Poker News Round-up
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Poker News Round-up: Week #50
There seem to be new tours springing up all over the world these days which can only be a good thing for poker, but those who decided to support the Latin American Poker Tour in Mexico this week will no doubt think twice in future about venturing to new locations to play. 242 players had sat down to play the $2,500 main event in Nuevo Vallarta, but during level nine when 89 players remained Mexican gaming officials suddenly decided to rescind the event’s license and everybody present was ordered to leave the premises. If the locals were looking for backhanders it seems they didn’t get them as the tournament never resumed and LAPT organizers were left having to find the solution which left their players the least unhappy. A decision was made to refund all remaining players double the original buy in with the rest of the prize money being divided up based on stack sizes, which would have involved a fair amount of guesswork seeing as all chips had to be suddenly abandoned at the tables with no proper counts. To help smooth things over an extra $500 was given to all remaining entrants, although players like Greg Raymer who were sitting with a big stack in front of them will be left feeling that their trip was a massive waste of time.
As sponsor of the tour Pokerstars will be trying to make it up to customers by hosting a freeroll in which the 89 players affected will start with the same sized stacks they had to abandon in Mexico. The top nine will then be flown to Chile for the next leg of the tour where they will be able to play out their own final table live in what will hopefully be a more accommodating environment.
Undeterred by their Mexican standoff Pokerstars have announced that they are starting up another tour, this time in Russia. So far there are only two events scheduled for St Petersburg and Moscow, but the increasing number of Russians we are seeing at the tables these days would suggest that there are sufficient numbers of players for a tour to become successful there.
Back in the UK the domestic tours have come to an end now that the GCBPT grand final has been concluded in Bristol. 177 players came together for the £1,500 main event featuring a strong field, as could be seen from one table on day one which featured a WSOP winner, WPT winner, EPT winner plus various other pros all sat next to one another. From that table of death Dave Colclough emerged with enough chips to make yet another final table at which another seasoned pro, Alan Vinson, started as chip leader. Last year’s runner up Rob Akery had put in another sterling effort to make the final again, and his steady progress saw him take the chip lead with six left and keep it until Alan Vinson remained as his sole opponent. Akery’s chip lead was lost within the first few minutes of heads up play when Vinson doubled up with a full house, then shortly afterwards the two were all in again on the flop. Vinson’s top pair needed to dodge several outs Akery was looking for with his straight draw, and there turned out to be no further help for Akery who replicated last year’s result with another highly creditable second place. Once again Akery will be packing his bags for Australia in January to take up his added prize of a seat in the Aussie Millions, whilst Vinson gets a place at the WSOP main event to go with his £83,000 for first.
Meanwhile the GUKPT has already released its schedule for the 2009 tour. Once again there will be nine regular legs followed by the grand final, although one change will be that the London leg will have an increased buy in of £1,500. The Vic will also host two high roller heads up tournaments in March and November, although it has not been revealed yet just how high the buy ins will be for these. To cater for those players not heading off to Vegas for the WSOP the Summer Series of three live and one online mini festivals in June will keep players in action, and a first visit north of the border will see Aberdeen host one of these events.
The schedule for the 2009 WSOP has not yet been confirmed but word is starting to emerge of some changes that might be introduced this summer. WSOP communications director Seth Palansky has stated that the possibility of ditching rebuy events at the WSOP is being seriously considered by organisers. Feedback from players suggests that some think that the approach adopted by pros with deep pockets makes a mockery of any attempt to play poker during the rebuy period, and those who can afford to move all in blind every hand until they have a big stack are at a significant advantage. One such player who has in the past been accused of effectively trying to buy a bracelet in rebuy events is Daniel Negreanu who in 2006 took 46 rebuys and a double add on in the $1,000 no limit hold’em rebuy tournament. In fairness to Negreanu though, he agrees that it is not appropriate to have rebuys in a bracelet event. “I am 100 percent against rebuy tournaments at the WSOP” he says, “frankly, it gives players like me an unfair advantage in terms of winning the player of the year award.”
One other idea being bandied around is to have a winner takes all tournament - something that former world champion Jack Straus was always in favour of. It would not take a huge field to generate a monster prize but could create the sort of problem organizers are trying to eliminate by ending rebuys i.e. many amateur and casual players might see little point in entering with no smaller rewards available and it would become the domain of the pros gambling it up for first place.
And finally, the Norwegian parliament has voted in favour of its own version of America’s UIGEA. Despite protests from Norway’s Financial Services Association legislation has been introduced which makes transactions between Norwegian residents and online gambling sites illegal. The claim is that Norway’s problem gamblers need to be protected but there is a strong suspicion amongst many that elimination of competition for the state gaming monopoly is the real motive for this move. The European Commission has in the past stepped in to reprimand other countries for not allowing free trade within the gambling sector and there is talk that this might end up in the European Court of Justice. Until then, Norwegian online players will have to do what thousands of Americans have been doing for the past two years and just come up with new ways to get money onto sites.
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