Category Archives: Poker

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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Scratching backs: poker and the law of reciprocity


Lee Davy talks about Robert Cialdini’s Law of Reciprocity and how poker companies could use it to forge better relationships with writers and avoid brand calamities.

You wouldn’t believe how many layers I am wearing. It’s February. You would think it was December; I swear it’s global warming. Donald Trump and his cronies don’t have a clue. But I don’t get it. If the world is heating up because of factory farming, car fumes and Port Talbot Steelworks then why am I so cold?

Scratching backs: poker and the law of reciprocityThe itch.

I can’t reach it.

It would mean taking off my backpack, my jacket, my fleece, my hoodie, my checkered shirt, and my t-shirt so my crusty warted finger could scratch. So I ask my wife.

You scratch my back.

I’ll scratch yours.

If you’ve read Influence by Robert Cialdini, you will be aware of the theory of reciprocity. If not, let me enlighten you.

Occasionally, online poker rooms invite me to attend live events. They pay for my travel expenses and accommodation. It’s savvy business for them because while I am there, I am thrusting their branding into my articles on a daily basis. But there is another subtle ploy at work. The online poker rooms understand the theory of reciprocity. They know that if they treat me well I am going to feel a psychological urge to help them pick up the apples once they flip over the cart.

It’s utterly brilliant, especially if you aren’t aware it’s happening.

A Day in the Life of a Writer 

I wake up at 6 am; meditate, stretch, make warm lemon water with apple cider vinegar, take my supplements, turn on the radiators and settle down to do some research.

I go through my Google Alert feeds, check my emails, drink my pre-made smoothie, have a poo, trawl some key social media feeds, and cut and paste potential stories into an excel spreadsheet.

At 7.30 am, I head to Coffee #1 and start writing the first of four articles that will appear on CalvinAyre. Some days are easier than others. It’s a delight to wake up to an inbox full of stories. More often than not there are no stories. The clock ticks. My journey to the edge of the night seems to take an eternity. I feel like someone has my eyelids held apart while someone else kicks the shit out of my eyeballs.

Outside of my work for CalvinAyre I have my other contracts, my Truth About Alcohol business, and a wife and two kids that I need to pay attention to if I want them to remain a part of my life for the foreseeable future.

In short, I am busy.

The CoinPoker Debacle 

I believe it’s essential for poker companies to understand how a writer thinks, feels and operates on a daily basis. They also need to follow the law of reciprocity.

Let’s take the recent CoinPoker debacle as a prime example.

Alex Weldon, who works for GameIntel and provides content for PartTimePoker, recently wrote an opinion/research piece suggesting that CoinPoker’s security was as tight a snail’s arsehole after a date with a donkey and that something very odd was going on regarding player numbers after spotting someone playing 42 tables for eight hours straight.

Before Weldon posted his piece, he approached CoinPoker about his findings.

CoinPoker ignored him.

Weldon posted his article.

I wake up at 6 am, do all of the things above, and read Weldon’s piece. Brilliant. I have something to write. I send a note to CoinPoker asking for a response. Nothing. I write a similar article based on Weldon’s hard work.

Another writer does the same.

Then another.

Now the poker community is buzzing with the news that CoinPoker is a den of thieves and buggerers.

The next day, CoinPoker respond in Medium refuting some of Weldon’s claims, and doing a half-arsed job of telling the public that something odd was happening, they are dealing with it, you should feel okay about using the site, but we won’t tell you what we found out during our investigation.

I received an email from CoinPoker.

PokerNews received contact with CoinPoker.

New articles emerge considering CoinPoker’s reaction by which time the sticks and stones have already battered the brand.

It reminds me of the Coronation Street star accused of rape who a judge later declared was innocent. Nobody cared. In their minds, he was guilty because the headlines said he was, and that’s all that flashed through the neocortex. By the time the judge delivered his verdict, we had forgotten about the whole incident.

Two years later, you see the celebrity in a bar.

You point to him and tell your mate – “That guy’s a rapist.”

The Point 

Scratching backs: poker and the law of reciprocityIf CoinPoker had paid Weldon some respect, and, recognising the gravity of the situation, spoke to him and promised him an angle before he published his work, I am sure they could have found a mutually beneficial way forward.

Ignoring him, and then trying to fix it later, is poor form.

I know it’s not easy, but if poker companies want to stop writers inking incorrect information and assumptions, then there needs to be more of an effort to forge relationships and open up instant lines of communication.

When you ask for a quote and receive the bog standard corporate response it’s not worth blowing your snot into.

The poker community is not a child.

It needs to be treated like an adult.

CoinPoker found a problem with it’s security. Why else would it close three accounts? Then tell us what the issue was. You have to earn trust, in the same way you want to earn writer reciprocity.

Be open.

Be free.

Be available.

Scratch our backs, and we will scratch yours.

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The proliferation of the playwright poker player


Inspired by a passage in Charles Bukowski’s ‘On Writing’ Lee Davy questions the decision to stick with the status quo in writing, in poker, in life.

I’m sitting in a renovated attic. The wooden chair is taking the skin off my sit bones. I tower over my laptop, neck craning to see the words. When I slip down to eye level, my coccyx rubs uncomfortably against the wood. A man wearing glasses sits opposite me locked into a murder-mystery, fist embedded in his temple. Occasionally, he looks at me when he thinks I’m not looking. To be fair, I type with the grace of an elephant at a disco. I bet he’s thinking, “Why doesn’t this prick fuck off elsewhere?”

I can’t.The proliferation of the playwright poker player

I have to write this.

I don’t know how to write. My wife laughs when I tell her I don’t understand the difference between a verb or an adverb. I have no clue what a noun is, how to use ‘was’ or ‘were,’ and I never know when to put a comma in a sentence.

I never set out to be a writer. I wanted to be a professional footballer. I thought the only thing I needed to learn to write was my signature. I never made it. Alcohol got me. And now I spend most of my time in coffee shops worried that someone is going to send me a tweet saying, “I read your article, and it’s shit.”

To help with this fear of not being good enough, I have been reading Charles Bukowski. I love the way he uses words and phrases like ‘hot fuck’, ‘toenail,’ and ‘cockroach’ in his poetry. A spectrum has two ends. At one, you have a thing like the Alchemist, stitched together by Paulo Coelho and twenty of the most common words in the English language, and then you have Bukowski pulling crackers out of his knackers (that one is mine).

I’ve been reading his letters before my daughter starts snoring like a drunk, and one of them stood out like a holed sock in a posh person’s house. Bukowski wrote it in December 1965. Addressed to Gene Cole, Bukowski writes:

I am afraid that the problems of our playwrights are the same as everybody else – that is, they are trained, they are TOLD the proper way to do a thing.” 

He continued.

“It can help bad playwrights become almost good ones, but how to do it will never create an art, it will never shake the old skin, it will never get us out of here.” 

Bukowski doesn’t want to see an end to books and training course that improve the skills of playwrights – Let the people do as they please – but he’s not too enthusiastic about the success of student mass.

“If they are able to create art and make a lasting theatre with these methods, I will be most happy to be called a liar.” 

I’m not saying this gives me a free pass to be a horrible writer (blame Grammarly). But it injects confidence to take my colouring pens and venture outside of the lines, and poker players should do the same thing.

Why Poker Players Should Stray Outside of the Lines 

When I first learned to play poker, I knew that I had to seek out the very best in the game and ask him to teach me. A lack of belief prevented me from doing this. But I did seek out the best online training schools.

Back then everyone was teaching the same way to play poker. Within no time, the weaknesses of unschooled poker players became history. The ABC of poker spread like the joy of children on Christmas Eve.

Today, when I speak to the very best in the game, we talk about artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms and the right way of doing things. It has a playwright school feel to it. And who am I to argue with these people? They earn millions of dollars, and I’m sitting here, bony arse hurting like fuck because I stole a free cup of tea voucher.

But where is the art?

Where are the two fingers to the establishment?

Who is drawing outside of the lines?

I think this is why I’m attracting to the work that Matt Berkey is doing at the poker coaching academy Solve For Why. The very premise behind what he does begins by straying outside of the lines. For starters, he offers coaching on the live game, and very few people do that and do that well. But it’s his drive to teach people to think and act differently that ultimately turns me on.

The man Berkey wants to scrub your bones clean.

Tip the peroxide all over that mother fucker.

We want to help people abandon the crutches of assisted learning – Matt Berkey. 

And it’s the same with life.

It’s the Same With Life 

The proliferation of the playwright poker playerI’m writing a book.

I’ve just finished the framework.

It’s a combination of theories from Dr Melanie Joy, Robert Fritz and Jeremy Griffith combined with a large dollop of personal experience. But I can’t merely copy their methods verbatim as that’s called plagiarism. Add the experience into the field, and a wild stallion emerges. Different. Sexy. Ready to rock n roll.

Yeah, seek out the leaders. It’s important. But use them as a way of independently thinking of ways to improve upon that knowledge. Climb underneath the wing, but don’t rip the fucker off and glue it to your body Icarus style.

Try something different.

Jump out of a plane.

Invest in cryptocurrency.

Tell him to get the fuck out.

The world of the mundane is like a cross – we all hang there. There is so much agony in the crowd. It’s killing us softly. We are constipated. We keep our creativity, and our individuality congealed in our gut thanks to the fear of looking like the clear glass window in a church full of stained glass jobbies.

The guy reading the murder-mystery novel has gone.

Max Richter is sending me to sleep.

I just nearly choked to death sipping the cold remnants of my free cup of tea.

It’s time to go somewhere else and write something else.

Set fire to the status quo and dabble your fingers in the ashes of mundanity one final time.

Are you going to be a playwright poker player, or a fucking maverick?

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Putting it all on black: PokerStars marketing Cody style


After Phil Galfond shares his thoughts that PokerStars is becoming nothing more than a casino, a Norwegian poker player wins $1.6m playing the slots, and Jake Cody puts it all on black – Lee Davy pens an op-ed about it all.

I’ve always wanted to hold a sponsored poker player’s Roles & Responsibility Statement in my hand. It’s an itch. No, more like a gnaw. I know there is a headline and then nothing beneath. I know it. It’s the reason those who are supposed to write them never produce one.Putting it all on black: PokerStars marketing Cody style

Isaac Haxton is proof personified.

The former PokerStars darling and new partypoker squeeze is busy doing the media interview rounds, celebrating his new position, giving his new employer some air time, and telling all and sundry that the beauty of his contract is he can do what he wants, go where he wants and play what he wants.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

And sometimes, one of your trusted steeds shines your brand underneath the eyes of your market, quite accidentally, like a flashlight into the eye of an investigative toddler.

Jake Cody is PokerStars’ best piece of marketing this year (granted, it’s early). Somewhere, somehow, Usain Bolt is supposed to be battling Kevin Hart in a social media war. Who cares? All anyone is talking about is Jake Cody.

I called my cousin last night to discuss sleeping arrangements for my 70-year-old uncle’s party.

“Did you hear about that idiot who put £42k on black.” He squealed down the phone. “You must know him; he works for PokerStars or something.”

Cody’s decision to place his partypoker LIVE UK Poker Championship High Roller first prize on black, and then watch as it came in, doubling his score, has gone viral.

The newspaper is a mighty weapon.

Phil Galfond Wouldn’t Have Done That 

He wouldn’t.

The man is not a degen.

Entrepreneurial. Business-like. Galfond is too busy building an online poker site. He doesn’t have time to wait for a ball to drop into a black number. Needs must and all of that.

Poker’s darling did have time to write a blog post offering his two cents on the Daniel Negreanu/PokerStars/Rake Debate. You can read about it by clicking the little blue line between these brackets (The Discussion on Rake That Nobody is Having)

In the op-ed, Galfond intimates that if PokerStars continues to increase rake, while at the same time, introducing more softer style game types, then they stop becoming an online poker site, and become PokerStars Casino.

I don’t think many within PokerStars will disagree with him.

PokerStars stopped being a poker site a long time ago.

I don’t think they’re hiding that fact.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire? 

Seven-figure winners on PokerStars are as familiar as cotton candy at the fair, and they have crowned the first one of 2018. A Norwegian won $1,608,448.03 playing on the $10 per spin Genie Jackpots Slot game. It’s the first time anyone has hit a progressive slot jackpot on PokerStars Casino.

The Norwegian’s name is “zetheriver”, and back in 2014 he finished fourth in the Sunday Million for $120,000, so you can be sure that some of that $1.6m will filter down through the slot and table carcasses and end up in poker.

PokerStars believe they’re giving their players what they want. A recent study by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) published a report earlier this month claiming 46.3% of poker players experienced gambling problems in the past year, and they spend more money on average than ten other tranches of gambling groups.

I spoke about this to a high stakes poker player over tea the other day, and he replied, “It’s not that people come to poker and then develop a proclivity to gamble. Poker attracts gamblers.”

Yesterday, I covered another brilliant case of cross-pollination when I told you how BetStars and PokerStars planned to merge marketing muscle to host a poker tournament where the winners win free BetStars bets and get the chance to have a sweat in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in a marketing campaign called the Big Game.

Maybe I’m not giving PokerStars enough credit.

It’s not a secret that a few sponsored pros have recently left. Things are changing. A new direction and all of that. Perhaps, the person responsible for the Roles & Responsibility statements of the PokerStars Ambassadors finally filled in the blanks beneath the headline.

GAMBLE!

GAMBLE!

GAMBLE!

Methinks Jake Cody was one of the first people to get his fresh new copy, and fair play to the lad, whatever you think about gambling, he’s single-handedly showed the world how cool it could be.

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Calling the Clock: WPT title blues; partypoker MILLIONS news


In this week’s Calling The Clock we remind you that Mike Leah upset a few people after cutting a deal during his World Poker Tour Main Event win in Fallsview, partypoker made more announcements than a sofa company during sale season, and much more. 

Walk around with a baby’s head on a spike, and you’ll receive the same abuse Mike Leah got on social media this week. It should have been the best weeks of his life. It turned out to be one of the most challenging.

Calling the Clock: WPT title blues; partypoker MILLIONS newsThe Canadian pro topped a field of 517 entrants to make the heads-up phase of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event. Sitting in the way of him and the Championship was Ryan Yu and a 4:1 chip deficit.

Despite the lead, Leah’s opponent suggested a deal in which he would be happy to take an even ICM deal, including giving the title, Champions Club berth and $15k Tournament of Champions seat to Leah.

How can you turn that down?

As the WPT doesn’t allow dealmaking, Yu raise-folded the vast majority of his chips until Leah took the dominant chip lead, who moved all-in until the rest of Yu’s chips were in Leah’s stack.

The move caused an outcry in the public domain. A cross-section of poker players questioned Leah’s integrity and the potential damage to the WPT brand.

Leah responded in a Facebook post you can read here, and I share my thoughts on the debacle, right here.

The Leah sting occurred in the same week the WPT struck a multi-year partnership with the social poker giant Zynga Poker. It’s an incredible deal for the WPT, who need to push their brand in front of other audiences as more youngsters choose non-TV platforms for their form of entertainment.

Other Live Tournament News 

Switching from the World Poker Tour to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and a couple of results to catch up on this week on the World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC).

Keven Stammen continued his impressive run of form after taking down the $1,675 WSOPC Main Event at the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. The WSOP bracelet holder defeated a field of 604 entrants to capture the $190,265 first prize. Stammen also finished 5/106 in the $2,200 High Roller. It’s his third win in the past four months.

With that win, Stammen qualifies for the WSOP Global Championship, and the 2015 winner of that event picked up her fourth gold ring this week. Loni Harwood Beat 120 entrants to take the $10,801 first prize in a $365 No-Limit Hold’em event in the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek.

And he may not have a WSOP bracelet, but Stephen Chidwick does have a major title to his name after winning the US Poker Open this week. The UK-born pro bagged the title with a game to spare after making five of the eight final tables, securing four top-three finishes, and winning two for a combined haul of $1.2m. Keith Tilston finished runner-up after winning the $50k NLHE Main Event for $660,000 in addition to three more cashes.

Lastly, PokerListings owners Net Gaming Europe AB sold the Battle of Malta (BOM) to Casino Malta for €300,000, this week. The company said the BOM added very little to the company’s bottom line. As part of the deal, PokerListings remains the chief marketer of the event that won a European Poker Award in 2014 as the Best Live Tournament With a -€2k Buy-In.

America’s Cardroom Develops a Joey Ingram Problem 

American-based online poker players searching for a game have fewer choices this week after Joey Ingram created and released videos #2 & #3 of the three-video series alleging widespread bot use, multi-accounting and collusion on Winning Poker Network’s (WPN) America’s Cardroom (ACR).

In the follow-up videos, Ingram directed his ire at the WPN CEO Philip Nagy for not doing enough to prevent the alleged cheating. Ingram confirmed that since video #1 hit the social media airwaves, ACR has banned 13 suspicious accounts, lending some legitimacy to Ingram’s claims.

Ingram’s content revealed a loophole in the MTT software allowing groups of accounts to sit together at the same table during the late registration period. Ingram also questioned whether the WPN and ACR even have a security team given the diabolically low level of interest from both since Ingram started shouting from his considerably lofty rooftop.

You can catch up on the saga here and here.

The Rest of the Online Poker News 

It was a busy week for partypoker.

The gang is enjoying the atmos at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov where they are currently hosting MILLIONS Germany. Patrik Antonius and Johannes Becker were victorious in the €25k High Roller events, winning €425,000 & €320,050 respectively, and Chi Zhang took the €800,000 first prize in the €50k event. The MILLIONS Main Event is still ongoing at the time of writing.

In other partypoker news, they revealed the new destination of the Caribbean Poker Party (CPP) as the Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas; promised $10m in guarantees for the new KO Series and declared their intention to guarantee €23m for the MILLIONS Grand Final in Barcelona. And talking about European poker, it was also the week that partypoker revealed plans to merge their French and Spanish traffic as part of the new shared liquidity deal (Portugal and Italy are set to join at a later date).

partypoker won’t be operating alone in the shared European liquidity market. The French regulator ARJEL granted Winamax permission to begin merging their traffic sources in the four nations this week, and PokerStars has already started that work being the first online operator to be granted a shared licence from the French regulator.

Bits and Bobs 

The Match Indian Poker League (MIPL) announced plans to host the second season this week. Details are scarce, but there will be ten teams competing in a single day event in Kolkatta. Overshadowing the announcement was the news that MILP founder, Raj Kundra had launched a defamation case against the former Goa Kings franchise owner, Sachiin Joshi for failing to pay his dues and alleging that Kundra fixed the first season.

The American Poker Awards (APA) revealed the shortlists for the 4th Annual Awards and Poker Central stole the pre-show with eight award nominations. Doug Polk looks likely to be the individual star with three nominations, including going head-to-head with Daniel Negreanu, a man Polk referred to as an ‘embarrassment to poker’ this week.

Last but not least, NYPD arrested poker player Micah Raskin for dealing drugs, and Doyle Brunson revealed he turned down a $230 million offer to buy his online poker room ‘Doyle’s Room’ and then watched as the American government introduced the UIGEA and turned the offer to dust.

Time ladies and gentlemen, please.

Someone has just called the clock.

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Partypoker release the MILLIONS Grand Final schedule, and it’s huge


Partypoker has released the schedule for the first-ever MILLIONS Grand Final, and it promises to be the biggest live tournament ever held on European soil.

Partypoker release the MILLIONS Grand Final schedule, and it's hugeSo, partypoker like guarantees. Well, I have one for them. The MILLIONS Grand Final in Barcelona will smash every target they create.

In a week that saw PokerStars continue to play around with their live tournament format with the cancellation of the Chilean leg of the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT), partypoker reacts by releasing one of the most ambitious live poker schedules in history.

7 – 15 April, Casino Barcelona.

Poker players, pencil it in your diary and throw away the rubber. John Duthie and the gang are promising €23m in guaranteed prize money, making the first MILLIONS Grand Final the biggest live event held on European soil.

888Poker. The World Poker Tour (WPT). They have all held events at the Casino Barcelona, but it’s PokerStars who turned it into the mecca it’s become. Along comes partypoker to benefit from all the hard graft. Barcelona expects. partypoker will deliver.

Nine events, short, sweet and succulent.

It begins on Saturday 7 April with a €1,100 buy-in, €1m Guaranteed MILLIONS Open featuring four starting flights. There are five High Rollers – 2 x Single Day €25k events on 7 & 8 April, a €50k on the 9th, a €100k on the 10th and a €10k on the 11th. All High Roller events carry a €2m Guarantee.

There is a three-day €2,500, €1m GTD MILLIONS Grand Final Warm-up featuring a single re-entry, and the flower on the end this mighty stem is the €10,300, €10m Guaranteed Main Event, the first of four flights starts on 11 April. The series ends with a €1,100 unlimited re-entry Finale.

Cash games will also be on tap.

If those prices are too steep, then you can try to qualify online at partypoker where the team are offering routes to Barcelona beginning as low as 50 cents for a €16k package. Fans of the live game can compete in five live super-satellites at the Casino Barcelona where 225 Main Event seats are up for grabs.

Raúl Horta, Poker Manager, Casino Barcelona paid homage to partypoker for putting on the festival with the highest guaranteed prizepool in the history of poker tournaments ever held in Europe, calling his home one of the world capitals of poker. 

The winner of the Grand Final will bank a minimum €1.4m, the runner-up receives €1.2m, and the third-place finisher picks up €1m.

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Wichita illegal gambling sting ends; Brandon Steven cleared of any involvement


An illegal gambling sting in Wichita that somehow included the businessman and high stakes poker lover Brandon Steven has ended with two people pleading guilty to various charges, four more people ready to take a swing, and Steven given the all clear.

An FBI investigation.

It sounds sexy, right?

Wichita illegal gambling sting ends; Brandon Steven cleared of any involvementI guess it all depends on the soul of the song. Back in February 2017, I covered the Wichita Eagle’s ink that the businessman, and high stakes poker lover, Brandon Steven was part of an FBI investigation. A year on, I can close this one down, and it’s not very sexy at all.

Two people have pleaded guilty to charges of operating an illegal gambling business and various tax evasion offences. Four more people are expected to follow (three of whom are police officers). And Brandon Steven is not one of them.

The Wichita illegal gambling investigation has been ongoing for more than three-years, but one doubts Aaron Sorkin is going to interested in turning into Molly’s Game Part Deux.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas has slapped the invisible cuffs onto the wrists of Danny Chapman and Daven ‘Smoke’ Flax. Chapman seems to be the Molly Bloom of the outfit. The 67-year-old confessed to being an underground bookie, who took action from Wichita residents between 2013-17. In that time he amassed a $1.5m fortune and laundered his money through the ownership of classy cars – ten of them to be exact. Chapman pleaded guilty to single count of operating an illegal gambling business and one count of tax evasion.

At the height of his powers, Chapman employed five people who acted as runners. One of them was Flax, who was also running an underground poker game that got quite big. The 46-year-old is said to have continually moved the game around the Wichita area to escape the all-seeing eye of the fuzz, and he might have gotten away with it if the feds hadn’t busted Chapman.

Flax held his hands up to two counts of operating an illegal gambling business, and one count of writing porky pies on his tax return. Flax’s Achilles heel was the same as Blooms (although not as high and sharp). He took a rake.

News reports cleared Brandon Steven of any wrongdoing. His brother, Rodney, and State Senator Michael O’Donnell were also given the all clear. My impression of Sherlock Holmes assumes Steven got caught up in the wiretaps because he is the owner of a car dealership and plays poker, two activities that would have put him in the crosshairs of Chapman.

The feds have charged four more people as part of the sting.

Michael Zajowski and Bruce Mackey face charges of obstructing a criminal investigation after the court revealed they tried to use their police powers to identify undercover officers investigating the illegal poker games. A third boy in blue, Michael Frederiksen, has been charged with lying to the FBI about his involvement in the game.  (didn’t his parents tell him that was wrong) Brock Wedman, not a copper, has also been charged with obstruction of justice and telling fibs to the FBI.

The sentencing follows with those in the dock facing five years in the clink and $500k in combined gambling and tax fines. However, as anyone who has watched Molly’s Game can attest, the six of them will likely end up with 200 hours of community service and a movie deal.

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3 Barrels: PokerStars Hamburg; RaSZi wins the Thrill; Negreanu holiday rant


Three stories from the cafeteria at PokerStars Towers including the results from the PokerStars Festival in Hamburg, Lex ‘RaSZi’ Veldhuis proving he still has it with a mighty fine win on Twitch, and Daniel Negreanu explains why he isn’t a fan of Thanksgiving.

3: Barrels: PokerStars Hamburg; RaSZi wins the Thrill; Negreanu holiday rantGiven the impact that German poker players are having on the global scene, it would be daft if a native didn’t win the PokerStars Festival Main Event in Hamburg this weekend.

Ulrich Pauls ensured we avoided a drift into daft by taking down the first prize of €105,850 in the €1,100 buy-in event. The 36-year-old from Hamburg nearly didn’t play. Before the Main Event, Pauls was one of the unhappiest faces of the 2,609 entrants from 54 different countries who created €1,170,138 in prize money.

But he went for it, like walking into a barbershop, saying, “Take it all off.”

Pauls, who had never cashed in a live event tracked by Hendon Mob up until his win, came into the final table riding shotgun. The Pole, Michal Lubas, was in the driving seat. A second Pole, PokerStars Team Pro, Marcin Horecki, played the role of the most famous face of the final table but fell very early.

The Main Event attracted 567 entrants, dwarfing the 367 that appeared last season, and ensuring the decision to create a €500,000 Guarantee didn’t make PokerStars look like a photosensitivity sufferer basking in the desert.

Final Table Results

1. Ulrich Pauls – €105,850
2. Michael Lubas – €66,220
3. Jan Sigel – €47,410
4. Behzad Zarnegar – €36,960
5. Bo Rundström – €28,980
6. Andrei Nodea – €22,770
7. Karolis Domarkas – €16,990
8. Marcin Horecki – €11,770
9. Rudolf Koster – €9,290

The former United Kingdom & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) Champion, Daniel Stacey, finished 12th.

Andre Haneberg Wins the High Roller

Outside of the Main Event, the €2,200 High Roller was another target that people wanted to hit hard. The event attracted 100 entrants, and Andre Haneberg defeated Kim De Han, heads-up, to take the €46,380 first prize.

The result ranks as Haneberg’s largest score to date eclipsing the €39,000 he banked for finishing runner-up to partypoker ambassador Anatoly Filatov in the €2,200 High Roller at the partypoker MILLION High Roller at the King’s Casino back in June.

Final Table Results

1. Andre Haneberg – €46,380
2. Kim De Han – €32,210
3. Martin Wendt – €21,300
4. Jamila von Perger – €16,670
5. Eric Henning – €13,440
6. Adnan Dizdarevic – €10,480
7. Varahram Vardjavand – €8,290
8. Frederik Jensen – €6,460
9. Grzegorz Derkowski – €4,890

Lex Veldhuis Proves There is Life in the Old Dog Yet 

You need a lot of motivation to grind 10-15 hours of online poker per day, or maybe you just need one twat to ignite your boosters?

Before the weekend broke, Lex ‘RaSZi’ Veldhuis was competing in the $1,050 buy-in PokerStars Thursday Thrill, streaming to his loyal audience on Twitch, when a troll appeared from under his bridge to call Veldhuis old. 

“Lex quit poker; you don’t got it in your anymore. You’re life’s with your girl now; you’re too old for this, you don’t got the fire in you anymore.”

15 hours later and Veldhuis proved that he still has it by winning the thing for $55,000 in front of 9,000 enthused viewers.

“Winning a tournament on Twitch feels like becoming Olympic champion,” Veldhuis told PokerStars’s Stephen Bartley after his win.

I’m not sure Olympic champions are that old, Lex.