Posts Tagged ‘different’

Split Decision as to Leader of Different Player of the Year Races

 Split Decision as to Leader of Different Player of the Year Races

With the tournament poker world motoring through the first quarter of the calendar year, it is a “split decision” as to who is the leader in the major Player of the Year races. In fact, in one race the name is a familiar one but, in the other, the “top dog” might surprise many.

On the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year board, the leader of the pack is a player who has been on fire through the first two months of the year. The United Kingdom’s Toby Lewis has been scintillating through February, taking down the 2018 Aussie Millions Main Event championship for a $ 1.1 million-plus payday. That wasn’t enough for the Brit, however, as he left the land “Down Under” and came to the L. A. Poker Classic with his groove still working. Lewis would finish second in the World Poker Tour Main Event of the LAPC to start March, earning another $ 600,000-plus in cash and earning (between the two events) 3780 points, ahead in the POY by a wide margin over the field.

Just how far ahead is Lewis at this point? Second place Justin Bonomo has a half million dollars more in earnings over Lewis to this point of 2018 (thanks to some decent High Roller finishes), but he has “only” earned 2156 points on the CardPlayer board. And Bonomo BARELY eked out the second-place slot on the CardPlayer POY. 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event champion Maria Lampropulos’ victory was enough to give her 2100 points and the final podium spot entering March. Koray Aldemir (1940 points) and Aussie Millions runner-up Stefan Huber (1900) round out the Top Five in fourth and fifth places, respectively.

The fifth-place spot marks the return of one of the legends of online poker. After not cashing in a live tournament event since 2014, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom has made a splash back into the game. The partypoker MILLIONS Germany was where Blom made his green, taking down the €5000 Main Event for a nearly million-Euro cash. Although Blom had cashed in a preliminary tournament earlier on the MILLIONS schedule, the Main Event win was the first time that Blom cashed in a tournament since the 2014 European Poker Tour Season X finale at the Grand Final in Monte Carlo. The 1824 points for the victory also put Blom in sixth place on the POY rankings.

L. A. Poker Classic champion Dennis Blieden slides in behind Blom on the board, the 1800 points for his WPT championship officially landing him in seventh. That clipped Adrian Mateos, who has not won yet in 2018 but has three final tables and 1795 points for eighth place. Rounding out the Top Ten for the CardPlayer Player of the Year race are Stephen Chidwick (1770 points) and Tim Rutherford (1760) in ninth and tenth places, respectively.

To say that there is a different poker reality on the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race would be a huge understatement. Of the ten players that come up on the CardPlayer rankings, only THREE of them make an appearance on the GPI ladder. In fact, the player who has seized the GPI Player of the Year lead at this point is a player that only the most hard-core poker fans might have heard of.

Although he has a runner-up finish in a 2016 World Series of Poker preliminary event, Georgios Zisimopoulos hasn’t exactly set the poker world on fire in his career. Mostly content to stay in Europe and play in the multitude of events there, Zisimopoulos has come out of the gate in 2018 with a vengeance. Between three tournament schedules, Zisimopoulos has been able to cash in a slew of tournaments, good enough to be able to put him atop the GPI standings.

Zisimopoulos has only one win among the eleven cashes he has earned (in a $ 500 Bounty event at the Merit Poker Western Tournament in January), but those 11 cashes have generated 1631.11 points, good enough for the top slot on the GPI POY leaderboard. To compare the two ranking systems, while Zisimopoulos is leading the way on the GPI countdown, he isn’t found on the CardPlayer system until 93rd place.

Another player who has been a serial casher is Nick Pupillo. Stunningly, Pupillo has cashed 13 times since January 1, with a top cash coming for his sixth-place finish at the Heartland Poker Tour’s Main Event at the Golden Gates Casino & Poker Parlour in Black Hawk, CO ($ 31,855). In those 13 cashes, Pupillo has accumulated 1618.23 points and takes hold of the second-place slot on the GPI standings.

Former World Champion Joe McKeehen seems to have come out in 2018 with a mission. He’s been playing several major tournaments on the WPT, with a best finish of third at the WPT Thunder Valley last week, and those larger field events have given him enough points to capture the third-place slot on the GPI rankings with 1478.17 points. Hot on his heels are Joao Pires Simao (1452.97 points) and Chidwick (1430.66), who round out the Top Five on the GPI.

The second half of the Top Ten brings more surprises. Ari Engel is in sixth at this point in the season, his 1426.10 points barely behind Chidwick, while Timothy Miles is a bit further back at 1411.31 points in seventh. Although he is in first on the CardPlayer rankings, Lewis can only get to eighth on the GPI board with his 1383.74 points. Bonomo (1371.99 points) and Daniel Negreanu (1345.64) round out the GPI Player of the Year race in ninth and tenth places, respectively.

These standings will probably be completely turned over by the time Tax Day (April 15) arrives. There are two Main Tour events in the next month on the WPT and several WSOP Circuit events, but the biggest question mark for a tournament could be the rebirth of the European Poker Tour. The EPT Sochi begins on March 20 and many in the poker world will be watching to see if the players come back.

Changes by The Stars Group – including the cosmetic step of bringing back the old EPT moniker – have been made but, since there has only been the also-reborn PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to judge so far, it is unknown if the players are giving the reborn EPT a chance. It will have an impact on the Player of the Year races, however, so expect the top players in Europe to flock to the Russian coastal city.

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Jackpot Digital’s Jake Kalpakian: “Jackpot Blitz is Different than Other Automated Tables”

 Jackpot Digital’s Jake Kalpakian: “Jackpot Blitz is Different than Other Automated Tables”

In the business world, one of the key things to have is a leader that not only knows his product and audience but also has the vision to move forward in that industry. Jake Kalpakian, the Chief Executive Officer of Jackpot Digital, is arguably one of those people. Through his vision and leadership, he has moved Jackpot Digital from mobile phones into the casino gaming industry and, by extension, into the poker arena.

Jackpot Digital’s major offering for the poker world is its entirely automated table known as Jackpot Blitz. The Jackpot Blitz table will be making its debut in 2018, but it has roots that stretch back a decade. With Kalpakian helming the company, the Jackpot Blitz table may make more of an impact on the live poker world than its predecessors did.

Poker News Daily had a chance to speak with Kalpakian recently, where we learned more about the Jackpot Blitz table and Jackpot Digital’s work in casino gaming.

Poker News Daily: How did Jackpot Digital get into casino gaming and, in particular, automated poker tables? 

Jake Kalpakian: Jackpot Digital bought PokerTek, the company that created the PokerPro tables, in 2015. Those tables have been so successful that they are still in use today in many areas. We believe, however, that we have a second-generation table that will take automated gaming to new heights.

PND: Yes, the Jackpot Blitz tables are amazing. I remember with the PokerPro tables it was like each player had a little monitor in front of them. The Jackpot Blitz table, though, is almost like a real table setup.

JK:  That’s correct. We’ve put years of software development into this product and, although we knew that the PokerPro table was a warhorse, it needed freshening up. The way games are going today, people are looking for more of a “touch screen” experience. We thought, however, that while the touch screen was a nice idea, we wanted to try to keep as much of “poker” alive as possible.

Even though the cards are digital, you can still peel them like you would in a live game. The table is more of a social simulation, to be as realistic as possible. The table is really a giant iPad!

JackpotBlitz2 1 Jackpot Digital’s Jake Kalpakian: “Jackpot Blitz is Different than Other Automated Tables”

PND:  It is obvious from looking at the table that there has been a great deal of thought about the player. You’ve even included other games, such as blackjack, to give players something to do while not in the hand. Why include things like that?

JK:  If you go to a poker room, many times you’ll see players sitting out a hand. You’ll see those players on an iPad or iPhone, playing online. They’re playing multiple games while at the poker table. Poker players are a very special creature, they like to be engaged. They don’t like sitting around doing nothing. They always want action, so we’re just providing them what they might want.

PND:  Where are these tables going to be? The cruise industry was big for the PokerPro tables, I remember.

JK:  The cruise industry is our #1 customer, so they are going to be on the Jackpot Blitz tables first. Then we’ll start to roll them out to casinos across North America, probably between January and March 2018. But there are multiple cruise lines that will have the Jackpot Blitz tables onboard to start with.

PND:  What is the big draw of the automated tables for the cruise and casino industries?

JK:  You don’t need to pay a dealer, you don’t need to have chip runners. You don’t have to staff the tables or the poker room, unless you want an overall manager who monitors things, because the table does everything itself.

PND:  What do you say to those who scoff at the idea of automated tables? What would be your suggestion to these players to push them over to the Jackpot Blitz tables?

JK: Look, we know most poker players prefer the “live” dealer, the cards, the chips. With the Jackpot Blitz table, the difference between live and automated is shrunk to nearly nothing. The Blitz table is much faster, getting more hands in to maximize play per hour. There is no dealer “mistakes,” no tipping.

While those things make it great for the operators, we also are looking at making it great for the players. We are trying to make this as close to the “real thing” as possible. The fact you can bend your cards, cover them, play with your chips, we’re trying to give the same feel as if you were playing live. Add in the fact that the Jackpot Blitz table offers total engagement to the player whether in the hand or not and we think we’ve got a good product.

We’ve found that, when we use the Jackpot Blitz tables in a tournament format, it breaks through that initial reluctance to play on automated tables. The players naturally migrate to the Blitz tables in a cash game. We’re positive it will be an enjoyable experience for players and they’ll come back for more.

The Jackpot Blitz tables will be coming out in 2018 and they may very well be coming to a casino (or cruise ship) near you.

The post Jackpot Digital’s Jake Kalpakian: “Jackpot Blitz is Different than Other Automated Tables” appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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No Clear Frontrunner as Different Player of the Year Races Kick Off

 No Clear Frontrunner as Different Player of the Year Races Kick Off

With almost six weeks complete in 2017, the two major Player of the Year races in the tournament poker world have begun to take shape. Demonstrating the differences in emphasis between the two rankings, there is no clear frontrunner at this time.

The CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year rankings have a logical person sitting atop the standings. By virtue of his first ever tournament cash, Australia’s Shurane Vijayaram jumps out to the lead on the CardPlayer ladder. The champion of the $ 10,000 Aussie Millions Main Event earned 2280 points for that win alone, just barely pushing him past the man who finished second to him in the tournament, Ben Heath. Heath has a few more finishes on his 2017 resume, with three big finishes at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas prior to his trip Down Under, and is right behind Vijayaram with his 2188 points.

The winner of the PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event comes in at third on the CardPlayer board. Christian Harder, who defeated Cliff Josephy in heads up play to capture the first ever championship on that newly created circuit, picked up 1824 points for his efforts. It was enough to push him past Nick Petrangelo, the first member of the “High Roller” circuit to make the list (Petrangelo was the champion of the Aussie Millions $ 100,000 Challenge), who slides in at the fourth-place slot with 1628 points, and Tobias Hausen, the third-place finisher at the Aussie Millions, who has 1520 points for fifth place in the POY.

The aforementioned Josephy is arguably having the best year of his tournament poker life. Coming off his run at last year’s World Series of Poker Championship Event “November Nine,” Josephy’s runner-up finish against Harder earned him 1520 points, enough to tie him with Hausen on the CardPlayer standings. Daniel Weinman, the victor at the World Poker Tour’s Borgata Winter Poker Open, only received 1440 points for that win, but he’s sitting in seventh place at this very early point in the year. Rounding out the CardPlayer Top Ten in eighth through tenth positions respectively are Bryn Kenney, the winner of one of the $ 25,000 tournaments put on during the PokerStars Championship Bahamas schedule (1406 points), Byron Kaverman (1375 points) and Fedor Holz, whose two final tables at the Aussie Millions earned him 1270 points.

OK, remember the names on the CardPlayer rankings? For the most part, forget them, as the Global Poker Index’s Player of the Year standings reflect a completely different look at the tournament poker world.

Kenney is one of the few constants between the two boards. He has already used up seven of his qualifying slots (the GPI scoring system looks at the top 13 finishes of a player, not a conglomerate of points), with six of those coming at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas. Because of this early rush, Kenney has burst out of the gate with 1592.85 points, enough to take the overall lead on the GPI leaderboard.

A player who wasn’t even on the Top Ten on the CardPlayer rankings takes the second-place slot on the GPI listings. Mustapha Kanit earned five cashes at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, then hopped a jet to Melbourne to pick up two more at the Aussie Millions. Over those seven finishes, Kanit has 1424.52 points and earns the second place standing on the list.

Kaverman gets more love from the GPI than from CardPlayer, with his work so far in 2017 earning him the third-place slot with 1257.5 points. Two more newcomers to the rankings, David Yan (956.39 points) and Nate Bjerno (796.36), the runner-up at the Borgata to Weinman, round out the Top Five. Petrangelo (788.13, sixth place) and Heath (771.68, seventh) are neck-and-neck in their battle, while Lucas Greenwood (765.12, eighth) and Sergi Reixach (760.8, ninth) have their own tussle ongoing. Wrapping up the GPI Top Ten is Weinman, whose 751.83 points for winning one of the bigger events on the WPT is not getting the attention it deserves.

The names that you’ve just seen on both the CardPlayer and GPI leaderboards? Within the next four to six weeks, they will completely be changed. The predominance of action in the tournament poker world is before the WSOP and 2017 is no different. After the WSOP is completed in July, there is a dearth of events and few chances for players to make up significant ground. Thus, it is important for players to get out to an excellent start in the whirlwind of tournaments between now and April as it does set up a player for an outstanding season.

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Editorial: Re-Entry Tournaments? Same Crap, Different Day

 Editorial: Re Entry Tournaments? Same Crap, Different Day

Earlier this month, the traditional finale to the calendar year for the World Poker Tour kicked off its action in Las Vegas at the Bellagio. The Five Diamond World Poker Classic had all the trappings of a big time tournament poker – exquisite location, big money and tough competition at every table. What it didn’t have, however, was one of the things that is gradually disappearing from the tournament poker world – a singular buy-in freezeout format.

The 2016 version of the Five Diamond, a $ 10,000 buy in tournament (also unheard of in this day and age), featured unlimited “re-entry” until the start of the NINTH level of play in the tournament (prior to the end of the second day of the event). Per Keith Kwazar, the statistician for the WPT, there were plenty who took advantage of this “re-entry” rule. Of the 791 entries that were received, there were 152 players that bought in twice, 43 players who bought in three times (including 18th place finisher Richard Seymour, who busted twice when his Kings ran into Aces, before running up a stack and running deep) and a stunning 10 players who bought in four times OR MORE (Daniel Negreanu is reported to have bought in SIX times).

If you’re not near a calculator, that is a total of 205 players that counted for a minimum (remember that OR MORE above) of 473 buy ins. Along with the 318 players who “only” ponied up $ 10K once, then you have your 791-entry field. If it reminds you of the day when “rebuy” tournaments were popular, you’re not out of line because the “re-entry” tournaments are basically the same crap, just a different day.

The subject was brought up by poker professional Raymond Davis, a confidante of fellow pro Allen Kessler, who was discussing Kessler’s departure 30 minutes after buying in at the Five Diamond and Kessler’s subsequent grousing about the rake at the tournament. “The rake is high at a lot of events (and) I have no complaints about it,” Davis began. “What bothers me is this re-entry BS! I think it has gotten totally out of hand!”

Davis went on to say that he could have been staked into the Five Diamond, but he felt “one bullet against people willing to fire two to three bullets isn’t fair at all.” Davis continued his diatribe in stating that the “recreational” players are “turning away” from the game and that it isn’t good for poker overall. “Whatever happened to the good old days? When you eliminated someone, they were actually eliminated?”

Overall the commentary from Davis’ Facebook followers were in his favor, including a couple of notable names in the poker world. Eric Mizrachi, the brother of two-time WPT champion Michael Mizrachi, noted in the discussion, “Nothing better than a freezeout poker tournament where everyone is equal…one shot, one chance and one opportunity is how it should be!”

Former World Series of Poker Europe champion and CardPlayer Magazine owner Barry Shulman saw the argument but countered, “Some would argue that the prize pool is relatively massive this way and some of the re-enterers are more likely to get it in bad than usual which creates an opportunity for more of a long run statistical edge for the one bullet folks.” Shulman also noted that different poker rooms have different rules and that “people should enter those tournaments that they feel comfortable playing.”

The problem with Shulman’s last statement is that it is difficult to find the traditional “freezeout” tournament anymore. Virtually every major poker tour and every major individual tournament has gone to some sort of “re-entry” format (either through allowing for multiple Day One entries or another variant, the “one time” re-entry after busting on a particular day). In fact, it has gotten so bad that some tournaments offer the option of simply buying into Day 2 for the starting stack AFTER you haven’t been able to make it through multiple Day Ones.    

More than four years ago, I touched on this subject in an editorial on these very virtual pages. It hasn’t gotten any better since then and, many would argue, it has become even more a scourge on the tournament poker world. The problem doesn’t rest on the individual poker tours or even the casinos, however. They are there to provide the game and, along the way, make a little money for their businesses (there’s quite a bit of cash that goes into the production of a poker tournament). The tours and the casinos are going to try to squeeze every ounce of blood from the turnip that they can, hence the continuation of the re-entry tournaments.

The true power lies in the players, and that is perhaps a detriment. Players, if they don’t approve of a format or discipline of the game (how many razz tournaments do you see outside of the WSOP?), can vote with the one piece of power that they have – their wallets. If players don’t show up for these re-entry tournaments, then the tours and casinos will quit using the re-entry format. Unfortunately, most players can only see the dollar signs and don’t look at how that massive number was reached. Thus, despite fevered discussion about the subject, the re-entry tournament doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

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Editorial: Poker Hall of Fame Has Different “Should Be” Inducted Versus Who “Will Be” Inducted

 Editorial: Poker Hall of Fame Has Different “Should Be” Inducted Versus Who “Will Be” Inducted

Last month, officials with the World Series of Poker and Caesars Entertainment announced the ten finalists for nomination to the Poker Hall of Fame. The Hall, set to induct two more members later this fall during the finale of the 2015 WSOP Championship Event “November Nine,” has once again put together a fine list of candidates that are all worthy of being inducted into such an honorary institution. The problem is that there will be a difference between who “should be” elected versus who “will be” elected.

First, let’s take a look at who is eligible this year to enter the Poker Hall of Fame:

Chris Bjorin
David Chiu
Bruno Fitoussi
Jennifer Harman
John Juanda
Carlos Mortensen
Max Pescatori
Terry Rogers
Matt Savage
David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott

First off, anyone on this list is a “should be” candidate for induction in the Poker Hall of Fame, but there should be a hierarchy on the pathway to entrance. Befitting her position as arguably the best female poker player around – during an era when it is also arguable fewer women were playing the game – Harman should have the first seat on the “should be” ballot. With her three WSOP bracelets, her mixed game talents and her abilities to take on the “big boys” for decades and come out on the other side intact, Harman is undoubtedly someone who “should be” elected to the Hall.

The second name on that list that “should be” elected to the Poker Hall of Fame is Fitoussi. Arguably France’s greatest poker player, Fitoussi has also been at the forefront of driving the game in his native country until governmental intervention made it impossible for him to do any more great work. He was a major campaigner to keep the legendary Aviation Club in Paris open (unfortunately, a failed effort) earlier this year and he continues to represent his country in tournaments around the world.

Arguments for their impact on the game could be given to Bjorin and Mortensen and few outside of Chiu and Juanda have competed in the high-stakes arenas that they have. On my personal ballot, I would have Rogers receiving a few votes – few have incited a whole nation, Ireland, to pick up poker, but Rogers did – and Savage, Pescatori and Ulliott are worthy nominations. But Harman and Fitoussi top the “should be” inducted list.

“Should be” doesn’t equal “will be,” however. The problem with this year’s vote is that it has been overrun by those looking at election to the Poker Hall of Fame as a sentimental exercise rather than a true look at the overall body of work of the nominees. In particular, the passing of Ulliott, the legendary ‘Devilfish,’ earlier this year has probably skewed the voting that there may not be a second candidate who earns at least 50% of the vote.

There has been pressure since the passing of Ulliott in April from all corners of the poker world for his induction into the Hall. There was a T-shirt campaign pushing for his nomination at this year’s WSOP and, since he has earned the nomination, there has been further campaigning for those with the votes to put him in the Hall on the first ballot. In my opinion, that is reserved for those that have truly made an impact on the game such as Chip Reese or Daniel Negreanu (Phil Ivey, if he ever comes back to the U. S. for longer than a couple of weeks, is worthy of that honor too). While he is a Hall of Fame talent, Ulliott is not “first ballot” material.

Where would Ulliott be without the work of Rogers in promoting the game of poker throughout the United Kingdom (after his work in Ireland setting up the Irish Poker Open, the oldest poker tournament behind only the WSOP)? There wouldn’t be a ‘Devilfish’ or a Late Night Pokerhad Rogers (and arguably several others including Liam Flood) not pushed the game of Texas Hold’em on the Emerald Isle. Furthermore, would there have been a European poker scene without the people that created it, like Fitoussi, Bjorin or even past Poker Hall of Fame nominee Thor Hansen, for Ulliott to make his achievements? When examined in this manner, it becomes obvious that, while Ulliott is more than qualified to be in the Hall, there’s others that deserve it more for their work.

The second one that might get the “will be” vote would be Savage. The reason here is that Savage is nearly ubiquitous in the poker world and visibility in someone’s mind can often drive a vote home. Through his work as a tournament director extraordinaire around the world, Savage is seen by everyone in the community; add in his work with the Tournament Directors Association and Savage has become THE man for tournament organization and conduct, immediately giving credence to a tournament simply by officiating it. I personally believe, however, that Savage would admit himself that his greatest work is still ahead of him; I’m sure that even Matt would say there are some players on the nominees list that are more deserving of a seat in the Poker Hall of Fame in front of him.

The final vote is going to be a very difficult one for those on the Election Committee. Although it isn’t explained to the general poker public, past years have seen the living members of the Poker Hall of Fame (23 at this point) and media members (past years had an equal number of media to living Hall of Famers; this year it is limited to 16) given 10 votes to allocate to their candidates of their choice; they can give their entire block to one person or divvy it up among several nominees, even giving one vote for each nominee if they like. In the end, two people are elected to the Hall provided that they each get a majority (50%) of the vote (that would mean that, of the 390 votes available, a potential inductee would have to get at least 195).

While I personally believe that Harman and Fitoussi or Rogers “should be” elected to the Poker Hall of Fame, it will probably be Ulliott and possibly Savage that “will be” taking seats in the Hall. It isn’t the end of the world if those two men get in (they have the credentials, without a doubt), but it is an indictment on the poker community that they don’t respect the history of the game in honoring those that came before them. The 2015 inductees, if they are the “will be” choices that I believe they will result in, aren’t truly reflective of the annals of poker history.

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