Archive for June, 2010

Winner of Event 45

As the World Series of Poker nears its Main Event, the stakes are getting higher. A 24-year-old online poker pro from Petaluma, Calif. took down more than 3,000 players this weekend for a $721,000 payday.

Jesse Rockowitz took home the prize after winning the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event during Event #45 at the WSOP.

Not previously on the poker radar, Rockowitz’ previous win was just over $5,000 in a WSOP event earlier this month.

“I do not like live poker that much,” Rockowitz said. “It is slow compared to online games. I play up to 35 tables at once. But in live poker I may get 30 hands an hour at the most.”

Rockowitz was previously not a fan of Hold’em, but says he now plays the game several hours a week. He turned pro in 2006.

“I thought coming (to the WSOP) that I would only care about the cash,” said Rockowitz. “But tonight when I got heads-up, I realized that I wanted to win a bracelet. I do not want to be famous. But having peers see that is pretty cool.”

The top 324 finishers in the original pool of 3,097 players were awarded cash prizes. Some of the other top finishers were former WSOP bracelet winners.

NH finds UIGEA loophole

It was thought that when the unlawful Internet gambling enforcement act went into effect on June 1, that playing at the best online casinos in the United States would be dramatically impacted. But New Hampshire has found a creative method for circumventing the law.

Many gaming proponents noted that the act overlooked both horse racing operators and lottery groups who also offer gambling services.

New Hampshire has capitalized on this loophole by offering a creative way for residents to play online casino games while still abiding by the rules of the UIGEA.

The core of the UIGEA is processing of payments to gambling sites. New Hampshire has announced that it will sell lottery tickets to players which they can then use to fund their online casino games.

By allowing residents to buy lottery tickets, New Hampshire is abiding by the UIGEA since lottery ticket sales are allowed, and in this case no payments would be processed by online gambling sites. The only payment collected is for the purchase of the lottery ticket.

The purchased lottery tickets will give players a code that they can input into an online casino. For people who are hesitant about using their credit cards online this offers them a desirable option as well. The tickets will go on sale in July and New Hampshire residents who purchase them will have many choices for their game play. They might play super slots, speed bingo, New Hampshire Poker, or baseball. Players have to be 18 in order to purchase a ticket.

New slots Spotlight 29

California’s Coachella Valley just got more exciting with the addition of 12 penny slot machines to the floor at Spotlight 29 Casino.

The penny slots will bring the total number of penny machines to 1,352 at the casino, which puts Spotlight 29 at the head of the penny slot pack in the Coachella Valley. Overall, the casino boasts of more than 2,000 slot machines.

Four Rock You Queen, four Beat the Bandit, two Hit the Heights and two Jeff Foxworthy Redneck Rumble represent the 12 new slot games.

The new penny slots all offer different and interesting themes. Rock You Queen is perhaps no surprise based on the music and videos of the English rock band Queen. Foxworthy’s Redneck Rumble includes the games Truck-O-War, Stink Bait Bonus, Foxworthy Free-For-All and Backyard Beer. The progressive slots are also interactive and, according to the game, turn “punch lines into payouts.”

Old West fans will enjoy Beat the Bandit, an interactive game that includes “Gambler Jackpot,” a game of stud poker, and Granny Jackpot, where players can touch a bottle or can and fire a gun; each successful hit unlocks a bonus.

Finally, Hit the Heights is a game that features a rocket theme. They also feature popular tables games like blackjack online.

21 WSOP Winner

There are many ways to celebrate turning 21, and for Steven Kelly, it came in the form of winning his first World Series of Poker bracelet.

The 21-year-old from Camarillo, Ca. won the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout at the WSOP this week, winning both a coveted WSOP bracelet and more than $380,000 cash.

Though Kelly turned 21 on May 1, he is not the youngest player ever to win a bracelet at the WSOP. He is in fact the fifth youngest. As with those players likely, Kelly has a good deal of poker playing experience under his belt.

Kelly said he began playing at the age of 15 and began playing online poker at the age of 18. Early on, he gained credibility with online players and some success. One of his first wins was a $5 buy-in that he turned into $6,000 in winnings.

“I play mostly cash games online, (and) I have had some tournament wins online, but nothing over $100,000,” said Kelly. “This is definitely my biggest cash.”

It was also one of his first live games, given that he only recently became able to play in live tournaments and games.

The event Kelly played in was Event #39 at the WSOP, currently being played at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas. It began Memorial Day weekend and ends mid-July.

New Jersey Poker Bill 2010

Although casinos in California are generally supporting a state bill that would legalize online poker in the state, gaming officials in New Jersey don’t see things quite the same way.

The New Jersey Casino Association opposes the efforts to legalize online poker and gaming casinos  and is arguing that a state law creating an intrastate poker network would violate federation regulations that prohibit internet gambling.

The NJCA represents the state’s 11 casinos; the group has officially stated that it opposed introducing the legislation for a vote. Supporters argue that there are provisions in the federal law that allow for states to introduce online gambling without violating the law. Operating legal online casinos or poker rooms could bring millions of dollars to the cash-strapped state.

But Joe Corbo, president of the NJCA recently wrote, “As the industry seeks to work with government to revitalize the economic engine that the Atlantic City casinos bring to the state of New Jersey, the last thing that the state needs at this time is to undermine the destination resort model by expanding gambling to other parts of the state.”

While those who support the bill generally understand the fear that the best online casinos will take people from the brick and mortar gaming rooms and into the online world, the reality is that about a half million people in New Jersey already play online. Passage of the bill would result in about 1,500 jobs and about $200 million annually.

Moodys Take on Oil Spill and Casinos

The gaming industry got a boost this week when Moody’s revised the industry sector outlook from negative to stable. But USA casinos in the gulf coast are still considered risky.

Keith Foley, Moody’s senior vice president, said he has concerns about the stability of gulf coast casinos following the huge BP oil spill in Mexico’s gulf region.

“It’s pretty clear that the region is going to face some challenges,” Foley said.

The area’s tourism will surely be affected this summer, Foley said, as tourists avoid the oil-stained beaches and reduced business activity. Others agree with Foley’s analysis.

Morgan Joseph gaming analyst Justin Sebastiano visited the gulf recently and noted that while gaming officials in Mississippi and Louisiana were cautious, they were far from panicked.

“The locals were extremely concerned about their livelihoods,” Sebastiano said. “We actually were somewhat impressed with the volume of people that we saw in the casinos in all of the markets.”

Sebastiano determined that casinos in Louisiana’s Lake Charles and Baton Rouge would be less affected than, say, casino markets in New Orleans.

Sebastiano indicated he could understand why tourists might stay away from the region. While he didn’t see oil on any of the beaches, he noted the strong smell.

“Imagine melted crayons,” Sebastiano said. “That’s what it smelled like.”

California Poker Bill Hearing

Like many other states, California lawmakers continue to debate the possibility of allowing poker in the state. A bill on the table would allow legal poker in some forms in some casinos in the state.

That bill will be discussed during a June 29 hearing in Sacramento. The California State Governmental Organization Committee set the hearing that will legalize intrastate online poker. If passed, California would be the first state to allow legal internet poker.

While most Indian casinos have expressed support for legal online poker, this week the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the group that operates the Morongo Casino Resort in Southern California, expressed opposition to the measure the way it is currently drafted. Many believe the Indian tribes would like to control more of the internet poker business should it become legal in the state.

The spokesperson for the Morongo Band of Indians said that the bill currently doesn’t restrict or disallow offshore companies (many of which currently allow U.S. players to play on their sites) from bidding for the licenses that will allow companies to run the Online Casinos. The state will issue a limited number of licenses.

“We’ve always supported the concept of intrastate poker in California because of consumer protections, revenue to the state and the fact it would bring the game out of the shadows,” Patrick Dorinson said. “But we cannot support the bill in its present form.”

Bodog 2010 WSOP Team

The team that will support the Bodog (www.bodog.com) name in coming weeks is beginning to take shape. As the World Series of Poker continues in Las Vegas, the team that will represent the brand is beginning to shape up.

All 32 players currently appointed to Team Bodog are from the United States, with six of the players from Chicago specifically. Four states – New York, New Jersey, California and Arizona – all have two players on Team Bodog. The online players are joined by long-time Bodog pros Amanda Musemeci and Evelyn Ng.

This weekend, more than 10 additional players might join the team. Through the Bodog website, players can try to qualify to become part of the team. The site will send 10 winners to Las Vegas for the World Series Main Event. To qualify, players must play in the Bodog Private Main Event Qualifier on Saturday to get entry into the Sunday final. Cost is just $5 to enter the tournament.

If players don’t qualify during the Saturday tournament, they can buy into the Sunday tournament for $500. The prize package for each of the top 10 finishers is worth $12,000 and includes $10,000 entry into the WSOP Main Event and $2,000 in travel expenses.

World Team Poker to be aired on Fox

A new sport that’s taking the poker world by storm is soon coming to a sports network. Fox Sports Network has announced it will air footage of World Team Poker starting in July.

The joint effort between FSN and World Team Poker will likely up the ongoing attempts to create some sense of poker as a sport. World Team Poker debuted at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in May. The first broadcast of team play is scheduled to be shown on FSN in mid-July.

Though poker might not seem like an activity that lends itself to team play, team poker is a team sport like any other. Teams have coaches, team captains, bench players and even substitutes who can come in when necessary. National teams compete against other teams from around the world.

The event that will be shown on FSN featured teams from 20 countries. Each team anted up $50,000 to play in the tournament.

Johnny Chan and David Chiu, both longtime and well-known poker players, were the captains of Team China. They defeated Team Brazil and took home the $300,000 prize.

Fox Sports Network is known for its broadcast of more traditional team sports. The network reaches more than 80 million homes and regularly broadcasts Major League Baseball, National Hockey League and National Basketball Association games.

WSOP Tournament of Champions

Fans have spoken and they want Phil Ivey most of all. The 2010 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions roster was released Wednesday and Ivey’s name sits at the top.

The TOC is a bit like an all-star game in sports. Fans vote from an identified field of players for those they would most like to see play against each other. In this case, they could vote in 20 players out of a field of 512 World Series of Poker bracelet holders. The tournament will begin June 25 at the Rio Casino, which is hosting this year’s WSOP.

Ivey brought in the most votes, with 16,267. Second was Daniel Negreanu, who received 16,239 votes. The rest of the top 10 includes Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Chris Ferguson, Allen Cunningham, Johnny Chan, Barry Greenstein, John Juanda and Scotty Nguyen.

The final 10 players voted into the tournament include Sam Farha, Howard Lederer, Joe Hachem, Grey Raymer, Antonio Esfandiari, T.J. Cloutier, Erik Seidel, Jennifer Harman, Huck Seed and Dan Harington.

“The selections show that poker has a mass fan base that is knowledgeable about the history of the World Series of Poker,” Ty Steward, World Series of Poker vice president, said.

Fans vote for 20 players, but others are added to the roster automatically. They include past TOC winners Mike Matusow, Mike Sexton and Annie Duke. Joe Cada, winner of last year’s WSOP Main Event and Barry Shulman, winner of Main Event Europe, also got automatic bids.

The TOC winner will receive $500,000. The second place winner will take $250,000, and the third place winner, $100,000. Players who rank fourth through ninth will each get $25,000.