Posts Tagged ‘over’

2018 WPT Rolling Thunder Day 1B – Dean Freedlander Takes Over Lead, Final Numbers Yet to Be Determined

 2018 WPT Rolling Thunder Day 1B – Dean Freedlander Takes Over Lead, Final Numbers Yet to Be Determined

The 2018 World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in California completed the second of its two-Day Ones on Saturday. By the time the dust had settled, there was a new overall leader in Dean Freedlander. With late registration still ongoing, however, the players were still unsure of what they were playing for.

The final Day One of the tournament brought out a flock of players looking for redemption from busting out of Day 1A. From the first flight of the cards, 145 entries were on the tournament clock and many of those were from players who had taken a previous shot. Ari Engel, Anthony Zinno, Darren Elias, Blair Hinkle, Curt Kohlberg and Kathy Liebert were all return guests of the tournament, looking to make the most of their final shot (?) on Saturday.

By the time the tournament had reached Level 4 on Day 1B, it was obvious that it was going to be a much bigger day than Day 1A. 199 entries had been received by the start of Level 4 and the players continued to stream in through the Thunder Valley tournament arena doors. That number continued to ratchet up and reached a grand total of 251 entries by the time that the day had concluded.

It was an interesting ride for many pros in the field on Saturday. Ray Qartomy (who had also been a part of the proceedings on Friday) saw his chip stack yo-yo all through the day before he departed late in the action. He wasn’t the only one, however; Liebert and Elias were also victims of the elimination bug and Aaron Mermelstein, Loren Klein, Taylor Paur, Rep Porter, Allen Kessler and Hinkle were all under the original starting stack of 30,000 at the close of business.

Someone who was able to move quietly through the field was Freedlander. The psychiatrist was able to diagnose that his opponents didn’t have much in hands against him, although he did admit to hitting “a few nut flushes on the turn or river” that his opponents didn’t pick up on. There must have been quite a few of those “nut flushes” because, by the end of the night, Freedlander had seized the overall lead.

1. Dean Freedlander, 163,900
2. Tim McDermott, 148,800
3. Paul Nguyen, 137,000
4. Anthony Zinno, 131,500
5. Ari Engel, 123,900
6. Darryl Okamoto, 120,000
7. David Larson, 113,600
8. Kevin Eyster, 110,000
9. Amnon Filippi, 104,000
10. Darrel Dier, 102,400

Along with the finishers from Day 1A, here’s how the overall leaderboard looks:

1. Dean Freedlander, 163,900
2. Tim McDermott, 148,800
3. Sean Marshall, 142,100*
4. Eddy Sabat, 140,000*
5. Matt Salsberg, 139,200*
6. Paul Nguyen, 137,000
7. Anthony Zinno, 131,500
8. Ping Liu, 130,100*
9. Jesse Rockowitz, 126,200*
10. Ari Engel, 123,900

(* – Day 1A Player)

There were 141 survivors from the Day 1B field, bringing the grand total of players that made it through either Day 1A or 1B to 212. The final numbers are not known yet as late registration is going to go through Level 10 on Sunday’s Day 2 action, or about 2PM (Pacific Time). Once Level 11 begins, the final totals will be revealed (still an excellent shot at getting over 400 entries for the overall tournament) and the final prize pool revealed. The tournament is scheduled to play down to its final table on Monday, with the next champion crowned at the WPT Rolling Thunder on Tuesday night.

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Controversy Emerges Over Mike Leah’s WPT Victory at Fallsview

 Controversy Emerges Over Mike Leah’s WPT Victory at Fallsview

Earlier this week, veteran poker pro Mike Leah was able to capture another leg of poker’s Triple Crown, topping the field at the World Poker Tour’s stop at the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic. Along with his victory in 2014 at the WSOP Asia/Pacific, it now leaves the popular Canadian pro only one step (an European Poker Tour victory, now that series has resumed) from that magical poker achievement. But there is a significant taint to the WPT championship, one that has left Leah explaining his actions and others wondering if it was an acceptable way to win the championship.

First, the details of what occurred. Beginning heads up play against Ryan Yu, Leah was at a 2.5:1 chip disadvantage. The two took an unscheduled break from the action and, after their return, the cards hit the air to determine the champion. On the very first hand, Yu stuck four million chips in the center and, after Leah responded with an all-in, Yu folded despite the fact it was only another 695K to call. This move gave Leah the lead and it would get worse.

On the very next hand, Leah limped in and Yu raised five million of his 6.76 million stack. Leah came over the top for the additional chips that Yu had and, amazingly, Yu folded his hand. On the VERY NEXT HAND, Yu raised for 1.7 million chips, leaving 40K behind, and after Leah came over the top of THAT bet, Yu folded once again. With scraps left, there were a few more all ins that Yu would win before he was eventually eliminated with Leah taking the title.

Those are the facts. Now for the additional harsh reality.

There is some discussion as to whether the WPT has or doesn’t have a rule against making deals at the final table. In the 16-year existence of the organization, there has NEVER been a blatant chip dump such as this that determined the champion of the event. Because of the factor of Player of the Year points, the potential future bonuses (a WPT champion automatically qualifies for the WPT Tournament of Champions and has the right to play in subsequent years) and other benefits of the victory – not to mention the “competition” that was supposed to be evident in the WPT product – the WPT founders implemented the “no deal” rule.

However, that is being questioned by the very person who should have overseen the action, WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. In response to a Tweet Savage – who is currently on the floor at his home casino, the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, overseeing the action at the L. A. Poker Classic – indicated that he had changed the “no deal” policy when he took the position with the WPT in 2010. If this is the case, then it was the quietest rule change that has occurred in the history of poker because no poker media outlet nor anyone else can recall the “rule change.”

While there is debate as to whether this violated the rules of the WPT, there is the question as to whether it violated the rules of the casino or the gaming body overseeing it. Quite frankly, in no casino in the world would such a blatant chip dump be allowed. That the Fallsview staff ALLOWED for such an action to occur in their casino is utterly surprising, not to mention that there are allegedly laws against chopping tournaments in Ontario (the Canadian province where the event took place).

According to some involved in the discussion, Ontario’s Alcohol & Gaming Commission does not allow casinos to facilitate any “chops” in poker tournaments. If there is any private decision by the players to chop the tournament, the tournament still is to play out and then the money handled by the players AFTER the tournament has been completed.

Poker Fraud Alert’s Todd Witteles also brings up other uncomfortable issues regarding the chip dump. In particular, Witteles asks when it was determined that such an arrangement took place. If it took place BEFORE the third-place finisher had been determined, then there could be the potential for collusion between Leah and Yu to ensure that they would reach heads up against each other with a deal in place.

Leah, for his part, has taken to social media to defend himself. In a Facebook post, he admitted that “(he saw) how it’s embarrassing/disappointing for the WPT” for he and Yu to have done what they did. He falls short of any apology for their actions, however. Poker News Daily has also requested comment from Savage as to the actions in Canada and, as of press time, no comment has emerged (Poker News Daily will update as appropriate).

What is obvious is that there was a massive chip dump in a major poker tournament, not the daily 2PM event at the Mirage. What actions can be taken to ensure that this type of situation either doesn’t happen again or, at the minimum, is exposed to the light of day to provide transparency for these events (the EPT perhaps had it right when they allowed for chops and even added it to their commentary so that fans knew what occurred; they also reserved some of the prize pool and the trophy for the players to play for)? There will be ramifications of what took place at Fallsview and some in the poker community may not be comfortable with those changes.

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UK Regulator Settles on Agreement with Gaming Operators Over Unfair Deposit Bonus Practices

 UK Regulator Settles on Agreement with Gaming Operators Over Unfair Deposit Bonus Practices

The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority [CMA] announced last week that three online gambling operators who were under investigation for unfair promotional practices have agreed to change said practices to make them more consumer-friendly. The three operators – Ladbrokes, William Hill, and PT Entertainment – have all signed documents laying out what will now be expected of them.

The issue at hand has to do with deposit bonuses and how they are promoted and marketed. Anyone who has played online poker or tried their hand at online casino games in the past decade and a half (at least) is familiar with the banner ads: “Deposit $ 100 Get $ 100 Free!” or “25% Deposit Match up to $ 1,000!”

Of course, it is not as simple as that. There are playthrough requirements, withdrawal restrictions, and more. And that’s where the CMA’s problem with the gaming operators lies. When it launched an investigation last June, the CMA was concerned that “people often don’t get the deal they are expecting as the promotions come with an array of terms and conditions that are often confusing and unclear and, in some cases, may be unfair.”

The press release at the time continued:

Customers might have to play hundreds of times before they are allowed to withdraw any money, so they don’t have the choice to quit while they’re ahead and walk away with their winnings when they want to.

Even when players haven’t signed up for a promotion, there are concerns that some operators are stopping customers taking money out of their accounts. The CMA has been told by customers that some firms have minimum withdrawal amounts far bigger than the original deposit, or place hurdles in the way of them withdrawing their money.

“We know online gambling is always going to be risky, but firms must also play fair. People should get the deal they’re expecting if they sign up to a promotion, and be able to walk away with their money when they want to,” CMA Senior Director for Consumer Enforcement Nisha Arora said.

“Sadly, we have heard this isn’t always the case. New customers are being enticed by tempting promotions only to find the dice are loaded against them. And players can find a whole host of hurdles in their way when they want to withdraw their money.”

The bottom line of the agreement with the operators is that all playthrough requirements – the amount of gambling that is required to earn a bonus – must be very clear and easy to access before a player signs up and while the person is playing. Additionally, players must be able to cash out their original deposit whenever they would like.

The CMA’s summary of the rules is as follows:

• Players won’t be required to play multiple times before they can withdraw their own money
• Gambling firms must ensure that any restrictions on gameplay are made clear to players, and cannot rely on vague terms to confiscate players’ money
• Gambling firms must not oblige players to take part in publicity

UK Gambling Commission Executive Director, Sarah Gardner, chimed in:

We back the action taken by the CMA today. Gambling firms must treat their customers fairly and not attach unreasonable terms and conditions to their promotions and offers.

We expect all Gambling Commission licensed businesses to immediately review the promotions and sign up deals they offer customers and take whatever steps they need to take, to the same timescales agreed by the three operators, to ensure they comply.

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Stunning Late Season Move Puts Adrian Mateos Over Bryn Kenney in Player of the Year Races

 Stunning Late Season Move Puts Adrian Mateos Over Bryn Kenney in Player of the Year Races

In a stunning, late season move that is similar to what occurred last year, Spanish poker professional Adrian Mateos has used a surge of success at the tables to pass the man who has led virtually since the start of the year, Bryn Kenney, in the Player of the Year races in tournament poker.

Mateos began the month of December in fourth place on the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year leaderboard behind Kenney and it seemed that he was going to have a tough time catching the leader. Not only did he have to climb over two people to even reach Kenney, Mateos had to make up roughly 2000 points to even have a chance at equaling Kenney. But that is exactly what Mateos has done, utilizing the final PokerStars Championship event to do it.

After finishing off November by winning the $ 5000 Eight Handed No Limit Hold’em tournament at the Caribbean Poker Party, Mateos went on a run in December that was stunning. Beginning at the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Mateos earned three final table finishes, but he wasn’t done yet. Flying back to Europe for the PSC Prague (which would turn out to be the final event ever on that circuit), Mateos earned four more cashes, three final tables and two tournaments that earned him POY points. By the end of December, Mateos had totaled up 2118 points to pass Kenney and take over first place.

It wasn’t like Kenney didn’t try to maintain his lead. He picked up 105 points for a seventh-place finish in the $ 25,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament on the WPT Five Diamond schedule, but it wasn’t enough to ward off the invading Spaniard. As of December 30 (and barring any last-minute finishes), Mateos and his 7220 points will earn the CardPlayer POY over Kenney’s 7173 points.

The remainder of the Top Ten on the CardPlayer list were seemingly OK with where they finished on the end-of-year rankings as they didn’t make a serious drive upwards. Fedor Holz, the runner-up in 2016 (more on this in a minute) will finish in the third-place slot in 2017, earning 5875 points (and more than $ 6.3 million) to hold off Koray Aldemir (5510) in fourth place. Justin Bonomo used a steady stream of cashes in the Five Diamond $ 25K tournaments to ease into fifth place (5411), while 2016 Player of the Year David Peters (5034), Stephen Chidwick (4912), Jason Koon (4859), Steffen Sontheimer (4782) and Benjamin Pollak (4660) round out the sixth through tenth places, respectively.

Mateos’ late season surge also saw him eclipse Kenney on the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race. Much like the CardPlayer ladder, Mateos was in fifth place to start the month on the GPI board with plenty of space for his numbers to rise (under the GPI rankings, only the 13 best finishes for a player, utilizing a complex calculating system, are counted towards the rankings). Of the seven cashes that Mateos had, five of them improved his 13-tournament total. That 1051.36 increase was enough to push him over the top.

As of December 30, Mateos has the top slot on the GPI POY with a total of 3504.71, while Kenney had to stand pat on his 3478.06 points because his effort at the Five Diamond didn’t knock off one of his 13 prior finishes. Chidwick also climbed a bit during the month of December, moving into third place (3247.43) over Peters (3244.62). Dan Smith, who won the $ 100,000 Super High Roller at the Five Diamond and picked up some more points in another $ 25K event, jumped up to fifth place (3235.92) to conclude 2017.

Rounding out the Top Ten on the GPI POY are Ari Engel (3206.87), Holz (3172.03), Koon (3138.27), Nick Petrangelo (3133.46) and Stefan Schillhabel (3123.39) in the sixth through tenth positions.

The final month of 2017 is remarkable in its similarity to what happened last year. In 2016, Holz dominated the POY races all season long before, in a last-minute rush, Peters was able to pass Holz and take away both POY titles. If Kenney doesn’t find a poker tournament between now and Monday, he will fall victim to the same late-season lightning strike that hit Holz in 2016, only this time at the hands of Mateos.

The end of season rush by Mateos also demonstrates one of the problems that the ranking systems haven’t been able to overcome. Of the eight tournaments (counting the Caribbean tournament) that Mateos played to overcome Kenney, four of them were High Roller events with a buy in over $ 25,000. Without those high-dollar tournaments (which add more points due to their buy-in but offer fewer obstacles in the number of players), it is unlikely that Mateos would have even gotten within sniffing distance of Kenney, who himself built the massive lead he had through primarily playing High Roller events (of his 29 cashes in 2017, 25 of them were in tournaments with more than a $ 25K buy-in).

Hopefully the CardPlayer and Global Poker Index rankings will find a way to deal with the far too numerous High Roller and Super High Roller events in 2018 (limiting the number of cashes from such events might be a good start). For 2017, however, the ink is almost dry as Adrian Mateos looks to become one of the youngest, if not THE youngest, player (23) to ever capture the awards in the two predominant Player of the Year races.

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2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Michal Mrakes Takes Over Lead with 16 Players Left

 2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Michal Mrakes Takes Over Lead with 16 Players Left

If it was Saturday, the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event was set to play off its Day 4 schedule. By the time the dust settled on the poker battleground of the Casino Atrium Prague in the Czech Republic late Saturday night, local favorite Michal Mrakes – who has been hovering about the upper reaches of the leaderboard since the start of the tournament – had taken over the lead with only 16 players remaining.

At the start of the day, 49 players were set to take on whatever Saturday’s play held for them. Perhaps looking a bit brighter on the day was chip leader Paul Michaelis, who woke up on Saturday morning after spending his second day atop the leaderboard. Michaelis’ 1.27 million in chips was pretty much threatened by only one person – Mrakes, who was the only other player over a million chips with his 1.032 million chip stack. With pros such as Fatima Moreira de Melo, Marcin Horecki, Alex Foxen and Jason Wheeler lurking down the standings, however, that looked to be a situation that would change quickly.

Horecki was one of the players that had no fortune over the entirety of the Day 4 proceedings. On a 6-7-10-Q-9 board, Horecki faced a 103K chip bet out of Serhil Popovych that he didn’t believe. Horecki would make the call, only to see that Popovych probably caught up on the river against him after Popovych showed a 10-9 for the rivered two pair. Horecki didn’t show (perhaps an A-Q?) ash Popovych cracked the million-chip mark and Horecki dropped to around 200K in chips. Those would go into the center in a race between Horecki’s pocket Jacks and the Big Slick of Thomas Lentrodt moments later, which Horecki led until a cruel King came on the river to eliminate him from the tournament.

Mrakes, on the other hand, was heading in the opposite direction. He eliminated Dermot Blain when Blain put his remaining chips on the line against Mrakes. Once again it was a race, Mrakes’ pocket treys against Blain’s K-Q off suit, but this situation ended much quicker than Horecki’s. The 3-J-3 flop gave “only” quads to Mrakes to leave Blain drawing dead immediately; after a meaningless turn and river, Blain packed his bags as Mrakes stacked up his 1.44 million chips.

Mrakes was amongst the leaders at this point but, after the tournament was redrawn with 24 players to go, he firmly grabbed the top slot. Mrakes raised the betting to 60K and Hon Cheong Lee didn’t hesitate on putting in the three-bet of 180K. After Mrakes called, a 4-4-4 flop was dealt that might have slowed down some players. Mrakes did, checking his option, but Lee fired off 110K that Mrakes called. An eight on the turn brought another check-call out of Mrakes, this time for 225K of Lee’s chips. When a seemingly innocent deuce came on the river, Mrakes checked again and the fireworks were lit.

Lee pushed out the remainder of his stack, totaling over 850K, and Mrakes was put to a decision of calling off a huge amount of his chips or making a quantum leap upwards in the tournament. After the deliberation, Mrakes boldly made the call and it was the right move. On the 4-4-4-8-2 board, all Lee could muster was a Q-7 to play the flopped set of fours. Mrakes wasn’t much better with his A-10, but it was enough to win the hand, eliminate Lee and push Mrakes to 3.89 million chips and a solid chip lead.

Mrakes continued to expand on that chip stack, even able to withstand doubling up an opponent, before the final bell rung. He will enter Day 5 a massive chip leader and a prohibitive favorite for making the final table:

1. Michal Mrakes, 4.945 million
2. Valentyn Shabelnyk, 3.225 million
3. Robert Heidorn, 2.485 million
4. Jason Wheeler, 2.4 million
5. Colin Robinson, 2.085 million
6. Navot Golan, 1.955 million
7. Matas Cimbolas, 1.615 million
8. Thomas Lentrodt, 1.52 million
9. Harry Lodge, 1.36 million
10. Pierre Calamusa, 900,000

With 15 players left, the minimum payday for those still standing is €38,400. That is small change compared to what the eventual champion will walk off with on Monday night. That fortunate player will step away from Prague with a great Christmas present of €775,000.

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