The closure of Ultimate Poker has left a number of online poker players in limbo, and while many feel will be the biggest beneficiary and attract most of these wayward players, as Yoda said, “there is another.” That other is Real Gaming, the online poker room of South Point Poker which has been unable to gain a foothold in the Nevada market since it launched in February. Shoddy software (which has been improved and upgraded since the site first launched) is mainly to blame. It appears Real Gaming is looking to change its fortunes as it is making what it feels is a serious overture to Ultimate Poker’s former players (Ultimate had peak traffic in the hundreds, it wasn’t a ghost town), by offering to match their previous Ultimate Poker account balances up to $3,000, in what the site is calling “Ultimate Match” promotion. Per their press release: The fine print Unfortunately, the match bonus is not as good as it sounds upon first reading, and it’s doubtful it will have much of an impact on where Ultimate Poker players eventually end up. Like any deposit bonus there is a play-through requirement to the Ultimate Match bonus, and while this one does clear at a better rate than most, it’s far from an earth-shattering offer. Here is how it works: For every $50 in rake contributed you will receive $10 in bonus money. This works out to a 20% rakeback rate, which doesn’t seem to be enough incentive to lure very many players to Real Gaming (an inferior site to both in terms of software and player pool), and it appears Real Gaming realizes this as they are highlighting the mundane fact that you have a full year to clear the bonus money. It’s too bad, because this seems like a missed opportunity. As Robert DellaFave recently detailed, the current bonus method used by online poker sites needs a major overhaul. Real Gaming’s Ultimate Match bonus is simply more of the same. It’s simply the same old bag of traditional M&M’s with a couple extra M&M’s in it, when what was needed a new bag full of delicious Peanut M&M’s. For example, Real Gaming could have attracted quite a few Ultimate Poker players if they had just tweaked the promotion slightly. What I would have done is offer an instant match up to $1,000 on all players coming from Ultimate Poker OR You could then set strict play through requirements to cash out these funds. What they are offering is just a single step up from the normal online poker site offers. If they wanted to really make a splash they should have gone for the fences. For complete rules, see Real Gaming’s site. Previous Post Next Post real gaming|ultimate poker| 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.

There’s been a lot of legal wrangling this week in California following the filing of AB 9. The PokerStars Coalition has already issued a statement and is blasting the new bill. Meanwhile, the case against the Iipay Nation mounts as the Department of Justice has filed a complaint against the tribe citing violations of the UIGEA. Department of Justice Files UIGEA Injunction Against Desert Rose Bingo It appears that legalized online gambling with the Iipay Nation will be short lived. On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California filed a complaint against the Iipay claiming that violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The government is seeking a temporary restraining order as well as preliminary and permanent injunctions against the Iipay to prevent them from accepting funds or credit in connection with the operation of the Desert Rose Bingo. The site currently offers online bingo to players in California 18 years and older. According to the Iipay, they believe the site is legal because the VPN technology used to operate the sites ensures that bets are actually placed on tribal land and not off-site. They refer to it as proxy betting. California has filed similar injunctions against the tribe and it is possible the DOJ’s case and the state case could merge. The hearing on the California matter began on Thursday at 2 pm. PokerStars Coalition Calls AB 9 a “Rehash” of Old Bills It didn’t take long before the “PokerStars Coalition” filed their rebuttal against AB 9. The new online poker bill is similar to the Unified Tribal bill released over the summer and still contains a bad actor clause. In fact, new language in the clause looks to actually target Amaya and their purchase of PokerStars assets. The coalition issued their own statement on Thursday, blasting the bill as a rehash of past bills. Read the statement below: As a coalition, we are committed to working with legislators and our other partners in the gaming community to pass Internet poker legislation in 2015 that establishes a vibrant, competitive marketplace, provides superior consumer protections, and ensures that the state receives a reasonable return. We are convinced that the various interests must work together if we are to be successful in establishing a well-regulated environment and the best-in-class Internet poker industry for California. Unfortunately, AB 9 is a rehash of previously unsuccessful proposals. Any bill that seeks to establish artificial competitive advantages for some, while denying Californians the best online poker experiences, will only serve to divide the community and will be opposed by our coalition. The PokerStars Coalition includes the Morongo and San Manuel tribes as well as the Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino and Hawaiian Gardens casino. PokerStars was sold to Amaya Inc earlier this year for $4.9 billion and Amaya immediately began petitioning New Jersey to allow the site to offer iGaming. While final approval has yet to be issued, most feel it is a matter of time. However, PokerStars’ entry in California has been a hotbed of controversy and unless things change it could continue to stall any real movement on this or any California online poker bill. Previous Post Next Post bike|commerce|hawaiian gardens|iipay nation|morongo|pokerstars|san manuel 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.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia granted the state’s Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel tribe and their online bingo site, The TRO will put a halt to the tribe’s online gaming offerings until the matter is settled in court. The original complaint was filed on November 18 (Desert Rose launched on November 3) by California Attorney General Kamala Harris on behalf of the state of California. The complaint alleged the launch of was a breach of compact, and violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which prohibits the processing of illegal online gambling transactions. The U.S. Department of Justice later piled on as they filed their own UIGEA complaint against Santa Ysabel, which seems to indicate that the tribe may have processed payments for Desert Rose. In his ruling Judge Battaglia concluded:

Despite the ruling, as of Sunday evening the Desert Rose Bingo site was still up and running, and appeared to still be accepting deposits and offering real-money online bingo games – I was unable to confirm this as I do not live in California, but the website appears unchanged. Santa Ysabel has not responded to Friday’s ruling at this juncture either. It’s An Issue of Class The legality of Santa Ysabel’s online bingo site comes down to how online bingo is classified, and in particular if the online version is merely a technical aid or a facsimile of the game itself . Bingo conducted on tribal lands is considered Class II gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) that dates back to 1988. While bingo’s designation as a Class II game is settled, online bingo’s is not. Santa Ysabel claims it falls under Class II gaming and launched Desert Rose Bingo. The state, and others, disagreed and filed the TRO against the tribe. As gaming attorney Ian J. Imrich stated, the ruling contradicts the tribe’s claims that online bingo falls under Class II gaming in California because “at no time is live bingo game action performed by the user.” Therefore, online bingo falls under the “facsimile” designation in the 1988 IGRA gaming laws, which places it into the Class III and not Class II category. What About Online Poker? Interestingly, the judge’s ruling leaves the door open for online poker to be contested as Class II gaming, as Battaglia wrote [Bold Mine]: Unlike Desert Rose’s bingo offerings, an online poker site requires a tremendous amount of player involvement, although the rudimentary aspects of the game, such as cards and chips are done electronically. It seems to me, as a layman, that the door was left open for someone (probably not Santa Ysabel) to contest online poker as Class II gaming – whether they would win that argument is anybody’s guess. Whether the judge did this intentionally to focus solely on the bingo site and not make this a broader argument at this time is unclear. Although it hasn’t launched a real-money online poker site, Santa Ysabel is making the same claim regarding online poker. Friday’s ruling doesn’t address poker, but as Imrich later tweeted out, Santa Ysabel is unlikely to litigate that issue at this time. Santa Ysabel originally announced they would be launching a real-money online poker room ( but it was that the tribe went live with in November; although they still contend they will be launching Following Friday’s ruling, the idea that Santa Ysabel would flip the switch at (which is currently live for play-money games) and offer real-money games seems quite unlikely. Previous Post Next Post santa ysabel 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.

With Thanksgiving behind us, Americans are looking forward to the Christmas holiday season. Online poker supporters are also keeping an eye on developments at the state and National level to see whether any “Christmas surprises” may come our way. Below are the three big issues that will be tracked during the holiday season. Will PokerStars Receive Approval By Year’s End in New Jersey A story watched by everyone in the poker industry as well as California stakeholders is when PokerStars will receive approval in New Jersey. First, we heard the site was launching in September, then October and now the word is early 2015. Can we get a simple yes or no on their license first? State Senator Ray Lesniak claims that Governor Christie is holding up matters and recently even hinted that Christie was giving Sheldon Adelson time to work some RAWA magic. If there is any truth to this statement, we may have to wait until after the Lame Duck session before official word on PokerStars comes to light. California stakeholders are most interest in this development because they want to see what impact the site will have on the New Jersey iGaming industry. Most assume PokerStars will dominate the industry and become the top site nearly immediately. Should this happen, this could confirm Tribal fears regarding their ability to compete. Lame Duck and RAWA More importantly than PokerStars entry into the United States is whether Congress will actually move on the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). Most recent reports would suggest that the bill is all but dead and is receiving resistance from Republicans. However, as Congress proved with the UIGEA, the bill could still be attached to some other piece of legislation before the end of the session. For those that may only lightly follow legal matters regarding online poker, RAWA would essentially the old school opinion that the Federal Wire Act applied to online gambling. A December 2011 memo from the Department of Justice deemed that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting. Unless an exemption is made for online poker, a passage of this bill would not only kill any efforts in California or other states to legalize the game but it would also reverse the legislation passed in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. Next Attempt to Legalize Online Poker in California While the next legislative session doesn’t begin until 2015, some believe that a new bill will be floated sometime in December. Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer is currently expected to be the primary champion for online poker in the legislature and has hinted that a bill could be coming in December. Even if a draft is issued in December, that is just the beginning of what could become a lengthy process of negotiations between most interested stakeholders. The next bill must address both the issue of horse race track participation and the bad actor clause. The horse racing industry wants in and has already made their intentions clear that they will fight to be included. While Tribes have reportedly wanted to keep them out to stifle competition, odds are that they will not get their way. Everything seems to come back to the bad actor clause and that will likely be the case in 2015. The early draft will help indicate how big of a fight legislators will have on their hands with tribes. Many are against PokerStars and want a strong bad actor clause. The San Manuel Tribes recently defected and joined the Morongo in support of PokerStars. They claim that their position changed due to the Amaya purchase. The question now remains whether other Tribes are beginning to have a change of heart on the matter. Things could get really interesting should other tribes start to defect to the PokerStars coalition. Previous Post Next Post morongo|pokerstars|san manuel|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 battle to legalize online poker in California has resumed with the filing of a new online poker bill. Assemblyman Mike Gatto filed Assembly Bill 9 (AB 9) on Monday and the bill has been largely compared to the tribal bill released during the summer. While many parts of the bill remain the same as those seen in the past, a few new elements include modified bad actor language and the requirement of in-person account registration. A Senate version of the bill has yet to be filed. Legislators Covering All Bases With Bad Actor Language As expected, AB 9 includes a bad actor clause prohibiting any company from offering online poker in California that accepted bets in the United States following the passage of the UIGEA. However, this time around the bill has added language that would seem to target Amaya and their purchase of PokerStars. Under the language any company that has “purchased or acquired the covered assets of any entity” that violated the UIGEA would be banned from entry into the California iPoker market. Amaya Inc purchased PokerStars earlier this year and that purchase will likely allow the company to enter the New Jersey market. The bad actor language in AB 9 would seem to prevent that. However, there is language in the bill that may provide a loophole for Amaya to bring PokerStars into California. In essence, a company that purchases the assets of a UIGEA violator may be able to enter into California if the applicant “demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence” any of several criteria. The one most applicable to the Amaya situation would be that “The applicant’s use of the covered assets in connection with intrastate Internet gaming will not adversely affect the integrity of, or undermine the public confidence in, intrastate Internet poker or otherwise pose a threat to the public interest or to the effective regulation and control of intrastate Internet poker.” With the new language, the door is now cracked open in such a way to allow Amaya to negotiate PokerStars’ entry into California. It is unclear what type of clear and convincing evidence that the company will have to provide but one will assume that Amaya is already at work building their case to present to the state. In-Person Verification of Accounts and Initial Deposits Required One interesting addition to this bill is the requirement that all players will be required to register for their account in person. According to the bill, players will be able to register “in person at the land-based gaming facility operated by the licensed operator or at a satellite service center” operated by the card room. These satellite centers are required to be either a land-based card room or a tribal casino. Next, players will have to make their initial deposit at a live card room or casino. Future deposits will be available through online means. Also, some withdrawals will need to done in person. The bill currently leaves the amounts of those withdrawals blank but one can assume it will probably be for larger amounts to ensure proper IRS tracking. While an inconvenience for players, this is one way that card rooms and tribes can ensure identity verification of players. Depending on how many rooms go online, some players may find it difficult to register depending on where they live in California. Horse Racing Industry Still Left Out One glaring omission from AB 9 is horse racing tracks. The bill will only permit card rooms and tribal casinos to offer online poker. Prior to the stalling of SB 1366 and AB 2291 earlier this year, the horse racing industry had hinted that they would challenge any bill in court that did not include them. It would seem unlikely that the horse racing industry would be completely ignored in this process so it might just be a matter of time before they are added to a bill. It could come in a future Senate version of the bill. Regardless, this issue will need to be addressed at some point to prevent future gridlock. Previous Post Next Post online poker regulation 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.

On Wednesday, two-time EPT champion Vicky Coren-Mitchell announced her departure as a Team PokerStars Pro due to the company making the decision to offer casino style gaming. Some will claim that her departure was some grand statement that PokerStars should listen to. Personally, I believe it was a bit short sighted considering that all PokerStars was doing was opening up their site to a market that may not come to their site otherwise. Poker is Too Involved for the Average Gambler The typical recreational gambler does not frequent the poker room because it’s a bit too involved. They’re not going to be a multi-tabling machine that has studied advanced poker theory and is trying to maximize his or her hourly rate. Your typical recreational gambler wants faced paced games with a huge potential and bets they can control. They don’t want to analyze every single hand. They don’t want to bother with psychoanalysis of their opponents. They want games that are quick, easy, flashy and have a huge upside. Poker, when played correctly, can be a boring game and is very involved. It is not a game that you can sit down, play a couple of hands, and hit a jackpot. Poker is work and your average gambler wants quick, easy and fun. If they want to work, they’d go back to their job. Online Poker Needs Casino Gaming in the United States While Coren may not approve of PokerStars move, she admitted that online casino games are a product that is desired by many players. Taking a look at legalized online gambling in the United States, it is clear that casino games are not only desired but necessary for providers to stay profitable. New Jersey is a great example of the appetite of the American gambler. Online poker attributes for a bit under 25% of revenue collected in the state through October 2014. Nevada online poker has been on shaky ground in recent months, falling off nearly 40% since pulling in over $1 million in July. Nevada’s combined online poker revenue in October was 665,000. New Jersey’s lowest earner in October was Betfair and they drew $855.869 with online table games. The recent closure of Ultimate Gaming was due in part to the lack of profitability in Nevada, an online poker only state. In New Jersey, Borgata is already claiming that their online venture is turning a profit. Online poker only attributes to 35.38% of their gaming win in 2014. Online poker will not survive on its own until an interstate market of reasonable size is developed. At the present rate of legalization in this country, that could be many years off. Until that happens, online poker will need a symbiotic relationship with casino games should providers hope to become profitable in the developing years of the U.S. iGaming industry. No Such Thing as Pure Poker Coren-Mitchell stated that maybe in the future she would be able to work with the company on something that is pure poker. My question to her is what do you mean by pure poker? The modern day online poker site is no longer “pure poker.” There are elements on every site that actually lean towards, if not cross completely into, gambling. Turbo tournaments cut down on the skill factor due to the fast-paced blind structure. PokerStars “Spin & Go” tournaments incorporate a lottery element to determine the prize pool and then players compete in a three-handed hyper-turbo Sit & Go. Flipout tournaments and Kamikaze Sit & Go’s are two great examples of “poker” tournaments that are partially or entirely luck based. Flipout tournaments are pure luck to start with and then the final table is played out. You gamble to get to the final table and then move on. Every online poker site has elements that lean towards gambling. The game is always evolving and companies have to evolve to keep players coming back. Companies have to find a balance to keep recreational players involved and feeling like they have a chance. It may not be ideal for poker purists, but it is the reality of the modern day poker industry. Previous Post Next Post pokerstars 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 gambling industry tends to grind to a near halt around Thanksgiving, when even the most dedicated slot junkets temporarily find themselves consumed by thoughts of family, turkey, football and door-busters. But not in California, where the industry was as ripe with gambling headlines as it’s ever been. This week in California gambling lore was marked by the Santa Ysabel’s continued plight to offer online gambling, the launch of the first tribal operated online casino in the regulated market and the usual smattering of substantial tournament payouts. So don’t trade in your comp card for a turkey leg just yet, California gamblers. There’s still plenty to discuss. The Santa Ysabel responds Santa Ysabel Interactive spokesman Cruz Bustamante has offered a response via press release to a federal lawsuit filed against the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel. The suit, which claims that the Iipay Nation is violating the tribal-state class III gaming compact by offering online bingo to California residents located outside reservation grounds, asks the Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the site’s gambling operation, View the full complaint and TRO motion here. In the release, Bustamante calls the suit “a thinly veiled attempt to weaken tribal governments as the State prepares to negotiate compacts with many of the California Tribes.” Tribal factions are expected to play a significant role in the state’s prospective regulated online poker industry; an industry that could go live as early as next year. Cruz defends that the Santa Ysabel are well within its sovereign rights as per the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and that the Santa Ysabel Gaming Commission (SYGC) has “constructed a business model that is completely transparent and compliant with all applicable SYGC and NIGC regulations.” He concludes by stating that federal officials have been invited to the Santa Ysabel’s reservation to “review operations,” yet “no representative from the office of the California Governor has accepted the invitation.” The Santa Ysabel’s claims that the suit is little more than a conspiracy theory designed to undermine Tribal gaming influence comes across as a bit of tough sell, but we’ll see what happens during a preliminary court hearing, scheduled for December 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. More details here. goes live in New Jersey After a successful trial period, the Pala Band of Mission Indians received permission from New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement to open its gambling site,, to the masses. With the launch, the Pala become the first federally recognized tribe to enter the regulated iGaming landscape. The tribe’s November 22 entry came just days before the one year anniversary of Internet gambling in New Jersey; a year that was marred by failed revenue expectations, glaring software issues and payment processing troubles. Despite the industry’s tough outing, Pala Interactive CEO Jim Ryan is optimistic that the tribe is entering the “New Jersey market at the perfect time.” Mere days before was given the go-ahead, state regulators pronounced that Ryan had no involvement in Ultimate Bet’s 2006 cheating scandal. Ryan was a previous employee of the disgraced site. For more on Ryan and Pala’s plans in New Jersey, check out Chris Grove’s interview with the Pala Interactive CEO. The Pala Band of Mission Indians operates the Pala Casino and Spa in San Diego County, and is using one of the Borgata’s Internet gaming licenses. As part of its welcome package, the online casino is currently offering patrons a $10 free sign-up bonus, 100% match bonus up to $100 on initial deposits and a free $1,000,000 spin. L.A. Poker Open concludes with $500,000 guarantee The Commerce Casino hosted 2014 L.A. Poker Open culminated in a $1,600 entry, $500,000 guarantee last weekend. As expected, the ever popular event drew an influx of locals (469 in total), in creating a $680,050 prize pool. In the end, the tournament resulted in a three way chop with Northridge’s Emil Mactal receiving the lion’s share ($112,735) of the remaining funds. But it was Larry Quang that would be the lucky recipient of the $10,000 entry into the WPT L.A. Poker Classic Championship, to be held at the Commerce from February 28 – March 5 2015. Quang also received $75,000 in cash for his efforts. Previous Post Next Post commerce|pala|santa ysabel 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+

Beginning in the summer, the Santa Ysabel Tribe in California has been intimating that they will be going ahead with plans to launch an online poker site with or without the state’s blessing. After several false alarms the tribe switched gears earlier this month and instead launched a real-money online bingo site, with promises of an online poker room down the road. As we reported earlier in the week, the California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, sees things differently, and is challenging the Santa Ysabel’s tribe’s right to offer online gambling. California files suit To the surprise of no one, the legality of Santa Ysabel’s online bingo site,, is being challenged, with California AG Harris having already filed a Complaint and Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the tribe’s online offerings. One of the many points of contention (and something that has not been settled in court at this time) is whether Class II gaming over the Internet is the same as Class II gaming that legally occurs on tribal lands. According to the injunction, “The Tribe is reaching out to Californians irrespective of whether they are on its Indian lands. IGRA does not allow this. The UIGEA does not allow this. The Compact does not allow this.” Additionally, the complaint hits upon a specific word that appears in Class II Gaming laws in California, “facsimile,” and the result of the lawsuit could very well come down to the definition of this word as it applies to gambling. “Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel… has begun to offer a facsimile of bingo over the internet to bettors who are not located on the tribe’s Indian lands,” the complaint states. “In addition to violating state and federal law, the tribe’s conduct materially breaches the tribal-state class III gaming compact between the tribe and the state.” Martin Shapiro was among the first people to call into the question the legality of what the tribe was attempting to do, and although opinions differ on the subject, Shapiro’s line of thinking seems to be along the same lines as the California AG, as he made similar arguments: Santa Ysabel response The Santa Ysabel responded to the state’s injunction, saying it “lacked both substance and merit,” and was an assault on tribal sovereignty. The response goes on to call the lawsuit a leveraging tactic, aimed at weakening the tribes as the state pushes forward with potential legalization and regulation of online poker: Despite protestations such as, “This action by the State should be of great concern to all Tribes in California and elsewhere,” it’s unlikely the Santa Ysabel is going to find many sympathetic ears. In a recent interview with iGaming Business, Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro said of the Santa Ysabel’s efforts: Like many things surrounding the previously inconsequential tribe, their motives and their ultimate end game is still a matter of debate. ————————————————————————— Here is the full statement from the Santa Ysabel tribe: Cruz Bustamante, spokesman for Santa Ysabel Interactive, an enterprise of the Santa Ysabel Tribal Development Corporation issued the following statement responding to the State of California’s lawsuit that attempts to severely undermine the inherent sovereign rights of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel and its Class II gaming rights under federal law pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). “The complaint filed this week by the State of California against the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel lacks both substance and merit and attacks tribal sovereignty. We look forward to having the opportunity to demonstrate the legality, regulatory veracity and consumer safety of the Tribe’s interactive Class II bingo enterprise. “With this lawsuit, the State of California is attacking the sovereignty of all tribes. The suit is intent on obstructing the rights and economic vitality afforded to federally-recognized Indian tribes under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The State’s misguided attack completely ignores existing federal regulations and guidelines encompassed in the Cabazon Decision of the United States Supreme Court, which remains the law of the land. It is a thinly veiled attempt to weaken tribal governments as the State prepares to negotiate compacts with many of the California Tribes. This action by the State should be of great concern to all Tribes in California and elsewhere because it reflects a tactic that if successful would set a dangerous legal precedent that could be used in other jurisdictions to undermine and attack tribal sovereignty.” “Santa Ysabel Interactive and the Santa Ysabel Gaming Commission (SYGC) have constructed a business model and regulatory structure that is completely transparent and compliant with all applicable SYGC and NIGC regulations. The transparency is such that the SYGC regulations are and have been available to the public for months on the SYGC website. The Tribe has invited various California state and federal officials to review operations on a government-to-government basis. As of today, no representative from the office of the California Governor has accepted the invitation to visit the reservation to discuss Santa Ysabel Interactive.” Santa Ysabel Interactive and the Santa Ysabel Gaming Commission ( are committed to offering a safe, exciting and secure, quality real-money interactive gaming experience for legal California residents. Always Gamble Responsibly. If you need help please call 1.800.GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) Or text the word “support” to 53342. About the Iipay Nation: The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel is a federally recognized tribe in Southern California. Previous Post Next Post bingo|santa ysabel 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 18 months that regulated online poker has been available to those fortunate enough to reside within New Jersey, Nevada and to a lesser extent Delaware, there have been a whopping 15 – 20 six-figure tournament guarantees. Of those, only a small percentage did not feature a substantial overlay. Hindered by its small size, a lack of brand awareness, market fragmentation and saturation (NJ only), today’s US regulated industry cannot reasonably sustain the six and seven figure guarantees that before Black Friday were the norm, rather than the exception. But that will likely change when California decides to throw its hat into the regulated arena. By now we know that the California market will be big, but big is just an arbitrary term that could mean a lot of different things. Instead, we seek the answer to the probable size of California’s largest regularly scheduled and one off Sunday Majors. To PokerStars Or Not To PokerStars Whether or not PokerStars is permitted entry into California will have a sizable impact on the makeup of the market. The PokerStars brand has become synonymous with dominance in virtually every market it has entered; a trend that’s likely to continue in California. If it does, PokerStars will have increased flexibility in the area of tournament guarantees, so much so, that we may see special tournament events eclipsing the $500,000 guaranteed barrier. That’s good and bad news. Good in the sense that players are assured at least several opportunities per week to parlay their pennies into mid-to-high five digit scores. Bad, because it’s unlikely that any other network will be able to offer guarantees that even remotely resemble those found on Stars. Should Stars application be rejected, the race for online poker supremacy is wide open, and I suspect that CA’s market will more closely resemble New Jersey’s, where three operators remain viable. In that case, tournament guarantees will be more normalized across networks – fewer $200,000+ guarantees, but substantially more high five and low six figure MTTs. Go East, Young Man Luckily, there are two countries that serve as a suitable baseline comparison point for the prospective California market: Spain and France. Both Spain and France’s regulated markets are segregated (“ring-fenced”) from the rest of the world, and boast comparable Gross Domestic Products to that of California. There are a few differences worth noting, however. Namely, Spain’s population is approximately 20% larger than California’s and France’s nearly 70%. But in my estimation, this is offset by the fact that poker is a more firmly ingrained facet of California culture than it is in either country, and that some players in France still manage to play on PokerStars’ .com site – something that simply won’t happen in California. Spain’s market more closely resembles that of our first scenario, where Stars dominates. Stars Sunday schedule in Spain includes two 25,000 Euro (~$31,000) guarantees and a 40,000 Euro (~$50,000) gtd. Second place network 888poker Spain hosts a 20,000 and 5,000 Euro guarantee each Sunday. Seems pretty small. The makeup of the French market, where PokerStars is a player but not the market share leader (that distinction belongs to Winamax), is more in line with what one would expect if PokerStars is denied entry into California. Winamax’s “Main Event” is a 100,000 Euro (~$150,000) gtd. does one better, offering up a 125,000 Euro guaranteed each Sunday. So Why The Huge Discrepancy Between France and Spain? Is online poker simply that much more popular in France than in Spain? The short answer is yes. According to data gathered at PokerFuse Pro provided by PokerScout, 7-day cash game averages in the Spanish market are hovering around 1,500, or roughly .003% of the population. Compare that to France, where more than .005% of the population can be found playing cash online at any given time. So which country do we use as a baseline comparison for California? The answer is France. And here’s why: Consider that in New Jersey, an average of .004% of the population can be found playing cash online. Back before players grew tired of the market’s shortcomings, that average was as high as .007%. In other words, regulated online poker in New Jersey’s much maligned, niche marketplace is nearly as popular as it is in France. US residents clearly love their online poker. Factoring in the sheer size of the California market, combined with presumably stronger advertising and cross promotional efforts, and fewer operator growing pains, it stands to reason that CA will boast a far more prosperous iPoker scene than the Garden State, and by extension France. All of which leads me to believe that we’ll be seeing average cash game tallies somewhere in the vicinity of .008% – .010% of California’s total population, or just high enough penetration to place the size of California’s market roughly on par with France’s. Putting It All Together Based on the information presented to me, I’ve arrived at the following conclusions:
If PokerStars is part of California’s online poker industry, expect Stars to host a weekly $200,000- $250,000 guarantee and several other $50,000 – $75,000 guarantees, with the next largest network spreading at best a $75,000 – $100,000 weekly major.
If PokerStars is not part of the scene, I predict at least two or three operators will offer $100,000 – $150,000 Sunday Majors, and the remainder smaller $25,000 – $50,000 guarantees – very similar to the current situation in France.
When California’s operators hold special tournament events, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Main Event guarantees 2-4 times higher ($750,000 guarantee anyone?) than the norm. Which scenario is preferable is a matter of personal preference. But make no mistake, California’s online tournament scene will be big. 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+

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