Calling the Clock: Galfond says no to HUDS, players say yes to SCOOP, and more

Calling the Clock: Galfond says no to HUDS, players say yes to SCOOP, and more

In this week’s Calling the Clock we bring you up to speed with Phil Galfond saying no to HUDs, PokerStars rolling out the 10th-anniversary SCOOP, and much more. 

I’m going to begin my weekly round-up with the mighty PokerStars. partypoker has been giving them a bit of a kicking in the live tournament stakes of late, but when it comes to putting on a humdinger of an online festival, nobody comes close to putting on a show that dazzles like the Stars.

PokerStars is celebrating a decade of Spring Championships of Online Poker (SCOOP) by guaranteeing over $110 million in prize money, making partypoker’s $40m guaranteed POWERFEST seem positively Lilliputian in stature.

Calling the Clock: Galfond says no to HUDS, players say yes to SCOOP, and moreOne of the early winners was Niall “Firaldo87” Farrell who took down Event 3 (H): $2,100 NLHE Progressive KO. The most successful Scottish poker player of all time, outlasted 577 entrants, bringing home $118,054 in bounties, and $101,854 for first. Farrall beat the Mexican maestro JC Alvarado in heads-up action.

Javier “minusth3bear” Zarco topped an exhilarating final table in Event #4 (H) $2,100 NLHE. 675 entrants created a $1,350,000 prize pool, and the Spaniard banked $233,909.37. The double World Poker Tour (WPT) Main Event winner Aaron “aaronmermel” Mermelstein finished third. The eight-time SCOOP winner, Calvin “cal42688” Anderson finished sixth, and the Aussie Millions Main Event winner, Toby “810ofclubs” Lewis was denied becoming a Triple COOP winner finishing in eighth.

At the time of writing, 15 events have passed into history, 84,109 entrants have taken part, and Stars divided $8,834,071.40 between 13,310 players.

The arrival of SCOOP sees American-based poker players jetting all over the world in search of a country sensible enough not to believe online poker is the Devil’s game.

Last year, one of these jet-setters was the 2016 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event runner-up Gordon Vayo. According to reports, Vayo played out that series in neighbouring Canada and put in a decent shift winning a $1,050 NLHE Phased tournament for $692,461; only PokerStars refused to pay him.

PokerStars established that Vayo was using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) during his win, and assumed this meant Vayo was playing in a country that didn’t allow their citizens to play on PokerStars for real money (like the USA).

A year-long investigation ensued. PokerStars refused to cough up. Vayo has since put his mega millions to good use by hiring a costly lawyer to get his money back, and the cheek of it – PokerStars was still showing Vayo as a SCOOP winner up until the lad’s lawyers pointed out the move.

Moving swiftly on from the online arena to the live one and the European Poker Tour (EPT) stop at Monte Carlo came to an end with a driving instructor from Paris winning the €712,000 first prize. Nicolas Dumont only played in the event because a buddy had paid for the seat but couldn’t make the trip. What a reserve. David Peters (4th), Patrik Antonius (6th) and Ole Schemion (8th) also made the final table. Dumont aside, two other players who finished EPT strongly were Albert Daher and Justin Bonomo. The Israeli won two events (a €1k and a €25k), and the American won two €25k games, making four final tables.

And in a bid to keep the EPT on an even keel (or better) than the MILLIONS brand, PokerStars have hired Danny McDonagh for the role of Executive Tournament Director. McDonagh will oversee Toby Stone and the team, and will act as a conduit between Stars and the players.

McDonagh enjoyed a decade with PokerStars in various roles in the Asian-Pacific region before resigning a few years back, and this week that part of the world got a tad complicated for PokerStars. In the wake of the Chinese Ministry of Culture’s ban on social poker apps, PokerStars decided not to renew their contract with the City of Dreams ending the PokerStars Live experience. PokerStars chiefs are still likely to set up camp somewhere in the region once legal eagles can figure out the government’s plans.

partypoker Copag Deal 

With PokerStars banging out the hits with SCOOP, partypoker has been doing likewise with the $40m Guaranteed POWERFEST. I don’t have any big name victories to bring you, because there hasn’t been any. Given the size of the partypoker tribe, I am sure it won’t stay that way for long.

Off the felt, and partypoker signed a deal with Copag to become an official live tour partner. The Brazilian card manufacturers will provide the decks for all partypoker LIVE events beginning with MILLIONS UK in September.

World Poker Tour: Greenberg Bags a Title, Bellagio HR Hits Luxor; Gilmartin Gets Cast 

The last I checked, the World Poker Tour (WPT) also used Copag cards at most of their venues. This week the baddest live tour in North America focused its attention on Las Vegas, namely The Bellagio Elite Poker Championship.

I think the schedulers made a hash of this one with EPT Monte Carlo and MILLIONS North America attracting players like neck braces attract hard up scam artists. The event only pulled in 126 entrants. Lawrence Greenberg took it down, banking $378,879 in the process.

The event also had a somewhat unusual $25k High Roller.

54 entrants entered, and the action stopped with six left. The final table plays out in a fortnight’s time at the Esports Arena Las Vegas. Tom Marchese leads an all-star cast. The Arena belongs to the WPT’s sister company Allied Esports hence the marriage.

And finally, WPT anchor, Lynne Gilmartin inched closer to her bucket list entry to win an Oscar when she revealed on Instagram her delight at being cast in the role of an Irish pisshead in the upcoming indie movie How do You Know Chris? Gilmartin is a Hollywood Immersive alumni.

Bits and Bobs

Calling the Clock: Galfond says no to HUDS, players say yes to SCOOP, and moreNiall Farrell joined 888Poker’s 8-Team promotion. The recent SCOOP winner will act as Wingman for Chris Moorman as Team UK hope to bag a 2019 WSOP Main Event seat for each other and a lucky online qualifier. Expect 888Poker to reveal the other wingmen and wingwomen in the coming weeks. I wrote about the deal here. 

I talked to the former professional poker player, Tyler Hancock, about his most recent entrepreneurial endeavour, StakeKings in StakeKings & RotoGrinders Join Forces to Launch Fantasy Sports Staking. 

I grabbed five minutes of Alex Dreyfus’s time to learn more about his latest esports venture in Alex Dreyfus gets spicy with blockchain, crypto, crowdfunding startup chiliZ. 

For my Gambling Marketing Musing column, I went on a first date with Matt Berkey’s Solve For Why Academy. Phil Galfond said no to HUDs, and I cover that decision in Phil Galfond And The Impending Battle With Thanos. And PokerGO will provide fans with some pre-Super High Roller Bowl nourishment with the release of INSIDERS – an exclusive behind the scenes peek at Daniel Negreanu, Brandon Adams, and Seth Davies as they attempt to win $5m.

Time ladies & gentlemen, please.

Someone has just called the clock.