Posts Tagged ‘David’

Phil Ivey, David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott Inducted into Poker Hall of Fame

 Phil Ivey, David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott Inducted into Poker Hall of Fame

During the broadcast of Friday night’s action at the 2017 World Series of Poker Championship Event final table, the two latest inductees for the Poker Hall of Fame were announced. With congratulations, one of them was a first-ballot inductee in Phil Ivey and the other was a well-deserved and beloved choice in David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott.

“I want to thank the living members of the Poker Hall of Fame as well as the media who voted for me to be part of the Poker Hall of Fame,” said Ivey. “It’s an honor to be inducted alongside legends like Chip Reese and Doyle Brunson. I love the game of poker and the game has done a lot for me.  I am one of the lucky people who has been able to make a living playing a game which was always my passion. Thankfully, I’m just as passionate about the game today as when I first stepped into Binion’s Horseshoe to play my first-ever WSOP. Thank you to my family, my friends, and all the poker fans across the world that supported me on this journey.”

Ivey was considered a shoo-in for nomination for the resume he has built over the last 20-odd years. From the days he played in the New Jersey poker rooms using a friend’s identification – which brought him the nickname “No Home Jerome” for the amount of time he spent playing on the Boardwalk – and over the next two decades, it is arguable there isn’t a more feared player in the game. His first tournament cash dates to 1998, when he won a Customer Appreciation event for $ 1000, and he certainly has gone on to greater things in the years that followed.

In Ivey’s first serious foray into a tournament schedule in 2000, he would final table four events at the First Annual Jack Binion World Poker Open in Tunica, MS, before moving on to Las Vegas for the WSOP. In the span of 10 days that year, Ivey cashed three times and made two final tables, including winning his first WSOP bracelet in Pot Limit Omaha. Phil Ivey was now known to the world and he took full advantage of it.

He holds the record for most final tables on the World Poker Tour with 10, winning one of those opportunities in 2008 at the L. A. Poker Classic. Ivey has also cashed 59 times at the WSOP, with 10 bracelet victories that put him in second place all-time (only behind Phil Hellmuth and tied with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan). More impressive than his tournament record, however, is his cash game statistics.

It is conceivable that Ivey has made twice as much playing cash games around the world than his $ 23 million-plus that he’s won on the tournament circuit. In fact, over the past few years, those cash games have infringed on his play at the WSOP, slowing down his pursuit of Hellmuth. Still, one of the qualifications for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame is to have “played for high stakes,” and Ivey has played for the highest possible.

The Ulliott family commented to WSOP officials regarding the induction of their loved one. “As a family, we would like to thank the general public, media and current Poker Hall of Fame members that voted David into the Poker Hall of Fame.  We know he will be up there strumming on his guitar and probably asking what took so long! How he might say it – I think you all know!”

“There isn’t a day that goes past when we don’t think of him and miss him but today we are so proud and delighted that he takes his rightful place in poker history – the legend of the Devilfish lives on!  One thing we know he would be happy about is the progress of John Hesp in the Main Event, a regular at Napoleon’s in Hull, David’s home city in the UK.  John represents what poker is all about – a true game of the people.”

“There are too many people to individually thank but we would particularly like to thank Rob Yong and Simon Trumper of Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham for their support and also we would like to thank Leon from Kings Casino in advance for offering to commemorate David’s induction into the Poker Hall of Fame at the WSOP Europe in October.  Just remember, as the Devilfish would say – ‘Life is a blast. It doesn’t last. Live it long and live it fast’.”

Ulliott, who passed away in 2015, was a popular sentimental choice that year but had the qualifications to be there previous to his passing. Once a safecracker who served time for his offenses, Ulliott changed his life as he poured himself into his passion, poker. He became such a feared competitor in his hometown of Hull that he found it nearly impossible to find a cash game to play, which sent him into the casinos of the United Kingdom. His first tournament cash was in a Seven Card Stud event at the Grosvenor Spring Classic in London in 1993, where he won £200 for his sixth-place finish.

There would be much more for Ulliott in the world of poker after that. In 1997, legend has it his nickname of ‘Devilfish’ came into being after defeating Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen in Pot Limit Omaha at the Four Queens Poker Classic. Reports with the headline “Devilfish Devours The Master” circulated following that win and Ulliott would embrace it head-on, including having a set of ‘knuckle dusters’ (a form of brass knuckles) with ‘Devil’ on the right hand and ‘Fish’ on the left made for him personally.

1997 was also the year of Ulliott’s one and only WSOP victory, in the $ 2000 Pot Limit Hold’em competition. He would come close on several occasions after that, but would never taste of WSOP gold again. ‘Devilfish’ would also win on the WPT, taking the championship of the 2003 Jack Binion World Poker Open Main Event during the tour’s inaugural season.

Once again, while the tournament record is outstanding (227 cashes for over $ 6.1 million in earnings), it is the cash game arena where Ulliott made his mark. He also was one of the biggest characters in poker, taking such poker programming as Late Night Poker to unprecedented heights with his roguish personality. When he passed in 2015, not only the British poker community but the international poker world mourned the passing of a truly one of a kind character.

Congratulations to Ivey and the Ulliott Family for their inductions into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Poker News Daily

Former Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov Trial Date Set

 Former Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov Trial Date Set

In a case that is now dragging on into its second year regarding a transaction from 2014, former Amaya Gaming Chief Executive Officer David Baazov now has a date set for his trial on insider trading charges.

In proceedings held last week in the Quebec Court, Judge Claude Leblond scheduled the start of Baazov’s trial for a November 20 start date. Counting in holidays, the lawyers concluded that the trial will take about 13 weeks as the prosecution plans an extensive case. The attorneys for the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), the province of Quebec’s equivalent of the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission, have called the case against Baazov and two defendants the “largest insider trading investigation in Canadian history” and plan to call around 50 witnesses.

Other than the sheer number of witnesses (including some that potentially could testify via videoconference), there are other problems that are lengthening the potential trial. The trial will be conducted in French (Quebec’s provincial language) because, as explained by the Toronto Globe and Mail, the case is a penal proceeding under Quebec’s securities act. Leblond has stated that an attempt to seat a bilingual judge will be taken and that the case will have all proceedings translated as close to simultaneously as possible. The evidence in the case, strangely enough, will be presented in English.

There is no list of witnesses at hand, but employees from Amaya’s investment bank, Canaccord Genuity Securities, are expected to be called. Additionally, at least one “informant” not named previously in court documents will be called to testify, although there is no information as to whether than informant will testify anonymously or not.

The case dates back to 2014 in what was – and still is – the largest online gaming transaction in the industry’s history. The #1 online poker website in the world, the privately owned PokerStars, was approached by Amaya Gaming and Baazov early in the year about a potential buyout of the family ownership behind PokerStars, the Scheinbergs. Negotiations moved quickly and, by June, the $ 4.9 billion transaction was complete for the online operations and all other pertinent properties.

What the AMF were concerned about was the period prior to the actual completion of the transaction. In unveiling their case a year ago, the AMF alleged that Baazov and two other men, Benjamin Ahdoot and Yoel Altman, utilized the information they had regarding the potential deal to make stock trades “while in possession of privileged information.” Along with the trio, three companies – Diocles Capital, Sababa Consulting and 2374879 Ontario – are also charged with insider trading and attempting to alter the fair market price of Amaya’s stock. Baazov also faces a communication of privileged information charge along with the other two charges.

There seems to be at the minimum smoke where the alleged fire is located. Prior to the sale, Amaya Gaming stock was trading around $ 7.50 per share on the NASDAQ boards but, as the information emerged that the deal was imminent, the share price soared over $ 35, nearly a five-time increase. Even today, the stock for Amaya is still trading around $ 15 ($ 14.50, to be exact).

Baazov has had a tumultuous history since the allegations came out in 2016. Since the charges were brought against him, Baazov has looked to stay in charge at Amaya Gaming before eventually taking a “leave of absence” that became permanent at the end of last year. He has also entertained the notion of buying PokerStars from Amaya Gaming and taking it back into private ownership. In December, that potential deal fell through, even though Baazov and his investors were offering more than what the stock was worth at that time ($ 24 per share, a 30% increase over its board price).

Even with the trial date set, there is still the potential for the AMF and the defendants to strike a deal and avoid any court proceedings. This is a fact that isn’t being ignored by either side as the attorneys are not making any statements to the press regarding the case that could affect any deal discussions. If convicted of the charges they face, Baazov and company would face stiff fines and potentially lengthy jail time.

Poker News Daily

Does David Letterman Have a “Poker Problem?”

 Does David Letterman Have a “Poker Problem?”

Demonstrating the validity of the information that appears in its pages, a noted tabloid rag has recently surmised that former “Late Night” host David Letterman is “obsessed” with poker – to the point where he is risking all that he has built in the entertainment industry.

The National Enquirer recently ran a story that, while entirely plausible, didn’t seem to have much in the way of evidence. Breathlessly stating that Letterman, who retired from his critically acclaimed and popular late night show in 2015, is looking at “upping the ante” (their words, not this writer’s) by delving into “high stakes” poker. According to the Enquirer, Letterman has been teaching his son how to play the game and this is “driving him” to take “his skills to Las Vegas, where he dreams of winning big!”

Of course, all this breathless concern is based on a singular source that isn’t named. The source taps the name of a couple of the biggest poker “names” in the entertainment world – Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire – with the source hand-wringing to the fish wrap, “Those guys are as close to professional players as you can get. Dave’s totally out of his league with them…he might be worth $ 400 million, but those guys will have no hesitation in cleaning him out!”

Now, never let it be that the evidence there to back up these assumptions. Affleck has been having issues with his marriage to actress Jennifer Garner that have been taking up most of his time – not poker – and Maguire is notoriously quiet about his personal life, although his past poker journeys at the World Series of Poker and in high stakes cash games around Hollywood have previously been noted. The Enquirer continues to piece together flimsy evidence that, because Letterman’s idol Johnny Carson was an avid poker player, that Letterman himself now wants to follow that path and that his friends are concerned he will “end up flat broke like NYPD Blue creator David Milch.”

Milch’s story is actually documented well. Milch, who also created two popular HBO series Luck (canceled after one season due to deaths of horses involved with the show) and Deadwood, gambled away approximately $ 25 million between 2000 and 2011, per the Hollywood Reporter. The Reporter details the extent of the financial troubles of Milch, who didn’t lose the money at poker (he was, however, a regular of the Carson poker games) but through horse racing. His ownership of thoroughbreds – and his wagering on the races in the popular California horse racing facilities – have allegedly seen Milch blast through upwards of $ 100 million and that he owes the Internal Revenue Service around $ 17 million.

Strangely enough, none of this purported “poker fever” was found in an actual interview with Letterman released this month. New York Magazine’s entertainment website Vulture recently sat down with the soon to be 70-year old and found someone quite as ease in his retirement. He does regret not being able to call out certain politicians – especially one in particular that he skewered for years – but applauds those such as Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and the cast of Saturday Night Live for carrying the mantle. Nowhere in the Vulture article is there any inkling that Letterman has become a raging gambling addict looking to put his fortune on the turn of a friendly card.

Whether Letterman is getting ready to attack the Super High Roller Bowl this year (hey, Poker Central and ARIA? There’s someone to call!) or is just going to sit back and enjoy the fruits of his lifetime of labor, the breathless vagaries of the Enquirer – which use to be laughed off as the insipid jokes that they were – seem to be completely out of line. And if they’re true? Who wouldn’t want to see David Letterman at their poker table?

Poker News Daily

David Peters Stuns Fedor Holz, Takes Major Poker Player of the Year Awards

 David Peters Stuns Fedor Holz, Takes Major Poker Player of the Year Awards

After leading the two races for Poker Player of the Year pretty much since the World Series of Poker concluded in July, it was assumed that German poker superstar Fedor Holz was a lock to take down those awards come the end of December. Well, you know what they say about “assume?” Instead of reveling in the dual victories, Holz had to watch helplessly as David Peters used a late surge literally in the final tournament of the year to pass him and win both major POY races.

Peters was a good distance back of Holz on the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race in mid-November, in the second-place slot by almost 1300 points. Peters would then go on a rampage that saw him win an event and finish as the runner up in the November 18-19 Aria High Roller and Super High Roller tournaments to pull within roughly 500 points of Holz. With only December left on the calendar, Peters continued storming the felt in both the States and Europe.

By finishing at the final table in two events during the running of the Bellagio’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Peters knocked another 250 points off Holz’s lead, but he was still short. With the POY award within his reach, Peters went to the final-ever European Poker Tour event in Prague, Czech Republic, and finished in third place for the final EPT event in history. The 1280 points he picked up for that tournament allowed him to pass Holz by a healthy margin with his 8181 points.

So where did it go bad for Holz? From the end of October on to the end of the year, Holz failed to score a single point on the CardPlayer rankings. In a normal circumstance, Holz’s 7058 points would have been more than enough to earn him the POY championship. With the advent of major tournaments going to the end of the calendar year – and the high roller tournaments that normally come along with them – it wasn’t enough in 2016 for Holz to win the CardPlayer POY.

How far from the pack were Peters and Holz? The third-place finisher, Justin Bonomo, could only muster 6020 points to finish in third place, more than 2000 points behind Peters and more than 1000 behind Holz. Two other players, fourth place Ari Engel (5653 points) and fifth place Jake Schindler (5178 points) both used big December rushes to reach their positions. Engel made a final run at the title with his final table finish at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Rock n’ Roll Poker Open, but was unable to cash for points from his six money finishes in Prague, while Schindler made a big move with his third-place finish at the World Poker Tour’s Main Event during the Bellagio tournament series.

Rounding out the Top Ten on the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year rankings are Sam Soverel (4989 points, sixth place), Chance Kornuth (4838, seventh), Dan Smith (4799, eighth), Connor Drinan (4637, ninth) and Ankush Mandavia (4460, tenth).

With the more complex scoring of the Global Poker Index rankings, it was going to be tougher for Peters to pass Holz, but he would do it. His final two cashes of 2016 – his third-place finish in the EPT Prague Main Event (worth 482.16 points) and the fifth-place finish at the Five Diamond High Roller (203.68 points) – replaced two of his other top 13 finishes to push him by Holz by the closest of margins. When the final totals were put together, Peters’ 3666.31 points had managed to eclipse Holz’s 3644.8 points (remember, no cashes in the last two months of the year) and give Peters the GPI POY award.

Bonomo was once again the odd-man out in the triumvirate of players at the top, finishing in third place with his very respectable 3479.7 points. On the GPI rankings, Kornuth’s finishes got more love than on the CardPlayer board, with Kornuth hitting the fourth-place spot with 3336.54 points. Even former WSOP Europe and EPT Grand Final champion Adrian Mateos, who didn’t even show up in the Top Ten for CardPlayer, got his name in at fifth place with 3316.07 points.

Engel dropped in the rankings in the comparison between the GPI and CardPlayer Magazine, with the winner of the 2016 Aussie Millions (we’re less than a month away from the 2017 version) settling for sixth place on the GPI poll with 3290.43 points. Rounding out the next four spots are Paul Volpe (3192.88 points, seventh place), Nick Petrangelo (3176.03, eighth), Mandavia (3138.97, ninth) and Samuel Panzica (3114.66, tenth); three of those four men weren’t even mentioned on the CardPlayer Top Ten.

Although it may be the end of 2016 and the beginning of the New Year, poker professionals and amateurs alike aren’t going to be given a very long break. On January 6, the very first PokerStars Championship Bahamas (formerly the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure) will kick off, featuring a plethora of poker for those in attendance at the Atlantis Hotel. The 2017 Aussie Millions will open for play on January 11, perhaps setting up for a clash between two popular international tournaments. The WPT also gets into the mix with the start of the L. A. Poker Classic schedule on January 13 and the Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City, NJ, on January 17. Add in the various smaller tours with stops on the schedule (the WSOP Circuit, the Heartland Poker Tour, and others) and the race for 2017 Player of the Year will be off and running!

Poker News Daily

David Baazov No Longer Pursuing Amaya Acquisition

 David Baazov No Longer Pursuing Amaya Acquisition

Former Amaya, Inc. CEO David Baazov has ended his bid to purchase his former company and take it private. His offer was for CAD $ 24 per share, a 30 percent premium over Amaya’s stock price on November 11th, the date the offer was made. The total deal would have been worth nearly CAD $ 3.5 billion.

In a micro-statement on Tuesday, Amaya confirmed that the deal was off, saying, “Amaya Inc. (NASDAQ: AYA; TSX: AYA) confirmed today that discussions with its former Chief Executive Officer, David Baazov, regarding the offer to acquire Amaya by an entity to be formed, have terminated.”

Baazov also issued a statement to the media, explaining, “It became evident that the share price premium demanded by certain shareholders exceeded the price at which my investors and I would be willing to complete a transaction.”

It seems that the mention of “certain shareholders” might be a reference to SpringOwl Asset Management’s CEO Jason Ader, who wrote a letter to Amaya’s current CEO earlier this month objecting to Baazov’s offer, even going so far as to encourage the company to stop associating with its former boss altogether.

In the letter, Ader was very critical of Baazov himself, citing the insider trading scandal of which Baazov is currently the center and a $ 870 million judgment against Amaya in the Kentucky domain name seizure case, among other reasons.

The insider trading case goes back to when Amaya bought PokerStars parent Rational Group for $ 4.9 billion in June 2014. In March of this year, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), Quebec’s financial regulator charged Baazov and others with insider trading, saying he engaged in “aiding with trades while in possession of privileged information, influencing or attempting to influence the market price of the securities of Amaya inc., and communicating privileged information.”

Baazov took a look of absence from Amaya shortly after the charges were made and eventually resigned in August.

In September, the AMF further accused Baazov and his cohorts of directing a kickback scheme to reward each other for insider information which led to trading profits. Kickbacks consisted of things like cash, checks, a $ 13,000 Rolex watch, and even allegedly a ten percent profit distribution for the people involved in the PokerStars acquisition.

When the announcement was made earlier this week that the deal had fallen apart, Amaya’s share price tumbled before the market’s open. On Monday, Amaya’s stock closed at USD $ 14.45 per share, but opened on Tuesday at USD $ 13.40, a drop of more than 7 percent. But as often happens, it rebounded over the course of the day, finishing at USD $ 14.25, down less than 2 percent.

Even though Baazov seemingly took a shot at Ader in his statement, it almost certainly wasn’t just Ader who didn’t like the deal. Beyond the dubiousness of Baazov’s involvement, the funds to buy Amaya were coming from an odd web of foreign investors. It would have been a complicated, highly leveraged transaction and was probably not worth the risk.

Poker News Daily



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