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WPT Hosting Tourney in Honor of Jerry Buss This Monday

This weekend the World Poker Tour will host a special charity tournament in honor of the late Dr. Jerry Buss. Buss, best known as the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, was also a fairly regular participant in high-stakes poker games, with Seven-Card-Stud being his preferred poker game. Buss passed away in February after battling cancer; he was 80 years old.

As a poker player, Buss was known to be a competent and extremely likable practitioner of the game, and was probably a favorite in virtually any stud game in the country with the exception of the ones he chose to participate in. Buss was also willing to help promote the game, as he did when he appeared on two of the games most popular shows: High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark.

While he preferred cash games, in poker tournaments Buss was no slouch, winning five poker tournaments during his lifetime, including his largest tournament score when he won the $200 NLHE tournament at the 2005 Winning O’ the Green series.

Buss also had two very notable finishes: First he finished 3rd in the 1991 Seven Card Event at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) which seems to have really kindled his love affair with the game. And as most poker fans know, finished second to Layne Flack in the 2003 World Poker Tour Celebrity Invitational –Flack was regular in Buss’s poker games and the two put on a memorable show for the viewing audience.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

On Aug. 25 at 4 p.m., the World Poker Tour Foundation will hold the Frank Mariani & Jerry Buss No Limit Hold ‘em Poker Tournament at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens.

The guaranteed prize for the tournament is $20,000.

The entry fee is a $365 buy-in, with 25% of the tournament’s prize pool donated to the Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation, which focuses “on the use of sports to promote education, teamwork and self-esteem among Los Angeles area youth.

The tournament was added to the 2013 Legends of Poker tournament series schedule (the Legends of Poker series began back on July 28) and should draw a pretty nice crowd, considering the tournament lines-up nicely right before the Main Event gets underway on August 29th.

You can see the full 2013 WPT Legends of Poker tournament schedule here: http://www.thebike.com/poker-tournaments-los-angeles/legends-of-poker-2013-2013.html

Buss was also honored during the 2013 World Series of Poker, with a special video message from Kobe Bryant delivered before the start of the Seven Card Stud event; a tournament Buss participated in whenever he had the chance, dating back to his 3rd place showing in 1991.

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Engel Wins WSOPC Ring #6; Now 1 Off All-time Lead

Tournament grinder Ari Engel prevailed for the sixth time on the World Series of Poker Circuit Series, and now has six career WSOPC Gold Rings, just one behind the all-time leader Chris Reslock. Engel is now tied with Alex Masek with six WSOPC Rings after winning Event #9, a $580 No Limit Holdem tournament at the WSOPC Foxwoods series.

Engel made his bones in online poker, where he became known as “Bodog Ari” but over the years Engel has transitioned to the life of a tournament grinder, playing in hundreds of tournaments every year and spending most of his time playing on the mid-tier poker tours like the WSOPC, Deepstacks, HPT, and other local events. For his career Engel has tournament winnings of over $1.1 million according to his Hendon Mob page, and is one of the more consistent players in poker: Over the past seven years Engel has won at least $80,000 each year six times, with a high water mark of $290,000.

His most recent WSOPC victory was a hard-fought affair, as Engel was one of 235 players registered for the $580 NLHE event at Foxwoods. In the end he would have to defeat another multiple WSOPC Ring winner in Aaron Massey (Massey has two career WSOPC rings), which took just over an hour. Massey entered the heads-up duel out-chipped 1.7 million to 1.1 million, and Engel methodically wore him down before finishing him off.

Here is a look at the final table results from the tournament:

  1. Ari Engel -- $29,634
  2. Aaron Massey -- $18,313
  3. Bedda Nakhoul -- $13,336
  4. Victor Usatii -- $9,850
  5. Chris Rizzo -- $7,408
  6. Deon Nossel -- $5,654
  7. Steven Brackesy -- $4,374
  8. Fred Alesi -- $3,438
  9. Spyro Mitrokostas -- $2,743

Here is a look at Engel’s other WSOPC victories (I’m not 100% certain which one was a non-ring tournament):

  • 2007 WSOPC Caesars Atlantic City: $300 NLHE -- $63,018
  • 2009 WSOPC Caesars Palace: $1,000 Heads-Up No Limit Holdem -- $22,353
  • 2011 WSOPC Caesars Palace: $300 NLHE -- $8,292
  • 2012 WSOPC Chester: $345 Pot Limit Holdem/Omaha -- $8,292
  • 2012 WSOPC Hammond: $1,125 NLHE -- $55,503
  • 2013 WSOPC Kennel Club Palm Beach: $580 NLHE -- $26,501

Engel has also won a Bellagio Cup tournament, an Asian Poker Tour event, an APPT tournament, the Empire State Poker Championship in 2012, and a Borgata Poker Open tournament. You can check out Ari’s full resume at his Hendon Mob page.

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One Drop Charity Rakes in $1.3 million at WSOP

After the unbelievably successful debut of the Big One for One Drop $1,000,000 buy-in tournament at the 2012 World Series of Poker, the WSOP and One Drop teamed-up once again in 2013, this time with two tournaments (a $1,111 rebuy event called the Little One for One Drop, and a $111,111 One Drop High-Roller). The WSOP and One Drop also asked players to pledge percentages of their winnings to the charity, which many did.

When all was said the WSOP and poker community’s efforts raised an astounding $1.3 million for the charity according to a press release at casinocitytimes.com. $1.08 million came from the two tournaments that were held as $111 from every entry in the Little One for One Drop was donated to the charity, and the WSOP donated 3% of the prize pool from the High-Roller event (which is the amount usually taken as the casino’s cut for hosting a tournament).

The remainder of the $1.3 million donation came directly from player pledges.

According to the press release, over the past two years, the poker community has raised roughly $7 million for the charity created by Cirque de Soleil founder and poker enthusiast Guy Laliberte. Laliberte was quoted in the press release:

"Again, we have created history!" said Cirque du Soleil founder and ONE DROP chairman Guy Laliberté. "I am thankful to WSOP for their dedication and to the poker community for their generosity. The real winners are the people for which ONE DROP will provide access to safe water. These families can break the cycle of poverty and have hope for a better future. Together we have shown the world once again how giving the poker community is and that the ripple effect continues on."

One Drop is an innovative initiative designed to provide clean drinking water to people around the globe. The charity’s mission statement reads:

ONE DROP—a non-profit organization established in 2007 by Guy Laliberté, Founder of Cirque du Soleil—strives to ensure that water is accessible to all, today and forever.

ONE DROP is a charitable organization that develops integrated, innovative projects with an international scope, in which water plays a central role as a creative force in generating positive, sustainable effects for local and foreign populations and in the fight against poverty. More specifically, ONE DROP, in cooperation with partner Oxfam and others, develops access-to-water and sanitation projects in countries where access to this vital resource is lacking. In addition, ONE DROP is involved in raising awareness among individuals and communities on water-related issues to convince them to mobilize for universal access to water and urge them to adopt sound habits for managing this precious resource for future generations. In closing, ONE DROP is also involved in fundraising—a crucial activity if it is to realize its dream of water for all, today and tomorrow. To this end, the partners of ONE DROP have joined forces with the organization for pursuing this objective.

You can learn more about One Drop or donate to the charity at their website: www.onedrop.org

In 2014 the Big One for One Drop will return to the World Series of Poker for the second $1,000,000 buy-in tournament in poker history, and early indications are that the sequel to the Big One for One Drop will be even bigger and better.

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Mike Leah, Chris Brammer and Jeff Hakim among FTOPS XXIII Winners

With just three more days to go in the Full Tilt Poker FTOPS XXIII tournament series a number of big names have already captured Gold Jerseys in the popular online poker series, including Chris “kid_bramm” Brammer, who captured Event #1, Jeff “YoungSupremacy” Hakim, a two-time winner in the FTOPS XXIII, taking down Event #3 and Event #21, and Mike “goleafsgoeh” Leah, the Event #24 winner.

Another double winner in the FTOPS XXIII was “profpanik” who won Event #9 (a 5-Card Omaha tournament) and Event #32 (a PLO Rush tournament).

Here is a look at the well-known players that have captured FTOPS XXIII victories (all results from the Full Tilt Poker website):

FTOPS XXIII Event #1: $215 No Limit Holdem –3,503 entries

  1. Chris "kid_bramm" Brammer -- $129,611
  2. 4CashNow -- $91,078
  3. IgorFederal -- $62,353
  4. Lortmatto -- $46,239
  5. jellyfish223 -- $35,030
  6. DSunichlife -- $25,992
  7. Nyx86 -- $18,565
  8. vienna bundy -- $13,171
  9. papychulo777 -- $8,897

FTOPS XXIII Event #3: $109 PLO –327 entries

  1. Jeff “YoungSupremacy” Hakim -- $26,850.00
  2. ScoopAndStack -- $17,184.00
  3. Andras Nemeth -- $12,888.00
  4. pimenta7 -- $9,934.50
  5. FromPenzaWizLav -- $7,518.00
  6. Gennadiy As -- $5,370.00
  7. Bolehlav -- $3,490.50
  8. ritarita22 -- $2,685.00
  9. KrossadChoklad -- $2,148.00

FTOPS XXIII Event #13: $320 Coucheval 6-Max – 218 entries

  1. Emil “whitelime” Patel -- $16,350.00
  2. feliceko -- $10,758.30
  3. Leqenden13 -- $7,913.40
  4. ROLF T-Rex -- $5,755.20
  5. pimenta7 -- $4,120.20
  6. Budnikov -- $2,746.80

FTOPS XXIII Event #21: $215 Limit Holdem – 403 entries

  1. Jeff “YoungSupremacy” Hakim -- $17,732.00
  2. BubbleBoy87 -- $12,090.00
  3. bullyon -- $8,946.60
  4. Pavalinya -- $6,851.00
  5. SkartyMJK -- $5,077.80
  6. tustca -- $3,627.00
  7. karolis666 -- $2,659.80
  8. DealMeInFast -- $2,015.00
  9. thereal_bandito -- $1,531.40

FTOPS XXIII Event #24: $215 No Limit Holdem – 797 entries

  1. Mike “GoLeafsGoEh” Leah -- $32,677.00
  2. brunolira -- $22,316.00
  3. katelin -- $16,752.94
  4. haemaelainen -- $12,752.00
  5. feelthemelody -- $9,245.20
  6. Pokerfan 1989 -- $6,535.40
  7. O Shark Eater O -- $4,782.00
  8. venced0r_86 -- $3,666.20
  9. vincelis -- $2,709.80

And here is a look at the current Top 10 on the FTOPS XXIII Player of the Series leader-board:








Gennadiy As


























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PSA: Poker has a Dark Underside

The days of the Cincinnati Kid and even Rounders are over. The poker world that I grew up in, playing in illegal games in the backs of bars or in basements is pretty much a thing of the past –ye, they still exist, but this is now the exception to where most people play, not the norm. Since the “Poker Boom” the game has undergone a transformation of sorts, and poker has been taken out of the smoky backrooms and its practitioners have been transformed from gamblers and hustlers to celebrities and wunderkinds.

Despite this amazing metamorphosis –still less than a decade old at this point-- at its core the game of poker is about money, and whenever money is involved the lowest forms of humanity are sure to be lurking in the background, desperately grabbing at every last dollar they can get their hands on. So once you peel back the new upper layer of respectability you find a dark and seemly underbelly filled with con-men, liars, hustlers, cheaters and thieves.

Look no further than the threads no 2+2 or PokerFraudAlert.com where you’ll see some of the slimiest, criminal behavior on display. Look at some of the names that have been called out over the years for owing money, cheating or scamming: Erick Lindgren, Chino Rheem, Vladimir Geshkenbein, Brad Booth, Russ Hamilton, and others. There have also been lesser accusations fired at Daniel Cates, Sorel Mizzi, and other big names as well.

The upper layer --the layer the poker world wants you to see—has gotten far thicker over the past 10 years, but it still pales in comparison to what lies beneath. Not because there are more dishonest people in the poker world than honest people, but because the dishonest people hold sway over the poker community. You would be hard-pressed, dare I say it is an impossibility, to find a seasoned poker player who hasn’t been cheated or hustled. Unfortunately it’s just the nature of the beast.

Eventually you will probably fall victim to some scam or hustle, or you’ll be cheated in a game; the trick is to make sure you aren’t risking too much, and when these unseemly characters strike they don’t get a lot of your hard-earned cash. Think of this as keeping a minimal amount of money in your wallet, and all of your important cards, cash, and ID in a hidden location on your person when you might be in a bad area where muggings are common or at a gathering where pick-pocketing is a real possibility.

Don’t hand people money, don’t risk amounts you can’t lose, don’t trust people around your sensitive information like your laptop, and don’t enter into bets with people who might be freerolling you.

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Poker TDA Reveals Upcoming Rules Changes

The Poker Tournament Directors Association (TCA) met during the recent World Series of Poker to discuss some potential rules changes, and in the end the TDA adopted several new policies, dealing with everything from entry into tournaments to killing hands for players who are not seated when the cards are dealt.

Not everyone was happy with the process, with the most vocal critic being Daniel Negreanu, who lampooned the TDA for not involving players in the discussion, including a back-and-forth with Linda Johnson. Despite the protests (even Negreanu admits the changes are minor, he was more upset with the process than the result) for the most part the rule changes are fairly innocuous and will likely not cause any type of backlash or problems moving forward.

The two-day summit held on June 26th and 27th saw 160 Tournament Directors from around the world offer their insights and input, and in the end nine new rules were adopted, along with clarifications to 25 existing rules. On August 11th the TDA released version 1.1 of the new rules, in both longform and handout formats.

Here is a look at some of the new rules and changes that might be of interest (where the rule was merely modified I have italicized the changes):

General Concepts

2: Player Responsibilities

Players are expected to verify registration data and seat assignments, protect their hands, make their intentions clear, follow the action, act in turn, defend their right to act, keep cards visible, keep chips correctly stacked, remain at the table with a live hand, speak up if they see a mistake being made, transfer tables promptly, follow one player to a hand, know and comply with the rules, follow proper etiquette, and generally contribute to an orderly tournament.

5: Official Language

The English-only rule will be enforced in the United States during the play of hands. At non-U.S. venues, the house will clearly post and announce acceptable language(s).

Seating, Breaking & Balancing Tables

7: Alternates, Late Registration, & Re-Entries

Alternates, players registering late, and re-entries will be sold full stacks.

10: Balancing Tables

D: In full-table events, play will halt on a table 3 or more players short of the table with the most players. Play will halt on other game formats (ex: 6-handed and turbos) at TDs discretion. Not halting play is not a cause for a misdeal and TDs may elect not to halt play at their discretion. As the event progresses, when manageable & appropriate for the type of game, at TD’s discretion tables will be more tightly balanced.

11: Number of Players at Final Table

Final tables will have the number of players at a full table for the event, plus one more player. (ex: 9-handed events seat 10 at the final table, 8-handed stud seats 9, 6-handed seats 7, etc.). No final table should seat more than 10. This rule does not apply to heads-up events.

Pots / Showdown

13: Tabling Cards & Killing Winning Hand

A: At showdown, a player should put all cards on the table so the dealer and players can read the hand clearly . “All cards” means both hole cards in holdem, all 4 hole cards in Omaha, all 7 cards in 7-stud, etc. Dealers cannot kill a hand that was tabled and obviously the winning hand.

B: If a player does not fully table his cards, then mucks thinking he has won, he does so at his own risk. If the cards are not 100% identifiable and the TD rules that the hand could not clearly be read, the player has no claim to the pot. The TDs decision on whether a hand was sufficiently tabled is final.

14: Live Cards at Showdown

A: If the house does not have a mucking line or forward motion rule at showdown, pushing non-tabled cards forward face down does not automatically kill them; a player may change his mind and table his cards if they remain 100% identifiable. However, the cards are at risk of being killed by the dealer when he pushes them into the muckpile.

B: If a mucking line or forward motion rule is in effect at showdown, house standards apply.

16: Showdown Order

In a non all-in showdown, if cards are not spontaneously tabled, the TD may enforce an order of show. The last aggressive player on the final betting round (final street) must table first. If there was no bet on the final street, then the player who would be first to act in a betting round must table first (i.e. first seat left of the button in flop games, high hand showing in stud, low hand showing in razz, etc.). Except where house policy requires a hand to be tabled during the order of show, a player may elect to muck his hand face down.

18: Asking to See a Hand

Players not still in possession of their cards at showdown, or who have mucked face down without tabling their cards, lose any rights or privileges they may have to ask to see any hand.

19: Awarding Odd Chips

Odd chips will be broken into the smallest denominations possible. In board games with 2 or more high or low hands, the odd chip goes to the first seat left of the button. In high stud, razz, and if there are 2 or more high or low hands in stud/8; the odd chip goes to the high card by suit in the best 5-card hand. In H/L split, the odd chip in the total pot goes to the high side. If identical hands win both high and low (ex: 2 wheels in Omaha/8) the pot will be split as evenly as possible. See Illustration Addendum.

23: Chip Race, Scheduled Color Ups

A: At scheduled color-ups, chips will be raced off, starting in seat 1, with a maximum of one chip awarded to a player. Players cannot be raced out of an event: a player losing his remaining chip(s) in a race will get 1 chip of the lowest denomination still in play.

B: Players must have their chips fully visible and are encouraged to witness the chip race.

C: If after the race, a player still has chips of a removed denomination, they will be exchanged for current denominations only at equal value. Chips of removed denominations that do not fully total at least the smallest denomination still in play will be removed without compensation.

27: Calling for a Clock

Once a reasonable amount of time passes and a clock is called for, a player will be given up to 50 seconds to make a decision. If action is not taken before time expires, there will be a 10-second countdown. If the player has not acted by the end of the countdown, the hand is dead. A tie goes to the player. At TDs discretion, the time allowed under this rule may be reduced.

29: At Your Seat

A player must be at his seat when the first card is dealt on the initial deal or he will have a dead hand. A player not then at his seat is dealt in, he may not look at his cards, and the hand is immediately killed after the initial deal. His blinds and antes are posted and if dealt the bring-in card in a stud-type game he will post the bring-in*. A player must be at his seat to call time. “At your seat” means within reach of your chair. This rule is not intended to condone players being out of their seats while involved in a hand. [*Note: In stud, house rules may require additional card(s) be dealt to the killed hand in certain situations.]

30: At the Table with Action Pending

A player with a live hand must remain at the table if any further betting action remains in the hand. Leaving the table is incompatible with a player’s duty to protect his hand and follow the action, and is subject to penalty.

Dealing Rules

34: Misdeals

B: If a misdeal is declared, the re-deal is an exact re-play: the button does not move, no new players are seated, and limits stay the same. Cards are dealt to players on penalty or who were not at their seats for the original deal, and their hands are killed after the re-deal. The original deal and re-deal count as one hand for a player on penalty, not two.

Play: Bets & Raises

37: Verbal Bet Declarations/ Act in Turn/ Undercalls

A: Players must act in turn. Verbal betting declarations in turn are binding. Chips put in the pot in turn stay in the pot. An undercall (betting less than the current call amount) is a mandatory full call if made facing an opening bet multi-way on any betting round, or facing any bet heads up. In all other situations, TD’s discretion applies. For purposes of this rule, in blind games the posted BB is the opening bet on the first round.

B: Players should wait for clear bet amounts before acting. Ex: A says “raise” (but states no amount), and B and C quickly fold. B and C should wait to act until A’s exact raise amount is clear. All-in buttons can greatly reduce undercall frequency (See Recommended Procedure 1).

38: Action Out of Turn (OOT)

B: A player skipped by OOT action must defend his right to act. If there is reasonable time and the skipped player has not spoken up by the time substantial action (Rule 35) OOT occurs to his

left, the OOT action is binding. The floor will be called to render a decision on how to treat the skipped hand. See Illustration Addendum.

39: Methods of Calling

Standard and acceptable forms of calling include: A) verbally declaring “call”; B) pushing out chips equal to a call; C) silently pushing out an overchip; or D) silently pushing out multiple chips equal to a call under the multiple-chip betting rule (Rule 43). Silently betting chip(s) relatively tiny to the bet (ex: NLHE, blinds 2k-4k. A bets 50k, B then silently puts out a single 1k chip) is non-standard, strongly discouraged, subject to penalty, and will be interpreted at TDs discretion, including being ruled a full call.

40: Methods of Raising

In no-limit or pot-limit, a raise must be made by (A) placing the full amount in the pot in one motion; or (B) verbally declaring the full amount prior to the initial placement of chips into the pot; or (C) verbally declaring “raise” prior to pushing out the exact amount to call into the pot and then completing the action with one additional motion. Under option C, if other than the exact amount to call, but less than a minimum raise is first put out, it will be ruled a minimum raise. It is the player's responsibility to make his intentions clear.

41: Raises

B: In no-limit and pot limit, an all-in wager of less than a full raise does not reopen the betting to a player who has already acted and is not facing at least a full raise when the action returns to him. In limit, at least 50% of a full raise is required to re-open betting for players who have already acted. See Illustration Addendum.

44: Previous Bet Chips Not Pulled In

If a player faces a raise and has chips in front of him not yet pulled in from a prior bet, those chips (and any change due) may affect whether his betting response to the raise is a call or re-raise. Because several possibilities exist, players are encouraged to verbally declare their bet before putting out new chips on top of chips from a prior bet not yet pulled in.

47: Pot Size & Pot-Limit Bets

Players are entitled to be informed of the pot size in pot-limit only. Dealers will not count the pot in limit and no-limit. Declaring “I bet the pot” is not a valid bet in no-limit but it does bind the player to making a valid bet (at least a minimum bet), and may be subject to penalty. If the player is facing a bet he must make a valid raise.

52: Count of Opponent’s Chip Stack

Players are entitled to a reasonable estimation of opponents’ chip stacks (Rule 24). Players may only request a more precise count if facing an all-in bet. The all-in player is not required to count; if he opts not to, the dealer or floor will count it. Accepted action applies (See Rule 46).

53: Over-Betting Expecting Change

Betting action should not be used to obtain change. Example: The opening bet is 325 to A and he silently puts out 525 (one 500 and one 25), expecting 200 change. This is a raise to 650 under the multiple chip rule. Putting out more than the intended bet can confuse everyone at the table. All chips pushed out silently are at risk of being counted as part of the bet.

54: All-In with Chips Found Behind Later

If A bets all-in and a hidden chip is found behind after a player has called, the TD will determine if the chip behind is part of accepted action or not (Rule 46). If not part of the action, A will not be paid off for the chip(s) if he wins. If A loses he is not saved by the chip(s) and the TD may award the chip(s) to the winning caller.

Etiquette & Penalties

58: Penalties and Disqualification

C: During a penalty, the offender must remain away from the table. Cards are dealt to his seat, his blinds and antes are posted, and the hand is killed after each initial deal. In stud-type games if he is dealt the bring-in card he must post the bring-in.

60: Exposing Cards and Proper Folding

A player who exposes his cards with action pending may incur a penalty, but will not have a dead hand. The penalty will begin at the end of the hand. When folding, cards should be pushed forward low to the table, not deliberately exposed or tossed high (“helicoptered”). See also Rule 57.

*Other rules had small modifications to the wording. For a complete look at all of the changes you can download the Handout version with Red Changes.

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Can a Letter Writing Campaign Aave the Revel Poker Room

The floundering Revel Casino in Atlantic City made the strategic decision to close their poker room last week, and despite grumbling about the backwater location and 2-star amenities of the Revel’s poker room since it opened in 2011, the poker community is now trying to save the room, or at least keep poker at Revel in some way, shape or form.

The Revel thread on 2+2 has seen several players pushing for a letter writing campaign in an effort to keep poker at the casino, even if it means just a couple of wayward tables somewhere on the casino floor. Unfortunately this might be a case of nobody caring until it’s too late; something like the Hartford Whalers moving to North Carolina and becoming the Carolina Hurricanes, and then suddenly lifelong Whalers fans came out of the woodwork saying “how could this happen?”

Well, it can and does happen all the time, and if the poker world continues to operate reactively, it will keep happening. The Revel closing their poker room, and then the poker community making noise about it is something that seems to happen across poker; whether it’s legislatively or in terms of cheating and scamming in poker. It seems like poker players don’t care about something until it happens, when it’s already too late to reverse course.

Take the Ultimate Bet Super-User scandal as case #1 of this. In 2006 you were roundly ridiculed if you claimed a poker site was cheating you, or players could see your hole cards. You were called a “rigtard” or conspiracy theorist who was only saying this because you sucked at poker and couldn’t win. But lo and behold, some of these rigtards were right! And after the fact everyone and their mother were screaming about how people were stupid for not seeing this coming: The sheer beauty and elegance of postdiction.

More recently it’s been computer hackings and poker bots that have gone from, “what are you worried about” status to “oh my god, how do we stop these things?”

So back to the letter-writing campaign: While I applaud the effort I really don’t see how they are going to exact a change. For one thing, even if they are successful, the Revel had a lousy poker room when it was a full art of the casino; why would Revel suddenly go to great lengths to see that two wayward tables were being run at a higher level?

Secondly, looking at it realistically, the campaign won’t work. But I don’t understand the problem to begin with as there are several other poker rooms on the Boardwalk? Several nicer rooms with better reputations.

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Cake Poker Undergoes Rebranding Now Win Cake

Last week Cake Poker announced (or rather USPoker.com noticed) that it would be rebranding its business and would henceforth be known as Win Cake, with the CakePoker.com/CakePoker.eu domains now redirecting to WinCake.com. There was no reasoning given for the change and the logo and overall appearance of the site seem the same.

Over the past year Cake Poker has gone through a number of changes, most notably migrating all of their US customers to their sister site Juicy Stakes Poker, while Cake Poker retained its European and ROW player base. Perhaps the Revolution Gaming site is looking at becoming a player in Europe where a company must be licensed and regulated to gain access to certain markets?

After Cake Poker migrated its players to the Juicy Stakes website the emphasis for the site saw a shift from a poker-centric website to a full gaming website that offers casino games and a soon to be launched sports-book. The name change could simply reflect the new direction of the company as a gaming website (Win Cake) and not a poker website (Cake Poker).

Another possibility is that the site is simply trying to stay a step ahead of the US DOJ, but this doesn’t make much sense if they continue to use a .com domain name, which the DOJ has proven to be easily seized.

Yet another possibility is the site simply wants to put some space between its current operation and the Cake Poker brand, which has been one of the worst in online poker in terms of withdrawal times since Black Friday. For whatever reason Cake Poker has been unable to process withdrawals in a timely manner over the past two years, and after addition of Lock Poker and the rebranding of the Cake Poker Network to Revolution Gaming the problem has only been exacerbated.

A final reason that has been long-hinted at in online poker circle is that the Revolution Gaming Network is headed towards a split. The network is a complete mess at this point in time, with skins using their own cashiers, which has seen a site like Intertops process payments in days, while the likes of Cake Poker and Lock Poker take months. This issue has led to rampant chip-dumping and other problems across the network, and turned the skins against one another with a lot of finger-pointing.

Whatever the reason for the name change may be, it still doesn’t solve the withdrawal issues at the site, or the in-fighting and problems with other Revolution Gaming skins. The likely answer to why the rebrand occurred is some combination of all or some of the above possibilities I laid out. Check out all the latest online poker promotions at our Titan Poker Promotions section.

World Poker Tour Alpha8 Series Adds to Commentary Team

When the World Poker Tour first announced their Alpha8 series they also announced that PokerNews.com’s Lynn Gilmartin would be handling the anchor duties for the series of Super-High-Roller tournaments. Today the WPT announced the men who will be joining Gilmartin as commentators, Olivier Busquet and Ali Nejad.

Unlike Gilmartin –who brings tons of experience conducting interviews and other segments with PokerNews—Nejad and Busquet are both veterans in the commentary booth: Nejad was the voice of Poker After Dark and the NBC National Heads-Up Championship, while Busquet has been a part of ESPN’s WSOP broadcast team over the past two years.

A monumental undertaking, the Alpha8 series will feature tournaments with buy-ins of at least $100,000, beginning with a $100,000 buy-in event at the upcoming Hollywood Hard Rock Poker Open. The Alpha8 tournaments are expected to begin airing on Fox Sports 1 sometime in 2014.

Here is a look at the full Press Release announcing the addition of Nejad and Busquet:

World Poker Tour® Names Ali Nejad and Olivier Busquet as WPT Alpha8™ Commentators

Popular Poker Personalities to Join Anchor Lynn Gilmartin When WPT Alpha8 Premieres on FOX Sports 1 in 2014

Los Angeles, CA (August 1, 2013) – When WPT Alpha8™ premieres on FOX Sports 1 in early 2014, World Poker Tour’s brand new series of super high-roller tournaments will introduce two of poker’s most popular personalities – Ali Nejad and Olivier Busquet – as the show’s commentators working alongside anchor, Lynn Gilmartin.

We are thrilled to welcome two of poker’s most thoughtful and outspoken voices to the WPT Alpha8 family,” said World Poker Tour President, Adam Pliska. “Over the past decade, both Ali and Olivier have made undeniable contributions to the game of poker, both on and off the felt. With their combination of unsurpassed poker knowledge and outgoing personalities, Ali and Olivier will provide viewers with insightful and entertaining commentary that will ensure the show appeals to a wide audience including both serious poker players and casual fans of the game.”

One of the most recognizable faces – and voices – in poker, Nejad brings nearly 10 years of experience to WPT Alpha8. A successful player in his own right, Nejad is best known as the off-screen announcer for Poker After Dark and as the color commentator on NBC’s National Heads-Up Poker Challenge. Nejad’s other credits include serving as a correspondent for ESPN’s World Series of Poker coverage, and as a commentator for CBS/Velocity’s Epic Poker League.

Busquet first made his mark on the poker world as one of the game’s most successful online players. Playing online as livb112 and Adonis112, Busquet earned fame and fortune by becoming the most profitable Sit & Go player in online history with more than $4 million in heads-up SNG profits. Busquet also proved he can play the live game by posting impressive tournament finishes around the world, including a WPT Championship won at the 2009 WPT Borgata Poker Open. In recent years, Busquet has made a mark off the felt as well, providing expert commentary both online and on TV during ESPN’s World Series of Poker coverage.

World Poker Tour has a strong history of identifying dynamic talent and creating fun and engaging on-air teams whose personalities help draw viewers into the drama inherent in every televised final table,” Pliska said. “With this new cast, we’re confident that Ali, Olivier, and Lynn will continue the tradition created by Mike, Vince, and the rest of the WPT cast over the past 11 seasons.”

The highly anticipated WPT Alpha8 Florida begins August 26 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida and marks the series’ inaugural, televised event. The first episodes from WPT Alpha8 Florida will air on FOX Sports 1 in early 2014.

For the latest news around the poker world visit our Titan Poker News page.

The One REAL Reason to Avoid Lock Poker

There are so many things associated with the ongoing Lock Poker fiasco that have been overstated, overblown, and misunderstood that I felt it was time to take a closer look at what precisely is going on at the often criticized poker room. In this column I’ll focus mainly on the cashout issues the site is having.

Before I get into the cashout issues themselves, and why you should steer clear of Lock Poker for the time being I want to touch on some of the debate and why it’s not really helpful in terms of the larger picture.

Probably the silliest argument you’ll hear from the most vocal critics is the

“We need to get the word out to protect the innocent players!” argument.

Think about this for a second. The rationale seems legit: let’s get the word out on Twitter, and on 2+2, and wherever we can, so people who are completely unaware don’t signup at Lock Poker and lose their deposit. But how do you get the word to people who have no knowledge of 2+2? Anyone who has to Google, “US poker site” isn’t going to be directed to Brian Hastings’ Twitter account, and unless he tweets Lock Poker stuff every day they would have to scroll through the thing to find anything about Lock. And they are not going to “stumble upon” the 2+2 thread.

The only people that are going to read it are people that are already at least casually aware of what is going on –and if you think these people are going to wade through 100 pages of posts (or even a 1,000 word summary) you are sorely mistaken.

Also, let’s keep in mind that people that know nothing about online poker and Lock are probably not plunking down $1,000 on a deposit. Most new players are depositing $50 or some other pittance. So the notion that we are protecting ignorant players is a bit out of touch. I’m sure there is some anecdotal evidence of this, but of greater concern (at least to me) is why we should telling informed people that might be on the fence to avoid the site.

I’m not saying that blasting Lock Poker on social media pointless or that it is wrong to do so, but let’s be realistic as to why we are doing it. Whether subconsciously or not, the people who don’t play at Lock Poker, because they don’t trust the site, don’t want bad players going where they aren’t playing; they want them on their tables. I also think that for many people it’s a matter of wanting to be out ahead of the next scandal.

For me there is a simple, legitimate, reason not to play at Lock Poker. But first, let me explain what I do if anyone asks about Lock Poker or any other US-facing site: I simply tell them that I wouldn’t deposit my money on any of them. If they are still set on playing I resort to making a very uninspiring case for, Bovada (largest), Black Chip Poker (fast cashouts), and a few other rooms with more cons than pros.

The case to be made against Lock is far simpler though: As soon as you deposit your money loses about 70% of its value. Lock funds currently trade for about $.30 on the dollar, and as I learned collecting baseball cards as a kid, the real value is not what is listed, but what people will pay for it.

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