Posts Tagged ‘Changes’

PokerStars Goes “Back to the Future” In Making Changes to Live Tours

 PokerStars Goes “Back to the Future” In Making Changes to Live Tours

For those of us old enough to remember the original Dallas television show, we remember one season in particular. That season revolved around Pamela Ewing (played by actress Victoria Principal) after the death of her beloved husband Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy). In real life, Duffy had refused to sign a new contract with the show and was written out. But a year later, Duffy signed a contract and was ready to come back. The problem for writers of the show was how to do it.

In the end, they wrote the now-famous “shower scene” in which Pamela wakes up from an evening’s slumber and hears the shower running. She walks into the bathroom, up to the shower door and yanks it open. Turning around, Bobby is there and ALIVE, taking a shower like nothing has happened and saying, “Good morning!” The writers were telling the viewers that the entirety of the previous season had been a dream in Pamela’s mind.

PokerStars seems to be attempting to pull off this same trick with some recent announcements regarding their live tours.

It was revealed on Friday that, instead of continuing forward under the “PokerStars Championships” and “PokerStars Festivals” monikers, the live tours under the PokerStars banner would revert to their titles of the previous years. The 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure had already embraced that change (in 2017, it was known as the PokerStars Championship Bahamas), but now the rest of the PokerStars offerings are heading “back to the future.” Effective immediately, the European Poker Tour (EPT) is back in operation, as are the smaller regional tours such as the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT).

In making these moves, the honchos at PokerStars and The Stars Group are basically Pamela Ewing looking into that shower and saying, “We made a mistake.” To rebrand their efforts and separate them from the heyday of the Scheinberg Family’s ownership, Amaya Gaming (now known as The Stars Group) thought that naming the tours after their flagship brand was the way to go. They quickly found out, through abysmal attendance at many of their PokerStars Championship and Festival events, that they were damaging their brand rather than enhancing it.

What is perhaps more significant with the lack of success of the PokerStars Championships was player perception. Many top pros, dissatisfied with the way that the then-Amaya Gaming was treating the customers (players), decided to vote with their wallets and not take part in their tournaments. The Stars Group is looking to change that as well with the announcement of a new tournament along with the reversion back to the EPT fold.

While announcing the return of the EPT and its kin, PokerStars also announced a brand-new tournament in which it will not only offer $ 9 million of its own money but also hope to bridge the span between the online and live poker worlds. The Players’ No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC, for PokerStars Players’ Championship) will be a $ 25,000 buy in tournament that will be held the week prior to the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. The Stars Group is holding nothing back in trying to reclaim those players that had previously walked away.

Over the span of 2018, 300 “Platinum Passes” will be handed out to players. These free tickets include the $ 25,000 buy in to the tournament, six nights accommodations at the Atlantis Resort Nassau (the longtime host of the PCA), $ 2000 for travel expenses and other goodies. The “Platinum Passes” will be earned by the players, though, in winning major tournaments online at PokerStars.

For those that don’t win a package, they will be able to participate also by simply ponying up the $ 25K buy in, for which they won’t have to pay the juice. Besides giving away 300 seats into the tournament, PokerStars is going to seed the tournament further with another $ 1 million in cash. The tournament, before a single participant has been determined, is worth $ 8.5 million ($ 7.5 million in seats given away plus $ 1 million from PokerStars directly); you can guarantee that the top poker professionals are going to want to get into this event despite its hefty price tag.

Will the changes help the PokerStars brand? Some would say that, by admitting they made a mistake with some of their past acts, that PokerStars is on the way to improvement. It will be something that will take some time, however, as they reset their product, wake up from their Pamela Ewing “dream” and try to take on new challengers that have raised their heads.

The post PokerStars Goes “Back to the Future” In Making Changes to Live Tours appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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Amaya Changes Name to The Stars Group

 Amaya Changes Name to The Stars Group

PokerStars parent company Amaya Inc. has finally made the transition it previewed this spring, embracing the power of the PokerStars brand and changing its corporate name to The Stars Group. Along with the rebranding comes a headquarters move from Montreal to Toronto.

In a brief press release, the company said:

TORONTO, Canada – August 1, 2017 – Amaya Inc. (Nasdaq: AYA; TSX: AYA) today announced that it has completed the previously announced change of its corporate name to The Stars Group Inc., continuance under the Business Corporations Act (Ontario) pursuant to which it has become an Ontario corporation, and move of its head office from Montreal to Toronto. The Stars Group’s common shares will begin trading under the ticker symbol “TSG” on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and “TSGI” on the Toronto Stock Exchange at market open today. In connection with the name change, The Stars Group also adopted a new corporate logo and will launch a new website at

Outstanding stock certificates will not be affected by the name change and will not need to be exchanged. All securities trading, filings and market-related information will be reported under the new corporate name and trading symbols.

The groundwork for the name change naturally began three years ago when Amaya purchased Rational Group, then the parent of PokerStars, for an insane $ 4.9 billion. At the time, people were all like, “What in the hell is Amaya and where is all that money coming from?”

Well, we all certainly know who Amaya is and was by now and the payments for the acquisition have been made. In the ensuing three years, Amaya has taken full advantage of the PokerStars brand, getting BetStars into the public consciousness, creating the PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival live poker tours out of the corpse of the European Poker Tour, and signing on high-profile celebrity endorsers like Usain Bolt and Kevin Hart.

The Stars Brand also owns former PokerStars rival Full Tilt as part of its post-Black Friday settlement with the United States Department of Justice, but Full Tilt is now just a skin of PokerStars, rather than its own, independent online poker room.

It only made sense to change the company’s name, as PokerStars is arguably the most recognizable name in online gambling (I said “arguably,” which is actually my way of asking you not to argue with me, as I recognize that other opinions are valid), whereas Amaya was, well, the company who bought PokerStars. I mean, heck, did anybody know that Rational Group previously owned PokerStars?

Amaya has also gotten some bad press over the last couple years, highlighted by the company’s former CEO, David Baazov, who has been charged by Quebec’s securities regulatory agency of insider trading related to the Rational Group acquisition. Even through all that, Baazov made an attempt to buy all of Amaya’s stock and take it public, but his efforts were thwarted to the point where he has sold off much of his holdings in the company. The transition to The Stars Brand is likely a way to cleanse the company of the Baazov stink.

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World Poker Tour Changes Tournament Formats, Goes To “Shot Clock” For Events

 World Poker Tour Changes Tournament Formats, Goes To “Shot Clock” For Events

After experimenting with it during its closer of season event for the past two years, the World Poker Tour became the first tournament circuit to shift its tournaments to run on a “shot clock.” Furthermore, the Season XVI events will be played in an eight-handed format, a change from the nine or ten player tables of past years.

The World Poker Tour is proud to be the first to implement the Action Clock across all of its Main Tour events,” said Matt Savage, the WPT’s Executive Tour Director, during the announcement of the rule changes. “Many players, both recreational and professional, have expressed concerns that unnecessary tanking has taken a lot of the fun out of poker. Poker should always be fun, and it was a no-brainer decision to bring the Action Clock to all WPT Main Tour events following its success in the WPT Tournament of Champions and WPT500 Los Angeles. With the Action Clock, more action equals more fun, and who doesn’t want more fun in poker?”

The “Action Clock” will be sponsored by Protection Poker and it will be used at all future WPT Main Tour events. The rule will not be utilized for the entirety of the tournament, however. It will be implemented when the tournament reaches the last table before the money bubble pops and last until the end of the tournament. There are also extensive rules on the options the players will have in making their decisions.

Once the “Action Clock” is implemented, each player will be given four “time extension” chips that are of 30 second value each. The players can use those as they see fit – one at a time or all at once for a critical decision – and if they use them all, they’re gone…for a bit. When the tournament reaches three tables, the remaining players are reset to six “time extension” chips with the same rules in effect. When the six-player final table is determined, those players will receive eight “time extension” chips to go to war with.

“Protection Poker is pleased to expand its partnership with the World Poker Tour to bring the Action Clock to all WPT Main Tour events,” said Cavin Quintanilla, the Chief Executive Officer of Gaming Advancement Marketing Entertainment, LLC, the ownership behind Protection Poker. “The World Poker Tour is poker’s most player-friendly tour, and we look forward to players experiencing the ‘Action Clock’ on a global scale.”

This rule is only being applied to the players one table from the money, but another rule change being implemented by Savage could have even more of an effect on WPT events. Traditionally, the WPT starts at a nine-player table – the industry standard, for the most part – with an occasional step to a 10-player table should the tournament be bigger than normal. For Season XVI and moving forward, the WPT will be working with the casino properties that hold their events and change over to an eight-handed table.

The change to an eight-handed table versus a nine- or even ten-handed table is significant for a couple of reasons. First, the play will move around the table incrementally quicker for the players, perhaps forcing the action in places where it would normally have been more sedate. Second, the move will make for a more comfortable setting for the players, something that is more important than the public might think.

As stated by Savage, the “Action Clock” has been utilized at the WPT Tournament of Champions for its two-year history. The players in the event, former WPT champions all, have stated that its usage was excellent for those tournaments. Two-time WPT champion Daniel Negreanu has been a loud proponent of the usage of a “shot clock” in poker, saying that playing the Tournament of Champions and other “shot clock” events have spoiled him to the point that he doesn’t like playing No Limit Hold’em events without the device.

There are those who aren’t enamored with the idea, however. Some believe that having the “shot clock” will be detrimental to newcomers taking part in WPT events because of the added pressure. There is also the question of its implementation. Poker professional Ari Engel brought this point up (noting he has played in only three tournaments implementing the “shot clock”) in stating on Twitter, “Have not played many…but when I did the clock was not implemented universally fairly. Need A+ dealers for shot clock.”

No indication was given during the announcement that this is only a test period, so it appears that the “Action Clock” rule is now the norm with the WPT. Whether other circuits implement it remains to be seen.

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MPN Hand History Changes Coming in April

 MPN Hand History Changes Coming in April

The Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) is preparing to make changes to both the content and storing of hand histories in order to protect casual players. The changes, discussed in a blog post by Head of Product (Network Games) at Microgaming Alex Scott earlier this month, will go into effect in April.

Scott is among the rare breed of online poker managers/executives who is actually a player, as well, and approaches problem solving from a fair perspective, balancing the needs of the company with the needs of the player. In the blog post, he talks about how while hand tracking software like PokerTracker has been a great tool for players, it also provides sharks the ability to prey on fish without really having to observe and study their opponents’ play.

Writes Scott:

We have a difficult relationship with tracking software. Personally, I think it’s really important for players to be able to track and analyse their own gameplay, and tracking software is an excellent way to improve if used properly. It’s also a great way to be a responsible gambler, because you can’t hide from your results.

But I also think tracking software has changed the game in a way that makes it less fun. It allows you to gather huge amounts of data on your opponents, without requiring any significant attention or observation on your part. It allows you to exploit the weakest opponents exclusively, if you wish.

That last point, about “exploit[ing] the weakest opponents exclusively, likely has to do with the use of software like seating scripts, which search the active tables, see who is playing, look up the players’ stats in the hand tracking software, and then seat the software’s user with players who are known to be weak.

Hand tracking software uses hand histories to compile player data.

Thus, MPN will implement two changes to hand histories. In cash games, a full, detailed hand history will only be saved to a player’s computer if that player contributed money to the pot. In other hands, only basic information like the player’s balance and hole cards will be saved. With this, players will not be able to just sit back and gather truckloads of data on other players without putting forth the effort of playing poker themselves.

Additionally, there will no longer be any hand histories at all for anonymous tables. The whole point of anonymous tables is to shield players from being tracked, so eliminating hand histories will make hand tracking software useless at those tables. MPN will still be on the lookout, though, for people who try to get around the rules and use such software.

As Alex Scott summarizes it, “The net effect of this is that you can still use tracking software to track your own gameplay, and you can still use a HUD at the tables. However your tracking software will gather much less information about your opponents in general.”

This should still make hand tracking software useful for analyzing one’s own play, as players will still have records of what hole cards they themselves had each hand. In any hand in which a user didn’t contribute to the pot, they will still know what cards they had, that they folded, and what their balance was. There really isn’t much more data necessary for self-analysis in those situations. Sure, it would probably be nice to know what sort of betting happened or didn’t happen to make me fold certain cards, but it’s probably not a big deal.

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Poker Central Super High Roller Bowl Changes Rules, Uses Lottery to Determine Players

 Poker Central Super High Roller Bowl Changes Rules, Uses Lottery to Determine Players

Instead of holding to the “first come, first served” philosophy that it was built on, officials with Poker Central deviated to a special “lottery” to determine who would be among the 35 professionals to take part in the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl later this year.

After opening registration for the tournament, which will be played from May 28-31 at ARIA in Las Vegas, officials with the casino and the streaming website were stunned with the numbers that came to the fore. Once the cage was opened for deposits for entry 54 players came out, in theory putting up a percentage of the $ 300,000 for their buy in. This was going to be a problem for ARIA and Poker Central as there were only 35 seats available for the “professional” poker players (15 of the 50 seats in the event are reserved for ARIA, to be distributed at their discretion).

Faced with the dilemma – and rather than going with the “first come, first served” philosophy that is the normal course of a tournament poker sign up – both sides came up with a special “lottery” to determine the players who would be given first opportunity at a seat in the tournament. They made a bit of a production over the lottery, snaring Daniel Negreanu to host the drawing, and drew the lots that arbitrarily set the professional field for the 2017 event. What is notable about the list is the players that weren’t a part of it.

Here are the players that were chosen through the lottery to participate in the 2017 Poker Central Super High Roller Bowl:

Christian Christner
Antonio Esfandiari
Igor Kurganov
Matt Berkey
(to be noted, first with his money to the cage)
Connor Drinan
Steffen Sontheimer
Jake Schindler
Pratyush Buddiga
Rainer Kempe
(the defending champion of the tournament)
Sean Winter
John Juanda
Dominik Nitsche
Christoph Vogelsang
Stefan Schillhabel
Andrew Robl
Brian Rast
(inaugural champion)
Bryn Kenney
Fedor Holz
David Peters
Jason Les
Ben Tollerene
Tom Marchese
Erik Seidel
(only player to cash in both years of tournament)
Sam Soverel
Scott Seiver
Ankush Mandavia
David Einhorn
Nick Petrangelo
Haralabos Voulgaris
Isaac Haxton
Andrew Lichtenberger
Doug Polk
Ben Sulsky
Byron Kaverman
Koray Aldemir

So, what names aren’t on the list?

Negreanu is one of the most glaring omissions from the 35 names chosen. Even though he had already declared to play in the tournament (and his position as a prominent promoter of Poker Central), Negreanu was one of those left on the outside. In fact, the 36th ball out of the lottery chute? Negreanu’s.

Negreanu’s not the only one to be left wondering if they’ll be a part of the show come May. The defending Player of the Year at the World Series of Poker, Jason Mercier (a staple on the High Roller circuit), was not chosen in the lottery, nor were such players as Dan Colman, the champion of the most recent $ 1 million “Big One for One Drop” at the WSOP or “High Roller” stalwarts such as Dan Shak, Nick Petrangelo or Mike Watson (second at the $ 100,000 Challenge to Petrangelo at the 2017 Aussie Millions). Also not on the list were Phil Hellmuth (who never met a camera he didn’t like) or Phil Ivey, but for good reason – neither had put their money down to play in the tournament yet.

The lottery decision was a tricky one for Poker Central and ARIA. What if someone like the defending champion, Kempe, hadn’t been chosen? And just what are the rules going forward? Will Negreanu have the next chance at the seat should someone out of the 35 players not be able to take part (likewise, will he be let in should ARIA not invite it allotment of 15 players?), as he is the first alternate apparently? Everything that has occurred leave many questions and few answers for the other players who were looking to be a part of the tournament.

Everything will be figured out well in advance of May 28, however. The issue is that those who will determine the success of the event – the viewing public – won’t be given any knowledge as to what will occur between now and then.

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