Judge Rules that Phil Ivey Violated Gambling Regulations

October 22nd, 2016

ivey-borgata-lawsuitThere’s good news and bad news for Phil Ivey regarding his $9.6 million baccarat case with the Borgata casino.

The good news is that U.S. District Court Judge Noel Hillman ruled Ivey didn’t commit fraud to win in baccarat. The bad news is that the judge believes Ivey violated gambling regulations in New Jersey.

The latter won’t carry any criminal charges in the poker pro’s case. However, it will definitely have an effect on whether he gets to keep the $9.6 million he won.

Judge Hillman wrote that he believes Ivey and his companion, Cheng Yin Sun, overstepped normal advantage play by asking the dealer to arrange baccarat cards in a special way. This allowed them to better see the card backs and tell what the values were before they were dealt (a.k.a. edge sorting).

This falls in line with what the Borgata claimed in their lawsuit, writing that edge sorting violates state gambling regulations. The casino points out that Ivey knew the requested Gemaco deck was defective and that he’d gain an advantage by spotting the flawed card backs.

Ivey has argued all along that he merely beat the casino at their own game, and the Borgata complied with every request that he made.

Judge Hillman alluded to this by writing, “[Ivey and Sun] view their actions to be akin to cunning, but not rule-breaking, maneuvers performed in many games, such as a play-action pass in American football, or the ‘Marshall swindle’ in chess.”

Hillman thinks that “Sun’s mental acumen” in spotting the card pattern flaws was “remarkable.”

But according to ABC News, the judge still doesn’t side with them in this case.

“But even though Ivey and Sun’s cunning and skill did not break the rules of Baccarat,” wrote Hillman, “what sets Ivey and Sun’s actions apart from deceitful maneuvers in other games is that those maneuvers broke the rules of gambling as defined in this state.”

The Borgata has less than three weeks to list all the damages that have been done to them as a result of this case.

As for Ivey, this legal matter isn’t over yet. But it still feels like he might be headed for another loss, just like his Crockfords case.

5 Good Poker Goals to Aim For

October 19th, 2016

setting-poker-goalsSetting poker goals seems like an easy matter that can be measured by how much money you earn. But given that poker involves both luck and skill, you can’t just base your entire poker self-worth off dollars won and lost.

Instead, you should measure your poker success in other ways and the money will eventually come. That said, here are 5 different ways to set your poker goals.

1. Play the Perfect Session

One great way to begin your goals is by playing the perfect session. This doesn’t mean the session where you win the most money, but rather one where your mind is clear, you’re rested, and there are no distractions. When you can play in these conditions, you’re likely to play your best poker.

2. Aim for a Certain Number of Hands

Forcing yourself to mindlessly play hands is the opposite of the first goal we discussed. But if you want to become a better player, you need to increase your volume beyond 100-200 hands per day. Setting hand goals for a session, week, or month is a good way to keep yourself on track and playing poker. If you’ve only played 1,000 hands in a week, aim to gradually increase this number and get better.

3. Dedicate 25% of Your Poker Time to Strategy

We all know that poker strategy is important to improving as a player. But exactly how much time should you dedicate towards strategy? A good mix is 75% playing and 25% studying, or about 1 hour of studying for every 3 hours you play. If you have 16 hours to dedicate towards poker, four of these hours would go towards studying.

4. Set Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

As with any pursuit, you should set goals for both short and long-term progress. Your long-term goals may be to play 35 hours a week, study 12 hours a week, become a pro, and make a good living with poker. But how are you going to get there? Short-term goals are important for bridging the gap and keeping you focused while grinding towards distant goals.

5. Beat the Stakes You’re at Before Moving Up

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to win huge profits before you move up. But once you’re on your A-game consistently, have good reads on opponents, and make the right moves yourself, then you can be pretty confident about moving up.

Carlos Mortensen, Todd Brunson: 2016 Poker Hall of Fame Inductees

October 14th, 2016

mortensen-brunson-hall-of-fameMany were convinced that Carlos Mortensen, a WSOP Main Event winner and 3-time WPT champion, was a shoo-in for the 2016 Poker Hall of Fame class. But the second spot…nobody was really sure about this.

We now know that it will be Todd Brunson joining Mortensen as a 2016 Poker Hall of Fame inductee. Both players were voted into the Poker HOF by a 44-member panel consisting of media members and current HOF members.

“It’s a true honor to be inducted by my peers into this prestigious institution,” said Brunson. “I literally grew up attending these ceremonies and have always respected and admired its members. To join their ranks is the honor of a lifetime.”

The 51st and 52nd players voted into the Poker Hall of Fame, Brunson and Mortensen are interesting selections for their own reasons.

Todd joins his dad, Doyle Brunson, as the first father-son combo in the HOF. Mortensen is the first European and international player to earn this prestigious honor.

“I have been playing poker professionally for more than 20 years,” Mortensen said. “This game has given me so many things that I have come to cherish. I’ve always wanted to be included among the great players who make up the Poker Hall of Fame. To be included with the legends makes me very happy. I want to thank my friends, the poker fans, and all the people who vote for me. I take this honor very seriously.”

Other nominees for the 2016 Poker Hall of Fame class included Chris Bjorin, Humberto Brenes, Eli Elezra, Bruno Fitoussi, Chris Moneymaker, Max Pescatori, Matt Savage, and David “Devilfish” Ulliott.

This year featured lots of debate on whether player-contributor hybrids like Moneymaker and Fitoussi should be considered for the HOF.

Daniel Negreanu believes that players should only be judged on their poker accomplishments and not ambassadorship. Negreanu wrote that Bjorin, Brunson, Mortensen, and Devilfish were the only ones who met all the criteria for a player entry into the Hall of Fame.

Mike “The Mouth” Matusow was disappointed that he wasn’t a nominee. He also discussed why Chris Moneymaker – a player/ambassador – has no business in the HOF.

Aside from Brunson, Moneymaker and Ulliott were often in the conversation for this year’s second Hall of Fame slot. But Brunson, with his noted high stakes play and $4.1 million in tournament winnings, got the nod.

William Hill, PokerStars Parent Company Talk £4.6bn Merger

October 10th, 2016

william-hill-amayaCanada’s Amaya Gaming and the UK’s William Hill are discussing one of the biggest mergers in online gaming history – a £4.6 billion ($5.7bn) deal that would bring companies with different strengths together.

According to The Telegraph, William Hill and PokerStars’ parent company quietly began their merger talks back in July. But whatever talks took place were quickly overshadowed by a failed takeover bid by the Rank Group (Grosvenor casinos) and 888 Holdings.

Both companies combined to offer £3.4 billion for William Hill, which the company said was “highly opportunistic.”

New William Hill CEO Philip Bowcock, who assumed this role in the summer, had his eye on Amaya the whole time.

The merger has yet to be completed, but it seems more of a possibility now. According to the Financial Times, it would be a reverse takeover, where William Hill, the smaller company, would assume control of Amaya.

Not everybody is convinced that the merger is a great idea. A senior executive at a competitor told the Financial Times, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Another industry insider said, “As a dish, it probably needs a lot of sauce to make it palatable for shareholders.”

Skeptics are quick to point to the struggles that William Hill and Amaya have dealt with over the last year, namely losing their CEOs, having their stock prices fall, and being subjected to takeover bids.

Nevertheless, it seems that Amaya and William Hill are serious about the merger, given that competitors like Betfair and Paddy Power merged in February, while Gala Coral and Ladbrokes are close to doing the same.

The deal makes sense on some levels, given that William Hill is a sports betting giant, while Amaya is a major player in the online gaming sector.

Amaya has had great success with PokerStars and its casino offerings, but they’re still struggling to draw sports bettors. William Hill, meanwhile, has the world’s biggest bookmaking operation, but they haven’t fared well against online competitors.

“The potential merger would be consistent with the strategic objectives of both William Hill and Amaya and would create a clear international leader across online sports betting, poker and casino,” read the companies’ joint statement.

Mike Matusow Angry about Poker Hall of Fame List

October 9th, 2016

mike-matusow-pokerWith over $9 million in tournament winnings and 4 WSOP gold bracelets, Mike Matusow has quite a resume for the Poker Hall of Fame. But Matusow was left off the nominees list this year, and he’s not happy about it.

Recently speaking with the PokerNews Podcast, Matusow says that he offers the combination of strong tournament results, and a dynamic personality that draws people to the game.

“I think if you take Carlos (Mortensen) off the list, I’ve probably won more tournaments combined than everybody else on the list,” says Matusow.

“It’s not really so much about what I’ve won in poker, it’s more or less what I’ve done for poker. I’ve worked hard in the days of helping grow poker … so many people, over a thousand people just come up to me like ‘If it wasn’t for you I’d never be in poker. You make poker what it is. You and Daniel (Negreanu) made poker what it is'”

Matusow adds that he, Negreanu, and Phil Ivey put a lot of work into promoting poker to the masses. And while Negreanu may not think this matters for HOF voting, “The Mouth” clearly thinks that it should be considered.

One really good point that Matusow makes in the episode is that he’s won $9 million in tournaments despite never playing in a high roller.

When asked if he thinks that somebody like Chris Moneymaker, who is mostly up for vote because he helped build poker, should be considered for the HOF, Matusow said not a chance.

“I love Chris Moneymaker, nice guy. But do I think that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Hell no,” says Matusow. “That’s like Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in one year. They wouldn’t even think of putting him in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He won a tournament, just because his name was Moneymaker he goes in the Hall of Fame?”

Matusow adds that the Hall of Fame has become both political and a popularity contest. You can hear Matusow discuss all of this and more in the podcast here. The Hall of Fame conversation starts around 25 minutes through the interview.

Dealing with Downswings – Poker Strategy from Doug Polk

October 7th, 2016

doug-polk-downswingsEverybody who plays poker is guaranteed to experience downswings, where nothing goes right and you just keep going deeper into the red. For some players, their downswing starts from the very beginning until they give up the game.

But no matter what your skill or experience level is, it’s important to know how to deal with poker downswings. And who better to learn from than high-stakes pro Doug Polk.

Polk just did a video where he discuses the two biggest downswings of his life – one was Black Friday, and the other was a period where he lost $1.7 million through high rollers.

“I have had two life-soul-crushing downswings I’ve dealt with,” says Polk. “They both lasted a year or two years. Luckily the in-between periods have been pretty good for me.”

So how did he survive these low points in his poker career and life?

“I’ve always been a big believer that when you’re on a downswing, it’s okay to move down in stakes that you might be very comfortably bankrolled for just to prove to yourself that you can still do this,” advises Polk.

He adds that you need to get over the feeling of downswings where “You feel like you’re always losing, you always lose the flips, always get in the cooler situations. You end up in these same spots where, you kind of start to get gun-shy.”

Polk also says that you might sacrifice some EV by moving down, but we’re not robots and you need to overcome these losing emotions.

If the losing continues, Polk says that it gives you an opportunity to really assess your game and see what you’re doing wrong.

“What do the best players do? Do these use these (bet) sizes? Use these hands? Get some analysis in there. Start to look at things. Look at the best people in your game, and figure out is this really the best strategy.”

This is only a fraction of what Polk discusses, so check out the video below to see his other advice.

PokerStars Becomes Lead Sponsor of Global Poker League

September 30th, 2016

pokerstars-gplPokerStars has signed a deal to become the lead sponsor of the Global Poker League (GPL).

In a press release, PokerStars announced that they’re the “exclusive poker sponsor” of the GPL. Their goal with this deal is to take poker beyond a player experience, and make it a fan experience too.

Eric Hollreiser, director of corporate communications at PokerStars, said he’s excited to support the league and that the GPL will bring an “innovative team-based twist” to the game.

Alex Dreyfus, the founder of the GPL, is also very pleased with the deal and wrote the following in a press release:

“We are optimistic about this partnership, having the support of PokerStars is a crucial step forward on the road to fully establishing the GPL as a real blueprint for poker entertainment in the future. PokerStars offers us a multitude of opportunities to grow our platform and continue developing our twofold strategy of connecting the league to the poker community and genuinely connecting poker to the mainstream entertainment sector on a large scale.”

This partnership certainly makes sense for PokerStars because it not only gives them another tool to reach poker audiences, but also includes Team PokerStars members who are already playing in the GPL. These players include: Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Jason Mercier, Liv Boeree, and Vanessa Selbst.

The GPL starts back up again on October 4 and will be available through live stream on PokerStars TV. The league features 12 teams 72 total pros and charges no buy-ins.

If we’re to believe recent events, this partnership may be a godsend for Dreyfus and his league.

Fedor “CrownUpGuy” Holz discussed on TwoPlusTwo how Dreyfus asked to do a same-day, dollar-to-euro transfer for $10,000. After Holz gave $10k to Dreyfus, it took the latter months to transfer the money.

Popular speculation is that the GPL was struggling badly, and Dreyfus was looking for short-term loans to keep it going. He eventually paid the money back, with 5% interest, but the way that he mislead Holz and another player named Hendrik “ValueH” Latz made some question the GPL’s future success.

Lucky for Dreyfus, the GPL is now being backed by the world’s largest online poker site.

Doyle Brunson Has Twitter Spat with Vanessa Selbst

September 24th, 2016

doyle-brunson-vs-vanessa-selbstIt’s amazing how the U.S. Presidential Race can get tempers flaring. Such was the case recently as Doyle Brunson got into a Twitter spat with Vanessa Selbst over Hillary Clinton, which eventually drew Liv Boeree into the argument.

Brunson, an ardent Republican and Donald Trump supporter, tweeted a comment about how many times Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has lied during her campaign.

“I’ll bet a lot of money I can name (and prove) twice that many lies Hillary has said. Maybe 10 times?” he tweeted.

This incensed Selbst and sparked the following comment.

“@TexDolly You’re just like the rest of the ignorant masses. Recycling talking points, making assertions, avoiding actual facts and logic.”

This prompted Brunson to not only ask Selbst to unfollow him, but also bash her for allegedly not paying Jason Somerville back on a poker debt.

“@VanessaSelbst Don’t know if you follow me but if you do, please unfollow me. You showed me your character when u welshed on Jason.#triedto”

“@TexDolly I haven’t followed you for a long time. And yeah, paying 100k = welching. I doubt u want to start a debate about ethics in poker.”

Boeree, who is Selbst’s friend, was quick to jump into this debate with the following comments:

“@TexDolly @Erik_Seidel Doyle, you are missing the point. Those were clear proven lies said by trump in just ONE DAY. Not over a lifetime.”

“@TexDolly @Erik_Seidel yup, thats fucking despicable. how hypocritical of you to shit on Vanessa about ethics.”

Eventually the trio stopped arguing on Twitter, but it’s clear that this will be another chapter added to the biggest poker feuds.

Perhaps none will ever top the feud that Daniel Negreanu had with Annie Duke. But it’s unlikely that Brunson will share hugs with Selbst and Boeree next time he sees them in a poker room.

New Online Poker Series “LUCKBOXES” Coming – Jason Somerville Involved

September 21st, 2016

luckboxes-online-seriesWhile much of America was struggling during the Great Recession, online poker pros were enjoying the fruits of a boom period that lasted until 2011/Black Friday. A new online comedy called LUCKBOXES will explore this period while injecting a little humor into the internet grinder lifestyle.

Ryan Firpo, who directed the 2013 poker documentary BET RAISE FOLD, is behind this upcoming series, which tells the tale of two struggling brothers who stumble upon the online poker world. The project also lists WSOP champion and noted poker streamer Jason Somerville as one of the executive producers.

Based on the trailer, this show has the same feel as the HBO series Silicon Valley, with these young poker players rising to live a wealthy lifestyle. LUCKBOXES includes some real elements of poker too, such as multi-tabling, grinders living together, and how much easier it was to make a living playing internet poker in 2009, as compared to now.

Given how well Firpo did with BET RAISE FOLD and the fact that a real pro like Somerville is involved, we can bet that LUCKBOXES will stay true to poker. And if the trailer is any indication, this show might just have enough flair to keep casual viewers interested.

Whatever the case may be, we hope that LUCKBOXES will be a success and give us an entertaining poker show to watch from time to time.

If you’d like to see the trailer, as well as watch other clips on the upcoming show, check them out here.

Also, the show doesn’t currently have a release date, so we imagine that Firpo is shopping LUCKBOXES around to see what interest he gets.

Sheldon Adelson Claims Poker is Gambling, Has No Skill

September 17th, 2016

sheldon-adelson-pokerWhile some land-based casino owners express fears that online gaming could cut into their revenue, few have been as bold about expressing these fears as Sheldon Adelson.

The Las Vegas Sands Chairman has railed about the evils of online gambling ever since regulation started being discussed in the United States. And based on Adelson’s recent comments about online poker, it doesn’t look like he’s softening this stance any time soon.

Speaking with Yahoo Finance, Adelson said that poker equates to gambling, no matter how much people try to present it as a skill game. Here’s a look at Adelson’s comments:

“Some say poker is not gambling. Poker is gambling. They say poker is a game of skill. I don’t know how skill can apply to somebody shuffling a deck of cards and randomly giving them out to you. You don’t have any control over it. Can somebody bluff and can somebody place bets better than somebody else? Yes. But that doesn’t make poker a game of skill.

“And look, I’m not against gambling, obviously. I know what’s gambling and I know what’s not gambling. And fantasy sports is gambling. I’m very much against it.”

These comments came up when Adelson was asked about daily fantasy sports (DFS) and their legality. And DFS is another activity that Adelson thinks is pure gambling, rather than having any sort of skill element to the matter.

But as his poker comments suggest, the 83-year-old has very little understanding of how either game works.

To say that you “don’t have any control over” poker’s outcome and that bluffing doesn’t inject any skill into the game is just ridiculous. It’s hard to know whether or not Adelson actually believes what he’s saying, or if he’s really this ignorant on the matter.

Whatever the case may be, Adelson is willing to say and do anything to stop regulated online poker and DFS, even if it means claiming that neither game has any skill involved.