Jason Somerville signs with Team PokerStars, will headline PokerStars Twitch Channel Launch

February 27th, 2015

jason-somerville-pokerstarsJason Somerville just goes to show that if you have a great idea and put hard work behind it, then you’re going to be rewarded. The WSOP bracelet winner and host of the popular podcast show Run It Up just signed a big deal with Team PokerStars.

Somerville certainly has multi-value as the face of Run It Up, where he plays online poker and offers players tips in real time. Additionally, he also challenges himself on the show, such as the time he streamed himself running a starting bankroll of $50 up to $10,000.

Previously a member of Ultimate Poker’s “Team U,” Somerville laid the foundation for Run It Up’s success on YouTube. However, after Ultimate Poker began sinking faster than Nicolas Cage’s career, the two sides ended their business relationship. It’s at this point that Somerville made the brilliant move to keep the rights to Run It Up, before moving it to the growing Twitch streaming site.

While Ultimate Poker has already vaporized into the dust of online poker memories – along with UB Poker, Chris Ferguson’s reputation and Phil Ivey’s poker skills – Somerville will be headlining the launch of PokerStars’s Twitch channel. Going further, he’ll begin the third season of Run It Up on March 1st, and broadcast for at least four hours a day for 70 straight days.

Here’s what Kristy Thompson, PokerStars Head of Pro & Celebrity Marketing, had to say about Somerville’s plan and what he brings to the table:

“Jason is a unique proposition – a poker pioneer who has had great success both online and live, and brings something different to the table through the way in which he has built a popular live streaming poker show. I’m sure he will be a great ambassador for PokerStars and help to increase the level of interactivity between the brand and its players.”

This signing of Somerville represents a new direction for PokerStars’ sponsored player model – one that calls on players to be good not only on the felt, but also in having value outside the poker room. Somerville, with over $6 million in live and online poker winnings along with a popular Twitch show, meets both of these requirements.

Bryon Micon raided by Gun-wielding Police, dragged Outside Half Naked

February 24th, 2015

bryon-micon-pokerBryan Micon was going along minding his own business when 10 armed agents from the Nevada Gaming Commission busted into his home, pointed guns at him and dragged him outside half naked. Sounds more akin to the treatment given to a drug lord, rather than somebody running a Bitcoin poker site.

So it’s understandable why Micon was a little miffed at the excessive use of police force used to corral him – all while his wife and young daughter were watching. We can only imagine that the Nevada Gaming Commission got word that Micon had a butter knife on him before the door was kicked down.

The Seals With Clubs owner recently recalled his nasty experienced through a YouTube video released after the morbidly unnecessary raid. And there’s more bad news: he’s going to have to shut down Seals With Clubs following another security problem for the room.

Despite its success, SWC has had its fair share of security problems, including a 2013 breach that compromised 42,000 passwords. Micon didn’t have many details on the latest problem, but did offer that it was enough to convince his partners to quit the business. Micon, however, won’t be shutting down this easy. In fact, he’s more than prepared to move his family to Antigua for an “extended vacation” while operating SWC 2.0.

There are a couple of big things working in his favor if SWC 2.0 does launch. First off, his site was pretty reputable beyond security issues and will be returning all player deposits (always a question mark following Black Friday). Another advantage that Micon has is his previous experience and success in the Bitcoin niche. Combining these two positives, we can imagine that SWC 2.0 should do quite well if it does indeed open.

Daniel Negreanu determines who should be banned from WSOP

February 22nd, 2015

daniel-negreanu-millionaire-matchmakerLike it or not, as long as somebody has the buy-in money, they’re eligible to play in the WSOP. So no matter how douchey, annoying or scammerish they are, anybody can step into the Rio and compete for bracelets.

But is it time for a change in regard to banning certain players? Daniel Negreanu recently pondered this since he’s heard rumors that some villainous and unloved poker figures could be playing in the 2015 WSOP.

Through a CardPlayer post, Negreanu discussed a variety of cheaters, bad businessmen and those whom he’s loathed for years. Interestingly enough, Annie Duke, who’s drawn the ire of KidPoker since they first crossed paths in Vegas, was cleared to play, despite the guaranteed $1 million freeroll fiasco during her reign as Epic Poker League Commissioner.

Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson are also okay to play in Negreanu’s eyes. This is an interesting notion because, unlike Duke, where there’s probably no chance in hell that she’ll play the 2015 WSOP, there are actually rumors that Lederer and Ferguson might show up. And it’s hard to understand Negreanu’s logic on why Ferguson specifically should be allowed in, given that he “completely disappeared” following Black Friday. Like avoiding the mess that you directly helped create, and encouraging players to keep depositing on your corrupt poker site, is somehow less-morally reprehensible than cheating in poker.

This leads me to the next point, in that known cheaters Russ Hamilton and Mansour Matloubi are the only players whom Negreanu thinks should be banned from the 2015 WSOP. They both used God mode poker accounts, giving them the ability to see other players’ hole cards, which is pretty much the lowest of the low in poker. So if you’re going to ban anybody, yes, these two deserve it first.

Also, it is easy to see a distinction between what Hamilton/Matloubi and Ferguson/Lederer did since the latter two are mainly guilty of gross negligence regarding the management of Full Tilt. Furthermore, they also aren’t candidates to cheat in poker, unlike Matloubi and Hamilton (rumored to cheat live too). But on the same token, if you’re going to issue WSOP bans for morally corrupt poker figures, there should be some non-cheater exceptions for guys like Ferguson and Lederer.

Cole South calls Bullsh*t on 2009 Hand-sharing Scandal against Isildur1

February 20th, 2015

cole-south-pokerDespite appearances on Poker After Dark and winning millions of dollars in online poker, Cole South is best known by some as the guy who allegedly shared hand histories with Brian Townsend and Brian Hastings, helping the latter win $4.18 million off Viktor “Ilsudur1″ Blom in a single session.

South and Townsend were eventually suspended by Full Tilt and lost their “Red Pro” status for 30 days in 2009. And it was basically taken for fact that they were cheaters hell-bent on doing anything to beat Isildur1, who, at the time, was crushing the high stakes online poker world. But five years later, Cole South has a message to deliver about the ordeal: “It’s bullshit.”

As South explained on a recent podcast episode with ChicagoJoey, a large reason why so many people readily believe that he and Townsend shared hand histories with Hastings is due to an ESPN article by Gary Wise. The latter wrote for ESPN from 2007 to ’12 and, according to South, reported that the three players “merged their hand histories into one database” in order to create an effective strategy against Blom. South continues by saying this “absolutely never happened,” and he neither sent nor received any hand histories as alleged.

What did happen is that Townsend bought hand histories from PTR – a very different story because these don’t offer mucked hole cards like those seen from a player’s own experience. South adds that Townsend merely offered some general tips to Hastings for playing against Blom based on his experiences and the hand histories.

South concludes that the whole perception that he, Hastings and South were wildly emailing hand histories back and forth is ridiculous. He also adds that Full Tilt did not want these Red Pros discussing the matter on forums, meaning they never got a solid chance to defend themselves. You can listen to the whole thing below, and the hand-sharing talk starts a little after the 49:00 mark.

Are you included in Sofia Lövgren’s Dream Home Game?

February 15th, 2015

sofia-lovgren-888-pokerUnless your name is Barack Obama, Daniel Negreanu or Guy Laliberté, the answer is unfortunately no. These three lucky SOB’s were among nine whom Sofia Lövgren recently included in her dream home game lineup.

Through her 888 blog, the Swedish beauty not only explained why she invited nine specific individuals to her €5/€10 NLHE game, but also how she would exploit each one. For example, she thinks that Negreanu is “always incredibly entertaining,” but believes she could use her image and Negreanu’s tendency to play lots of pots to beat him. Likewise, she’d love to have a chat with Barack Obama, “the most powerful man in the world,” while taking advantage of this calling station by value-betting him all day.

Some nepotism comes into play here because Lövgren would also have her brother, Fredrik, and her boyfriend, solid poker pro Luca Moschitta, sit down to this elite table.

Unfortunately, according to the 888poker pro, Alex Dreyfus (GPI founder) and Thierry Derks (won lady’s event at EPT Deauville) are too busy to make her fictional home game. Check out the reasons why on Lövgren’s blog.

xuan-liu-pokerXuan Liu says Bye Bye to 888poker

In other news involving 888 and a hot poker babe, Xuan Liu announced via Twitter that she “will no longer be an 888poker ambassador.” Liu signed her deal with the poker site around the same time as Lövgren last year, but will be departing much sooner.

Liu first made her mark on the poker world at the 2011 EPT San Remo Main Event, finishing third and collecting $524,705. She quickly struck again at the 2012 PCA Main Event, taking fourth and earning $600,000. By early 2014, she’d signed a deal to represent 888 at live tournaments around the world.

No reason has been given for why Liu’s deal ended, but it can only be guessed that her contract expired and both sides decided not to renew. Furthermore, the growing trend in online poker is to move away from the sponsored player model and spend more money/marketing efforts on attracting recreational players.

PokerNews vs. PokerTube over “Stolen” Videos

February 11th, 2015

pokernews-vs-pokertube-video-piracyA huge battle has erupted in the poker community and, no, it’s not Daniel Negreanu blasting Annie Duke again, players calling out Erick Lindgren over unpaid sports bets, or Mike Matusow cursing out some random at his table. This time, two media outlets in PokerNews.com and PokerTube.com are going at it over alleged stolen intellectual property.

The matter first surfaced when Bluff.com Editor Lance Bradley tweeted this back in June: “Blows my mind that @pokertube thinks it’s okay to steal content from other poker media outlets incl @bluffmagazine @wsop @poker_prod @espn”

Well, this caused a little dent, but PokerNews’ Matthew Parvis recently opened a much-larger wound when he tweeted: “We as an industry need to stand together against @pokertube’s continuous abuse of intellectual property. Please RT.”

Parvis’ tweet spilled over on to TwoPlusTwo, when Allen “The Chainsaw” Kessler started a thread that’s quickly grown over the past few days.

The central argument is between PokerNews and PokerTube owner/maligned affiliate Jamie Nevin over the boundaries and responsibilities of a tube site. Furthermore, PokerNews and other outlets don’t appreciate how PokerTube uploads their videos without permission, sometimes puts their emblem on the videos, and is allegedly slow to deal with users who upload copyrighted content. Pretty much sounds like Nevin is the devil and PokerTube is the cyber portal to hell, right?

To be fair, Nevin appears on the 2p2 thread and makes some valid points while defending his position. Key points of Nevin’s argument include that PokerTube always responds to requests to remove videos, people cannot request to have content removed that they do not own (i.e. PokerNews saying High Stakes Poker vids should be taken down), nobody has a valid legal case against them, and they helped publicize some guy named Mark Hoke.

There’s actually a lot more to the argument, including squabbling between 2p2 owner Mason Malmuth and Nevin, a very short ban for Nevin, and an appearance by Parvis. So grab some Doritos (not those nasty All Nighter Cheeseburger-flavored ones, though), set aside half an hour or so, check out the full thread and decide for yourself who’s in the right and wrong.

Rousso out at PokerStars, Kara Scott in at Tilt Events

February 10th, 2015

vanessa-rousso-out-pokerstarsFor over 10 years, Vanessa Rousso has braved the testosterone-filled poker tables to help further women’s place in the game. And she’s helped her own cause by earning over $3.5 million in tournaments, winning the 2009 EPT Grand Final High Roller (€532,500) and landing a lucrative sponsorship deal with PokerStars.

But as for the latter, Rousso has decided to step away from her sponsor of five years in pursuit of other interests. It’s little surprise that ‘Lady Maverick’ is leaving PokerStars, though, given that she cashed just once last year and has been spending far more time promoting her DJ’ing career than she has pimping Stars.

Rousso will still remain involved in poker since she’s set to join Brian Rast in hosting a Zen Poker Mentoring seminar. However, it looks like the 32-year-old’s days of logging a heavy playing schedule are long gone.

kara-scott-tilt-eventsKara Scott signs with Tilt Events

While Rousso may be distancing herself from poker, TV hostess Kara Scott is simply re-positioning herself. The former Party Poker rep announced that she recently signed a deal with an Italian company named Tilt Events.

No, this company isn’t a clever way for disgraced Full Tilt founders Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson to sneak back into the game. Instead, Tilt Events develops poker tournaments and other related events in Italy. Regarding Scott’s role, she writes that she’ll be working with her husband, Giovanni Rizzo, to be “involved all the way from the early dreaming stages to the fine detail execution of the Tilt Cup events as well as bringing back – and this is REALLY exciting – the Venice Poker Festival for the end of 2015!”

Poker has been strong in Italy for a while now. And this only figures to be even more the case with a talented hostess and poker mind like Scott in the mix.

PokerStars sues Erick Lindgren for $2.53 Million

February 7th, 2015

eirck-lindgren-gambling-debtsErick Lindgren has seen his reputation in the poker world erode very quickly over the past few years, based on the fact that he’s failed to repay gambling debts. And now, he’s taking center stage in a lawsuit that’s been leveled by PokerStars’ parent company, Rational Group, which is seeking over $2.53 million from Lindgren.

Rational, which also purchased Full Tilt Poker in 2012, wants repayment for a double $2 million loan that the 38-year-old poker pro received from Full Tilt in April 2011. One of the $2 million loans was an accident, and Lindgren refused to give the money back. The WSOP champion also got another $531,807 for live tournaments because he was a Full Tilt Pro at the time.

However, Black Friday quickly struck after the loans, which hampered Full Tilt’s ability to get their money back. By June 2011, the beleaguered poker site lost their gaming license and stopped offering real money games, making it seem even less likely that Lindgren would have to repay the funds.

But now that Rational owns Full Tilt, they aren’t letting the matter drop – even after a 2012 bankruptcy by Lindgren, where he owed $4.8 million to creditors along with another $3.8 million to the IRS. And according to Rational, the bankruptcy doesn’t wipe out the debt owed to Full Tilt.

As mentioned before, Lindgren’s reputation is about on par with the guys who ran Full Tilt before Black Friday. He once discussed his gambling problem in an interview with Bluff Magazine, where he stated the following:

“I think that a lot of people don’t realize that since 2004, I’ve paid back, before I ever got a Full Tilt payment, I had paid back over $3 million in debt, I was probably $6 million in debt in ’04 and I paid about $3 million and then at various times I lost a lot of money in golf or sports. I took some hits and I was probably at my worst about $10 million in debt. Going in to Black Friday I think I had it down under $2 million.”

Given that he’s now facing a $2.53 million lawsuit, Lindgren could be headed for yet another major downswing in his life. But then again, he probably should’ve just given the $2 million back that was mistakenly sent to him a second time.

Phil Hellmuth chats with TMZ about NBA’s Best Poker Players

February 2nd, 2015

phil-hellmuth-2014-big-oneTMZ has become infamous for those curbside interviews outside of major L.A. hotspots. And recently, they caught Phil Hellmuth, or rather the Poker Brat jumped in front of the camera when he saw the chance for more publicity. Whatever the case, the 13-time WSOP champion had some interesting comments about both poker as a sport and who the best poker-playing basketball players are. That said, let’s take a quick look at what he had to say on both topics.

Is Poker a Sport?

“Poker is not a sport,” Hellmuth said when asked about the matter. “Like my friends wanna claim it’s a sport and should be in the Olympics. But it’s not a sport, and you don’t need to be in great shape to play.”

When TMZ asked why ESPN airs so many poker events, Hellmuth said that the network recognizes the heavy skill element involved with the game. And so this is where he sees poker fitting in with actual sports like football and basketball.

Who are the Best Athlete/Poker Players?

“David Lee from the Golden State Warriors, I played with him last week and he smashed us for $32,000, he is excellent,” Hellmuth said. But Lee isn’t the only baller whose poker skills have impressed the 50-year-old. Some other Warriors players who Hellmuth name-dropped include Stephon Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Bogut. The latter may even be as good as a poker pro, according to Hellmuth.

Outside of the Warriors, the Poker Brat also says that Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are great players. So, it seems as if the defending NBA champions are not only excellent on the basketball courts, but also the felt as well. Listen to Hellmuth’s full interview below:

Andy Beal battles Todd Brunson and loses $5 Million

January 25th, 2015

todd-brunson-vs-andy-bealA decade ago, billionaire businessman Andy Beal played in some of the most-legendary high stakes poker games in history. But it’s been years since the banker/real estate mogul has played poker in Las Vegas. That all changed this weekend, though, as Beal made his triumphant return to Vegas’ Bobby’s Room to take on Todd Brunson heads-up.

The two competed in a game of $50,000/$100,000 Limit Hold’em, with both players fronting a $5 million bankroll. And thanks to a spectator named Kyle Loman, there were plenty of tweets on how the matchup was going. After the first couple of hours, the chip stacks remained pretty even and the original 20 spectators were whittled down to just Doyle Brunson.

But after three hours, when it was around 4:00am Vegas time, even Doyle couldn’t stick around to watch his son. It didn’t matter, though, as Brunson swung the tide in his favor and took Beal’s entire $5 million stack.

It’s worth mentioning that Beal isn’t some complete amateur since he took on the world’s best poker players in 2004 and ’06. This matchup between Beal and “The Corporation,” a group consisting of Doyle, Jen Harman, Phil Ivey, Ted Forrest and others, would see Beal take an early $13.6 million lead. However, Ivey played the businessman heads-up and won $16.6 million, promptng Beal to quit the game. This story served as the inspiration for Michael Craig’s famed book The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time.

Well, there was no Ivey there to dominate Beal this time, however, Brunson did a more-than-adequate job of beating his wealthy opponent. So will Beal limp off for another eight years after this one? Or will he return with a vengeance, much like he did in 2006 after getting handled in ’04?