Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Online Poker: What to Look for in 2012

Online Poker

After three years of seemingly making political progress toward legitimizing the activity, everything came crashing down on Black Friday, and 2011 went in the books as the year online poker went dark across the United States.

Looking back, it could have been worse. Don’t get me wrong, the fallout was brutal. The DOJ indictments forced the major online poker sites out of the country and left many U.S. players without large chunks of money and their main source of income.

When the indictments struck, many people worried that the controversy could also stop cold any possibility of licensing and regulating Internet poker in the United States in the near future. It stood to reason that politicians concerned with re-election wouldn’t want to go near an issue tainted with federal indictments.

This did not happen. To the contrary, the bottom falling out of online poker reinvigorated the player community to bombard representatives on Capitol Hill with phone calls, emails, Facebook posts and tweets. The American Gaming Association and Nevada casinos seized on the sudden absence of reputable sites for Americans to play on by pushing harder than ever to lead a domestic-based online poker industry.

The result is that, entering 2012, it’s the first time I think federal online poker legislation passing by the end of the year is a real possibility.

I wouldn’t say the odds are favorable. It’s still a long shot. There is a lot left to overcome.

One big issue is that it’s an election year, which shortens the congressional season and always makes it difficult to move controversial legislation.

That’s why the rebranding of Internet poker legislation in 2011 is so important. The bill Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) introduced was named the “Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act.” That sounds like something a congressman could vote for without any backlash from conservative constituents.

Barton told PokerNews in November that he believed there were already the votes to move his legislation through the House. He laid out the plan for 2012, to move the bill through the Energy and Commerce Committee in the spring and the full House in the summer.

Another hurdle is opposition from Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson. One would think that a single person could not derail what so many people want. However, Adelson has the ear of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). Having Kyl on board to strengthen UIGEA while exempting poker is probably the biggest key to getting legislation passed this year. If Adelson can convince Kyl to oppose online poker, many Republicans will fall in line under the Senate Minority Whip and that could be the end of any hope for online poker in 2012.

Kyl can’t stand in the way for long, though, because he has announced that he will not run for re-election. Also not running for re-election is Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), long the champion for poker on Capitol Hill.

This interesting dynamic is one of the main reasons why I think 2012 could be the year. If Barney Frank really views this as a passion project, he is going to cash in his remaining favors and do everything he can to get it done before he leaves office. If Kyl wants to strengthen his baby, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, before he leaves office, this is the way to do it.

The November elections may also bring changes to the structure of the Senate. The Republicans took over the House last election and will be looking to take the Senate, as well. This may be Harry Reid’s last term as Senate Majority Leader. If that ends up being the case, it may be time for him to finally put his chips on the table and push all-in to pass legislation that benefits the Nevada casinos that have financially backed him all these years.

All of this means the lame-duck session between the November elections and the next year could be very interesting.

In 2011, we did see the first state take steps to offer intrastate online poker. Look for the first licensed and regulated sites in the United States to get up and running in Nevada during the second half of 2012. The new year could see states like New Jersey and California follow suit.

Another thing to watch in 2012 will be the results of the federal indictments for owners of the three big poker sites and the expected payment of money owed to Full Tilt players.

The past year was worse for the poker community than anyone could have imagined, but the shattering of the status quo may end up being worth it if a safer, permanent structure for online poker is born in 2012.

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The Nightly Turbo: Maria Ho Re-signs with WinStar, John Duthie Leaves EPT, and More

Maria Ho

The live tournament circuit hit a lull during the holiday season, but poker players are packing their bags this week for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and the World Poker Tour stop in Ireland. While several members of Team PokerNews landed in the Bahamas on Wednesday, a few of us stayed behind to cover the day’s biggest stories. In this edition of the Nightly Turbo, we bring you Maria Ho’s deal with a casino property, John Duthie’s exit from the European Poker Tour, and more.

In Case You Missed It

Ryan Daut won the 2007 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event, but he has since removed himself from the poker spotlight. We caught up with Daut to find out what he’s been up to for the latest edition of Where Are They Now.

Are you planning a trip to Deauville, France, for the PokerStars European Poker TourLynn Gilmartin tells you everything you need to know about the city in the latest PokerNews Jet Set.

Casino executives have big plans in store for 2012. Inside Gaming takes a look at some of the changes that have already occurred this month.

Maria Ho Gets Contract Extension

Poker pro Maria Ho has parlayed her 2011 success on the felts into a contract extension with the WinStar World Casino. Ho, who compiled more than $650,000 in live tournament earnings last year, will team up with Greg Raymer to act as a celebrity spokesperson for the WinStar property in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

As part of the deal, Ho will participate in The River Series, which guarantees $3 million plus in prize money, and make multiple appearances at the WinStar World Casino throughout 2012. She will also be featured in commercial spots for The River Series and represent the property in tournaments around the globe.

“I am ecstatic to be back representing WinStar World Casino,” Ho told PokerNews. “Over the last year, the players who I have had the chance to meet and play with on property showed me such a good time and possessed such a heartfelt love for the game of poker which really reignited my own passion for the game. Jay Wiles and the entire team at WinStar go out of their way to create a personal experience and a genuine relationship with their players, and that’s just one of the reasons I’m so proud to represent them.”

You can find more information about WinStar World Casino poker room at

Duthie Says Goodbye to EPT

Just days after his departure from Team PokerStarsJohn Duthie announced Wednesday that he has given up his role as CEO of the European Poker Tour. Duthie explained in a thread at TwoPlusTwo that he is excited to take on new challenges, especially with the U.S. preparing to open an online poker market in 2012.

“It is time to move on and to leave the EPT in the capable hands of the existing management team,” Duthie said. “It has been a fascinating and challenging seven years and I have watched the EPT grow phenomenally in that time, thanks to the support of the players and the professionalism of a great team on the ground.”

Duthie founded the EPT in 2004 and helped turn it into Europe’s premier poker tour. Now in its eighth season, the EPT rivals some of the biggest tours in the world. The EPT is set to touch down in the Bahamas this week for the always popular PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

Read more about Duthie’s exit from the EPT at

France Forces ISPs to Block Unlicensed Gambling Sites

According to a decree published by the French government on Jan. 1, all French Internet service providers (ISPs) must block gamblers from playing on any operators not licensed by the Autorité de Régulation Des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL).

Effective immediately, all service providers must filter access to certain domains in order to prevent French residents from gambling on blacklisted sites. Several major online poker rooms hold licenses with the ARJEL, including PokerStars, PartyPoker, iPoker, 888, and Everest Poker.

Similar regulations were recently implemented by the Belgian Gaming Commission, which approved PokerStars and two other online poker sites for an operating license. All unauthorized sites, such as PartyPoker and the iPoker Network, will be blocked despite their belief that the new law is “unenforceable.”

Read the full story here at

William Hill Study Questions U.K. Tax Proposal

A study commissioned by online bookmaker William Hill has found that U.K. government proposals for a 10 percent “point of consumption” tax on online gambling could result in U.K. gamblers moving to unregulated sites.

William Hill submitted the report to the U.K. Treasury, which is reviewing a new tax regime for remote gambling. Accounting firm Deloitte, which carried out the study, showed that a 10 percent tax could result in as much as 27 percent of current revenues disappearing into unregulated market. Deloitte also suggested that a 15 percent tax could see that figure rise to 40 percent. The report was confidential but was leaked to various U.K. media outlets.

U.K. gamblers currently spend about £1.7 billion per year with online operators and do not pay any tax on gambling winnings.

The Daily Telegraph has more on this story.

Another “Hot” List

We’ve seen several lists like this before, but Woman Poker Player has unveiled its own version of the 10 Hottest Men in Poker. The criteria for this one: “Talented, sexy, and of course a big bankroll.”

Sorry, Jean-Robert.

Among the players included in the list are Patrik Antonius, Dragan Galic, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Pius Heinz, and even Doyle Brunson. We’re not all that surprised — Doyle has always been good with the ladies.

Check out the full list at

Tim Tebow’s Name Used in Poker Scam

Using Tim Tebow’s name to scam others seems downright sacrilegious. However, that’s apparently what one person has been doing this week to promote an alleged charity poker tournament.

Someone behind the Twitter name “BigMoneyPoker” has been tweeting the following message to high-profile poker pros:

“Plz RT to show your support tebow playing poker for @AmericanCancer charity before the main event!”

The idea of Tebow playing a poker tournament seems impractical considering the NFL’s policy on gambling. The bonehead behind the “BigMoneyPoker” account should have done research before wasting time with this particular stunt.

The Carbon Poker blog has more.

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Where Are They Now: 2007 PCA Champion, Ryan Daut

Ryan Daut

The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure has a rich tradition dating to 2004 when Gus Hansen outlasted 221 players to capture a $455,780 first-place prize aboard a cruise ship. Now, nine years later, the PCA returns to Paradise Island in the Bahamas from Jan. 5 through 14, and continues to attract some of the best players in the world.

In preparation for the 2012 PCA kickoff, we caught up with 2007 PCA Main Event Champion, Ryan Daut, who outlasted a field of 937 to win a $1,535,255 first-place prize. To do so, he overcame a stacked final table that included Isaac HaxtonRobert FordRobert MizrachiJonathan Little, and Frank Rusnak.

At the time, the PCA was a part of the World Poker Tour and aired on the Travel Channel; you may recall that final table was played outdoors. Check out the following hand, which features some pretty sick bluffing.

Since his win, Daut has stepped out of the poker spotlight. He still plays but prefers to play online and chooses his live events sparingly. Aside from some small cashes at the World Series of Poker, none for more than $17,000, Daut’s only other notable cash came at the 2007 WPT $15,000 Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic where he finished sixth for $192,715.

What have you been up to since your PCA win in 2007? Are you still living in New Jersey?

Back in 2009, I stopped traveling the live circuit, so I moved out of my parents’ house and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, with a few friends. Then about a year ago, I moved out to Orange County. For the past five months, I’ve been traveling back and forth to Vancouver so I can continue playing online.

Did you consider going back to the live circuit after Black Friday as opposed to relocating to Vancouver?

I’ve always been mainly a cash game player and just played a handful of good tournaments on the side, so after Black Friday I first tried to grind it out at the Commerce. After three grueling sessions, I knew I couldn’t handle being a live poker player. It’s just far too slow, and I’m used to playing a few two-hour sessions a day, which just isn’t possible with the commute and wait time to get in games at a casino. So a couple weeks later I deposited some money on Merge and tried to make a living there, but I wasn’t making enough money, so in July I decided that after the WSOP I would make the move to Vancouver and continue grinding online.

Do you have a lot of money stuck online as a result of Black Friday?

I have a little over $100,000 on Full Tilt and maybe $1,000 to $2,000 on Absolute. I actually bought another $10,500 on Full Tilt for $4,500 about six weeks ago because I feel confident now that the deal with Groupe Bernard Tapie will go through.

What games and stakes do you prefer to play online?

Over the past three to four years, the online cash games have gotten a lot tougher, so I’ve been progressively moving down in stakes over the years and actually made the switch to pot-limit Omaha. I would have to put in far too many hours to be a pro playing no-limit hold’em cash since the $2/$4 and higher games online are very difficult now.

On the side I probably play about 15 Sundays a year. I wouldn’t be able to handle playing tournaments full time because of the variance and the small edges nowadays, but Sundays are still very soft and I can deal with tournaments one to two days a month. I actually got pretty lucky last year and chopped the Sunday Million and a WCOOP for $208,000 both times, so I will probably just keep grinding mid-stakes cash and playing Sundays on the side in 2012.

How did you enter the PCA in 2007? Did you satellite in, buy in, etc.?

In 2006, I played very few tournaments and almost exclusively cash games. It was my first year as a pro, and I managed to have a $100,000 year. I had a few friends going down to the Bahamas, so I played two super satellites and ended up bubbling them both. I decided that since it was a one-time tourney I would just buy in direct for about 8 percent of my bankroll.

It was only my second live tournament at the time, but I had played probably 50 hours of live cash and thought the tourney would have a good enough structure to favor a cash game player, so I played it and ended up getting pretty lucky there.

How did your life change after the win? Did you make any big purchases with your $1.5 million?

After I won, I started playing a lot more live tournaments, jumped up in stakes from $3/$6 to $10/$20 to $25/$50 and started a backing business, which I still have going today. I’m not really a big purchase kinda guy. I got my parents a pretty nice car a few years ago, but besides that I don’t think I spent more than $5,000 on any one thing.

What was it like playing such a major tournament outdoors? Likewise, what was it like playing against a tough final table that included Isaac Haxton, Robert Mizrachi, and Jonathan Little?

At the time, the five younger guys were pretty much all unknowns, but from a limited amount of time playing with them I knew they were all pretty good players. At that point, the only thing I knew about Robert Mizrachi was that he was the Grinder’s brother, and on Day 1, one of my buddies was really beating the Grinder’s brains in all day, so I wasn’t intimidated going into the final table

The only thing I remember about playing outdoors was that the sun was in my eyes and it was pretty windy, so we had to be really careful with the cards all day. I wouldn’t want to do it again.

With the event being televised, did you acquire any fame and recognition?

I was definitely recognized a bunch after the tournament aired, but I’ve never been much of a self promoter, and since I’ve only been on TV twice for final tables and rarely play live tournaments anymore, I don’t get recognized nearly as much as other people who had big results from that time period.

Will you be making a trip to this year’s PCA?

I won’t. I haven’t been back there since 2008. In the past few years, the only tournaments I play have been the LAPC Main Event and a handful of WSOP events. This year I may also consider playing the EPT Madrid Main Event, but other than that I don’t have any live tournaments planned in the near future.

What are your thoughts in regards to the future of online poker in the U.S.?

With the recent statement from the DOJ that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, I suspect that legislation will go through sometime this year and that a casino site owned by someone like Caesar’s Palace will open early to mid 2013. I don’t think the sites will be huge immediately though, so my hope is that PokerStars is let back into the U.S. market sometime next year


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Inside Gaming: Macau’s Record Revenues, Las Vegas Hilton’s New Name, and More

Inside Gaming

The gaming industry spent the week before New Year’s Eve planning one of the biggest nights of any casino’s year. But in between the stage building, countdown practicing, and cage stocking, casino executives found time to set in motion some big changes for 2012. New year, new start, new record, new name, new deals, new rooms. Of course, most of it is the same old, same old.

New Revenue Record for Macau

OK, so there isn’t really anything new about Macau raking in the patacas, but another year end means another annual revenue record for gaming’s golden goose. Macau casinos brought in 268 billion patacas ($33.5 billion) in gross gaming revenue in 2011, a 42 percent increase over 2010. Year-over-year December revenue grew 25 percent according to the Chinese Special Administrative Region’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. Macau pulled in about 5.5 times the gaming revenue of Las Vegas.

Although it sounds like enough dough to make it rain like a hurricane, gaming stocks have felt the effects of fear that growth is slowing down to parallel a slowdown in the Chinese economy. Next year’s success depends on Chinese whales being able to get credit lines to “invest” in the baccarat tables.

Bloomberg and the Las Vegas Review-Journal have more on the story.

New Owner for Social Gaming Company Playtika

Caesars Entertainment Corp. bought 51 percent of social gaming program developer Playtika in May, and after months of testing the waters, last week, Caesars acquired the other 49 percent. The Israeli gaming technology company created Slotomania, the most popular slots game on Facebook, with about 10 million monthly users. Caesars paid between $80 and $90 million for the first half of the company and the right to purchase the other half at a later date.

“2012 is going to be a very big year for Playtika…we will concentrate on Playtika’s competitive advantage and on widening its activity on social networks other than Facebook,” said Mitch Gerber, CEO of Caesars Interactive. “Caesars Interactive and Playtika will be focusing on Asia in the upcoming year.”

Playtika’s investors include 888 Holdings Plc CEO Gigi Levy. Caesars partnered with 888 to operate its online gaming sites in March.

Games Blog has details on the latest sale, and Israeli site Globes offers interesting insight into the May deal.

New Name and Management Structure for Las Vegas Hilton

On Jan. 3, the Las Vegas Hilton officially became the LVH-Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. The hotel’s licensing deal with Hilton Worldwide ran out at the end of the year, and the international hotel chain declined to renew it. Check out previous Inside Gaming stories on the need for the name change here and here.

LVH, owned by Colony Capital LLC, was foreclosed on by primary lenders Goldman Sachs Mortgage Company and Gramercy Capital Corp. Goldman Sachs has owned The Stratosphere, a neighboring casino on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, since 2008 and will take control of LVH by the end of January. Ronald Johnson was appointed to oversee the hotel operations last month but now is set to take control of the entire property, including the casino.

LVRJ breaks down the name change and the new management.

New Applicant for NV Gaming License

Aristocrat Technologies Inc. added its name to the list of companies to apply for a license to offer real money online poker in Nevada. Aristocrat is the sixth company to apply to be a licensed platform provider. One casino, South Point, has applied to be an online gaming site operator. The Nevada Gaming Commission approved new regulations that allow for licensing on Dec. 22.

Aristocrat, a subsidiary of Australian company Aristocrat Leisure Ltd., joins International Game TechnologyCantor GamingShuffle MasterBally’s Technology, and Caesars Entertainment in applying for a provider license. Approvals are expected in the next three months.

Aristocrat CEO Nick Khin said the company’s platform “allows our clients to market a virtual casino to its customers to play for free. When the law changes it will allow them to move into a play for real-money site.”

Learn more at Casino City Times.

New Rooms for Caesars Palace

Caesars Palace opened its much anticipated Octavius Tower on Monday, adding 668 luxury rooms to the casino’s existing 3,300 rooms and suites. After pressing pause on the “boutique” hotel tower for three years during the economic downturn, Caesars Entertainment resumed construction and started taking reservations for the 19-story tower in September. Rooms in January range from $325 to $789 a night.

For a quick tour, watch this video from KTNV.

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PokerNews Jet Set: Deauville

Casino Barriere de Deauville

With its reputation for attracting Europe’s high-stakes gamblers since the early 1900s, France’s seaside town of Deauville is the ultimate destination for the PokerStars European Poker Tour. A simple walk through the glamorous streets of Deauville will have you falling in love with the elegance and architecture. The city also includes one of the most stunning casinos in all of Europe, Casino Barriere de Deauville, home of the EPT Deauville.

The Vitals

  • Official language: French
  • Currency: Euro (1 EUR = 1.3 USD). Please check for current conversions.
  • Weather: Cold. January has an average high of 7°C (45°F)
  • Banks: Most banks are open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
  • Visas: Europeans do not need a visa to visit France. North Americans and Australians can stay for 90 days. All other citizens should consult the travel agent or nearest embassy.

Getting There

If you’re traveling from London, you can now fly directly to Deauville thanks to CityJet’s new, direct route from London City airport; however, flights only take off twice a week on Friday and Sunday. The small airport in Deauville also caters to flights from Marrakech, Athens, Crete, Funchal and Palma.

Deauville is 200 km (124 miles) from Paris, making it an easy, two-hour journey by car or train. Check out the train timetable, or if you would prefer to rent a car, Deauvile’s official tourism site has the the driving directions from Paris to Deauville, and how much tolls will run.

Things to Do

From beaches to farmland, seafood to cheese, kite-surfing to horse-riding, fashion to polo, there’s so much to do, see, and eat in Deauville. And since it’s the town where Coco Chanel launched her career, and it’s the home of Yves Saint Larent, it’s all done with class.

Because EPT Deauville is being held during the winter, it’s the perfect time to appreciate all that Deauville has to offer in total peace, without the rush of the “high life” that comes in the summer months. Even though the town, known for its beach-side resorts, may not have a coast lined with tanned bodies and beach huts, a stroll along the signature boardwalk, while bundled up in your coat, is perfect enough.

Promenade des Planches

The true symbol of Deauville is the huge seafront promenade, which was built in 1923. The Azobe wood walkway was built so that ladies could stroll along the beach without ruining their dresses in the sand or ocean. Translating to the “walk of boards,” today it’s like France’s own version of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

Casino Barriere de Deauville

Built in 1912 on the grounds of the old 1864 casino, the stunning Casino Barrière de Deauville is once again the host venue of the EPT. This world-class casino has all you need in terms of gaming, as well as three restaurants, two bars, and a nightclub.

Hippodrome de Deauville-la Toques

The countryside around Deauville is France’s main horse-breeding region, and home to numerous stud farms. You won’t want to miss the chance to rub shoulders with the cream of the European racing elite at the fancy Hippodrome de Deauville-la Toques racetrack. It’s a perfect way to spend a day in Deauville.

D-Day Beaches

For those of you interested in history, Deauville is near the D-Day landing beaches from the World War II battles on French soil. Although the D-Day museum in nearby Caen only operates during the summer, you can still take a walk around to soak up the history.

Day Trip

If you’d like to explore further than Deauville, the Normandy seaside resort of Le Touquet and the romantic port of Honfleur are both easily reached by car. Honfluer is a half-hour drive from Deauville, and Le Touquet is two hours southwest, along the coast.

To see exactly how gorgeous Deauville is, check out Sarah Grant’s guided tour from last season’s EPT stop.

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John Duthie Resigns as CEO of European Poker Tour

John Duthie

On Wednesday, John Duthie announced in a post at TwoPlusTwo that he has resigned as CEO of the European Poker Tour (EPT). Duthie, who parted ways with PokerStars when his contract ended on Dec. 31, founded the EPT in 2004 and helped turn it into Europe’s richest and most prestigious poker tour.

“It is time to move on and to leave the EPT in the capable hands of the existing management team,” Duthie said. “It has been a fascinating and challenging seven years and I have watched the EPT grow phenomenally in that time, thanks to the support of the players and the professionalism of a great team on the ground.

“There are going to be some amazing opportunities coming up in 2012 and 2013 as the U.S. market prepares to open up for business once again and I want to be available to take on new challenges and to cement new relationships moving forward.”

In association with PokerStars, Duthie turned the EPT into a giant that rivals some of the biggest poker tours around the world. In its eighth season, the EPT is hosting 12 tournaments across ten countries and has set attendance records at numerous stops along the way. Duthie also credits the EPT for much of PokerStars’ success.

“PokerStars have been an interesting partner from the outset and have always proved challenging and dynamic,” Duthie said. “Currently, they are the largest online poker site in the world and their dominance of the European market is in many ways thanks to the success of the European Poker Tour and the resultant massive exposure on European TV channels.

“The secondary International Tours that spawned from the EPT also gave PokerStars a strong foothold in many other markets.”

The reins of the European Poker Tour will be handed over to Edgar Stuchly, who was appointed as EPT President in August 2011 after spending four years as the Head of Poker for Casinos Austria. While there, Stuchly managed poker rooms at 12 casinos, founded the Casinos Austria Poker Tour, and was recognized as Poker Staff Person of the Year.

Said Duthie, “I wish the new President of the company, Mr. Edgar Stuchly, the best of luck in his position and trust that he will oversee the continued growth of the largest poker tour in the world.”

PokerNews reached out to PokerStars for comment on Wednesday, but has not yet received a response.

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French ISPs Must Block Players from Unlicensed Online Gambling Sites

French Cards

On Jan. 1, the French government published a decree on stating that all French Internet service providers (ISPs) must prevent players from playing on any gambling sites not licensed by the Autorité de Régulation Des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL). These actions are very similar to those instituted by Belgian authorities, who recently approved three online poker sites.

The official order, that is already in effect, states that ISPs must prevent French residents from playing on blacklisted sites. The ISPs will filter traffic to approved domains instead, and any costs incurred by the ISPs for carrying out this directive will be reimbursed.

Such measures have been criticized, with some arguing it violates European Union laws; however, that has not stopped many countries from executing similar orders.

Both Belgium and France have already implemented these regulations, and Spain’s drafts, which were recently delayed, have such provisions. Germany’s drafts have ISP restrictions, though the EU has rejected the drafts. Whether or not French ISPs abide by the decree remains to be seen.

ARJEL, which has governed online gaming in France since 2010, has licensed a number of online poker sites including 888PartyPokerPokerStarsiPokerEverest, and French-only rooms, Partouche and Winamax.


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The Nightly Turbo: Spain Delays Regulated Market, Duthie Leaves PokerStars, and More

Nightly Turbo

If you’re looking for the latest news news around the poker world, you’ve come to the right place. Online poker regulation is heating up in Europe with Belgium awarding licenses to a select group of operators. In other news, Spain has delayed the timetable on its new online gambling market. We’ll cover those stories and more in this edition of the Nightly Turbo.

In Case You Missed It

In December, Ilari Sahamies battled Rafi Amit and Viktor Blom for the honor of being the biggest cash-game winner on PokerStars in 2011. We tell you who finished on top and break down the year’s biggest winners and losers.

What can we expect to happen in the poker world this year? Rich Ryan makes his 12 Predictions for 2012.

Spain Delays Regulated Online Gambling Market

The new regulated online gambling market in Spain has been delayed six months to allow regulators time to review license applications. The setback will allow Spanish gamblers to continue playing on international sites until June 30, 2012.

Spain introduced a new gaming law in February 2011 with hopes of adopting a licensing system by the end of the year, but the process stalled in December. Poker-Red reported that 61 operators submitted applications before the Dec. 14, 2011 deadline, including Groupe Bernard Tapie, which is in the process of purchasing the assets of Full Tilt Poker.

The official list of applicants has yet to be revealed, but PokerStarsbwin.party888 and Ladbrokes all showed interest in the market.

For more, check out the Spanish Association of Online Gamblers website (Google Translate is your friend).

PokerStars, John Duthie Part Ways

U.K. poker pro John Duthie, perhaps best known as the creator of the European Poker Tour, is no longer a member of Team PokerStars. Duthie, 53, decided not to renew his contract when it expired at the end of December.

Duthie announced his departure on TwoPlusTwo on Monday, and a representative at PokerStars confirmed the news to PokerNews on Tuesday morning.

Duthie worked in the television industry becoming one of the most important figures on the European poker circuit. He gained fame as a player in 2000 by winning the inaugural Poker Million for more than $1.4 million. In 2004, Duthie made his biggest mark on the poker world by creating the EPT.

Together with PokerStars, Duthie helped turn it into the premier tour in Europe. Now in its eighth season, the EPT features 12 stops in ten countries, including the popular PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, which kicks off on Jan. 7, 2012 in the Bahamas.

Read more about Duthie’s split with PokerStars at

PokerStars Approved for Real-Money Poker in Belgium

According to a report by, the Belgian Gaming Commission approved three operators for real-money poker and will block all other unauthorized sites from providing games to residents inside the country. Going forward, Belgian poker players can play online at and Four casino websites and two sportsbooks were also given licenses.

Among the blacklisted sites were PartyPoker and iPoker, two of the three largest online poker operators in the world. The two sites are still allowing Belgians to play on their networks, calling the new laws “unenforceable.”

Unlike regulations set in other European nations like France and Italy, the Belgian player pool is not segregated, meaning online poker players won’t be restricted to playing against others located within the country. Belgians on PokerStars and Casino777 will play on the international sites, and Partouche players will be permitted to play on the site operated within the French regulated market.


Matt Glantz Calls for Responsibility

How much responsibility should poker players take for their actions? And how far is too far? Those are just a few of the questions poker pro Matt Glantz tackled in his most recent blog titled Responsibility in Poker.

Glantz, who is on the Epic Poker League Standards and Conduct Committee, feels that poker players should present themselves as role models, especially in front of television cameras. The way poker players act or speak in a public forum trickles down to the professional and amateur players around the world.

“The things you say and do reflect on all of us,” Glantz wrote. “Regardless of your intentions, your actions shine a light not just on you, but on all professional poker players. That light will shine dark or bright for all of us. When any one of us acts poorly in the spotlight, the ripple effect is typically immeasurable.”

The blog is definitely worth a read. You can find it at

Online Poker Traffic Report

On Monday, released the first online poker traffic rankings of 2012. Worldwide traffic held steady over the previous week, declining by just .01 percent during the traditionally slow holiday season.

PokerStars saw a drop of 2 percent of the previous week, but the world’s leading online poker room continued its dominance over the market. The iPoker Network held a slim margin over PartyPoker for the second slot in the rankings, and 888poker and the Ongame Network rounded out the top five, respectively.

One shift in the top 10 came between two sister sites. surged past to move into sixth place in the rankings. In addition, moved up one spot to eighth, shifting the Merge Gaming Network into ninth.

As for year-over-year numbers, PokerScout’s ACES indicator reports that online poker traffic (with the exception of Italy) has decreased by 30 percent in the past year. Full Tilt Poker and the CEREUS Network are responsible for much of that decline, but the Entraction Network (down 51 percent) and the International Poker Network (down 42 percent) have seen significant drops since last year. The biggest climbers since January 2011 are the Merge Network (up 90 percent), 888poker (up 86 percent) and Bodog (up 57 percent).

Read the full report at

Preview of PartyPoker Mixed Game Championship

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Ilari “Ilari FIN” Sahamies Becomes PokerStars’ Biggest Winner of 2011

Ilari "Ilari FIN" Sahamies

While 2011 was perhaps the worst year for online poker, there were still a couple of notable online stories. One story was the resettlement of high-stakes cash games to PokerStars; another was the subsequent race by Ilari “Ilari FIN” Sahamies and Rafi “refaelamit” Amit to become the year’s biggest winner. Things were hotly contested in December, with Viktor “Isildur1” Blom making a push for the title, but in the end, Sahamies won $2.18 million to become PokerStars’ biggest winner of 2011.

According to HighStakesDB, Sahamies won $2,183,832 in 2011, only $78,235 more than Amit’s $2,105,597.

Both Sahamies and Amit are high-stakes regulars who’ve been featured in the weekly Online Railbird Report more often than not, so it wasn’t surprising to see both finish atop the year’s leaderboard. It should be noted that Gus Hansen is listed as the overall big winner of 2011, having won $3,941,703 in the first 14 weeks of the year; however, he did so on Full Tilt Poker.

Surprisingly, both Sahamies and Amit took two very different routes to the top of the PokerStars leaderboard. For instance, Sahamies was in the red for the first two-thirds of the year while Amit built up a series of smaller wins on a monthly basis — with the exception of the summer.

Here is a month-by-month look for each player for 2011:

Ilari “Ilari FIN” Sahamies                  Rafi “refaelamit” Amit

MonthWinningsRunning TotalMonthWinningsRunning Total

The year was shaping up to be a disaster for Sahamies, who is listed as having dropped $623,000 on Full Tilt, but he turned things around beginning in August. In fact, it took just two months for him to recoup his losses of $873,360 and move a half million into the black. From there, he won an average of $810,866 per month between September and November.

A good portion of those winnings came on Sept. 7, 2011, when Sahamies won the largest pot ever played on PokerStars. It happened at a six-handed $200/$400 PLO table and began when Sahamies ($247,909) opened for $1,400 from the cutoff. Andreas “Skjervøy” Torbergsen ($30,208) and “bernard-bb” ($195,609) both made the call, creating three-way action to the {K-Spades}{2-Hearts}{3-Spades} flop. When it was his turn, Sahamies bet $4,595, Torbergsen raised to $18,380, and both bernard-bb and Sahamies made the call. Action checked to Torbergsen on the {9-Hearts} turn, prompting him to move all-in for $10,428. Bernard-bb then check-raised to $91,019, Sahamies called, and the {3-Hearts} was put out on the river. Bernard-bb bet $84,810 and Sahamies called, showing {A-Hearts}{K-Hearts}{6-Hearts}{4-Clubs} for a flush, which was better than bernard-bb’s {A-Diamonds}{A-Spades}{2-Diamonds}{7-Spades}. Torbergsen mucked and Sahamies took down the $421,826 pot, the largest in PokerStars’ history.

Amit was actually seated at the table during the aforementioned hand, though he had folded preflop. Perhaps Amit’s most memorable hand of the year came on Aug. 25 when he scooped pot worth $168,336, his biggest of 2011. In that hand, Amit ($155,605) was playing three-handed $100/$200 PLO when Ronny “1-ronnyr3″ Kaiser ($29,296) folded on the button. Amit raised to $600 from the small blind while Viktor “Isildur1″ Blom ($98,241) three-bet to $1,800 from the big. Amit then made it $5,400 to go, Blom called, and the flop came down {2-Spades}{6-Hearts}{Q-Clubs}. Amit bet $5,600, Blom called, and the {K-Spades} appeared on the turn. This time Amit checked, Blom bet $17,400, and Amit called. Again, Amit check-called a bet on the {2-Clubs} river, this time $56,768, and watched as Blom turned over {5-Spades}{3-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{4-Hearts} for a missed straight. Amit proudly rolled over {A-Hearts}{A-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}{Q-Diamonds} to take down the pot.

Speaking of Blom, he made a late push on Thursday, Dec. 30 to become the biggest winner of 2011, collecting $492,000 while Sahamies dropped $454,000. In one hand at $50/$100 PLO, Blom ($53,885) opened for $300 while Sahamies ($67,746) exercised his option in the big blind with a three-bet to $900. Ever the aggressor, Blom four-bet to $2,700, Sahamies called, and the flop came down {5-Clubs}{A-Spades}{2-Clubs}.

Sahamies checked, Blom fired out $3,800, and Sahamies woke up with a check-raise to $16,799.50. Blom responded by moving all-in for $51,185, and Sahamies made the call.

Sahamies: {A-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds}{2-Hearts}
Blom: {A-Clubs}{Q-Clubs}{7-Spades}{5-Spades}

Both players had flopped two pair, but Blom’s was superior. Neither the {J-Hearts} turn nor {10-Spades} river changed a thing, and Blom raked in the $107,770 pot.

Sahamies’ bad day put the 2011 title in jeopardy, putting him just $50,000 ahead of Amit, but he managed to hold on for the win. Meanwhile, Blom’s late-December rush made him the third biggest winner on PokerStars, banking $1,472,695.

Here is a look at the Top 10 Winner and Losers on PokerStars for 2011:

Top 10 2011 Winners on PokerStars


Ilari “Ilari FIN” Sahamies1,20099,695$2,183,832
Rafi “refaelamit” Amit1,077101,527$2,105,597
Viktor “Isildur1” Blom3,519384,654$1,472,695
Jens “Jeans89” Kyllönen2,417151,034$1,377,019
Gavin “gavz101” Cochrane2,079233,728$1,197,672
Ronny “1-ronnyr3” Kaiser1,22678,543$1,191,110
Andreas “skjervoy” Torbergsen1,32899,428$1,132,635
Benny “Toweliestar” Spindler2,205201,708$1,070,907

Top 10 2011 Losers on PokerStars


Richard “nutsinho” Lyndaker1,620160,159$1,025,356
nasud 111,34765,069$877,151
Nikolaus “RealAndyBeal” Jedlicka74243,419$735,094
Anton “antonionel” Ionel13315,264$703,103
Fake Love88821415,082$696,030

Data and hands obtained from

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Belgian Gaming Commission Approves, and

Online Poker Belgium

According to, the Belgian Gaming Commission announced that it had approved three sites for real-money poker and will block access to all other unauthorized sites. Belgian online poker players will be allowed to play on the following sites: and

According to recent legislation, most notably the Gambling Act, players are only allowed to play on approved sites, and the nation’s four largest Internet service providers will block unauthorized sites, such as and iPoker. Both of those sites have called the Gambling Act, which leaves issues of taxation unresolved, “unenforceable.”

The latest developments come after two years of debate and legislation, and it was no surprise to see PokerStars among the approved sites. In October 2010, PokerStars developed a partnership with online casino operator Circus Groupe that allowed the pair to offer their services under the regulation of the Belgian Gaming Commission.

“ and the Circus Groupe are logical partners,” said Sander Siezen, marketing manager for BeNeLux, of the partnership. “ has the largest live poker events offering in Belgium. is the world’s largest poker site and the largest in Belgium, as well. In addition, organizes the largest live poker series, the EPT. This is also in line with our global strategy to obtain online poker licensing wherever it is available.”

Emmanuel Mewissen, chief executive officer for Circus Groupe, was also quoted as saying of the 2010 announcement: “Attracting the world’s largest poker site was made possible by the remarkable work of the Belgian Gaming Commission and the Wallonia Ministry Of Finance, who were able to establish taxation that is perfectly suited for this type of activity.”


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