Idaho AG Declares DFS Illegal

 Idaho AG Declares DFS Illegal

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) leaders DraftKings and FanDuel have withdrawn from another state, as Idaho’s Attorney General Lawrence Wasden declared DFS illegal. He is the 11th state Attorney General to decide that DFS constitutes illegal gambling. The two fantasy sites were to be gone from the state as of Sunday, May 1st.

In a press release, Wasden explained why he told DraftKings and FanDuel to get out, saying, “The concern I have is that the paid daily sports offerings provided by these companies constitute gambling under Idaho law. I have a duty to enforce and uphold that law. I commend the companies for negotiating in good faith and agreeing not to make these contests available in Idaho.”

Wasden began looking into the legality of daily fantasy sports in January and like most of the AG’s so far, he reasonably concluded that DFS runs afoul of his state’s gaming laws. Idaho does allow some betting – the state lottery, pari-mutuel betting, and bingo and raffle games – but DFS is not exempted from an overall gambling prohibition.

Wasden went on to briefly detail why DFS is illegal gambling:

Idaho defines gambling, in part, as risking money or other thing of value for gain that is contingent in whole or part upon chance or the outcome of an event, including a sporting event. My concern is that the daily fantasy sports offerings my office reviewed require participants to risk money for a cash prize contingent upon individual athletes’ collective performances in various future sporting events. As I see it, this falls within Idaho’s definition of gambling.

Both DraftKings and FanDuel are still allowed to offer free daily fantasy games in Idaho, even ones that offer prizes to players, but paid contests are a no-go.

Fortunately for DFS fans, Wasden did not say he was against fantasy sports; it was simply his job to enforce the current law. In the press release, his office said that DraftKings and FanDuel could offer paid fantasy contests once again if one of two things happens: 1) the Idaho legislature changes the law to permit paid DFS games, or b) a court “with authority and jurisdiction in Idaho” determines that DFS is actually legal.

One would guess that the DFS sites won’t bother trying to go to court over this, as Idaho is a small market. Other states have quickly passed DFS legalization bills, so it would not be shocking if Idaho did the same, but that would all depend on whether or not any of the state’s lawmakers feel strongly enough about the subject to draw up legislation.

If daily fantasy sports become legal in Idaho, DraftKings and FanDuel have agreed to give the Attorney General’s office 30 days written notice of their intentions to re-launch paid fantasy games.

“The notice serves to give the Attorney General time to evaluate the proposed contests to determine whether they comply with Idaho law,” the press release states.

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Nationals Retake First in Americas, Wolverines Usurp Top Spot in Eurasia in GPL Week 4

 Nationals Retake First in Americas, Wolverines Usurp Top Spot in Eurasia in GPL Week 4

There was some serious jumbling of the standings in the Global Poker League’s Week 4, as we are still early enough in the season that any hot or cold week by a team can result in major changes to the standings. The Montreal Nationals continued its weekly trading of the top spot with the New York Rounders, jumping back into the lead of the Americas Conference, while there is a surprising new leader of the Eurasia Conference: the Moscow Wolverines.

It was a rather interesting week in the Americas Conference, as the top three teams after Week 3 only achieved single-digit scores in Week 3, while the three bottom teams were the best performers. Because those bottom three were so far behind, though, Montreal and New York remained the top two. The Las Vegas Moneymakers, previously third, fell to fourth as the L.A. Sunset had the best week in the conference, earning 15 points.

Olivier Busquet did it all for the Sunset, nabbing a first and a fourth place finish in the Sit-and-Go rounds and then winning two of three matches against the Rounders’ Tom Marchese to obtain the 15 points for his team. Anton Wigg of the San Francisco Rush was the top Sit-and-Go performer of the week in the Americas Conference, finishing first and third for 10 total points. That still wasn’t quite enough to get his team out of the basement, though.

Here are the standings for the Americas Conference after Week 4:

Montreal Nationals 47 5
New York Rounders 46 4
L. A. Sunset 43 4
Las Vegas Moneymakers 40 1
Sao Paulo Metropolitans 39 2
San Francisco Rush 37 4

Over in the Eurasia Conference, the story was all about Anatoly Filatov. Filatov, playing for the Moscow Wolverines, nearly swept the Sit-and-Go round, missing a dual-win by just one spot. He followed that up on Wednesday by winning two out of his three games against the London Royals’ Vanessa Selbst. All told, he scored 18 points all by his lonesome, a figure that equals the second-best weekly score for any team this season.

Prior to Week 4, Moscow was in third place, five points behind the first place Paris Aviators and two points behind the Hong Kong Stars, the only two teams that have occupied first place through the first three weeks. But Paris only scored 11 points and Hong Only garnered 9 points, so Moscow was able to leapfrog both to reach first place for the first time.

Also of note is the big move by the Berlin Bears. Berlin has languished in the cellar of the Eurasia conference because of poor showings in Weeks 1 and 3, but thanks to a second and third place Sit-and-Go finish by Jeff Gross plus a sweep by Gross in his heads-up matches against the Rome Emperors’ Todd Brunson, Berlin scored 17 points and jumped from last place to fourth.

The Week 4 standings for the Eurasia Conference are as follows:

Moscow Wolverines 53 6
Paris Aviators 51 5
Hong Kong Stars 46 4
Berlin Bears 39 2
London Royals
35 3
Rome Emperors 28 0

Looking ahead to Week 5, which starts Tuesday, the match that stands out on the schedule takes place on Wednesday, as the first place Moscow Wolverines will face-off against the second place Paris Aviators in heads-up action.

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2016 EPT Grand Final Main Event: Largest Field in Grand Final History Comes Out for Two Day Ones, Albert Daher Leads

 2016 EPT Grand Final Main Event: Largest Field in Grand Final History Comes Out for Two Day Ones, Albert Daher Leads

The finale for its Season 12 schedule, the European Poker Tour’s Grand Final has exceeded expectations on the coast of the Mediterranean. After two Day Ones, the largest EPT Grand Final field of 1068 players had come to the tables in the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco (potentially with more to come), making the EPT bosses look brilliant in lowering the buy in for the tournament from its former traditional €10,000 to its price in 2016 of €5000.

Day 1A arose bright and sunny on Saturday with 286 players coming to the tables to stake their claim European poker’s biggest prize. The mixture of satellite winners was punctuated with the appearance of a significant tournament professional, but it was the showing of one of football’s best players that seemed to excite many in the tournament arena. Team PokerStars SportsStar Cristiano Ronaldo was on hand to take his shot at poker superstardom, which was a bit odd because his Real Madrid team will be hosting Manchester City on Wednesday in a Champions League match – what would he do if he were to make a deep run in the Grand Final? That question won’t have to be answered, unfortunately; Ronaldo would lose a big hand off the bat and never get back over his starting stack, falling before the close of Level 1.

Ronaldo wasn’t the only big name among the crowd on Saturday. “Gentleman” John Gale, Fabian Quoss, Antoine Saout, Isaac Haxton, Sergey Lebedev, Justin Bonomo and former Grand Final champion Mohsin Charania were all on hand in the midst of Level 1, but former Grand Final victor Ivan Freitez, Huy Pham and Aleh Yurkin would join Ronaldo on the rail. By the end of the night, Roman Verenko had stacked up 198,000 in chips to assume the Day 1A chip lead, but such players as Jake Cody, Faraz Jaka, Mike Watson, a Patrik Antonius sighting and Gale all were among those to move on to Day 2 on Monday.

With such a large field for the Day 1A action, it was expected that Day 1B would be massive and the players didn’t disappoint. 487 players were on the counter for the call of “shuffle up and deal,” offering the potential for the 2016 EPT Grand Final to the biggest in the EPT’s history (Season 5’s 935 runners in the Grand Final was the previous record, although it has to be noted that the buy in then was €10,000). By the time dinner arrived, a total of 779 players had been added to the player roster and, at the end of the night, three more entries brought the overall total to 782 runners for Day 1B. There is a possibility that more players may still enter into the tournament – late registration is open until the start of action on Day 2 Monday – but the 1068 total players for the 2016 EPT Grand Final is the biggest turnout in history.

As the adage states, you can’t win a poker tournament on the first day, but you can certainly lose one. There were several players who demonstrated the truthfulness of that adage as they will not be returning on Monday for any more play in the Grand Final. Guillaume Darcourt, Lee Markholt, Andrey Zaichenko, Bruno Fitoussi, Luca Pagano, Yury Gulyy and James Akenhead won’t be back, but one elimination in particular caught the eye of many in the room.

Entering after the dinner break, Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu played the very first hand he was dealt and picked up some chips from opponent Markku Koplimaa. On the very next hand, the duo would clash again on a K-5-9-7-J board and Negreanu called off his final chips after Koplimaa bet out Negreanu’s exact stack. ‘Kid Poker’s’ A-K looked nice, but it fell to Koplimaa’s 8-6 for the turned straight. In the span of two hands, the all-time winningest player in poker history was gone from the EPT Grand Final.

The room was abuzz with the man who marched to the top of the chip standings by the end of the night. Seemingly making no mistakes as he stormed through the day, Albert Daher was able to amass a 266,600 chip stack to take the overall chip lead. Complete stats for Day 1B aren’t available as of yet so a formal chip count isn’t available either, but it is thought that Daher, Sebastien Lebaron and Kulli Sidhu are the top three players at this point.

Day 2 will kick off on Monday afternoon with around 585 players still remaining in the tournament. The reduced buy-in will probably keep the first place prize down a bit, but the prestige of taking the EPT Grand Final will still be cherished by the player who achieves that goal. The champion will be crowned on Friday, concluding the Season 12 schedule for the EPT.

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Ole Schemion Defeats Mustapha Kanit to Take Down EPT €100,000 Super High Roller Championship

 Ole Schemion Defeats Mustapha Kanit to Take Down EPT €100,000 Super High Roller Championship

After negotiating a deal that basically ensured both would receive the same payday, Ole Schemion defeated Mustapha Kanit in heads up action to take down the championship of the European Poker Tour’s €100,000 Super High Roller event on Saturday night.

The final eight men presented one of the more difficult final tables that you’ll see. While Ali Reza Fatehi was at the top of the table, Stephen Chidwick, Igor Kurganov, Sam Greenwood, Ivan Luca, Paul Newey, Schemion and Kanit were seated in the other seats. All but Newey, Greenwood and Luca were situated with seven-figure stacks, ensuring that there would be some play once the stacks deepened up a bit. After Newey (who started with only 250K in chips) doubled up on the first two hands, he got out of the danger zone and could actually muster some offense against his tablemates.

After Newey’s renewal of life, some of the men at the top came back to the pack. Kurganov, at this final table for the third year in a row, made a misstep bluffing into Luca, who found his J-4 offsuit turn into a K-Q-4-K-4 river boat as Kurganov bluffed with an A-6. As Kurganov’s stack fell to around 800K, Greenwood would slow play his pocket Kings into allowing Kanit to river a straight with his 9-2 offsuit on an 8-6-5-2-7 board. After calling a Kanit bet, Greenwood would fall to only 440K in chips as the tournament moved on.

On the very hand following Greenwood’s slow play, the first elimination would occur. After a bet from a frisky Kanit on the button, Luca shoved his stack from the small blind and Kanit wasted little time in calling. Luca’s pocket Jacks looked great, but they were cooled by Kanit’s pocket Queens; once the river failed to bring any knave to the festivities, Luca was on the rail in eighth place.

Greenwood never recovered from the hand against Kanit, his chips slowly bleeding out to the table as he got his final ducats to the center in the small blind against Kanit. Greenwood’s 7-5 off suit didn’t measure up to Kanit’s 10-5, but the board brought both a piece of the action in coming down 6-10-7. A King on the turn didn’t help anyone and, on Greenwood’s request, the river card was dealt face down for a squeeze. As Greenwood peered for another seven, he instead saw a deuce to end his tournament in seventh place.

Kanit would prove to be perplexing during the tournament, his chip stack roller-coastering through the afternoon as he freely splashed chips around. Kurganov and Fatehi would surge back during Level 20, with both men holding the chip lead at one point. Chidwick, however, wouldn’t be as fortunate, instead tussling with Newey on two consecutive hands and coming out on the losing end both times to head out in sixth place.

Kanit would find the “up” button for his day (and stay there) in a huge hand that saw him double and Fatehi fall. On a 3♣ 6 7♣ K♣ 3♠ board, Kanit would find a call of Fatehi’s all in with only his J♣ 8♣ for an OK flush. Fatehi, however, had nothing but air with his Q-J off suit, sending a huge pile of his chips to Kanit as he took over the chip lead with a 5.58 million pool.

Despite his early heroics that kept him around much longer than probably anyone thought, Newey’s fortunes came to a close soon after the Kanit/Fatehi clash. With pocket eights, Newey bet out pre-flop and Schemion made the big blind defense with a Q♣ 6♣ to see everyone get a piece of the 9 8♣ 10♣ flop. Schemion pushed his stack in and Newey called for less, pleased with his bottom set but sweating a multitude of cards that could beat him. The 3♣ was one of those cards, but Newey still had some hope with a paired board. A K♦ failed to give Newey what he was looking for as he exited the stage in fifth place, a vast improvement over where he started the day’s action.

Kanit would finish off Kurganov in fourth (after much of Kurganov’s stack went to Fatehi) to try to keep pace with Schemion, but Schemion would bring the party down to two when he rivered an unnecessary Aces up two pair to vanquish Fatehi’s pocket fives. As he entered the battle with Kanit holding nearly nine million chips to Kanit’s 6.2 million, the action was paused as the gentlemen decided to discuss a deal. After some number crunching, it was determined that Schemion would pocket €1,547,800 and Kanit €1,462,000, leaving €50K and the trophy in the center as an added bonus to the eventual champion.

After the deal was set, the tournament quickly concluded. Perhaps because of an adjustment in the timing of the levels (both men agreed to reduce the duration to 20 minutes), the duo started jamming chips, with Schemion coming out on top more often than not. Within 30 minutes of the resumption of action, Schemion closed the deal when they actually had real hands – Schemion’s pocket Queens found what was thought to be a useless Queen on the flop for a set against Kanit’s pocket sevens, until the river brought a seven for Kanit’s own second-best set. With that, the tournament was over and Ole Schemion crowned the champion.

1. Ole Schemion, €1,597,800*
2. Mustaphan Kanit, €1,462,000*
3. Ali Reza Fatehi, €828,500
4. Igor Kurganov, €627,300
5. Paul Newey, €485,300
6. Stephen Chidwick, €378,750
7. Sam Greenwood, €301,820
8. Ivan Luca, €236,750

(* – denotes two-way deal)

These men are already there, so perhaps they’ll be jumping into Day 1B of the EPT Grand Final Main Event, which will take place on Sunday. For now, Ole Schemion will enjoy the nearly two million extra Euros in his bank account as the final stop for the European Poker Tour’s Season 12 schedule plays out.

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Senator Diane Feinstein Pens Opposition Letter to California Efforts to Regulate Online Poker, Legislators Ignore Her

 Senator Diane Feinstein Pens Opposition Letter to California Efforts to Regulate Online Poker, Legislators Ignore Her

Offering her opinion from a national seat on an issue that the state is trying to figure out (the civics people in the audience will realize how that sounds), California Senator Diane Feinstein recently penned a letter to the California General Assembly in opposition to their efforts to pass effective regulation of online poker. The state body’s response? Passing said legislation out of committee by a unanimous vote.

Feinstein penned her letter to Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon in response to Assembly Bill 2863, which had its first hearing in front of the California Assembly’s Governmental Organization Committee last week. “I write to strongly oppose legislation that has been introduced in the State Assembly to authorize online poker in California,” Feinstein’s letter begins. “I urge you to consider the potential widespread harmful implications of online gambling, particularly for young people in California.”

The senior Senator from California continues on to point out a study from BioMed Central, a for-profit scientific (online) publisher from the United Kingdom, regarding online gaming and youth participation. In that study, researchers Tara Elton-Marshall, Scott Leatherdale and Nigel Turner posited that “youth are gambling online despite restrictions” (they don’t note that they probably are smoking, drinking and other activities as well despite restrictions), which is enough for Feinstein to conclude that it has to be stopped. She goes on to tie in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s out-of-date research on the subject from the early 2000s and states that “mechanisms” can “conceal the location of players” from the online gaming sites.

Where Feinstein really goes off the reservation is on the activities of “Black Friday.” Despite having paid nearly $ 1 billion in fines over the 2011 indictment of founder Isai Scheinberg (whom Feinstein talks about as if she’s never heard of him) and being cleared of any charges, Feinstein brings up PokerStars, saying they “provide a ready avenue for money laundering and other possible offenses.” She also states they are harmful to children, but doesn’t go into detail, and insinuates that the new ownership of PokerStars, Amaya Gaming, isn’t trustworthy either.

From all appearances, the letter Feinstein sent to the California legislators sounds like a lobbyist from the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling wrote it. The letter contains all of the fingerprints of arguments that have been used by the minions of the CSIG – and have been thoroughly refuted by repeated demonstrations of geolocation technology and identification verification – and pretty much no individual thought from the Senator herself.

So what was the reply from the California Assembly’s Governmental Organization Committee? In an 18-0 vote, AB 2863 – despite still-significant differences between many of the various parties involved in the case – was passed, sending it along to the California Assembly for consideration and potentially a vote. One of the most powerful voices in demonstrating that regulation was necessary was the Poker Player Alliance’s Executive Director, John Pappas.

During his testimony in front of the committee, Pappas related the history of unregulated rooms that had suddenly shut down, leaving thousands of U. S. players in the lurch. “Lock Poker last April shut down and took millions in player deposits,” Pappas noted. “Because there is no regulatory oversight, there is nothing the players can do to get their money back.”

Pappas’ testimony, while not the only key point in advocating for regulation of the online poker industry, was probably the most powerful to the committee members. Before the bill can move to the Assembly and, perhaps, the California Senate, the differing factions have to find a common ground to solidly put in the bill. Despite the moves by Pappas and the drive from the Assembly committee, they cannot force the factions into a deal.

While many are optimistic about passage in 2016, there is the stark reality that the discussions have been going on for almost a decade on this subject. As such, it would be best for online poker players to temper their excitement over this issue as there are some powerful players – including a sitting U. S. Senator – who could still impact the decision.

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