The Rio Casino in Las Vegas has been on the block for a while now. The latest rumor coming out of Sin City suggests that Virgin Trains bought the Rio and will turn the site into a train station for the express train running Los Angeles to Las Vegas. The previous rumor suggested that the Rio would be leveled to build a baseball stadium for a future expansion team. If either of these rumors are true, then the 50th anniversary of the WSOP might be the last to be played out at the Rio Casino.
Over the weekend, someone walked into the Bellagio poker room and pulled off a brazen Friday night robbery without anyone even noticing. The thief fled out the Bellagio's side entrance by the north valet and four Las Vegas cops confronted the suspect when he failed to carjack a vehicle in the valet. The robber pulled out a gun and shot at the police, who instantly returned fire and struck him. The suspect was taken to the hospital and later died from his wounds.
At the start of January, Ramon Colillas was one of a couple hundred fortunate winners of a Platinum Pass to the Bahamas. A month later, he's now a Team PokerStars Pro after binking the largest tournament in the history of poker tournaments. PokerStars tapped the Spanish Chris Moneymaker to join Chris Moneymaker and help promote PokerStars throughout Spain, Europe, and the rest of the world.
Popular online streamers Jeff Gross and Jaime Staples are no longer sponsored players by PokerStars. Both pros announced their departures via their channels on YouTube. Staples ended his four-year run with Stars, while Gross spent nearly two years with them. Both pros will continue to stream on their personal channels, while looking forward to new opportunities.
Thor Hansen passed away at the age of 71 after a prolonged battle with terminal cancer. The Olso-born Hansen is regarded as both the Godfather of Norwegian Poker as well as the Godfather of Scandinavian Poker. Hansen won two WSOP bracelets with his first occurring back in 1988 in Seven-card Stud. Hansen finished his illustrious career as third on the all time Norwegian money list.
Virtual reality and poker have intersected thanks to PokerStars. The news out of PokerStars HQ today is glowing news about PokerStars VR. Coming soon! Get those head sets ready. By the way... supposedly there will be pet donkeys.
Poker is a not a competitive sport or mind sport in China. As a result, many popular poker sites and apps are being shut down by Chinese authorities. Tencent Gaming will be shutting down their popular poker app, Everyday Hold'em, on September 25. Players will be compensated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, one of the founders of Full Tilt Poker, posted a 42-second video in which he apologies to the poker community. Ferguson won his 6th bracelet last year at the WSOP Europe on RozVegas, and locked up 2017 WSOP Player of the Year, much to the dismay of the majority of the American online poker community. Jesus Ferguson's video created an instant tsunami of ire on social media, with the start of the 2018 WSOP right around the corner.
The dispute: $692,460. The crux: America or Canada? 2016 WSOP Main Event Runner-Up Gordon Vayo provided proof he was in Montreal, Canada during the duration of his SCOOP victory last year. The security squad claimed he violated TOS by connecting to the site using a VPN. Vayo responded with a lawsuit against the biggest online poker operator on the planet.
Eleven women were nominated this year for induction into the Women Poker Hall of Fame. The nominees include Shirley Rosario, Jennifer Tilly, Kara Scott, Maria Ho, Haley Hintze, Angelica Hael, Terry King, Karina Jett, Lupe Soto, Hermance Blum, and Mandy Glogow. The current Women Poker Hall of Fame has 19 members.
The house always wins, eh? Bettors and gamblers dropped $1 billion in Nevada during the first month of 2018. That's the 36th time since March 2005 that casinos in Nevada won $1 billion in a single month. January 2018's haul is the best month for Nevada since last March.
Ludovic Lacay was recently profiled in Business Insider for his work with a tech start-up. Lacay was one of the top poker players in Europe and an integral member of Team Winamax. After a decade a grinding, the French pro took a shot at an entirely different career in the tech world. Lacay secured an unpaid internship at a health-based startup in London called Tictrac and quickly moved his way up the ladder. In a short time, Lacay went from poker pro to product manager of a tech start up. Along the way, he implemented many on-the-felt strategies to improve their product.
Another high-profile player joins Team partypoker. German pro Philipp Gruissem is the most recent addition to the ranks of partypoker's sponsored players. In only nine years as a professional, Gruissem won $11 million in live tournaments. Known as ‘philbort' at the virtual tables, Gruissem won another $3.5 million playing online poker. Gruissem is heavily involved in philanthropy and co-founded Raising for Effective Giving, in which poker pros donate 2% of their winnings to high-efficient charities, where donations will have the biggest impact.
Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier tweeted a brief statement explaining he is no longer a member of Team Pro at PokerStars. Add ElkY's name to the growing list of pros, including Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier, who departed from the ranks of PokerStars in 2018. No other French player has won more money that ElkY, who banked over $13.5 million in live tournament winnings. In 2008, ElkY won the PCA in the Bahamas for a $2 million score and he won the WPT Bellagio later that year. ElkY completed the "Triple Crown" in 2011 after winning his first WSOP bracelet. Let's not forget, poker is ElkY's second career. The professional gamer and esports legend is currently a member of Team Liquid and a Hearthstone pro.
American pro Issac Haxton joined the ranks of Team partypoker. Haxton tweeted he "really pumped" to join partypoker, who has been aggressively signing high stakes pros over the last year including Fedor Holz and Jason Koon. "Party is doing great things," added Ike Haxton, who joins other members of Team partypoker including Sam Trickett, Dzmitry Urbanovich, and Kristen Bicknell.
Quad Queens vs. quad treys for $1 million. The largest bad beat jackpot in American casino history occurred Tuesday night at the Motor City Casino in Detroit, Michigan. The loser of the hand with quad treys and winner of the bad beat took home over $427K. The player with quad Queens earned nearly $213K. With only six playing at the time, the other four earned the table share worth nearly $107K each!
American pro Jason Mercier will no longer be a sponsored pro for PokerStars. After 8.5 years as a Team Pro, Mercier decided to not renew his contract, which expired at the end of 2017. Mercier is a new father and he made the tough decision to stop traveling internationally to play tournaments, while focusing on his family instead. For more details, read Mercier's farewell post on PokerStars Blog. In addition to Vanessa Selbst's venture into hedge funds, Mercier is the second high-profile American pro who did not renew their sponsorships with PokerStars in 2018.
Another American pro is hanging it up in 2018. On New Year's Eve, Vanessa Selbst posted on Facebook her intentions to step away from the game on a professional level. Selbst took the poker world by storm when she was still a student at Yale law school. The 33-year old Selbst amassed $11.8 million in tournament winnings and won three WSOP bracelets. After 12 years in poker, Selbst will shift her focus to the financial world as a strategic analyst at a hedge fund.
Will Fedor Holz conquer eSports next? The German wunderkind banked $26.7 million in tournament earnings in a small window of time (including over $16M in one year). Holz recently stepped away from full-time grinding to pursue other business ventures, but even playing part-time, Holz won over $6M in events this year. Word is out on the street that Holz invested an undisclosed amount into an eSports company that is the parent company of Team Envy and the Dallas Fuel. For more details, read the ESPN UK article.
What are cryptocurrencies? Why is half of my Twitter timeline clogged up with poker pros going nuts about Bitcoin? Why is the other half of Twitter whining about pros bragging about Bitcoin? And what the heck are CryptoKitties? Luckily, we have Doug Polk to get everyone up to speed on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. The poker pro, popular YouTuber, and "crypto enthusiast" launched a CoinCentral.com, a news site for all things cryptocurrency. In addition, Polk launched a second YouTube channel to specifically discuss cryptos.
The poker room at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas got robbed… in broad daylight… without anyone getting injured. At 3:50pm PT, an armed and masked gunman robbed the cage in the back of the poker room. He quickly exited out the North Valet. The suspect is still on the loose. This incident occurred nearly seven years after the Biker Bandit robbed a craps table at 4am for a $1.5 million haul. The Bellagio Biker Bandit was eventually caught.
After five years, Phil Ivey finally lost his appeal to reclaim £7.7 million (or approximately $10.2 million USD) from Crocksford Club in London. Ivey crushed the Crocksford playing punto banco a.k.a. baccarat during a visit in 2012. The casino's parent company, Genting Casinos UK, refused to pay Ivey his winnings, so Ivey took them to court. The original ruling dismissed Ivey's case on grounds that he was indeed cheating the casino. Ivey claimed he was using "edge sorting" to exploit a loophole in the game. Ivey appealed his case to the Supreme Court, but those five judges ruled unanimously in favor of Crocksford.
Chalk up a huge score for Team Winamax... two times! The leading French online poker company announced the signing of two of the top pros in Europe – Mustapha Kanit and Adrian Mateos. The French online gaming market is on the verge of merging their player pool with Italy, Spain, and Portugal. In advance of this merge, Winamax locked up the top players in Italy and Spain. Mustapha Kanit and Adrian Mateos will join Team Winamax as brand ambassadors, alongside Belgian superstar Davidi Kitai and an impressive list of French pros such as Sylvain Loosli and Gaelle Bauman.
On Sunday evening, a shooter inside the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Casino and Hotel opened fired on a musical festival below along Las Vegas Blvd. Over 500+ people were injured and at least 58 people were confirmed killed at the Route 91 Harvest music festival across the street from Mandalay Bay. The shooting occurred shortly after 10pm local time at the end of the set by Jason Aldean. Authorities identified the shooter as Stephen Craig Paddock, a retired 64-year old from Mesquite, Nevada. Las Vegas Police officials said that Paddock died inside his hotel room with apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. This devastating incident is the worst mass-shooting in U.S. history. Investigators are still seeking a motive for the massacre.
Poker pros JC Alvarado and Angel Guillen have been busy with earthquake relief efforts in their home country of Mexico. Earlier this week, a 7.1 quake rattled Mexico City. Several Mexican pros and a handful of American online poker exiles living south of the border mobilized to help out any way they could. Stop by JC's twitter page (@JCalvarado1) for more info on how you can join/fund relief efforts. Also, check out a newly launched site – pokermx.life – to send donations for Mexico earthquake relief.
Whenever a tragic natural disaster hits like Hurricane Irma, most people are overwhelmed with a paralyzing feeling of helplessness. They want to help, but do not know the best way to assist those in need. Many charities are simply collecting for the "next" disaster, so the majority of your financial assistance is not exactly going to those currently afflicted. Luckily, PokerStars has lots of experience dealing with various charities. The online poker site recently announced how their players and other members of the poker community can assist with Hurricane Irma Emergency Appeal Fund. PokerStars teamed up with Helping Hands charity to make sure those in need get assistance. PokerStars will be matching their player donations, so every Dollar, Euro, or Pound counts.
The Poker Brat appeared on the Tim Ferriss Podcast. Ferriss, a renowned life hacker and best-selling author behind the 4-Hour Work Week, invited Phil Hellmuth on his show to discuss the tenets of his success. The 14-time bracelet winner shared how he set/achieved career goals, employed money management, and overcame rough times as a professional poker player.
Billy Walters, the legendary sports bettor from Las Vegas, got sentenced to 5 years in prison for an insider trading scheme. Walters also has to pay a $10 million fine. The Federal Government said the 71-year old pro gambler pocketed over $32 million in profits from illegal stock tips in a scheme that also included pro golfer Phil Mickelson. Walters also avoided over $11 million in losses due to insider tips as well. In all, the U.S. Government said Walters stacked the deck in his favor to the tune of $43 million.
One of the brightest newcomers in a very long time made a quick ascension before he abruptly returned from the poker grind... just as a brilliant career was getting started. Fedor Holz instilled terror into the high-stakes community and crushed games all over the globe... before he decided he wanted more in life than money. Whaaaaaa? Yes, Fedor Holz is an interesting cat. He sat down with Doug Polk for a Hit and Run session. Watch/listen here.