Two Plead Guilty in Kansas Gambling Case, Brandon Steven Cleared

 Two Plead Guilty in Kansas Gambling Case, Brandon Steven Cleared

In a case that has gone on for more than three years, two men in Kansas have pled guilty to charges of operating a gambling operation and different tax violations. While these two have pled guilty in their cases, poker professional Brandon Steven – who had been caught up in the wiretapping that the federal government had on the operators – seemingly has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas reported that Danny Chapman and Daven Flax had pled guilty in separate plea bargains. For Chapman, 67, it was a plea of guilty to one count of operating an illegal gambling business and one count of tax evasion. The other deal was with Flax, 46, who pled guilty to two counts of operating an illegal gambling business and one count of making a false statement on a tax return. There are currently no reports of what either man will receive for a sentence from the federal court, but they could each be sentenced to up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $ 250,000 for the gambling charge and another five years and $ 250,000 on the tax charges.

In Chapman’s case, he admitted to being an “underground bookie” that worked across the Wichita area. Over the period covering 2013-17, Chapman admitted to earning $ 1.5 million from his gambling operation. At one point, five people worked as “runners” (collectors) in the operation. Chapman supposedly laundered the gambling money through the ownership of cars and in cashier’s checks, which he stored in Wichita and Las Vegas.

Flax, for his part, did it the old-fashioned way. Flax ran an underground poker game that operated in the Wichita area, one that became a very high-stakes, invite only affair. It would rotate around the Wichita area to keep authorities at bay and, as Flax admitted in his plea deal, he took a rake from those games and provided all the amenities (dealers, security, etc.). In an odd occurrence, Flax’s operation would have gone unnoticed except for the fact he was one of the “runners” for Chapman’s gambling ring.

So where does Steven figure into this equation? Last year, Steven was informed by the Kansas U. S. Attorney that a phone that had been “subscribed to you” had been intercepted by a federal wiretap in 2015. At the time, Steven commented to the Wichita Eagle that he was “aware of the broad nature of this inquiry.” “As you know, and everybody knows, I play high stakes poker….they are looking into my poker and my involvement (in a casino venture)…I’ve retained counsel and we’re going to fully cooperate with this matter.”

As is evident now, Steven was never a center of the investigation, just a casualty caught up in the wiretapping. From reports by the feds, Steven and his brother Rodney were both caught in the wiretaps and at no time were charges ever filed against them. Along with them, others caught up in the mix included former State Senator Michael O’Donnell, who disavowed any knowledge of Chapman and Flax.

Steven now can head back to what he arguably does best – poker. 2016 was an outstanding year for the high stakes pro, taking down over $ 1.2 million in winning a $ 50,000 Super High Roller event at ARIA in October and driving deep in the World Series of Poker’s $ 111,111 High Roller for One Drop. Potentially because of the specter of the feds hanging over him, Steven only made a bit more than $ 54K in 2017 from his tournament exploits. Still, Steven has over $ 3.1 million in career earnings and will be looking to “get back on the horse” in 2018.

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2018 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event Day 2: Ben Yu Leads Tight Leaderboard

 2018 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event Day 2: Ben Yu Leads Tight Leaderboard

The World Poker Tour is in Florida this week as the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event is underway at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. Day 2 is already in the books (there were two Day 1 flights) with Ben Yu going into Monday’s action as the chip leader with 1.382 million chips.

A total of 911 entries were paid during the two starting flights, bringing the prize pool for the $ 3,300 + $ 200 event to $ 2.915 million. Payouts go down to 114th place and the eventual winner will cash for more than half a million dollars. There are just 53 players remaining after Day 2, so everyone still in the tournament has made the money.

Yu began yesterday with 103,700 chips, a solid stack for that point in the tournament, but he clearly did some work Sunday, multiplying his stack ten-fold.

It took a long time for Yu to make a move, as well after the dinner break, with an average stack over 400,000, he was still only in the 100,000 chips range. But climb he did, not just staying alive, but thriving as others fell by the wayside. He completed his rise to the top of the chip counts late in the night when he was up against Sean Winter and Winter’s last 250,000 chips. All-in pre-flop, Winter had 5-5 while Yu had A-J. Yu found a Jack on the flop and that was it for Winter, while Yu’s stack elevated to 1.380 million.

Yu currently ranks 327th on the Global Poker Index. He is no stranger to deep tournament runs, as he has nearly $ 2.3 million in live tournament earnings. His largest cash was for more than $ 600,000 when he finished third in the 2015 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event. Yu also has two World Series of Poker bracelets in his trophy case. The first was won in 2015 (not a bad year for him), when he took the title in the $ 10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship, good for almost $ 300,000. He won his second bracelet at last year’s WSOP in the $ 10,000 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship; that paycheck was for more than $ 230,000.

Yu doesn’t have much breathing room at the top. Joseph Couden is nearly tied with him, holding 1.339 million chips. Qasem Jamhour is close behind with 1.284 million. And after him, there are three more players all around a million: Andjelko Andrejevic (1.023 million), Mike Chiappetta (1.021 million), and Nick Schwarmann (1.017 million). Two more players have more than 900,000 chips. Should setup for a competitive Monday as players jockey for position as the final table nears.

2018 World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1. Ben Yu – 1,382,000
2. Joseph Couden – 1,339,000
3. Qasem Jamhour – 1,284,000
4. Andjelko Andrejevic – 1,023,000
5. Mike Chiappetta – 1,021,000
6. Nick Schwarmann – 1,017,000
7. Ness Reilly – 973,000
8. John Richards – 910,000
9. Ardit Kurshumi – 843,000
10. Rainer Kempe – 793,000

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World Poker Tour Makes Late Addition to Season XVI with WPT Amsterdam

 World Poker Tour Makes Late Addition to Season XVI with WPT Amsterdam

Not content to sit on their laurels of an outstanding Season XVI, the World Poker Tour has added another event to the roster for the current season. After initially being off the schedule, the WPT Amsterdam will be back for another run from the top pros in Europe just prior to the end of season festivities.

For the fourth year in a row, the WPT Amsterdam will be contested at the Holland Casino Amsterdam. The €3300 Main Event will take place from April 16-20, giving its champion just long enough to get to the States of America for the WPT Tournament of Champions. All winners from the current season receive a seat in the Tournament of Champions as a part of their victory, along with a WPT bracelet, their name inscribed on the Champions’ Cup and a nice financial payday.

“We are proud to return to Holland Casino, home of the first-ever WPT Main Tour event in the Netherlands, for a spectacular festival in partnership with WPTDeepStacks,” said Hermance Blum, General Manager of WPT Europe. “One of the world’s most passionate poker communities is the Netherlands, and Amsterdam presents the perfect location for players wishing to travel to a major European tournament series. With both WPTDeepStacks and WPT Main Tour main events on the schedule, we look forward to seeing you at Holland Casino Amsterdam in April for an incredible week of poker.”

As Blum alluded to, the return of the WPT Main Tour isn’t the only reason for celebration in the Netherlands come April. Along with the Main Tour, the WPTDeepStacks will be back in action. The WPTDeepStacks Amsterdam will be a €1500 buy in tournament that will run just prior to the Main Event on April 13-16.

“It is a great honor for Holland Casino to bring the prestigious World Poker Tour for a fourth consecutive year and WPTDeepStacks for a second year back to Amsterdam,” said Erwin van Lambaart, the Chief Executive Officer of Holland Casino. “Hosting the WPT at Holland Casino ensures a poker festival of the highest standards, and we look forward to welcoming in the world’s best players as they compete on the game’s biggest stage.”

With the addition of the WPT Amsterdam as a part of the Main Tour schedule, there is officially seven events left on the Season XVI schedule. The WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open is currently ongoing, with the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open just around the horizon beginning on January 28. The venerable WPT L. A. Poker Classic (with its $ 10,000 buy in) awaits players on February 24, with the WPT Rolling Thunder in Northern California beginning on March 2. On April 13, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, will play host to the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.

Once the WPT Amsterdam is completed (and provided that victor is old enough – European casinos have a lower age threshold for entry), then the Season XVI champions will head for Las Vegas for the Tournament of Champions in May. While the current season’s champions are already assured a seat, any past champion of the WPT can buy in directly to the $ 15,000 event. Last year’s tournament was held as a part of the festivities at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, with Daniel Weinman defeating hometown favorite Michael Mizrachi to capture the championship.

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Long Dormant Revel Casino in Atlantic City Sold

 Long Dormant Revel Casino in Atlantic City Sold

Atlantic City’s Revel Casino, which has been closed since September 2014, has been sold. Bruce Deifik, the founder of Integrated Properties in Denver, confirmed Monday that he purchased the ill-conceived property for $ 200 million through his business AC OCEAN WALK from Florida developer Glenn Straub.

The Revel was designed to be a luxury casino property to rival the Borgata. It cost a staggering $ 2.4 billion to build and opened in April 2012. It never made a profit and closed about two and a half years later, the third of four Atlantic City casinos to shutter its doors that year.

The casino was a failure from the start, as financial problems caused construction to be halted more than once. It bled money from the moment it opened, couldn’t pay its property taxes, couldn’t pay contractors, couldn’t repay loans, and went into bankruptcy twice.

In August 2014, Revel announced that if it did not receive any acceptable bids to purchase the casino, it would close by September 1st. It closed one day after that.

On October 1st, 2014, Brookfield US Holdings won a bankruptcy auction for the Revel, bidding $ 110 million. This angered Glenn Straub, who felt some funny business was going on when the auction was delayed from the previous week even though all parties were present. The Press of Atlantic City reported that Revel executives held closed-door meetings to discuss offers, which raised the suspicion of Straub.

Straub’s company, Polo North Country club, had bid $ 95.4 million, a bid which was used as a backup in case the sale to Brookfield fell through. As it turned out, the sale did fall through and in January 2015, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale to Straub. In February, though, Revel cancelled the Straub deal and then in April engaged in talks once again with Straub, eventually agreed to sell him the casino for only $ 82 million.

In June 2016, Straub said he was going to reopen the resort with just a small casino and lots of entertainment facilities like a water park, an e-sports lounge, and an equestrian facility. In September of that year, the property was renamed TEN, but in the end, it never reopened.

Bruce Deifik, though, has said he will re-open the property this summer with a new name, Ocean Resort Casino.

“We are incredibly excited that we were able to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire this tremendous property at a time when Atlantic City is seeing great economic strides,” Deifik said in a statement. “Now the city has a number of exciting new projects with our property and the Hard Rock, as well as Stockton University’s new campus and the expansion of the medical center.”

The Hard Rock that Deifik mentioned is the former Trump Taj Mahal, which closed October 10th, 2016. In March 2017, the Seminole Tribe of Florida purchased the former east coast poker haven and announced it would rebranded the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

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Cary Katz Wins 2018 PCA $100K Super High Roller Event

 Cary Katz Wins 2018 PCA $100K Super High Roller Event

When we were kids, my brother and I were huge Milwaukee Brewers fans (and still are). Baseball’s all-time stolen base leader, Rickey Henderson, was never a member of the Brewers, but my brother loved him nonetheless because they shared the same first name (though my sibling’s name doesn’t have the “e”). As such, I predict the child version of my bro would have just become a gigantic fan of last night’s winner of the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $ 100,000 Super High Roller Event, Cary Katz.

Unfortunately for us, we are not related to the man, so there are no generous birthday gifts in our future. For his real relatives, though, they could be in for quite the boon after Katz’s nearly $ 1.5 million win.

One thing that is nuts about Katz’s victory is that he did not even play on Day 1 of the tournament. As players were allowed to register before the beginning of Day 2, he did just that, sacrificing the ability to build up chips on the first day. Of course, he could have busted out on Day 1, so there is a trade-off there. With just 48 entrants, though, opting to skip the first day is a sizable risk.

As such, Katz was one of the short stacks going into the seven-handed final table with 855,000 chips, one of just two players below the million chip mark. For comparison, the three players at the top of the standings – Ivan Luca, Justin Bonomo, and Daniel Negreanu – had 2.760 million, 2.695 million, and 2.415 million, respectively.

For quite a while, Katz made little to no headway, languishing at the bottom of the chip counts. Even after he doubled twice and two players busted out by Hand 45 of the final table, Katz was still the short stack with 1.210 million chips. Luca and Bryn Kenney, meanwhile, were up over 4 million.

Shockingly, Luca and Kenney locked horns two hands later, with both ending up all-in. Kenney’s A-K bested Luca’s A-J and suddenly the chip lead from nearly the entire day was out in fifth place and Kenney had 8.260 million chips.

Katz was up and down for a while after that, mostly remaining the short stack, but he got aggressive leading up to Hand 121, frequently shoving and forcing folds. After Kenney lost a solid pot to Bonomo, there was virtually a three-way tie at about 4 million chips.

A few hands later, Katz forced Kenney out of a big hand and when Bonomo knocked out Kenney shortly thereafter, it was somehow Katz in the lead going into heads-up, 6.695 million to 5.305 million. And it didn’t take long for Katz to clinch it. He extended his lead four hands into heads-up when his quads beat Bonomo’s full house (it was impressive that Bonomo wasn’t eliminated right there).

Three hands later, Bonomo shoved for 3.3 million with A-K and Katz called with 8-8. Bonomo wasn’t able to pair either of his cards, capping Cary Katz’s amazing run to the Super High Roller title.

2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $ 100K Super High Roller – Final Table Results

1. Cary Katz – $ 1,492,340
2. Justin Bonomo – $ 1,077,800
3. Bryn Kenney – $ 686,960
4. Daniel Negreanu – $ 521,140
5. Ivan Luca – $ 402,700
6. Ike Haxton – $ 307,940
7. Sam Greenwood – $ 248,720

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