CardPlayer’s Barry Shulman selling Mansion for $4.9 Million

March 23rd, 2015

barry-allyn-shulmanIn 2003, CardPlayer founder Barry Shulman and his wife, Allyn, decided to buy a Vegas condo and transform it into their dream home. The end result was $7 million worth of renovations, and a three-floor penthouse that was inspired by Louis XIV and 17-century France. Now, their dream home can be yours for the ungodly price of $4.9 million.

The announcement was made following a fluff piece that appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which detailed a lot about the mansion, a little about the Shulmans, and a brief mention of the listing. Below you can see some descriptions about the home:

“Columns, chandeliers and wall sconces are everywhere — even in closets and baths. Most of the walls are covered in fabric and rope trim, framed with wood molding with 18-carat gold-leaf filigree to achieve an Old World look.”

“Starting between the kitchen and dining areas, it curves up to a second-story cantilever housing an Old World-looking grand piano that would fit in nicely in the Liberace Museum. This area is directly above the kitchen and overlooks the living room. It is partially lined with bookshelves, and has a cozy nook for reading.”

“Continuing up to the third floor, the 18-carat gold-detailed patina and marble staircase surrounds a huge crystal chandelier that the Shulmans discovered on one of their home furnishing expeditions in Italy.”

“The third floor houses a large home theater with a formal velvet drape covering the screen; candle-lit crystal wall sconces, a coffered ceiling with recessed halogen lights, and comfortable recliners arranged around a handmade rug on the travertine tile floor. At the back is a bar, popcorn machine and powder room.”

In all, this place boasts 5,467 square feet and has three bedrooms and six baths – a pretty large place for any big-spending poker player or other millionaire who needs a crib in Vegas.

The main problem, however, is that this place seems overly customized. Apparently the Shulmans realize this which is why, after dumping $7 million into the renovations, they are listing it for far cheaper. But is $4.9 million even cheap enough?

PokerStars gets Far Prettier with Yuiko Matsukawa Signing

March 20th, 2015

yuiko-matsukawa-signs-pokerstarsDoes PokerStars have a Japanese schoolgirl fetish? Sure seems like it because their latest Team PokerStars addition is model Yuiko Matsukawa, whose schoolgirl photos and other modeling work are plastered across the net.

This is quite an interesting signing because Matsukawa has no live-tournament cashes; instead, it seems like she just started playing poker since she was spotted at the Macau Poker Cup before landing a sponsorship deal. However, it’s pretty clear that Matsukawa wasn’t signed on her poker merits.

Instead, this is your perfect example of a poker site signing a good-looking woman who brings more to the table than just a couple big live-tournament victories. Matsukawa furthered her fame by starring in a film called “Terrace House Closing Door,” which centers on a fake reality show involving six men and six women. Given the 24-year-old’s fame in Japan, this fits in well with what PokerStars is trying to do in Japan: get ahead of the market before the game is legalized.

In previous years, it seemed like there was no chance that Japan’s relatively traditional society would ever embrace casino gambling/poker games. This is, after all, the country that inspired the Last Samurai, a movie about a bunch of late-nineteenth-century, stubborn-assed samurais who refused to trade in their swords for guns, ultimately meeting their demise after charging a Gatling gun head-on.

yuiko-matsukawa-signs-pokerstars-1Of course, this isn’t to say that casino gambling is the Gatling gun and all Japanese are stubborn samurais for refusing to embrace the activity. But it’s pretty clear that their prime minister, Shinzo Abe, sees the value in legalizing casinos and not just relying on a bunch of pachinko machines to drive gaming revenue.

So by signing Matsukawa and their previous additions to Team PokerStars, Naoya Kihara and Kosei Ichinose, PokerStars is doing a great job at appealing to the large potential Japanese poker market before anybody else gets a chance.

Liliya “Liay5” Novikova signs with PokerStars

March 16th, 2015

liliya-novikova-pokerstarsPokerStars just got a lot prettier after signing Liliya Novikova to Team PokerStars Online! Novikova, a 22-year-old Russian, specializes in 6-Max hyper-turbo SNGs and plays a very high volume, having achieved Supernova status.

Interestingly enough, Novikova was also a professional video gamer who focused on Defense of the Ancients. And while the Moscow native has moved on to greener and richer pastures, she still enjoys playing video games on occasion.

But it looks like Novikova, who plays under the screen name “Liay5,” will mostly be focusing on her true passion of online poker over the coming months. “I would’ve played poker anonymously for the rest of my life, and I could’ve been happy doing it,” she wrote on her blog. “That didn’t stop me from dreaming, however. I dreamt of what it would be like to get the call that I was going to become a member of Team Online.”

Novikova adds that she got her poker start playing heads-up games and turbo SNGs. However, she found that the speed and post-flop play of hyper turbos is what really excites her. And now, the Russian beauty wants to use her talents to move up to Super Nova Elite status. “I have already achieved Supernova status, but I want more. I’m trying to make Supernova Elite,” she said. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of concentration on my game, so I have worked out a schedule and do my best to follow it.”

Aside from putting in a high volume in online poker, Novikova also plans to play some live tournaments as well in the near future. That said, she seems quite similar to Sofia Lövgren, also another online player who’s transitioned into more live events. That said, the poker world should get an opportunity to see more and more from Novikova in the future.

Martijn Ardon breaks Sick Supernova Record at PokerStars

March 14th, 2015

martijn-ardon-pokerMartijn Ardon has been a high-volume online poker grinder for years, but even he outdid himself by setting a sick Supernova Elite record at PokerStars.

Ardon, who also goes by the name “Quadchrazs,” becomes the fastest player ever to reach Supernova Elite status after accomplishing this feat in 51 days. Considering that becoming a Supernova Elite requires earning 1 million VPPs in a year, that’s inhumanly fast! Further adding to the lore is that the Dutchman could have accomplished this feat quicker, but he had a stomach illness for one week. Even still, he managed to best the old record held by Andrew “azntracker” Li by seven days.

According to Ardon, chasing this mark was merely an afterthought when he got off to a good start in 2015. After playing a high volume for the first three days of the year, he decided to go for the VPP record. What ensued was a 12-hour poker schedule that included over 1,000 sit and go’s every day. His game of choice was $100 SNGs, although he mixed some $60 Spin & Go’s, fifty50 SNGs and satellite hypers into his schedule as well.

Given all of the online poker that Ardon was playing, you’d have thought he would’ve found it boring after a while. However, he describes it as being pretty intense when trying to play well in each SNG. “It’s funny, people ask me this sometimes about SNGs,” said Ardon. “If you think SNGs are boring you miss a lot of important stuff to take into account! It’s more like a lot of stress than it is boring!”

If there’s anybody who can handle this stress, though, it’s definitely a guy like Ardon who plays thousands of SNGs in a week without wavering. But now that he’s reached the record, he can sit back, enjoy high VIP benefits and play some other games.

Daniel Negreanu rips Jordan Cristos for Tanking

March 12th, 2015

negreanu-jordan-cristosDaniel Negreanu is on the warpath again, this time ripping poker pro Jordan Cristos for excessive tanking, or the act of taking a lengthy amount of time to make a decision.

After seeing multiple tweets from Cristos on the subject, most of which send the message ‘I realize people hate me for tanking, but I’m allowed to,’ Negreanu hopped on his blog at FullContactPoker and picked apart each of the tweets. Here’s one excerpt that best explains Negreanu’s main point:

From Cristos: @RealKidPoker @DarryllFish @SavagePoker so much hate for thinking thru decisions like everyone does when it’s crucial. I don’t get it.

Negreanu: Let me try and explain it for you. No one is saying that it’s inappropriate to take your time when decisions are crucial. However, when you are under the gun, first to act, and go into the tank, most everyone agrees that this is crossing a line! When someone 4-bets you before the flop and you take more than 2 minutes to respond, most everyone agrees that this is excessive tanking.

When I play with players who consistently act within a reasonable amount of time, I don’t call the clock on them when they occasionally take a few minutes to make a decision. If there is a habitual tanker like yourself, then you have lost that privilege and courtesy.

Kid Poker goes on to express his opinion that if everybody tanked as much as Cristos, then tournaments would slow to a crawl and amatuers would be totally turned off. He adds, “Jordan talks a lot about respecting the game and respecting the players, but his actions show absolutely no respect for other players time or what is best for the game or the community.”

You can see the entire post here, and note that this exchange sends us back to a long-running debate about whether poker tournaments need a shot clock. There are arguments on both sides because no shot clock does give players enough time to accurately think through tough situations – although players can call time on each in many events. But the flip side is Negreanu’s point in that pros like Cristos can turn amateurs off by tanking every time they’re facing a preflop decision.

Mike Sexton vs. WSOP

March 6th, 2015

mike-sexton-vs-wsopMike Sexton recently channeled his inner-Daniel Negreanu by writing a blog post that questions the World Series of Poker. More specifically, Sexton has a problem with the November Nine four-month break (all these years later), WSOP Europe and Australia being included in the Player of the Year race, and the growing number of bracelet events being included.

So what qualifies Sexton to be the judge and jury here? Well, as he explains in the post, he’s been going to the WSOP since 1984 and has seen the event evolve over the years. And while Mike still loves the WSOP, he doesn’t feel that some measures are putting players first. Case in point, why should the November Nine have to wait four months just to finish the final table? Or what’s the deal with making players travel to Europe or Australia just to compete in the POY race?

Apparently WSOP Director Ty Stewart is a Mike Sexton fan and saw the blog post. Stewart was also willing to offer his own rebuttal in the comments section, while defending the various points that Sexton attempted to pick apart. The “comment” from Stewart could be turned into a poker book, so we’ll just highlight one interesting excerpt:

In closing, I’d just like to say that we believe we have right to operate a fair business with the WSOP event and brand, we are almost always guided by simple endeavour to do the right things for the right reasons. We want to be a source of pride and unifying platform for you and everyone who loves poker. we want it bigger and better yes.

But we are not Dr. Evil plotting to exploit a community (which is too smart for that anyway) on an annual basis. Yes, with miles of truss & lighting/mountains of chips/thousands of staff/hundreds of security cameras we have the highest costs in the industry. But we also don’t have a myopic view of the world. And I can assure you any variance in fees collected from 65 or 68 bracelet events is not going to be highlighted topic in the Caesars Interactive balance sheets. Apologize for the long-winded reply, but your post really struck an emotional chord.

Michael Mizrachi unveils App for making “Last Longer” Poker Bets

March 3rd, 2015

michael-mizrachi-blast-longerEverybody’s favorite gun-toting WSOP champ Michael Mizrachi has identified a niche within a niche in the poker world. And he’s looking to take advantage of it with Blast Longer, a mobile app that lets poker players make “last-longer” bets with each other.

So how does Blast Longer work? players open an account at Blast Longer, then challenge others to last-longer bets in either online or live tournaments. As you may or may not know, these prop bets determine the winner based on who lasts the longest in a tourney. If you’re looking for more beyond my vague description, here’s what Mizrachi has to say:

“Blast Longer offers players the ability to place last-longer side bets (blasts) with their friends or the larger Blast Longer community. The player in each blast who lasts longest in the tournament wins the pot. Each tournament will have multiple pots at different bet levels: 10 percent, 25 percent, and 50 percent of the buy-in for online tournaments, and one percent, three percent, five percent, and 10 percent of the buy-in for live tournaments.”

Currently, this service can be used on the major poker networks such as PokerStars, FullTilt, iPoker, partypoker, and Winamax. And the live capabilities will be launched come 2015 WSOP time.

If you’re not sold on the idea, then consider that Mizrachi calls Blast Longer “insurance for poker players” since it gives them another way to earn money – even if they don’t cash in the actual tournament. “The object of these bets is to last longer than your opponents without even cashing or winning a tournament, which can be profitable for the day,” he explained.

While prop bets are very common in the live poker circuit, online players don’t have as many opportunities to join in prop wagers. But Mizrachi’s Blast Longer app will definitely give average Joes an opportunity to cash in on the prop betting fun…or lose their ass, whichever one.

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.