Posts Tagged ‘live poker tournaments’

EU Court sides with Poker’s Pier Paolo Fabretti in Italian Tax Case

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Italian poker pros recently got some favorable news after the European Union Court of Justice (CJEU) ruled that Italy can’t unfairly tax players for winnings earned in other EU countries.

The Italian government has a weird policy in place whereby they don’t take income taxes from poker winnings earned in nationally licensed, land-based casinos. However, they do levy income tax on money won in live poker tournaments outside the country.

PokerStars pro Pier Paolo Fabretti had become somewhat of the posterboy behind this policy. The Provincial Tax Commission of Rome claimed that Fabretti owed taxes on the €52,000 prize that he scooped for winning the 2009 IPT Nova Gorica High Roller in Slovenia. Rome’s Tax Commission also looked into his other tournament prizes over the years and required taxes on these too.

Roman poker pro Cristiano Blanco was another player whom the Commission was targeting. Blanco has over $835k in live tourney winnings, including €380,000 ($498k) that he picked up for finishing second at the 2007 EPT Dortmund (Germany) Main Event.

The CJEU’s reasoning for backing the poker players is that Italy’s policy of exempting domestic poker winnings and taxing foreign earnings restricts freedom of trade. Going further, poker pros would be less likely to play in other EU countries knowing that they not only incur travel costs but also extra taxes.

Another point that the CJEU made is that there’s no legitimate reason for the biased poker taxes because this policy doesn’t protect consumers nor prevent crime. Given that the CJEU sided with Blanco and Fabretti in this case, it will be interesting to see if any similar poker tax cases are brought to the EU in the near future.

Antonio Esfandiari wows Vegas crowd with his Magic Skills

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

They don’t call him the “Magician” for nothing! Famed poker pro Antonio Esfandiari, who used to be a professional magician, recently did some street magic for a Las Vegas crowd. As you can see in the clip below, he does the classics to perfection by putting a cigarette through a quarter and guessing which card a woman has on her mind.

Another interesting part of the clip is where Esfandiari explains how he got into magic in the first place. “I remember the first time I saw magic I was completely hypnotized by it,” he said. “I was sitting at the counter of this restaurant Left in Albuquerque in the Bay Area, I was a kid, 17 years old. Then the bartender said, ‘What’s your favorite card. He pulled out a deck of cards and I named a card – all of the sudden he pulled out the deck and the only card face-up was the card that I picked.”

After this, Esfandiari set out to learn how to do these tricks himself and bewilder audiences just as had been done to him. He went to a magic shop and the owner helped him get started on the quest to becoming a magician.

Over the years, Esfandiari has created plenty of magic on the poker tables too. He’s the all-time leader in live tournament winnings with $26,219,676. Esfandiari managed to gain some mainstream fame when he took down the 2012 Big One for One Drop, which paid out a record $18,346,673 prize.

He’s continued his success in high rollers by placing fourth in the $111k One Drop ($1,433,438) and fourth in the 2014 PCA $100k Super High Roller ($575,920). It’ll definitely be interesting to see how he does in the 2014 Big One when it comes back at this year’s WSOP after a one-year absence.

Deadspin explains “Why You’ll Never make A Living playing Live Poker Tournaments”

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Many people are familiar with the website, which covers major sports gossip. Given the focus of their site, Deadspin doesn’t exactly do a lot of poker features. That said, the piece they turned out on Why You’ll Never Make a Living Playing Poker Tournaments was quite impressive.

The article takes off on a Bryan Devonshire CardPlayer article about how difficult it is to be a tournament pro in the US. And Deadspin breaks down the math on this subject, providing some very interesting statistics and analysis along the way. The post begins by discussing online poker star Chris Moorman, who, over the course of 39,000 online tournaments, had a median ROI of 26.5%. So if Moorman spends $1,000 on a poker tourney, he’s making $265 in profit on average.

Of course, hardly anybody is as good as Moorman at online tournaments. What’s more is that Americans can’t play at Full Tilt or PokerStars like Moorman, unless they move outside of the US. So many Americans are forced to grind at smaller online poker sites and US-based tourneys.

This creates a huge problem because, as Deadspin points out, even a gambling capital like Las Vegas doesn’t offer many weekly tournaments with $1,000-plus buy-ins. So outside of the WSOP, many grinders are left playing in $150-$300 buy-in events where it’s hard to capitalize on a good ROI.

For this reason, many US pros try to make as much money as they can during the WSOP. Unfortunately, the high level of competition leaves many players with a much smaller ROI. Deadspin gives several statistics leading to the conclusion that two-thirds of the best WSOP players are losing money each year.

The Deadspin article certainly creates a grim, but accurate portrayal of what many American pros face today. So do players give up? The problem isn’t quite this drastic, at least for semi-pros, who can still make a good deal of money on non-regulated, US-friendly internet sites. However, the big-time pros will probably keep living outside of the Untied States until the regulated online market includes far more states than just Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.

Justin Smith, Edwin Ting pleading Guilty in Russian Mob-Run Gambling Ring

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Back in April, the FBI uncovered a huge illegal gambling ring that had Russian mob ties. 34 people were indicted in the scandal, including poker pros Justin “Boosted J” Smith and Edwin Ting. Now, five months after the indictments, both Smith and Ting are expected to enter guilty pleas on September 4th.

According to the New York Daily News, Smith will plead guilty to receiving payment for internet gambling, while Ting will accept charges of running an illegal gambling operation. If the two plead as expected, they would both be facing up to five years in prison.

Smith was one of the biggest names indicted since he’s earned $2,149,387 in live poker tournaments, along with millions more in online tourneys. His biggest cash came in the 2010 WPT Bellagio Cup VI, when he finished second and earned $594,755. Smith also took third in the 2009 Bellagio Cup V and collected $464,870.

Ting makes most of his money playing high stakes cash games. However, he’s also dabbled in the tournament world too, having made $80,565 overall. His biggest cash, $39,570, came when he took 99th in the 2008 WPT No-Limit Hold’em Championship.

Other prominent poker players who are facing charges include Abe Mosseri, Bill Edler, John Hanson, Peter Feldman and Vadim Trincher.

The gambling ring that these grinders are accused of being involved in stretched from New York to Los Angeles, with operations in Philadelphia and Miami too. Russia’s Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, who was indicted for bribing Winter Olympic officials back in 2002, is accused of running this gambling ring. Authorities say that his organization sometime relied on extortion and intimation to make clients pay up. It’s also believed that the gambling operation brought in over $100 million before being broken up by the FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime Squad.

WSOP Champ Greg Merson – A Tale of Drugs and Redemption

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

By now pretty much the whole poker world has heard of Greg Merson’s 2012 WSOP Main Event victory. Following a 103-day break before final table play began, Merson dispatched his last eight opponents this week en route to the $8,531,853 first place prize. Thanks to his Main Event victory, the 24-year-old was also able to grab the 2012 WSOP Player of the Year award too.

But what many people may not know about Merson is that there’s more to this story than just some young poker player winning a big tournament. The Laurel, Maryland native was actually addicted to drugs just a short time ago before getting his life on track.

How to cope

As for how it all happened, Black Friday struck and hampered Merson’s ability to play on the biggest online poker sites. What ensued was a severe depression that had him wondering how he was going to continue making a living with the game. Merson eventually coped with his problems by turning to drugs, which is when he finally hit rock bottom.


Luckily, Merson wouldn’t stay mired in this downward spiral forever. He turned to live poker tournaments in hopes of replacing the loss of online poker revenue. And he certainly accomplished this goal after winning the 2012 WSOP Event #57 (6-max Hold’em) tournament along with $1,136,197.

Of course, this was only a warm-up of what was yet to come since we now know that Merson also captured the Main Event title along with another $8.53 million. Thanks to these latest victories, he now has an impressive $9,851,557 in live tournament cashes. More importantly, he’s overcame the drug problems that he dealt with last year and looks on track to continue having an excellent poker career.

Greg Raymer wins third HPT Title, proves Longevity

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Winning the WSOP Main Event is by no means a recipe for long-term success. Jerry Yang, Jamie Gold and Robert Varkonyi are all prime examples of this point. However, there are also plenty of ME champions who have made a nice career out of poker including Greg Raymer.

The Raleigh, North Carolina native added yet another big accolade to his career by recently winning his third Heartland Poker Tour title. Raymer beat out a 185-player field to win HTP Altoona along with a $72,089 payout. He defeated Chad Lawson heads-up to secure the title, and you can see the complete final table results below:

1. Greg Raymer – $72,089
2. Chad Lawson – $41,771
3. Craig Casino – $26,275
4. Ben Stroh – $22,233
5. Ed Sinnett – $16,978
6. Josh Birkenbuel – $14,526

What’s truly impressive about Raymer’s HTP titles is that they’ve all come within the past few months. Before we continue discussing how great this accomplishment is, take a closer look at the three Heartland wins:

2012 HPT Route 66 – 1st place, $71,875
2012 HPT St. Louis – 1st place, $121,973
2012 HPT Altoona – 1st place, $72,089

After winning three HPT tournaments in a single year, Raymer becomes the only player to do so. In addition to this, he’s also the only person other than Jeremy Dresch to win three HPT events overall.

These wins are just the tip of the iceberg because Greg Raymer has truly proven the test of time by winning $7,285,094 in live poker tournaments. Some of the most notable tourney finishes in Raymer’s career include a third place effort in the 2009 40th Anniversary event ($775k), 25th place in the 2005 WSOP Main Event ($305k), and of course his 2004 WSOP Main Event victory ($5 million).

Besides his playing career, Raymer has gained considerable respect for his involvement with the Poker Players Alliance. Going further, he’s done a lot of fighting for players’ rights and is an adamant supporter of legal online poker. Hopefully all of his hard work in this department will pay off someday!

David Einhorn discusses Psyche of a Billionaire Poker Player

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Following his recent third place finish in the Big One for One Drop, David Einhorn has become one of the hottest stories in the poker world. The Greenlight Capitol hedge fund manager earned $4,352,000 for taking third place, and he donated the entire amount to the One Drop foundation.

Seeing as how Einhorn is an investor, you might think that he’s just some random billionaire who luckboxed his way into a good finish. However, the truth is that the New Yorker has become very good at relating poker to his investing business. Einhorn explained this by saying the following:

There’s some information you know, there’s some information you surmise, and then there’s the future which is the unknown information and you have a range of possible outcomes.

If you think about a poker hand that way, you have your cards, you have what you can surmise about whatever your opponents might have and then you have whatever cards might come on the board that are uncertain. So there’s a range, and you’re calculating through those three pieces of information.

And when you invest, it’s really the same. There are the things you know about a company or the world or whatnot, and there are things that you surmise — you don’t know, but you kind of assume –and then there’s the future, which is the range of possible events in the future. And then you think about how do those three things put together affect an investment, which isn’t all that different from how something might affect a poker hand.

As you can see, David Einhorn definitely seems to know more about poker than one would think. He uses his knowledge of investing to profile players and consider their range of hands.

Now one thing that many people may not realize is that this isn’t Einhorn’s first time around the block on the poker tables. He’s cashed in three other live poker tournaments – including an 18th place finish in the 2006 WSOP Main Event ($699,730).

In all, Einhorn has collected $5,107,352 in live tournament winnings, which ranks him 73rd on the all-time money list. And this isn’t bad at all for a guy who spends most of his life trading stocks!