Lee Davy provides you with his usual weekly poker news round up including all the highlights from the World Championships of Online Poker (WCOOP), a wonderful Big Brother performance by Vanessa Rousso, and much more.
The World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) is the dog’s bollocks. 70-events, $45m in prize money, and at the time of writing only 13 of those events remain before we start counting down to next year’s extravaganza.
It is the most prestigious, illustrious and exciting online poker festival in the history of the game. It’s an opportunity for poker’s atheists and agnostics to get shit done without a poker God in sight. It’s an opportunity to create a legacy, and that target has been peppered this week.
PokerStars revved the engine of this one by organizing the highest buy-in event in the history of online poker. It was $51,000. How long before we are staring at a million bucks per head?
46 entrants created a prize pool of $2.3m and Ben “Ben86” Tollerene took the title, and $616,518.34 in prize money, after overcoming a final table that included the likes of Mike “Timex” McDonald (5th) and the reigning WCOOP Main Event champion Fedor “CrownUpGuy” Holz (6th). It was the second time Tollerene had won a big-buy in WCOOP event after winning the $21,000 buy-in WCOOP Heads-Up High Roller in 2013.
$616,518.34 is a decent chunk of change. But it wasn’t the biggest chunk handed out during this year’s festival. That amount went to the German player Tobi12345, who earned $654,500 after beating Andrew “RunThisTable” Lichtenberger in the $10,300 NLHE 8-Max Optional Re-Entry High Roller.
Other WCOOP highlights include Shaun Deeb becoming the most successful COOP player of all time after earning his third WCOOP title (he now has eight COOP titles), Adam “Adamyid” Owen made four final tables without putting one away, Mike “goleafsgoeh” Leah made three final tables winning one, Thor “osten” Hansen rolled back the years to make three final tables, and Billy “b8chatz” Chattaway came close to becoming a Triple COOP champion with two final tables.
Phil Hellmuth also had a busy time online this week, but he wasn’t playing poker. The Poker Brat dressed up in his raincoat – ready to reveal all – on Reddit’s Ask me Anything. Highlights included Hellmuth revealing that he stayed at Ultimate Bet to try and help the players get their money returned despite Full Tilt trying to prise him away; a few words on his punch up with Sam Grizzle ‘we both landed punches but there isn’t a mark on either of us,’ and how he is teaching his son to play poker ‘super tight’.
Vanessa Rousso was another top talent not participating in WCOOP. The former PokerStars Team Pro was in the Big Brother House trying to earn a $500,000 payday. And she came so close to achieving that feat. Rousso made it to the final three players, in the winner takes all event, but Steve Moses eventually took the top prize. Speaking to the press after his victory Moses had this to say about Rousso’s performance – “She is arguably the single most brilliant female player this game has ever seen. She played a phenomenal game.”
Rousso wasn’t the only top female poker player in the news this week. Maria Ho continued to impress with her work ethic by joining the Poker Central crew. Ho will host her own show on Poker Central’s Twitch channel called “Poker Central Live With Maria Ho.” She will play online poker whilst whilst interviewing a variety of celebrities and professional poker players.
Full Tilt’s new recreational poker model is having a strong impact on those it was designed to impress. Their new progressive jackpot game ‘The Deal’ was breached this week. A part time hockey coach from Canada won the jackpot by opening his hand and seeing a spade Royal Flush. The jackpot was $233,852, and 50% of that went into his back pocket, whilst the other 50% was divided between the 7,321 players who had participated in the game during the previous 12-hours.
The jackpot currently stands at $56,000.
The days of Full Tilt being a US giant is long gone, but their sister company PokerStars still carries hopes of moving in and taking over. Their on/off New Jersey license application took another twist this week when the Director of New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), David Rebuck, told Global Gaming Business that the reason for the delay is the ‘thorough, comprehensive review’ of Amaya Gaming’s $4.9 billion purchase of Rational Group and all of their toys.
“We’ve done 80 sworn interviews, we’ve traveled to half a dozen foreign countries. We’re going to do this in a very professional way. Whatever decision we come to will be scrutinized, and some will hate it and some will love it.” Said Rebuck.
What he didn’t say was whether or not PokerStars would have a foot in New Jersey’s door by the end of the month, as initially predicted by financial analysts last week.
Whilst it seems apparent that it’s only a matter of time before PokerStars runs through that red tape, the same cannot be said of any online gambling outfit owned by Steve Wynn. The online casino magnate has told the NJDGE that Wynn Interactive will be withdrawing their application for an online casino license in the state. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Wynn doesn’t own a land-based casino in Atlantic City, and is anti-online gambling as he doubts the industry’s entrepreneurial clout: “Where is the business opportunity?” asks Wynn.
Finaly, a round up of all the live tournament successes of the week, and there has been quite a few.
We will start in Europe, and Will Davies won the Grosvenor United Kingdom Poker Tour (GUKPT) Main Event in Luton for £65,500, Matteo Mutti won the €60,000 first prize at the Italian Poker Tour (IPT) in Nova Gorica, and Julien Sitbon won the €80,000 first prize at the Unibet Open Cannes.
To North America, and November Niner Josh Beckley warmed up for the biggest night of his life by winning a World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) gold ring in Florida, Peixin Liu became the most successful player in Mid States Poker Tour (MSPT) history with victory at Running Aces, Matthew Shepsky won the Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) Main Event in Golden Gates, and the pairing of Jonathan Duhamel and Anthony Zinno picked up a couple of side events at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Borgata Poker Open.
One last continent to visit, and I will leave you in peace.
Mario Lopez continued his run of a lifetime by capturing the second Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) title of his career in Uruguay.
Time ladies & gentlemen.
Someone has just called the clock.