The 2016 U. S. Presidential Campaign has been in full swing since March 2015, when Texas Senator Ted Cruz became the first person to announce his candidacy. Since that time, the primaries of the Republican and Democratic parties have divided many in the country. Not left out of this turmoil are some of poker’s biggest names, who have landed on both sides of the issue.
Most recently, poker professional Mike Matusow has been derided for adding his thoughts on the 2016 campaign, mostly because of the outlet and because he sounded completely unknowledgeable. On Infowars.com, the alt-right website that fully immerses itself in conspiracy theories (on such subjects as the 9/11 “truther” movement, the supposed New World Order, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Sandy Hook massacre), an article has appeared that claims Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was using hand signals during the first debate of the Presidential campaign to debate moderator Lester Holt, indicating what course to take during the 90-minute session. The video cited in the story claims that “(Clinton) used this gesture (scratching the side of her nose) to signal Holt on six different occasions.”
Writer Mike Cernovich, another conspiracy theorist, then asked Matusow directly over Twitter whether he saw “the signaling” between Clinton and Holt. Matusow then embarrasses himself by saying “I’ve watched the debate 3 times and never noticed!” Literally without any evidence, Matusow continues, “I felt the whole time she had the questions (another conspiracy theory amongst Trump supporters) but after watching that (writer’s note: remember, he said he watched it “three times and didn’t notice”) she definitely signals.” Elsewhere on his Twitter feed Matusow demonstrates full-blown tinfoil haberdashery range by claiming that a “cleaner” came in, took a folder from Clinton’s podium and handed it to Holt, among other things.
Matusow isn’t the only one diving into the political spectrum. Another rumble between poker powerhouses emerged when Doyle Brunson and Vanessa Selbst squared off over the debate forum of Twitter (and if you can’t figure out who was on what side, perhaps you aren’t as knowledgeable on your poker professionals as you profess). The battle began after Brunson chirped over Twitter in a reply to Erik Seidel saying Republican nominee Donald Trump was “like a cartoon villain, awful in every way” that he could “bet a lot of money (that he could name and prove)…many lies Hillary has said.”
This seemed to raise the ire of Selbst, who fired off to Brunson, “You’re just like the rest of the ignorant masses. Recycling talking points, making assertions, avoiding actual facts and logic.” The “Twitter war” was on at that point, with Brunson retorting that Selbst should unfollow him and that she “showed me (her) character when you welshed (sic) on Jason (Mercier during the famous “triple bracelet” World Series of Poker bet this year).” Selbst was undaunted, coming back by saying, “Yeah, paying $ 100K = welching. I doubt you want to start a debate about ethics in poker.” The debate continued, with Brunson getting ridiculed for his support of the late “Amarillo Slim” Preston during his child molestation case (and Brunson saying “F**k you” and calling someone a “piece of s**t” for bringing it up) and Selbst getting chastised for “not respecting her elders.”
A look across the social media of many poker professionals reveals a significant divide that often sparks intense discussions. On Trump’s side (along with Brunson and Matusow) are such players as Richard Sklar, Dusty ‘Leatherass’ Schmidt and Marcel Luske (an odd voice as he has no dog in the election of a U. S. president as a Dutch citizen) and many more. On Clinton’s side are recently naturalized U. S. citizen Daniel Negreanu (who has made political discussion a hot topic on his Twitter feed), Edward Moncada and presumably Seidel and Selbst, among others.
There is less than six weeks to Election Day, when the decision will be made and either Clinton or Trump will be elected (currently some books have Clinton a -245 prohibitive favorite for election). Whether the animosity between everyday U. S. citizens – and, by extension, those in the poker community – can be healed is difficult to ascertain.
When the 2016 nominees for the Poker Hall of Fame were announced, only three of the nominees were on the ballot for the first time. Of those three men (former World Champion Chris Moneymaker and Todd Brunson were the other two), there was quite a cacophony of voices supporting the nomination of Eli Elezra to the Hall. The reason? He’s actually achieved greatness in both the cash game and the tournament worlds.
A three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and a former World Poker Tour champion, Elezra has had some great success in the tournament poker world. But he does recognize which side his “bread is buttered,” so to speak, continuing to play in the biggest cash games in Las Vegas and around the world. Elezra spoke with Poker News Daily earlier this week as we got his thoughts on being up for poker’s premiere honor.
Poker News Daily: Although you have been eligible for some time, this is your first nomination to the Poker Hall of Fame. How does it feel to be recognized by the poker public who nominated you and how does the nomination feel overall?
Eli Elezra: I am really happy to be recognized by the public for this honor. I have been playing poker for twenty-five years. This nomination makes me think about how my love for the game has gotten stronger over the years.
PND: This year’s class is one of the tougher classes in recent memory. Who do you see as your most difficult competition?
EE: From all of the candidates, I see Matt Savage as my most difficult competition. He is not known as a poker player, but has influenced the game a lot since the Binion’s Horseshoe days 30 years ago. Vegas was a different place back then. And in my opinion, he’s an old school and modern guru.
PND: You have excelled at both tournament poker and cash games in your career. What are you most proud of and why?
EE: After I won the WPT Mirage Showdown in 2004, I felt that I became a part of a different group of poker players. Most people know me from the cash games, but this was the first time that I started to consider myself a tournament player. My preferred style of play is the cash game because I am better at playing a lot of hands. Of course, the bracelet wins in the WSOP have also made me proud.
PND: What are the highlights of your career that you would put on your Hall of Fame “plaque”?
EE: My highlights would be the big cash games I’ve played with my idols Chip Reese and Doyle Brunson. I would also say winning the WPT tournament and my 3 WSOP bracelets. And playing all of the seasons of “High Stakes Poker” and “Poker After Dark.”
PND: If you are inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, it might be considered something that puts the conclusion on a person’s career. What haven’t you done yet in the world of poker (or otherwise) that you would like to achieve?
EE: Simple…winning the Main Event.
PND: You have a chance to give your speech advocating for your induction starting…NOW!
EE: My entire life I have referred to myself as a family man, businessman and poker player. It has remained in the same order, but I never knew that poker would become my life’s passion. And at 55 years old, I plan to keep playing competitively with all of the newcomers and young kids. I want to show them that the old school has still got it.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) announced yesterday that it has entered into an agreement with Continent 8, LLC, a data center located in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, Canada, that will prohibit any online gambling sites operating through that data center from taking wagers from customers in New Jersey and the United States.
If Kahnawake sounds familiar, it is because it is the home of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which licenses many online gaming sites. Continent 8 is not technically part of the KGC, but they are very closely related; most if not all of the sites going through Continent 8 are licensed by the KGC.
In a press release, the DGE explained the nature of the agreement:
When DGE became aware that Continent 8, LLC, may have provided services to certain illegal Internet gaming websites through that data center, it took prompt action. After extensive discussions with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) involving unique jurisdictional issues, the Division was able to ensure that any such websites originating from Kahnawake will no longer be available to United States residents in jurisdictions where these companies are not authorized to operate, after September 30, 2016.
As a result, sites such as Bovada, a leading provider of illegal online sports wagering and other online gaming content, will no longer be operating out of the data center located in Kahnawake. Also after that date, the KGC will take regulatory action against any of its applicants or licensees found to be accepting such wagers.
One thing interesting about this is that somehow the New Jersey DGE was able to get Continent 8 to extend the ban to the entire U.S., not just New Jersey. Additionally, the press release singled out Bovada, which withdrew from the New Jersey market in the spring of 2014. Bovada is the U.S.-facing version of Bodog. While Bovada and Bodog have accepted U.S. customers for years, New Jersey was able to flush out most of the sites, like Bovada, that were not licensed in the Garden State.
It does not appear that this agreement will affect much of any sites, as the ones licensed by the KGC and therefore almost certainly routing through Continent 8, don’t serve the New Jersey market, anyway. In fact, Salmon River Technologies, which held the license for Bovada, voluntarily terminated its KGC license (Client Provider Authorization) effective September 1st.
It seems that Bovada knew this was going to happen, as it recently announced the sale of its poker room to Ignition Casino; Bovada Poker will disappear on October 1st, the same day the New Jersey DGE/Continent 8 agreement goes into effect. Lynton Limited, the company that appears to own Ignition Casino, also terminated its Client Provider Authorization with the KGC at the same time as Bovada.
The Bovada/Ignition relationship is a hazy one. Both Bovada and Ignition use the Bodog poker software, have very similarly designed sites, and share player pools. And of the three sites with Latvian domains that were licensed by the KGC, two belonged to Lynton Limited and one was Bovada.
The trend in online poker is to make the poker rooms more friendly to recreational players, largely at the expense of high volume, grinding pros. In October 2015, partypoker introduced “Phase One” of its attempt at “leveling the playing field.” Yesterday, the poker room announced its next steps in what it says will “….improve the ecology of its poker room and promote fair and ethical gameplay.”
Phase One, which took effect in mid-October, was an update meant to shield recreational players and novices from being targeted by experienced pros. In a blog post, partypoker outlined the following changes:
• Players will be able to view the last 12 months of their own hand histories within the Missions icon in the partypoker software, but hand histories will no longer be able to be downloaded and saved to their local devices
• Players wishing to wait for a cash game will join the room-wide waiting list and be randomly seated when a seat that matches their preference becomes available
• Players joining a cash game will see the names of their opponents only once their first hand is dealt
Using a room-wide waiting list and preventing players from seeing the names of their opponents before cards are dealt scuttled people’s ability to use seating scripts. When you can’t choose your table and seat and don’t even know who you are about to play against, there goes seat selection, there goes hunting for novice prey.
On Tuesday, partypoker listed its new policies, which apply only to cash games:
• Local hand histories will still be available for download however player screen names will be anonymised
• Players own screen name will be visible, while remaining players will be listed anonymously in download files e.g. Player 1,2,3
• Players will still be able to view the number of hands they have played, win rate and other statistics to help them improve their play.
• The terms and conditions will change will change prohibiting the use of seating scripts. Following these amendments, players using any such software will be initially issued with a warning notice before being banned from using their account
• Alongside these changes, players will be allowed to make a one-off screen name change
Looking at these, partypoker has reversed course on local hand histories, but has taken the precaution to remove the names of the other players so that nobody can be accurately tracked. As a nod to pros and serious amateurs who still use hand tracking and analysis software, though, players can still use statistics from their own hands to continue to educate themselves. They just won’t be able to see who they played against.
And while last year’s changes made seating scripts nearly worthless, these new ones have officially made them against the rules.
It should be noted that it does not appear that partypoker’s tables will actually be anonymous, aside from before players are seated. Names will still be shown during gameplay, so players can still make notes on their opponents. They will just have to do it by hand, while they are playing, as opposed to letting hand tracking software mine all the data.
All of these changes will take effect October 5th.
A Pennsylvania hearing on internet gambling was supposed to be held yesterday, but as you might be able to tell both from the title of this article and the phrase “supposed to,” that never happened. The goal of the hearing in front of the House Gaming Oversight Committee was to discuss how other states had handled the legalization of online poker and daily fantasy sports (DFS).
In late June, the House passed a bill which would legalize online poker and DFS and it looked like happy days were ahead. The next step was to have the same measure passed by the Senate. Now, there are always dissenters, but it was generally thought that the Senate would receive the bill favorably. One big reason why lawmakers were leaning towards giving online poker the greenlight: they needed to fill a massive hole in the state’s budget.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a $ 31.8 billion budget bill in June, but Governor Tom Wolf was never able to sign it because it did nothing to address how all of the spending would be funded. About $ 1.3 billion in new revenue sources were needed; one of those sources was to be online gambling, which was estimated to provide $ 100 million in revenue to the state.
The Senate never got around to dealing with the online gambling bill in the summer, so it was pushed to the fall, specifically this week. But now, as has been noted, a hearing (in the House, possibly meant to shine a new light on the bill and give the Senate a nudge) about online gambling has been cancelled.
A DFS bill made it out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, but really, online gambling as a whole needs to be looked at, not just DFS, if any dent is going to be made in the budget. The bill that came out of the House not only covered online gambling, but general gambling expansion in the Commonwealth, as well.
It is entirely possible that it will be rescheduled, but the problem is that there are not many days left before the November elections, after which there will be many new faces in the legislature and online gambling will be pushed to next year. Today is the last day of the September session. In October, there will be two sessions: October 17th to October 19th and October 24th to October 25th. Thus, after today, there are only six more days during which something can be done about online poker and online gambling, in general, for 2016.
One would think that lawmakers would be motivated to get something done, as otherwise they will need to come up with another way to generate $ 100 million, so it is not out of the question that despite this disappointment, we will hear good news in October. Legislators could certainly work on things in the interim and be ready to pound something out quickly next month. For now, though, we will have to wait and see.