Largest Bad Beat Jackpot in U.S. History Hit at Motor City Casino

 Largest Bad Beat Jackpot in U.S. History Hit at Motor City Casino

Poker bad beat jackpots are not the typical article topic on this here website, but this is going to be the third one in the span of what, about a month? On Tuesday, January 16th, what was reportedly the largest bad beat jackpot in United States history was hit at Detroit’s Motor City Casino poker room.

We recently wrote about a bad beat jackpot hit on the Chico Network for nearly a million dollars. The one this week, though, at a brick-and-mortar casino, beat that: $ 1,068,590.80.

According to Edward Pevos of mlive.com, a player named Scott from Oxford, Michigan had the losing hand, quad Threes, topped by a player named Kenneth, who had quad Queens. As the loser of the hand, Scott received the largest portion of the bad beat jackpot, $ 427,452.52, while Kenneth got $ 213,712.76. There were four other players at the table, each receiving $ 106,856.28 just for folding (this was a ten-max table, too, so they were fortunate the table wasn’t full).

The Motor City Casino’s bad beat jackpot works slightly differently than most. Usually, a casino or online poker room has a minimum strength for the losing hand; it could be quads, maybe quad Jacks or higher, or even a straight flush. But no matter the minimum strength, the bad beat jackpot is typically hit as long as that hand is beaten by a stronger one. At this specific bad beat jackpot table, the jackpot is only triggered if a four-of-a-kind is defeated by a stronger four-of-a-kind. A straight flush beating a four-of-a-kind does not count, nor does a straight flush beating a straight flush. Has to be quads over quads.

There is a different bad beat jackpot table that is more traditional, where the losing hand must be Aces full of Kings or better and can be beaten by anything. The jackpot there, though, is much smaller.

As is always the case with bad beat jackpots, the hand must reach showdown and both the winning and losing hands must include both hole cards. At Motor City, at least four players need to be dealt into the hand and the pot has to reach at least $ 20.

We are not sure what the drop is at the bad beat jackpot tables, but some of it must go to seeding the next jackpot. We say this for two reasons. First, the jackpot is already around half a million dollars, according to the casino’s website, so there must have been a lot of money set aside to start a new jackpot. And second, all of the bad beat jackpot’s money is distributed when it is hit: 40 percent goes to the winner, 20 percent goes to the loser, and 40 percent is split evenly among the other players dealt into the hand.

According to mlive.com, Motor City’s bad beat jackpot “generates mild buzz” when it gets to $ 200,000, so the poker room must have been a powder keg as it reached a million bucks.

“There are winners every day on the floor, but it’s not every day that a jackpot that big hits,” said Phil Trofibio, Senior Vice President of Casino Operations.

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Ole Schemion Wins WPT European Championship

 Ole Schemion Wins WPT European Championship

There were a lot of firsts this week on the World Poker Tour (WPT). You had the inaugural WPT European Championship, which, held in Berlin, was also the first WPT Main Tour event to be held in Germany. It was the first televised Main Tour event in Europe in five years (so much for “World” Poker Tour) and it was the first WPT win for Ole Schemion, who just happens to be a Berlin native.

Schemion was the chip leader going into the final table, but it was a close race for the top spot. He had 2.840 million chips, while Michael Mrakes had 2.640 million and Hanyong Kuo had 2.505 million. After those three, it was a steep drop to the next three: Amjad Nader had 1.095 million, Michael Behnert had 600,000, and Patric Brandt had 470,000.

It was as easy of a final table for Schemion as you will ever see on the World Poker Tour. From the get-go, he extended his lead, and while he didn’t win every hand he got involved in, he was never really at risk of even taking a big hit.

Though there were some short stacks to begin the final table, it took until after the first break for anyone to be eliminated. On Hand 37 (thank you, WPT.com), a crippled Nader shoved pre-flop with K-Q and both Schemion (A-T) and Mrakes (9-9) made the call. The flop of A-6-5 gave Schemion the lead, so he bet to force a fold from Mrakes. It’s too bad for Mrakes that he did that (though quite reasonable), an 8 on the turn and 7 on the river would have given him a straight. As it were, Schemion won the hand and eliminated Nader in sixth place.

Twenty hands later, Kuo moved all-in pre-flop for just 170,000 chips with K-9 suited. Schemion called with a dominating A-9. Nothing on the board helped Kuo and his kicker and he was out in fifth place.

Then, just three hands later, Behnert was gone. He shoved pre-flop with A-9 suited, called by Brandt and his K-3 suited. A 3 landed on the flop and nothing else showed up to improve Behnert’s hand, so the tournament was down to three players.

The knockouts kept coming, as on Hand 61, only two hands after Behnert’s ouster, it was time for Brandt to go. Honestly, I don’t know exactly what happened, as WPT.com’s account was incomplete, but the money got in on the flop with Brandt holding J-9 suited and Schemion holding at least a 4. As none of the board cards helped Brandt, I’ll guess that Schemion had A-4 or 4-4 and it held up.

At any rate, Schemion went into heads-up against Mrakes with a 6.685 million to 3.465 million chip lead. Mrakes was able to close the gap a bit after Schemion initially grew his lead, but it wasn’t enough. On the final hand, Schemion raised to 180,000 pre-flop with K-7 of clubs, Mrakes three-bet to 600,000 with 7-5 of spades, and Schemion called. The flop was K-Q-9 with two spades, giving Schemion top pair and Mrakes a flush draw. Mrakes shoved and after much thought, including the use of two time bank extensions chips, Schemion decided to call. The flush never appeared for Mrakes and Ole Schemion won the WPT European Championship.

2018 World Poker Tour European Championship – Final Table Results

1. Ole Schemion – €218,435 ($ 255,352)
2. Michal Mrakes – €143,845 ($ 178,892)
3. Patrice Brandt – €93,105 ($ 115,077)
4. Michael Behnert – €60,730 ($ 74,088)
5. Han Kuo Yong – €46,705 ($ 57,118)
6. Amjad Nader – €39,010 ($ 47,323)

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Spain and France Combine Online Poker Player Pools, PokerStars First Site Onboard

 Spain and France Combine Online Poker Player Pools, PokerStars First Site Onboard

Spain and France are no longer going it alone in the online poker space, as they have taken a bolt cutter to their chain-link ring fences and now share online poker liquidity. As everyone expected, PokerStars became the first online poker room on Tuesday to merge the player pools of the two countries.

The announcement of the shared liquidity deal came in July. In addition to Spain and France, Italy and Portugal were also in on the agreement to merge their online poker player pools. The original hope was to get the shared liquidity done by the end of 2017, but a couple weeks into 2018 isn’t too bad.

Portugal is expected to get onboard in the near future (though Portuguese officials have been fairly quiet on the matter), but Italy’s participation is actually up in the air at this point, despite last year’s announcement. According to a November report from CasinoNewsDaily.com, Italy, at least at that point, had yet to even open the bidding process for shared liquidity licenses. The application process was supposed to have begun in September.

In the meantime, Spain and France are a go, and this is clearly important because player liquidity is of vital importance to online poker rooms. Online casinos can get by with smaller player populations since the players are not competing against each other. It is just fine if there is only one person at a blackjack table (in fact, most players would probably prefer to play alone), but a poker room with sparsely populated tables will have trouble surviving.

There is a reason why small poker rooms have a hard time growing. Think about it. If you download the software of a tiny poker room, logon, and see only a handful of active tables, each with just two or three players, would you want to deposit and sit down? If you are a tournament player, would you want a lobby full of small prize pool tournaments with fewer than 20 players each or Sit-and-Go’s that take forever to fill up? No, probably not. On top of that, there is a good chance that those that are actually playing there will leave because the games are just so bad.

Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal have all be able to maintain their solo poker industries, but results have been underwhelming. Chief Operating Officer of Stars Interactive Group Guy Templer is confident that the new shared liquidity environment will benefit everyone:

This will be great for players and great for the poker category. The French and Spanish regulators have done an excellent job in enabling a dramatic improvement in the gaming experience in their jurisdictions. Now French and Spanish players can access a larger player pool with bigger prizes, promotions and a better selection of games, all with the confidence provided by a trusted, licensed operator.

Having a strong, competitive regulated offering – which comes from combining player pools – has proven to be attractive to consumers who might otherwise be choosing to play on un-licensed and potentially un-safe sites. We’re looking forward to extending this to Italian and Portuguese players, and offer our full support to the relevant authorities in those countries to do so. In particular, we would encourage Italy to resume their drive toward shared liquidity which after a good start has recently slowed considerably.

PokerStars will also use its Seat Me table seating system in the new joint offering. Seat Me was launched on PokerStars Spain almost a year ago in order to prevent “bumhunting” and seating scripts by eliminating all ability for players to choose the tables at which they sit. Now, players just choose their stakes, game type, and table size and the PokerStars client automatically puts them in an open seat.

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Four U.S. Reps Write RAWA-Like Letter to Deputy AG

 Four U.S. Reps Write RAWA Like Letter to Deputy AG

Sheldon Adelson continues to lurk. As shared last week by Poker Players Alliance vice president Rich Muny, four Congressmen have written a letter to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, asking him to reverse the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) clarification of the Wire Act from late 2011 which said that the Act only prohibited sports betting. The letter was dated December 19, 2017.

The letter was signed by Republican U.S. Representatives Dan Donovan of New York, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Tom Garrett of Virginia, and Louie Gohmert of Texas and looks a lot like a letter signed by Senators Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein about a month earlier. The letters make the same points and were almost certainly written by Sheldon Adelson’s team. Adelson has stated that he will do “whatever it takes” to eradicate online poker and online gambling in the United States.

The Wire Act of 1961 says that sports betting over communications lines is illegal. While it makes sense that the Act would extend to internet sports betting, it doesn’t make sense that it would extend to all online gambling, which is how the Department of Justice interpreted for years. Around Christmas 2011, the OLC clarified the interpretation of Wire Act, explaining that it only applied to sports betting. This opened the door for states to legalize and regulate online gambling within their borders and to date, Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania have done so.

Adelson, to counter, crafted the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a short bill that would basically erase the OLC’s clarification and put into law the DoJ’s previous, incorrect interpretation of the Wire Act. It was introduced more than once in the Senate by Graham and in the House by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, but other than a couple joke hearings in the House, never made progress. In fact, most lawmakers see it for the crony capitalism that it is and don’t give it much consideration.

The letter is a sort of RAWA end-around. If Adelson can’t get his law enacted, might as well try to get the Deputy AG to just invalidate the OLC’s Wire Act clarification. It provides the usual warnings about online gambling, specifically that online gambling can’t be monitored as well as brick-and-mortar gambling and online gambling can be used for terrorist funding, even though the former is likely false and there is no evidence of the latter. It also cites the same, old, mis-interpreted FBI letter. Won’t anyone think about law enforcement?

Anyway, here is the complete letter:

Dear Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein,

Two days before Christmas in 2011, the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel issued a legal opinion overturning 50 years of interpretation of the federal Wire Act and opening the door to online casinos.

With the stroke of a pen, an unelected lawyer in an obscure office fundamentally changed our nation’s gambling policy – taking an activity previously confined to distinct, controlled, and monitored physical locations and permitting it to be offered 24/7 on mobile devices, laptops, tablets, and home computers.”

Internet gambling carries with it significant law enforcement implications, as the pervasive nature and anonymity of the internet makes it ripe for exploitation by criminals. The FBI has warned Congress that “online casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes,” and that it “may provide more opportunities for criminals to launder illicit proceeds with increased anonymity.”

The FBI also stated that “online poker could be used to transfer ill-gotten gains from one person to another, or several people,” and has testified before Congress that it has been investigating the use of online casinos by terrorist organizations. Other legal issues arise in preventing online casinos from targeting children and, since the internet knows no state boundaries, in protecting the rights of jurisdictions that bar the activity.

In advising Congress, the Bureau inferred it has higher priorities for its limited resources than regulating a legalized Internet gambling industry – specifically, “Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Cyber threats to critical infrastructures.” Considering how difficult and resource-intensive pursuit of Internet crimes can be, it is unclear from where the funding will come for law enforcement to police an online gambling industry.

These, and other law enforcement issues should have been fully considered before the Justice Department decided to stop fully enforcing the Wire Act against online casinos – but, according to former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, law enforcement concerns were not part of the mix.

A decision of this import, and one which carries such law enforcement risks as this does, should only be made after a full and public debate in Congress. As such, we urge the OLC Opinion be withdrawn to stop the spread of online casinos across the country in order to give Congress the opportunity to work with your department, as well as state and local law enforcement, to establish a clear federal policy.

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Maria Lampropulos Wins 2018 PCA Main Event

 Maria Lampropulos Wins 2018 PCA Main Event

The first of Maria Lampropulos’ recorded live tournament results dates back to only late 2014. For more than two years, she had just one cash that broke the five-figure mark; most were for less than $ 10,000 (my usual disclaimer applies: I would do morally ambiguous things to have a poker resume like that). In April 2017, she broke through, winning partypoker MILLIONS Nottingham for $ 1.255 million. The rest of the year, it was back to four- and five-figure cashes. But who cares when the times you hit one, you hit it BIG? Yesterday, Maria Lampropulos did it again, winning the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) Main Event, good for $ 1.081 million.

Lampropulos was in solid shape going into the six-handed final table, sitting third in chips with 3.505 million. Reigning Player of the Year Adrian Mateos was the chip lead with 5.675 million, while Shawn Buchanan was second with 3.755 million. Rounding out the final table were Koray Aldemir (2.34 million), Daniel Coupal (2.34 million), and Christian Rudolph (905,000).

As expected, Rudolph was the first to go, moving all-in after Lampropulos raised pre-flop. They both hit a piece of the flop, but Lampropulos’ pocket Sixes improved to a set whie Rudolph’s A-8 only improved to a pair of 8’s. Nothing the rest of the way helped him and Rudolph was out in sixth place. That hand also elevated Lampropulos to a temporary chip lead with 5.4 million chips. A few hands later, she gave a third of it back, losing a big hand to Buchanan.

After a break, on just Hand 16 of the final table, Daniel Coupal was eliminated in fifth place when his desperation 4-8 suited fell to Buchana’s K-J.

Then, on Hand 31, Buchanan took out Adrian Mateos in fourth place. Buchanan had 8-5 of diamonds and Mateos A-K offsuit, so it didn’t look like much of a matchup. The 6-Q-K two-diamond flop, though, gave Buchanan confidence and the two men got into a raising war until Mateos was all-in and Buchanan called. The 4d on the turn gave Buchanan a flush and knocked Mateos out of the tournament. The hand also gave Buchanan a commanding lead going into three-handed play, as his 11.310 million chips were twice that of the other two players combined.

He maintained that lead until Hand 67, when Koray Aldemir bluffed him off of two pair (A-7) on the river. Buchanan got his revenge, though, quickly taking back the lead and then eliminated Aldemir on Hand 96 with A-8 over K-7.

Going into heads-up Buchanan had Lampropulos doubled, 11.775 million to 5.675 million. He extended the lead a bit, pushing Lampropulos’ stack below 4 million, but Lampropulos suddenly doubled-up twice in a span of three hands to flip the table. Now it was Buchanan with fewer than 4 million chips.

A few hands later, it was over. His stack down to a nub, he limped with K-5 and Lampropulos moved all-in with T-7 suited. Buchanan called because, well, you have to do it some time. A Ten landed on the flop to give Lampropulos the lead in the hand. Buchanan couldn’t find a King and the tournament was over, Maria Lampropulos crowned as the news PCA champion.

2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event – Final Table Results

1. Maria Lampropulos – $ 1,081,100
2. Shawn Buchanan – $ 672,960
3. Koray Aldemir – $ 481,560
4. Adrian Mateos – $ 372,600
5. Daniel Coupal – $ 293,560
6. Christian Rudolph – $ 229,760

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