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Day 2 Draws to an End in Budapest
Thursday, October 30, 2008
As we predicted, on the opening day of the Budapest EPT Championship stop, this third leg of the season 5 series has attracted more than it's capped 500. A total of 532 people took part in the 2 day 1s; a figure that creates a playing circle that represents 38 different nations! Whilst we're on the subject of impressive figures; with such a large field, all paying-up the €4,350 buy in, a prize pool of €2,128,000 was created for this championship tourney.

The field wasn't all big out-of-towners, and in fact there were more than 70 local players who entered this tournament to play along side the likes of Alex Kravchenko, Marty Smyth, Noah Boeken, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Fabrice Soulier, Johnny Lodden, Michael Keiner, Thomas Fougeron, Anthony Lellouche, Max Pescatori, Per Hildebrand, Dario Minieri, George Danzer, Max Pescatori,, Casey Kastle, Anthony Lellouche, Praz Banzi, and Vicky Coren, all of whom were amongst the stars to be spotted in the first 2 days.

At the end of the two opening days, that original 532 player field had been reduced to only 182, and some of the biggest names to not be seen returning were Dario Minieri, George Danzer, Vicky Coren, Pascal Perrault, Julian Thew, Davidi Kitai, Marcel Luske, Katja Thater, Dave Colclough, Markus Golser, Mats Iremark, and Keith “The Camel” Hawkins. Happily however, at the near top of the leaders table at the beginning of the day was last year's surprise London winner Annette Obrestad, who thus far hasn't been doing so well in the European rounds this fall.

Before the end of today, the field will be further reduced to just 32, which at the time of writing, seems to be a figure attainable within the hour. Today has been a great day, and with the money bubble bursting at 56 it was the unfortunate Thomas Vestergard of Denmark who was to be the last to walk away from the tournament empty-handed, whilst Aditya Agarwal of India took his second cash finish of this month by taking position 56 and the €5,320 that comes with it. Stay tuned for the day 2 chip leaders!

Good News for Londoners
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The London Hippodrome has long been a multi-faceted venue for Londoners, and now it's about to get a whole new lease of life. The Leicester Square building has been granted permission to run a card room inside a casino – something that it has never done before.

The building which is the home of the London Hippodrome is a grade II listed building and whilst it has been a nightclub in its most recent incarnation, it has since it's building in 1900 been used for circuses, variety shows, as a musical hall and as a theatre. At the beginning of this year, an application was submitted to transform this historic location on the corner of Charring Cross Road, into an entertainment venue that will include a cabaret performance area, restaurant and bar, and a casino including a card room.

This isn’t the first time that such an attempt has been made but until now the applications were rejected. In this case however, United Leisure Gaming with the help of Berwin Leighton Paisner were able to secure the license, with a BLP partner commenting:
This has been a momentous win and a landmark
case for licensing... It is the first time that a multi-use
facility has been granted a gaming license in
London and it gives the green light for what will be a
great new attraction here.
Whilst the UK is considered to be very liberal in terms of its approach to online gambling, the latest in legislations have actually tightened the ability to open new land based casinos, thus it is feared that the new Hippodrome Casino may be the last new one to be seen for quite a while. It joins the Casino at the Empire in Leister Square, and is likely to become a much sought after venue for not just private gaming but for international tournaments.

Caesars Palace Classic Culmination
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The Caesars Palace Classic series has been running now since October 16th, and with the last non championship event done with, we can prep up today for the big one – the 3 day $1,000,000 guaranteed first prize Championship No'Limit Holdem Event.

This has been a series of excitement and challenges, of hard slogs and surprises; and yesterdays heads up play in the penultimate event of this series was no exception. The $1,000 no-limit hold'em six handed event drew in 141 participants on it's first day on Sunday, and took just 11 levels to get down 2 tables loosing the likes of Allen Kessler, Will Failla, Vivek Rajkumar, Scott Clements, Marc Karam, J.J. Liu, Ted Lawson, Chris Grigorian, Tony Ma, and Men "The Master" Nguyen along the way. Whilst the first day for the most part flew by, play got stuck in the mud around the money bubble, and ground to a virtual holt – not so on day 2 however when the returning 12 in their 2 tables managed to get down to a final six in just one hour of play! Following which, it took just one more hour to get down to Blake Cahail and Jared Pacifici in heads up play. Ironically, after much back and forth, heads up play equaled the amount of time played on the entire of the rest of day 2, and in a phenomenal yet tough heads up play both players proved their skill, but ultimately it was Cahail who took the first place prize of $37,324, whilst Pacifici lefts with $21,168.

In general it's been a fantastic series, and with the level of poker we've been seeing here over the last 2 weeks, there's no reason to think that this will not be a incredible Championship Event; play will get underway in day 1 of 3, today at 12 noon.

Hungry for Hungarian EPT Championship
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Pack your bags – Hungary here we come. For the first time in the European Poker Tour, Budapest is on the stop-over list; and it looks like it's going to be a great turn out for the third leg of this year’s fantastic EPT.

The Sofitel hotel, is one of the most luxurious in the city, and the 500+ players who are expected to turn out, must get their skates on as poker players are already turning out in the droves. Whilst the event has had a limit of 500 placed on it, there is speculation that organizers will either have to increase this number, or turn people away.

Already known to be in attendance is Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier who just days ago won the Festa al Lago, Alex Kravchenko, Vicky Coren, Luca Pagano, Dario Minieri, Katja Thater, Marcin Horecki, Noah Boeken, William Thorson, and Hungary's very own Denes Kalo.

The event has a €4,350, and will run from today through to November 1st. All days of play will begin at 1 p.m. local time, and to help you keep abreast of the going-ons; here's the event schedule:

Tuesday, Oct. 28th: Day 1A - Play eight levels
Wednesday, Oct. 29th: Day 1B - Play eight levels
Thursday, Oct. 30th: Day 2 - Play down to 32 players
Friday, Oct. 31st: Day 3 - Play down to eight players
Saturday, Nov. 1st: Day 4 - Final Table

This is the third leg of 10 making up Season 5 of the EPT which will culminate in the Grand Final in Monte Carlo at the end of April 2009. The first event, in Barcelona was won by Sebastian Ruthenberg for €1,361,000 whilst the second leg in London was won by Michael Martin for £1,000,000.

Breathing Space for WPTE
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Several months ago we reported that WPT Enterprises Inc., parent company of the World Poker Tour had run into trouble because of non-conformity to minimum listing prices of shares on the Nasdaq. In the current financial crisis that is facing the worlds stock markets and largest economies in the world Nasdaq has temporarily waived those requirements, giving WPTE some breathing space.

According to Nasdaq rules, companies whose shares fall below the value of 1 US dollar each for 30 days straight are given 180 days to rectify the situation. In order to operate within the rules, that company must within that given time, take steps to bring the share value to more than 1 US dollar and stay at that value for at least 10 straight business days.

WPT Enterprises Inc., received notification in August that their shares were not complying, but last week a change came as Nasdaq announced that they will not be carrying out minimum stock price enforcement until the middle of January of next year. The decision was not made by Nasdaq alone, and doesn't apply to just WPT Enterprises Inc. The Securities and Exchange Commission gave their approval of the suspension as a mode of damage control, as with the markets in their current state too many companies are in a state of non-compliance.

The suspension is only temporary, and following January 20th any companies who fail to comply with the rules may face delisting. The current value of WPTE shares is around $0.41, but it has been considerably lower at points in the last year.

Festa al Lago, Final Fiasco
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Today is the final day of the WPT Festa al Lago, but after four hard hitting days, the final table is still not set for the final show down. 368 participants started play in this $15,000 buy in event, and at the end of play yesterday 12 remained as Ryan Fair went out in 13th place.

The pace of play on both Thursday and Friday was fast and furious to say the least, but as the remaining 34 got whittled down quickly the final two tables that, had they worked fast would have allowed players a break before the televised final, simply couldn't seem to get anywhere fast.

Jack McClelland, Tournament Director had announced that play would continue until the final 9 were established or until five levels were played through. At just shy of 9 pm a card was drawn to determine how many more hands; the result was 2, and with no further eliminations, the 12 return today.

This has been a tournament of the downfall of chip leaders, with Antonio Esfandiari who got off to a phenomenal start not making it through to day 3, and Daniel Negreanu who lead the stacks at the end of day 2 also falling by the wayside. Ryan Fair who went out in 13 place had also earlier shown great chip promise, and so, it's with a double edged sword that Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier may be celebrating his chip lead going into the final day.

The first place prize in this tournament is $1,411,015, making it one of the biggest circuit prizes in existence. The survivors, chip counts and their table positions as play gets started today are:

Table 1
Seat 1: Adam "Roothlus" Levy, 568,000
Seat 2: Nenad Medic, 1,435,000
Seat 3: Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier, 2,039,000
Seat 4: Will Mietz, 1,840,000
Seat 5: Jimmy Tran, 739,000
Seat 6: Nam Le, 1,149,000

Table 2
Seat 1: Joe Sebok, 1,470,000
Seat 2: Michael DeMichele, 1,717,000
Seat 3: Mike Wattel, 886,000
Seat 4: Andrew "good2cu" Robl, 1,087,000
Seat 5: Osmin "Oddie" Dardon, 1,959,000
Seat 6: Olav Von Sachsen, 1,631,000

Caesars Palace Mega Stack Poker Series Schedule Released
Friday, October 24, 2008
The Caesars Poker Classic isn't going to be over until October 30th, but heaven forbid this poker haven should go too long without playing host to a major tournament, and there will be all of a 2 day breather for a turnaround, as the Mega Stack poker series will get under way in that world famous poker room on November 2nd. The 17 event, 18 day, series will include a huge number of No-Limit Holden tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $200 up to the Mega Championship with a $1,000 buy in.

The full schedule for the series is as follows:
November 1st: Satellites Begin.
November 2nd, 12 p.m.: $500+40 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 3rd, 12 p.m.: $200+25 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 4th, 12 p.m.: $200+25 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 5th, 3 p.m.: $180+20 Pot Limit Omaha
November 5th, 12 p.m.: $200+25 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 6th, 12 p.m.: $200+25 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 7th, 12 p.m.: $300+30 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 8th, 12 p.m.: $300+30 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 9th, 12 p.m.: $500+40 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 10th, 12 p.m.: $200+25 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 11th, 12 p.m.: Noon $200+25 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 11th, 3 p.m.: $180+20 Omaha 8/B
November 12th, 12 p.m.: $200+25 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 13th, 12 p.m.: $200+25 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 14th, 12 p.m.: $300+30 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 15th, 12 p.m.: $300+30 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 16th, 12 p.m.: $500+40 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 17th, 12 p.m.: $200+25 NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 18th, 12 p.m.: $1,000+60 Mega Championship, NO-LIMIT HOLD'EM
November 19th, 2 p.m.: Mega Championship, Day 2
November 20th, 2 p.m.: Mega Championship, Final Day.

Just Another Reason to Want to be Aussie
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The truth is that there are a few nationalities around the world that it can only be good to be – Australian is one of the them. An outdoor life, lots of space, and lots of snags on lots of "barbies", but now there's yet another reason to want to be from the country that gave the world vegemite.

In a new initiative by the Australian Hotels Association the chief executive Bill Healy has proposed that students be taught in school about gambling. The idea comes from a desire to better educate about probability and risk assessment within the wider sphere of financial management, and gaming including poker is considered to be a great means of doing this. Healy was careful to mention that the aim of the classroom lessons would not be to educate the youngsters on the how of gambling, but rather to use it as an excellent example of live probabilities. In fact, Healy seemed to be arguing that knowledge of the math behind gambling would in the long run be beneficial in preventing problem gambling:

People have to understand the pros and cons of gambling and manage their behavior accordingly…We don't see that gambling is going to go away and it's essential that we prevent problems occurring.

The Australian Hotels Association represents not only hotels in Australia but also entertainment venues which would include gaming sites. The proposal was part of a submission that will go before the Senate and in part aims to deal with a number of bills that are under consideration by the Senate relating to gambling. Healy has claimed that gambling already appears in the classroom as a means of teaching probability and hence this would be no great step.

Bellagio's Festa al Lago Gets Going
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
It was sorely missed in last years World Poker Tour, but thank the poker gods it has now returned for season 7. The Bellagio's Festa al Lago was last seen in 2006 when the $10,000 buy in event attracted over 400 participants.
Yesterday, as day 1a got under way the buy-in was $15,000, but that didn't stop the lovers of this event as well as the down-right hopefuls from turning up in their droves. The most dramatic entrance of the day was that of Phil Hellmuth – not because of his usual antics but rather because of the company he was keeping; multi-gold medal winner Michael Phelps, fresh from his 5th place Caesars Palace Classic win.

The No-Limit Hold'em Championship is event number 16 of 17 that make up this favorite in the poker calendar that has been running since the beginning of the month. 153 players turned up yesterday, and at the beginning of play today, day 1b there were already a further 127, but with registration not closing until play is a few hours in the final count is still undetermined.

Surprising exits from day 1a of this WPT championship event include Phil Hellmuth, Andy Bloch, and Scott Montgomery, whilst flying high were Antonio Esfandiari, Jennifer Tilly, Jason Mercier, and Johnny Chan. Other big names still in the game, and waiting for day 2 on Thursday are Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu and Joe Sebok.

Philanthropist Phillips
Monday, October 20, 2008
It's never been done before, but then again there are several elements of the 2008 WSOP Main Event that have never been done before, so what difference does one more make. The particular element that's been referred to is the auctioning off of a sponsorship spot on Dennis Phillips' playing shirt. This has never been seen before in professional poker, but seems like such a wonderful idea, it will be a shame if it's never seen again.

The auction began on October 16th and will end on October 26th at 05:01:32 PDT. The precise spot being auctioned is on the upper right hand arm of the WSOP Main Event finalist, and the winning bidder will be able to place in this spot his logo, subject to approval of WSOP organizers, sponsors and Phillips himself.

At the time of writing the bidding was up to $13,000, but with 3 days to go it is believed that the price will go much higher. The Main Event will be televised, and hence this is considered quite cheap advertising.

One may be wondering, what the necessity is, after all Phillips stands to win between $900,670 and $9,119,517 in the event itself. This is where the beauty lies – the auction is to benefit charity, and in this particular case Multiple Sclerosis Society who will receive all the money from this auction.

Phelps' Five Gran Finish
Monday, October 20, 2008
When Michael Phelps, now a household name, returned home from Beijing, we reported how he had expressed desires to add a WSOP bracelet to his many Olympic gold medals. Well, it's not the WSOP and it's not a bracelet, but over the weekend Phelps showed that he certainly has poker ability.

Event number 2 of the Caesars Palace Classic was a $1,500 buy in No Limit Hold'em Tournament. In excess of 150 players entered the two day event that kicked off at 12 noon on Saturday, and by the end of the first day Phelps found himself amongst the 16 survivors ready to return on Sunday.
The final sixteen started on Sunday, and Phelps stood a good chance; he was in the middle of the chip leader board, with a fairly average stack and seemed to be holding his own quite well. Unfortunately his run didn't last for ever and his first place prize dreams disappeared as his stack slowly diminished. None-the-less it was a very respectable performance, and his ninth place position earned him a cash win of over $5,000.

Whilst there was no bracelet for him, Caesars Palace Poker Room Manager, Jim Pedulla did present the swimmer with a Caesars Palace medallion at the same time that he presented him his winnings – fittingly, this was the ninth gold medal he won in the course of this year; for his ninth place position.

Kentucky Judge Supports Seizure
Friday, October 17, 2008
It's been an ongoing saga, with the Governor of Kentucky on one side and gambling associations, websites and enthusiasts on the other. Yesterday Judge Thomas Wingate announced that the state's seizure of 141 internet gaming domains would be upheld, despite strong objections from Kahnawake, and the PPA to name just a few.

A 44-page opinion paper was produced by the judge to support his decision on September 18th to allow the seizure in the first place, in which he shows that the internet for all it's wonders is not "above the law".

The PPA responded to the decision on a number of levels, most strongly objecting to the Judge's classification of poker not as a skill game, despite their amicus brief which clearly showed that poker is indeed a game of skill. Furthermore, the PPA worries that in upholding Governor Beshear's seizure, a precedent is being set that could lead to the type of censorship which not only infringes on personal freedom but also personal rights.

PPA Kentucky State Director commented on the Judge's decision:

In essence, Governor Beshear and Judge Wingate are denying law-abiding citizens this form of recreation simply because it is enjoyed on the Internet. This is Internet censorship by judicial fiat, plain and simple…Governor Beshear has shown great leadership in protecting and promoting the rights of Kentuckians to gamble on horse racing and in casinos…He should do the same for those Kentuckians who seek the freedom to engage in online poker.

A 30-day period has been allowed for the seized sites to put blocks on users from Kentucky, failure to do so will result in the state taking control of the domain name. In the mean time the PPA is confident of an overturning of this decision in the Kentucky Appellate Court.

A Witmer Win
Friday, October 17, 2008
The Fallsview Casino Resort is one of the most attractive places in the world for any activity, let alone winning a million dollars, but that's exactly what Glen Witmer did yesterday. Following six days of play the final 6 reconvened yesterday with Witmer way ahead of the pack; nearly a million clear of his closest rival Gavin Smith. As things got under way a little after 4.15 p.m. blinds were low and play was slow.

The first action was that of James Trenholm's exit on the 37th hand with pocket sevens that just couldn't stand up to Smith's pocket kings. There was more than a couple of side bets on Mark Karam taking the championship – but this was not to be. Having won 3 consecutive cash finishes in this event, there was a sense that this year might be his year; sadly for him not though, out he went in 5th place after going all in with Witmer. This season has already seen a good number of online players make it big, for example Vivek "Psyduck" Rajkumar, and Mike "SirWatts" Watson; Ryan Fisler was out to join those ranks. Unfortunately for him, Witmer made mince meat of him also, and off he went in fourth.

With three left, there was much whispering and speculation; Witmer an unknown, Kathy Liebert and Smith both highly accomplished players – surely the chips would move away from Witmer! As three-way play progressed, it became obvious that this was not to be the case. It was Liebert who was not to see heads-up play yesterday; having being short-stacked by Smith, Witmer took her down as the audience stood to applaud her game.

Heads-up started with Witmer on 9,830,000 and Smith on 3,815,000; despite the huge advantage, many still favored the more experienced Smith for the title. Smith showed uncharacteristic concentration as the play progressed, and on the 49th hand it was all over. Witmer was the big blind and raised 500,000, to which Smith went all in. Witmer showed an As, Ks, Smith, 5d, 5h. The board came out Qd, Jd, 2h, Js, As; The crowd were on their feet, and after 7 hours of play Witmer took his first title and US $1,090,589.

Poker Pros Honor Heroes
Friday, October 17, 2008
We provide care to past, present and future warriors and to all those entrusted to our care.

This is the mission statement of the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre, and earlier this week the USO of Metropolitan Washington along with the PPA did their bit to help, if not with physical care and recuperation of the soldiers, but with their morale and psychological well being.

Amongst the visiting poker pros and well-knowns were Howard Lederer, Andy Bloch, Victor Ramdin, Phil Gordon, Gavin Griffin, Dennis Phillips and Rhett Butler, who spent the day meeting and talking with the soldiers as well as taking part in a specially organized tournament. Over 100 people were in attendance of the event organized to provide the soldiers with a fun day of interest. USO-Metro President, Elaine Robers commented:

We're thrilled that these top poker pros would come out and spend a day with our soldiers and their families…Poker is a very popular activity among the soldiers spending time at Walter Reed recovering from their injuries, and this was a great opportunity for them to mingle with and learn from the best poker players in the country.

The overwhelming feeling from the players as well as PPA executive director John Pappas, was a sense of honor and appreciation of the opportunity to spent the day with the troops and their families. Gavin Griffin probably said it the best when he said in relation to the soldier's gratitude towards the players for coming:

…in reality we were the ones who were truly grateful for the time we got to spend with them.

Falls for Canadian Landslide
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The North American Poker Championship has been running since October 10th, and today, after 3 days ones, and 2 further days of eliminations, the final 6 will come together, for the final time, to see how this phenomenal tournament will end.

Hosted at the Fallsview Casino Resort, Niagara Falls, the $10,000 buy in contest attracted 454 participants, only 10% of which made it to the money. The money bubble burst at 45 with a payout of $15,216, but all six returnees today are guaranteed a minimum of $133,137. Part of the WPT on tour, this event it really the main event for Canadian players, and as per form, the final table has far more Canadians than Americans; 5 to 1.

As play began yesterday, Vivek Rajkumar was being dubbed the favorite, having freshly won the Borgata Poker Open. However, despite having led the way in terms of chip counts and play for the preceding two days, he did not in fact make it through to this tournament's final table when his pocket aces failed to stand up to Marc Karam's flopped flush.

Another surprising exit was Erik Seidel who was also a casualty of three-time cash winner, and previously 6th place finisher, Karam who had an exceptional day taking him to 3rd place going into the final 6. It was Seidel's elimination that allowed the combining of the two remaining tables and with the final table in place play continued steadily and with little drama until Dominic Staniscia and Sam Greenwood both exited the game with less than 10 hands between them; Greenwood's exit caused his eliminator, Glen Witmer to jump in chips to a huge advantage. Play will begin today at 4pm Eastern Time; the chip counts and seats look like this:

Seat 1:Kathy Liebert, 1,620,000
Seat 2: Gavin Smith, 2,815,000
Seat 3: Marc Karam, 1,850,000
Seat 4: Glen Witmer, 3,710,000
Seat 5: James Trenholm, 1,365,000
Seat 6: Ryan Fisler, 2,285,000

PPA's Poll Position Politician
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The Poker Players Alliance is and always has been about practical measures that can be taken to aid the sport of poker in the USA; and now a new initiative makes it around as practical and as relevant as could be.

Taking into account such issues as voting records, statements of support, meetings with PPA people, and action regarding bills, the PPA has now produced a means of quick referencing politicians in order to find out how "poker friendly" they are.

Since the PPA's creation in 2006 most members of Senate and Congress have at some point met with PPA representatives who have made it their mission to educate the powers that be on the subject of poker; however not all come out with a clear stance on the subject, and thus 114 members were not given grades including the two Presidential candidates. Those that were given grades however, were allocated a grade from A+ as the most poker friendly to F- as the least poker friendly. The grade given may change as a Member's stance and action changes. The PPA endeavors to create a scenario in which every Member get's an A grade rating, and will continue to campaign and hold meetings in pursuit of that aim. PPA Chairman, Senator Alfonse D’Amato stated in a letter to Poker Players:

The PPA Congressional Rating Guide is searchable by state and by zip code. As an additional benefit, you can automatically send an email to your Member of Congress directly from the guide to let them know how you feel about their grade and voice your support of the great game of poker….Knowing how your elected officials stand on the issues important to you is half the battle -- letting them know that you’re a voter who supports poker takes care of the rest.

Oberlin Uber-win
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The WSOP Circuit event hosted at the Horseshoe Southern Indiana has been a phenomenal gathering, and with it all over, nobody could be more satisfied than 22 year old student, Samuel Oberlin. Having come 177th in his last WSOP event, which won him a little over $3,000, and 5th in the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza III, his total earnings up until Indiana were under $20,000; a career pot that got multiplied by nearly 9 fold yesterday.

When final table play started yesterday, Ray Lynn had the shortest stack of all, and despite early hope through a triple up, he went out in 9th place. Next to go was Dean Schultz, despite starting with the second shortest stack, he was the most experienced player at the table with 58 money finishes – sadly not enough on this occasion. The trend seemed to be endless with no-one jumping positions as Derek Whelan who started with the third shortest stack went out in seventh place, that was until Jamin Stokes did just that - but in the wrong direction! Having started the day in second position, he took a bad bet on pocket tens, and went out in 6th place.

Joey Couden made a gallant attempt to recover from a pocket 5s bet, and it appeared that he might succeed, but it was to no avail as he went out in 5th; a position higher than he started the day. Next to go was Len Ashby of Kentucky, after an unwise bluff that Jerry Martin saw him on, followed by David Kopacz despite an early claim of the chip leader position, leaving Jerry Martin and Samuel Oberlin in heads up play.

Martin started off with a good lead at over 4 times Oberlin's chip count, but an all in pocket queens bet gave Oberlin a double up and it wasn't long before the chip lead position was his. It was in fact pocket queens that were to be Oberlin's winning ticket, and this was the hand that he took Martin down on. This is Oberlin's 3rd cash finish, first 1st place, and largest win to date; $143,064 and of course a seat at the 2009 Main Event next summer.

Poker Tour of the Americas Schedule Release
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
As we all know, there's no such thing as too much poker, and just to prove it, the schedule for a new poker tour was released earlier this week. Vega Promotions Systems Inc., have decided that the time has come for a whole new, whole America poker tour, and so they have created the Poker Tour of the Americas. Despite original plans for the event to be only in South America, the tour is rightly called the "Americas" because, whilst the USA does not feature in this five stop spectacle, the Northern of the Americas is represented by a weeks stop in Vancouver, British Columbia. The remaining four of the stops will be in South America.

The four South American stops span the continent, and whilst this inaugural season is limited to these five locations, the PTA as it will be known, will have another stop added for it's second season. The tour will run from February through to October, and these are the dates and locations of the stops:

February 21th -27st : Guayaquil, Ecuador
April 10th -17th : San Jose, Costa Rica
June 5th -12th : Vancouver, British Columbia
August 15th -21st : Cartagena, Colombia
October 24th -30th : Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The host casinos and hotels, and timetables for each of the events have not yet been released, and it's believed that a Tournament of Champions will also appear as a part of this inaugural season, although again details of that have not yet been released. The tournaments will mostly be invitational, but as always there will be opportunities for non-invitees to find their way to the table. Information regarding satellite tournaments will also be forthcoming in the coming weeks along with the remainder of the absent details.

New Zealand Victory for New Zealand APPT
Monday, October 13, 2008
It was a native New Zealander that took down the title in the largest tournament ever to be played on those shores. The APPT Main Event, hosted in SKYCITY Auckland, attracted an mammoth field of 305 players representing a total of 21 different nationalities, and between them creating a first prize of a little of quarter of a million New Zealand Dollars; the equivalent for around USD $155,800.

Daniel Craker, took not only the first place prize but also a seat in the Grand Final of the tour which will be held in Sydney at the beginning of December. Craker, had a phenomenal day 2 which left him in the second chip leader position; starting the day with 447,000, in comparison to his closest rival, Wang Jung of New Zealand who started off with 373,000. The plasterer by trade, found himself in heads up play against Australian Matthew Konnecke who had himself had a great run of it, starting the final day with a chip count of just 80,000, whilst chip leader going into the final day, Luke Stanford, who had started with an enormous 860,000 finished in 5th place. The final positions and payouts in New Zealand Dollars are:

1. Daniel Craker - $257,040
2. Matthew Konnecke - $162,791
3. Wang Jung - $85,680
4. Dan Sing - $59,976
5. Luke Stanford - $46,267
6. Nathanael Seet - $34,272
7. Jani Karke - $25,704
8. Michael Mariakis - $19,706
9. Wai Yuen - $14,565

Southern Indiana WSOPC Main Event Underway
Monday, October 13, 2008
The Horseshoe Southern Indiana will be better known to most as Caesar’s Indiana, which underwent huge remodeling to come the other side with its new name. The décor has changed, the name has changed, but its place in the hearts of American poker lovers has not. Host to the only WSOP Circuit event in Southern Indiana on this year’s circuit, the 30 table room has been living up to its expectations.

Events got under way with a whopping $40,000 free roll tournament at the end of September, and continued through the first third of October with both buy-in and freeroll tourneys. However, it was really the Main Event that people were holding their breath for. The $5,150 buy in event attracted 84 players, on Sunday, a significantly smaller number than last years 144 which was won by Carlos Uz. The three day event hopefuls included last year’s champion as well as other circuit well-knowns such as Matt "mattster24" Sterling, Bryan "squirelly1" Sapp, and Bernard Lee. Other notables were David and Stacey Kopacz; a married couple who spent a fair amount of the day pitted against each other, and finished the day in first and third chip leader positions. Uz was not amongst the 27 players who will be returning today for the second day of play.

Irish McSweeney Sweeps up Ireland
Thursday, October 9, 2008
On an autumns afternoon there’s no where better to be than Ireland, and this was never more true than for native Jimmy McSweeney. The Irish Poker Festival which ran from the 2nd to the 5th of October and carried a 500 + 50 Euro buy-in attracted the biggest crowd ever to be seen at an Irish poker event. Far exceeding expectations, the planned 625 capacity was soon shattered and a staggering 832 competitors finally registered for the event making it one of the biggest in Europe and creating a 416,000 Euro prize-pool which by far exceeded the guaranteed prize-pool of the sponsors.

The play was intense throughout, and by the time the final 8 had been reached there was certainly a sense of every player having earned it. In seat 1, McSweeney led the field with a chip count of 2,900,000 whilst Andrew Roberts was his closest competition in seat 8, with 2,600,000. The shortest stack going into the final table was that of Hugh Whelan with just 700,000.

Everyone finished in the money, with the aptly named Barry Hand going out in 8th for 10,000 Euros; his exit giving McSweeney the push he needed to distance himself from competition by going up to 4,000,000 chips. Next out was Steve Johnson with 12,000 Euros and then Ian Smith with 15,000. And so it went, until Nick Heather, Hugh Whelan, and Bo Erichshen had all been sent to the rail, leaving McSweeney and Andrew Roberts to fight it out for the 100,000 Euro first place spot.

McSweeney had a large chip advantage going into heads-up play and it was a call of a Roberts All-In that was the final straw. McSweeney showed a pair of 6s to Roberts’ A-9; the K-Q-Q-2-J board gave McSweeney the win. The positions and payouts in Euros were as follows:

1. Jimmy McSweeney, 100,000
2. Andrew Roberts, 65,000
3. Bo Ericshen, 35,000
4. Hugh Whelan, 25,000
5. Nick Heather, 20,000
6. Ian Smith, 15,000
7. Steve Johnson, 12,000
8. Barry Hand, 10,000

New Zealand – New Horizons
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Following the poker action at the moment is a little like getting a whistle stop tour of the globe – with London over, Ireland and the rest of Europe on a break, it is the spring of New Zealand that is a-calling.

The Asia Pacific Poker Tour hit the SKYCITY Hotel and Casino in Auckland, New Zealand yesterday bringing with it the biggest number to partake in a poker tournament in that country. Amongst the 164 players that registered for the first of 2 day 1s were Greg "FossilMan" Raymer, Tony Hachem, Emad Tahtouh, Eric Assadourian, and Edward Sabat. The sense for most of the day was that testing the water was a high priority, and it was only quite late in the day that the action started to heat up a little. Emad Tahtouh was sent to the rail by Greg Raymer and David Saab who won the Manila leg of the APT was also sent to the rail, the later by Nathanael Ren Hao Seet. Ironically it was these two notable eliminators that also became to the 2 biggest notables to depart towards the end of the day; both at the hand of Jeff Dunbar. Greg Raymer was the first of the two to exit, followed just a few hands later by Sabat.

The late eliminations weren’t quite enough to give Dunbar the chip leader position, but did put him just 4,900 chips behind Nathanael Seet who leads at the end of day 1a with 75,500. In total 59 players survived day 1a, and with day 1b waiting to kick of in just a couple of hours, the event promises to be full of surprises and excitement.

Kentucky Crunch-time Pushed Off
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday saw Judge Thomas Wingate hear both sides of the argument relating to the seizure by the Governor of Kentucky of over a hundred and forty internet gaming domains, but no decision was made.

It has now been nearly a month since Governor Steve Beshear instructed the seizure of the sites on the basis that they were causing illegal activity in his State. Since the seizure, representatives of the sites as well as pro-poker activists have argued that the State has no jurisdiction as these domains exist in cyberspace and are licensed and legal in the places they operate out of. Furthermore, they claim that “gambling device” is an objectionable term for gambling sites and thus their seizure under such terms is unlawful.

On the part of the prosecutors, there seems to be some precedent for seizure of domain names in both the states of California and Washington. That being said, President of the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association, Edward Leyden, appears to regard the seizure as unlawful due to it being outside any State’s jurisdiction especially because the domains are located in foreign lands. Furthermore he raised the question of online horse gambling which seems to be acceptable in the Commonwealth of Kentucky – an issue which many believe was behind the seizure to begin with.

Having heard both the defense and the prosecution, Judge Thomas Wingate delayed the return of a verdict until October 15th at which point he will make his final decision in this case.

Mercier Shows no Mercy
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Being the San Remo champion was obviously not enough for Jason Mercier as he stomped his way to victory in the first ever European Poker Tour London £1 Million Showdown. The tournament had 85 entrants, all after a part of the guaranteed £1 million prize pool. As well as Jason Mercier were other well known players such as John Juanda, Gus Hansen, Phil Ivey, and Daniel Negreanu. The two day event saw only 14 of the original 85 return for the second day, and at the beginning of second day play it was David Benyamine who was leading the pack, followed by Alexander Rourmeliotis, and with just over half of the leaders stack, Jason Mercier was there in 3rd place. Pulling up the back end was Jani Sointula with a mere 6,500 in 14th place and it was he who was the first to be eliminated – on the first hand no less.

His eliminator Andrew Feldman was the next to go, followed by Ghassan Bitar, and Alexander Roumeliotis in a twist of fortune was sent to the rail in the 11th position by John Juanda who recently won the WSOPE Main Event bracelet. It was only the top 9 that were to finish in the money, and it was Dennis Phillips who took the unfortunate 10th position. Isabelle Mercier left with the first payout of £51,000, sent to the rail by Michael Watson who was also responsible for the downfall of former chip leader David Benyamine who went home in 8th position. The last non-North American player, Masaaki Kagawa went out in 7th place, followed by Issac Haxton in 6th.

In a year where unknowns seem to be doing as well pros, this was shaping up to be an unusually well-known cast. It was Scotty Nguyen who went out in 5th thanks again to Juanda, and Peter Jetten was next to fall, leaving Mercier, Watson and Juanda. The three battled it out for a while, but ultimately Watson was sent to the rail, and heads-up play started with a 600,000+ chip advantage to Juanda. With an early double up however, Mercier soon flipped things around, and it was Mercier who took the title and the £516,000 first place prize.

WSOPE Breaks Records
Sunday, October 5, 2008
There are no words to describe the phenomenal feat that was the WSOPE Final; but words are all we have and so we must try. The beginning of the day saw a good mix of well known professional players and hitherto unknowns, and no-body really knew what to expect. The pack was being lead by John Juanda, a member of the Full Tilt Poker team, who started off in seat 5 with 1,349,000 and the shortest stack of the table was that of Chris Elliott in Seat 3, a mere 281,000.

It was in fact Elliott who was first to go home, with £81,450, but following his departure the game took on a very serious, calculated edge. The eliminations did come, but slowly; Toni Hiltunen in 8th place, and over an hour later Robin Keston in 7th. Following Keston there was an increase in pace with Scott Fischman going in 6th, and to many people’s surprise Daniel Negreanu in 5th. Bengt Sonnert went out in 4th leaving only Ivan Demidov, John Juanda, and Stanislv Alekhin.

Juanda, by far the most experienced player of the three, surely couldn’t have expected the opposition that these two novice Russians put up. With three-handed play lasting for in excess of 3 hours, records were broken, concentration was required, and never a more exciting play had been seen. In the end it was Demidov, of the November Nine who went out in third place leaving chip counts going into heads up play at John Juanda, 4,420,000 and Stanislav Alekhin, 2,850,000.

One might think that with the experience advantage and the huge chip advantage victory would be Juanda’s in no time. If so, you couldn’t be more wrong! 242 hands went into heads up play: the best part of 8 hours went into heads up play – this was like no other heads-up play seen before. The lead position went back and forth more times to recount, but finally on the 484th, 242 of which were in heads up play, Alekhin made a pre-flop all in bet which Juanda called; the former showing Ac, 9s, the later Ks, 6s. The table came out 6d, 6d, 2d, Qc, 6h. Juanda and his quads took the first place prize of £533,950, his first bracelet since 2003.

Online Poker Act Outlines Licensing of Poker Sites
Thursday, October 2, 2008
With Kentucky taking measures to seize online gaming domains, and the US at large considering its financial position; trying to keep things on message is a difficult feat, however, thankfully for poker players of the United States, the advocates of poker have not gone quiet.

Democratic Senator of New Jersey Robert Menendez has introduced S. 3616, better known as the Internet Skill Game Licensing and Control Act. The act if passed will provide a framework with which the US can overview and control the internet play of skill games such as poker. Included in the proposed law would be means of the US government providing licenses for the play of skill games by US residents as has been seen successfully orchestrated in other countries. The Poker Players Alliance played a large part in the creation of the bill, and it’s chairman, former senator Alfonse D'Amato commented:

On behalf of the members of the PPA and online poker players nation-wide, I would like to thank Senator Menendez on his leadership on this important issue. We look forward to working with him and his Senate colleagues to enact this sound public policy.

Included in the bill will be the call for a thorough and absolute process of deeming licensees safe and trustworthy; the obligatory use of systems to prevent underage gambling as well as technology with which problem gamblers may be identified; the highest of fraud protection measures as well as measures against money laundering and tax evasion. All in all, the bill aims to take practical measure through which the playing of online skill games can be safe, protected, and beneficial for both the player and the government. Other recent acts have been aimed at the clarification of terms in order to determine the scope of existing laws; this is the first bill to take practical steps considering poker not to be included in the classification of illegal.

Old Hand or New Face – Who Will Triumph Today?
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Ivan Demidov, of Moscow was more or less unknown until this summer’s WSOP where he took 11th position at one of the NLH events. No-body could have guessed that his next great achievement after that would be making it to the WSOP Main Event Final Table to be played in November, and certainly nobody would have expected this virtual unknown to get two WSOP Main Event Final Table places under his belt in his come-out season – but that he has.

Today, when play resumes in the Empire in Leicester Square London, Demidov along with the other final 8 will return to fight it out to the last in what has already been a phenomenal event. Unlike the November Nine, the October Nine includes a number of well known players. Going into the day John Juanda is chip leader having upheld a constant level of decimation in yesterday’s play – despite having not won a bracelet since 2003, the Californian is clearly ready to add a fourth to his collection. On the other side of the coin, somewhat similar to his countryman, Russian Stanislav Alekhin who begins with the third biggest chip lead also seems to be inexperienced in tournament play, as does Toni Hiltunen who has the 7th biggest stack. Experience doesn’t necessarily seem to be the name of the game, and neither player seemed to show any fear against the better known giants of poker against whom they’ve been pitted this week; let’s hope that continues today as they face the likes of Daniel Negreanu. The stacks going into play today, look like this:

1. John Juanda - 1,349,000
2. Stanislav Alekhin - 1,278,000
3. Ivan Demidov - 1,006,000
4. Daniel Negreanu - 1,002,000
5. Robin Keston - 849,000
6. Scott Fischman - 732,000
7. Toni Hiltunen - 386,000
8. Bengt Sonnert - 385,000
9. Chris Elliott - 281,000

London Centre of the World
Thursday, October 2, 2008
London may be dubbed the Poker Capital of this Fall, and with good reason. As the WSOPE comes to an end, the European Poker Tour is getting started. Hosted at the Grosvenor Victoria Casino, yesterday saw day 1a attract a huge crowd of a little under 300 players, making organisers review their original tournament cap of 500 entrants. Amongst those to show up yesterday was last years WSOPE winner Annette Obrestad, as well as huge names like Gus Hansen and John Phan.

The eliminations came fast and furious with John Phan, Shane Schleger, Joe Beevers, Ross Boatman, Chris Ferguson and Shaun Deeb, not seeing the end of play. It was in fact Gavin Griffin in a genius hand that sent Freddy Deeb and Jeff Lisandro packing at the same time. Others that didn’t make it to the end of play included Annette Obrestad, Erica Schoenberg, and Jani Sointula. Max Pescatori had a phenomenal day of ups and downs which eventually left him top of the chip leader board. Only 77 remain of the original near 300 entrants, and we will just have to wait and see who will join them tomorrow from today’s day 1b due to get underway at 13.30 London time. Amongst those to go through are previous winner Vicky Coren, Vanessa Rousso, Victor Ramdin, and Alex Kravchenko. Expected to show up today for day 1b are Joe Hachem, Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer and Barry Greenstein, amongst others.

This, the second leg of the European Poker Tour has a guaranteed jackpot of one million pounds, is set to be the biggest event in the UK yet, far exceeding last year’s EPT of 400 entrants, and will be followed by the first ever EPT London High- Rollers event; all in all in deed making London the Poker Capital this Fall.

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