Posts Tagged ‘Pros’

Judge’s Decision Mixed in Poker Pro’s Lawsuit Against King’s Casino Owner

 Judge’s Decision Mixed in Poker Pro’s Lawsuit Against King’s Casino Owner

A Clark County, Nevada District Court Judge isn’t making it easy for Australian poker pro Matthew Kirk to get $ 2 million back from King’s Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik, but she did leave the window open a crack for Kirk to keep trying. In a decision on Friday, District Judge Linda Marie Bell tossed out all but two of ten claims from a lawsuit Kirk filed against Tsoukernik in July from a disagreement stemming from a chip transaction made at an Aria poker table.

It is very common for poker players to loan each other money and this is often done by simply handing over some poker chips. There is an honor code of sorts among players and if someone doesn’t repay what they borrowed, good luck getting along with anyone in the poker community for a while.

It was a supposed poker chip loan in May that is the center of this controversy. As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Kirk and Tsoukernik were playing in Ivey’s Room at the Aria and Kirk passed stacks of $ 500,000 and $ 1 million in chips to the King’s Casino owner with at least two other people present. Kirk’s attorneys obtained the security video showing the chips being exchanged and witnesses sitting at the table.

Documenting the transactions for proof, Kirk texted Tsoukernik at 4:34am, “Gave you 500k.”

About half an hour later, he texted, “Gave you 1million.”

Tsoukernik replied after the second text, saying, “Ok.”

At 5:46am, Kirk texted that he had given Tsoukernik a total of $ 3 million, to which Tsoukernik also responded, “Ok.”

So it all seemed pretty cut and dry. While the texts didn’t outright say that the $ 3 million was a loan and needed to be repaid, it is understood. After all, why would Kirk just give the guy millions of dollars?

But then, at 5:58am, Tsoukernik oddly wrote, “Not valid,” following that up with, “0 now.”

“The defendant has committed a fraud upon the plaintiff,” Kirk’s lawyers wrote in the lawsuit. “Those text messages indicate that defendant never intended to pay his loans.”

Somehow, Tsoukernik’s attorneys were able to convince the judge that the $ 3 million (Tsoukernik actually paid $ 1 million of it back) was a gambling debt, rather than a loan. As such, the judge ruled that gambling debts were not enforceable.

The two claims Judge Bell did not throw out were fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment.

“Tsoukernik entered into the contract intending to use its unenforceability to refuse repayment. If proven, this could place Mr. Tsoukernik at the greatest moral fault in this matter,” she said.

Thus, as the Review-Journal reports, Kirk’s lawyers are going to continue to go after Tsoukernik for the $ 2 million, claiming that he took the money never planning on paying it back, knowing he could fall back on the fact that gambling debts can’t be enforced to just keep it.

An interesting tidbit here is that Tsoukernik’s King’s Casino is hosting the World Series of Poker Europe, which begins Thursday. As high stakes cash game table at the Rio during the WSOP this summer was named for the casino as a way to advertise for WSOP-E.

Cover photo credit: WPT via Flickr

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Art Papazyan Denies Trio of Pros History in Winning 2017 WPT Legends of Poker

 Art Papazyan Denies Trio of Pros History in Winning 2017 WPT Legends of Poker

Despite facing one of the most stacked final tables in recent memory – with two top flight professional poker players looking for their third titles and one legend of the game looking to etch his name on a piece of hardware he hasn’t touched yet – Art Papazyan beat back all comers from the second slot at the start of the penultimate day to win the 2017 World Poker Tour Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, CA, early Friday morning.

Papazyan had a decent chip stack to start the day (slightly over six million chips), but the seas of the final table were awash with sharks. Two-time WPT champion J. C. Tran was the chip leader coming to the table on Thursday while Phil Hellmuth, who has yet to garner the only accolade that has eluded him in poker (a WPT title), lurked in third place with almost three million in chips. A player that has been making a name for himself in 2017, D. J. Alexander (runner-up in the World Series of Poker “Millionaire Maker”) held down the fourth slot (2.73 million chips), while a quiet Adam Swan (1.655 million) and two-time WPT champion Marvin Rettenmaier (1.225 million) brought up the bottom of the leaderboard.

It would only take eight hands for the first elimination to occur at the final table. Swan, with a dwindling stack, was in a blind-versus-blind battle with the 14-time WSOP bracelet winner when he moved all in holding an A-J. Normally that is a fine holding in a heads-up situation, but Hellmuth woke up in the big blind with pocket Queens and immediately made the call. A Jack came on the flop but there was no further help for Swan as he departed the tournament in sixth place.

Rettenmaier short stack of chips bumped up a spot with Swan’s elimination, but that was as far as he would go. On Hand 20, Rettenmaier got the remainder of his stack in the center from the button, not feeling very confident when both Papazyan and Tran called in the blinds. An 8-6-3 flop didn’t seem very impressive but, after a check from Papazyan, Tran’s flop bet ushered him out to get the hand heads up with Rettenmaier. Tran’s flop bet was explained when he turned up pocket eights for the flopped top set as Rettenmaier packed his bags drawing thin with a Q-10. A Jack on the turn kept some drama alive for the gutter ball straight, but those disappeared with a four on the river as Rettenmaier headed for the rail in fifth place.

Tran held nearly half the chips in play after Rettenmaier’s departure while the remaining three players – Hellmuth (5.505 million chips), Papazyan (4.99 million) and Alexander (950K) – were looking like mere footnotes to Tran’s run to the championship. That would be the high mark for Tran, however, as he gradually began to bleed chips from his stack. Within 20 hands of Rettenmaier’s elimination, Tran had come back to the pack, unable to call bets out of his opponents with his meager holdings to maintain his stack. By Hand 40, Tran’s once-insurmountable lead had shrunk to less than 400K in chips over Papazyan.

Papazyan would be the one who knocked Tran off the top of the pedestal when he took a huge hand against Hellmuth. On a 4-2-2-2-6 board and with approximately four million chips in the pot, both Papazyan and Hellmuth had blustered about the content of their hands with heavy three bets (Papazyan’s pre-flop, Hellmuth’s on the flop). The river brought checks from both combatants, however, at which point Hellmuth turned up an A-J for the board’s trip deuces. Papazyan, however, had pocket nines (not the two black nines that Hellmuth won the 1989 WSOP Championship Event with, ironically) for the boat, good enough to take the bounty and the chip lead from Tran.

Tran would quickly come back to retake his lead as the foursome settled in for a drawn-out battle. They would play 130 hands before the next elimination, which came about when Alexander called off his stack of almost three million chips after Papazyan put the squeeze play on Hellmuth’s limp on the button. Holding an A-2, Alexander was behind Papazyan’s A-6 and, once a six hit the flop, he was looking for something runner or that would counterfeit Papazyan’s pair. The turn and river were uncooperative, however, as Alexander’s outstanding play in the tournament earned him the fourth-place slot.

Tran (11.715 million) still was dominating Papazyan (6.36 million) and Hellmuth (4.775 million), but the wheels were about to come off his wagon. Hellmuth started a stunning charge where he would take eight of the next 15 hands to assume the lead, but Papazyan would fight back to knock Hellmuth back down. Tran could find nothing at this point, unable to call big bets from his opponents, as his chip stack slid through his fingers. As the 200th hand of the final table approached, Tran and Hellmuth would finally clash.

On Hand 198, Tran moved all in off the button and Hellmuth looked him up out of the small blind. Papazyan had no interest as his cards headed to the muck, while Tran showed an A-10 that was leading the K-Q of Hellmuth pre-flop. A K-J-5 gave something to both men, momentarily putting Hellmuth in the lead with a pair of Kings but giving Tran a gut shot straight draw to go along with his Ace over card. Looking for one of six outs (three Aces and three Queens), Tran instead saw an innocuous four turn and a river trey to be eliminated by “The Poker Brat” in third place.

Going to the heads-up battle, Papazyan held an 800K chip lead over Hellmuth and wasted little time in putting a hammerlock on the championship. Ten hands into the fight, Papazyan had moved out to a two million chip lead and a few hands later extended his lead. On Hand 211, Papazyan would flop a wheel straight and get three streets of action out of Hellmuth to take a 10 million chip pot and stretch his lead to more than 12 million chips.

On the very next hand, it was all over. Hellmuth min-raised off the button and called after Papazyan moved all in against him. Hellmuth dominated pre-flop, his Big Slick crushing Papazyan’s K-Q off suit, but the Q-10-8 flop had other things in mind. A five on the turn helped neither man and, with Hellmuth looking for an Ace, King, or Jack to earn the double up (10 outs), an innocent trey came on the river. With a double thrust of his arms into the air, Papazyan had defeated one of poker’s legendary names to capture the championship of the WPT Legends of Poker.

1. Art Papazyan, $ 668,692
2. Phil Hellmuth, $ 364,370
3. J. C. Tran, $ 217,040
4. D. J. Alexander, $ 161,490
5. Marvin Rettenmaier, $ 120,775
6. Adam Swan, $ 91,825

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New “Pros vs. Computer” Challenge to Begin Next Week

 New “Pros vs. Computer” Challenge to Begin Next Week

Not happy to take a draw during the competition in 2015, the brainiacs at Carnegie Mellon University have decided to challenge humanity once again on a battlefield perfect for determining future world domination – the poker table.

Starting on January 11, the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science and four poker professionals – Jason Les, Dong Kim, Daniel McAulay and Jimmy Chou – will once again battle on the virtual felt in the “Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence:  Upping the Ante” competition. Over the next 20 days (starting at 11AM and concluding at 7PM), each human player will play heads-up no limit Texas Hold’em against a new opponent, the brainchild of the programmers at Carnegie Mellon. Named “Libratus” (perhaps a derivative of the name of the Roman goddess Libertas, or “liberty,” or perhaps a name indicating balance (Libra), this computer program has been in development since 2015, when the Carnegie Mellon/Poker Pro battle was last waged.

The guidelines of the action have a few tweaks over the previous competition’s brilliant format. For the 2017 version, two matches will be played simultaneously online – one human player will be on the floor of the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, one human player in an isolated room away from that action. Along with the extended time frame (the 2016 competition lasted only 14 days), this will allow the extra hands to be played and should allow for a more definitive answer as to who wins the match. At stake is a $ 200,000 payout (an improvement over the $ 100,000 offered in 2015).

Carnegie Mellon has put a great deal of effort into “Libratus” to make sure the AI is at its best for the competition. For the 2015 battle, the Carnegie Mellon computer called “Claudico” was pre-programmed with three million hours of computation to base its decisions on. “Libratus” will get five times that amount (15 million hours) and has been adjusted for some of the “tells” that humans noticed from “Claudico” in the 2015 competition. All of this has the Carnegie Mellon people very confident about their chances.

Tuomas Sandholm, a professor at Carnegie Mellon who, along with Ph.D. student Noam Brown, created “Libratus,” explained in the school’s press release the importance of the “Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence” competition. “Since the earliest days of AI research, beating top human players has been a powerful measure of progress in the field,” Sandholm said. “It was achieved with chess in 1997, with Jeopardy! in 2009 and with the board game Go just last year.”

“Poker poses a far more difficult challenge than these games, as it requires a machine to make extremely complicated decisions based on incomplete information while contending with bluffs, slow play and other ploys,” Sandholm concluded. The development of such computers – and their ability to make complex decisions rapidly – has an application to the benefit of mankind in that the AI can be used in medical analysis, the military, cybersecurity, and other business applications.

In the 2015 competition, Les and Kim were joined by fellow poker professionals Bjorn Li and World Series of Poker bracelet winner Doug ‘WCGRider’ Polk in taking on “Claudico.” Over the span of 80,000 hands, the foursome was able to defeat the computer to the tune of $ 732,713, with Li racking up $ 528,033 of that amount, Polk picking up $ 213,671 and Kim earning slightly more than $ 70,000. Les will be the one looking for revenge as, in 2015, he was the only human to “lose” to “Claudico” by the amount of $ 80,482.

Despite the gaudy dollar figure, the overall match was considered a draw because of the relatively low number of hands played in the competition. In addition, Li was the only player who could be said to have thoroughly beaten the computer, with the Polk and Kim individual matches more in the “tie” column and Les’ battle a close loss. The extra 40,000 hands for the 2017 competition will either show more of an advantage for the humans or will bring the AI and the humans closer together in the final totals.

Can the humans withstand the assault by “Libratus” or will we finally succumb to our robot overlords? With the “Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence:  Upping the Ante” competition, we will have more fuel for the fire by the end of the month.

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2016 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 4: 19 Remain with Plenty of Known Pros Chasing Ryan Tosoc

 2016 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 4: 19 Remain with Plenty of Known Pros Chasing Ryan Tosoc

After another six levels of play on Thursday, the final 19 contenders have been determined for the World Poker Tour’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Atop the standings is an unknown commodity, Ryan Tosoc, who has a host of known pros and a former NFL defensive lineman in hot pursuit.

The Day 4 action started innocently enough with the drive to determining who would get paid from the event. 75 players came back to the tables Thursday afternoon, but three of those people would have rather stayed in bed. The reason? They would receive exactly $ 0 for having put in three days of work and not receive any return on the $ 10,000 (at the minimum, as it was an unlimited rebuy tournament) buy-in.

Instead of waiting to get down to the bubble, Bellagio officials chose to move into hand-for-hand play to start the day’s action. There was hope by the staff that, by taking this action, the bubble would pop sooner rather than players delaying the action through tanking and “Hollywooding” on the cusp of the payout. Instead of popping the bubble quickly, however, it seemed to extend the agony for the players rather than shorten it.

Part of the situation was that players kept getting double ups. Brandon Meyers found a double through Dzmitry Urbanovich only four hands in, keeping Meyers alive, and Kristina Holst did the same thing at the same time in a hand against Tyler Reiman. It took a three-way pot about 45 minutes into the day’s play before an elimination would occur.

Moving all in from under the gun, Keith Lehr had to be a bit concerned when both Darren Rabinowitz (who moved all in from the hijack) and Dan Smith (who called out of the big blind) decided to look him up. Smith had a pocket pair of Queens to take against Rabinowitz and Lehr, who both held Big Slick, and the 10-6-3-6-5 board looked OK for Smith until you considered the suits. With four clubs on the board, it became a question of who had a club amongst their hole cards. That fortunate individual was Rabinowitz, whose A♣ played to take both the side pot with Smith and the overall pot, knocking off Lehr in the process.

Two hours into hand-for-hand play, only one player (Lehr) was eliminated and the players were beginning to get a bit restless. One of those restless souls was Mike Matusow, who raised up the small blind of Dan O’Brien to see a J-10-3 flop. O’Brien would check-call a bet from Matusow to see a Queen come on the turn and the fuse was lit. This time O’Brien would check-raise the turn bet out of Matusow, bringing an all-in three-bet from Matusow and an immediate call from O’Brien. Both had straights when the cards were on their backs, but O’Brien’s A-K gave him Broadway and Matusow’s 9-8 left him with the sucker end of the deal. Drawing dead, Matusow left the floor in 74th place ($ 0) as hand-for-hand continued.

After almost three hours of hand-for-hand tedium, it was chip leader Ryan Hughes who finally took care of the situation. 22 hands into the day (yes, 22 hands in nearly three hours), Jerry Wong pushed his chips to the center and Hughes nearly beat him into the pot with his call. Wong’s pocket Jacks looked good, but Hughes’ pocket Kings looked even better. After a ten-high board was laid out, Wong was out on the money bubble and Hughes extended his lead.

With everyone now guaranteed at lin 2east $ 22,251, things lightened up as the payouts began. Mark Radoja, Aaron Massey, Joe Hachem, David Pham, Haixia Zhang, Anatoly Filatov, Jesse Sylvia and Urbanovich were just some of the players who departed before the dinner break. After dinner, Hughes took some hits to his stack and, after doubling up James Romero, fell under the chip average for the first time in almost three days. Hughes would never recover from that hit to his stack, eventually departing in 21st place for his efforts.

The day was particularly nice for two participants. Richard Seymour, who holds three Super Bowl rings from his time with the New England Patriots (he would finish his career in 2012 with the Oakland Raiders), has segued into poker to soothe his competitive beast and he has some game to his walk. After starting the day with about 270,000 in chips, Seymour had broken the million chip mark after the dinner break. Although he would fall back to the pack by the end of the night, Seymour will be one of the players to watch on Friday as a potential final tablist.

The other player who made some noise was Tosoc. In a three way all-in situation just after midnight, Tosoc was up against both Jared Jaffee and Christian Christner and had the goods for battle. His pocket Aces stood up over Jaffee’s pocket Kings and Christner’s pocket treys, with the resulting 3.3 million pot pushing Tosoc into the lead. Jaffee suffered a significant hit to his stack but was still alive with 700K in chips, while Christner hit the rail in 22nd place. That pot alone made sure that Tosoc would be the chip leader going into Friday’s action:

Ryan Tosoc, 3.492 million
Justin Bonomo, 2.687 million
James Romero, 2.03 million
JC Tran, 1.806 million
Stephen Graner, 1.655 million
Jake Schindler, 1.289 million
Rob Wazwaz, 1.28 million
Bob Buckenmayer, 1.212 million
Alex Condon, 1.189 million
Igor Yaroshevsky, 1.065 million

While he has been around since 2012, Tosoc hasn’t exactly made an impact on the tournament poker world. Since his first cash in a World Series of Poker Circuit preliminary event four years ago, arguably Tosoc’s biggest achievement would be his final table finish in the $ 1 million guaranteed finale of the Deepstack Extravaganza 3.5 at the Venetian in September of this year. That $ 125,523 payday was the largest one of his career – unless he finishes this tournament in eighth place or better.

Tosoc, Seymour and the remainder of the 19-player field will play tonight until the official six-handed WPT final table is set. That will put everything in place for Saturday’s final table action, which will be taped for broadcast on the Season XV schedule of the WPT on Fox Sports Network in 2017.

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Poker Pros Doug Polk and Ryan Fee Win Tag Team, “Big One High Roller” Sets Off

 Poker Pros Doug Polk and Ryan Fee Win Tag Team, “Big One High Roller” Sets Off

The 2016 World Series of Poker crept closer to its Championship Event with the conclusion of the inaugural Tag Team event on Friday. With several top-notch pros entered into the event, it was the duo of Doug Polk and Ryan Fee who walked away as champions.

Event #61 – $ 1000 Tag Team No Limit Hold’em

The final nine teams left in Event #61 were all looking to ring up the first bracelet in an event that may very well become a staple at the WSOP. The format – teams of two to four players could tag in and out at any time during the course of the tournament – brought several partnerships to the felt, but none were working the format better than Polk and Fee. At the start of the final day of play, Polk and Fee were the only players over the million chip mark with 1.243 million. In fact, they had more than double the chips of the second place team of John Gale and T. J. Shulman (606K) and more than ten times the chips of the short stack triumvirate of the Little Family (pro Jonathan and his parents Larry and Rita).

The story of the short stack was true for many of the competitors. Although they would hang around for the first 10 hands, Team Little just didn’t have the ammunition to get anything going, falling in ninth place at the hands of Team Mittelman (Niel Mittelman, Adam Greenberg and Gabe Paul). Next to go was the trio of Marco Caruso, Mike Padula and Daniel Urban, who saw their dreams of WSOP gold disappear in eighth place after losing a race against Team Charania (Mohsin Charania and Marvin Rettenmaier) for most of their stack and delivering the rest to Team Dempsey (James Dempsey and Chris Godfrey) when they couldn’t win a similar race. Finally, Team Peters (Reuben Peters and Robert Altman) succumbed to Team Dempsey in seventh place when Dempsey’s A-Q stood over Altman’s K-8…and this action was just in the first two hours!

By the 50th hand of the final table, two more teams would be gone. Team Gale was able to knock off Team Lybaert (Bart Lybaert, Adam Owen, Benny Glaser and Owais Ahmed) in sixth place after Gale flopped Aces up unnecessarily against Lybaert’s J-10 of spades. It wasn’t enough to keep Team Lybaert around, however, as they would depart in fifth place after Team Mittelman turned a flush against Gale’s Big Slick.

With four teams remaining, Polk and Fee were still cruising in the lead, waiting for a challenger to emerge. They got over the two million chip mark in eliminating Team Dempsey in fourth after Fee turned a Broadway straight to best Dempsey’s flopped top pair of Aces. Soon after Dempsey’s elimination, they were joined above that plateau by Team Mittelman when they four-flushed Team Charania from the event despite getting it all in pre-flop at a serious disadvantage (Rettenmaier’s pocket nines for Team Charania against Mittelman’s pocket fives).

Heads up play started with the two teams relatively even in chips, but Fee would assert his team’s claim on first within 20 hands to move out to almost a 4:1 lead. Mittelman, however, would find a key double to bring the match back to near even. This would be the way the heads up play would go – back and forth – for 107 hands, or more hands of heads up play than it took to eliminate the previous seven teams (102). When the end came, however, it came quickly.

On the final hand, an A♠ 10♠ 7 flop brought a check-call from Fee after Paul bet out 90K. the 9♠ on the turn saw a similar action, with Paul betting out 180K being the only difference. The 5 didn’t seem to help anyone, but Paul moved all in and Fee snapped him off, saying “The nuts,” as he tossed up K♠ 3♠. All Paul could show was a flopped two pair with his A-10 as the championship went to Doug Polk and Ryan Fee.

1. Doug Polk/Ryan Fee, $ 153,358
2. Niel Mittelman/Adam Greenberg/Gabe Paul, $ 94,748
3. Mohsin Charania/Marvin Rettenmaier, $ 66,458
4. James Dempsey/Chris Godfrey, $ 47,278
5. Bart Lybaert/Adam Owen/Benny Glaser/Owais Ahmed, $ 34,118
6. John Gale/T. J. Shulman, $ 24,982
7. Reuben Peters/Robert Altman, $ 18,564
8. Marco Caruso/Mike Padula/Daniel Urban, $ 14,003
9. Jonathan, Larry and Rita Little, $ 10,724

Event #67 – $ 111,111 One Drop High Roller

The largest buy-in event on the 2016 WSOP schedule, the One Drop High Roller naturally brought out some of the biggest guns in the poker world. The re-entry event (yes, if you burned through more than $ 100K, you had the option of chucking another $ 111,111 at the event) saw 171 entries racked up through the Day 1 action, but those aren’t the final numbers. With registration open until the start of play this afternoon, there could very well be more players who jump into the mix.

Of those 171 entries, 88 of them will return on Day 2 with a stack to play. Leading the way will be Koray Aldemir who, according to his Hendon Mob resume, has only played in a tournament with a buy-in higher than $ 5000 once (the 2015 WSOP Championship Event) and only has tournament earnings about five times ($ 561,683) more than what he bought in for on Friday. He ripped through the field late in the evening on Friday to build a 3.789 million chip stack, dwarfing anyone else in the field by almost a million chips.

Although he has a big lead now, Aldemir will have to watch his back. Fedor Holz is lurking in that second place slot, while the remainder of the Top Ten looks like a horror show of top-flight players:

1. Koray Aldemir, 3.789 million
2. Fedor Holz, 2.884 million
3. Brian Green, 2.36 million
4. Michael Mizrachi, 2.296 million
5. Dominik Nitsche, 2.15 million
6. Jeff Gross, 2.105 million
7. Kyle Julius, 2 million
8. Sergio Espina Aido, 1.867 million
9. Joe McKeehen, 1.866 million
10. Adrian Mateos, 1.842 million

Day Two will kick off at 2PM on Saturday (Pacific Time), at which point the final numbers for the tournament will be compiled and the prize pool, number of payees and the eventual first place prize, which should be well over $ 2 million if not $ 3 million if new entries are received, will be revealed.

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