Archive for the ‘Online Poker’ Category

PokerNews.com (IBus Media) Sued for $6m

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

pokernews-sued-copyrightPokerNews.com has been hit with a $6 million lawsuit over copyright infringements. The plaintiffs claim that the parent company, iBus Media (owned by The Stars Group), used their music in hundreds of podcasts without permission.

Despite being warned, PokerNews continued to use the music without paying any compensation. Here’s an excerpt from the lawsuit:

“Accordingly, iBus Media is liable for its infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyright interests, either because it has directly engaged in infringing activities or because it is secondarily liable for infringing activities undertaken by others.”

Roc-A-Fella Records & Others Are Behind Lawsuit

IBus Media is being sued by several music labels, including Roc-A-Fella Records, Capitol Records, PolyGram Publishing, UMG Recordings, and Universal Music.

The group of plaintiffs note that iBus Media committed 315 acts of copyright infringement in 522 episodes of the “PokerNews Podcast.” The plaintiffs notified iBus Media of the issue in December 2015, but they continued using the music without permission.

Court documents state:

“IBus Media does not have any license or other authorization from Plaintiffs to reproduce, distribute, adapt or publicly perform in the United States any of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted musical works.”

Some of the artists used in the PokerNews Podcast include Billy Idol, Black Eyed Peas, and The Who. The plaintiffs are seeking $150,000 in statutory damages for each song that was illegally used, which would amount to $6 million if the lawsuit goes to court.

PokerStars Now Behind IBus Media

Last year, it was revealed that The Stars Group (TSG) — PokerStars’ parent company — has full ownership of iBus Media. The company was started by Antanas “Tony G” Gouga in 2002. IBus’ crown site, PokerNews.com, has become the biggest poker news outlet in the world.

PokerStars’ old parent company, Rational Group, began purchasing equity in iBus as early as 2010. Tony G eventually sold all of his holdings in the company, leaving TSG as the sole owner today. That said, they’re on the hook for the copyright infringements if iBus Media is found guilty.

Gordon Vayo May Have Lied in PokerStars Lawsuit – Being Countersued

Sunday, November 18th, 2018

gordon-vayo-pokerstars-lawsuit-withdrawnFor the past year, poker pro Gordon Vayo has been in the process of suing PokerStars for $700,000. Vayo claims that PokerStars owes him $700k for a tournament that he won in the 2017 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP). But Stars has now launched a countersuit worth $280,000 on the grounds that Vayo falsified evidence.

PokerStars refused to pay Vayo after alleging that he played the SCOOP from California. This is a clear violation of Stars’ terms and conditions, because Americans aren’t allowed to play on their site. Vayo, meanwhile, claimed that he was in Canada at the time of the victory.

Vayo Withdrew His Lawsuit

Vayo recently withdrew his lawsuit and is no longer seeking payment for his win. PokerStars alleges that the only reason he did this is because he falsified documents to support his case. Here’s an excerpt from their court papers:

“As soon as [PokerStars] discovered the forgery and confronted Vayo about it, Vayo voluntarily and unconditionally dismissed this action, and his counsel withdrew. [PokerStars] is thus the prevailing party in Vayo’s frivolous lawsuit, and it is entitled to recover its fees and costs.”

How Did Vayo Falsify Documents?

Gordon Vayo won the 2017 SCOOP Event #1 High $1,050 NLHE tournament along with $692,460. However, Stars refused to pay up after stating that he used a virtual private network (VPN) to play from the US.

Vayo countered that he had evidence that he was playing the tourney from Canada. Vayo then sued PokerStars on grounds that they had no proof he was playing from California.

Just last month, Vayo’s attorney’s withdrew the lawsuit. This move came just after PokerStars accused the player of forging and doctoring evidence.

Specifically, he may have forged ATM transactions in order to sell his case. PokerStars is now seeking $280,000 in legal costs stemming from the matter.

PokerStars Launches Virtual Reality Game

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

pokerstars-vrPokerStars has released a new virtual reality (VR) product that’s available for free download. PokerStars VR can be used by any player with an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headseat.

This product gives players a virtual view of the poker table. It also features authentic effects, such as allowing players to peek at their hole cards and touch their chips. They can even interact with other players, performing actions such as chatting with and high-fiving them.

Severin Rasset, Stars’ director of poker innovation and operations, said the following about PokerStars VR:

“When we showcased the product it was amazing to see people really enjoy and become engrossed in the game.

“We wanted to venture into the world of virtual reality because we believe it is an exciting avenue of technology to explore and something that our players would appreciate.

“I highly recommend that everyone tries out the game as it can only truly be understood and enjoyed by experiencing it.”

What to Expect from PokerStars VR

The virtual reality PokerStars game only supports play money tables right now. The site is currently testing out the product to see how it’s received. Assuming the feedback is positive, they’ll likely move forward with real money games. Oculus Rift and HTV Vive headsets can enjoy the free VR poker app through the Oculus store and Viveport store, respectively.

Lucky VR has served as the developer for PokerStars VR. This product launched as part of a live demonstration at 2018 EPT Barcelona in August. The following month, Stars ran a beta test that involved around 150 players. As of November 8, PokerStars VR has been available to the public.

One exciting thing about this game is that players can select where they want to stage their VR poker game. Options include a Macau hotel suite, Monte Carlo yacht, and saloon.

Players will be able to react with different props depending upon their environment. Some of the props include cigars, drinks, food, and animals.

Pros Are Big Fans

Some of the PokerStars Pros have tried the VR game and truly enjoy it. Jamie Staples is especially a big fan of PokerStars VR.

“It’s not going to appeal to the grinders that typically are playing six to eight tables, but it’s going to appeal to pretty much everyone else,” said Staples.

“It’s a broader way of playing poker, it’s a richer experience. I think everyone from who’ve never played before to who enjoy playing for play money with their friends, will love it.”

China Banning More Poker Apps

Friday, November 9th, 2018

china-bans-poker-appChina has proven particularly tough on online poker, banning a number of apps back in June. They’re apparently not done with this crackdown either, because a new round of poker app bans has recently been announced.

The only difference in the current ban is that China isn’t blacklisting apps operating out of their own country. Instead, the latest moves are aimed at poker sites operating from foreign countries, such as the Philippines, India, and Vietnam.

Two of the most-famous apps that’ll be blacklisted include Poker Tribe and Poker King, both of which are available through iOS and Android devices.

Poker App Bans Announced on China Central Television

The recent blacklisted poker apps were revealed during a government-supported piece that appeared on China Central Television (CCTV).

The segment discussed how Poker King has been earning 50 million yuan ($7.1 million) per day in player-paid commissions. Poker Tribe and Poker Horde were also mentioned on CCTV as successful operations.

The news segment dove into how some Chinese poker players are gambling away thousands of dollars on offshore poker sites. For example, a man named “He” said that he’s lost 400,000 yuan through Poker King.

China Poker Crackdown Will Continue Into Foreseeable Future

China’s mission to ban poker apps doesn’t appear to have any end in sight. This is the second major move they’ve made in less than six months’ time, and the government seems determined to prevent its citizens from playing online poker.

Of course, Chinese players can still use alternative means to enjoy poker apps, such as Bitcoin and virtual private networks (VPNs). But for the time being, it seems that these legal moves may produce the desired effects regarding the average player.

After all, most Chinese online poker players don’t want to deal with the hassle of the learning how to use a VPN or Bitcoin.

PokerStars Rolls Out Fusion – A Blend of Two Poker Games

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

pokerstars-fusionPokerStars has always been one of the biggest innovators in the online poker industry. And they’re rolling out an interesting new game called Fusion, which blends Texas hold’em and Omaha.

Fusion is very similar to hold’em in that you receive two hole cards. But after the flop, you and everyone else still remaining in the hand receive a third hole card. Following the turn, you get a fourth hole card.

Game Turns from Texas Hold’em to Omaha

As you may know, Omaha is characterized by each player receiving four hole cards to start the round. Therefore, a Fusion game gradually changes from hold’em to Omaha as rounds move past the turn.

The winner of the hand is whoever pieces together the top 5-card hand, using two out of their four hole cards along with three of the five community cards.

Unique Strategy Involved

Pocket aces is the best starting hand you can receive in Texas hold’em. But it’s important to realize that this game also blends Omaha elements, meaning pocket aces doesn’t always guarantee you anything. After all, hand winners tend to form stronger hands in Omaha games.

Another thing to consider is that you’re acting with less information than you normally would in Omaha. You don’t receive your fourth hole card until after the turn, which makes it more difficult to evaluate your hand.

Nevertheless, Fusion presents a different type of strategy that players who are experienced with hold’em and/or Omaha may enjoy.

Fusion Is Available for a Limited Time

Severin Rasset, PokerStars’ Director of Poker Innovation and Operations, discussed the site’s latest offering.

“We want to give our players games that they have never played before and bring a unique offering to the table,” Rasset said.

“Fusion mixes two well-loved formats together, giving an exciting twist to the game. We eagerly await player feedback and look forward to seeing everyone joining the tables and giving Fusion a try.”

Keep in mind that Fusion will only be offered on a temporary basis. So if you’re interested in trying it, you’d better do so soon.

Stars Group’s Takeover of Sky Bet Approved by UK

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

the-stars-group-pokerThe Stars Group has been in the process of taking over Sky Bet in a $4.7 billion (£3.6bn) acquisition. The UK Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has now approved the move.

When the takeover is complete, Stars Group will become the world’s biggest publicly listed online gambling company.

Why Is Stars Group Acquiring Sky Bet?

The Stars Group has done a good job of transitioning to the online casino and sports betting industries. They earned $1.3 billion in 2017 revenue and are headed in the right direction.

Nevertheless, the Canadian company is still overly reliant on poker (i.e. PokerStars), given that $877 million of their revenue comes from it. Furthermore, internet poker offers lower profit margins than casino and sportsbook products.

Sky Bet isn’t as large as Stars Group, considering that they generate $400 million in annual revenue. However, the British gaming company does have a strong following in the casino (Sky Casino) and betting (Sky Bet) departments.

The Stars Group notes:

“[Sky Bet] dramatically improves The Stars Group’s revenue diversity, creating a balanced spread across poker, casino and sportsbook with a broad geographic reach.”

Still Details to Finish Before the Deal is Complete

The Stars Group still needs to finish paying Sky plc and GVC Capital Partners $4.7 billion to complete the deal. $3.6 million of this amount will be in cash, while the remainder will consist of shares in The Stars Group.

Debt financing is the main source of the $3.6 million cash. This includes unsecured notes, a revolving credit arrangement, and loans.

The deal will also see Sky Bet CEO Richard Flint move to an executive chair position, while former CFO Ian Proctor will move to the CEO position.

Flint seems to be fine with the move, stating the following:

“I am confident that the new management structure, which includes an operational board for SBG, will allow us to maintain our unique culture that has delivered success over the years and continue delivering market share gains in the UK online betting and gaming market, building on our position as the UK’s most popular online betting brand.”

Winamax Sued for Poker Bot Issues

Monday, October 15th, 2018

winamax-online-pokerWinamax, a French online poker room, is being sued by players who feel that the site has done a poor job of keeping bots off their tables.

The lawsuit involves 16 players who want compensation for losses suffered as a result of poker bots.

What are Poker Bots?

Poker bots are programs that people can design to play online poker games for them. Bots were initially looked at as harmless due to their inability to beat the average player. However, these programs have become far more sophisticated and successful over the years.

They also allow account holders to “play” for hours without getting fatigued. Most poker sites now watch for bot-type behavior and ban any suspected accounts using these programs.

How Was Winamax Affected by Bots?

Winabax features “Expresso” games, which are hyper-turbo sit and go’s that work like a lottery. Three players compete for a prize pool that’s randomly picked before the SNG starts.

A TwoPlusTwo user called “Dontsaycat” brought up the issue that Expresso games were infiltrated by bots. And the primary suspect was a screen name called “twopanda”:

“He [twopanda] is playing 12 hours a day, every day, 8 tabling and chatting on tables like he is on pool drinking cocktails.

“Now seeing that Winamax was not punishing him, he added other players with the same bot, who are playing in different hours than him and together they are owning totally the rankings of promotions and the tables.”

Other players jumped in the discussion and questioned why Winamax wasn’t taking action.

The site responded by asking twopanda to come to their Paris office, so they could see twopanda replicate their same SNG feats in person.

Twopanda never showed up to the office. Winamax responded by shutting down his account, confiscating the money, and refunding affected players. Nevertheless, some don’t feel they’ve done enough and are now suing the French poker giant.

PokerStars Testing Virtual Reality Game

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

pokerstars-vrPokerStars is joining a small number of online gaming sites that are exploring virtual reality (VR). Stars is currently beta testing PokerStars VR, a free virtual reality poker game that’s available for HTC Vive and Oculus Steam.

Severin Rasset, director of poker innovation and operations at Stars, issued a statement on the site’s new frontier.

“PokerStars VR is a chance for us to take this amazing technology and bring something totally unique to poker players,” said Rasset.

“Poker is about interaction. It’s been bringing people together for well over a century. We’re really excited to invest in the next generation of the game and to give players the opportunity to meet in a brand new virtual reality dimension.”

How is the PokerStars VR Beta Test Going?

Stars is merely running a small beta test involving 100 online players. The goal is to see how the VR game performs and decide how close it is to offering to the masses.

Virtual reality poker is considered one of the untapped markets in the game. And PokerStars could position itself as a front-runner in this genre.

Will Virtual Reality Online Poker be the Future?

VR poker is exciting to consider, because it could feel like you’re playing a home game with friends. Furthermore, you’ll have a more-realistic online poker experience than simply playing the standard online version.

That said, virtual reality could very well be the future of internet poker. But it’s important to be realistic, because this type of poker still has a long ways to go before it’s ready to take over the game.

PokerStars VR is helping further this cause by beta testing a product that should be available at a later date.

Winamax Poker Struggles with DDoS Attacks

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

winamax-online-pokerSeveral online poker sites have dealt with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks over the past few years, including PokerStars, partypoker, and the Winning Poker Network. You can now add Winamax Poker to this list, as they were hit with DDoS attacks recently.

These attacks are used in order to disrupt the targeted website. They cause a website’s communications to get jammed up, thus messing up a variety of functions. Looking strictly at an online poker room, the site’s cash games and tournaments are hit hard and filled with lag and other problems.

That said, Winamax Poker slowed to a crawl as they tried fending off the DDoS attacks. Luckily, the site has weathered the storm and is now fully operational again.

Winamax Releases a Statement

Winamax took to their Twitter account in order to provide clarification on what happened to them. Here are some tweets they offered as an explanation:

1/ These malicious acts (called DDoS in computer jargon) are unfortunately common on the Internet and are completely out of our control. These only affect a very small amount of players: the majority of players stay connected and can continue to play as normal. However, in order to keep proceedings fair, and in order for the disconnected players to not be put in an unfavourable position compared to the players who can continue playing, Winamax voluntarily interrupts all tournaments.

2/ Neither the quality of the Winamax servers nor the quality of our cyber security are called into question because of these attacks. They have no impact on the players’ data or funds, which are completely secure.

3/ Players who have been affected by the stoppage will be fully reimbursed to article 3.2 of our Poker Terms and Conditions. Reimbursement will be automatic: you will not need to take any further action.

Preventing this kind of situation from ever recurring is our technical team’s number 1 priority.

Why do People Launch DDoS Attacks Against Poker Sites?

Reasons for issuing a DDoS attack against an online poker room can vary. But in many cases, these are used as a method of revenge.

For example, somebody could have lost lots of money at a poker site and be angry about it. Or they could have a negative interaction with customer support and want to get back at them.

In any case, DDoS attacks can severely interrupt a poker room until the site is able to deal with the problem. Winamax, as well as other sites, have managed to fight off these problems. But DDoS attacks can still cause plenty of financial damage.

New Jersey Online Poker Struggles – Despite Shared Liquidity

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

new-jersey-online-pokerNew Jersey’s online poker market has lagged well behind their casino market. The state’s internet poker traffic saw an 8.5% decline to $24.5 million in 2017.

This is a big reason why they finally agreed to join Delaware and Nevada in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association (MSIGA) in May 2018.

The hope was that this shared liquidity would boost the state’s online poker revenue and traffic. But so far, the change has done little for the Garden State.

Looking at May, New Jersey online poker earned $1.9 million in revenue, which is down 9% from May 2017. June brought in $1.76 million, which was a 1.2% increase. July generated $1.85 million, which is an 8% decrease from July 2018.

New Jersey Online Poker Is Worse than Ever This Year

While 2017 wasn’t a banner year for the state’s iPoker market, they at least recorded five months with over $2 million in revenues. They haven’t hit this level even once, though, in the current year.

Considering the lower revenue up to this point, it’s likely that 2018 will be an even worse year for New Jersey internet poker.

Why Has the MSIGA Failed So Far?

new-jersey-online-pokerIt stands to reason that New Jersey should’ve benefited from shared liquidity. After all, this creates a larger player pool and makes for the possibility of bigger tournaments and cash games.

However, the Garden State has gained little benefit out of partnering with two much smaller states. Nevada and Delaware have less than 4 million residents combined. New Jersey, meanwhile, has a population of 9 million.

Another problem is that WSOP.com and 888 Poker are the only operators that are involved in the MSIGA. Partypoker and PokerStars are currently confined to New Jersey. If they were able to participate in the market, then things might be a different story.

One other possible explanation is that New Jersey residents are sticking with partypoker and PokerStars post-MSIGA. If this is the case, then it would provide a boost if these two operators were ever able to join the multi-state pact.

Until then, though, it appears as if New Jersey’s online poker traffic is set to continue struggling.