The BIG ONE is Back

May 20, 2014

The BIG ONE for ONE DROP, the biggest charity poker tournament in the world, and the biggest poker tournament period will return this year as part of the 45th annual World Series of Poker event lineup. This rich tournament will take place in the Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, the same venue that the other 64 other live poker events that will happen begtinning May 27th, just six short days away!

The BIG ONE, however, will not take place until Sunday, June 29th and will kick off at 1:00 p.m. that day. This three-day event will cost $1 million to buy into and is limited to 56 registrants. $111,111 from every buy-in will go to the ONE DROP charity, which works to bring clean water to underprivileged parts of the world. The remaining $888,889 will go directly into the prize pool. No fees or rake will be collected. The first place finisher could be looking at a potential payout of more than $20 million if all 56 seats are filled.

Initially, 23 players had confirmed their seats, and since then 10 more players have jumped on board. Now, 23 seats remain. Confirmed participants include a wide range of eccentric personalities who can afford such a buy-in. The most recent registrants include Vanessa Selbst, arguably the best female poker player in the world and second all-time female WSOP earner; Jean-Robert Bellande, former Survivor: China contestant; Anthony Gregg, winner of last year’s WSOP One Drop High Rollers event and $4.8 million; Fabian Quoss, German pro; Max Altergott, young German pro, who won almost $2.3 million in a Monte Carlo tournament a year ago; Tobias Reinkemeier, third all-time German poker earner with three WSOP cashes already; Igor Kurganov, number one poker earner in Russia; Christoph Vogelsang, German pro with a couple cashes to his name; Niklas Heinecker, winner of the 2011 WSOP Main Event, also from Germany and top winningest player for 2013 with almost $6.2 million in winnings and three WSOP cashes. Rounding out the newest 10 registrants is an anonymous Asian businessman, who has asked his identity be kept secret.

Other players will include the no brainers like Antonio Esfandiari, winner of the inaugural BIG ONE for ONE DROP, with three WSOP bracelets total; Guy Laliberté, founder of the BIG ONE, as well as Cirque du Soleil founder, with an estimated worth at $1.5 billion; Phil Ivey, nine-time WSOP bracelet winner and second on the all-time money list with more than $21 million in career tourney winnings; Phil Galfond, aka “OMGClayAiken” and one-time WSOP bracelet winner; Erik Seidel, eight-time bracelet winner and runner up in the 1988 WSOP Main Event; Sam Trickett, 2012’s BIG ONE runner-up and most successful tournament player in the UK with more than $20 million in career winnings; Jason Mercier, two-bracelet winner and former basketball player who has amassed more than $10 million in career tournament earnings; Daniel “jungleman” Cates, and Isaac Haxton, seven-time WSOP final tablists.

These professional poker players will be joined by three additional anonymous businessmen, and three satellite seat winners. Other confirmed registrants include Noah Schwartz, Brandon Steven, Anthony Gregg, Brian Rast, Andrew Robl, Vivek Rajkumar, Bill Perkins, Paul Newey, Philipp Gruissem, David Einhorn, and Bobby Baldwin.

For the rest of us, there’s also the Little One for One Drop is schedulaed for July 2nd, to begin at noon, a four-day event that will only cost $1,111 to buy-in and will offer unlimited re-entry throughout the first four levels.

Winning Poker Network Withdraws from US Regulated Markets

May 18, 2014

With regulated online poker in its infancy in the US, unregulated sites must make the choice to stay in the market and compete with regulated sites and risk getting fined for it, or just withdraw their services from those states and stay out of it all together. The latter is exactly what Winning Poker Network (WPN) decided to do, announcing in an email sent out to active players in those states that effective immediately, they would be suspending real money play for Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware residents.

In the email, WPN cites the regulated sites as the reasoning for its abrupt departure from the market in these three states: “Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have stepped up to allow their respective residents to play on licensed, local State poker sites. Accordingly, the Winning Poker Network has determined to decline offering services to residents seeking to play from those three States which have expressly legalized online poker, effective immediately.”

WPN is the third biggest network still serving online poker players in the US and houses America’s Cardroom, True Poker, Black Chip Poker, and other popular US-friendly sites.

Earlier this year, Merge Network, the second largest US serving network, announced it would no longer serve Delaware and New Jersey. However, the biggest US network, the Bodog/Bovada online poker network conglomerate, is still accepting players from states with regulations in place.

Some players have confirmed that they were contacted by customer support at affected poker rooms such as Black Chip Poker, and told that this would only affect new players and that existing players residing in these states would still be able to play once the site altered a small piece of info in the system—their location (e.g. from Nevada to California).

While these reports are deemed accurate, the email closed with the following statement: Players already accessing WPN who reside in those States will have access to their accounts to close out their balances. Real money play from residents in those states will no longer be permitted.

More details will undoubtedly arise once more players come forward with stories of a digital re-location by the sites, which just seems counterproductive and making more trouble for themselves in the future should the misrepresentation of player location come back to bite them.

WSOP Less Than 3 Weeks Away

May 7, 2014

The 45th Annual World Series of Poker is only about three weeks away and will include 64 events running from May 27th through July 14th, once again in Las Vegas at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. To celebrate the series’ 10th year at the Rio, the Main Event winner will receive $10 million, as well as the most coveted piece of jewelry in poker, the WSOP Main Event diamond encrusted gold bracelet.

The day after Memorial Day, May 27th, 2014, the games will kick off with the traditional Event #1 Casino Employees NLH two-day event, which will begin at high noon. The second tournament this year features a new event, the $25K Mixed Max NLH, which will award the first bracelet on opening day. This event also features a 9-handed Day 1, 6-handed Day 2, and 4-handed Day 3, and heads up for Day 4. There are 16 high-roller events in the series this year. Other high-roller events include the $,000,000 Big One for One Drop and the $50K Poker Players Championship.

On Wednesday, the 28th, Event #3 will debut on the schedule, the $1K PLO. This event marks the first offering of a non-NLH event with a buy-in at less than $1,500. Event #8 is expected to draw a crowd with the return of the Millionaire Maker with two flights and a single re-entry allowed for first flight busters to step in on the second flight and try again. This event will only cost $1,500, but will make some lucky player an instant millionaire, as its name suggests. The winner will walk away with a minimum of $1 million. Last year, this event attracted 6,343 registrants and garnered a prize pool worth $8.5 million.

With three more bracelets up for grabs this year, Ty Stewart, WSOP Executive Director, says, “For ten years we have tried to raise the bar on tournament poker. There is real optimism 2014 can be our biggest year yet with an anticipated $200 million in prize money to be paid out this summer. With new satellites and daily tournaments exclusively on and a plethora of side events, there is more reason than ever to make the trip to poker mecca.”

Last year, the WSOP made history with an all-time attendance record set at more than 79K entrants and more than $197 million in prize money. Even more are expected to turn our this year thanks to later start times for gold bracelet events and later registration allowances.

The Main Event will commence on July 4th, which will be a special satellite day with a full schedule of mega satellites, single-table satellites, and regular satellites with buy-ins as low as $125. Day 1A for the Main Event will start on July 5th and run through July 14th, on which day we will know the future November Nine of this year’s series.

Good luck to all the players making the poker pilgrimage to the Rio this summer.

ACH Transactions at New Jersey Online Poker Sites Explored

April 12, 2014

A recent experiment conducted by an Online Poker Report journalist on ACH transactions at online poker sites regulated by the state of New Jersey produced results that are both edifying and positive. If you have never made a deposit at a New Jersey online poker site but would like to, or if you have tried without success, you will find this analysis helpful. But what ultimately is demonstrated by the “test” is that state-regulations of online poker are working and effective, much more so than the unfettered, unsupervised sea of unregulated, offshore online poker sites.

The first-person look at deposit and withdrawal transactions at each of the six New Jersey online poker sites sheds light on the most widely accepted method for online poker funding, the ACH option. The Automated Clearing House transaction is a cash transfer from point A (the player’s bank account) directly to point B (the player’s online poker account).

Deposits prove to be instant with no hiccups and little “pending” time, if any at all, with no fees at any of the sites. Isn’t money coming out of the bank always seemingly flawless and immediate in most realms? New Jersey online poker is no exception. It’s when we request money be paid into our accounts that it seems to have an extended commute. The true test is on New Jersey online poker withdrawals.

The withdrawal process for both and 888 requires additional documentation of identification (e.g. copy of recent bank statement); Betfair requires no additional identification than was already on file, though they use Certegy, which charges a 1% fee, refunded by Betfair upon completion of transaction. Note that to make a withdrawal via ACH on both Borgata and PartyPoker, you must have made a prior, successful deposit. This is not a requirement at the other four New Jersey online poker sites.

The Results:

Three days after the withdrawals are requested, three of the six state-regulated New Jersey online poker sites, 888, Betfair, and, show the transfers in the player’s bank account, though are still “pending,” but are cleared and available in the player’s bank account by the end of the third day.

However, after three days, there is no word from Borgata or PartyPoker, both of which share software, tournament schedule, and player base. Borgata and Party are viewed as separate sites, but the only true difference is their promotions. These two sites do advise that withdrawal times vary across different payment methods; however, both sites present pop ups during regular play offering the opportunity to reverse the withdrawal transaction in order to free up more funds to play with. According to the site, these transactions are still pending (and it’s not too late to change your mind). By the end of the third day, both sites have approved the withdrawal requests. On the fourth business day, both withdrawals hit the player’s bank account.

All five ACH payments show up in the player’s bank account with proper casino transaction names since online poker transactions are legal in New Jersey.

On the other hand, offers cash outs via US mail only, or via pick up at Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal Casino. The site claims that an option for a electronic transfer withdrawal will be available sometime in the future. In the case study, it takes three hours from time of request for approval. It then takes seven days for the check to print. In five more days, the check travels from Las Vegas to New Jersey. The outcome was 12 days (eight business days and four weekend days) for the withdrawal to get from point A to point B.

The Conclusion:

Five out of six New Jersey online poker sites cleared ACH electronic transfer withdrawals within four days. Only one took 12 days.

The final piece of advice from the author of the study is to open a new and separate checking account that you use for only for online poker transactions at the bank of your choice, so that you can control and track your pending transactions and keep up with how much your depositing and withdrawing.

Taxes on US Online Poker Winnings

April 8, 2014

Now that tax season is in full swing, many online poker players in states with regulated online poker are faced with paying taxes on their online poker winnings. Of the three states where one form or another of online gambling is legal and regulated, Nevada, whose online poker market is  now one year old, is the only one that hasn’t forged an agreement with the IRS for data-sharing. However, federally licensed tax accountant in Las Vegas, Russ Fox, says that doesn’t matter.

Whereas in an unregulated market US players could have avoided paying US taxes on online winnings, legislation passed in all three states (Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada) gives the IRS permission to trace the online winnings of any player. The federal government can deliver at any time a summons to any regulated site, requesting a report of a player’s earnings.

With 15 years experience in gaming tax matters, Fox says, “Now if the IRS wants to get the records, they can,” Fox said. “Those companies will be cooperating. They have to,” referring to the three Nevada online poker sites,,, and

New York gaming and tax attorney Brad Polizzano, believes that the tracking of their winnings by the IRS will cause players to be more honest about their winnings.

Polizzano says, “We’re still early in the game. The more dollars that go in and out of these sites, the more the authorities are going to look and see if there are players (who) are not particularly honest.”

He adds, “The IRS is in position to get the message out and make an example of some taxpayers who don’t (pay taxes on Web gaming).”

Tax experts say that online winnings are being treated like land-based casino winnings, where in cash games, players must keep their own records and tournaments are handled differently.

The law states that if more than $600 in won in a “freeroll” tournament (that has no dollar amount buy-in) or if more than $5,000 is won in a tournament, these winnings must be reported on a W2-G tax form. Seth Palanksy, VP of Caesars Interactive corporate communications, over, says that players are automatically sent an email when they fall into one of these two categories.

Palansky says that the casino withholds 25% for taxes up front, and most players prefer this, so that they do not have to deal with it.

It is also understood that players can request a report of their wins/losses for the year to keep up with cash game taxes owed.

Furthermore, if a player is considered a professional, he or she must pay self-employment taxes and income taxes in addition to what recreational players pay on this “miscellaneous income.”

And because the main goal of states in regulating online poker is to bump tax revenue, which they earn from the sites, as well as the players. Polizzano says that federal legislation that would legalize online poker across the country will require that each site report to the IRS every player’s winnings, should it pass on Capitol Hill.

He adds, “When you compare even brick-and-mortar play or offshore sites, it’s not easy for the authorities to obtain documentation of every single wagering transaction that a player enters. That’s completely different in a regulated market. It’s going to be a lot easier for the IRS to prove whether a person playing online in Nevada is declaring all their wins and losses.”

Inaguaral New Jersey Championship of Online Poker Starts Next Month

March 18, 2014

Coming next month is the inaugural New Jersey Championship of Online Poker, aka NJCOP. and will host the series that will run parallel to the live WPT Championship hosted by PartyPoker at the Borgata in Atlantic City. The NJCOP will begin April 19th and finish up on April 27th. The guaranteed prize pool for the Main Event will be worth $200K. The entire series boasts a combined $600K in guaranteed prize pools across 15 tournament events. The Main Event will take place on April 27th at 5:00 p.m. ET and guarantees $50K to the first place finisher.

Mike Sexton, Team PartyPoker captain, says, “If you love poker then you need to be in New Jersey come April 19. The online poker action in New Jersey has been red hot since day one and the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker will be the ultimate test for pros and amateurs alike. What’s more if you are coming from out of town to play the PartyPoker WPT World Championship at Borgata it is timed, so you can make the most of the live and online games!”

He adds, “We believe it is best to be bold in the market.”

The series kicks off with a $50K freeroll at 4:00 p.m. ET on the 19th. All final tablers in this event will then go on to play in every single NJCOP event thereafter, a satellite package worth $2K. With most events featuring NLH, but the schedule is full of interesting elements such as bounty tournaments, a PLO event, a highroller event, a player’s choice event, a six-max, and a couple of re-buy tournaments. is running qualifiers for all events as of yesterday for as little as $1.

Poker Prop Bet Gone Terribly Wrong

March 17, 2014

Many poker players are known for making dumb prop bets at the felt, on sports games, and whatever else they can bet on like vegetarian Howard Lederer’s quick $10K he made off David Grey for simply eating a burger. And then there’s Huck Seed’s 18-hour stint standing in the ocean up to his shoulders due to a lost bet with Phil Hellmuth. In addition, there’s been a couple of random bets among players that require moving into a Bellagio bathroom or bathtub, but the strangest and probably most pointless prop bet was between two New Zealand players five years ago.

When 22-year-old “Full Metal Havok More Sexy N Intelligent Than Spock And All The Superheroes Combined With Frostnova” went to renew his passport, he was met with the stark realization that when he applied for a name change (above) after losing a drunken poker bet a half decade ago, it actually was approved, according to a friend of Mr. Frostnova, who posted the story on an online body-building forum.

The name is actually 99 characters, one less than is allowed by New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs, and now that it has been approved, not only will it have to appear on the fellow’s passport, but will also need to be changed on his driving license as well as other legal documents, as the name was officially accepted in March 2010, according to Michael Mead from the Department of Internal Affairs.

After meeting all the legal criteria and with all application fees paid, Mead says that Frostnova would be able to change his name back.

This isn’t the first weird name change New Zealand has encountered. In 2008 authorities were court ordered to take Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii’s into custody in order to change her name. Other names rejected by New Zealand, according to the New Zealand Herald include Knight, Majesty, King, Justice, Princess, V8, and *. Legal names do not allow symbols in New Zealand, as if that needed to be cleared up.

US Online Poker Market Surviving

March 10, 2014

The online poker market in New Jersey is finally seeing results from recent promotional and marketing strategies implemented to up interest among the Garden State’s online poker player pool. At just over three months old, the regulated and legal online poker industry in New Jersey is figuring things out.

This past Sunday, the biggest day of the week for online poker big-money guaranteed tournaments, Borgata-backed PartyPoker saw 768 players register for its $100K guaranteed featuring a $200 buy-in, smashing the promised prize pool and becoming the most successful guaranteed MTT for New Jersey to date. And other online poker sites are also seeing better numbers in New Jersey.

Peak cash game player pools are rising and seven-day peak player numbers have PartyPoker at 579 and at 342. 888 is third in the popularity contest with a seven-day peak of 286, while Ultimate Poker trails with 52. These numbers are somewhat in line with those numbers from other poker-friendly states, with Delaware seeing a peak pool of 56, while Nevada’s is at 250 and Ultimate Poker is at 117, the first real-money, regulated online poker site in the country.

The New Jersey online gambling industry, which has seen more than 200K accounts registered, generated nearly $9.5 million during January alone, and while Nevada numbers have not been released, it’s estimated that online poker is generating around $200K per month on the west coast.

And the numbers are expected to rise. Analysts believe that with more deposit and withdraw options being made available to players and tweaks being made to geolaction glitches, more players will be willing to and able to log on more frequently.

A recent interstate agreement between Nevada and Delaware may help flailing Delaware numbers, which have been the least of the three states, estimated at about half that of Nevada participation. With a combined player pool of almost four million (population of Nevada and Delaware combined), the interstate pact will likely be a successful move for the two states. The agreement leaves room for and encourages more states to join, so New Jersey may be a part of that deal as well in the future, once the interstate network is established.

Dan Cates Up $750K for 2014

March 10, 2014

Dan “Jungleman12” Cates has been one to watch in the high-stakes online poker in the past, but he hasn’t had the best start to 2014 as his fans would have liked. From the $1.9 million owed to him by a fellow high-stakes player to the unfinished Durrr Challenge, Cates has had his fair share of ups and downs throughout his career, as all big-money online pros who have chosen this roller coaster of a profession.

At only 24 years old today, Cates began his career in 2009, and according to HighstakesDB, he’s played just under 334K hands played at online poker cash games thus far, which has netted him profits that amass to more than $8.7 million for his entire career earnings. These numbers make him one of the most successful high-stakes online poker players in the world and put him as the third biggest poker winner tracked by HighstakesDB.

Now as an established chapter in online poker high-stakes cash game history books, Cates, like other proclaimed pros, didn’t start out a superstar. He worked his way up the micro-stakes and even worked at McDonald’s for a brief time to pad his bankroll when he lost everything. His uber-aggressive play style is common in his ranks, comparable to other high-stakes greats like Tom Dwan and Viktor Blom, and over the past couple years, this style of play has worked well for him, though he’s admitted that the high-stakes life is a stressful one and not something he plans on doing for the rest of his life.

Things pretty much plateaud for Cates after Black Friday in 2011 when he reached the $7 million mark, but he’s been steadily gaining ground over the past year specifically. In just the first week of this month, he’s played about 3,600 hands for which he’s up almost half a million dollars, which has helped him recoup some of the year’s prior losses. He’s now about $750K up for the year.

As Cates awaits his Full Tilt Poker refund, he also awaits Dwan’s return to the Durrrr Challenge, for which Cates is up $1.5 million and 20K hands in to the 50K required to complete the challenge. However, it’s been three years, so it’s not likely Cates is holding his breath.

Federal Anti-Online Gambling Bill to be Introduced

March 4, 2014

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (D) is planning on introducing a bill that would ban online poker at the federal level. This is in direct contradiction to Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who is working with Nevada Senator Dean Heller (R) towards an exemption for online poker. However, Graham has adamantly expressed that he is very much against exempting online poker from the act.

The 2006 UIGEA technically illegalizes online poker, but since the US Department of Justice re-interpreted their stance on this law, states have begun the process, and three have already gone live, to legally allow online poker to their residents.

Currently, Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada have allowed online poker to residents within state boarders, and Nevada and Delaware have forged an agreement to allow interstate Internet poker. Illinois and California will likely be the next states to open up regulated online poker sites for their residents.

However, Graham is hoping to put an end to all of it, including the states who have already launched successful online gambling markets.

There are a number of legislatures who are against online gambling, and some are even looking to criminalize it.

Graham said, “I don’t think it is a good idea for the country. South Carolina is not a big gambling state… A lot of damage can be done to the society in general. Again, the law enforcement community has been pretty universally against it in South Carolina and you can see a pretty wide coalition of cops and religious leaders coming together.”

The new bill would seek to rewrite the Wire Act of 1961 to add an online gambling ban to other prohibitions already depicted in the act. If the Democratic-controlled Senate were to pass the bill, the House of Representatives would then have to pass it.

But some Americans and the PPA are confused. Sheldon Adelson, who has blatantly slammed online gambling and made it a federal ban his mission, was a major contributor to Heller’s 2012 reelection campaign, contributing at least $7 million. However, if we’ve learned anything from Adelson, it’s that his money doesn’t always work in the political arena.

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