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Main Event Gets Off to a Roaring Start
Sunday, September 28, 2008
It's been a great couple of weeks in London; we've seen surprises, we've been on the edge of our seats, but truth be told – the action is about to get a whole lot better. Yesterday saw 159 people including some of the biggest names in tournament and online poker turn up in Leister Square for day 1a of the WSOPE Main Event. Entrants to the £10,000 buy-in hold'em tourney included the likes of Phil Ivey, David Benyamine, Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, Vanessa Rousso, Andy Black, Joe Hachem, Howard Lederer, Jeffrey Lisandro, Kathy Liebert, Erik Seidel, Andy Bloch, and Chris "Moorman1" Moorman; many of whom have already been seen at one of the 3 previous events making up this tour. In addition to these big names, we also saw a third of the WSOP Main Event table turning up; Craig Marquis, Ivan Demidov and Peter Eastgate, no doubt getting in as much table-practice as possible before November.

As is always, the way, and surely the reason we love this sport; there were surprise knockouts from the beginning, and several of these big name players will not be seen again in day 2 of play. David Benyamie was one such early exit, as was Howard Lederer who grabbed a lot of attention during event 2 of this series. Others to go out were Jason Potter, Layne Flack, Tuan Le, Peter Eastgate, Max Pescatori, Ram Vaswani, Craig Marquis, and H.O.R.S.E. 6th place winner Phil Ivey.

Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth shared a few headlines earlier in the week, but Hellmuth yesterday had a little more luck than Ivey – only a little though. Crippled early in the day Hellmuth did well to stay in the game, and all be it with a short stack, he will be returning for day 2. All round it was a great day of play, and the top 10 stacks from it are as follows:

Justin Smith - 158,925
Eric Sagstrom - 98,750
Andy Bloch - 97,100
Scott Montgomery - 81,650
Ivan Demidov - 73,625
Brandon Adams - 72,475
Mike Matusow - 71,550
Scott Fischman - 70,650
Dustin Dirksen - 70,100
Goran Gratte - 67,725

A Thorn in Kentucky's Side
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Last week we bought news of a move made by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to seize control of and forfeit a number of online gaming domains: Today we can report, that a stumbling block has been thrown in the path of those wishing to close down these online ventures.

In a hearing on Friday, Judge Thomas Wingate granted a continuance which will grant the defense team additional time to prepare their case. The continuance essentially means a push-off, and will be until either the 6th or the 7th of October. Many rumors are circulating regarding already enforced actions under the attempted forfeiture of 141 domain names by State Governor Steve Beshear – but non can be confirmed as yet.

The tactic taken by the Governor against online gaming in his state is a new one, and has been described by the presiding judge as "very complex". One of the issues is that the representatives of the sites are as yet unprepared to provide details and names of ownership. The continuance does not alleviate the need for such information to be provided, and it does not cancel out the seizure of the sites, but rather it simply delays any action being taken until the appointed date.

The Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas commented in Friday's hearing:

The Poker Players Alliance is pleased that the court decided to allow for a full review of this case, including arguments from both sides. Until this point, the state and its hired gun class-action attorneys have acted in an ex parte fashion – only presenting one side of the argument to the court. The continuance granted today will ensure all the cards are on the table and allow the current owners of the domain names of the 141 websites to retain ownership in the interim…The PPA believes that a thorough review of the facts of the case will result in a favorable outcome for the thousands of Kentucky residents who play online poker.

London Lads – Here's Your Chance
Friday, September 26, 2008
With all the money-making in the air, it must be hard on Londoners who aren't able to take a shot at a WSOPE bracelet or even a shot at some fraction of the prize-pools. However, not to worry, because now everyone will have a chance to win a couple of grand – no poker prowess required.

Well, not quite everyone. Lads mostly, and mostly likely-looking-lads at that. Tomorrow, September 27th, at 12 noon is when it all happens. That is when 11-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth will be choosing the person who looks the most like him, and the prize for having such an honor is in deed £2,000. However, the fun doesn't stop there, and some may argue that the cash will be actually overshadowed by the winner's other prize – the opportunity to ride with Hellmuth and his collection of models as he makes his characteristic high-profile, high-glitz entrance to the Casino at the Empire ahead of Main Event play. Known as a bit of a showboat, and certainly a show off, the runaway-kid of the poker world commented:

"I have a great chance to win my 12th bracelet at the WSOPE and break yet another world-record. I am the best poker player in the world, and while I don't have to prove anything to the poker community, it would still be the greatest personal accomplishment to be the first to get 12."

It was less than 18 months ago that Hellmuth broke world records by winning his 11th bracelet – let's see if he can break his own record, all be it with a look-a-like-mascot.

Yet Another London Great
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Everyone knows that it's boring when the news sounds the same the whole time – but what can you do when the World Series of Poker Europe continues to be exciting, captivating, and surprising? You simply have to say, "Yet Another London Great".

Yesterdays' Final day of the £2,5000 H.O.R.S.E. began with 11 players after a grueling day 2; it wasn't long however before Raul Paez, Yuval Bronshtein and Erik Albinsson were sent to the rail, leaving the final 8 for the beginning of final table play. Final Table seating and chips looking like this:

Seat 1: Sherkhan Farnood 88,000
Seat 2: Phil Ivey 139,000
Seat 3: Spencer Lawrence 113,500
Seat 4: Jeffrey Lisandro 165,000
Seat 5: Ivo Donev 65,000
Seat 6: Jeff Duvall 136,000
Seat 7: Howard Lederer 283,500
Seat 8: Mark Gregorich 104,000

In total there was 14 hours of play, which saw Spencer Lawrence go as the first casualty, and the surprise exit in seventh place of Jeffry Lisandro who had started the final table in second place, made it clear that anything could happen in this tournament – A sense that would be compounded by the elimination of Phil Ivey in sixth place after a gradual leaking of chips simply left him grounded. It was with the elimination of fifth place player, Mark Gregorich that we saw the ultimate winner's first elimination. With four players left the chip lead and the short stack circulated, and with the day already getting late, Jeff Duval did the worst out of a Lederer-Farnood-Duval Omaha hi/lo flop see – he left in fourth place with £22,000, leaving the final 3 to battle it out. And battle it out they did – it took 3 hours for Lederer to be eliminated in 3rd place; and a further 90 minutes for Farnood to emerge champion taking his first major first place prize of £76,999. In comments after the match, Afghan Farnood said:

“This is for the people of Afghanistan…Because (I won), all the people of my country have a gold bracelet with me.”

Ivo Donev of Austria took the second place prize of £48,125.

It's Good News for Gambling
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The position of gaming and gambling in the North American public psyche has undergone much upheaval in recent times; on the one hand poker tables have become automated, and casino halls non-smoking; on the other the ongoing discussion regarding the online game has surely effected the land based counterparts. Indeed the last few years have been difficult times for poker players, but a recent report showed that non-online casino play increased last year by 3.7% making the land based casino industry worth in excess of $93 billion, a part of which can be attributed to poker play.

The Casino City's North American Gaming Almanac and CD is considered by many to be the comprehensive guide to gambling in the USA and Canada, and reports virtually every detail of that industry, as well as providing analysis of the information given. The Gaming industry was valued, according to the 2007 report at $92.7 billion where as this years' valuation is over that figure by more than half a billion at $93.37 billion. However, the growth itself has slowed from 8.22% in 2006 to 3.7% in 2007.

That figure of 3.27% which is the an inflation adjusted growth number represents the increase that was seen specifically in card rooms and casinos, meaning that lotteries, and other gaming venues did not contribute to this particular figure. It has taken until now to compile the Almanac and CD, as it does every year, and its difficult to know what the current economic issues will have on the land based gaming and poker industries – however, if the figures of just 10 months ago are any indication, the future does indeed look as bright as the casinos would have us believe.

Kentucky Court Creates Concern
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The commonwealth of Kentucky found its way well and truly into the limelight this week when State Governor Steve Beshear announced that the state plans to seize 141 registered domain names, under the auspices that they are being used for illegal activity – i.e. online gaming.

This all began on September 18th when Michael Brown representing the commonwealth of Kentucky as Secretary of the Justice bought a suite before Judge Thomas Wingate of the Franklin Circuit Court, requesting that these 141 domain names be transferred into the control of the Commonwealth. The tactic was to get control of them and then close them down as illegal operations. The court found sufficient evidence for the plaintiff and set in motion the transfer of some of the domains.

The list of 141 domain names include some of the biggest names in online gaming. Governor Beshear has cited defense of the horse racing industry in Kentucky as his reason for crusading against his citizen's online gaming desires, along with the argument that minors are put at risk by it, and that the United States looses out on taxes because of its offshore nature; he also seemed to imply that national security issues were involved. He commented earlier this week:

“Unlicensed, unregulated, illegal Internet gambling poses a tremendous threat to the citizens of the Commonwealth because of its ease, availability and anonymity…The owners and operators of these illegal sites prey on Kentucky citizens, including our youth, and deprive the Commonwealth of millions of dollars in revenue. It’s an underworld wrought with scams and schemes.”

This move has been slammed by many pro poker lobbyists including the Poker Player's Alliance Executive Director who amongst other things claimed that this action limits citizen's freedoms and opens the floodgates for censorship.

The exact number of the original 141 that were listed that were actually transferred and seized is unclear – some report that only 2 have actually been transferred as all the rest have off-shore domains and therefore the court has no jurisdiction to seize them.

Sunday Night is Poker Night
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Sunday Night is Poker Night – or at least, it is now. The Games Show Network is providing a treat for poker fans across the nation but scheduling High Stakes Poker back to back with World Poker Tour episodes.

As of this evening, September 28th, you can get 8 hours of non stop poker; that's 2 hours of High Stakes Poker starting a 7 p.m. Eastern Time, followed by 2 hours of WPT episodes, another 2 hours of High Stakes Poker, and another 2 hours of WPT. Commenting on the timing of the programming, Kevin Belinkoff of GSN said:

We think poker on Sunday night is a great way for viewers to end their weekend and begin their week…With High Stakes Poker and World Poker Tour, we're proud to have the best poker in the world and we're looking forward to establishing Sunday night on GSN as the home of poker on television.

High Stakes Poker has throughout it's four seasons already aired constantly pushed the boundaries of live cash-oriented TV, as well as providing a huge push for poker into the mainstream. For many, High Stakes Poker was their first poker experience and it was this show that helped them on their way to their own playing. The World Poker Tour episodes will include some of the best plays seen at the tournament, and the two together promise to make a very entertaining poker evening.

Dane Becomes First Transatlantic Champ
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
There has been much talk about when, and who would be the first transatlantic World Series of Poker bracelet winner. Yesterday, those questions were answered. Despite starting yesterday's final table play with quite literally a fraction of the leader's chips, Jesper Hougaard showed the world what he was made of by going on to win the first event of the second annual WSOPE, and the £144,218 first place prize.

Hougaard won his first 1st place position in Vegas this summer when he took down event number 36; another no limit hold'em tournament. However, going into the final table yesterday in 8th place with only 89,000 chips, he must have doubted his chances of repeating the win, despite his brief spell as chip leader in the course of Day 2. But, he, as no-one else, could possibly have predicted the unusual outcome of the day.

Londoner Fuad Serhan was the only player to start the day with fewer chips than Hougaard, but quickly doubled up through APT winner Yevgeniy Timoshenko. The two underdogs, then watched as Daniel Nutt, and then Ian Woodley fell by the wayside. A huge double-up for Serhan thanks to favorite Junglen, and then another through Neil Channing, was just what was needed to steam ahead, and that he did. Linda Lee went out in seventh, followed by Junglen in sixth, John Dwyer in fifth, and Neil Channing in fourth.

As three-handed play got underway, Hougaard was already the chip leader, and it was only after dinner that the Dane eliminated Timoshenko, leaving just the Brit and the Dane to fight it out. Serhan's local support couldn't compensate for the 5 to 1 chip lead Hougaard had on him though, and it took just 5 hands for Hougaard to knock him out, leaving him with the very respectable second place prize of £89,175.

First Worlds Series of Poker Europe Final Table set
Monday, September 22, 2008
In just a few hours, it will be the beginning of the end of the beginning. After a fantastic day 2, the final table was formed, and at 2 p.m. local time the first final table of this year's World Series of Poker Europe will get underway at Leister Square's Casino at the Empire.

Day 1b left Adam Junglen of the United States firmly in the chip leader position, and this remains the case going into the final table. Of the 88 who returned yesterday for day 2, including Brandon Cantu, Andy Bloch, Erik Seidel, and of course Junglen's closest threat Daniel Negreanu, half would walk away empty handed, as position 45 was the bubble number. Included in those who were sent to rail before the bubble money burst were Michael Binger, Erik Seidel, and John Juanda.

Probably most shocking of all was the exit of day 1a run-away-leaders, in the low-range payouts. Daniel Negreanu who was dubbed a favorite after his performance in Day 1a went out in 24th position with £4,305, to be quickly followed by his closest rival from Day 1a Jason Gray who went out in position 23 with the same amount of cash.

Today however, all eyes are looking forward not back, and will be eager to see if Adam Junglen, only 20 years old, can keep his lead against the likes of Neil Channing, EPT Irish Poker Championship winner, bracelet winner Jesper Hougaard, and most recent APT winner, Yevgeniy Timoshenko. Here's the run down of chip counts for the final 9:

1. Adam Junglen – 795,000
2. John Dwyer – 511,000
3. Yevgeniy Timoshenko – 345,000
4. Daniel Nutt – 207,000
5. Neil Channing – 199,000
6. Ian Woodley – 153,000
7. Linda Lee – 121,000
8. Jesper Hougaard – 89,000
9. Fuad Serhan – 61,000

London's WSOPE Just Keeps Getting Better
Sunday, September 21, 2008
With the two first days of the first World Series of Poker Europe event sewn up, it is fair to say that this is going to be a fantastic tournament. Day one with its 191 entrants heralded Daniel Negreanu as the man of the moment and indeed some were even saying that he will become the first to be a transatlantic bracelet winner. Negreanu had a phenomenal day, and with Jason Gray a couple of thousand chips behind him the next competitor was nearly 18,000 behind – making it understandable why some were dubbing this a two horse race. Of those 191 original entrants, only 42 emerged with chips after 13 hours of grueling play; and the day was daubed a success.

However, if day 1a was a success, no body was prepared for what would happen on day 1b. An enormous 219 players turned out for day 1b making this the largest WSOPE event to date, but that wasn't where the real shock came. If Negreanu and Gray thought they were sitting pretty, they couldn't have reckoned on Adam Junglen Juggernauting through. Due to a steady growth based on one phenomenal hand early on, Junglen managed to finish the day with the best part of 9,000 chip up on Negreanu.

The final shock came with the list of those ousted in the two days ones which includes last year's WSOPE Main Event champion; Annette Obrestad. Obrestad rocked the poker world when she took the Main Event bracelet last year at the tender age of 19. Joining her on the rail are John Phan, Allen Cunningham, Howard Lederer, Barry Greenstein, Nikolay Evdakov, Phil Ivey, and Mike McDonald.

The remaining 88 players will return to play today at 1 p.m. local time, all hoping to get one step closer to the £144,218 first place prize.

London Calling
Friday, September 19, 2008
London is buzzing with anticipation, and with the names that are rumored to be turning out at the biggest poker event to hit those shores, it's no real surprise. Last year saw Annette Obrestad, the now 20 year old from Scandinavia, rock the poker world by taking the largest win ever by a female player, and tomorrow we'll begin to see what surprises the second ever World Series of Poker Europe has in store for us.

In a change from last year's format this year's tournament will be hosted solely in Leicester Square's Casino at the Empire, and will be made up of 4 events. The first, beginning today is a No-Limit Hold'em £1,500 + £75 event to get things going, building up then to the higher buy-in £2,500 + £150 H.O.R.S.E. event beginning on September 22nd. The penultimate event will kick off on September 24th, that being the £5,000 + £2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha (Double Chance), and then of course the £10,000 + £350 No Limit Hold'em Main Event.

The relatively high buy-ins mean that the fields are likely to be limited to more serious players only, and hence the numbers that can be found at the Las Vegas World Series of Poker will most likely not be reproduced in England's Capital. However, due to the much younger gambling age in the UK of 18 as opposed to 21 in the USA there are many players for whom this is their only opportunity to take part in a WSOP event. Just such a player is last year's winner, Obrestad, who is confident that this year will be as successful as last year, as she wrote in a blog entry:

"…Ive come up with some pretty cool new stuff that I'm gonna be experimenting with in the upcoming tourneys. Watch out, I'll be making my mark again this year, u wait and see!"

Joining her at the Empire are likely to be Phil Hellmuth, Gus Hansen, Allen Cunningham, Erick Lindgren, Patrik Antonius, Daniel Negreanu, and of course many many more.

One Step Closer to Freedom
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Rep. Barney Frank has been working endlessly for clarification of the very obscure UIGEA that was introduced to law 2 years ago. Yesterday he had some success. The Payment System Protection Act which aims to take considerable strain off of the financial services sector has been voted through as a bill by the Financial Services Committee.

The bill now known as H.R. 6870 will, if made into law take steps to protect the financial services industry from the implementation of the UIGEA which under the current reading of that law denies banking institutions from interacting with gambling sites deemed illegal under the law. In addition the new bill will enforce a stricter and clearer definition of the UIGEA's reference to "illegal online gambling" and thus, many believe, bring internet poker one step further to freedom.

Opposing Rep. Barney Frank in the debate stood, Rep Spence Bachus of Alabama who stands strongly against all types of internet gambling claiming that it puts children at risk of developing gambling problems, and arguing that the ease of payment with credit cards made it dangerous for individuals and without control will result in catastrophic personal financial situations. It seems that he has found the support of several sports organizations.

Supporters of the bill responded that it is not the governments responsibility to control what people do with their time and their money – it is the prerogative of each individual to choose.

A verbal vote was taken following the debate and the bill markup was passed after which a recorded vote was taken at the request of Rep. Spence Bachus – the full recorded vote that took place at the end of the day came down in favor of the bill with 30 votes to 19.

Ruthenberg Shows Barcelona how Poker Should be Played
Monday, September 15, 2008
Ruthenberg became the chip leader very early in final table play at the last day of yesterday's EPT Barcelona Open Main Event, and whilst his heels were snapped at a couple of times, nobody was able to dislodge him from his position. Triumphant after eight and a half hours of play, German WSOP bracelet winner, Sebastian Ruthenberg raised the trophy and pocketed the first place prize of €1,361,000.

Ruthenberg had been in second place going into the final day, but with first place holder Martin Nielsen loosing his control very early on and going out in 8th position before dinner, Ruthenberg became and remained the man of the day. It was only Irishman Fintan Gavin who really challenged him, and it was indeed Gavin and Ruthenberg that found themselves in heads up play. Going into heads-up play with a 5 to 1 chip lead it wasn't really any surprise that it only lasted for 3 hands, and it wasn't really a surprise that Ruthenberg came out victorious. None the less, the tension was palpable at the Casino Barcelona. It all ended with a pre-flop all in from Gavin, which Ruthenberg called: Gavin has a 4-h, 7-c, Ruthenberg a K-c, 9-c. The flop, A-c, 7-h, 2-h, gave Gavin a pair of 7s, but when a K-h came out on the turn Ruthenberg took the lead; Gavin could but hope for hearts on the river. Sadly for Gavin the river was a 9-d, and Ruthenberg took the game. This is Ruthenberg's second major championship win, having taken a WSOP bracelet this year, and having become a professional poker player only in 2007.

Left along the way was Jason Mercier, former EPT champion, and former WSOP bracelet winner, Davidi Kitai. The final table results are as follows:

1. Sebastian Ruthenberg - $1,919,010
2. Fintan Gaven - $ 1,116,720
3. Davidi Kitai - $641,550
4. Daniele Mazzia - $494,910
5. Dren Ukella - $823,440
6. Jason Mercier - $321,198
7. Samuel Chartier - $250,980
8. Martin Nielsen - $167,790

All to Play for in Barcelona
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Play started nearly 6 hours ago, the 5 remaining players are currently on an hour's dinner break; there is everything still to play for in the final day of the EPT Barcelona Open Main Event. Going into today's final table, Martin Nielsen of Denmark was leading the pack of 8 who remained from the original 619 entrants, closely followed by the leader going into day 2, German Sebastian Ruthenberg. The gap between the two was fairly insignificant at only 25,000; whereas the gap between Ruthenberg and the 3rd place chip count holder, Samuel Chartier of Canada, was 325,000.

The beginning of play was a little dull, with the majority of hands not seeing a flop. However within an hour of play Ruthenberg had taken the chip lead position, ruffling Nielson's feathers, and marking the beginning of a downward spiral for Nielson who within 2 hours of play found himself holding 7th place in the chip counts with a meager, 432,000 whilst Fintan Gavin who had been fifth going into the day found himself in second; Ruthenberg very much was the man of the moment however with a 400,000 gap between him and Gavin.

Shortly after, Nielson was eliminated in 8th place, from which Jason Mercier benefited nicely jumping up to a chip count of 1,376,000. Before the beginning of round 26 Samuel Chartier went out in 7th place, and after the break things got exciting, with Daniele Mazza being crippled by Davidi Kitai only to find his way back at great cost to Rothenberg and Mercier; followed by 4 all ins.

40 minutes before the dinner break, Gavin hit the 2,000,000 mark, and 18 minutes before the break Mercier went out in 7th place. As play resumes, Fintan Gavin leads with 2,415,000, followed by Sebastian Ruthenberg with 1,409,000, Dren Ukella with 1,029,000, Davidi Kitai with 941,000, and Daniele Mazzia with 473,000. It may be a long night ahead, but with blinds at 30,000-60,000 and the ante at 6,000; post dinner play may see them falling harder and quicker.

New Steps in America's Struggle Online Poker Legalization
Friday, September 12, 2008
It's already been a long battle, and one whose end does not seem to be in sight; none the less steps are being taken constantly on behalf of the poker players of America to get online poker play accessible, legal and untainted.

The Democratic Member of The House of Representatives, Barney Frank, yesterday made a huge step towards the clarification of language in the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which has left many online gaming sites unable to offer services to USA customers. The new bill is called the Payments System Protection Act of 2008, and is aimed at forcing the Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve System as well as the AG to create a working definition of what is meant by "unlawful gambling". A hearing was held on April 2nd of this year to discuss the UIGEA which was railroaded through in 2006, and the largest concern to emerge from that hearing was a lack of clarity in the language – this bill if passed, will help to deal with this issue. The language of the original bill was so vague that it was felt by both sides of the aisle that it was unenforceable and the strain that it would put on the financial services sector was so great that it was irresponsible.

This isn't the first time that such a clarification has been attempted and in June of this year the House Committee on Financial Services of which Barney Frank is chairman were tied on the Payments System Protection Act vote which would have limited further implementation of the UIGEA.

It will take some time to see what kind of reception this new bill will receive, but it certainly has the potential to mean big movements for online poker in the USA.

EPT Season 5 Gets Off to a Flying Start
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
After so much talk and speculation it's hard to believe that it has finally arrived, but arrived it finally has. Tables are in place, decks are lined up, hotel rooms are cleaned, and buy-ins are being parted with; today's the day that the first leg of the 5th European Poker Tour begins.

Unlike any event before, the first leg of this year's European Poker Tour kicked off with the highly anticipated awards ceremony last night in the Beautiful city of Barcelona. The ceremony itself was as glamorous as one might expect in the Opium Bar situated in the city's Port Olympic, and host Daniel Negreanu was charming as ever. Luca Pagano picked up the prize for Player of the Year, and Trond Eric Eidsvig of Norway collected the prize for Best Newcomer having found his way to 3 final tables in his maiden year of play. Other trophies were won by Mike "Timex" McDonald for Best Overseas Player as well as the People's Choice Award, Julian Thew of the United Kingdom for Best Performance and the Poker Writers Award, and Danny Ryan.

The first event of the tour which attracted 541 entrants last year, will be a €8,000+€250 tournament, and will be the biggest poker event to be played in Spain this year. Hosted in the Casino Barcelona, the event which will begin in just a couple of hours is capped at 600 entrants and it is believed that it will be a sell out. Known to be partaking will be Daniel Negreanu, Chad Brown, Greg Raymer, Dario Minieri, Luca Pagano and more. The tournament will have 2 opening days, and the final table will be held on September 14th. Play on all days will begin at 15.00.

Bundles of Borgata Brilliance
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
If you’re an East Coaster, and a poker player, there’s little doubt as to where you would have been at the weekend and in fact for this entire week. The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa was where it was all happening, and by the looks of it, some of the biggest numbers were showing up to take part in the fun.

Surely the biggest guaranteed prize pool ever to have been offered by a casino, the $5 million WPT championship tournament prize pool, would explain the interest in the Borgata Poker Open, but the truth is that the whole Open has seen record numbers. The 13 event tournament started off with a few under $1,000 buy-in events, but the first $1,000 2 day NLH got underway on Friday attracting 529 players, and was won by Geffrey Klein of Houston. Saturday saw a 50% larger buy-in and Avdo Djokovic surviving the rapid pace of play and outlasted the very tough field of 418 with more than a few notables included.

No other big stake games started until today when a $2,500+$150 NLH 2 day tournament will get underway at 11 am and will play through to 2 am or until the final table is reached, which ever comes first. In the interim however, Esther Fedorkevich of Tennessee took the first place Ladies NLH event prize on Sunday.

Today’s event marks the beginning of a much more hard core week of play with $2,500 and $5,000 NLH events. The culmination of the week will of course be the final event of the 6th annual Borgata Poker Open, which will run from September 14th through September 18th, is part of the World Poker Tour, and of course comes with that spectacular guaranteed prize pool.

Indiana Joins Automated Ranks
Monday, September 8, 2008
Last month saw the first computerized poker tournament in a Trump Casino in Atlantic City, and now another US casino has jumped on the fastest moving bandwagon in poker today, and has gone over to fully automated.

French Lick Resort Casino in Indiana, and their director of table games Dale Nachreiner announced last week that they will be installing PokerPro tables in order to fulfill their goal of creating "an environment that attracts poker enthusiasts of all skill levels as an addition to bring a full-service destination resort. These tables are fun and interactive, allowing us to offer live poker in our newly expanded non-smoking venue with a reduced rake", as he stipulated on a CNN Money story in which the casino was featured.

The arguments for adopting non-dealer tables are that the play is faster and there is next to no issues with dealer errors; many of the casinos that are adopting the automated tables make employment promises to their croupiers so they will not be compromised by the shift.

Poker Players of America to Vote Democrat
Monday, September 8, 2008
There was a time when poker was a politics free arena but in today's world where poker is at the beck and call of the politicians this is no longer the case, and with American General Elections Looming, the poker players are speaking.

In a recent online survey of online poker players, the results showed a preference for Barack Obama, and no small one at that. Nearly two people favored Obama for each one that preferred Republican Candidate John McCain. Nearly seventeen hundred poker players took part in the online survey that was held last week, representing a total of 32 states. The group was made up of 87% males aged between 18 and 54, and everyone asked was an American citizen. Of the nearly 1,700, a little over one thousand expressed an intention to vote for the Democratic Candidate, whilst nearly 600 opted for the Republican. A very similar number of people who said that they'd vote for Obama said also that he had a stronger ticket and that they felt he was most likely to win come November.

Used to assessing situations correctly, and calculating risks, many feel that poker players are a good sample group of society from who a true indication of what might happen could be predicted. Both of the candidates are known to be proficient players, and when asked no one who took part in the survey listed poker-players-rights as amongst their major concerns for the next USA Presidency. November will come round soon enough and only then can we see if the poker players got there way, and made the right predictions

American Dreams Come True
Sunday, September 7, 2008
The Asia Pacific Poker Tour, Macau has been packed with surprises and excitement; and the final table was simply the show case. Going into the final table, youngest player ever to make the final table Edward Sabat, 22 of USA, had the second largest chip stack, and after more than 12 hours of play was the only one still standing, giving him his first major live tourney win and $453,851.

As final table began yesterday with only 9 remaining of the original 538 entrants, Diwei Huang in seat 8 was leading and nobody seemed to be too eager to jump in; play was cautious and everyone seemed to be dipping in just a toe to test the water. First to leave was So Myung Sim, followed by Javed Abrahams. Charles Chua has earned the nickname "Chuck Truck" over the course of the tourney, and it was precisely to the Chuck Truck that Chua went out. 7th to go to the rail was Tian Chen, sent out by soon to be winner Edward Sabat, and Kuok Wai Will Cheong went out in 6th to the same hands. Sabat didn't stop there; he was responsible for Jeppe Drivsholm going out in 5th also, whilst Michael Rosen left n 4th because of a Chua call. The 3rd place position was taken by Diwei Huan, after Sabat called one of his many preflop shoves. It didn't go so well for Huan, and the former chip leader said good-bye with $153,984.

Heads-up play looked like a foregone conclusion with Chua's 3.2 million against inexperience Sabat's 2.1, but in the early hands Sabat doubled-up and safely took the leader position with a 4 to 1 chip lead, that helped him steam roller to successes. The final hand saw Chua raising pre-flop and Sabat calling. The 6-c, Q-d, 6-d had Sabat check and Chua bet to which Sabat put a minimum check-raise and Chua went all in which Sabat called. Sabat showed K-d, J-d, Chua Q-s, 3-c. The turn produced an A-c, and the river a 2-d, giving Sabat a flush and the first place prize.

Asian Pacific Poker Tour - A Treat for All
Friday, September 5, 2008
The Asia Pacific Poker Tour Macau Main Event is in full flow, and the Grand Waldo Hotel and Casino is simply buzzing with action and excitement. 208 entrants made it through the preliminary days, and as Day 3 is dawning only 39 players remain. Yesterday saw the end of Harry Demetriou, Joe Hachem, and the bubble boy Chris "The Armenian Express" Grigorian, in a fast passed play that left many reeling. There were exceptional performances by Charles Chua and Edward Sabat who go into day 3 as chip leaders. The Top Chip Leader positions going into day 2 are as follows:

1. Edward Sabat: 379,500
2. Charles Chua: 369,500
3. Keith Wintermans: 358,000
4. Javed Abrahams: 351,000
5. David Steicke: 316,000
6. Junghyun Choi: 275,000
7. Tian Chen: 248,000
8. Kevin MacPhee: 206,500
9. David Chiu: 193,500
10. Andre Wagner: 183,500

French Riviera Attracts Pros by the Boatload
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Whilst Cannes may be more traditionally better known for its films than it’s Poker, the latter is giving the first a run for it’s money as the Partouche Poker Tour Cannes Main Event gets off to a flying start.

A very respectable 226 coughed up the €8,500 buy in, at the exclusive Palms Beach Club yesterday, all vying for their portion of the guaranteed €2,000,000 prize pool. Yesterday’s first day 1 saw the likes of Gus Hansen, Scotty Nguyen, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Jason Mercier, and Dario Minieri in the field, although not all of these made it past the first day – Dario Minieri, Chris Ferguson, and Jason Mercier included. Of the 226 entrants, only 99 were left at the end of the day yesterday, and those 99 will go forward tomorrow to join those who made it through day 1b today.

Today’s play from the outset was clearly going to be pro-heavy with Sorel Mizzi, David Benyamine, Erica Schoenberg, Pascal Perrault, Jean-Robert Bellande, Phil Ivey, Nenad Medic, Jeff Madsen, Theo Tran, Tiffany Michelle, Roland de Wolfe, Robert Mizrachi, Michael Mizrachi, Alexander Kostritsyn, David Williams, Glen Chorny, Scotty Nguyen and David 'Chino' Rheem all spotted at the beginning of the day. It is still not clear what the exact entrant count is now for the whole tournament, but today appears to be bigger even than yesterday.

So far the play has been exciting and unpredictable – this tournament promises to be a roller coaster ride; one that it will definitely be worth sticking out. For the contestants the prizes are really something, and for spectators a showboat of talent and expertise combined of course with the rare opportunity of seeing former French and Manchester Untied star, Eric Cantona present the winning check at the end.

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