Hard Rock Atlantic City to Open June 28th

 Hard Rock Atlantic City to Open June 28th

In a press conference Wednesday, Hard Rock International executives announced that the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will open June 28th. Among the highlights the first year are almost 300 nights of live entertainment, including the likes of Blake Shelton, Amy Schumer, Stone Temple Pilots, Counting Crows, Florida Georgia Line, Steely Dan, and Frankie Valli.

“We think it’s a great start,” Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen said. “It demonstrates our commitment that we are about entertainment and not just about casino. But, certainly, we look forward to continuing to book more acts and even larger acts. There’s some amazing acts on that list, but, certainly, I think the best is yet to come.”

While I referred to the Hard Rock Atlantic City as “new,” it is actually the former Trump Taj Mahal, situated on the Boardwalk between Virginia and Maryland Avenues. Hard Rock International purchased the shuttered property, finalizing the sale about a year ago. The company is investing $ 500 million to get it refurbished, rebranded, and ready to go this summer. And yes, the iconic giant guitar will be prominently featured out front, though it has not been erected yet (permits, which have been procured, were needed before it could be done).

The Hard Rock will be a welcome sight to Atlantic City, which saw five casinos close from 2014 to 2016. 2014, in particular, was a disaster for the city, as Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, Showboat Casino, the $ 2.4 billion Revel, and Trump Plaza, all shut their doors. The Trump Taj Mahal closed on October 10th, 2016.

Of course, with all those casino closing went thousands of jobs.

“They’re going to hire 3,000 people, which we need. We lost about 11,000 in 2014, so this means more jobs for Atlantic City,” New Jersey Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo told News 12 New Jersey.

“You’re talking about over 5,000 full-time jobs,” added Matt Doherty with the Casino Reinvestment Authority. “These are union jobs with pension, health insurance for pay. Then there’s probably another 2,000 seasonal jobs for the summer as well.”

The Hard Rock Atlantic City will have 2,000 hotel rooms, more than 20 restaurants and bars, and a 120,000 square foot casino floor with 2,100 slot machines and 120 table games. The Taj was once the hub for poker on the east coast and was prominently featured in the classic poker film Rounders. It was even home to the live finals of the long-forgotten Online Series of Poker, created by the original owner of this website and which I, personally, was involved in organizing. It remains to be seen if Hard Rock will make an effort to attract poker players.

Hard Rock does already have plans to offer online gambling, which is legal in New Jersey. In February, it entered into a five-year agreement with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) to be Hard Rock’s online gambling provider.

This will be a big summer for Atlantic City. In addition to the Hard Rock, Ocean Resort Casino, formerly Revel, will also open. No date has been announced for the Ocean grand opening.

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Phil Galfond Announces Run It Once Online Poker Room Launch Coming This Summer

 Phil Galfond Announces Run It Once Online Poker Room Launch Coming This Summer

In September 2016, poker pro Phil Galfond announced that he was going to start his own online poker room named after his poker training site, Run It Once. His idea was to build something that would cater to players of all types, that would focus on fairness, and that would be transparent. Since then, we have heard so little about the new poker room that most of us assumed the project had been shelved. But last week, Galfond wrote a long blog post on RunItOnce.eu (which we assume is the web address for the poker room), explaining what has been going on and trying to get back to the concept of transparency.

Galfond explained that the delays have largely been related to software development.

“Our software delays weren’t the typical delays that come with the territory,” he said. “We made some significant missteps early in our software development (I don’t just mean our tech team – I’m as much to blame as anyone) and it set us on a course that’s been very difficult to navigate.”

He brought in new leadership and a new tech team, which resulted in a reworking of the development strategy. They believed they had the option of either continuing down the track they were on with the downside that future development would be hampered, or redo a whole bunch of things to increase flexibility, but which would also push back the launch even further.

They decided to go for a hybrid strategy of staying on track with cash games and launching them this summer while continuing to work on tournaments, which would be launched in Phase 2.

Galfond said this decision was made for a few reasons:

1. We didn’t want to release anything we aren’t proud of, so launching with unpolished and partial versions of multiple offerings was off the table.
2. We figured that you’d rather have something from us than to wait much longer for us to offer everything.
3. We were furthest along on cash games, and even if we hadn’t been, launching with tournaments only would be extremely challenging for a new site fighting for liquidity.

As mentioned, a big goal for Run It Once was to make a poker room for players, rather than make all decisions just to benefit the business. As such, Galfond said that the rake will be “sensible,” allowing people to actually be able to beat the games if they are good players. He also said the cash games will be “focused on fun and on pure, authentic poker.”

The rewards system will be good for both pros and recreational players. Pros will benefit the most, but recs should be happy, as well. And interestingly, Galfond said it will be impossible to leave rewards unclaimed.

Phase 2, which does not have a target date yet, will include:

1. General software enhancements, more user options
2. A distinct SNG offering
3. An innovative Tournament experience
4. An awesome nosebleed stakes offering, with several unique ideas from someone who’s played these games for a long time and thinks he knows what they need!

Between now and when Phase 1 launches, Galfond has promised to provide updates on what to expect.

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2018 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Final Table Set

 2018 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Final Table Set

It was a relatively short day at the 2018 World Poker Tour (WPT) Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Hollywood, Florida on Tuesday, but that was to be expected, as only eight players needed to be eliminated for the tournament to reach the six-handed final table. After six hours, that final table was determined with Brian Hastings emerging as the chip leader of an extremely tough group of players.

Hastings enters Wednesday’s action with 12.855 million chips, giving him a sizeable edge over his closest competitor, Joey Couden (8.255 million chips with blinds and antes of 40,000/80,000/10,000). The chip leader going into Tuesday, Scott Margereson, is third with 8.195 million. After those three, there is a gap to the next three, but the next trio is a load to handle: Jeff Fielder (4.320 million), Matt Stout (3.190 million), and Faraz Jaka (2.450 million).

Hastings is no stranger to deep trips in major tournaments. He owns three World Series of Poker bracelets: 2012 $ 10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Heads-Up, 2015 $ 10,000 Seven Card Stud, and 2015 $ 1,500 Ten Game Mix Six-Handed. Overall, he has more than $ 2.6 million in live tournament earnings.

He is still gunning for that first World Poker Tour title, though, which makes him no different than the five other players at the final table. They are all accomplished: Jaka won the Season VIII WPT Player of the Year race, Couden has over a million dollars in tournament winnings, Stout has $ 3.7 million in earnings, multiple WSOP final tables, and a fifth place finish in this event four years ago, and Fielder is trying to become the first player to win a WPT Main Tour title and a WPTDeepStacks title.

As we told you a few days ago, this is the largest WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in history, with 1,309 entries. It is also the fifth-largest World Poker Tour event of all time. Now, that number is slightly misleading, as since it is an unlimited re-entry event, the tournament didn’t actually have 1,309 players, hence the use of the word “entries.” That said, the fact that so many people would be willing to plunk down multiple $ 3,500 buy-ins is impressive.

938 entries were needed to meet the guaranteed prize pool of $ 3 million, so that turned out to be no problem whatsoever. The total prize pool escalated to $ 4,188,800 with the winner taking home nearly $ 700,000.

2018 World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown – Final Table Chip Counts

1. Brian Hastings – 12,855,000
2. Joey Couden – 8,255,000
3. Scott Margereson – 8,195,000
4. Jeff Fielder – 4,320,000
5. Matt Stout – 3,190,000
6. Faraz Jaka – 2,450,000

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2018 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Day 3: Scott Margereson Amasses Gigantic Chip Lead

 2018 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Day 3: Scott Margereson Amasses Gigantic Chip Lead

The World Poker Tour (WPT) Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown is speeding to its conclusion, as Day 3 saw the field narrowed from 81 to just 14. Things will slow down a bit today, though, as the plan is to get rid of just eight players to set up the six-handed final table. One would think, though, that this would at least mean Day 4 will be relatively short. But with the money jumps starting to increase and spots at the final table on the line, you never know how things might play out. One thing we feel safe to predict is that chip leader Scott Margereson will be around a while, as with 9.210 million chips, he has more than double the stack of his closest competitor.

Margereson is in search of his first World Poker Tour title. In fact, of the remaining 14 players, only Victor Ramdin is a member of the WPT Champions Club. With a minimum payout of more than $ 43,000 already locked up, Margereson is in store for at least the fourth highest cash of his career. Though his lifetime live tournament earnings of $ 570,039 pale in comparison to some of the players at the Seminole Hard Rock today, take a look at his recorded online tournament earnings (via PocketFives): $ 4,173,887. He is currently 186th in PocketFives’ worldwide online poker tournament rankings, having been as high as 16th just two years ago.

Margereson began Monday’s action among the chip leaders with about 1.2 million chips and really just gradually chipped up throughout the day. There didn’t seem to be one face-melting, blockbuster hand that rocketed him to the lead. A couple of his bigger hands simply involved jump-starting the action early, building a pot, then forcing his opponent out without a showdown. In two hands spread out during the course of the day, he won somewhere around 1.7 to 1.8 million in combined pots against Faraz Jaka alone.

He did have one huge hand, though, thanks to the final elimination of the day. He raised pre-flop to 60,000, Joseph Cheong called, and Roberto Alberro re-raised to 200,000. Margereson and Cheong both called to bring on a flop of 5-4-2. Alberro bet 300,000, Margereson called, and Cheong folded. On the turn 2, Alberro shoved for 1.755 million and Margereson called. Both had overpairs, but Margereson’s Queens were better than Alberro’s Tens. The river was of no consequence and Alberro was out in 15th place while Margereson increased his stack at the time to 8.8 million chips.

2018 World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown – Day 3 Chip Counts

1. Scott Margereson – 9,210,000
2. Joey Couden – 4,060,000
3. Tanner Millen – 3,825,000
4. Brian Hastings – 3,375,000
5. Joseph Cheong – 3,300,000
6. Zach Donovan – 2,765,000
7. Brian England – 2,430,000
8. Faraz Jaka – 2,360,000
9. Jeff Fielder – 2,095,000
10. Matt Stout – 1,790,000
11. Pedro Palacio – 1,590,000
12. A.J. Gambino – 1,240,000
13. Victor Ramdin – 775,000
14. Nicholas Schuman-Werb – 550,000

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New Jersey to Share Online Poker Liquidity with Delaware, Nevada

 New Jersey to Share Online Poker Liquidity with Delaware, Nevada

A new day is about to dawn for online poker. Okay, am I severely overselling it with that introductory sentence. But still, that WSOP.com and 888 Poker will be facilitating the merger of player pools of New Jersey with those of Delaware and Nevada in about two weeks is a pretty big deal.

There are just four states that have legalized and regulate online poker, but New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada are the only ones to actually have sites up and running (Pennsylvania’s sites should be ready later this year). Delaware and Nevada have shared player pools for quite some time now and needed to do so because of their relatively small populations, but New Jersey had yet to get onboard. And because of New Jersey’s size – 11th in terms of population – getting the Garden State to share its players is important.

In a press release Monday, WSOP.com and 888 Poker announced that they submitted their software for testing to the regulatory agencies of all three states with the hopes of shared liquidity going live on May 1st.

“This has been a huge collaborative effort from all involved and it is important to thank the elected leadership and regulatory authorities in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey for their dedication and diligence to help move online poker forward,” said WSOP.com’s Head of Online Poker Bill Rini in the press release. “Everyone has had the end user in mind throughout this process, and as a result, we believe the United States for the first time in a regulated environment, will have a large-scale multi-state offering that will propel the industry forward as soon as next month.”

WSOP.com, which uses 888 Poker’s software platform, is the only online poker room in Nevada. Delaware has three sites, each affiliated with one of the state’s casino/racetracks. They also all use 888’s software and are for all intents and purposes the same, as they share liquidity. The sites began sharing player pools with WSOP.com Nevada in 2015.

So, though there is competition in New Jersey from the likes of PokerStars and partypoker, 888 Poker/WSOP.com NJ is the only one that could have done this player pool merger, as it is the only one with operations in all three states.

When the merger takes effect, players in Nevada and Delaware will need to download new software and create new accounts. The old software will no longer be in service. No worries, though, as player funds, tournament tickets, and loyalty points will transfer over to the new account. Plus, as the accounts will technically be new, players can take advantage of new player promotions and bonuses.

The upshot of this for New Jersey players, aside from seeing a slight boost in player traffic (the boost will be more significant for Nevada and Delaware players), is that they will be able to compete in the World Series of Poker online bracelet events for the first time.

The WSOP anticipates that the first chance to do this will be Event #10, $ 365 No-Limit Hold’em, which will take place on June 3rd.

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