Mike Sexton Dies at Age 72 – Leaves Behind Great Poker Legacy

September 6th, 2020

Poker player and commentator Mike Sexton has passed away at the age of 72. Sexton had been battling prostate cancer in hospice care in his Las Vegas home.

Friends and family began visiting him as he was in hospice care while fearing the worst. Sexton finally succumbed to his battle with cancer today.

The Indiana native was a poker legend who won a WSOP gold bracelet and helped spread the game’s popularity in his lifetime. He’ll be sorely missed by the poker community.

Humble Beginnings in Poker

Mike Sexton got into poker long before the boom. He started working as a salesman after returning from the Vietnam War.

It didn’t take Sexton long to realize that poker was a more-lucrative pursuit at the time. He quit his salesman job and started spending more time on the poker tables in the late 1970s.

Sexton eventually moved to Las Vegas in 1985 so that he could find juicier cash games. In 1989, he won his first and only WSOP bracelet after taking down a $1,500 Seven-Card Stud Split event.

Launching of Partypoker

Sexton played a key role in the founding of Partypoker. He became the early face of the site and used his poker fame to help further it.

Soon, Partypoker was the dominant online poker room in the market. It remained in this position until the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was signed into effect.

Fame as a WPT Commentator

Mike Sexton was a great player and helped launch Partypoker to impressive heights. However, he’ll probably always be best known as a World Poker Tour commentator.

Working alongside Vince Van Patten, he commentated on numerous WPT events throughout the years. Sexton kept TV audiences entertained with his analysis on hands and insider stories about pros. The WPT and poker in general certainly won’t be the same without Sexton around.

WSOP Main Event Online Beats $25m Guarantee – Sets Record for Online Poker Tournaments

August 30th, 2020

Many questioned how well the WSOP Main Event Online on GGPoker would go. After all, the Main Event normally takes place on the main stage of the Las Vegas Rio. The results are in, and the online main event is not only a success, but a record-breaking tournament.

The 2020 WSOP Main Event Online has attracted 5,802 players and a $27,559,500 prize pool. This $27.56 million prize pool beats the previous online poker tournament record, set by the 2018 Partypoker Millions Online ($21,385,000).

Main Event Picks Up Steam Late

Things weren’t looking good for the online ME at first. Only $13,155,000 in prize money was available after 15 flights in Day 1.

GGPoker guaranteed $25 million for this event, which meant that a massive overlay was threatening the tournament organizers.

However, everything turned around within the last eight flights of Day 1. Players poured their $5,000 entry fees into the pot to create the aforementioned $27.56 million prize pool.

Remaining Schedule on the WSOP Main Event Online

Day 2 of the Main Event just recently started. This tourney is set to run until September 6, at which point the final table will take place.

The winner stands to receive $3,904,686 in prize money. Meanwhile, all of the final table participants will collect at least $230,395.

These final table payouts definitely aren’t as big as those seen in years past. Nevertheless, they’re better than what many expected for an online ME.

What to Expect Moving Forward

Kahle Burns grabbed the lead after Day 1 with a chip stack of 1,387,282. Jonathan Dokler is a distant second with 1,021,967 chips.

Some notable players who’ve advanced include Dan Smith (421,653 chips), Igor Kurganov (393,881), Rainer Kempe (371,292), David Peters (357,981), Ole Schemion (318,519), Brandon Adams (303,004), and Adrian Mateos (294,227).

Phil Hellmuth is still alive as well with 108,644 chips. He’s looking to extend his record of 15 gold bracelets. However, Hellmuth has a tough task ahead of him considering his fairly small chip stack.

Antonio Esfandiari’s Condo Robbed of $1 Million in Valuables – Police Arrest Suspect

August 28th, 2020

Poker pro Antonio Esfandiari’s Las Vegas condo was recently robbed of $1 million in valuables. The theft includes casino chips, cash, and jewelry.

Police have already arrested a suspect in connection with the crime. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, authorities have apprehended Svitlana Silva, a 46-year-old woman from Arizona.

The Suspect Knew Esfandiari’s Father

Esfandiari lives in Las Vegas’ Panorama Towers. The Panorama Towers are extremely popular among poker players due to the complex’s close proximity to the Vegas Strip. The 41-year-old high-stakes poker pro has lived in the complex for well over a decade.

Antonio lives with his father, Bejan, in the condo. Bejan previously dated Silva and trusted her enough to leave her alone in the home.

The father and son both believe that Silva took the $1 million in valuables. Included in the theft are $150,000 in cash, $400,000 in jewelry, and between $300,000 and $500,000 in casino chips.

Silva moved out in March 2020 but still stays with the Esfandiari’s occasionally whenever she’s in Las Vegas.

How Did Police Catch Silva?

Svitlana Silva has been charged with burglary and possession of stolen property. The latter is damning for her case.

Police began suspecting Silva after receiving word that she’d recently competed in a high-stakes home game in Vegas. Silva bought into the game with $5,000 and lost those funds.

She then bought in for $20,000 and another $30,000 before losing those amounts too. The 46-year-old reloaded with another $300,000 in Bellagio and Aria casino chips.

Another player in the game won a combination of chips and cash. They later received a text from Silva suggesting that they wouldn’t be able to cash out the chips.

“Hey forgot to tell you my chips has special mark on computer so if its stolen they can’t cash out,” Silva’s text notes.

Police arrested Silva in the Aria parking garage. She had multiple $25,000 chips from the Bellagio and Aria at the time.

Mike McDonald Wins $200k Free Throw Prop Bet – Despite Controversial Finish

August 26th, 2020

Poker pro Mike McDonald made a $200,000 prop bet on his ability to make 90 out of 100 free throws. He placed the wager with a combination of poker pros, including Nick Schulman.

McDonald was essentially a basketball novice who, in April, wagered that he could become good enough at free throws to sink 90% of them.

Players who bet against him, such as Eric “Barstool Nate” Nathan didn’t believe he could make free throws like elite NBA players. For reference, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors is a career 90.6% free-throw shooter.

McDonald live-streamed his accomplishment to prove that he indeed made the free throws. During the live-stream he was able to sink enough shots to win.

McDonald Takes a Controversial Break

McDonald lives in a part of Canada that doesn’t feature basketball gyms. Therefore, he must drive almost three hours away to play at the nearest gym.

Considering that McDonald is playing at a community basketball center, he must share the court with others. This aspect caused a problem during his latest live-stream.

Several players were waiting while McDonald was shooting free throws. He’d sunk 56 out of 61 shots before deciding to take a break.

He came back half an hour later and made the necessary 90 shots to win the challenge. However, Schulman felt that this accomplishment shouldn’t have counted due to the break.

People on Twitter argued on whether the break helped or hurt McDonald. Some believe that it allowed him to get an unfair break and rest. Others noted that taking a break like this can ruin a shooter’s rhythm.

Schulman Finally Accepts Results of the Prop Bet

McDonald won the wager by making 16 straight shots at the end. He connected on exactly 90 of the 100 free throws to win.

“I told people that breaks are allowed,” he said during the stream. “I’m guessing people are going to be pissed off at me if this is deemed my win. If this was December 10, I would be arguing that this is a win and I don’t think there’d be much of a case against it.”

Schulman continued to argue the outcome. After hearing others discuss the matter on Twitter, though, he finally conceded the bet.

Dan Bilzerian, BlitzPoker Take Over Indian Online Poker Site

August 21st, 2020

BlitzPoker, which features Dan Bilzerian as its front man, has announced plans to acquire an Indian poker site. It will absorb India’s FTR Poker and officially enter one of the world’s largest online poker markets.

Parent company i3 Interactive made an announcement in early August about plans to take over an Indian internet poker room. However, they didn’t give any specific details at the time.

Now, it’s confirmed that FTR Poker is the indented target. The deal isn’t finalized yet, but FTR’s website has already switched over to the BlitzPoker brand.

BlitzPoker India Will Become Part of Spartan Network

The Spartan Poker Network (run by Quadrific Media Pvt.) purchased FTR Poker in 2018. The deal helped Spartan become India’s fourth-biggest poker entity.

Now, i3 Interactive is looking to take over the entire operation and make a big splash in India. An i3 press release reads:

“Following the Proposed Acquisition, BlitzPoker will run on one of the largest networks in India, a network with over a million registrations and over 75,000 active users.”

According to PokerScout, the Spartan Network draws an average of 265 cash-game players every hour. This mark puts Spartan and BlitzPoker India in a decent position to compete with other poker operators in the country.

What Will Dan Bilzerian Do for BlitzPoker India?

Dan Bilzerian is a stakeholder in BlitzPoker and has helped the brand quickly gain market share. The Instagram celebrity and high-stakes player is easily one of the most-famous personalities in the poker world.

Given that Bilzerian is American, it might seem like his fame wouldn’t translate as well to India. But of his 30 million Instagram followers, 7 million come from India.

BlitzPoker is hoping to become India’s top online poker site within the next couple of years. Having Bilzerian as the face of the company could very well help i3 Interactive accomplish this goal.

GGPoker Accused of Banning Players Just for Winning

August 14th, 2020

GGPoker has dealt with heavy accusations from the poker community lately. Some claim that GG bans players just for winning big.

This controversy arose when Tobias “dudd1” Duthweiler came out with a story on how he was banned and his winnings confiscated. GGPoker closed Duthweiler’s account, took his winnings, and returned his original bankroll.

Previously, Duthweiler was banned on a GG skin called Natural8 for suspected bum hunting. He claims to have no idea that Natural8 was owned by GGPoker when he began playing on the latter.

Fedor Holz Defends GGPoker

Famed German poker player Fedor Holz wasn’t on his countryman’s side. Instead, the GG ambassador believes that the site was justified in banning Duthweiler.

He points to how “dudd1” had already been banned on Natural8 and warned about playing with any GG network site again. Duthweiler violated these terms when he appeared on GGPoker and started bum hunting again.

“VeniVidi1993,” a notable online PLO grinder, backs up Duthweiler in this saga. He alleges that GGPoker banned him and confiscated his winnings for bum hunting too—something that he denies doing.

GGPoker Sticks to Its Terms and Conditions

GGPoker adamantly claims that they don’t ban players just for winning. Instead, they claim to only take action against those who violate their terms and conditions.

“GGPoker has not and does not ban players for winning,” reads a company statement. “We have only banned players who have violated our Terms of Service agreement by cheating, bum-hunting, colluding, or acting in a way we deem to be predatory. GGPoker maintains a healthy poker ecosystem and works to provide a safe and fair playing environment for all players.”

As you may know, bum hunting refers to when players refuse to compete against those deemed to be of equal of greater skill. They only seek fish in hopes of earning more profits.

Bum hunting has remained controversial in online poker for over a decade. Sites like GGPoker must make a judgment call when deciding to ban somebody for bum hunting.

UK Online Poker Revenue Falls Following COVID-19 Pump

August 14th, 2020

The online poker industry received a big boost from the coronavirus. With workplaces shut down and many people staying indoors, people have chosen to play more online poker.

However, this initial boost appears to be waning. The UK, for example, is seeing a large drop in revenue following the COVID-19 inspired boom.

Statistics from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) show that internet poker revenue is slowly decreasing each month.

The fall from April 2020 to June 2020 is especially telling. Operators pulled in £20,068,939 in April rake compared to just £11,675,197 in June. This downward movement represents a 41.8% drop.

UK Economy Starting to Open Back Up

Internet poker had little competition throughout the United Kingdom from March 2020 to May 2020. Not only were land-based casinos shut down, but so too were many other types of businesses.

This situation has changed recently, though. Many industries are reopening as lock-down restrictions ease across the country.

People now have more entertainment options and can even visit brick-and-mortar casinos again. Brits also have the ability to wager on sports too now that leagues are running again.

Of course, British online poker enthusiasts are still logging on and playing hands. But they’re not spending as many hours on the virtual felt as in previous months.

Will UK Online Poker Levels Remain Elevated?

Few expected the COVID-level of poker play to continue in the UK. It’s apparent that, following easing on lock-down restrictions, not as many people will be playing in the coming years.

The real question, though, is whether the levels of internet poker play will remain elevated to some degree. Will the influx of people who logged on from March to May 2020 help the industry?

Chances are, online poker has received a permanent boost. Some people have rekindled their poker passion during the COVID era and will keep playing off and on again in the future.

Fedor Holz Defends GGPoker Over Confiscated Funds Controversy

August 11th, 2020

GGPoker is currently dealing with controversy after confiscating in winnings from Tobias Duthweiler. The latter claims that he unfairly had $130,000 in winnings taken for violating the site’s terms and conditions.

Fedor Holz, an ambassador for GG, is caught in the middle of this controversy. He has defended his sponsor in light of the accusations.

The German poker player notes that Duthweiler was warned to stay away from the GG Network after being banned once. However, he returned and continued playing years later.

Background on the Controversy

Duthweiler recently hopped on the TwoPlusTwo forums to explain his side of the story. According to Duthweiler, he originally played on Natural8—a GG Network skin—when he was banned for bum hunting in 2016.

GG returned his funds and closed his account. They also issued a stern warning to avoid playing on their network again.

More recently, he began playing at GGPoker and turned a $50,000 deposit into $180,000 ($130k in winnings). GGPoker eventually identified him as a banned player when he went to cash out.

They then confiscated his winnings and warned him about playing on their network again. GG distributed Duthweiler’s winnings among the players he beat.

Maintaining a Healthy Poker Ecology

Some people in the poker community claim that GGPoker is banning winners from competing on their network. However, the poker site defends itself against these accusations by pointing out how they only take action against bum hunters and cheaters.

Again, Holz backs GGpoker’s approach to the matter. He believes that Duthweiler should’ve stayed away from the GG Network after getting banned the first time. Apparently, he doesn’t buy Duthweiler’s story that he didn’t realize GGPoker and Natural8 were part of the same group.

In the end, though, Duthweiler did receive his initial $50,000 deposit. Furthermore, GGPoker redistributed the winnings rather than keeping them.

Harrah’s Permanently Shuts Down Poker Room Due to COVID-19

August 11th, 2020

Harrah’s has chosen to close their poker room permanently amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, Harrah’s becomes the first Las Vegas casino to shut down their poker room as a result of lockdowns and coronavirus fears.

Many Las Vegas casinos have reopened their poker venues in recent weeks. This trend started with just four poker establishments. However, over 50% of the 31 Vegas poker rooms have since reopened.

This number has actually gone down to 30, though, with Harrah’s shutting down their poker establishment for good.

Harrah’s Was Never a Premier Vegas Poker Room

Run by Caesars Entertainment—owner of the WSOP brand—Harrah’s seems like a natural for a successful poker room. In reality, though, it is one of the least-popular Vegas poker venues.

Despite being on the Strip, it just never attracted the same type of buzz as glamorous rooms at the Aria and Bellagio, for example. It remained a low-key and smaller establishment for years.

Harrah’s featured just seven tables at the time of its closure. By comparison to many other Las Vegas poker rooms, which offer 20 to 50 tables, Harrah’s was a blip on the poker radar.

It also ran low-stakes games that resulted in little rake for the casino. $1/$2 NL hold’em tables were common in this venue.

Harrah’s Plans to Turn the Floor Space Into a Slots Area

Casinos commonly get rid of non-profitable games and replace them with more-lucrative options. Harrah’s will be doing the same thing with their former poker area.

After removing the seven poker tables, the casino plans to replace them with slot machines. Harrah’s already features more than 1,200 slots, but they could significantly add to this total through the poker area.

The Harrah’s poker room probably won’t be missed much in the grand scheme of things. However, its closure could make other casinos think about doing the same thing.

Poker Pro Brad Booth Reported Missing

August 5th, 2020

Former high-stakes poker pro Brad Booth has been reported missing. Adam Schwartz, who runs the DAT Poker Podcast, broke the news that a police report has been filed on Booth’s disappearance. Schwartz tweeted about Booth to make the poker community aware of the situation.

According to friends, Booth was last seen in Reno. He packed up items and said that he was going camping for an unspecified amount of time.

Booth Has Been Playing Poker in Reno

Brad Booth was once a well-known high-stakes pro. He became famous for his appearances on High Stakes Poker in the 2000s.

These days, though, the Canadian is playing lower stakes. His bankroll took a hit following the UB Poker scandal of the mid-2000s—something that he’s never recovered from to this date.

“Yukon Brad” had been playing poker in the Reno area. He was last spotted at the Grand Sierra Resort Casino in the World’s Biggest Little City.

After packing minimal items, Booth told his roommate that he was going camping. However, the roommate didn’t feel that Booth had enough items to last him more than a couple of days.

Struggles Since High Stakes Poker

Booth earned the nickname Yukon Brad by grinding from small-stakes tables in the Yukon Territory to playing in Las Vegas’ biggest cash games.

He once played up to $2,000/$4,000 limits at Bobby’s Room inside of the Bellagio. Booth claims he played so much poker at that point that he lived inside the Bellagio for four months and only went outside four times.

Unfortunately, Booth’s luck went south when he was ripped off in a massive UB Poker scandal. Booth lost millions of dollars and never recovered emotionally or financially.

He went through a scandal of his own doing in 2012. Booth received a $28,000 loan from Doug Polk and proceeded to lose all of the money gambling while never repaying Polk.

In a recent interview, Booth said that he was trying to grind back up the limits again and pay off old debts. Little has been heard about him since, until now.