Archive for July, 2017

Poker Central Introduces Poker Masters Tournament Series

 Poker Central Introduces Poker Masters Tournament Series

The ARIA Resort & Casino has seemingly become the place to go in Las Vegas for a big tournament series if one can’t or does not want to play in the World Series of Poker at the Rio. And in a bit of unheralded news from a couple weeks ago – perhaps overshadowed by the WSOP and Poker Central’s need to promote its new subscription streaming service, PokerGO – Poker Central has announced that it will launch a new high stakes tournament series at the ARIA in September. The Poker Masters will run for a week, from September 13th through September 20th.

Unlike many week-long poker festivals that try to fit in as many tournaments as possible, the Poker Masters will consist of just five events, but that is because of the hefty price tag on each: four $ 50,000 buy-in events and one $ 100,000 buy-in event.

The $ 50,000 tournaments will all permit one re-entry per player and, as an incentive to get players to commit to playing, Poker Central and ARIA will not charge a rake to anyone who registers “on time.” Late entries and re-entries will be subject to a rake.

And then, anyone who plays in all four $ 50,000 tournaments will be able to enter the $ 100,000 “Main Event” rake free.

“Poker Masters is a testament to PokerGO’s commitment to deliver the highest quality live poker programming,” said Joe Kakaty, president of Poker Central, in a press release. “We look forward to continually expanding our live event offering throughout the year to provide our subscribers the opportunity to watch the best content the game has to offer.”

The Poker Masters tournament series will implement a 30-second shot clock “per hand” (though one would assume this means “per action”) and every player will have three 60-second time banks per day. This is similar to Action Clock that the World Poker Tour just announced, though the WPT structures its time banks a bit differently.

In a nod to the annual Masters golf championship in Augusta, Georgia, the Poker Masters (the name can’t be a coincidence) will also be awarded one player the Poker Masters Purple Jacket, designed by Waraire Boswell.

The player who earns the most money across all five events (no goofy points system here, just pure money) will receive the Purple Jacket.

“We have hosted a number of successful high-stakes tournaments at ARIA and are looking forward to our upcoming Poker Masters event this fall,” said Sean McCormack, director of poker operations for ARIA Resort & Casino. “Poker Central has been a great partner over the years while leading the industry in the production of poker events worldwide.”

The first $ 50,000 event will begin on September 13th, with the other three $ 50,000 events beginning on each successive day. The $ 50,000 tournament will be two-day affairs. The $ 100,000 event will begin on September 18th and last three days. There are no limits on how many people can enter.

The Poker Masters will be streamed on PokerGo every day of the festival, except for September 17th. As this is a Sunday, it may just be that Poker Central decided not to spend money trying to go up against the NFL.

Poker News Daily

“Poker Night in America” Taping Two Television Events in August

 “Poker Night in America” Taping Two Television Events in August

Although it hasn’t been the groundbreaker that many thought it would be, the syndicated poker program Poker Night in America has continued to take its shots. In the month of August, the PNIA cameras will be traipsing the country in broadcasting four tournaments live while also taping cash game events and a “made for television” effort for future broadcast.

The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in Hollywood, FL, kicks off in a couple of days with a unique series of tournaments. Called “The Big 4,” the schedule of the SHRPO features (naturally) four tournaments that will play out simultaneously. Beginning on August 9, a $ 1100 No Limit Hold’em (NLHE) with a $ 500,000 guarantee will kick off the festivities for “The Big 4.” Following that the $ 5250 SHRPO Main Event (with a single re-entry) and a $ 3 million guarantee will open play on August 11.

As these two events play, two more will be started. On August 13, a $ 2650 NLHE (no rebuys) freeze-out tournament with a $ 1 million guaranteed prize pool will hit the felt and the $ 25,500 “High Roller” (re-entry allowed) with a $ 2 million guarantee will start on August 14. These tournaments will be running simultaneously as they lead to the penultimate day.

On August 15, “The Big 4” tournaments will all come to a conclusion. Beginning at noon, all four tournament final tables will be in action, crowning champions on each table. PNIA will be on hand to broadcast the action of all four tournaments over their Twitch channel beginning at 12:30 (Eastern Time). In charge of officiating the festivities will be noted poker commentator Ali Nejad and top professional poker player/analyst Maria Ho; both will be tested on the non-stop action that will be around the Hard Rock that day.

PNIA isn’t going to settle with broadcasting four tournaments at one time. Following the close of “The Big 4,” PNIA is going to feature a “High Roller” Cash Game from August 17-19. Although a player list for the three-day event hasn’t been released yet, PNIA officials are encouraging the public to come to the taping of these games beginning at 3PM (Eastern Time). PNIA will also stream the cash games on their Twitch channel.

Not content to take a break after such a hectic schedule, PNIA will only have a couple of days off before their next stream/taping session. Part of the show will be a unique heads up “made for television” matchup, while the second will be the traditional PNIA cash game.

On August 22, PNIA will travel to Schenectady, NY, and the Rivers Casino Resort for the inaugural “King of the Hill” competition. Four players – 14-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, former WSOP Player of the Year Frank Kassela, and WSOP bracelet winners and online terrors Daniel Cates and Doug Polk – will each put up $ 50,000 of the own money in a heads-up competition. After playing preliminary events on the 22nd, the final heads up match will be held on August 23, with the eventual champion walking off with the championship belt and, perhaps more importantly, the $ 200,000 prize pool in the “winner take all” match.

The preliminary action on August 22 will begin at 3PM (Eastern Time), with the live stream from PNIA starting (on delay) at 3:30. On August 23, the final match will start at 8PM (with the live stream beginning at 8:30) and the public is encouraged to turn out for the action. If people are unable to make it to Rivers Casino, the made-for-television event will be taped for broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.

After the “King of the Hill” has been determined, PNIA will have an “invite only” cash game that will be played over two days. From August 24-25, the seven-handed cash game will also be taped for posterity (and broadcast). As with the Seminole stop, players for the invite only game haven’t been announced yet by PNIA officials.

With all the action in August, it is good to see events – even if they are a “made-for-television” endeavor – outside of the major tournament circuits get some airtime. It is also good to see the cash games featured, something that has been a staple for PNIA. The live streams should prove to be exciting and, once edited for broadcast on the CBS Sports Network, should provide some more nuance beyond the raw feed.

Poker News Daily

Bryn Kenney Holds One, Loses Other Top Slot in POY Races

 Bryn Kenney Holds One, Loses Other Top Slot in POY Races

When it comes to the different Player of the Year races in the poker world, the end of the World Series of Poker is usually the time when everything resets. Players that jump out to a huge lead over the first half of the year are normally reeled in as the WSOP schedule closes. In 2017, this has held true – at least partially.

Prior to the start of the WSOP, poker professional Bryn Kenney was atop the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year leaderboard. Kenney, however, decided to sit out the entirety of the WSOP roster of tournaments (and other events around Las Vegas), which gave the pack a chance to either close on him or pass him. When it comes to the CardPlayer POY rankings, all it did was allow them to get closer.

Kenney, whose last cash was his victory in Monte Carlo at the PokerStars Championship €100,000 Super High Roller event in April, still has had a year that others would sell their mother for. With four tournament wins, 13 final tables and 17 cashes overall, Kenney has racked up 4162 points to the midpoint of the season. Perhaps more importantly for Kenney, he has earned a stunning $ 5,192,223 in just the first four months (remember, he didn’t play at the WSOP) of the season.

The field isn’t content to sign off the POY award to Kenney, however. Justin Bonomo utilized the High Roller tournaments around Las Vegas – the $ 300,000 Super High Roller Bowl and the ARIA Summer High Roller Series – along with a final table at the WSOP to accrue enough points to slide into the second-place slot on the CardPlayer POY. As the second half of the tournament poker year gets ready to kick into action, Bonomo is within shouting distance of Kenney with his 3841 points.

Another player that is slowing down a bit after a blistering start to the year is Nick Petrangelo. Although he cashed in both the WSOP “One Drop” tournament and the Championship Event, Petrangelo was passed by Bonomo for the second slot on the ladder. Petrangelo, who is also one of the serial High Roller cashers, is sitting at 3639 points, good enough for the third-place spot on the charts.

The man who is poker’s newest World Champion, Scott Blumstein, settles into the fourth-place slot on CardPlayer’s board, but his presence also demonstrates another problem with the CardPlayer rankings that Blumstein has absolutely nothing to do with. Blumstein had four cashes prior to the WSOP, but none of those cashes earned any POY points. The 3300 points that Blumstein has are purely derived from his win in the WSOP Championship Event; in NO RANKING should one tournament alone catapult you into the upper echelons of a yearlong pursuit.

For a guy that says he’s “retired” from poker, Fedor Holz seems to be playing quite a bit of cards. At the end of May, Holz won two ARIA Summer High Roller tournaments (both $ 50K buy ins) that added not only 916 points to his POY total but also added $ 748,200 to his poker bankroll. His overall play in 2017 has Holz currently in fifth place with 3272 points as he looks for the POY award that he barely missed last year.

Rounding out the CardPlayer Top Ten rankings are players such as Koray Aldemir (sixth place, 3262 points), 2016 POY champion David Peters (seventh, 3202), Nadar Kakhmazov (eighth, 3080), Adrian Mateos (ninth, 3076) and Andreas Klatt (tenth, 3068).

While Kenney continues to rule supreme on the CardPlayer rankings, the Global Poker Index tells a different story.

Instead of taking some time off during the WSOP, Dario Sammartino was an active participant in the festivities in Las Vegas. Sammartino cashed eight times during the WSOP and four of those tournaments earned him points in the GPI system (the GPI takes the 13 largest point-scoring tournaments of a player to give the player their total points). Those four adjustments – a lower scoring tournament for a higher one – have pushed Sammartino to the top of the GPI Player of the Year rankings with 2928.47 points.

Petrangelo picked up two better tournament finishes, one at the WSOP in the “One Drop” and the other at the Venetian’s Deepstack Extravaganza in maintaining his second-place spot on the GPI board. In tabulating 2881.97 points, Petrangelo came up just short of passing Sammartino for the top slot on the rankings. Perhaps more importantly, however, Petrangelo has some room to work on improving his point totals by getting better finishes whereas Sammartino is hamstrung.

The third-place slot on the GPI POY race is held by a man who didn’t even appear on the CardPlayer rankings. Since the close of the PokerStars Championship in Monte Carlo, Dan Smith has been on a tear in mostly the High Roller events. Two ARIA High Roller wins and two deep runs in WSOP events (the $ 10,000 Heads Up Event and the $ 25,000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament) have pushed Smith into the POY debate (for the GPI at least) with his 2841.98 points.

Kenney finally appears on the GPI rankings in fourth place. Because he didn’t play during the run of the WSOP, he didn’t have a chance to earn more points, but he’s also facing the difficulty of finding events that will give him more points to replace a lower event. With that said, Kenney’s 2840.97 in points will still improve over the last half of the year.

Aldemir rides high on the GPI rankings (fifth place, 2833.85 points), just not as high as he does on the CardPlayer board. For the remainder of the Top Ten, there are players that were already on the CardPlayer rankings and those that weren’t making the cut. Sergio Aido (sixth place, 2809.01 points), Peters (seventh, 2684.63), Ari Engel (eighth, 2652.8 points), Charlie Carrel (ninth, 2618.77) and Bonomo (tenth, 2616.7) all are part of the GPI POY and well set into their slots.

The halfway mark has passed and it is time to head into the second half of the tournament poker season. The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in Hollywood, FL, is going to have a significant impact on the standings as will the restarts of both the PokerStars Championship roster of events and Season XVI of the World Poker Tour. There’s still quite a bit of time for someone to come from the back of the pack to catch these men, but they are the solid contenders for the Player of the Year awards given out in poker.

Poker News Daily

So How Did the Crystal Ball Do on the WSOP Championship Event?

 So How Did the Crystal Ball Do on the WSOP Championship Event?

We’ve had almost a week to digest what was one of the better World Series of Poker Championship Event final tables in recent memory. While it was a wire to wire win for Scott Blumstein, it was still entertaining watching the nine men play it out. It was also great to see them play it out with only a slight delay of two days instead of the three months that the “November Nine” inflicted on the players and the fans – it made for a much better tournament.

But there’s one thing left over from the WSOP Championship Event final table. Just how did the Poker News Daily “Crystal Ball” do in predicting the finishing order of the players? Overall, not too shabby – the Ball got a couple of the spots right and was a bit off on others. Then there’s a couple of players…

Without further ado, let’s review the actual finishing order and look at what the Crystal Ball said.

Ninth Place:  Ben Lamb (Prediction:  Damian Salas)

Coming in on the short stack on Thursday night, Lamb was already facing a difficult climb. But for him to go out on the fourth hand of action was a bit stunning. There are several that argue that he was making the optimum move by moving all in for 18.9 million chips after Jack Sinclair raised off the button. In theory, it is a good argument; Sinclair could have been raising with any two there and, with Lamb holding an A9 , if Sinclair had been making a move he might have pushed his cards to the muck. There are those that state, however, that Lamb didn’t have to make that move at that point (he was around 22 big blinds, not in a push mode) and it was a bit suicidal. Whatever the answer, for the former “November Niner” to depart in such a dramatic fashion – and so early into the action – was a bit surprising.

Eighth Place:  Jack Sinclair (Prediction:  Jack Sinclair)

The Crystal Ball got one right! Sinclair was seriously hurt by the facts that he couldn’t get any cards to work with and dealing with the assault from the larger stacks on his right. Sinclair got the boost from the knockout of Lamb, but there wasn’t much else that he could do after that.

Seventh Place:  Damian Salas (Prediction:  Ben Lamb)

OK, the Crystal Ball just got seventh and ninth places backwards! Salas hung on for much longer than many thought he could and, when he was knocked out, it was in a brutal fashion. After Dan Ott hit his gut shot straight draw on the river to top Salas’ flopped pair of Aces, you could almost see the life ooze out of Salas. He played well, got his money in right and…it just wasn’t meant to be.

Sixth Place:  Bryan Piccioli (Prediction:  Dan Ott)

And here’s one where the Crystal Ball was just a bit off. Piccioli, who came into the final table with the fourth-place stack, just couldn’t get anything going on the final table baize. His chips oozed from his fingers to the point that he was forced to make a move with just an A-7 in his hands. Dan Ott woke up with pocket Kings in the big blind and, after no Ace came on the board, Piccioli’s chips were in Ott’s stack.

Fifth Place:  Antoine Saout (Prediction:  Bryan Piccioli)

Probably the Crystal Ball’s biggest miss of the final table. Saout was constantly pounded on by Blumstein throughout the first two days of final table action because Blumstein’s big stack was on Saout’s right. Repeatedly, Blumstein would put the pressure on Saout and, correctly, Saout didn’t make the call. When Saout did catch Blumstein with a bit of larceny in his heart, Blumstein hit his gut shot straight draw with his 5-3 on the turn and, after Saout made trips on the river, there was no way that Saout was going to get away. Much like Salas, Saout got the money in good and simply got outdrawn.

Fourth Place: John Hesp (Prediction:  John Hesp)

The Crystal Ball strikes again! And what a run by Hesp at the final table. There are plenty of Monday morning quarterbacks who can pick on Hesp’s call while drawing dead against Blumstein as an amateur mistake, but that was part of the charm of Hesp’s approach at the table. Now, we don’t need nine of these when tournament final tables are determined, but it isn’t such a bad thing to see someone like Hesp do well.  

Third Place:  Benjamin Pollok (Prediction:  Antoine Saout)

Other than Blumstein, it is arguable that Pollok played the best of anyone at the final table. There were some laydowns that Pollok made – especially when he had trip nines against the turned boat, nines over tens, of Blumstein – that were outstanding. It just wasn’t meant to be this time around for Pollok, who should be the owner of a WSOP bracelet sooner than later.

Second Place:  Dan Ott (Prediction:  Scott Blumstein)

Ott was the shocker of the 2017 WSOP final table. He made some good moves on the table and, when opportunity came along, Ott seized it. He was able to dispatch of Pollok in that truly stunning three-way all in to bring himself within shouting distance of Blumstein entering heads up, but that’s where the gas ran out. Still, his overall performance is something that he should be proud of.

First Place:  Scott Blumstein (Prediction:  Benjamin Pollok)

That’s not too bad. The Crystal Ball predicted Blumstein to finish second but, once he got the monster stack he did on Night One of the final table after his battle with Hesp, there was little doubt who was going to be the winner of the event. As he sits and counts the $ 8.15 million he received for winning the tournament, Blumstein can now ponder what he wants to do with his poker career.

To wrap it up, two exact hits and a few “one-off” predictions? Seems as though the Crystal Ball was in good shape this summer! Congratulations to all the men who took part and to poker’s newest World Champion, Scott Blumstein.

Poker News Daily

World Poker Tour Changes Tournament Formats, Goes To “Shot Clock” For Events

 World Poker Tour Changes Tournament Formats, Goes To “Shot Clock” For Events

After experimenting with it during its closer of season event for the past two years, the World Poker Tour became the first tournament circuit to shift its tournaments to run on a “shot clock.” Furthermore, the Season XVI events will be played in an eight-handed format, a change from the nine or ten player tables of past years.

The World Poker Tour is proud to be the first to implement the Action Clock across all of its Main Tour events,” said Matt Savage, the WPT’s Executive Tour Director, during the announcement of the rule changes. “Many players, both recreational and professional, have expressed concerns that unnecessary tanking has taken a lot of the fun out of poker. Poker should always be fun, and it was a no-brainer decision to bring the Action Clock to all WPT Main Tour events following its success in the WPT Tournament of Champions and WPT500 Los Angeles. With the Action Clock, more action equals more fun, and who doesn’t want more fun in poker?”

The “Action Clock” will be sponsored by Protection Poker and it will be used at all future WPT Main Tour events. The rule will not be utilized for the entirety of the tournament, however. It will be implemented when the tournament reaches the last table before the money bubble pops and last until the end of the tournament. There are also extensive rules on the options the players will have in making their decisions.

Once the “Action Clock” is implemented, each player will be given four “time extension” chips that are of 30 second value each. The players can use those as they see fit – one at a time or all at once for a critical decision – and if they use them all, they’re gone…for a bit. When the tournament reaches three tables, the remaining players are reset to six “time extension” chips with the same rules in effect. When the six-player final table is determined, those players will receive eight “time extension” chips to go to war with.

“Protection Poker is pleased to expand its partnership with the World Poker Tour to bring the Action Clock to all WPT Main Tour events,” said Cavin Quintanilla, the Chief Executive Officer of Gaming Advancement Marketing Entertainment, LLC, the ownership behind Protection Poker. “The World Poker Tour is poker’s most player-friendly tour, and we look forward to players experiencing the ‘Action Clock’ on a global scale.”

This rule is only being applied to the players one table from the money, but another rule change being implemented by Savage could have even more of an effect on WPT events. Traditionally, the WPT starts at a nine-player table – the industry standard, for the most part – with an occasional step to a 10-player table should the tournament be bigger than normal. For Season XVI and moving forward, the WPT will be working with the casino properties that hold their events and change over to an eight-handed table.

The change to an eight-handed table versus a nine- or even ten-handed table is significant for a couple of reasons. First, the play will move around the table incrementally quicker for the players, perhaps forcing the action in places where it would normally have been more sedate. Second, the move will make for a more comfortable setting for the players, something that is more important than the public might think.

As stated by Savage, the “Action Clock” has been utilized at the WPT Tournament of Champions for its two-year history. The players in the event, former WPT champions all, have stated that its usage was excellent for those tournaments. Two-time WPT champion Daniel Negreanu has been a loud proponent of the usage of a “shot clock” in poker, saying that playing the Tournament of Champions and other “shot clock” events have spoiled him to the point that he doesn’t like playing No Limit Hold’em events without the device.

There are those who aren’t enamored with the idea, however. Some believe that having the “shot clock” will be detrimental to newcomers taking part in WPT events because of the added pressure. There is also the question of its implementation. Poker professional Ari Engel brought this point up (noting he has played in only three tournaments implementing the “shot clock”) in stating on Twitter, “Have not played many…but when I did the clock was not implemented universally fairly. Need A+ dealers for shot clock.”

No indication was given during the announcement that this is only a test period, so it appears that the “Action Clock” rule is now the norm with the WPT. Whether other circuits implement it remains to be seen.

Poker News Daily



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