Archive for the ‘Online Poker’ Category

YouTube Removes Poker Videos by Jaime Staples, Evan Jarvis

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

jaime-staples-online-pokerJaime Staples and Evan Jarvis are among YouTube poker content creators who saw some of their videos removed.

YouTube is in the process of cracking down on content that promotes internet gambling sites.

The removed videos from Staples and Jarvis either had direct links to poker sites, or were promotional in nature.

YouTube Terms Ban Linking to Poker Sites

Online poker is often viewed differently than casino gaming, which is pure chance. But poker is still considered a skill-based form of gambling.

YouTube’s terms and conditions prohibit creators from linking to gambling sites. They classify such actions as promoting “illegal or regulated goods.” This category can include everything from “online gambling casinos” to drugs and guns.

Poker Players’ Appeals Fall on Dear Ears

YouTube allows content creators to appeal decisions. However, anybody who’s tried to appeal thus far has been denied. Derek Gomez, for example, noted that his appeal was “snap denied” by YouTube.

Staples, who’s one of the biggest poker YouTubers, had over 130 videos removed from his channel in early June. Similarly, Jarvis had around 100 videos taken off his page.

Other poker YouTubers who’ve been affected by these moves include Gomez, Elias Gutierrez, Andrew Neeme, Alec Torelli, and Parker Talbot.

These YouTubers received strikes for violating the site’s terms and conditions. A first strike bars one from uploading videos for one week. Three strikes can potentially result in termination and all videos being removed from one’s channel.

What Will Popular Poker YouTubers Do?

It’s doubtful that the YouTubers in question will simply quit using the site. After all, YouTube is the largest video site in the world.

However, they may be convinced to dedicate more time to Twitch streaming. Twitch has been very gambler-friendly, especially with regard to the poker community.

Staples and Jarvis both have large Twitch followings. Therefore, they should have no trouble keeping their content careers afloat.

Partypoker Offers $500k for Players to Change Screen Names

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

partypoker-alias-changesPartypoker wants their players to choose new screen names. And they’re going to offer players a collective $500,000 to go along with the request.

Any site member who changes their poker alias by June 17 will be able to play for $500k worth of prizes.

This initiative is being dubbed the “$500k Race to Alias.” It’ll feature freerolls, prize drops, and VIP benefits.

Players Not Thrilled with Having to Change Aliases

Party has been on a mission to protect recreational players. The $500k Race to Alias is part of this effort.

Partypoker managing director Tom Waters explained this with the following:

“With this release, we will be making changes to our software that will prevent third-party tracking tools from working. We want our players to have a fresh start and therefore we are asking all players to select a new alias so that all third-party tool tracking is lost for all our players.”

As Waters’ announcement explains, partypoker is asking players to change their aliases to limit the effectiveness of Heads-Up Displays (HUDs). Some players aren’t happy about the matter, given that they won’t be able to track stats any longer.

Partypoker Undecided on HUDs

Many online poker sites have banned HUDs to keep skilled players from taking advantage of the recreational crowd. HUDs can be used to quickly identify bad players based on their stats. Some of these programs can even help players track the fish.

Partypoker hasn’t made an official decision on trying to block HUDs. But the alias changes are a direct move to limit the effectiveness of these third-party programs.

New screen names will make any stats garnered by HUDs useless at partypoker. As Waters said, everybody will be getting a fresh start.

It’ll be interesting to see how partypoker handles HUDs moving forward after the screen name changes.

Felipe Ramos Signs Deal with Players Come First

Friday, April 19th, 2019

felipe-ramos-mpn-sponsorshipBrazilian poker pro Felipe Ramos had a long-running sponsorship deal with PokerStars. But the two sides eventually parted ways, leaving Ramos open to sign with Players Come First, which is on the Microgaming Poker Network (MPN).

Ramos has gained quite a bit of popularity in the Brazilian poker community. He’s earned over $2.5 million in live tournaments and has become skilled in a variety of poker variations.

Players Come First obviously sees the value in having Ramos aboard as they look to increase their international presence. Brazil is a great place to target, given their population of over 210 million people.

Ramos at Forefront of Players Come First’s Mission

Felipe Ramos will be looked to as the primary ambassador for Players Come First. He’ll be tasked with communicating with players and relaying their messages to management.

“As a poker ambassador, I always have to look out for my community first,” he said. “We will have great opportunities for everyone who loves poker and wants an option where players can be heard.”

Players Come First Follows a Common Trend in Online Poker

Sites/networks like Players Come First are focusing on customers in an effort to increase their market share. Ramos will be vital to this new movement.

He’s respected among the community and can relate to players’ problems. Ramos can form relationships with the sites’ customers and pass on the overall sentiment.

MPN Looking for a Boost After Losing RedKings

According to PokerScout, MPN is currently ranked 15th in terms of online poker traffic. But they’re in danger of dropping further after seeing RedKings — the network’s biggest site — close after 13 years.

Players Come First is looking to help fill the void of RedKings closing. This newer operation not only offers online poker, but also a casino, sportsbook, and (soon) bingo room. But they’ll also be relying on their poker site and Ramos’ help to be successful.

Wire Act Lawsuit Will Proceed – Legal US Poker Is at Stake

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

us-doj-new-hampshire-wire-actLast month, the US Department of Justice reversed their opinion on the Wire Act. This decision would effectively ban online poker and other forms of internet gambling across state lines. Not surprisingly, the DoJ’s decision has been very unpopular among several states.

The New Hampshire Lottery Commission actually leveled a lawsuit against the DoJ after their Wire Act reversal. This caused the Department of Justice to try and get the lawsuit dismissed. But a judge recently ruled that the case is valid and will proceed.

DoJ Tries Saying that Wire Act Doesn’t Apply to State Lotteries

new-hampshire-online-pokerBack in 2011, the DoJ originally released an opinion that the Wire Act only bans interstate sports betting. The reversal now puts all forms of gambling in the cross-hairs. But more recently, the DoJ stated that the act doesn’t apply to state lotteries.

They were hoping that the New Hampshire Lottery would drop their lawsuit as a result. Furthermore, the DoJ was trying to make sure that the Granite State wouldn’t feel threatened.

Judge Paul Barbadoro didn’t feel that the DoJ’s statement removed the chance that state lotteries could be targeted. He’ll therefore allow the lawsuit to stand.

Other states like New Jersey have joined this legal effort. The Garden State has a vested interest due to their thriving online casino market and a multi-state online poker agreement.

DoJ Given Deadline to Define their Wire Act Opinion

Judge Barbadoro has granted the DoJ an extra 14 days to clarify their new Wire Act opinion. He wants to know what forms of online gambling it will target and more on the specifics. After the DoJ provides this info, the judge will take a closer look at the opinion reversal and decide whether it’s valid.

States involved in the lawsuit argue that the 2011 take on the Wire Act paved the way for regulated online gambling. But it’s up to Barbadoro to decide once he has all of the information.

Randy nanonoko Lew Leaves PokerStars

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

randy-nanonoko-lew-leaves-pokerstarsRandy Lew has enjoyed a long sponsorship with PokerStars. But this relationship has come to an end, with both sides agreeing to part ways.

Lew doesn’t seem bitter about his sponsorship ending. But he did mention via Twitter that he wasn’t happy with PokerStars getting rid of the Supernova Elite VIP level in 2016.

Other than the Supernova Elite mention, nanonoko had plenty of good things to say about PokerStars. He was signed shortly before Black Friday (April 15, 2011) and has been with them up until now.

Here are nanonoko’s full tweets on the matter:

Lew Has Lost His Passion for the Game

Nanonoko first gained fame as one of the world’s best multi-tablers. He played an insane volume of hands and earned Supernova Elite status in five consecutive years.

In more recent years, Lew has made Twitch a larger part of his game. The addition of streaming made Lew a keeper for PokerStars at a time when they were ending sponsorships with many other pros.

Unfortunately, nanonoko began losing his passion for both streaming and the game in general. Lew became tired of being required to stream and living outside the US when doing so. After all, Stars is currently only available in New Jersey.

“I nod my head to all of the people who are capable of putting in the hours of streaming everyday,” Lew explained. “It truly is a unique grind in itself. It simply isn’t for me.”

PokerStars Parting with Many Twitch Streamers

Stars began valuing streamers in the mid-2010s, at a time when Twitch was rising as a poker viewing platform. This service is still very popular for players who want to learn by watching the pros. But it doesn’t seem like PokerStars is as enamored with streaming these days.

They’ve since said goodbye to Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Jaime Staples, and Jeff Gross — all of whom had notable Twitch presences. It seems like Lew could’ve possibly stayed on if he wanted to. But perhaps losing his passion for the game along with new contract circumstances convinced him to leave.

West Virginia Legalizes Online Poker – Fifth State to Do So

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

west-virginia-legalizes-online-pokerWest Virginia has become the fifth state to legalize online poker. The State House and Senate both passed an online gambling bill that approves poker by wide margins.

The Senate had the last vote before the legislation was sent to Gov. Jim Justice for final approval. He took no action, meaning that the bill went into effect automatically after 15 days.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Gov. Justice is indifferent to poker. He also let a sports betting bill pass in the same manner.

What Will West Virginia’s Online Poker Bill Include?

The newly passed legislation will create five online gambling licenses, including one for each of the state’s casinos. These casinos include:

  • Casino Club at The Greenbrier
  • Hollywood Casino Charles Town
  • Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
  • Mountaineer Casino
  • Wheeling Island

Each casino can purchase their internet gaming license for $250,000. The license will last for five years, at which point it becomes subject to a $100,000 renewal fee.

Online poker, slots, and table games are all covered by licensing. Internt gaming revenue will be taxed at a 15% rate, which matches New Jersey.

What Impact Will West Virginia Online Poker Have?

West Virginia won’t make much of an impact on the US internet poker market by itself. They have less than 2 million residents, ranking them 38th in total population.

They also don’t have a lot of money to throw around either. The Mountaineer State ranks 49th in family income out of all US states and territories. With under 2 million people and low income across the board, West Virginia online poker won’t offer much from a liquidity standpoint.

Nevertheless, they’re making an impact on the market by becoming yet another state to legalize internet gambling. Furthermore, they could join in a multi-state pact with Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada to create a larger poker player pool. Pennsylvania will also become an option once their market is up and running.

Online Poker’s Future Uncertain Due to Wire Act Opinion

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

us-department-of-justiceThe future of online poker is in limbo after a recent opinion by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

The DoJ has released an opinion that the federal Wire Act of 1961 applies to all forms of online gambling, not just sports betting. This contrasts the department’s previous opinion in 2011, when they said that the Wire Act only applies to sports gambling.

What Does the DoJ’s Opinion Mean for Online Poker

It’s unclear what impact, if any, the Department of Justice’s revised opinion will have on US online poker. Multiple states have already legalized the activity, and New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware have active markets.

The DoJ noted that everybody has 90 days to comply with their revised opinion. But some states are already threatening action over the matter.

The New Hampshire Lottery has filed a lawsuit. New Jersey may not be far behind after blasting the federal government for overstepping their reach.

These same states have noted that they moved forth with internet gambling after the DoJ’s 2011 opinion. They’ve dumped a lot of money into setting up regulatory framework for their markets.

US Attorney General’s Office Issues Warning

The US Attorney General’s office has extended the time that states have to comply with the new Wire Act opinion. However, Deputy US Attorney General Rod Rosenstein notes that it will still be enforced nonetheless.

“Providing this extension of time is an internal exercise of prosecutorial discretion and does not create a safe harbor for violations of the Wire Act,” said Rosenstein.

The Wire Act is an antiquated law that was created to stop gambling across state lines. Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson has poured millions into a campaign to halt online gambling, using the Wire Act as his chief weapon.

Adelson has recently been battling cancer, though, and may have difficulty keeping up his war against internet gambling. As for now, though, the US DoJ and Attorney General’s office seem serious about the matter.

2019 WSOP to Feature 9 Online Bracelet Events

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

wsop-online-braceletsThe World Series of Poker ran its first-ever online bracelet event in 2015. Things have come a long way since then, because the WSOP is set to run nine internet tournaments this year.

This influx of 2019 WSOP online bracelet events might seem a little surprising. After all, the series has become famous for its live action.

However, the world’s largest poker tournament event is simply trying to better showcase their Nevada-based internet poker room.

They’re also trying to cater to players’ requests over the last few years. The online bracelet tournaments have been very popular so far.

2019 WSOP Online Tournament Schedule

Sunday is traditionally online poker’s biggest day in terms of traffic. The WSOP is keeping with this tradition by hosting one bracelet tourney on every Sunday from June 2 to July 14.

The only exceptions include two tournaments on June 19 and July 3, which are both Wednesdays. Every internet event will start at 3:30pm PT.

Other Details on 2019 WSOP Online Events

One selling point to the online tourneys is that they’ll be pretty affordable for the average player.

Only three out of the nine events will feature a buy-in worth over $1,000. Those seeking a cheaper alternative to the land-based Rio tournaments will appreciate these buy-ins.

History of WSOP Online Tournaments

The history of internet WSOP tournaments dates back to 2015 and ’16, when only two such events ran. These tourneys were special, because the final tables were actually featured live at the Rio.

However, some players only traveled across the Nevada border specifically for the online tourneys. Certain players who made the final tables were then forced to travel a few more hours just to finish their respective event at the Rio. The WSOP heard the complaints and have decided to make each of this year’s internet events strictly online.

Last year featured four online bracelet tournaments. In 2019, WSOP officials have decided to more than double this number to nine tourneys.

PokerStars Bans Third Party Software – Including Seating Scripts

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

pokerstars-heads-upPokerStars has announced that they’re going to ban third-party software tools starting March 4, 2019. This decision was announced a month ago, but was only made official this week.

Severin Rasset, PokerStars’ Director of Poker Innovations, explained the decision in a recent blog post:

“We all sit down at the table as equals. So, when a player takes the time out of their day to play in our poker room, we want them to know they’ve arrived in a safe and fair environment where the only thing to think about is the action.

“Also, that they’re not being targeted for their experience, and they have a clear and unambiguous picture of the additional resources available to them.

“For PokerStars, my vision is to limit as much as possible the use of tools that artificially enhance the process of sitting down to play, and play itself. Tools that can give players an edge over others and which detract from the journey of developing the skills necessary to become a better poker player.”

Seating Scripts Among the Banned Software

Stars is mainly concerned about seating scripts and automated starting hand charts with their most-recent move.

Seating scripts automatically seat players at a table where inferior opponents are playing. These programs use data compiled during the user’s current session to find weaker players.

Starting hand charts will be allowed as long as they’re just displays. However, anything that’s automated and makes moves for players will be banned.

What Is PokerStars’ Official Rule on the Software Bans

Here’s PokerStars’ official ruling on third-party software:

“Any tool or service that sorts available games or (semi-) automates the process of joining games based on the game-play statistics or notes of other players will be prohibited. A tool that solely (or semi-) automates adding players to a set number of tables, without any reliance on information about other players, is permitted.”

Why Is PokerStars Making This Move Now?

Rasset shed some light on why Stars has chosen now to finally shut down third-party software. Here’s an excerpt from his blog post:

“Why are we making these changes now? As I have discussed in the past, we are constantly looking for ways to better provide a safe and fair environment and to improve the overall experience when a customer chooses to play with us.

“However, we also need to be able to ensure that we create enforceable and sustainable policies, making sure that players who do follow the rules are not at a disadvantage.

“The changes we are announcing today follow an extensive period of development to ensure that we can achieve these goals.”

PokerStars Makes Yet Another Change to Rewards

Sunday, February 17th, 2019

stars-rewardsPokerStars has generated plenty of negative headlines for unfavorable rewards-program changes. They’re not about to receive any positive press for their latest move either.

The world’s largest poker site has announced that they’re lowering the amount of tournament points that Stars Rewards players receive. Players will now only get 45 points per dollar spent on multi-table tournament fees, which is down from 100 points – a 55% decrease.

Why Did PokerStars Reduce Poker Tournament Rewards?

According to PokerStars, they plan on allocating some of the money that previously went to rewards towards bigger tournament series. Here’s their explanation:

“This is a reduction in the overall amount of rewards some players will receive. But it’s made in an area that we believe will have the least impact on their experience and enable us to place even more focus where we know it matters most.

“This includes offering the largest tournament guarantees like the €20m Winter Series guarantee in Southern Europe as well as record-breaking COOPs and Sunday Millions, and providing the most exciting live event experiences in poker.”

Expect Other Potential Changes in the Future

PokerStars alluded to how they’re probably not done making changes to Stars Rewards. Given their past history, it wouldn’t be shocking to see more cuts that hurt players’ bottom line.

Of course, every time that Stars reduces rewards, they try putting a positive spin on the matter. This time, they’re pumping the €20m Winter Series as a reason.

But if the Winter Series meets or exceeds all of its guarantees, then the rewards aren’t really being allocated towards the tournament series. Basically, this move is just another designed to help the Stars Group’s overall profit margin.

They’re entirely within their rights to make good business decisions. After all, online poker traffic has declined within the past several years. However, most poker players still aren’t going to be happy about the matter.