Poker News Round-up
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Poker News Round-up: Week #48
Another week, another online cheating scandal. The money to be won playing poker has always attracted cheats, but it seems the glims and dodgy dealing techniques of a generation ago have been replaced with a new weapon for the age of online poker – multi-accounting. It was reported in this column three weeks ago that Bluff magazine managing editor Chris Vaughn had remarkably managed to take down the big $1 million guaranteed tournament on Full Tilt, then follow it up with victory in Pokerstars’ Sunday Million the very next week. Sadly it was a little too remarkable to be true. There had been minor rumblings about how suspicious it was that a player with little pedigree for either live or online play had managed to win the two biggest Sunday majors on consecutive weekends, and this week it was confirmed that unscrupulous methods had been employed to achieve this.
Danish player Søren Kongsgaard revealed that Full Tilt had emailed him to inform him that the account BluffMagCV, which had originally placed first, had been disqualified. The reason given was that a player who had already been eliminated took over BluffMagCV and then guided that account to first place. This was something of a touch for Kongsgaard who had originally been cursing his luck as he lost his internet connection whilst heads up. Unable to re-connect from his apartment in Barcelona he rushed to McDonalds to use their wireless connection but found that he had been blinded away during his absence. Having resigned himself to at least picking up a decent cash for second place, this week’s good news sees him $76,000 richer after being promoted to first.
Once Kongsgaard had broken the news, speculation began to mount over who might have been the player that took over. Some thought this sounded like the modus operandi of Josh Field (aka JJProdigy), who had already been found guilty of playing more than one account in a big Party Poker tournament, resulting in a ban and funds being seized from his account. However, it didn’t take long for the finger of blame to be pointed at Sorel Mizzi (aka Imper1um aka Zangbezan24) – the former number one ranked online player. A regular fixture on internet poker sites, Mizzi has not been seen at Full Tilt for around three weeks whilst continuing to play on other sites. A host of internet posters have been quick to assume he is the guilty party and whilst Mizzi himself has yet to comment on the matter, it doesn’t look good for him in light of the following comments from sponsored Full Tilt pro Jared Hamby (aka TheWacoKidd) “from what I know, Imper1um took over on Full Tilt Poker for sure... these guys are both good friends of mine, but I just don’t approve of this at all... ugh.”
It seems it is not exactly uncommon for well known internet players to be offered the chance to buy another player’s position deep into a tournament. It was one such transaction earlier this year that forced Pokerstars to change its rules on the matter. During the $1,000 buy in Sunday Million tournament on December 31st 2006 Jeff Garza (aka ActionJeff) received a message asking if he would like to buy the position of account dim- -tix. With 32 players left from 1083 starters and dim- -tix placed sixth in chips at the time, a price of $28,000 was settled on for Garza to take over control of the account and keep whatever he won from there. Seventh place was needed for Garza to make a profit from the deal but he actually went on to win and cashed for over $200,000. For the seller, often a less experienced player, this kind of deal represents a chance to cash in their tournament equity and claim a guaranteed prize when they perhaps don’t have the confidence that they will be able to convert their position into a big score against a field that will be very strong in the closing stages. For the buyer, they can come into a tournament fresh whilst everyone else has been playing for many hours to reach that position, but also the playing style of the account will have changed. Any reads that the opposition may have picked up will become worthless whilst Garza may have known some of the other players’ games very well, putting him at an advantage. For the other players in the tournament, it’s not a level playing field and tough luck for them.
At the time, this was not actually in contravention of Pokerstars’ terms and conditions but, correctly realising that this was a situation that could not be permitted to continue, the rules were changed shortly afterwards to ban such practices. Full Tilt have also banned multiple users on one account, but if there’s money involved and an edge to be gained, undoubtedly there will always be those looking to exploit a situation. Like Josh Field, Justin Bonomo and Dustin Woolf have also been found guilty of multi-accounting and the winner of the largest prize ever for an online tournament, the Pokerstars World Championship Of Online Poker, was also disqualified for the same thing. And those are just the ones that have been caught and we know about. Who knows how many other big wins have been recorded from positions that have been bought and piloted in by these players? At a time when many are making concerted efforts to get the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act overturned, the game could do without more examples for people to question the integrity of the poker community. Sadly stories like this are becoming more common and it’s hard to see them ending soon. You probably shouldn’t even be surprised when the story breaks that young Annette Obrestad is actually a bot controlled by some evil genius in an underground lair.
If the UIGEA is to become a thing of the past it will have been thanks to contributions from numerous sources, the latest of which seems to be the Nevada Gaming Commission. The Las Vegas Sun reports that the board is due to release a study by the University Of Nevada Las Vegas that measures how the population of Nevada gambles online. Nevada approved legislation in 2003 to allow regulators to study whether internet gambling could be properly regulated. Since then, technology has been put in place that locates and identifies online players through satellite signals, and software supporting online background checks has been developed. It is expected that the board will come out in support of citizens’ rights to play poker online when they do release their findings.
The Macau leg of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour was touted by many as being highly significant in helping to open up the Asian market to poker, but it didn’t get off to the start it would have liked when world champion Jerry Yang was unable to attend. Yang only found out when he got to the airport that he would need a visa to fly into Hong Kong. Whilst not usually a requirement for US citizens, it is thought that Yang’s former status as a refugee led to this imposition. Many other notable players were in attendance though for the main event such as John Juanda, Mel Judah, Mansour Matloubi, Joe Hachem and Scotty Nguyen making for a tough field. Former world champion Hachem had a good run and made the final table, but it was Englishman Dinh Le who was the success story in China. He picked his way through the field of 352 entrants to collect first prize after a quick heads up battle with Australia’s William Tam to collect $222,640.
The main event was then followed by a high roller event with a $15,000 entry fee. Despite not entering the $2,500 main event, a few players such as Kirk Morrison and Barry Greenstein decided that they couldn’t miss this bigger event and although there were only 64 runners, they made for a field of high quality. Juanda was the big name attraction when players returned for day two’s final table, but he went out in sixth place when Eric Assadourian cracked his pocket kings. Assadourian put those chips to good use and built up a big chip lead before seeing off Bo Sehlstedt heads up to take the title and $368,640.
Back in Britain, Neil Channing made his third cash of the month when he won the £1,000 preliminary event at the Vic in the GUKPT festival. Following on from two final tables inside one week in Bristol and Blackpool as well as a very good finish in the WSOP main event in the summer, the tournament results are starting to flow for Bad Beat. This latest score was for £35,000 and it would be no surprise if he adds to that in the main event as well.
Finally, a surprising announcement came from Pokerstars this week when they revealed that their latest addition to Team Pokerstars was former tennis star Boris Becker. Becker isn’t known for his skills at the poker table but insists that he has been playing since his days on the tennis circuit. Now, like Greg Mueller, he is looking to make the transition from professional sports to being a successful poker player and has already started a poker training program. Once complete he will be entered into the EPT Dortmund and EPT Monte Carlo grand final events to test his progress. He will at least have had plenty of practice in keeping a straight face after years of listening to Rory McGrath’s jokes.
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