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2017 WPT Montreal Main Event Day 3: Eric Afriat Aims for Second Playground Final Table This Year

 2017 WPT Montreal Main Event Day 3: Eric Afriat Aims for Second Playground Final Table This Year

There are only sixteen players remaining of the 606 original entries in the World Poker Tour (WPT) Montreal Main Event as action moves into Day 4 on Wednesday. Eric Afriat is the chip leader with 2.4 million chips, the only play over the 2 million mark.

Afriat has some unfinished business at the Playground Poker Club in Montreal. In February, finished third in the WPT Playground Main Event, winning CAD $ 108,690 (USD $ 82,716). That tournament holds a special spot in poker history, as it was won by Ema Zajmovic, who became the first women ever to win an open WPT Main Event.

Afriat does have one World Poker Tour title under his belt, as he won the 2014 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown Championship Event. That victory was worth a bit over $ 1 million; that and his WPT Playground finish make up the bulk of his $ 1.83 million in career live earnings.

I will admit, I have always been a skeptic about the extra prizes awarded at major tournaments. The trophy is cool, the money is fantastic, the prestige is even wonderful, but really, who cares about a pair of overpriced headphones or a gaudy watch? Well, it’s time for me to eat crow, as apparently that watch is something Afriat has been targeting.

Speaking with WPT.com after Day 3, Afriat said he was actually a little peeved that he didn’t grab the timepiece in February:

What I want the most is the Hublot watch, because when I won their contract was signed for the following week. It was the last tournament that didn’t award the watch. They awarded it the following week, and I missed out on the watch. So the watch will be very important to me. Because a watch you can carry it around, you feel like you won something, but I can’t carry the big trophy

You know what? That makes a lot of sense. It’s like being able to wear a World Series of Poker bracelet, except I wouldn’t be surprised if players were more willing to don the Hublot watch over the bracelet, as the watch is both cool and practical, as opposed to just being a large piece of jewelry. Personally (and not that I will ever even come remotely close to this), if I won a WSOP bracelet, I don’t think I’d wear it on a regular basis (or even an irregular basis), as I’m not a jewelry guy. A nice watch, though, I could do, plus it has a neat story behind it.

Normally, the chip leader has a significant hand or two that helped get him to the top, but Afriat said his Day 3 was mostly just a gradual build. His biggest hand was actually a loss when his opponent hit a set of Jacks against his pocket Queens.

Though only sixteen players remain, Day 4 will play down to just the six-handed final table before adjourning.

2017 World Poker Tour Montreal Main Event – Day 3 Chip Counts

1. Eric Afriat – 2,400,000
2. Curt Kohlberg – 1,804,000
3. Ryan Rivers – 1,655,000
4. Maxime Heroux – 1,623,000
5. Duff Charette – 1,583,000
6. Bradley Ellis – 1,563,000
7. Derek Wolters – 1,257,000
8. David Peters – 1,216,000
9. Alex Keating – 1,051,000
10. Brendan Ziyad Baksh – 56,000
11. Feizal Satchu – 633,000
12. Mohammad Abu-Hadbah – 627,000
13. Brady Hinnegan – 579,000
14. Patrick Quinn – 453,000
15. Justin Liberto – 451,000
16. Adam Shannon – 340,000

The post 2017 WPT Montreal Main Event Day 3: Eric Afriat Aims for Second Playground Final Table This Year appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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Illinois Online Gambling Legislation May Still Have Breath This Year

 Illinois Online Gambling Legislation May Still Have Breath This Year

According to Online Poker Report, it is very possible that a few online gambling bills may be looked at in some short veto sessions in Illinois coming up next week and in November. These sessions, which will only be from October 24th to October 26th and November 7th through November 9th, are used mainly for state lawmakers to review bills vetoed by the Governor, but some other bills that haven’t even gotten to the Governor’s desk are sometimes looked at, as well.

In June, the Illinois State Senate passed a piece of legislation that would have legalized and regulated online gambling – including poker – and daily fantasy sports (DFS). The bill dominated, too, passing by a whopping 42-10 vote.

The bill authorized licensed casinos and race tracks in the state to apply for online gambling licenses. Taxes would have been 15 percent on gross gaming revenues, but for the first five years, the first $ 100 million in revenues would have been taxed at only 10 percent. Unfortunately, there was also a “bad actor” clause in the bill, which disqualified any operator who “accepted wagers via the internet in contravention of this act or in contravention of any law of the United States.”

Yup, that’s PokerStars.

As for daily fantasy sports, the tax portion would have been on a sliding scale. The taxes were listed at 5 percent on the first $ 1 million in gross gaming revenues, 7.5 percent on revenues up to $ 3 million, 10 percent for the portion up to $ 8 million, and 15 percent over 8 million. Licensing fees would be just $ 500 for operators that make less than $ 100,000 and increase to a max of $ 25,000 for those who make over $ 10 million.

The bill stalled out in the House, though you probably guessed that by now. There was actually a chance that Governor Bruce Rauner would have vetoed the bill, as when he ran for office in 2014, he said he didn’t want to expand gambling in Illinois. At the same time, Illinois faced a nearly $ 10 billion deficit, so any potential tax income would have been welcomed.

Online Poker Report says that three bills could possibly be considered. H 479 was the one passed by the Senate, now sitting in the House. S 209 was referred to the House Executive Committee’s Gaming Subcommittee this week. And there is S 1531, another bill moved to the House, this one to the House floor.

Since it is the most complete and furthest along, H 479 would logically have the best chance to do something and would have the shortest path to law, but you never know with these sorts of things. As mentioned, there are very few days for anything to happen, and as is usually the case, there are likely more important topics on the minds of Illinois legislators. But the windows, however small, are open, so action on internet poker is not impossible.

The post Illinois Online Gambling Legislation May Still Have Breath This Year appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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PokerStars to Launch Czech Site This Week

 PokerStars to Launch Czech Site This Week

PokerStars announced this morning that it will be launching its new Czech Republic site, PokerStars.CZ, on Thursday, February 16th. The announcement comes two weeks after the world’s largest online poker room revealed that it had been granted a new Czech gaming license.

That license was issued January 28th, giving PokerStars permission to offer both online poker and online casino games in the Czech Republic. PokerStars said PokerStars.CZ would be ready a few days later, so this is a bit of a delay, but hopefully hasn’t been too big of a deal for Czech players.

PokerStars had previously served the Czech market, but when the country’s new gambling laws took effect on January 1st, it had to withdraw. The new laws, signed by Czech President Miloš Zeman in July 2016, require operators to hold a Czech gaming license. Previously, online poker was in a gray area, like in many countries, where operators could offer their services without a license, even if the activity wasn’t explicitly legal.

PokerStars became the first non-Czech gaming brand to be issued a license in the Czech Republic. The company has also applied for a sports betting license so that it can get BetStars up and running. On the casino side, PokerStars will only offer Classic Blackjack, Premium Blackjack, European Roulette and Double Ball Roulette, though it is looking to have more games approved.

“We are very proud to be the first online casino and poker operator to be awarded a license and support the newly regulated Czech market,” said Guy Templer, Chief Operating Officer, in a press release when the license was announced. “This underscores our commitment to supporting local regulations and obtaining local licenses wherever possible.”

For those who had PokerStars accounts in the Czech Republic before the new gambling laws took effect, it won’t be as simple as just downloading the new software and logging on. The new Czech regulations do not permit inter-account transfers, so players will have to cash out of their old PokerStars accounts, create new ones on the .CZ platform, and then re-deposit. PokerStars has sent e-mail to all of its Czech players explaining how to go about doing this.

It seems that the new gambling laws were a not-so-subtle way to try to rid the country of online gambling. They were introduced by Andrej Babiš, the Czech Finance Minister, who is staunchly anti-online gaming. As a way to discourage license applicants, the gaming tax was set at a stunning 35 percent of gross gaming revenue on any game that uses a random number generator. Companies also have to pay 19 percent corporate income tax.

PokerStars may be one of the few companies who can afford to pay more than half of its revenues in taxes. It would be surprising if any smaller operators jumped into the mix.

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Inaugural Global Poker League Season to Conclude This Week

 Inaugural Global Poker League Season to Conclude This Week

The Global Poker League will wrap up their inaugural season beginning on Tuesday. By the end of the week – Thursday, to be precise – the first champion of the fledgling poker league will be crowned, with that champion taking down a $ 100,000 grand prize as their reward.

After playing through a grueling 14-week regular season that was split up pre- and post-World Series of Poker and battling through the “Summer Series” that saw the teams meet physically, the GPL determined the eight teams of the 12-team league that would compete for the GPL World Championship last month. These eight teams will play on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the two conferences deciding their champions on those days.

First up will be the GPL Americas on Tuesday, with the lineup going off as such:

#1 Montreal Nationals (130K in chips) vs. #4 San Francisco Rush (100K), 3PM Eastern Time
#3 Sao Paulo Metropolitans (110K) vs. #2 L. A. Sunset (120K) 4:30PM Eastern Time

Each team will choose three players from their roster for the “best of seven” (meaning a team will need to win four matches) heads up schedules that will take place (a fourth player can also be chosen by the manager that can take the place of one of the original three team members, but that swap can only be done at the start of a series). As the higher seeds, both the Nationals and the Sunset will get to see the rosters of their opponents before setting their lineups (another benefit of having a better regular season record in addition to the extra chips), which will be critical to finding just the right player combination for the fight at hand. The victors of those two matches will meet at 6PM (Eastern Time) to determine the champion of the GPL Americas.

On Wednesday, it will be the GPL Eurasia’s turn to hit “The Cube” in Las Vegas:

#1 Moscow Wolverines (130K) vs. #4 London Royals (100K), 3PM Eastern Time
#3 Berlin Bears (110K) vs. #2 Hong Kong Stars (120K), 4:30PM Eastern Time

The same format as for the GPL Americas on Tuesday will hold for the GPL Eurasia on Wednesday. The teams will have three of their players on hand for battle, with each schedule being decided on a “best of seven” heads up format and the final two teams expected to hit “The Cube” to determine the champion at 6PM (Eastern Time).

There are some interesting twists that will ensure that all players will get in “The Cube.” Each player must have played at least once in the contest before a player can make a repeat appearance. After each of the three players have been used on a set schedule from the manager, the managers for each team can then name – on a player-by-player basis – who will enter “The Cube” next for the team.

Once each conference has determined their champion, Thursday will be “Championship Day” for one of those two teams and the GPL itself. The GPL Championship will see each team enter “The Cube” in a “best of nine” (five victories to win) series. Each team will start off with 500K in chips for each match and neither team will have any advantage – no knowledge of the other team’s lineup, no chip advantage, nothing.

From a look at the way things are set with the schedule, it is possible to see that the GPL Americas teams might have an advantage. Playing on their “home court” per se because they are in the country, the Americas teams will be on their normal schedule. This might be negated if the GPL Eurasia teams arrive a bit early to get their team members (and their “body clocks”) on the same schedule as the Americas teams (3PM Eastern is late evening in Europe and early morning in Asia, not to mention noon in Las Vegas where the matches will take place). Teams like the Wolverines (with their all-Russian lineup) and the Stars (with their Chinese roster) could have their work cut out for them.

By Thursday, the first champion will make history for the GPL. Who will it be? Follow along at the GPL website, where you can watch the action on their live stream from Las Vegas and where you can also get in on their Bracket Challenge!

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Let’s Try This Again: Another California Online Poker Bill Introduced

 Let’s Try This Again: Another California Online Poker Bill Introduced

Online poker is once again back on the table in California, as California State Representative Adam Gray introduced Assembly Bill 2863 (AB 2863) on Friday. The bill’s goal is to legalize and regulate intrastate online poker in the Golden State.

This has been tried many, many times before in California over the last several years, but has rarely gone anywhere thanks mostly to a group of Native American tribes who want as much control as possible over online gambling in the state. There are so many stakeholders in this issue – tribes, card rooms, race tracks, and more – that so far, everybody has lost in the tug-of-war.

Last year, Rep. Gray introduced a similar bill, AB 431, which was considered a strong “compromise” bill. Rep. Gray is the chairman of the state Assembly’s Governmental Organization (GO) Committee and was able to get his legislation through a committee vote, but that is as far as it got, partly because of opposition from the select group of tribes and partly because daily fantasy sports (DFS) was pushed to the forefront.

The biggest difference between AB 2863 and last year’s AB 431 is an added compromise when it comes to the involvement of pari-mutuel facilities. The hardline tribes have not wanted racetracks to be included – the tribes want as big of a piece of the pie as possible – and in this bill, they are finally left out. Sort of. In AB 431, racetracks are not permitted to become licensed online poker operators, but in exchange for being excluded, they, as a whole, will be due to receive as much as $ 60 million per year from online poker revenues generated by the industry. This $ 60 million would come from the licensing fees paid by operators and the tax revenues they will be required to pay to the state.

The hope here is that the stubborn group of tribes will be appeased while at the same time, the racetracks will be content to receive money for doing nothing.

Operator licenses will be good for seven years, though the fees involved were not set in the bill. In previous bills, the initial licensing fee was $ 15 million, with 15 percent of gross gaming revenue taxed. Service providers – those that don’t actually operate the sites, but provide things like software and marketing services – must also be licensed, though it appears that they will not be charged a fee like the operators. They will, however, have to foot the bill for the investigation into their suitability.

Like in AB 431, there is no “bad actor” clause, which typically prohibits operators who accepted U.S. players post-UIGEA from applying for licenses. The hardline tribes have always wanted this because it would shut out established companies like PokerStars, but it does not seem that they will ever get it. In fact, a number of other tribes have formed a coalition with PokerStars and its parent, Amaya Gaming.

One aspect of the legislation that players will not like is that it makes it a felony to play poker on an unlicensed poker site. Other pieces of legislation that have been written around the country generally make it illegal to operate an unlicensed poker room, but it is unusual to make it an actual felony for someone to play on such a site. That doesn’t mean it would be strictly enforced – it is hard to imagine the police knocking on someone’s door for playing a $ 5 Sit-and-Go on, say, Bodog – but it is certainly possible.

The entire bill can be found on the California legislature’s website.

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