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Mexico LAPT Champion Finally Crowned
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Unlike the World Series of Poker Final Table which was meant to incur a delay of several months, the Latin American Poker Tour had no planned delay but received one anyway. After 3 months however, the champion has finally been crowned and everyone can breathe easy again.

As everyone will remember, in December of last year the 242 players in the Nuevo Vallarta Main Event had been carved down to 89 when local officials came in and closed the whole show down. At that point prizes were given out depending on the stacks at the time of close down; however, PokerStars also ran a free-roll in order to get down to the final 9 so that a live final table could be played prior to the Uruguay stop. Well the Uruguay stop is here, which means, time for the Mexico Final Table!

Going into the final table PokerStars had contributed $50,000 meaning that the final 9 were playing for a first place prize of $15,000. It was American Rory Cox who dominated the play with nearly half of all the chips to himself through most of the day. None-the-less play stretched on into the wee hours, not least of all because of some titillating heads-up action. The first to be eliminated from the final table was Victor Ramdin of the USA and he was followed by Alex Brenes who was pushed out at the hand of Pavel Naydenov. The eliminations came quite fast, and not just a couple were at the hands of Cox. Going into heads up play, Cox was showing more or less a 5:1 lead over fellow American Helen Prager, but that wasn't to say that it was plain sailing. Prager doubled up twice, and by the time the dinner break came around, Prager was in the lead. Following dinner it was a bitter struggle of back and forth, but in the end Cox got the upper hand when Prager went all in to Cox's 72,000 raise from the small blind. For Cox it was As, 10s, for Prager, Kh, 7d. The board came out Ac, Jh, 8c, 5s, Js, and Cox got his trophy.

Bay 101 Shooting Stars Here We Come
Monday, March 16, 2009
Monday March 16th, it can only mean one thing – the beginning of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Championship! Held at the Bay 101 Card Room, San Jose, this is one of the most exciting stops in the WPT schedule, for player and spectator alike.

What makes this tournament so special? Well, that would be the Shooting Star element of it. The capacity is capped at 400 players, and amongst those 400 who will be split over 2 day ones, there will be approximately 80 "stars"; these stars are of course there to win, but they are also there to provide an extra something for the non-stars - a bounty. The tournament has a $10,000 buy-in and the first place prize is expected to reach into seven figures, however, if you knock-out a star, you get a $5,000 bonus even if you don't make the money bubble! In addition to this, the chip leader at the close of play on each of the day ones will be awarded $10,000.

Some of the stars to playing on each day one are as follows:

Day 1a: Andy Bloch, Todd Brunson, Hoyt Corkins, Allen Cunningham, Freddy Deeb, Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth, John Juanda, Erick Lindgren, Jonathan Little, Mike Matusow, Nenad Medic, David Pham, Joe Sebok, Erik Seidel, David Singer, Gavin Smith, and Paul Wasicka.

Day 1b: Defending Champion Brandon Cantu, David Chiu, T.J. Cloutier, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Barry Greenstein, Jennifer Harman, Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, Kathy Liebert, Daniel Negreanu, Scotty Nguyen, John Phan, J.C. Tran, and Jerry Yang.

The tournament schedule will look like this, in local time:

Monday, March 16th, Day 1a: 10.45, play through 10 levels.
Tuesday, March 17th, Day 1b: 10.45, play through 10 levels.
Wednesday, March 18th, Day 2: 10.45, Play to 36 players.
Thursday, March 19th, Day 3: 12.00, Play to 6 players.
Friday, March 20th, Final Table: 16.00

Players will start with $20,000 in chips; day ones will have one hour levels, whilst day 2 and 3 will have 90 minutes levels. The winner of the tournament will receive a $25,500 WPT Championship seat as well as the cash payout, and if a "star" wins, they will win their own bounty too.

EPT Dortmund Winner Decided
Sunday, March 15, 2009
It was an exciting evening in Dortmund, with lots to play for and some surprising outcomes.

Following the eliminations of Cengizcan Ulusu, William Thorson and Luca Pagano, the remaining 5 went for their dinner break, and on their return Naujoks started breathing fire; she won a bunch of large pots, and was ultimately responsible for the fifth place elimination of last year's winner Mike McDonald. It was at this point that Naujoks took an enormous chip lead, and final day original chip leader Johan Storakers fancied his chances against her but lost when his A,Q was outranked by her A,K and off he went in the fourth place position.

3 handed play was therefore a battle of the Germans; Marc Gork, Holger Kanisch, and Sandra Naujoks, and an hour was all it took to get that down to two. Gork was the man to say goodbye but not until he had given a good fight, even taking the chip lead at one point. The final hand was a Kanisch raise from the button, a Naujoks call from the small blind and a Gork all in; Kanisch folded, Naujoks called. The 2c, Qd, 5c, Jd, 5h board gave Naujoks' pocket 7s the advantage over Gork's, K,10.

Heads up play got off to a slow start, but soon turned into a chip lead battle that was finally knocked on the head when Naujoks' pocket Aces tore strips off of Kanisch's pocket Jacks and she doubled up to more than 5 million. Level 30 was the final level of the day, and with 100,000 big blinds slow was the name of the game. The final hand however came with Naujoks throwing in 300,000 and Kanisch raising to 1,000,000; Naujoks goes all in and Kanisch calls. It was touch and go as Kanisch's strong A,Q was looking good against Naujoks' A,9, however a 9 on the turn was all she needed, and the title was hers.

EPT Dortmund Final Table Catch Up: Level 26 and Counting
Saturday, March 14, 2009
William Thorson has become a regular at the EPT has been having a great few days here in Dortmund. Beginning the final table with 829,000 Thorson was surely in a great place for finding his way to heads-up play. Not to be however; an hour and forty minutes into play Thorson took a huge whack when he called a Holger Kanisch all in only to be killed on the turn and he found himself with only 400,000 left. From that point on it was less than 20 minutes before Thorson took his leave, taking €116,500 with him.

A chip lead battle ensued around 3 hours into play, and Johan Storaker who had come into the day the strongest retook his chip lead position from Holger Kanisch, and as level 26 turned into level 27 it seemed like a new sheriff was in town; McDonald started pulling the punches, and play started moving. Just 5 minutes before the dinner break, another EPT regular, Luca Pagano busted out. A move from the button and a call from Marc Gork saw his pair of 7s just not hold up; Pagano leaves in sixth place with €153,000.

So that's the most up to date news from Dortmund; lots still to play for, and lots still to tune in for.

EPT Dortmund Final Table Catch-Up: Up to level 25
Saturday, March 14, 2009
There's a great crew out there today at the final table of the EPT Dortmund stop, with all the character one could hope for a great final day of play here in Germany. As the player grab a well deserved dinner break, let's have a look at what's been going on, and what we still have to look forward to.

Two of the most exciting faces to see around the table; Returning title holder, 19 year old Mike McDonald has been a star throughout this show, and hasn't lost his sparkle as the end nears; he's young but he seems to be determined, and starting the day with 746,000 he certainly started with some space for improvement, and he certainly has the means to do it. Sandra Naujoks, the only woman in the final is one of the newest recruits to the PokerStars team. Naujoks won the 2008 CAPT Baden Poker Em in December of last year, and she also beat Alexander Kravchenko when she won the Casinos Austria Poker Tour European Championship. She's a fairly new face in tournament poker, but has already made her mark, known online as "The Black Mamba. Naujoks, joins fellow Germans Holger Kanisch who has had experience of live tournament play both at the WSOP and the APPT, and Marc Gork who has impressed everyone not only with his poker play despite confessing to being "not even half a pro" but also his incredibly pleasant demeanour throughout the tournament.

Cengizcan Ulusu of Turkey would be the player at the table that most people know the least about, except for that he was doing very well. Coming into the day with 537,000, Ulusu was the first to go however, after just one hour of play. Having been seriously disabled by an early hand against McDonald, Ulusu found himself in a three-way with Johan Storakers and Marc Gork; a three-way he wouldn't come out of; Ulusu left with €83,500, his biggest tournament win to date, having started playing Texas Hold'em only last year – congratulations!

The International Scope – Online Poker around the World
Saturday, March 14, 2009
It often seems like all the legal poker news is very North-American based, but in recent days there have actually been significant movements in various countries regarding online and offline poker play.

The Philippines has not had any problems with online poker, however the Philippine Daily Inquirer recently reported that new laws may be in the pipe-line that may make the Philippines a far less online-gaming friendly place. The bill that's being proposed comes from the Alliance for Rural Concerns and if passed will prohibit the use of the internet for betting purposes.

Much better news in France; after long discussions with the EC, representatives of the French government announced last week that they will be changing their legislation in order to accommodate online gaming in France. The move will allow online gaming providers to operate within the French market, and this week it was confirmed that online poker would be taxable at 2% under the new legislation that is likely to come into effect early next year.

Israel has faced a more brick-and-mortar issue as the Israeli Police are upholding a ruling from the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court that was passed last June, and has banned the going ahead of the Israel Poker Association's annual championship. The championship is a major event in the area and the ban is being bought for appeal by IPA.

Last but not least, a some-what surprising vote from the European Parliament which seems to counter much of what the European Community seems to be working for. The vote dealt with the concept of creating a single market for all EU member states for the purposes of online gaming, as there is for other industries; a nonbinding resolution was the vote and a rejection of it was necessary in order for an open market to be created, and the ability for the decisions regarding online gaming to be made by a central government rather than each individual country. The vote came out 544 for the nonbinding report, 36 against it, and 66 abstentions, meaning a rejection of an open market for online gambling in Europe.

Tel Aviv Company Spells Tata to Online Cheats
Saturday, March 14, 2009
As they say, one man's blessing is another man's curse, and after the year or so we've had of online poker scandals, the news coming from CogniSafe Ltd. spells out a blessing for online casinos, and a big "beware" sign for any potential online cheats.

Tel Aviv based software development company, CogniSafe Ltd. have announced that it has completed development on a program that whilst running alongside regular online casino and poker room software will have the ability to detect in real time the use of virtually any form of cheating. The software which has been aptly named PitBoss will not interfere with the running of the software but will be able to sense the use of hacking, bots, software cheats, and even collusion. With the information collected by the software the casino will then be in a position to terminate that player's game immediately and take what ever actions it deems fit, thus thwarting any ongoing drawn out fraud plans that have been seen of late in the online poker world. The Chief Technical Officer of the company developing the software, Shmuel Konfoty, stated:
We are excited to be able to offer a complete solution to online cheating that works across a large variety of game types. Whether gamers are playing card games such as poker, or board games such as chess or almost any other form of game, we have a proven solution to any potential cheating scenario.
The software is already available for purpose, and if it does what it says it does, it is set to make the online poker world a significantly safer and fairer place.

German Landslide at EPT Dortmund
Friday, March 13, 2009
The prize-pool created by the 667 entrants to the EPT German Open was €3,335,000, and a first place prize of €917,000; the money was reached in yesterday's day 2 of play.

252 players returned for day 2 of play and some surprising early busts kept the action interesting, amongst them Sebastian Ruthenberg and Davidi Kitai, whilst those to fall before the money bubble was burst included Alex Kravchenko, Markus Lehman, Soren Kongsgaard, and Julian Thaw. It was touch and go as to whether defending champion Mike McDonald would make it to the event at all following a problem with his passport in Canada, but he did make it and qualified in day 1b. Day 2 saw him have good and bad spells, but the good finally triumphed, and he finished the day in 5th place. The cash bubble was reached after around 8 hours of play, and it was Toby Newton who was the unfortunate bubble boy.

One of the wonder stories of the day must surely be that of Steve Jelinek. The British player went into day 2 with just 20,000 chips to his name, but at the close of play he boasted fourth place position in the chip leader board, and an impressive 347,000 chips.

At the end of the day a mere 34 remained, half of which are from the host country of Germany, including the top 3 on the chip leader board. Today will see those 34 reduced to 8 who will reconvene on Saturday for the final table. The top ten chip leaders going into day 2 are:
  1. Holger Kanisch, 526,500
  2. Marc Gork, 441,500
  3. Sandra Naujoks, 410,500
  4. Steve Jelinek, 347,000
  5. Michael McDonald, 337,500
  6. Umberto Vitagliano, 325,500
  7. Cengizcan Ulusu, 286,000
  8. Brandon Hall, 249,500
  9. Martin Bjerring Hansen, 248,500
  10. Florian Langmann, 245,500

EPT Dortmund Day Ones Round-Up
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tuesday and Wednesday saw the two day ones of the European Poker Tour Dortmund main event, to which a total of 664 players came out to give it their best shot. This year's €5,000 + 300 event, held at the Casino Hohensyburg was significantly larger than the same event last year which attracted only 411 players; an increase of over 50%. Returning to protect his title was last year's winner Mike McDonald, and he got off to a good start.

Day 1a saw William Thorson stomp his way forward managing to transform his 10,000 into nearly 85,000 by the time play was over, with Robert Zipf, of Germany, coming in second with just over 72,000. Those who were lost along the way in day 1a included Barny Boatman, Ivan Demidov, and Rasmus Nielson. In total of the 306 that registered on day 1a 115 were to survive the 8 levels of play to merit returning for day 2 of play.

Day 1b saw a larger field than day 1a, with 358 players of which 137 would return for day 2. Swede Thorson was to lose his overall chip lead to Germany's own Marco Noll before the day was out, leaving him as the only player to have broken the 100,000 mark going into day 2. It was day 1b that saw Mike McDonald hit the felt, and he's going into day 2 in 9th position, whilst other notables going forward include Max Pescatori and Luca Pagano. Not to make it through were some of the biggest-name entrants, for example Clonie Gowen, Peter Eastgate, Bertrand Grospellier, Jesper Hougaard, and Marcel Luske. The chip difference between number 1, Marco Noll, and number 10, Petter Petersson going into day 2 is an enormous 38,900.

Watch the National Heads-Up Poker Championship on NBC
Thursday, March 12, 2009
We spent last weekend glued to our screens looking for updates on the 2009 NBC National Heads-Up Championship, and we watched Huck Seed win the day. However if you would like to watch all the action, rather than read all the action you'll be able to do so in a 6 week series of Heads-Up Championship coverage on NBC starting from April 12th. The coverage will be as follows:
April 12th: 12 Noon – 2 p.m.
April 19th: 12 Noon – 1 p.m.
April 26th: 12 Noon – 2 p.m.
May 3rd: 12 Noon – 2 p.m.
May 10th: 12 Noon – 2 p.m.
May 17th: 12 Noon – 3 p.m.
All times are Eastern Time, and local listings should be checked for Pacific Time.

Seed out-seeds them all
Monday, March 9, 2009
All eyes were on everyone during the NBC National Heads Up Championship, but always for different reasons; Huck Seed, previous WSOP Main Event winner, had eyes trained on him because he has always finished in the money in this event, and curiosity was high as to whether he could continue that run this year – as it turned out, Seed far exceeded those expectations.

Of course one of the elements of fun with a heads up championship is that the list of those fallen is as exciting as the list of those who survived, and in Seed's wake he left Jonathan Little, Gus Hansen, Glen Chorny, David Oppenheim, Sam Farha, and finally Vanessa Rousso who had previously eliminated no other than Doyle Brunson, and was the first woman to get this far in this tournament.

Seed won the Canadian Open Poker Championship last year, and has had nearly 100 cash finishes over his 19 year professional career, amounting to over $4 million in cash prizes. One of the more modest of today's poker players, Seed is on the Full Tilt Poker Team. Of his final table win last night, Seed commented:
I kind of felt one step ahead the whole way
Seed identified his semi final match against Sam Farha as the hardest of the tournament, when it was very much touch and go as to who would go forward to the final. Seed said:
My match against Sammy, I was kind of low on energy…I was getting frustrated, a little stiff in the chair
Seed celebrated his $500,000 win last night by lifting his trophy and going to bed – a tiring day for all. Vanessa Rousso cashed out with $250,000, whilst Seed's $500,000 is his biggest win since his 1996 $1 million WSOP win, and his second biggest prize ever.

Full Tilt Poker Montreal Open - Be there or be…
Monday, March 9, 2009
Le Windsor Montreal will be the setting for the biggest broadcasted charity tourney in Canada, and it's set to be a good one. The Full Tilt Poker Montreal Open is aimed at combining great poker play and fantastic prizes, with a good cause, in this case the Miriam Foundation which works to help those with intellectual disabilities in practical and educational ways.

The event is the 4th of its type to be running and will begin on March 29th, and run through to April 1st, offering a $250,000+ prize pool; for many however the most exciting element of the prizes on offer will be the opportunity to win 10 WSOP Main Event seats. The tournament will work like this; qualifying nights will be played on Sunday March 29th, Monday 30th, and Tuesday 31st, from which the last 100 or so players, will return on Wednesday for a final round qualifier. Of those approximate 300 Wednesday night players, the 20 left standing will receive a package including flights and hotels to Las Vegas on May 15th-18th, where they will play for the prize-pool worth over quarter of a million dollars. The top 10 players will get their seats at the 2009 WSOP Main Event plus cash prizes, whilst the 1st place winner will receive in addition to this a VIP package from Montreal to Vegas as well as an hour long lesson with a professional of the Full Tilt Poker team, a bunch of whom will be on hand during the tournament.

Registration is open now online or can be done at the door, providing there is enough space; organizers are expecting around 1,800 players to turn up, so it might be worth getting that buy-in in quick. The buy in for the tournament is CAN $275, and the qualifying nights will have add-ons and re-buys.

Less than 24 Hours for Next EPT Stop
Monday, March 9, 2009
It only seems like yesterday, that the fifth season of the European Poker Tour got underway in Barcelona, but it was actually a full 6 months and 7 stops ago. As the German Open is on the verge of opening, the end of the tour is in sight, with just 3 events left.

The Casino Hohensyburg, Dortmund is the destination of poker players today, as the casino revs up for the €5,300 buy-in, 700 player capacity tournament that will get underway tomorrow, Tuesday March 10th and run through to March 14th the winner of which will find him or herself at the Monte Carlo Grand Final at the end of next month.

Players will all start out with 10,000 in chips, and the blinds will begin at 25/50. Play will be getting underway each day at 2 p.m. and each level will last for 60 minutes. The schedule for the five days of play looks like this:
Tuesday, March 10th: Day 1A, play through eight levels
Wednesday, March 11th: Day 1B, play through eight levels
Thursday, March 12th: Day 2, play through eight levels, or play down to 32 players, whichever comes first.
Friday, March 13th: Day 3, play down to eight players
Saturday, March 14th: Final table play.
Last year this event had an €8,000 buy-in creating a prize pool of €3,164,700. There were 411 entrants of which 40 made the money. The winner of the event was Michael McDonald who walked away with the €933,600 first place prize. It was McDonald's second first place prize and the biggest win of his career. Whether he plans to return to defend his title is so far unknown. What is known however is that players expected to be spotted over the next two days include William Thorson, Luca Pagano, Bertrand Grospellier, Ivan Demidov and Peter Eastgate; making Dortmund the only poker place to be in this week!

NBC Heads Up Catch Up: Day 1
Sunday, March 8, 2009
With 2 days down of the NBC Heads Up Championship, let's see what's been going on, what the shocks are, and what surprises there may still be in store.

In the luscious setting of the Caesar's Palace the 64 players were divided into 4 brackets; hearts, diamonds, clubs, and of course spades. All 64 knew that by the end of that first day, only half of them would remain and they would form 2 groups; those from the red brackets and those from the black. Only once those groups were to be halved would anyone be walking away with anything; the money bubble bursts in this one at 16, and the minimum payout is $25,000 which will mark also the end of day 2. There was many a punch to be pulled.

Some thought there was a case of confused identity a foot in the diamonds bracket, as Layne Flack who was supposed to be playing Vanessa Selbst looked suspiciously like David Oppenheim; and David Oppenheim it was, filling in for Flack much his joy, as he beat Selbst securing a place in day 2. Other eliminations in this bracket included, Jonathan Little, Antonio Esfandiari, Chad Brown, Greg Raymer, and David Benyamine; whilst some of the survivors include Jennifer Harman and Gus Hansen.

The Hearts bracket saw both Andy block and Erik Seidel go to the rail early on, and Howard Lederer, Johnny Chan, and Clonie Gowen go a little later, as well as the big surprise; J.C. Tran found his end on the first day too! An even bigger surprise however, was the elimination of Doyle Brunson at the hands of Vanessa Rousso – surely a proud day for any player. Last of the day to cut the mustard, and mark the end of the day was Bertrand Grospellier after a difficult battle against Fred Collins; he was the last of the day however, and with him day 2's 32 were set.

NBC Heads Up Catch Up: Day 2
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Two rounds was what the schedule called for, and two rounds was all it took, as the 32 survivors from day 1 returned to Caesar's Palace, and played until the semi-final number of 8 was reached. One of the joys of an invitational such at the NBC Heads-Up Championship is that everyone is a great player; so surprises are always possible, but shocks are rare.

The first round of matches bought much tension with them, as it was these who were to determine who would finish in the money and who would leave simply $20,000 poorer. The day was to look like this; the first 16 matches would see 16 leave penniless and 16 remain, guaranteed at least $25,000. Of those 16, another 8 would say good bye, with a $75,000 before the day was out, leaving just 8 which would mark the end of the day, and set the scene for today, day 3 of play.

Those to fall before the money included Peter Eastgate, Gus Hansen and Jerry Yang, whilst the winners of the $25,000, meaning they lost their second match included Kenny Tran, and Erick Lindgren. A highlight of the day was seeing a rematch of last years heads up game between Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan, but this year a reversal of fortunes was to occur, as Hellmuth sent Dwan to the rail. Bringing a little light, or is that freakiness, to the show was Daniel Negreanu who facing Scotty Nguyen dressed up as him! The whole shebang, all the way down to the jewellery! Sadly for Nguyen it wasn't all fair in love and war, he was sent to the rail by his mirror image.

For the 8 still in the game, there is of course everything to play for, with that $500,000 first place prize shining bright. The semi finals begin today at 11 am.

World Poker Tour becomes really worldly
Friday, March 6, 2009
Did you ever wonder why the World Poker Tour never really seems to go around the world? Well, with the latest addition to its schedule, you won't be able to ask that question any more; as the WPT leaves Europe and North America, and heads for Africa, we'll be watching with avid interest!

The WPT Marrakech is going to be the first World Poker Tour Event to be seen on the African continent and will most likely be the biggest poker spectacle ever hosted in that country. The events will be recorded for television broadcasting, and are scheduled to get underway in October. For those wishing to find their way to Morocco, there will be satellites running via various online poker sites, and they may even start to appear from latter on in this month onwards.

The event will be held at the Casino de Marrakech which is set in the luxurious and luscious grounds of the Es Saadi Gardens & Resort. The casino was the first casino to be established in Morocco, in 1952, and today is one of the most attractive destinations for tourists and local big-spenders alike including a club and theatre.

Morocco has been growing in popularity as a holiday destination over the last decade and today is a one of the most trendy choices for European travelers. So, whether it's for the WPT alone, for the sun, or to see the country that gave us Rich Blaine and "here's looking at you kid", this is certainly a big move for the WPT and may be for you too.

Big News for French Online Poker
Friday, March 6, 2009
Yesterday, March 5th, in Paris, Eric Woerth the French Budget Minister was scheduled to make a statement to the press regarding new requirements that online gaming companies will have to adhere to in order to receive a gaming license from the French government. The press statement was also to deal with the tax rates that would apply to such companies who gained the license. Prior to the announcement it was unclear as to if the policy would be applicable to just sports betting or if it would include poker and casino gaming too.

It was good news all round however, at Woerth did cover all aspect of online gaming, announcing a 7.5% tax on sports betting and horse racing, and a mere 2% tax on online poker, and furthermore confirmed suspicions that the French market should be opened up by January 1st, 2010.

The change in policy comes after a long period of discussion between the French government and the EU regarding France's possible breaking of EU trading standards which dictates that all EU based companies should experience free trade within the EU, a policy that is clearly violated by a country's banning of an industry. Up until now the Francais des Jeux and Pari-Mutuel Urbain had a throttle hold on the French gaming market, making it a French monopoly and clearly problematic to other EU country based companies.

The new legislation that will enforce this new age for online gaming in France, will be drawn up over the next few months and is expected if passed, to be in place by the beginning of next year.

The End of an Era?
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The Mirage, the Bellagio, the Luxor, the MGM Grand; these are just some of the casinos and hotels owned and run by MGM Mirage in Las Vegas alone. MGM Mirage came into being in 2000 with the merger of MGM Grand Inc. and Mirage Resorts Inc., and since then has been a leader in the casino development and management industry. However, as the date came, and went, for the announcement of the company's fourth quarter financial report, eyebrows began to rise and feet began to tap.

News did come, but it was bleak; last week an MGM Mirage representative announced that it was using a $4.5 billion revolving credit facility and that it was to be using its last reserves. Those last reserves amount to over eight hundred million dollars, however the announcement was enough to cause the credit rating and individual debt rating of the company to be lowered by 3 of the biggest credit facilitators, namely Standard & Poors, Fitch and Moody's.

In a notice issued earlier this week, from MGM Mirage to the Securities and Exchange Committee, the company said that they were not able to submit their filings as their condition is not yet determined, and further stated that it feared a default on 2009 loans, and that it is in talks to remedy the situation. MGM Mirage received a new date for the fourth quarter financial report; March 17th.

The practical implications of this news are not yet clear, but coming not long after Trump Resorts' filing for bankruptcy, industry insiders fear that this may be the beginning of a all-to-frequent occurrence. Nevada gaming revenues have been in steady decline over the last 6 months. MGM Mirage is involved in a new $9 billion project, and has debt repayments for 2009 alone of $1.2 billion.

WPT Enchanting Invitational
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
As day one drew to a close on the poker personalities, singer stars, and Hollywood hotties, it was John Phan, winner of 2 previous WPT events who was leading the way, just clear of Scott Clements. The starting line up of 433 was downsized to a mere 128 for the begging of day 2, with some big names still in the game including Mekhi Phifer from ER, William Hung from American Idol and Scott Ian from Anthrax. Not to be outranked by the celebrities, the poker players were still present in force, including Chris Ferguson, Scott Clements and Andy Bloch.

By the time the final table was reached, the poker player-celebrity ratio had somewhat shifted, with the only celebrity amongst the 6 being actor Nick Gonzalez, who at the beginning of final table play was neck and neck with Freddy Deeb. Leading the table was Tom Hall with 2,310,000, and trailing behind was Ottavio Tassons with just 850,000. It was the actor who was to create the first causality of the day, as Jose Tavares lost out to Gonzalez's pocket aces, whilst Scott Clements knocked out Ottavio Tassone in fifth giving him the chip lead. Not to last long however, due to 2 double ups, one by Gonzalez the other by Deeb, and Clements soon found himself short stacked, and ready for a gamble. Going all in on an A-9, Tom Hall took Clements for all he had, and Clements said good-bye with the fourth place prize of $15,000.

3 handed play lasted 31 hands, but ultimately it was Hall who would make the way for heads up play, and it was Freddy Deeb versus Gonzalez. You've heard of a one punch knock out; well that's what we got! Maybe the shortest heads-up play ever seen, Gonzalez took the second place prize of $50,000 and Deeb took the first place prize of $100,000.

The first day of this tournament saw a re-buy period in which players could freshen up their stacks with a re-buy of $200. Those re-buys were donated to The Vine Group USA. Many players made additional donations to the cause and in total; $78,270 was raised for the charity.

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