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Moneymaker PSPC Tour Kicks Off At Stones Gambling Hall Aug. 4

Steve Ruddock August 1, 2018 0 comments
Chris Moneymaker

The first stop on the PokerStars Moneymaker PSPC Tour is just days away. The tour commemorating the 15th Anniversary of Chris Moneymaker’s improbable path to becoming the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion kicks off at Stones Gambling Hall on Aug. 4.

Each stop on the tour will feature an $86 buy-in Main Event, a nod to the buy-in of the online satellite Chris won on PokerStars that started his WSOP journey.

In addition to the prize-money, PokerStars is hoping to uncover another Moneymaker by juicing the prize-pool with a $30,000 Platinum Pass to the inaugural $25,000 PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship that will take place in the Bahamas in January 2019.

“The tour is designed to give players the chance to emulate Chris’ win back in 2003 when he turned $86 into $2,500,000 by beating 838 players at the WSOP Main Event, sparking the famous ‘Moneymaker Effect’,” a PokerStars’ press release stated.

The Moneymaker PSPC tournaments aren’t just about poker, they will also be experiences.

Team PokerStars Pro Jason Somerville announced that Run It Up will be covering the first stop of the tour live from Stones with the help of Daniel Negreanu and Joe Stapleton.

All three are also expected to play in the event.

New event announced

Somerville also announced that a Moneymaker PSPC Tour event has been added to the Run It Up Reno schedule in October. The new stop brings the current count of Moneymaker PSPC Tour events up to 10.

“As a child of the Moneymaker boom, I credit much of my career to Chris’ massive victory in 2003 and it’s amazing to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his win by awarding a Platinum Pass at October’s Run It Up Reno. I’ve always admired Chris as an incredibly hardworking and humble ambassador of the game and I can’t wait to honor his achievement in Reno this fall,” said PokerStars Ambassador Jason Somerville.

According to PokerStars, the Run It Up Reno event will award two Run It Up Warriors with a Platinum Pass.

Moneymaker PSPC Tour schedule

Date Venue Location
Aug. 4-5, 2018 Stones Gambling Hall Citrus Heights, Calif.
Aug. 26, 2018 Lucky Chances Colma, Calif.
Sept. 9, 2018 Foxwoods Resort Casino Mashantucket, Conn.
Sept. 15, 2018 MGM National Harbor Oxon Hill, Md.
Sept. 22, 2018 Gardens Casino Hawaiian Gardens, Calif.
Sept. 23, 2018 Talking Stick Scottsdale, Ariz.
Sept. 30, 2018 PokerStarsNJ.com Online
Oct. 7, 2018 Mohegan Sun Uncasville, Conn.
Oct, 10-14, 2018 Maryland Live Hanover, Md.
Oct. 23, 2018 Reno Peppermill Reno, NV.

Lead image courtesy of Carlos Monti/PokerStars

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Low-Stakes Moneymaker PSPC Tour To Give Away $270,000 In Bahamas Buy-Ins

Martin Derbyshire July 4, 2018 0 comments
Chris Moneymaker

Low stakes recreational and amateur poker players across the US are being presented with a golden opportunity to get into what is sure to be one of the biggest tournaments of next year, or any other.

Back in December 2017, online poker giant PokerStars announced plans to run the first ever $25,000 buy-in PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure tournament series in January 2019. Not only that, but it would be giving away more than 300 PSPC tournament entry packages, also known as Platinum Passes, valued at $30,000 each.

The Platinum Passes include the $25,000 tournament buy-in, cash for travel, and accommodations at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

In its omnipotence, PokerStars is adding another $1 million to the winner’s take, making the total giveaway about $9 million.

They immediately began giving away Platinum Passes to players in PokerStars tournaments across the globe and somewhat randomly through various social media outlets.

The Moneymaker PSPC Tour

Now, to mark the 15th anniversary of Chris Moneymaker‘s 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event win, they have put together a new multi-stop Moneymaker PSPC Tour of the US where they will give away an amazing nine $30,000 Platinum Passes.

Moneymaker famously earned entry into the historic 2003 WSOP Main Event through an $86 satellite on PokerStars. As a result, the Moneymaker PSPC Tour will feature a series of $86 buy-in events with a Platinum Pass added to the winner’s take. Moneymaker has also agreed to provide support to winning players as they prepare for the PSPC in January 2019.

The tour is actually Moneymaker’s brainchild and he says it’s all about giving players a similar opportunity to what he experienced:

“It’s been 15 years since the big win and it only feels like yesterday. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I want to give someone else the opportunity to feel that #winningmoment.

“I’ve played a lot of poker for years and during that time I’ve got to know lots of people at live events and meet-ups. Now US fans will have the chance to win an amazing prize and have some fun along the way. Come join me to play, you never know, this could lead to a life-changing moment like I had.”

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Eight casinos and one online event

The Moneymaker PSPC Tour will hit a variety of casinos across the US and include one online tournament on PokerStarsNJ in September.

The festivities begin August 4 in Citrus Heights, California. Here’s a look at the entire Moneymaker PSPC Tour schedule:

  • Aug. 4 – 5 Stones Gambling Hall, Citrus Heights, CA
  • Aug. 19 – 26 Lucky Chances, Colma, CA
  • Sept. 9 Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, CT
  • Sept. 15 MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD
  • Sept. 22 Gardens Casino, Hawaiian Gardens, CA
  • Sept. 23 Talking Stick, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Sept. 30 PokerStarsNJ.com (online)
  • Oct. 7 Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT
  • Oct. 10 – 14 Maryland Live, Hanover, MD

Dates and venues are subject to change.

More ways to win a Platinum Pass

PokerStars is also teaming up with the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida to give more players in the US a shot at one of two Platinum Passes.

Players can enter for a chance to win a Platinum Pass by participating in two promotions at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. This includes the property’s $65,000 Summer Freeroll and its Play To Win Poker Promotion at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO) tournament series in August.

The $65,000 Summer Freeroll gives players who log 100 hours through July 31 the chance to play in a freeroll. Now there will be a Platinum Pass up for grabs in that event as well.

The SHRPO Play To Win Poker Promotion is a straight sweepstakes. Players get one entry into a draw every time they buy into a SHRPO event or satellite. The draw for a Platinum Pass will take place on August 14.

According to PokerStars, five US players are already Platinum Pass winners. The list includes:

  • Michael Page, PokerStars NJSCOOP Main Event High winner
  • Derik Li, PokerStars NJSCOOP Main Event Low winner
  • David Peters, PCA 2018 Wildcard winner
  • Maria Konnikova, 2018 PCA National Championship winner
  • Thai Ha, PCA Day 2 Draw winner

Chris Moneymaker Streams His Way To NJSCOOP Success

Avatar May 4, 2018 0 comments
Chris Moneymaker

The 2018 NJSCOOP came to a close on Monday after 17-day series that included 40 high and 40 low buy-in events.

The New Jersey version of SCOOP promised to be “NJ’s richest tournament series ever” with guarantees of over $1.3 million.

It looks like PokerStars lived up to its promise with total prize pools totally over $1.5 million, more than $200,000 more than was guaranteed.

NJSCOOP 2018 is one for the record books

Of the 80 total events, only four high and six low buy-in events failed to meet the guarantee.

It was mostly the mixed games that had an overlay. The only game to miss its guarantee in both the high and low version was Event #34: Limit Stud H/L.

The largest turnout was for Event #37 – Low: $50 NLH Main Event. The 1,173 entries produced a prize pool of $53,371.50, over $13,000 more than what was guaranteed.

One of the tournaments that fell short was Event #37 – High: $500 NLH, 2-Day Main Event. It had a guarantee of $200,000 and fell short of its guarantee by $4,010. Even so, it still had 416 entries. You can still catch a replay of the final table on the PokerStarsNJ client.

With 70 of the 80 events exceeding its guarantee, NJSCOOP continues to prove itself as one of, if not the most popular online tournament series in New Jersey.

Moneymaker making money in NJSCOOP

As is often the case with online poker tournaments, it can be hard to see who is having a good series. Well, one player has a hard time flying under the radar regardless of where he is playing.

Chris “Money800NJ” Moneymaker, often credited with igniting the poker boom after his 2003 WSOP Main Event win, is recognized whenever he sits down at a poker table – both online and in person.

Streaming his series and tweeting about it makes it impossible to elude the headlines. As it turns out, this past weekend was headline worthy for the PokerStars pro.

And that was before his fourth-place finish in the $200 Mixed NLHE/PLO.

When asked about the highlight of the weekend, it wasn’t a specific hand or win that Moneymaker talked about. It was the community.

“It’s the community in New Jersey. I play the NJSCOOP every year, and it’s always the same guys,” Moneymaker told USPoker. “It’s a really tight-knit community. There’s a lot of communication at the table, a lot of talking back and forth, and it’s just a little bit different experience than what one would normally be used to when playing in an online setting. ”

Moneymaker in the winner’s circle

Moneymaker admits to having a target on his back every time he takes a seat in a tournament. It is no secret players play differently against the big names of the game.

Even so, he spent the weekend streaming his NJSCOOP grind, knowing full well it would attract attention and maybe even criticism.

“Streaming is tough because you’re trying to explain your thoughts, you’re trying to answer questions, and you’re also trying to play two or three tables at a time,” said Moneymaker. “It’s a lot of work. It adds to your day, instead of focusing on just playing poker, you’ve got a lot of other stuff going on.”

When asked if he thought streaming helped or hindered his game, Moneymaker said both.

“I think it helps overall, but it does hinder some. [It helps] when you have actually to vocalize your decision, explain why you’re doing it, and walk through the steps, so it makes sense to people.”

Moneymaker goes on to explain that it hurts the other games he is playing outside of the mainstream. He isn’t putting as much attention or time into the decisions in those events.

“At the end of the day, it’s okay to have the other ones lose a little bit of their expected value if you can increase your expected value in the main one.”

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Moneymaker’s thoughts on NJSCOOP and poker in New Jersey

Moneymaker admits to liking this series. He travels from his home in Tennessee to the Garden State every year to play.

“[PokerStars] has a really good series here and it has grown since the inception. Every year it gets bigger. Last year, I think we were camping out at about a thousand people online. This year, I noticed that we had tipped over 1500.”

The numbers indicate online poker as a whole is declining in New Jersey. It seems as if players are looking towards shared liquidity and specifically, Pennsylvania coming online to help reverse the trend.

Moneymaker agrees Pennsylvania will have a considerable impact on the state of online poker in the state.

“The biggest thing for poker is having the volume and the mass of players that are playing at any given time. With Pennsylvania coming online, and then hopefully adding the player pools together it’ll make it a lot easier to find games. Then maybe you’ll start seeing more and more people playing during all hours of the day.”

Platinum Passes, SCOOP, and the WSOP … Oh, my!

PokerStars is getting itself ready for the time that legal and regulated online poker spreads across the U.S.

“People in the U.S. have very fond memories of PokerStars after Black Friday,” Moneymaker said. “They have a lot of goodwill built up in the U.S., and they want to be relevant in players minds. So as states do regulate, they’ll remember PokerStars.”

One way PokerStars hopes to remain relevant is by creating buzz about the PokerStars Player’s Championship.

“There hasn’t been a whole lot of opportunity for U.S. players to pick up Platinum Passes,” explains Moneymaker. “One of our big pushes going forth for the rest of the year is to get some of these passes into the pockets of U.S. players and get some buzz going around in rooms across the country.”

Two New Jersey residents took home a Platinum Pass valued at $30,000 – each by winning one of the two Main Events. Derik Li won his pass by claiming victory in Event #37 – Low: $50 NLH Main Event for $5,302.35. Michael Page won Event #37 – High: $500 NLH Main Event for $36,015.96 to pocket his.

Li and Page joined Maria Konnikova, Thai Ha and David Peters as US players who have secured a ticket to the highly-anticipated PSPC in the Bahamas in January 2019.

The next chance in North America for a Platinum Pass happens up north. While not in the U.S., a lot of players make the trek to Canada for SCOOP. Moneymaker is one of them.

Moneymaker has a busy few months ahead of him. After a few weeks at home with his family, Moneymaker will venture up north to his apartment just outside of Toronto, Canada.

It’s there that he will play the last half of SCOOP, one of his favorite online events. Coming off a successful weekend of streaming at NJSCOOP, Moneymaker says he will likely stream from May 13 – 18. Family and some personal appearances are preventing him from playing the full series.

Later in the summer, Moneymaker will head out to Las Vegas, Nevada for the WSOP. He doesn’t play a full series because summer is his time to be with his wife and kids.

He can’t, however, imagine not playing the tournament that made him a household name.

“I don’t want to say the excitement has worn off,” Moneymaker said about the Main Event. “Any time I’m able to go play a big buy-in poker tournament it’s always a really cool thing.”

One thing is clear after talking to the former Main Event champion is he loves his job.

“Whether I’m playing the Main Event or even if I’m in New Jersey, I realize I’ve got a pretty cool job. I’ve had it pretty well, and I’m very thankful for that.

Play Against Fatima de Melo, Chris Moneymaker In PokerStars Play-Money Charity Tournament

Avatar April 4, 2018 0 comments
PokerStars Play Money

PokerStars is making history, and it has nothing to do with a prize pool or the number of hands dealt. Instead, the online poker room is hosting the very first play-money charity poker tournament to benefit Right to Play.

Right to Play and PokerStars are partnering to raise much-needed educational funds for disadvantaged youth globally.

“This huge tournament will raise vital funds for our global charity partner, which has made such a positive impact on so many children around the world,” said Sue Hammett, Head of Corporate Giving for PokerStars, in a press release. “We’re aiming to have at least 5,000 players take part, which would raise enough to educate over 1,500 disadvantaged children for a year. So, please sign-up and invite your friends.”

The pros are playing and so should you

The poker community is very generous and is always looking for ways to get involved in making the world a better place.

The fact that PokerStars is hosting the very first play money tournament means you will see plenty of familiar names on the virtual felt.

Don’t miss your chance to play with your favorite players and collect a 5,000,000 play money bonus when you send a Team PokerStars pro to the rail. The tournament takes place on Friday, April 6 at 8 p.m. ET

A few of the players already committed to play are:

  • Former World Champion Chris Moneymaker
  • Team PokerStars Pro and Right to Play Ambassador Fatima de Melo
  • China’s ‘Poker Queen’ Celina Lin
  • Play Money ambassador Barry Greenstein
  • EPT Main Event winner Jake Cody

Fatima de Melo and the importance of sports

Sports has always been an important part of life for Olympic Gold Medalist Fatima de Melo. Her relationship with sports makes her the perfect ambassador for Right to Play.

“I’ve experienced that sports and play make people feel connected and have common ground by a joint goal and pleasure,” de Melo told USPoker. “Learning life skills like communicating more effectively and solving problems is important to become better at working together to achieve those goals.

“It also teaches kids to understand and feel that you have to work hard at something to become better and achieve a goal, but at the same time, sports and play keeps them motivated because of the fun of it! It’s really a mini-society in which each individual has a different role and in which sports and play have a connecting and catalytic role.”

De Melo is excited for the opportunity to help raise funds for an organization she holds dear. She was able to play any sport she wanted while growing up, a luxury not afforded to every child. In the end, she settled on field hockey. Being able to play any sport she wanted, however, was something she looks back on as a privilege.

“It has made me feel very grateful for every opportunity I’ve had in my life and grateful to my parents for being able to give me the chance to try any sport I wanted and drive me everywhere to exploit my talent,” said de Melo. “I feel lucky to have been born in a country where women are able to feel free and independent.”

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De Melo and her relationship with Right to Play

When looking for ways to give, Right to Play seemed a natural fit for de Melo. As an organization that empowers youth through sport and play, de Melo was honored to accept the role of Ambassador.

“I’ve seen kids in Uganda carrying their baby sister on their back when they were going to school and carrying them still during play time, without any sports shoes to support their feet and not even knowing what a marathon or the Olympics are,” de Melo begins as she describes how being an ambassador for Right to Play has impacted her.

“Right To Play helps them with learning all the basics, like hygiene, speaking up when there’s a problem at home, and understanding anticonception because aids is still a big problem there. I can keep going on and on about all the work that still needs to be done. But I’ve also seen that the younger generation is more developed, speaks up more, knows about the importance of condoms, and have more ideas about how they can make a safer and better life for themselves than the older generation. So that gives me a bit of hope.”

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

The General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed April 6 as International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

UNESCO declared sport and physical education a fundamental right for all. Holding the Right to Play charity tournament on April 6 makes perfect sense. The intention is to bring awareness to the role sport plays in promoting peace and tolerance across borders.

“We’re very grateful to our global partner, PokerStars, for delivering this exciting tournament to mark the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. It will help raise vital funds to help children in our programmes,” said Nikki Skipper, National Director for Right To Play UK. “It’s a fantastic initiative by PokerStars and will have a big impact on the lives of disadvantaged children around the world. We hope you will show your support for this tournament.”

Play and Support Right to Play

Play some poker and support Right to Play’s mission to “educate and empower children and youth to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict, and disease in disadvantaged communities.”

The tournament takes place on April 6, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET. Simply head to the Play Money Lobby and search “Right to Play.”

The buy-in for the event is 1,000,000 in chips, and there is a 5,000,000,000 chip guaranteed prize pool. If you don’t have 1 million in play money, you can purchase it via the cashier for $4.99.

If you can’t play the tournament, you can still support Right to Play.

“Of course people can donate to Right To Play themselves through their website or even share social media posts about Right To Play so more people will get to know this great and effective charity,” de Melo concluded.

Moneymaker Wins, PokerStars Covers Overlays At PokerStars Megastack NJ Series

Martin Derbyshire October 11, 2017 0 comments
New Jersey Online Poker

Even six-figures in guarantees couldn’t help PokerStars draw the number of players it expected to a live event in New Jersey. The world’s largest online poker site, and New Jersey online poker market revenue leader, brought its burgeoning PokerStars Megastack live poker tournament series to the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ this past weekend.

However, the two-event schedule with $125,000 in guaranteed prize pools was marred by sparse attendance and more than $31,000 in overlays.

PokerStars Festival New Jersey

PokerStars Festival New Jersey, held in the Fall of 2016, marked PokerStars first live event in the United States in almost six years. However, most of the events on the schedule fell well short of attendance expectations and some were even canceled. At the time, PokerStars admitted its lack of market familiarity and limited marketing effort had an effect on attendance. The failure to feature any guaranteed prize pools was also a factor.

This was all supposed to change with the introduction of the Megastack series to New Jersey. In fact, marketing efforts and press for the series started back in June. The PokerStars NJ online poker site launched in New Jersey in May 2016. Additionally, the site ran a robust satellite program allowing players to qualify for the series’ $220 PokerStars Sunday Special Live event for as little as $0.50.

The PokerStars Megastack series

The PokerStars Megastack series format itself was expected to attract bigger numbers as well. It was designed to bring live poker to players’ doorsteps at a low buy-in level. It also aims to offer a platform for players to build their way towards competing in PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival events. In fact, PokerStars Megastack has proven successful elsewhere.

The series’ April 2017 debut at London, England’s Hippodrome Casino drew over 520 entries. Additionally, the PokerStars Megastack Namur event at the Casino de Namur in France drew a record 1,051 entries for its Main Event last week.

New Jersey overlays

In New Jersey, the series’ $220 Sunday Special Live event drew just 409 entries across four starting flights Oct. 6 and 7. In fact, the event fell short of meeting its $100,000 guarantee. As a result, PokerStars was forced to pay out an $18,200 overlay.

However, the event wrapped up Oct. 8 with 60-year-old Egg Harbor Township, NJ resident John Monahan outlasting the field to capture a $19,920 first-place prize.

The second and final tournament on the PokerStars Megastack schedule was its $120 Cheap and Deep event. The tournament drew 119 entries Oct. 8, falling short of the number needed to meet its $25,000 guarantee. In fact, PokerStars was forced to cover a $13,100 overlay in this event.

Chris Moneymaker wins

Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker won the event, taking home the $6,220 first-place prize.

Moneymaker is widely credited with helping kick off poker’s boom in the early 2000’s. The Tennessee accountant qualified for the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event through a PokerStars online satellite. In fact, he went on to capture the WSOP Main Event title as an unlikely amateur taking on the world’s best pros.

Fellow Team PokerStars Pro Jennifer Shahade also attended the PokerStars Megastack series in Atlantic City. Shahade is a two-time United States Women’s Champion and FIDE Woman Grandmaster in the game of Chess.

WSOP Winner Qui Nguyen Is The Best Thing To Happen To Poker Since Chris Moneymaker

Steve Ruddock November 2, 2016 0 comments
Qui Nguyen WSOP

The final three players at the 2016 World Series of Poker main event final table came to play on Tuesday night.

Beginning with an amped up Cliff Josephy doubling through a willing to gamble Qui Nguyen, three-handed play was a whirlwind of comebacks, aggressive and care-free play, and even multiple appearances by Monty, the luckbox dog.

This wasn’t the deliberate, high-level, optimal play-only we’ve come to expect at the WSOP final table. It was visceral poker, and it was incredibly entertaining to watch.

Poker is fun again

I started to go down this path in yesterday’s column, but what Nguyen just did for the game of poker is immeasurable. Nguyen proved poker, even on its biggest stage, can actually be fun.

His play was called unconventional, unorthodox, baffling and any other superlative you can think up to describe someone doing something that goes against conventional wisdom. I call it contrarian, and it proved that there is a style of play capable of exploiting any other style of play people choose to adopt. There is no “game-theory optimal” strategy unless your opponent is also trying to play GTO.

Sure, Nguyen’s style is probably a long-term loser, but what people aren’t understanding is this is the style that gives amateur, less-skilled players the best shot at winning. And seeing it work is a good thing. All recreational players want is a chance to win, they don’t need to be +EV.

Qui made a number of missteps that could have cost him the tournament. But without millions of hands of practice, years of study, and months of serious coaching, what chance does he have of out-GTO’ing Gordon Vayo? There are two ways to outplay someone at a poker table: By being the better player, or by making a completely unorthodox move at the right time and having the heart to trust your instincts and make the play.

Chris Moneymaker’s bluff against Sammy Farha at the 2003 final table comes to mind, and in 2016 Nguyen made several such moves. You need to be a competent player, play fearlessly, have impeccable timing, and of course a bit of luck, but it can be done, you can make a “poker play” that puts pressure on your opponent and causes an error.

Nguyen did all of this. He proved you don’t need to know shove charts; you don’t need to play by the book; and you don’t need to be an online wizard to win the WSOP main event.

More importantly, you certainly don’t need to do any of those things to have fun at a poker table, whether it’s the WSOP main event or a $1/$2 no-limit game at the local card room.

On the broadcast, Antonio Esfandiari mentioned how Nguyen (with an assist from the other 2016 November Niners who all played relatively fast) was a breath of fresh air. Whenever Nguyen would take one of his unconventional lines Antonio would remark, “Mow we’re playing poker!” Meaning, Nguyen was making plays because he thought he could pull it off, not because conventional wisdom says you lead out here or value bet there.

In summary: Volatile poker is a fun style of poker to play and it’s a fun style of poker to watch.

Oh, and it’s also good for poker pros.

A 90-minute highlight reel

As good as the action was on Sunday and Monday night, the greatest 90 minutes of poker in television history happened on Tuesday. The first hour and a half of the ESPN coverage was amazing to watch.

It had everything:

  • A huge double up by Josephy on the first hand when Qui Nguyen decided to gamble with an A4.
  • The cooler of all coolers, when Josephy ran a set of 2’s into Gordon Vayo’s set of 3’s.
  • A comeback by Josephy who won multiple all-in confrontations to grow his stack from under 10 million to over 40 million.

This all happened over the course of 10 hands.

Six hands later Josephy was eliminated, when he tried to move Nguyen off a hand, but his bluff failed. Josephy was eliminated by Vayo on the very next hand.

Josephy went from a starting stack of 46 million, to over 100 million, to under 10 million, to back over 40 million, to eliminated in third place in a span of 16 hands.

As I said in the opening, these guys came to play.

Three yards and a cloud of dust

If the first 90 minutes was a highlight reel, the ensuing eight hours was like watching all 1,030 runs of LeGarrette Blount’s career. Sure, there are some exciting runs mixed in, but for the most part it’s a lot of three yards and a cloud of dust.

Nguyen applied unrelenting pressure on Vayo throughout the heads-up match, but Vayo also caught Nguyen’s hand in the cookie jar several times, and it seemed inevitable that Nguyen would eventually make a fatal misstep. Two-and-a-half hours into heads up play I called it a night, expecting to wake up in the morning and read about a Vayo victory.

I woke up and checked my phone to see who had won, only to discover the heads-up battle was still going (commentator Norman Chad quipped the 2016 final table would be up against Game 6 and Game 7 of baseball’s World Series). Nguyen was in firm control and eventually was able to finish off Vayo off.

Yesterday I remarked the WSOP needs to shorten the stacks at the final table in order to speed up play. This was on full display during the eight-hour heads-up battle between Vayo and Nguyen.

I don’t want to compromise the skillfulness of the tournament, but for the WSOP to continue to be a live event that works on TV, something has to be done. You can’t have 90 minutes of excitement  followed by eight hours of deep-stack heads-up play.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but the general public isn’t interested in eight-hour heads-up grindfests, and we’ve had that twice in the past five years. Greg Merson won the 2012 main event after a 12-hour session.

Perhaps it’s simply shortening the stacks by removing a couple levels along the way. Or perhaps it’s something more unorthodox, such as raising the blinds every 10 hands during heads-up play.

The bottom line is this: If the WSOP is going to be used as a marketing tool for poker — the one poker tournament the general public might watch — it has to be watchable.

It’s not ideal for poker players playing for millions of dollars, but poker may have to tailor the main event structure to make sure it’s a viable TV product. Getting rid of the November Nine is a good starting point.

If the main event doesn’t adapt, I’m not sure we’ll be watching the WSOP on ESPN, or any other major network.

First Global Poker League Franchise Revealed: Las Vegas Moneymakers

Steve Ruddock January 6, 2016 0 comments
Las Vegas GPL team

On Tuesday the Global Poker League announced the first of its 12 franchises along with a few other tidbits of information on the fledgling poker league. The GPL has revealed that 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Chris Moneymaker will be the manager of the Las Vegas based franchise named in his honor: The Las Vegas Moneymakers.

The name is bit of a play on words, as making money is not only what people hope to do in Las Vegas, but Moneymaker is recognizable to serious poker players and casual fans of the game. Considering Moneymaker is credited with kicking off the poker boom, it’s only fitting that the Las Vegas Moneymakers was the first team the GPL announced, and may provide the GPL with the good juju needed to start a second poker boom.

But the Las Vegas Moneymakers are only one of 12 GPL franchises.

The lowdown on GPL cities

The GPL will be comprised of 12 teams during Season 1, each based in a major international city. GPL founder Alex Dreyfus envisions the league growing over time, with the potential for new cities to be added in the coming years.

According to Dreyfus, the cities were chosen, “based on the marketing opportunities and legitimacy to get some of the best/known players.” Dreyfus further explained the selection process, and his desire to separate GPL poker from gambling, saying, “We didn’t want to create a cliché with only casino cities, that’s why there is no New Jersey but a New York, and there is no Macau but Hong Kong. At the end, we are trying to build-up a sports franchise.”

In addition to Las Vegas, the other GPL cities include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Sao Paolo, London, Paris, Prague, Moscow, Hong Kong, and as I’ve just learned, Rome will replace the previously named Barcelona as a GPL city. The GPL expects to announce the franchise names, and team managers for the other 11 teams in the next week or so.

The 12 teams will be divided into two conferences, with New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, and Sao Paolo in the Americas Conference, and London, Paris, Prague, Moscow, Hong Kong, and Rome in the Eurasia Conference.

The GPL will officially launch on February 25, when the first GPL draft is held as part of the 2nd annual American Poker Awards conference. Each team will draft three opted-in players from the top 1,000 of the Global Poker Index, and will round out their roster with two wild-card selections, who are not required to be GPI ranked.

The role of the manager

The most intriguing aspect of Tuesday’s announcement was the naming of Chris Moneymaker as the manager of the Las Vegas team; the addition of managers in and of itself was a late twist added by the GPL. It’s unclear if the other team managers will also have some kind of connection to the home city or team name, or if Chris Moneymaker, and the Las Vegas franchise, is a special case.

According to Dreyfus, the team managers will most likely be players, and will most likely play as part of the team, although this is not required. Dreyfus called the managers, “the soul, the color, the spirit of each team.”

It’s also unclear if the manager will make decisions on who plays in what matches, or if they play more of a figurehead role. According to Dreyfus, matches will consist of two players per team per week (the finals will pit the full teams of five against one another), and with five players on each team, this decision will have to be made by somebody. My guess is this will likely be the manager.

You can follow the Las Vegas Moneymakers on Twitter @LASMoneymakers

You can follow the Global Poker League on Twitter @GPL or visit their official website at GlobalPokerLeague.com for more information on the GPL

2019 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Complete Guide

Bart Shirley May 2, 2019 0 comments

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) will begin on May 28. The series will run throughout June and conclude on July 16.

This year’s series marks the 50th anniversary for the series. In that half century, the WSOP has grown to become the most prestigious poker event in the entire world.

Play Online Poker for Real Cash Prizes – US Players Accepted

The 2019 WSOP features the highest amount of events in the series’ history. Eighty-nine different tournaments will award their winners the WSOP’s famous gold bracelet.

Here are all 89 events.

Date Time Event Buy-in
Wed, May 29th 11:00 AM $500 Casino Employees Event $500
Wed, May 29th 12:00 PM Super Turbo Bounty $10,000
Thu, May 30th 11:00 AM BIG 50 - Flight A $500
Thu, May 30th 3:00 PM $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo Eight or Better $1,500
Fri, May 31st 11:00 AM BIG 50 - Flight B $500
Fri, May 31st 3:00 PM 50th Annual High Roller NLH $50,000
Sat, Jun 1st 10:00 AM BIG 50 - Flight C $500
Sat, Jun 1st 3:00 PM $2,500 Limit Mixed Triple Draw $2,500
Sun, Jun 2nd 10:00 AM BIG 50 - Flight D $500
Sun, Jun 2nd 3:30 PM No-Limit Hold’em (Online) $400
Sun, Jun 2nd 6:00 PM Short Deck No-Limit Hold’em $10,000
Mon, Jun 3rd 11:00 AM $600 No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack $600
Mon, Jun 3rd 3:00 PM $1,500 Dealer's Choice $1,500
Mon, Jun 3rd 6:00 PM $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em $5,000
Tue, Jun 4th 10:00 AM $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Super Turbo Bounty $1,000
Tue, Jun 4th 3:00 PM $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw $1,500
Wed, Jun 5th 11:00 AM $1,500 HORSE $1,500
Wed, Jun 5th 3:00 PM Heads Up No-Limit Hold’em $10,000
Wed, Jun 5th 4:00 PM $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed $1,500
Thu, Jun 6th 11:00 AM $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout $1,500
Thu, Jun 6th 3:00 PM Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better $10,000
Fri, Jun 7th 10:00 AM Millionaire Maker - Flight A $1,500
Fri, Jun 7th 3:00 PM $1,500 Seven-Card Stud $1,500
Sat, Jun 8th 10:00 AM Millionaire Maker - Flight B $1,500
Sat, Jun 8th 3:00 PM No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw $10,000
Sun, Jun 9th 11:00 AM $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Double Stack $1,000
Sun, Jun 9th 3:00 PM $1,500 Eight Game Mix $1,500
Sun, Jun 9th 3:30 PM 6-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha (Online) $600
Mon, Jun 10th 11:00 AM $600 Pot-Limit Omaha Deepstack $600
Mon, Jun 10th 12:00 PM $2,620 No-Limit Hold'em Marathon $2,620
Mon, Jun 10th 3:00 PM $1,500 Seven-Card Stud Hi/Lo 8 or Better $1,500
Tue, Jun 11th 11:00 AM No-Limit Hold'em $1,000
Tue, Jun 11th 3:00 PM H.O.R.S.E. $10,000
Wed, Jun 12th 11:00 AM $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha $1,000
Wed, Jun 12th 3:00 PM $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed $3,000
Thu, Jun 13th 10:00 AM Seniors No-Limit Hold'em $1,000
Fri, Jun 14th 10:00 AM $1,000 Double Stack No-Limit Hold'em - Flight A $1,000
Fri, Jun 14th 3:00 PM Dealers Choice 6-Handed $10,000
Sat, Jun 15th 10:00 AM $1,000 Double Stack No-Limit Hold'em - Flight B $1,000
Sat, Jun 15th 3:00 PM $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout $3,000
Sun, Jun 16th 11:00 AM $800 No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack $800
Sun, Jun 16th 3:30 PM Knock-Out Bounty No-Limit Hold’em (Online) $600
Mon, Jun 17th 10:00 AM $1,000 Super Seniors No-Limit Hold'em $1,000
Mon, Jun 17th 12:00 PM $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha $1,500
Mon, Jun 17th 3:00 PM Seven Card Stud $10,000
Tue, Jun 18th 11:00 AM $600 Mixed No-Limit Hold'em / Pot-Limit Omaha Deepstack 8-Handed $600
Tue, Jun 18th 3:00 PM $2,500 Mixed Big Bet $2,500
Wed, Jun 19th 11:00 AM $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Bounty $1,500
Wed, Jun 19th 3:00 PM High Roller Pot-Limit Omaha $25,000
Wed, Jun 19th 3:30 PM Turbo No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack (Online) $500
Thu, Jun 20th 11:00 AM $1,000/$10,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em $10,000
Thu, Jun 20th 12:00 PM $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em $2,500
Thu, Jun 20th 3:00 PM Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw $10,000
Fri, Jun 21st 10:00 AM Monster Stack - Flight A $1,500
Fri, Jun 21st 3:00 PM $2,500 Mixed Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better, Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo 8 or Better $2,500
Sat, Jun 22nd 10:00 AM Monster Stack - Flight B $1,500
Sat, Jun 22nd 3:00 PM Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed $10,000
Sun, Jun 23rd 11:00 AM $800 No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack 8-Handed $800
Sun, Jun 23rd 3:00 PM $1,500 Razz $1,500
Sun, Jun 23rd 3:30 PM Double Stack No-Limit Hold’em (Online) $1,000
Mon, Jun 24th 10:00 AM $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Super Turbo Bounty $1,500
Mon, Jun 24th 12:00 PM Tag Team No-Limit Hold'em $1,000
Mon, Jun 24th 3:00 PM Poker Players Championship $50,000
Tue, Jun 25th 11:00 AM $600 No-Limit Hold'em DEEPSTACK CHAMPIONSHIP $600
Tue, Jun 25th 3:00 PM $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha 8 or Better $1,500
Wed, Jun 26th 10:00 AM $400 Colossus - Flight A $400
Wed, Jun 26th 3:00 PM Razz Championship $10,000
Thu, Jun 27th 10:00 AM $400 Colossus - Flight B $400
Thu, Jun 27th 3:00 PM $1,500 Omaha Mix $1,500
Fri, Jun 28th 10:00 AM $888 Crazy Eights No-Limit Hold'em - Flight A $888
Fri, Jun 28th 3:00 PM Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 $10,000
Fri, Jun 28th 5:00 PM $888 Crazy Eights No-Limit Hold'em - Flight B $888
Sat, Jun 29th 10:00 AM $888 Crazy Eights No-Limit Hold'em - Flight C $888
Sat, Jun 29th 3:00 PM $1,500 Limit Hold'em $1,500
Sun, Jun 30th 10:00 AM $888 Crazy Eights No-Limit Hold'em - Flight D $888
Sun, Jun 30th 3:00 PM Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 $10,000
Sun, Jun 30th 3:30 PM No-Limit Hold’em Championship (Online) $1,000
Mon, Jul 1st 11:00 AM $1,000 Mini Main Event $1,000
Mon, Jul 1st 3:00 PM $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed $5,000
Tue, Jul 2nd 11:00 AM SALUTE TO WARRIORS - $500 No-Limit Hold'em $500
Tue, Jul 2nd 3:00 PM Limit Hold’em Championship $10,000
Wed, Jul 3rd 12:00 PM $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em MAIN EVENT - World Championship - Flight A $10,000
Wed, Jul 3rd 3:30 PM High Roller No-Limit Hold’em (Online) $3,200
Thu, Jul 4th 12:00 PM $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em MAIN EVENT - World Championship - Flight B $10,000
Fri, Jul 5th 12:00 PM $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em MAIN EVENT - World Championship - Flight C $10,000
Sat, Jul 6th 11:00 AM $1,000 + $111 Little One for One Drop - Flight A $1,111
Sun, Jul 7th 11:00 AM $1,000 + $111 Little One for One Drop - Flight B $1,111
Sun, Jul 7th 3:30 PM 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em (Online) $800
Mon, Jul 8th 11:00 AM $1,000 + $111 Little One for One Drop - Flight C $1,111
Mon, Jul 8th 3:00 PM $3,000 Limit Hold'em 6-Handed $3,000
Tue, Jul 9th 11:00 AM $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Bounty $1,500
Tue, Jul 9th 3:00 PM $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em $3,000
Wed, Jul 10th 11:00 AM $1,500 Mixed No-Limit Hold'em Pot-Limit Omaha $1,500
Wed, Jul 10th 3:00 PM $1,500 50th Annual Bracelet Winners Only No-Limit Hold'em $1,500
Thu, Jul 11th 11:00 AM $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Double Stack $1,500
Thu, Jul 11th 3:00 PM High Roller No-Limit Hold’em $100,000
Fri, Jul 12th 11:00 AM The Closer - $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em - Flight A $1,500
Fri, Jul 12th 3:00 PM $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed $3,000
Sat, Jul 13th 11:00 AM The Closer - $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em - Flight B $1,500
Sat, Jul 13th 3:00 PM 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em $10,000
Sun, Jul 14th 11:00 AM The Closer - $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em - Flight C $1,500
Sun, Jul 14th 3:00 PM $3,000 HORSE $3,000
Sun, Jul 14th 3:30 PM Summer Saver No-Limit Hold’em (Online) $500
Mon, Jul 15th 12:00 PM $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em $5,000

Notable changes at 2019 WSOP

Every edition of the WSOP features a few tweaks to the program, and this year’s series is no different. The first change is more like an expansion from the 2018 series.

The big blind ante for all no-limit hold’em events

Namely, every no-limit hold’em event will now be conducted using the big blind ante format. For those who are unaware, the big blind ante format involves consolidating the antes into a single payment each hand.

Usually, the responsibility for paying the ante falls to the big blind (hence the name) or the button. While it stinks for that player, big blind ante saves the time of collecting singular antes from every player and increases the number of hands dealt per blind level.

Starting stack amounts are increasing

The other change is more of a stylistic one. For many years, chipstacks at the WSOP were issued in a 1:1 ratio with the buy-in amount for the tournament.

However, that ratio can compress players unnecessarily as the blinds escalate. So, in recent times, WSOP has been adding multiples to starting chipstacks to balance out the gameplay.

This year, tournament officials are increasing the chipstacks for several events even further. Consult the table below to see which tournaments will be affected by these changes.

Buy-in 2018 Starting Stack Size 2019 Starting Stack Size
$150 10000 10000
$200 15000 15000
$250 20000 20000
$400 25000 25000/40000
$500 5000 25000
$600 N/A 30000
$800 N/A 40000
$888 8000 40000
$1000 5000 20000/40000/60000
$1,500 7500 25000
$2,500 12500 15000
$2,620 Same 26200
$3,000 15000 20000
$5,000 25000 30000
$10,000 50000 60000
$25,000 125000 150000
$50,000 250000 300000
$100,000 500000 600000

How to watch the WSOP Main Event and other WSOP events

Finding coverage for the WSOP used to be quite a challenge. However, those days seem to be gone.

For the third consecutive year, the WSOP Main Event and other WSOP events will be viewable through one of two sources: ESPN and PokerGO. PokerGO is the broadcast arm of Poker Central, which shares the broadcast rights with ESPN.

ESPN

Obviously, ESPN is the preeminent sports outlet in the US. The company hosts multiple channels of content on a 24-hour-a-day basis.

So, ESPN will have some amount of coverage for every day of main event play. The network is even going to cover all three opening flights and both Day 2s of the event.

As the tournament progresses, ESPN will increasingly devote time to coverage. If there’s any poker tournament people watch, it’s this one.

However, just as a caveat, most of the coverage will occur later in the evening. Here’s the schedule:

Date Time Network Event
July 3, 2019 8:30 PM - 2:00 AM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 1A
July 4, 2019 9:00 PM - 11:00 PM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 1B
July 5, 2019 8:00 PM - 12:30 AM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 1C
July 6, 2019 6:00 PM - 10:30 PM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 2AB
July 7, 2019 2:30 PM - 6:00 PM ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 2C
July 8, 2019 10:00 PM - 2:00 AM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 3
July 9, 2019 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 4
July 10, 2019 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 5
July 11, 2019 12:30 AM - 2:00 AM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 6
July 12, 2019 9:00 PM - 11:00 PM ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 7
July 12, 2019 11:00 PM - 2:00 AM ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 7 (Play to Final Table)
July 14, 2019 10:00 PM – TBD ET ESPN2 WSOP Main Event Day 8 (Nine to Six Players)
July 15, 2019 10:00 PM – TBD ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 9 (Six to Three Players)
July 16, 2019 9:00 PM – TBD ET ESPN WSOP Main Event Day 10 (Three Players to Winner)

ESPN has also provided coverage for some of the other events in the series. However, it is unknown which tournaments may appear on the “worldwide leader” at this point.

PokerGO

PokerGO will provide coverage that is supplementary to ESPN’s coverage. Most of the play and feeds that ESPN would not air will fall to PokerGO.

That’s not a bad thing, though. PokerGO will cover hours on both sides of ESPN’s coverage, providing a fuller experience.

In addition, PokerGO will cover events that ESPN is not going to broadcast. So, in a way, PokerGO is the destination for the hardcore fans — the types who want to see the seven-card stud events or the mixed game tournaments.

Great moments from the past

Both ESPN and PokerGO have managed to capture some great moments of poker in the past. Here are some of the greatest hits in WSOP history.

Worst bad beat in the history of the series?

This one’s pretty bad too, though.

Winning the Main Event isn’t just about getting the right cards.

2019 WSOP notable live events

Event No. 3: The Big 50

One of the more significant tournaments in the entire series is one of the very first events. The Big 50 is a $500 no-limit hold’em tournament that will begin its first flight on May 30.

The Big 50, as its name implies, is a new event to celebrate the WSOP’s golden anniversary. Fittingly, there will be plenty of gold showering from the ceiling in this tournament.

In fact, WSOP officials have guaranteed a $5 million prizepool for this event. They have also seen to it that the winner of the Big 50 will receive (at least) $1 million. The first purchase into this tournament is also rake-free.

Rarely must a tournament field more than 1,000 players to avoid an overlay. The combination of relatively low buy-in and high guarantee makes the Big 50 one of the best value tournaments in this year’s series.

Event No. 19: Millionaire Maker

The Millionaire Maker began life in 2013 as an audacious experiment. Tournament officials wanted to see if a $1,500 no-limit hold’em tournament could fulfill the prizepool requirements necessary to award $1 million to the winner of the tournament.

What followed was a remarkable series of superlatives. The first Millionaire Maker accepted 6,343 entrants, which was (at that point) the largest non-main event field in history.

The huge field resulted in a first prize nearly $200,000 more than the guaranteed payout. At the time, the 2013 event also paid out more people than any non-main event and resulted in more hands of poker dealt in a single day than any day in history.

Since that auspicious beginning, the Millionaire Maker has become a permanent fixture in the WSOP constellation. The fields for the event, though now paling in comparison to some lower buy-in tournaments like Giant or Colossus, have never been below 7,100 runners.

Last year, German player Arne Kern outlasted 7,360 other competitors to take the top prize. For his efforts, Kern received $1,173,223 and his first WSOP bracelet.

This year’s event, which begins on June 7, should be comparably big to its historical brethren. The “Milly Maker” is one of the best opportunities to win life-changing money.

Event No. 75: Little One for One Drop

The Little One for One Drop is the WSOP’s annual charity tournament. It is a no-limit hold’em event with a $1,111 buy-in.

WSOP donates $111 from each buy-in to One Drop. One Drop is an organization that seeks to provide clean drinking water and sanitary services to impoverished areas of the world.

One Drop came to life in 2007 as a project of Cirque du Soleil owner Guy Laliberte. Laliberte is also a high-level poker player in his own right, so it made sense that he turned to the poker world as a fruitful source of donations.

One Drop also enjoys donations from a larger version of this tournament. The Big One for One Drop occurs every two years, carries a $1 million buy-in, and is the only WSOP event to award a platinum bracelet.

Though it is an off-year for the Big One, players can still give back to the world in the Little One for One Drop. The 2019 Little One for One Drop begins on July 6. There will be three opening flights for this tournament, so there’s no reason to miss out.

2019 WSOP online events

As a sign of the times, there are now several official WSOP events that proceed entirely online. These tournaments are within the canon of the WSOP, and their winners receive gold bracelets like winners of any other series event.WSOP - 2019 Online Bracelet

This year, there are nine online events at the WSOP. Players from Nevada will be able to compete for WSOP hardware from the comfort of their homes.

New Jersey players will also be able to play at least some of the online events, too. According to Pokerfuse, WSOP management has confirmed that New Jersey players can participate in the events that occur ahead of the Department of Justice’s June 14 enforcement deadline.

The great thing about these events is how affordable they are, in comparison to the rest of the WSOP events. Six of the nine feature buy-ins less than $1,000.

The nine events are:

Tournament Name Date Time (ET) Buy-in
No-Limit Hold’em June 2, 2019 6:30 PM $400
6-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha June 9, 2019 6:30 PM $600
Knock-Out Bounty No-Limit Hold'em June 16, 2019 6:30 PM $600
Turbo No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack June 19, 2019 6:30 PM $500
Double Stack No-Limit Hold’em June 23, 2019 6:30 PM $1,000
No-Limit Hold’em Championship June 30, 2019 6:30 PM $1,000
High Roller No-Limit Hold’em July 3, 2019 6:30 PM $3,200
6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em July 7, 2019 6:30 PM $800
Summer Saver No-Limit Hold’em July 14, 2019 6:30 PM $500

A few of those tournaments stick out as especially noteworthy:

Event No. 38: WSOP.com Online Knock Out Bounty No-Limit Hold’em

This event is one of the aforementioned bargain tournaments. Players can compete for a gold bracelet for a mere $600.

The prizepool for this tournament is even lower than one might expect. Thanks to the bounty structure, every player who knocks out another will win $100 instantly.

So, it is possible that a player could receive a return on investment without making money. However, the prizepool is only comprised of the remaining $500 of entry less the vig.

Event No. 38 is a one-day tournament. It will run on June 16.

Event No. 68: WSOP.com Online No-Limit Hold’em Championship

This online, no-limit hold ’em championship is one of the more expensive tourneys WSOP offers. For $1,000, a player can throw his or her hat in the ring to win a gold bracelet.

This tournament is not a turbo event. In fact, it features long (for online games) levels of 20 minutes each.

There are no rebuys to this match, but players can re-enter up to three times. It is a one-day event and will run on June 30.

Last year, Chicago poker pro Ryan Tosoc came in first for this tournament by defeating 1,634 other players. In doing so, he captured nearly $239,000.

There were 180 players from the 1,635-person field that made money, receiving a minimum prize of $2,175. So, it is quite possible to make an excellent score in this tournament.

Event No. 74: WSOP.com Online No-Limit Hold’em High Roller

The high-roller tournament, unsurprisingly, is the most expensive tournament WSOP will host online. Players must plunk down $3,200 if they’d like to play.

Like the championship event, players will have 20 minutes per level to evaluate their decisions. The event is a one-day affair and will occur on July 3.

Last year, Chance Kornuth, of Colorado, won the event. In doing so, he became only the second man to have bracelets both live and online.

Kornuth won $341,599 for his efforts last year. He defeated 479 other players en route to victory.

So, for those who have the means, this high roller event can be quite an appealing opportunity.

Questions about NJ players’ ability to participate

Part of the turnout for these events is shrouded in doubt, however. The US Department of Justice recently issued an opinion that might cut New Jersey residents out of eligibility.

Basically, the DOJ revised its stance governing the applicability of the 1961 Wire Act. The government agency now says that the language of the act affects all types of online gambling, not just sports betting.

The opinion has generated scads of controversy, not least because the new opinion is a complete and unexpected reversal of the DOJ’s opinion from 2011. At present, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission is in the process of suing the DOJ for injunctive relief from the opinion.

Unfortunately, the new opinion would seem to render the multistate online poker compact illegal. So, whether New Jersey residents and visitors can take part in the online events is up in the air.

Play Online Poker for Real Cash Prizes – US Players Accepted

Event No. 73: The WSOP Main Event

Instant fame

There is no poker tournament on the planet more famous or prestigious than the World Series of Poker Main Event. The winner of this event is traditionally styled as poker’s world champion during the year that follows.

In many ways, winning the main event is one of those bona fides of great players. Many top pros have won this event and those who haven’t remain steadfast in their quest.

That’s not to say that one must win the main event to be a top poker player. Neither Phil Ivey nor Daniel Negreanu has had their hands raised at the end of this tournament yet.

Still, the main event often catapults poker players into the spotlight forever. For some, a week of good poker can change their lives forever.

Instant fortune

The money’s great, too. The main event was the first major tournament to offer a million-dollar prize for first place. The seven-digit award became a mainstay of the tournament in 1991 when Brad Daugherty became the first man to secure the score.

From 1991 to 2003, the prize amounts increased slowly. However, in 2003, Chris Moneymaker won the event and sparked a period known as the poker boom.

Poker grew far more prominent than it ever had been before. Accordingly, with so many new people playing, the prizes for the main event grew by leaps and bounds.

At the 2006 peak, the tournament awarded Jamie Gold $12 million for his first-place finish. Since then, however, the prizes began to flatten and decline. Playership went down a bit, and tournament officials slowly adopted a wider distribution of funds.

As a result, the champion no longer receives quite the lion’s share of the prizepool. Current champion John Cynn took home only $8.8 million for his efforts. On the flip side, however, every person who makes the nine-man final table is now guaranteed to take home a million-dollar prize.

2018 main event recap

Last year’s main event crowned 33-year-old Illinois poker player John Cynn as the 2018 world champion. Cynn outlasted 7,873 other players to claim poker’s most coveted prize.

WSOP 2018 Winner - John Cynn
John Cynn won the 2018 Main Event and is the current world champion.

He took first place after an almost-interminable, heads-up session with runner-up Tony Miles. The two dueled for more than 10 hours and played nearly 200 hands against each other before Cynn prevailed.

For his perseverance, Cynn received the $8.8 million first prize and the trademark gold bracelet. Miles had to console himself with a $7 million prize.

In fact, all nine of the 2018 main event’s final table received payouts of $1 million or more. The massive payouts were available due to both the immense field and a flattening of the payout structure by tournament officials.

As it is, the 7,874-player field is the second-largest ever to gather for the main event. The huge tournament served as a signal that poker still has quite a healthy following, both at home and abroad.

A look ahead at the 2019 Main Event

In the early days of the Main Event, when the fields were in the single digits, predicting a winner was a far easier proposition. Nowadays, it’s little more than a crapshoot.

The last poker superstar to win the event is Chris “Jesus” Ferguson. Even Chris Moneymaker was an unknown until his win and his memorable name catapulted him into the limelight.

However, based upon their recent accomplishments and their prior performances at the WSOP, there are four players that may be poised for a deep run.

Justin Bonomo

It may seem a bit knee-jerk to include the all-time money leader on a list of possible contenders. It’s not much of a prediction to say that “ZeeJustin” is a contender to go deep in the WSOP Main Event. He already has three bracelets and one circuit ring to his name.

However, Justin Bonomo has been on fire since 2019 began. He has two first-place finishes and two more final table appearances this year. All four of these cashes have been in tournaments with buy-ins above $25,000, so there’s no doubt that Bonomo is playing excellent poker at the highest level right now.

David Peters

David Peters is one of those people who is always in the mix. He might be setting up to break through this year.

Peters has hit paydirt in nine big tournaments so far in 2019. According to the Hendon Mob, he has increased his all-time winnings total by over $6.2 million in just four months of play.

He also has a bracelet and a circuit ring at home. The way he’s playing, he probably needs to clear some more drawer space soon.

Stephen Chidwick

British player Stephen Chidwick has been on quite the roll since the first of the year. He has placed highly in eight major tournaments so far, with no finishes lower than 8th.

He more or less made the US Poker Open his personal tournament in the process, winning twice and making the final table two other times. He has added nearly $5 million to his lifetime earnings in the four months of 2019 alone.

Chidwick also has 52 cashes and over $2.2 million in winnings from WSOP events. This year may be the one where he starts collecting bracelets, too.

Bryn Kenney

Bryn Kenney has been in the mix for quite a while now. However, it seems like everything is coming together for him this year.

He’s coming off a win at the 2019 Aussie Millions Main Event, a win at the US Poker Open, and three other top ten finishes in major tournaments. Like Stephen Chidwick, he has increased his overall winnings by close to $5 million in four short months.

Kenney is also a bracelet winner, having won the 2014 $1,500 10-Game Mix 6-Handed event. With over $2.7 million in lifetime WSOP cashes, Kenney is always a threat to go deep if he can build an early stack.

The Main Event winners at a glance

WSOP Champs - Jamie Gold and Johnny Chan
Jamie Gold (left) and Johnny Chan – two world champions

Forty-three men have won the WSOP Main Event in its 50-year history. No women have prevailed, so far.

Obviously, Americans have dominated the ranks of champions. However, the list of world champions includes members from 12 different countries.

Here is the list:

Year Champion Prize # of Players in Field
2018 John Cynn $8,800,000 7,874
2017 Scott Blumstein $8,150,000 7,221
2016 Qui Nguyen $8,005,310 6,737
2015 Joe McKeehen $7,683,346 6,420
2014 Martin Jacobson $10,000,000 6,683
2013 Ryan Riess $8,359,531 6,352
2012 Greg Merson $8,531,853 6,598
2011 Pius Heinz $8,715,638 6,865
2010 Jonathan Duhamel $8,944,138 7,319
2009 Joe Cada $8,574,649 6,494
2008 Peter Eastgate $9,152,416 6,844
2007 Jerry Yang $8,250,000 6,358
2006 Jamie Gold $12,000,000 8,773
2005 Joe Hachem $7,500,000 5,619
2004 Greg Raymer $5,000,000 2,576
2003 Chris Moneymaker $2,500,000 839
2002 Robert Varkonyi $2,000,000 631
2001 Carlos Mortensen $1,500,000 613
2000 Chris Ferguson $1,500,000 512
1999 Noel Furlong $1,000,000 393
1998 Scotty Nguyen $1,000,000 350
1997 Stu Ungar $1,000,000 312
1996 Huck Seed $1,000,000 295
1995 Dan Harrington $1,000,000 273
1994 Russ Hamilton $1,000,000 268
1993 Jim Bechtel $1,000,000 220
1992 Hamid Dastmalchi $1,000,000 201
1991 Brad Daugherty $1,000,000 215
1990 Mansour Matloubi $895,000 194
1989 Phil Hellmuth $755,000 178
1988 Johnny Chan $700,000 167
1987 Johnny Chan $625,000 152
1986 Berry Johnston $570,000 141
1985 Bill Smith $700,000 140
1984 Jack Keller $660,000 132
1983 Tom McEvoy $540,000 108
1982 Jack Straus $520,000 104
1981 Stu Ungar $375,000 75
1980 Stu Ungar $385,000 73
1979 Hal Fowler $270,000 54
1978 Bobby Baldwin $210,000 42
1977 Doyle Brunson $340,000 34
1976 Doyle Brunson $220,000 22
1975 Brian Roberts $210,000 21
1974 Johnny Moss $160,000 16
1973 Walter Pearson $130,000 13
1972 Thomas Preston $80,000 8
1971 Johnny Moss $30,000 6
1970 Johnny Moss n/a 7

Quick facts about the WSOP Main Event champions

  • Only four men have ever repeated as world champion.
  • Johnny Moss and Stu Ungar are the only men to have won more than twice.
  • Only Stu Ungar has won three times in the freezeout format.
  • The last player to repeat was Stu Ungar in 1997.
  • The last consecutive winner was Johnny Chan in 1988.
  • Sixteen of the 43 winners have been elected to the Poker Hall of Fame.
  • The 2009 champion Joe Cada was only 21 years old when he won, making him the youngest to win the main event.

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Other big money WSOP events

The WSOP is not just about the main event, however. Aside from the main event, 20 other events come with buy-ins greater than or equal to $10,000.

Most of these events are the championships for a particular game in poker. However, there are a few tournaments in this group that are particularly notable.

Event No. 5: 50th Annual High Roller No-Limit Hold’em

The 50th Annual High Roller No-Limit Hold’em event is a $50,000 buy-in tournament. In fact, its name is a tad misleading because the event itself has not run 50 times; the WSOP itself has.

In fact, this tournament celebrated its inaugural year in 2018. Confusing name aside, this event is certainly worth a high-limit player’s attention.

This year’s version of the $50k buy-in event actually has some tweaks from last year’s incarnation. For one thing, the overall time allotted for the tournament has doubled.

This event is now a four-day extravaganza. Blind levels have expanded from 40 minutes to one hour each.

Players will also begin with 300,000 in tournament chips, up from the 250k they received last year. There is also one extra level of late registration.

However, not everything has changed. There is still only a single flight and a single re-entry allowed in this event. The big blind ante system, which was new last year, returns.

Obviously, tournament officials are hoping that these tweaks will generate more interest and a more robust tournament field. Last year’s event drew 128 runners and paid out $1,650,773 to the first-place finisher, Ben Yu.

Event No. 15: Heads Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship

The Heads Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship is something of a rarity. It is certainly a big money event with a buy-in of $10,000.

However, it seems to be an event more heavily steeped in bragging rights than most. The notion of facing off one on one with another player opens up the possibilities for accentuating the interpersonal aspects of poker.

Last year, all-time money leader Justin Bonomo won this event. In doing so, he captured his second WSOP bracelet.

The payout for first place was a comparatively meager $185,965, which is small potatoes compared to other events with similar buy-ins. The tournament itself has a 512-player hard cap, anyway, so it’s impossible to push the prizepool into the stratosphere.

However, the notion of winning a series of duels has plenty of appeal. There’s no doubt that Bonomo felt like quite the gunslinger after the tournament ended.

Of course, he won $10,000,000 a month later in the Big One for One Drop, so he’s probably not too worried about the paucity of the heads-up prize.

Event No. 58: Poker Players Championship (6-Handed)

The WSOP has become quite accessible for many aspiring poker players. The lowering of buy-in amounts meant that those seeking a gold bracelet were no longer just the gods of the felt.

So, in a way, the Poker Players Championship (6-Handed) is a rebuttal to that movement. The tournament, which begins on June 24, comes with a $50,000 price tag for its buy-in.

To screen out the riffraff further, the Poker Players Championship is also a mixed game event. The following games will be in the rotation at this year’s event:

  • Limit hold’em
  • Omaha hi-lo 8 or better
  • Seven card stud
  • Razz
  • Seven card stud hi-lo 8 or better
  • No-limit hold’em
  • Pot-limit Omaha
  • Limit 2-7 lowball triple draw

Only the most dedicated players will feel confident enough to attempt play in all of these variations. So, the combination of bankroll requirement and game selection means that this tournament will be filled with some of the best players in the world.

On the other hand, this tournament may actually be the new event to classify the world’s best. After all, the world champion should demonstrate mastery in many different forms of poker.

Nevertheless, it’s a six-day event with plenty of poker for those involved.

Other activities at the WSOP

One of the misconceptions about the WSOP is that it consists only of the events on the schedule. Nothing could be further from the truth; the WSOP is a 24-hour-a-day bonanza of poker.

Within the main tournament hall, there are always several cash games happening. Even players with the skinniest of bankrolls can get a taste of the WSOP excitement if they choose.

There are also two other types of tournaments that are ongoing at the WSOP. The first of these are side-event tournaments.

Side events

Side-event tournaments are single-day tournaments that run every single day of the WSOP. There are at least four side-event tournaments that will occur daily.

These tournaments are deepstack events, so they offer plenty of chips for play. They are:

  • 1 p.m. – $250 No-Limit Hold’em
  • 4 p.m. – $200 No-Limit Hold’em
  • 7 p.m. – $400 No-Limit Hold’em*
  • 10 p.m. – $150 No-Limit Hold’em*

*These tournaments will have an accelerated format.

There are also side events that cater to specific types of players. For instance, on Sundays at 5 p.m., there will be $250 Pot-Limit Omaha tournaments.

On Wednesdays, there will be another set of no-limit hold’em tournaments at 9 a.m. However, these tournaments are reserved for senior players who are 50 years of age or older.

Mega satellites

Even though bracelet events are more affordable than ever now, they are still a significant investment of money. So, WSOP will run mega satellites several times a day that will award tournament seats to the winners.

Satellites are a perfect way to experience the WSOP on a budget. With just a bit of skillful play, a player can find him or herself in a bracelet event at a significant discount.

Here is the schedule for all the mega satellites this year:

Mega Satellite Name Date Time Buy-in Payout
The WSOP Big 50 Mega Satellites May 28 - 31 Noon $70 $500 entry + $40 cash per 10 entries
The WSOP Big 50 Mega Satellites May 28 - 31 4 p.m. $140 $500 entry + $30 cash per 5 entries
Turbo No-Limit Hold'em Mega Satellites May 29 - July 13 9 a.m. $185 $1,500 entry + $100 cash per 10 entries
Specialty Mega Satellites May 28 - July 13 8 p.m. $575 $5,000 entry + $50 cash per 10 entries
Specialty Mega Satellites May 28 - July 13 8 p.m. $1,100 $10,000 entry + $100 cash per 10.1 entries
$50K High Roller No-Limit Mega Satellites May 29 - 30 noon $625 Seat in 6 p.m. $5,300 Mega Satellite
$50K High Roller No-Limit Mega Satellites May 29 - 30 6 p.m. $5,300 Seat in $50,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold'em
$25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed High Roller Mega Satellites June 17 - 18 Noon $325 $2,700 entry + $100 cash per 10 entries
$25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed High Roller Mega Satellites June 17 - 18 6 p.m. $2,700 $25,000 entry + $100 cash per 10 entries
$50,000 Poker Players Championship (8 Game Mix) Mega Satellites June 22 - 23 Noon $625 Seat in 6 p.m. $5,300 Mega Satellite
$50,000 Poker Players Championship (8 Game Mix) Mega Satellites June 22 - 23 6 p.m. $5,300 Seat in $50,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold'em
$100,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold'em Mega Satellites July 9 - 10 10 a.m. $125 $850 entry + $100 cash per 10 entries
$100,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold'em Mega Satellites July 9 - 10 2 p.m. $850 $7,500 entry + $200 cash per 10 entries
$100,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold'em Mega Satellites July 9 - 10 6 p.m. $7,500 $100,000 entry per every ~14 entries
No-Limit Hold'em Mega Satellites July 2 - 6 8 a.m. $135 $1,100 entry + $20 cash per 10 entries
No-Limit Hold'em Mega Satellites July 2 - 6 2 p.m. $250 $2,175 entry + $20 cash per 10 entries
No-Limit Hold'em Mega Satellites July 2 - 6 10 a.m./4 p.m. $575 $10,000 entry + $100 cash per 20 entries
No-Limit Hold'em Mega Satellites July 2 - 6 1 p.m. $1,100 $10,000 entry + $100 cash per 10 entries
No-Limit Hold'em Mega Satellites July 2 - 6 8 p.m. $2,175 $10,000 entry + $100 cash per 5 entries
Turbo No-Limit Hold'em Mega Satellites July 3 - 7 8 a.m. $1,100 $10,000 entry + $100 cash per 10 entries

Gavin Smith Memorial Poker Tournament

Poker player Gavin Smith passed away suddenly and tragically in January 2019. WSOP has elected to honor his memory on May 28.

The Gavin Smith Memorial Poker Tournament will occur at 6 p.m. on that day. The event will be a $200 buy-in, no-limit hold’em event. Poker fans shouldn’t miss it.

Bracelet winners

In many sports, great players are defined by the number of championships they won. Sports teams tend to celebrate a championship by awarding each person on the team a commemorative ring.

WSOP Champ Phil Hellmuth

In poker, the championship rings are gold WSOP bracelets. The number of bracelets a poker player acquires in his or her career often serves as a shorthand for his or her level of expertise.

By that metric, there can be no doubt that Phil Hellmuth stands atop the poker world. His 15 bracelets are more than any person has ever won, and it’s not particularly close.

Hellmuth has won 50% more hardware than the next three men on the list. Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson — all Hall of Fame poker players — each have 10 bracelets to their name.

In fact, a quick read of the top bracelet collectors reads like a who’s who of poker greats. The rest of the top 10 bracelet winners includes Johnny Moss, Erik Seidel, Men Nguyen, Billy Baxter, Daniel Negreanu and Chris Ferguson.

Here are the top 25 winners of WSOP gold bracelets. Most of the names will be quite familiar.

Player Name # of Bracelets Total WSOP Winnings
Phil Hellmuth 15 $14,557,887
Doyle Brunson 10 $3,038,079
Johnny Chan 10 $4,656,764
Phil Ivey 10 $6,686,892
Johnny Moss 9 $834,422
Erik Seidel 8 $5,420,816
Billy Baxter 7 $1,218,083
Men Nguyen 7 $4,136,064
TJ Cloutier 6 $4,689,660
Chris Ferguson 6 $6,426,668
Layne Flack 6 $2,815,026
Ted Forrest 6 $2,061,592
Jay Heimowitz 6 $1,526,281
Jeff Lisandro 6 $4,338,726
Daniel Negreanu 6 $17,149,667
Daniel Alaei 5 $4,502,145
Gary Berland 5 $220,390
David Chiu 5 $3,674,019
Allen Cunningham 5 $7,865,275
John Hennigan 5 $5,548,209
Berry Johnston 5 $2,116,110
John Juanda 5 $5,714,127
Jason Mercier 5 $5,039,501
Scotty Nguyen 5 $6,000,014
Stu Ungar 5 $2,081,478

WSOP FAQ

How much is the buy-in for WSOP 2019?

Buy-ins in the 2019 WSOP’s 89 events range from $400 to $100,000.

Can anyone enter the World Series of Poker?

Anyone 21 and older may enter any World Series of Poker event.

Who has the most bracelets in poker?

Phil Hellmuth has 15 bracelets, the most bracelets of any poker player.

Who is the best poker player in the world?

There is no objective measure to determine which player is the absolute best player. However, some of the best players in the world include:

  • Daniel Negreanu
  • Phil Ivey
  • Phil Hellmuth
  • Erik Seidel
  • Fedor Holz

However, at any given time, there are 20 to 25 people who could be described as one of the world’s best poker players.

Who won the WSOP?

The winner of the 2018 WSOP Main Event was John Cynn, a 34-year-old poker player from Illinois.

How do you win seats in WSOP?

Seats to WSOP events are available both in live and online satellites. Players can play their way in through one of the mega satellites at the Rio or on WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey.

How much is the World Series of Poker bracelet worth?

World Series of Poker bracelets are custom-designed pieces of jewelry. They typically contain several gemstones to add flair or to represent various aspects of cardplaying.

A rough estimate places the value of each bracelet somewhere between $5,000 and $30,000. However, depending on the design, the accessory could be valued even higher than that.

WSOP Execs Watering Down Poker’s Biggest Prize – The WSOP Bracelet

Martin Derbyshire January 16, 2019 0 comments

Last week, the World Series of Poker released details for 13 more 2019 WSOP bracelet events. In doing so, WSOP brass continued to water down what was once poker’s most prestigious prize.

The 2019 WSOP is on the way to equal or surpass the whopping 78 bracelet events that ran in last year’s event. To gain perspective, there were 36 bracelet events in 2003.

Of course, Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event that year, which kicked off an unprecedented boom in poker’s popularity. So, Harrah’s/Caesars can’t be blamed for taking advantage of the public’s newfound interest in the game by adding more championship level events to the schedule.

However, since then, WSOP management has more than doubled the number of events. This decision appears to have been driven by the greed of a group of corporate bean counters concerned more about raking as much cash as they can than the value of a WSOP bracelet.

Double the bracelets, increase the rake

The increase in bracelet events didn’t happen overnight. By 2008 it was up to 55 events, a reasonable reaction to the poker boom. However, five years later, it was up to 62 and starting to border on the ridiculous.

Management had added six more events by the time the 2015 WSOP rolled around. They added six more for 2017, and another four in 2018 brought the total to 78.

The WSOP will tell you that year in, year out, record-entry numbers prove the increase in the number of events is just a response to customer demand. However, the fact the organization has not only increased the amount it takes in through tournament fees by holding more tournaments but by gradually increasing tournament fees over the years as well, suggests the increase is more financially motivated.

The public always considered WSOP bracelet winners world champions of a certain poker discipline at a specific buy-in level. Can any more than a select few of the 78 bracelet winners from the 2018 WSOP still make such a claim?

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Dropping the buy-in level

Additionally, Caesars has made the events more accessible to the masses by driving down the cost of a buy-in.

First, they dropped the buy-in of several $1,500 events to $1,000. Then, they added multiflight events like the Colossus.

To try to break live tournament poker entry records (which the Colossus did), it came with a $565 buy-in. The WSOP succeeded in breaking that record.

This year, they’re pushing the envelope even further.

The WSOP announced the schedule for the 2019 series last month. In doing so, the brass revealed it would be kicking off the 2019 WSOP with something called the Big 50.

The buy-in for the Big 50 is just $500.

WSOP brass also announced a re-imagining of the Colossus. Four flights are now two. Not to worry, though — the WSOP also dropped the buy-in to a measly $400.

‘Cheaper’ literally means that something is not worth as much

The WSOP says Colossus will be the lowest-priced bracelet event on the 2019 schedule. The truth is it will be one of the lowest-priced bracelet events ever. Plus, it represents an even further diminishing of the value and prestige of the WSOP bracelet itself.

Where this annual devaluation will all end is anybody’s guess. However, a WSOP with 100 bracelet events and $100 buy-ins is not that far off.

Hopefully, the WSOP execs responsible take a long hard look in the mirror before the game’s flagship series becomes just another one of many.

There would be no greater shame than to see the value of poker’s biggest prize completely eroded.

This year’s series will take place at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The events will run between May 28 to July 16.

Editor’s note: We initially identified this year’s Colossus as the least expensive WSOP bracelet event of all time. @onepositivedude on Twitter reminded us about the $365 Giant from last year’s series. We have corrected the error and apologize for any confusion.

How The Wire Act Opinion Will Affect US Online Poker

Bart Shirley January 15, 2019 0 comments

The US Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion on Monday about the applicability of the Wire Act to interstate gambling, including online poker. In the short-term, it is unclear that the opinion will change very much about playing poker through the internet.

The DOJ’s announcement serves as a reversal of its 2011 opinion on the matter. In that proclamation, the government concluded that the Wire Act only pertains to sports betting. For those unfamiliar, the Wire Act prohibits use of electronic equipment to place interstate wagers.

Yesterday’s opinion differed with its predecessor. The relevant part of the opinion read as follows:

While the Wire Act is not a model of artful drafting, we conclude that the words of the statute are sufficiently clear and that all but one of its prohibitions sweep beyond sports gambling.

How is this not a total disaster for online poker?

Granted, the language of the opinion seems pretty damning. There’s no doubt that it represents an expansion of scope for the Wire Act.

For that reason, it came as little shock to industry observers that anti-gambling advocates were crowing about the opinion. Notably, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, which is rumored to enjoy financial backing from Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson, issued a statement in support of the opinion roughly an hour after its release.

However, now is not the time to lose one’s head. There are several reasons that this decision won’t be cut-and-dried in its enforcement.

The conflict between the branches of government

The first reason that this opinion won’t be the end of the argument is that the DOJ’s proclamation goes against rulings in several federal courts. According to Legal Sports Report, both the 1st and 5th Circuit Courts of Appeal have judgments that define the Wire Act as applicable to sports betting only.

Yesterday’s opinion even acknowledges the discrepancy. It allows for the fact that judicial review might serve as a “one-way check” on the government body’s interpretation.

The DOJ’s powers relate to enforcement only

Another thing to keep in mind is that yesterday’s opinion, though troubling, does not carry the force of law. The Department of Justice is an enforcement agency. It can only execute its duties based upon its interpretation of existing law.

The DOJ might also choose to place enforcement of the new opinion low on its priority list. So, online gambling might end up in the same position as recreational marijuana usage, which remains effectively legal through the DOJ’s assessment of its main priorities.

Lawsuits are all but assured

Finally, DOJ enforcement officials might be loath to begin actions on this opinion because of the likelihood of litigation over it. Lawsuits could tie up any kind of enforcement for years to come.

Given the success states found in their arguments against PASPA, they might be emboldened to take on Uncle Sam once again. Although online poker itself is not a gigantic moneymaker, online gambling itself certainly is.

What could be affected, though?

Despite the likelihood of challenges, however, there’s no denying that the opinion will broaden the effect of the Wire Act on online gambling. In fact, it’s possible that even intrastate online gambling might be affected.

Even though the two points of transmission might be inside a single state, the information might travel out of state in order to reach its destination. As a result, the DOJ might consider it to be an interstate transaction.

Naturally, the decision might affect the tri-state poker compact between New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. So, sharing of player pools is certainly at risk.

Another surprising aspect of online poker that might be affected is payment processing. The DOJ’s opinion mentions the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act as not having altered the Wire Act’s scope, which likely means that the two acts (Wire and UIGEA) are supposed to dovetail with one another.

With that in mind, it’s possible that more banks and payment processors might decide to stop processing payments from online poker sites. It’s a loss in revenue, but they are perfectly within their rights to conclude that it’s not worth the hassle.

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Conclusion

The best thing to do with almost any court decision is to heed the advice of author Douglas Adams — don’t panic. The wheels of justice turn slowly.

Nothing is likely to happen right away, particularly with how controversial this opinion is sure to be. So, stay calm and wager on.

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