Posts Tagged ‘2015’

2015 – The Year in Poker, Part 1: Poker and Politics

 2015 – The Year in Poker, Part 1: Poker and Politics

As we approach the final week of the year 2015, it is time to take a look back at some of the great moments of the year and some of the less popular times.

Arguably the dominant story throughout the calendar year was the continued fight in the political spectrum over online poker. The fight was carried out not only on the state front but on the federal one as players for billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson refused to back away from their threats to ban online gaming of any kind, including poker. For once, however, the news by the end of the year turned out in the pro-gaming personnel’s favor.

After the 114th U. S. Congress was seated in early January, the slate was clean for online gaming and poker. A late threat in the throes of the conclusion of the previous Congressional session to insert anti-online gaming legislation into the omnibus bill (a bill that was necessary for the continued function of the government) had been thwarted, but two men continued to push the drive. In the House of Representatives, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz picked up the Adelson baton in reintroducing the “Restoration of America’s Wire Act of 2015” (or RAWA for short), a bill that was essentially the same legislation introduced in 2015 (any bills on the table from the last Congress died with the new Congress being seated), in February. Although he took a bit longer due to his dalliance with a run for the Presidency, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham also introduced RAWA legislation later in the year.

While Graham had his bill in the Senate, it was Chaffetz who was tasked with carrying the water for Adelson in pushing the House version of the bill. Chaffetz conducted a hearing on HR 707 (the nomenclature for the RAWA bill) in March in his subcommittee, the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, and attempted to stack the deck with only anti-online gaming witnesses offering their opinions before adding a neutral witness. Overall, the hearing was derided as an example of crony capitalism and an overreach of the federal government into an area usually reserved for the states.

Chaffetz would not let up, however. After letting RAWA simmer for some time on the back burner, he was able to capture the main stage of a House committee to try once again to push RAWA along its trail. In early December, Chaffetz would have the floor of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – a major committee in the House – and once again attempted to weight the witnesses that he handpicked for testimony. This time around, there was a major opposition to Chaffetz and the RAWA bill from virtually everyone not named “Chaffetz.”

Fellow Republicans took an opposing stance to Chaffetz, something almost unheard of in the House, in deriding Chaffetz’s bill on a litany of reasons. Despite Chaffetz trying to say that the bill was for “state’s rights,” many Republican members of the Committee stepped away from Chaffetz and the bill over cronyism and the 10th Amendment, staking their place as opponents of its passage. Testimony also went against Chaffetz and RAWA as Nevada State Senator Mark Lipparelli – who apparently was supposed to support Chaffetz but was pro-online gaming in that he established the framework in Nevada as one of his last acts as Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, one of three states to have online gaming and/or poker – ripped apart the “straw men” arguments presented by others on the panel. By the end of the day, Chaffetz wasn’t even chairing his own hearing anymore, preferring to slink off into the shadows to lick his wounds.

While the federal threat against online gaming and poker was halted for the moment, the drive in the state-by-state regulation of the industry was stuck in neutral. Since the flurry of states that passed online gaming regulations in 2013 – Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware – there has been little to no movement on the political front in the state capitols. There were some creaking steps forward, however, making 2016 a year where some more states might step into the fray.

California drew attention for the first part of the year as it pondered the question of regulating online poker for its state. There was a committee vote on AB 431 in April that passed by a unanimous vote, but the vote on that bill was simply as a “placeholder” until the relevant parties could come to some agreement (re:  who would be allowed to corner the market) as to how to proceed. By August, the hopes that California – which would be a prominent jewel for online gaming/poker regulation – would join the threesome from 2013 had died out, but hopes were seeded for the coming year.

As California faded into the woodwork, Pennsylvania began to step up as the next likely contender to enter the U. S. online gaming and poker industry. Faced with a sizeable budget deficit and more than five months overdue in presenting a budget for the state, both Republicans and Democrats began to entertain the idea of passing online gaming regulations, looking for an initial boost of about $ 100 million from the licensing of online sites and software providers and a long-term boost from the regulation and taxation of casino games and poker. No more than four bills were presented over the course of the year, with Pennsylvania HB 649 (introduced by Representative John Payne) taking the lead. HB 649 even went as far as being voted out of committee (18-8) and readied for introduction into the Pennsylvania House.

Alas, by December, the hopes of some sort of online gaming regulation being included in the 2016 budget deal had fallen by the wayside. After a great deal of discussion in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, any mention of online gaming and poker being a part of the current compromise to move a budget forward have been removed and tabled for future consideration. It is still the closest that a state has come to passing some sort of legislation regarding online gaming and poker since the 2013 flurry.

Other states, including New York, Massachusetts and Illinois, have brought the subject up in their respective legislative bodies, but no actual legislation has been presented.

On the grassroots front, two men have attempted to move online gaming and poker legislation forward in their respective states. Curtis Woodard and Martin Shapiro have picked up the baton in each of their states (Washington and Florida, respectively), with each of them composing a framework legislation for consideration by politicians. The two advocates were able to speak with some of the legislators that would be important for getting any bill considered and, with some more support from fellow poker players in their states, could see some movement on the subject in 2016.

As the calendar prepares its turn to 2016, the poker community can be pleased that its advocacy has helped to stave off several attacks. It also serves as a reminder, however, that the battle is still going on and the warriors must always be vigilant.

Poker News Daily

Phil Ivey’s 2015 Online Poker Losses Were Absurd

 Phil Ivey’s 2015 Online Poker Losses Were Absurd

Phil Ivey may be a Poker Hall of Famer in waiting, but that doesn’t mean he can’t fail miserably at the poker tables. In the online poker world, this year has been one spectacular failure for the ten-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner. According to, Ivey is far and away the biggest internet cash game loser of 2015.

At this point, you may be saying out loud, “But 2015 isn’t over yet. He still has more than a week to win some money.”

True, but Ivey has left his opponents so far in the dust on the wrong side of the income statement that it would take an obscene week for both him and one of the other top losers for Ivey not to finish the year at the bottom of the money list. Ivey, playing under the screenname “RaiseOnce” on PokerStars, is down an astounding $ 2,481,266 on the year. At 126,026 hands, that’s $ 19.69 per hand. I get upset when I lose that much in a single session.

Speaking of single sessions, HighStakesDB recorded 622 sessions of Ivey’s, so he lost $ 3,989 on average per session. That’s more than two months of my mortgage. If I lost that much in a session, I would order my wife to leave me and take the kids because I clearly have no idea what it means to be fiscally responsible.*

Ivey was almost never in the black on PokerStars in 2015. He started down immediately, finally creeping up to $ 100,000 in the positive in April. He fell back down below breakeven, but then was up again for most of May. After that, though, Ivey tanked, dropping to nearly $ 1 million in the hole in June, where he stayed through the summer. He then had a volatile run into October, at which point he again cratered, almost steadily sinking to the point at which he sits now.

But wait, there’s more! If you thought losing $ 2.5 million in a year was bad, let me drop this bomb on you. That was only on PokerStars. On Full Tilt Poker, using the name “Polarizing,” Phil Ivey lost another $ 1,250,806, bringing his grand total to more than $ 3.7 million in losses. The vast majority of his Full Tilt losses came early in the year, as he was down $ 1.5 million by the second week of March. He sunk lower in May before making a few hundred thousand in gains by June.

On the flip side, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom has had a very nice year on the virtual felts. While he has lost $ 1,367,244 at Full Tilt, he has won $ 3,499,382 on PokerStars, for a net of over $ 2.1 million. Just as Ivey is the runaway loser of the year, Blom is the runaway winner.

*I am not saying Ivey is not fiscally responsible. He’s a poker god who has won countless sums of money in his career, so he can go ahead and lose however much he wants. He’ll always win more in the long run.

Poker News Daily

Kevin Eyster Wins 2015 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic

 Kevin Eyster Wins 2015 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic

Kevin “1sickdisease” Eyster won the 2015 World Poker Tour (WPT) Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio over the weekend, notching the second WPT title of his career. For the win, Eyster pocketed over $ 1.5 million, and a trio of gaudy prizes: a Hublot Oceanographic 4000 watch, a pair of Monster 24K headphones and – get this – an Aurae Solid Gold MasterCard.

Eyster has been one of the most successful poker tournament players in the last several years. On the live tournament side, he has now won over $ 4 million, thanks in no small part to this most recent victory. As mentioned, he now has two WPT titles – the other was in 2013 at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown – to go along with another five WPT cashes. He also has eleven World Series of Poker cashes and one WSOP bracelet.

On the internet side of the ledger, Eyster once ranked as high as fourth in PocketFives’ online tournament rankings. He has over $ 3.5 million in online tourney winnings, about two-thirds of which were earned on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. His most sizable online cash was for $ 333,680 when he won an FTOPS event on Full Tilt in 2013.

Eyster began the six-handed final table in second place with 5.89 million chips. Jack Schwartz was the chip leader with 7.215 and nobody else had more than 2 million. It looked like it might be a two-person race.

What was perhaps Eyster’s most crucial hand of the final table came early on, on just the 25th hand of the final table. According to the report, with five players now remaining, Eyster raised pre-flop to 160,000 and was re-raised by Schwartz to 465,000. Eyster three bet to 1.06 million and after some thought, Schwartz moved all-in. Eyster called another 5.21 million with pocket Aces, much to the dismay of Schwartz, who had pocket Queens. Not that mattered since a Queen never showed up, but Eyster ended up turning a wheel straight to double-up and grow his stack to 10.57 million, giving him more chips than the other four players combined.

From there, though, it was a bit of a struggle for Eyster. He cruised for a while, but then gradually found his stack shrinking. At one point he was under 5 million chips, but after eliminating Ben Yu in third place, Eyster was back up to 9.875 million, 575,000 more than his heads-up opponent, Bill Jennings.

Eyster got off to a fast start, growing his lead to nearly 2-to-1, but Jennings came charging back to completely flip the table. Eyster then did the exact same thing, taking a 12.425 million to 6.75 million chip lead, before closing out the tourney.

Eyster raised to 800,000 pre-flop and Jennings made the call. On the flop of A-9-4, Eyster bet 600,000 and Jennings called. With another 4 on the turn, Eyster bet 975,000 and Jennings, this time, decided to shove for 5.3 million. Eyster made the quick call, showing A-Q for two pair, Aces and Fours, while Jennings flipped over his K-9, giving him a worse two pair, Nines and Fours. Jennings didn’t get any help on the river and Eyster captured his second WPT title.

2015 World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic – Final Table Results

1.    Kevin Eyster – $ 1,587,382
2.    Bill Jennings – $ 929,745
3.    Ben Yu – $ 607,433
4.    Jake Schwartz – $ 412,187
5.    Cate Hall – $ 291,320
6.    Eddie Ochana – $ 226,238

Poker News Daily

2015 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 2: Glantz, Volpe in Close Race for Top Spot

 2015 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 2: Glantz, Volpe in Close Race for Top Spot

Day 2 of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Five Diamond World Poker Classic saw a healthy flock of new players enter before the deadline, creating the second largest Five Diamond of all time. There were about 430 players or thereabouts who participated on Monday’s Day 1, but by the time registration closed prior to Level 9 of Day 2, the total field added up to 639 players. The total prize pool is $ 6,198,300 with $ 1,587,382 going to the winner. The final 63 players will make at least the minimum cash of $ 21,074.

With 244 players remaining, it is a neck-and-neck battle between poker pros Matt Glantz and Paul Volpe for the top spot. Glantz has the tiniest of leads with 239,700 chips compared to Volpe’s 239,100. A number of players with extensive poker success are at the top of the leader board, including Curt Kohlberg, Keven Stammen, Alan Keating, Brian Rast, and Kevin Saul.

The chip leader, Glantz, is one of the most accomplished live tournament players of all time. In October, he won a $ 300 + $ 30 event at the Parx Casino Big Stax XIII festival to eclipse the $ 6 million mark in career earnings. He has 37 World Series of Poker cashes, including numerous final tables, and a dozen WPT cashes. He recently stepped down as ambassador for the Parx Casino poker room after three years.

Glantz is also one of the more outspoken players out there, never afraid to speak his mind on important poker issues. This summer, he found himself embroiled in a mild controversy when he took to Twitter and wrote an op-ed for Bluff to lodge complaints about several things at the 2015 WSOP. He said the new Modiano cards were garbage (echoing the sentiments of many players), the new structures for the low buy-in events were bad for players, the new in-house coverage of the tournaments was mediocre, and the food was sub-standard. He also suggested that the WSOP create a panel of players to help address issues and improve the WSOP. WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel actually blocked him on Twitter, but after receiving heaps of criticism from the poker community, unblocked Glantz and said that he is open to hearing all players’ voices.

Day 3 of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic is currently underway at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and should run for about another hour or so. Expect to see around 100 players return for Day 4.

2015 World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1.    Matt Glantz – 239,700
2.    Paul Volpe – 239,100
3.    Curt Kohlberg – 216,700
4.    Keven Stammen – 214,400
5.    Edward Ochana – 213,200
6.    Michael Aron – 212,600
7.    Steve Foutty – 202,400
8.    Alan Keating – 199,800
9.    Brian Rast – 198,700
10.    Kevin Saul – 192,400

Poker News Daily

2015 WPT Prague Main Event Day 3: Pavel Plesuv Zooms To the Top with Two Tables Left

 2015 WPT Prague Main Event Day 3: Pavel Plesuv Zooms To the Top with Two Tables Left

The third day of the World Poker Tour stop in Prague, the Czech Republic is in the books. After a furious final few moments of action during the day, Pavel Plesuv emerged as the leader with only 18 players (two tables) remaining in contention.

60 players stepped back to the tables in the King’s Casino on Friday, looking to whittle the field down massively. Their first challenge was getting to the final 27 players, who would earn a line on their Hendon Mob resume for their efforts. As the day began, Brian Senie was the massive chip leader with his 759,000 in chips, but Steve O’Dwyer, Byron Kaverman, Yann Dion, Ole Schemion and Dimitar Danchev all lurked behind him, with O’Dwyer and Kaverman in the hunt for one of the Player of the Year awards handed out in tournament poker.

Within a half hour of the start of the day’s play, six ‘shorties’ had been eliminated from the event, including former WPT champion Tony ‘Bond_18’ Dunst. The final two ladies in the tournament, Gaelle Baumann and Aurelie Quelain, headed to the rail soon after Dunst had bitten the dust. By the time the action had reached the final four tables, Senie (who had difficulty all day gaining any traction) had lost the lead to Jerry Odeen, but he still sat decently with 430,000 in chips (Odeen, meanwhile, had racked up 640,000).

Odeen didn’t hold onto the lead for long, however. In a clash against Pavel Veksler, Odeen saw Veksler move all in on a 7-J-6-K-J board and agonized over the decision. Odeen agonized long enough that the clock was eventually called on him and, after he had made the call with the seconds ticking down, you could see why it was a tough decision. Odeen’s pocket Aces looked good on the table, but Veksler’s pocket sevens looked even better as they found a third on the flop to eventually make a boat. Although the hand would seriously dent his stack, Odeen would make it through the remainder of the day’s play.

As the money bubble approached, Schemion was one of the casualties. On an A-4-K flop, Schemion, Aliaksei Boika and Ben Heath all put out 30K to see a turn six. Schemion, with the action on him first, weighed out the issue in his mind so much that the dealer thought at one point he had checked. Heath, after the dealer’s error, checked and Schemion responded that he hadn’t completed his action. After the action was rolled back to Schemion – and with Heath’s check binding at the moment – he decided to push all in. Heath, freed from his previous action, now chucked his cards to the center, but Boika made the call.

If he was looking to bully Heath, Schemion made a mistake in forgetting about Boika. Boika’s pocket fours for the flopped set were a massive favorite over Schemion’s K-4 (flopped two pair) with one card to come; when the river came with a King, Schemion was out of the event just short of the money while Boika firmed up his standing to make some money at the WPT Prague.

The money bubble would pop in a very cruel fashion. Plesuv would open the betting and, after a call from Aleksandar Denishev, Yung Hwang would pop the bet up to 31K. Plesuv responded by making it 70K to go and, after Denishev got out of the way, Hwang shoved his remaining stack. Plesuv responded in kind and was dismayed at the results; his pocket Kings had run into the pocket Aces of Hwang, who just needed to fade five cards to get a key double up.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. A King in the window turned the cooler into a winner for Plesuv, his flopped set now leading the pocket Aces, but a Queen on the turn opened up a Broadway draw for Hwang along with the two Ace outs. A second deuce hit the river, however, ending Hwang’s tournament in brutal fashion as the final 27 celebrated their cash and Plesuv celebrated his newfound lead.

After battling with Odeen through the day, Senie would be one of the last eliminations on Day 3. He would lose a chunk of chips to Odeen to drop to 300K, then battled against Henrik Hecklen in a hand that would prove to be his undoing. On a 5-5-Q flop, Senie bet out and only Hecklen came along for a seven on the turn. Senie fired again, this time for 75K, and Hecklen once again called. On a river deuce, Senie put his stack in the center and Hecklen pondered the response. After the time in the tank, Hecklen made the call.

All Senie could offer for the battle was an A-10 for complete air; meanwhile, Hecklen put up an 8-5 for flopped trips that were good enough to take the hand and eliminate Senie. After a few more hands of action, the final two tables were determined for play today.

1. Pavel Plesuv, 1.229 million
2. Pavel Veksler, 1053 million
3. David Abreu, 627,000
4. Sergio Aido, 595,000
5. Henrik Hecklen, 525,000
6. Ihar Soika, 459,000
7. Steve O’Dwyer, 442,000
8. Anton Afanasyev, 413,000
9. Pavel Savin, 386,000
10. Pedro Marques, 326,000

With his run here, O’Dwyer is looking to put his name in the mix on the POY front. A win in this tournament would probably put him in the Top Five of the CardPlayer Magazine POY race and, depending on how many points he could earn for the win, might be able to break into the Top Three on the Global Poker Index POY rankings. There are 17 other men who are looking to stop O’Dwyer from doing that, however, as the players at the WPT Prague play down to the official final table through Saturday’s action.

Poker News Daily