In this week’s poker news round-up we bring you news of the evolution of the European Poker Tour, the sorry mess that is the California Online Poker debacle, and much more.
PokerStars and the California online poker market has dominated the news this week so that’s where I will begin my customary weekly news round up.
On Sep 18, 2004 229 players each paid €1,000 to compete in the first-ever European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event in Barcelona. 13 Seasons later and 1,785 people have just paid €5,300 to compete in the same event including the golfer Sergio Garcia and Barcelona and Spain centre-half Gerard Pique.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) has nostalgia.
The EPT has an efficiency and efficacy unlike any other poker tournament in the world.
The most recent incarnation in Barcelona broke eight attendance records before Neil Johnson, Head of All Things Live for PokerStars, broke the news that the EPT had outgrown its cage. It was time to open the door and let the thing fly all over the world.
The annual Christmas jaunt to EPT Prague will crown the last-ever EPT Champion. Starting in The Bahamas, in January, the new PokerStars Championships will take its place. The 10-11 day festivals will feature at least 100 events, contain a €5,300 Main Event, and incorporate a brand new Player of the Year (POY) ideology. After the Bahamas, the tour will move on to Monte Carlo, Macau, Panama, and Barcelona. Talks are underway to add to that list.
The largest online poker room in the world has also added a second live tournament circuit called the PokerStars Festivals aimed at recreational players. It effectively replaces the United Kingdom & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT), France Poker Series (FPS), and Estrellas Poker Tour. The first two events will take place in New Jersey and London.
Will the new tours have a 20-23% payout structure?
Recreational players will be hoping so, and the professional community will be hoping not. At the beginning of EPT Barcelona, Johnson advised players that the payouts structure would change from 15% of the field to 20-23%. The reaction was negative enough to get Johnson to change his mind and revert to the 15% structure for the €25k & €50k events. The rest of the events, including the Main Event, stayed at 20-23%, as will future stops at Malta and Prague.
Moving on to the players and Fedor Holz is once again the star of the show after winning the €50k Super High Roller first prize of €1.3m. The German sensation has now earned over $19m in two years, and at the rate, he is picking off results I would expect him to win more than Phil Hellmuth Jr (in lifetime earnings) by the end of 2017.
Nick Petrangelo took down the €10k Single Day High Roller for €413,000, and Pratyush Buddiga picked up the €690,275 first prize in the €25,500 Single Day High Roller.
It was also a busy time away from the EPT for PokerStars with the launch of a new $5,000 luxury holiday Spin & Go promotion; the introduction of the new Bubble Rush tournaments; a Casino Rush app, and the ability to have a daily $22 Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) named in your honour if you can make the final table three times in a week. It’s currently called The Lex Veldhuis open after the Dutch Team PokerStars Pro accomplished that feat.
California Poker Bill – Dead?
The California Online Poker debacle took another twist this week when AB.2863 author Sen. Adam Gray allegedly went pen in hand to PokerStars opposition tribes and asked them to do what they could to ensure it passed by the end of the year. The tribes in question inserted a bad actor clause that would bar PokerStars from entering the market for five years.
Two Indian tribes weren’t happy with the wording of the new bad actor clause and told all and sundry that they would oppose the amendment because it was too lenient on PokerStars. The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians wanted the five-year ban to begin when the first legal hand of poker was dealt and also wanted PokerStars to face a substantial fine.
In reaction, PokerStars and their allies (including the Poker Player’s Alliance) urged everyone within earshot to oppose the bill. Gray, realising that he had shot himself in the foot with a Shotgun, decided to pull the bill from an impending vote leaving the factions in a mess that won’t be tidied up anytime soon.
A few days later, Steve Ruddock over at OnlinePokerReport suggested that 888 were in talks with PokerStars Californian opposers The Pechanga Band of Luiseño and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians to become their online poker platform of choice should we ever get a fully regulated and licensed online poker market in the state.
Bits and Bobs
The WSOP Circuit (WSOPC) will return to King’s Casino, Rozvadov in the Czech Republic looking to make it the biggest WSOPC event ever held outside of the States. The event organisers are willing to put up €2.2m in guarantees.
The iPoker Network pissed off their punters by secretly raking rebuys and add-ons during a multi-table tournament (MTT) schedule change that went down as palatable as a sea slug. Then they pulled out of the Ukrainian market without offering up a reason.
PokerListings announced the shortlists for their 2016 Spirit of Poker Awards. Categories include Most Inspiring Player, Rising Star, and Living Legend. My votes go to The Jungleman, Rainer Kempe and Barny Boatman.
PKR partnered with Evolution Gaming to offer their customers a Live Casino alternative; Max Pescatori teamed up with 505 Games and Pipeworks to launch Prominence Poker on the Xbox, PlayStation and Steam platforms, and former WSOPC gold ring winner, Travell Thomas, wants Attorney Preet Bharara thrown off his case because he believes he has a thing against black people. Thomas is facing a possible 40-year jail term for his part in an illegal debt collection agency scam.
Time, ladies and gentlemen.
Someone has just called the clock.