Category Archives: Poker

WSOP champ Darren Elias talks delayed WPT final tables


Darren Elias has had a significant amount of prosperity at the poker tables. The New Jersey resident has racked up over $6 million in live-table earnings, and has won the World Poker Tour (WPT) four times—almost five before he was knocked out in third place at the WPT Tournament of Champions in May. His four wins broke a tie for the most titles, which had been shared by Elias, Chino Rheem, Carlos Mortensen, Anthony Zinno and Gus Hansen. Due to his success, his opinion carries some weight, so it might be conducive to future tournaments if WPT organizers listen to him about the decision to have all final table action of the upcoming season play out in Las Vegas.

WSOP champ Darren Elias talks delayed WPT final tablesElias sat down for an interview with Card Player’s Julio Rodriguez, in which he was asked about his recent run at the tables and making it into the record books. Elias showed his humble side in responding to the questions, but when asked about the delayed final tables being played in Vegas, he didn’t hold back.

“The new arena is cool, although I think they still have some kinks to work out before the WPT goes back,” he explained. “For example, it was very cold in there, and we were seated close together considering the size of the set. But at the end of the day, if it draws in some Esports players to poker who might not otherwise have been exposed to the game, then it will be worth it. Right now, we don’t have a lot of younger players, especially in America, picking up poker like they did a decade ago, and maybe this is the way to get those players. If down the line, we get some big final tables going in the arena with some big crowds to watch, then that would be amazing.”

Elias also indicated that delayed tables can result in players gaming the system. He opined that players should be the same at both the start and the end of a tournament, and a break in between could give some players the ability to seek additional training and hire coaches to improve their skills.

The 31-year-old also pointed to the logistics of the delays, saying that it’s possible a lot of players simply decide not to participate because of scheduling. He told Rodriguez: “What if you make a final table in Atlantic City or Florida as the short stack? Do you really want to wait a couple months, fly to Las Vegas and possibly bust in few hands? It may not stop someone from playing, but they aren’t going to be happy about that, especially if it prevents them from playing other tournaments somewhere else. I know it’s not convenient for me personally, in New Jersey, but I think I’m going to still continue to play my same schedule for now. If I make another WPT final table, then I’ll deal with that when it happens. I can just see it being annoying depending on your stack or the tournament buy-in. But I also see why the WPT did this. I see how it could be a good thing in the long run. It’s an experiment, and we just have to wait and see how it turns out.”

It is, indeed an experiment, but it seems like a huge misuse of poker talent and resources just to run some tests. Perhaps a better solution would have been to try one or two tournaments to gauge player reaction prior to implementing the policy across the board for next season.

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Vanessa Selbst hints at teaming up with Phil Galfond for WSOP Tag Team


Vanessa Selbst hints at teaming up with Phil Galfond for WSOP Tag TeamVanessa Selbst’s on again/off again relationship with poker is enough to leave any fan dizzy. She “retired” at the beginning of the year after an alcohol-filled tweet on New Year’s Eve, and announced that she would be leaving PokerStars in favor of a hedge fund. A few days later, she announced that wasn’t retiring, but that she would no longer be serving as a PokerStars ambassador. Not long after, she was in retirement again, only to be seen taking a seat in a tournament a few days later. It would now appear that she wants to come back—at least for one more visit to the felt.

The three-time WSOP gold bracelet winner who racked up almost $12 million in live poker action took to Twitter (no indication if alcohol was involved) on Wednesday, recalling the “good ol’ days” of poker. She tweeted, “ok but seriously, when did it ppl 100% stop 4betting light (preflop OR on flop)? there used to be so many fun dynamics when ranges were [obviously] polarized- now it’s like there’s a rule if u get raised while holding air u must fold…? seriously is this a thing? seems like a bad thing.”

Phil Galfond responded, giving her remarks a virtual head nod. He acknowledged that the game has changed and is more difficult for “feel players” like the two of them are. The two chatted it up for a while, and then Selbst suggested that they should hook up for this year’s WSOP Tag Team event.

Galfond seemed to be on board, giving a Twitter nod of approval, so it’s possible that the pair will be seen at the tournament. The $1,000 Tag Team event will be held from June 27 to June 29 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

In 2017, Aditya Sushant and Nipun Java won the event for a little more than $150,000 and their first-ever WSOP gold bracelets. Sushant made the win possible, substituting for Java, who had to be excused for a bathroom call. The pair was in heads-up play against Pablo Mariz and David Guay, with Mariz in control for his team. Sushant, holding A-8 off-suit, called an all-in bet by Mariz, who had scored a set of Queens on the flop. With virtually no way to win, the final handshakes and high fives began. However, a highly improbable runout of Aces on the turn and river secured the victory for the Indian team.

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It’s Showtime: PokerStars turn folded hands face up in new cash game variant


PokerStars have moved quickly to fill the void left by Split Hold’em by creating a new cash game variant known as Showtime Hold’em, a game where folded hands are shown face-up for all to see.

It’s Showtime: PokerStars turn folded hands face up in new cash game variantIf you’re a book, then you’re better off snuggling up next to other books in Waterstones, Barnes & Noble or some aged-old bookstore in Budva.

Competition is fierce, but you have to be in the arena with other books. Otherwise, nobody will see you. Nobody will touch you. Nobody will read you.

All the books are helpful to each other, but underneath earmarked, child food splattered pages there is envy. At night when the books go to sleep, the savvy ones inch their spines forward.

And it’s the same in poker writing.

I’m aware that I make a lot of shit up in my head, but of this one thing, I am sure. Poker writers are like hairy coconuts at a fairground, and the ones holding the balls are of the same ilk.

So when I tell you that most of my brethren screwed up this past week when they wrote of PokerStars decision to pull Split Hold’em from the shelves, intimating that the punters didn’t like the game, there is no envy, I am stating a fact.

PokerStars said that Split Hold’em would only be available for a short period. After that short period elapsed, the game came down for review.

I made the same mistake.

PokerStars Release Showtime 

PokerStars have wasted little time filling the space left by Split Hold’em. On Wednesday, the largest online poker room this side of the woman with the rainbow watch released a new cash game variant called Showtime Hold’em. 

The game – which is available for a limited time only – is another attempt by Stars to reduce the edge that professionals and semi-professionals have over everyone else, while at the same time, increasing the fun element of the game.

And note I said reduce.

If you are a master of the arts then nobody is taking away your paintbrush and easel, the very best in the game will still beat the rest over the long run.

The twist is a simple one.

Each time a player folds, the hole cards are shown face up. The extra information allows people to fill in some of the missing gaps that would enable the very best to use all of their experience and mathematical jiggery-pokery to gain an edge.

If the Pokerfuse article on this is anything to go by then, we can expect more cash game variants to follow as Stars continues to provide value for their recreational players.

If you want to see how the pros react to Showtime Hold’em, then PokerStars will be hosting a unique Twitch Invitational where the likes of Fintan Hand, Ben Spragg, Lex Veldhuis, Jaime Staples, Kevin Martin and Felix Schneiders will test their skills at the new game.

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Triton Poker Montenegro day 6: I fought the game and the game won


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. 

Triton Poker Montenegro Day 6: I fought the game and the game wonThe 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.

And then…

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.

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Over $1.7M in guarantees at Vegas’ Golden Nugget poker tourneys


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.

Over $1.7M in guarantees at Vegas' Golden Nugget poker tourneysThe 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.

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The WPT guinea pig the Esports Arena LV with $25k Bellagio HR finale


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.

The WPT guinea pig the Esports Arena LV with $25k Bellagio HR finaleI 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.

Why?

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

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Calling the Clock: MILLIONS Grand Final round-up; PokerStars in India and more


In this week’s Calling the Clock we round-up the partypoker MILLIONS Grand Final in Barcelona, cover PokerStars launch in India and much more. 

The sun is out. The woman who looks like a cross between Alison Moyet and Toyah Wilcox is bent over, cleaning the tables. Across the road, the builders stop work and lean on their spades to collectively stare at the young girl’s ass.

Calling The Clock: MILLIONS Grand Final round-up; PokerStars in India and more Grinning great big grins.

I order my Matcha Latte and swallow hard at the added 50p for oat milk while considering telling her about the builders. I don’t, because then she’ll think I’ve been staring.

I take my number #42 and sit down to write this.

I’m going to begin my weekly round-up with partypoker. The MILLIONS Grand Final is no longer a concept. It’s a bona fide live tournament classic.

The players came (as they always do in Barcelona), and won more than $30m. Nobody won more than Pascal Lefrancois. The stud from Montreal outlasted a field of 1,175 entrants in the €10,300, €10m GTD Main Event to take the €1.7m first prize. Brits Adam Owen and Stephen Chidwick picked up €1.3m and €1m for second and third. Chidwick’s cash saw him overtake Adrian Mateos as the Global Poker Index #1.

After the Main Event ended, Pedro Cairat beat 1,163 entrants to win the €195,000 first prize in the €1,100 Finale a year after beating 4,557 entrants to win €432,178 in the PokerStars National Championships at the same venue. And Fahredin Mustafov topped a field of 194 entrants to bank the first prize of €400,000 in the €10,000 High Roller.

And as the scent of fly spray sticks to my nostril hairs, I have two more significant pieces of partypoker news for you.

partypoker ambassador, Patrick Leonard, managed to convince his leaders that it would be a wise branding move to remove the rake applied to the bounty element of the Progressive Knockout tournaments. The six-month trial begins during the $40m GTD POWERFEST tournament and will become a permanent fixture if the players support the move by exchanging the time spent playing on their roller skates for more online poker.

I wrote about the play here – Gambling Marketing Musings: The Hidden Message Behind Party’s PKO Rake Reduction.

And finally, as predicted by yours truly, Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, is the newest member of the partypoker ambassadorial team and will spearhead partypoker’s move into the shared liquidity market currently being pieced together in Europe.

PokerStars open up tables in India; sign Muskan Sethi and more 

PokerStars employees reliably tell me that they don’t spend too much time focusing on the shenanigans over at partpoker towers. Perhaps, it’s because they’re too busy?

This week, the largest online poker room this side of the ridiculously sized salt and pepper pots fucking up my table chi, opened up their cyber doors for business in India and hired Muskan Sethi to help them spread the word.

Sethi rose to prominence when she qualified for the PokerStars TV show, the Shark Cage, a few years back and was recently honoured by President Ram Nath Kovind for being an inspirational woman.

It’s 5,000 km from India to South Korea as a ballastic missile flies, and that’s where we head next with a brief round-up of the Asian-Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Korea.

Two people, in particular, must have been touching the heads of deities made from cement.

Michael Soyza, Christopher Soyza, I don’t know what the hell is name is, but I do know he made money in four events; made three final tables, and won two trophies – the biggest of the two being the KRW 100,000 buy-in Main Event. Soyza defeated 449 entrants to win the $148,629 first prize before going on to also win a side event.

Yuki Ko made the final table of the Main Event, finishing eighth, and he also had a ridiculous run of form in Incheon. Beside his Main Event exploits, Ko won two events and banked over $100k in the process.

Moving sharply to Brazil, and PokerStars continues to receive more press coverage from Neymar Jr than when he worked for them. This time, the most expensive footballer in the world posted a photo on Instagram of him playing two PokerStars tables while watching football on TV.

There was only one problem.

The match on TV was Paris St Germain beating Monaco 7-1 to win the league, and Neymar was 8.8 km away in Brazil.

It seems the rumours that Neymar Jr may be on his bike in the summer may be true.

And on the eve of PokerStars second attempt to host a $10m GTD Sunday Million Anniversary special, I sat down with Severin Rasset to talk about that decision, and their newest game Split Hold’em. Check out the interview, right here. 

World Poker Tour 

The World Poker Tour (WPT) has also been as busy as a Los Angeles motorcycle cop this week.

Scott Margereson destroyed 1,306 entrants on his way to the most significant score of his career by winning the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Florida.

Margereson’s bank manager is going to have a surprise when $696,740 drops into the line of code. The payout is more than Margereson has earned in a live tournament career that spans more than six years.

The Brit beat Faraz Jaka in heads-up action. Brian Hastings finished third, Joey Couden fourth, Matt Stout fifth, and Jeff Fielder sixth.

Had Jeff Fielder finished five places higher he would have become the first player to win both WPTDeepStacks and WPT Main Event titles. And over in Amsterdam, another player also came close to achieving the same feat.

Chino Rheem is not everyone’s cup of lemon and apple cider vinegar, but he knows how to spin it up. The three-time WPT Main Event Champion finished 4/250 in the WPTDeepStacks Amsterdam Main Event. First time live tournament casher Christos Economides took the title and €75,760.

Bits and Bobs 

Alex Dreyfus explained why he has been missing from the poker world for so long with a blog post on Medium this week. The French entrepreneur and owner of the Hendon Mob and GPI announced the creation of chiliZ, a fan-controlled esports experiment inspired by the Spanish socios movement. Dreyfus has managed to persuade investors to part with $27m and change, so it seems like a stickler.

The chiliZ project is one that embraces blockchain and cryptocurrency technology, and another horse in that race showed up in the news this week. CoinPoker, who last week announced plans to sponsor the Asian Poker Tour, this week added the 2018 Japan Poker Cup as a second partner.

Poker fans desperate for news of the emergence of RunItOnce (RIO) Poker received a Phil Galfond warble this week. Galfond announced plans to launch RIO Poker in two phases, the first – online cash games – will arrive in the summer. Galfond’s blog post shared the news that their rewards system would favour professional poker players; they wouldn’t cannibalise unused rewards and many other golden nuggets.

Check it out #1: An Update and a Plan right here.

888Poker announced plans to sponsor the Women in Poker Hall of Fame (WiPHOF) induction ceremony in Las Vegas this summer. One of the ladies on the shortlist is Lupo Soto, and this week Soto formed the Women’s Poker Association (WPA) in a bid to help the female of the species navigate the male-dominated poker industry.Calling The Clock: MILLIONS Grand Final round-up; PokerStars in India and more

Leon Tsoukernik was in the news again.

The owner of the Rozvadov Casino and the first person to commit to play the Big One for One Drop doesn’t want to pay the legal fees in his dispute with Matt Kirk over an unpaid $2m debt accrued after Tsoukernik had a few too many and lost the GDP of a tiny nation to the Australian during a heads-up cash game match at the ARIA. The latest court reports name Bobby Baldwin as Kirk’s primary backer, and fellow conspirator.

Despite Leon’s dubious reputation within the high stakes community, it hasn’t stopped the WSOP partnering with him. This week the iconic brand was in the news again, after deciding to alter the Player of the Year formula for the umpteenth time. The new way of doing things is similar to the way they do things at the World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC), and so far the cry from the naysayers seems more like a whimper.

Last but certainly not least, my guest this week on Poker Routines was the Unibet Ambassador, Dara O’Kearney. Find out how a man without goals makes a living play poker right here.

Time ladies and gentlemen, please.

Someone has just called the clock.

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Muskan Sethi joins PokerStars.IN as a brand ambassador; APPT Seoul round-up


PokerStars’ launch in India got a boost this morning after the online gaming giants announced that Muskan Sethi would join Aditya Agarwal as a brand ambassador for the company. And we have a round-up from the Asian Pacific-Poker Tour in Korea.

I wonder if Muskan Sethi’s publicist has a spot under his or her wing?

What an incredible four years for a young woman whose personal mantra is to make a life, and not just a living. The story is a classic one, the highly intelligent and learned young woman struggling to find her place in the world. It’s an inspirational story we should consume greedily alongside our sugar-laden Starbucks trips and sneaky packets of crisps from the gas station.

Sethi was born in the midst of 1.3 billion people.Muskan Sethi joins PokerStars.IN as a brand ambassador; APPT Seoul round-up

That’s a challenge, alone.

And yet she somehow managed to create a personal brand that has attracted the most significant online poker room in the world.

The dogs bark.

The church bells ring.

And this magnificent madam keeps hitting home runs.

From the catwalk to the president to PokerStars

Sethi is the latest face of PokerStars.IN.

The 27-year-old joins Aditya Agarwal with the responsibility to promote the PokerStars brand in a region that struggles to believe that poker is nothing more than a flip of a coin and a potential problem for the Indian community.

When Sethi first began considering a career, she set her heart on commerce. Then the space between the beats slowed down, and only fashion quickened them. Sethi earned a diploma in fashion journalism and brand management from the London School of Fashion.

And then the tick-tock-ticking of her heart began to slow once again.

Then, in 2014, Sethi qualified for the PokerStars Shark Cage promotion while playing online and headed to Barcelona to appear alongside her idol Liv Boeree for the chance to win €1m – she finished second in her heat, but a star was born.

From there, Sethi was picked up by the Indian online poker room Adda52, and from out of nowhere, President Ram Nath Kovind honoured her amongst 100 pioneering females who had carved out careers in male-dominated environments.

Cue Indiana Jones style boulders.

Most recently, Sethi joined the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), in a bid to help promote poker and other forms of skill games in her country.

Sethi has earned a smidgen over $50k playing live tournaments, so she is still a pup. Her best score to date was a final table appearance in last year’s £1,000 buy-in Grosvenor United Kingdom Poker Tour (GUKPT) Main Event in the Vic where she finished eighth for £10,400.

PokerStars.IN teamed up with Sachiko Gaming to officially launch in India on 17 April. The newly appointed CEO, Ankur Dewani, spoke to Glaws of the need for poker to be patient, stating that the lawmakers are not as familiar with the game as they are with the likes of rummy and chess.

“Sure there will be some challenges,” said Dewani, “But it is our job to educate and work with the government to provide information, case studies, research reports, to ensure states and the central government understand this beautiful mind sport.”

Or you could hire one of the President’s best buddies.

A Round Up From The Asian-Pacific Poker Tour in Seoul

Muskan Sethi joins PokerStars.IN as a brand ambassador; APPT Seoul round-upMoving from India to South Korea, and it’s safe to say that Christopher Soyza had a reasonably decent run at the Asian-Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Korea festival.

Soyza, who came into the festival as a top Malaysian multi-table tournament (MTT) player with over a million in cashes, made money in four events, made the final table of three and won two including the coveted Main Event.

The Malaysian star finished 36/377 in the Kickoff event cashing for $575. He followed that up with a 3/55 finish in a No-Limit Hold’em Turbo event for $1,258, before beating 449 entrants to win the $148,629 first prize in the Main Event. Not content with topping a final table that included Randy Lew, Soyza hopped into a No-Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha mix and took it down for $9,815.

In addition to his buckets of cash, Soyza also earned a $30,000 Platinum Pass for the 2019 PokerStars Player’s No-Limit Hold’em Championship, the most significant $25,000 buy-in event in the world.

Here are the final table results of the APPT Korea Main Event.

1. Christopher Soyza – $148,629

2. Mitsuhiro Shiga – $93,156

3. Diwei Huang – $57,485

4. Tomita Ryo – $43,615

5. Randy Lew – $31,721

6. Toru Wakamatsu – $25,109

7. Kojiro Mizukami – $19,827

8. Yuki Ko – $16,521

Soyza wasn’t the only player who earned a Platinum Pass during APPT Korea. The Japanese pro, Yuki Ko, will also be flying to the Bahamas after beating 226 entrants to win the $31,647 first prize and Platinum Pass at the APPT National Event.

Like Soyza, Ko also had a magnificent APPT Korea, winning $62,236 after beating 62 entrants in the Single Day High Roller and making the final table of the Main Event, finishing in eighth.

Ko beat the New Zealander Tae Han in heads-up action. Incredibly, the pair also met in the heads-up phase of last year’s PokerStars Festival Main Event in Korea. Han won that one earning $73,954 in the process.

Here are the final table results from the National Main Event.

1. Yuki Ko – $31,647

2. Tae Han – $20,671

3. Simon Burns – $13,305

4. Pete Chen – $10,339

5. Sheng Li – $8,399

6. Ryu Jaebok – $6,781

7. Kunimaro Kojo – $5,490

8. Masakazu Okamoto – $4,200

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The kids are alright: Poker Central and ESP Gaming build a new home


Poker Central and ESP Gaming are taking care of their children, building a 10,000 sq.ft multi-purpose studio at the ARIA to record and broadcast live poker and esports events.

The Kids Are Alright: Poker Central and ESP Gaming build a new homeThe world is changing, folks.

I sit in Starbucks 8:18 am on a Sunday morning tapping away at the keys that pay my rent, the sound of Ólafur Arnalds tickling my tinnitus. A couple of grandparents in their 50s sit opposite me. Both spectacled; hiding from the world like Clark Kent. Like most couples, they look the same. Only those bits we shall not speak of are different and the beard.

Two cups of coffee sit in front of them, steam rising into the ether. Neither of them speaks. There is no eye contact. Both have a mobile phone in hand.

Tap.

Tap.

Tap.

She is no doubt Googling ‘How to help someone wean a child off the breast’ so she can give tips to her daughter (she never breastfed), and he is likely trawling through Instagram gawking at the jiggly bits of faux-models.

Or.

Maybe he is a wife beater.

They hate each other’s guts.

Who knows?

But I know this.

The world is changing, folks.

A Boy is Hiding in His Nan’s Playing Video Games; Poker Central Create a New Studio

Yesterday, my sister babysat so I could watch Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella. One of her sons accompanied her. The other had been locked in a room at his grandparents since the Easter holidays began of his accord.

This kid, barely into his teens, doesn’t much care for the world. He finds people and the things that people do – boring. He lives inside a digital world, playing Overwatch, Players Unknown Battleground, and watching others do the same on Twitch and YouTube.

And we laugh at him.

At social gatherings, we talk about him as if he isn’t there.

And he isn’t.

He’s checked out, secretly hoping that there is poison in our Ruby Murray. He will cackle when he leaves, the cable from his Turtle Beach Recons tickling our corpses.

And this is why Poker Central’s decision to create a new studio in partnership with ESP Gaming is the right thing to do.

It’s what their audience wants them to do.

The New Studio; ARIA and The Word ‘Poker’ 

The engineers have constructed the new gaff at the ARIA Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. The home of Poker Central. Word on the street has it that Poker Central was always going to have a custom-built studio for PokerGO exclusives, when someone said, “Hello, what happens when everyone realises that poker as a form of entertainment is as barbaric as reading Herge’s Adventures of Tintin in the public library?”

ESP Gaming, who we learned was a part of the Poker Central team at Christmas, got hold of the blueprints, and now the studio is multi-purpose. It’s a quaint venue (10,000 sq.ft) can house 300 people (120 fans). It will becomThe Kids Are Alright: Poker Central and ESP Gaming build a new homee the home for live esports events like the Vainglory Premier League (the mobile esports league created by Super Evil Megacorp). Esports tournament organisers can film esports events at the studio and beam them live. ESP Gaming Prez, Jeff Liboon, said the decision to create a smaller venue allows them to focus on a more VIP experience.

Maybe it’s time for poker companies with plans of grandeur to stop putting the word ‘poker’ into their branding?

The Global Poker League walked into a problem when its founder, Alex Dreyfus, realised that poker was a mere beauty spot on the decadent face of esports. Poker Central and PokerGO are figuring it out, also. Expect a change of name within the next few years.

A bottle of champagne will strike the temple of the new studio on May 16 when PokerGO broadcasts live coverage of Poker After Dark.

It’s the second esports arena in situ on the Las Vegas strip, and the other one also has poker running in its blood. The Esports Arena Las Vegas at The Luxor is the result of a partnership between MGM Resorts International and Allied Esports. The latter is a subsidiary of Ourgame International Holdings Ltd, the owners of the World Poker Tour (WPT).

Adam Pliska and the gang have plans to use the venue for WPT action later this year. And Pliska has mentioned that part of his 2018+ brief is to learn how to integrate esports and poker to provide more value for the kids who hide in grandparents homes, as the flagrantly hypocritical occupants sit in Starbucks ignoring each other in this ever-changing world of ours.

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PokerStars introduce shot clock, BB ante and re-entry at EPT Monte Carlo


A few words on the importance of ‘location’ within a brand story as PokerStars prepare to roll out the changes at the upcoming European Poker Tour pit stop in Monte Carlo.

Bill Perkins. Now, there’s a man who has his shit together. Tall, handsome, immaculate bone structure, a mass of finely tuned muscles, ideas flying out of his ears sprinkling feelgood juice on anyone within spitting range. Evidence that money can buy you an excellent looking birthday suit.

I’m in his apartment, asking him questions, one of which surrounds his hobby of making movies. I can’t remember the context, but I remePokerStars introduce shot clock, BB ante and re-entry at EPT Monte Carlo mber his response. For Perkins, making movies isn’t about making money, it’s about the love of the artform.

The more I think about it, PokerStars Live has the same feel.

PokerStars became the largest online poker room this side of my blue belly button fluff because they created the perfect online experience. The acquisition of John Duthie’s European Poker Tour (EPT) was a side gig. Yes, it fits nicely with what they are doing online, but it’s more fancy wine and cheese than bread and butter.

Take EPT Monte Carlo for example.

I’ve just finished The Fortune Cookie Principle by brand specialist Bernadette Jiwa. One of her chapters focuses on the importance of location.

“Location, though isn’t just about where you choose to do business; it’s about figuring out where your customers are.” 

I don’t think they’re in Monte Carlo.

I’ve worked at EPT Monte Carlo once. I walked for miles to a little Spar so I could stock up on food and water, and stole what I could from my free breakfast bar. And it isn’t only the writers who find it difficult to survive in the land of silk scarves and stockings – the players are also a tad sensitive to spending €30 on a cheeseburger.

And yet, the EPT brand screams Monte Carlo.

At the end of Jiwa’s chapter on ‘location’ she suggests that every business should attempt to answer four questions.

Let’s give it a go.

The Four Questions 

Does the location of your business fit with the rest of your brand story? 

Monte Carlo is a flash joint pure and simple. It’s where people like Patrik Antonius call home, and the residents are so fucking cool they can’t be arsed to build a Formula 1 racetrack (they host the race on the main road).

PokerStars is also flash.

For as long as I can remember they have been the home of the cool gang. And until recently, all the big money flowed through their chamber pots.

Where are your customers? 

Like I alluded to earlier, they aren’t in Monte Carlo.

PokerStars hosts events there for two reasons. It fits with the main story arc of the company, and it gives online satellite dreamers the opportunity to have a wet one.

How does the location of your business make customers feel? 

Special.

Rich.

For many, a once in a lifetime trip.

For the grinders, a pain in the arse. Too many ticks in the expense column. And yet there is ego at play here. Monte Carlo – fuck yeah!

How does your location support the rest of your business strategy? 

I believe the business strategy of PokerStars is to provide experiences of a lifetime.  That’s what the Players’ No-Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) is all about. Come rain or shine, anyone qualifying for EPT Monte Carlo will have a tale to tell no matter how deep they limp.

A New EPT Monte Carlo 

PokerStars resurrected the EPT because their customers voted with their feet when they decided to put a shotgun to the head of the PokerStars Championship and pull the trigger. Live events aren’t PokerStars core business, the online realm is, but this is an integral part of the experience as it extends to that online demographic.

You send the peasants via online satellites and hope they return as kings.

Then they tell their friends about it.

“Where you choose to interact with and sell to your customers – and, more important, where they want to connect with you – must form part of your story strategy.” – Bernadette Jiwa. 

PokerStars brand story has changed over time. For many years, it was to give hope to the person who wanted to be a professional poker player. Today, it’s all about providing memorable experiences, and so the EPT brand falls into that category even if it isn’t a core part of the business.

This year, things change.

There will be 39 events in all, and 27 of them will incorporate the Big Blind Ante, including the Main Event. Also, the Main Event will allow one re-entry per person (based on the cost of travelling to such a locale), and the shot clock comes into play on Day 2, the first time in EPT Main Event history.

There will be six Platinum Passes up for grabs:

EPT Monte Carlo winner
EPT Monte Carlo Day 2 Random Draw
EPT National winner
EPT National Day 2 Random Draw
Event #28 PSPC Live Satellite
A PokerStars, TV viewer.

And PokerStars is even doing something about those expensive cheeseburgers by providing players with food vouchers guaranteeing 10% off casino grub, meaning you don’t have to steal eggs and croissants from the breakfast bar which wouldn’t gelwith the classy brand story I’ve been banging on about now would it.

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