PokerStars Angry over Political T-Shirts at EPT Barcelona High Roller

August 21st, 2014

The 2014 EPT Barcelona €50,000 Super High Roller tourney certainly wasn’t short on compelling storylines. First off, Olivier Busquet beat Dan Colman to win the €896,434 ($1,188,996) top prize. This is interesting because Busquet was one of Colman’s main backers as the latter went on to win the 2014 WSOP Big One for One Drop and $15.3 million.

The more-recent story involves the t-shirts that Busquet and Colman wore during the final table. The former had “Save Gaza” written on his shirt while the latter sported “Free Palestine.” This final table was live-streamed, meaning thousands of viewers got a good look at the shirts. And certain poker fans weren’t too happy about the scene.

After hearing many complaints about the matter, Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars’ head of corporate communications issued the following statement:

In retrospect it was a mistake to allow them entry. Our tournaments are designed to promote poker and poker competition and not as a platform for political statements. Players have many channels to express their views on world politics, but our tournaments are not an appropriate place. We will refuse entry to any player displaying political statements of any kind.

Save Gaza is a movement to end the Israeli-Egyptian blockage of ships to the Gaza Strip. Many human rights activists have jumped on board this movement because they believe it’s the residents of Gaza who are suffering. Free Palestine is an older reference to how the Palestinians claim European Jews took over their land with the help of the British military.

Both phrases are very political and based on individual beliefs. So it’s no wonder why they’ve incited controversy on twitter. PokerStars is definitely making the right move for their company by declaring that no more political shirts will be allowed at the EPT tables.

Mike Sexton tells Great Old-Man Poker Stories during Cash Game

August 20th, 2014

If there’s one thing that Mike Sexton can do besides play poker, it’s talk. He is, after all, a World Poker Tour announcer. And Sexton has recently been talking up a storm on a Party Poker-sponsored cash game at the Borgata.

As you can see in the segments below, he tells some of his favorite Johnny Moss, Bobby Hoff and Stu Ungar tales. The latter is pretty interesting because Sexton relives another degenerate Ungar tale where the three-time WSOP Main Event winner lost $78,000 on his first time at the golf course.

Another delightful part of watching these segments is to see how nobody says a word during Sexton’s stories. It’s as if they’ve already heard these stories before from him and are hearing them for the thousandth time. In the first clip, Sexton even acknowledges that Vince Van Patten has probably sat through these tales one too many times.

Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see how passionate Sexton is about retelling stories from poker’s past. Check out the clips below and see if he draws you in. And if you’re short on time, just skip ahead to the second clip about Unger because it’s the least-told story that Sexton rehashes:

Famed Poker Author Tony Korfman passes away at 71

August 19th, 2014

Poker pro and noted gambling author Tony Korfman recently passed away at age 71. As reported in this TwoPlusTwo post, Korfman fell and broke his hip a couple of weeks ago. He never recovered and passed away on August 18th, 2014.

As a poker player, he made $355,320 in live tournaments and finished runner-up in a 2007 WSOP Seniors Hold’em event. Korfman was better known as a writer, where he penned 10 gambling/poker books. His 8-book series entitled A Humorous And Informative Gaming Guide covered baccarat, blackjack, craps, keno, roulette, poker, slots and video poker. The Bronx, New York native also worked as a manager at several casinos and was described as a workaholic.

Another interesting thing about Korfman was his rude demeanor, which came off as humorous to many gamblers and poker players. As the TwoPlusTwo poster “r0llin_game” wrote:

He ordered a bagel and lox and was kind enough to share half of it with me, and I could tell that how rude he could be at the table was mostly a show. Sure he had an awful temper, but away from poker, he was truly one of the more generous people I’ve seen and read about.

The poster goes on to describe how Korfman liked to give his books out to people for free. He once received a book from Korfman that was humorously signed “To Cody- leave me the **** alone!” An excerpt from his obituary describes just how generous the poker player was in his life:

Tony cared for many people and wouldn’t hesitate to give the shirt off his back to help someone. It would be hard to count the number of people Tony touched with his generosity; hardly a day would pass without someone coming up to him and thanking him for his help. At the end of the day, his one true love was enjoying time with his family, listening to music and watching basketball and football. Most of all, he enjoyed making people laugh.

Annette Obrestad relives “Blind” Online Tournament Win

August 11th, 2014

From winning the 2007 WSOP Europe Main Event as an 18-year-old to starting her poker career through freerolls, Annette Obrestad has become one of poker’s living legends. But if there’s one act that truly defines Obrestad’s career more than anything else, it’s when she won an online tournament without looking at her cards.

The Norwegian was playing in a $4 buy-in, 180-player sit and go and decided to go in blind. According to Wikipedia, she only looked at her cards once during the entire tournament. The idea was to “show just how important it is to play position and to pay attention to the players at the table.”

That was back in 2007, and Obrestad says that she still gets asked about the impressive tournament win. In a recent interview with PokerListings, the 25-year-old said that she put some paper over the screen where her cards were. “At first it was kind of weird because it was so different to not be able to have any other reads,” she recalled. “Just like bet sizing and how people had played before. And the more I played the more I realized that you actually don’t always need to see your cards to pick up on stuff.”

Obrestad also discussed the lessons that players can learn from her blind tournament victory. “Basically what it comes down to is that poker is a game of reading people,” she explained, “and the more you play the more you understand how the betting patterns work and how people think. And once you can kind of get into people’s heads, understand more how they play. And that’s really what you have to do to become a good player – it’s not so much about the cards.”

Obrestad finished by saying that many people who sit at live tables with her ask if the legend of the blind tournament win is true. She added that more people recognize her for winning a tourney without looking at her cards than for the WSOPE victory.

Daniel Negreanu reveals why he chose PokerStars over FTP, UB and Party

August 10th, 2014

It seems like Daniel Negreanu has been the face of PokerStars forever. So it’s hard to remember him representing a different online poker site at any point in time. However, going back to 2004, Kid Poker was actually involved in his own poker room called FullContactPoker.

Some players today may recognize this site because it’s where Negreanu writes all of his blog posts from. But back then, it was a full-fledged internet poker room that mainly attracted Americans.

Negreanu helped FullContactPoker quickly experience success by undertaking a massive promotional effort. This included doing up to 50 radio interviews a day across the United States and Canada, plus getting the word out through other channels. His poker site showed such promise that one company even wanted to buy him out for $170 million.

However, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) came about at the end of 2006, thus throwing the US-friendly poker market into disarray. This forced Negreanu to quickly find something else to do with FullContactPoker. So he ended up signing a deal with PokerStars and moving his player base there.

While this and the $170 million deal are interesting enough, the selection process used by Negreanu to pick PokerStars is a story in itself. Here’s a look at what he told about why he ended up choosing Stars:

Signing with PokerStars was as simple as this, there were several sites interested in having my services including UltimateBet, Full Tilt Poker and PartyPoker. For me it came down to integrity and which site I trusted the most, had the best software and the best vision for the future. It wasn’t about the highest bidder for me; it was about who’s the biggest, who’s the best, and who’s going to be the biggest in the future.”

I believed in PokerStars from the start, as the company was built by a group of IBM professionals. They weren’t some random poker-playing dudes who wanted to be businessmen. Full Tilt was off the mark; I wasn’t going to sign with them, because I didn’t trust the infrastructure even back then. If I was going to attach my name to something, game security, integrity, and longevity were most important.

Given that Party Poker’s player base has dropped considerably, Full Tilt had to close before being bought by Stars, and UB Poker went completely under never to resurface again, PokerStars definitely proved to be the right choice. Furthermore, it appears as if Negreanu is about as good at reading business deals as he is with poker opponents.

Dan Colman’s Dark Message about Poker inspires Author

August 8th, 2014

A month ago, the poker world collectively rolled their eyes when Dan Colman won the 2014 WSOP Big One for One Drop, then refused to do interviews. His reasoning became clear afterward: poker is a “dark game” where pros prey upon weaker players. Colman certainly didn’t have any trouble collecting the $15.3 million check for winning the One Drop, though.

I could go on about the hypocrisy surrounding Colman’s message all day long, however, his words have inspired at least one player named Amit Varma. Writing for India’s Economic Times, Varma describes an incident where he and his poker pro friend exploited a drunk builder who kept raising and re-raising hands without looking at his cards. All that he and his buddy had to do was wait for opportunities against the drunk in order to make profits. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“We pride ourselves on studying the game, cracking the math, all that other shit,” I said to J as we drove away, “but in the end this is what it comes down to. Sitting in a dark room waiting for a drunk builder to give his money away. Where is the nobility in this?” J replied, “Yeah, we’re like drug dealers exploiting people’s addictions.” I can give you all the counter-arguments to that, considering that I use them to rationalise what I do all the time. We play poker as an intellectual challenge.

Varma goes on to cite Colman’s words that, “The losers lose way more money at this game than winners are winning. A lot of this is money they can’t afford to lose.” He ends by writing that even the winners can get consumed by poker, logging many hours at the table just to turn out profits. Varma also claims that the drunk builder and a poker pro are one in the same.

This is definitely an interesting viewpoint and one that the author has obviously thought long and hard about. But comparing a skilled poker pro to some drunk with a gambling addiction is reaching a bit far.

Poker is a game that exemplifies many pursuits, from business to sports. Should people look down on a successful Wall Street trader because he/she’s put the work in to gain an edge on others? Do we admonish Kevin Durant because he’s spent his life taking advantage of inferior opponents on the basketball court? Should Tom Cruise feel ashamed because he’s taken countless multi-million dollar roles due to his superior acting/looks?

The world is a competitive place, and people who pursue any game/business are paying a cost – whether it be through their time, money or social life. The affluent builder who gets drunk and loses their money at the poker table obviously doesn’t have the dedication or willpower to win in a competitive game like poker. Those who do have the necessary dedication and drive shouldn’t feel bad that they can win in poker.

China’s Poker Princess Guo Meimei busted

August 7th, 2014

By now, many people have heard about the wild story of Molly Bloom (a.k.a. the Poker Princess), who organized high stakes poker games in Los Angeles and New York. Some of those who attended Bloom’s games include Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Alex Rodriguez and Tobey Maguire. You can read all about the story in her new book, Molly’s Game.

Interestingly enough, though, Bloom isn’t the world’s only Poker Princess. Guo Meimei has carved out a big name for herself in China by hosting an exclusive, private poker game for the Chinese elite. She’s also quite popular through social media, having amassed over 2 million followers on Sina Weibo – the Twitter of the Far East. So essentially, she’s Molly Bloom and Dan Bilzerian rolled into one.

But there’s one part to Meimei’s story that’s not so much like the other two. She also worked as a high-end escort, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars through this side activity. However, as the Sydney Morning Herald story below explains, she has standards and never slept with anybody for less than $17,000.

The 23-year-old earned far more from her illegal poker operation, though, once posting of picture of her 10-figure bank account online. She also flaunted her extravagant purchases such as luxury cars, designer clothes and lavish vacations. Meimei was so open about her wealth and success that many followers started to resent her.

Some of these people might be happy to now know that Meimei was recently arrested for her illegal online gambling operation. She confessed to her crimes and now faces several charges stemming from the matter.

As for the poker games, she claims to have started running them after meeting a famous high stakes player. Could it be Phil Ivey? Tom Dwan? Perhaps the details will come out slowly just like with Bloom’s story.

Dumpster Joe picked over Christian Harder for Poker Night in America

July 31st, 2014

With over $3 million in live poker tournament winnings, and having been a regular at Maryland Live! Casino, Christian “Charder” Harder seemed like a natural fit for Poker Night in America. He quickly applied to be on the show after hearing that PNIA was filming an episode at his home casino. But rather than reserve their last spot for Harder, the producers opted for a different direction: “Dumpster Joe.”

Appropriately named for the fact that he drives a dump truck, Joe is a local amateur who wanted his shot at the big time. And he got this chance, if only at the expense of established pros like Harder. Charder tweeted, “Not a big enough poker personality to play Poker Night in America at my home casino @MarylandLive #salty”

Although Harder sounds bitter in the tweet, he comes across as pretty understanding in a recent Washington Post blog. He commended Dumpster Joe being on the show by saying:

They were looking more for guys who aren’t professional poker players who want to play with professional poker players. I guess they wanted some new blood. He is a huge character. He owns a dump truck company and some restaurants. He is going to be great for TV.

Harder is definitely on track with his assessment of Dumpster Joe, who has a good amateur-on-TV personality and caused a stir after bluffing Phil Hellmuth out of a pot with 3 high. Aside from the fact that Joe was good for TV, he also fits the traditional style of PNIA, where a lucky amateur or two gets a chance to rub elbows with famed poker pros. So don’t expect the show’s producers to give up on this interesting dynamic any time soon.

Daniel Negreanu earning More than Roger Federer?

July 27th, 2014

Thanks to his $8.3 million cash in the 2014 WSOP Big One for One Drop, Daniel Negreanu is having an unbelievable year. In fact, he recently tweeted about how his tournament profits are looking right now, which you can see below:

Events 44
Cashes 12
Hours 416
Buyins $2,931,661
Payouts $10,247,143
Profit $7,315,482

As you can see, Negreanu is close to a 300% ROI on his tourney buy-ins this year. And Mirror UK took notice of this tweet and decided to do something very interesting with it. They compared how Kid Poker is doing financially to some other top athletes this year. Converting Negreanu’s winnings into pounds, he has £4.2 million, which ranks ahead of some of those listed below:

1. Tiger Woods – £7.6 million
(2. Negreanu – £4.2 million)
2. Roger Federer – £4.1 million
3. Phil Mickelson – £2.9 million
4. David Beckham – £2.9 million

Besides comparing Negreanu to big-name athletes, another interesting thing that Mirror does is look at the top 10 earners from the PGA, ATP and poker. Here’s a look at their list:

1. Top 10 PGA players – $52,775,979
2. Top 10 ATP tennis players – $48,566,433
3. Top 10 Global Poker Index players – $47,870,710

Poker pros may not rank quite as high as professional golfers when it comes to winnings. However, they do rank pretty comparably to tennis pros, trailing them by just under $1 million so far.

So what’s the lesson to kids here? Give up spending hours sweating your ass off in the hot sun trying to be a tennis pro or golfer – instead opting for studying opponents’ 4-betting range? Well, we don’t expect poker popularity among the youth to experience a sudden spike simply because of Negreanu’s great year. However, the Mirror’s research does go to show that poker is no doubt a lucrative game that pays very well when somebody is running hot.

Full Tilt Poker Auction – $3.5m Worth of Merchandise for Sale

July 25th, 2014

Remember those old Full Tilt Poker hockey-style jerseys and baseball hats that you could trade rewards points in for prior to Black Friday? Well, Full Tilt never quite got rid of all this stuff before Ray Bitar, Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer drove the company into the ground. And now, there’s going to be a massive $3,500,000 auction to sell everything off from the old Full Tilt days.

J. Sugarman Auction Corp is the one running the auction, which is set to take place on August 2nd at 11:00am PST. There’s also a live venue in San Dimas, California that you can visit to bid on items in person. And if you don’t make the live or online auction right at 11, don’t worry because J. Sugarman reps state that these events are normally 2-3 hours long.

Of course, that’s if no crazed Full Tilt fanboy comes in and buys everything at once. We don’t foresee this happening, but J. Sugarman did mention that the merchandise will be auctioned off by demand. So if you’re hunting for a Full Tilt golf bag, don’t be surprised if they’re all snatched up.

Assuming you check out the link above, you’ll notice that there’s an abundance of clothing items like t-shirts, polo’s, jerseys, coats and more. In all, there are over 200,000 items up for sale in 28 different categories. Some of the non-clothing items that you can bid for include chip sets, footballs, mouse pads, pens, poker books and umbrellas. Given the massive variety here, we’re surprised that Lederer and Ferguson never started giving out Full Tilt toilet paper, cooking spray and contact solution.

Anyways, it’ll be interested to see how the auction goes and how much of this stuff actually goes.