by Bridget Wright | Published: Friday, August 29th, 2014
The record-breaking European Poker Tour Barcelona €5,300 Main Event, which attracted a field total of 1,496 runners, came to an end yesterday after a gruelling 15-hour final table.
With an epic heads-up battle lasting six hours on its own, the final three opted for a three-way deal. After beating the near 1,500 strong field, who each paid €5,300 to play the first EPT event of Season 11, Andre Lettau emerged victorious.
The German took home the title and €794,058 in prize money, though runner-up Samuel Phillips took home a lot more thanks to the three-handed deal. Phillips banked over a million Euros in total (€1,021,275), while the third player in the deal, Hossein Ensan, picked up €652,667.
Final Table Results
Ensan started the day with the chip lead, being the only player with over 10 million in chips. But it was Lettau who made the first move early in the day, winning four pots in a row and pushing himself up the leaderboard. Phillips made an early run himself, soon taking the chip lead from Ensan after picking up aces against Ensan’s King of Hearts/Jack of Spades.
Phillips continued to dominate the remaining players, constantly keeping the pressure on them as they were forced to concede pot after pot due to ICM.
Andrey Shatilov was the only player on the final table with previous EPT final-table experience, having made the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure final table a couple of years ago. Yet even his experience couldn’t help him for long. The Russian played well, but found himself short with a King and 10 of Spades. Lettau made the call with an Ace of Spades/Jack of Hearts and the board was left with just four players.
Andrea Dato was soon eliminated in fourth place, leaving the final three to play it out. Phillips soon won a monster pot and took the lead. It was at this point the three remaining players had a heated discussion, working out a deal that left €90,000 for the winner. Ensan was soon eliminated by Lettau.
This meant Lettau started the heads-up battle with a 5-1 chip lead against Phillips but over the course of the following hours the lead swapped hands several times. After 141 hands of heads-up action – more than in the rest of the final table itself – the tournament came to an end on Hand #273.
All eyes are now on London, where the next EPT event will start in just over a months’ time.
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by Bridget Wright | Published: Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
Pokerstars announced at the beginning of the week that its 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure will feature two new “Double Bubble” tournaments. In these new events, PokerStars will stretch the payout structure so that more players can take home a cut of the prize pool. In fact, prize money will be distributed to 50 percent of the field rather than the typical nine final table players.
“Most of us in the business have come to believe that paying out more of the field is better,” wrote PokerStars’ Head of Poker Communications Lee Jones. “That is, increasing the number of players who get something back is preferable to putting an extra bonus on top of the already staggering size of the prizes at the top.”
So working from that belief, and with the goal of awarding paid places to as many players as possible, PokerStars developed the “Double Bubble” tournaments. How they work is that the introduction of a second bubble gives half the field the possibility to take home some prize money. The name itself is “borrowed and adapted” from the name of a classic brand of American bubble gum.
Under the new format, half of the original starting field will receive a refund on their buy-in amount as soon as that point is reached in an event. The players that reach this level will immediately be refunded, without wasting time in queue at the cashier.
“When we get down to half the field, we’re going to return the original buy-in to all remaining players,” Jones explained. “So suppose it’s a $1000+$100 event with 80 runners. When 40 players are left, we walk around and drop $1100 in cash (or chips) in front of each of the remaining 40 players.”
When this cash giveaway is complete, all the remaining players will restart play to reach the second bubble, which marks the moment when the people still in play will be able to add extra money to their buy-in refund.
“The money that’s left is distributed in an eight-percent payout structure,” Jones continued, showing how the new structure does not dramatically change the standard payout model, which generally distributes prizes to approximately 10 percent of the field.
“So there are really two bubbles — [one] at 50 percent of the field and [one at] eight percent of the field,” Jones said.
While the main idea behind the new “Double Bubble” events is to increase the overall fun by increasing the number of places paid, Jones admitted that the decision also came about by looking at the deals that are often made at final tables.
“Look at all the final-table deals,” Jones stated. “If everybody really wanted that almost unimaginably large first prize, then deals wouldn’t happen. But in point of fact, they happen almost all the time. No matter whether it’s nervous amateurs afraid of playing for huge sums or seasoned pros trying to reduce the variance, there seems to be a universal appetite for deal making.”
Another major factor in the creation of the new format came from looking at the way players approach the bubble, and that many look forward to scoring even a min-cash because they have something to show for their game.
“Let’s talk about the bubble,” Jones said. “For all the people who talked about not wanting to min-cash, look at the wave of ‘chip and a chair’ behavior as the bubble approaches. Those people are not making ICM-optimal decisions to maximize their chances for a final table; they’re doing whatever it will take to get to the money. The very smallest minimum payoff.
“My point is this: whatever people’s plans and dreams are at the beginning of a tournament, for most folks there comes a point where locking up some money right now is preferable to the possibility of more money later,” said Jones. “Call it the ‘bird in the hand’ theory.”
The first-ever $2,200 “Double Bubble” Pokerstars event is set to start at the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure on January 5, while the second one — with identical buy-in and structure — will begin on January 8.
by Bridget Wright | Published: Monday, August 25th, 2014
When Olivier Busquet and Daniel Colman stepped out to the final table at the European Poker Tour €50,000 Super High Roller last Wednesday wearing “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” t-shirts, criticism ran throughout the poker community.
Following the wave of criticism that a poker game is not the platform for political statements, PokerStars has decided to change the rules regarding the display of political statements as slogans at the live events.
“Our tournaments are designed to promote poker and poker competition and not as a platform for political statements,” PokerStars’ Head of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser wrote in a statement sent to CardPlayer Lifestyle’s Robbie Strazynski.
“Players have many channels to express their views on world politics, but our tournaments are not an appropriate place,” Hollreiser continued. “We will refuse entry to any player displaying political statements of any kind.”
While many thought the two high-profile players using the visibility and popularity of the EPT event to encourage the poker community to talk about the conflict between Isreal and Palestine was a daring move, it was not condoned by everyone. Criticism toward the statements started as soon as the live stream of the final table began. Suddenly it stopped being about a fun poker event.
“[It] doesn’t matter what “side” you are on. [The] EPT is embarrassing itself by allowing Daniel Colman and Olivier Busquet to wear those t-shirts,” Strazynski wrote on Twitter before publishing an article on CardPlayer Lifestyle titled “There’s No Room for Politics in Poker”.
Strazynski, who strongly believes that topics as politics and religion are to be avoided at all costs at the poker table, believes that “[if] any poker player wish to use the prestige of their notoriety to advocate a particular political issue, it’s their prerogative. However, PokerStars and other governing and sanctioning bodies in poker ought to have a rule against politics at the table itself.”
However, there are other poker buffs who disagree. Shortly following the publication of Strazynski’s opinion piece, poker historian Nolan Dalla expressed his opposing views in his own post title “Political Censorship Has No Place in Poker”.
Dalla believes that the initiative of the two players did not deserve all the criticism it raised, nor it should have led PokerStars to rule in favor of a ban against the display of political statements.
“There was nothing profane nor vulgar about either item of clothing,” Dalla wrote. “Frankly, the t-shirts would hardly even be noticed on the streets of any cosmopolitan city.”
Dalla, who is the media director for the World Series of Poker and a famed poker writer, believes the ban by PokerStars is perhaps well-intended, but it is still an act against the important individual right of free expression.
“Frankly, we need more politics — just about everywhere. We need more discussion about problems and possible solutions. Not during poker hands, mind you,” Dalla explained.
“Free Palestine, or End Apartheid, or Obama 2012, or Tea Party 2014, or I love Israel, or any other political expression is entirely appropriate in a free democratic society,” Dalla concluded.
“I’ve seen all of these shirts in poker rooms over the years. Here’s some advice — if you don’t like what you see, then turn away. If you don’t like the message or the person, then don’t talk to them.”
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by Bridget Wright | Published: Saturday, August 23rd, 2014
Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov explained his company’s acquisition of the Rational Group during a conference call on Wednesday. He explained that the way millions of poker players have come to love playing at Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker will not undergo any change.
“We are strongly committed to Rational maintaining this focus in order for the game experience to remain as enjoyable and exciting as ever for online poker players,” Baazov explained.
“We’re very excited with the progress of Amaya during the quarter. The company has been transformed through its acquisition of the Rational Group, which we announced during the quarter and which was completed on August 1.
“The second quarter was a transformative period for Amaya as we announced and completed well ahead of schedule our acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, which collectively hold a healthy majority of the market share in online poker,” he continued.
“Led by its highly experienced management team, Rational Group provides Amaya with a strong platform for growth in revenues and profitability and will be significantly accretive to our earnings.
“The worldwide recognition of the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands, bolstered by being the largest producer of live poker tours and events across the globe and producer of televised and online poker programming, also provides Rational with an enormous opportunity to take advantage of adjacency opportunities in online casino and sportsbook, in jurisdictions where they can be offered – while growing in new geographies,” Baazov continued, hinting at the possibility for both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to enter the US regulated poker market again soon.
There is a plan to expand the brand to online casino gambling and sports betting, like Bovada Poker, but this development will not take away any focus or importance of the poker business.
“[Amaya] is determined that that they not provide any disruption to the core poker offering, and that the new vertical offerings are as robust and enjoyable as Rational’s online poker,” Baazov reassured.
Full Tilt Poker already offers casino games, but the plan is to expand the company’s flagship PokerStars with a casino twist.
“The company has launched casino games on Full Tilt in 2014 through its downloadable poker client,” Baazov said. “The results this far have been encouraging, though the exposure to the percentage of Rational’s player base is still quite low. There has not been a major marketing push behind it as yet.”
There is no clear timeline for the launch of the company’s first casino platform, but all signs point towards an imminent change. PokerStars’ Spanish subsidiary has already secured licenses to offer blackjack and roulette and Rational Group applied for a similar license in Italy last month.
Baazov explained that “we expect growth in 2014 in [our new] initiatives, notably in online casino, as the company continues to develop its technology platforms up to its high standards and works with various regulators to certify its solution.”
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by Bridget Wright | Published: Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
The momentous 100th stop of the European Poker Tour got off to a great start as Olivier Busquet won the EPT Barcelona €50,000 Super High Roller. He took out a total prize win of €896,434, securing the second live tournament of his career.
Busquet topped an elite, record-breaking field of 77 competitors to take out the top prize, a record which previously stood at 64 entries.
For his victory, Busquet had to defeat his good friend and most recent winner of the World Series of Poker Big One for One Drop, Daniel Colman. Colman shouldn’t be too upset, he has had an impressive year in live tournaments, and earned himself €843,066 for coming in second place.
Final Table Results
Busquet had an amazing day from the outset. He scored a runner-runner double up aginst Sven Reichardt that vaulted him into second place and from there, he was an unstoppable force.
Busquet and Colman easily defeated the other six players at the final table and then the two went to heads-up play. Busquet pulled off an impressive bluff-shove on the river with five high, and then managed a full house against Colman’s trips to score another big win.
On the final hand, Colman limp-shoved his short stack preflop with big slick, but couldn’t hold up against Busquet’s Queen and Jack of Hearts. Despite “losing”, Colman walked away with an impressive €843,066, earning himself another big score and taking his 2014 yearly earnings to a whopping $18,492,964.
Busquet had this tournament in the bag, with hardly anyone managing to send a ripple in his smooth-sailing journey to the top spot.
Busquet, who also works as a televised poker commentator when he’s not playing himself, scored the largest prize earning of his live poker career and moved to nearly $5.9 million in tournament earnings.
The EPT Barcelona action is still going strong, with the Main Even taking place tomorrow. There has been speculation that this will be the largest EPT event outside of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in history, so it’s one you surely won’t want to miss. The action kick off at 12 PM local time.
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