Scientific Games (SG) is barreling forward with its plans to take over the world. Recent announcements brought news of two new members to the team—Doug Albregts as the Executive VP and Group CEO for its Gaming Division, Tim Butcher in the executive VP and chief product officer role across all of the company’s divisions and Nikos Konstakis as the VP of the company’s new sportsbook. SG has added yet another veteran to the fray, picking up Steve Schrier to be the chief commercial officer of the firm’s digital division.
Schrier has been involved in a variety of senior sales roles for the past two decades, covering different aspects of technology, gaming and products. He is joining SG following a successful stint as the VP of sales for Playtech Plc. His appointment will begin in July of this year, and he will report to SG’s CEO, Jason Walbridge, in SG Digital’s office in London.
In a statement, the company said, “In his role, Mr Schrier will establish world-class customer partnerships and be responsible for all account management and business development across SG Digital.” SG Digital CEO Matt Davey said, “Steve’s appointment marks the elevation of our customer engagement strategy… to cement SG Digital… as a global digital gaming powerhouse.”
In no small part a result of the recent reversal of the U.S. Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), Schrier pointed out that the digital gaming industry “continues to go through a rapid period of transformation and SG Digital is advancing on all fronts under Scientific Games’ leadership.” He added that he and his team will be concentrating their efforts on creating “world-class” partnerships while providing unparalleled customer engagement.
SG created its SG Digital arm in February to enhance its digital presence. The new unit incorporates the company’s existing portfolio with those of NYX Gaming Group, a sports betting company it acquired in January.
SG Corporation is a publicly traded company on NASDAQ under the symbol SGMS. It is the world leader of gaming entertainment and is ranked first in technology-based gaming systems. It also offers a variety of digital real-money gaming and sports betting platforms, as well as casino table and lottery games. It has net income of more than $1.3 billion and revenue of over $2.8 billion.
It’s Day 6 of Lee Davy’s reports from the Triton Poker Series in Montenegro, this time focusing on the winner of the HKD 1,000,000 Main Event, and a roundup from the €1m buy-in Cash Game.
The Asian crowd sitting across from me let out a collective hangover giggle. It sounds like a cacophony of monkeys at the moment a leopard strides into town looking for a headstone so he can piss on the dead.
One of them has the words ‘I Fought The Law’ on the back of his t-shirt. We all know the law won. It makes me wonder if poker players ‘fight’ other poker players, or whether the primary battle is with poker itself?
A few No-Limit Hold’em specialists came to Montenegro to pick up more video game points in the four tournaments on display in the shop window. But let’s not kid ourselves here. These events are the entrée. The cash games are the main course.
Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Daniel ‘Jungleman’ Cates – they win millions in these games because they approach them as a never-ending game. Some days you lose; some days you win. But you can’t sit there counting pennies. You need to look ahead until the day the headstone has your name on it, and then take a final count before the leopard cocks his leg.
So how do you ever leave a never-ending game?
It’s a puzzle.
This week, I have stared the beasts in the eye, and none of them has come up with a decent answer. There are no goals. There are no plans. There is only this moment. Only this hand.
Mikita Badziouski Wins the HKD 1,000,000 Main Event
I don’t know what Mikita Badziouski calls himself: cash game player, tournament player, both, but he’s been mixing it up, both sides of the divide this week. And the man with the little handbag is in fine fettle.
After the rush of the HKD 250,000 Short-Deck event, the HKD 1m Main Event felt positively pedestrian, even with a 30-second shot clock. The event attracted 63 entrants, with at least a third of those entrants coming via a second, third or even more bullets.
Steffen Sontheimer entered the final table with the chip lead. The defending champion, Manig Loeser, wasn’t that far behind. But it wouldn’t be the Germans tournament. Heck, it wasn’t the Germans festival. Dietrich Fast bowed out in ninth, Loeser in eighth and Sontheimer in fifth.
The final two opponents were Badziouski and the cash game specialist Rui Cao with the Belarusian taking the title and $2.5m in prize money. It is Badziouski’s most significant win to date beating his previous seven-figure score earned when he finished third in the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) One Drop High Roller.
Final Table Results
1. Mikita Badziakouski – $2,499,090
2. Rui Cao – $1,683,648
3. Peter Jetten – $1,019,335
4. Wai Leong Chan – $702,146
5. Steffen Sontheimer – $483,171
6. Ivan Leow – $362,410
7. Steve O’Dwyer – $294,514
8. Manig Loeser – $256,681
9. Dietrich Fast – $249,165
The €1m Cash Game
If you have a vision of a professional poker player settling down for a breakfast smoothie, followed by deep meditation, a massage, and an hour listening to Max Richter, before sitting down to play for the €2.5m first prize, then you’re not Rui Cao.
After making the final table, Cao immediately jumped into the €1m buy-in cash game streamed live via Twitch. For once, his fellow players understood he had to leave early. Cao banked a €241,000 profit.
But Cao wasn’t the biggest winner in a night that saw the two largest No-Limit Hold’em cash game pots ever recorded on a live stream. That honour goes to Kane Kalas.
Kalas has spent the entire week commentating on these players, giving him the advantage of seeing all of their hole cards. But when you flop a set on the turn in a €1.8m pot, none of that matters much.
Kalas tangled with Jason Koon in only his fifth hand at the table. It was a four-bet pot with Kalas the aggressor holding pocket tens and Koon calling with AQo. The pot was €263,000 deep before Koon fired another €160,000 at the sight of the Tc turn, and Kalas was more than happy to oblige. The river was the Ad, Koon pulled the trigger, shooting half a million euros into Kane, and the lad quietly said, “Call.”
Kalas left the table €771,000 in profit, the biggest winner in the game.
When we arrived in Montenegro, the men manning the passport control booths looked liked giants with hands like shovels, and at that moment, Koon must have felt them squeezing tightly around his neck.
In the same orbit, Koon flopped a straight flush draw in a threeway hand that saw Tom Dwan hit top pair, and Elton Tsang hit the bottom pair. The action got a little heavy on the flop with Koon check-raising to €100,000 on the Ad8h7h flop. The action forced Dwan to ditch his ATo, but Tsang continued somewhat speculatively with K7dd. The turn brought the Qd out of the deck. Tsang bet €390,000 on his nut flush draw, and Koon called, swelling the pot to €1.5m.
Was Koon about to lose back-to-back monster pots?
On this occasion, the deck came to his rescue.
The 4c hit the river to give Koon the nut straight; Tsang checked, Koon moved all-in to create a €2m pot, and Tsang released his hand into the muck.
Koon eventually left the game €186,000 in the black. Dwan made €176,000, and Patrik Antonius earned €101,000. On the flipside, Phil Ivey donated the entirety of his Short-Deck winnings and some, losing €717,000. Tsang lost €582,000, Zuo Wang shed €217,000, Wang Qiang did the same with €216,000, and the Jungleman ended up on the wrong side of the line with €50,000 in losses.
The €1m cash game is scheduled to reappear over the weekend where players will continue to fight the game hoping that the game doesn’t win.
New Jersey’s regulated online gambling market had its second highest revenue month in April, despite online poker’s perpetual inability to grow.
Figures released Monday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) show the state’s licensed online gambling operators generated combined revenue of $23m in April, a 10.6% improvement over the same month last year but below the record $25.6m set in March 2018.
In what has become a familiar refrain, the online casino vertical did all the heavy lifting, with revenue rising 12.7% year-on-year to $21.25m, while the online poker vertical continued its one-way ticket to Palookaville by falling 10.5% to $1.76m.
The Golden Nugget’s family of online casino sites – GoldenNuggetCasino.com, BetfairCasino.com and PlaySugarHouse.com – saw its revenue slip slightly from March’s record $8.65m but the $8.13m earned in April was still sufficient to claim top honors for the month.
The Borgata family of sites ranked second with just under $4.6m, of which $514k came from online poker. The Borgata’s online casino sites soft-launched their new live dealer casino games towards the end of the month, joining the Nugget, which became the first New Jersey operator to launch a live casino offering way back in August 2016.
Resorts Digital Gaming, whose operations include PokerStarsNJ.com and MoheganSunCasino.com, placed third with just over $3.6m, of which nearly $800k came via poker.
Caesars Interactive Entertainment New Jersey ranked fourth with $3.5m, to which poker contributed a mere $449k. The Tropicana’s casino-only site brought up the revenue rear with $3.17m in April.
The April numbers will likely get lost in the day’s far more eventful development, namely, New Jersey’s sports betting victory at the US Supreme Court. It seems a no-brainer to imagine that the state’s licensed online operators will be chomping at the bit to add sports wagering to their list of gambling products but they’ll have to wait for the DGE and state legislators to give them the all-clear.
Las Vegas is always a popular summer destination for gamblers, and 2018 won’t be any different. This year, the Golden Nugget is putting up over $1.7 million in guarantees in events that will be sure to draw large fields. Eighty four tournaments are on the plate, running from May 29 through July 3.
The 2018 Golden Nugget Grand Poker Series (GPS) will offer a variety of options, including NLHE, mixed-game and non-hold’em tournaments. There will also be Omaha eight-or-better, Pot-Limit Omaha, HORSE, and no-limit deuce-to-seven single draw events, all designed to offer a wide-ranging selection to appeal to virtually everyone’s tastes.
The GPS has been growing in popularity each year. In 2015, 7,525 players descended on the Downtown Vegas casino for the series and in 2016 the field almost doubled to 14,137. In 2017, 23,968 players showed up to participate in a total of 57 different events. With the prize pool being increased for this summer’s action, the turnout should be even greater.
In June, there will be a $150 buy-in event almost every day, with a $20,000 guarantee on tap for each tournament. A $150,000 guarantee tournament will run from May 31 through June 2, with a low buy-in of only $150. The same event last year drew 2,563 players, swelling the prize pool to more than $281,000.
Additional tournaments include the “Bar Poker Open Invitational” from June 11-14, four Seniors tournaments (including a $1000 buy-in high roller event), a multitude of mixed-game events and two $250,000 guaranteed events on June 7-9 and June 21-23.
The highlight of the tournament will be the $570 buy-in NLHE main event, offering a $500,000 guarantee. It will run from June 28 through July 1 and offers three starting flights. If this year sees the turnout seen in previous years, the guarantee will certainly be increased. In 2016, there were 1,520 players, resulting in the prize pool building to $760,000. Last year, the player field exploded by 33% to 2,025, more than doubling the original prize pool to a little more than $1 million.
Players can reserve rooms at the Golden Nugget for as low as $29 per night during the week and $59 on the weekend, plus resorts fees.
The World Poker Tour is set to become the guinea pig for live action at the Esports Arena Las Vegas at the Luxor Hotel & Casino, with the final table of the $25k Bellagio High Roller taking place at the venue. Tom Marchese leads an all-star cast.
I logged onto the World Poker Tour (WPT) website to see who had won the $25,000 Bellagio High Roller and learned that the action ceased at the final table.
I knew this, of course. The WPT broadcast this decision some months ago. However, I forgot, because the World Series of Poker (WSOP) November Nine apart, you don’t stop a poker tournament mid-pomp and ask the players to come back two weeks later.
But that’s what’s happening.
It’s an interesting question and one I plan to find an answer for in the future when I speak to someone within the corridors of power at the WPT. Until then, I will have a guess.
The final six players will take their seats on the main stage of the Esports Arena Las Vegas at MGM’s Luxor Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip at 4 pm (local time), May 25.
The winner will pick up $432,000, and when you look at the quality of the final table incumbents, you realise this is chicken feed.
The Esports Arena Las Vegas belongs to Allied Esports who in turn is a subsidiary of Ourgame International, who in turn own the WPT. Back in October 2017, the Chinese gaming giant announced plans to raise a factory full of money, via subscription shares, of which they would invest HKD 125,000,000 in the building of ten esports arenas in the US and China.
I assume, featuring the final table of the $25k Bellagio High Roller in the Arena allows the technical and production teams of both parties to test the facilities ability to handle a live event of this nature, while remaining low key enough, that any cock-ups are accepted and quickly forgiven.
But why poker?
I can’t imagine for the life of me that Allied Esports and the WPT have plans to use the Arena for poker on a full-time basis. At the recent WPT Seminole Hard Rock event in Hollywood, Florida; WPT officials paid fans $11 per hour to be part of the audience. But it does allow the facility owners to play around with the logistics prior to a ‘paid for’ esports event.
The arena currently acts as a video gaming/VR gaming site where people can play for as little as $25 a day. People who watch don’t pay. I imagine this changes when the more significant esports events come to town.
Amongst the guinea pigs for the $25k Bellagio High Roller is Tom Marchese. The Las Vegas pro came into Day 2 as the chip leader and maintained his lead until the bitter end. Joining Marchese in the final are David Peters, Aaron Ogus, Sam Soverel, Rainer Kampe, and Jake Schindler.
Two players made money, but not the final table – Ankush Mandavia who finished eight for $54,000, and Anthony Zinno who bubbled the final table banking $67,500.
The event attracted 54-entrants.
Final Table Chip Counts
1. Tom Marchese – 2,359,000
2. David Peters – 1,575,000
3. Aaron Ogus – 857,0004
4. Sam Soverel – 391,000
5. Rainer Kempe – 175,000
6. Jake Schindler – 43,000
This really shouldn’t be a shocker to anyone. Ahead of Wynn Resorts’ annual general meeting, scheduled to be held this month, Elaine Wynn has decided to sue the company for not releasing its shareholder records.
Wynn, who became the largest shareholder after her ex-husband, Steve Wynn, resigned from the company, filed the suit in Nevada. She is hoping to get the courts to obligate the company to release all shareholder material to which she is legally entitled. The suit also requests that the annual meeting be postponed until the lawsuit is settled.
According to Nevada law, Elaine Wynn is entitled to see the names, contact information and number of shares owned by each common stock owner of the company, provided the individual has authorized the release of the information. A representative for Wynn stated, “Providing the NOBO [non-objecting beneficial owner] list is standard practice under Delaware law and both federal and state courts have ruled that shareholders of a Nevada corporation are entitled to the list.”
The representative added, “Ms [sic] Wynn believes that the requested NOBO list is in the company’s possession and would not require the company to expend additional time or cost to produce. Moreover, she believes that the company is actively using this very list to communicate directly with Wynn Resorts’ shareholders—something Ms [sic] Wynn is unable to do, even though she is the company’s largest shareholder.”
Elaine Wynn recently started a campaign to have the current company’s director, John J Hagenbuch, removed at the end of his term this month. She sent a letter to all shareholders, requesting that they join her “Withhold the vote” campaign, in an effort to remove some of the “legacy directors from the board.
About Hagenbuch, Wynn stated in the letter, “He was on the compensation committee when Mr [sic] Wynn’s pay was called into question in 2015,” adding that, “The company did not hold a say-on-pay vote in 2015 or 2016 and at last year’s annual meeting, the say-on-pay proposal received only 59% support. This puts the company in the lowest 10% of Russell 3000 companies holding say-on-pay votes in 2017.”
There’s no love lost between Elaine Wynn and the current board of directors. The disdain on both sides of the table is evident; however, as a majority shareholder, she has a strong chance of being able to get her way. The ongoing saga continues, so stay tuned for next week’s exciting episode.
The Netherlands’ highest administrative court says the government has to rethink its lottery monopoly, but monopolies on sports betting and lottery scratch cards can continue to exist.
In 1964, the Netherlands granted Lotto BV (now Nederlandse Loterij) monopolies over lotteries, scratch cards and sports betting, based on the Gaming Act approved that year. When these licenses expired on December 31, 2014, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) regulatory body automatically renewed them without granting other companies the opportunity to bid for the right to offer these services.
A number of international gambling firms, including Betclic, Betfair and Unibet, along with the European Gaming & Betting Association, challenged the renewal and won lower court victories, only to have the KSA appeal the verdicts.
On Wednesday, the Administrative Law Division of the Council of State upheld the sports betting and scratch card monopolies but ordered the KSA to rethink its decision to renew Lotto BV’s numerical lottery monopoly.
The Council of State declared that, while the sports and scratch monopolies undoubtedly ran contrary to European Union trade rules governing the free movement of services, they were nonetheless justified due to EU loopholes for monopolies that claim to be protecting consumers, combating illegality and minimizing gambling addiction.
However, the Council of State said it saw no difference in the likelihood of someone becoming addicted to Lotto BV’s lottery products versus the traditional draws offered by the country’s six licensed charity lottery operators. The KSA will now have to open a tender for lottery rights or come up with some other reason to justify Lotto BV’s most favored nation status.
It’s worth noting that Lotto BV’s ongoing sports betting monopoly applies only to land-based betting. Online sports betting licenses are expected to be open to multiple companies once the Dutch senate okays the Remote Gaming Bill, which was approved by the legislature’s lower chamber nearly two years ago but has been languishing in legislative purgatory ever since.