Archive for the ‘What’s New’ Category

Phil Hellmuth Wins Tennis Prop Bet – Based on Returning Pro’s Serve

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

phil-hellmuth-pokerPhil Hellmuth may be a great poker player. But he’s far from an athlete in the traditional sense.

Regardless, Hellmuth was willing to make a prop bet based on his ability to return a tennis pro’s serve.

He wagered $7,000 that he could return an 80 mph serve at least once in 20 tries. He bet another $2,000 to win $16,000 (8:1 odds) that he could win a point against the professional.

Hellmuth Does Better than Expected

Few gave the Poker Brat much of a chance to return a pro’s tennis serve. Even with the serve being maxed at 80 mph — rather than the 100 mph standard — he was at a severe disadvantage.

Nevertheless, Phil managed to get his racket on a few balls in the early going. Here’s a look at some of the attempts along with how he fared in returning them:

You can see that Hellmuth was just a few feet away from keeping the last shot in play.

Then the unthinkable happened: Hellmuth not only returned a serve, but also managed to win a point. You can see that he drops a short shot, and the pro muffs the return:

Hellmuth Successful in Another Prop Bet

Phil Hellmuth is no stranger to winning prop bets with fellow poker players. Last year, he made a $1,000 wager (10:1 odds) with Doug Polk on his ability to make a three-pointer in one shot.

Hellmuth may be 6’8″, but Polk wasn’t counting on the Poker Brat being much of a basketball player. His form doesn’t look great on the three-pointer. But it’s good enough to sink the shot and win $10,000.

Poker’s Rich Alati Locking Himself in Dark Bathroom for $100k Bet

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

rich-alati-poker-prop-betPoker pro Rich Alati has been living in a dark bathroom since November 21. Assuming he can last until December 21, he stands to win a $100,000 prop bet.

Rory Young is betting the $100k against Alati’s  ability to last in the bathroom for 30 days. Making matters more difficult is that Alati only has a bed and bathtub to keep him company.

“The conditions are complete darkness, so no electronics, no light-emitting devices, no drugs of any kind,” Young explained.

Alati Has Some Luxury Perks Available

Having to live in complete darkness for a month with no entertainment sounds extremely depressing. However, Alati does have the use of a few luxuries.

“He has pretty lavish toiletries like Epsom salts, sugar scrubs, that kind of stuff,” said Young.

Alati’s food will be delivered irregularly, making it harder for him to tell the time. Young made this stipulation to ensure the challenge is more difficult to complete. The one solace, though, is that Alati will get whatever kind of food he wants.

Alati’s Family Is Worried

Rich Alati’s family and friends can check out how he’s doing via livestream. But Atali won’t have any communication with the outside world. This makes it perfectly understandable why his family is worried about the bet.

“They tried to get him to not do it but he doesn’t listen to anybody but himself,” Young said.

“She (Alati’s sister) tried very hard to get him to pull out and he wasn’t having it. She’s pretty worried.”

The poker player’s father is also wondering how his son will do.

“I’m definitely concerned,” said Mr. Alati. “But I chose to focus on the positive, wishing for a successful completion of the wager.

“I gave him a chance to talk me through it and hear him out … He’s in a profession where they do things that other people wouldn’t do.”

Alati currently has just under two weeks left to last in the dark bathroom in order to receive the $100,000.

Thor Hansen Passes Away Due to Cancer

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

thor-hansen-pokerPoker legend Thor Hansen has passed away after battling cancer for much of his later life. He was 71 at the time of his death. He leaves behind his wife, Marcella Braswell, who encouraged him to continue battling over the past several years.

The “Godfather of Poker” was first diagnosed with cancer in 2012. He was told by doctors that he had just three months to live. Hansen appeared ready to accept his fate by saying “it was fun while it lasted.”

However, Braswell pushed him to undergo chemotherapy. These treatments allowed Hansen to hold off the cancer and continue living for several more years.

The Legend of Thor

Thor Hansen was born in Oslo, Norway in 1947. He began playing poker in his early adult years and eventually became a professional. Hansen quickly realized that he’d found his calling.

“Poker came naturally to me,” he said. “I never thought about what I was going to become. Poker just meant so much to me so quickly.”

Hansen soon became the first famous Norwegian poker player and started making annual trips to the World Series of Poker. He ended up winning two gold bracelets over his career and made a number of final tables.

The only other two Norwegians to have won a bracelet include Annette Obrestad and Sigurd Andreas Eskeland.

Hansen continued playing poker up until his final months. His last cash came at the Irish Poker Open & Norwegian Championships, which was held in March 2018. He earned $2,948,645 in live tournaments in his lifetime.

Poker Community Speaks After Hansen’s Passing

Thor Hansen had many friends in the poker world and beyond. He was also a Norwegian idol who inspired many others to take up the game.

Many poker players commented on his passing. Phil Hellmuth called him “a great human being and a great player.”

Barny Boatman labeled Hansen an “international treasure.” Josh Arieh discussed how “no one was a stranger to Thor” because he “wanted to talk to everyone.”

Poker Pros Joking During Bitcoin Crash

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

bitcoin-crashPoker pros are always willing to take a calculated gamble. And many pros are currently speculating on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The only bad news is that Bitcoin has taken a major dive over the past week.

The famed digital currency has fallen to $3,700 – down around 30% from a week ago. Nevertheless, many poker players are either making jokes or still bullish on the matter. Here’s a look at what some players have to say.

Polk and Cates Poke Fun at the Situation

Dan “Jungleman” Cates and Doug Polk are two grinders who are heavily invested in BTC. Both can only make light of the situation as they watch their investments lose value at the moment.

Polk is particularly invested in the matter because he runs a popular YouTube channel on the subject called “Doug Polk Crypto.”

Jamie Kerstetter has been paying attention to the current market crash. And she seems the most fascinated by the affordability that this downtrend has brought.

Tony G Touts Stable Coin Tether

Tony G doesn’t play poker as much. But the current Lithuanian politician still has a voice in the poker world. And he wanted to send a message that the much-maligned stable coin, Tether, is a legitimate product. (IBus Media) Sued for $6m

Saturday, November 24th, 2018 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,, 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.

Justin Lapka Accused of Having Too Many Chips to Start WSOP Circuit Event

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

justin-lapka-pokerPoker player Shawn Daniels hurled serious accusations at fellow player Justin Lapka via Twitter. Daniels tweeted that Lapka started WSOP Circuit Event #5 — a $600 NL hold’em Double Stack event — with too many chips.

He explained how Justin Lapka registered late and had the liberty of beginning with an extra 5,000 chips. Players were supposed to start off with 40,000 chips. What’s worse is that it appears Lapka realized it and wasn’t going to do anything about the situation.

Daniels Gets Personal

Daniels jumped on Twitter to warn other players about Lapka and to “pay close attention” when playing around him.

shawn-daniels-poker“This kid got very upset when someone mentioned he started with too many chips. He knew and wasn’t going to say anything,” he tweeted.

“When I mentioned he’s scumming / cheating all his peers he said he will do what he has to it’s business. If you interact with this guy pay close attention.”

Lapka was made aware of his extra chips. However, he refused to return them under the banner that it wasn’t his fault the tournament staff messed up. This only incensed Daniels even more.

“He just asked me to stop being an asshole. He’s ‘sorry and writing an apology to his fans,'” Daniels noted.

“Gave me 40 horrible excuses why it was ok and I was wrong. Just writing apology for some shitty @TwitchPoker partnership he doesn’t deserve to have.”

Lapka Tweets an Apology

Lapka is a successful online poker player who also commands a solid Twitch following. Therefore, he felt it necessary to apologize to the poker world after refusing to give the chips back.

“I just wanna acknowledge that I made a decision tonight without a full understanding of how my decisions may affect other people or the poker community at-large,” he tweeted.

Lapka finished by noting that he should’ve given the chips back right away instead of continuing to defend his reasons for keeping the extra 5k.

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.