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.
Several members of the high-stakes poker community were victims of hacking this past week. Vanessa Selbst, Vanessa Rousso, and Dan Smith were among the high-profile pros who had various encounters with hackers and identity thieves. Doug Polk posted a video outlining the details of the cyber crime, and he offered up tips on how you can protect yourself.
Breaking news... the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, California (located just outside the Los Angeles city limits) was raided this morning by multiple government agencies including Homeland Security, ICE, the IRS, and California Gaming Control Board. The Bicycle Casino, a.k.a. the Bike, is currently under a criminal investigation for money laundering. According to a report by the L.A. Times, the scope of the investigation is unknown due to a sealed warrant.
Say hello to the newest PokerStars Team Pro, Igor Kurganov. The Russian pro is the latest player to get tapped by PokerStars to become one of their ambassadors. Kurganov has been dominant in both live and online poker with over $12 million in live earnings. He's been a regular on the Super High Roller circuit the last few years. Kurganov has donated a percentage of his winnings to charity, specifically Raising for Effective Giving (REG).
Degens gonna degen. Marc Klang claimed a group of poker pros conned him out of a nearly a half million bucks…playing blackjack. One of the villains is former WSOP November Niner John Racener. Here's the cliff notes according to Klang's 2+2 post: “Previous scumbag rightfully wins over $500,000 gambling against a conglomerate of local poker pros. After using every excuse possible, said group decides they are not paying out any money. After some time they pay out $43k of 500k. Winner warns community of the groups actions to prevent similar future scams.” Read the drama unfold over at 2+2.
On Sunday, the user database at the popular poker forum, 2+2, was “hacked” by unknown entities. The management at 2+2 asked all users to change their password on 2+2 and take other security precautions, especially if they created their account any time before December 2016.
Dan Smith a.k.a. Danny98765 online was on a mission to raise money for various charities in 2016. He agreed to match $175,000 in donations and hoped for the best. Just as the year ended, Smith announced that 134 individuals donated funds and he raised over $1.7 million. A generous donation worth over $1 million came from the Crowley brothers, Martin and Tom, both of whom are top-notch DFS pros. Martin Crowley helped get Smith over the $1 million hump with a donation worth over $525,000. Most recently, Smith announced that he received a donation of $500,000 from Tom Crowley, a well-known daily fantasy sports player known as ChipotleAddict. Some of these donations are earmarked for Against Malaria Fund, Give Directly, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), and MAPS.
In another weird turn of events in the never-ending saga of Amaya and PokerStars, former Amaya founder David Baazov officially withdrew his offer to buy PokerStars for $4.1 billion. Baazov and a group of investors based out of Hong Kong ready to bankroll his bid to acquire PokerStars from Amaya, but he changed his mind because he felt the shareholders were seeking too high of a price.
Baazzov back in play? After the William Hill/PokerStars buy-out talks fell apart, David Baazov threw his hat back in the ring once again. On Monday, the ex-CEO of Amaya offered to buy PokerStars for $6.7 billion or roughly $17.71 USD per share (or $24 Canadian Dollars). The ball is currently in Amaya's court.
Chalk one up for the casino. Phil Ivey lost an appeal that would have overturned the 2014 ruling on a dispute he had after playing baccarat at Crockfords Casino in London. Ivey claims he used “edge sorting” tactics to win £7.7 million back in 2012. The exchange rate was much stronger in 2012 and the casino disputed the $12.4 million USD win by Ivey, which is now worth approximately $9.6 million.
The votes have been tallied for this year's class into the Poker Hall of Fame. Out of ten initial nominees, only two made the cut: 2001WSOP Main Event Champion Carlos Mortensen and Todd Brunson. They will officially be inducted on October 26th at Binions in downtown Las Vegas. Brunson's father, the legendary Texas Dolly, is already in the HOF.
Donald Trump's Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City has officially closed its doors after 26 years of operation on the Boardwalk. Once dubbed the “8th Wonder of the World,” the Taj had gone into deep financial despair. Donald Trump sold the Taj casino in 2009. Despite attempts to revitalized the bankrupt Taj, the decision was finally made by owner Carl Ichan to shut it down. The Taj marks the fifth casino to close in Atlantic City, New Jersey since 2014.
PokerStars has been up for sale the moment Amaya acquired them in 2014, but we might finally have a legit contender. Have you heard the latest rumor that PokerStars and William Hill will merge? According to a Reuters article, Amaya and William Hill are discussing a potential merger. The union of the U.K. sports betting giant with PokerStars could be worth over £5 billion or $6.1 billion.
The largest storm in over a decade, since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, is set to hit mainland America. Hurricane Matthew is predicted due to reach the Florida coast on Thursday morning and the Carolinas by Friday. Governor Rick Scott of Florida, urged residents of South Florida to evacuate. Several casinos in Florida are shutting down and/or cancelling events including the bestbet WPT Festival in Jacksonville, Seminole Hardrock Hollywood, Seminole Coconut Creek, Palm Beach Kennel Club, Daytona Beach Kennel Club, Gulfstream Park, and the Isle Casino Casino Pompano Park.
So you want to be a poker pro...but what does that really mean? Kara Scott sat down to chat with Rupert ‘ruperte' Elder and figure out the nuts and bolts on what it really takes to be a legit professional poker player.
Did PokerStars just bail out the Global Poker League? The GPL got off to a fast start this year, but something strange happened over the summer when the GPL migrated to Las Vegas. The GPL were low on funds and had to borrow cash from deep-pocketed poker pros like Fedor Holz. The funds were paid back late (with interest) but the details sounded a bit shady. During the summer, the GPL canceled the finals at Wembley Stadium in London. Plus, they nixed an appearance at TwitchCon and insiders began to wonder if the GPL was imploding. The second half of the inaugural season kicked off this past week, but we got word this morning from a press release that PokerStars and Mediarex (the GPL's parent company) have entered a sponsorship deal. The details are still fuzzy, but safe to say that any cash flow problems have been nipped in the bud.
Daniel Negreanu has an opinion on almost everything so it's easy to dismiss what he has to say on a regular basis. However, Negreanu's most recent blog post about the 2016 Poker Hall of Fame nominees is a very interesting read. He gives his take on which of the nominees deserves a nod and gave Carlos Mortensen his full endorsement. Negreanu also listed a group of other pros Like high-stakes cash game player Ray Dehkharghani and David Oppenheim, who should be considered for meeting the requirements, but somehow were not as popular with the public.
David Einhorn, founder of Greenlight Capital, purchased nearly 4 million shares of Amaya stock (or approximately $53 million worth of stock at $13.77 per share). The altruistic hedge fund manager has a positive outlook on Amaya's future as a gaming company that already has verticals set up in poker, casino gaming, sports betting and daily fantasy sports. Einhorn is an avid poker player who holds his own against the biggest sharks in Vegas. Although the billionaire does not play in many WSOP events, whenever he goes deep, he always donates any winnings to charity. He donated over $5 million of his WSOP poker winnings which he earned from his deep runs at the 2006 Main Event and the 2012 One Drop. Einhorn finished in third place at the 2012 One Drop, which paid out $4.3 million… and Einhorn gave it all away.
Daniel Negreanu is the latest poker player to dive into the podcasting realm. He's been video blogging for several years and known as a high-volume Twitter user, but it's surprising that Negreanu waited this long to star in his very own podcast. The new Full Contact Poker Podcast is in conjunction with the re-launch of Negreanu's main site FullContactPoker.com. The first guest on the FCP podcast is Brian Balsbaugh, a poker agent and owner of Poker Royalty.
RIP Riviera Hotel and Casino. After sixty years of business, the Riviera is officially dunzo. The final tower was demolished last night and the event occurred without the fanfare and celebration that accompanied the initial demolition several months earlier. In June 2016, the majority of the property including the Monaco Tower was detonated amidst a rowdy celebration that also included fireworks. After struggling for almost two decades, the Riviera shut its doors in May 2015. The Las Vegas Convention Center purchased the land and will be utilizing the space as part of their expansion.
Texas Dolly faded a potential bad beat! The legendary Doyle Brunson mentioned on his Twitter feed about a near-miss robbery at his home in Las Vegas last Friday morning. Apparently, a burglar showed up at the wrong house in Doyle Brunson's posh neighborhood and robbed one of his neighbors for only $500. Someone gave the thief a bunk tip about a poker player with nearly $1 million lying around his house, but the thief was given the incorrect address. Brunson reminded all his Twitter followers that he's been robbed five times and even though he's an 83-year old man… he's a heavily-armed old man and walks from his car to his house with a .357 Magnum pistol in his hand.
Amaya Gaming, parent company of PokerStars, announced that Rafi Ashkenazi will be their permanent CEO. In March 2016, Rafi Ashkenazi was tapped to become the interim CEO of Amaya after former CEO David Baazov resigned amidst an insider trading scandal. The news about the permanent CEO was made in conjunction with Amaya's quarterly earnings report and an announcement about a special PokerStars tournament series hosted at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey in late October. In case you own any Amaya stock, PokerStars had a very good fiscal quarter. Overall revenue is up 10% and online-gaming revenue is up 11%.
The Trump Taj Mahal will become the fifth casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey to shut its doors since 2014. Donald Trump built the Taj and its doors opened for the first time in April 1990. Carl Ichan is currently the owner of the Taj and the big dog decided it was time to pull the plug on an operation that had nothing but mounting debt and an ugly strike with one of its labor unions. If you have another four weeks to gamble it up at the Taj before they close its doors after Labor Day in early September.
A junta of Chinese corporations led by Giant will purchase Playtika for $4.4 billion. Playtika is the social gaming casino company owned by Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE). There have been numerous rumors over the last few months on whether or not Caesars would sell off CIE and their crown jewel the WSOP. Looks like Caesars sold Playtika instead, which is technically owned by CIE.
MGM Resorts Inc, will acquire Boyd Gaming's 50% share in the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey for $900 million. Boyd and MGM were joint partners when they opened the Borgata in 2003 in the Marina District of Atlantic City (away from the Boardwalk). Since then, the Borgata has been the swankiest and most successful casino in A.C. Despite the fact that four casinos have shuttered their doors since 2014, the Borgata continued to thrive during a down market. MGM is looking to strengthen their position on the East Coast, specifically the Atlantic City market.