Spanish Man fakes Kidnapping to avoid paying Poker Debts

August 27th, 2015

poker-fake-kidnappingA man from Cartagena, Spain figured that the best way to pay off his poker debts would be to fake his own kidnapping.

The kidnapping was part of an elaborate plan by the unnamed Spaniard, who’s described as being twenty something, to get his parents to ante up the money for his poker debts. The owner of a local poker club, whom the man owed money to, is also said to be in on the hoax.

According to TheLocal.es, the poker club owner doubled as the “kidnapper” and called the young man’s family to issue threats. He said that he’d kill their son and “chop his legs off” if a ransom wasn’t met.

The parents even got a chance to speak to their son, with him urging them to pay the money or the kidnappers “were going to kill him.” Eventually, the son returned home and the family alerted authorities to this miraculous happening.

However, the Spanish National Police became suspicious when the boy didn’t have a mark on him – unusual for such an aggressive ransom attempt. Police then began questioning the bad poker player, with him eventually confessing that he faked his own kidnapping to get money for his poker debts. The son and poker club owner have since been arrested for the fake kidnapping plot and are now awaiting charges.

Interestingly enough, this is only the latest fake kidnapping in Cartagena. Back in June 2015, a 28-year-old woman said that she’d been kidnapped in an attempt to get money from her boyfriend.

Perhaps these fake kidnapping plots aren’t so hard to believe, though, when one considers the high crime rate across Spain. Just a couple years ago, poker pros like Jens Kyllonen were victimized in a “sharking” scandal, where criminals broke into their hotel rooms and installed Trojan viruses on computers to rob the players blind. Luckily, Kyllonen caught on before submitting any financial-sensitive information for the criminals to see.

Neymar Too Young to advertise PokerStars in UK

August 25th, 2015

pokerstars-dream-teamPokerStars has rolled out an interesting ad campaign called “The Dream Team,” which revolves around freerolls and using Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Ronaldo Nazari to advertise the promo. However, when it comes to the UK, Neymar will have to be left out of the ad because he’s too young.

According to the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), “No one who is, or seems to be, under 25 years old may be featured gambling or playing a significant role.”

Given that Neymar is just 23, he definitely falls outside the legal age range for being featured in The Dream Team promo. Interestingly enough, 18-year-olds can both gamble and drink alcohol in the UK. Oh well, at least the Brazilian footballer recently won $20k thanks to a royal flush.

Because Neymar is too young for this campaign, Daniel Negreanu will step in and take his place. This doesn’t really make sense from a soccer (football) perspective, but if you’re going to find somebody from poker’s dream team, Negreanu would definitely be a top choice.

As for the actual promotion, it lets players participate in freerolls named after each of the dream teamers. Players will compete for cash in these freerolls, and one lucky person from each tourney will be given a golden ticket that enters them into the PokerStars Dream Team Collection Freeroll Final. Taking place on September 18th, this freeroll will award the winner a massive $1 million prize and a signed jersey from one of the soccer stars.

Going back to Neymar, he’ll no doubt continue to be featured in many future PokerStars ad campaigns. After all, he does have a huge social media following with 53.5 million Facebook likes, 30.3 million Instagram followers and 19.5 million Twitter followers.

Neymar wins $20k in Online Poker

August 23rd, 2015

neymar-online-pokerNeymar definitely seems like one superstar athlete who’s interested in poker beyond just securing a PokerStars deal. The FC Barcelona star recently won €17,810 (approx. $20k) while playing an online poker cash game.

As SBNation pointed out, if you look closely, you can see that this isn’t just any $20,000 win, but rather a royal flush hand as well. Considering this, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 23-year-old to continue his online poker play.

Of course, if Neymar does keep playing, it will be purely for his own enjoyment. After all, the star Brazilian footballer makes €12 million with FC Barcelona alone, and his endorsement deals are estimated to be worth around $31 million per year.

The one question that’s up in the air is how much his PokerStars contract is worth. As we reported before, Stars offered Zlatan Ibrahimovic €3-4 million per year to represent them in some tournaments and promotions. The Swedish footballer ultimately said no, but the point is that given how Neymar is more recognized around the world, we can only imagine that he commands an even larger fee.

In any case, this $20k pot story is likely to draw some mainstream attention to poker, which is exactly one of the benefits to having somebody like Neymar involved with the game.

The World Series of Poker has drawn its fair share of celebrities over the years, like Ray Ramano, Paul Pierce, Jason Alexander and Brad Garrett. However, Stars has been able to recruit more celebrities with an international presence in recent years, like Neymar, Rafael Nadal and Ronaldo. Assuming they get into the U.S. market, it’d be interesting to see what kind of American athletes they can sign to their team.

Scammers set up Fake Chad Batista Funding Account after Poker Pro Dies

August 21st, 2015

chad-batista-poker-go-fund-meScammers are trying to make Chad Batista’s Death their fortune after setting up a fake Go Fund Me account under his name.

Batista passed away on Thursday night, and the details surrounding his death are still being kept within the family. Not long afterward, a Go Fund Me account appeared that asked for donations for his memorial service. But according to this PocketFives thread, the memorial fund has absolutely nothing to do with the family and is a scam.

Instead, his family is asking that anybody who wishes to send donations please do so to the Trevor’s Fight fund, which is for a boy who’s currently battling cancer.

Batista was born in southern Florida and had some legal trouble until being introduced to poker as a teenager. Raised by his aunt, Louise Batista, after his mother died, the Coral Springs native used online poker to turn his life around and make a very good living. He was the number one-ranked online tournament player at PocketFives from August 2007 to July 2008. He continued to do well in ensuing years and rack up around $5 million in online poker winnings.

However, Black Friday hit in 2011, forcing Batista and other prominent pros to seek out different ways to make a living through poker. For the former number one player, this meant moving to Mexico because he didn’t like the live poker scene.

Eventually he moved back to the U.S. and his life got off track at times, due to excessive partying and drinking. This is believed to have played a role in his declining health, although the exact cause of death has still yet to surface.

Whatever the case may be, Batista definitely made his mark on the game and served as motivation for others to take up online poker in the mid and late 2000s.

Brazil bans Online Poker in Public

August 18th, 2015

brazil-bans-public-pokerWhat do online poker, urinating and nudity all have in common? They’re now all illegal to do in public according to Brazilian law.

Brazil recently updated some of their misdemeanor laws and considered that people playing mobile poker outdoors was enough of a threat that they’d ban it.

I have no idea how authorities intend to catch people playing online poker on their mobile phones, given that spying on people’s screens is quite rude. But what’s clear is that if you’re caught playing online poker in public, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor – punishable by up to three months in jail and a fine ranging from $575 and $575,000.

Poker is still Largely Legal in Brazil

While banning poker from outdoor spaces seems pretty nazi-ish, the game is still legal when you’re playing at home or in a land-based poker room. What’s more is that Brazil views poker as a skill game (post 2012), which makes their take on playing publicly all the more bizarre.

Despite the new law, don’t expect poker enthusiasm to be curbed much in this country. After all, they’ve caught fever for the game in recent years, mostly thanks to heavy advertising and marketing campaigns by PokerStars.

Will Brazil regulate Online Poker?

brazil-pokerWith a population of over 200 million, Brazil would be a prime place to regulate iPoker. Following the 2012 opinion that poker is a sport, the senate came out and expressed their support of online poker. However, little else has happened on the iPoker front since then.

Last year, Senator Ciro Nogueira said that it may be years before the proper legislation is available for online poker. So despite the odd don’t-play-poker-in-public law, there’s still plenty of support for the game. It’s just that this political support doesn’t look to pay off any time soon.

Poker Central announces 2 New Shows: Pokerography and Inside Poker

August 13th, 2015

poker-central-networkIf you’ve been starved for quality poker programming, then you’ll be pleased to know that Poker Central has announced two new shows that they’re working on.

The first is “Pokerography,” which will provide an in-depth view of some of the best poker pros ever to play the game. Some of the players who’ll be profiled include Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Moneymaker, Erik Seidel, Michael Mizrachi, Phil Hellmuth and Vanessa Selbst. According to TV Media Insights, the tagline for Pokerogrpahy is as follows:

“Each episode will explore the individual behind the legend in their own words. Interviews with family, friends, professional rivals, and expert poker-analysts dig deeper into their legacies.”

Another show, which will debut some time early in 2016, is called “Inside Poker.” Matt Savage will host this TV show and dive into some of the hottest topics in the poker world. In addition to discussing current news, Inside Poker will also dispense tips from pros and provide coverage of the top card rooms in the U.S.

Poker Central, which launches on October 1st, is set to be the first 24-hour poker television network in history. Up until now, few specifics have been given on what exactly Poker Central will offer, beyond coverage of the $500k Aria Super High Roller Bowl. So it’s nice to finally get a glimpse of what kind of shows will be offered once the network is up and running.

It’s been quite a while since any good poker TV shows have run in primetime spots. Poker Central will finally give players and fans of the game the opportunity to see some good shows any time they want – rather than watching 2009 episodes of High Stakes Poker through YouTube.

Phil Hellmuth admits that His Poker Game is “Out of Practice”

August 11th, 2015

phil-hellmuth-pokerWith a record 13 WSOP gold bracelets and over $19.3 million in tournament winnings, Phil Hellmuth is obviously a great poker player. However, he’s also a businessman, and this, along with constant networking, sometimes get in the way of his poker playing. Hellmuth admitted as much during a recent interview with SouthFlorida.com, where he discussed his poker habits, love of the Golden State Warriors and how nice of a guy he is. That said, let’s cover each of these topics from the interview in depth.

Hellmuth says He’s Out of Practice, but can get Sharp in a “Few Days”

Phil Hellmuth isn’t just a poker player these days. He also writes books, does speaking engagements and runs a real estate business. So he’s not your typical grinder who spends 8-10 hours a day at the poker tables.

“I’m not lazy, but I talked myself out of practicing,” he said. “For five or six years, I didn’t play in some of the good games leading up to the World Series of Poker, because with so many below-average players there, I reasoned it messed up my game. Now, I play a few times before the World Series, and it especially helps with my reads on players. I can get sharp in a few days.”

TV makes Hellmuth look Worse than He is

Few players have become more famous for their blowups than the Poker Brat. But the 51-year-old chalks this up to TV editing, rather than how he truly is when playing poker.

“I sit at a table for 12 hours, and lose it for, say, 10 minutes, and that makes TV,” Hellmuth explained. “I thought those inside the poker world would figure that out. It’s taken 12 years, but by now I think a lot of people have.”

Hellmuth loved that the Warriors won the NBA Championship

The Poker Brat loves to name drop and network with celebrities and athletes. So living in the Bay Area, he’s gotten to know some of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors quite well. In fact, he sits courtside along with his friend and Warriors owner Chamath Palihapitiya around 10 times a year.

If you’d like to see the whole SouthFlorida.com piece on Hellmuth, check it out here.

Party Poker gets rid of Withdrawal Fees – Players Cheer

August 10th, 2015

party-poker-withdrawal-feesFor years Party Poker has charged a 3% fee to players who withdraw money from the site. Obviously this was never a popular practice, and Party has finally decided to get rid of withdrawal fees. This means that players can use popular cashout methods like Visa, MasterCard and PayPal without incurring any extra fees.

Golan Shaked, Party’s Director of Games, is currently running a “Poker for the People” campaign in order to improve the site. And one of the biggest criticisms he found regarding the poker room was the withdrawal fees.

“We want to be the online poker site that champions what players want and we’re up for the challenge of making our players’ experience the best it can be,” Shaked said. “We are now looking at ways to eliminate withdrawal fees from the small number of payment processors who currently charge a premium for their services.”

Many online poker rooms are currently in a state of transition while hoping to better cater to recreational players. Party Poker is included in this group since they want to do whatever’s necessary to attract and retain more players. Scrapping withdrawal charges is a great start towards appeasing the mainstream crowd. This is especially the case when considering that many other sites don’t charge players a processing fee to cash out money.

Party is hoping that by making more recreational-friendly changes, they can begin ascending the traffic ladder again. According to PokerScout.com, they currently rank 8th in the world with an average of 800 hourly cash game players. They’ve been surpassed by sites like 888, Bodog and the iPoker network in recent years; but perhaps by continuing to listen to their players, Party can regain some of their lost market share.

Full Tilt Poker dumps High Stakes Games – Only $10/$20 NLHE Available

August 1st, 2015

full-tilt-poker-repaymentsFull Tilt Poker was once known as the primary destination for high stakes online poker grinders. However, this has changed in a big way, with Full Tilt recently dropping all high stakes games, leaving maximum stakes of $10/$20 NL Hold’em and $15/$30 Fixed Limit Hold’em.

The move is an obvious attempt to become a recreational-friendly poker site, rather than trying to cater to both amateurs and pros. And this is only confirmed by Full Tilt’s decision to institute automatic table seating and eliminate the ‘hit-and-run’ tactic that certain players use in cash games – a.k.a. ratholing, where players win money off a table, quickly leave, then buy-in back in at another table.

One more interesting move by FTP involves removing Draw, Stud and mixed poker games, along with heads-up play too. Most recreational players don’t play much beyond Hold’em and PLO, so it’s little surprise that Full Tilt got rid of these tables.

full-tilt-drops-blom-hansenDominic Mansour, managing director of Full Tilt Poker, spoke about the changes by saying the following:

“The new structure will present a clean offering for all players and we consider these ring game changes to be key to Full Tilt’s ongoing commitment to provide a level playing field and attracting and retaining more casual poker players.”

It’s certainly not rare for a poker site to focus on recreational players these days, who are considered the lifeblood of the industry. However, it is somewhat strange to see Full Tilt – the once-dominant hub for nosebleed games – make this switch.

The online poker room gained considerable fame for the high stakes battles that took place on their site between legends like Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Tom Dwan, Ilari Sahamies and Viktor “Isildur1″ Blom. Those days are clearly long gone, though, and we’ve entered a new era of internet poker.

Shane Schleger says Hot Poker Women don’t rise due to Looks

July 30th, 2015

shane-schleger-pokerWhile Shane Schleger may not play as much poker these days, he’s still quite visible through his writing and Dope Stories podcast. And the latest topic that Shaniac tackled is the idea that certain women only attain a lofty status in the poker world due to their looks.

Schleger took up this argument after a poker player named Jeff Tims complained about Samantha Abernathy using her looks to rise up the poker ladder. Here’a quick look at how Schleger lays out the common view shared by Tims and others:

“The argument states roughly: Women are unfairly propped up and afforded opportunities that similarly talented male peers would not have, so let’s nip this reverse sexism in the buttocks and get back to discussing how scary talented we are as poker players and how much credit we deserve for that.

It’s a very tired retelling of the same old, “she got there because of her looks” trope, so allow me to break that one down before proceeding: No successful woman ever achieved her status simply as a measure of her physical beauty or sex appeal.”

samantha-abernathy-pokerIt’s pretty obvious that being beautiful and a good poker player won’t earn a lady any less opportunities. However, what Shaniac takes offense to is the general belief that every hot woman who’s visible in the poker world is only there because she looks good. Here’s another excerpt from Schleger’s blog where he discusses how beauty alone doesn’t get you very far:

“Even if we look at industries where women are valued primarily for their physical beauty–for every hot actress or fashion model, there’s another equally hot one down the street who’s also smarter, more ambitious, more shrewd, harder working–and it’s those attributes that undoubtedly will buoy her to success beyond mere sexiness.”

This is certainly an interesting view on a subject that’s been around ever since online poker sites started handing sponsorship deals out to good-looking women. Sure, some of these deals were given strictly to models whose job it was to look pretty on the felt. On the other hand, today’s game is filled with hot women who also know how to play, including Abernathy. Case in point: she challenged Tims to Open Faced Chinese poker after his allegations that she’s using looks to get ahead.