In this week’s poker news round up Daniel Negreanu wins the PokerStars Shark Cage, the war continues between PokerStars and their VIP players, and much more.
Sports fans live for the moment when two greats at the peak of their powers clash. It happened in poker this week. It failed to live up to its billing. The players are blameless.
Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu are arguably the two biggest names in poker. This week they appeared at the final table of PokerStars: The Shark Cage Season 2 (the show was filmed during the European Poker Tour (EPT) Grand Final in Monte Carlo, and was aired on TV this week).
Joining Ivey and Negreanu in an amazing final table lineup was Andre Akkari, Antonio Esfandiari, Maria Ho and Jennifer Shahade. You look at that list and want an Ivey v Negreanu heads-up clash, and that’s what the fans got.
Negreanu led most of the banter. For the most part, Ivey met his dialogue head-on. There were plenty of smiles, but also plenty of awkwardness. I felt Negreanu burrowing under his skin like a tapeworm on several occasions.
The action was great also. Both players were trying to outplay the other before Negreanu flopped a set in the final hand to send Ivey into the waiting arms of his Mum (who was watching from the rail), before collecting his prize money of $966,000.
So why did it all feel so flat?
PokerStars need to look at the production of this event. There was no drama, no dazzle and no depth. They had the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am afraid they blew it. Modern day TV shows are a rarity and now I know why.
Battle of PokerStars Update
The battle between PokerStars and the VIP grinders was absorbing this week. Lee Jones was the first person to move into No Mans Land when he conducted an interview with PokerNews at the European Poker Tour (EPT) festival in Prague.
In my eyes, it came across as disingenuous and it felt like Jones was towing the party line. There was a herd mentality about it, and while I understand the need for uniformity in the voice of the corporation, I feel they do more damage than good.
If PokerStars want to communicate they should do it directly through the dissenters mouthpiece, and thankfully, it looks like this might happen, after a Twitter exchange revealed that Amaya Gaming Inc. boss David Baazov is likely to meet Dani Stern sometime shortly.
Let’s hope Stern makes more headway than Daniel Negreanu and Alex Millar. Negreanu has already conveyed his frustration at not being able to do more for the players he represents. So too did fellow PokerStars employee Alex Millar, except Millar went a tad further by resigning Vicky Coren-Mitchell style over his failure to get through to anyone within the halls of power.
Millar’s martyrdom left a hole in Team Online, and they quickly filled it by announcing Twitch sensation Jamie Staples as their newest member. I bet that seat feels a little damp.
Other PokerStars News
PokerStars announced the lineup for the ninth Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT). There were no surprises, with events planned for the Bahamas, Uruguay, Chile, Panama, and Brazil. They also announced the full schedule for the return to Dublin for the European Poker Tour (EPT). There will be 64-events, but nothing hot and fancy to bring you up to speed on.
The EPT finished their involvement with 2015 after another excellent performance in the Czech capital of Prague. Hossein Ensan won the €5,300 Main Event, Steve O’Dwyer won the €50,000 Super High Roller, Rainer Kempe won the €25,000 One Day High Roller, Kenneth Smaron won the €10,000 High Roller, and Wei Zhao picked up three side events. In the accompanying Eureka Poker Tour, the Spaniard Javier Rojas won the €1,100 Main Event, and Ibrahim Ghassan won the €2,200 High Roller.
Unibet to Launch UK Poker Tour
The live tournament scene in the UK is about to become as congested as an Alaskan whore house. The Swedish online gambling giants Unibet has announced plans to partner with Caesars Entertainment and host a five event festival in the UK. Brighton, Nottingham and Glasgow are amongst the destinations on the menu. The buy-in will be £220, and the winners and online qualifying last longers will win seats into a €2,200 Unibet Open Main Event.
Carl Carodenuto won the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) Canterbury Main Event for $116,103, and Alex Masek made history by becoming the first player to win nine World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) gold rings after victory in the Bicycle Casino in California.
Time, Ladies & Gentlemen.
Someone has just called the clock.