Lee Davy rounds up last week’s poker news including stories from the 2014 Poker Hall of Fame, the High Courts in England and Italy, and news from a pre-and post-Black Friday Full Tilt world.
The biggest news story of the week has to be the announcement that Daniel Negreanu and Jack McClelland will be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame on the eve of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event in Las Vegas, Nevada, 9 Nov 2014.
Negreanu, 40, has been selected at the first time of asking, cementing his position as one of the most well-loved, and well-respected, people in the game of poker. He is joined by McClelland, 63, and the timing couldn’t be better for the former WSOP Tournament Director, as he had to retire from the game, due to ill health, and is currently waiting for a heart transplant.
The pair will become numbers 47 and 48, in an induction ceremony that will be held in The Longhorn Room, of Binnion’s Gambling Hall, in Downtown Las Vegas. The Longhorn Room was formerly known as the famous Benny’s Bullpen, and was the location of the first-ever WSOP Final Table.
Darren Woods Pleads Guilty on Charges of Fraud by False Representation
Negreanu wins six WSOP bracelets, and finds a seat in the Poker Hall of Fame, and Britain’s Darren Woods wins one, and finds a seat in a cell.
In 2011, Darren Woods, must have thought he had made it. He had just topped a field of 354 players to capture the WSOP bracelet in the $2,500 Limit Hold’em Six-Handed event, and was starting to garner quite a reputation as one of the masterminds behind the Limit game.
Then he blew it.
Woods has pleaded guilty to nine charges of fraud related matters, in Sheffield Crown Court, and now faces up to 10-years in prison. The charges relate to affiliate scams, multi-accounting, and collusion, whilst acting as a sponsored pro and affiliate for 888 Poker, and playing on the iPoker network.
His father, Morteza Gharoon, has also pleaded guilty to a money laundering charge, and the pair is currently on bail pending sentencing on 17 Dec 2014.
Players who have been scammed by Woods are watching the case with extreme interest.
Italian Poker Players Win Landmark Court Case
Despite the dodgy publicity that the Darren Woods court case gives to the image of poker, it’s still a good thing for the game that the case is being heard, and the same is true of a landmark court case that was settled in Italy last week.
Italian poker players Pier Paolo Fabretti and Cristiano Blanco have become the darlings of Italian poker players through the boot-shaped land, after pushing their income tax battle against the Italian Government, through the European Union Court of Justice (CJEU).
The pair were embroiled in a battle with the Italian Inland Revenue after they were forced to pay tax adjustments on earnings totaling approx. €600,000, earned throughout a three year period ranging from 2007-2009.
The earnings were said to have been gained, whilst playing poker in casinos, in other European states where the income tax is taken at source (i.e., the casino pays). They successfully argued that as the Italian Inland Revenue also wanted a slice of the pie, the players were effectively being taxed twice.
The CJEU sided with the pair, meaning that European poker players will no longer have to pay income tax on poker winnings earned in fellow European member states.
Ray Bitar’s $40m Forfeiture Details Disclosed
Another man who knows the inside of a courtroom is the former CEO of Full Tilt Poker, Ray Bitar.
The man who carried the can for the spectacular fall of Full Tilt Poker, had to forfeit $40m worth of assets, after pleading guilty to one charge ach of violating the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and wire fraud.
Bitar was also staring down the barrel of a 35-year jail sentence, but so far, that has not taken place, because Bitar is severely ill and in dire need of a heart transplant.
We are not sure if Bitar has received a new heart, but, thanks to Haley Hintze over at Flushdraw.net, we are aware of the details behind the $40m worth of assets that Bitar has had to let go.
Cash held in 18 different bank accounts, 23 different corporate identities, and ownership in various different properties around the world, just showing what is possible when you are in charge of one of the biggest scams in poker’s history.
The Professionals Feel the Axe
Full Tilt was reborn, after the Ray Bitar debacle, and the Scandinavian duo of Viktor Blom and Gus Hansen were a big part of that rebirth.
The pair was signed, along with the American Tom Dwan, to spearhead a new Full Tilt Poker marketing campaign known as The Professionals, after PokerStars brought the much-maligned outfit under their wing.
Only they didn’t become very professional.
Dwan was later released from his contract for, amongst many things, failing to turn up on time for the PokerStars Team Pros v The Professionals live marketing campaign at EPT London, back in 2013, and Hansen and Blom continued to lose around $25m in online cash games.
The Professionals campaign eventually ended up in the bin after both Hansen and Blom were dropped by Full Tilt, who have decided to end their involvement in the sponsorship deal, after stating the decision: “follows a year-long review of the Full Tilt brand and a decision to move away from pro-centric advertising to focus on the experiences and stories of our players.”