Poker killing Chess Popularity in Russia

April 29th, 2016

russia-chess-pokerOne thing that Russia has become really well known for is producing chess champions. However, in recent years, chess seems to be taking a backseat to poker.

Even up until the early 2000s, parks were popular gathering places for chess buffs who wanted to test their skills against each other. But the allure of testing one’s mind against an opponent no longer seems to be as powerful as the potential to win a huge fortune through poker.

As Bloomberg reports, a 2013 poll showed that 16 percent of Russians (approx. 20 million) play online poker, which is up from 10 percent in 2011. Assuming a new poll were to be released this year, we’d likely see an even higher figure.

Given all the Russians who are playing online poker these days, the government is pondering a move to regulate the game and earn tax revenue from it.

russia-online-poker“That so much economic activity is happening on foreign websites represents a loss to Russia in terms of potential tax revenue,” writes Bloomberg.

“The opportunity cost seems to have dawned on Russian officials as the state slides into financial distress, caused by a mixture of falling oil prices and Western retaliation against its foreign military interventions. Now the government is considering whether to build a legal, regulated online gaming system to boost the tax revenues.”

Currently, online poker is supposed to be illegal in Russia, but these laws haven’t kept anybody from playing. Chess, once the country’s most-popular mind sport, also isn’t keeping people away from the cyber sport. Even Russian chess-masters like Dmitry Andreikin and Almira Skripchenko have gravitated to poker and the potential winnings it can offer.

That said, expect more Russians to continue picking up poker while chess games become less and less populated.

David Williams to appear on MasterChef 7

April 29th, 2016

david-williams-pokerPoker pro David Williams has faced some of the world’s toughest poker players to earn over $8.6 million. But can he deal with the wrath of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay?

We shall soon see because Williams has been announced as one of the contestants for season 7 of FOX’s MasterChef.

Williams is one of 40 contestants who are hoping that their culinary skills can earn them the $250,000 top prize. The first episode airs on June 1 at 8:00pm EST, beginning with a heads-up challenge that will see 20 cooks eliminated on the first day.

If you’ve never seen MasterChef, it works pretty much just like any other reality show. Contestants put their best dishes/efforts before judges Christina Tosi and Ramsay, with the latter usually bellowing at them for added entertainment.

Given that we’ve never heard much about Williams’ cooking skills before, it’s entirely possible that he never makes it out of the first episode’s heads-up portion.

gordon-ramsayHowever, Ramsay seems to indicate that Williams should do fairly well after tweeting, “David is a bloody good chef.”

If you’d like to check out the poker pro’s competition, you can do so here.

As for Williams, we can imagine that he’ll be up for the challenge when considering how he’s been both a successful Magic: The Gathering and poker player.

Regarding the latter, Williams first gained poker fame when he finished second place to Greg Raymer in the 2004 WSOP Main Event. This earned him $3.5 million and started a full-time transition from Magic to poker.

He’s since gone on to win a 2006 WSOP $1,500 Seven Card Stud event ($163,118) and a 2010 WPT Five Star Classic title ($1,530,537). Williams has only had small cashes as of late, but the 35-year-old is still grinding in tournaments when he gets the chance.

Gus Hansen moving to Denmark, quitting High Stakes Poker

April 25th, 2016

gus-hansen-pokerGus Hansen recently made an appearance on Good Morning Denmark as part of a clothing drive for the Red Cross. And he made some big revelations on the talk show, including that he’s giving up high stakes poker and wants to move to Denmark “for good” to raise a family.

In the segment seen here (subscription required), Hansen’s appearance is advertised as “Millions of dollars, insane bets and wild lifestyle, now poker star Gus Hansen home to quiet Denmark [to] raise a family.”

During the show, the Great Dane donated an old Full Tilt Poker shirt to represent the possibility that he won’t be playing much poker anymore. He also discussed how he’s thinking of moving from Monaco, where he’s lived for much of his poker career, back home to Denmark.

Hansen became one of the most-iconic players during the poker boom as he appeared on shows like Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker. Unfortunately, he started taking heavy losses in online poker and putting a dent in the net worth that he built through sponsorships and poker business deals. We took a look at his losses in 2013, which totaled $13.6 million at the time.

They dipped even lower the next couple of years, bottoming out at $20.74 million according to HighStakesDB. This easily makes Hansen the biggest confirmed online poker loser in history.

The good news, though, is that he didn’t burn through his entire savings and appears to be doing well still. Given how bad his online poker career has gone, most players will be happy that he’s given up the delusion of beating the world’s best. Chances are that he won’t completely quit the game, but considering how tough poker nosebleeds are these days, even Hansen probably wouldn’t venture back into this territory.

Olivier Busquet dominates JC Alvarado in MMA Fight – Wins $150k

April 22nd, 2016

olivier-busquet-jc-alvarado-mmaPoker pros Olivier Busquet and JC Alvarado clashed in an MMA bout last night, with Busquet coming away with a third-round victory. He got Alvarado on the canvas and proceeded to pound his face until the fight was stopped.

Six months ago, when the two agreed to fight back in October, this result would have been a huge surprise. After all, Alvarado has been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since 2011, while Busquet never had any martial arts training in his life. Given his experience, Alvarado had to wager $150,000 against Busquet’s $120,000 in this prop bet.

Olivier was able to catch up to his opponent, though, after six months of intense training that saw him lean up and come into the bout very muscular. He was definitely the heavier fighter at 187.5 pounds, versus Alvarado weighing in at 165 pounds.

There were plenty of side bets on the action too, with poker pros like Dan Colman and Jason Mercier putting up big money. Those who wagered on Busquet were pleased to see him off to a strong start, landing hard strikes on Alvarado in the first round. At one point it looked like he could end the fight early, but Alvarado staved off the assault.

The second round began with back-and-forth action, before they went to the ground and Alvarado attempted a triangle. Busquet fought it off and had a nice ground-and-pound sequence that was interrupted by the ref for back-of-the-head strikes.

The third round featured more stand-up fighting before Busquet got a double-leg takedown. Alvarado tried some different submission attempts, but got nowhere. This opened the way for Busquet to do more ground and pound, leaving Alvarado bloodied and out of the fight.

Once the third round ended, Alvarado’s corner decided that he’d had enough and threw in the towel. Below you can see some live footage of the fight, courtesy of PokerNews.

Sammy Watkins skips Bills’ Workouts for WSOP Circuit Event

April 20th, 2016

sammy-watkins-pokerBuffalo Bills wideout Sammy Watkins recently snapped a Facebook picture of his chip stack at the 2016 WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Cherokee event. But while it’s nice to see another celebrity playing in poker tournaments, it appears that he skipped the Bills’ voluntary workouts to do so.

The chip-stack picture has caused a mini-news uproar because the NFL’s take on “voluntary” workouts is that you’d better be there, or at least have a good reason for not attending.

That said, Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan is already fielding questions about Watkins’ absence.

“I said I wasn’t going to talk about anybody being here or not being here,” said Ryan. “We weren’t 100 percent for attendance, but a couple of guys gave me phone calls, all that stuff.”

Perhaps Watkins’ decision to attend the WSOP Circuit tournament wouldn’t be so controversial if he hadn’t already complained about his role in the Bills’ offense last year.

“Everybody looks at you getting zero catches, zero yards but when you look on film 90 percent of the time you’re open,” Watkins said. “I understand that these guys are young and they need some time to trust me. Once we get that trust, it’ll be different. But for me, I need the ball at least 10 times – I need 10 targets – and I’ll be fine with however many yards I get.”

As CBS Sports states, Ryan agreed with Watkins’ assessment and engineered more plays his way throughout the season. The result was the best numbers of Watkins’ two-year career, including 1,047 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

However, Ryan will no doubt be unhappy that his star receiver decided to skip voluntary workouts ahead of a season where the Bills are looking for redemption. They finished 8-8 last year after being expected to improve upon 2014’s record of 9-7.

Patrick “Pads1161” Leonard signs with PartyPoker

April 19th, 2016

patrick-leonard-partypokerBritish poker pro Patrick Leonard has signed a deal to become a PartyPoker ambassador. After signing his deal, an excited Leonard said that he can’t wait to help PartyPoker become the “best poker site in the world with the biggest guarantees and best structured tournaments.”

The Newcastle native is mainly known by his screen name ‘Pads1161’ since he’s won over $2 million in online poker tournaments. He’s also won $254,852 in live tournaments, with a career-high cash of $97,109 at the 2014 WPT Nottingham High Roller.

We should see Leonard in a lot more live tournaments because he’s going to be representing PartyPoker in tourneys around the world. In just over a month, he’ll be wearing the PartyPoker patch at the 2016 WSOP, which starts on May 31st.

It’s interesting that the 27-year-old has finally signed a sponsorship deal because he previously said that he didn’t want to give up his identity or opinions to shill for a poker site. But he likes what PartyPoker represents more than other companies in the industry and decided to ink this deal.

“At partypoker, they are actually doing progressive changes on a daily basis, but still have a long way to go until they really take over as the number one site in the world,” said Leonard. “I’m sure that I can help significantly and that motivates me a lot. I want to help make partypoker the best poker site in the world with the biggest guarantees and best structured tournaments.”

Once the world’s largest online poker room, PartyPoker is currently sixth in global cash traffic with 950 hourly players (according to PokerScout). They’ve hung steady in this spot while battling the likes of Bodog, iPoker and MPN. Perhaps with Leonard’s enthusiasm/representation, they can continue climbing and reaching for more player traffic.

Dan Colman: “I haven’t played Poker in So Long”

April 16th, 2016

dan-colman-pokerIt’s been almost two years since Dan Colman won the 2014 WSOP Big One for One Drop along with $15.3 million. He famously took this opportunity to bash the very game that’s made him filthy rich. So it seems like he wouldn’t be the type of guy who’d do hardcore poker podcasts like ChicagoJoey’s “Poker Life.” However, much to my surprise, Colman appeared on the most-recent episode of the Poker Life podcast.

So was he still spreading his message of poker hate? I almost don’t want to say it, but he came of as pretty likable during the podcast.

One of the first notable things that Colman said is that he “hasn’t played poker in so long.” After playing in the 2016 World Poker Tour National (WPTN) tournament back in January (6th place, $502k), he has been taking a break from poker.

Another interesting tidbit that Colman offered is how he didn’t get started in poker for the money, but rather the “gaming aspect” of it.

“I wanted to play the best,” he said. “I wanted to play the best players. Maybe they could beat me, but I would say ‘Why’s this guy keep beating me.’ I thought for sure if I kept playing any of these guys, I would beat them.”

His quest to beat the best of course led to some very risky bankroll management moves, such as regularly building bankrolls up to $50k or more, then losing it all. However, his willingness to risk it all helped him rapidly accelerate in the online poker world.

One important thing to note here, though, is that Colman doesn’t advise such a risky strategy today because of how much the poker landscape has changed. Players are much better and it’s harder to grind back up if you lose everything.

Colman also said that he didn’t study, watch training videos or read strategy articles. Instead, he just played poker and spent hours afterward thinking about improving mistakes he made.

The whole interview is pretty interesting to watch, and you can check it out below.

Nagaland, India legalizes Online Poker

April 6th, 2016

nagaland-online-pokerWith over 1.25 billion people, India has often been looked at as an untapped goldmine for online poker operators. And we’ve moved one step closer towards tapping into this potential since the Indian state of Nagaland has passed iPoker legislation.

According to Glaws.in, a legislative assembly approved “Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Bill, 2015,” which will change the way that the state’s government views poker, rummy and fantasy sports.

Introduced in July 2015, this legislation also makes way for these games to be regulated online since they are not viewed as gambling. Nagaland’s Governor, Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya, will soon review the bill and make his recommendations before the framework can be finalized. Once this is done, online operators will be able to start setting up operations.

It will no doubt take some time before everything falls into place. But it’s nice to see that another part of the world is not only viewing online poker as a skill game, but also something that should be legal and available. Glaws.in speculates that “the path-breaking legislation introduced by the Nagaland government can prompt other states to introduce a regulatory framework for skill games as well.”

Nagaland is just a small piece to the puzzle because this remote, mountainous state is only home to around 2.2 million people. However, if all goes well with their iPoker operation, then it could very well start a domino effect throughout India.

The sheer volume of Indians who would have access to legal online poker is exciting to think about. However, the one downside is that, according to World Bank, the average income in India is only US$1,581. This probably means that we’d be looking at a lot of micro stakes play, but it would still be nice to have this influx in the regulated iPoker population.

Failed Poker Player Defrauds Investors, gets 8 Years in Prison

April 5th, 2016

evan-kochav-pokerWannabe poker pro Evan Kochav defrauded 10 investors out of $561,745. Now, the New Jersey resident will be spending the next eight years in prison as a result.

Kochav, who claimed he worked for the investment firm White Cedar Group, pleaded guilty to theft by deception and money laundering from 2012 to 2014.

Judge Thomas Critchley gave him the option to raise 20% restitution on the amount he owes victims, which would’ve allowed him to apply for early release. However, he couldn’t raise the money and will now have to serve the full eight years.

As reported by the Daily Record, Kochav went above and beyond to recruit investors, “often urging the investors to transfer funds from existing accounts at other brokerage firms.” He also laundered $274,000 of the investment money through various bank accounts.

Rather than actually investing the funds and trying to get a return for his clients, Kochav instead played both live and online poker, took expensive vacations, went on shopping trips and ate at restaurants with the money. He also transferred the intended investment funds to his wife for personal expenses.

If the married father-of-one had hoped that he would earn the money back through poker, he was dead wrong. Probably drawing on confidence from a 2005 United States Poker Championship victory, which earned him $71,820, Kochav started playing in poker tournaments around Atlantic City and Pennsylvania. He only managed three cashes worth $13k in 2013, which definitely wasn’t enough to cover what he stole from investors.

Steve Lee, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said that Kochav’s victims had difficulty knowing that their money was being misused. But he also offered some advice on how the investors could have learned if Kochav was legitimate.

“Kochav’s use of fictitious documents made it very difficult for investors to know they were being victimized,” said Lee. “Had those investors checked with the Bureau of Securities, they would have learned that Kochav was not registered to sell securities in White Cedar Group, and that in 2013 the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) had barred him from associating with its members. This case illustrates the importance of performing due diligence before handing your money over for investment.”

Dan “Grinch” Bilzerian almost Dies to win $1.2m Bike Bet

April 2nd, 2016

dani-bilzerian-partyingAfter a rough ride through mountains and desert, Dan Bilzerian has completed a 300-mile bike journey from Las Vegas to L.A. in less than 48 hours, winning him a $1.2 million prop bet. Obviously this sounds like good news for the King of Instagram; however, Bilzerian has been described as looking like the “Grinch” now, and he almost died at one point too.

Bill Perkins, who lost his $600k wager against Bilzerian completing the ride, spoke to the New York Post about the poker pro’s shaky condition.

“He looks like the Grinch — his skin is green,” Perkins said after visiting Bilzerian in his Hollywood Hills home. “He’s looking like death right now. He’s in bed with chafed buttocks, a fever, hot and cold [flashes], chills, wobbly legs.”

It seems that the 35-year-old will recover from his excruciating bike ride with time. But Perkins, who was trailing the action in a van, says that there were several moments when it didn’t seem like Bilzerian would survive the journey.

“Dan risked death a couple of times,” said Perkins. “I saw a car almost drive right into him. His bike coach, who is a complete badass, watched Dan riding up a hill, in the pitch-black night, heading into Barstow, and said that he wouldn’t do it. It was too dangerous. Dan was getting sucked in and out of the road. The odds of getting killed were higher than he thought. He was an idiot for taking the bet.”

Overall, though, Perkins was impressed with Bilzerian’s effort and admired the social-media star for using “all his willpower.”

One guy who wasn’t too impressed is celebutate Rick Salomon, who, as we discussed before, wagered $250k against Bilzerian’s G4 jet that the latter would die or go brain-dead during the bike ride. Salomon is now saying that he doesn’t have to pay the $250k because, at one point, Bilzerian was drafting off the chase van he rented. For Perkins part, he believes that Bilzerian would have made the ride in less than 48 hours regardless of the drafting. But Salomon is sticking to the idea that drafting was essentially cheating in this case.

Regardless of if he ever sees the money from Salomon, Bilzerian can at least relish in the fact that he won $600k off Perkins. And it sounds like he may have cheated death in the process.