma for a cool $1 million. He was easily the most experienced player at the final table with over $1.4 million in earnings. Helder’s experience wouldn’t help him at this final as Van Sanford was a virtual terminator, eliminating four of his final five opponents. He knocked out Helder in fifth place when Helder’s Ks-Qs failed to outrun Ah-10d. Ultimately, it was Van Sanford against Chris Bolek for the title. Van Sanford had a nearly 3 to 1 chip lead and proceeded to win the majority of the hands played heads-up. In the final hand, the pair saw a flop of Th-9s-6s and Bolek bet 150,000. After a Van Sanford raise to 400,000, Bolek shoved. Van Sanford quickly called and turned over Ts-8d for top pair and a gutshot straight. Bolek turned over Td-7h for the same pair and also a gutshot straight. The 2s on the turn eliminated the chance of a chop between the two, meaning Bolek needed an eight to win. The river fell the Qc and Van Sanford won the title. Ryan Van Sanford is the latest World Poker Tour champion, earning $421,068 in prize money. Previous Post Next Post wsop About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

In a press release disseminated on Tuesday Caesars Interactive named Leon Thomas as their Vice President and General Manager of Regulated Online Gambling. The position appears to be a new one, as it will oversee “the Marketing, Casino, Poker and operational functions for CIE,” according to the press release. Thomas will report directly to CIE CEO Mitch Garber, and will be responsible for “developing, leading and driving strategic and operational initiatives across the regulated real-money online gaming operations for CIE,” according to the press release. Shifting dynamics in Nevada The addition of Thomas comes at an interesting time for CIE. Ultimate Poker’s announcement that they would be ceasing operations in Nevada last week leaves Caesars ( NV) as the only notable operator in the state. NV could potentially take a stranglehold in the market if they are able to woo displaced Ultimate Poker players through marketing and customer service efforts. NV could then parlay this boost to their player base into perhaps even more players as their liquidity increases. It will be interesting to see if CIE (perhaps with the assistance of Thomas) can capitalize on this opportunity in the coming weeks. This press release also predates the expected launch of two new online poker rooms, TI and 888, on the All American Poker Network Nevada (which will also join) as well as the interstate agreement with Delaware, which is currently expected to go into effect in early 2015. About Leon Thomas Thomas joins CIE after 3 1/2 years at Tombola, the largest online bingo company in the world. During his time at Tombola revenues increased and the company expanded into new markets. Prior to his time at Tombola Thomas oversaw Customer Service, Risk Operations and Regulatory matters at “I have known Leon for the past eight and a half years and the timing was finally right for us to reunite,” said CIE CEO Mitch Garber. “Thomas brings a wealth of real money gaming experience from his decade in the regulated European markets and we expect him to hit the ground running as we continue to build out our real money gaming team as we work towards a bright future.” “I’m impressed with the team Mitch has already assembled at CIE and can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and help position CIE for success in the regulated online gaming industry in the United States,” said Thomas. “While some may see struggles for the nascent U.S. market, I see plenty of opportunity and optimism for what I know is a fertile and large opportunity in a nation who enjoys this form of entertainment.” Previous Post Next Post caesars About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including,,, and USA Today.

Last week the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians announced they would be breaking ranks with the coalition of 13 tribes they joined several months ago. The coalition of 13 tribes was originally formed as an oppositional force against the powerful union between PokerStars, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Commerce Casino, Bicycle Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens Casino. Not only did San Manuel break ranks, but the tribe switched sides entirely, joining the enemy so to speak, by aligning themselves with the PokerStars coalition. But I’m here to tell you not to get too excited about last week’s announcement from San Manuel. The tribe’s change of heart will likely have little impact on legislative efforts in California, and will do little to solve the polarizing Bad Actor issue in the state. Immovable object vs. the unstoppable force Gambling Compliance’s Chris Crafcik made a very astute tweet explaining how the dynamics would likely remain the same following the announcement of San Manuel joining the PokerStars alliance: What the San Manuel shift means is that the two opposing sides may be even more evenly matched, which could conceivably make things harder in the state. But as long as the Morongos are on one side and Pechanga is on the other, little will change. Something that could change the balance of power would be if PokerStars could come to an agreement with the politically powerful horse racing industry in California. Racing has been pushed aside by both factions (although the Morongos have addressed the need to bring racing into the mix in some capacity) during the debate. If racing ends up throwing its considerable political weight behind PokerStars it could be a game changer. Possible repercussions While it does little to move California closer to a consensus on an online poker bill, San Manuel’s defection does pose several potential problems for the Pechanga coalition. First, it weakens the coalition. It may not strengthen legislative efforts or tip the scales too far in any one direction, but it does make PokerStars stronger, and the tribal faction weaker. Second, it has likely left many of the other members of the tribal coalition wondering if their loyalty could cost them in the long run. With the defection of San Manuel, I’m sure some members of the tribal coalition are wondering whether other tribes in the coalition are perhaps in talks with PokerStars and could potentially switch sides. For some of the smaller tribes (who wield less political clout) an alliance with PokerStars may appear a bit more promising. Third, from an outsider’s perspective the tribal coalition now seems shaky – the first crack has appeared. The tribal coalition was formed out of necessity, while the PokerStars coalition has strong bonds and seems more unwavering. If one succeeds they all succeed in the PokerStars coalition since they will have a working relationship post-legislation and will be partnered with the best online poker provider in the world, whereas the Pechanga coalition will simply go their separate ways regardless of the outcome, and be left to fend for themselves. Fourth, for tribes that are not entirely opposed to PokerStars, but needed to choose a side in this fight, it may allow them to break ranks (without joining the PokerStars coalition) and form a third, independent coalition. This coalition would likely consist of tribes (or several autonomous tribes) tired of the gridlock, who would be willing to support whomever presents an agreeable online poker bill. One possible example of a tribe willing to break ranks is the Pala Band of Mission Indians who have their own proprietary software (Pala Interactive) and are set to launch in New Jersey. Pala has a legitimate interest in online poker and may be growing tired of the gridlock. Another example would be the United Auburn Indian Community, who are partnered with The UAIC is part of the tribal coalition, but Group Director of Poker Jeffrey Haas made what seems to be an argument against Bad Actor clauses when I asked him the official stance on Bad Actor clauses in California: “This is a matter for the regulators to decide.” Compare this to PokerStars own comments on the same topic made by Head of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser: “Most regulatory frameworks around the world leave the assessment of suitability to qualified expert regulators.” The December bill will tell us a lot When Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer introduces his online poker bill in December it should give us a good indication of what has been transpiring behind the scenes in California. Three things to keep an eye on:
Does it contain Bad Actor language, and how far does the Bad Actor clause go;
What concessions, if any, are made to racetracks, smaller card rooms, and smaller tribes;
Who backs the bill and who comes out against it. Previous Post Next Post California|morongo|online poker regulation|pokerstars|san manuel About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including,,, and USA Today.

In the world of professional gambling, it’s well documented that many poker players have vices at and away from the tables. Many players are referred to as degenerates for their blatant disregard for money and the crazy bets they undertake. On occasion, such degenerates become legend. These are their stories. To kick off this series, I would like to throw in one of my personal favorites from my own playing career. From 2006 through 2008, I played semi-professionally on the live poker circuit. Most of my tournament play focused in the $500 through $1,500 range. While that range normally doesn’t attract a ton of the world’s top degenerates, all bets are off once you hit the World Series of Poker. One of my favorite degen stories centers around how my winning a measly $100 bet led to a four-time bracelet winner going on sports betting tilt to the tune of $50,000. Known Sports Bettor Wanted to Stay Even on the Day Those that are well-embedded in the live poker community know Mickey Appleman. He is a four-time WSOP bracelet winner with over $1.78 million in live tournament earnings. To those that have never met him, he typically looks like he just rolled in off the street. As most of us learned as a child, appearances can be deceiving. I had the opportunity to play Appleman on a couple of occasions at the 2007 World Series of Poker. The first was during the $1,500 Limit Hold’em Event. He was to my right the entire time he was in the tournament and desperately trying not to place any sports bets that day. Appleman was a big time sports bettor and has won, and lost, unknown sums of money. On this day, he was being bugged quite frequently through the first couple of levels as to whether he was going to bet on any games that day. Appleman was trying to focus on the poker game but that just wasn’t happening. I remember at least four phone calls where he told bookies that he was trying to stay even on the day and wasn’t placing any bets. Two or three people also stopped by the table and he politely told them he wasn’t betting that day. Someone at the table even asked him why he wasn’t betting and he claimed that he was a “bit light” on cash that day. Matusows Antics Draws Curiosity and Sets Up Unlikely Bet Appleman isn’t usually very chatty at the table but he noticed several named pros in the event next to us and Mike Matusow was beginning to start up some of his antics. He asks the table whether we knew which event Mikey was playing in and I spoke up telling him that it was the $2,500 Half Omaha 8, Half Stud 8 Event, the evening event from the day before. Appleman didn’t believe me and stated that it couldn’t have possibly been the event because he “would have played that event over this one.” I insisted that it was indeed the Mixed Hi-Lo event and he looked at me and says “how much you want to bet on it?” Here’s the thing. The NL restart for that day was in the Brasilia Room and there were no other events running. There was no chance that this could be any other event. Not wanting to overplay my hand, I told Mickey “$100.” He looked at me and said “Ok, done” and proceeded to call over the floor guy. He asked him which event that was and he told him “That’s the half and half. Omaha and Stud.” Mickey gets up out his chair, looks around at the remaining field in that event, looks back at the floor man and says, “for real?” He replied, “Yes sir.” Mickey looks at me and sheepishly asks, “and I owe you $100?” I reply, “Yup.” So Mickey sits back down and this man that is supposedly “light on cash” proceeds to pull out a roll of $100 bills as big around as my fist. He takes one off and flicks it towards me. I could have said $1,000 for the bet and it would have never phased this roll. However, the mere fact that he lost $100 seemed to put him on betting tilt. For the next ten minutes, he fidgeted in his seat like he was an ADD child in school without meds. Finally, he took out his phone and starting placing bets on baseball games. “Put $5,000 on the Dodgers. Put another $5,000 on the Mets.” For the next ten minutes he got lines for various baseball games and threw down $5,000 at a time on his choices. From my recollection, he threw down over $50,000 in baseball bets in about a 10 to 15 minute stint. After placing all those bets, someone else at the table asked him “how come you changed your mind and placed all those bets?” Mickey looked at his cards and said, “I’m stuck on the day.” That’s right folks. My little $100 bet forced fifty large out of a four-time bracelet winner. I never got a chance to find out what happened for his sports bets that day. Mickey busted from the event before dinner and I went on to run deep in the event, making Day 2 and finishing 47th. Previous Post Next Post About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

2014 Main Event: The Final Episode It has been a long and dramatic journey since 6,683 men and women from 83 different countries started this year’s WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas back in July. Tonight we’ll witness the final showdown between the last three men standing: Dutch player Jorryt van Hoof, Norwegian Felix Stevensen, and Sweden’s Martin Jacobson.
Van Hoof is going to try to use his lead over the two Scandinavians to keep them from gaining control of the table, much like he dominated all of last night, but Martin Jacobson proved he’s extremely skilled at patiently waiting and striking at opportune moments with a smaller stack. The blinds are 600,000/1,200,000, with a 200,000 chip ante. The poker begins. First hand The first shows van Hoof opening with a 2.6 million chip bet with Q-5 suited. Jacobson raises him to 8 million with 7-7. Van Hoof hesitates and folds, drop below 87 million but bringing Jacobson up to an even 69M. And we’re off. It continues like this for a while, all three men jockeying around seeking a killer hand. Positions don’t change much for awhile, even the stacks inch back and forth without much a difference. Finally Stephensen is dealt a pair of Queens. He’s tired of being behind Jacobson, 47 million to 64.3. Jacobson bets 2.7 on K-J offsuit. Stephensen raises to 8.2. The flop is 789. Stephensen checks, needs to see what Jacobson does before he decides how to play this. Jacobson bets 6.2M. That’s all Stephensen needed, he goes all-in. Jacobson can’t justify it with these cards and flees instantly. That’s going to shift Stephensen into 2nd with 63 million and put Jacobson in the short stack under 50M. Not for long The card reader cuts out for a little due to technical difficulties, fortunately the hands are not that interesting. Jacobson slowly climbs back up behind Stephensen. Van Hoof makes it to 91 million. Jacobson has 53 million to Stephensen’s 57 when his opportunity comes, pocket Aces. This time it’s Stephensen with K-J off. Jacobson raises modestly. The flop is 7T5. Jacobson bets another 4M, and another 10M after the King turn. The river Queen unsettles them both, too many possibilities when they each just have a pair. The graphics cut out again from the sheer drama of it. Jacobson bets another 15 million, and Stevensen calls. The pot is 65.8 million. That will elevate Jacobson to 86.3M. Stephensen now has only 24 million chips. A massive shift. Stephensen now has to play a bit more desperately to try to climb out of it. The Lead is broken Van Hoof bets 2.6M from the small blind with J-6 of hearts. Jacobson calls with A-9 of diamonds. 6KA inspires van Hoof to bet 4.8M on the low pair. Jacobson is patient with his top pair. King of hearts on the turn not only gives both two pair, but also means van Hoof has a flush draw. He checks, Jacobson bets 9M. Van Hoof folds. Jacobson is now the chip leader, he goes from 81M to 89M, van Hoof drops from 91M to 84M. A short time later Jorryt bets on J-5, with Stephensen calling with 9-8. Stephensen is helped by the 349 flop, both players check. The turn is a 5, giving van Hoof a pair so he will call Stephensen’s 4 million chip bet. The King on the river is the third club on the table, briefly giving both pause. Stephensen’s gut tells him to shove. After a heavy hesitation Jorryt calls. The crowd erupts; Stephensen closes the gap rising to 48.6M while van Hoof’s pile decreases to 63.8M. Van Hoof begins to crumble Stephensen calls from the small blind with 9-6. Van Hoof raises him with A-8 suited. One of his spades appears in the 357 flop, but that also gives Stephensen a couple possible straights. Stephensen bets 4.3M. Van Hoof very slowly calls. The 4 of spades arrives. Stephensen has his straight. He bets 8.5M, van Hoof again calls. The river 4 of hearts means the flush has not arrived. Van Hoof only has an Ace kicker to bet with, and that’s not enough to pit against Stephensen’s 15.5M bet. He folds. Stephensen now commands 58.6 million chips. Van Hoof is suddenly the short stack with 50.1M. Jorryt van Hoof manages to avoid completely tilting at least, and climbs back over Stephensen. That is until Jacobson knocks him back down again (both players have a pair of Nines, but Jacobson has the better kicker. Van Hoof and Stephensen are about even, 52M and 53M. Two unfortunate hands will see Stephensen up to 69 million and van Hoof down to 38.4M. In the last hour van Hoof has slipped from well ahead to firmly behind. A short break The blinds have increased to 800K/1.6M. Van Hoof bets big with a King kicker, taking 21 million chips from Jacobson. That will bring the chip counts to 76.8 for Jacobson, 67.1M for Stephensen, and 56.6 for van Hoof. Now it’s interesting. It appears that perhaps van Hoof has regained his composure, until he suddenly bets 3.6M on A-5 suited. Jacobson raises to 9.2 with A-T. Van Hoof stares off into the singularity of bad decisions an ultimately says “All-in.” Jacobson calls without a second thought. 52TQQ Jorryt van Hoof completely trounced everyone last night, but he’s out in 3rd place. He’s won $3.8 million dollars. Heads up Felix Stephensen now has 58.5 million chips. Martin Jacobson is sitting on 142,000,000. It’ll be over in an hour. Stephensen takes the first hand with a pair of Fours. The pot is seven million. Jacobson folds the next couple of hands. None of this prepares Stephensen for the hammering that commences. Half a dozen hands later Stephensen has slipped back down from 65M to 56.6M. That’s when Jacobson opens for 4 million with J-T. Stephensen calls with 6-6. The flop is T54. Stephensen checks, Jacobson bets another 4 million. The turn is another 4. Both players now have two pair, and both check. Jacobson takes stock of the King that is dealt. Stephensen bets 8 million. Jacobson calls without getting greedy, that will nourish his garden of now 160 million chips. Stephensen has a quarter of that with 40.4. You could base a textbook about Heads-up on how Jacobson is playing. On the next hand, Stephensen opens for 3.5M with A-3. Jacobson calls with K-T. The flop is 4J8. Jacobson calls, Stephensen bets 4.0M. The turn shows us a 9. Jacobson bets 9 million. Stephensen can’t afford the risk. It’s now 167.8M to 32.7M. Jacobson doesn’t take any risks, he lets a few hands pass by and Stephensen is able to crawl back up to 53M, before Martin knocks him back down to 48M. Jacobson makes a river bet with absolutely nothing that frightens Stephensen, and he’s been whittled down to 41M. The Norwegian is soon down to 38M. Jacobson bets 4M on 9-9, Stephensen gets bold raising him to Q-8. It is not the right move. Jacobson raises him for his entire stack. Stephensen can’t even think about calling with Q-8. The End It’s now 172 million to 28.5 million. Jacobson pushes Stephensen around for a couple of hands. He drops to 23 million. Stephensen begins going all-in immediately. This works twice, getting him back up to 28.5, but it’s not a viable strategy for long. Stephensen is dealt A-9 of hearts, and bets 3.5M. Jacobson has pocket Tens. The Swede raises Stephensen all-in. This is it. T93. Jacobson has flopped a set. Stephensen has a 0.4% chance to be rescued by the forces of random chance. The turn is a King. It’s over. The river 4 is just a formality. Victory Felix Stephensen has won $5.2 million for taking second place. The first Main Event champion from Sweden, Martin Jacobson will return home with ten million dollars and the coveted bracelet. He is the 2014 World Series of Poker Champion. We hope you have enjoyed our coverage of ESPN’s coverage of this year’s biggest tournament in poker. See you next time. Previous Post Next Post wsop About Ryan Ocello