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Prior to the 2014 Midterm elections the Poker Players Alliance identified 22 anti-online-gambling lawmakers that the group termed “The Jokers,” terminology that makes me cringe every time I hear it, let alone have to type it out. So how did these 22 anti-online-gambling candidates up for reelection fare on Tuesday night? Not good if you’re an advocate for expanded online gambling, as they almost ran the table. Batted 1.000 in Congress All 17 of the House of Representatives and Senate candidates won handily – not a single race was decided by less than a double-digit spread.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R), House 3rd District, UT
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), SC
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D), House 5th District, MO
Rep. Charles Dent (R), House 15th District, PA
Rep. Randy Forbes (R), House 4th District, VA
Rep. Trent Franks (R), House 8th District, AZ
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D), House 2nd District, HI
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R), House 1st District, TX
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R), House 4th District, SC
Rep. George Holding (R), House 13th District, NC
Rep. Jim Jordan (R), House 4th District, OH
Rep. Steve King (R), House 5th District, IA
Rep. James Lankford (R), House 5th District, OK
Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D), House 3rd District, IL
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D), House 2nd District, IA
Rep. Mike Rogers (R), House 8th District, MI
Rep. Lamar Smith (R), House 21st District, TX At the state level At the state level, the anti-online gambling candidates had less success, but not much less. Only Democratic nominee for Massachusetts Governor Martha Coakley lost, while Republican Gubernatorial candidate in Florida Rick Scott eked out a 1-point victory over challenger Charlie Crist. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley easily won a second-term. Pennsylvania State Representative Mario Scavello handily won his race as well. And Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott easily bested Democratic darling Wendy Davis to take over for Rick Perry as the Governor of Texas – Abbot was the only non-incumbent on the PPA’s list. What does it all mean? Not much. The PPA’s campaign was unlikely to impact any of the elections save for the Massachusetts and Florida governorships where literally every vote counted. Each of the congressional races were in “safe” districts, as was Governor Haley’s and State Rep. Scavello’s. In Massachusetts the difference between Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker as Governor is at best minimal. While Coakley has been more outspoken in her opposition to Internet gambling, Baker is far from an online gambling champion, as he even hedged his bets on the land-based casino repeal initiative that appeared on the ballot – and thankfully was shot down by 20 points. Massachusetts also elected a Treasurer, Deb Goldberg, who has made several statements against online gambling, and who was in favor of repealing the above mentioned 2011 casino law, which was voted down by a 60/40 margin. If you like your politics complex and contradictory, Massachusetts is the place for you. The Florida results have unknown consequences at this point as Charlie Crist never verbalized his opinions on online gambling. Rick Scott is in full agreement with Sheldon Adelson when it comes to online gambling, as he penned a letter supporting the proposed federal ban back in May. As bad as a Rick Scott governorship is for iGaming, a Crist governorship would have only moved the state into the possible category. Previous Post Next Post election results|ppa|sheldon adelson About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including,,, and USA Today.

On Monday morning, the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel owned announced that its real-money bingo site,, is now live and accepting registrants from the state of California.
Desert Rose Bingo is a joint venture between the Santa Ysabel and iGaming company Great Luck, and will utilize the latter’s browser-based VPN Aided Play System (VPNAPS) technology. Using this tech, players will engage a proxy of their web enabled device, be it a desktop, smartphone or tablet, ensuring that all play takes place on the Santa Ysabel’s reservation. Whether or not this safeguard will be enough to satiate the long arm of the law remains largely in doubt. Read the Santa Ysabel’s full press release here. Desert Rose Bingo: The basics Desert Rose Bingo is available to California residents 18 years and older. At the present time bingo cards are available in four denominations: $.01, $.05, $.25 and $1. Live bingo play is not performed in any capacity by the end user, instead, all real-money wagering is handled via proxy. As per Santa Ysabel: Players who reside outside of California, and who are interested in receiving Desert Rose Bingo updates, are encouraged to opt in to the site’s mailing list. Desert Rose’s history dates back to 2013 Apparently, Desert Rose was to initially launch as a joint venture between Great Luck and the Alturas Band of Indians back in January. In a December 2013 piece written for Global Gaming Business, Great Luck chief exec. Joe Valandra outlines the company’s plans to launch the product, indicating that Desert Rose complies fully with “both the IGRA and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).” Desert Rose attorney Kevin Quigley concurs, citing: Online poker next? Santa Ysabel Interactive Director of Marketing Chris Wrieden has confirmed to that plans to launch real-money online poker on the site within the “next couple of weeks,” pending any setbacks. Granted, it’s difficult to place too much stock in any projected release window, as has indicated on multiple occasions since launching the play-money version of its site in July that a real-money equivalent was coming “very soon.” If anything, the launch of Desert Rose Bingo may present legal hurdles that would delay the release of PrivateTable’s real-money poker room further. Irony abounds. In either case, via today’s announcement, the Santa Ysabel have all but dispelled the notion that its plans were nothing more than an elaborate ruse designed to force California lawmakers to acknowledge small tribes as part of any iGaming bill. As per Wrieden: Early signup figures fail to impress As of the time of this writing, there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of activity on Desert Rose Bingo. The “Newest Members” tab is currently showing that a mere 10 residents have signed up since October 31. That’s about an average of 2.5 new players per day. More laughable, is that the site’s top winner to date has raked in a paltry $2.22. Based on these figures, it appears that Desert Rose may be remembered more for the legal debate it prompts than its success within the iGaming sphere. Time will tell. Previous Post Next Post About Robert DellaFave Robert DellaFave writes for a variety of online gaming sites and is also working on programming a poker simulation creative enough to beat the best. Follow Robert on Twitter @DivergentGames and on Google+

Over the weekend, Phil Ivey announced via his Twitter that the Ivey Poker app would be shut down effective immediately. Furthermore, the website connected to the app as well as the Ivey Poker Facebook page now reroute to Ivey League. Following the closure, there has been a lot of speculation as to why the site closed and the future of the site. I’m here to debunk a little bit of that speculation and share what I can about the situation. From July 2013 until the end of the 2014 WSOP Main Event, I served as the webmaster for If it was on the site, I put it there. I’ve actually known about the shutdown of the app since July but could not share until now. Crockfords Had No Impact on Shutting Down the App One point of speculation that I have seen floated on multiple sites is that the Crockfords case against Phil in some way influenced the shutdown of the app. That is an inaccurate assumption on multiple levels. First, I can confirm one bit of speculation in that some pros were told around the end of the WSOP that the app was going away. I was officially informed of the company’s decision on July 14 and that’s when my contract with the company was terminated. You may notice that all updates to the site stopped at that time. The assumption that Ivey losing the case to Crockfords put him in a tenuous financial position regarding the app was a bit amusing. How quickly many have forgotten that he won the $250,000 Challenge at Aussie Millions on a single bullet. That netted him $3 million. Also, people treat the Crockfords case as if he lost the $12 million out of pocket. Rather, he simply was not paid “winnings” from the casino. Big difference. Shutdown Not Surprising While I enjoyed my time working with Ivey Poker, the shutdown of the app was not a surprise to me whatsoever. The app simply did not draw the amount of traffic that anyone had hoped. Quite often, you would go to the lobby and at peak hours, we might have 50 players. While that might be acceptable for a fledgling real-money site, it just doesn’t work for a free to play site. The “play with the pros” concept was solid and when the pros were on the site, there was usually a waiting list to play them. Everyone has probably played with Gillian Epp at least once as she practically lived on the site. Unfortunately, the concept didn’t draw the players in mass. For me, the writing was on the wall when the site started offering tournaments awarding free Gold and free chips and we had a hard time pulling over 50 entries, including rebuys. What happened? Simply, I think market saturation killed us. There were just too many free to play sites out there and Ivey Poker couldn’t get enough traction during the first run. Ivey League is Not Going Away If you notice, everything with the company is now focused exclusively on Ivey League. From my time with the company, this is not surprising in the least. While I cannot go into full disclosure, the Ivey League training site is doing well and is not going anywhere. Part of Ivey League’s success is the fact that they do not rely too heavily on the “celebrity status” pros for content. While there is content from Ivey, Antonius and the other, the meat of the site is driven by the everyday pros, trainers and grinders that helped make LeggoPoker, and now Ivey Poker, a success. I’m not privy to current membership numbers but back a couple months prior to the start of the WSOP, the number of members with a Master’s tier subscription was impressive. Also, you don’t see a lot of turnover with the coaches. The team is dedicated to growing the site. What Does Evolution Look Like? Here is where I will speculate a bit because I am no longer officially tied to the company. My personal opinion is that if the app returns, it becomes an extension of Ivey League and not a separate entity as before. Ivey League is proving to be a solid product and using the app as a lead-in to poker training with Ivey League makes more sense. If you remember, Ivey Poker had a training section when they started. That was updated periodically until Ivey League came out. What I see happening with the next release of what I will dub the Ivey League App is a training section that is just the basics and then further training going to Ivey League and their three-tier subscription plan. Ivey Poker as you know it is history. Ivey’s statement revealed as much. Ivey League is the focus for the company now and that’s where the focus will be in the future. Previous Post Next Post Ivey About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

Much to the chagrin of its high volume players, industry leading PokerStars has announced forthcoming changes to its rake structure and promotional schedule, many of which will have a noticeable impact on high-volume grinders’ bottom line. Throughout the past several months the company has instituted a variety of cost cutting measures. And while decisions to cut inactive affiliates, consolidate its pro roster and blur the line between poker and gambling haven’t sat particularly well with players, the latest changes were met with the full wrath of the poker community, with the majority directing their frustration at new owner Amaya Gaming, who took the reins in early August. An overview of PokerStars’ recent policy changes The majority of the latest policy amendments will primarily impact high-stakes cash game players and high-volume SNG grinders, while casual and recreational players may not even notice. Battle of the Planets promotion to end Effective November 2, 2014 the popular Battle of the Planets promotion will be no more. Author’s thoughts: Battle of the Planets awarded the site’s best Sit and Go grinders across all stakes and commitment levels with the opportunity to pad their bankroll via added cash prizes. Its removal is, in my estimation, the most nonsensical of the recent policy changes. Yes, in the immediate, the company will save in excess of $2.5 million per year, but who’s to say that savings won’t be more than offset by player liquidity losses? Deterring high volume players from participating in Sit & Gos, especially now that the company will be making more money, on average, per Sit & Go, doesn’t seem like a wise business practice. Cash game rake amendments The rake cap for Heads-Up NL/PL games ranging from $.25/$.50 to $10/$20 will be increased from $0.50 to $1.00. At $25/$50 and higher, Heads-Up caps will be raised from $0.50 to $2.00, and 5+ player caps from $3 to $5. Author’s notes: PokerStars is placing increased stock in its casual and recreational players, sometimes at the risk of ostracizing its hardcore regs. If that wasn’t already clear by prior policy changes, the latest amendments to rake caps hammers the point home. Heads-up cash game players across all but the lowest stakes will be immediately impacted by the rake cap increases. However, the ones who are going to really feel the effects are players that grind out $.25/$.50 – $1/$2 HU NLHE for a living, if only because at these levels, the rake is higher relative to the size of the average pot. Whether the changes are significant enough to discourage regs from playing other regs is yet to be observed, but I believe they are. High stakes 6-max and full ring players may not feel the full breadth of the cap increase immediately, but after forking over an extra couple of bucks a few thousand times, they will, especially since most of these players rely on Stars’ low rake to compensate for their relatively nominal skill advantage. Sit & Go fee amendments Entry fees for KO tournaments and Sit & Gos are being increased across to board to match those of non-knockout tournaments. Additionally, the entry fees for HU Hyper Cash Sit & Gos and 6 Max Hyper Satellites will see hikes for all stakes up to $1,000. Author’s notes: PokerStars’ policy modifications for HU Hyper SNGs and 6 Max Hyper Satellites aren’t terribly impactful, as they only target a small subset of the company’s game offerings. Furthermore, after the change, the entry fees at even the lowest stakes still won’t exceed 5% of the total buy-in. That’s a fair modification. On the flip side, the Knockout MTT and Hyper Turbo MTT reforms come across as more damning. Forcing combatants to pay a 10% VIG for a tournament where half the entry fee isn’t even factored into the tournament prize pool was a brazen move on PokerStars’ part; one that has already proven a point of contention among KO aficionados. As far as the changes to Hyper Turbo MTT’s go, I’ll say this: the VIG for the tournaments in question were really, really low before. So while the forthcoming fee hikes may come across as drastic, consider that the entry fees for such tournaments are still only half that of a normal MTT. Spin & Go rake modifications Spin & Go entry fees will be increased at stakes $3 and above. At the $3 and $7 levels, the entry fee will now be 6% of the buy-in price, an increase of 1% and 2%, respectively. Players gambling it up at stakes $15 and above can now except to pay a 5% VIG, also a hike of 1%. On a more positive “spin,” the top prize per buy-in tier will see an an increase from 1000 times the buy-in to 3000x. Author’s notes: What PokerStars fails to mention in its Two Plus Two post is that although the top prize is now three times greater than it was previously, its chance of occurring has been slashed by four-fifths. In fact, the frequency of all multipliers 6x and above are taking a hit. Well, at least they’ll be fewer 2x prize multipliers and a bunch more 4x. But that’s a small consolation prize, especially considering that with the rake changes, the game becomes essentially unbeatable. By now, I think we can all agree that while Spin & Go’s pose some benefit in that they balance the poker ecology and offer recreational players a chance to learn the game, their implementation is primarily a money generating device designed to draw the impatient gambling crowd. And to that effect, Spin and Go’s have been an overwhelming success. But as the format matures, PokerStars may find that it harms cash game liquidity more than it facilitates market growth. Will liquidity on PokerStars be affected? Slightly. When Spin & Go’s first launched on PokerStars in late September, cash game liquidity took an 11% hit. Since, only a portion of the lost volume has been recovered, indicating that the novelty of the new poker-gambling hybrid has not yet worn off. This, according to data gathered at PokerFuse Pro via PokerScout. I don’t however expect to see the same sharp drop-off when the newly announced policy changes go into effect next Tuesday, for the following:
PokerStars’ player loyalty program and customer service departments are still the best the industry has to offer.
The new rake structures are fairly in line with what other top online networks, second place included, currently offer. In essence, Stars is merely forgoing its overly generous rake structure in favor of one that adheres to the industry norm.
The PokerStars 7 client improves upon nearly every aspect of the company’s already exemplary poker software.
PokerStars is the most recognizable brand in the poker industry. That being said, due to the removal of the Battle of the Planets promotion, I do expect Sit and Go liquidity to take a smallish hit, as the added incentives for putting in massive amount of SNG volume are now virtually non-existent. Furthermore, PokerStars may not want to push the envelope too much further, as any further cuts may instill widespread paranoia in the community. That, and PokerStars’ promotional schedule isn’t nearly strong enough to offset a rake schedule that is, on average, below industry standards. Tread carefully PokerStars, trend carefully. Recapping PokerStars’ other policy changes This isn’t the first time PokerStars has made headlines for announcing upcoming changes to its long standing policies. In just the past several months, the Rational Group has:
Cut ties with its sponsored pros including 2009 WSOP Main Event champion Joe Cada, Marcel Luske, as well at its two remaining Full Tilt Poker “Professionals,” Gus Hansen and Viktor Blom.
Made minor changes to the amount of benefits its top tier (SuperNova Elite) members receive annually.
Alluded to forthcoming changes in nations where “regulation and taxation comes into effect,” such as the United Kingdom and Bulgaria.
Discharged nonactive affiliates and added a 2.5% currency exchange fee, both alarmingly, without any real notice or explanation. Is Amaya really to blame? Following Thursday’s announcement, Two Plus Two users were hasty to direct their scorn at Amaya Gaming, and to an extent they cannot be blamed. Most of PokerStars’ sweeping policy changes did go into effect shortly after Amaya took over as head honcho earlier this summer. And it does appear that the latest changes were designed by Amaya to push player patience as far it could without completely alienating segments of the community. But, and this is a big “but,” keep in mind that many of the company’s cost cutting measures were planned before Amaya took over. In particular, a full review of Stars’ VIP program was planned as early as one year ago, and if anything, the changes planned for 2015 are much tamer than most industry experts initially projected. Is Amaya behind some of Stars’ controversial changes? Undoubtedly. But it’s not entirely deserving of the venomous words being spewed in its direction either. Other resources For more, Pokerfuse’s Nick Jones writes on Amaya’s role in PokerStars’ policy changes in great detail in his latest article, “Breaking Down Every Major PokerStars Change This Year.” Steve Ruddock suggests that other factors may have driven PokerStars’ change of heart in his comprehensive piece, “What’s Really Driving Recent Policy Changes at PokerStars?” Previous Post Next Post 888 poker|full tilt|pokerstars About Robert DellaFave Robert DellaFave writes for a variety of online gaming sites and is also working on programming a poker simulation creative enough to beat the best. Follow Robert on Twitter @DivergentGames and on Google+

It’s another evening of WSOP on ESPN, let’s finish up Day 6 of the Main Event. Norman wastes no time making his weekly bet against Mark Newhouse: this one involves upside-down cooking, and is oddly specific about the menu. Episode 9: Establishing Tone
Dan Smith might only have 9-5, but he’s in the small blind and has 3 million chips, so that’s worth calling. Andrey Zaichenko has T-9 suited. The flop is QJT, both players have the same fair chance at a straight and weak chance at a flush, but Zaichenko has the advantage with his pair. Smith bets, the turn is another Queen (in Zaichenko’s suit.)
Smith bets again, but Zaichenko is patient. A 6 on the river, nothing connects. Smith bets bigger, Zaichenko seems to suspect the bluff but his hand isn’t strong enough to make the risk worth it so he’ll let Smith pick up a small amount of chips from him. It’s not a dramatic start, it’s not a pivotal hand, but this hour of television is going to go at a different pace than previous episodes so we have to set the stage right. Keranen in the lead Michael Finstein has re-raised all-in with T-T against Kyle Keranen who has A-Q. J8KQ2. There is our first elimination, Finstein will go home in 42nd place. That means we can expect to cut this pool in half in the next two hours. It also means Keranen increases his lead and now has twelve and a quarter million chips. Lightbourne and bluff-shoving Newhouse was smart to get away from the last one. Now he’ll risk raising with 7-6 against someone we haven’t seen much of yet, Iaran Lightbourne. Lightbourne is holding Q-J suited and re-raises, so we have a million chip pot before the 3K9 flop. Newhouse tries too hard to build that pot, and Lightbourne is enticed to go all-in, Newhouse instantly throws the 7-6 away. The British Lightbourne will follow up betting on a 3-3, which goes unchallenged until Smith in the Big Blind has A-K suited. Both raise, Smith asks for a rule clarification before shoving and now Lightborne is the one to scurry away. Only Devonshire sees rivers After a break, Keranen is back at the Feature Table. He looks on as Gal Erlichman goes all-in with A-J for 1.6M. Bryan Devonshire calls with K-K. 3J4JQ, Erlichman’s unlikely trips help him stay alive at Devonshire’s expense. Devonshire hungers to make that back, so he’ll bet with a suited 6-5. Tom Sarra, Jr will call with A-2. The flop is 42T, but Devonshire has several outs and bets again. The turn is a 3, and Devonshire has a straight. He bets again, and the river is an irrelevant 6. Devonshire now has to try to bet to extract the maximum amount to not scare Sarra off. Another 775K from each will bring the pot to 3.5M, making up for the previous hand. We’re seeing a lot of back-and-forth. Awards Billy Pappas will pit A-T against Felix Stephenson’s J-T, while Andoni Larrabe has the advantage with a pair of Sevens. 443 flop, Larrabe bets small and Stephenson drops out. Pappas raises bigger. 9 on the turn, both check. The 2 does nothing, but Pappas bets huge to scramble Larrabe’s head. The modest increase for Pappas earns him the Gentleman Jack “The Right Move” of the Night. Pocket aces for Aaron Kaiser, it takes him a long time to bet a million chips. The only taker is Smith with two Jacks. Kaiser flops a set, 6QA, but hesitates and Smith puts him all-in. 6QAT4, Kaiser doubles up but is warned for taking too much time.
Dan Smith loses the hand but winds the “King of the Night” for his trouble. Episode Ten: Three pairs on a table
The second episode opens with Daniel Sindelar trying to make some headway with pocket Aces. Velador with 6-6 and Erlichman with K-K want to stop him, but the 389 flop pleases no one. Erlichman bets 475K, Sindelar raises to 1.2M, and Velador jumps ship. Erlichman goes all-in. A Ten and an Ace send Erlichman home and rocket Sindelar to 2nd place with 12.67 million. We’re down to four tables. Sarra with a short stack will call Velador, A-T to T-T. The flop is J4Q. Sarra check-raises and earns a small increase with Velador folds. Velador is still in the top spot, but at least Sarra no longer has the smallest pile at the Feature Table. That honor now belongs to Leif Force, who has A-9 and will re-raise against Sarra’s J-T. Sarra will then re-re-raise aggressively to send Force running, now in an even worse position. Meanwhile Dan Smith is sitting on pocket Kings, but probably doesn’t suspect the A-A in Chris Johnson’s hand. 285; Smith bets low, Johnson tries to play it cool, laying a trap. But then the King turn gives Smith his set. Smith makes another small bet to not tip his hand. Another 2 on the river completes the Full House. Smith keeps the bet reasonable hoping Johnson will bite, which Johnson does, trusting his two pair and trying to push Smith all-in. They have essentially traded stacks. There are again some wired Aces in Aaron Kaiser’s hand. Smith will call him with Q-T suited. And just like earlier, Kaiser flops a set against Smith, 68A. No one bets after the Jack turn, but this time the river King completes a broadway straight for Smith. Kaiser bets, and Smith casually baits him all-in, sending Kaiser home in 36th and getting his vengeance for earlier. Smith has cracked 10M. Devonshire has K-K, and gets called by Force with A-Q of clubs. Matt Haugen also calls for some reason, 9-4 of clubs. T44, Haugen flops trips and Devonshire can’t imagine that this is the case (Force however vanishes.) Turn: 3; River: Jack. Haugen bets 900K and Devo calls, dropping to 4.5M. Haugen is climbing back up to his earlier status, now at 9.5M. Thinning the herd Martin Jacobson has A-K against Peter Placey’s A-Q of hearts. The A54 flop gives them each a pair, but Placey goes all-in for 4.7 million. Jacobson calls, Placey has two cards to catch a Queen. The 2 that comes next gives a slim chance to chop the pot with a straight. Sadly for Placey the river is a 6, and another player is gone. Strange hands The only reason Sarra with K-3 faces Velador with Q-T is they are the small and big blind, but 77372 means another full house, and Sarra lets Velador drive the betting. Sarra takes a serious chunk of the older player’s stack. Johnson is going all-in for 1.7M with Deuces against the A-K of Dan Smith. QQ9A9, goodnight Johnson and we’re down to 30. Jorryt van Hoof has some Eights to measure against Mahin’s pair of Tens and Dong Guo’s K-Q. Van Hoof gets his set from the 398 flop, but checks, as does Guo. Mahin bets over a million, van Hoof calls and Guo slips away into the night. Not wanting to wait for the turn, van Hoof makes an in-the-dark all-in; Mahin regrets calling as van Hoof’s three eights put him at 5.4 million chips. Mahin has lost half his stack but still shakes van Hoof’s hand. Guo and Campbell Guo also backs away from a trap from Billy Pappas, but his stack is hurting. Something evil possesses Haugen’s body and makes him bet a million chips with A-8 against Velador’s A-A after a 2TK flop. The turn is 2, the demon in Haugen bets another 1.5 million. Velador performs an exorcism by going all-in and Haugen manages to fold, losing only half his stack instead of nearly the whole thing. Another three pair hand: Guo has Kings, Pappas has Aces, and Campbell goes all-in with 8-8. Pappas wants Guo to go all-in as well, and he makes it happen. Q7529.
Campbell and Guo are both seen leaving as first timer Pappas reaches 3rd place and organizes his stack of fifteen million. Billy Pappas will be “King of the Second Episode” Down to 27 Haugen’s raise on T-T will go all-in against Devonshire with Q-Q. Unfortunately after a lot of back-and-forth tonight, 58AK9 will send Haugen home in 28th place. Devonshire warns Haugen about a tell while the exiting player begins mentally spending $230,487. Day 6 is over, Martin Jacobson will begin tomorrow as chip leader with 22.3 million. See you next week when the focus will probably be more on Mark Newhouse. Previous Post Next Post About Ryan Ocello

In this new series I’ll be dissecting the different arguments being made in regards to legalizing and regulating online poker, in an attempt to try and get to the underlying truth. I’ll take a look at the arguments both for and against online gambling, and see if we can toss the rhetoric aside and look at the situation on the ground. The first topic up for discussion is the argument that online gaming is impossible to regulate and police due to the anonymity of the Internet. A favorite Argument For iGaming Opponents Since their movement to ban online gambling began late in 2013, Sheldon Adelson and the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) have offered up many hypothetical situations detailing how the anonymity of the Internet could be used for nefarious purposes. Truth be told, Adelson and the rest of the opposition to iGaming have been winning this argument all along, playing on the fears of lawmakers and the general public over the anonymity of online gaming, and how it will lead to money laundering and create easy access to gambling for problem gamblers and children. A favored line of Adelson’s is that he can see if a person is drunk or underage in one of his casinos; something that can’t be done online. This line of attack usually causes online gaming advocates to start shining a spotlight on Adelson and brick & mortar casinos failings on this front, which in my opinion is not the best counterargument to make. While it’s fun to do and is a valid criticism, most of our energy has been spent pointing out Las Vegas Sands own issues with money laundering and underage gambling, and thus leads to the inevitable cat calls of hypocrite and fraud directed Sheldon Adelson’s way. However, this is basically reinforcing Adelson’s message by implying it’s not just an online issue but also a brick & mortar issue. Instead of pointing out the safeguards that are in place we tend to point out how other industries are not perfect on this front either. So, while we are launching ad hominem attacks against Adelson and CSIG, we do little to assuage the actual concern he is raising, and it’s the perceived anonymity of online poker among the public that allows Sheldon Adelson and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling to drive their message home. So let’s take a look at just how anonymous people are on the Internet, and how we should be countering this claim. You’re Not As Anonymous As You Think The other argument that could be used to rebut concerns over money laundering and access to problem and underage gamblers (the anonymous Internet), is to point out that while the Internet does provide a certain amount of anonymity between players, you are for all intents and purposes an absolute open book when it comes to what the online poker site and the regulators can see. While every other player at the table may not know anything about “AlwaysBLUFF” other than his general location, the site has verified that person’s name, age, and home address. They have a credit card or payment option on file for AlwaysBLUFF. They can quickly pull up every bet AlwaysBLUFF has ever made on the site, that person’s deposit and withdrawal history, the number of hours they have played, and any other scrap of information they may need. The Internet may provide a single layer of anonymity, but licensed and regulated online poker sites have access beyond that top layer, to layers that leave a paper trail a mile long that can be traced and followed. They can see where you are logging in from, see if your betting habits suddenly change, track the amount of money you deposit and withdraw, and so on. In the same ways a bank can alert you to potential fraud, an online gaming site could alert players to the same. Is it foolproof? Of course not. Anyone who really wants to hack the game system will find a way, just like anyone who wants to mark cards in a casino can still go and do it if they really want to. But, just like marking cards, we can now hold people accountable for their actions online. A minor using a stolen credit card or stolen Social Security Number to create an online account has broken laws and will be punished if they are caught. Someone trying to launder money online faces the same consequences as someone trying to launder money through some other channel. The penalty for breaking these laws is our recourse and the main deterrent, just as they are in a land-based casino and every other walk of life. Not every criminal, tax evader, and law breaker is caught. Verdict Sheldon Adelson is 100% correct. People can create an account and then hand their phone off to a 16 year old kid to play. Someone desperate enough could steal someone else’s SS# and open an online account. A child could figure out their parents online password and use their account. But… An adult could also purchase alcohol and give it a minor. Someone could steal your credit card and buy items at Best Buy or Target. A child could figure out their parents password for eBay or Amazon, or their Debit Card PIN and do just as much if not more financial damage. Nothing is foolproof. The safeguards currently in place remove the layer of anonymity that online poker players had before regulations, and the punishments for people breaking these laws are more than enough to protect the integrity of the industry Previous Post Next Post About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including,,, and USA Today.

Progress has been made on a number of fronts in California but it doesn’t appear a compromise on Bad Actor clauses is coming anytime soon. In a lengthy interview with iGaming Business, Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians Chairman Mark Macarro stated the purchase of PokerStars by Amaya Gaming changes “nothing,” when it comes to PokerStars potential involvement in California iPoker. Macarro’s full, yet concise response was, “Nothing. That’s my one-word answer. Nothing,” which along with several utterances (four in fact, which you can see below) of, “strictly limited and regulated online poker,” seems to indicate little has changed from the summer. The Pechangas are just one of 13 tribes that coalesced around their opposition to PokerStars and their quartet of partners, the Morongo band of Mission Indians, Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens Casino. While the Bad Actor / Tainted Assets debate is a major hurdle (one of three Macarro cited in the interview), there are also several other issues that will also need to be sorted out, including who will be allowed to participate in the California online poker industry – and who will be left out in the cold. The Bad Actor Debate Could Be Settled 3,000 miles Away Oddly, California’s final decision on PokerStars will likely be heavily influenced by the outcome of PokerStars license application 3,000 miles away in New Jersey. While PokerStars is calling for lawmakers to craft a bill that would leave their potential involvement in the hands of regulators (as it is in New Jersey), PokerStars’ opponents want that decision made at the legislative level and included in the bill (as it is in Nevada). The general consensus seems to be that if PokerStars is approved by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJ DGE) it will help quell the opposition in California. Conversely, if for some reason PokerStars is denied a New Jersey iGaming license (which seems unlikely but not out of the realm of possibility), their chances in California would suffer a crushing blow. A lot of this will come down to timing. If PokerStars is approved by the NJ DGE prior to bills being introduced they are less likely to contain sweeping Bad Actor / Tainted Asset language in my opinion. If PokerStars future in New Jersey is still up in the air there may be a more concerted push from their California opponents to have strong Bad Actor language written into the bill. One interesting side note to this story is that while land-based interests in California have come out full throated against PokerStars, the iGaming companies PokerStars would compete against have taken a softer stance. 888 CEO Brian Mattingley feels PokerStars should spend a year or two in the Penalty Box due what Mattingley sees as the unfair advantage of operating in the U.S. from 2006-2011. “They shouldn’t be allowed to walk into new states,” Mattingley told me in an interview back in August. “one year, 18 months, or two years” would be appropriate in Mattingley’s eyes. Another potential California competitor,, also appears to be against Bad Actor clauses. Group Director of Poker Jeffrey Haas had a rather interesting answer to the question of’s stance on Bad Actor clauses in California when I spoke to him earlier this month, saying only, “this is a matter for the regulators to decide.” What makes this such an interesting take is that Haas’s statement is almost word-for-word what PokerStars and their partners have been saying on the matter, “Let the regulators regulate.” Another Interesting comment by Macarro One of the more interesting statements made by the Pechanga Tribal Chair during the iGaming Business interview was in reference to partnerships. When asked why the tribe hasn’t followed the lead of the Morongos (PokerStars) or the United Auburn Indian Community (partypoker) and declared their iGaming partner, Macarro coyly intimated that the tribe already has a partner in place: Who might this “secret” partner be? There are several potential candidates. 888 has been a driving force in the U.S. online poker market, and since their national partner Caesars doesn’t operate a casino in California they are a logical fit. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that partypoker could partner with Pechanga along with UAIC and perhaps other tribes/cardrooms to create a similar network such as the one PokerStars is planning. And there is always the possibility that the answer is C) None of the above, and the Pechanga partnership will be a curveball. Previous Post Next Post 888 poker|amaya|online poker legalization|pechanga|pokerstars About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including,,, and USA Today.

When (yes when) California legalizes online poker, one of three scenarios will likely unfold. In the first, a “bad actor” clause banning any and all pre-UIGEA participants, including PokerStars, is enacted. The Golden State’s poker community is left feeling less than enthusiastic. A second sees PokerStars gain immediate access to California’s 38 million inhabitants. The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), legions of online poker aficionados and myself take to the streets in jubilant celebration. But as we all know, touchy legislative issues rarely have black and white answers. Which brings us to scenario number three, where PokerStars is granted a license, but is prohibited from launching operations until a predetermined grace period passes. As much as I am pro-PokerStars, delaying its entry may be the only way to both appeal to the masses and ensure that any iPoker legislation that comes out of California in 2015 is inked into law. Lingering issues regarding the role of racetracks and small tribes in the prospective regulated marketplace aside, the only real issue dividing lawmakers and the state’s influential tribal factions is PokerStars. Let’s be clear – it’s not that PokerStars’ opponents in California oppose the online poker giant solely because it continued to operate in the United States post-UIGEA. If that were the case, why didn’t they soften their stance when the Rational Group was acquired by “good actor” Amaya Gaming? Instead, they fear that the triumvirate of PokerStars, the Morongo and three of CA’s largest card rooms will spell doom for their bottom line. And who wouldn’t feel threatened competing against a company that in Europe attracts more than nine times the volume of its next nearest competitor? But by pushing off its right to operate by say 12 or 18 months, other operators have a chance to establish their worth. This sort of compromise benefits the greater poker community in two integral ways. We’ve already touched on the idea that by either pushing off PokerStars’ entry or reevaluating its application at a later date, the path towards legislation becomes much clearer, i.e. faster. Perhaps just as importantly, it gives day one operators a hard deadline to win over consumers. I think its safe to say that the looming presence of PokerStars will compel operators to be far less lackadaisical then they have been in New Jersey. In turn the people that matter most, the players, benefit. Powerful figures within the iGaming sphere such as former 888 CEO Brian Mattingley maintain the belief that while the presence of PokerStars is ultimately good for the market, it should face a penalty for all the years it operated at an advantage. And that’s fair. If anything a brief delay ensures that PokerStars will have enough time to fine tune its stellar PokerStars 7 client before launching in California. Perhaps it also learns a thing or two from others’ mistakes. My advice to California legislators: Level the playing field, do whatever it takes to guarantee that an online poker bill is passed in 2015 and the rules of fair play are upheld. If that means PokerStars entry must be delayed, then so be it. But don’t leave the regulated iPoker industry’s best hope out in the cold. Previous Post Next Post online poker|online poker legalization|online poker regulation|pokerstars About Robert DellaFave Robert DellaFave writes for a variety of online gaming sites and is also working on programming a poker simulation creative enough to beat the best. Follow Robert on Twitter @DivergentGames and on Google+

On Tuesday the Nevada Gaming Control Board released the state’s September revenue figures. Needless to say, September’s results were not what the industry was hoping to see, especially coming off the industry’s disappointing August numbers… Revenue declined for the first time since February. Whether it was Strip revenue, total gaming revenue, or online poker revenue, the numbers were bleak in September. In fact, the September revenue numbers can best be summed up by the following song:
September 2014 Revenue Numbers Strip revenue was down 12% year-over-year ($495 million), while Downtown revenue was down 4% ($43.5 million), and total gaming revenue took a 6% hit year-over-year ($901 million). This was the second consecutive month total gaming revenue declined, following a more palatable 4% drop in August. While these numbers are quite depressing, Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the NGCB did add some perspective, telling, “I wouldn’t say it’s cause for concern. We are facing some difficult comparisons the past two months. No reason to push the panic buttons yet.” Lawton is referring to the fact that in August of 2013 revenue was up 11.1% from 2012, while September 2013 revenue increased 7.4% year-over-year. Basically, Nevada would have had to have two fantastic months in August and September to keep pace with 2013’s tallies. Online Poker Revenue Numbers Nevada’s online poker industry took a pretty major hit in September as well, pulling in just $693k for the month, down close to 9% year-over-year, and down over 6% from August. Revenue is down some 30% from the peak in June/July. In June, in the midst of the World Series of Poker tournament series, online poker revenue surpassed $1 million. The $693k in revenue during September is the lowest output the state has seen since it started releasing iGaming revenue figures in February, a dubious record previously held by August 2014.
February 2014 – $824k
March 2014 – $926k
April 2014 – $792k
May 2014 – $862k
June 2014 – $1.04 million
July 2014 – $985k
August 2014 – $742k
September 2014 – $693k Where Does Nevada iGaming Go From Here? A post-WSOP drop was expected following the back-to-back million-dollar months (pretty much) the state’s online poker providers posted in June and July. That being said, the dynamic drop from July to August, followed by another significant drop in September is a bit alarming, especially considering historical online poker trends for this time of year. So what is causing it? The drop could be fallout from Ultimate Poker’s recent troubles in New Jersey, which led to significant operating and personnel cuts in Nevada. Ultimate Poker’s cash game liquidity has been inconsistent over the past six months, with the trend line pointing down based on’s charts. More troubling is the drop has endured. Setting aside the traffic surge that occurred during the WSOP the site’s traffic is well below their pre-WSOP numbers according to’s data. Fortunately there is some potential hope on the horizon, as Nevada is not only waiting for several new online poker sites to launch, but also for their interstate agreement with Delaware to be implemented. Both of these events should help overall liquidity in the state; the latter more than the former. Sports-betting has a historic month The only real positive in September was sports-betting, where the state had one of its four best months in its history. In terms of total amount wagered, Nevada saw the fourth highest total in the state’s history, with $450.9 million bet on sports in September. September sports-betting revenue was up over 12% month-over-month, and up 2.4% year-over-year. Previous Post Next Post ultimate poker| About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including,,, and USA Today.

Most will argue that it’s only a matter of when, not if, online poker will come to California. The big question is whether an agreement will allow PokerStars to operate in the state. Let’s assume for a moment that the best-case scenario happens for PokerStars and they are allowed to come into the state immediately. PokerStars will be then partner with Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens, the state’s three largest card rooms. While this partnership will clearly give the card rooms a competitive advantage over the rest of the state, it could also cause some conflicts of interests in terms of several live tournament events that run at the casinos. Below are some major changes you could see in the California live tournament scene should PokerStars come to California. Legends of Poker and LA Poker Classic Could Leave the World Poker Tour Each year, the Bicycle Casino hosts Legends of Poker while the Commerce hosts the L.A. Poker Classic. Both are stops on the World Poker Tour with televised Main Events. The LAPC is one of the stops on the World Poker Tour’s “California Swing.” There’s just one problem. The World Poker Tour is affiliated with partypoker. In all likelihood, we will see bwin.Party in the state in some form and it seems unlikely they will want to drive business to a PokerStars competitor. This conflict of interest could force the WPT to abandon two long-standing events. In years past, even pre-UIGEA, this would not have been an issue because the casino was not in partnership with an online site. This is why you can see the WPT and the WSOP operate events at the Bike. Legalized online poker will change this. Bicycle Casino Could Lose Circuit Event The World Series of Poker Circuit runs an annual event at the Bicycle Casino. This past year’s event was highlighted by Mike Leah‘s two circuit ring victories in a 24-hour period. He went on to win Casino Champion and qualify for the National Championship. If PokerStars enters California, odds are you will see the Bike’s circuit discontinued. will certainly have a prescience in the state and like the World Poker Tour, it is hard seeing them sending business to a partner casino. In this case, we could see the WSOP choose another California card room as the Bicycle stop. NAPT Could Replace Sponsorship With the return of PokerStars to the United States, this opens up the possibility of resurrecting the North American Poker Tour series. Both Legends of Poker and the L.A. Poker Classic could switch over to become NAPT events with Resorts in Atlantic City possibly hosting an event. Pick up a couple of stops in Canada and PokerStars could legitimately resurrect the series. The most likely scenario would see Legends of Poker and the L.A. Poker Classic become NAPT events with a couple of smaller tournament series at the Bike and Commerce hosting satellites into the events. The Hawaiian Gardens could also be an option for a smaller satellite series but it’s unlikely they will host a major event due to space limitations. Other Tournament Series Likely Unaffected While the World Poker Tour and WSOP Circuit are among the most popular series with stops in California. They are not the only games in town. The Heartland Poker Tour has multiple stops at the Commerce each year while the CardPlayer Poker Tour hosted Big Poker Oktober. These series should remain unaffected and could actually benefit from PokerStars coming into the state. In the case of the Heartland Poker Tour, they would be a great option to replace the WSOP-C stop at the Bike. Move one of the events from the Commerce to the Bike or maybe event create a completely new event. HPT at the Bike would be a great addition to an already awesome schedule. Previous Post Next Post bike|commerce|hawaiian gardens|online poker regulation|pokerstars| About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.