Posts Tagged ‘Brandon’

Two Plead Guilty in Kansas Gambling Case, Brandon Steven Cleared

 Two Plead Guilty in Kansas Gambling Case, Brandon Steven Cleared

In a case that has gone on for more than three years, two men in Kansas have pled guilty to charges of operating a gambling operation and different tax violations. While these two have pled guilty in their cases, poker professional Brandon Steven – who had been caught up in the wiretapping that the federal government had on the operators – seemingly has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas reported that Danny Chapman and Daven Flax had pled guilty in separate plea bargains. For Chapman, 67, it was a plea of guilty to one count of operating an illegal gambling business and one count of tax evasion. The other deal was with Flax, 46, who pled guilty to two counts of operating an illegal gambling business and one count of making a false statement on a tax return. There are currently no reports of what either man will receive for a sentence from the federal court, but they could each be sentenced to up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $ 250,000 for the gambling charge and another five years and $ 250,000 on the tax charges.

In Chapman’s case, he admitted to being an “underground bookie” that worked across the Wichita area. Over the period covering 2013-17, Chapman admitted to earning $ 1.5 million from his gambling operation. At one point, five people worked as “runners” (collectors) in the operation. Chapman supposedly laundered the gambling money through the ownership of cars and in cashier’s checks, which he stored in Wichita and Las Vegas.

Flax, for his part, did it the old-fashioned way. Flax ran an underground poker game that operated in the Wichita area, one that became a very high-stakes, invite only affair. It would rotate around the Wichita area to keep authorities at bay and, as Flax admitted in his plea deal, he took a rake from those games and provided all the amenities (dealers, security, etc.). In an odd occurrence, Flax’s operation would have gone unnoticed except for the fact he was one of the “runners” for Chapman’s gambling ring.

So where does Steven figure into this equation? Last year, Steven was informed by the Kansas U. S. Attorney that a phone that had been “subscribed to you” had been intercepted by a federal wiretap in 2015. At the time, Steven commented to the Wichita Eagle that he was “aware of the broad nature of this inquiry.” “As you know, and everybody knows, I play high stakes poker….they are looking into my poker and my involvement (in a casino venture)…I’ve retained counsel and we’re going to fully cooperate with this matter.”

As is evident now, Steven was never a center of the investigation, just a casualty caught up in the wiretapping. From reports by the feds, Steven and his brother Rodney were both caught in the wiretaps and at no time were charges ever filed against them. Along with them, others caught up in the mix included former State Senator Michael O’Donnell, who disavowed any knowledge of Chapman and Flax.

Steven now can head back to what he arguably does best – poker. 2016 was an outstanding year for the high stakes pro, taking down over $ 1.2 million in winning a $ 50,000 Super High Roller event at ARIA in October and driving deep in the World Series of Poker’s $ 111,111 High Roller for One Drop. Potentially because of the specter of the feds hanging over him, Steven only made a bit more than $ 54K in 2017 from his tournament exploits. Still, Steven has over $ 3.1 million in career earnings and will be looking to “get back on the horse” in 2018.

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2017 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 1 – Brandon Meyers Takes Early Lead

 2017 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 1 – Brandon Meyers Takes Early Lead

The World Poker Tour is back in action as the Season XVI WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic $ 10,400 Main Event kicked off Tuesday. A very stout 600 entries were tallied on Day 1, setting the tournament up to potentially break last year’s Five Diamond record of 791 entries.

This tournament does not have multiple starting flights, so most of who will participate likely already showed up on Day 1, but there is still a ways to go before the final registration numbers will be known. Registration closes at the beginning of Level 9, which won’t happen until Wednesday night (there were five levels played on Day 1). The Five Diamond Main Event is also an unlimited re-entry tournament, so those who are knocked out on Day 1 or Day 2 can keep trying, even as I write this, provided they have the funds to do so.

That the Five Diamond is a re-entry event has generated some controversy. As my colleague Earl Burton wrote recently, poker pro Allen Kessler posted a poll on Twitter to see what format people wanted for the tournament and of the 623 votes, half were cast in favor of the traditional freezeout, one buy-in per person format. Unlimited re-entry only grabbed 11 percent of the vote, while 39 percent of voters preferred just a single re-entry.

Many don’t like unlimited re-entry tournaments because it gives the deep-pocketed pros an advantage. It is hard enough to outlast these fantastic players, but it can feel nearly impossible to beat them several times over when they get to keep buying a new stack of chips. Of course, the big argument in favor of multiple re-entry tournaments is that the prize pool can grow larger.

Those that like the compromise of the single re-entry favor that because while it doesn’t give an overwhelming advantage to the richest players, it also allows for a $ 10,000 mulligan of sorts if someone runs into awful luck early. It might not be fun to have to knock out someone like Daniel Negreanu more than once (I’m not picking on Negreanu – just using him as an example of a player who could and has re-entered expensive tournaments), but it is less fun to pay $ 10,000 and then hit the rail 30 minutes later when your Kings run into Aces.

Back to Day 1, Brandon Meyers emerged from Tuesday’s action as the chip leader, growing his initial 30,000 chip stack five-fold to 152,750. Gregory Back is second with 130,400, while Jonathan Kamhazi is third with 120,000 chips. Meyers is going for his second $ 10,000 event cash of the year. He previously had a wonderful finish in the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event, coming in 42nd for $ 176,399. His lifetime earnings amount to $ 1.23 million.

2017 World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic – Day 1 Chip Leaders

1. Brandon Meyers – 152,750
2. Gregory Back – 130,400
3. Jonathan Kamhazi – 120,000
4. Eric Baldwin – 114,700
5. Ray Pulford – 109,000
6. Kenny Nguyen – 103,500
7. Sam Stein – 98,000
8. Eric Bunch – 85,000
9. Ravi Raghavan – 85,000
10. Ray Qartomy – 82,000

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2017 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 2 – Brandon Meyers Maintains Lead as Prize Pool Determined

 2017 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 2 – Brandon Meyers Maintains Lead as Prize Pool Determined

Continuing to hold court over the throng of players still in the tournament, poker professional Brandon Meyers continued to hold the lead as Day 2 of the 2017 World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic concluded. At the same time, those that are left in the event found out what they were playing for once late registration/reentry closed.

Out of the 600-plus entries that were received on Day 1, Meyers was the one who drove the tournament. He would finish the day with an impressive 152,750 in chips but, as the poker adage goes, you can’t win a tournament on the first day. You also can’t win it when there are still players to enter the event, which was the case here with late registration/reentry (the $ 10,000 tournament was an unlimited reentry tournament) lasting until Level Nine (the next to last level of the night on Day 2).

Undaunted, Meyers continued to work much like he had done on Day 1. He would flop trip Aces against Ray Quartomy to add to his stack early in the day’s action, then eliminate his fellow pro later in what was a cooler of a hand. The raises went back and forth for several beats until Quartomy was all in. When the hands came up, it was predictable; Quartomy’s pocket Kings were looking up at the only hand that could beat them, Meyers’ pocket Aces, and the board didn’t bring another Cowboy to save Quartomy. With the chips from Quartomy firmly ensconced in his stack, Meyers eclipsed the 200K mark (213,000, to be exact) for the tournament.

While Meyers threatened to run off and make the tournament a mockery, the entry numbers kept climbing. 792 entries were confirmed during Level 8, breaking the record for the event (791) set just last year. And as the clock clicked down to the start of Level 9 and the end of the late registration/reentry period, it became apparent just how big the 2017 WPT Five Diamond was going to be.

Once the final entries were counted, the prize pool and the final payouts were stunning. Of the $ 7,876,400 prize pool built by the 812 entries in the event, 81 players will eventually earn a cash from the WPT Five Diamond. The minimum payout of $ 19,691 leads up to a final table that will see each player earn a six-figure cash from the event. At the very top, the eventual runner-up in the tournament will receive $ 1,134,202 for his (or her) efforts, while the next champion of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic takes home a $ 1,958,065 payday and a seat at next spring’s WPT Tournament of Champions.

With their goals now set, the players began to mix it up a bit with varying degrees of success. Gus Hansen, who was wafting between a table in the Five Diamond tournament and a high stakes cash game running in Bobby’s Room, became a contender during the last level of the night in getting his stack up to 118,700. As the first ever champion of the WPT Five Diamond (and the first ever champion in WPT history), he will bear watching as the tournament enters Day 3 on Thursday.

There were other players that didn’t see success on Day 2 of the tournament, however. Players like Ronit Chamani, Mike Shariati, Toby Lewis, Jordan Cristos, current Player of the Year leader Bryn Kenney, Shankar Pillai, and Anthony Zinno (among a wealth of others) will not be receiving cards from a dealer in the WPT Five Diamond anymore. There’s still a large contingent of players left in the tournament – 320 players from the 812 entries – who have a dream of winning the championship yet.

1. Brandon Meyers, 388,100
2. Daniel Strelitz, 310,900
3. Todd Hovenden, 230,300
4. Anthony Gregg, 225,600
5. Darren Elias, 214,700
6. Kenny Nguyen, 214,000
7. Rory Young, 213,000
8. Rainer Kempe, 200,000
9. Alex Foxen, 181,700
10. Matthew Moss, 180,000

Other players bubbling under the Top Ten include former WPT champions Taylor Paur (166,000), Mike Del Vecchio (155,100) and Kevin Eyster (136,700), and poker professionals Eddy Sabat (148,000), high stakes cash game player Lauren Roberts (148,000), Anthony Spinella (138,000), Blake Bohn (137,500) and former ‘Big One for One Drop’ champion Dan Colman (137,000).

We’re still a good distance away from anyone getting a bite out of the pie that is the prize pool. In fact, Thursday’s action (five levels of 90 minutes each) will probably only serve to bring the pack closer to the money. The bubble should pop on Friday, at which point the WPT’s “shot clock” will enter the game and the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic will start handing out the cash from the bounty that had been built.

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Poker Professional Brandon Steven Under Notice from Federal Authorities for Unknown Actions

 Poker Professional Brandon Steven Under Notice from Federal Authorities for Unknown Actions

Per reports from his hometown newspaper, poker professional Brandon Steve has been put on notice that federal authorities are examining his actions. What isn’t clear, however, is what are the exact “actions” that Steven has committed.

The Wichita Eagle and writers Tim Potter and Kelsey Ryan report that Steven, who is a popular businessman as the owner of several car dealerships and a health club in the area, received a letter from the U. S. Attorney’s Office. That letter, signed by Assistant U. S. Attorney Aaron Smith of the District of Kansas and dated February 1, indicated that a phone that was “subscribed to you (Steven)” was intercepted by federal authorities during the time of May and June in 2015. In addition to Steven, a member of the Eagle staff also received a similar letter on the same situation which, per a local attorney, is common; anyone who has received a call from that phone number (Steven’s) would receive the notice of interception.

Steven believes that he knows why the feds are examining the situation. “I’m aware of the broad nature of this inquiry,” Steven noted to Potter and Ryan. “As you know and everybody knows, I play high stakes poker. From what we (unknown as to the “we”) know, they are looking into my poker and my involvement with Castle Rock Casino. I’ve retained counsel and we’re going to fully cooperate with this matter.”

The project that Steven is talking about, Castle Rock Casino, was a plan by a coalition led by Steven for the building of a casino in the Sunflower State. In 2015, that group joined three other contractors – Emerald City Casino Resort, Kansas Crossing Casino & Hotel, and the Southeast Kansas Casino Partners LLC – in competing for a lone license to build a casino in the state (the fourth in a series of casino licenses). After presentations from all the entities, Kansas Crossing was chosen as the group to build a casino in southeast Kansas.

That wasn’t the last that was heard from the Castle Rock group, however. A lawsuit was filed soon after the decision was made by state regulators, alleging that the regulators ignored state law that required them to consider maximum revenues and tourism to “keep in the best interests of the state).” Castle Rock attorney Russell Jones stated at that time that the “Castle Rock proposal maximized revenues, tourism, employment and every other metric. They didn’t pick it. We think they violated the law by doing what they did.”

State regulators didn’t have the same thought regarding the Castle Rock situation, though. Citing what they believed to be overestimations of revenue and financing of the debt, Kansas gaming officials steadfastly maintained they made the correct decision. It also didn’t hurt that the Kansas Crossing group was already involved in the state’s gaming industry, with its involvement in two of the other three casinos in the state.

Three different courts in Kansas ruled against Castle Rock in the case, but they persisted in moving the case forward to the Kansas Supreme Court. As they have battled through the court system, Kansas Crossing has moved forward in building and staffing the property, which is expected to open in March of this year. The Castle Rock appeal to the Supreme Court was heard last month but, as of yet, there has been no decision released (previous opinion and testimony throughout the ordeal doesn’t bode well for the appeal).

The continued battle over the casino and its future doesn’t seem to have affected Steven’s play on the tournament poker circuit. Last year Steven racked up over $ 1.2 million in tournament earnings, including a victory at one of the ARIA Super High Roller events in October for a $ 648,000 cash and a tenth-place finish at the World Series of Poker’s High Roller for One Drop in July (good for $ 384,425). That was by far his best year ever on the tournament circuit, topping the $ 973,429 Steven earned in 2013.

Further information on the federal action – and on the decision by the Kansas Supreme Court – isn’t currently known. Poker News Daily will monitor the situation and update as necessary.

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