Calling the Clock: WSOP in China deal; Stars save PKR players, and more

TAGs: Calling the Clock, Editorial

In this week’s poker news round-up the World Series of Poker agree a ten-year deal with Tencent Holdings to grow the game in Asia; PokerStars buy the $2m lying in PKR accounts and decide to give it back to PKR players, and much more.

The biggest news story has to be the World Series of Poker’s (WSOP) signing a 10-year partnership deal with the Chinese investment holdings company Tencent.

To pinch the grey matter of Alex Dreyfus, Tencent is the owners of League of Legends and Supercell, they are the largest shareholder of Activision, owner of WeChat, and of course, the 100 million registered accounts that play on Tencent Poker.

So what does this mean?

It means there is more Chinese money in the poker industry than sets of false teeth in the Seniors Event. The World Poker Tour (WPT) belongs to OurGame, the most significant investors in the Global Poker Index (GPI) & Global Poker League (GPL) are from that neck of the woods, as is the largest individual investor in PokerStars.

As part of the deal, the WSOP will teach Tencent staff to run a live poker tournament to WSOP standards. The WSOP will also host gold bracelet, and gold ring events, in China. The first event, christened “WSOP China”, takes place in December 2017. According to Seth Palansky, VP Corporate Communications, for Caesars, the event will be held in Hainan and will be a freeroll with the winner earning a gold bracelet. The partnership also opens up the possibility that the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific (WSOP-APAC) brand comes out of mini-retirement.

The other interesting statement in the press release was the WSOP’s willingness to venture into esports, which makes sense, considering Tencent’s huge imprint in that market.

Calling The Clock: WSOP in China deal; Stars save PKR players, and moreAre we going to see a poker/esports hybrid bracelet in the future?

“It just seems smart to learn from others who are doing big events well,” said Palansky. “We are not sure what it will mean for us, but Tencent puts on the biggest events in this arena, and we are excited to see what elements can help improve the experience for poker.” 

The world is changing, and the WSOP wants to be a part of the changing world – as it should be.

According to a blog post written by Dreyfus, the deal between the WSOP & Tencent has taken two years of hard work.

From the blue sky thinking office tables, to the tables where that thinking comes to life, and we have a few WSOP bracelets to catch up on.

Elior Sion won the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship for $1.4m. It was the UK’s fifth bracelet, meaning they will finish second in the Countries by Bracelet category, behind the USA, if an Austrian, or Russian, doesn’t win both the Little One for One Drop and the Main Event.

The unlikeliest of heroes has surfaced in the shape of the second player to win two gold bracelets at this year’s event. Coming into the 48th Annual Festival, no player from India had ever won a gold bracelet. That changed when Nipun Java and Aditya Sushant won the baby tag team event. And Java won his second bracelet in the baby online event (Java also made the final table of the WPT500 ARIA). David Bach is the other player to win two bracelets.

James Calderaro took down the $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller for $1.2m, Chris Klodnicki finally won a bracelet in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event, and Harrison Gimbel became the second player in the summer to win a Triple Crown after taking down the $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em event.

The Australian cash game player, Heidi May, won the $10,000 Ladies Championship; Jason Gola won the baby Razz, defeating a final table that included Phil Hellmuth, and Shai Zurr won the $1k Turbo.

And Mike Wattel is everyone’s hero after he beat Chris Ferguson in the heads-up phase of the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship. A victory for Ferguson would have seen him take the lead in the Player of the Year race. Now Ferguson has also hit the rail in the Main Event; it’s highly unlikely that he will now win the award (although there is a part me that wanted him to win it just to watch the mess unfurl from the sidelines).

And if you want a WSOP bracelet, but didn’t have the time to make it to Las Vegas, and can’t be arsed waiting for Rozvadov, then head to eBay. The WSOP kindly agreed to auction one of the unused bracelets in the $10,000 Tag Team Championships (Liv Boeree & Igor Kurganov won the four-person team event), with all proceeds heading to Raising for Effective Giving (REG).

PokerStars Save PKR Players; Hire Jeff Gross; Sponsor 100m Race 

PokerStars has saved the accounts of the now defunct 3D online poker room PKR. With the company torn apart by the judicial system, PokerStars stepped in to spend $2m to take on 60,000 PKR accounts. PKR players who have PokerStars accounts can log on to find their funds. Those that don’t will have to open a PokerStars account to access and withdraw.

“It was the right thing to do for poker,” said a PokerStars representative. 

In other PokerStars related news, the online poker room has hired Jeff Gross to act as an ambassador for the site; sponsored the IAAF Monaco Diamond League 100m Race in Monaco, including asset Usain Bolt, partnered with the UK digital media giants Unilad, and launched the MEGASTACK format in New Jersey.

The Best of the Rest 

Jeff Gross wasn’t the only player snapped up by an online poker room this week. Partypoker was also adding to the payroll when the Argentine Richard Dubini joined the team to help grow brand awareness in Latin America.

The WPT announced plans to enter the German market for the first time. The WPT European Championships will take place at the Spielbank Casino, Berlin, in January 2018. The WPT will live stream the final table, and record it for televised broadcast.

Poker Central announced plans to resurrect the High Stakes cash game show Poker After Dark, promising to show a mixture of cash games and sit n go’s. Daniel Negreanu and Antonio Esfandiari will appear in the first episode.

The WSOP released the shortlist for the Poker Hall of Fame, this week. Here they are:

David Chiu
Mori Eskandani
Ted Forrest
Thor Hansen
Phil Ivey
Mike Matusow
Max Pescatori
Matt Savage
Huck Seed
Dave “Devilfish” Ulliot

I shared my view on who I believe will make the grade, right here.

I talked to the Unibet Ambassador, Ian Simpson about his poker routines and habits, Ignition was brave enough to offer Australian poker players a place to ply their trade, and former Intabill chief, Daniel Tzvetkoff, appeared in the CourierMail talking about his new business – a vertical farm that grows herbs and edible flowers.

Time, ladies & gentlemen, please.

Someone has just called the clock.


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