Calling the Clock: I’m Innocent Guv!

TAGs: Calling the Clock, Editorial

In this week’s weekly poker news round up everyone wants to prove their innocence, and a ton of other stuff happened such as PokerStars pissing off their customers, 888Poker hiring a Brazilian and much more.

Seriously, you couldn’t make this shit up.

PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room, finally snuggle into the same bed as their American online poker operators, after the feds booted them out during the Black Friday debacle, and before spooning can begin the Canadian securities regulator charge their CEO with insider trading.

While the king of online gambling pleads his innocence those who prefer PokerStars packed their bags and went the way of the Littlest Hobo will be rubbing their hands. What a delight it must be to the naysayers in New York, California and any other state in the not so United States of America who want to see online poker die. And what must the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) be talking about over their twinkies and tea?

David Baazov said he would be ‘vigorously’ contesting the ‘false’ allegations and was confident of emerging from court with his king of online gambling crown firmly rooted on his mop.

But the damage might already be done.

Just ask Paul Phua.

The Asian high stakes gambler recently sat down with PokerNews reporters for an exclusive ‘clear my name’ interview in Manila. During the tete-a-tete, Phua told reporters that he hadn’t been ‘involved in the sports betting industry for a long time,’ and that he was merely an ‘investor’, ‘gambler’, and ‘risk taker.’

Calling the Clock: I’m Innocent Guv!Phua denied being involved in the infamous Premier League scandal known as the ‘floodlights affair, and said that although arrested in Malaysia back in 2014, he was not the ‘target at all.’ He also firmly denied being a member of the 14k Triad and said that the gambling operation the feds found in the 2014 raid at Caesars in Las Vegas was in a villa he had never even visited.

He ended the interview by saying although he is innocent of all charges, the high profile nature of the media interest in him has damaged his business reputation and that of his family name.

Talking about the poker industry, Phua said that the pros in Malaysia are ‘on-call’ and only get to play if there is not enough interest in the games from the high stakes businessmen.

“I realized that in the long run we are still behind the pros. We just try to be better than most amateur players.” Said Phua.

From the king of online gambling to the king of sports betting who is not a king of sports betting, to the king of Instagram. Earlier this week, Dan Bilzerian’s bike ride bet from Los Angeles to Las Vegas heated up after he made a side bet with Pamela Anderson’s former hubby Rick Salomon.

If Bilzerian is to die or become brain damaged as a result of the ride, then Salomon will inherit Bilzerian’s G4 jet. If Bilzerian makes the 278-mile bike ride in the 48-hr period then, Salomon has to give Bilzerian $250,000. Bilzerian is currently training under the guidance of Lance Armstrong. Part of that training involves ice baths.

I think it’s better that Dan gives the high stakes games in Malaysia a miss for the time being. And no, Paul Phua doesn’t know if that statement’s true because he has ‘never been anywhere near the tennis scene.’

PokerStars Piss Off Punters; 888 Take a Brazilian

There’s only one thing worse than someone treating you like shit, and that’s someone who treats you like an idiot at the same time as treating you like shit.

Welcome to the public world of PokerStars.

This week PokerStars decided to prod the wound that was created ever since they told their most loyal customers that they were not going to give them the money they had worked so hard to earn, by increasing rake by approx. 4% across selected games.

Now that hurts.

But what seemed to hurt even more was the associated press release that tried to justify their decision by using selected data to imply that they were still a far more viable option than their competitors. Your customers are smart people PokerStars. Recognise that and act accordingly.

Compensating for the damage caused; PokerStars did announce a new tournament series with $4m in guarantees where each event is named after a mountain.

Go figure?

And yet here’s the rub…

PokerStars players will clog the Twitter airwaves with angst, and yet 45,353 people turned up to play in the 10th Anniversary Sunday Million including some luckbox from Canada, who won the first prize of $970,000.

“But we have to play on Stars.” I hear you cry.


One place 45,353 people could take their business is the world’s second largest online poker room: 888Poker. This week the boys in blue signed the former Brazilian World Cup winner Denilson to act as a brand ambassador, and agreed to sponsor the forthcoming Cash Game Festival in Aspers Casino.

Stateside Poker News

New Jersey officials may still pull the rug from underneath PokerStars, but for the time being, they have firmly planted a flag in that patch of cyber soil. According to Flushdraw scribe Haley Hintze, PokerStars zoomed to the top of the New Jersey online pecking order after just one full day of service.

PokerStars setting up camp in New Jersey is also great news for New York-based pros. The games are illegal in New York because the leaders of that part of the world fear a zombie apocalypse with gambling addicts roaming the Big Apple in a dazed and destitute state.

Protect the innocent!

And how quickly priorities change.

Suddenly, New York officials may be having a change of heart, because they are pissed off that their residents get to spend their money in a different state. Senator John Bonacic’s online poker bill has been included as a possible go-to revenue source in the April budget submission. Don’t get your hopes up, though. Things move a little slow when it comes to legalising something as devilish as a game of cards.

The World Poker Tour (WPT) knew it had some work to do when they brought the guillotine down on the WPT World Championships and replaced it with the invite only Tournament of Champions. The hard work began this week with news of $100,000 in free money, and a ton of free prizes for the winner, including a round of golf with Matt Savage and a seat at a poker game with Tiger Woods (I’m not sure if that should be the other way around). There will also be a 30-second shot clock which I think is a great move.

Am I the only person who thinks Poker Central has a lazy feel to it? This week they announced the first of a series of specialised live events of 2016, a new show called Poker Central Live at the Bike. The show is effectively the same as Live at the Bike except it now has the two words ‘Poker’ and ‘Central’ inserted into the front of the title.

Finally, the trend of naming your brick and mortar poker room after an established poker brand continues to take shape after the SugarHouse Casino in Philly decided to call their new poker room the Poker Night in America Poker Room. Rush Street Gaming’s Matt Glantz has been instrumental in creating a new tournament series to open the new room and a cash game that will feature the likes of Joe McKeehen and Shaun Deeb.

Personal Pats on the Back

I will end this week’s news reel with a few notes of individual praise.

Chris Reslock and Ari Engel moved within one World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) gold ring of the all-time leader Alex Masek after the pair won their eighth at Harrah’s in Atlantic City. Keith Heine won the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) Main Event in Meskwaki for $100,981. And Cory Bogert won the Hollywood Poker Open St.Louis Regional Main Event for $41,690.

Heading back to the WPT for a second and Harrison Gimbel denied Mohsin Charania a third WPT Main Event title with victory at Rolling Thunder for $275,112. Vlad Darie won the WPT Main Event title in Vienna for €170,800. And Ankush Mandavia was credited with the title of King of California Swing and won a whole host of WPT goodies for his performances in the California trifecta.

Outside of the States and Alex Lynskey won the Australasian Poker Challenge at the Star Poker Room in Sydney for $40,000, and Henrique Pinho won the 2016 Marrakech Poker Open for $40,400.

Time ladies & gentlemen, please.

Someone has just called the clock.


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