Archive for August, 2011

World Poker Tour Announces Changes For Season 10

by | Published: Friday, August 26th, 2011

Executives of the World Poker Tour have announced a string of changes today designed to capitalise on the ever strengthening position poker has in the world marketplace.

While there was nothing earth shattering or game changing announced, there will be a couple of tweaks which hopefully will increase the public ‘s appetite for live tournament poker.

Last season was declared a resounding success for the WPT and both TV ratings and live attendance were substantially up from the previous year.

Season 10 of the WPT is said to be revolutionised with, “new technologies, new tour stops, new talent, more on-set and televised enhancements…”.

While some of it was just good PR with not a whole lot of real world impact, there are a number of key changes which will be noticed by players and viewers alike.

For starters season 10 will be the VIP season with all champions given an extra level of entitlements and privileges for winning a WPT tournament.

In terms of coverage now every single WPT event whether it be played in the USA or overseas will be televised.

In addition all WPT final tables can be viewed live under a new internet arrangement.

Tony Dunst will host the live stream of the final tables with Ali Nejad to serve as the announcer on that platform.

This is a key component of continuing to grow the game internationally, backed up of course by the addition of extra global pit stops.

In the USA there will be one more venue, the Jacksonville Poker Room and Parx Casino  near Philadelphia, but the rest are located offshore.

Malta, Ireland, Prague, France and Italy have all been confirmed as hosts with more expected to come over the coming weeks.

As part of the ‘Champion’s Club’ creation, all WPT winners qualify automatically for future events and more prizes will be offered.

There is also set to be a revamp to the WPT set with final tables to be redesigned and the Royal Flush to be moved on set.

At the bar all VIP players will be able to sit and watch the games from right next to the table.

There will also be more screens put up in a bid to increase the amount of interaction the audience has and make the live viewing experience even better.

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US Debt Crisis Could Save Online Poker

by | Published: Friday, August 19th, 2011

With the current economic turmoil being felt across the United States and indeed most of the world it’s hard to fathom the situation being good for anyone, least of all online poker.

It’s an industry that relies on customers having a free flowing bank account and sufficient funds to healthily support their hobby, or in some cases their career.

However while it may seem like all doom and gloom on Wall Street and around the Whitehouse, this situation could actually be beneficial for online poker.

At the end of the day the situation is that President Obama needs to find more money, a lot more money.

In fact over the coming decade the United States government needs to find almost one and a half trillion in new revenue or spending cuts.

That’s a monumental ask at the best of times, let alone given that they are also trying to do so without levies to income tax thresholds.

That’s where online poker comes in, it gives the Government a unique opportunity to create a whole new revenue stream that as yet doesn’t exist.

The plan quite simply would be to legalise the industry while their own measure son it which give them a much needed boost of funds.

It seems like the logical outcome but once again it will come down to the Republicans and the Democrats putting aside their party lines to do what’s best for the country.

As yet it’s something that hasn’t happened but according to Senate majority leader Harry Reid there is hope yet.

The Nevada based senator gave an optimistic outlook when questioned about the future of online poker saying that it, “will get done”.

It’s given a renewed sense of confidence to the Poker Players Alliance with executive director John Pappas saying they will at least take the first step.

“I think there’s a very good chance we’re going to get in the discussion,” he said.

“Whether it makes it into the final recommendation is the question.”

As it stands the Government is working under the Budget Control Act of 2011, the agreement reached earlier in the month which raised the debt ceiling level allowing the country to accrue even more debt.

The fact is that the Government has a massive task on their hands and the legalisation of online poker one way or another actually isn’t an area of high importance.

They need to find a number of ways to increase to decrease the debt in the treasury and online poker will simply be one aspect of sweeping reforms.

That’s probably a good thing for the poker industry as it certainly limits the amount of blunt opposition it can receive due to the fact doing nothing on the broader scope is no longer an option.

The tough thing here though is the fact that the committee needs to come to a majority agreement.

That’s not going to be easy given the six and six makeup between republicans and democrats.

It would be almost impossible to see a single member breaking party lines due to the fact the selected members were chosen due to the fierce loyalty to their leader.

That means it would need to be a complete bipartisan agreement, history tells us that’s far from a smooth process.

In the end then these are the people who will likely decide the fate of online poker.

The 12 members are Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Max Baucus (Mont.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.), Republican Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.), Democratic Reps. James Clyburn (S.C.), Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Chris Van Hollen (Md.), and Republican Reps. Dave Camp (Mich.), Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Fred Upton (Mich.).

These politicians have been far from supportive of online poker in the past, but that’s no the be all and end all given the different context that things will be viewed through now.

That being said it looks like some individuals could be more crucial than others.

“The people holding the cards I think will be Kyl and Reid,” Pappas said.

“Even though Reid is not on the commission, he appointed people who are. If Kyl and Reid can compromise on a deal to include online poker, I think it can happen. It’s handing Congress revenue without raising taxes, which is exactly what they’re looking for.”

Kyl wrote on his website earlier in 2011 that he would be willing to debate the legalisation of online poker providing that certain areas of the unlawful gambling enforcement act were strengthened.

Will these developments may be a cause for optimism among the online poker world they are far from being giant steps in the right direction.

As yet the committee doesn’t even has a start date and there’s no way to tell how high on the priority list they determine this proposal to be.

It’s a complex issue given the government would also need to work out how they would tax the industry, how much money they’d make form the industry and how they would go about implementing and enforcing their controls.

The Poker Players Alliance is attempting to cease this new opportunity as best they can with calls for players to petition all the members of the committee as well as their own political representatives.

 

“If we’re able to get a lot of PPA members tuned up to contact members of the committee and say to include online poker, I think when it comes up in their discussions that it will be much more palatable to them than if they go into this without any understanding that there are a bunch of people out there who care about this,” Pappas said.

“We don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket but, if we’re looking at something between now and the end of the year, this is our best shot.”

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Poker Pro Becomes New Horse Racing Pin-up Boy

by | Published: Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Poker has strengthened ties with horse racing in the United States with one of the most popular players joining forces with one of the popular race series.

The Breeders Cup is the pinnacle of a series  called the Breeders Cup World Championships, one of the most important period on the USA’s horse racing calendar.

It’s an event recognised in international horse racing circles as well and can be likened to the Super Bowl or the Baseball World Series.

Even a non horse racing follower can naturally see it’s a big deal and also that it means big bucks.

As a result they’ve looked to the world of poker as an advertising opportunity and managed to find another person who means big bucks, that’s professional player Michael ‘The Grinder” Mizrachi.

He’s set to become a rep after Breeders Cup LTD signed a sponsorship deal for the American ahead of the race dates locked in for November 4 and 5.

It’s plain to see the move is set it to attack a large poker playing audience which horse racing officials see as prime for the picking for a conversion to the track.

Breeders Cup LTD Vice President Peter Rotondo says he sees plenty of promise in the new sponsorship package.

“We believe that there is a strong cross-over between poker and horse racing, which has not yet been realized. We’re thrilled to have a relationship with ‘The Grinder’ which will allow for one of poker’s superstars to reach out to the poker world and educate them about the Breeders’ Cup and the over $160-million in liquidity during our two-day event.”

They’ve certainly gone for one of the big guns in their marketing strategy with ‘The Grinder’ considered a genuine poker superstar.

At just 30 years old and with only seven years playing experience he is already eighth on the all time money earners list.

In addition to over $11 million in tournament winnings he’s also claimed 19 career titles.

Included in that is a 2010 WSOP bracelet in the Poker Players Championship and a fifth place finish in the 2010 WSOP Main Event.

Crucially as well he also has a proven interest in horse racing making him the ideal target for horse racing officials.

Mizrachi himself says he’s ecstatic about the new deal with the Breeders Cup.

“It’s an honor to be associated with such a well-known name as the Breeders’ Cup. I’ve long been a huge horse racing fan and I am pleased to have this opportunity to align myself with the richest horse racing event with such large wagering pools.”

Some people though have criticised the move saying it’s working against efforts in the United States to clear poker from bureaucratic turmoil.

Some stakeholders have been trying to differentiate poker and horse racing saying poker is more a game of skill than chance.

This was backed up in French court recently with the declaration poker was a game of skill, a decision that has big red tape implications.

Some people feel this new sponsorship agreement undoes some of that progress with statements like

We believe that there is a strong cross-over between poker and horse racing, which has not yet been realized

They also call into question Mizrachi’s comments that he’s drawn to horse racing specifically due to the large betting pools.

It will be interesting to see if there’s any real effect on the back of this new arrangement or indeed if poker receives an reciprocal benefit.

If you’re interested in checking out the sport of kings than feel free to check out this new look horse racing website or online bookmaker.

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Months On – Black Friday’s Effects On Live Poker

by | Published: Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Black Friday was always going to have an effect not just on online poker, but across live tournaments as well.

At first it was feared live tournaments in the USA would slump drastically in numbers due to players being scared off from poker altogether.

Throw into the mix as well the fact many players no longer had the usual qualification avenues to win their way into the big tournaments.

In reality though the actual participation at many live tournaments across the country have remained relatively unchanged.

There’s the usual fluctuations up and down but on the whole there are no drastic differences between now and this time last year.

Sam Trickett is an English professional who’s played on the WSOP for four years.

The 25 year old is a specialist when it comes to live play no limit hold’em and this year he’s already notched up around $3 million.

He says there’s a noticeable difference in the tournaments this year, it’s not in the actual numbers but more the type of people that are there.

He says there’s plenty of people coughing up their own cash to get into the games either because they can’t play online or because they’ve already made the switch to live play.

“A lot of people did choose to take a shot and play off their own bankroll and only get staked if it didn’t go well,” Trickett said.

“It was good to see all these online players turning up who maybe aren’t as strong at certain elements of the game, and the fields were still big weren’t they?

“On a personal level I entered a few tournaments where I knew I wasn’t a favourite over the field, just to get experience and try to win a bracelet.”

Indeed there’s been a flood of new poker players in 2011 with names many people have never heard of making big inroads in some of the top tournaments.

Making it even harder to separate the pack is the fact the usual sponsors logo’s and patches are either different or no existent altogether.

Pokerstar’s patches, once a mainstream, are now rare and Fulltilt patches barely exist at all.

Not all online poker websites have disappeared though, in fact Trickett himself still sports the insignia of Titan Poker Titan Poker, a website we personally promote as one of the safest and best.

“It’s obviously a sign that the whole online poker market isn’t just Full Tilt and Pokerstars, even though that was the majority,” he says.

“Full Tilt flooded their pro market in the past and I can’t see how what they did is profitable, whereas the likes of Titan having smaller teams with well-respected players works well. Hopefully the Italian market opening up for cash games will help with sponsorship by improving liquidity for sites.”

He said that smaller teams such as Titan Poker Titan Poker could grow though with many European based players now left in limbo after Black Friday.

He says many have been offered new sponsorships but there may not be a big enough share to go around.

“I’m not sure how much that can offer you in the long-term,” he says, “[but] It’s probably a good idea to get on TV as much as possible at the moment.

“Still, we relied a lot on the patch deals before, so I’m not sure what direction we’re going to go with that now. Even though the industry isn’t dependent on Full Tilt to stay alive it is quite a big thing if they end up folding.”

For Trickett on the playing front the next big test will come in the Epic Poker League in Las Vegas.

He says this is a good example of an event where non-poker related companies are starting to come on board with financial backing.

He says it’s a trend that will only continue as the popularity of poker continues to blossom.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before non poker-related businesses get involved in poker, whether its energy drinks or sunglasses who start investing in sponsorships. Considering how big poker’s got, with thousands of people still playing online, it’s beginning to look like a good way for people to advertise.”

He says investment of this nature can only be a good thing for himself and poker in general as it will open it up to an even wider audience and in turn create further marketing and advertising opportunities.

That’s not completely discounting the importance of online poker websites though, Trickett says their survival is still directly tied to the growth of the game.

“The last thing you want to see is companies folding and not paying out players, as that will lead to players becoming paranoid and concerned that other companies might start folding as well,” he said.

“It doesn’t look good, in general, if Full Tilt ends up not paying its players does it?”

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