Paddy Power and Betfair Entering a Merger

According to reports, the online bookmakers Paddy Power PLC and Betfair have entered into a merger, creating a formidable billion-dollar company in what is becoming an even more competitive industry.

The merger brings together two of the more recognizable and profitable players in the game. It is estimated that Paddy Power and Betfair have cornered about £1.1 billion of the global online bookmaking industry and the combined company would be worth £5.8 billion. These numbers would make the new Paddy Power/Betfair combination one of the largest online gaming companies in the industry.

The CEO of Betfair, Breon Corcoran, was COO at Paddy Power three years ago before taking the helm of Betfair. As part of the new merger, Corcoran and Betfair CEO Alex Gersh will maintain their positions, while Paddy Power Chairman Gary McGann will oversee the Board of Directors.

This is but the latest in a litany of mergers and acquisitions that have rocked the online gaming and poker industries. In July, bookmakers Ladbrokes and Coral entered into a merger agreement, with the resulting company becoming the largest bookmaker in the United Kingdom. That combined company would be worth approximately £2.3 billion, but would also see hundreds of physical bookmaking shops shut down in the UK.

bwin.party, once the largest gaming entity in the industry, has been in negotiations for the past year regarding its future. In mid-2014, there were discussions with another online company, William Hill, which failed to result in any agreement. At the time, bwin.party officials stated they were actively looking for a merger with another company or an outright buyout.

This year saw several suitors step up for bwin.party. First it was GVC Holdings which, partnering with Amaya Gaming, offered a massive £900 million bid for bwin.party in discussions that had been ongoing since the beginning of the year. Ten days after that, bwin.party announced that it had entered into a deal with 888 Holdings, the parent company of 888 Poker, for less than what was offered by GVC and Amaya.

While that thunderbolt was still warm, GVC and Amaya decided they didn’t want to let go of bwin.party that easily. Another ten days later, GVC and Amaya upped their bid for bwin.party to over £1 billion. As of today, bwin.party appears to be still mulling things over.

More known for their bookmaking prowess, Paddy Power and Betfair have also had their hands in the online casino gaming and poker industries. For several years, Paddy Power has operated its own online poker site, Paddy Power Poker, and has served as sponsor of the Irish Poker Open.

Betfair operates many of the legal online horse racing betting sites in the United States, sponsors several major horse races and tracks across the country, and is part of the New Jersey online casino gaming industry. What effect the merger between Paddy Power and Betfair will have on the US market isn’t currently known.

The announcement of the merger has helped the stocks of both companies. Paddy Power’s stock on the London Stock Exchange closed at 78.5 pence on Tuesday afternoon. After the announcement of the merger, it peaked at 94.5 pence before closing the day’s trading at 93.12, nearly a 15% increase. Betfair also saw a similar leap, closing at 2,603 pence on Tuesday before rocketing up to 3,200 pence on Wednesday afternoon and closing at 3,134 pence, a 20% increase.

Caesars Paying 20M Dollars for Anti-Money Laundering Lapses

According to Reuters, Caesars Entertainment has agreed to pay $20 million “to settle US charges over anti-money laundering lapses and will enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.”

The fine has not been formally announced, but Reuters expected it to become public in the coming days. Caesars has been under investigation by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and, according to the news agency, “Among other lapses, the company’s flagship property, Caesars Palace casino in Las Vegas, failed to properly police its sports book activity for wagers placed by illegal betting rings.”

Earlier this year, it was reported that the fine could range between $12 million and $20 million, so Caesars is reportedly at the very top of that estimate.

According to PokerNews, “Over the past few years, Caesars has repeatedly been on FinCEN’s radar, who’ve accused them of implementing weak anti-money laundering controls and failing to comply with US anti-money laundering law, the Bank Secrecy Act, that stems from an investigation that began back in 2013.”

Reuters added that although banks have historically been the targets of anti-money laundering efforts, casinos have come under increased scrutiny in recent years. As Reuters recapped, “In August 2013, Las Vegas Sands Corp. agreed to pay $47 million to settle with the Justice Department over anti-money laundering failures. Earlier this year, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey also agreed to pay FinCEN $10 million over anti-money laundering lapses.”

Caesars’ Rio in Las Vegas is home to the annual World Series of Poker. The parent company is saddled with debt, but according to company officials earlier this year, the anti-money laundering settlement will not impact its financial results.

“We Must Make Mistakes to Learn From Them”

On the final weekend of July, N4kai came away with the win in the 888 Poker Sunday Challenge. He certainly carried the banner for our community, as he was one of just two PocketFivers at the final table that day. His reward was $15,000 and you can find him on 888 under the user name EternallyYrs.

“It felt good,” N4kai told PocketFives, “especially considering that 888 has had some problems with disconnections recently and I was fortunate enough to dodge them.” Thanks to the Poland poker community member, PocketFivers raked in about one-third of the prize pool.

He added that at the final table, radasahk andCrotemoney, who finished second and third, respectively, gave him the most trouble: “Both of them were ahead in chips for almost the whole final table. Both of them were quite fearless and put a lot of pressure on the other players, including me. I entered the final table in the middle of the pack and also had around the chip average.” Second and third places were worth $11,000 and $8,000.

When we sat down with N4kai, he didn’t have any plans for the money. Instead, he seemed more overwhelmed with winning a major Sunday tournament. He explained, “I’m just really glad to finally win a decent-sized online tournament. It’s probably one of the nicest feelings I can recall.”

This isn’t his first rodeo winning a big chunk of money online. In fact, he has $780,000 in career online tournament winnings and is the #31-ranked player in Poland. His big hit came in 2011, when he chopped a WCOOP $320 No Limit Hold’em event for $108,000. That score is larger than his second and third largest cashes – final tables in the Sunday Million and Bigger $162 – combined.

He called his WCOOP victory “one of the highlights of my life to date. Back then, I was a reasonable player, but nowhere near good enough to take down such an event. That win gave me a lot of comfort, which I guess is not surprising. It also unfortunately gave me a false belief that I was better than I actually was, which led me to play fewer tournaments. But, I guess that’s the natural order of things. Sometimes we have to make mistakes to have something to learn from.”

The Polish player was battling in poker nearly full-time before his WCOOP win. That tournament, however, propelled him over the edge and now he’s a poker pro. As for what changes he has noticed in the game since, N4kai evaluated, “There are fewer people playing and better people playing. Playing poker still seems fun and profitable, but it’s not as big as it was a few years ago.”

Finally, he has quite an eclectic life off the tables. He’s a fan of board games like Puerto Rico, which Amazon describes as a “high-quality farming and economic themed board game.” He called it “not complicated yet quite strategic.” N4kai is also a fan of Dota 2, an e-sport title. He added, “Away from the computer and gaming, I try to stay fit and love listening to music live.

A few other poker-related stats for N4kai: he has almost 50 top-three finishes in tournaments we track and has made the money 1,900 times over the years. He has been a member of PocketFives since the beginning of 2012 and was ranked as high as #675 worldwide on our site one year later. He’s the #5 ranked PocketFiver in the Polish province of Slaskie.

Isildur1 Up $1 Million Since Friday

Talk about a solid weekend. According to HighStakesDB, Viktor Isildur1 Blom is up almost $1 million since Friday. Yes, in about 72 hours, Blom has racked up $950,000 in winnings at the high-stakes tables.

Blom won $241,000 on Friday, another $554,000 on Saturday, and even more on Sunday in one of the most impressive performances of the year thus far. As HighStakesDB reported on Sunday, “The majority of Blom’s winnings post-yesterday’s report came from a hugely entertaining deep heads-up $200/$400 PLO match against Dutch pro Ravenswood13.”

The battle against Ravenswood13 on Saturday was anything but stable. In fact, Ravenswood13 started by winning almost $400,000 in a span of 30 minutes, but Blom took in $45,000 over the next 50 minutes. The tracking site summarized, “The swing-fest continued as Ravenswood13 won back close to $200k over the next half-an-hour before Isildur1 hit a decisive $330k upswing over the next 90 minutes to end the three-hour battle up over $200k.”

After playing against the Dutchman, Blom tangoed with WIthColor and won a $252,000 pot, the largest HighStakesDB recorded on the day. In that hand, which was dealt at a $200/$400 PLO table, WIthColor bet with trips on the river after Blom checked, only to see Blom call instantly and roll over a full house. Blom also won a $167,000 pot with a boat, but lost a $150,000 pot after WIthColor drew out as a 19:1 underdog.

The match against WIthColor was equally volatile, as WIthColor was up $212,000 after an hour before Blom zoomed to a $417,000 lead. WIthColor didn’t lay down and die, however, cutting into Blom’s lead by almost $300,000. The two were still playing when HighStakesDB published its report on Sunday afternoon.

On Blom’s PokerStars account, he is down $326,000 all-time since HighStakesDB began tracking him at the end of 2010, although he has certainly trimmed his losses this weekend. On Full Tilt, he has fared far worse, dropping $4.74 million since the end of 2009. In the live tournament arena, he has won $1.7 million lifetime, according to the HendonMob.

Jason Somerville Signs with DraftKings

According to Legal Sports Report, run by the same guys as Online Poker Report, Jason JCarver Somerville has signed a “partnership deal” with DraftKings. He’ll continue to be affiliated with the world’s largest online poker room, PokerStars, as well.

Legal Sports Report outlined the deal, which will see Somerville promote all of the brands he’s associated with seemingly in harmony: “The deal will see Somerville promote DraftKings across Run It Up (RIU), the overarching brand for Somerville’s universe of programming, live events, and community of fans, including Somerville’s vertical-leading Twitch channel.”

The site added, “DraftKings will be hosting several online satellite events for American and Canadian players to a RIU live poker event scheduled for this October at the Peppermill Casino in Reno. PokerStars will be hosting similar satellites for the international market.”

Earlier this month, PocketFives reported that Somerville had inked a two-year agreement with the online streaming site Twitch, where he has nearly singlehandedly pioneered the growth of online poker on the platform. RIU streams returned to Twitch on August 16, just over a week after Somerville’s announcement, and he has repeatedly streamed in the days since.

Legal Sports Report explained that Somerville is a relative newcomer to daily fantasy sports, which can also be played on sites like FanDuel and Victiv: “Somerville noted that he didn’t even have a DraftKings account until a few months ago. Many of his viewers are likely in a similar position.”

Interestingly, the parent company of PokerStars, Amaya Gaming, recently acquired Victiv and will re-brand the site StarsDraft. As we said, Somerville is affiliated with PokerStars, but will be representing DraftKings, a StarsDraft competitor, instead.

In March, Somerville kicked off a 70-day Twitch campaign for PokerStars, streaming day after day to his legion of fans. He was one of the first people to stream online poker on Twitch and has helped grow poker and Twitch alike with his charisma and accessibility. He apparently expects 500 fans to show up at Peppermill in two months, a testament to just how popular he has become.

US players have been flocking in droves to daily fantasy sports after the industry received a carve-out from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

WSOP on ESPN Recap: “It Appears to Be Over.”

On Tuesday, the 2015 World Series of Poker National Championship aired on ESPN for two hours. The main story of the first hour was the elimination of Daniel Negreanu in sixth place, so we’ll move on to the second hour, which began with Loni Harwood holding the chip lead five-handed.

The National Championship, which was held in the rolling foothills of the Smoky Mountains at Harrah’s Cherokee, had 100 automatic qualifiers. Up to 100 other players were offered the chance to buy in.

On the first hand shown in the second hour of coverage, Brad St. Vincent “misclicked” live against Harwood, putting the wrong color chips in for a call and accidentally raising. Harwood re-raised and St. Vincent mucked, losing 12% of his stack. ESPN poker commentator Norman Chad joked, “At the Norman Chad School of Poker, you can major in misclicking.”

An interview with Harwood then aired in which she gave her thoughts on being a role model as the Last Woman Standing and a former bracelet winner: “I never really think of myself as a role model. I always looked up to Vanessa Selbst, so it’s crazy to think that people look up to me.”

Vince Moscati doubled up several times before ultimately busting in fifth place. In his final hand, he was all-in before the flop with 7-6 of clubs against Harwood’s K-9 of hearts. Harwood paired her nine on the flop and that was it, sending Moscati to the rail $83,000 richer for his wear.

St. Vincent was the next to go. He was all-in before the flop with J-10 and in dire straits against Harwood’s K-J. St. Vincent was drawing dead by the river and exited in fourth place for $111,000. It was Harwood’s third elimination at the final table.

PocketFiver Darryl DFish Fish, who spiked a one-outer to stave off elimination earlier in the episode, busted in third place after his K-J of hearts could not draw out on Alex Masek’s A-J. Fish picked up flush and straight draws on the flop, but couldn’t connect, giving Masek the chip lead entering heads-up play. It was the first time since there were 11 players left that Harwood had not held the chip lead.

Despite entering as the short stack, Harwood ran over Masek heads-up. Masek, who holds the record with eight WSOP Circuit rings, eventually called all-in before the flop with A-7 against Harwood’s 3-3 for a race. Harwood hit a set on the flop and won the WSOP National Championship. There was very little emotion by either player, leaving Chad to say, “It appears to be over. Someone needs to tell them.” Roll credits.

Harwood became just the third woman ever to win two or more open WSOP bracelets, joining Selbst and Jennifer Harman.

The 2015 WSOP Main Event will begin airing on ESPN2 on Monday, September 14 at 8:00pm ET. It’ll run head-to-head with Monday Night Football for three weeks before moving to Sunday nights starting October 4.

The Life Rules: Patrick Leonard

This article is courtesy of 2CardsCollege Pro Poker Training.

I think I’m an incredibly boring person.

A few months ago, I would wake up at 3:55, know the Big $75 was starting in 5 minutes and just stay in my pajamas, start playing, not eating, not washing, not seeing daylight, not approaching the game correctly at all. At the end of the day, if a professional athlete acted the way I did then, there is no way they could ever be successful.

Somebody asked me what else I like to do besides poker. And I was like errrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I’ve surrounded myself with poker players. It’s my choice. I’m happy about it and understand it’s a big ingredient to my success.

It is good to have balance. I know that. it’s just tough, you know?

As the guy who plays great, I want to be accepted as the crusher. I want Timex to sell me at higher markups than others. I want to be #1 in Fedor’s power rankings. I want Martin Jacobson to message me before the Main Event and ask to swap 2%.

People are really bad at reading.

Sometimes people say so much bullshit
that I don’t even know how to start the answer.

I was giving private coaching last year. The guy was great, but didn’t have people to speak poker with, so I added him to the group. He wasn’t supposed to get videos and seminars, but just be able to speak about hands. He ended up posting 2x more hands than anybody else, got all the videos, and came to the seminar. Now, he wants more. I’ll give him a 1,000,000 % refund, no problem. That’s $0 x 1,000,000.

Karma will prevail; it always does.

I don’t want to moan and you don’t want to hear it. That’s fine, just one more brutal Sunday.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

I had some demons in the back of my poker mind like probably every poker player has. It’s hard to accept that you did something terrible. I have perhaps shut off things in the back of my head that I wasn’t proud about. There are about 5 river calls that were having a huge effect on me. I needed to conquer them, but to do that I needed to face them.

I want to tell you how exactly I feel about poker from a day-to-day point of view. I will go from being happy to sad within 24 hours, but that’s life, right?

30 minutes into the taxi journey to the airport I realize I’ve left $50,000 on my window shelf at home and not only need this for the trip, but the cleaner was due in 30 minutes who I don’t know or trust. We turn around, I get the money, say bye to the cleaner on the way out, and change into trousers from the shorts I was wearing. Back into the taxi, money hidden obviously, and the taxi driver looks at my trousers as if, “Are you ****ing joking me?”

One night I was in the Rio, Corona in one hand, Vodka Cranberry in the other, coming off a Chinese game and about to head out to a club. It was my 5th or 6th night out in Vegas and they had all been really heavy. I went past the SNG area and saw Wushu and Martin Finger grinding away. They were still going really strong, grinding away when the schedules were weak on certain days. It made me feel so amateur. It’s no surprise that these guys are the ones I should be trying to emulate.

To be successful
you have to find success, be around success, and spend as much time around success as possible. You have to learn from success, and that’s the only way you will get to the top.

This summer, I’ve probably wagered over $200,000 betting. Don’t worry Mum, that’s not as bad as it sounds. I’m actually up in the trip from gambling.

Choosing the best way to be at the table. Negreanu-style, talking to everybody, speaking when it’s his decision, speaking when others are thinking, no headphones, and basically very involved. Mercier-style, don’t speak, but if anybody speaks, just have flowing conversation. Kitai-style, speak to nobody, look like an ice cold killer, have headphones in, and be very unapproachable to others.

Why do you think fish prefer MTTs to cash? Usually something magic happens in one of them.

I have enormous respect for the bad players. I really do spend most of my time talking to them.

I remember the first time I played a $10k. I’ve busted day one. It was in Vienna and I remember super vividly how I felt in the train station. I was sitting there thinking, “Jesus ****ing Christ. I just played a $10k tournament!”

I don’t understand how people can say I’ve run like god. There are so many guys who only play Sundays who have made more money than me.

You can check Sharkscope and we can deal on skill.

SCOOP packages are funny. I posted my markups first and then everybody decided to just use the same ones.

It’s crazy how regs are taking developed strategies and using them in the wrong place. Using incorrect sizings with their whole range and randomly deciding to lead flops or turns with no good reason.

Way better to be a nit than a snazzy regfish.

The good thing about MTTs. Let’s say your hourly is $100/hour in cash games and $90/hour in MTTs. In MTTs, you’re locked down playing 10 hours so making $900.

I prepared for Sunday almost like it was a champion boxing fight. I didn’t play for four days, had hypnotherapy with Elliot Roe, and knew exactly how I was going to approach it. I slept perfectly, ate well, dressed properly. After 2 hours, I had smashed my only mouse and threw a dart across the room into the wall.

It’s important not to be a glory guy. You can turn up on Sunday and play for the big bucks and the glory, but you gotta turn up first thing on Monday and be in the early $8+R if you want to pay the bills.

There’s a really nice saying in poker: We either win or we learn.

I run the bar with Argentinian guys and the word has gotten out. All the Spanish and Argentinian tourists know we have this bar and come. It’s been crazy, crazy successful. It seems like poker, hard work trumps all.

If it’s a bad spot to 3-bet, it’s a good spot to 3-bet. Open tight, 3-bet light.

I’m going to start Twitching.
Watch me to find the official slowroll list and the secret behind when to press all-in on Full Tilt.

I was 19 and in Grosvenor in Newcastle. I played their nightly games, 10-30 pound games. GUKPT arrived and I was in the rail looking for some tables. There was this emo-looking kid with his hood up and big black fringe coming out of the side of it. I went behind him and saw him 3-betting on the button. I literally could never imagine this being anything except QQ-AA; I mean he was a young player and he must be good if he put up £1,000, right? Good players would only 3-bet premiums here.

He peeled both cards back and I remember it clear to day: he had A-8o. I almost fell over the rail. I had never played online really. I mean I’d played a bit and won a bit, but I was just playing super tight and playing my hands very honestly. This was my first ever a-ha moment.

I really, really love poker.

Sometimes I’m such a drama queen.

I told myself 4 hours ago when I was 1 tabling the Big $55 that if I came in 10th, I would jump off the balcony.This article is courtesy of 2CardsCollege Pro Poker Training.

I think I’m an incredibly boring person.

A few months ago, I would wake up at 3:55, know the Big $75 was starting in 5 minutes and just stay in my pajamas, start playing, not eating, not washing, not seeing daylight, not approaching the game correctly at all. At the end of the day, if a professional athlete acted the way I did then, there is no way they could ever be successful.

Somebody asked me what else I like to do besides poker. And I was like errrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I’ve surrounded myself with poker players. It’s my choice. I’m happy about it and understand it’s a big ingredient to my success.

It is good to have balance. I know that. it’s just tough, you know?

As the guy who plays great, I want to be accepted as the crusher. I want Timex to sell me at higher markups than others. I want to be #1 in Fedor’s power rankings. I want Martin Jacobson to message me before the Main Event and ask to swap 2%.

People are really bad at reading.

Sometimes people say so much bullshit
that I don’t even know how to start the answer.

I was giving private coaching last year. The guy was great, but didn’t have people to speak poker with, so I added him to the group. He wasn’t supposed to get videos and seminars, but just be able to speak about hands. He ended up posting 2x more hands than anybody else, got all the videos, and came to the seminar. Now, he wants more. I’ll give him a 1,000,000 % refund, no problem. That’s $0 x 1,000,000.

Karma will prevail; it always does.

I don’t want to moan and you don’t want to hear it. That’s fine, just one more brutal Sunday.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

I had some demons in the back of my poker mind like probably every poker player has. It’s hard to accept that you did something terrible. I have perhaps shut off things in the back of my head that I wasn’t proud about. There are about 5 river calls that were having a huge effect on me. I needed to conquer them, but to do that I needed to face them.

I want to tell you how exactly I feel about poker from a day-to-day point of view. I will go from being happy to sad within 24 hours, but that’s life, right?

30 minutes into the taxi journey to the airport I realize I’ve left $50,000 on my window shelf at home and not only need this for the trip, but the cleaner was due in 30 minutes who I don’t know or trust. We turn around, I get the money, say bye to the cleaner on the way out, and change into trousers from the shorts I was wearing. Back into the taxi, money hidden obviously, and the taxi driver looks at my trousers as if, “Are you ****ing joking me?”

One night I was in the Rio, Corona in one hand, Vodka Cranberry in the other, coming off a Chinese game and about to head out to a club. It was my 5th or 6th night out in Vegas and they had all been really heavy. I went past the SNG area and saw Wushu and Martin Finger grinding away. They were still going really strong, grinding away when the schedules were weak on certain days. It made me feel so amateur. It’s no surprise that these guys are the ones I should be trying to emulate.

To be successful
you have to find success, be around success, and spend as much time around success as possible. You have to learn from success, and that’s the only way you will get to the top.

This summer, I’ve probably wagered over $200,000 betting. Don’t worry Mum, that’s not as bad as it sounds. I’m actually up in the trip from gambling.

Choosing the best way to be at the table. Negreanu-style, talking to everybody, speaking when it’s his decision, speaking when others are thinking, no headphones, and basically very involved. Mercier-style, don’t speak, but if anybody speaks, just have flowing conversation. Kitai-style, speak to nobody, look like an ice cold killer, have headphones in, and be very unapproachable to others.

Why do you think fish prefer MTTs to cash? Usually something magic happens in one of them.

I have enormous respect for the bad players. I really do spend most of my time talking to them.

I remember the first time I played a $10k. I’ve busted day one. It was in Vienna and I remember super vividly how I felt in the train station. I was sitting there thinking, “Jesus ****ing Christ. I just played a $10k tournament!”

I don’t understand how people can say I’ve run like god. There are so many guys who only play Sundays who have made more money than me.

You can check Sharkscope and we can deal on skill.

SCOOP packages are funny. I posted my markups first and then everybody decided to just use the same ones.

It’s crazy how regs are taking developed strategies and using them in the wrong place. Using incorrect sizings with their whole range and randomly deciding to lead flops or turns with no good reason.

Way better to be a nit than a snazzy regfish.

The good thing about MTTs. Let’s say your hourly is $100/hour in cash games and $90/hour in MTTs. In MTTs, you’re locked down playing 10 hours so making $900.

I prepared for Sunday almost like it was a champion boxing fight. I didn’t play for four days, had hypnotherapy with Elliot Roe, and knew exactly how I was going to approach it. I slept perfectly, ate well, dressed properly. After 2 hours, I had smashed my only mouse and threw a dart across the room into the wall.

It’s important not to be a glory guy. You can turn up on Sunday and play for the big bucks and the glory, but you gotta turn up first thing on Monday and be in the early $8+R if you want to pay the bills.

There’s a really nice saying in poker: We either win or we learn.

I run the bar with Argentinian guys and the word has gotten out. All the Spanish and Argentinian tourists know we have this bar and come. It’s been crazy, crazy successful. It seems like poker, hard work trumps all.

If it’s a bad spot to 3-bet, it’s a good spot to 3-bet. Open tight, 3-bet light.

I’m going to start Twitching.
Watch me to find the official slowroll list and the secret behind when to press all-in on Full Tilt.

I was 19 and in Grosvenor in Newcastle. I played their nightly games, 10-30 pound games. GUKPT arrived and I was in the rail looking for some tables. There was this emo-looking kid with his hood up and big black fringe coming out of the side of it. I went behind him and saw him 3-betting on the button. I literally could never imagine this being anything except QQ-AA; I mean he was a young player and he must be good if he put up £1,000, right? Good players would only 3-bet premiums here.

He peeled both cards back and I remember it clear to day: he had A-8o. I almost fell over the rail. I had never played online really. I mean I’d played a bit and won a bit, but I was just playing super tight and playing my hands very honestly. This was my first ever a-ha moment.

I really, really love poker.

Sometimes I’m such a drama queen.

I told myself 4 hours ago when I was 1 tabling the Big $55 that if I came in 10th, I would jump off the balcony.

Wall Street Reshaping Online Gambling Industry

We tend to think of online gambling as the Wild West, where mavericks build empires from humble offices, compete against each other, come up with the next big thing, and develop the next big marketing idea.

That may have been the case when the internet poker gold rush was on about a decade ago, butaccording to Nathan Vardi of Forbes, those shaping the industry now aren’t so much the logo-patch-on-a-polo-shirt type, but rather the three-piece-suit type. What the landscape of online gambling looks like in the years to come will have a lot to do with Wall Street and big finance.

Vardi’s piece is really a tale about how the battle for bwin.party has gotten to where it is today. The road to bwin.party’s sale began about two years ago in September 2013, whenJason Ader, head of SpringOwl Asset Management, bought $100 million of bwin.party’s stock from Ruth Parasol, founder of Party Gaming, and her ex-husband, Russ DeLeon.

With the stock came a Board seat and Ader immediately began pushing buttons and pulling levers to get the Board arranged in a way he saw beneficial to the company. He also wanted to see bwin.party sold and was able to get the company on the market in the middle of 2014.

Last June, Amaya Gaming bought PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker for $4.9 billion. That was way too much money for Amaya, a small company, to afford, so it enlisted Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm, and BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, to pitch in.

So now you had two of the gaming industry’s revolutionaries, Parasol and Isai Scheinberg, out of the business, essentially replaced by gigantic financial firms.

In the meantime, there was still a battle to be fought over bwin.party. GVC Holdings, a small online gambling firm, teamed up with Amaya to bid on bwin.party this year. 888 Holdings soon followed suit, backed by two more big banks, JP Morgan Chase and Barclays.

888 won the hand of bwin.party, as the two agreed to a $1.4 billion deal, but GVC wasn’t done. It parted with Amaya and received the backing of Cerberus Capital Management to help sweeten the pot. Even with the increased offer, Vardi writes, it still looks like 888 is the front-runner, as GVC’s new offer leans heavily on stock, which is naturally a riskier proposition for bwin.party shareholders than cash.

Vardi summed up the changing landscape of the online gambling industry earlier in the article when he wrote: “These sorts of symbolic hand-offs have been reshaping the online gambling industry, moving it away from the bold risk-taking entrepreneurs who pioneered the business and putting new players in control… The transformation of online gambling is being driven by Wall Street and some of the biggest names in finance.”

Poker House and its Power

In recent weeks, Brazil’s Joao Simao (pictured), known on PocketFives as joaosimaobh, won the PokerStars Sunday Second Chance and Full Tilt Super Sized Sunday on the same day for a combined $60,000. He’s a proud Brazilian who has successfully managed to balance poker and his family and even final table a few major live tournaments. In fact, he has $3.2 million in tracked online tournament winnings to go along with $500,000 in live cashes. That’s almost $4 million total!

PocketFives: Nice job winning the Sunday Second Chance and Super Sized Sunday on the same day. Tell us how you’re feeling about it.

Joao Simao: Thanks. I’m feeling really happy. I won two hard tournaments, so now I’ll have a lot of confidence to get back to the grind, including EPT Barcelona and WCOOP.

PocketFives: Tell us about the day. Why do you think it all went well?

Joao Simao: Actually, my day was going very badly. I played 75 tournaments and had five cashes, including these two victories, but I played from my poker house where my horses play, study, and live. Being there makes me stronger, even more so at the end of the day.

If I were playing alone with this terrible start, I probably would have played much worse. So, I think that has really helped me do my best. First I won the Super Sized Sunday, which gave me a lot of confidence and power to keep playing one table for four hours in the Second Chance.

PocketFives: Do you have any plans for the money?

Joao Simao: I don’t have any plans for the money. I have worked hard grinding and on my poker business (my poker school in Brazil and my poker team), so I have a bankroll for my family and my grind. I probably will use the money on my team, including some new horses.

PocketFives: How did you get started in poker?

Joao Simao: I started playing poker in university. I was studying civil engineering, but didn’t know nobody there. So, I started to make some friends. I used to hate cards and video games, but loved the money and competition of poker.

PocketFives: What else do you do besides poker? What else interests you?

Joao Simao: Besides poker, I enjoy being with my wife and stepson, playing sports, and now I’ve started wakeboarding and I’m loving it. I have been playing less during the week so I can enjoy the day.

PocketFives: How happy are you with your live poker game?

Joao Simao: I’m really happy with my live poker game, but don’t really care about my results since my main game is online poker. I have made some big deep runs, like two EPT Main Event final tables and a WSOP final table. I also won a $2,000 Six-Max PCA tournament and made a heads-up deal at the biggest LAPT High Roller, so I feel really happy with my live game and my results.

I have a family to take care of and spend time with, so I will keep playing live around six events per year, so I can’t create too many expectations to avoid frustrations.

PocketFives: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Joao Simao: I want to add that I’m selecting new players for my poker team for all stakes. The only qualification is that players want to live in Florianopolis, Brazil (pictured), one of the most amazing cities in the world. If you want to play with us, study with us, and have an amazing experience, send a message to contato.joaosimao@gmail.com with the subject “MASSARI TEAM”. Thanks for the interview!

Borgata Chipgate Mastermind Could go to Jail for 5 Years

The man who threw a Borgata tournament into disarray after introducing counterfeit poker chips pleaded guilty this week to a charge of second-degree trademark counterfeiting.

Christian Lusardi, 43, purchased the phony chips online and crudely added a Borgata logo before using them in the casino’s “Winter Poker Open” in January of last year. After cashing for $6,814 in the tournament, Lusardi grew paranoid about the scheme and began flushing some $2.7 million of the fake chips down the toilet of his Harrah’s Casino hotel room.

But all did not go as planned, as the chips clogged the hotel’s plumbing and caused leaks in the adjoining rooms. Investigators found another $110,000 in phony chips clogging up a Borgata men’s room toilet, along with the $800,000 in chips Lusardi used during the tournament.

Lusardi’s ex-wife later admitted to investigators that her ex-husband had bought the chips online from somewhere in China. She claimed that he even had his daughter help him to alter the chips so that they seemed genuine.

The ruse will cost him dearly. As part of Lusardi’s plea deal, prosecutors will recommend a prison sentence of five years and order the 43-year-old to pay $463,540 to the Borgata as compensation for revenue lost due to the debacle. Lusardi will be forced to pay a further $9,455 to Harrah’s for damage to plumbing caused by Lusardi’s attempts to flush the evidence.

“Lusardi’s counterfeiting scheme sabotaged a major professional poker tournament at the Borgata, not to mention the plumbing at Harrah’s Casino Hotel,” said Atty. Gen. John Hoffman. “In addition to facing a substantial prison sentence, Lusardi must pay nearly half a million dollars in restitution.”

Borgata officials immediately canceled the tournament after discovering the counterfeit chips. But further complicating matters was how to address the remaining players and how to divvy up the tournament prize money. Last year, the 27 remaining players sued the Borgata for several counts of negligence. In the end, the Division of Gaming Enforcement ordered that the remaining $1.4 million in prize money be split amongst the entire tournament field. The casino also refunded the $60 rake which players paid on top of their $500 entry fee.

After the incident, Borgata purchased costly state-of-the-art ships which include several anti-fraud features, like an intricate new design and the ability to be recognized with ultraviolet light.

This wasn’t Lusardi’s first time getting in trouble with the law. In 2008, the North Carolina native was busted for running an illegal gambling ring out of his home. Police seized $10,000 from Lusardi during the operation, along with poker tables, flatscreen TVs, surveillance cameras and gambling paraphernalia.

Coincidentally, authorities were already investigating the 43-year-old for a different crime when he was caught with the phony poker chips at Harrah’s. The Department of Homeland Security had become aware of Lusardi after the gambler had received packages containing counterfeit DVDs, also originating from China. After a search of Lusardi’s home, agents found counterfeiting equipment along with 35,500 pirated DVDs. Officials later revealed that Lusardi had made a substantial amount of money during the operation, receiving over $1.3 million in his PayPal account.

Lusardi pleaded guilty in that case as well, taking the rap for copyright infringement and trafficking in counterfeit labels. In April, he was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of probation, and was ordered to pay restitution of over $1.1 million.

“Could he have negotiated a dismissal of the state charges in exchange for his federal plea? Absolutely,” said PokerNews legal contributor Maurice VerStandig. “Is it odd that he pled guilty to both counts with which he was charged in federal court? Somewhat. Does this suggest federal and state prosecutors cooperated? Maybe. But is any of this a certainty? Absolutely not.”