20th April saw Justin Young beat Garrett Greer, to become the champion in the World Poker Tour (WPT) Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, which was held in the city of Hollywood in Florida. The odds did not seem favorable for Young in the beginning, and it was not lost on fans that he had lost a WPT final table not so long before. On top of it, he found himself playing in a table of ten instead of the anticipated six. Circumstances were beyond his control when, on Wednesday, instead of the event starting with a six handed WPT table as the final is officially meant to have, ten players showed up.
And even then, Young did not rank well in terms of chips, as he was in the lower half of the list of ten. The poker player who began with the highest chips advantage at that final table was Hyoung Chae, who had over 6.2 million chips. Others who beat Young in chips count as the poker event began included Tim Reilly; Ben Tarzia; and Matt Haugen. Another oddity of the day was that Young lagged in chips count together with other respected poker players like Cate Hall and Garrett Greer. Possibly that mix of line-up contributed to making the final table play even more interesting.
Foxen and Hall Fall Early
Within 4hrs and having taken just eight hands into the play for the day, William Foxen was taken out by Reilly. To be eliminated next from this interesting poker event was Hall, and so he held 9th position, after being eliminated by Soverel. However, it was not all disappointing for this avid poker player who has stood well in a men-dominated arena, as she took away a respectable sum of $65,404 as her prize. After Hall left the table, the game calmed down a little, with the remaining poker competitors playing cautiously in a bid to remain seated amongst the last six, a prestigious place to be in a poker tournament as big as the WPT. The poker games involving the final six are normally broadcast on Live TV where millions of poker lovers get to enjoy the game and route for favorites.
Plotnilov and Soverel Leave Next
The game of poker is, definitely, not easy to predict with certainty. Next to leave the poker table was Plotnikov and then Soverel, and that was after the brief period of calm. The poker player who eliminated Plotnikov was Chae and the one who knocked off Soverel was Tarzia. Play and eliminations continued with enthusiasm, and soon Haugen was leading the pack, with other players like Chae and Tarzia giving him a run for his money. Young, too, was in hot pursuit. It was a tantalizing game of poker, as Chae took the lead in the official final table’s first hand. All the participants made the event highly vibrant, and at the 26th hand, Young took the lead. He got poker fans glued to the play as he held this lead up to the 50th hand and beyond.
Signs of the game advancing to its final stage became evident when Young, in his great poker play of the day, eliminated Haugen. Greer and Chae seemed to size up each other in their play, although it soon began to appear like Chae had an edge. However, the tables seemed to turn against Chae as he lost a sizeable amount of chips in the hands of Greer. Finally, it was Young who got rid of Chae in this tantalizing part of the poker event, on the 150th hand. From this point henceforth, Young dominated the game and beat Greer to take the championship in this much watched poker tournament.
For US poker enthusiasts, things are bound to change for the better on March 21. About 4yrs ago, the spirit of poker lovers in the US was dampened from what came to be known as Black Friday. The date was April 15, 2011 when many online poker players were shocked to find that they could not play on their favorite sites. Three of the major online poker sites were closed – PokerStars; Cereus Poker Network; and also Full Tilt Poker. Cereus Poker Network comprised Absolute Poker as well as Ultimate Bet.
A good number of online poker players instantly lost their source of livelihood. High stake poker players were particularly devastated by the high level of risk this move portended for their funds.
What Exactly Happened On Black Friday?
The three online poker sites cited above were closed without prior warning to regular online visitors, courtesy of the Department of Justice. It was alleged that the sites may have been facilitating criminal activity and baiting unsuspecting online poker players. What followed was a suit at the federal court, U.S. v. Scheinberg et al, and as the case dragged on, only PokerStars managed to pay its US poker players quickly and in total.
The other two poker sites did not hasten to pay up, but word has it that Full Tilt Poker finally paid up a good number of their players. However, poker players on Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet were not as lucky. Apparently, their funds are still unpaid to-date. Incidentally, when it comes to funds deposited as well as unpaid earnings, such sites owe online poker players millions of dollars in their hundreds.
Light at the End of the Poker Tunnel
On March 21st, New Jersey will mark the comeback of PokerStars to the US market. It is the place where the world famous poker hosting site will open its first poker room in the country since the infamous Black Friday. According to ABC News, on re-entry into the local market, PokerStar’s activities are going to be well regulated.
The announcement of PokerStar’s comeback has caused a big stir within the poker fraternity as well as on the corridors of the US treasury. Poker fans and other concerned parties are curious to see what impact the poker hosting site is going to have, particularly in the state of New Jersey, where it is set to open its doors in just a couple of days.
Lingering questions include:
What impact is the re-entry of PokerStars into the market going to have on the state’s overall revenue collection?
Will the site be a free for all?
As per now, New Jersey earns around $2 million dollars from online poker every month on a consistent basis. So, very likely, the opening of the site on March 21st will have the impact of raising the revenue level for the state. Also considering that PokerStars is globally the most popular online poker operator, and that it has continued its operations in other parts of the world despite closing shop in the US for the last four years, it is likely that the operator will begin business in New Jersey on a high note.
As for who is going to have access to New Jersey’s new site, stringent measures have been taken to ensure that the volume of activity at the site is built by residents of New Jersey alone. This move will ensure that no money is lost to outsiders by residents of New Jersey. As it is now, PokerStars is relying on its two partners for funding support – Borgata and also bwin.party. These two partners hold 50% shares. The rest of the shareholding belongs to Caesar’s and 888, another online operator.
South Africa has had a vibrant gambling arena for many years. Unfortunately, some people have been known to abuse the free gaming atmosphere to the detriment of genuine poker lovers and other sincere gaming enthusiasts. To curb this abuse, the country decided to accommodate gambling within the state laws so that authorities could have legal basis to monitor activities in casinos and other gambling venues.
For centuries before, gambling and associated betting sports like poker were greatly restricted – as far back as 1673. Then came 1965 and a substantive gambling act was passed where gambling activity was banned in its entirety, save for betting in horse racing where horse racing was classified as a sports activity. In short, whoever engaged in playing poker or any other betting activity in South Africa did it illegally from 1965 on wards. Yet, gambling continued in the country, escalating in the ‘70s, with around 2000 illegal casinos coming up in the poor neighborhoods of the country.
Crime under Gambling
Unfortunately, banning gambling and not effectively controlling it on the ground leaves much room for illegal activity. For one, in the case of South Africa, a lot of gambling went on for many years without the government benefiting from its due share of revenues in an area where massive monies changed hands. Without relevant state laws in place to legalize an activity, a country cannot levy taxes on it.
Another danger that was posed by the underground gambling was money laundering. People played poker and other betting games with reckless abandon. In the meantime, other people went on a crime committing spree under the guise of innocent gambling, whereas they were actually laundering money without being traced. Other gambling related crimes were also committed within the country just because there was no poker law or any other gambling law helping to control the size of stakes and overall amount spent by an individual within set timelines and venues. So, heavy indebtedness created a very unhealthy gambling environment.
The Gambling Law As It Is
Effectively in 1996, South Africa passed the National Gambling Act which legalized brick and mortar casinos; a national lottery; and singled out betting in horse racing as a legal gambling activity. So today, not only do the state laws facilitate revenue collection through taxation from gambling, they also give room for the authorities to monitor betting activities with a view to curbing crime. Needless to say, money laundering is not just dangerous to the economy; it is also risky in terms of channeling funding for terrorist activities.
As far as online gambling is concerned, there is a bill in the pipeline, which proposes the minimum gambling age to be 18 years. It also seeks to protect gamblers from addiction by closely monitoring the gambling scene. South Africa seems to be coming up with tighter state laws on gambling than many other countries. The current bill even proposes that a gambler registers officially with a licensed provider of online poker or whatever other online gambling activity it is. When this bill is finally signed into law, even those gaming enthusiasts who have been playing online poker on illegal sites will now have to play on licensed sites only, and their use of credit cards will be restricted.
Needless to say, the exchequer will benefit more from the gambling activities as it is now easy to levy taxes on revenues earned through gambling. And there is, of course, the advantage that poker players and other gamblers with ill intent like money laundering will reconsider their attempts and the risks involved and abandon the idea of laundering money through South Africa’s online gambling sites altogether.
Friday, 20th November ended with another German winning the poker competition that took place in Rozvadov in the Czech Republic. Jens Dengler led the pack of over 200 poker players who participated in the ongoing PokerNews Cup being held at the King’s Casino. The opening game on Day One was won by another German, Timothy Weltner, who led a group of 163 participants. Friday’s highly competitive poker game saw many determined players fall on the wayside, leaving only a small fraction of entrants to proceed to the next day. Only 36 players secured positions of play in the Sunday event.
Dengler Now 2nd to Staniukynas’ In Chips Count
Earlier in the day, Lithuanias’ Rytas Staniukynas had left the poker tables as the winner, managing to pile chips to the tune of 446,000. It, therefore, means that Jens Dengler is hot on his heels with a chips count of 412,000. Those who followed Dengler in chips count included Marek Bartoszewicz with 305,000 chips; Robert Obrtlik with 259,500 chips; Michael Waldmann with 247,500 chips; and Lucian Ene with 224,500. These great poker players hail from Poland, Slovakia, Germany and Romania respectively. This diversity of participants must be one reason the PokerNews Cup draws great attention from poker fans beyond the host country.
Restrictive Poker Law in Germany
It is easy to develop a wrong presumption about the legality of poker in Germany, especially looking at the number of German poker players doing well in the game on the international scene. The country has players who rank highly according to the Global Poker Index (GPI). Ole Schemion, for example, topped the list in 2013 and his cash winnings total over $5 million. Marvin Rettenmaier is another poker giant who draws the poker limelight to Germany. Rettenmaier’s cash winnings are well over $3 million.
Surprisingly, the only places where state laws allow poker to be played at a serious level are state owned casinos. Independent business people may be running those casinos that offer poker tables and other gaming facilities, but they do that on behalf of the various states that have legalized them.
When it comes to online poker, everyone understands its restrictions. In fact, only one of Germany’s sixteen states, Schleswig-Holstein, has legalized online poker. And it did it in 2011, the same time it legalized sports betting. However, poker enthusiasts in Germany still get to play online poker liberally as they have access to foreign based sites that host the game. It is, therefore, possible that many Germans hone their poker skills better online than in brick in mortar casinos. In any case, the whole of Germany has around 50 or so casinos that provide around 17 poker rooms. It may look a bit odd when people realize how conservative Germany is on the gambling front, especially considering that there was a casino established in the country, specifically in Baden, back in 1765.
Pokernews to Resume 21st November
Anticipation is still rife in Rozvadov where the PokerNews Cup is set to resume on 21st November. The tournament, which has attracted poker players who practice in conventional casinos as well as those glued on the web playing online poker, is set to continue until Monday, 23rd November. And the activities will have covered eleven tournaments by then. Until this year’s Cup champion emerges on that day, PokerNews Cup champion remains German poker player, Kristian Krupp who won the 8th edition of the PokerNews Cup and took away prize money totaling €57,473. Poker fans are, obviously, eager to see if it will be another German win in this 9th edition of the PokerNews Cup championship.
The PokerNews Cup that began with Lithuanian Rytas Staniukynas taking the lead in Day One’s main event is nearing the end, where the champion of this ninth edition of the tournament will take home a decent €37,229. Staniukynas came on top in a list of nineteen survivors. Day Two’s Main event has seen Daniel Can top the list of poker players competing. During this event, 60 competitors fell on the wayside even before the poker competition could get to level 2. This was a competitive event where some formidable poker players from earlier competitions joined the pack and made the competition at King’s Casino all the more stiff. Not surprisingly, many of those who were eliminated early had begun with short stacks.
Day’s Elimination Surprise
The Czech Republic is liberal when it comes to the state poker law, and so the PokerNews tournament has entries from all across Europe and beyond. Surprisingly, some poker giants who had come into the day’s main event with enviable stacks of chips did not qualify to play on Day Three. Sixteen of the 190 poker competitors of the day qualified to play in the PokerNews Cup finals.
What must have surprised many poker fans is the fact that players like Rytas Staniukynas, Jens Dengler and even Tomas Steponkus did not make into the list of finalists. Staniukynas had come into the event with 446,000 chips; Dengler with 412,000; and Steponkus with 339,500 chips. In fact, apart from Rytas Staniukynas who won some prize money – €1,183 – for securing himself Position 24 in the tournament, the other two left empty handed. Dengler is German and Steponkus is Lithuanian.
Finalists Proceed With High Stacks
By the end of the day’s main event, the leader Daniel Can, who is German and a professional poker player, had accumulated 3,445,000 chips, followed at a distance by Hermanus van Beek from the Netherlands. Third place in chips count was Marian Uharcek from Slovakia with 2,610,000 chips.
It’s a relief for the remaining PokerNews Cup competitors to know that each is guaranteed some amount of money at the end of Day Three’s poker game. The first player to be eliminated will actually take away €1,765 as cash prize, and of course, the other cash prizes will be higher. The players going into Day Three with a high stack of chips compared to the rest have a relative advantage in that they can afford to make a number of losses and still survive and play with better luck.
Those coming close to Daniel Can, Hermannus Beek and Marian Uharcek in chips count include German player Philipp Kaempf with 2,325,000 and Claudius Istrate, also German, with 2,090,000 chips. The other poker players who made it to Day 3’s finals included Gerald Hiebler with 1,770,000 chips; Thomas Pedersen with a count of 1,640,000; Benoit Kuhn with 1,510,000; Christian Voss with 1,335,000; Gjergji Lazer with 1,105,000 chips; Brian Joseph Lim with a count of 1,020,000; Christian Waldemar Dieter with 960,000; Jurgen Melan with 940,000 chips; Robert Markus Manner with a count of 695,000; Jakub Kramer with 685,000 chips; and Sasa Klein whose stack totaled 180,000 chips.
Clearly, Germans have dominated the poker Cup taking most of the top slots so far. Poker fans both in the Czech Republic and Germany, including those who have halted their online poker games to follow the PokerNews Cup in Rozvadov, must be wondering whether a German will take the championship or if a player from the host country or neighboring Slovakia will take the lead. However, like other gambling games, it is very difficult to predict the outcome of a poker competition with certainty. It is a wait-and-see situation for the live fans at King’s Casino and those following from afar.
Rytas Staniukynas, who hails from Lithuania, led the day’s poker competition on the second day of the PokerNews Cup. The opening day’s main event was won by Timothy Claude Weltner who is German on 19th November. The love for poker knows no bad weather as witnessed during this event that is being monitored by poker enthusiasts in many countries.
The second day of this year’s PokerNews Cup tournament saw heavy rain pound the streets of Rozvadov nearly without a break. Yet King’s Casino had its share of enthusiastic poker fans as well as a group of eager competitors. As they enter the competition, each of the poker players hopes to be in the list that gets to share the prize money totalling €200,000.
Online poker versus Conventional poker
Poker players everywhere respect each other as they are aware how easily tables can turn even for the most experienced of all. Still, skill and experience play a big role in a poker player’s performance. That notwithstanding, there is the environment to get used to. Those players who are used to playing in brick and mortar casinos may feel a little disoriented when playing online. Conversely, poker players who are used to playing online poker also get a little disoriented when playing within brick and mortar casinos with the event being watched by a live audience.
The latter was the experience the star of Day One, Timothy Weltner, had as he sat at King’s Casino playing. Weltner is used to playing online poker and can often be found playing at the PokerStars as well as Full Tilt poker hosting sites. At the table at King’s Casino, Weltner was unable to play many hands the way he ordinarily would. Luckily, he is still in the tournament and hoping to have a share of the ultimate prize money.
Poker laws in Lithuania
It is not surprising that Lithuanian Rytas Staniukynas should do so well at the PokerNews Cup competition. There are great chances for people in Lithuania to practice poker. Whereas poker in conventional casinos in Lithuania is legalized and income generated from it taxed, the state laws are silent in regard to online poker. Hence, Lithuanians continue to practice the game online without any worries of being nabbed because there is no law any officer can quote as being broken although online poker is not explicitly legalized.
Lithuania legalized conventional gambling in 2001 although people in Lithuania had begun playing it since 1990 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Before then and for all the years that Lithuania had been occupied by the Soviets – 1940 to 1990 – gambling remained illegal. The only thing close to gambling that the Soviets permitted was not poker but lotteries. These were run by the state and the government took all the proceeds.
Big Names Grace the Poker Tournament at Rozvadov
The poker tournament at King’s Casino attracted famous movie personalities as well. There was Anna Yamshchikova and her counterpart, Nikolay Karman who played very competitively at the end of Day 1 of the PokerNews Cup tournament. They qualified to participate in the poker competition when it resumes on Day 2. Although their stack of chips is not as high as that of the leading player of the day, Rytas Staniukynas, they are likely to make a good show when next they sit at the poker tables. Anna Yamshchikova ended with a stack of 90,000 chips while Nikolay Karman ended with a stack of 70,000. This was against Staniukynas’ 446,000 chips. All eyes are now directed at the Czech Republic, the host country for this year’s PokerNews Cup.