Season XV of the World Poker Tour (WPT) just finished, but there is no rest for WPT staffers, as Season XVI has already begun. Beijing serves as the host of the kickoff event for the Tour’s sixteenth season, the first time an event on the “main” tour has even been held in China. Miraculously, the tournament, hosted by NUO Hotel Beijing, is a single-entry event. It is a true freezeout, unlike most WPT events nowadays, which allow re-entries into different starting flights. Registration was open until the beginning of Level 5, but the field was also capped at 400 players, so it was possible that registration was cut off early. It looks like the timing worked out, as just before the end of Level 5, the cap was nearly hit and the end registration numbers show that the field is 400 players strong.
With the entry limit hit, the total prize pool is set at CNY 9,600,000 (about USD $ 1,393,324). Payouts will go down to 50th place with the winner receiving CNY 2,063,454 (about USD $ 299,485).
Leading the charge into the final table is Chen Yanhan. And by “leading the charge,” I mean sprinting to the final table miles ahead of everyone else. Chen had 6.310 million chips, more than the other five players have COMBINED. The closest competitor is Zhang Wenbin, nearly five million chips behind.
Chen got to where he is through very aggressive play, swinging his big stack around very effectively. On many occasions late in the day, he raised over the top of players after they put in a large bets, forcing folds and scooping up pots without the need for a showdown.
For example, with seven players remaining, Chen called a 115,000 pre-flop raise by Tan Yancheng. On the flop of J-5-7, the two players checked (yes, the aggressiveness is coming). When a 2 was dealt on the turn, Chen led out for 145,000 and Tan called. Then, with a 7 on the river, Chen bet 450,000, Tan raised to 1 million chips, and Chen then decided to move all-in. Tan cut his losses and folded, falling down to about a million chips while Chen grew his lead significantly.
As the tournament is in China, the timing is going to be a bit nutty for poker fans in the rest of the world who would like to follow the action. The final table will commence at noon in Beijing on Wednesday, April 19th. Beijing is exactly half a day ahead of the eastern time zone in the United States, so the final table start is at midnight ET. Further conversions: 9:00pm in Las Vegas, 5:00am in London.
2017 World Poker Tour Beijing Final Table Chip Counts
1. Chen Yanhan – 6,310,000
2. Zhang Wenbin – 1,410,000
3. Tan Yancheng – 1,300,000
4. Chen Ke – 1,255,000
5. Lu Yingqi – 875,000
6. Bryan Huang – 820,000
In all honesty, there has been very little regarding the regulation of online gaming and/or poker in the halls of Washington, D. C. of late. Back during his confirmation hearings, however, the then-Attorney General nominee, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, was posed the question of what he would do with the 2011 decision by the Department of Justice by Sheldon Adelson water boy South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Sessions reply was that he would have to reexamine the decision “at some point in time.”
It seems that, at least in some arenas, that Sessions (now firmly ensconced as the head of the Department of Justice as Attorney General) is ready to reexamine the issue. Perhaps influenced by anti-online gaming zealot, casino owner and billionaire Adelson’s work for the Republican Party (AKA his donation of millions of dollars in “bribes” – oh, wait, “money for the Inauguration” and other political donations), many in the nation’s capital have been signaling that the two-pronged approach – the reversal of the 2011 Department of Justice opinion and the introduction of legislation, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) of 2017, into both houses of Congress – is beginning to move once again. The reality of the situation is that poker players’ attention should be on one and not the other.
RAWA, for all practical purposes, has had no life since it was introduced. Because there has been a significant amount of attention put on “state’s rights” issues, many of those in the GOP have recognized that crony capitalism is running afoot on this issue extensively. Adelson’s legal “bribes,” therefore, have had little to no effect on the movement of either bill in the House of Representatives or in the Senate.
There is also the problem of losing the main champion of the bill in the House. Last week, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz stated that he would not run for re-election in 2018. There has been a great deal of speculation to the reasons for Chaffetz’s decision (some are saying that he doesn’t want to have a tough re-election fight in 2018; some are saying that Chaffetz is actually looking towards a run at Utah’s governorship; still others say that there’s something to the rumors that the FBI has him under investigation for campaign improprieties), but the reality is that Chaffetz was the bill’s main sponsor in the House and was chair of the subcommittee that would push it through. There may be someone else who steps up in the House, but it will take time for them to come forth and pick up the ball of RAWA in the House.
The real problem is with Sessions and the Department of Justice. A simple reversal of the 2011 decision from then-Attorney General Eric Holder‘s Department of Justice – which said that the Wire Act of 1961 only applied to sports betting – lit the fuse for several states to move forward with online lottery ticket sales. Additionally, three states – Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey – moved forward and passed online gaming and poker regulations for their gaming industries (Nevada was the only one that went the route of online poker only) in 2013.
With the potential for that decision to be reversed by the Sessions DoJ at any moment, you might think that there would be some movement by the leading advocate for online poker, the Poker Players Alliance, to putting forth legislation to regulate online gaming and poker through their lobbying efforts. Instead, the PPA only plays defense, saying they aren’t supposed to put forth laws for online poker (what is it that the National Rifle Association or the pharmaceutical or banking lobbyists do? They WRITE LEGISLATION!) despite the fact they say they represent “millions” of players (the level of support for the organization is questionable). Instead of asking those that have moved forth legislation in several states for assistance in writing a potential federal bill, the PPA stays on defense instead of taking a proactive stance.
Whether Sessions reverses the 2011 DoJ decision or not, there are glacial movements in the online gaming and poker question in D. C. and they don’t appear to be for good. That glacial movement is also being seen on the individual state level and there it is a bit more optimistic. While it isn’t known what effect a reversal of the 2011 DoJ decision would have on those states that have passed online gaming and poker regulation and others who might (it is possible that the states may just ignore the federal ban, much like several states have ignored the federal law making marijuana usage illegal), the question hangs like a guillotine over online poker players. It is time, however, that those that say they advocate for poker players to come up with something other than Tweets to demonstrate their abilities to affect the narrative in Washington, D. C. and across the country.
As we have discussed numerous times on this site, online poker rooms and networks have been moving to recreational player-friendly models for a few years now. Poker pros and serious amateurs are finding their opportunities to grind for rewards more limited now than in the past, while casual players are being protected and seeing more chances to earn a little something for their play. Partypoker was one of the first to start leaning towards the “rec” players, but it has not gone away from the pros completely. Case in point: the latest Gladiator promo, which rewards players for playing as much as possible.
Gladiator – which has been recurring promo since 2010 – began April 17th and will run through May 6th. Unlike a lot of online poker promotions, this one is pretty straightforward. The more people play, the greater rewards they can earn.
It comes down to VIP points and for how many days certain points thresholds are attained. At the very lowest end of the spectrum, anyone who earns one VIP point on five separate days during the Gladiator promotion will win a ticket into a $ 250 freeroll. Bump that up to ten days and it is a $ 500 freeroll. The first three points levels – one, five, and ten points – all award freeroll tickets for the different day milestones (five, ten, fifteen, and twenty days). The lone exception there is ten points on each of twenty days. In that case, the reward is $ 8 cash.
Starting at the 20 points mark, all prizes are cash. The top prize is $ 2,500 for those who are able to earn 1,200 VIP points on each of twenty days (in other words, the entire Gladiator promo).
But who on Earth can generate that many points for three straight weeks? Professional grinders, that’s who. There is certainly something for casual players here (not much, though), but who this will really help are the players who put in the time and play for more than just micro stakes.
At PartyPoker, players earn two VIP points for every $ 1 in tournament fees and/or cash game rake. So, if we do the math, 1,200 points – the highest target number – would require $ 600 in rake. Across 20 days, that is $ 12,000 in total rake. Someone who does that will receive $ 2,500, approximately 21 percent rakeback for the promo period. That’s quite good, especially when added to the rewards that player would normally get.
Most people who earn cash rewards will still receive the equivalent of double-digit rakeback, so that’s not bad! For example, if someone pulls in 20 VIP points for just five days, that’s 10 percent rakeback. The dollar amount ($ 5) isn’t worth celebrating, but when you think about how relatively easy that goal is, it’s 10 percent effective rakeback is a nice little bonus. And it’s not like most people will have to alter their play style to get at least a little something, since all real-money games count.
As with most promos at PartyPoker, players must “opt-in” via the promotions area of the software.
Are you ready, PokerStars players? I mean, are you REALLY ready? Please get ready. Ready yourselves. PokerStars has launched Omaha Spin & Go games. Omaha! Peyton Manning loves it!
“Omaha is a highly enjoyable poker variant and was quite high up on our players’ request list to deliver it as a Spin & Go,” said Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Operations and Innovation, in a press release. “So we’re really pleased to be able to do this and hope that it will be as popular in this format as it is in our cash games.”
Oh yeah, it will.
For the eight of you who don’t know what a Spin & Go is, it is PokerStars’ version of what is commonly referred to as a “lottery” Sit-and-Go. They are three-handed, hyper-turbo Sit-and-Go’s in which the player start with just 500 chips. Needless to say, they go quite fast.
What makes them very unique, though, is that the players do not know what the prize pool is going to be until all three players are seated. Instead, the prize pool is selected randomly and can be from twice (the most common) to 12,000 times (ultra-rare) the player’s buy-in. About 90 percent of the time, the prize pool will be either two or four times the buy-in.
Of the eight prize tiers, the bottom five are winner-take-all. Second and third place receive nothing. The top three prize tiers, which have miniscule odds to hit, award ten percent of the prize pool to each of the second and third place finishers so there will be less dog-kicking in the losers’ households.
To celebrate the launch of Omaha Spin & Go’s, PokerStars is running special $ 5 Omaha Spin & Go’s in which players can win tickets to one or all of the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) Pot-Limit Omaha Event #5. Here are the possible prizes and their probabilities:
$ 10 – 83,808 in 100,000
$ 27 SCOOP Event #5 PLO Low Seat – 15,685 in 100,000
$ 215 SCOOP Event #5 PLO Medium Seat – 502 in 100,000
$ 2,100 SCOOP Event #5 PLO High Seat – 5 in 100,000
Players who win more than one $ 27 SCOOP entry will have the excess tickets converted into regular $ 27 SCOOP entries, usable in any SCOOP event or satellite. The first entry a player wins for the Medium or High events must be used by that player – they are non-transferrable. If the odds are forever in your favor and you win more than one of those tickets, they will be converted to normal tournament dollars.
Regular Omaha Spin & Go’s will be a $ 1, $ 3, $ 7, and $ 15 buy-in levels.
So there you go.
Oh wait, Team PokerStars Pro Lex Veldhuis said something in the press release.
“Omaha is just perfect for Spin & Go. There will be a lot of action because you can play so many hands, but it’s also really hard to knock people out in PLO. This will make for some very intense situations when the multipliers get high. I can’t wait to try them.”
DraftKings and FanDuel are far and away the dominate players in the daily fantasy sports (DFS) space in the United States, owning somewhere in the vicinity of 90 percent of the market share. So when it came time for the National Basketball Association (NBA) – an equity holder of FanDuel – to partner with a daily fantasy site for international markets, it naturally turned to PlayON. Wait…what? PlayON?
Yes, PlayON is now the NBA’s “Official Daily Fantasy Partner” in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. More specifically, the deal covers:
Europe: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom
Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico
Asia: Australia, Japan, The Philippines
PlayON only offers daily fantasy sports contests for real money in Australia (regulated by the Northern Territory Racing Commission), the United Kingdom (UK Gambling Commission), and Ireland (Irish National Excise Office), so the rest of the jurisdictions that are part of the agreement are for play money only. On its website, PlayON boasts that it has customers from over 100 countries. It is very careful about abiding by laws and regulations:
Regulation and security are top priorities at PlayON. The company only offers real-money Daily Fantasy Sports games to customers based in regulated territories within which PlayON holds a license. This approach removes all regulatory risk for PlayON’s customers, shareholders and corporate partners. PlayON is focused on building a sustainable and responsible company over the long term, and views regulation as a key part of this growth strategy.
Obviously, it would make total sense for the NBA to partner with FanDuel, considering its financial relationship to the site, but FanDuel barely has any presence outside of the U.S., whereas PlayOn is already established. PlayON offers contests in soccer, golf, cricket, rugby, and even Australian rules football. Basketball is also offered, even before the NBA deal, but unlike at a site like DraftKings, there are no NBA playoffs contests.
In a press release, Salvatore LaRocca, NBA President, Global Partnerships, expressed his pleasure with the agreement, saying, “With basketball’s global appeal, we are always looking for new ways to bring authentic NBA experiences to our fans across the world. Our partnership with PlayON provides us an opportunity to deepen our engagement with our international audience, and bring these fans closer to the game.”
“PlayON is delighted to be partnering with the NBA to deliver Official Daily Fantasy NBA Games,” PlayON founder and CEO Killian Jones added. “The NBA’s global reach and daily fixture schedule make it an ideal fit for daily fantasy. We look forward to working closely with the NBA to deliver innovative sports entertainment experiences to basketball fans around the world.”