Posts Tagged ‘More’

WSOP November Nine is No More, Final Table Returns to Summer

 WSOP November Nine is No More, Final Table Returns to Summer

When it was announced a decade ago that the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event final table would be moved to November, rather than directly following the preceding days of the tournament, many jaws in the poker community dropped. To many, it was an intriguing idea, meant to allow ESPN to build up the excitement leading up to the final table, but to others, it was sacrilege. We have grown accustomed to the November Nine, though, which is why it may come as a shock to hear that it is no more. Starting this year, the Main Event final table will be contested in July following a two day break once the composition of the final table is determined.

This sudden change is the result of a deal between ESPN and Poker Central which sees Poker Central acquiring both the television broadcast and digital media rights to the World Series of Poker. ESPN will air the WSOP Main Event semi-live with a 30-minute delay, including the final table. Before this deal, the only portion of the Main Event that ESPN broadcast live was the final table in November. The rest of the Main Event was shown in weekly edited episodes leading up to the November Nine.

ESPN will also air a number of “original episodes” during the year.

“ESPN has been our home since 2002 and we’re delighted to extend the relationship into the next decade,” said Ty Stewart, the executive director of the WSOP. “Having every day live coverage of the WSOP Main Event is truly a huge commitment on behalf of ESPN and Poker Central and we look forward to delivering to our faithful audience wall-to-wall action from the outset for the very first time.”

The bulk of the WSOP Main Event will remain the same. Days 1A, 1B, and 1C will be July 8th through July 10th. The survivors of Day 1A will participate in Day 2A on July 11th; likewise, the Day 1B survivors will meet on July 11th for Day 2B, though in a separate field from those in Day 2A. Day 2C will be on July 12th. Starting July 13th, the remaining field will be unified through Day 7 on July 17th.

For the last decade, the tournament was paused at that point and then taken up again in November. No more. The November Nine is gone. Now there will be just a two-day break to allow the final table members to get some rest (and presumably do some interviews). The final table will then begin on July 20th and play down to six players. Those six will play down to three on July 21st and the champion will be determined on July 22nd.

Just like it did for the November Nine, ESPN will broadcast the entire final table semi-live. The rest of the live coverage of the Main Event will only be a few hours each day on ESPN and ESPN2.

Coverage that ESPN does not broadcast on television will be streamed by Poker Central online.

Poker News Daily

Editorial: Poker Doesn’t Need More “Characters” Like Salomon Ponte

 Editorial: Poker Doesn’t Need More “Characters” Like Salomon Ponte

If you’ve been away from your television for the past few days, then you’ve missed the latest in uproars in the poker community. On this week’s edition of Poker Night in America from the Choctaw Casino in Durant, OK, the poker world was introduced to arguably the vilest creature that has ever been seated at a poker table. Going by the name Salomon Ponte – but loudly and crassly telling everyone to call him the “Hashtag King“ – this stain on the poker condition hit the felt in the PNIA cash game, a $ 25/$ 50 where the usual minimum buy-in is around $ 5000. Before he left, he had made a dubious impression on the program.

Over the course of an hour of play, Ponte proceeded to insult pretty much every player that was at the table, which included Shaun Deeb and Doug Polk. This wasn’t your garden variety, Mike Matusow “you’ve got little balls, I’ve got big balls” needling, these insults went into areas that no one should enter (hell, even professional basketball players KNOW NOT to do these things). Ponte proceeded to insult Deeb’s WIFE, saying “I’d rather be dead than have your fucking wife,” said that Deeb was a “fucking retard” and said Polk was “one of the biggest bitches in poker.” It was particularly sad to see Ponte, after spewing his vitriol, try to borrow money from the people he had disparaged (like they were going to give him money?).

Congratulations, poker world, we’ve finally found the point – poker doesn’t need more “characters” like Salomon Ponte.

Looking over the history of poker, there have been men – and some women – who have contributed to the game because of their larger than life personalities. You don’t think that the riverboat gamblers who traversed the Mississippi River during the 1830s and 1840s didn’t have a colloquial charm about them? What about such men who conquered the West as “Doc” Holliday, Wyatt Earp, “Wild Bill” Hickok and scores of others? The ladies were well represented by “Poker Alice” Ivers and Lottie “Poker Queen” Deno (born Carlotta Thompkins) in the late 1800s. Even into the 20th century, there were men like “Titanic” Thompson and, yes, even the man considered the “Godfather of Poker” Doyle Brunson. These people were THOSE personalities that made the game better and, as an added benefit, helped their wallet get fatter.

As the latter part of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century began, however, those “characters” became fewer. Potentially because of the effect of online poker, the visage of the soulless hulk of flesh, sitting at a table in a hoodie with headphones clasped around his head, sunglasses removing the last vestiges of humanity, there are few players who capture the attention of those casual poker fans. The aforementioned Matusow attempted to carry the banner (taken out by a bad back that limits his sitting time), as did Antanas “Tony G“ Guoga (taken out by becoming a married man and a politician).

Since there is a dearth of entertaining personalities in the poker community, the poker programs in existence have little but (gasp!) skillful poker play and educational and technical points to be able to talk about during their broadcasts. They really want to talk about the art of poker and the psychological battle that is going on in front of those with a rudimentary knowledge of the game, but they also want to see the blood sport, the sparring, that one gets with mano y mano showdowns for huge piles of money. Thus, these shows try to create a “bad guy” for the fans to hate.

ESPN and the World Series of Poker have been the worst offenders in this field. Going back to Matusow in 2004 against eventual World Champion Greg Raymer, each year there’s been that “player you love to hate.” In 2006, Jamie Gold all but twirled a moustache at the final table as he won the World Championship; 2007 brought the “bulldozer” that was Hevad Khan (and who brought about the “Hevad Khan Rule” against overly exuberant celebrations at the WSOP); just last year, it was William Kassouf and his incessant table talk that drew the ire of the community.

But there was a difference in these famous “bad guys” that separates them from the embarrassment that Ponte was at the table. For the most part, there was no malevolence (Matusow? OK, maybe questionable there) involved in their actions. They were stretching the rules of the game of poker, seeing just how far out on the edge they could go while they garnered attention from either the poker press or (perhaps more importantly) the cameras of ESPN.

In Ponte’s case, there was venom in the words he spoke. This wasn’t an attempt to get into someone’s head while at the table, this was verbal assault that could have gotten out of hand and become physical. There’s no place for that at the tables and the producers of PNIA should have put the kibosh on Ponte’s actions before they got out of hand. The problem is that Ponte wouldn’t have given a damn; he was later ejected from the Choctaw Casino and, over Twitter, proudly stated he had been kicked out of about a dozen casinos, not something to wear as a badge of honor (really, how shitty do you have to be to get tossed out of a casino?).

Maybe it’s time the poker community learned something. You don’t have to be a dick to be a “personality” at the tables. You just have to be able to halfway carry a conversation, maybe be a little self-deprecating, and ensure that the people playing against you – and those watching on whatever outlet – are entertained. THEN you’ll be asked to every event where a telegenic personality is needed.

Sure, poker needs to have some colorful characters in its mix. Sometimes they even need to have the proverbial “bad guy” to get the fans riled up against. What we don’t need in the game are people like Ponte, who is simply a punk off the street who happens to have a bigger mouth than a bank account and no idea how to handle either. To put people on the air like that is a huge mistake and one I am sure that PNIA has learned from. Hopefully the poker community has learned from it also.

Poker News Daily

More Actors Join Cast of “Molly’s Game”

 More Actors Join Cast of “Molly’s Game”

As it slowly works its way towards filming, more actors have been named to participate in screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s first soiree into filmmaking with Molly’s Game. The actors are all character actors that have had a great deal of success in television and films and they will be taking up peripheral roles in Molly’s Game.

First up is Chris O’Dowd, best known for his roles in the films Bridesmaids and This is 40 and for adding his talents to the HBO series Girls. In 2014, O’Dowd made his Broadway debut in the play Of Mice and Men and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor. O’Dowd will take on the role of the New York player who introduces Bloom, to be played by Academy Award nominated actor Jessica Chastain, to the Russian mob.

Joining O’Dowd in the film is Jeremy Strong, who most recently starred in the Academy Award nominated film The Big Short and previously starred with Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty. He has also had roles in other prominent films such as the Steven Spielberg film Lincoln and Ava DuVernay’s Selma. Strong will play the real estate agent/“party dude” who first gets Bloom organizing the games before she takes them over for good.

Bill Camp has earned notice for his work on the HBO series The Night Of, but he has an involvement that goes back to one of poker’s seminal moments. Camp was a part of the notable poker film Rounders, playing “Eisenberg” (one of the players at the table in the Taj Mahal when the denizens of the “Chesterfield Club” journey to New Jersey). In Molly’s Game, Camp will play a participant in the games that gets behind in what he owes the other players in the game.

Finally, Graham Greene will take to the screen in the film as the judge that hears Bloom’s case. Greene is an actor whose resume is lengthy, dating back to 1976 and including appearances in the films Dancing with Wolves, Die Hard with a Vengeance and The Green Mile. Graham has also appeared on a myriad of television programs, including L. A. Law, Northern Exposure and Murder, She Wrote.

Along with these gentlemen and Chastain, noted actors Idris Elba (playing Bloom’s attorney), Kevin Costner (Bloom’s father), Broadway star Brian d’Arcy James and Michael Cera are a part of the proceedings.

The film in based on the “tell all” story that Molly Bloom, the former skiing champion who, after a debilitating injury, took to organizing high stakes poker games for Hollywood’s elite initially and then New York City’s richest and most powerful people. The games, which could see six-figure swings per hand, made Bloom quite a bit of money, but they also brought attention. In fact, it was after her move to New York City that Bloom was arrested as a part of a Russian gambling ring; the only woman charged, she plea bargained to a misdemeanor and received probation in 2013.

The book itself was seen by some as more air than sizzle as it failed to name names and dish the dirt on the participants in the games. In Hollywood, it is well known that actors Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire were all a part of the game, with Maguire being slightly pointed out as a less-than pleasant person. It was also the setting for a lawsuit after businessman Bradley Ruderman participated in the poker nights offered by Bloom, often losing massive amounts of money that was eventually found to have been the property of clients of his hedge fund schemes. But Bloom didn’t offer any stories that could be constituted as tarnishing any of the images of the players in the game.

Sorkin, who is responsible for adapting the book into a screenplay for the movie, has stated that he will hold to the Bloom “no names” mantra, not mixing in any of the alleged dirt on the participants. Molly’s Game will be his first directorial effort after being the creator and writer of such television programs as The West Wing, The Newsroom and Sports Night, the play and movie A Few Good Men and the movies The Social Network, Bulworth, Moneyball and Steve Jobs.

The film began filming earlier this month, but no firm release date has been set other than “sometime in 2017.” Despite a strong cast, whether the film captures the attention of the poker world remains to be seen.

Poker News Daily

2016 WPT Borgata Poker Open: Farid Jattin Holds Lead at Final Table with More Than Half the Chips in Play

 2016 WPT Borgata Poker Open: Farid Jattin Holds Lead at Final Table with More Than Half the Chips in Play

The final table has been determined for the World Poker Tour’s stop at the Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City, NJ this afternoon and, from all appearances, it might be a quick one. Farid Jattin is the overwhelming leader of the final six, holding more than half the chips in play when the cards hit the air today.

30 men came back on Thursday to whittle their way down to the traditional WPT six-handed final table. At the top of the heap to start the day was WPT champion Matt Waxman with his 2.791 million chips, but Simon Lam (2.268 million), Jattin (2.16 million) and Phong Vip Nguyen (two million even) all joined him in the two million chip club atop the leaderboard. Lurking down the leaderboard were such dangerous pros as Paul Volpe, former “November Niner” Jesse Sylvia and John Racener.

On the very first hand of the day, Chris Limo would knock off Shawn Daniels (Limo’s pocket Aces were never threatened by Daniels’ Big Slick on a seven-high board) in 30th place and the knockouts kept coming. Waxman would improve on his leading stack in eliminating Carl Leckner in 29th place, while Jattin attempted to keep pace in taking out Joseph Chaplin in 27th place. Jattin would move into the lead after about an hour of action with a hand that was strangely played from the start.

After Robert Castoire raised the action, Jattin three-bet him out of the small blind and Castoire made the call. It was checked through by both men on a Q-8-7-5-A board, at which point the strangeness began. Castoire could only show K 10 for absolute air, but Jattin showed an A-8 that, after flopping a pair, improved to two pair by the river. The strangeness of the hand – Castoire’s lack of anything and Jattin not betting out for value at least on the river – had many on the rail talking.

Waxman wasn’t pleased about giving up the lead and demonstrated that in cutting chips out of Sylvia’s stack to break the four million chip mark. Instead of going away, however, Sylvia made a comeback of his own, chipping up with a double through Aaron Overton. By the time play was down to the final 18 men, Waxman and Jattin were atop the standings with Racener in pursuit.

Jattin took a hit when he gave up a pot to Zachary Gruneberg, dropping under 2.5 million in chips, but this seemed to be the last time he made a misstep. He used the double elimination of Tong En Zhang and Castoire in 15th and 16th places, respectively, to climb to nearly five million in chips and Jattin wouldn’t look back. Jattin cracked the five million mark in using a set of Jacks to beat Gruneberg, but it was at the unofficial final table where he did his biggest damage.

Only 11 hands into the unofficial final table with nine players remaining, Jattin and Racener entered into a raising war that eventually saw Jattin all in and Racener nearly to that point. From the betting pattern, it was easy to discern the hands; When the cards were turned up, Jattin’s pocket Aces were in great shape over Racener’s pocket Kings and, once the Queen-high board ran out, Jattin rocketed over the nine million chip mark while Racener was left on fumes.

Jattin kept moving forward as the evening hours rolled along, moving over 11 million in chips when Jattin took a pot off of Lam. It would be Jattin who called the end of the night’s efforts when, in a battle with Aleksei Vandyshev, Jattin caught an eight on the river of a J-10-7-3-8 board to quash Vandyshev’s Big Chick. By eliminating Vandyshev in seventh place, Jattin burst through the 15 million chip mark to hold a dominant lead heading to this afternoon’s play.

1. Farid Jattin, 15.735 million
2. Zachary Gruneberg, 5.39 million
3. Taha Maruf, 4.405 million
4. Chris Limo, 3.46 million
5. Simon Lam, 3.23 million
6. Jesse Sylvia, 3.035 million

It does look like it is Jattin’s championship to lose as he has more chips than the other five table members combined. If there is a challenger it would be Gruneberg, who has $ 840,645 in career tournament earnings and 174 online tournament cashes that total almost $ 2 million (under the screenname ‘HustlerGrune’). Outside of Gruneberg, Limo and Lam have no documented tournament cashes and Maruf has about $ 360,000 in tournament cashes since 2008.

The final table will not only be taped for broadcast of the Season XV schedule of the WPT, it will also be streamed online. The final table will be streamed on WPT.com and on Twitch.tv beginning at 4:30PM (a 30-minute delay) and feature an all-star cast of commentators. Kane Kalas, Jamie Kerstetter, Michael Gagliano and Nick Binger will all take a seat in the commentator’s chair for the streaming broadcast, which should be an entertaining show for any type of poker fan.

Poker News Daily

888 & Rank Increase Offer to Buy William Hill, Rejected Once More

 888 & Rank Increase Offer to Buy William Hill, Rejected Once More

On Monday, 888 Holdings and The Rank Group announced that they made a second proposal to acquire William Hill. William Hill announced, in turn, that it has rejected the offer. The “Revised Proposal” comes just six days after the initial proposal from 888 and Rank.

Both bids had two pieces: cash and stock. The new proposal increased the estimated value of the stock portion while also giving William Hill a larger ownership percentage of what would be a new, combined company.

In the original proposal, 888 and Rank would merge to create BidCo, the company which would turn around and buy William Hill to form a massive gaming company from the three rivals. William Hill shareholders would have received 199 pence per William Hill share in cash plus .725 BidCo shares per William Hill share. 888 and Rank (called the Consortium) estimated the value of the stock piece based on both of their share prices at the close of markets on August 5th, the last day of trading before the announcement of the proposal, making the total package worth 364 pence per William Hill share. William Hill shareholders would have owned 44.6 percent of the new company.

William Hill’s Board of Directors turned down that offer, so yesterday, 888 and Rank made a new one. As mentioned, the cash part – 199 pence per share – is the same, but the stock part has changed. This time, .860 shares of 888 Holdings were offered for each share of William Hill, rather than going with the BidCo arrangement. Again using the August 5th price of 888 as a guide, this increased the overall estimated value of the proposal to 394 pence per William Hill share. William Hill shareholders would have 48.8 percent of the new company in this case.

The total value of the offer is £3.425 billion, compared to £3.164 billion last week.

Once again, though, William Hill’s board is having nothing of it. In a press release, the company said:

Having reviewed the Revised Proposal with its financial advisers, Citi and Barclays, the Board of William Hill has unanimously rejected the Revised Proposal as it continues to substantially undervalue William Hill and as such the Board continues to see no merit in engaging with the Consortium.

The Board of William Hill continues to believe that the Revised Proposal is highly opportunistic and does not reflect the inherent value of the Group. Under the Revised Proposal, William Hill shareholders continue to be offered a substantial proportion of their consideration in highly leveraged BidCo shares and so it is directly relevant that the Board of William Hill continues to believe that a combination of William Hill with 888 and Rank will not enhance William Hill’s strategic positioning or deliver superior value for shareholders compared against William Hill’s strategy, which is focused on increasing the Group’s diversification by growing its digital and international businesses.

The Board cites a number of risks for its shareholders, including complications stemming from a three-way merger with not enough of a price premium to make up for it, the idea that proposed cost synergies wouldn’t be seen in full until 2020, and a high amount of debt for the combined company.

William Hill Chairman Gareth Davis said that the entire offer price is still not enough of a premium over William Hill’s current share price and that the cash portion remains unchanged, implying that he prefers cash over stock.

“As we have said before, this is highly opportunistic and complex and does not enhance the strategic positioning of William Hill,” Davis said.

It will be interesting to see if 888 and Rank keep trying and if there is eventually a number that would satisfy the Board, despite all of its concerns.

Poker News Daily



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