Posts Tagged ‘Online Poker’

Patrick “Pads1161” Leonard signs with PartyPoker

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

patrick-leonard-partypokerBritish poker pro Patrick Leonard has signed a deal to become a PartyPoker ambassador. After signing his deal, an excited Leonard said that he can’t wait to help PartyPoker become the “best poker site in the world with the biggest guarantees and best structured tournaments.”

The Newcastle native is mainly known by his screen name ‘Pads1161’ since he’s won over $2 million in online poker tournaments. He’s also won $254,852 in live tournaments, with a career-high cash of $97,109 at the 2014 WPT Nottingham High Roller.

We should see Leonard in a lot more live tournaments because he’s going to be representing PartyPoker in tourneys around the world. In just over a month, he’ll be wearing the PartyPoker patch at the 2016 WSOP, which starts on May 31st.

It’s interesting that the 27-year-old has finally signed a sponsorship deal because he previously said that he didn’t want to give up his identity or opinions to shill for a poker site. But he likes what PartyPoker represents more than other companies in the industry and decided to ink this deal.

“At partypoker, they are actually doing progressive changes on a daily basis, but still have a long way to go until they really take over as the number one site in the world,” said Leonard. “I’m sure that I can help significantly and that motivates me a lot. I want to help make partypoker the best poker site in the world with the biggest guarantees and best structured tournaments.”

Once the world’s largest online poker room, PartyPoker is currently sixth in global cash traffic with 950 hourly players (according to PokerScout). They’ve hung steady in this spot while battling the likes of Bodog, iPoker and MPN. Perhaps with Leonard’s enthusiasm/representation, they can continue climbing and reaching for more player traffic.

Nagaland, India legalizes Online Poker

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

nagaland-online-pokerWith over 1.25 billion people, India has often been looked at as an untapped goldmine for online poker operators. And we’ve moved one step closer towards tapping into this potential since the Indian state of Nagaland has passed iPoker legislation.

According to Glaws.in, a legislative assembly approved “Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Bill, 2015,” which will change the way that the state’s government views poker, rummy and fantasy sports.

Introduced in July 2015, this legislation also makes way for these games to be regulated online since they are not viewed as gambling. Nagaland’s Governor, Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya, will soon review the bill and make his recommendations before the framework can be finalized. Once this is done, online operators will be able to start setting up operations.

It will no doubt take some time before everything falls into place. But it’s nice to see that another part of the world is not only viewing online poker as a skill game, but also something that should be legal and available. Glaws.in speculates that “the path-breaking legislation introduced by the Nagaland government can prompt other states to introduce a regulatory framework for skill games as well.”

Nagaland is just a small piece to the puzzle because this remote, mountainous state is only home to around 2.2 million people. However, if all goes well with their iPoker operation, then it could very well start a domino effect throughout India.

The sheer volume of Indians who would have access to legal online poker is exciting to think about. However, the one downside is that, according to World Bank, the average income in India is only US$1,581. This probably means that we’d be looking at a lot of micro stakes play, but it would still be nice to have this influx in the regulated iPoker population.

PartyPoker no longer has Withdrawal Fees

Monday, February 15th, 2016

party-poker-no-withdrawal-feesIn a very favorable move for players, PartyPoker has eliminated the remainder of its withdrawal fees. Now, players no longer have to worry about paying withdrawal fees on Neteller, Skrill and Webmoney transactions. This comes just half a year after PartyPoker got rid of fees for bank transfers, MasterCard and Visa transactions.

In the past, players complained about having to pay a $4 flat fee plus another 3% withdrawal fee. So in keeping with their “Poker for the People” campaign, Party started the process of eliminating all their withdrawal charges last July. Here’s a look at what PartyPoker wrote about the latest withdrawal-fee elimination:

“We hope that these changes, part of our ongoing Poker for the People campaign, will be positively received by the partypoker community and go some way to show that we listen to your thoughts and go the extra mile to help create the online poker site that you want to play at and be part of.”

The Poker for the People campaign isn’t just limited to withdrawal charges. Party has also taken some important measures to ensure that their recreational players are protected from sharks. Specifically, they eliminated hand histories, introduced random seating and made players’ IDs anonymous. This has in effect stopped bumhunters from targeting weaker players and also prevented serious players from using hand histories to improve their play.

party-poker-playerThe latter was a somewhat controversial move because many players argue that hand histories should be a staple offering at online poker sites. However, Party remains committed to doing whatever they deem necessary to keep recreational players happy.

“As part of our Poker for the People campaign, the PartyPoker team is committed to providing all poker players, regardless of experience or skill levels, with trusted poker products that are fair, ethical and fun,” the site wrote last year.

With yet another move that caters to recreational players, don’t be surprised if PartyPoker starts growing their player base, or at least retaining what they have in a diminishing online poker economy.

FanDuel CEO turns Heel on Poker – Not a Skill Game

Friday, February 12th, 2016

matt-king-fanduel-pokerOnline poker has drawn many comparisons to daily fantasy sports (DFS) in recent years, namely because they’re games of chance that also contain skill. But apparently, FanDuel CEO Matt King thinks that unlike DFS, poker is not a skill game.

King offered his opinion during an interview with PBS, where his goal was to prove that DFS is full of skill and nothing like poker. Below you can see the most-telling excerpt from King’s opinion:

“There is a lot of academic research on this, what’s the skill versus luck kind of spectrum. The reality is within poker, every time you shuffle the deck, it creates an element of luck that trumps it basically to being much more a chance-dominated game than a skill-dominated game. If you look at our data, the players that are good, are frankly consistently good. It is truly a game of skill. … Just like football or basketball. The more you practice, the better that you get. Many of the forms of regulated gambling are actively constructed so they are games of chance, and that is a very, very different experience than a game of skill, which is what fantasy clearly is.”

When asked about how rain can affect games and add more random luck, King defended DFS by saying that even spelling bees have luck involved.

It only makes sense that King would try to distance FanDuel and other DFS sites from online poker. After all, poker has been through some major legal issues, such as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 and Black Friday (2011). However, the idea that online poker is somehow pure gambling, as opposed to DFS, is just ridiculous.

“Just like football or basketball,” you also improve your chances of winning in poker by practicing. Thousands of players across the globe have proven this by beating the game and becoming poker pros.

DFS is facing increasing legal pressure now from many U.S. states, including New York. It’s actually New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, who gave PBS the other side of the story on DFS. Sadly for King, lying and saying that poker doesn’t contain skill won’t save his game from legal challenges.

Baazov buying PokerStars and privatizing it

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

david-baazov-pokerstarsIn 2014, David Baazov wrangled together some of Wall Street’s most-powerful investment groups to buy PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker for $4.9 billion. Fast-forward to 2016, and the investment hasn’t paid off for many involved. PokerStars’ parent company, Amaya Gaming, has seen its shares fall from a peak of $37.52 a year ago to $13.73 recently.

Given the current price, Baazov and a group of investors feel confident that they can buy shares from other owners at $21 per share. If they succeed, they’d make PokerStars a private company again, much like it was under its old owners (Rational Group).

According to News1130.com, Baazov owns 18.6% of the outstanding 132.78 million shares. Including the stock that Baazov already owns, Amaya is only valued at $2.79 billion today, $2.1 billion less than the purchase price.

Maher Yaghi of Desjardins Capital Markets believes that Baazov’s reported offer of $21 per share is quite a bit lower than his fundamental valuation of $28.50 per share.

“While some could see the offer as potentially being opportunistic, it is worth pointing out that the continued strength in the U.S. dollar is a potential headwind for the company’s European poker business,” Yaghi wrote.

Valuing Amaya is no doubt a tricky situation, especially with the uncertain waters that online gaming as a whole is headed towards. PokerStars still commands over 70% of the world’s online poker market, however, this market continues to shrink every year. So naturally, Amaya has begun experimenting with other forms of gaming like Spin & Go’s, casino games and sports betting. It remains to be seen whether or not all of this will make PokerStars better in the long term. However, Baazov must feel that he can improve the business by purchasing it and privatizing Amaya.

PokerStars loses $870m Lawsuit to Kentucky

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

amaya-kentuckyAmaya Gaming, which owns PokerStars, has been battling the state of Kentucky in court. And unfortunately, Amaya has lost their lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Kentucky, resulting in an $870 million win for the Bluegrass State.

Judge Thomas Wingate made the ruling after determining that PokerStars violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement (UIGEA) from 2006 to 2011. Wingate awarded Kentucky $870 million based on the total losses by the state’s residents in this five-year period. He also tacked on an additional 12 percent interest for each year until the entire amount is paid back.

Amaya is already working on an appeal that’s based on several aspects of the case. First off, they argue that Kentucky residents only lost $18 million; the $870 million figure doesn’t take into account any winnings or bonuses that the players earned from 2006-11.

Another problem with this case is that Kentucky used a 19th-century law that lets gamblers sue their opponents for losses. This law does not, however, allow a state like Kentucky to sue gambling companies for their own benefit. Given that none of the $870 million will be going to the actual players, this lawsuit is entirely for Kentucky’s benefit.

It certainly seems like Amaya has a good chance to win their appeal based on all the factors in the case. But assuming they don’t win the appeal, Amaya plans to seek the money from PokerStars’ old owner, the Rational Group.

Rational, an Israeli-based company that sold PokerStars to Amaya for $4.9b, led Stars during the time when they violated the UIGEA. This same company already paid $736 million to the U.S. government as part of a settlement. But the judgement that Kentucky won would see them get even more money than the federal government.

Alex Dreyfus talks VIP Changes at PokerStars

Monday, December 21st, 2015

alex-dreyfus-global-poker-leagueThe biggest topic in the online poker world remains the changes that PokerStars made to their VIP program. Many high-volume grinders are angry because the Supernova Elite level will be gone next year, and mid/high-stakes rewards won’t be given out either. Since the changes, many people surrounding the poker community have been asked to give their take on the matter. And Global Poker Index founder Alex Dreyfus is the latest interesting poker figure to join the discussion.

Appearing on ChicagoJoey’s podcast, Dreyfus said that this is a very broad topic – ranging from the actual changes to the communication between PokerStars and their players. But he did give some definite opinions on the subject.

“I do believe that it’s their right to change everything that they’ve done,” said Dreyfus. “But these rights come with a duty to be a bit more transparent than the communication that they’ve done. The price changing, the rake changing, it’s really their business if they want.”

The Frenchman continued to say that he doesn’t blame PokerStars, but rather the nature of the industry for the changes they had to make. However, he does believe that everything could have been communicated much better.

“The only thing I’m disappointed about is the way the Supernova Elite was handled because I don’t think it was fair – and it was a mistake. And they apologized, it’s not very often that you have a multi-billion dollar company apologize, so I think that has to be noticed.”

Being a poker entrepreneur rather than a player, it’s interesting to hear Dreyfus’ views on the big PokerStars VIP changes. And you can see more on what he has to say about the subject below, which begins around the 41:00 mark.

US Online Poker – What to expect in 2016

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

us-online-pokerU.S. online poker regulation is moving slower than a snail traveling through peanut butter. So do we have any reason to be optimistic about iPoker growth in 2016? Perhaps we will see some positive changes on the legalization front in the New Year, especially if the following four predictions come true.

1. Pennsylvania will legalize Online Poker

Many hoped that Pennsylvania would finally legalize online poker before the end of the year. Unfortunately, this dream has just timed out because the state house and senate can’t agree on a budget plan. But that’s not to say that we shouldn’t expect to see iPoker in the Keystone State by 2016, especially with the state looking for various ways to shore up their budget.

2. New York will also legalize Online Poker

new-york-online-pokerNew York also had some serious discussions about legalizing and regulating iPoker this year. They didn’t take the matter as far as Pennsylvania, however, the Empire State seems very receptive to regulating the game. New York could hasten the process in 2016 because they’re also interested in legalizing daily fantasy sports too. This is one reason why they’re currently locked in a legal battle to stop DraftKings and FanDuel from operating in their state.

3. New Jersey and Pennsylvania will share Player Pools

We could see the first lucrative liquidity agreement in the regulated U.S. iPoker market in 2016. Delaware and Nevada are already sharing players, but this hasn’t really increased traffic much for either small state. However, if Pennsylvania legalizes the game, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see them link up with New Jersey and create a potential player pool of 20+ million.

4. PokerStars will be get licensed in Pennsylvania

PokerStars hasn’t exactly been the most-welcome party in the U.S. iGaming market. However, they should be more than welcome in Pennsylvania, which hasn’t seen much backlash against the world’s largest online poker site for operating after the UIGEA. It definitely helps that PokerStars is already licensed in New Jersey too.

Top Revelations from Antonio Esfandiari’s Reddit AMA Session

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

antonio-esfandiari-magicAntonio Esfandiari is one of those rare poker pros who’s both lived a fascinating life and has experienced massive, long-term success. So it’s little surprise that Esfandiari was a big draw when he recently did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session. Some of the most-interesting revelations to come from this….a lost prop bet to Don Cheadle, being cheated in a mafia poker game, Esfandiari’s take on a poker shot clock and his poor record in online poker. That said, let’s look at some intriguing answers that Esfandiari offered.

Q: What is your biggest loss in poker? Financially or, you know, body parts etc.

Antonio: Don Cheadle and I played a heads up match where if I lost, I had to do a full blown magic show at his house in a top hat for him and his guests. If I won, he had to come over and cook for me and up to 25 of my guests in a chef’s apron. Of course I lost, and now I owe him a magic show.

Q: That final table seemed very tight. Will we see a shift or is that style inherently what gets you to the final table?

Antonio: The best fix is a shot clock much like they had in the Super High Roller Bowl. My stance is to ban anything that hides you. All for it. The Super High Roller Bowl banned hoodies and sunglasses as well.
It’s been proven time and time again that aggressive poker is the way to go. I don’t expect to see people tighten up.

Q: Was there any stage in your life when you honed your game by grinding online? If not, why not?

Antonio: No, I was an online fish. Online was just never my thing. I don’t like playing when I can’t see my opponents.

Q: I guess high stakes home games can be a bit risky and dangerous sometimes if you’re in touch with some wrong people. What is your worst home game experience?

Antonio: I got cheated once in a mafia game. I paid my loss, never said a word, and never went back.

Check out the rest of Antonio Esfandiari’s AMA session here.

Poker Live Streaming considered Key by The New Yorker

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

jason-somerville-pokerstarsIt’s always fun when a mainstream publication dives into the poker world, especially when the subject matter deals with how to help online poker. The New Yorker recently covered the impact that live streaming is having on the game. And WSOP champ Jason Somerville was the star of the piece since his Twitch stream has attracted over 140,000 followers.

To those who normally read poker news, the story of Somerville’s Twitch success is nothing new. But it appears that the ‘jcarverpoker’ channel is more popular than ever before. In fact, when he played in the 2015 WCOOP Main Event, he was the most-watched Twitch streamer across the entire platform. Here’s an excerpt from the New Yorker on Somerville’s livestream:

“As someone who watched a ton of poker videos, particularly poker-training videos, I was always shocked at how bad they were from a performance point of view,” Somerville said. On Twitch, he plays the consummate host-cum-tour-guide: inclusive, knowledgeable, and relentlessly entertaining. The key element of his broadcasts, which regularly run longer than seven hours, are his inexhaustible monologues, during which he cheerfully expounds on everything from basic poker strategy to his social life to the opaque world of professional gambling. He also responds candidly to questions that viewers submit via Twitch’s chat box. This interactivity, Somerville said, “allows you to get more inside my head. From both a learning point of view and an entertainment point of view, that’s so much better.”

twitch-pokerObviously Jason Somerville’s Twitch stream alone won’t restore online poker to its mid-2000s heyday – but it’s a start. Largely spurred on by Somerville’s success, PokerStars signed him and launched their own Twitch channel. The Poker Central network now streams some of their programming through Twitch. Even DraftKings and the daily fantasy sports industry are getting into livestreaming too.

Poker has changed immensely in the past decade alone. And it’s pretty clear that the sheer concept of online poker is no longer bringing people to the felt in droves. So perhaps Twitch can at least keep global poker interest steady, or even serve as a major catalyst for growth in the near future.