Poker News Round-up
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Poker News Round-up: Week #21
The World Series Of Poker is about to start, another $1 million plus prize has been won at a WPT event and the USA has conceded defeat to the World Trade Organisation. But try to forget these minor trivialities for a moment because the new hostess for season six of the World Poker Tour has been revealed. Previous incumbent Sabina Gadecki had lasted just one year, and the first event of the new season had kicked off at the Mirage casino with no indication as to who would be the new face of the WPT. By the time players convened for the final table though, the new appointment had been named as London native Layla Kayleigh. Those who enjoy their poker delivered by a nubile young lady who doesn’t mind having her photo taken whilst showing more than a glimpse of ankle will not have been too disheartened at this choice. She may however surprise some with her knowledge of poker having made the final table of a charity tournament last year after some coaching from Jennifer Tilly and Johnny Chan.
The tournament itself had a relatively small field for a WPT event at just 309 runners, but perhaps due to its proximity to the World Series, the Mirage Poker Showdown traditionally doesn’t attract as large fields as the rest of the tour. Those who were in attendance made for a high quality line-up though which wouldn’t have helped Kirk Morrison in his attempt to set a new record with five consecutive cashes at WPT events. He was always swimming against the tide once he had pocket kings cracked twice in the opening five hands, and was eliminated on the first day shortly after Chip Reese put him to the sword with quad sevens. Other notable first day casualties included Dan Harrington, Daniel Negreanu, Scott Fischman, Jennifer Harman, Huck Seed, Freddy Deeb, Michael Mizrachi and the man who previously could do no wrong at WPT tournaments J.C. Tran.
Day two saw the field trimmed to just forty runners, including Chip Reese, Phil Ivey and chip leader Darrel Dicken (Gigabet online) and day three saw the bubble burst at 27 players left. As a final table of six was eventually formed after four days of play, Ivey held a slender chip lead over some tough opposition and fancied his chances - “I think I’m going to have to be very unlucky not to win this tournament” he stated. Arrogance or the sort of thing you’re allowed to say when you’ve accomplished as much as Ivey has? Either way his record of no wins from six previous WPT final tables was not going to intimidate his five opponents, and there have often been criticisms of WPT final tables turning into crapshoots anyway due to aggressive blind structures.
The first man down was Amnon Fileppi after flopping an ace high straight that went on to lose to a flush, before Ivey did get unlucky with a flush of his own. With the money all in on the turn, Jonathan Little’s trips upgraded to a full house on the river and Ivey was out, still looking for his first WPT win. Playing short handed with a structure like this seemed to suit Little’s expertise in online sit n goes as he started to accumulate chips as by eliminating Richard Kirsch in fourth, then doubling up against both his opponents in the space of three hands.
When Cory Carroll destroyed Dicken’s stack shortly afterwards, heads up play commenced with roughly equal stacks, meaning there was plenty of scope for the advantage to move back and forth. After around three hours of heads up play, Little hit the jackpot when his dominated hand made trips and gave him the title. The first prize of over a million dollars must have seemed an extremely remote dream when he started day two with just 4,800 chips.
Meanwhile, back in Blighty, the fifth leg of the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour was taking place in Brighton over two split day ones and a further two days of play after that. Of the 307 starters, previous GUKPT winners Michael Greco and Dave Colclough both cashed, and mobster Barny Boatman made the final table albeit with a short stack. Albert Sapiano steadily picked off the small stacks and looked well positioned with five left but then ran his stack into superior hands against each of his opponents who would form the final three. Poker Million winner Rajesh Modha had been struggling to keep his head above water and after successfully hanging on for third eventually succumbed to the larger stacks. Dave Smith had managed a final table appearance at the Cardiff leg of this tour and managed to improve on that showing by beating Neil Carr, who had put in an excellent performance for his first ever live tournament. As well as £105,100 Dave also picks up a seat for the grand final to be held in December at The Vic.
In the ongoing dispute with Antigua and Barbuda over prohibition of gambling services, the US seems to have now settled on its position. Following another meeting with the World Trade Organisation, the US seems to have conceded defeat by announcing that it would not be appealing against the WTO dispute panel’s ruling. It had previously been decided that the US was in violation of WTO rules in stopping its citizens from placing bets with offshore sites. It seems certain that America will now try to withdraw from the obligations of the treaty they signed up to, but such an abandonment of their commitments could lead them open to compensation claims from any WTO member that feels that they have been affected by this. Brazil and India have already spoken up in support of Antigua, and the European Union has also voiced its disappointment at the US’s decision to renege on the deal. If they decide to press for compensation, claims could run into billions of dollars.
American authorities continue to make themselves unpopular elsewhere with poker players following another delay to the hearing of Neteller founders Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre. Following several previous delays, the department of justice has found another reason to postpone the hearing, meaning that thousands of poker players’ balances have still not been returned. $55 million was seized as evidence against Neteller, and in March it was announced that plans would be unveiled within 75 days detailing proposals to return the money to customers. At the current rate of progress it seems that could still be some time off yet.
Following the arrests of Lawrence and Lefebvre in January, another third party payment processor, Citadel Commerce, stopped offering financial processing to US residents. Whereas other processors such as Firepay stopped taking US customers at the time the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act was signed in October last year, Citadel only pulled out when it became apparent that action was going to be taken against Neteller. That decision seems to have cost them now as they have also suffered a similar fate with the seizure of over $9 million of funds, most of which was attributed to internet gaming merchants. Following recent activity by the likes of Barny Frank this is perhaps the government’s response in signalling its intention to clamp down further on internet gambling.
The world heads up championship is underway in Barcelona and full coverage of that event will be brought to you here, but more excitingly next Friday sees the start of the first event of the 38th World Series Of Poker with world championship mixed limit/no limit hold’em.
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