In yet another interesting development in the world of online poker, Equity Poker Network and Poker Host have decided to call it quits. The decision was officially announced on December 9 and their partnership lasted just a little over a year.
A statement from EPN read:
“We thank PokerHost for their contribution during their time at EPN and we wish them well, as well as their players. (We also wish them) much continued success for the future.”
There was no formal announcement from PokerHost. But their next destination has been confirmed as Winning Poker Network. Hence this is their attempt to gain a wider audience for their products.
Their move to a new network that currently does not support Mac is bound to upset some of their players. But those that don’t use Mac, will be able to enjoy some big promotions on the new network.
Winning poker network has almost double the average cash game traffic as compared to EPN. PokerHost has garnered a reputation for switching networks. Few years ago, the poker site was part of Cake Poker Network.
However, the addition of PokerHost will boost the Winning Poker Network in their bid to improve their 4th rank in the biggest US facing poker network.
The open-face Chinese (OFC) poker circuit has its first ever world champion in Norway’s Mikal Blomlie as he took down the Open-Face Chinese Poker World Championship in its inaugural edition.
TonyBet Poker in Prague, Czech Republic put up the event. Bat a field of 102 participants in €1,000 buy-in Main Event that was scheduled over two days. Along with a OFC champion belt, the Norwegian took home a cool €35,000 as first prize.
Blomlie has become some sort of the best in this poker format with a string a big showings. He was awarded the 2012 World Championship of Online Poker Player of the Year title and he also took down the $770 buy-in World Poker Tour OFC poker pineapple event a couple of months back.
After his latest win, Mikal Blomlie said:
"It’s always good to win a tournament, and I had a lot of fun. I enjoy playing open-face Chinese, and I find it a fun and relaxing game."
Open-Face Chinese Poker World Championship organized by TonyBet Poker at the King’s Casino in Prague proved to be a huge success with even some big names taking part.
17 Russians, 12 Germans and 11 Czechs took part in the event thereby dominating the field in terms of numbers. Some of the top names in the business lole Konstantin Puchkov, Alex Bilokur, and Alexander Kostritsyn were also part of this historic first-ever tournament.
Jennifer Sahade, PokerStars minds sports ambassador also played in this tournament
The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has termed the new Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act announced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto as “unwise and unfair”. They also went on to warn that embracing this law would prove to be a roadblock in regulation of iPoker market.
The bill, also known as AB 9, contains some controversial provisions. It also has prerequisite that online players must sign up for new accounts either at satellite service centers or at land-based casinos.
John Pappas, PPA executive said:
“It defeats the purpose of online poker, to be able to deposit from your computer. I think it’s someone’s misguided understanding on how to establish synergies between brick-and-mortar casinos and online players. There are other ways to bring people to your properties.”
There are other aspects of this law that have caused a furor among the poker players - horseracing industry from a potential Californian iPoker market and also the inclusion of a “bad actor” clause.
Naturally, the PPA and a coalition of Californian pro-PokerStars groups reacted harshly to the potential piece of legislation, labeling it as divisive, exclusive, and not in the interest of online poker players.
AB 9 includes a clause for criminalizing poker players playing on sites that are not regulates once the new law is implemented in the Golden State.
As the bill is termed as “urgent,” only a two-third majority is now needed to make AB 9 into law. Even Governor Jerry Brown’s signature is not required.
The stagnated iPoker market in California could get a shot in the arm if the regulation is passed. It now remains to be seen eventually what law is passed and how it is implemented
Mexico inched closer to adopt a proper online gambling framework after an agreement between major political parties over regulation of the industry so citizens can access products of operators.
But when the new framework is finally in place, the players in the country will be able to access only certain products from select providers and the concept of a global player pool will no longer exist there.
Hence there is a fear that several online poker players who moved from USA to Mexico to avoid legal hassles, may have to relocate if they want to carry on playing on major sites.
However not too many people are happy with the proposed rules. There are two reasons for this. First the call for a service-provider and second, a Mexico-only player pool have deeply upset the online poker community in the country.
Online poker will be affected if the country opts for a single-country regulatory regime. Just like in Spain, Italy and France. It seems improbable that Mexico will allow more than handful of operators if they implement the proposed laws.
It remains to be seen as to how the lawmakers in Mexico go about building the online gambling framework in the country. These most definitely are interesting and uncertain times for poker players in Mexico.
PokerPlex24 is organizing an amazing promotion for all poker fans that like to have a bit of excitement and entertaining this Holiday Season.
12 Days of Christmas promo will run from the 25th of December 2014 until the 5th of January 2015.
As the name suggests, the promo is running every day for a period of 12 days and offers 12 tournaments with over €30,000 in guarantees!
Here is the schedule:
For the “- €5,000 Sunday Ricochet –“ on 4th January PokerPlex24 will issue the top 1,000 players with a dedicated “Christmas Twister €1” token within 24 hours.
The token expires on 31st January.
Terms & Conditions:
· Any player taking part in collusion/soft play will be banned immediately and have their winnings cancelled.
· Pokerplex24 reserves the right to exclude players that participate in the promotion with multiple accounts.
· Any decision made by PokerPlex24 management is final and irrevocable.
Betfair officially pulled the plug on on December 1 on their New Jersey online poker operations. The company decided to shut down the site as they failed to make an impact in the New Jersey market. However, this will not have any adverse affect on New Jersey casino site or any of their other poker sites across the globe.
This latest development has not caused a huge uproar in the US poker industry, specially because their revenues in October were $0 and $1 in September as per th taxes filed with New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE). The company in New Jersey made just $50 in 2014 as part of their online poker operations. Betfair accumulated only $90 as revenues in 2013.
Though the online poker operations turned our to be a failure, Betfair's online casino is doing quite well. The company filed an October win of $855,869 and a $6,677,288 win during the initial 10 months this year. Betfair Poker NJ was launched last year in Novemver on the Trump Plaza license. Momentarily, they joined hands with Caesars Interactive after Trump Plaza ceased operations in September.
They were then given permission to utilize the Golden Nugget's license in November, and both parties focussed on casino games thereby gaining 25% of New Jersey's market. Ever since their launch, Betfair has had a rocky ride in the state and they never really managed to garner any momentum. Like Betfair, Ultimate Gaming, the parent company for Ultimate Poker, exited the NJ state after the Trump Taj Mahal Associates LLC filed for bankruptcy in September 2014.
This only goes to show that doing business in the regulated market of USA is not really easy. Brands need to capture the imagination of the players by offering them the best possible deals and promotions with some much competiton around.
Coren Mitchell (now former Team PokerStars Pro) announced a few days back of her decision to part ways with online poker giant PokerStars post the company’s announcement of launching online casino and sportsbetting games.
Coren terminated her endorsement deal with the Amaya Gaming-owned company a day after the news of entering new these new markets came from PokerStars.
Coren Mitchell put out reasons for her decision in a well argued blog:
But I can’t hang around, sleep on it, have meetings and talk myself into staying, when my gut tells me that the right thing is to walk away. This is no criticism of PokerStars itself: business is business, they are providing a new service that people want, and I know they intend to abide by some key principles of responsible gaming. It’s not anti-casino either; I spend a lot of time in casinos, and I have been known to indulge in live table gaming.
But I cannot professionally and publicly endorse it, even passively by silence with my name still over the shop. Poker is the game I love, poker is what I signed up to promote. The question I’m probably asked most often in interviews is about the danger of addiction, going skint and so on. I’m always careful to explain the difference between the essentially fair nature of poker, where we all take each other on with the same basic chance, and those casino games at unfavourable odds which can be (especially online) so dangerous for the vulnerable or desperate. Although PokerStars assured me I would not have to actively promote the casino arm, I know in my heart that continuing in my current role could risk helping to send people to a place where they would encounter something I think is dangerous. That’s not the way I want to make a living.
PokerStars is scheduled to launch blackjack and roulette towards the end of this year in majority of their markets. Online sports betting will be available to customers in the early part of 2015. PokerStars’ online casino games can be accessed using mobile devices for now and through web browsers in 2015.
Mitchell’s association with PokerStars dated back to 2007. She holds the unique distinction of winning 2 European Poker Tour main events. Mitchell has accumulated over $2.4 million in live tournament earnings.
Post their acquisition by Amaya, PokerStars has heralded in several unpopular measures that includes increase in the rake and withdrawing out of over 30 grey markets. Though the “sit-out” protests by sections of poker community failed to gather momentum, the exit of Coren Mitchell can be considered as the first real blow to the online poker giant.
It remains to be seen whether more players are willing to speak against the biggest online poker company in the world or will they stick to their lucrative deals with the brand.
Image couresy pokerstars blog
This is huge news. PokerStars is finally taking the plunge into the online sports-betting market. And they intend to use Italy as its laboratory. The news was confirmed by the Amaya Gaming-owned company’s newly appointed country manager, Marco Trucco, who announced the impending launch of casino games and a sports-betting website in Italy.
Italy's news agency Agimeg quoted Marco Trucco, saying:
"PokerStars is a publicly-listed company, and we have already announced our plan to add new games in the countries where these are allowed, and Italy is one of these. We are working to bring online casino games and slots on PokerStars.it. This will allow all those who enjoy casino games to discover the world of PokerStars, which has been recognized for many years as providing the world’s highest level of customer service to players. We will then also add sports betting as soon as our new product will be ready. It will have nothing to envy to the ones used by today's top names in the industry."
The primary objective of PokerStars is to absorb new players and divert them to their online poker portal via casino games offering.
"We need to open the house of Stars even to those who are not yet poker enthusiasts. Poker will benefit from this," he added.
Trucco has replaced former country manager and current senior project manager for Southern Europe, Barbara Beltrami. He comes on board with great experience and was recruited by PokerStars.it. His resume includes stints at Everest Group, CasinoItalia and EuroBet.
"We want to turn online poker into the biggest mass-game of the 21st century. To achieve this goal we have to build that kind of experience that those who have never played online poker want to find at the tables. Up until 2004, Texas hold'em was a nice game played in some card rooms in California and in some casinos in Las Vegas. The game lived in a closed community," he went on to add.
Trucco firmly believes despite the huge revenues of PokerStars, there is greater to scope for them do drive more traffic and make more financial gains.
"Internet and PokerStars turned poker in a global phenomenon but, at least in Italy, this first phase of expansion has now ended,"he said.
Hence he believes games like Spin & Go sit-and-go’s are the future and are bound to attract new players going forward.
"These tournaments offer some of the best joys and pains of the game of poker in only five minutes," Trucco said about the Spin & Go tournaments. "It's something similar to watching a nice video on Youtube instead of going to the cinema, or to listen to a random song on Spotify rather than going to a concert. Those games are like pills for those moments when one wants to play poker but does not have the time to commit to a long game. They are the best example of how an innovation can help the game to be more accessible and fun also for those who have never played before."
The online gambling experts are watching this latest development with an eagle eye. PokerStars foray into the sports-betting market would be a game changer for the iGaming fraternity as a whole. After the acquisition by Amaya, PokerStars has continued to take several new decision and adopted new policies.
It remains to be seen how this will affect the company. Though the company announced impressive revenues figures last week, there is no denying Amaya and PokerStars are eyeing completed domination of the industry
After his ouster from Full Tilt Poker, high stake poker pro Viktor “Isildur1” Blom has only been spotted briefly on PokerStars. There have been plenty of rumors that the Swede may have gone broke. But in what seems to be some good news for him, Blom has got an offer for a Unibet promotional event. The company may even sponsor him in the near future.
This was confirmed by the Blom himself via this Twitter handle on November 14, when he tweeted:
“In Macau right now, but planning to play the @unibet cash game before @unibetopen at Aspers in London end of November. Looks fun!”
Hence this attempt by the Swede to try and draw everyone’s attention to the Unibet event has fuelled the rumors of his new sponsorship.
Despite there being no official confirmation from Unibet, they did tag him in a tweet:
“Poker greats @ViktorBlom @CrocMonsieur and @SenseiChanning will play in our golden cash game at @Unibet Open London!”
Unibet has off late had a good run with increase in traffic. Their seven-day average was 450 cash game players as per pokerscout. Hence it would not come as a surprise if Unibet tried to sustain this momentum by the news of a big name signing like Blom.
From a bankroll of $2,000 in 2008, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom, built it to a massive $1.4 million in September 2009 before making the move to Full Tilt Poker. He shot to fame in November when he made $6 million from some of the game’s best pros, including Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Brian Townsend, Cole South, and Patrik Antonius. His decline was equally rapid and fascinating.
Blom has probably had more frequent highs and lows in online poker than any other pro. This is what makes him so intriguing and the reason why everybody’s so excited to see what he does next.
Amaya Gaming has hailed their takeover of Rational Group after they posted a huge year-on-year increase in quarterly revenue powered by PokerStars.
It cost the Canada-based company a whopping US$4.9 billion (€3.6 billion) to acquire the Rational Group. Their revenues have now sky rocketed year-on-year from C$39 in 2013 to $239 in 2014.
Fully diluted adjusted net income moved up from C$7 million to C$70 million with adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation increased from C$18 million to C$108 million. Cash flow from operations increased form C$3 million to C$139 million.
Amaya chairman and chief executive officer David Baazov, said.
“The acquisition of PokerStars has transformed Amaya and delivered immediate value to our shareholders while setting the stage for additional future growth. In these early days I could not be happier with the initial performance of the business and the professionalism and expertise of the PokerStars management team. They are implementing strategic plans that leverage exciting, innovative poker variants, new gaming verticals and the mobile platform to increase engagement and new consumer acquisition.”
Amaya also agreed to sign a deal to complete the sale of B2B poker and platform provider Ongame to NYX Gaming Group. This will pave way for the Canadian company’s C$10 million worth “strategic investment” in NYX Gaming.
There is no denying that Amaya Gaming is rapidly expanding its foothold in the iGaming industry with smart mergers and acquisitions. This could be the sign of bigger and better things to come for the biggest iGaming company in the world.