Posts Tagged ‘Controversy’

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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Florida Gaming Officials Open Inquiry Into Hialeah Park Poker Tournament Controversy

 Florida Gaming Officials Open Inquiry Into Hialeah Park Poker Tournament Controversy

After a great deal of outrage from many in the poker community regarding the conduct of the event, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has announced they are investigating the Hialeah Park Casino over a poker tournament it conducted in late August.

According to Nick Sortal of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, gaming officials in Florida were willing to admit that they were looking into the situation but there wasn’t much more information beyond that. “The Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering is aware of the potential issue with a Hialeah Poker tournament and is gathering information,” the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation said in an email to Sortal. While Florida gaming officials haven’t announced what stage of the investigation is at or how soon an investigation will be forthcoming, the alleged location has already made its statement.

Hialeah Park officials responded to Sortal with a statement that read “Hialeah Park Management became aware of the alleged incident through social media. An internal investigation of the matter found no evidence of any discrepancies in the manner in which the poker tournament was conducted nor any wrongdoing on the part of any of the poker staff.” Those officials did not respond to any further questioning from Sortal regarding the issue.

The situation dates back to a poker tournament held at the Hialeah Park poker room from August 25-30. The tournament, a $ 250 buy-in event with a guaranteed prize pool of $ 200,000 and a first place prize guaranteed at $ 60,000, was supposed to celebrate the second anniversary of the poker room. From the start, however, it seemed there were some issues with the way the tournament allegedly was operated.

The tournament would consist of five Day Ones from August 25-29, with two flights each day to pull in enough players to make the guarantee. Besides the 15,000 chips for the original buy-in, there were extra dividends offered such as another 5000 chips for a $ 20 donation to the dealer pool and 8000 more chips for another $ 20 donation as an add-on. The tournament seemingly ran well over the five Day Ones but, once the final day of the tournament was reached on August 30, the players began to notice some discrepancies.

According to a lengthy original post on the Two Plus Two forum from a poster tagged ‘Bob Bernstein,’ the numbers that Hialeah Park officials gave for the start of Day Two play – a prize pool of $ 215,002 and 163 players still in the event – did not match up with what was on the tournament clock at the event itself. How far was the discrepancy? Allegedly a difference of 696,000 chips was in play, way beyond what could normally be accounted for through various tournament actions (color-ups, pulling dead stacks, etc.).

Attempting to head off a bubbling situation, a shift manager from the poker room attempted to explain the discrepancies over Facebook and provided yet a third set of numbers which allegedly didn’t match either of the previous two attempts. The mystery deepened when the final table was reached and the entirety of the 10 player table agreed to a chop, with no information regarding the tournament nor its results being published by the poker room.

In the Two Plus Two thread, Bernstein elaborates on some of the alleged action in the tournament and was encouraged by some of the responders to contact Florida gaming officials. According to Sortal, those officials would not discuss who brought the complaint against Hialeah Park Casino to their attention.

According to Sortal, the Hialeah Park poker room is one of the most lucrative in the Florida poker industry. With 33 tables in the room, Hialeah Park pulled in well over $ 8.3 million over the last fiscal year, making it the biggest room in the Miami area. Attention from state gaming officials isn’t good for business, however, and if the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering finds anything out of place, you can believe that action will be swift and painful.

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