Posts Tagged ‘Week’

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.

Poker News Daily

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.

Poker News Daily

PokerStars Championsip to Launch Next Week with PokerStars PCA

 PokerStars Championsip to Launch Next Week with PokerStars PCA

The world of major live tournament poker is in a bit of a lull right now because of the holidays, but come the new year, things will pick up quickly once 2017 starts as the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure will kick off on January 6th. This is a normal spot on the calendar for the PCA, but it holds slightly more significance next week at the PCA will be the first-ever PokerStars Championship.

The PokerStars Championship was born out of the European Poker Tour, which PokerStars operated. The Tour was probably the most popular live poker tour that spent the bulk of its time outside the United States, but PokerStars felt it had outgrown the confines of Europe (as is evidenced by the PCA being part of the EPT), so something had to change.

As such, the European Poker Tour brand was retired with the conclusion of EPT Prague this month, with two different tours – the PokerStars Championship and the PokerStars Festival – taking over. It appears the PokerStars Championship will essentially be the big brother, while the PokerStars Festival will be the little brother.

Said PokerStars in its initial announcement:

PokerStars Championship events will take place in major cities, organised by the most prestigious casinos across the globe, and are designed to deliver the best poker experience on the planet for players of all levels. A PokerStars Championship event will typically last 10-11 days and feature extensive schedules of up to 100 tournaments, including a €/$ 5,000 Main Event and a variety of cash games.

The PokerStars Festival will have shorter tour stops and lower price points, kind of like how the World Series of Poker Circuit compares to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

The first PokerStars Championship, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, will take place January 6th through January 14th, highlighted by the $ 5,000 Main Event. PokerStars TV – via, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch  – will broadcast the Main Event beginning on Day 2 (January 10th).

Edgar Stuchly, PokerStars’ Director of Live Events, said in a press release:

We’re very excited about the first PokerStars Championship stop. Our aim is to host an event that will be enjoyed by players of all kinds – from the world’s biggest high rollers to recreational players who have perhaps never played at a live event before. With over 90 tournaments on offer, this year’s schedule adopts a ‘something for everyone’ formula. So, for all our regulars, as well as newcomers, we extend a very warm welcome to the Bahamas and hope a great experience is enjoyed by all – both on and off the tables.

Other PokerStars Championship stops that have already been announced include Panama, Macau, Monte Carlo, and Barcelona. The PokerStars Festival already had its first stop at the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey spanning the end of October and beginning of November. London and Rozvadov (Czech Republic) Festival stops have also been announced.

Poker News Daily

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!

Poker News Daily

2016 partypoker WPT Caribbean Day 1A: Cozy Field Settles in For Week of Tournament Poker

 2016 partypoker WPT Caribbean Day 1A: Cozy Field Settles in For Week of Tournament Poker

The World Poker Tour has become the epitome of the axiom “There’s no rest for the wicked.” Less than 48 hours after WPT announcer Mike Sexton achieved his personal goal of winning a WPT event (the WPT Montreal at the Playground Poker Club in Quebec), the entirety of the tour shifted WAY south to the sunny climes of Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic, and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for the 2016 WPT Caribbean. With much of the States of America under chilly conditions and, in some areas, blizzards, the opportunity for many to escape to the Caribbean couldn’t be resisted.

The $ 5000 buy in event will follow what has become the standard on the WPT of late. Players are allowed one re-buy (should they be eliminated) on the day they are playing and, if Day 1A didn’t work for them, there was the ability to come back on Day 1B to take another double barrel shot. If a player can get through both Day Ones, then their biggest stack would move on to Day 2. Finally, if a player couldn’t get anything going on the two Day Ones, there will be one last chance to get two stacks of chips – if you get in before the end of the first level on Day 2, bust and rebuy. All totaled, it is possible for a player to spew off $ 30,000 (six buy-ins) if they are forced to use every option available.

With the multitude of entry options available, it is to be expected that Day 1A didn’t have a flood of players on the tables. In the early going, only 27 players were on the tables, but they were some difficult opponents. In addition to Sexton – looking to pull of the back-to-back championships – players such as fellow WPT Champions’ Club member Darren Elias, Paul Klann, Mike Leah, Matt Salsberg and Mark Radoja were arranged around the tournament arena. Starting off with 30K in chips, the action was abbreviated but there were some moments of action.

Dylan Linde was one of those who was in on the action. After raising out of middle position, Linde saw Jeremie Bilodeau pop him from the hijack. After everyone else scrambled, Linde called for a J 4♠ 3 flop and check-called a bet from Bilodeau. A 9 on the turn lit the fuse as Linde led out and, after Bilodeau reraised him, put out a three-bet that would essentially put Bilodeau all in. Bilodeau made the call and, much to Linde’s dismay, showed K Q for the turned second nut flush. Linde’s pocket threes had potential for a boat, but the 2 on the river wasn’t helpful as the dealer pushed a stack of chips (45K) to Bilodeau and Linde was left with fumes.

As the day wore on, more notable professionals showed they were in town for the festivities. WPT Champions’ Club member Anthony Zinno, Keven Stammen and Mohsin Charania pulled up some felt alongside such pros as Samuel Chartier, Manig Loeser and Michael Telker. Zinno was one who felt the pinch of bad fortune, though, as he saw his first stack of chips go to Roberto Vahlis and his second go mostly to Hertsel Levy (it is expected that Zinno will be back again on Sunday).

Vahlis didn’t stop with the decimation of Zinno. He would pull off a huge double elimination of two of the “big guns” in the tournament – Sexton and Stammen – when the three mixed it up late in the evening. Vahlis, with pocket sevens, had the edge over Sexton (A♠ 9♠) and Stammen (drawing dead with his J♠ 3♠) when the money went in on a flop and turn of A K♠ 7♠ 9. With only a spade saving Sexton, the J completed the wrong flush, sending him out along with Stammen and giving Vahlis a stack he can confidently sit on and wait for Day 2 on Monday.

1. Roberto Vahlis, 145,700
2. Luiz Duarte, 97,000
3. Ryan Yu, 86,125
4. Thomas Taylor, 86,100
5. Michael Gathy, 77,475
6. Alex Papazian, 67,000
7. David Miscikowski, 61,650
8. Mark Radoja, 61,000
9. Paul Hoefer, 55,925
10. Ema Zajmovic, 54,900

Of the 60 entries that were received on Day 1A, 42 of those have chip stacks they could use to push on to Day 2. For some such as Loeser (15,500), Linde (20,425) and Salsberg (22,200), another day of work on Day 1B may be in the cards.

Day 1B is expected to have a MUCH larger field and will kick off at 5PM this afternoon. Even after that day is concluded (because of late entry that won’t close until after the first level of Day 2), all that will be known is that the champion of the tournament will be crowned on Wednesday.

Poker News Daily