In this week’s Calling the Clock we remind you of a sneaky move to pass the Restoration of the Wire Act through the back door, why Justin Bonomo was a little camera shy at the European Poker Tour, and why Luke Schwartz is the Daddy when it comes to the Spring Championships of Online Poker.
We start this week’s Calling the Clock with a flurry of news stories from the world’s largest online poker room.
As expected, PokerStars arrival in New Jersey has increased online poker revenue as a whole, but their competitors have suffered slightly in the process.
Figures released by the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) show the partnership between Pokerstarsnj.com and Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel contributed $1.18m to April’s online poker revenue. That was enough to push the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and partypoker into second place with $745,000. Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s (CIE) WSOP.com and 888.com pulled in $664,000. The total combined figure for the month was $2.6m (a 30.4% increase for the state).
How long will it last?
There are a lot of swollen grey clouds hanging over PokerStars activity in New Jersey. The recent insider trading scandal involving Amaya CEO David Baazov is one of the problems, and this week another potential banana skin was dropped under the foot of the gorilla by the Russians.
Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor added more PokerStars related domain names to their blacklist, and New Jersey officials will be we watching with keen interest after making it clear they would only be happy working with online poker rooms which held interests in ‘grey’ markets that welcomed them with open arms.
The weapons room was also left ajar this week, allowing anti-online poker peeps to grab some ammunition after PokerStars.com players received refunds when security services found breaches of Terms of Service (TOS) in Spin & Go games. The e-mail sent to those affected made it clear that the names of the perps and the exact details of the breach would remain secret.
Timex Wins EPT POY; Schwartz Wins 5th SCOOP Title; Bonomo Refuses Photograph
The 12th Season of the European Poker Tour (EPT) is over after the Grand Final in Monte Carlo ended this week.
Former EPT POY Jan Bendik became the first Slovakian to win the EPT Grand Final when he beat the young Frenchman Adrien Allain in heads-up action to take the €961,800 first prize. It was the first time the buy-in had dropped to €5,300 and it seemed to work with a record 1,098 entrants creating a total prize pool of €5.3m.
Alexandru Papazian became the third millionaire of the EPT Grand Final when he beat Alexandros Kolonias of Greece in heads-up action to take the €1,197,000 first prize in the €25,750 High Roller.
Both Bendik and Papazian were happy to have their photograph taken for the records books after their moment of glory, but the same could not said of Justin Bonomo.
The Global Poker League (GPL) London Royal’s player made it clear on Twitter that he wouldn’t be undertaking any media work for PokerStars or the EPT in protest of what he deemed to be fraudulent behaviour on behalf of Stars.
Bonomo went on to win a side event before refusing to take a mugshot. After suggestions that he might not get paid, Bonomo created a sign that he would use in said mugshot in protest, then after suggestions he may be banned for all future PSLive events he took the photo under protest replacing the sign with a sigh.
Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald was the winner of the Season 12 EPT Player of the Year award. He beat Steve O’Dwyer by a single point after cashing in the final event of the season.
Boeree Speaks at Oxford Uni; Schwartz SCOOP Success; REG Pledge
All eyes will be on the PokerStars Spring Championships of Online Poker (SCOOP) this week. Luke Schwartz dominates the early headlines after winning his fifth SCOOP title in the SCOOP-06-H: $2,100 NL Omaha Hi/Lo [6-Max, Progressive Super-Knockout], $100K Guaranteed for $32,151.93 + $19,578.12 in bounties. He beat GPL Moscow Wolverine Vladimir ‘vovtroy’ Troyanovskiy in heads-up action. He needs one more title to tie with Calvin ‘cal42688′ Anderson as the most successful SCOOP player ever.
James ‘Andy McLEOD’ Obst is also on the coat tails of Schwartz after winning his fourth title in SCOOP-11-H: $1,050+R PL Omaha [6-Max], $200K Guaranteed for $155,020.
This year SCOOP will make a difference in people’s lives away from the tables after Raising for Effective Giving (REG) launched a SCOOP campaign asking players who reach final tables of SCOOP events to donate a minimum of 3% of their winnings to effective charities. People like Martin Jacobson, Jeff Gross, and Daniel Cates have already pledged their support.
And talking about REG, Liv Boeree continued her run as the most popular public speaker in poker after making an appearance at the Oxford Union this week. She joined a programme that included former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell. I wonder if they had a little jamming session?
American Poker News
Fast to act members of the US poker media may have saved online poker’s skin after raising awareness of an underhanded tactic to ban online gambling in the US this week.
You may remember that the only reason the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) became law was because it was secretly attached to a bill that had to pass in the shape of the SAFE Ports Act. The same move has been used to sneak the Restoration of the Wire Act (RAWA) in through the back door this week.
A $56.3 million spending bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee now includes 43-words airing an opinion that the Wire Act never changed in 2011, and yet today we have three States offering online gambling.
It’s widely believed that Sen. Lindsey Graham is responsible for the additions of the words and that Sheldon Adelson has his arm up his ass. The hope now is that Rep. John Culberson will remove the reference before the bill passes to the Conference Committee.
WSOP Introduce Deck Change; Host Twitch Town Hall
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) has announced a multi-year deal with card manufacturer Copag. The new decks will land on your tables this summer. For the first time, there will be two different decks with a unique set used in the $10,000 WSOP Main Event. If you have any questions about the deck change or anything else for that matter, then you can join a WSOP Twitch Town Hall meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 19 at 4 pm (ET).
Full Tilt Funeral; 1,500 Unhappy Souls
Amaya Gaming has announced the funeral date of the much loved Full Tilt software and it will be May 17. At that date, all player’s funds will be transferred to their PokerStars accounts and the software shut down. If you don’t have a PokerStars account, then you had better hurry and get your money out before you get stuck in a long, laborious e-mail chain.
Around 3,000 American based former Full Tilt, players have still not received their Black Friday money. This week the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section told half of them that they wouldn’t ever see it after denying their petitions. Those denied have a right to appeal. Over $100m has been returned to more than 44,000 players thus far.
Super High Roller Bowl; Women in Poker Hall of Fame; in-Flight Gambling
Rounding off the American poker news section and the CBS Sports Network signed a deal with Poker Central to air 30-hours of live coverage of the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl when it kicks off later this month. 49 players will compete for $15m in rake free prize money at the ARIA Resort & Casino.
The board of directors over at the Women in Poker Hall of Fame (WiPHOF) embraced the opinion of the general public this week when they changed their voting rules to hand one vote to the public at large via an Internet poll. Debbie Burkhead, Vicky Coren, Mandy Glogow, Karina Jett, Shirley Rosario, Esther Rossi, and Jennifer Tilly were on the short list.
The change didn’t last long.
A ‘flaw in the software’ used by the WiPHOF resulted in the cancellation of the ballot.
The World Poker Fund Holdings Inc. (WPFH) was in the news again this week. This time, they were sharing their excitement about getting involved in the in-flight entertainment industry.
The WPFH acquired a 49% stake in Universal Entertainment Groups (UEG) online gaming assets and amongst these were the domain names PokerTribe.com and InSkyCasino.com and they plan to use both of them to launch real money gambling on flights starting Q1 2017.
Partypoker is hoping a celebrity influence can have an impact on numbers on the Brighton leg of their Grand Prix Poker Tour (GPPT). Tom Waters and the team have created the Big Bluff Challenge where Simon Trumper, Carl Froch, and a sports psychologist put four celebrities through their poker paces before allowing them to compete in a £5,000 event at the GPPT tour stop in Brighton.
The celebrities are former World Superbike boss Carl Fogarty, AFC Wimbledon forward Adebayo ‘The Beast’ Akinfenwa, former Page 3 Girl and TV Presenter Melinda Messenger, and former Hollyoaks star Jorgie Porter, who have never played poker before but Trumper believes he can whip them into shape.
On the movie front, Idris Elba is rumoured to be joining the cast of the forthcoming poker pic Molly’s Game. Elba is said to be interested in the role of Molly Bloom’s criminal defence lawyer. Jessica Chastain is in line to play the lead role. And Shane Warne and the Hachem brothers had their stretch limousine stolen this week after dropping into a restaurant for a bite to eat en route to a charity poker tournament – as you do.
Time ladies & gentlemen, please.
Somebody has just called the clock.