Archive for November, 2016

Locations Announced for New PokerStars Championships

 Locations Announced for New PokerStars Championships

On December 19, the European Poker Tour will close the doors on their stop in Prague, the Czech Republic, and with the end of the event will come the end of an era. Amaya Gaming, the owners of the EPT, have decided to end one of the most successful tournament tours in the existence of poker to “start fresh” with something new. Beginning in 2017 the “PokerStars Championships” will take place, with Amaya recently announcing the inaugural stops on that schedule.

The new PokerStars Championships will begin with the most likely candidate to roll over from the EPT, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Now called the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, the tournament schedule will be played from January 6-14 at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and feature 92 tournaments crammed into the proceedings. The Main Event (January 8-14, $ 5000 buy in), and the High Roller (January 12-14, $ 25,000) and Super High Roller (January 6-8, $ 100,000) tournaments will be the featured tournaments on this roster of events.

There will be two “PokerStars Festival” dates before the next PokerStars Championship takes place. Up first will be the PokerStars Festival London at the Hippodrome Casino (January 22-29) and the PokerStars Festival Rozvadov at the King’s Casino in the Czech Republic from March 2-13. The “festival” schedules are looking to replace the former “minor” tours on the EPT circuit (the United Kingdom/Ireland Poker Tour was one of those “minor” tours under the EPT auspices).

After these two tournament runs, the PokerStars Championships will kick back in. In an odd bit of scheduling, the PokerStars Championships will head for Panama and the Solaris Resort and Casino from March 10-20. With the PokerStars Festival concluding in Rozvadov on March 13, it could be reasonably thought that the tournament circuit would want to keep the players in action near the Czech Republic, where the King’s Casino is located, rather than traipse them halfway around the world for the Panama event.

Macau will be the next stop for the PokerStars Championships, with the schedule covering the end of March and the beginning of April (March 30-April 9). On April 25, the PokerStars Championships will head for Monte Carlo, with its Main Event concluding on May 5. The final stop that has been scheduled is after the World Series of Poker as the PokerStars Championships heads for the Casino Barcelona in Spain from August 15-27.

The director of live events for PokerStars, Edgar Stuchly, seems ready to take the next step with the PokerStars Championships. “PokerStars has an incredibly rich live events heritage, having hosted more than 560 tournament series, attracted more than 800,000 entries and awarded more than $ 1.5 billion in prize money,” Stuchly noted. “The PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival events are an enhancement of the existing PokerStars sponsored live tours, helping to take our vision for live poker to a whole new level.”

Poker fans will note, however, that several popular stops have been either bumped from the schedule or details haven’t been worked out yet. Malta (and the Portomaso Casino) and Prague, which were the two most recent stops for the EPT, are not seen on the 2017 schedule. Another big question should be why London only receives a Festival stop rather than the full Championships treatment as London has routinely been one of the most popular stops on the EPT circuit. Then there are those locations that were left at the wayside by the EPT that the PokerStars Championships could arguably revive, such as Dublin, Vienna, Berlin and Sanremo. It is also leaving out the one location that could use a punch in the arm from PokerStars – New Jersey, where a tournament schedule recently operated by PokerStars at the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City was tepidly received.

It is questionable why those in charge at Amaya Gaming would take this step. There weren’t any perceived problems with the EPT but, by going with the general “PokerStars Championships” moniker, it doesn’t make it seem odd when the tour visits the Caribbean or North/South America. There is also the history that was built up by the EPT; what becomes of that history, the achievements by “serial qualifier” and former “November Niner” Pierre Neuville or the two-time EPT champion Vicky Coren-Mitchell (the only person on the EPT to have achieved that feat)? It seems odd to toss that all out the window and “start fresh,” even if the name change is more indicative of a blending of the online and live poker worlds.

Where will the impact be seen? It won’t be in the Bahamas in January because that stop is traditionally one of the largest poker tournaments in the world. Where it may become evident is in the Festival stops in London and Rozvadov and the “Championships” stop in Panama. After those events – and seeing if Amaya is listening to its customers and bringing back some of the old EPT stops – we might have a better idea of what to expect from the new PokerStars Championships and Festivals.

Poker News Daily

Editorial: Are Online Poker Sites Looking To “Kill” The Regulars?

 Editorial: Are Online Poker Sites Looking To “Kill” The Regulars?

The online poker industry has reached a point, a crossroads if you will, and there is a decision to be made. Should the online poker rooms continue to cater to those who occupy many of their tables, grinding out a nominal win rate and build enough specialty points to earn treats from those said rooms? Or should the online poker rooms look to advance into the fast-paced 21st century, where people are looking for their quick fix in between classes or meetings and don’t have time to sit back and wait for the freebies? Of late, the opinion is that the online poker sites are looking to “kill” the regulars in favor of the casual players.

Way back in the Mesozoic Era of online poker – you know, about 12-15 years ago – the world was a much different place. Prior to 2003, online poker rooms were looking to get ahold of people and keep them as long as they possibly could. This resulted in the loyalty programs – PokerStars SuperNova is a prime example – that popped up for players to be able to try to qualify for. Those programs, which were usually linked in with receiving loyalty points for playing in cash games (and, as the decade continued, eventually tournaments offered points), originally served as a method for players to earn their initial deposit bonuses from the rooms. As time moved on, those same loyalty points became ever so much more valuable.

Once the online poker sites started linking the number of loyalty points a player had to special “levels” of promotion, online poker sites took off. It was especially appealing to the grinders who, for hours on end, would sit on the sites playing ABC poker and picking up points by the truckload to work off different bonuses. The additional benefits of the sites awarding prizes, cash, tournament entries and the like for those who excelled at the program was simply a bonus at the time, but one that came to be expected by those who met those standards.

The crash of “Black Friday” brought many back to earth and especially the online poker rooms. Not only were players from the States of America prohibited from playing on the largest sites in the world, the international grinders now had to deal without a whole segment of the world in action for particularly optimum times for them. For example, a player in Australia during prime time could grind it out against a crapload of players from North America, where for them it was late and many were looking to make up losses. This type of situation went on around the globe as the shockwave from the departure of those affected by “Black Friday” became known.

This along with the advent of mobile phones – and the plethora of games that came with them – began the trek of the path that many online sites have decided to take now. Instead of looking to the grinders who would generate huge amounts of rake for each player, now the rooms began to look to those who were more “casual” in their play, looking for a quick respite from their days rather than those who were looking to make a living, because there were more of them and weren’t quite as financially draining. But with so many players still raking in the points towards those loyalty programs, what were the sites going to do?

The answer? They started with the affiliate programs, chopping them off at the knees in changing their rules to affiliates only receiving a percentage of the players signed up through them for a two-year period (rather than the lifetime bonus that it had been previously). This not only earned a ton of money for the online rooms (paying out those rake percentages totals up over time) but it also essentially put the affiliates out of the game…if they couldn’t continue to make money, what was the purpose in continuing to send players to a particular site or network?

The final nail in the coffin was the elimination of the loyalty programs. Once again, this was not only a chance for the online rooms to wrest a big, juicy bit of the pie back for themselves, but it also forced off the “professional” online player because the rewards just weren’t there anymore. With so much money now available, the online rooms could now cater to those “casual” players and offer them the “chance” at making big money (why do you think most of the online sites now have some sort of “jackpot” sit and gos, where you don’t know what you’re playing for until the game starts, or a “zoom” poker format that keeps players moving as they play?) while keeping a mountain of it for themselves.

With these changes, the online poker industry has basically removed the regulars – those who used to be able to sit and make a nice bit of change, if not a living – from the games. While there are still people out there who can slog through the work of playing those multi-table sessions, they aren’t getting rewarded for it like they used to. Instead of trips to exotic locales or sports cars, the online pro now has to be happy with hopefully being able to make a profit for the day as his reward. The online rooms have basically “killed” the regular online poker player.

Will it change? Probably not. The industry today is traded on the stock markets of the world and nothing worries stockholders more than a down quarter or year. Rather than invest in the players, these operations are now businesses that must invest in what the future will be, be it online casino gaming, bingo or other games that are more chance oriented than poker. And they will be able to keep a great deal of their profits, the money that used to go into the pockets of the “regulars” – the online poker professionals – and was showered upon them in extras for their loyalty. Nowadays, the only loyalty is to the “bottom line” and a return to the days of yore isn’t in the cards.

Poker News Daily

Niall Farrell Emerges as Champion of 2016 partypoker WPT Caribbean

 Niall Farrell Emerges as Champion of 2016 partypoker WPT Caribbean

In what was a relatively quick final table, Scotland’s Niall Farrell emerged as the champion of the 2016 partypoker World Poker Tour Caribbean stop in Punta Cana on Wednesday night, defeating Troy Quenneville in heads up play.

It wasn’t your typical “final day” of action on the WPT as 11 players remained at the start of action on Wednesday. Looking to earn his second WPT title, Keven Stammen was in the lead at the crack of the gun, his 1.764 million chips lording impressively over Quenneville (1.36 million) and Anthony Augustino. Farrell (1.3 million) was in control of the second table, but just barely over Colin Moffatt (1.249 million).

The first task at hand was getting to the official WPT six-handed final table, which the combatants attacked with glee. Farrell was lucky from the start of the day, getting away with only losing a couple hundred thousand chips when Moffatt’s J-9 cracked his pocket Aces on a 9-9-6-6-9 board. That slight setback didn’t affect Farrell, however, as he quickly rebounded to oust Jorge Arias from the tournament in 11th place. Once Moffatt dumped Vishal Maini in 10th place to crack the two million chip mark, the final nine redrew for seats and the race for the championship was on.

Stammen would not be as fortunate as some of his fellow competitors during the final day of play. His chip stack slowly dwindled through the early action and, after Augustino raised his big blind, Stammen thought he could force him off with an all-in move. Augustino didn’t go away, however, calling his bet and tabling pocket Jacks for action. Stammen, battling from behind with his pocket nines, never saw a glimmer of hope on the A-4-2-8-K board and departed the tournament in eighth place as Augustino moved into the lead.

Augustino extended that lead in taking out Duff Charette on the television table “bubble” and headed to the six-handed action with a whopping 3.435 million in chips, holding a decent lead over Quenneville (2.325 million) and more than twice what the third-place competitor Moffatt (1.505 million) held. The remainder of the players were left in survival mode at the start of the official final table, with Yiannis Liperis (860K), Farrell (805K) and Stephen Woodhead (750K) looking to get back in the game.

After the warmup of working down to the final table, the players were firing bets from the start of the official final table. Farrell would get a much-needed double through Moffatt, his Q-J finding a Jack against Moffatt’s pocket tens, and he got even healthier in knocking out Woodhead in sixth place, his A-J standing tall against Woodhead’s A-10 on an eight-high board. Just as quickly as he rocketed out of the basement, however, Farrell’s rollercoaster style would send him back down after his pocket fives failed to best Moffatt’s pocket Jacks.

As Farrell entertained the viewers on the live stream of the event, Augustino was more interested in keeping his lead. Augustino tried to take down Liperis, Augustino’s K♠ Q♠ versus Liperis’ pocket sevens, but a seven on the flop ended that quest. Liperis then would challenge for the lead before giving up a sizeable chunk of chips to Quenneville, who jumped into the first slot when his pocket Jacks held up against Liperis’ A-K off suit.

With five players remaining, Quenneville’s 4.2 million chips seemed to have him set to drive even deeper into the field. The question was who from the other four players would emerge as a worthy contender. Augustino drew first blood, knocking off Liperis in fifth place when his A-9 played over Liperis’ A-3 on a J-6-4-7-4 board, and Farrell stormed from behind in doubling through Quenneville and eliminating Moffatt in fourth, his pocket sixes catching a set on the turn after Moffatt had flopped two pair with his A-7 on an A-10-7-6-J board.

Down to three-handed action, Farrell kicked his game into overdrive. He doubled through Quenneville, his Big Chick hitting against Quenneville’s Big Slick on a Q-8-6-6-A board, to rocket to nearly seven million in chips and then eliminated Augustino in third place when his Q-9 rivered a straight to top Augustino’s A-6. With those two eliminations, Farrell stacked 8.13 million chips and had a massive advantage over Quenneville (1.55 million) going to the heads up “fight.”

The reason “fight” is in quotation marks is it took all of one hand to determine the champion. Farrell, playing big stack poker, pushed all in on the button and Quenneville found a hand he was ready to fight with in making the call. Quenneville’s K♠ J♠ was a solid opponent for Farrell’s A-5 off suit and it looked good for Quenneville when a King showed in the window of the flop. Unfortunately, an Ace was also there, keeping Farrell in the lead. When the turn and river failed to bring Quenneville another King or a Jack, the hand and the championship were firmly in Farrell’s grasp.

1. Niall Farrell, $ 335,000
2. Troy Quenneville, $ 220,000
3. Anthony Augustino, $ 140,000
4. Colin Moffatt, $ 105,392
5. Yiannis Liperis, $ 80,000
6. Stephen Woodhead, $ 66,000

Poker News Daily

2016 WPT Caribbean Down to Ten Players

 2016 WPT Caribbean Down to Ten Players

The field of the 2016 World Poker Tour (WPT) Caribbean Main Event was pared from 75 to just 10 on Tuesday as the remaining players are on the brink of the televised final table heading into Day 4. Keven Stammen is the chip leader with 1.764 million chips.

From the looks of the chip counts, it should be a very competitive final day. Behind Stammen is Day 2 chip leader Troy Quenneville with 1.360 million chips, Niall Farrell with 1.300 million, Colin Moffatt with 1.249 million, and Anthony Augustino with 1.033 million. Duff Carette has 822,000 and the rest of the field has in the 500,000 chip range or fewer.

Kevin Stammen is an extremely accomplished live poker tournament player, currently ranked 68th on the Global Poker Index. He has one WPT title to his name and it was a biggie: the 2014 WPT World Championship. This was also the largest cash of his career, worth $ 1.35 million. Stammen has two other WPT televised final tables to his credit, plus two near-misses. He has 36 World Series of Poker cashes, including one bracelet, in the 2009 $ 2,500 No-Limit Hold’em event. All told, Stammen has nearly $ 5 million in live tournament winnings.

The gap between Stammen’s chip stack and that of Quenneville was largely the result of the 14th place elimination. Stammen had raised to 45,000 pre-flop and Roberto Vahlis (whose name my brain keeps wanting to equate to a shortened version of “Valar Morghulis”) moved all-in for 310,000 chips. Stammen called with pocket Tens and Vahlis revealed pocket Threes. Nothing overly dramatic happened the rest of the way and Vahlis had to exit the tourney.

One interesting note about this tournament is how it truly demonstrates the intersection of live and online poker. This tour stop, like several others, is sponsored by partypoker. Naturally, partypoker hosted online satellites so players could qualify for WPT Caribbean. Nearly half – 17 – of the 36 in-the-money finishers qualified via partypoker and 7 of the final 10 players won entry via a partypoker satellite. That doesn’t mean all of them are amateurs, as some people might assume – Stammen, for instance, was one such qualifier – but it is still a nifty stat to see.

Today, the field of ten will play all the way until there is a champion. Aside from a break after the seventh place elimination to get the live stream cameras setup, the tournament will play straight through to a winner.

2016 World Poker Tour Caribbean Main Event – Day 3 Chip Leaders

1.    Keven Stammen – 1,764,000
2.    Troy Quenneville – 1,360,000
3.    Niall Farrell – 1,300,000
4.    Colin Moffatt – 1,249,000
5.    Anthony Augustino – 1,033,000
6.    Duff Charette – 822,000
7.    Vishal Maini – 554,000
8.    Stephen Woodhead – 550,000
9.    Andrei Boghean – 455,000
10.    Yiannis Liperis – 323,000
11.    Jorge Arias – 244,000

Poker News Daily

PokerStars Launches Christmas Festival Promotion

 PokerStars Launches Christmas Festival Promotion

PokerStars launched its annual Christmas Festival on Monday, running a series of promotions and giveaways that promise to award players more than $ 5 million over the course of six weeks.

$ 1 Million Freeroll

The first phase of the Christmas Festival is the qualification period for the final $ 1 Million Poker Freeroll of the year. From November 21st through November 29th, players are given a “simple” challenge. Complete challenge, qualify for a daily All-In Shootout Qualifier. Players can complete one challenge per day to be granted entry into the next day’s All-In Shootout Qualifier.

Now, don’t get TOO excited about these All-In Shootout Qualifiers, as they are all luck. In an all-in shootout, the poker software automatically puts every player all-in pre-flop each hand until just one player remains at each table (one might assume that this will take only one hand to accomplish, but of course there could be chopped pots). When all tables have a “winner,” those players are combined into full tables and the process starts again. Rinse, repeat until all prizes are awarded.

Each All-In Shootout Qualifier will award 8,192 seats to the $ 1 Million Poker Freeroll. As is usually the case with PokerStars, players must opt-in to the promotion – challenges will not be offered up automatically.

Everyone who fails to make it through the shootout can qualify for a Last Chance Skill Qualifier on December 1st by completing a challenge that day or the previous day.

The $ 1 Million Poker Freeroll will be held at 2:04pm ET (I know) on December 1st.

Christmas Calendar

Beginning December 1st, PokerStars will launch the Christmas Calendar, a take on the advent calendar, in which players can open up a door each day to reveal a special poker offer. The first offer will be the $ 1 Million Poker Freeroll as described above. On December 11th, the poker room will host a MicroMillions Marathon day with 21 separate events. The Main Event will have a $ 1 million guaranteed prize pool for just a $ 22 buy-in.

Beyond that, we don’t know what the exact offers will be. As I read about the promo, I guessed that they will be some sort of array of bonuses, cash prizes, tournament tickets, and freerolls, likely in exchange for accomplishing some sort of mission. Sure enough, PokerStars says that among the offers included will be “CardHunt, Challenges, Freerolls, Christmas Giveaways and Mega Bonuses.”

$ 2 Million Guaranteed Monday Million

To finish out the Christmas Festival, PokerStars will host a special edition of the Sunday Million: a $ 2 million guaranteed Monday Million with the winner receiving at least $ 200,000. Now, this one isn’t free – it costs $ 215 to enter – but, as usual, PokerStars is offering all sorts of satellites to allow players to qualify on the cheap. The Monday Million will be held at 2:30pm ET on December 26th.

Poker News Daily