Archive for November, 2017

Bellagio Poker Cage Robbed at Gunpoint

 Bellagio Poker Cage Robbed at Gunpoint

Las Vegas police are still searching for a man who robbed the Bellagio poker room cashier cage at gunpoint Tuesday afternoon. In a brief news conference, Las Vegas Metro Police Capt. John Pelletier said that his department is “comfortable and confident” that they have enough information that will eventually lead to the thief’s capture.

Other than the basics, there is not all that much of a story here, as the robbery was not dramatic. The robber simply went up to the cage, showed a small handgun, demanded the money (presumably), and was given the cash. Cashier staff did not try to resist or stop the man, but instead handed over the money in order to avoid escalating the situation.

Poker aficionado and not-retired actor James Woods was playing poker at the Bellagio at the time and was impressed with how everything was handled.

Bellagio robbery suspect photo 150x150 Bellagio Poker Cage Robbed at Gunpoint

Bellagio Poker Room Robbery Suspect
Source: Las Vegas Metro PD

“@Bellagio staff were fantastic. They surrendered the money quietly, so no customers would get hurt. Nobody even realized it was happening. Excellent staff, cool under pressure,” Woods tweeted.

After receiving the money, the robber left through the north valet, where he had a silver Chevrolet Cruz parked and waiting. Poker legend Doyle Brunson was playing at the Bellagio’s high stakes “Bobby’s Room,” posting on Twitter that the crook would’ve been smart to hit the game:

“The guy that robbed the cashier cage at the Bellagio should have walked south 10 yards and took our money in Bobby’s Room. He got 35k and we had about 200k in cash waiting to put it on deposit. Waitress said she could have hit the guy as he slowly left.”

Las Vegas Metro has since issued a press release with two pictures of the robber taken from security camera footage. He is described as a white male, 30 to 40 years old, between 5’ 7” and 5’ 9” tall, and weighing 160 to 170 pounds. He appeared to be wearing a disguise of black rimmed glasses, a blonde wig, and some sort of partial bandage or mask on his face.

Bellagio robbery suspect photo 2 150x150 Bellagio Poker Cage Robbed at Gunpoint

Bellagio Poker Room Robbery Suspect
Source: Las Vegas Metro PD

A man was in the silver Chevy sedan (Nevada plates 37D147) during the robbery, but Capt. Pelletier told the press that it is believed that the man was being held against his will and was not an accomplice. The unidentified man was able to leave the car before the suspect drove away and is safe. Capt. Pelletier was not willing to classify his presence as a kidnapping yet, as police are still figuring out exactly what happened.

As mentioned, Capt. Pelletier said that he is confident that investigators have enough clues when combining security video, eye witness accounts, the information about the car, and more, that the suspect will be apprehended.

“Those that would commit crimes like this on the Strip will be hunted down and whatever amount of cash he got is not enough to face a lifetime in prison,” Capt. Pelletier said.

Anyone with information that could be helpful is encouraged to call the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Robbery Section at 702-828-3591.

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France, Portugal, Spain Eyeing Early 2018 for Shared Liquidity, Italy Trails Behind

 France, Portugal, Spain Eyeing Early 2018 for Shared Liquidity, Italy Trails Behind

In July, France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain agreed to merge their online poker player liquidity finally doing something positive for poker players after years of each country being ring-fenced from the world. It now appears that Italy may be lagging in its ramp up toward shared player pools and the other countries may start without it.

We don’t know why the four countries decided to separate their players from each other and the rest of world, though one might guess it was something to do with lawmakers thinking their regulations are superior to everyone else’s, so letting players from other countries play in their market would…I don’t know. Whatever.

When the four countries signed their agreement in July, they issued a brief statement:

The 6th of July the French, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian online gambling regulatory authorities signed an agreement concerning online poker liquidity sharing.

This agreement aims at improving cooperation and information exchanges among the authorities to allow the liquidity sharing between licensed online poker operators, fighting the illegal market and fraud, guaranteeing player protection and the respect of the anti-money laundering prescriptions.

The concrete implementation of the sharing will depend on the regulatory requirements of each jurisdiction.

The authorities commit to make their best efforts to enable effective implementation by the end of the year.

As you can see from that last sentence, it was hoped that player pools would merge by the end of this year, but that isn’t going to happen. It now looks like early 2018 is when the borders will open, but it very well may be without Italy for a while.

The problem, according to CasinoNewsDaily.com, is that Italy has not even opened the license bidding process yet. Neither operators seeking to renew their licenses nor those looking to finally gain entry to the Italian online poker market have been able to submit bids and there is no way the process will be completed in time for early 2018 launch. The application process was expected to have opened in September.

Italian poker news site AssoPoker reported that ARJEL, France’s gambling regulatory agency, is definitely pointing at early next year as the target for shared liquidity and that ARJEL president Charles Coppolani has been reaching out to his counterparts in the other countries to see where they stand.

Reports say that France and Spain may launch shared liquidity together first and then Portugal would follow close behind. Italy would hopefully come onboard sooner rather than later, but it needs to get its house in order first.

As one might expect, PokerStars will be involved. In a recent earnings call, Financial Director Brian Kyle said that the world’s largest online poker room plans on being one of the shared liquidity operators. It is currently the only online poker operator that is licensed in all four countries.

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William Hill, Paddy Power Betfair Competing to Acquire CrownBet

 William Hill, Paddy Power Betfair Competing to Acquire CrownBet

Gambling industry consolidation talks have started up again, this time with Australian bookmaker CrownBet as the acquisition target by both William Hill and Paddy Power Betfair. CrownBet is 62 percent owned by Crown Resorts – Crown Melbourne is the host venue of the popular Aussie Millions poker series – which is itself part of James Packer’s gambling empire.

The news of William Hill’s interest in CrownBet broke late last week and a William Hill spokesperson confirmed to financial media that there were “very preliminary discussions” going on between the two companies.

That spokesperson, though, cautioned against anyone getting too excited over a possible deal, saying, “This industry is undergoing consolidation and people in the sector talk to each other all the time. Don’t look too much into this as a firing gun.”

William Hill got into the Australian sports betting market several years ago, when it bought Sportingbet and TomWaterhouse.com. It has not done well in Australia, though. Canaccord Genuity analyst Simon Davies told The Telegraph that the move has been “fairly disastrous.”

Fortunately, Australia only comprises about six to seven percent of William Hill’s sports betting business.

Not long after the word got out about William Hill’s talks with Crown, Reuters reported that Ireland-based Paddy Power Betfair was also courting the Australian company. No further details have been forthcoming.

Both Paddy Power Betfair and William Hill have been involved in the gambling industry’s consolidation in recent years. Paddy Power and Betfair, once rivals, agreed to a merger in August 2015. Paddy Power owners controlled 52 percent of the company in the deal. It was one of the rare combinations in which the two companies had a strong understanding of the other before the merger took place, as Betfair CEO Breon Corcoran was once COO of Paddy Power.

Edward Wray, co-founder and Chairman of Betfair, told The Financial Times of Corcoran back then, “He knows both businesses inside out. Often when you do a merger, it is 25 per cent known and 75 per cent unknown. This is the other way around.”

William Hill has been very active in the M&A arena. In 2015, the company was thought to be one of the suitors for bwin.party and before that, it attempted to acquire 888 Holdings. William Hill was in talks to merge with Gala Coral, as well, in 2015, but nothing ever happened there. Gala Coral eventually joined up with Ladbrokes.

Last year, in a reversal, 888 Holdings attempted to acquire William Hill, teaming with The Rank Group to do so. William Hill rejected multiple bids by the duo, rankling 888 owner Eyal Shaked, who tweeted, “Pure ego made #WilliamHill reject #Rank and #888 £3.16bn bid and that will be their downfall.”

Also in 2016, William Hill and Amaya Gaming – now The Stars Group, parent company of PokerStars – were in talks about a “merger of equals.” Mads Eg Gensmann and Edoardo Mercadante, co-founders of Parvus Asset Management, William Hill’s largest shareholder, hated the deal, writing to the William Hill board, “We strongly encourage that the board and management stops wasting valuable time and shareholder resources pursuing this value-destroying deal.”

Eventually, talks were canceled. Stay tuned to find out if William Hill finally finds a merger partner.

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Senators Graham, Feinstein Once Again Ask DOJ to Ban Online Poker

 Senators Graham, Feinstein Once Again Ask DOJ to Ban Online Poker

It has been a while since we heard from Senator Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.) about trying to ban online poker in the United States, so I suppose it was about time for him to try to revive his dead horse. Last week, Graham and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA) sent a letter to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, asking him to reverse the Wire Act clarification issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2011, a decision which would effectively make online gambling completely illegal in the U.S.

As readers may remember, the Wire Act was designed more than 55 years ago to curtail organized crime by making sports betting over phone lines illegal. For whatever reason, decades later, the Department of Justice interpreted it to include all gambling over the internet. In late 2011, the OLC clarified that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting, thus officially opening the door for states to launch their own online gambling industries.

Sen. Graham has introduced billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) multiple times, trying to get the OLC’s ruling reversed, but it largely hasn’t been taken too seriously by lawmakers. Thus, it’s time for another approach.
As one would expect, the letter is mostly bullshit. For example, one paragraph states:

The DOJ opinion had the practical effect of repealing legislation Congress carefully and thoughtfully enacted in 2006 to ban internet gambling – legislation developed over seven years and crafted based on assurances from DOJ at that time that internet gambling was barred by the Wire Act and other federal criminal laws.

I’m not going to bother parsing every word, but suffice to say that the UIGEA – the law referred to there – was not “carefully and thoughtfully enacted.” It was, instead, attached to a must-pass SAFE Port Act and snuck through in the middle of the night with virtually no debate.

The letter goes on to use the “won’t anyone think of the children” scare tactic that we have heard a million times and again cites an old FBI letter that states, “[o]nline casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes” like money laundering. Of course, that letter is always misrepresented, as the concerns it addresses have to do with unregulated gambling, not legal, properly regulated online gambling.

Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas skewered the letter in a statement, saying:

If they were handing out awards for Congressional letters, this one would win “most misleading” in a landslide. Aside from the statement that Pennsylvania authorized online gaming and other states are considering it, there is nary a fact contained with the letter’s five paragraphs. Congress has given express authority to states to regulate igaming, a detail that Senators Graham and Feinstein repeatedly ignore. Moreover, they continue to misrepresent and almost decade old FBI letter that does not address the realities of regulated online gaming. I suppose it’s easier to conflate reality with their own bias to continue making the same points, than actually own up to the fact that regulated igaming is responsible public policy.

The PPA posted the entire letter, which can be read here.

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Sam Greenwood Enjoys Trip to the Caribbean, Wins partypoker MILLIONS Caribbean Poker Party Main Event

 Sam Greenwood Enjoys Trip to the Caribbean, Wins partypoker MILLIONS Caribbean Poker Party Main Event

Normally when people take a trip to the Caribbean, they are going for the change in weather. Canadian poker pro and World Series of Poker bracelet winner Sam Greenwood’s trip to the 2017 Caribbean Poker Party presented by partypoker might have started out as a pleasure trip, but Greenwood quickly made it a profitable business trip in cashing in two big tournaments and winning a third, the $ 5000 MILLIONS Main Event.

Last week, Greenwood was taking part in the first event of the tournament, the $ 10,000 High Rollers event with a $ 1 million guaranteed prize pool. Out of the 103-player field, Greenwood would make the final table with Jonathan Little, Kenny Hallaert, Pascal LeFrancois and Steffen Sontheimer, just to name a few of the competitors. Greenwood worked his way to the final three before departing in third place for a payday of $ 124,100.

That wasn’t enough for Greenwood. A couple of days later, Greenwood was back in the saddle for the $ 25,000 Super High Roller event on the MILLIONS schedule. The 43-entry field was perhaps a bit deficient in numbers, but it wasn’t deficient in the quality of players. This time around, Greenwood would outlast fellow final table finishers Sam Trickett, Adrian Mateos, Rafael Moraes and Sontheimer to reach heads up against Christopher ‘Big Huni’ Hunichen. After an extensive heads up battle, Greenwood would succumb to Hunichen’s aggression and finish in second for a $ 242,750 payday.

Greenwood must have figured that the “third time was the charm” because he dived into the $ 5000 MILLIONS Main Event and its $ 5 million guaranteed prize pool. 12 players came back on Saturday looking to take the $ 1 million prize for winning the tournament. Differing from his previous forays into the High Roller tournaments, Greenwood (193.9 million) was the massive chip leader as the penultimate day of the tournament began. Way back in the rearview mirror were such players as Jonas Gjelstad (117.7 million), Jason Koon (93.8 million), Felipe Ramos (77.8 million) and Preben Stokkan (99 million), who won the $ 10K High Roller that Greenwood was a part of.

Gjelstad rocketed out of the gate, knocking off two players to crack the 200 million mark (249.5 million, to be exact) as the remaining nine men came together for the final table. Gjelstad would prove to be as adept at giving up the chips as taking them as Stokkan took two pots from his fellow countryman to take over the lead himself. By the time the first break of the day came, there were still nine players left but they were getting ready to mix it up.

That ability to “mix it up” almost cost Greenwood the tournament. Although he would get back into the mix by flopping a straight against Damian Lomza, he would double up the dangerous Andrey Shatilov into the lead and drop to only 28 million chips. Playing a K-9 off suit off the button and seeing Shatilov defend his big blind with a Q-J, Greenwood fired on every street of a Q-5-2-8-7 board, with Shatilov calling every street to take the humongous pot.

That was the last misstep that Greenwood would make. He doubled through Jiri Horak and Stokkan to get back to 143 million chips, then cracked the 200 million mark again against Shatilov. Shatilov, however, was giving everyone action as he eliminated Udo Erlei in seventh and busted Horak in fourth to maintain his stack.

Greenwood would continue to chase Shatilov, bringing the action to two players after knocking off Gjelstad in third. After coming back from a dinner break, Shatilov’s 598 million stack dwarfed that of Greenwood (449 million), but the Canadian went right to work. On the first hand of heads up, Greenwood sniffed out a Shatilov bluff to take the hand and the lead from the Russian and he wouldn’t look back. Although it would take slightly more than an hour, Greenwood would eventually emerge as the champion when his pocket Kings held up over Shatilov’s 9♣ 8♣ after the flop came 8-6-4-3-5.

1. Sam Greenwood, $ 1,000,000
2. Andrey Shatilov, $ 650,000
3. Jonas Gjelstad, $ 450,000
4. Jiri Horak, $ 315,850
5. Felipe Ramos, $ 220,000
6. Preben Stokkan, $ 150,000
7. Udo Erlei, $ 100,000
8. Dan Dizenzo, $ 70,000

Just for the record, Greenwood in one week finished third, second and first in three consecutive tournaments, bringing in a neat $ 1,366,850 for his efforts. It would push the annals of poker history to find someone who had a similar run of tournaments during the same festival, let alone the same week.

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