Virtual Felt

Virtual Felt

Friday, 6 December 2013

Adam Goulding snoops around the world of online poker.


If there are three things for certain in this life they're death, taxis and poker documentaries, with Black Friday and its surrounding scandals prodding budding filmmakers across the community to dust off their lenses and shine the spotlight on the many ups and downs of the industry.

The latest to emerge from the curtain is Ultimatebeat, covering the Ultimate Bet super-user cheating scandal of 2008, in which players donned their Columbo coats to unveil an internal software code that enabled the unauthorised viewing of hole cards.

Financed by a small group of poker players and directed by entrepreneur Scott Bell, Ultimatebeat features interviews with the likes of Brad Booth, Mason Malmuth and Todd Witteles, yet much like its predecessors lacks any input from key villain such as Russ Hamilton, CEO Greg Pierson and co.

If you would like to brush up on your poker history and check out the story for yourself, then the film is currently available for purchase at

VF UltimateBeat

Flippin’ Sick

Last month Viktor Blom put $100,000 of his own money on the line to give Full Tilt Poker players the opportunity to go tête-à-tête with the “Isildur1” moniker. Spread across 10 days, 100 challengers tackled Blom heads-up for a $1,000 prize, with losers automatically entered into a $5,000 freeroll as a consolation prize.

Full Tilt doesn’t discriminate; in order to cater for even the most abysmal of poker players, potential victims could qualify into the Blom 100 Flip Freeroll Challenge through Flip Freerolls, in which the decision-making process is replaced by automatic all-ins on every hand.

“I’m putting up my own money for this because I like to challenge myself,” commented Blom unflinchingly. “It will be fun to see how many matches I win in the end. I want to win them all. That would be sick!”

It’s this embrace of competition and disregard for the dollar that has made Blom both a formidable, fearless player and a hero to the poker community. Recently he was spotted playing a $100,000 buy-in event at the Palm Beach in London while five-tabling $200/400 cash on his laptop. Now that’s sick!

VF Blom

Polk Rides to Victory

Phil Galfond once preached that the best way to learn and improve was to take on the best opposition available, and it’s a mantra that has become suffused into the high stakes community, with many players now sacrificing perennial “bum-hunting” for the occasional heads-up Hold’em challenge against their most fearsome nemeses.

Volunteering for the spotlight this time around were two of the game’s most talented and successful young players, Doug “WCGRider” Polk and Ben “Sauce1234” Sulsky, the two twenty-somethings battling it out across 15,000 hands of $100/200 with the winner collecting a $100,000 bonus on top of any cash winnings.

When the dust had settled it was Polk who came out on top, crushing his opponent by a whopping $740K for a total pay of $840K. The biggest encounter came when Sulsky three-bet pre-flop before check-calling down a 7DQS8H9D7S board and mucking to Polk’s 7H7C for an $83,564 pot.

VF Polk

Delaware shuffles up

Delaware became only the second US state behind Nevada to offer legal online poker last month when three casinos launched full gambling platforms to those located within the state borders. The state has been providing free-money poker since August but implemented real-money tables on November 8th following a successful week-long soft launch that involved rigorous testing of the cashier and playing software provided by 888 Holdings.

Neighbours New Jersey, meanwhile, are making similar strides, with the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa awarded the state’s inaugural gambling license. The casino boasts New Jersey’s largest poker room but will be braced to infiltrate the online scene on November 26th.

Across the other side of the country, kicked off its online series in style with a $100,000 freeroll. A total of 1,294 were lured to the cyber felt with “johnb16” taking down the biggest “legal” first prize online in the US since Black Friday.

VF Delaware

Stars Power

PokerStars celebrated their 800 millionth tournament in familiar style as 21,635 flooded onto the tables for a $100+9 freezeout. Although the $1 million guarantee was made redundant, Stars added $100,000 in bonuses and giveaways to mark the occasion. The final table was yet another eclectic line-up of walked-into-a-bar candidates including Brit-based Spaniard Oscar “MendaLerenda” Serradell, yet it was a Belgian who snapped up top honours, with ‘tupac_srj’ rapping (ahem) up the six-figure first prize.

1st: tupac_srj (Belgium) — $216,358.95
2nd: environ (Norway) — $160,769.68
3rd: VitinhO Dzi (Brazil) — $108,175.00
4th: MendaLerenda (United Kingdom) — $108,175.00
5th: miami1984 (Germany) — $64,905.00
6th: AirBusA (Poland) — $43,270.00
7th: Mightyf001 (Netherlands) — $30,397.17
8th: hateblondies (Greece) — $19,471.50
9th: theNERDguy (Brazil) — $12,981.00

VF PokerStars

50 Not Out

It’s been a torrid time for Howard Lederer as he recently opted to sell his custom-built Vegas mansion for… sad face… $8.99 million. Although the mansion was part of the original settlement as a security for the $1.25 million money laundering charge, Lederer, who recently celebrated his 50th birthday, still owns the property and can retain any profits from its sale.

The mansion is spread across 13,490 square feet and boasts eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a pool, a gym (still in original condition), a home cinema and a human-sized chessboard for those moments when a standard-sized board simply won’t do. If you’re interested and fancy pushing a giant queen across a chequered surface (don’t we all?), then make sure you enter next year’s World Series of Poker Main Event and capture the near-$10 million first prize.

VF Lederer

Value Town

Black Belt Poker are giving you the chance to score some extra value with their latest weekly tournament, “Unbelievable, Jeff!”. The starting whistle sounds every Friday at 20.00 with $10+1 admission fee, but if you can correctly predict the first team to score from the 3pm Premiership games of the following day, they will double any cash winnings.To cast your vote, simply log-in to your community account at and post on the official forum thread in “Groups”.

For those wishing to net an even bigger goal bonus, look no further than Samurai, which kicks off at 20.00 on Thursday, December 19.

Samurai boasts a $250+25 buy-in and a $10,000 guaranteed prize pool, but you can qualify from as little as $5+0.50 through their weekly satellites. The last two Samurai events have enjoyed juicy overlays so check out the site now for more information.

VF Black Belt


Having become the first official site since Black Friday to offer legal real-money poker, Ultimate Poker have now achieved another, less auspicious milestone as the first to part ways with members of its roster of sponsored pros.

Headed by smooth-talking magic man Antonio Esfandiari, Team U has been thinned to nine following the recent departures of Jonathan Little, Tom Marchese and Randy Dorfman, the combined wallets of which boast circa $12 million in live tournament winnings.

In a Facebook post, Dorfman was quick to explain, claiming upper management “got swayed with the politics of getting legal online poker on a state-by-state basis and not keeping their eye on the ball,” adding, “they 100% need a Plan B which means acquiring [and/or] leasing new software to survive”.

Although the team still includes top talents, such as Jason Somerville, Lauren Kling and su… su… sudio Phil Collins, it’s rarely a good sign when players leave a site – especially so early in its lifetime amid the rising competition – and it immediately places doubt in the minds of the player base that has only just been acquired.

VF Esfandiari

Streaky Bacon

“Great Dane” Gus Hansen has endured a losing streak in recent times to rival the San Marino national side, with a series of six-figure losses at the high stakes cash tables. At the tail end of October he lost a gut-wrenching $889,000 in just one session playing fixed limit Omaha high-low and deuce-to-seven triple draw, the majority of which went into the pockets of German pro ‘kagome kagome’.

As a result the Full Tilt Poker pro is now down a gargantuan $7.4 million for the year over 155,202 hands, almost double that of ‘samrostan’ who sits one rung down. At the other end of the spectrum, German high-roller Niklas ‘ragen70’ Heinecker is $3.5 million to the good, while Viktor Blom is snapping at his heels like a starved alligator with plus-$3.4 million.

VF Hansen

Locking Horns

Troubled online cardroom Lock Poker could be heading for an appearance on The Jeremy Kyle Show after a messy break-up with Revolution culminated in threats of legal action for “misrepresentation” and “deceptive and misleading practice”.

Following the split, Lock alleged that players were being poached and redirected to a mysterious mistress called Pure Poker. Further inspection revealed that Pure had no affiliation with Lock and were simply offering sign-up bonuses under false pretences in order to capture players in temporary limbo.

Lock Poker don’t have the cleanest of records themselves, with ongoing withdrawal issues and disruptions to the player-to-player transfer feature, not to mention the recent departures of Chris Moorman and Michael Mizrachi from their roster of sponsored pros.

VF Moorman Mizrachi

Party Poopers
On November 15th players ambushed the Party Poker tables for a somewhat paradoxical sit-down-out protest in disapproval of recent changes made to the software that segregates players based on win-rate.

Although the implemented update was intended to encourage a healthier ecology (thus increasing rake), players argue that not only has the policy been grossly mismanaged, but it has also led to an influx of Eastern Europeans abusing the system by creating throwaway accounts in order to circumvent the restriction.

Similar protests have taken place before but yielded mixed results, most notably on, when players opposed both high rake and changes to the VIP system. PartyPoker, however, likely can’t afford a reduction in traffic, short-term or otherwise, and so it’ll be interesting to see how they respond.

VF Party

Tags: Ultimatebeat, documentaries, Michael Mizrachi, Chris Moorman, Black Belt Live, Lock Poker, Doug Polk, Delaware, Gus Hansen