Calling the Clock: US Poker Open news; PokerStars and WPN blues

TAGs: Calling the Clock, Editorial

In this week’s poker news round-up we bring you up to speed on the US Poker Open at ARIA, PokerStars and Winning Poker Network woes, a new venue for the World Poker Tour and much more.

Calling The Clock: US Poker Open news; PokerStars and WPN bluesI’m going to split the week right down the middle.



Let’s begin with the smellier version of the game.

The ARIA is the current home of live poker. The US Poker Open debuts with PokerGO, live streaming all of the action, and NBC Sports Group recording it for a future showing on TV.

The US Poker Open follows the same format as that other PokerGO Original: The Poker Masters (except the game types vary and there is no purple jacket). You may remember that Steffen Sontheimer ran away with that thing, and at the time of writing, Stephen Chidwick is doing likewise.

Four of the eight planned events are now relics, and Chidwick has finished ITM in three of them, including winning back-to-back events. The UK pro won the $25k No-Limit Hold’em event for $374,000 and the $25k Mixed Game Championship for $382,500 to take a titanic lead in the tournament overall.

Here are the results after four events:

1. Stephen Chidwick – $810,900
2. Chris Vitch – $247,500
3. Keith Tilston – $242,000
4. Daniel Negreanu – $221,250
5. Justin Bonomo – $190,400

Aussie Millions Round-Up 

Chidwick isn’t the only English rose smelling sweet this week. The former European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event winner, and online star, Toby Lewis, took down the largest Aussie Millions Main Event ever, banking a $1.1m first prize.

Lewis’s victory was the third UK win of the festival, making them the most successful country outside of the home nation (Richard Ashby and Jack Sinclair were the other winners).

The Belgian Kenny Hallaert enjoyed his time down under. The former World Series of Poker (WSOP) November Niner made three final tables, finishing runner-up once, and taking down a Turbo event.

The 2019 Aussie Millions sees a much reduced High Roller schedule after numbers dwindled in recent years. The AUD250k is already dead. The AUD100k joins it in the graveyard. Michael Lim beat 19-entrants to win the $742,223 first prize. Sam Greenwood beat three people (yes, that’s no typo) to win the AUD$50k Challenge. Ben Lamb won the $25k Challenge for $596,194.

Other big names to win a title at the Crown Casino included Daniel Laidlaw, Andreas Klatt, Felix Stephensen and Chance Kornuth.

World Poker Tour: New Zealand, Borgata and NVRFLD 

We’ll remain in Australasia for a short while longer to bring you news of a new tour stop for the World Poker Tour (WPT). The WPTDeepStacks tour is heading to Sky City Auckland, the first time a WPT event has been in that part of the world.

If the WPT DeepStacks event is a success then perhaps the Main Tour will pay a visit? In the meantime, Australasia’s loss is North America’s gain as the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City hosted another huge WPT event this week.

1,244 entrants ponied up the $3,500 buy-in to compete in the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open and Eric Afriat became a two-time champ after taking down the $651,928 first prize.

And the WPT Foundation made some money for charity this week. The charitable arm partnered with Latitude to host a charity poker night called NVRFLD and the pair earned over $1.2m for those less fortunate than the rest of us.

Online Poker News

Moving onto the digital realm and it wasn’t the best of weeks for the Winning Poker Network (WPN) and America’s Card Room (ACR) after Joey Ingram told people to avoid the site.

The award-winning podcast host created an 18-minute video complaining about the explosion of bots, collusion and multi-accounting on the site. Ingram claimed the Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) cash games were affected as were No-Limit Hold’em cash games and tournaments.

Ingram produced zero evidence to back up his claims but has promised to release a more in-depth interview after his email/phone/raven communication systems became log-jammed with responses.

The WPN wasn’t the only online poker operation to have red cheeks this week. It was a big weekend for PokerStars and for once the largest online poker room this side of the Tesla Roadster currently on its way to Mars failed to shine.

For the third successive year, PokerStars held a $10m Guaranteed Sunday Million Anniversary special, and they failed to find the magic number for the first time. Putting things into perspective, the event attracted 34,274 unique entries and 9,701 re-entries, so it wasn’t all bad, but they still fell short of the guarantee by $1.2m. One player who couldn’t care less was a Brazilian low stakes player going by the name of Hulk9950 who won the $950,000 first prize.

While PokerStars officials were left scratching their heads, the partypoker was busy creating a new arm called Team Online. The founding members are primarily from Brazil with Renato Nomura, Lui Martins and Day Kotoviezy joining the team. The Austrian Josip Simunic is the odd one out for now, but you know that won’t last for long.

And Tom Waters and the gang also announced a raft of new changes due for implementation on 24 February and 5 March respectively. The changes include key software improvements, a brand new Power Series and a more lucrative Leaderboard. One of the bright minds behind the changes is Patrick Leonard and the bitB Staking king crowned a good week with a win in the $1m GTD POWERFEST event for over $200k.

While the two P’s were going about their business, the Unibet gang pulled off a pleasant surprise by winning the Online Poker Operator of the Year award at the International Gaming Awards (IGA) in London as well as releasing their 2018 Unibet UK Poker Tour dates for Brighton, Glasgow and Manchester.

Bits and Bobs 

Kfir Nahum defeated a field of 827 entrants to win the $1,100 buy-in Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) Main Event at the Venetian in Las Vegas for $108,410 after agreeing on a deal with Matthias De Clerq right down the middle. A man named Daniel Perkins finished ninth in that tournament, not to be confused with Bill Perkins, the multi-millionaire maybe billionaire who was kind enough to share his thoughts with me on love, forgiveness and learning in an exclusive interview.

Time ladies and gentlemen, please.

Someone has just called the clock.


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