Vanessa Selbst, Poker Pro, Wins Her Third WSOP Bracelet

May 31, 2014

Event #2 of the 2014 WSOP has been played out, and US player Vanessa Selbst has taken the win. The $25K Mixed Max NLH tournament began with 131 registrants, with only the top 16 players receiving a piece of the $3+ million prize pool. This event is new to the schedule and is the only $25K-buy-in event on the schedule for this year.

This is 29-year-old Selbst’s third WSOP bracelet, tying her with Barbara Enright for most WSOP bracelets won by a female, and this is only the second event. A fourth bracelet could still be in the cards for the Yale Law School graduate who went heads-up against Jason Mo after four days of play before her victory. This win, which netted her more than $870K, also puts her total WSOP earnings at more than $2 million, just $75,000 away from the biggest female earner in WSOP history, Annette Obrestad. Mo took a healthy $538K for his second-place finish, and JC Tran, last year November Niner and 5th place finisher in the 2013 WSOP Main Event, came in fourth with a $290K payday, equal to third place finisher, Alfred Decarolis.

Now for the first time ever, a woman holds the first spot in the WSOP Player of the Year race, which is an exciting feat for Selbst, as well. She said after her most recent win, “I understand why people want to talk about women and the achievements of women in history that way. Obviously, I would like to be considered in a conversation for the best poker player, not just the best female poker player. I think I’m starting to get there and people are starting to recognize that.”

Three WSOP bracelet wins is indeed a feat for any player, male or female, and in fact, there are only 30 other people in the three-bracelet category, and even fewer with more than three bracelet titles. Selbst’s first bracelet win was back in 2008, and since then, she’s taken time to finish law school and get married, but never failed to find herself back at the felt. This recent victory has been a redemption win for her, though as she explained that she hasn’t been happy with her performance in recent tournaments prior to this one.

Other bracelet players who cashed in this event include Noah Schwartz, 16th, Nick Schulman, 13th, and Kevin Song, 12th. November Niner from the 2011 WSOP Main Event, Matt Giannetti, finished this event in 5th place. All of these names are likely to show up again before it’s all said and done with, between now and the confirmation of this year’s November Nine.

Rational Group Obtains Patent that May Make Fast Fold Poker Exclusive

May 23, 2014

In the early stages of online poker, a mere Texas Hold ‘em cash game was sufficient to draw in the masses. But as the Internet poker industry has grown, so has its vast and seemingly unlimited potential for alternative variations and avenues of play. Such variations include Omaha poker, Draw poker, and Razz. Alternative means of play have also grown, such as mixed games and the incredibly popular fast fold poker variants. However, the Rational Group, owner of both Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, is attempting to monopolize fast fold poker via patenting in efforts to offer it exclusively, despite the fact that other sites do offer their own versions of the game.

On May 20th, the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) has issued a patent to the Rational Group for the fast fold poker idea, Patent Number 8,727,850, known as the “Computer gaming device and method for computer gaming.” With this patent, other online poker sites could potentially be greatly affected.

After years at working to patent fast fold poker, rewording the applications dozens of times, the office finally accepted and patented the game in the Rational Group’s name, who technically didn’t invent the variant (Full Tilt was first with Rush Poker), but seeing how the Rational Group owns Full Tilt, this may have had something to do with the final acceptance of the patent application. If it is confirmed that Rush Poker is in fact part of the patent, the two sites (Full Tilt and PokerStars) could ultimately be the only sites online where this highly popular type of online poker game is offered. And this means no fast fold poker for US players until one of these sites gets into a regulated state market like California.

Fast fold poker is so vastly popular because it offers an accelerated format in which players can see more hands, more pots, and more wins per hour. Shuffling players around as soon as they fold or a hand is completed is a very efficient way to play Internet poker, and many online players enjoy the fast-paced format it offers. And it cannot be played live, so it is even more unique to online play.

This means that fast fold variants like Bovada’s Zone Poker and PokerStars’ FastForward Poker would likely be effected. and 888 are looking to offer Snap Poker, which may never even see the light of day if the umbrella of this patent proves big enough. Zynga’s Jump Poker would also feel the effects. While the result would be amazing for Full Tilt and PokerStars, it would likely push the format out of US play all together, hurting the entire industry as a whole in the long run.

But how will this affect the global market? Bill Gantz, intellectual property lawyer of Dentons Law Firm says that fast fold poker restrictions will not affect non-US sites and is furthermore surprised that the patent application was ultimately accepted after being rejected so many times.

Gantz says, “The amendments which allowed this patent to issue should seem obvious to the entire poker industry, and there should be ample grounds for vigorously challenging this patent.”

And there likely will be appeals from affected online poker sites as the industry continues to grow and the world continues to adapt to online poker.

888 Poker Bans US Citizens Regardless of Residence

May 21, 2014

After Black Friday, 2011, and post-UIGEA, many of the most prominent and high-staked online poker sites either chose to leave or were forced out of the US Internet poker market. This left hundreds, if not thousands, of online poker pros without an office. They were no longer able to log in to their online poker accounts at PartyPoker, Full Tilt, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars, the biggest and main sites where big-money poker pros made their livings. As a result, many of these players relocated. Some to exotic locations, some north to Canada, and others went south to Mexico. However, relocating just for the sake of playing online poker may not be as easy as it once was, as most elements of this industry ultimately prove to be.

Players have started reporting that one online poker room in particular, 888 Poker, is restricting access to online poker players who are US citizens but have relocated to Mexico or Canada. This news has come via email to these players, which explained that 888 Poker had decided to end their membership with the site and that their online poker accounts at 888 Poker had been closed with a how to guide in obtaining any remaining account balances. Furthermore, these players were also asked not to open any accounts at any 888-affiliated online gambling sites, with a warning that if they did, the accounts would be closed and any balance would not be refunded.

An 888 rep unofficially posted the following comment on the TwoPlusTwo poker forum: “We continuously monitor all 888 Poker accounts and activities and take steps accordingly. In the event you have received this email that you feel is an error, then please contact the support team and you will be answered in due course.”

With any luck, this is an isolated incident and other online poker sites that are readily available to Mexico and Canada players will not follow suit. 888 Poker is still open and running for Canadian and Mexican citizens, who haven’t seemingly been effected or received any similar emails; however, some reports are beginning to surface on the online poker forums that indicate differently.

Typically, when an online poker site makes the call to shut out a particular sector of players, they allow existing players to remain active, while only rejecting new players from the affected region. This is not the case with 888 Poker. Poker players and pros affected by this action will now have to put their chips elsewhere, which is just more annoying than anything, really.

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.