Virtual Felt

Virtual Felt

Monday, 13 January 2014

Snoopy on The Philippines relief effort, New Jersey, EuroVegas and much else besides.

Typhoon Haiyan Emergency Appeal

Given the amount of money involved in poker and the opportunities available for raising funds, it’s a rather tragic admission that poker and charity have proved distant relatives rather than inseparable siblings.
However, recent times have seen an increased awareness in the many possibilities for synergy and, thanks to the efforts of Guy Laliberté and The One-Drop Foundation, the Big One for One Drop brought the idea emphatically into the mainstream, raising millions in aid of those deprived of water as a basic resource.

In response to Typhoon Haiyan which devastated the Philippines in early November, PokerStars have teamed up with CARE International in order to appeal for donations from their vast database of players. If you possess a PokerStars account and would like to donate, then you have two options: either buy-in to one of the many dummy tournaments available in the lobby, or simply make a payment to “Typhoon Haiyan Relief” via the player transfer feature. PokerStars will then match any donation.

Despite recent recession, poker remains in the luxurious position of being able to support such worthy causes, so let’s hope this continues well into the industry’s future and that poker players are encouraged to think about the wider issues from around the globe before the chips hit the pot.

VF Philippines

The Results Are In…

Last month I wrote about the snappily-titled Blom 100 Flip Freeroll Challenge in which players took on perennial nose-bleeder Viktor “Isildur1” Blom across 100 heads-up NLH matches. The process spanned 10 days, with Blom stumping up $1,000 of his own money in each encounter.

Not one to crumble in the face of a challenge Blom strode comfortably to victory with 62 wins to 38 losses, meaning players received a combined $38,000 having qualified through flip freerolls.

If you’re wondering why Blom would be so apathetic to parting with such a gargantuan figure, then a quick glance at his results may provide some answers: from November 1st onwards, Blom has lost $2.5 million at the cash tables. Eek!

VF Blom

It’s in the Stars

PokerStars have been busy bees during the festive period with several new features to take them into the new year, most noticeably the introduction of Zoom heads-up cash tables. While they will undoubtedly minimise the effects of bum-hunting and satisfy the thrill-seekers of the poker world, it will also introduce an element of randomness to what many consider to be the purest form of the game.

Stars are also offering a pay-for-play option in which players can purchase play chips on top of their initial 1,000, starting at 350,000 for $1.99, right up to 165 million for $199.99. While this is essentially the same as normal poker but without the opportunity for financial gain, the feature is available to Americans and does allow first-timers to learn and fine-tune their game without the fear of being cleaned out by more experienced players.

Finally, Stars have joined forces with tech company Jumio to implement Netverfity, an ID validation software that will enable players to present documents via a webcam, which in turn, according to the press release, leads to a “better and faster service while maintaining very high security standards”.

VF stars

New Jersey Rings Opening Bell

On November 25th New Jersey became only the third State (behind Nevada and Delaware) to offer exclusive online gaming to residents, with seven casinos receiving full permits to operate.

On the day of the launch UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) President Dana White travelled to Atlantic City to battle Lady Luck and see if he could last the full three rounds. With former Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar in tow, White left with his hand raised and $33,500 to the good.

To mark the occasion, will be hosting a tournament series in the new year, kicking off with a $250,000 Invitational Freeroll on January 19th and culminating in a $250,000 Player’s Freeroll on February 02.


People Power

Readers of last month’s column may recall the planned sit-out at PartyPoker in protest of the segregation of the player base in terms of win rate. Well, it would appear as though the threat of a boycott as well as the inevitable bad press has led to a change of heart and a discontinuation of the policy.

This isn’t to say that PartyPoker are abandoning the idea totally; in a recent statement Chief of Poker Operations Jeffrey Haas confirmed that the site would still offer “protected games” once the loopholes – which had been exploited via throwaway accounts – had been filled, as well as asserting a non-hostile approach to regular players.

Of course, Party’s pseudo interest in the wellbeing of the rookie player isn’t selfless (not when the dollar is involved), but it’s not an original philosophy: for years cardrooms have been searching for effective ways to increase the lifespan of new accounts and improve their bottom line, whether through “beginner tables”, ring-fencing or exclusive promotions – yet it’s an ideal that no one has come close to fulfilling under the current climate.

VF PartyPoker

Brucie Bonus

The fifth instalment of iPOPS (iPoker's Online Poker Series) drew to a thrilling conclusion in December as players network-wide rolled up for the $200+15 Main Event. Despite the 1,891-strong field, the prize pool fell short of the $400,000 guarantee to create a sumptuous $21,800 overlay and yet another slice of value for both eagle-eyed amateurs and pros alike.

Black Belt Poker were in full force with 49 entrants, including sponsored pros Jamie Burland and Jerome Bradpiece, yet it was Orange Belt Bruce 'UsainZeus88' Jones who flew the flag highest with a third-place finish for $36,000. Jones is no stranger to the final; he came fourth in last year’s opener for $13,160.
In the world of brick and mortar, Black Belt Neil Channing became the first ever Newcastle Live Champion when he topped a field of 65 at Aspers Casino. He pocketed £3,650 for his troubles and even got to taste paradise with the consumption of his own Bounty Bar.

Meanwhile runner-up Paul Lamonby turned a penny into £2,630 when he returned from the gents only to find Channing had dispatched two players in one hand. Lamonby was unable to overcome the 4:1 chip deficit, however, the final hand seeing Channing’s A-Q hold firm against Lamonby’s A-2s.

1st: Neil Channing - £3,650
2nd: Paul Lamonby - £2,630
3rd: Tristan Chaplin - £1,575
4th: Andy Brisland - £1,050
5th: Dean Aldred - £815
6th: Ji Woliane - £700
7th: Daniel Scott - £585
8th: David Woodward - £465
9th: Colin Turbull - £230

VF Channing

The Sheldon Adelson Empire Strikes Back

The fight for freedom is set to recommence in the new year as online poker in America faces renewed opposition from 80-year old billionaire and avid Republican Sheldon Adelson. With Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada threatening a domino effect of State legalisation, Adelson plans to launch advocacy group The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

The sceptics may infer a correlation between Adelson’s interest in anti-gambling law and his position as chairman and CEO of LA Vegas Sands Corporation, which operates casinos such as the Venetian, Palazzo, and Sands in Macau, but nevertheless he’ll be campaigning passionately against change and reinforcing his view that online gambling is “a danger to children, the poor, and others who could be exploited by easy access to internet betting”.

Unfortunately, Adelson's biased views combined with his wealth and influence have the potential to cause a few ripples, in particular with the indifferent who may succumb to his self-serving sermons. However absurd or hypocritical his message, a man with money is a dangerous entity and Adelson intends to hire lobbyists and public relations experts in aid of this cause.

VF Adelson

Tags: Adam 'Snoopy' Goulding, Neil Channing, Viktor Blom, Isildur1, Sheldon Adelson, Eurovegas