Archive for January, 2017

2017 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event: Day 1 Flights in the Books

 2017 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event: Day 1 Flights in the Books

The World Poker Tour got back in action over the weekend as the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event saw its two starting days contested on Sunday and Monday. Players are still allowed to register through the first break on Day 2, so we won’t know the official tournament figures for a little while yet, but so far, 1,120 players have signed up.. Leading the 588 Day 1 survivors into Tuesday is Jean “Prince” Gaspard with 216,900 chips.

Gaspard is one of those guys whose record casual fans will look at and say, “Wow, I didn’t realize he was so accomplished.”

According to TheHendonMob.com, Gaspard has over $ 2.3 million live tournament earnings. His largest cash came just this past summer, when he won the 2016 World Series of Poker $ 10,000 Dealers Choice 6-Handed Championship for $ 306,621, the first gold bracelet of his career. Gaspard also won a WSOP Circuit event in 2009, the New Orleans & Bayou Poker Challenge Championship Event, for $ 211,722.

Gaspard told WPT.com that he took the week off before the Borgata Winter Poker Open so that he could come in fresh.

“I’ve been ready, and I told my friend I was going to bag up 200K,” he said. “Obviously you’ve got to run a little bit good. I played well, and I didn’t run bad. The one spot where I did run bad in a pot, usually I allow that to stay in my mind, but I erased it right away.”

As mentioned, there were 1,120 registrations in the two starting flights. The tournament allows for unlimited re-entries until the start of Level 11, which should be around 2:15pm today. Thus, it is very likely that likely that last year’s field of 1,171 players will be eclipsed. With the entry totals as they stand right now, the guaranteed prize pool of $ 3 million has already been surpassed.

Day 2 is about to start at the Borgata in Atlantic City as the players prepare for the continued long grind to the final table.

2017 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open – Day 1A Chip Leaders

Olivier Busquet – 185,000
James Dorrance – 181,000
Joel Gola – 177,000
Frank Calderone – 175,700
Michael Hahn – 162,000
Stephen     Deutsch – 160,100
Lily Kiletto – 150,500
Randolph Pearson – 148,000
William Horan – 145,100
Adam Geyer – 142,800

2017 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open – Day 1B Chip Leaders

Jean Gaspard – 216,900
Shankar Pillai – 209,200
Ryan Smith – 185,400
Asher Conniff – 180,400
Abe Aboukhalil – 177,700
Adnan Mohammad – 152,700
Tony Tran – 144,500
Aaron Overton – 143,800
Nicholas Immekus – 143,700
Barry Leventhal – 140,600

2017 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open – Combined Day 1 Chip Leaders

Jean Gaspard – 216,900
Shankar Pillai – 209,200
Ryan Smith – 185,400
Olivier Busquet – 185,000
James Dorrance – 181,000
Asher Conniff – 180,400
Abe Aboukhalil – 177,700
Joel Gola – 177,000
Frank Calderone – 175,700
Michael Hahn – 162,000

Poker News Daily

PokerStars Introducing “Seat Me” to Combat Bumhunters

 PokerStars Introducing “Seat Me” to Combat Bumhunters

If you play online poker or have at least been keeping up with poker news, you know that over the last few years, online poker rooms and networks have made a concerted effort to make their games more appealing to recreational players by implementing features that strip away advantages from professionals (aside from actual poker skill). PokerStars announced last week that it is continuing that trend by introducing “Seat Me,” a drastic change to its ring game lobby that will eliminate some of the pros’ and heavy grinders’ more predatory practices.

“With so many customers who trust our products, we have to be particularly vigilant against tools or strategies used to gain an unfair advantage,” wrote PokerStars Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Severin Rasset in a blog post. “We also need to be able to ensure that we create enforceable and sustainable policies, making sure that players who do follow the rules are not at a disadvantage.”

As such, what PokerStars is doing, starting soon with a test run on PokerStars.es (Spain), is removing the ability of players to hand-pick their tables. Instead, when looking to sit down and play a ring game, players will simply select their stakes, game type, and maximum number of players and the client software will seat them automatically. It essentially mimics the experience of going into a live poker room and having a host show you to a seat, as Rasset puts it.

The goal of Seat Me is to eliminate “bumhunting,” one of the poker community’s most reviled seating practices. Bumhunters are very experienced players, usually pros or serious amateurs, who specifically look to sit down and play against players they know are weak. They will use datamined hand histories to pull up statistics on players at the tables and usually feed those into “seating script” software that finds the players and automatically seats the user with them. The user doesn’t have to do a thing – the software does it all.

At heads-up tables, bumhunters will often sit at multiple tables, waiting for their prey. If someone who isn’t weak sits down, the bumhunter won’t join the game, which only serves to clog up tables.

This predatory behavior is seen as bad for business, as these skilled players often drain lesser opponents of money quickly. Several poker rooms have found that the quicker a new player loses their money, the less likely they are to return. The poker rooms need these lower skilled players because they lose money in the long run and end up re-depositing – as long as they are enjoying themselves – fueling the poker economy. Players who feel like they are being targeted, though, won’t have fun and won’t come back.

Seat Me should serve to eliminate seating scripts, as players won’t be able to choose their seats in cash games. Naturally, this also gets rid of bumhunting. In order to prevent players from joining a table and then not playing if they don’t see any weaker players, Seat Me will also institute time penalties for players who jump from table to table looking for targets or who routinely refuse to play certain opponents.

As mentioned, Seat Me will first be tested on PokerStars’ Spain site, PokerStars.es and if the test is successful, it will be rolled out to the rest of the PokerStars sites.

Poker News Daily

Shurane Vijayaram Defeats Ben Heath Heads Up, Wins Aussie Millions Main Event

 Shurane Vijayaram Defeats Ben Heath Heads Up, Wins Aussie Millions Main Event

Coming into the final table with a sizeable chip lead, Shurane Vijayaram rode that stack to battle the second biggest chip stack to start the day – that of Ben Heath – for the championship of the 2017 Aussie Millions Main Event. In the end, that advantageous stack played to Vijayaram’s advantage in his eventual victory.

The seven men that came to the table on Sunday afternoon at the Crown Casino in Melbourne were the survivors from the 725-player field that started the tournament just a week ago. Along with Vijayaram and Heath, Jeff Rossiter was a threat for the title with his 3.105 million chip stack; Rossiter was looking to improve on his third-place finish in this tournament from 2011. Tobias Hausen (2.995 million), David Olson (2.35 million) and Luke Roberts (1.305 million) were in the mix, but at the bottom of the standings – but with many eyes on him – was Fedor Holz, looking to rise from this situation and add to his bounty from the Aussie Millions after yesterday’s third place finish in the $ 100,000 Challenge.

The start was slow for the players as the table looked to find its dynamic. Holz survived two all in moves – one time chopping with Olson when both held A-J – as Roberts dropped into the basement. It would take almost 30 hands before the first casualty of the final table would occur and it would be one of these two men.

On Hand 29, Hausen would raise the action to 135K and Roberts decided it was time to make his stand, pushing his remaining 675K in from the small blind. Hausen made the call and was in a bit of trouble, his 10♠ 9♠ facing an uphill climb against Roberts’ A-10. The J-5-J flop kept Roberts in the lead but the two spades opened many more doors for Hausen to take down the hand. The 6♠ on the turn slammed that door on Roberts, leaving him drawing dead. After the formality of the river was dealt – the A♠ – Roberts headed to the door as the seventh-place finisher.

Only a few hands later, six men would become five in a big clash. Heath popped the betting first, raising from under the gun, and Vijayaram called out of the cutoff. Rossiter put the squeeze on with a three-bet on the button, but Olson didn’t hesitate before four-betting the action to 1.3 million. Nearly immediately Heath and Vijayaram sent their cards to the muck, but Rossiter paused to ponder his action. After a few moments, Rossiter made the call and the cards came were turned up.

The battle turned out to be a classic race:  Rossiter’s pocket Queens held the edge over Olson’s Big Slick and the board would provide no salvation for Olson. The Jack-high board kept Rossiter in the lead all the way as Olson left the festivities in sixth place and Rossiter rocketed into the lead over Vijayaram.

Holz’s time at the table ended almost 20 hands after Olson’s departure. Rossiter raised the action and Holz would defend his big blind to see a monochrome 6♠ 3♠ 7♠ flop. Holz would check-raise all in after a Rossiter bet, which was met with an immediate call from Rossiter. Both men had hit the flop, but Holz’s A-6 off suit was behind Rossiter’s A-7, with the A♠ held by Rossiter. The King on the turn and a four on the river would not help Holz, sending the German superstar to the rail in fifth place as Rossiter’s lead grew.

The foursome left then went into a lengthy battle. Everyone except Heath would have a spell as the chip leader before the remainder of the final table went to dinner break and 85 hands would elapse before the next competitor was sent home. The elimination would prove to be the “turning point” of the tournament as it would send Vijayaram into a lead he wouldn’t let go.

On Hand 137, Rossiter raised from under the gun and ALMOST made it around – until Vijayaram moved all in from the big blind. Rossiter called off his chips with pocket sixes and was in the lead pre-flop against Vijayaram’s K-J off suit. The board had different thoughts, however, coming with a King on the flop and a Jack on the river to thoroughly crush Rossiter’s sixes. After a chip count, it was found that Rossiter was the all-in stack, sending him out in fourth place and stacking Vijayaram with a mountain of ammunition.

Once Vijayaram knocked off Hausen in third – his J-10 turning a Broadway straight against Hausen’s A-J – Vijayaram had nearly a 3:1 lead over Heath as they headed to heads up action. The duo jousted for 29 hands, with Heath never drawing significantly closer that the starting stacks but with Vijayaram looking for the right chance to put away a difficult opponent. On the final hand, Vijayaram fired bullets pre-flop and on the flop and turn, but Heath wouldn’t go away in check-calling each bet. With the board reading 6-9-7-3-Q, Heath suddenly woke up with an all-in move, sending a perplexed Vijayaram into the tank.

Literally five minutes passed as Vijayaram rolled the hand over in his mind, trying to figure out if Heath was bluffing or if he simply drew Vijayaram in. As more time passed, Vijayaram finally reached the conclusion that it was a bluff and made the call. Heath’s shoulders slumped as he sheepishly revealed his K-8 off suit straight bluff that didn’t come home while Vijayaram showed pocket fives for the winning pair and a winning hand for the Aussie Millions title.

1. Shurane Vijayaram, $ 1,600,000
2. Ben Heath, $ 1,000,000
3. Tobias Hausen, $ 620,000
4. Jeff Rossiter, $ 440,000
5. Fedor Holz, $ 335,000
6. David Olson, $ 270,000
7. Luke Roberts, $ 210,000

Vijayaram enjoyed a ROI (return on investment) that would make any poker player envious. Vijayaram entered the Aussie Millions Main Event through winning a $ 130 super-satellite to the Main Event, earning more than 12,000% (12,307%, to be exact) ROI. It also was his first ever live tournament cash, per the Hendon Mob database. If he never plays another hand of poker, Shurane Vijayaram can say he once won one of the premiere events on the international tournament calendar.

Poker News Daily

Virginia Senate Passes Poker “Game of Skill” Bill, Future Unknown

 Virginia Senate Passes Poker “Game of Skill” Bill, Future Unknown

In a highly contentious vote, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Senate voted to classify poker as a “game of skill.” The future of the Senate bill? That is unknown, but it opens the doors for a plethora of outcomes.

The vote in the Senate was as close as you can get. After the polling was complete, the issue garnered the same number of votes for each side, 19-19, meaning that Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam’s vote was necessary to break the tie. His “aye” vote for passage cleared the way for the bill to now be considered by the Virginia House of Delegates.

The Senate bill, S1400, was originally introduced by Senator Louise Lucas, who was sure that the bill would get out of the Senate chambers. “I had the law on my side,” Lucas commented before the hearing in the Senate committee that would end up passing. This was the third year in a row that Lucas had proposed such legislation, with the bill in previous years dying in the same committee that passed it in 2017.

The bill itself only changes the language in Virginia statutes regarding its definition of poker as a “skill” game and not illegal gambling. The full bill language is as such: Poker; definition of illegal gambling and charitable gaming; poker games authorized; regulation of poker tournaments. Provides that poker is a game of skill and therefore not illegal gambling. The bill also allows a qualified organization to conduct poker games in conjunction with its charitable gaming activities, but does not allow a charitable organization to conduct poker tournaments. The bill requires the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Charitable Gaming Board to regulate poker tournaments, defined in the bill as a competition organized for the purpose of conducting poker games at one or multiple tables where (i) competitors play a series of poker games, (ii) prizes are awarded to winning players on a fixed or proportional payout basis, and (iii) the total prize amount awarded to all winning players at the event is $ 50,000 or more. Finally, the bill requires poker tournament sponsors to obtain a permit before conducting a tournament and tournament managers and operators to be registered with the Department.

Nowhere in that definition change does it state the future of poker in the state. There are several paths that could be taken in the coming months.

The first is that there could be absolutely nothing done. The Virginia House of Delegates is a notoriously anti-gaming bunch, but of late there has been some changes that the body has allowed. The state offers a lottery, pari-mutuel betting and, in 2016, opened the doors for daily fantasy sports (DFS) inside the state. Whether the House is ready to allow for poker’s decriminalization, however, is unknown.

If the House were to vote through S1400 and Governor Terry McAuliffe (a Democrat) signs it, then several options are available. The opening of casino gaming could be in play as Virginia, with Delaware, West Virginia and Maryland located around it all having some form of casino gaming and/or poker, might be interested in keeping some Virginia residents’ money inside the state. There is also the potential for online poker to come to the fore for the Cavalier State.

Online poker would be the first foray into the industry for the state and they may have the population to make a difference. Virginia, with its estimated 8.4 million residents, is the 12th largest state in the country and is almost the equal of another state that has online casino gaming, New Jersey (8.9 million). Numbers from the barely three-year old New Jersey online casino gaming industry, where there has been over $ 476 million in revenues and $ 71 million in taxes paid by the operators, have been strong even though they were originally overestimated by the state’s Governor, Chris Christie.

This is critical as Virginia legislators look for an injection of funds into the state coffers. In 2014, the state estimated that there would be more than a $ 1 billion shortfall in the budget, with significant cuts potentially on the horizon. Online gaming (if the numbers were like New Jersey’s figures) and casino gaming could be something that Virginia legislators might by eying as a potential to offset the state’s financial woes.

This discussion is quite premature, however, as the bill still must get through the House and get the signature of McAuliffe. Currently there is no discussion planned for S1400 in the House, but that can change quickly. The move to make poker a “skill” game in Virginia may be nothing more than a legal clarification but, if passed, it would open the doors for quite a bit more for the state.

Poker News Daily

Nick Petrangelo Outlasts Mike Watson, Fedor Holz to Win Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge

 Nick Petrangelo Outlasts Mike Watson, Fedor Holz to Win Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge

In a rather rapid final table of five hours, Nick Petrangelo got his 2017 tournament poker season off to a good start by outlasting Mike Watson and Fedor Holz to win the Aussie Millions $ 100,000 Challenge on Saturday at the Crown Casino in Melbourne.

Steffen Sontheimer was the leader of the event with 451,000 in chips as it entered its final day, but that lead was a tenuous one. Hot on his heels were Holz (394,500) and Petrangelo (381,000), with the remainder of the table filled out by Sam Trickett (265,000), Watson (146,000), 2016 Player of the Year David Peters (96,000) and David Steicke (78,500) rounding out the field. With only three players getting paid, the desire to remain at the final table for even the shortest of the stacks was high.

Steicke was looking for that proverbial “double up and go home” early on and he would get that (against Sontheimer), but that would be the highlight of his day. On Hand #5 after Holz had raised and Watson three-bet the action, Steicke pushed all in from the big blind and only found Watson willing to play. Watson’s Big Slick was slightly behind Steicke’s pocket Queens, but the Ace on the flop changed everything in favor of ‘SirWatts.’ A ten on the turn presented more outs for Steicke to a Broadway straight, but the river Ace instead gave Watson trips; left with 5000 in chips, those would go to Holz on the next hand as Steicke went home empty handed in seventh place.

It would take almost two dozen more hands before the next combatant left. Watson was once again the beneficiary as, after raising from the cutoff, Peters would defend his big blind. The 7-2-10 flop brought a check-call from Peters, an action that was duplicated when a Jack came on the turn. The river brought a King and Peters checked for a third time, at which time Watson put Peters to a decision for his tournament life by moving all in. Peters mulled the decision for a lengthy time, even using a ‘time bank’ chip being employed in this tournament, before calling off his stack. Whatever Peters was thinking, he didn’t put together than Watson had rivered the nuts with his Q-9 for a King-high straight. Sending his Q-10 (pair of tens) to the muck, Peters was done in sixth place.

With two more eliminations to the money, the remaining players tightened up a bit. Trickett would double through Sontheimer to put the German on the short stack, but that would be the most action for the next 20-plus hands. On Hand 52, Sontheimer’s short stack became “no stack” when he clashed with Watson.

Sontheimer raised off the button with pocket sevens, only to see Watson three-bet out of the big blind, which Sontheimer called. A 6-8-5 flop saw Watson utilize the c-bet and Sontheimer, pondering his action, burned a ‘time bank’ chip before moving all in. Watson nearly beat Sontheimer into the center with his call, turning up pocket tens for an over pair to the board. Sontheimer, however, was in good shape with his pocket sevens; the open-ended straight draw, along with his pocket pair, gave Sontheimer 10 outs to taking the hand. Alas, another five on the turn and the Queen on the river weren’t one of those 10 outs, sending the start of day chip leader to the rail in fifth place.

Trickett would be next to head home (and without any money) as, on Hand 57, Watson’s A-J picked up a Jack on the turn to leave Trickett drawing dead with his Q-9. With a $ 1.76 million prize pool to split amongst each other, Watson (holding a significant lead), Petrangelo (rather quiet) and Holz (continuing his rush from 2016) took care of their business rather quickly.

Holz would be first to go as he decided to challenge Petrangelo. Holz correctly pushed all-in against Petrangelo (holding A-8 off suit) while holding pocket fours but, after Petrangelo called, the “poker gods” weren’t with him. An Ace showed up on the flop and a second came on the turn, leaving Holz drawing to one of the two fours to vanquish Petrangelo. The river six ended that hope and sent Holz out of the event in third place, but with some money for his efforts. Holz will look to add on to his Aussie Millions trip by playing in the Main Event final table on Sunday.

Down to heads up, Watson held a slight advantage against Petrangelo, one that he would extend to a million chips only 10 hands into play. Petrangelo spent the next 10 hands getting back to even before taking the lead on Hand 96 when he forced Watson to fold the better hand (8-6) by over betting a pot on a 5-6-3-Q-5 board when Petrangelo only held a K-7. Now roughly even, the twosome would keep action to pre-flop as three-bets took down many of the next 20 hands.

With both players playing quite strong, the ending came rather suddenly. After a raise from Watson, Petrangelo (holding a slight lead) called to see an 8-2-5 flop. Both players checked their options to see a seven come on the turn, which brought a 45K bet from Petrangelo and a call from Watson. A Jack on the river presented flush possibilities, but Petrangelo didn’t hesitate in popping 150K into the center. At this point, Watson made a move, waiting until the last possible minute to move all in. After an exact count, Petrangelo made the call and showed J-8 for two pair. All Watson could muster with his gutsy move was an A-4 for only Ace high as Petrangelo took the championship.

1. Nick Petrangelo, $ 882,000
2. Mike Watson, $ 529,200
3. Fedor Holz, $ 352,800

(all amounts in Australian dollars)

With the conclusion of the $ 100,000 Challenge, the Aussie Millions Main Event will return for its conclusion on Sunday. Shurane Vijayaram will take a big chip lead to the final table, one that will also include Holz and Jeff Rossiter amongst its notables. It promises to be an exciting day as the champion of one of the poker world’s most coveted titles – Aussie Millions Main Event champion – will be decided.

Poker News Daily



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