Archive for October, 2015
In what promises to be an interesting court trial, a Cleveland poker dealer employed by the Horseshoe Casino in that city is facing gambling charges for allegedly removing one of the cards in play while in the box.
According toCleveland.com’s Brandon Blackwell, Robert Brown was indicted by a Cuyahoga County grand jury on Thursday. Brown, the grand jury determined, either knowingly or intentionally cheated while he was working his job dealing at the Horseshoe back in September. The charge that Brown faces, gambling, is a fifth-degree felony, the lowest level of felony crimes on the books in Ohio. Still, there is the potential for Brown to face some jail time if convicted – anywhere from six months to a year – but, if it is his first offense, it is more likely that he would receive a stiff fine.
On that night in September, the Ohio Casino Control Commission was notified that one of the poker tables was missing a card and came to investigate. After scouring the area around the table, removing the automated shuffler and breaking down the table (it is also assumed that the players were examined), no card was recovered by the Commission. According to the complaint filed with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office, the card was allegedly found up the sleeve of Brown (security video viewed by the Commission allegedly shows Brown putting the card up his sleeve) and, following the presentation of the case to the grand jury by the County Prosecutor, Brown was indicted for gambling.
Brown tells an entirely different story, however. In an exclusive interview with Fox 8 Cleveland’s Lorrie Taylor, Brown said that the automated shuffler on his table indicated that there was a card missing when he was dealing. He followed protocol, notifying the floor, and the area was examined thoroughly. When the card didn’t turn up, they stopped the search and he moved on to his next box to continue his night’s labor.
It was at this time that Brown found the card. He tells Taylor that he “reached down to pick up a piece of trash on the floor and saw the missing card. “Somehow it was on me,” Brown recounts to Taylor. “They’re saying it was on my sleeve; I don’t even know where it was but they’re saying it was up my sleeve and it fell out.”
Brown stated to Taylor that he was surprised by the charge brought by the Commission. “The guy’s (agent) trying to say I did it on purpose,” Brown stated to Taylor. After being asked by Tayor if the agent offered a motive for taking the card from the table, Brown initially says no – “It’s just a joke,” Brown says – before mentioning that the agent accused him of practicing “how to cheat’ for an upcoming tournament at the Horseshoe. Brown counters this accusation by saying that it didn’t make sense for that to happen as, when in a tournament, dealers wear short sleeves.
Nevertheless, the gambling charge by the Commission has had an impact on the 57-year old Brown. He was suspended by the Horseshoe Cleveland following his arrest.
When it comes to transgressions such as this, it normally isn’t an insider who is trying to change the game in a casino. More often than not, it is the participants in a casino – the gamblers, the poker players, etc. – who are looking to get that edge. Furthermore, it is normally something that occurs in “banked” games – where the casino is the “bank” that they palyers are trying to break – rather than at the poker tables, where the competitors are playing against each other and not the casinos.
Brown’s indictment will not be heard by a judge until November 13, when he will make his first appearance. There has been no indication that Brown has retained an attorney for the case nor what his plea will be once in front of a judge.
Sitting on various barstools across the United States – hell, perhaps the world – there can be a wealth of arguments between poker players and fans. Who is the greatest player of all-time? Who is the best player right now? What was the worst bad beat? In many of these cases, it is tough to figure out the proper answer because there isn’t any evidence of what happened. Surely “Wild Bill” Hickok death while holding the “Dead Man’s Hand” would qualify as a huge bad beat, but it is the stuff of legend and not factually documented. What if, however, you could have a contest where there was plenty of documented evidence to let poker’s fandom decide?
The online poker news site PokerUpdate.com took on this task when it comes to what is the most memorable televised poker hand of all time. A few weeks ago, 32 contenders stepped up in an NCAA “March Madness” bracket style pool looking to determine by a fan vote what the most memorable hand in television poker history would be. All of the hands in contention for the award were chosen by the staff of PokerUpdate.com, with poker journalist Robbie Strazynski in charge of tabulating the results.
With voting on the Final Four open until Tuesday – and with the Final Round being conducted following the completion of the Final Four voting – Strazynski took a few moments to sit down with Poker News Daily to tell us more about the competition and perhaps some of the surprises he has seen during the run of the event.
Poker News Daily: Were there any hands that didn’t make the 32 hands that you thought should have?
Robbie Strazynski: I was pretty surprised that Daniel Negreanu didn’t feature in any of the 32 selected hands. He has obviously appeared in a sizeable percentage of televised poker hands and I found it strange that not a single of the most memorable poker hands selected by our panel of experts featured ‘KidPoker.’ His cooler hand vs. Gus Hansen, where his boat lost to quads on High Stakes Poker comes to mind in particular.
One other generic comment is that none of the hands selected were taken from Poker Night in America. Plenty of interesting and exciting poker action has featured on that show, including the memorable Shaun Deeb slowroll of Mike Matusow. Perhaps the show is still not as ingrained in our collective memories as all those great old WSOP broadcasts are from poker’s golden days.
PND: Now that we’re down to the Final Four, have there been any surprises along the way?
RS: Well, we didn’t “seed” any of the 32 hands, we only categorized them (each bracket was a category – funny, impressive, exciting or shocking). So, strictly speaking, there weren’t any “mathematical upsets” like a #1 seed beating a #8 seed. With that said, I was shocked that the Matt Affleck vs. Jonathan Duhamel hand didn’t even make it out of Round 1 into the Sweet 16.
Matt Affleck’s wide-eyed reaction was one of the most memorable, in my mind, to ever grace our screens. Another hand I thought would ease into the Final 4, but which got ousted in Round 2 (Sweet 16) was Filippo Candio’s “Suckgasm”. It was in the “Funny” quadrant of our bracket, and Candio’s reaction to sucking out on Joseph Cheong was quite simply the funniest reaction I’ve even seen in a televised poker hand. Nevertheless, the people have spoken, and its fan votes that count, not my personal opinion.
PND: What has been the most surprising thing about the competition to this point?
RS: I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised by poker media outlets, like yours, many of which have been kind enough to give our bracket some coverage on their sites. What warms my heart about that, specifically, is that despite the friendly competition we poker media outlets obviously have amongst ourselves, that hasn’t gotten in the way of providing coverage of an engaging poker event like ours that fans are clearly interested in hearing about and voting in. So, kudos to you and much thanks to every other poker media site that has also covered our bracket contest.
In the same way, the PokerUpdate team is always happy to give poker fans what they want, including when it means supporting the initiatives of and content produced by other poker media sites.
PND: The “Most Memorable Hand” concept works great as a one-time thing…what other tricks do you have coming in the future?
RS: While I can’t reveal to you any specific initiatives at this time, our general outlook is to try and be a site that informs and entertains poker fans. All of the content we produce, whether it’s written articles, infographics, or videos like the Weekly Burn & Turn on the PokerUpdate YouTube channel is produced with fan engagement in mind. In this day and age, we feel that passive consumption of poker media needs to evolve into something where fans are more actively engaged. So, the best answer I can give you is that whatever our next initiative will be, it will be guided by those same principles.
Many thanks to Robbie for taking the time to answer a few questions regarding the “Most Memorable Televised Poker Hand of All Time.” We also will remind you that the voting will be continuing as the “November Nine” approaches and the actual winner of the competition will be named prior to the next World Champion being determined. To be able to place your vote on who the eventual winner will be, be sure to head to the dedicated PokerUpdate website.
It was a quick day of work for the contenders at the European Poker Tour’s stop in Malta on Thursday. After only 3½ levels of play, the final 16 players have been determined with Alexander Ivarsson emerging as the chip leader with 2.418 million chips once they were bagged up for the day.
The folks at the EPT probably could have gone all the way to the final table on Thursday but decided not to push the issue. Only 40 players were left when the action started as Jaroslaw Sikora stood atop the leaderboard. With his 1.457 million stack, Sikora still faced challenges from such players as Ivarsson (1.306 million), Faraz Jaka (1.2 million) Niall Farrell (1.16 million) and Sam Greenwood (also 1.16 million) from around the Portomaso Casino tournament room.
Literally on the first hand of play, the eliminations started in earnest. Paul Berende was faced with a difficult decision as, after he raised it to 80K, Nabil Mohamed moved all in from the blind and, thinking Berende was all in, turned up A-Q for action. The problem was that Berende still had a few chips behind that Mohamed didn’t see. With the action back on him – and knowing Mohamed’s hole cards – Berende took several minutes to think about the situation.
After some debate and a little push by tablemate Mike McDonald (who called the clock), Berende made the call and was racing with his pocket sevens. That race ended almost immediately on the flop, coming down 10-J-K to give Mohamed a flopped Broadway straight and leave Berende in a serious hurt. Once a blank came on the turn, Berende was drawing dead and out of the tournament in 40th place.
The parade kept up as the players set a torrid pace. Marcin Wydrowski, Pierre Chevalier, Bryn Kenney, Ivan Luca, Thomas Muehloecker, Johnny Lodden and McDonald all headed to the rail over the next couple of hours as Sikora, Jaka and Alen Bilic jousted for the chip lead. Shannon Shorr would join what was becoming a quite notable rail in 22nd place after Gianluca Escobar used pocket Aces to crush Shorr’s pocket treys and Greenwood would resuscitate his stack a bit in knocking off Jens Lakemeier in 21st place. It was Ivarsson who made the biggest move, however, in a hand that gave him the chip lead.
In a blind versus blind battle with Farrell, Ivarsson and Farrell saw a monochrome 4♥ J♥ 5♥ flop that brought a bet out of Ivarsson and a call from Farrell. Those actions would repeat themselves when a K♣ came on the turn but, when an 8♠ came on the river and Ivarsson fired a third bullet, suddenly Farrell couldn’t find the call. He would muck his cards and hand a large pot over to Ivarsson, pushing him up to 2.208 million and the chip lead.
Ivarsson would ride that chip stack to the end of day lead, but Day 3 chip leader Sikora is going to be right behind him when they come back to the felt on Friday in the Portomaso Casino:
1. Alexander Ivarsson, 2.418 million
2. Jaroslaw Sikora, 2.3 million
3. Niall Farrell, 1.902 million
4. Rainer Kempe, 1.726 million
5. Giulio Spampinato, 1.725 million
6. Gianluca Escobar, 1.537 million
7. Nabil Cardoso, 1.175 million
8. Bjorn Geissert, 1.103 million
9. Alen Bilic, 1 million
10. Daniel Dvoress, 986,000
Greenwood is still in the mix with his 970K in chips (good for 11th place) while another notable name, Kitty Kuo, sits in 14th place with her 510K in chips.
It looks as though the action may go a bit longer into the night on Friday than it did on Thursday. The plan for Friday’s action in Malta will be to take the final 16 players down to only six (the official EPT final table will kick in at eight players). Play will begin at noon (Malta Time, 7AM on the East Coast) and should prove to be exciting as the final table is determined for the latest event on the EPT.
After postponing a hearing on the subject of online gaming and poker last week due to the uproar over daily fantasy sports (DFS), Pennsylvania legislators once again postponed a planned hearing on the subject on Tuesday, this time due to movement in their logjam over the state budget.
Although there was no action expected to be taken on any of the proposed legislation that faces the General Assembly (the hearing was expected to discuss “the potential of online lottery/gaming in Pennsylvania), the continued postponements cannot be something that excites those looking for the next state to regulate the online industry. Even the gentleman presenting the bill with the greatest chance at passage, Representative John Payne (also the chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, the committee responsible for the hearings regarding online poker and gaming), has admitted that the push for a new state budget is overruling his desire to regulate the online industry.
Over the course of 2015, Pennsylvania has passed California as the most likely state to pass some sort of online gaming and/or poker regulations for an intra-state operation. Since the beginning of the year, when Payne introduced HB 649, several other bills have followed in its footsteps. Payne’s bill, considered the best of the lot and the one most likely to be put through the Pennsylvania House, would allow for full online casino gaming and poker in the Keystone State, regulate the licensing of software providers and those who would offer the games and prevent an explosion of “internet cafes” that could spring up after passage of any online gaming bill.
After Payne’s bill was submitted, Representative Nick Miccarelli joined the party with his bill, HB 695. In Miccarelli’s bill, online poker was the only activity allowed and there was a ‘bad actor’ clause in the bill that would have prevented those that offered online activities to U. S. citizens after December 2006 (the effective date of the start of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA)). This was the original intent of Payne’s bill but Payne, after further analysis and investigation into neighboring New Jersey’s full online casino gaming industry, decided that full gaming was what Pennsylvania needed.
In April, Representative Tina Davis introduced her legislation, HB 920, which featured several stringent requirements that were unpopular among online gaming supporters. Only casinos licensed within Pennsylvania would be able to receive an iGaming license that would originally cost $ 5 million for one year and then have a three-year, $ 500,000 renewal clause after that initial year. Taxation would also be harsh under Davis’ bill, calling for a 28% tax on gross daily revenues from the online operations. Those taxes would go towards tax relief, transit for the elderly and the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund.
There is companion legislation in the Pennsylvania Senate that would need to be matched up with anything that would come out of the House regarding online gaming. Under that Senate bill, SB 900, an initial $ 10 million would be required for a five-year license in the state and would require a $ 1 million payment for renewal. The state’s casinos would be the only ones eligible to receive a license – meaning that Pennsylvania horse racing tracks that have some casino gaming would be shut out of the action – and, if the casinos decide to partner with a software provider rather than develop their own tools, that software provider would also have to be licensed. Any servers for online gaming would have to be located on the casino’s physical site, but backup servers and storage could be located elsewhere.
The budget impasse has been the major thorn in the process of moving any online gaming regulation forward. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat elected last fall, is facing a budget shortfall of $ 2 billion and has wanted to raise taxes to bring that deficit under control. With a Republican-dominated General Assembly, however, Wolf has been thwarted in any efforts to raise taxes on Pennsylvanians. The discussions regarding the budget and the running debt has stymied the legislative and executive branches in Pennsylvania, putting such options as online gaming and poker regulation (projected by analysts to pull in $ 184 million overall and $ 77 million from online poker in its first year of regulation) on the table for a potential new revenue stream.
If online gaming and/or poker regulation is going to pass, many pundits in the state of Pennsylvania have stated it will be as a part of a larger budget bill and not as a “stand alone” issue.
With the hearing postponed again, the next time that the House Gaming Oversight Committee will convene will be in November. On November 9, there is a public hearing as to changes to licensing requirements in the state. The next day, the committee will meet to discuss fantasy sports and sports betting and, on November 19, the committee will take on a host of issues. One of those, however, will not be any action regarding online gaming or poker.
The European Poker Tour is back in action this week with a stop in Malta. The EPT Malta Main Event kicked off Sunday with the first of two starting flights. Day 1A brought in 184 players while Day 1B saw two and a half times as many join the fun (460 to be exact). After a few late entries were added before the start of Day 2, the total field grew to 651. Just 131 survived to Wednesday with Swede Alexander Ivarsson leading the way with 529,200 chips.
Ivarsson has a relatively short live tournament resume, according to TheHendonMob.com, with $ 332,624 in lifetime earnings. He has three cashes at the World Series of Poker, though two were deep runs, a tenth and a twelfth place finish in the same $ 2,500 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event in 2009 and 2010, respectively. He has three cashes on the European Poker Tour, all this year.
The total prize pool for the EPT Malta Main Event is €3,157,350, with 95 players getting paid. A min-cash is worth €9,320 and the winner will pocket €602,400.
Ivarsson didn’t get to the top of the heap by snatching up lots of little pots. Oh, no. He developed a reputation on Day 2 for his aggressiveness and his ability to run hotter than a red-hot nickel ball, knocking out opponents left and right. Some examples:
In one hand pre-flop, he four-bet 2014 WSOP APAC Main Event champ Scott Davies to see a flop of 8-T-5. Davies check-raised all-in for 65,000 with A-T, but Ivarsson insta-called him with pocket Aces. The Aces held up and Davies was out of the tournament.
Once again, Ivarsson wasn’t content to call or even just three-bet pre-flop. He ended up five-betting all-in and got called by Raoul Refos. Some may consider both of their decisions curious, as Ivarsson only had pocket Sixes and Refos put it all on the line (calling, mind you) with A-K. No Ace or King was laid on the board and Ivarsson received another Six for good measure, eliminating Refos and taking his stack up to 520,000 chips at the time.
Ivarsson is the only player to end Day 2 above the 500,000 chip mark. Three more players – Samuli Sipila, Erik Scheidt, and Giulio Spampinato – have more than 400,000. A couple other notable names in the top ten are Faraz Jaka (375,200 chips) and Mike McDonald (314,200).
Day 3 is currently under way; the money bubble has burst and the remaining players continue to battle it out as the big money draws closer.
European Poker Tour Malta Main Event – Day 2 Chip Leaders
1. Alexander Ivarsson – 529,200
2. Samuli Sipila – 466,500
3. Erik Scheidt – 447,700
4. Giulio Spampinato – 406,500
5. Faraz Jaka – 375,200
6. Pawel Brzeski – 372,100
7. Andreas Chalkiadakis – 358,600
8. Farid Jattin – 334,700
9. Daniel Dvoress – 321,100
10. Mike McDonald – 314,200