Archive for July, 2016

Winamax’s Expresso Eleven Promo Rolling Along

 Winamax’s Expresso Eleven Promo Rolling Along

The Spin & Go games at PokerStars are generally the first ones we think of when we consider the Lottery Sit & Go, but it was French poker site Winamax that introduced the world to this type of game when it launched Expresso Poker in July 2013. Since then, countless copycats have arisen (well, not literally countless, as there are a finite number of online poker rooms in existence), each offering their own slight variation on what has become an extremely popular game. Winamax is still there, though, and while nobody outside of France should really care, as they can’t play on French sites, the poker room is in midst of a pretty interesting Expresso Poker promotion.

The promo, called Expresso Eleven, will run until €500,000 has been given away. To date, about €74,000 has been won, so there is still plenty of time left to get in on the action.

In Expresso Eleven, every time one plays in an Expresso Poker Sit & Go with the lowest prize pool multiple (2x), a card depicting one of the eleven Team Winamax members will appear. If the player wins the Expresso Poker match, he will receive that card. When a player collects at least seven unique cards, a prize is awarded.

There is one huge catch, though: if a player is presented with the opportunity to win a card and already has that card in his collection, he will actually LOSE that card if he doesn’t win the Expresso game. Thus, there is no Team Winamax card freerolling. A card is at stake every single time, either to be won or to be lost.

The Team Winamax Pros are:

Patrick “P14B” Bruel
Michel “Mik.22” Abecassis
Davidi “Kitbul” Kitai
Gaëlle “O RLY” Baumann
Bruno “Kool Shen” Lopes
Sylvain “Loosli” Loosli
Guillaume “volatile38” Diaz
Pierre “LeVietF0u” Calamusa
Aurélie “RunGood4Love” Quélain
Alexandre “Alexonmoon” Luneau
Florian “1flip 2win” Decamps

To illustrate the above rule, let’s say a player has the cards of Bruel, Abecassis, Diaz, and Luneau in his collection. He sits down for a 2x multiplier Expresso Poker game and draws the Diaz card again. If the player wins the game, nothing happens in terms of the Expresso Eleven promotion as he already has that card. If he loses, though, the Diaz card is removed from his collection and he must win it again.

The card collections are divided by buy-in, so every player can have seven separate collections (buy-ins for Expresso Poker are €1, €2, €5, €10, €25, €50, and €100. The rewards for collecting cards at each buy-in level are as follows:

7 cards: 1 Expresso Poker ticket for that buy-in
8 cards: 2 Expresso Poker tickets for that buy-in
9 cards: 5 Expresso Poker tickets for that buy-in
10 cards: Cash equal to 50 times the buy-in level
11 cards: Cash equal to 1,000 times the buy-in level

Players will receive each prize in the ladder as they add cards to their collections, so for instance, a player who collects all eleven cards at the €100 buy-in level will receive a total of eight €100 Expresso tickets and €105,000. Each individual prize can only be won once, though, so if a person collects seven cards, loses a card, then wins a card to get back up to seven, he won’t receive the prize for seven cards twice.

Poker News Daily

888Poker Launches BLAST Poker Lottery Sit & Go

 888Poker Launches BLAST Poker Lottery Sit & Go

I just wrote one article about Lottery Sit & Go’s, so might as well write another, while the subject is on my mind. Guess today is an all-Lottery day. The news on this page: 888poker has launched its own Lottery Sit & Go version this week, called BLAST Poker.

Like any Lottery Sit & Go, BLAST Poker is a short-handed, hyper-turbo (two minute blind levels) game with small starting stacks. One all players are seated, the prize pool is announced; it can be 2x, 5x, 10x, 100x, 1,000x, or 10,000x the game’s buy-in. Most sites make these games three-handed, but BLAST Poker goes its own way with four players per table. But that’s not at all interesting, so 888 came up with another change, one that will make these games even less skill-based than they already were.

After a certain number of levels, all players will be automatically forced all-in pre-flop until just one player remains. So a game that is almost an all-in or fold situation from the jump will now be like, “Welp, this thing has gone on too long. Time to just shut it down.”

If there is one advantage to this it is that players can enter a BLAST Poker game knowing the maximum amount of time it will take to complete, making the scheduling of their poker a bit easier.

The cut-off point for the BLAST games is dependent on the prize pool multiplier that is generated. The higher the multiplier, the longer the maximum duration of the contest. Let’s take a look at what we’ve got:

2x and 5x multipliers: three blind levels or six minutes max
10x multiplier: four blind levels or eight minutes max
100x multiplier: five blind levels or ten minutes max
1,000x and 10,000x multipliers: six blind levels or twelve minutes max

I suppose this might not be all that bad, as who really wants to fight over a 20 cent prize pool in a 10 cent BLAST Poker Sit & Go for more than six minutes? Speaking of which, the buy-in options for BLAST Poker are 10 cents, $ 1, $ 5, and $ 30, which are fewer than most sites offer. Normally, we would see at least one option between $ 5 and $ 30.

The prize pool multiplier will be either 2x or 5x about 97 percent of the time, with some variation based on the size of the buy-in itself. The 10x multiplier will come up three to four percent of the time.

Only BLAST Poker games of the lowest prize pool multiplier will be winner-take-all. After that, it is a 70/30 split for first and second place in the 5x multiplier games and 60/25/15 at the 10x and 100x levels. At the highest two prize pool multipliers – 1,000x and 10,000x – all four players will win money, with a 60/20/10/10 split.

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Rank/888 Holdings Making Play for William Hill

 Rank/888 Holdings Making Play for William Hill

UK-based Rank Group and Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings confirmed rumors this weekend that they have teamed up in talks to acquire competitor William Hill, the largest gambling company in the UK. No financial numbers have been made public.

Both 888 and Rank issued a statement today, which reads, in part:

888 Holdings plc (“888”) and The Rank Group Plc (“Rank”) (together the “Consortium”) note the recent press speculation regarding a potential transaction involving William Hill plc (“William Hill”) and confirm that they are evaluating a possible offer for William Hill (the “Proposed Transaction”).

The Consortium sees significant industrial logic in the combination, through consolidation of their complementary online and land-based operations, delivery of substantial revenue and cost synergies and from the anticipated benefits of economies of scale which will accrue to all shareholders.

No formal approach has yet been made to the Board of William Hill and there can be no certainty that any such approach will be made.  Accordingly, there can be no certainty that any transaction will ultimately take place, nor as to the terms on which any such transaction might be constituted.

In accordance with Rule 2.6(a) of the Code, the Consortium is required, by not later than 5.00 p.m. on 21 August 2016 to either announce a firm intention to make an offer for William Hill in accordance with Rule 2.7 of the Code or announce that it does not intend to make an offer, in which case the announcement will be treated as a statement to which Rule 2.8 of the Code applies. This deadline can be extended with the consent of the Panel in accordance with Rule 2.6(c) of the Code.

This is an interesting twist on past gaming industry mergers and acquisitions news, as in February 2015, the roles were reversed, with William Hill looking to buy 888 Holdings.

888 was also at the center of the bidding war for nearly a year ago. 888 and GVC Holdings went back and forth with competing offers for the partypoker parent company, with GVC Holdings eventually winning the competition. GVC’s successful offer was for £1.116 billion (USD $ 1.697 billion).

Gaming analysts see the potential hiccups with a deal like this, though very rarely in huge mergers are there no hurdles to overcome. Warwick Bartlett, Chief Executive of Global Betting and Gaming Consultants told

When I first saw the reports about a possible offer being made between Rank (market cap £925m) and 888 (£803m), I thought this could work. With Rank and 888 having a combined market cap of £1.7bn against William Hill at £2.7bn we should be under no illusions as to who the daddy would be. Clearly the companies are being driven closer together because of the combined effects of ever increasing regulation, and taxation. The combined market cap of all three would be £4.4bn, and one would expect to see some significant synergies and savings on cost.

But I have to ask: Is this Gala Coral mark two? That was a company that had interests in bingo, casino and betting shops, plus an online business. It was hardly a success. The bingo business was sold to Caledonia, and ironically the casino business was sold to Rank.

For this tripartite merger to work there must be a clear emphasis on strategy and leadership. I think such a merger raises more questions than answers.

Poker fans will obviously be familiar with 888 for its 888poker, which is the second largest online poker room in the world in terms of cash game traffic, according to PokerScout. 888 Holdings also has a sizable casino gaming and bingo library. Rank is not a household name, but UK gamblers certainly know the Grosvenor Casinos well. Rank also owns the Mecca and Enracha brands.

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Republican Party Removes Online Poker Ban from Platform

 Republican Party Removes Online Poker Ban from Platform

In an e-mail sent to Poker Players Alliance (PPA) members late last week, PPA Vice President of Player Relations Rich Muny relayed the positive news that a ban on internet poker has been removed from the Republican Party’s platform in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Ever since online poker has been a thing that has existed in this world, an online gambling prohibition has been a part of the Republican platform. The irony of it is that the Republican party claims to be the party of small government, yet for a solid two decades, it has included this plank, among others, that would give Americans less freedom and a federal government that controls their lives. But hey, there are only so many ways to keep that religious conservative vote.

Of course, it wasn’t like the Republican Platform Committee just up and decided that an online gambling ban was a bad idea. The PPA had to convince the Committee of it. And it also wasn’t like the Committee thinks it is a bad idea simply because it is a bad idea. As is often the case, it was likely decided that online gambling was better as a states’ rights issue because, you know, when someone at the federal level doesn’t want to make a tough decision, it is easier to just say, “Well, I think that’s up to the states to decide.”

Online poker is not an important issue in the grand scheme of federal politics, but it is certainly better that a poker ban is NOT a part of the Republican Party’s platform than if it was. Interestingly, this is also the party to which Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson donates millions upon millions of dollars. The same Sheldon Adelson who has made it his life’s mission to do “whatever it takes” to get online gambling banned in the U.S. It is a bit surprising that the Republican Party could get away with that, but then again, it’s not like Adelson is about to support Hillary Clinton.

Then there is Donald Trump’s recently-tabbed running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Forgetting all of his other ultra-conservative, religious stances, Pence is extremely anti-online poker. He favored Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), going so far as to write a letter to the Indiana Congressional Delegation, urging them to support it, as well. In the letter, he said it was important for the states to be able to decide for themselves about how they wanted to handle gambling, but that it was somehow also important to have a blanket ban on internet gambling banned at the federal level.

Pence’s strange reasoning for that:

Internet gambling crosses state lines and impacts the ability of a state to regulate and control gambling within its borders. By its very nature, the Internet involves interstate commerce. Internet gambling relies on technology, such as GPS location monitoring and other controls, that may be compromised. Internet gambling also relies on verification procedures for participant ages and payment information that are subject to similar vulnerabilities. Taken together with the mobility of our society and the widespread access to the Internet, a federal prohibition of Internet gambling is necessary. Otherwise the ability of states like Indiana to prevent and control Internet gambling within its borders, despite our best efforts, will be greatly diminished.

Now, hopefully you weren’t waiting to find out about the Republican Party’s or Mike Pence’s stance on internet gambling before deciding your pick for POTUS, but there you go.

Poker News Daily

Final Settlements in Full Tilt Case Reached

 Final Settlements in Full Tilt Case Reached

After more than five years of travel through the courts in the United States, the final settlements regarding Full Tilt Poker were quietly reached earlier this year, ending the saga of the now-defunct twice over online poker site and putting it into the history books.

The issues that Full Tilt faced were directly related to the “Black Friday” indictments by the U. S. Department of Justice against top officials from the online poker room. Indicted directly criminally in the case was Ray Bitar, the Chief Executive Officer of TiltWare, and Nelson Burtnick, who was the Director of Payments for Full Tilt Poker. In addition to those men, a class-action civil suit was filed against Full Tilt executives Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson by a player consortium consisting of Steve Segal, Nick Hammer, Robin Hougdahl, Todd Terry and Bradley Clasen, looking to retrieve monies that were taken in by Lederer and Ferguson, rumored to be in the $ 450 million range.

There had not been tremendous action for a few years regarding the case but, in August or September of 2015, talks began in an attempt to settle grievances between the parties. The plaintiffs in the case needed to have their court costs taken care of, which could have been into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Lederer and Ferguson needed a conclusion to the case simply to get it off their docket. As a result, in late 2015 an agreement was reached and, in January 2016, the court costs were settled for the plaintiffs and each received a token $ 500 payday from those court costs.

The big thing about the settlement of the case is that it will effectively end any further actions against those in Full Tilt management. After the settlement, the case was dismissed with prejudice, basically stating that the defendants could not face legal actions regarding the same case ever in the future. This brings an end to a tragedy that became even worse when it was exposed five years ago.

2011’s “Black Firday” saw the shutdown of the three most powerful online poker operations in the United States – PokerStars, the CEREUS Network rooms Absolute Poker and and the aforementioned Full Tilt Poker – by the U. S. Department of Justice. After a few days of negotiation, PokerStars was reopened to U. S. residents to allow them to retrieve their poker balances from the site. The same deal was offered to both Full Tilt Poker and CEREUS but, as it soon would become evident, neither of those rooms were in the position to refund their customers’ money.

In the case of Full Tilt, years of payment to the principal owners of the company – the official group that made up Team Full Tilt, such as Lederer, Ferguson, Bitar and others – had left the coffers depleted, so much so that there wasn’t money on hand to pay the approximately 75% of their clientele from the U. S. that had money with the company. It was rumored that Full Tilt Poker, when the deal was offered to pay back players, had only $ 60 million in its “ready cash” fund and could not complete the deal (the CEREUS Network rooms were in even worse shape).

Full Tilt Poker would eventually lose its license for operation in the fall of 2011 and it appeared that everyone’s money went away with the site. Then, in 2012, PokerStars stepped up and bailed out the DOJ by settling their case with the feds, paying out $ 731 million and getting Full Tilt Poker in return. While PokerStars walked away with the Full Tilt property, the players got paid back – although in some cases it would take almost four years and some received nothing at all for their affiliate revenues – due to the PokerStars largesse. (To this date, the CEREUS Network has NEVER had any discussions of player refunds and, for the most part, that money is considered lost.)

Of course, the settlement of all legal issues against Lederer and Ferguson led them back to this year’s World Series of Poker. While Lederer failed to cash in the handful of events he played, Ferguson was much more visible, playing in a multitude of tournaments and cashing 10 times for almost $ 250,000, including a fourth place finish in the $ 10,000 Six Handed No Limit Hold’em World Championship. Bitar, once thought to be near death when he was sentenced for his role in the Full Tilt fiasco in 2013, got married in an elaborate ceremony earlier this year and looks to be in the peak of health.

With the closure of the final legal case involving Full Tilt Poker, it may be thought that the poker community can move on. The stain left by such men as Lederer, Ferguson, Bitar and others isn’t the type that goes away easily, however.

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