Posts Tagged ‘Players’

Poker Players Await Ruling on Stations Casino Bad Beat Jackpot Denial

 Poker Players Await Ruling on Stations Casino Bad Beat Jackpot Denial

When you think you have the goods in a poker hand and lose big, it hurts. But when you think you have the goods, lose big, but in turn hit a casino’s Bad Beat Jackpot, it feels amazing. Now take that to the next, depressing level and think you won the Bad Beat Jackpot only to have the casino say, “Not so fast, my friend.”

That is the situation facing poker players who were playing at the Station casinos on July 7th at about noon. According to a report by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Len Schreter beat Avi Shamir in a poker game at Red Rock Resort with a straight flush over straight flush. As this qualified for the Bad Beat Jackpot (it looks like Aces full must be beaten and both hole cards must be used; if Aces full, one hole card must be an Ace), a sign lit up in every Station poker room, indicating that everyone playing at the moment might have just one a piece of the jackpot.

The Bad Beat Jackpot, funded with a maximum one dollar drop from every cash game hand at every Station casino, was up to about $ 120,000, so Shamir, as the loser of the hand, had won $ 60,000. Schreter, the winner, was to receive $ 30,000, and the rest of the players at the Station poker tables were to split up the rest of the prize pool evenly.

But Red Rock poker manager Forrest Caldwell, after talking it over with the top brass, invalidated the jackpot win. Surveillance footage showed that Schreter had turned over his cards out of turn after the river card was dealt. According to the Bad Beat Jackpot promotion’s rules, “discussion of hands during the play by players, at the discretion of management, may void a Jumbo Hold ‘Em Jackpot,” and management interpreted Schreter’s action as discussion of the hand.

Players asked the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) to review the case and investigator Bill Olliges determined that Schreter’s action did not affect the outcome of the hand, so the Bad Beat Jackpot should be paid out.

Station appealed and a hearing was held last week where Station presented its case. While the video footage made it obvious that Schreter had shown his cards before he was supposed to, the LVRJ report does not say whether or not the betting had occurred as such so as to make his action inconsequential.

If Shamir was already all-in (and other players had folded), Schreter showing his cards didn’t matter. If Shamir still had chips and therefore was going to need to make some sort of decision in the hand, Schreter showing he had the best straight flush definitely made a difference. Without knowledge of Schreter’s hand, there was no way Shamir was going to fold.

Since Olliges had already ruled that Schreter’s enthusiastic reveal did not affect the outcome, it seems like Shamir had no further opportunity to act in the hand, but the LVRJ report does not make that clear.

For his part, Schreter feels terrible about everything.

“I was hurt emotionally by Red Rock, but this guy [Shamir] was hurt financially,” he said in his testimony. “Red Rock kicked me in the stomach, but Red Rock kicked him in a place a lot lower than that.”

Michael Bluestein, who was playing at Santa Fe Station when the bad beat happened and would therefore be due a small portion of the jackpot, said at the hearing that the motivation for Station not to pay out was “pure greed.”

It does seem odd that Station would get so uptight about paying out a Bad Beat Jackpot that was funded by a drop the players paid in cash games. The payout is not coming from Station’s coffers. The only real reason one could think of for not paying is that the giant jackpot amount attracted more players and Station didn’t want to see its poker room traffic decrease with a reset jackpot.

Then again, by being so shitty about it, Station might lose customers, anyway.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal says the NGCB will likely consider hearing officer’s recommendation when it meets January 10th and 11th.

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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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2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 3 – Paul Michaelis Remains in the Lead, 49 Players Remaining

 2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 3 – Paul Michaelis Remains in the Lead, 49 Players Remaining

Instead of letting the pack catch up to him on Day 3 of the 2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event, Paul Michaelis instead extended his lead. When the 49 players come back for Day 4 on Saturday, Michaelis’ name will be atop the leaderboard with 1.27 million in chips.

140 players came back on Friday with dreams of the latest PokerStars Championship trophy still in their heads, but the start of the day would be cruel. With only 127 players earning a cash from the tournament, there would be 13 unfortunate souls that wouldn’t earn anything from their trip to the Czech Republic except a memory. With this thought in mind, the field headed off on a planned five, 90-minute level day of action.

PokerStars Team Pro Fatima Moreira de Melo had arguably one of the more interesting days on the felt and it started virtually from the first hand of the day. After Martin Staszko opened the action and de Melo three-bet him, Michael Koran decided to make his stand. After Staszko ducked out of the way, de Melo called Koran’s all in and it initially appeared that there would be little drama. Both players had Big Slick, but de Melo’s was A♣ K♣, which became important when the flop came J♣ 7♣ 5♣. Koran went from chopping to out of the tournament as de Melo improved to 525K.

It only took about 30 minutes to reach hand-for-hand play, but it would take three times that to actually pop the money bubble. With two shorties behind him, Thomas Mercier put in enough chips to cover both from the button and only Mihai Manole decided to look him up. Mercier had the goods, however, as his A-J off suit was in the lead against Manole’s A-4. The K-Q-K flop opened up some chop opportunities and the five on the turn added to them, but the ten on the river only improved Mercier to an unnecessary Broadway straight. Fortunately for Manole, he was eliminated while Andrzej Siemieniak was getting knocked off by Konstantin Farber, meaning that Siemieniak and Manole shared the min-cash of €8700 (hey, €4350 is better than zero).

After the money bubble popped, the cash out cage became one of the most popular spots at the Casino Atrium Prague. It seemed that de Melo was responsible for most of those players heading to cash out as, on two different occasions, de Melo came out on the right side of an all-in situation and knocked out three players between the two situations. Through those two double knockouts, de Melo has remained in contention in the tournament.

The first time around, de Melo was on an A-K and got Arnaud Enselme and Aleksandr Mordvinov to commit with pocket Queens and pocket nines, respectively. While she was covering Enselme, she was running behind in chips to Mordvinov, which made the Ace on the 6-4-A flop fortuitous for the PokerStars Team Pro. Looking to dodge a nine or a Queen, the turn five and the river deuce didn’t change anything as de Melo tripled up, Mordvinov was cut down to 372K and Enselme was out the door.

The second time de Melo double dipped, it took down two pros. After James Akenhead pushed all in and Martin Staszko responded with his own all in “over the top” of Akenhead, de Melo could have quietly walked away. Instead, she called both bets and tabled pocket Queens for battle against Akenhead’s Big Chick (A-Q) and Staszko’s A-10. Nothing hit until the ten on the river, way too little, too late as de Melo took the double knockout to move close to a million in chips.

While de Melo was charging up the leaderboard and finished the day in excellent shape with 723,000 in chips (good for 11th place), it was Michaelis who quietly expanded his lead. He would reach over 1.5 million in chips at one point and, although he had a couple of missteps late in the night, he still was only one of two players to have more than a million chips when the close of action for Friday came:

1. Paul Michaelis, 1.27 million
2. Michal Mrakes, 1.032 million
3. Jason Wheeler, 931,000
4. Navot Golan, 888,000
5. Anatolii Zyrin, 825,000
6. Serhil Popvych, 812,000
7. Gavin O’Rourke, 803,000
8. Assaf Ben Yosef, 793,000
9. Alex Foxen, 761,000
10. Daniel Barriocanal, 740,000

Action is set to resume at noon Saturday in Prague (6AM Eastern Time) and is set to have five more 90-minute levels of play. That could change if there is a mass rush for the door from the 49 players that are left. With €775,000 going to the eventual champion in the PokerStars Championship Prague, the remaining players won’t be in any hurry to depart the proceedings.

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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 CardPlayer.com, 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.

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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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