Philipp Gruissem Wins EPT Grand Final €25,000 High Roller

Philipp GruissemThe 2014 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final €25,000 no-limit hold’em high roller drew a record field of 214 entries, building a prizepool of €5,243,000 ($ 7,271,855 USD). The top 31 finishers made the money, but after three days of high stakes action only one player would away victorious. In the end German high roller extraordinaire Philipp Gruissem was that player, capturing his 14th career tournament title and the first place prize of €993,963 ($ 1,378,592 USD). As a result the 27-year-old from Aachen increased his lifetime live tournament earnings to over $ 9.4 million, enough to overtake Pius Heinz as the highest earning German player in live tournament history.

In addition to the title and the prize money Gruissem also earned 1,260 Card Player Player of the Year points, enough to catapult him into 40th in the overall POY standings. This was his first final table showing in 2014 after making seven in 2013, winning three titles and cashing for nearly $ 4.5 million throughout last year.

Gruissem entered the eight-handed final table in the middle of the pack, but made it down to heads-up play with American pro Scott Seiver with a solid chip lead after eliminating third-place finisher Davidi Kitai. Seiver and Gruissem, who had played heads-up for a super high roller title last fall at the WPT Alpha8 London, made a deal that guaranteed the former €857,637 and the later €993,963. They also agreed to flip for the title and the trophy.

Scott SeiverOn the first hand Seiver was all-in with 3Heart Suit2Heart Suit and Gruissem somehow picked up the QHeart SuitQDiamond Suit. The board ran out KClub Suit10Spade Suit4Heart SuitAClub Suit8Club Suit to secure the pot and the title for Gruissem. Seiver took home his prize money and 1,050 POY points. This was his third POY qualified final table of the year, having finished fifth in the Aussie Millions $ 25,000 event for $ 233,408 and seventh in the Aussie Millions main event for another $ 152,235. He also won a small €5,200 pot-limit Omaha side event at the EPT Grand Final just days prior to this event. As a result of all of that Seiver now sits in 15th place in the overall POY standings.

Fifth place finisher Byron Kaverman, who finished runner-up in the World Poker Tour Championship at Borgata last week, earned another €337,650 and 525 POY points. These two scores and a smaller final table finish in a $ 1,000 event at the Borgata in January combined to move Kaverman into 12th place in the POY rankings.

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at this final table:

Photos courtesy of PokerStars / Neil Stoddart.

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Massachusetts To Award Casino License In June

The state of Massachusetts could award its first Las Vegas-style casino license by mid-June, according to a report from CBS Springfield.

The Gaming Commission said at a meeting on Friday morning that the plan is to award the license June 13, as long as there aren’t any setbacks. MGM is the only casino firm left standing in the race for Region B (the western part of the state).

Other firms are competing elsewhere, including a Wynn Resorts plan near Boston, but it appears the state needs more time sorting through those situations.

MGM is eyeing a $ 800 million casino for downtown Springfield.

In March, the state awarded Penn National Gaming the slots parlor license, the only one of its kind in the gambling expansion initiative.

The 2011 law, which authorized three Las Vegas-style casinos and one slots parlor, is the target of anti-gambling groups that are trying to stop casino development. They want the legislation repealed, something that has caused some firms bidding for casinos there to become a bit worried. However, it is very unlikely that the law would be repealed.

Some are also concerned with the tax structure in the state, saying that the way Massachusetts takes a cut of gambling winnings could hurt business.

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Carbon Online Poker Series Kicks Off In Early May

Carbon Poker is featuring the return of the Carbon Online Poker Series in May, with 80 events boasting a total of $ 2 million in guarantees.

The 15-day series kicks off May 4 and concludes on May 18 with nine different main events with $ 500,000 in guarantees up for grabs. Main event buy-ins range from just $ 1.10 to $ 530.

In addition to no-limit hold’em, the Carbon OPS will also feature H.O.R.S.E., pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better, badugi, pot-limit Omaha, stud eight-or-better, razz, limit hold’em and stud, with a minimum of four events each day.

Players looking to satellite their way into Carbon OPS events can utilize the various levels of six-max turbo and hyper turbo sit-n-gos, with buy-ins as low as $ 0.21 awarding cash and coupons.

U.S. players welcome.

If you’d like to play but don’t yet have a Carbon Poker account, click on the banner below. Card Player readers are eligible for an initial deposit bonus of 200 percent up to $ 5,000.

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Poker Player Gets Five Years In Prison

According to a press release from the FBI, World Poker Tour champion Vadim Trincher was sentenced on Wednesday to five years in prison “for participating in a racketeering conspiracy” in connection with a “Russian-American organized crime enterprise.”

A co-defendant, Anatoly Golubchik, was also sentenced to five years for his involvement.

Trincher pleaded guilty late last year to participation in an illegal sports betting operation that catered to wealthy bettors in the U.S. and Europe. According to reports, Trincher’s business typically dealt with soccer matches.

Trincher and Golubchik were also each ordered to forfeit more than $ 20 million in cash, investments, and real property, according to the government.

Trincher was on the hook for decades in prison, but his plea deal saved him from possibly more time. It was reported that he could have been sentenced to 21 to 27 months in prison, so obviously the five years was longer than expected. Trincher is in his 50s.

Trincher won a World Poker Tour event at Foxwoods in 2009 for $ 731,079.

A total of 28 defendants in the case have pleaded guilty, and two have entered into deferred prosecution agreements. The defendants who have pleaded to date have agreed to forfeit, in total, more than $ 68 million. Trincher’s sons Illya and Eugene were also charged.

Altogether, 34 individuals were named in the indictment. Other poker players accused of involvement in the illegal enterprise include Justin Smith, Bill Edler and Peter Feldman.

For a full list of those who have pleaded guilty, check out the press release.

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Majority Of Credit Card Transactions On New Jersey Web Gambling Sites Do Not Go Through: Report

Just how severe are payment processing challenges for gambling websites in New Jersey?

A firm involved with the process of facilitating transactions told the Associated Press that credit cards used by customers are being accepted less than half of the time. CAMS LLC said that the acceptance rate is between 42 and 46 percent—a terrible rate for the industry.

According to the report, CAMS routes payments from the online gambling operators—such as Borgata and Caesars—in the Garden State to the financial institutions.

The credit card issue is the chief reason why the market size has been below expectation so far, not only in New Jersey, but in Nevada as well. Card Player recently spoke with the CEO of Ultimate Gaming, a company which has online gaming sites in both the Garden State and the Silver State, about this problem. He was optimistic it would improve over time.

New Jersey lawmakers are in fact looking at fixing the problem. One solution is to license the financial institutions in basically the same way that casinos are licensed.

Nevada just had its one-year anniversary of online poker. New Jersey online gaming, which includes more than just poker, debuted in November.

The Associated Press reported that a New Jersey official with the Division of Gaming Enforcement said that MasterCard has approved 73 percent of attempted transactions in New Jersey, while Visa has approved 44 percent.

American Express and Discover do not approve any such charges, according to the official.

In March, Atlantic City casinos won $ 11.9 million from online gambling, which was up 15.2 percent over February. Online gaming revenues for the year have topped $ 30 million.

In Nevada, web poker accounted for under $ 1 million in revenue for three firms in March.

Delaware had online gaming revenues of $ 206,833 in March.

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Sri Lanka Government Says No To Casinos

Sri Lanka has put a thorn into the side of proposed resort complexes, according to The Australian.

Three firms were planning massive developments on the island, which were to include casino gambling, but the government recently said “no” to the gambling component.

“We will not allow casinos. That we say very clearly,” an official told parliament. “They (the promoters) asked, we did not allow, nor will we allow (in the future).”

Government officials are worried that casinos could lead to prostitution.

One of the firms interested in building in the country is Crown Resorts, which is controlled by billionaire James Packer. It’s unclear if he will pull out as a result of the decision.

According to the report, in addition to Packer, “the other two resorts are a $ 650 million development from local conglomerate John Keells Holdings and a $ 300 million project by local businessman Dhammika Perera.” Packet’s project was for $ 400 million.

The government has given the firms the OK to build, just without the casinos.

Sri Lanka legalized casinos in December 2010, but the legislation has never been implemented, the report said. Supporters of casinos say it would double tourism.

The projects are planned in Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo.

Sri Lanka is located off the tip of India. The island is 65,610 square kilometers and has a population of 20.2 million people. The Colombo metro area has about 5.6 million.

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Nevada Casinos Win $982 Million In March

Silver State casinos had a successful March.

According to a state report released Tuesday, Nevada’s nonrestricted gaming licensees reported a total “gaming win” of $ 982,168,390 for the month of March 2014.

That amounted to a 7.60-percent increase compared to March 2013, when licensees reported a gaming win of $ 912,784,688.

For the fiscal year (July 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014), gaming win has increased 1.65 percent.

Gaming win is also known as gaming revenue.

The Las Vegas Strip experienced a nearly 11 percent gain year-over-year, with gaming revenue reaching $ 560,770,697 in March 2014.

The state collected more than $ 84 million in percentage fees during the month of April 2014, based upon the taxable revenues generated in March 2014.

Of the $ 982 million, around $ 926,000 came from Internet poker. That was a 12.2-percent increase over February’s $ 824,000. Nevada has three poker sites.

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One-Year Anniversary Of Nevada Online Poker Reveals Successes, Challenges And Goals For Future

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the first hand of real-money online poker in Nevada.

On the morning of April 30, Ultimate Poker, an offshoot of Station Casinos, launched real-money online poker in the Silver State. Its first hand was the first ever in a U.S. jurisdiction that licenses and regulates the Internet gambling industry.

It was a long time coming.

Nevada said OK to online poker in the summer of 2011, and regulators drafted rules, which were adopted in December 2011, for the fledgling industry in the following months. For many, pretty much all of 2012 and some of 2013 was spent trying to guess which site would be the first to the market. Ultimate Poker was the victor.

Since Ultimate Poker’s launch, products from the World Series of Poker, under the Caesars umbrella of ownership, and South Point Casino (Real Gaming) have hit Nevada cyberspace.

According to PokerScout, Ultimate Poker’s traffic in Nevada has been declining over the past six months, while the WSOP has been more or less holding steady since it debuted in September. Real Gaming’s traffic has been almost non-existent since its February launch.

Traffic for Ultimate Poker has dropped from an average of 150 cash game players online at any given time to just about 60, over the course of the past six months. The WSOP’s site has gone from around 110 to less than 100, during that time span. Numbers for both sites should increase during the summer, as thousands of poker players head to Las Vegas to compete for bracelets or participate in the side action that surrounds the live tournaments.

Tobin Prior, CEO of Ultimate Gaming, told Card Player that the market size in the jurisdictions where online poker is regulated has been below expectation. In addition to Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have fledgling web betting industries. Nevada’s is only poker, while the other two also have other forms of casino games on the Internet.

“Nevada obviously is pretty interesting in that it was the pioneer for online gaming,” Prior said. “It took a pretty conservative approach in a number of regards. Firstly, they went with online poker only, and went with the kind of regime where you needed to get your product fully compliant in the labs before they would permit you to go through a field trial situation.”

It took until July for Ultimate Poker to have its full-fledged product approved.

Market Size

In the time between the initial launch and February, Nevada’s online poker industry has grown to more than $ 800,000 a month. That’s the money the three sites rake in from players. A total of $ 8.5 million in online gaming revenue was realized from April 30, 2013 to Feb. 28, 2014. The state benefits by being able to tax revenues generated from online gaming action.

While that figure has been less than what was hoped for, the past 12 months have been crucial for setting up a successful future for Internet poker not only in Nevada, but for the rest of the country. Other states—such as California and Pennsylvania—that are discussing possible legalization have obviously taken a hard look at how things have gone so far in Nevada.

“I think the big noteworthy achievements in Nevada [was that] going first had a lot of risk; a lot of people were watching to see if things worked, so it was really important it did work—that you could geo-locate people, that you could determine their age, that you could operate a regulatory compliant online gaming operation in the state,” Prior said.

“So those were the biggest achievements: that the regulations could be implemented and that technology could work, so you could run it in a fashion that the regulators wanted.”

If you forget the numbers for a minute and just consider that there hasn’t been any scandal related to online poker in Nevada, the first year has been an overwhelming success for not only the firms, but also the state. The regulations worked.

Payment Processing Issues

Though, in order to make online poker work, as has been proven by the smaller-than-expected market size, there is a need to constantly tweak things and make it easier for players to get money on and off the site.

That’s arguably more important than the overall aesthetics of a site.

Before Nevada going live with regulated online poker, the industry operated in a legal gray area, with the only way to play real money poker being through an offshore operator. That history has plagued the regulated industry so far in Nevada when it comes to payment processing.

“One of the biggest things we didn’t anticipate that we would have quite this much trouble on was the payment processing,” Prior said. “One assumed that when online gambling legalized most of the banks and credit card companies were going to embrace that legitimate activity and support transactions. But we still have a large issue with them not processing charges.”

“People are used to using a Visa card, for example, and when they experience problems with it they don’t suspect that there’s a Visa issue there but instead a problem with legitimate sites. And of course many can still process Visa transactions on unregulated sites.”

In other words, the financial institutions have been slow to recognize the new legality of web gaming in select states. The consensus is that they will eventually relax their restrictions.

There really is no bigger headache for players than having trouble depositing onto a site. And if you combine that with all the checkpoints needed to make sure a player is of legal age to play, within the physical borders of Nevada, and who they say they are, the work needed to be done prior to playing a single hand has proven to be a roadblock for the new industry taking off.

“It’s a lot more onerous for the customer than what they have been used to,” Prior said. “That definitely has an impact on the size of the market. It’s also difficult to move people who are playing on unregulated sites off those sites to a regulated gaming environment. That has been an interesting challenge. Implementing all the new technologies and guiding customers through it has been a learning curve for the consumer in the market and us.”

State officials have been looking at the issue as well, in addition to trying to figure out ways to increase the potential pool of customers that can access the online poker sites. In the first year of Nevada online poker, the Silver State has already inked a deal to eventually partner up with Delaware, allowing residents in both states to spend with sites in either jurisdiction.

Job Creation In Nevada

One of the reasons why Nevada legalized online poker in the first place was to help the state’s economy. Gaming of course is a dominant player in Nevada, and it’s responsible for jobs for many residents. Online poker was seen as a way to add highly-skilled jobs to the workforce.

“The reality is that jobs have been created,” Prior said. “We have grown in Nevada to over 60 full-time employees. There is very real and meaningful job creation. It is an entirely new business. These are not jobs that we have taken out of our other operations.”

And so far, there has been no indication that online poker has in any way taken away from brick-and-mortar visitation and spending. In fact, many casinos agree that, if done right, online gaming can create a synergy between the two spheres. Year one hasn’t revealed the full extent of this, but if Ultimate Poker can be used as an example, the fact that customers have been utilizing the option to deposit at a Station Casino location, online poker has brought people into a physical casino, and that alone can be positive for the property.

Though it has been a slow process, Nevada has laid the groundwork to be an online gambling hub in the United States, as Gov. Brian Sandoval outlined just a few years ago.

Dozens of firms have been licensed to offer online poker in Nevada, and as time goes on more are expected to test the waters. That means more jobs for the state and possibly an increase in live poker tables as well. The online poker boom during the 2000s increased the popularity in the game, one that spilled over into “real life” as well.

The year 2013 marked the first time since 2007 that poker revenues increased in Nevada.

Revamping the Software

Prior called the process of developing upgrades to his company’s software, getting them tested by the labs and then approved by Nevada regulators “time consuming.”

But it’s necessary, he said.

“It’s important to improve our product in line with what consumers expect and want. It’s one of the prime areas of focus for us right now,” he said. “A lot of the technologies that we pioneered [in Nevada] are getting better by the day.”

The company has been working on “refining” its technology and always focusing on making its product more attractive to gamblers. In the coming weeks, the firm will release another version of its software, likely providing players with a game that is closer to what they are used to.

However, some of the upgrades are as simple as increasing the options for poker players. When Ultimate Poker launched, limit Texas hold’em and no-limit Texas hold’em ring games ranging from $ 0.01-$ 0.02 to $ 10-$ 20 were the only cash games available.

Of course, year one isn’t the only time during which big changes will be made to online poker sites in Nevada. It is obviously a perpetual process, one that will be ongoing as long as there is an online gambling industry within the Silver State. Growth is the name of the game.

Prior added that the value of all the work done by the customer to get their age, identity and location checked “will come with time.” In other words, there should be a time in the future when online gamblers realize the importance of all these efforts to make the games, and their funds, safe and secure and eventually ditch unregulated sites for good.

Federal Online Poker Bill Drawing Slim

One of the key developments in the first year of Nevada online poker is the industry’s further realization that a federal bill authorizing the activity is almost surely not going to happen. The odds are basically astronomical, and the firms, as well as the state, have adjusted to this reality.

Prior said that the chances of a federal online poker bill are “pretty remote.” Prior pointed out that only about four percent of the entire population of the United States lives where online poker is legal and regulated, so while very unlikely, a federal bill is of course preferable.

Revenues below expectations so far make a nationwide network seem even sexier, but that is not in the cards for the industry. “We will follow whatever route to market that we can,” Prior said. “If it goes state-by-state, then we’ll pursue that. If it goes federal, we’ll go along with that.”

Even though the federal government is unlikely to act in any way on the online poker issue, past decisions by lawmakers on Capitol Hill are still impacting the industry—namely through the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). That law has made payment processing to this day difficult, even for the regulated U.S. sites, and most of the work right now is to figure out ways to undo online poker’s past.

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Category: Poker

Tags: , Anniversary, Challenges, Future, Goals, Nevada, OneYear, Online, Poker, reveals, Successes

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Minnesota Looking To Ban Online Gambling

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Poker Pro-File Q and A: Jake Bazeley

Jake BazeleyJake Bazeley has quietly put together a really solid 12 months on the circuit. The 31-year-old tournament grinder made two final tables at the 2013 World Series of Poker and then final tabled the Heartland Poker Tour main event in St. Louis.

He then started of 2014 with two more final tables before earning the biggest score of his career, a $ 371,931 payday for finishing fourth in the World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, the largest WPT event in history with 1,795 entrants.

Card Player spoke with the Cincinnati native to discuss the ups and downs of his eight-year career, his online poker travels and how there seems to be a lack of younger new players in the game today.

Julio Rodriguez: Congratulations on your latest score. Was it bittersweet to finish in fourth?

Jake Bazeley: When I busted, I was fine. Getting fourth in any tournament for that amount of money is so absurd, you just can’t help but be happy. But at the same time, I had a real shot at seven figures and came up short. You really just have to focus on the positives. For this particular tournament, I reminded myself that I’m normally playing in WSOP Circuit or HPT tournaments where the top prize is $ 100,000 to $ 150,000, so it’s really like I won three tournaments all in one shot.

JR: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned in your eight-year career?

JB: I have lived every possible stage of a poker career by now. I’ve been rich and broke three different times. I’ve been backed, I’ve backed other people. I’ve seen it all and I’ve really learned from my mistakes. I think right now I’m playing my best poker ever and it has started to translate into some success. I think I’m picking my spots better and that gets easier with time and experience.

JR: Like most poker players, you’ve become friends with a solid group of successful players. How hard is it to not be jealous when someone in your circle makes a big score?

JB: When you’re not hitting your scores, you have to be positive and be happy for your friends. It’s kind of sick, because I can almost always tell who is happy for me and who is going through the motions of congratulating me when I do well. There is obviously a lot of jealousy in the game. I’ve always been ready to celebrate and share in the success of my friends, but that’s a skill that comes easier to some people than others. I totally understand it too. This is a tough game and everyone is trying to get their hands on the same chunk of the prizepool. There isn’t always enough to go around.

JR: When someone is suddenly swimming in cash thanks to deep run or big win, how often do you think it affects their future performance?

JB: I see it all the time when someone gets a huge score in a tournament and all of a sudden, they think they’ve got it all figured out. The buy-ins don’t matter to them anymore and they’re on autopilot and half-assing everything for the next six months to a year. Before you know it, they’ve given it all back. You have to be really on top of your game every day to win consistently. Every decision you make has to be your best. The competition is just too good to rely on the cards to get you there.

I definitely had times in the past with online poker where I found myself just clicking buttons for a month straight. Because there was always another tournament starting, I never really gave myself the chance to step back, evaluate and adapt. But with live poker it’s much easier to really think about your game. When you bust a live tournament, you have nothing to do but think about it.

JR: Speaking of online poker, you were one of the top online players before Black Friday. How often do you get to play online these days?

JB: I usually just travel to play online poker for a couple of series’ each year. I have some buddies who live in other countries who are doing it on a more consistent basis than me. If I wasn’t currently in a relationship, I might be more inclined to making the move more often. So far, I’ve traveled to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica to play online. This time I’m going to Amsterdam.

Costa Rica is a beautiful place, but then you go to Rosarito, Mexico and you never want to leave your condo because you’re so uncomfortable outside. Even when I was in Windsor, Canada, it wasn’t the greatest area. It’s unfortunate that U.S. players have to do it, because I’d much rather be playing from home in Cincinnati.

JR: It seems like there aren’t very many young American poker pros these days. Even in some of the states where poker is still booming, such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio, it feels like the newer players are more likely to be retirees or successful businessmen.

JB: I agree, there aren’t very many young American players jumping into the game right now. All of the 21-year-old sickos are European online pros that we really don’t get to see until the WSOP rolls around. When I was in my early twenties, there were dozens of American pros that young. Today, in the tournaments that I play in, I never really see that anymore. Obviously, that has a lot to do with the fact that there is no online poker, outside of a few states, to introduce the game to a new players. Even if a young kid wanted to break into the game, he’d have to do it live, which makes it so much tougher. Everyone is on their computer all day, every day, so if we want the game to continue growing, we need online poker to appeal to these new players.

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Published on 6:30 pm by Administrator

Category: Poker

Tags: , Bazeley, Jake, Poker, Profile

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