Famed Poker Room “Aviation Club” Raided

September 15th, 2014

The Aviation Club de France has long been one of Paris’ most-popular poker rooms. In fact, it served as host to WPT Paris last year. But the Aviation Club was recently the center of a big police raid as 12 people were busted for “clandestine work, breach of trust and money laundering.”

This news comes from Lepoint.fr, which reports that the arrested parties acted as a gang that bribed government officials and used “black market” labor.

Both current and former employees were arrested in the raid, along with Aviation Club President Marcel Francisci (aka “Little Marcel”) and Chairman of the ACF Board Charles Pellegrini. As for the latter, Pellegrini is described as a “large ex-cop” who served as the gang’s boss. He’s said to be the one who appointed members to the gang and made a lot of key decisions.

One of the worst things to come out of this ordeal is that more than 200 Aviation Club of France employees may be out of a job. That’s because the Aviation Club’s future is currently in limbo. With some of the poker room’s top brass now indicted on serious criminal charges, it will be a mess sorting out who can run the place.

The 2013 WPT Paris event that was held here turned out to be a smashing success. 187 players entered the Main Event, which created a $1,823,198 prize pool. Mohsin Charania ended up taking the largest share of the prize pool after winning this tournament along with $449,856. The WPT Paris High Roller managed to attract 21 entrants, with Max Altergott walking away with a $248,279 payout. Unfortunately, we may not see any big tournaments like this again at Aviation Club after the recent raid.

PokerStars Return to US draws Closer

September 12th, 2014

What once seemed like it was years away appears to be drawing very close as PokerStars is poised to enter the United States again. The world’s largest online poker site has been out of America ever since Black Friday. However, according to New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak, PokerStars should be in the US within the next few weeks.

Lesniak has been a catalyst behind New Jersey’s online gaming efforts all along, and he sees Stars as a major boon to the state’s operation. Furthermore, the senator envisions the Garden State as an international hub for internet gaming, with PokerStars playing a key role in all of this.

Assuming what he says is true, Stars could help out the ailing Atlantic City, which has already lost four casinos this year alone. Here’s a look at what Lesniak told PokerNews:

It’s going to be soon and it’s going to be huge. PokerStars is going to make a huge investment in Atlantic City, not just in Internet gaming but in their brand and in bringing attractions to Atlantic City.

Of course, one huge reason why Stars is suddenly being welcomed by the New Jersey government is because they were sold to Amaya Gaming for $4.9 billion. Amaya brings a clean reputation to the matter since they had nothing to do with PokerStars’ pre-Black Friday operations in America.

The Garden State could definitely use a shot in the arm since their iGaming operation has only netted a disappointing $83 million through August. If they are to turn up the pace and generate more money, their iGaming will need better products, advertising and promotions.

Lucky for them, PokerStars figures to bring all of this to New Jersey. Additionally, Stars should cause other iGaming operations to step up or risk becoming obsolete. But first thing’s first, the Division of Gaming still needs to announce PokerStars’ acceptance into New Jersey.

Mexico Online Poker Bill coming – Expect Negative Outcome

September 7th, 2014

Mexico is moving closer to regulating online poker, and iGaming in general. A new bill will be introduced to the House of Representatives on September 9th and could be voted into law as early as Sept. 20th. The idea is to update Mexico’s archaic gaming laws, which are still based on legislation from 1947.

The initial thought here is that online poker regulation could be good for the country. After all, many American players are excited about what regulation in the United States might bring. However, there are a couple of huge downsides that could sour iPoker regulation in Mexico. That said, let’s discuss the negative consequences that could arise.

Big Sites shut out

For well over a decade, iPoker has been a gray area in Mexico. PokerStars has especially benefited from this lack of clear legislation. However, things may soon change in a big way since Mexico is expected to create iGaming legislation that’s similar to the US.

Senator Maria Espinoza proposed a bill in May that would force online operators to have a land-based casino license. Additionally, these companies need servers established in Mexico. Of course, there’s no guarantee that any accepted bill would be just like Espinoza’s. But if it’s close, big sites like PokerStars will be shut out of the party.

US Poker Refugees displaced

When the US enacted Black Friday, many serious pros moved south of the border so that they could continue playing at PokerStars and other online rooms. After all, Mexico really didn’t do anything to keep major poker sites out of their country. But if legislation does go down as expected, it would end this period of open options.

In the long run, maybe Mexican poker laws will be good and encourage more recreational players to get involved. However, the immediate ramifications don’t look good.

Barack Obama: A Tight Poker Player

September 6th, 2014

Enter the term “poker” in the Google News feed and you’re likely to turn up plenty of results involving politics. And in most cases, the term is badly misused. But the Economist recently gave applying poker to politics a shot and didn’t do such a bad job. Here’s a look at what they wrote regarding Barack Obama:

HE CALLS himself a “pretty good” poker player. Barack Obama’s poker-buddies, including Illinois politicians who played with him weekly when he was a state senator, tend to agree. Quizzed by profile-writers, they have described a cautious, canny card player.

Mr Obama would bluff only if he had halfway-decent cards, they recalled. When opponents bet high, Mr Obama would not engage unless he held a strong hand of his own.

As president, he is said to favour a more demure card game, spades. That may be just as well. At a bumpy moment in history, Mr Obama is strikingly, even confoundingly, reluctant to bluff.

All during his election campaign, the poker media world enjoyed focusing on Obama’s love of poker. And many hoped that Obama would become a champion for online poker, furthering federal legislation along the way. Well, this never happened because Obama has a lot on his plate. But it’s interesting to see that the media is still harping on Obama’s poker skills almost seven years later.

This time, the Economist is trying to relate poker to Obama’s handling of the Ukraine situation. The President doesn’t want to use military action to intervene with the conflict between Ukraine and Russia/Russian separatists. But if things continue escalating, could Obama eventually play his hand more aggressively in the future? We’ll see…but for the time being, it looks like he is content to sit back and be more passive.

Dan Cates up $10.2m, Phil Ivey down $5.1m

August 29th, 2014

Oh what a difference a couple of years can make in high stakes online poker. Coming into the relaunched Full Tilt Poker, Phil Ivey was the game’s biggest winner with $19.2 million in online profits. However, he’s since taken a big tumble over the nearly-two years since Full Tilt reopened.

Switching to the name “Polarizing,” Ivey is now down $5.1 million. This still leaves him with about $14.1 million in career online poker winnings. And we certainly wouldn’t expect him to be in money trouble, given his multiple business endeavors and baccarat edge-sorting profits. Still, it’s strange to see the man whom many call the “world’s greatest all-around poker player” struggle so badly.

On the other end of the spectrum is Dan “jungleman12″ Cates, who is dominating the cyber felt this year. Cates had the prime of his poker career interrupted by Black Friday, as he’d earned $6.8 million in just a year before April 15th, 2011. Since resuming his high stakes career at Full Tilt, Cates hasn’t experienced any drop-off, and his HighStakesDB graph just keeps going up. At the time of this writing, Jungleman has made over $2.83 million in 2014, which leads everybody entering September.

Cates also ranks third all-time with $10.23 million. He only trails Ivey and Patrik Antonius – the latter of whom is another interesting story. Like Cates, Antonius is crushing players this year and has earned $1.83 million. Overall, the Finn has collected $5.95 million in career profits through his “Finddagrind” name. Combine this with $11.2 million from his self-titled name and Antonius has over $17.1 million in career winnings.

Of course, the high stakes online poker world is a fickle place. So it’ll be interesting to see if Cates and Antonius continue dominating the big games at Full Tilt. But at this point, we have little reason to doubt their skills.

See Daniel Negreanu’s Lavish House

August 27th, 2014

Ever wondered what nearly $30 million in poker tournament winnings and a sweet long-term deal with PokerStars will get you? Daniel Negreanu recently gave us a glimpse by offering up a tour of his futuristic Las Vegas home.

As he says in the video below, Negreanu had a couple of friends renovate his place about a year ago to the theme of “Austin Powers meets Pee-Wee Herman.” I’m not sure if they teach this style in interior decorating school, but it looks like Kid Poker’s friends came reasonably close to the goal.

One of the more-interesting pieces in Negreanu’s not-so-humble abode is a tall green booth near his dinner table, which is definitely shagadelic. So is the blue lamp above his table, which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life.

Of course, being one of the world’s best poker players, it’s little surprise that Negreanu also has a nice poker table in his home. He must be really into Game of Thrones too because he’s got a box on the table that plays music from the show when it’s opened.

Another thing that Negreanu shows off is his arcade, with one machine that features 8,000 games and a beer tap on the side. Next to the arcade is his trophy area, where he displays six WSOP gold bracelets and pictures of him with Barack Obama. I’ll spare you the rest of the details from the house and just let you watch the video yourself. At two and a half minutes, this clip won’t take up too much of your time.

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.