Posts Tagged ‘2017’

Daniel Negreanu Had Losing “Breakeven” 2017 in Live Tournaments

 Daniel Negreanu Had Losing “Breakeven” 2017 in Live Tournaments

Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu has always been an outspoken member of the poker community and tends to be open and honest about how things are going at any given time in his career. Case in point: as 2017 came to a close, he posted his annual live tournament results on his blog, revealing that he had a losing year.

Not beating around the bush Negreanu displayed the numbers right off the bat. $ 2,874,164 in buy-ins and $ 2,792,104 in payouts for a net profit of -$ 86,140.

Now, for the vast majority of the world’s population, losing over $ 80,000 in a year would be devastating, and while Negreanu certainly wasn’t happy with the number, he saw it as basically breaking even. He calculated his average buy-in at $ 40,481, so ending up down about two buy-ins – to him – was almost nothing.

I would LOVE to be able to look at an $ 86,140 loss as breakeven, to shrug it off like it was pocket change, so part of me read that in Negreanu’s blog and was appalled. But really, I get it. I haven’t played online poker in a few years, but when I did, my average tournament buy-in was probably $ 5. So if I played on a regular basis through the calendar year and finished down $ 10, that would certainly be quite close to breakeven. So I get it.

One reason Daniel Negreanu elected to share this information with the public was set out in the first paragraph of his post:

I mention this because I think my 2017 was a good illustration of the illusion that players cashing for $ 2 million in a single year is a great accomplishment. In the old days, before super high rollers, you could all but guarantee that cashing for $ 2 million would mean the player had a winning year. Well, the truth is, if a player plays the full high roller schedule and cashes for $ 2 million, they are all but certain to have had a losing year, and that’s before expenses.

He estimates that with the $ 1 million Big One for One Drop returning to the World Series of Poker this year, combined with the Super High Roller Bowl and other high roller events, some poker players could easily spend $ 5 million on buy-ins. He added that though most who spend millions on buy-ins have backers for some of it, he funds himself completely. The one exception will be for the Big One for One Drop, where he’ll probably sell about half of his action, “as it just seems like a bit of a crazy amount of money to risk in one tournament.”

Negreanu also posted his live tournament results for the past five years, showing that he also lost money – $ 1,246,693 – in 2016. Overall, though, from 2013-2018, he is up $ 8,733,074 in live tourneys. The big year was 2014, where he profited $ 7.1 million. All or most of that (depending on how much he had of himself) came from the Big One, where he placed second for about $ 8.3 million.

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2017 Year in Review: Tumultuous Year in Poker and Politics

 2017 Year in Review: Tumultuous Year in Poker and Politics

As they prepare to drop the ball in New York City, it is appropriate to look back at the year gone by in the poker world. When it comes to politics regarding poker in 2017, for the first time in ages it wasn’t just the States of America that had its issues. Turmoil regarding poker, especially the online version, raised its head around the globe. So now, as you get the hors d’oeuvres ready for tonight, peruse these instances from the 2017 calendar year in no particular order.

NO JOY “DOWN UNDER” WITH NO POKER

In a move that had been brewing for several months prior to the start of 2017, the Australian government went ahead and passed sweeping gaming regulations that, as an after-effect, saw the nation’s online poker industry chopped off at the knees.

In November 2016 (to get control of online wagering in the country), the Australian Legislature introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act of 2016. The law aimed to put some controls on the companies working in the online arena, forcing these companies to apply for licensing from the Australian government. Without a license, online operators faced hefty fines totaling millions of dollars.

In March, despite many of their brethren suggesting that it would impact legitimate operations, the IGAA was passed and its impact was immediate. Yes, shadier online operations were shut out of the country but those that were providing online gaming that the government was OK with – online poker especially – had to depart also. Such companies as The Stars Group (PokerStars), 888 Holdings (888Poker) and partypoker had to pull their poker products (and online casinos) from the country because they lacked the licensing necessary to operate (and, as publicly traded companies, they could not operate in markets with laws against their product).

By the end of 2017, the Australian government was reexamining their regulations to allow those legitimate companies back into the country. But as they put their finishing touches on the fireworks on the Sydney Harbor Bridge for New Year’s Eve, nothing has been changed yet.

NOW YOU KNOW WHY THE GERMAN PROS LEAVE

Germany has long had a bit of a love/hate relationship with poker, especially online. Although some of the best players in the game hail from the country, many of them don’t live there because of their archaic online poker laws. An incident from earlier in 2017 shows that situation isn’t going to change anytime soon.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, Germany, ruled in the fall that a ban on Internet casino gaming, poker and “scratch card” games was legal, despite the objections of the European Union to the ban. Two cases brought by unidentified companies outside of Germany were ruled on during the fall, with the Court ruling that individual companies could pass legislation that, while violating the European Union’s treaty regarding free trade between the 26 Member Nations, was enacted to “protect children and vulnerable people” from predatory actions.

The moves by Germany flew in the face of some of the other nations in Europe. During the summer France, Spain, Italy, and the EU came to an agreement for shared liquidity between the countries. Helping to spur the action on the “ring-fenced” nations was the goal of the agreement, with the countries allowing for play over national borders instead of blocking such activity. At some point in 2018, these countries will begin full-throttle online gaming in the entirety of Europe, something that hasn’t been a reality since the mid-2000s.

FINALLY, SOMETHING IN THE U. S. TO CHEER

Since 2013, there have been three states – Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware – that had passed online casino gaming and/or poker regulations. Despite the fits and starts that other states in the U. S. had gone through (we’re looking at you, California), no other states for four years had even gotten close to passing legislation to legalize online casino gaming and poker. That was until Pennsylvania got in the game.

In what was arguably the biggest story of 2017, Pennsylvania passed online gaming and poker regulations, with the operations set to open at some point in 2018. Although they had passed a budget that incorporated online gaming revenues in it in 2016, political infighting in the state delayed the passage of that budget until the spring of 2017. Once that was passed, the battle then moved on to the online question.

For much of the spring and summer, the debate raged in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and, to be honest, the legislators tried to find other ways to raise revenues and not expand gaming. But, in a frenetic two-day period in October, HB 271 (the online gaming and poker regulation bill) was passed and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf. With that sweep of Wolf’s pen, the Keystone State became the fourth state to pass online gaming and poker regulation.

There were plenty of other occurrences during the year…what were some of your choices regarding politics and poker in 2017?

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2017 Year in Review: The Tournament Poker Scene

 2017 Year in Review: The Tournament Poker Scene

If you’ve looked at a calendar lately, then you know that it is the completion of another “trip around the sun,” as Jimmy Buffett famously put it. It is a time of reflection and examination of the future, so let’s get to the reflection part of the equation. In 2017, there were some great tournament moments, a popular pro who had some difficulties in the courts, and a World Champion who believes he’s ready for retirement. Without further ado, here’s a few highlights from the tournament poker scene.

The PokerStars Championships…Wait, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (Again)

At the start of January, poker players headed the Bahamas, but there were changes in the air and they all wouldn’t be for good. Instead of heading to Atlantis for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, online poker’s best and, in some case, luckiest players were met with the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, the replacement for the PCA, and the new PokerStars Championships Series, replacing the European Poker Tour. The name change of the long running tournament wasn’t the only facelift that players found once they landed on Paradise Island.

To start with, the ten days of poker action was just a little more active than players really liked. Amaya Gaming and PokerStars officials SCHEDULED 90 TOURNAMENTS for the span of the schedule, basically averaging about nine tournaments a day, not counting those in their Day Two proceedings. Many of those on the ground felt this was overkill. Add on the lack of other amenities that once made the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure one of the jewels of the tournament poker world such as player parties, SWAG and other VIP treatment and many players left the Bahamas saying they would never return.

The other events on the PokerStars Championships schedule featured tournaments that weren’t well attended, forcing The Stars Group (the renamed Amaya Gaming) to rethink its strategy. By the time the PokerStars Championships reached Prague in December, the decision had been made to bring back the old PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and the EPT monikers. While those are popular moves, it remains to be seen if, in a crowded tournament circuit arena, that the players will come back to the PCA and the EPT.

I’m World Champion – Now What?

First off, the officials at the World Series of Poker made one of the biggest (and arguably best) moves of the year in ending the decade-long “November Nine” format. For the first time since 2007, the WSOP Championship Event was played straight through, with only a two-day break once the final table was determined. A sizeable contingent of the poker world widely praised that move and, in an unprecedented three-night event, the final nine played down to a champion who now could be considering retirement.

Eventual champion Scott Blumstein used a big double up through then-chip leader (and beloved amateur and grandfather) John Hesp to basically skate his way to the World Championship. Entering the final night of the tournament, he dominated Benjamin Pollak and Dan Ott, vanquishing Ott in heads-up play to capture poker’s World Championship and an $ 8.15 million payday.

Since winning poker’s greatest tournament, Blumstein has been making the rounds of the tournament poker world, but he admits that it doesn’t have the same draw as it did previously. In an interview with CardPlayer Magazine, Blumstein said he feels he’s “kind of beat the game of poker” and that there “aren’t many other goals that I can come up with right now.” While stopping short of saying he would completely quit the game, Blumstein said he is entertaining what to do with his life – and some of what he talks about aren’t poker related – post-WSOP.

It’s Tough to Be Phil Ivey

Normally anyone would give their right arm to become Phil Ivey. The ten-time WSOP bracelet winner and high stakes gambler travels the world, earning a great deal of money (from appearances) and basically betting huge stacks of money on anything. But there was one room in 2017 that Ivey found he couldn’t beat – the courtroom.

In a major decision this summer, the British Supreme Court found in favor of Crockfords, a high-end London casino, in a dispute between Ivey and the casino. Despite saying that Ivey didn’t cheat, the Court did decide that he “deceived” the casino as he won around £7.8 million (roughly $ 11 million) and that the casino did not have to pay him his winnings. After losing another case in New Jersey, where it was also concluded that Ivey’s tactics were illegal and ordered him to repay over $ 10 million, Ivey is out roughly $ 21 million. Perhaps that is the reason that Ivey, who has been a ghost on the tournament poker scene for several years, says he will be returning to the circuit in the coming year.

Anyone Got a Spare $ 25,000…$ 50,000…$ 100,000 Laying Around?

In 2017, tournament poker was put on steroids by the number of High Roller and Super High Roller events that were a part of the circuit. Usually with buy-ins from $ 25,000 to $ 100,000, these tournaments were normally well outside the budget of the average poker player. As such, these events also became the primary domain of many well-heeled players (or, some would accuse, a group of players pooling money and reaping the rewards) who were vying for the different Poker Player of the Year awards.

Bryn Kenney was the leader of many of these awards for nearly all of 2017. While there is no doubt as to the skill of Kenney, the man didn’t play the WSOP at all in 2017 and, coming to the final week of 2017, is still in the lead (or near it) in those POY races…how? Kenney has primarily played the high dollar tournaments; in the entirety of his 2017 record, only four of his 29 cashes in 2017 was in tournaments with lower than a $ 25,000 buy in.

Should tournament poker be the domain of the nobility of the poker world? Part of the charm of the game is that the Average Joe can take down even the best in the game on the right day. By secluding themselves off in the High Roller world, they’re not exactly taking on all comers. Perhaps the ranking systems will find a way to drag these players (Kenney is far from the only one who does this) into the Main Arena but, until they do, their performances must be viewed with a bit of a jaded eye.

There were plenty of other occurrences during the year…what were some of your choices for the best in tournament poker for 2017?

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2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Final Table Determined, Kalidou Sow Leads Jason Wheeler, Michal Mrakes

 2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Final Table Determined, Kalidou Sow Leads Jason Wheeler, Michal Mrakes

Day 5 of the first and, as it will turn out, final PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event is in the books, setting up the final table for Monday night. The six men will be led by Kalidou Sow, who was able to bypass Jason Wheeler and Days 3 & 4 chip leader Michal Mrakes to take over the chip lead.

15 men came back on Sunday afternoon to the Casino Atrium Prague to decide who would be the main contenders for the final PokerStars Championship. Mrakes was the chip leader at the start of the day, the only player over the four million mark with his 4.945 million in chips. For his part, Wheeler was sitting a bit back in the pack with his 2.4 million in chips and Sow was definitely looking at an uphill climb with his 640,000 in chips.

Mrakes, who basically could do no wrong over the past two days of the tournament, didn’t come out of the gates making his best decisions. He four-bet Aleksandr Mordvinov to 390K but, after Mordvinov made it known he was serious with a five-bet all in, Mrakes quickly dropped his hand. Mrakes then gave some chips to both Alex Foxen and Gabriele Lepore to drop down to 4.175 million, still in the lead but not as much as previous.

Sow began his march to the top by knocking out Serhil Popovych. Popovych moved all in from under the gun and Sow looked down to find gold. He immediately called Popovych’s bet and tabled pocket Aces, more than good enough to take on Popovych’s pocket Jacks, and the six-high board that rolled out kept Sow in the lead, knocked off Popovych in 14th place and set Sow up with 1.55 million chips.

Surprisingly, instead of staying away from each other, Sow and Mrakes knocked heads in a critical hand. After Sow opened the betting and Mrakes (button) and Robert Heidorn (big blind) made the call, a 6-4-3 flop brought checks out of the shorter stacks. Mrakes fired off a 150K bet and Sow called after Heidorn folded. On a deuce turn, Sow once again check-called a bet from Mrakes, this time for 250K. When a J♠ came on the river (putting three spades on the board), Sow suddenly woke up and led out for 650K in chips. Mrakes made the call and immediately regretted it as Sow showed the A♠ 7♠ for the rivered nut flush as Mrakes could only muck his hand and let the million-chip stack go over to Sow.

This wasn’t the last time the duo would clash. Sow raised Mrakes’ big blind and, on an A-K-J flop, Mrakes check-called another bet out of Sow. The same thing happened on the turn and river, with Mrakes check-calling bets of 235K and 575K out of Sow, creating another million-chip pot. Once again, Sow had the goods, showing a Q-10 for the flopped Broadway straight. Mrakes could only shake his head and send his cards to the muck and the chips again to Sow.

Mrakes would right the ship eventually, knocking off Heidorn in 11th place, as Wheeler took over the chip lead while Sow and Mrakes were fighting with each other. He picked up a hefty two million chip pot against Colin Robinson to smash the seven million chip mark and, after Sow took down Foxen to reach five million and bring the final nine men to the unofficial final table, looked to carry some momentum as the chip leader. Once the action began at that nine-handed table, however, Sow took control.

Sow would knock off Mordvinov (ninth), Valentyn Shabelnyk (eighth) and Matas Cimbolas (seventh) to end his Sunday of poker with a flourish. That flourish will also allow him to start the six-handed final table on Monday afternoon with the chip lead:

1. Kalidou Sow, 8.135 million
2. Jason Wheeler, 8.1 million
3. Michal Mrakes, 5.01 million
4. Gabriele Lepore, 1.815 million
5. Colin Robinson, 1.425 million
6. Harry Lodge, 1.23 million

It looks as though the championship will be determined between Sow, Wheeler and Mrakes. Lepore, Robinson and Lodge need a great deal of help if they are going to make a run at the top and it may be a bit too much to ask for one of them to challenge for the title. Mrakes’ confidence took a bit of a hit on Sunday and Sow’s grew at the same time. The best bet to watch is Wheeler, who has been a steady, strong player throughout the tournament that has never been down the leaderboard too far.

The final table will resume play at 1PM Prague time (7AM Eastern Time) and the PokerStars Live! stream will pick up the action on delay one hour later. At the end of the rainbow for one of these six players will be the €775,000 and the final PokerStars Championship trophy ever.

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2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Michal Mrakes Takes Over Lead with 16 Players Left

 2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Michal Mrakes Takes Over Lead with 16 Players Left

If it was Saturday, the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event was set to play off its Day 4 schedule. By the time the dust settled on the poker battleground of the Casino Atrium Prague in the Czech Republic late Saturday night, local favorite Michal Mrakes – who has been hovering about the upper reaches of the leaderboard since the start of the tournament – had taken over the lead with only 16 players remaining.

At the start of the day, 49 players were set to take on whatever Saturday’s play held for them. Perhaps looking a bit brighter on the day was chip leader Paul Michaelis, who woke up on Saturday morning after spending his second day atop the leaderboard. Michaelis’ 1.27 million in chips was pretty much threatened by only one person – Mrakes, who was the only other player over a million chips with his 1.032 million chip stack. With pros such as Fatima Moreira de Melo, Marcin Horecki, Alex Foxen and Jason Wheeler lurking down the standings, however, that looked to be a situation that would change quickly.

Horecki was one of the players that had no fortune over the entirety of the Day 4 proceedings. On a 6-7-10-Q-9 board, Horecki faced a 103K chip bet out of Serhil Popovych that he didn’t believe. Horecki would make the call, only to see that Popovych probably caught up on the river against him after Popovych showed a 10-9 for the rivered two pair. Horecki didn’t show (perhaps an A-Q?) ash Popovych cracked the million-chip mark and Horecki dropped to around 200K in chips. Those would go into the center in a race between Horecki’s pocket Jacks and the Big Slick of Thomas Lentrodt moments later, which Horecki led until a cruel King came on the river to eliminate him from the tournament.

Mrakes, on the other hand, was heading in the opposite direction. He eliminated Dermot Blain when Blain put his remaining chips on the line against Mrakes. Once again it was a race, Mrakes’ pocket treys against Blain’s K-Q off suit, but this situation ended much quicker than Horecki’s. The 3-J-3 flop gave “only” quads to Mrakes to leave Blain drawing dead immediately; after a meaningless turn and river, Blain packed his bags as Mrakes stacked up his 1.44 million chips.

Mrakes was amongst the leaders at this point but, after the tournament was redrawn with 24 players to go, he firmly grabbed the top slot. Mrakes raised the betting to 60K and Hon Cheong Lee didn’t hesitate on putting in the three-bet of 180K. After Mrakes called, a 4-4-4 flop was dealt that might have slowed down some players. Mrakes did, checking his option, but Lee fired off 110K that Mrakes called. An eight on the turn brought another check-call out of Mrakes, this time for 225K of Lee’s chips. When a seemingly innocent deuce came on the river, Mrakes checked again and the fireworks were lit.

Lee pushed out the remainder of his stack, totaling over 850K, and Mrakes was put to a decision of calling off a huge amount of his chips or making a quantum leap upwards in the tournament. After the deliberation, Mrakes boldly made the call and it was the right move. On the 4-4-4-8-2 board, all Lee could muster was a Q-7 to play the flopped set of fours. Mrakes wasn’t much better with his A-10, but it was enough to win the hand, eliminate Lee and push Mrakes to 3.89 million chips and a solid chip lead.

Mrakes continued to expand on that chip stack, even able to withstand doubling up an opponent, before the final bell rung. He will enter Day 5 a massive chip leader and a prohibitive favorite for making the final table:

1. Michal Mrakes, 4.945 million
2. Valentyn Shabelnyk, 3.225 million
3. Robert Heidorn, 2.485 million
4. Jason Wheeler, 2.4 million
5. Colin Robinson, 2.085 million
6. Navot Golan, 1.955 million
7. Matas Cimbolas, 1.615 million
8. Thomas Lentrodt, 1.52 million
9. Harry Lodge, 1.36 million
10. Pierre Calamusa, 900,000

With 15 players left, the minimum payday for those still standing is €38,400. That is small change compared to what the eventual champion will walk off with on Monday night. That fortunate player will step away from Prague with a great Christmas present of €775,000.

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