Posts Tagged ‘Alleged’

Heartland Poker Tour Stop at Westgate Courts Controversy Over Alleged Buy-In Decision

 Heartland Poker Tour Stop at Westgate Courts Controversy Over Alleged Buy In Decision

The Heartland Poker Tour has a history as one of the most highly respected “mid-major” tournament circuits in the poker industry. It’s recent stop at the Westgate Las Vegas, however, has become mired in controversy over a decision regarding the buy-in for the tournament and the guarantee that was set.

Making its first return to Las Vegas since 2014, the Heartland Poker Tour was looking to make a big mark on the tournament poker scene with their $ 1650 buy in Main Event. That tournament featured three Day Ones that looked to build a prize pool that would eclipse the $ 500,000 guaranteed prize pool that was put on the event. With those numbers in mind, 334 entries had to be registered for that guarantee to be met.

The issues began late on Saturday afternoon at the Westgate. In a tweet from Jeremy Smith, the tournament director for the Heartland Poker Tour, it became known that there were only 300 or so players on the tournament clock counter with late registration running out (opened until 7:30PM Pacific Time). That meant that, with slightly more than an hour left in late registration, the Westgate and the Heartland Poker Tour were looking at about a $ 70,000 overlay.

The next move, allegedly by the Westgate, is what has set the controversy off. While the players were on dinner break – and late registration was technically still open until the players returned from that break – it is alleged that the Westgate offered to allow players to buy into the tournament for slightly more than half the original price ($ 850 instead of $ 1650). The resulting turmoil drew in several names in the poker community debating the issue and, additionally, Tweets on the subject that were alleged to have been deleted by people with a stake in the game.

Noted poker curmudgeon Allen Kessler brought the subject up on his Facebook page, bringing up the alleged deleted Tweets and the discounted tournament. Surprisingly World Series of Poker bracelet winner and runner-up to Greg Raymer in the Championship Event of 2004 David Williams backed whomever made the decision to offer the discount, saying “If the prize pool is accounted for, who f*****g cares?”

Other members of the poker community didn’t agree on who to lay the blame for the “discounted” entry. At first many were dismissive of the Heartland Poker Tour but, as more info came out, it shifted over to the Westgate. It was alleged that the Westgate made the decision to offer the reduced buy-in to reduce the overlay that they would have been on the hook for.

So why the hubbub over the alleged issue? There apparently were over 300 players who had to pay the whole entry fee – $ 1650 – to enter the event and have a shot at the $ 500,000 guaranteed prize pool. Then along comes a smaller group – let’s say there were enough that the guarantee was met, 30-35 players or so – who only paid $ 850 to have the same shot at the $ 500,000 guarantee. That seems to be the crux of what much of the complaints have been about.

One thing that poker players tend to forget – and tournament poker players also – is that the host casino can pretty much change the rules at any time when it comes to their operations. House rules can deviate greatly from poker room to poker room and, when it comes to tournaments, many events have a sweeping “cover” for its actions. Normally it in small print near the bottom of a flyer – “casino retains the rights to change and/or cancel events as they see fit.” This little clause is what allows many casinos the right to make massive adjustments to their tournaments – such as offering discounted buy-ins to meet a guarantee – or cancel those events outright if there aren’t enough people entering the tournament.

As of press time neither the Heartland Poker Tour nor the Westgate Las Vegas has returned overtures from Poker News Daily regarding the situation. There also has been no contact with the public over their respective Twitter or Facebook feeds to offer an explanation. Poker News Daily will continue to watch the situation and, if a communique is received from either entity, update accordingly.

UPDATE:  Approximately 3PM (Pacific Time) on Sunday afternoon Smith, the tournament director for the HPT, issued a quasi-statement over Twitter in reply to several people who asked him about the decision to allow players to buy in for less than the stated amount. “This has never happened before (in the history of the HPT),” Smith stated to one person. In replying to World Poker Tour Executive Tour Director Matt Savage, Smith expressly stated that, “I had no say in this…it was a Westgate decision.”

The Westgate Las Vegas also decided to issue a statement at roughly the same time as Smith. In their Twitter statement, the Westgate stated, “(At the) end of registration for the HPT Main Event, we chose to pay a portion of the entry fee for select VIP. Full $ 1,650 entries accounted for in the $ 500k main event…Westgate is upholding all prize packages & guarantees are being upheld.  Good luck to the participants.”

Finally, the tournament reached 316 full $ 1650 buy ins, falling short of the $ 500,000 guarantee.

The post Heartland Poker Tour Stop at Westgate Courts Controversy Over Alleged Buy-In Decision appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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BetOnline Addresses Alleged Live Dealer BlackJack Cheating Incident

 BetOnline Addresses Alleged Live Dealer BlackJack Cheating Incident

As we told you on Tuesday, there has been a lot of talk in the past week about an incident on in which a live blackjack dealer appeared to cheat a player. The site has responded by saying it is investigating the incident; it has also jettisoned the provider that had been running the live games.

To review, BetOnline offers “live dealer” blackjack games in which a real dealer in a studio deals real cards, but rather than players sitting in seats at the table, they are playing remotely via the computer. It is meant to both ease trust concerns of those skeptical of random number generators and give players a more entertaining game with a live feel.

On January 25th, Michael Morgenstern, who says he is a professional blackjack player, streamed a BetOnline blackjack session. He didn’t know it until someone pointed it out in his YouTube video’s comment section, but it appeared that in one hand, the dealer did what is called “dealing seconds,” or dealing the second card from the shoe instead of the top card.

It can be seen in the video, as well as a second video Morgenstern posted with that hand singled out. The dealer slid the top card up and took the second card, dealing it to Morgenstern. As it turned out, that card, combined with the next one that was given to the dealer (in this game’s format, the dealer takes his second card after all the players’ hands have been completed), caused Morgenstern to lose the hand.

It is not known why the dealer would have done this. It could have been a mistake, but it certainly looked like cheating. Again, why he did it is the question. Was he acting on his own (and why would he?), did someone from the blackjack operator tell him to do it, or did BetOnline have something to do with it?

Obviously, one would not expect BetOnline to admit that it was cheating anyone (and we’re not saying they were). This week, company put out the following press release, implying it was as surprised as everyone else: has been notified of an instance of potentially questionable behavior by a black jack dealer from its previous Live Dealer Casino Provider on the date of January 25th, 2017. The Company removed the previous Provider’s Casino and replaced it with the much improved Visionary iGaming Live Dealer product on February 18th 2017. is currently looking into the issue with help and careful cooperation from the previous Live Dealer provider. asks that anyone who feels they may have been affected by this dealer’s actions to contact them by email at Casino[at]

As always, takes client feedback seriously. And nothing is more important to than the integrity of its gambling offerings and the enjoyment of its players.

It is somewhat interesting that BetOnline canned the casino provider that it was using during Morgenstern’s session and replaced it with a new one on February 18th. That could seem suspicious; if one wanted to buy into a conspiracy theory, it could seem like BetOnline knew what was going on and made the change, hoping it would blow over.

If we give BetOnline the benefit of the doubt though and assume the company isn’t just straight-up lying (yeah, yeah, I know), it looks like that conspiracy theory doesn’t quite work. In a press release on February 18th announcing the casino provider switch, BetOnline said that it began searching for a new provider in early January:

After client-side complaints regarding the number of available tables, games offered, lackadaisical dealers, and poor hand reporting became common-place (regarding GGL), BetOnline took on the task of finding a superior Live Casino Vendor. After a month-long search in early January 2017, it was decided that ViG would offer a superior product for the Players. ViG was notified mid-January, and as of 18 February 2017, the new vendor is in production on Client feedback has been very positive since the switchover!

Then again, maybe the cheating was going on for a long time and BetOnline finally decided to change it up. Who knows? It certainly would be interesting to find out if what happened to Morgenstern was an isolated incident or if other customers had been cheated and just never knew.

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AMF Documents Evidence of Alleged Insider Trading Kickback Scheme Involving David Baazov and Friends

 AMF Documents Evidence of Alleged Insider Trading Kickback Scheme Involving David Baazov and Friends

Hearings have begun in Quebec to discuss the insider trading case involving former Amaya CEO David Baazov and thirteen of his associates, which include family, friends, and business colleagues. According to CTV News Montreal, two days of hearings in front of a financial sector independent tribunal began on Monday. Baazov has been hit with a number of charges, including “influencing or attempting to influence the market price” of Amaya stock and “communicating privileged information.”

Quebec’s financial regulatory body, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), has documented an entire scheme in which it alleges that Baazov and others traded insider financial information in exchange for kickbacks. LaPresse made the AMF’s allegations public, which said that the scheme was of a “high level of organization and sophistication.”

The scheme, according to the AMF documentation, dates back six years, before Amaya acquired PokerStars’ parent company for $ 4.9 billion in June 2014. LaPresse wrote of the allegations (translated from French), “Several agreements were reached between the respondents to provide for the payment of dividends to be paid to [participants], and they were negotiated before the offenses.”

Kickbacks took many forms, from cash to checks to, in one case, a Rolex watch valued at $ 13,000.

The AMF says the scheme was clearly well-thought out and structured. For instance, the baker’s dozen involved allegedly rewarded each other with 10 percent of the net profits gained from any transactions in which they benefited from their information trading. The AMF estimates that the confidantes profited about $ 1.5 million from their insider dealing.

In late March 2016, David Baazov took a voluntary leave of absence his roles as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Amaya after he was indicted on the insider trading charges. At the time, he was supposedly working on a deal to acquire Amaya himself and take it private, so that was used as a partial excuse for his stepping away (he needed to “focus” on the acquisition package).

At the time, he said, “These allegations are false and I intend to vigorously contest these accusations. While I am deeply disappointed with the AMF’s decision, I am highly confident I will be found innocent of all charges.”

In August, he resigned altogether, saying, “I am proud of my contributions in building Amaya into the successful company it is today, and continue to be supportive of its strategy and management.”

David Baazov continues to maintain his innocence despite the evidence mounting against him. ““I want to reiterate that David Baazov is innocent, that he did nothing wrong and that he is eager to present his defense in court,” one of Baazov’s representatives said.

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