Negreanu: Vegas would be Hockey “Destination”

November 27th, 2015

Daniel NegreanuDaniel Negreanu hasn’t given up on his dream to bring an NHL team to Las Vegas. In fact, he’s more adamant than ever in trying to get hockey in the desert, as part of an ownership group that includes the Maloof family and William Foley. There are obstacles ahead, including Vegas being a casino town with lots of other entertainment options. But Kid Poker is rather confident in Sin City’s ability to land an NHL team because he thinks that it would actually be a ‘destination game’ for hockey lovers.

“People will go to games in Vegas as visitors as a destination game,” Negreanu told TSN. “Nobody says ‘let’s get the buddies together and we’ll go to Columbus and watch the Blue Jackets.’ No one’s going to do that. But if Calgary is playing Vegas in Vegas on a Sunday afternoon, people will take a weekend and make a trip out of it.”

Another big factor that Negreanu thinks could work in Vegas’ favor is the fact that they don’t have any other major professional sports franchises.

“It will be the first major sports team (in Las Vegas) and if you look historically, any city that’s had just one team, like San Jose for example, they do amazing,” Negreanu said. “There was no hockey culture in San Jose before the Sharks came and now it’s a Shark’s town.”

One more thing that Kid Poker points out is that Vegas has a solid population, money and thousands of people who want season tickets.

“We have the 2.2 million residents, we have a great arena built, we have the money to back it, we’ve already got commitments from over 13,000 people with season ticket deposits having been put down.”

A long-time fan of his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Negreanu thinks that the one thing a potential Vegas franchise should avoid is following the Leafs’ rebuilding plans.

“(The Leafs) have always made the same mistake of bailing on the rebuild too quickly,” he said. “Mediocrity means you just stay mediocre forever,” said Negreanu. “If you look at the great teams today, Chicago, the Kings, they were awful and then they got four or five key draft picks, just like Pittsburgh did before, and they built a team around that.”

Obviously Negreanu’s hockey passion runs deep. So hopefully we’ll get to see him in the owner’s box with a Vegas hockey team in the near future.

Top Revelations from Antonio Esfandiari’s Reddit AMA Session

November 25th, 2015

antonio-esfandiari-magicAntonio Esfandiari is one of those rare poker pros who’s both lived a fascinating life and has experienced massive, long-term success. So it’s little surprise that Esfandiari was a big draw when he recently did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session. Some of the most-interesting revelations to come from this….a lost prop bet to Don Cheadle, being cheated in a mafia poker game, Esfandiari’s take on a poker shot clock and his poor record in online poker. That said, let’s look at some intriguing answers that Esfandiari offered.

Q: What is your biggest loss in poker? Financially or, you know, body parts etc.

Antonio: Don Cheadle and I played a heads up match where if I lost, I had to do a full blown magic show at his house in a top hat for him and his guests. If I won, he had to come over and cook for me and up to 25 of my guests in a chef’s apron. Of course I lost, and now I owe him a magic show.

Q: That final table seemed very tight. Will we see a shift or is that style inherently what gets you to the final table?

Antonio: The best fix is a shot clock much like they had in the Super High Roller Bowl. My stance is to ban anything that hides you. All for it. The Super High Roller Bowl banned hoodies and sunglasses as well.
It’s been proven time and time again that aggressive poker is the way to go. I don’t expect to see people tighten up.

Q: Was there any stage in your life when you honed your game by grinding online? If not, why not?

Antonio: No, I was an online fish. Online was just never my thing. I don’t like playing when I can’t see my opponents.

Q: I guess high stakes home games can be a bit risky and dangerous sometimes if you’re in touch with some wrong people. What is your worst home game experience?

Antonio: I got cheated once in a mafia game. I paid my loss, never said a word, and never went back.

Check out the rest of Antonio Esfandiari’s AMA session here.

HBO’s John Oliver explains Poker and DFS Parallels

November 22nd, 2015

daily-fantasy-john-oliverAs long as daily fantasy sports (DFS) continue to operate unregulated throughout the United States, they’re going to be a huge topic of discussion. And most recently, HBO’s John Oliver jumped on the subject in the latest segment of Last Week Tonight. Essentially the British Jon Stewart (or Trevor Noah now), Oliver delivers plenty of jokes on the legality of DFS. And perhaps the most-interesting part is when he discusses how online poker is basically the precedent for what DFS can expect.

“There’s actually a precedent for an online game of skill and chance…unfortunately, for daily fantasy, it’s poker, which most states consider gambling,” Oliver said. “You would think if these sites were smart, they would run away as fast as they could from any comparison to poker.”

This statement was followed by DraftKings CEO Jason Robins saying, “(DFS) has a similar feel to poker,” amid laughs from the audience.

Then former Full Tilt-sponsored player Cory Albertson is brought up. Albertson, who has over $700k in online and live poker cashes, has found even more success in DFS. He’s even managed to create his own algorithm that factors weather and a number of other aspects into each decision.

“If it attracts the same people and requires the same skills, it’s safe to say it is somewhat similar,” Oliver said. “It’s like finding out that an Olympic gymnast has joined Cirque du Soleil, or that a professional snowboarder has joined a Colorado pot dispensary.”

Finally, Oliver brings up how DraftKings was the main sponsor of the 2015 World Series of Poker. I highly encourage you to check out the entire video below to see the humorous case that Oliver makes about DFS’s legality.

Poker Live Streaming considered Key by The New Yorker

November 19th, 2015

jason-somerville-pokerstarsIt’s always fun when a mainstream publication dives into the poker world, especially when the subject matter deals with how to help online poker. The New Yorker recently covered the impact that live streaming is having on the game. And WSOP champ Jason Somerville was the star of the piece since his Twitch stream has attracted over 140,000 followers.

To those who normally read poker news, the story of Somerville’s Twitch success is nothing new. But it appears that the ‘jcarverpoker’ channel is more popular than ever before. In fact, when he played in the 2015 WCOOP Main Event, he was the most-watched Twitch streamer across the entire platform. Here’s an excerpt from the New Yorker on Somerville’s livestream:

“As someone who watched a ton of poker videos, particularly poker-training videos, I was always shocked at how bad they were from a performance point of view,” Somerville said. On Twitch, he plays the consummate host-cum-tour-guide: inclusive, knowledgeable, and relentlessly entertaining. The key element of his broadcasts, which regularly run longer than seven hours, are his inexhaustible monologues, during which he cheerfully expounds on everything from basic poker strategy to his social life to the opaque world of professional gambling. He also responds candidly to questions that viewers submit via Twitch’s chat box. This interactivity, Somerville said, “allows you to get more inside my head. From both a learning point of view and an entertainment point of view, that’s so much better.”

twitch-pokerObviously Jason Somerville’s Twitch stream alone won’t restore online poker to its mid-2000s heyday – but it’s a start. Largely spurred on by Somerville’s success, PokerStars signed him and launched their own Twitch channel. The Poker Central network now streams some of their programming through Twitch. Even DraftKings and the daily fantasy sports industry are getting into livestreaming too.

Poker has changed immensely in the past decade alone. And it’s pretty clear that the sheer concept of online poker is no longer bringing people to the felt in droves. So perhaps Twitch can at least keep global poker interest steady, or even serve as a major catalyst for growth in the near future.

ESports: Poker Savior or Competition?

November 18th, 2015

poker-esportsThe past couple years have seen eSports rise to an unprecedented level, as gamers look to use their video gaming skills to compete and make money. Meanwhile, global online poker traffic continues decreasing at a noticeable rate amid complaints of excessive HUD use and heavy regulation across the world. So does this mean that eSports will soon scoop up all the recs who would have, in the past, turned to poker?

Perhaps not…in fact, eSports could actually offer some sort of popularity boost for online poker as we head into the future. We need only look at the rapid rise of Hearthstone – a collectible card game in the same vein as Magic: The Gathering – for what eSports can do for a game.

So it’s little surprise that poker entrepreneurs like Global Poker Index founder Alex Dreyfus and Amaya CEO David Baazov are looking for ways to reinvent the ole’ Texas Hold’em concept. In Baazov’s case, he wants “a new poker variant targeting the large and growing skilled videogaming community.”

david-baazov-pokerstarsHow is this going to happen? At this point nobody really knows, but it’s clear that the business side of poker is looking for ways to put a new spin on an old game. “Spin” is the appropriate word here because Amaya has already proven that their Spin & Go’s (combo of poker/lottery) have worked at PokerStars. So we can only imagine what the Stars team is cooking up now to blend poker and eSports.

Going back to the original point over whether eSports are a threat to poker, well, the latter still has one big advantage – money. Daniel Negreanu recently said that he loves playing Hearthstone, but it would be a financially poor decision to quit poker for the Hearthstone circuit. If anything, it seems like eSports will be a great service in revitalizing online poker and bringing more amateurs to the felt.

Joe McKeehen wins 2015 WSOP – Let the Poker Ambassador Talk begin

November 12th, 2015

joe-mckeehen-wsopAs you may already know, Joe McKeehen triumphed over the 2015 November Nine in dominating fashion. The Pennsylvania poker pro easily dispatched his opponents at the Main Event final table through a combination of skill and great cards. Now that McKeehen has joined the other 40 Main Event champions and collected a $7.68 million prize, it’s time for the poker ambassador discussion to begin.

To be honest, nobody is really throwing out the term “poker ambassador” any more because it’s so early-2014. But no matter how you label it, players have already begun scrutinizing every little aspect of McKeehen, from his neck beard to the goofy facial expressions that he made towards the cameras.

What’s more is that he’s followed in the tradition of other recent Main Event champs in wearing sports jerseys to the table. You can read more on this in a TwoPlusTwo thread that’s spawned on the subject, but the general consensus is that McKeehen by himself isn’t convincing recreational players to flock towards the game.

But on the other hand, the whole ‘average guy’ appearance (no well in hell I’m making the ‘average Joe’ joke) can be appealing to the typical viewer. And from a broader perspective, we should consider that McKeehen himself admitted that the unshaven/jersey-monger appearance is just part of the image he wants to portray. Here’s a look at that post:

“I wanted to give off the image that it was my table to all of the other players and that they would have to fight me tooth and nail for any little thing they could get. A lot of my table talk was to do either the same exact thing, or to make me look stupider than I actually am. Anyone that’s played with me deep in a tournament has likely experienced this one way or another. I also made a lot of faces for the crowd in between hands. They laughed more often than they didn’t. I was enjoying myself. I (clearly) didn’t care how I came off on television because I was there to win a poker tournament, not make a bunch of people all over the world think I had my life in order. Hard to argue with the results in this case. Even if, I dressed up a little. I bought sports jerseys! I followed the tradition of Merson and Riess as winners. Pro tip: wear a jersey if you make it to the november 9 and your equity gets an automatic boost.”

So there you have it: a quirky guy who purposely looked like a slob to throw his opponents off. Maybe this isn’t the dashing Phil-Ivey type who’s going to draw more people to the felt. But at least he’s got some personality and is unlikely to run from the game along with his big score.

Daniel Negreanu battles Bertrand Grospellier in Hearthstone

November 7th, 2015

negreanu-vs-grospellierThose who attended BlizzCon 2015 were treated to an interesting sight: Daniel Negreanu and Bertrand Grospellier battling each other in Hearthstone. The Blizzard Entertainment-created card game has been catching on with poker pros in recent months. And, Negreanu and Grospellier are admittedly “addicted” to playing Hearthstone when they’re away from the felt.

“Some poker players at the table were talking about [Hearthstone] and they were talking about the complexity of it and how it’s similar to poker,” said Negreanu, who took the game up in May. “So I just downloaded it. The first time I downloaded it, I spent the next 11 hours straight playing it.”

For Grospellier, a former professional StarCraft player, the transition to Hearthstone was pretty seamless. The French poker player now streams his Hearthstone sessions via Twitch along with online poker sessions. But despite his love for this collectible card game, you won’t see Grospellier leaving the poker tables any time soon.

hearthstone-poker“I hope I could compete [for the world championship],” he told Forbes. “I’m not sure about the time commitment though.”

Negreanu agrees with this thought, adding that Hearthstone just isn’t as lucrative as poker right now – especially because of the time commitment to play in the big tournaments.

“I certainly don’t think any professional poker players will leave their income to just play hearthstone,” Negreanu explained. “But in addition to their already extensive poker play, it’s just a fun alternative thing to do. I don’t think they would look to do it as a career move, financially.”

Hearthstone is definitely a rising game, attracting over 30 million players in just a year and a half. Compare this to poker, which has been around much longer and has around 100 million players worldwide. But it appears that the main things holding people like Negreanu and Grospellier back from becoming Hearthstone pros are time commitment and finances.

Aaron Massey accuses Dwyte Pilgrim of not repaying Loan

November 4th, 2015

dwyte-pilgrim-pokerLending and borrowing is quite common in the poker world. Unfortunately, so are instances where these loans don’t get paid back, which poker pro Aaron Massey recently found out the hard way. Massey claims to have lent $7,500 to fellow poker pro Dwyte Pilgrim and hasn’t been repaid since.

The two sparked a friendship shortly after Pilgrim won the 2010 Borgata Poker Open along with $733,802. They remained friends for a few years, including when Massey won the Winstar River Poker Series Main Event and $651,559. Massey felt like Pilgrim was treating him even friendlier after this, but so was everybody else after his big score. Then came the night when Pilgrim decided to ask his friend for a pretty substantial loan.

“In January 2013 we were at Borgata,” Massey said. “It was the day before the WPT Main Event. I had just won a prelim a few days prior, and Dwyte knew I had money in the safe in my room. He texted me and asked if he could come to my room to talk about something very serious and it had to be in person. He showed up somber, and started to tell me a story. He said that his bank account had been frozen just days prior. He said he got a notice that it would be frozen for 40 days as they cleared up the issue. He explained his story and then asked me if I could lend him $7,500.

“I was weary, and I said to him, verbatim, ‘If this story isn’t true, and I lend you money based on a lie, and I don’t get paid back then it is the same as stealing.’ He agreed, got defensive, and once again mentioned our friendship as reason why he would never lie or steal from me.”

aaron-massey-pokerAfter 40 days of no repayment, Massey continued trying to set up ways for Pilgrim to pay him, even if it meant just $1 per week. But his former friend even refused this request, instead offering excuses and perceived lies. Massey says it’s at this point when he began finding out that other poker players, such as 3-time WSOP champ Brian Hastings, had also been fleeced by Pilgrim. He now sees his former buddy as nothing more than a con artist.

“He basically told me that if I kept talking to him that way that my life may be in jeopardy. He was even brazen enough to text me threats as well,” Massey explained. “As you can see, Dwyte will take advantage of anyone. The haves, the have not’s, the flush, the bust, it just doesn’t matter to him. He’s a preservationist, a parasite, willing to survive by any means necessary. His prey is any human being with money. Anyone he can take advantage of. He is a self-serving con artist.”

You can see more on this story, including Pilgrim’s response, at PokerNews.

3 Europeans who could get in 2016 Poker Hall of Fame Class

November 2nd, 2015

carlos-mortensen-pokerFollowing the 2015 Poker Hall of Fame selections of John Juanda and Jennifer Harman, most of the conversation afterward has centered on how non-Americans have very little chance to make the PHOF. Specifically, the only non-American in the Hall is Edmund Hoyle, who died in 1769 and was selected in 1980. With all the talk about how the HOF voting needs to be less biased, it seems like a European player/contributor could make it in next year. That said, let’s discuss three Europeans who could potentially land in the 2016 Poker Hall of Fame class.

1. Carlos Mortensen

Purely from a tournament perspective, Carlos Mortensen is a shoo-in for the Poker Hall of Fame. He has $11.91 million in live tournament winnings along with two WSOP gold bracelets and three WPT titles. Furthermore, “El Matador” won the 2001 WSOP Main Event and the 2007 WPT Championship. About the only thing that Mortensen can’t claim on his resume is a successful high stakes career. However, there are other players who don’t quite satisfy this requirement either.

2. Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott

dave-devilfish-ulliotThere was an emotional aspect involved in Ulliott’s 2015 bid for the PHOF, given that he passed away this year. So when Ulliott didn’t make it in, there were some cries from fellow European players who questioned the all-American voting panel for the HOF. Will Devilfish make it in next year as a result of the outcry? Ulliott’s resume is borderline, with $6 million in tournament winnings and a gold bracelet. However, his entertaining personality adds something to his bid for the PHOF.

3. Bruno Fitoussi

Based purely on his playing career, Bruno Fitoussi falls short of the Hall. He has $2.79 million in tourney earnings, but has never had a major victory. However, what pushes Fitoussi’s resume over the top is that he’s perhaps the most-instrumental person in the history of French poker. Fitoussi brought poker to Aviation Club de France and also influenced many French citizens to take up the game.

Daily Fantasy Sports will follow Online Poker, predicts Rolling Stone

October 31st, 2015

daily-fantasy-sportsThere have been many questions surrounding why daily fantasy sports continue operating freely throughout the United States, while online poker remains split between three regulated states and a black market. And it’s possible that daily fantasy sports (DFS) will eventually end up just like online poker…at least, this is what Rolling Stone predicts.

In a piece entitled “Will Daily Fantasy End Up Like Online Poker? You Bet,” the famed pop-culture magazine follows DFS superstar Teddy McDermott, who’s made over $1.5 million in the past two years. In addition to playing DFS, McDermott is also a poker player who suffered through “Black Friday.” Following this horrific day (Apr. 15, 2011) in poker history, the father found himself trying to grind out small profits in the local casino to get by. Eventually, he discovered DFS and has been making a much-better living ever since.

But just how much longer can McDermott and other DFS pros expect the bliss to last?

It’s hard to say because, as Rolling Stone points out, major sports leagues like the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and NASCAR have all aligned themselves with DFS sites. Some of these same leagues even have an investment at stake in the matter. So as long as pro sports leagues continue lobbying for DFS, then the industry figures to be around for some time.

“The one advantage that DFS has that poker didn’t is all these companies and MLB, NFL, Robert Kraft, and Jerry Jones have equity stakes in it,” McDermott says. “I don’t think those guys are going to go down without a fight and lose millions, or billions even. Hopefully it won’t happen, but I’m definitely worried about it.”

McDermott has good reason to worry because various politicians have called for hearings on the DFS subject. New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone is one such politician, and he’s looking for some justice since his state can’t legally offer sports betting (something the NFL has lobbied against). And with increased political pressure against the DFS industry, it’s only a matter of time before these sites are forced to go through the regulation process.

Be sure to check out the entire Rolling Stone piece here.