Posts Tagged ‘David Baazov’

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, 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.

Baazov, Negreanu, Stern to discuss PokerStars Changes

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

david-baazov-pokerstarsPoker player Dani Stern was instrumental in leading a 3-day strike against PokerStars after they made huge changes to their VIP program. And while it doesn’t look like the strike has convinced Stars to reverse the changes – many of which hurt high-volume regulars – it will at least facilitate a meeting.

According to Stern, he will meet with Daniel Negreanu and David Baazov (CEO of PokerStars’ parent company Amaya Gaming) to discuss the site from the pros’ perspectives. Here’s a look at what Stern tweeted:

Well one good thing to come of this: According to @RealKidPoker, we will be getting a meeting with Baazov. Details unknown right now.

As you can see here, some players are less than enthusiastic about Stern’s meeting with Baazov and other PokerStars executives. After all, no meeting is likely to change what the poker site has done, including slashing mid and high-stakes rewards and eliminating the Supernova Elite VIP level. But it at least opens up some line of communication between prominent players and PokerStars.

daniel-negreanu-pokerstarsDaniel Negreanu discussed this in his blog at FullContactPoker by writing:

I was also able to ensure that players would have the opportunity to meet with the higher ups from here on out to discuss important issues in regards to the relationship between the company and the players. That has always been something PokerStars has done effectively, and it will continue to happen. I spoke with Dani Stern and Isaac Haxton as well as many other top online pros about joining me and the upper management in regularly scheduled meetings. I think this is extremely important. Communication the last 12-18 months between the players and the company has not been good enough and I think this will go a long way towards improving it.

PokerStars originally made changes to their VIP program so that they could take rewards from high-volume players and disperse them to a wider range of players. This fits in with their growing tendency to favor recreational players above all else. But it’s also nice to hear that they’ll at least give some pros a chance to be heard before they make any massive changes in the future.

ESports: Poker Savior or Competition?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

poker-esportsThe past couple years have seen eSports rise to an unprecedented level, as gamers look to use their video gaming skills to compete and make money. Meanwhile, global online poker traffic continues decreasing at a noticeable rate amid complaints of excessive HUD use and heavy regulation across the world. So does this mean that eSports will soon scoop up all the recs who would have, in the past, turned to poker?

Perhaps not…in fact, eSports could actually offer some sort of popularity boost for online poker as we head into the future. We need only look at the rapid rise of Hearthstone – a collectible card game in the same vein as Magic: The Gathering – for what eSports can do for a game.

So it’s little surprise that poker entrepreneurs like Global Poker Index founder Alex Dreyfus and Amaya CEO David Baazov are looking for ways to reinvent the ole’ Texas Hold’em concept. In Baazov’s case, he wants “a new poker variant targeting the large and growing skilled videogaming community.”

david-baazov-pokerstarsHow is this going to happen? At this point nobody really knows, but it’s clear that the business side of poker is looking for ways to put a new spin on an old game. “Spin” is the appropriate word here because Amaya has already proven that their Spin & Go’s (combo of poker/lottery) have worked at PokerStars. So we can only imagine what the Stars team is cooking up now to blend poker and eSports.

Going back to the original point over whether eSports are a threat to poker, well, the latter still has one big advantage – money. Daniel Negreanu recently said that he loves playing Hearthstone, but it would be a financially poor decision to quit poker for the Hearthstone circuit. If anything, it seems like eSports will be a great service in revitalizing online poker and bringing more amateurs to the felt.

Neymar signs with PokerStars – What will his Impact be?

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

neymar-pokerstarsWorld-famous football star Neymar signed a deal to represent PokerStars, ending weeks of speculation on the matter. Neymar will join his Brazilian countryman and retired footballer Ronaldo along with tennis champ Rafael Nadal on Team SportStars.

Signing the 23-year-old definitely seems like a good move on PokerStars’ part. After all, Neymar is young enough to connect with a youthful fan base, and he actually enjoys playing the game too. His impact will really be felt through his social media following, with 51.2 million Facebook followers and 18 million Twitter subscribers.

Stars is really trying to hit the social media world hard, as their recent forays into the live-streaming site Twitch indicate. So it’s only natural that they would add a famed athlete who has almost 70 million collective social media followers.

Amaya Chairman and CEO David Baazov spoke about the mass appeal that Neymar will have on their brand with the following statement:

“Neymar Jr is a young and extremely charismatic megastar who loves interacting with fans on social media, is comfortable on camera and loves the game of poker. And as a superstar with one of the world’s most famous football clubs and football nations, his appeal is global. This partnership is a great opportunity to market the game of poker across the globe and attract new fans.”

What’s interesting is that Stars made an attempt at signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a sponsorship deal worth €3-4 million a year. The Swedish footballer said no, but they actually landed a more-famous and better fit for their brand in Neymar. Now, this isn’t to say that the sponsorship buck stops on the FC Barcelona forward – there’s always the chance that they could sign Cristiano Ronaldo too. But it’s pretty clear that PokerStars already has made an expensive, but great move by adding Neymar.