Posts Tagged ‘Players’

Leon Tsoukernik/Matt Kirk Battle Ramps Up as Fellow Players Take Sides

 Leon Tsoukernik/Matt Kirk Battle Ramps Up as Fellow Players Take Sides

One thing that a poker player has in the world of gambling is his integrity. The trust of your fellow players – whether it be in financial transactions or in actual play of the game – is integral to being able to operate in the gambling community. Thus, the battle between King’s Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik and high stakes pro Matt Kirk has captured the interest of the poker community, with several top players taking sides.

For those of you who are unaware of the situation, earlier this year Tsoukernik allegedly borrowed $ 3 million from Kirk during a heads-up poker match, which the Czech businessman then reportedly lost back to Kirk in Las Vegas. After trading text messages between each other in an attempt to rectify the situation, the duo was unable to come to terms of repayment and are now trading lawsuits. Kirk filed a lawsuit to get his money back in Clark County Court in Vegas and Tsoukernik responded with his own lawsuit against not only Kirk but also Aria in Sin City to the tune of $ 10 million.

Tsoukernik’s defense is that Aria continually plied him with alcohol to the point that he was “physically and visibly impaired.” Kirk, he says, took advantage of him in that state and kept him at the table by continually loaning him money to continue the game. Additionally, Tsoukernik alleges that Aria blocked anyone from coming to his aid to rescue him from the game.

Normally this wouldn’t have been enough to draw the attention of the poker community, but recent actions by Tsoukernik seem to have irritated many. At this year’s World Series of Poker Europe, WSOP officials announced the return of the “Big One for One Drop,” the million-dollar buy in tournament that features the deepest pocketed pros in the poker world, to Las Vegas for 2018. During the announcement of the return of the event, WSOP officials also announced the first player who had put their deposit down on their seat in the event:  Tsoukernik.

This bit of news seemed to set off several players. On his platform with, Gavin Griffin sounded off with his thoughts on the issue. “It has to be clear to the World Series of Poker that this man is untrustworthy when it comes to poker,” Griffin wrote on their virtual pages. “Why, then, would they want to be associated with him in any way? He’s defrauding and scamming their customers on a regular basis and generally making the high stakes games that are frequented by these players much tougher to deal with. After all, in poker, if you can’t trust someone to pay you when you play, how can you play with that person?”

Never one to hold his opinion, Daniel Negreanu also responded on the issue. In a Tweet on his account, Negreanu ripped Tsoukernik in saying, “The ‘I was too drunk’ excuse is such horseshit. Besides, this is the SECOND time this guy stiffed someone (allegedly Tsoukernik had a similar situation with the defending champion of the “Big One,” Elton Tsang, in which he refused to pay him a million Euro debt)!” Poker’s living legend, Doyle Brunson, also backed up Kirk in a Tweet.

It was another frequent High Roller participant, however, who had the best thought on the issue. Bill Perkins, who has paid out untold amounts in poker and prop-betting losses to many in the poker world, offered his thoughts through Twitter. “I’ve lost endless trunks of money tired,” Perkins began. “It hurt paying but paid every time, even when I wasn’t tired.”

There is still plenty to be heard regarding this case. Whether Kirk or Tsoukernik’s lawsuits even have merit (there were no contracts signed other than their verbal communications) has yet to be established and Tsoukernik going after the Aria is probably not a good idea (one casino owner suing another? Not a good look). It also could have ramifications on the usage of the King’s Casino in the future for the WSOP (could they cancel their contract because of Tsoukernik’s actions?). Alas, we will have to wait for 2018 to see how it plays out.

The post Leon Tsoukernik/Matt Kirk Battle Ramps Up as Fellow Players Take Sides appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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Israeli Tax Authority Targeting Poker Players for Investigation

 Israeli Tax Authority Targeting Poker Players for Investigation

According to reports from one of Israel’s business websites, several Israeli poker players are currently under siege, but not because they play poker. They are allegedly the target of the Israeli government and the Israeli Tax Authority for monies that are allegedly owed to the government.

The website Globes and writer Ela Levi-Weinrib are reporting that, along with those people potentially hiding revenue from real estate sales and foreign bank accounts outside the country, Israeli poker players have come under fire for either underreporting or not reporting their incomes accurately. According to Levi-Weinrib, these players are debating with the Israeli Tax Authority over how their income should be taxed and whether they should even be taxed because of the expenses they incur. The potential tax income for the Israeli government borders on tens of millions of shekels (the monetary base for Israel).

Levi-Weinrib states that, two weeks ago, the Israeli Tax Authority stepped up investigation of gamblers but particularly poker players. Not only were their live efforts under examination but also their online winnings, whether they were tournaments or cash games. The Israeli Tax Authority contends that the players were underreporting their earnings as well as reporting it as income from lotteries or gambling, which are taxed at 35%. The government organization contends that they should have reported their earnings as a business, which is taxed at a much higher rate of 50%.

Another debate, according to Levi-Weinrib, is that players aren’t allowed to deduct all their expenses from their earnings. While negotiations reached agreement to allow for the deduction of travel and lodging for the players, there was still disagreement as to whether the players could deduct their actual tournament buy-ins and provable losses. One case is demonstrating the rift between Israeli poker players and their government.

In that case, a player claimed that he began playing as a hobby about ten years ago. In 2010, the unidentified player – at least to Levi-Weinrib and Globes – went to Cyprus for a roster of events. While he apparently hadn’t planned to play in a $ 25,000 “High Roller” event, tournament organizers offered the player a free entry with a special agreement: whatever he won, he would receive 10% of the winnings after deducting the entry fee and taxes to Cyprus’ government (nothing was noted about the remaining 90% of the winnings). If he lost, then he didn’t owe anything.

The unidentified player went on to win $ 207,000, according to Levi-Weinrib, but his contention is that he only received $ 17,000 of that amount – 10% minus the buy-in and the Cypriot taxes. That player then stated to the Israeli Tax Authority that he went on to lose the entire amount while playing other poker plus $ 1500 he had brought with him from Israel.

A bit of investigation through The Hendon Mob reveals that the player in question might be Ori Miller. Miller played in the 2010 Full Tilt Cyprus Classic $ 25,000 “High Roller” event, where he finished in second place to Perica Bukara. Miller earned $ 207,337 for that finish, but his story of “losing everything” after that is problematic in that, five days later at the same festival, he won a $ 1000 Pot Limit Omaha rebuy tournament for a $ 36,905 score. Those two tournaments make up much of the $ 288,916 he won in 2010 (for the record, Miller has almost $ 750,000 in lifetime tournament earnings).

Another issue in this case is that the “unknown player” is being taxed on the entire amount of the winnings instead of what he alleges he received. The player has a declaration of facts from the casino owner that, under penalty of lying under oath, there was the arrangement between the casino operators and the player, but the Israeli Tax Authority is “not recognizing” that unique arrangement. The difference in the case is significant as it is whether the player would be taxed at roughly $ 223K U. S. dollars (what the Israeli Tax Authority says the player earned) or at roughly $ 16K (what the player says he received).

The outcome of this case is in the air now, but in past decisions the government has come out on top. In a past case against poker professional Rafi Amit, Levi-Weinrib reports that the courts already made the determination that poker winnings would be taxed as business earnings, but this still is a point of challenge in many cases because of the status of “professional” or “recreational” player. At stake will be how Israel treats its poker professionals – and their winnings – in the future.

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2017 World Series of Poker Europe: Final 13 Players Determined in Event #1 With Italy’s Carlo Savinelli Leading

 2017 World Series of Poker Europe: Final 13 Players Determined in Event #1 With Italy’s Carlo Savinelli Leading

It was moving day at the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe on Sunday as the kickoff tournament for the schedule, the €1000 No Limit Hold’em, tried to reach its final table. While it didn’t reach that audacious goal, the final 13 players were determined with Italy’s Carlo Savinelli holding down the lead.

115 players came back on Sunday afternoon to the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, for Day 2 with dreams of a WSOP championship dancing in their heads. Leading the way after a dominant Day 1C was Sander van Wesemael, who held a monstrous stack of 323,500 chips to start action. Following him up were nine-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Valentin Vornicu, Day 1A chip leader Ismael Bojang and Day 1B chip leader Sergio Fernandez. Although these men held big stacks to start the day, they still had to make sure they made it to the money.

With only 85 players receiving a piece of the prize pool (a min-cash earned a player €1952), there would be 30 players who would leave the King’s Casino with nothing but a story to tell. The field went about knocking the numbers down almost immediately as, within two hours, there were only 90 players left. When the time came for the bubble to pop, there was a trio of eliminations rather than the usual one or two.

While hand-for-hand play was going on, Viktor Katzenberger was the first one eliminated. Katzenberger wasn’t alone, however, as Mario Mosbock would be dispatched from the tournament and, moments later, Konstantinos Tsirakidis came to the end of his tournament life. With all three eliminations occurring on the same hand of hand-for-hand play and the 85th and 84th positions in question, the three players chopped up the €3904 amongst each other as the rest of the field celebrated just before the end of the first level of play of the day.

Once the bubble popped, the cash out cage became the place to be. As players like Ivo Donev, defending champion of the event Ryan Hefter, Mike Leah, James Akenhead, Allen Kessler, and Ryan Hughes (earning valuable WSOP POY points) met their tournament demise, several players hit the accelerator to drive to the final table. Both Bojang and Vornicu earned their chips during the run up to and after the money bubble popped, but it was another player who would eclipse them for the overall chip lead by the time the tournament was stopped early Monday morning in Rozvadov.

Savinelli wasn’t doing badly on the day, sitting with about 750,000 in chips, when he entered a four-player hand with Viliyan Petleshkov, Pierre Neuville and Pawel Csichowski. All four would check a very dangerous J-10-9 flop, but a deuce on the turn brought some action. Savinelli bet out 150,000 that saw only Csichowski come along and, after a Queen on the turn brought more intrigue, the fireworks were lit.

Csichowski pushed out the remainder of his stack – roughly 300K in chips – and Savinelli immediately made the call. A disconsolate Csichowski asked if Savinelli had a King and Savinelli indeed did…in fact, he had two with his pocket pair of Cowboys. Csichowski could only turn up his 8-6 for the bottom end of the straight and head to the cage to pick up his 15th place payday.

Using that elimination, Savinelli would cruise through the remaining half hour of the evening. When officials with the WSOP, noting that there was little chance of getting to the nine-handed official final table, called the end of the day at 2AM local time, Savinelli claimed the top slot on the leaderboard for Day 2 of Event #1.

1. Carlo Savinelli, 1.34 million
2. Serge Danis, 1.19 million
3. Ismael Bojang, 1.12 million
4. Viliyan Petleshkov, 1.035 million
5. Sergio Fernandez, 980,000
6. Pierre Neuville, 823,000
7. Oleksandr Shcherbak, 780,000
8. Georgios Zisimopoulos, 775,000
9. Peter Bstieler, 765,000
10. Ali Sameeian, 760,000
11. Rene Crha, 685,000
12. Alexandre Viard, 640,000
13. Walter Treccarichi, 310,000

The remaining 13 men will return to the felt at 2PM on Monday, with the first bracelet of the 2017 WSOP-E set to be awarded sometime tomorrow night in the King’s Casino. At the same time, Event #2 on the schedule, the €500 Pot Limit Omaha tournament, will kick off its Day 1 action. It will be a busy day in Rozvadov on Monday as the 2017 World Series of Poker kicks into full throat.

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New Team Poker Organization Attempts to Capture Poker Players’ Attention

 New Team Poker Organization Attempts to Capture Poker Players’ Attention

For at least the last couple of decades, there has been attempts at creating a poker system that would involve teams. While poker is, at its essence, an individualistic pursuit, casual fans and newcomers have stated in the past that “team” competition is something they also like. Several attempts have come in a live format and now one has started for the online world.

Team Gaming announced recently their “Team Poker” concept, which has been trademarked by its founder, Glyn Ottorfy. Citing previous efforts that present “no good team play option for online poker, partly due to the potential for collusion,” Ottorfy’s “Team Poker” system has created a system that allows for tournament competitions, team versus team battles and promotions, among other things. Also taken into consideration are team sizes, with a handicap process which allows smaller teams to compete on par with larger ones.

In the effort to combat collusion, the “Team Poker” concept employs what is called by the company a patent-pending “Seating Protocol” which “eliminates any potential for collusion between teammates in poker tournaments by never allowing teammates on the same table with opponents.” Few details are provided on this “protocol,” however, including how it would apply to final table circumstances.

“Our patented system brings a synergism and camaraderie to poker that only teams can enable,” said Ottorfy during the announcement of the new organization. “We plan to re-ignite the poker industry with team and league play in addition to the traditional individual performance and reward system. Team Poker is truly the new paradigm in poker.”

Ottorfy is looking to crowdsource the backing to get Team Poker up and running. Team Poker has been posted to Indiegogo, where the goal is to raise $ 50,000 within the next two months. Several award levels are offered to those who get involved, including subscriptions for play on the site and team waivers. The newly released Indiegogo campaign has had a bit of a time getting off the ground, however.

The “team poker” concept has been an idea that has been brewing since the early 1990s. Former gaming executive Robert Turner, in a discussion with this writer, recalled having an idea for a “team poker” concept as far back as 1991. “Marsha Waggoner and I took a team from the U. S. to Australia around 1992,” Turner commented. “Mike Sexton and Phil Hellmuth were on the trip, wish I had pictures!”

In 1999, Turner was behind the creation of World Team Poker, which he would spend the next decade bringing to fruition. “We signed 285 world-class players to contracts for the league,” Turner noted, which would be divvied up originally on a country status. In 2010, the first World Team Poker competition was held at the Bicycle Casino, with Team China (featuring former World Champion Johnny Chan and Maria Ho as key cogs) taking the inaugural championship.

A second World Team Poker event was set for play in Las Vegas at the South Point Casino in May 2011, but fates would intervene. “We were set for play, had Fox Sports 1 on tap for airing the tournament in prime time, but “Black Friday” caused a delay,” Turner recounted. “We’re still keeping hope alive (about bringing World Team Poker back), however, if online poker could make a comeback.”

In its own way, the inaugural Global Poker League also presented a “team” concept. Started in 2016, the GPL captured the attention of many in the poker world, but a second season has been a bit slow in its premiere. The GPL founder, Alexandre Dreyfus, has stated he’s trying to fix issues with the league, such as its length in 2016 that lasted from March until November, before moving forward with the league.

Whether Ottorfy will be able to develop “Team Poker” remains to be seen. Changing the mindset of the “lone wolf” poker player, however, is a difficult task. Even if it is only online, Ottorfy’s “Team Poker” faces an uphill climb.

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PokerStars Bailing Out PKR Players Left Holding the Bag

 PokerStars Bailing Out PKR Players Left Holding the Bag

One of the worst things that can happen in the online poker world is when a poker site closes shop, leaving players looking for another room at which to play. Even worse is when the poker site goes under and takes its customers’ money with it. But that’s exactly what happened in early May when Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) skin filed for administrative protection (basically the UK’s equivalent of bankruptcy) and subsequently disappeared.

While player funds were frozen at the time, it was believed initially that customers would receive their money. MPN’s Head of Product, Alex Scott, said in a blog post, “PKR has repeatedly assured us that player funds are held in a segregated client account, for the express purpose of storing such funds, in accordance with their licence obligations in the United Kingdom and Alderney. We believe this to be true.”

He added, though, that just because the funds were in a segregated bank account does not mean that the money would make its way into players’ pockets.

Scott was prophetic. PKR is gone and so is everyone’s money.

Enter PokerStars. The world’s largest online poker room announced last week that it has reached an agreement with PKR’s court-appointed administrator in which it will step in and make PKR players whole. All PKR players, regardless of whether or not they already have a PokerStars account, will get their PKR money back, straight from PokerStars’ coffers. There are no strings attached to the deal; PKR players can immediately cash out their funds from PokerStars if they so choose.

Players will (or already did) receive an e-mail from PokerStars detailing the steps required to claim their funds. For those who already have PokerStars accounts, “it should take just a few clicks.” Those who are not PokerStars customers will need to create a Stars account, but it should still otherwise be a fairly simple process and those people will not be required to play at all on PokerStars.

Some people may look at this and think PokerStars is doing it just to get in everyone’s good graces and that’s partially correct. PokerStars readily admits it but also says the important thing is to help poker players:

We expect that some players will choose to use that bankroll to play with us and we will gain some new customers, which is certainly a good business decision on our part. However, the motivation behind this move is simple: to do what’s right.

PokerStars concluded its blog post with the following:

We’re not doing this to improve our bottom line and we are not acquiring or planning to revive the PKR software platform. We’re doing this because we think it’s the right thing to do for the poker world and to encourage others to join us in putting you, the player, first by segregating and protecting player balances from operating funds. PokerStars is proud that we’re in a position where we’re able to step in and help these players and encourage all companies in the industry to put players first.

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