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Eager Anticipation for the World Poker Congress
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Whispers of anticipation are already being heard regarding the third annual World Poker Congress which will run at the end of October in Hungary's capital Budapest. The Marriott Hotel based 2 day conference is aimed at connecting the online and land based wings of the industry.

The integration between the two sectors of the business can not be overstated and the conference will give poker providers and operators the opportunity to hear from experts regarding recent economic boundaries faced by both areas as well as other crucial issues, with keynote panels featuring such figures as Mr. Lipscomb of WPT Enterprises. Issues that will be dealt with will include discussions specifically regarding the joining of land-based and internet poker facilities, women as a significant demographic group within the poker group, how to make existing products more efficient as well as looking into how to expand them, and discussions of differing needs presented by the growing market, amongst others.

Mr. Lipscomb's support of the conference is complete and he believes that "The growth of the World Poker Conference is a testament to the essential maturation of our industry…People should participate in this dialogue - it will help us create the future together."

To be represented at this year's conference will be the European Casino Association who will be providing information regarding the land based side of things; the conference will also be studded with networking events, and of course considerable sponsorship; with a very selective audience, the conference promises to be an eye-opening experience for those considered to count.

Affleck Takes PPA Win at Democratic National Convention
Saturday, August 30, 2008
The Poker Players Alliance charity poker tournament, Poker at the Ball Park at this year's Democratic National Convention couldn't have been won by a bigger superstar. Ben Affleck is of course best known for his silver screen performances, but it seems that we might be seeing a new direction for the 36 year old from California.

Having reportedly recruited the help of poker pro and teacher Annie Duke, Affleck took first place in the California State Poker Championship On June 21st 2004, and this week, 4 years latter, he repeated his performance by knocking out stars Sarah Silverman, Richard Dreyfuss and Montel Williams as well as professional poker players Andy Bloch and Barry Greenstein to take first place.

Despite being a lobby group the Poker Players Alliance was given the go ahead to run the event at the National Conference having shown that all of it's proceeds were to go to charity; and that that they did - $60,000 was raised and will be donated to the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Whilst Affleck is quite open about his support for Democratic presidential candidate Barrack Obama, the Poker Players Alliance can afford no such luxuries of favoritism, and will be running a similar event in Minnesota next week at the Republican National Convention.

John Phan Takes First WPT Bracelet
Friday, August 29, 2008
It was nail biting times at the Bicycle Casino in LA as the World Poker Tour Legends of Poker tournament heads up play kept onlookers entertained for hours.

As the 6 remaining players of 373 came for the last day of play it was Amit Makhija who led the pack with nearly a million dollars more than his closest rival, John Phan. It took 93 hands and 5 hours for it to be just those two left, and a further 3 hours and 64 hands for a winner to be determined.

The chip lead position went back and forth several times, in some cases having all on the edge of their seats. Going into heads up play Amit Makhija has the lead with 6,520,000 to John Phan's 4,680,000, but which remained roughly the case until Phan spectacularly took the lead on hand 105 when Makhija went all in on a Phan 1.2 million raise. Phan had a wander about and a think, and eventually declared "I call". With everything to play for Makhija shows 2-h, 2-s; Phan A-d, K-c. The flop provides a J-c, 4-s, 3-s which still leaves Makhija in the lead with his pocket deuces. The turn comes out a J-d, and the river a K-s. The game isn't over, and Phan takes the lead at 8,940,000 to Amit Makhija's 2,260,000.

3 hands later, Makhija is able to win back a little, and on hand 112 the chip counts are fairly even, only for the balance to be tilted again in the favor of Phan 9 hands later when he calls Makhija on a 400,000 raise and a 1.5 million river bet. That isn't the end of it however, and the chip lead keeps going back and forth several times between the two until, with a 7,000,000 deficit, Makhija moves his 2.04 million all in. Phan calls and shows pocket threes whilst Makhija shows K-d, 7-d. The table comes out Q-s, 5-h, 5-c, A-s, 10-s.

With much cheering from the crowd, the Californian Phan took his first WPT bracelet and first place prize of $1,116,428

Phelps Offered a Golden WSOPE Opportunity
Friday, August 29, 2008
It wasn't long ago that we reported Michael Phelp's desire to have a go at adding a WSOP bracelet to his many gold medals won at the Olympics, but who could have thought that the opportunity would present itself so quickly.

One of the leading online betting and sports book providers has offered to pay Phelp's £10,000 buy-in for the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event to be held between September 27th and October 2nd in London's Casino at the Empire, Leicester Square.

This year will be the second season of the Word Series of Poker Europe and will consist of 4 events, one more than its first year which attracted a total of over 630 participants. The four events running this year are anticipated to attract even larger crowds than last one, with the addition of an extra No-Limit Holdem event to the original No-Limit Holdem, H.O.R.S.E., and the Pot Limit Omaha that players will remember from last year. The series will run between September 19th and October 2nd.

EPT Nominations
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
There has been much speculation surrounding the awards ceremony to take place on September 9th in Barcelona preceding the beginning of the fifth European Poker Tour season. The awards will be granted to exceptional players from season 5, and a shortlist for the "best newcomer" prize has now been released.

The shortlist consists of 5 candidates all of whom are considered to have made outstanding performances in the last season of the European Poker Tour and thus are being recommended for commendation. The five nominees for the prize are:

Trond Erik Eidsvig: Trond Erik Eidsvig, of Norway managed 5 cash finishes and 3 final tables, one of which was his fifth place position at the Barcelona event which contributed roughly a sixth of his full poker earnings for last year of 1.5 million dollars.

Denes Kalo: Denes Kalo of Hungary made quite an entrance onto the poker stage at last years EPT during which he took the second place position at the EPT Baden Classic, and to everyone's surprise, the same position at the EPT Grand Finale at Monte Carlo. His earnings from the tour where one and a half million Euros, but his achievements were really priceless.

Jason Mercier: Jason Mercier qualified through an online satellite for the EPT San Remo event; a live event unknown, he left his native Florida where he works as a teacher and in great style swiped the Italian first place position.

Annette Obrestad: This young Norwegian woman is simply captivating, and whilst not a complete novice in the poker world, having won the WSOPE Main Event, she was still outstanding in her performance, and still not having turned 20 years old, she took a runner up position at the EPT Dublin Open.

Mike McDonald: This Canadian was no stranger to poker, but a fledgling in the live event world. He won the EPT German Open, having been so close to a final table position in Prague.

Do Dominates APT Charity Celebrity Challenge
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Whilst the tournament itself won't technically get under way for a few hours yet, the Asian Poker Tour did in fact get off to a roaring stat as Vietnamese-American pro poker player, Quinn Do won the celebrity poker challenge. It was mostly celebrities from Hong Kong who were left to face him at the final table, but ultimately it was Cantonese music personality Renee Dai who lost out with a 3, 5 against Do's J, 5, and David "Chino" Reem who came in third place.

200,000 HKD will be donated to the Caritas Macau Charity on account of the win, and in a matter of just hours, the second leg of the four stop Asian Poker Tour will start for real. Running from August 27th to 31st, the event will be hosted by the Galaxy StarWorld Hotel and Casino and will offer the largest guaranteed prize pool to be found in the whole of Asia - $1,500,000 which equates to a first place prize of $500,000. The buy-in is $5,000 + $300.

Poker Room Heralds New Popularity for Hard Rock
Saturday, August 23, 2008
A long term favorite, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas has always been lacking an important feature – a poker room. For the 15 years of its existence it has come to represent the best a hotel casino can be, and now, finally, the picture is complete as the recently opened 18 table poker room makes its debut.

Of course, however, in true Hard Rock style, the poker room isn't just a poker room – it's a whole lot more. The designers at Zeff Designs have taken the poker room concept and merged it with a night club setting to create a multi-faceted room and experience that provides quite literally everything one could need for an evening's, or even a week's entertainment. The lounge is shaped like a tear drop and features a full bar and lounge, private VIP rooms, bottle service, iPod stations, and big screen TVs. Not only this, but new players are able to get lessons – free of charge.

The room is incredibly plush with dark wood and leather seating for absolute comfort, and the presence of video pokers will soon be added to with high denomination slot machines, and a satellite sports and racing ticket booth.

Regarding the games on offer, Houston Waldie, Director of Poker Operations commented, ""There is not a game we won't take the lid off of. If there is a demand for a game, we will spread it." In addition one should expect to find some unique game twists, for example a No-Limit game with kills and also games with straddles. The room will also feature a good array of tournaments including deep stack structured tournaments with buy-ins of $330 and $540, and SNGs with buy-ins of $65 ranging up to over $2,000.

Poker in the Park takes London's Leicester Square by Storm
Friday, August 22, 2008
To say it was the best fun seen in Leicester Square in ages would I suppose depend a little on taste, but for the poker players of the British Isles, or even those with just a passing interest in the sport, last weekend's Poker in the Park was simply phenomenal.

Right outside where next month's World Series of Poker Europe will be hosted, professionals gathered to share expertise and tips with the fans, whilst the fans gathered to partake in the free roll tournaments that started every hour throughout the 2 day poker bonanza. The site was studded not only with stars but with a poker academy, poker rooms and poker book sales points. The event that ran from 4 p.m. on Friday to 6.30 p.m. on Saturday saw a 90 table hall for No-Limit Hold'em hourly free roll tourneys, and a lecture sequence with some big poker names discussing such issues as "Insight into Omaha", "Cash Games vs. Tournament Poker", "Tells: Reading opponents through body language and other tales", and "Table Image: Dominating the table using table talk to bully opponents". All of this was interspersed with signings and demos.

An estimated 25,000 people turned up to Poker in the Park, and led one organizer to comment, "this proves that poker is as popular in the UK as it is in America, and the UK public is ready for more, bigger, and better poker events".

Phelps to swap Medals for Bracelets?
Friday, August 22, 2008
Poker, and especially the World Series of Poker has never been entirely for professionals, and with a final table coming up in a few months with a majority of amateurs, this has never been truer. In addition, the face of an actor, a singer, or a sportsman has often been spied around the tables vying for a well coveted WSOP Bracelet.

It would be fair to say that Michael Phelps has reached and far exceeded the top of his field; having won 8 gold medals in 7 consecutive days at the Beijing Olympics, it isn't every man who can say he's won 2 Olympic golds in a day. It now seems however that the 23 year old from Maryland may wish to trade the chlorine for cards: Phelps is ready to hit the felts.

“I believe it can be great to play in the World Series of Poker,” said Phelps, “My game is a little off right now, so I am going to have to begin advancing it a bit more. However, I believe that can be wonderful, and it can be fun to get together with some of those poker guys.”

Phelps has nearly a year to improve his game if he wants to be a serious contender in the 2009 Main Event, but with this young man one gets the impression that he can achieve anything he puts his mind to, and then anyone else holding cards should watch out!

WPT Enterprises Inc Face Further Setbacks
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Only weeks ago, WPT Enterprises Inc announced huge losses in the second quarter of 2008, and now another blow comes for the poker giant. WPT Enterprises Inc. is the parent company of the well known and much loved World Poker Tour which is gearing up for its Bicycle Casino World Legends of Poker event starting in just 3 days in California.

As the World Poker Tour goes strong, however, the daddy company is reeling after receiving last week a NASDAQ Staff Determination Letter. The letter was written in order to notify the company that it was not complying with the minimum requirements for NASDAQ stock listing prices. The reason is a run of consecutive closure prices of lower than $1 for 30 business days. The upshot could be delisting of the company from the market although a WPT Enterprises inc. representative commented that "This notification has no effect on the listing of the company's common stock at this time".

The letter was received on August 14th and WPT Enterprises Inc has 180 days to rectify the situation in order that the representative's comment will remain true. The only way to comply with the minimum requirements is to close for 10 business days consecutively with a value of $1 or over per stock. WPT Enterprises Inc spokespeople indicated that this should be possible and that the company is confident in its ability to do so.

With revenue drops of 2.6 million dollars in the second half of this year, the stock prices seem to be reflecting insecurity towards the future of the company. However, WPT Enterprises Inc. executives have explained the losses as a result of lower income from television deals, and thus does not represent a decline in the sport or the direct sporting activities of the organization. With a new deal announced for the televisation of next season's World Poker Tour on Fox Sports Network recently finalized, and a move towards sponsorship emphasis, there is no reason to believe that the future isn't bright for WPT Enterprises Inc.

WSOP Finalist Pledges to Cancer Charity
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
There were a lot of reasons given by the World Series of Poker powers that be for a delayed final, some good some less good, but the delay has given players time to think and get themselves together, and one of them has announced that some good will certainly come out of it.

Dennis Phillips, an Account Manager for a local trucking company in his home town of Cottage Hills Illinois, has announced that however well he does in November, he will be donating 1% of his Main Event Final Table earnings to the Prevent Cancer Foundation's Bad Beat on Cancer fundraiser. Phillips will be the oldest player at the table, but has expressed his desire to keep on working even after the game is over. Having won entrance into the Main Event via a $200 buy in satellite tourney, Phillips has commented that "Charity involvement has always been an important part of my life" and that he is "thrilled to contribute a portion of my WSOP earnings to the Prevent Cancer Foundation." Phillips has been described as a "stand-up guy" who's very down to earth and wishes to simply share his good luck. He has already been involved with a number of charities specifically for Multiple Sclerosis.

Bad Beat on Cancer isn't the first charity to appeal to poker player and organizations for pledges, with the idea that high profile benefactors will help raise not only money but awareness of their cause.

Oscars for Poker Players?
Monday, August 18, 2008
Okay, so it's not quite the Oscars, but a new to the European Poker Tour and a novel idea to live poker tours in general, the EPT is said to be holding on September 9th it's first ever award ceremony. The ceremony will be held in Barcelona just hours before the first tournament of the fifth EPT gets under way in the Casino Barcelona.

The rumors are that there will be seven awards presented in total, the winners of which will be determined by different sources. It is believed that some will be chosen by an expert panel including Vicky Coren, Lee Jones, John Duthie, and John Caldwell, whilst others will be chosen by the media, or by online voting. The idea of the awards is to recognize great play and great players that were seen in season IV.

Better Than the Mile High Club
Monday, August 18, 2008
When Bill Shiver of Houston took part in the Continental Airlines' OnePass 21st Birthday Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament hosted by the Golden Nugget, Las Vegas, he might have imagined that he could take the first place prize, but surely couldn't have expected it.

None-the-less, the amateur player who has been frequenting friendly games for around four years did in fact take the first place prize – a prize of $21 million worth of bonus frequent flyer points. Shiver commented, "It was a wonderful experience … I didn't talk to anyone - win or lose - who didn't have a great time. I feel very fortunate and really lucky to be a winner."

Shiver wasn't the only winner; the top ten received bonus miles also, but of fewer amounts – the second place prize of 1 million dollars of bonus frequent flyer miles was won by David Michaels of California.

In total 243 players took part in the tournament, all with hopes and dreams for the first prize which would cover 200 business class round trip tickets to Europe. Shiver is already planning at least one of those European flights with a trip to Italy, as well as a Mediterranean cruise and a packed cross country football schedule.

Vegas Goes Virtual
Friday, August 15, 2008
On August 18th 1868 Helium was discovered, on August 18th 1920 the nineteenth amendment to the American Constitution was ratified guaranteeing women suffrage, in 1969 on the same date Jimi Hendrix played the unofficial last day of Woodstock, and on 18th August 2008 another last day will be seen.

The Excalibur Poker Room in the Excalibur Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas will close at 2 am on August 18th. It will remain closed for several days, but then like a phoenix it will rise again, but in such a different from that it's going to make history.

The Excalibur Poker Room is likely to reopen on either Thursday August 21st, or Friday August 22nd, and when it does so it will be the first electronic poker venue in Las Vegas.

The twenty or so poker tables that have contributed to the Excalibur's reputation as one of the friendliest and most approachable casinos on The Strip will be removed during the days of renovation and replaced with the latest in poker technology - PokerPro Electronic Tables. There will be 12 electronic tables in total from which the casino will be running tournaments and cash games.

Electronic poker tables have already been installed in other parts of the country for example in the Trump Plaza Casino poker room in Atlantic City, the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, and north of the border in Quebec's Casino de Montreal. For the most part the introduction of the machines has proven popular in these casinos, largely due to the financial benefits for the player. An automated system ultimately spells less rake and no need for tipping; that being said, some regulars at the Excalibur have expressed concern over the change in atmosphere the shift is bound to create.

Remote Gambling Association Endorse UIGEA Clarification Act
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Last week Republican Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas introduced H.R. 6663, a new bill that if passed will help to clarify some of the terms used in the UIGEA such as "unlawful internet gambling". The UIGEA or Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in 2006 but has hit stumbling block after stumbling block due to its lack of clarity and enforceable policy.

Days after the new resolution was introduced to the house, the Remote Gambling Association, a major lobby group representing remote gambling companies, voiced their support of the bill. The logic behind the support is that the bill will focus more on online sports betting and sportsbooks than it will on online poker, and thus, the RGA hopes, will allow for the return of major poker companies to return to the United States market.

The RGA has been central in the fight against the US demonization of online poker and it was due to the work of the RGA that the European Union Commission began to investigate the US anti-gambling acts as violating free trade agreements between the US and EU countries.

Not all online poker advocates have come out in favor of the bill however, and in fact the Poker Players Alliance has taken issue with some of the language used in the bill. The bill states that the UIGEA has created a situation in which internet poker is illegal; a situation that will need to be looked at in the future. The PPA understands that this may be an implication that poker is in fact illegal and thus refuse to lend their name to the bill.

It is unclear at this stage whether the bill is likely to be passed or indeed when, as summer break followed by a lead up to presidential elections may create a long pause for the movement of bills such as this one.

EPT; The More The Merrier
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
It was going to be 9 stops and now it'll be 10. The European Poker Tour has announced the addition of another stop in its 2008/2009 season on the road to Monte Carlo.

October 28th to November 1st will see a €4,350 No-Limit Texas Hold'em 4-day event hosted at the Las Vegas Casino, Budapest, Hungary. The Las Vegas Casino is part of the luxurious Sofitel Hotel, and the tournament will be capped at 500 players, making the tour a ten stop tour.

This isn't the only news from the EPT tour however, as they have also announced a new system which will aid players with their hotel bookings. The new service is enabled by the EPT's purchase of block rate rooms at the hotels association with the stops on this years EPT tour. Thus, as a centralized site, all bookings for all stops can be made easily and at the best rates.

Last but not least, a new "high roller" tournament is going to be run along side the London leg of the tour, on October 5th and 6th. The event will be a No-Limit Texas Hold'em tourney and has already earned the nickname "EPT 1 million Pound Showdown". The buy in will be £20,000 + £300, and the prize pool, as the nickname suggestions, will be a million pounds.

UK Gambling Commission Report Reveals Surprising Remote Gambling Results
Monday, August 11, 2008
In September of 2007 the UK government put into effect the 2005 U.K. Gambling Act which amongst other things enabled online gaming companies to be licensed by a government authority and to advertise via UK media. It was largely believed that with the added security of a known and therefore trusted licensee as well as the effect of the advertising that gaming would increase in popularity and many even worried about the central stage it would take.

However, some of the information in the 2008 annual report delivered by the UK Gambling Commission which surveyed 8,000 adults, surprised critics and supporters of the act alike.

When asked about partaking in remote gambling, be that from a pc, mobile phone or interactive television, 8.8% of those participating said that they had partaken in remote gambling within the last month. This figure showed no move from the figure in the 2007 report. In addition the demographics of players are more or less the same as they were in 2007, with men aged between 18 and 44 being the most likely to partake in remote gambling, although the number of women who participate did increase by .5% in the past year from 6% to 6.5% of those asked. In addition, the National Lottery appeared as the greatest reason for remote gambling, with 6.2% overall saying that they had gambled remotely on the National Lottery, whilst without the National Lottery the figure for those partaking in remote gambling drops to just 5%.

These results will surely reopen the discussion of the validity of legalized controlled online gaming, whilst causing those opposed to reconsider their positions.

Full 2008 USPC Schedule
Monday, August 11, 2008
September 14th; Limit Hold'em, $300 + $40
September 15th; Seven Card Stud, $500 + $50
September 16th; Seven Card Stud Hi/Low 8 or better, $500 + $50
September 17th; Omaha Hi/Low 8 or better, $500 + $50
September 18th; 2-Way P/L Hold'em & P/L Omaha, $500 + $50
September 19th; H-O-S-E (Hold'em-Omaha H/L-Stud-Stud H/L), $500 + $50
September 20th; No Limit Hold'em, $500 + $50
September 21st; No Limit Hold'em, $300 + $40
September 22nd; Seven Card Stud, $300 + $40
September 23rd; No Limit Hold'em (6 max.), $300 + $40
September 24th; P/L Omaha Hi/Low 8 or better, $300 + $40
September 25th; No Limit Hold'em, $300 + $40
September 26th; No Limit Hold'em (6 max.), $500 + $50
September 27th; No Limit Hold'em, $1,000 + $80
September 28th; No Limit Hold'em Seniors Only (50 yrs.), $300 + $40
September 28th; No Limit Hold'em Ladies Only, $300 + $40
September 29th;No Limit Hold'em, $300 + $40
September 30th; No Limit Hold'em (6 max.), $300 + $40
October 1st; Omaha Hi/Low 8 or better, $300 + $40
October 2nd; Pot Limit Hold'em, $500 + $50
October 5th; No Limit Hold'em Main Event (Day 1), $9,700 + $300
October 6th; Seven Card Stud, $300 + $40
October 6th; Day 2 - No Limit Hold'em Main Event
October 7th; No Limit Hold'em, $300 + $40
October 7th; Day 3 - No Limit Hold'em Main Event
October 8th; P/L Omaha Hi/Low 8 or better, $300 + $40
October 8th; Final Table - No Limit Hold'em Main Event

2008 United States Poker Championship News
Monday, August 11, 2008
The 2008 United States Poker Championship is just around the corner, and the final schedule for the 24 event series has been set. The championship, held at the Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City will begin on September 14th and run through to the $10,000 Main Event, the final table of which will be played on October 8th.

Last year's $606,095 winner of the Main Event will be returning next month to give it another go, but he and other returning players will find a couple of changes to the schedule. New this year will be a H.O.S.E. event along with a mixed Pot Limit Omaha/Hold'em tournament, to go along with the 11 No-Limit Hold'em events of which one is for ladies and one is for seniors. For the most part the buy-ins are pretty low with only 2 events from the whole championship having buy-ins of over $500+$50.

Novice wins LAPT Uruguay
Sunday, August 10, 2008
It was an action packed three days at the Mantra Spa Resort Casino, and yesterday evening saw the end with what some may call a surprising result.

Play yesterday began with 3 eliminations in quick succession starting with Paulo Cesar Ribeiro who lost out in one of his first hands to a preflop raise by Jose Miguel Espinar, who would eventually go on to win the tournament. Juan Jose Perez went out also at Espinar's hand, in 7th place. Sidney Chreem who had started the day with the shortest stack, was the next to go taking 6th position and $34,045.

The fast and furious start slowed down to a more regular pace after the elimination of Chreem, and it was several hours before the next player went to the rail; Gylbert Drolet of Canada. Alexandre Gromes who had started the day with the chip lead came out worse for wear from an all in flop bet with Alex Brenes, leaving the former with the fourth place position and $68,100 and the latter with the chip lead with just three players left.

Again another period was endured of back and forth play before the next elimination which came only 2 hours later, and it was former eliminator Lisandro Gallo who was eliminated in third place leaving the Costa Rican Brenes and the Spaniard Jose Miguel Espinar to fight it out for the first and second place positions. Going into heads up play Espinar had a slight chip advantage over Brenes with 1,993,000 to 1,528,000 but with the imbalance of experience it was really anyone's games.

No big mistakes were made, and for several hours the heads up play stayed on an even keel, but finally after more levels were plaed than were scheduled for, Brenes was crippled on an A,10 vs. A,9 face off, and the next hand saw him going all in with Ah, 10c, against Espinar's Kc, 3c. The flop came out Kd, 7c, 9c, with a 4s turn and 9s river crowning Espinar as champion.

Espiniar of Spain has been playing poker for less than a year, and this is his second major first place win.

LPT Final Day Final Table
Saturday, August 9, 2008
The weather is fine today in Punta de Este. The sun is shining over the Mantra Resorts Spa Casino, and a pleasant 61 degrees with a gentle wind from the North makes this Jewel in the Uruguay cost simply idyllic; and for those remaining in this, the last stage of the first Latin American Poker Tour, it could all get a lot better.

351 entrants took part in the third and final leg of LAPT Season 1, creating a total prize pool of $851,175, and a first place prize of $241,735, the winner of which will be determined in the course of today. Going into the day, it was Brazil that was best represented with 3 of the final 8 hailing from Uruguay's northern neighbor, the other 5 coming from Canada, Spain, Argentina, and Costa Rica.

Day 2 was exciting, with 90 players returning and half the field eliminated by the end of the fourth level, with some big names going to the rail in this clear out, including Mark "PokerH0" Kroon and Greg Raymer. Once the bubble burst with the elimination of Jamal Kunbuz, the remaining players started falling like flies; Humberto Brenes was just one of the fallen.

Going into day 2 the chips were stacked like this:

1. Alexandre Gomes - 763,000
2. Gylbert Drolet - 691,000
3. Jose Miguel Espinar - 675,000
4. Lisandro Gallo - 465,000
5. Alex Brenes - 457,000
6. Paulo Cesar Ribeiro - 281,000
7. Juan Jose Perez - 167,000
8. Sidney Chreem - 93,000

However, at the time of writing, it can be confirmed that Juan Jose Perez went out in 8th place taking with him $25,535, and Sidney Chreem has been eliminated in 7th place with $34,045. More to follow as the day progresses.

WSOP Europe: London Looming
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Leister Square, London, and more specifically the Casino at the Empire in Leister Square, is where the WSOP Europe tournament will be held in just a few short weeks. This is a major change from last year's event in which the action was spread across three Harrah's owned casinos in the capital.

2007 was the first year of the World Series of Poker Europe event and followed the buying of the World Series of Poker name by Harrah's in 2004 and their purchase of 3 London casinos; the Leister Square, Fifty, and The Sportsman. It was in these three casinos that the event was hosted last year.

Unlike the World Series of Poker in America which has had its Main Event established as an annual Las Vegas happening since 1970, the WSOP Europe came into an already established market with some large recognized poker events already being very successful. Thus, WSOP Europe is using well known online poker sites to help establish this event as the large player in the field that it should be, as well as offering satellite contests in America to qualify for it.

The WSOP Europe will consist of four events:

Event #1: No-Limit Hold'em, £1,500 buy-in – 4 day event with 2 day 1s. Starting on September 19th.

Event #2: H.O.R.S.E., £2,500 buy-in – 3 day event. Starting on September 22nd.

Event #3: Pot Limit Omaha, £5,000 buy-in – 3 day event. Starting September 24th.

Event #4: World Championship No-Limit Hold'em, £10,000 buy in – 6 day event with 2 day 1s. Starting September 27th.

All games have no re-buys or add ons.

Expected to be spotted at the Empire will be high profile players Chris Ferguson, Erick Lindgren, Daniel Negreanu, Jennifer Harman and Phil Hellmuth, the latter of which stated "I would like to make history by becoming the first American to win a bracelet in Europe." Also of interest, Ivan Demidov, Peter Eastgate and David "Chino" Rheem are all expected to be playing in at least one of the events, as part of their preparation for the WSOP Final Table in November, or just to earn a little spending money for the event.

Doyle doing Asia
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Macau will be the second leg of the 2008 Asian Poker Tour, and as of the last couple of days stands to hold an extra appeal for those already thinking of going. As if the field wasn't daunting enough with the likes of J.C. Tran, Nam Le, and Quinn Do as well as the 2008 Asian Poker Tour Philippines champion David Saab, one of the founding fathers of the poker world as we know it, Doyle Brunson will be in attendance also.

The Asian Poker Tour is a four stop tour, and last year which was its inaugural year broke records for the biggest poker tournament in Asia. Brunson's attendance, along with his son Todd Brunson who has become a poker name in his own right, stands testimony to the success of this tour, and the serious nature of its organizers and participants. The steps taken to secure the success of the tour by organizers including the guaranteed prize pool of $1.5 million and a minimum first place prize of half a million dollars has obviously paid off.

Tournament Director Matt Savage commented:

"We are proud to have the number one name in poker, Doyle Brunson attending the Asian Poker Tour…Doyle is the one player who has seen it all in the poker industry so it is appropriate that he will be there to witness the next boom - poker in Asia”

The Macau leg of the tour will be hosted at the prestigious Galaxy Starworld Hotel and Casino, where play will begin on August 27th and run through to August 31st. Whilst in Macau, Doyle is expected to take part in a full diary of other activities ranging from an APT sponsored side game to book signings.

Bernard Lee Book Launch
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
When Bernard Lee took the 13th place prize in the 2005 WSOP Main Event, he knew that he was better than the 5,606 other entrants, but where that was going to take him was largely anyone's guess.

It didn't take long however for Lee to find himself not in the glitz of online poker rooms, but in the sturdy surroundings of the Boston Herald. For the Boston Herald, Lee wrote a column that can be still seen in the newspaper today, dealing with various issues relating to tournament play poker. Included in the column one will find real scenarios which are used to illustrate recommended game play, and offer a peep into the tournament poker world.

Lee has now taken his column one step forward by compiling a book based on the columns he's already written, called The Final Table Vol. I. In this book, Lee will embellish on previous material he wrote, adding extra insight as well as providing poker fans with new material.

One of the reasons that Lee's column has been such a success is the sheer ease with which he is able to explain some of the most complicated elements of tournament play. The Final Table Vol. I. promises to be an asset to anyone who takes learning tournament poker seriously. However, the book is really a stepping stone for Lee into the visual and audio media world, Lee comments:

"I never really had aspirations of being a writer, it literally just landed on my plate…The other stuff, the TV commentating and the radio shows, that I probably had a little more aspirations for. But it's funny that the writing was the launching pad for all of that."

Bernard Lee continues to play poker and has had 5 cash finishes this year. His book is available in bookstores and online.

Poker Chip Poisoning
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Of all the concerns usually associated with casinos, lead positioning doesn't often figure amongst them. That was until a TV exposé shook up the casino world in the most surprising of ways.

The TV exposé in question was aired in November of 2007, and bought to the attention of the public the high lead content in one particular leading brand casino chip line. The claim of the program was that the centre piece of the chip is particularly high in lead content and that simply handling these chips could result in toxic levels of lead exposure.

The next event in the chain was a public alert being released by the Arizona Department of Health and Services, which was cancelled shortly afterwards following independent investigations that failed to discover the same results that the TV show had done, thus showing the TV results to be unsubstantiated. This was more or less then end of the story in Arizona, where it was largely shown through independent testing that lead poisoning was not possible through contact with poker chips.

However, this wasn't the end of the story in large. The Center for Environment Health in California, or CEHCA, a non-profit group working to protect the community from chemical toxins, caught onto the problem and maintained that the chips called into question in the TV show do indeed contain unhealthy toxin levels, not just in there centre parts but also in the dyes used for the outside part of the chip. Not only this, but they also showed, that these chips are used in over 90% of California's largest casinos.

Ensuing talks between the major parties, namely 21 major Californian casinos, CEHCA, and the chip manufacturer, resulted in an agreement in which lead-free chips will be introduced by the beginning of November this year, all of which will conform to a .005% maximum lead content.

And so, although you may never have worried about it before; as of November, you never need to worry about lead poisoning in your casino…at least not in California.

November Nine Number Ones
Saturday, August 2, 2008
The purpose of a delayed final table contest for the World Series of Poker Main Event was to allow time for advertising, speculation, and preparation.
We shouldn’t be surprised therefore, when that's exactly what's happening, and already 4 months before the event, preferences are being shown and favorites are being declared.

The fact that 53 year old Dennis Phillips, is chip leader going into the event makes him a natural favorite, however with no championship wins under his belt, and very little high pressure tournament experience, many are looking elsewhere for their likely lad; and eyes seem to be resting on Scott Montgomery.

Montgomery, 26, a resident of Ontario, Canada, stands in third place on the chip leader board, with six million less than Phillips and four million less than the number 2 spot holder, Ivan Demidov of Russia. Also, never having won a major event, Montgomery has finished in the money in a number of high pressure tournaments, and in 2008 at the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic took the 5th place position in a final table which included Phil Hellmuth, Nam Le and Phil Ivey, making him arguably, the most final-table-experienced player of the November Nine. The only one who could really fight that title is David "Chino" Rheem, who exceeds Montgomery several fold in sheer tournament experience as well as top 10 finishes; however with half the chips that Montgomery has, most find it hard to call him a favorite.

That being said, with 10 top ten finishes spanning the last 3 years, including one 1st place win, maybe experience will beat the chips, and Rheem will fight his way up from 7th place position. The next few months will see much studying and tutorship for all, and as the first Final Table of its type, it's difficult to even know if normal rules of predication apply.

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