TonyBet Poker Closes Under Unknown Circumstances

July 24th, 2020

Founded by famed poker player Tony G, TonyBet Poker closed this week. This site operated for seven years before shutting down.

No reason has been given for the abrupt closure. The TonyBet online casino and sportsbook are still running strong, though.

TonyBet Poker Players Unable to Log In

Players first began complaining that they couldn’t log into the poker site on July 20. Eventually, any attempts to visit TonyBet Poker redirected players to the sportsbook or casino.

The site heavily relied on the name recognition of founder Tony G. A brash table talker who routinely appeared on poker TV shows, Tony G was one of the world’s most-famous players in his heyday.

The businessman eventually began focusing more on his business pursuits and future political career. He successfully guided PokerNews to become the game’s number-one media outlet before selling it to Amaya Gaming (now Stars Group).

Yet Another Closed Poker Site

TonyBet Poker shutting down falls in line with a recent trend. Notable rooms and networks have disappeared within the past few years. For example, the Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) and its main skin, 32Red, closed within the last few months of 2019.

Online poker isn’t as big as it once was. Therefore, smaller networks and independent sites, such as TonyBet, have had more trouble surviving.

TonyBet only ranked 55th in traffic according to PokerScout. It appeared to be nothing more than a side offering to draw potential sports gamblers and casino players towards its end.

Pioneer of Chinese Poker

TonyBet doesn’t have a lot of memorable highlights. However, it did launch Chinese poker at a time when players were first learning the game.

Chinese poker only enjoyed a brief fling in the poker community. But TonyBet’s adoption of this game showed their willingness to take risks. This poker site also became one of the first to accept Bitcoin deposits in 2016.

Poker Player Susie Zhao Found Dead – Homicide Suspected

July 23rd, 2020

Poker player Susie Zhao was recently found dead in White Lake Township, Michigan (Detroit metropolitan area). Two men found Zhao’s charred body at a state park on July 11.

The White Lake Township Police Department was only able to successfully identify the burnt remains this week. Police suspect that the death is a homicide and are seeking information on where Zhao was prior to July 13.

A Regular in the California Poker Scene

Susie Zhao played poker everywhere from Michigan to Las Vegas. In fact, she racked up six World Series of Poker cashes in Vegas, including three scores in the WSOP Main Event.

More recently, Zhao had been staying in California and playing cash games there. Kevin Taylor, a fellow player, wrote about recently seeing Susie in the Golden State.

“It was quite jarring to read in the news that an old poker friend of mine, Susie Zhao, was murdered in Michigan last week. We didn’t hang out much outside of the casinos, and she wasn’t playing as much in the past couple years, but without fail, she would always smile and wave whenever our paths crossed. I just saw her in the halls of the Bike in March. I hope they find the monster who did this to you.”

Other players also commented through social media that they’d seen Zhao playing in LA card rooms. She even managed to appear on the streaming show Live at the Bike (Bicycle Club).

Fatal Return to Michigan

Zhao finally left California for her home state of Michigan in June. She was staying with her parents while in the Wolverine State.

Det. Lt. Christopher Hild of White Lake Township believes that Zhao died at the park sometime around midnight on July 13. Her body was discovered eight hours later at around 8am. Again, police are still looking for clues and trying to piece together what happened in this likely homicide.

GGPoker Crashes While Hosting WSOP Online Bracelet Series

July 21st, 2020

WSOP.com recently handed the baton to GGPoker for hosting the 2020 WSOP Online Bracelet Series. GGPoker had a rough start, though, when their software crashed.

The site discovered a critical bug that forced them to shut things down. Meanwhile, Events #32 and #33 have been postponed until further notice.

What Happened with the Bug?

GGPoker tweeted about what happened regarding the software bug. However, their explanation didn’t exactly clear the air:

“The bug was caused by an overwhelming number of players joining The Opener and other side events. The tournament servers were unable to resume due to high loads. We will increase more capacity (we just doubled it) to make sure future events run smoothly.”

The bug affected the $1,111 COVID Relief Charity and $100 Opener tournaments. While these tourneys aren’t exactly the Main Event, many still expected them to run smoothly.

Should Players Accept GGPoker’s Excuse?

Unsurprisingly, some players weren’t happy with the poker room’s explanation for the shutdown. After all, most major online poker sites fully understand what type of server capacity they need to run tournaments. One person tweeted:

“You didn’t prep for this we are in 2020 you know? For someone who hosts the WSOP that’s pretty laughable, the fact your given out a $100 tournament money in your words as a ‘Reward’ is also laughable. I wouldn’t want to touch your site after this.”

Did GGPoker Get Hacked?

Several Twitter users questioned if GG was merely trying to cover up for a hack. Again, it seems strange that they wouldn’t have enough server capacity when running WSOP tournaments.

This explanation borders on conspiracy theory given that there’s no way to truly tell if a hack occurred. However, it would explain why they had so much trouble on their first day of hosting the WSOP Online Bracelet Series.

Main Event Champ Joe McKeehen Wins 2020 WSOP Online Event #14

July 20th, 2020

Five years ago, Joe McKeehen won the 2015 WSOP Main Event. His winning ways continue as he just took down Event #14 of the 2020 WSOP Online Bracelet series.

McKeehen, who now has three gold bracelets, emerged victorious in a $3,200 NL Hold’em High Roller event. He collected a $352,985 payout for the win.

Details on McKeehen’s Online Bracelet Win

Event #14 drew 368 players and 486 entries when accounting for rebuys. The field included a number of legends, such as Phil Hellmuth (“Lumestackin”), Chance Kornuth (“bingshui”), Chris Ferguson, and Daniel Negreanu.

McKeehen wasn’t intimidated, though, and played well from start to finish in the series’ largest buy-in tournament. He eventually faced off against Frank “thewholefunk” Funaro heads-up for the title. Funaro settled for second place and his biggest-ever cash at $219,089.

Here are some of the big names that cashed in Event #14:

  1. Joe McKeehen (“fanofdapoker”) – $352,985
  2. Ryan Depaulo (“joeyisamush”) – $11,459
  3. Loren Klein (“BabyJesus”) – $11,459
  4. Ryan Laplante (“protential”) – $8,293
  5. Maria Konnikova (“bluerat”) – $6,031

McKeehen’s Strong Poker Career Continues

Some WSOP Main Event champs don’t go on to do great things after their crowning achievement. However, Joe McKeehen has definitely proven to have staying power.

He first gained poker stardom after winning the 2015 WSOP ME along with $7,683,346. Rather than resting on his laurels, McKeehen continued grinding and racking up live tournament cashes.

He added a second gold bracelet by winning the 2017 WSOP $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship along with $311,817. As covered before, McKeehen added his third bracelet after taking down Event #14 this summer.

In all, he has $16,652,259 in live tournament cashes. Over half of this money has come away from the Main Event win. It looks like McKeehen is poised to continue playing well into the future.

Poker Boom Stars Doing Well in 2020 WSOP Online

July 17th, 2020

Many stars from the poker boom era (2003 – 2006) either stick to live poker rooms or are out of the game altogether. However, some prominent names from the boom are making their presence felt in the 2020 WSOP Online Bracelet Series.

For example, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow has already cashed four times in the series. The Mouth also lived up to his name by blasting another player for slow rolling him in a tourney. He even threatened physical violence against Mega “wolverine17” Milburn for the slow roll.

Alan “GladiusIII” Goehring is another old-school pro who’s playing well. He won the Event #8: $500 NL Hold’em Freezeout along with $119,000.

Goehring is best known for his strong performances on the World Poker Tour and WSOP well over a decade ago. He took second to Noel Furlong in the 1999 WSOP Main Event and won the first WPT World Championship (2003) along with $1.04 million.

Other Boom Favorites Who Are Doing Well

Playing under “Lumestackin,” Phil Hellmuth is actively seeking to extend his record of 15 gold bracelets. He’s cashed three times so far, including a near-final table appearance in the $400 NL Hold’em Kickoff event.

Layne Flack is another player who’s re-emerging during the Online Bracelet Series. He’s cashed a couple of times, including a 12th place finish ($5,786) in the $800 NL Hold’em Knockout Deepstack.

Daniel Negreanu is yet one more legend who’s making his presence felt. He’s entering as many events as possible with $1 million worth of bracelet bets on the line.

What’s Behind the Resurgence of Old School Pros?

The WSOP brings out many pros from the past and present. Even though this year’s series is starting online due to COVID-19, the legends are still competing for gold bracelets and glory.

Goehring has already scored one victory for players who starred during the boom days. Negreanu is definitely hoping to become the next due to all of the side bets he has on winning bracelet #7.

Poker Fight Breaks Out at King’s Casino Rozvadov

July 14th, 2020

King’s Casino Rozvadov is currently hosting the Balkan Poker Circuit Main Event. Everything seemed to be going according to plan as far as live poker tournaments go.

However, a fight broke out in the later stages of the tourney. As shown in the video below, a group of players began fist-fighting and swinging chairs.

Fortunately, King’s Casino is a large and well-funded establishment that had plenty of security guards on hand. The latter quickly broke up the fight before too many people got hurt.

No Reason Given for the King’s Casino Poker Brawl

It’s obvious that flaring tempers caused the fight to break out. However, no specific cause has been pinpointed for why the brawl started.

The €175 Balkan Poker Circuit Main Event drew over 2,000 entries. One of the players who entered was right near the fight when it started. He wrote about the experience on TwoPlusTwo.

“As if out of nowhere, a player got up and hit another player in the head five times or more,” the 2+2 member wrote. “The blood is spattered all over the table.

“The victim fell over and the offender continued to hit him. Four other players fought with each other. After that, the security team arrested the offender.”

This Fight Shouldn’t Affect King’s Casino Too Badly

The incident described above seems like it could be from a Wild West poker game. Again, though, the King’s Casino Rozvadov staff was quick to pull the perpetrators apart and restore peace.

Located in the Czech Republic, not far from the German border, King’s Casino has become the premier poker venue in Europe. It has hosted the WSOP Europe since 2017 and regularly draws large numbers to tournaments.

Of course, King’s Casino had to close down during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it’s been running since May and is now holding live tournaments again.

Brazilian Poker Rooms Get Victory After Court Rules on Taxes

July 11th, 2020

A São Paulo courtroom has ruled that Brazilian poker rooms don’t have to pay taxes on tournament prize money. This ruling, which involves a company called Stack Eventos Esportivos, will essentially save operators a lot of money.

The company, which helps stage the Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP), challenged a municipal tax called imposto sobre servicos (ISS). They were being forced to pay taxes on prize money offered through BSOP tournaments.

Tax Ruling Could Have Broader Implications

The 16th São Paulo Public Finance Court lifted the ISS tax on poker operators. The municipality now has a change to challenge the ruling.

However, the Public Finance Court’s decision could have broader implications across Brazil. Other poker tournament organizations might be encouraged to challenge similar laws.

Devanir Campos, who serves as the BSOP’s technical director, notes that the ISS is hurting the game in Brazil. But he sees a turning point after Stack Eventos Esportivos’ victory.

“It’s a decision that leads to the growth of our sector in Brazil, as it provides a broad legal understanding of the functioning of the ecosystem of such a new sport in our country,” Campos said.

ISS Is a Bad Law to Begin With

The ISS forces poker rooms to pay taxes on the prize money they offer. Essentially, the tax considered the tournament prizes that operators pay to players as a taxable event.

However, BSOP noted that the players are the ones benefiting from the money rather than poker rooms and organizations. Operators, meanwhile, merely get a small cut in the form of rake.

They need to charge higher rake in tourneys and cash games to make up for the 2% to 5% taxes on prize pools. Therefore, both the rooms/organizers and players get hurt in the end. No other major poker destination besides Brazil has such a law in place on a wide scale.

UK Online Poker Traffic Drops Due to Coronavirus Restrictions Lightening

July 8th, 2020

Online poker traffic has spiked tremendously during the coronavirus scare. With many people staying indoors after COVID-19 became a hot topic, internet poker suddenly emerged as a hot game.

However, a recent report by the UK Gambling Commission shows that this boost may be waning. The UKGC’s research, which covers everything from March through late May 2020, reveals that online poker traffic is falling back to normal levels.

The report’s findings coincide with a 1.2% decrease in overall online gambling from the beginning of April to the end of May.

British Online Poker Boom Coming to an End?

Nothing will be like the internet poker boom that many countries experienced during the mid-2000s. However, Britain was having something of a mini boom thanks to COVID.

UK online poker numbers spiked 53% from March to April 2020. However, this traffic fell by 11% from April to May.

The numbers still show a 42% increase overall since the start of March. However, the 11% drop suggests that the good times are over.

The UKGC’s research also reveals that online casino gaming fell 9% during the same period. Internet sports betting, meanwhile, rose by 13% thanks to football leagues making a comeback.

Don’t Expect Online Poker to Fall Off the Map

The UK and other countries are loosening restrictions on the coronavirus. Many workplaces, bars, and restaurants are getting back to business as usual.

Fewer people staying indoors means that gamblers will be less tempted to play internet poker for hours. On the other hand, online poker isn’t exactly going to disappear.

British casinos still remain on lockdown for the time being. In the absence of live poker, many players will enjoy the game online.

The period of rising numbers may be over. However, it appears that numbers achieved during the initial spike may stay high for a while.

Phil Hellmuth Trolled for Listing Vegas Home Too High

July 3rd, 2020

Phil Hellmuth has spent plenty of time in the Vegas poker scene over the years. These days, though, he spends much more time living at his house in Palo Alto, California.

Therefore, he’s put his three-bedroom Vegas home on the market. Karina Jett, a former poker pro who’s now a realtor, is showing the Bel Air Drive house to prospective buyers.

Hoping to interest a poker pro who’s home shopping, Hellmuth recently tweeted about the property. Some of the details include a swimming pool, balcony, and view of the Las Vegas Country Club.

Hellmuth’s Vegas Home is Overpriced

Trolls were quick to point out that the Poker Brat may be asking a little too much for his house. Hellmuth wants $430,000 when the Realtor.com only values the property at $363,500.

Matt Mercurio pointed out that the WSOP legend is charging a 1.18 markup on the home’s actual value. Perhaps Hellmuth thinks that there’s some sentimental value involved since he owns the house?

Missed Payments the Reason Behind the Sale?

Besides Realtor.com valuing the property at far less, internet detectives found Hellmuth’s pad listed on Zillow for less than $325,000. The Zillow listing may have outed Hellmuth for missing payments. The site notes:

“The lender initiated foreclosure proceedings on this property because the owner(s) were in default on their loan obligations. This property is not found on a multiple listing service (MLS).”

According to Zillow, the home was listed on the site in September 2019 and quickly removed afterward. It was noted as being in default due to missed loan payments.

Whether the house payment troubles really give an indication into Hellmuth’s financial situation remain to be seen. In any case, he’s listed the property at a price that many don’t think is worth it. Like other wannabe sellers, Hellmuth is trying to unload this house into a COVID-inspired bear real-estate market.

Daniel Negreanu Clarifies GGPoker’s WSOP Main Event Structure

June 29th, 2020

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 WSOP won’t be like anything in the past. Therefore, the world’s biggest poker tournament series will run online for at least 85 events.

WSOP.com is set to run 31 of the 85 online tournaments. GGPoker, an international-facing site, will stage the remaining 54 internet events.

The latter will run their tourneys from July 19 to September 6. Their schedule will culminate in a $5,000 buy-in Main Event ($25 million guaranteed).

Players were shocked to find out that it’s seemingly possible to buy into the Main Event 22 times. Therefore, wealthy businessmen and professionals would have a decided advantage.

Negreanu Explains Truth Behind the Online WSOP Main Event

Daniel Negreanu is arguably the world’s most-famous poker pro. He’s also a high-profile ambassador for GGPoker.

So, Negreanu took it upon himself to explain the reality behind GG’s Main Event structure through Twitter. He started this video by explaining that, no, players won’t truly be able to buy in 22 times. They’ll only be able to play in the ME three times (entry + two rebuys) at the most.

“No matter how many heats there are, if there are 100 heats, 200 heats, you will only get to play three times,” Negreanu explained. “So you get one shot, mulligan. Two shot, three strikes, you’re out.”

Besides clarifying the confusion on the online Main Event, Negreanu also said that he’s still holding out hope for a live $10,000 Main Event. The latter has capped off the WSOP for 50 years.

Americans Can’t Play at GGPoker

Negreanu addressed one final concern regarding GGPoker’s online WSOP schedule. Americans can play on the site, but they must be outside of the United Stated to do so. For example, Negreanu is heading to Mexico to play.

“For you players that are traveling from the US to play other places, there’s been a little bit of confusion about what the rules are there,” he said.

“So, here’s the deal. It’s actually going to be a lot simpler than you think. You can get an Airbnb, you can get a hotel, wherever it is you want to go outside the United States. All you need to do is show proof of address and you’re good to go.”

The proof of address refers to the address of the hotel, Airbnb, or whatever non-US location a player is staying at.