Lee Davy provides a weekly round up of poker news including the headlines from the Spring Championships of Online Poker, a bidding war for Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, and much more.
The biggest story of the week has to be the fight for the right to own the assets of Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment. The world’s largest publicly traded online gambling outfit, is soon to lose that title, with the sharks of the gaming world looking to rip it apart like chum.
The first company to express official interest was GVC Holdings. Given that the UK-listed gambling outfit is valued at circa £277 million, and bwin circa $787 million, the proposal was a reverse takeover.
A day later and it was the turn of 888 Holdings to throw their hat into the ring. Once again, due to the size of both companies, the proposal would have been another reverse takeover, and mouths started watering over a potential competitor worthy of challenging the PokerStars monopoly.
That was until PokerStars heard about it.
It was time to send in big brother.
Amaya Gaming Inc. announced plans to create a tag team with GVC Holdings, so they could give 888 Holdings a spike pile driver from the top rope. No reverse takeover needed when a company valued over a billion dollars climbs into the ring and starts throwing punches.
Bwin is busy applying lipstick whilst the boys walk around with their feathers ruffled.
A company that will have a keen eye on the gavel is the World Poker Tour (WPT). Bwin own the WPT lock, stock and two smoking barrels, and it will be interesting to see how things develop depending on who the final victors are.
In the meantime the team has work to do. Season XIV is upon them and last week saw the first event in the European calendar opening for business in Amsterdam. It was the first time a major event, outside of the Masters Classics, has been held in the city, and it proved to be a great success.
Jason Wheeler was the man of the hour. The online grinder proving that he knows a thing or two about the live game as well, with victory in the High Roller, for €125,000, and a sixth place finish in the Main Event for another $46,201.
The winner of the Main Event came out of nowhere. Farid Yachou, a cafeteria owner from Holland, winning the top prize of $225,073 after playing in a live tournament, held in a casino, for the first time in his life. Louis Salter (9th), Sorel Mizzi (10th) and Giacomo Fundaro (12th) enjoyed deep runs.
The Global Poker Index
If I ever write a weekly round up without mentioning the Global Poker Index (GPI), send an ambulance around to Alex Dreyfus’s gaff to check for a pulse.
I have two news stories to report on.
The GPI will power the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Player of the Year (POY) rankings when things kick off in a few days time. The pair has signed a three-year deal meaning that the GPI is now the official rankings of all three of the world’s major tours. They will not only provide a specially designed trophy for the winner, and unique content for WSOP.com, but most importantly they will host a GPI WSOP party.
The second new story concerns GPI’s continued expansion on Twitch. The GPI will unveil their new Maltese TV studios this weekend, when their new anchor Laura Cornelius teams up with British legend Neil Channing, to provide coverage on the final weekend of the PokerStars Spring Championships of Online Poker (SCOOP).
“I would like to think of the GPI as a poker lab.” Said Dreyfus.
A very successful Global Poker Masters (GPM) Twitch stream that attracted 840,000 unique viewers earlier this year boosted the GPI’s excitement.
Ranking Hero, Unibet and Viktor Blom
With the GPI and WSOP kissing behind the bike shed, that means Bluff are out in the cold, a fact that didn’t go down very well in some quarters of social media with some parties seeming to prefer the Bluff rankings over those of the GPI.
Ranking Hero likes a bit of Bluff, and this week they launched their latest initiative Hero Score. In an exclusive interview with Ranking Hero co-founder, Nicolas Levi, the French fedora wearing fella told us that the new rankings were a look at who held sway in the ‘poker prestige and influence’ department, instead of your bog standard results based ranking system.
The best thing about these rankings is that the people get to vote. The bad thing is people like Dan Bilzerian get a mention (bollocks I just did it again). Levi assured me that the algorithm would be tweaked if the rankings turned into a popularity contest. Phil Ivey is the current number one. Keep an eye on it Nicolas.
Ranking Hero also enjoy a fruitful relationship with Unibet, and Levi himself graced their Golden Cash Game, held in Aspers Casino, Stratford late last year. The game included many heroes, but the most unlikeliest of them all was Viktor Blom.
Had the former Full Tilt pro signed for Unibet? The word on the street was no, but that word has been put out there again after Unibet announced plans to stream a specially arranged Viktor Blom Twitch session for 10-hrs straight on May 27.
Sales of popcorn have gone through the roof.
PokerStars Team Pro, Jason Mercier, popped up at #10 in the Hero Score rankings, and this week he proved why he is such a bloody HERO by winning three SCOOP titles, and taking his rightful place at the top of the leaderboard.
It wasn’t only Mercier who grabbed the SCOOP headlines. Calvin Anderson became the most successful SCOOP player of all-time, when he won his sixth SCOOP title, Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier broke a new Twitch money earning record when finishing sixth for close to $80,000 in Event #23, and a phenom called ‘dragonwarrior’ won over half a million when he bagged two SCOOP titles in one day.
That’s fuck all. I don’t like to brag, but I’ve just cashed in Event #37 for $12.95 whilst writing this.
Online Poker in America
The only thing that Daniel Negreanu and Jason Somerville will be scooping this week is their dog’s poop off a pavement in California. PokerStars has sent the pair to the state’s capital to host a one-of-a-kind media session where all and sundry can meet the players, ask pertinent questions, and prove that their dicks won’t fall off if they play a hand of online poker.
The timing was important as numerous influential online gambling peeps were in town for the Joint Informational Hearing on gambling in California. Unfortunately, the hearing was devoid of any newsworthy stories, as the words online poker were hardly uttered. One imagines that will change when the likes of Eric Hollreiser (PokerStars), Lynn Valbuena (San Manuel Band of Mission Indians), and David Quintana (California Tribal Business Alliance) take the stand at a separate one-day conference flying under the banner California Gaming.
California wasn’t the only online pokerless state in the news this week. New York also made an appearance courtesy of a new revised bill from State Senator John Bonacic. The revisions removed any need to complain about bad actors, put a price on a license at $10m, and allowed other online poker savvy states to enter into player liquidity deals.
Time, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Someone has just called the clock.