Category Archives: PokerStars

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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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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PokerStars, GVC, Paddy Power Betfair join US casino lobby


american-gaming-association-pokerstars-stars-groupAmerica’s top casino lobby group has welcomed six new members, including a company the group once called “a business built on deceit, chicanery and the systematic flouting of US law.”

On Thursday, the American Gaming Association (AGA) announced that it had added six new companies as Board-level members, including BMM Testlabs, Oklahoma-based tribal casino operator Choctaw Casinos and Resorts, Nevada’s Golden Entertainment, UK-listed operators GVC Holdings and Paddy Power Betfair, as well as The Stars Group, parent company of PokerStars.

AGA president/CEO Geoff Freeman said the newly “diverse membership reflects the interest of the casino gaming industry.” Freeman said the addition of these six “industry leaders” would allow the AGA to better serve as “an effective advocate for the industry as a whole.”

The AGA announcement is proof that, if you wait long enough, the world eventually turns on its head. In 2013, the AGA actively campaigned against PokerStars being issued a New Jersey online gambling license, marking the first time the lobby group had ever felt the need to intervene in a licensing process.

Stars, then under its original ownership, had sought to participate in New Jersey’s regulated online market after reaching a $731m settlement with the US Department of Justice to resolve its civil liabilities stemming from the 2011 ‘Black Friday’ online poker indictments.

That settlement stated that the DOJ saw no legal reason why Stars should be excluded from future participation in US regulated markets. But the AGA insisted at the time that the settlement hadn’t “altered in any way” the rank odor of criminality wafting off the Stars brand.

To be fair, the AGA was then under the command of Frank Fahrenkopf, who handed the reins of power to Freeman just one month after making those pejorative comments toward Stars. But it does vividly illustrate how much the US gambling landscape has changed since those days.

PokerStars did eventually get licensed in New Jersey (as did GVC Holdings’ PartyPoker brand) and the AGA has since reversed itself on a number of other positions, including its recent support for overturning the federal ban on single-game sports betting outside Nevada.

The AGA’s welcoming of online gambling operators into the fold will almost certainly revive concerns that Las Vegas Sands will withdraw its membership from the AGA. Sands boss Sheldon Adelson, who hates online gambling the way Donald Trump’s hair hates gusts of wind, previously threatened to withdraw his financial suppport unless the AGA reversed its position advocating for online legalization, which prompted the AGA to knuckle under.

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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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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.