Archive for January, 2017

Georgia State Senator to Introduce Casino Authorization Bill

 Georgia State Senator to Introduce Casino Authorization Bill

As a Georgian for 18 years now (dear lord, I’ve lived here a long time), I have never been able to play poker in a proper casino without flying across the country or driving several hours to a neighboring state. No, this hasn’t ruined my life or anything – I can do without just fine – but you know, it would be nice, wouldn’t it? With a lot of luck, there is a chance that I may get what I’ve been searching for within the next few years, as State Senator Brandon Beach told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he will soon be introducing a pair of bills that would legalize casino gambling in Georgia.

This has been tried before, as recently as within the last couple years, and while lawmakers gave it more serious thought than one might have expected here in the Bible Belt, the bills ultimately didn’t get very far. According to an AJC poll, though, 56 percent of registered Georgia voters support casino legalization, so maybe there is hope.

There are a number of reasons why Beach and others want casinos in the state. Without even knowing anything about Georgia, you might guess that they want to keep residents from spending their gaming dollars out of state, and you would be correct. Atlanta, specifically, is also a big convention city, so having a resort-style casino here could help draw more events, or at the very least, get visitors to go out and plunk down some cash during their downtime.

The biggest goal for gambling proponents, though, is to help fund the state’s HOPE Scholarship, which was created in 1993. The HOPE Scholarship helps students who earn a 3.0 GPA in high school pay for tuition at in-state colleges and universities (private or public). Over the years, it has become such a popular program that it has become harder and harder to actually fund the scholarships. Dollar awards have decreased and recently, “academic vigor” standards have been put in place to make it more difficult to earn the scholarship.

The HOPE Scholarship, along with public pre-K programs, is funded by the Georgia lottery. The idea with casino gambling is to divert most of the gaming tax revenue to the HOPE Scholarship to fill in the gaps that the lottery isn’t covering anymore.

In Beach’s plan, Georgia would be divided into four zones: from I-20 (which runs through the middle of Atlanta east to west) to the north, Coastal Georgia, Southern Georgia, and Middle Georgia. The bill would authorize the construction of five resort-style casinos and one horse track. The “primary” casino would require a $ 1 billion investment from the operator and would have to be built within 25 miles of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The other four casinos would require $ 250 million investments and would have to be built at least 50 miles away from the primary casino. The horse track would require a $ 125 million investment.

The casinos would be taxed 12 percent of gross gaming revenue.

It will take quite an effort to get this to pass. Two-thirds of both the House and Senate will have to vote for it, just to get to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk and he is against casino gambling. If it gets all the way through, it will then be put on the 2018 ballot for residents of the state to vote upon. And then, even if Georgians give it the ok, the cities and counties that want a casino will have to let their local residents vote on whether or not they want a casino neighbor. Only after all of that can construction start.

Poker News Daily

2017 Aussie Millions Main Event: Shurane Vijayaram Leads Final Table That Includes Fedor Holz

 2017 Aussie Millions Main Event: Shurane Vijayaram Leads Final Table That Includes Fedor Holz

Six days of competition have taken the Aussie Millions Main Event from its original field of 725 players all the way to the final table and the seven men who will contend for the title. On Sunday at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Shurane Vijayaram will come back with a massive lead over a field that has Jeff Rossiter and Fedor Holz in the mix.

36 players came back to action at the start of Day 4 on Friday with Mustapha Kanit holding the lead with his 2.318 million chips and Day 2 chip leader Jennifer Tilly still quite viable on her 704,000-chip stack. Rossiter and Holz were amongst the more “known” players that also included Seth Davies and former World Poker Tour champion Brian Altman, while Vijayaram was jousting with Tilly on his 745,000 mountain of chips. Altman, unfortunately, was the player who came in on the shortest stack of all. He would depart on the very first hand, with his 54K in chips going over to Haorang Zhang when his 8♣ 7♣ was summarily crushed by Zhang’s A♣ K♣ after an unnecessary Ace on the flop and a King on the turn left him drawing dead.

The first player to make a move on the day was Rossiter, who cracked the 1.2 million chip mark when he got Matthew Wakeman to lay his hand down on a J♣ 2♠ 5♣ 9♣ flop and turn. As he was using those chips to dispatch of Ruzman Hussan, Vijayaram was starting his march. Vijayaram knocked off Steven Swalling, his flopped set of Queens holding on against the K-Q of Swalling, and soon Vijayaram joined Rossiter over the million-chip mark after eliminating Frank Pezzaniti in a classic race situation (Vijayaram’s Big Slick “only” hitting quad Aces against Pezzaniti’s pocket Jacks).

Tilly was never able to get anything going on Day 4, her chips slipping through her fingers until she doubled up through Vijayaram and STILL only had 132K in chips. The World Series of Poker bracelet holder would get her final chips in good, but it would be for naught. After calling a limp from Vijayaram off the button and Nino Marotta in the big blind checking his option, the 4-8-5-4 flop and turn saw Tilly jam after it was checked to her and only Marotta called. Tilly was in good shape to double with her J-4 against Marotta’s 6-4 off suit, but the river seven gave Marotta a straight to top the Academy Award nominee and send her home in 29th place.

A similar story could be told for Kanit who, along with Tilly, was around the top of the leaderboard for much of the tournament. He was able to get up over the three million mark when the tournament was redrawn with three tables left (18 players), but it was a gentle slide from that point onward. Gradually his pursuers drew closer and, with new chip leader Vijayaram at his table, Kanit would send a 1.6 million chunk of his stack to him when Kanit could not call a Vijayaram all in on what seemed to be an innocent 8-2-J-5 flop and turn. That hand saw Kanit’s stack fall under two million, but his next competitive hand decimated him.

After raising from the cutoff, Kanit saw Ben Heath three-bet the action off the button. After both blinds stepped aside, Kanit casually made the call and the twosome saw a Q-8-A flop. Heath c-bet his fortunes to the tune of 185K and, after some study, Kanit made the call. Both players checked the Queen on the turn and, after a King hit the river, Kanit tried to check again, but Heath was having none of it. Heath pushed all in for 1.275 million (slightly less than what Kanit held) and, agonizing over the decision, eventually would call. It was the proverbial “crying call” as Heath turned up a J-10 for the rivered straight against Kanit’s Aces up (A-10), sending Kanit to the basement with 315K in chips. After a double through Vijayaram, Kanit’s final chips would end up in the stack of David Olson as Kanit exited in 11th place.

It would take a quick 20 minutes to determine the final table. Koray Aldemir, Nicholas Wright and Peter Aristidou (oddly enough, the player who eliminated Aldemir) would depart rapidly in tenth through eighth places respectively, with Aristidou sending his stack to Vijayaram to give him a monster stack and set up the final table showdown:

1. Shurane Vijayaram, 7.47 million
2. Ben Heath, 3.27 million
3. Jeff Rossiter, 3.105 million
4. Tobias Hausen, 2.955 million
5. David Olson, 2.35 million
6. Luke Roberts, 1.305 million
7. Fedor Holz, 1.165 million

You might have noticed that Holz snuck into the final table as the short stack. Woe is the final table if he can get some chips in his hand, which is a good possibility as he is surrounded by them with the stacks of Heath (on his immediate right) and Vijayaram (on his immediate left).

The final table of the 2017 Aussie Millions will take place on Sunday as the $ 100,000 Challenge is scheduled to take the stage on Saturday. Continuing his massive heater from 2016, Holz is also a part of that tournament, so it could be a very profitable weekend for the German superstar. It promises to be an action-packed weekend of poker “Down Under” as the 2017 Aussie Millions reaches its conclusion.

Poker News Daily

Official Schedule for 2017 World Series of Poker Announced

 Official Schedule for 2017 World Series of Poker Announced

Just in time for everyone to make their plans, officials of Caesars Entertainment have announced the official schedule for the 48th Annual World Series of Poker.

Once again to be held at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, this year’s schedule will run from May 30 to July 17 and offer whatever is the fondest dream of a poker player. Cash games will run 24/7 inside the Rio’s massive Convention Center (where the Amazon, Brasilia and Pavilion rooms are located) and the steady stream of tournaments will keep the most dedicated tournament junkie happy. Those factors were in the thoughts of Caesars and WSOP officials when putting together the 2017 roster of events.

“The focus of the schedule remains squarely on two core principles: the biggest prize pools possible and diversity in offerings to provide something for everyone,” said Jack Effel, the WSOP’s Tournament Director who is working his 13th WSOP and marking his 20th year in poker, during the announcement of the festival schedule.  “The 48th running of the globe’s biggest poker series promises to deliver on these core principles and ensure another action-packed summer at the Rio.”

There are several new events on the 2017 schedule but, in some ways, they aren’t necessarily new. For example, there will be a $ 10,000 “Tag Team” tournament on the schedule. This tournament features teams of 2-4 players who can, at any point in the tournament, swap out for a teammate in the event. There was a $ 1000 event last year (won by Doug Polk and Ryan Fee) – and the event, known as a “mixed doubles” tournament, was held from 1979 to 1982 and featured such champions as Doyle Brunson and Starla Brodie (the inaugural winners) and David Sklansky and Dani Kelly (the 1982 champions) – but the $ 10,000 entry fee will ramp up the drama for poker fans.

Looking to get as many players to the felt as possible, a $ 350 No Limit Hold’em event called “The Giant.” This tournament will have five unlimited rebuy flights – June 9, 16, 23, 30 and July 7 – and the survivors of each flight will receive a minimum cash payday. Then those five flights will combine into one Day 2 field on July 8 and play it off for the bracelet.

Add in a $ 333 tournament with a $ 333,333 guaranteed prize pool (an official event), a “mixed big bet” tournament (featuring such disciplines as Pot Limit Omaha, Five Card Draw and Pot Limit Triple Draw), a $ 111,111 “High Roller for One Drop” and the usual suspects – The Colossus III, the Millionaire Maker and other special WSOP only events – and poker players will not want for action this summer in Las Vegas.

What is the attraction for literally thousands, however, is the $ 10,000 WSOP Championship Event. This year, the tournament is scheduled to begin on July 8 (Saturday) with the first of three-Day Ones. For those able to tiptoe through the minefield that will be whatever Day Two they play (either July 11 or July 12), they will be a part of the combined field that will come back on July 13 for Day Three action. Something that is intriguing about the 2017 schedule is that there is no mention of the “November Nine” (that is, there are no dates set out for the players to return in the information provided by Caesars and WSOP officials); IF that is still a part of the plan, that will be determined on July 17 and, if not, then we will have poker’s next World Championship on that date.

“This 2017 schedule reflects our continuing goal to broaden poker’s appeal and encourage first timers and recreational players to come experience the WSOP for themselves,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart.  “With the new $ 365 buy-in “The Giant” anchoring Friday nights, alongside a tent pole event awarding millions every weekend, we believe we have the offering to be well worth the trip.  Plus, for the serious and high-stakes player, we remain committed to having the most diverse schedule of events of any tournament in the world.  Whatever your game or bankroll, let the bracelet chase begin.”

For more information about the 2017 World Series of Poker schedule or to plan your stay at the Rio (should you make that call), visit the official WSOP homepage for more information.

Poker News Daily

2017 Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge: Germans Steffen Sontheimer, Fedor Holz Lead Final Table

 2017 Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge: Germans Steffen Sontheimer, Fedor Holz Lead Final Table

After a bit of a fitful start, the $ 100,000 Challenge got off the ground earlier this week at the 2017 Aussie Millions. On Saturday at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, the final seven men will return to action to determine a champion in the tournament.

This event was supposed to have coincided with the start of the $ 10,000 Main Event but, due to some apprehension of the players (some were in Day 1A of the Main Event and some weren’t sure they wanted to pony up that much if there weren’t going to be enough players to make it worth their while), the start date was moved to Monday to accommodate them. Additionally, Crown officials chopped the juice in half for the event, giving a bit of discount to those wanting to take part. Still, the players didn’t initially flood the tournament floor.

When the tournament kicked off only eight men were up for battle but, before the end of Level 2 (and the cutoff for the discounted juice offer), five more came to make it a two-table tournament. Once such stragglers as Sam Trickett and some re-entries (that’s right…this was an unlimited re-entry tournament), a grand total of 18 entries were taken in. The resulting prize pool of $ 1.764 million will be divvied up between the top three finishers, with the winner earning a neat $ 882,000 for their efforts (the tournament, with its low number of entries, will NOT give Player of the Year points to any calculator).

Such players as Rainer Kempe, Dan Shak, Ben Tollerene, Sam Greenwood and Mikita Badziakouski (in for two bullets) were among those that weren’t a part of the scene when the tournament closed in on the “official” final table. Once Trickett ended the day of Bryn Kenney and Alexandros Kolonias saw his tournament end at the hands of 2016 Player of the Year David Peters, the final seven men decided to call the action and come back to play for the title at a later time.

1. Steffen Sontheimer, 451,000
2. Fedor Holz, 394,500
3. Nick Petrangelo, 381,000
4. Sam Trickett, 265,000
5. Mike Watson, 146,000
6. David Peters, 96,000
7. David Steicke, 78,500

Undoubtedly all of these players are well-versed in High Roller tournaments, but you have to have some ammunition to be able to fight these wars. Thus, it will be tough for Peters or Steicke to make a run at the title. It seems that Holz is still on his heater from 2016, but the trio of Petrangelo, Trickett and Watson can’t be counted out. Sontheimer has a limited resume on the Hendon Mob database (only 14 results for a little over $ 500K in earnings), but if he’s either found the backing to play in this event or has the pockets to run with the “big dogs,” he’s got to be respected.

Because many of these players were either already in the Aussie Millions Main Event (such as Trickett) or played one of the other Day Ones in the event, the tournament was also put on hold until as late as possible – which turned out to be Saturday – to allow for these gentlemen to be able to concentrate completely on the $ 10K tournament. When they do come back to the table, the action will be a part of Jason Somerville’s live-streaming efforts on It should be an exciting finale not only to the $ 100,000 Challenge but also to the Aussie Millions.

Poker News Daily

Virginia Poker Bill Passes Senate Committee, Full Senate Vote Coming

 Virginia Poker Bill Passes Senate Committee, Full Senate Vote Coming

Facing increased competition from surrounding states, the Commonwealth of Virginia appears to be slowly making its way toward legalizing at least some sort of brick-and-mortar gambling. On Monday, a bill which would legalize poker and authorize the regulation of poker tournaments passed through committee. The bill will likely be voted upon this week.

The bill, S 1400, was introduced by Senator Louise Lucas about two weeks ago. Its first order of business it to legalize poker by declaring it a game of skill. Currently, the state law is a bit murky in this area:

“Illegal gambling” means the making, placing or receipt of any bet or wager in the Commonwealth of money or other thing of value, made in exchange for a chance to win a prize, stake or other consideration or thing of value, dependent upon the result of any game, contest or any other event the outcome of which is uncertain or a matter of chance, whether such game, contest or event occurs or is to occur inside or outside the limits of the Commonwealth.

As you can see, it doesn’t really specify if illegal gambling only requires an element of chance or if it must be entirely based on chance. Poker, as we know, definitely involves plenty of luck, but it also requires much skill.

Thus, Sen. Lucas is looking to amend the law to include the following sentence: “Poker games shall be deemed games of skill, and nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to make any such game illegal gambling.”

Beyond that, the bill also allows for poker tournaments to be held in the state, giving the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services the power to control said tournaments and the Charitable Gaming Board to set the rules and regulations. Pages of nitty-gritty about tournament regulations are included, as well.

On Monday, the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee voted on the bill, passing it – just barely – by an 8-7 vote. The voting was split almost entirely down party lines, but it was one Republican, William DeSteph, Jr., who crossed the aisle and swung the vote to “Yes.” Here is a breakdown of the voting:


George Barker
William DeSteph, Jr.
Adam Ebbin
Marnie Locke
Monty Mason
Jeremy McPike
Scott Surovell
Jennifer Wexton


Richard Black
Siobhan Dunnavant
Bryce Reeves
Frank Ruff
Glen Sturtevant, Jr.
David Suetterlein
Jill Vogel

From here, the bill goes back to the entire Senate for three readings on three separate days. The first, basically a formality where it gets put on the calendar, happened on Wednesday without a single “no” vote. The next reading gives Senators an opportunity to propose amendments. If all amendments are approved or none get proposed (there was a one-word amendment added by the committee, so it doesn’t seem like there will be much going on in the amendment department), the third reading is when the real Senate vote takes place, the one where the entire bill gets the thumbs up or thumbs down.

If the vote is to be held this week, that means the second reading would have to be on Thursday and the third reading, with the vote, would be on Friday.

If the Senate approves the bill, it will move on to the House.

Poker News Daily