Posts Tagged ‘Stars’

MGM Acquires WNBA’s San Antonio Stars, Will Relocate Team to Las Vegas

 MGM Acquires WNBA’s San Antonio Stars, Will Relocate Team to Las Vegas

Fear of gambling keeps getting harder to justify for professional sports leagues as MGM Resorts International has purchased the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars and will move the team to Las Vegas for the 2018 season. After decades of staying away from the gambling capital of world, the leagues are now flocking there. The NHL’s Golden Knights just began its inaugural season, the NFL’s Oakland Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas by 2020, and the United Soccer League’s Las Vegas Lights are slated to begin play next year.

The NBA, which backs the WNBA, has had Summer League games in Las Vegas for a number of years.

WNBA President Lisa Borders told the Associated Press, which originally broke the story this morning, that the league has been eyeing Las Vegas “for some time.”

Simultaneous to the Stars’ move comes the hiring of former Detroit Pistons great and New York Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer as the Stars’ new head coach and president of basketball operations.

“He’ll run the basketball side of the business,” Borders said in her interview with the AP. “The MGM team and the league will work to staff the business side. The folks that will run business, sales, social, digital, all the functions to run the business.”

The team will play at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Lilian Tomovich, MGM’s chief experience and marketing officer, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal of the decision, “Mandalay Bay is a smaller, more intimate arena with about 12,000 seats. We feel it’s the absolute right size arena for the fans to have that intimate experience to come watch basketball.”

As mentioned, aside from NBA Summer League games and minor league baseball, the major professional sports leagues in the United States have kept their distance from Las Vegas, claiming that sports betting can damage the integrity of the game. This is true – sports betting could damage the integrity of the game – but the fallacy of this argument is that it really doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not a team is located in Las Vegas.

In instances when someone committed sports betting crimes – say, taking money to shave points – the teams involved haven’t been based in Las Vegas or Nevada. The gambler or mobster was able to bet the money no matter where the teams involved were. Perhaps they bet with an illegal bookie, perhaps they actually placed the bets legally in Vegas (or had an accomplice place the bets). It doesn’t matter.

And today it is even sillier to worry about a team being in Las Vegas when it comes to betting on the games, as the players involved in the games could always place bets online if they want. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics kick off the NBA season tonight and if he wanted, LeBron James could logon to an online sports book and bet on or against his team quite easily. And he is nowhere near Las Vegas at the moment.

MGM is the second gambling corporation to take ownership of a WNBA team. The Connecticut Sun has been owned by the Mohegan Sun since 2003.

The post MGM Acquires WNBA’s San Antonio Stars, Will Relocate Team to Las Vegas appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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Amaya Changes Name to The Stars Group

 Amaya Changes Name to The Stars Group

PokerStars parent company Amaya Inc. has finally made the transition it previewed this spring, embracing the power of the PokerStars brand and changing its corporate name to The Stars Group. Along with the rebranding comes a headquarters move from Montreal to Toronto.

In a brief press release, the company said:

TORONTO, Canada – August 1, 2017 – Amaya Inc. (Nasdaq: AYA; TSX: AYA) today announced that it has completed the previously announced change of its corporate name to The Stars Group Inc., continuance under the Business Corporations Act (Ontario) pursuant to which it has become an Ontario corporation, and move of its head office from Montreal to Toronto. The Stars Group’s common shares will begin trading under the ticker symbol “TSG” on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and “TSGI” on the Toronto Stock Exchange at market open today. In connection with the name change, The Stars Group also adopted a new corporate logo and will launch a new website at http://www.thestarsgroup.com.

Outstanding stock certificates will not be affected by the name change and will not need to be exchanged. All securities trading, filings and market-related information will be reported under the new corporate name and trading symbols.

The groundwork for the name change naturally began three years ago when Amaya purchased Rational Group, then the parent of PokerStars, for an insane $ 4.9 billion. At the time, people were all like, “What in the hell is Amaya and where is all that money coming from?”

Well, we all certainly know who Amaya is and was by now and the payments for the acquisition have been made. In the ensuing three years, Amaya has taken full advantage of the PokerStars brand, getting BetStars into the public consciousness, creating the PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival live poker tours out of the corpse of the European Poker Tour, and signing on high-profile celebrity endorsers like Usain Bolt and Kevin Hart.

The Stars Brand also owns former PokerStars rival Full Tilt as part of its post-Black Friday settlement with the United States Department of Justice, but Full Tilt is now just a skin of PokerStars, rather than its own, independent online poker room.

It only made sense to change the company’s name, as PokerStars is arguably the most recognizable name in online gambling (I said “arguably,” which is actually my way of asking you not to argue with me, as I recognize that other opinions are valid), whereas Amaya was, well, the company who bought PokerStars. I mean, heck, did anybody know that Rational Group previously owned PokerStars?

Amaya has also gotten some bad press over the last couple years, highlighted by the company’s former CEO, David Baazov, who has been charged by Quebec’s securities regulatory agency of insider trading related to the Rational Group acquisition. Even through all that, Baazov made an attempt to buy all of Amaya’s stock and take it public, but his efforts were thwarted to the point where he has sold off much of his holdings in the company. The transition to The Stars Brand is likely a way to cleanse the company of the Baazov stink.

Poker News Daily

PokerStars Leaning Less on Sports Stars for Marketing

 PokerStars Leaning Less on Sports Stars for Marketing

For a decade, PokerStars has used sports stars to market its online poker room, with a particular emphasis on the marketing strategy in recent years. According to a recent e-mail to the site’s affiliates, though, it appears that this strategy may be about to disappear.

The notice to affiliates reads as follows:

Starting April 1st 2017 we will be focusing on our ongoing Free Welcome Bonus Offer. In addition, our branding team has designed some wonderful creative and banners to help support your acquisition efforts and drive in some big numbers!

Therefore, as of midnight March 31st 2017, all Cristiano Ronaldo & Neymar Jr promotions materials (ie. banners, images, etc) will have to be replaced as the Cristiano Ronaldo & Neymar Jr banner creative will no longer be valid for you to use from that date.

When PokerStars first gained real notoriety, it was because Chris Moneymaker had won a satellite on the site to gain entry into the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event and then went onto win the most coveted prize in poker. From there, PokerStars looked to recruit WSOP champs and they did so, as the next two Main Event winners, Greg “Fossilman” Raymer and Joe Hachem, also became PokerStars pros. Stars became the poker room where champions played.

Later, as the age of young internet poker stars developed, PokerStars recruited a stable of online pros.

But all of those sponsored players were mostly just known to the poker community. Sure, casual poker fans probably knew Moneymaker and Raymer, but nobody who just watches poker on ESPN would know any of the online poker 20-somethings.

Thus, PokerStars dove headlong into recruiting sports stars as its brand ambassadors in 2015. Some, like tennis legend Boris Becker, had been with PokerStars for a while, but it was really 2015 when Stars ramped it up. Guys like Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, Jr. are known worldwide; both bring a gigantic following with them.

But those guys are also very expensive, something that may have led to this decision by PokerStars to halt its flood of sports star marketing (as a member of the poker media, I can assure you, the marketing is constant – I seemingly get multiple e-mails a week from Stars promoting something having to do with Cristiano Ronaldo).

The quoted e-mail doesn’t necessarily mean that all sports star marketing is done; it would be odd for it to just stop so suddenly. A simple “Free Welcome Bonus Offer” is not going to cut the mustard for PokerStars’ continued push to attract more customers. PokerStars may just be reshuffling the deck a bit and de-emphasizing athletes as spokespeople. We will find out as the future unfolds.

Poker News Daily

2017 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event Day 2: Paul Volpe Pulls to Lead, Five Shooting Stars Remain

 2017 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event Day 2: Paul Volpe Pulls to Lead, Five Shooting Stars Remain

Day 2 of the World Poker Tour Bay 101 Shooting Star in San Jose, CA, is in the books and it is shaping up to be an outstanding stretch run. Atop the final 44 players remaining is poker professional Paul Volpe, but there are plenty of challenges facing him. Not only are there five Shooting Stars left in the tournament, one of them is WPT announcer and Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton, who is looking to take over the lead in the WPT Player of the Year race should he make the final table.

264 players came back for Day 2 play, greeted with the news that they wanted:  the prize pool information. The massive 806 entries for the tournament – a record for the tournament – built a prize pool of $ 5,722,600 (part of this prize pool was the bonuses paid out to the Day 1 chip leaders and the player bounties), with WPT and Bay 101 officials deciding that 81 players would receive a minimum piece of $ 13,660. The eyes of all those left in the tournament were easily focused atop the pay scale, with a whopping $ 1,373,000 reserved for the eventual champion.

Now knowing how many players would be paid, the audacious task was set for Day 2. First, the field needed to work down to the money – meaning slightly more than two-thirds (70%) of the field would be disappointed on Wednesday – then take on getting down as close to 36 players to keep Thursday’s action (to the official WPT final table of six) as short as possible. While one of those endeavors would be completed, the other came up a bit short.

There were plenty of Shooting Stars left at the start of the day and, if they were on the short stack, it seems they quickly found the exit. Shooting Star bounty Chris Moorman was the first to go at the hands of Stuart Tuvey, netting Tuvey a $ 2500 bonus for knocking out the British pro along with his Shooting Star medallion and a commemorative t-shirt. Former NFL star Richard Seymour soon followed Moorman (Seymour’s pocket eights couldn’t catch Tuan Mai’s pocket Kings), along with Jason Koon, Anthony Zinno, Cliff Josephy, Marvin Rettenmaier, Bruce Buffer, Tom Schneider, Joe McKeehen, and Tyler Patterson. By the start of Level 14, there were still 23 Shooting Stars remaining, giving players plenty to strive for.

The news wasn’t all bad for the Shooting Stars. Former World Champion Scotty Nguyen doubled early to get up to 220K in chips, while Rainer Kempe (360K) and Noah Schwartz (305K) were at the top of those with the bounties on their heads. Also coming up the ladder at the start of the new level was Volpe who, while not a Shooting Star, had quietly worked his way into the mix with a 305K stack.

The parade of superstars with the Shooting Star medallion hanging around their necks – at least until they were knocked out of the tournament – continued throughout the afternoon. Andy Frankenberger, Mohsin Charania, ESPN poker announcer Lon McEachern, Igor Kurganov, Pat Lyons, and Tim West all hit the door after their chips disappeared from their grasp. Just as quickly as he went up the ladder, Shooting Star Nguyen would also head for the door in a particularly painful hand. After catching trip Aces on the turn against WPT Champions’ Club member Brian Altman with his Big Slick, Nguyen got his final chips to the center on the river only to see that Altman had flopped a set of fives and, with the turn Ace, made a boat.

With Shooting Star Mike Matusow heading to the door before the dinner break, 99 players were left and the money bubble was looming. What wasn’t going to be made, however, was the goal of reaching the final 36 players. Still, the players surged onward and, as the bubble came closer, Dominik Nitsche, Jesse Sylvia, Todd Brunson, and Ryan Riess would miss out on making the money in losing their bounty. What would come next would be an extended hand-for-hand period, with nobody wanting to depart the event.

For almost two hours, there were no eliminations in the tournament but plenty of double up. Sexton himself would triple up during this process, using pocket Queens against Eduards Kudrjavcevs’ pocket eights and another unnamed player to stay alive in the tournament. It wasn’t until Eddy Sabat, using pocket Kings, vanquished Oscar Zarate-Ramirez’s K♦ J♦ that the money bubble was popped and the remaining 81 players could celebrate their min-cash payday.

Once the bubble was done, the march to the cage began. Matt Stout (Shooting Star bounty) and Jeff Gross (SSB) both took home min-cashes, while Noah Schwartz (SSB), Chance Kornuth (SSB), David Tuchman (SSB), Sorel Mizzi (SSB), and defending champion Stefan Schillhabel all earned a bit more. As Level 21 began (and the clock passed 2:30AM), Bay 101 officials determined that the action would end at 3AM, regardless of how many players were remaining from the 46 players that were left.

Only two players were eliminated over the last 30 minutes of action, but the story for most was the rise of Volpe. With only 108K after the money bubble popped, Volpe increased his stack to 1.7 million and did it without great fanfare in the tournament arena. He would close the day out by adding a few more chips in holding a decent lead over Dan O’Brien.

1. Paul Volpe, 1.749 million
2. Dan O’Brien, 1.339 million
3. Igor Yaroshevskyy, 1.19 million
4. Charlie Carrel, 1.042 million
5. Garrett Greer, 1.034 million
6. Matt Affleck, 1.018 million
7. Sergio Aido, 879,000
8. Sam Panzica, 814,000
9. Tom West, 804,000
10. Brian Altman, 762,000

Greer holds court on the five Shooting Stars remaining, with David Williams (685,000), Kempe (513,000), Christian Harder (385,000) and Sexton (391,000) still hanging on to their medallions.

Because of the late night of play, the tournament will resume at 1PM (Pacific Time) with the requirement that the players reach the final six players before action will stop. With 44 players left in the tournament, that is going to be a difficult task, but it needs to be done to set the final table for Friday’s championship day at the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star.

Poker News Daily

Stars, Rounders Take Top Slots After Week 1 of Global Poker League Play

 Stars, Rounders Take Top Slots After Week 1 of Global Poker League Play

After the inaugural week of action on the Global Poker League, one conference has it preseason favorite not unexpectedly sitting atop its standings with a couple of surprises in pursuit. In the other conference, a team that wasn’t heavily favored to do much in this inaugural season of the GPL has stunned many by jumping out to an early lead as some of the favorites struggle.

On the GPL Americas, the New York Rounders and manager Bryn Kenney have been able to eke out an early lead after the first week of action. After the first day of play, the Rounders were tied up with the Las Vegas Moneymakers for the top slot on the table with 10 points, the tiebreaker being that the Rounders had been able to win one of the two Six-Max matches on Tuesday. Things got a bit more interesting on Thursday as Anthony Zinno from the Moneymakers and Tom Marchese from the Rounders met in a mano y mano match to decide the first week’s leader.

Marchese wasted little time in the first of three heads up games (worth three points each), taking every chip from Zinno in a brisk 21 hands. Marchese would then sew up the overall match for the Rounders in the second game, although it took a bit longer at 45 hands. Zinno was able to save a little face in taking down the third game, points that may be important when it comes down to playoff time later in the season.

Here are the current standings for the GPL Americas:

GPL AMERICAS POINTS WINS
New York Rounders 16 2
Las Vegas Moneymakers 13
Montreal Nationals 12 1
L. A. SunSet 9 1
Sao Paulo Metropolitans 7
San Francisco Rush 6 1

 

Perhaps the biggest surprise out of the first week has been the performance – or, in reality, the lack thereof – of the San Francisco Rush out of the gate. Completely blanked in the Six-Max matches on Tuesday, Anton Wigg was able to craft a victory for the Rush in the heads up match on Thursday against the Montreal Nationals’ Martin Jacobson. Points won’t come easy in this league, however, and to be 10 points down to the preseason pick for the conference championship one week into the season is not a place the Rush thought they would find themselves in.

Over with the GPL Eurasia, the stunner is the team that has surged to the top of the conference and, in fact, has the overall GPL lead in points. Manager Celina Kim looks brilliant with her selections for the Hong Kong Stars as they battered their conference mates through the early action this week. In the Six-Max matches on Tuesday, Raiden Kan was able to win one of those to take the lead after the first day of action going to the heads up matches.

In the heads up match against the Moscow Wolverines on Wednesday, Kim whipped out her “wild card,” Randy ‘Nanonoko’ Lew, to take on the Wolverines’ Sergey Lebedev, a move that proved to be one of the best of the first week of action on the GPL. Over their three games (the first to be broadcast on the GPL’s Twitch channel with the players on webcams), Lew would take every one of them to score nine points for the Stars, equaling the amount they earned in the Six-Max on Tuesday. Those points would prove to be important as another team that wasn’t given much of a chance by the prognosticators in the preseason, the Paris Aviators, kept the heat on when the Aviators’ Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier defeated the Berlin Bears’ Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates 6-3 to win their heads up fight.

GPL EURASIA POINTS WINS
Hong Kong Stars 18 2
Paris Aviators 16 2
London Royals 12 1
Rome Emperors 9
Moscow Wolverines 5
Berlin Bears 3

 

All you have to do is look at the bottom to see some more stunning developments in the GPL Eurasia. The Wolverines and the Bears, two teams that many thought would be clawing each other’s throats out for the conference title, are falling way behind early in the season. While this is only the first week, both teams have to be a bit disappointed with their performance.

Next week the GPL comes back with their second week of action. Led off by two Six-Max sit and gos for each conference on Tuesday (the full schedule can be found on the GPL website), the GPL Eurasia comes back on Wednesday (April 13) with this lineup of heads up matches (no players have been announced at this time):

London Royals vs. Hong Kong Stars Paris Aviators vs. Rome Emperors Moscow Wolverines vs. Berlin Bears

Then on Thursday (April 14), the GPL Americas will take to the virtual felt:

Sao Paulo Metropolitans vs. Montreal Nationals San Francisco Rush vs. New York Rounders Las Vegas Moneymakers vs. L. A. SunSet

Can the Rounders and the Stars maintain their momentum from the first week of the season? Can the Bears, the Wolverines and the Rush rebound from a less-than-stellar start? The second week of the Global Poker League will tell the tale.

Poker News Daily



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