Molly’s Game: The Ultimate Christmas Treat for Poker Lovers

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Are you a poker enthusiast or an avid follower of the game? Well, Christmas is here and you can get in on a bit of poker fun while you enjoy the festivities. If you are into the idea of mixing fun and your poker hobbies, then an amazing poker movie might be in cards (pun intended). Molly’s Game, the latest attempt at a poker movie hit theatres for a limited release on December 22nd and it is so good that there is already Oscar buzz going around. The buzz, of course, does not matter if you have a fondness for poker because you will certainly love it anyway.

Molly’s Game stars Jessica Chastain as the titular lead of the film and Idris Elba as her attorney with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin taking the helm with this being his first directorial venture. If you are not familiar with Molly’s Game then the first thing you need to do is to get acquainted with Molly Bloom, the poker celebrity who authored the book of the same name which the movie is based on. Just in case you are wondering, especially if you still have no idea who Molly Bloom is, it is not the regular ‘underdog-beats-odds-and-triumphs’ stories. We will try to break this down without giving you any spoilers in the process.

Molly’s Game, the book that the movie is based on, was Bloom’s expose of the time she spent operating and running the biggest underground cash games in the United States.

The book details Bloom’s hustle that saw her cash in a good deal of money from the tips that she got from the players who ranged from Hollywood actors and directors to New York’s politicians, stockbrokers, and hedge fund managers. You can also expect a bit of action as the business was not a bed of roses for Bloom – she abused drugs, had a few nasty run-ins with the Russian mob and eventually was arrested by federal agents and charged with illegal gambling. The poker community has already dubbed the movie the ‘next big poker film.’ It is that good!

Just like her book, the movie does not mention any names – if you were expecting to see some high profile celebrity names get dropped you are going to be very disappointed by the turn of events. No dirt is revealed, at least not in the cinematic version of the tale. The book does, however, name-drop Tobey Maguire who comes off as some sort of douchebag – read the book if you want to find out how. Merry Christmas!

Fedor Holz Invests in eSports Company Envy Gaming Inc.

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Legendary poker pro, Fedor Holz, becomes the most recent public figure to jump onto the eSports train. According to ESPN, the German poker player acquired a minority stake in popular gaming company Envy Gaming. Inc. in the second quarter of 2017’s fiscal year. Envy Gaming is the parent company of the Dallas Fuel and the renowned Team Envy both of which Holz will be a minority owner.

The venture into the eSports world is certainly a bold move for the poker Phenom who has won nearly $27 million in live tournaments with the most recent being in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) $111,111 High Roller for One Drop where he cashed in nearly $5 million. During this event, Holz’s had left a few Easter eggs that hinted his intention to be an eSports entrepreneur – he donned a Team EnvyUS jersey at the final table which he won and then proceeded to announce that he would be spending less time playing poker so as to focus more on his entrepreneurial ventures.

Holz’s relationship with Envy was initially set off by his friendship with Nathan “NBK” Schmitt, a former Envy Gaming Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player who introduced him to Envy Gaming’s CEO Mike “Hastr0” Rufail. Holz expressed that his interest in joining the company was motivated by a number of reasons.

“I like to invest in things that I’m emotionally connected to because I feel that I contribute the most but I also get the most out of it,” Holz said in an interview with an ESPN reporter. “I like Envy, I like to watch, I like the way they build their infrastructure and team, take care of their players. And it was just a corporation I wanted to be a part of in some way.”

Envy Gaming which was founded in 2007 as a competitive Call of Duty team has already proven its success in the eSports industry – Team Envy bagged the 2016 eSports Team of the Year award at the NowTV ESports Industry Awards. Holz is confident that his input will come in handy especially in regards to mindset issues that may disrupt the performance of young players at the higher and more competitive levels.

“Talking to these players and seeing them myself, a lot of them still struggle with their mindset because they’re really young and the pressure starts really early,” Holz added. “I feel that the mindset or the way you approach the game has very low importance so far compared to more seen sports. I think we can bring some of that into the game, and I’d love to tackle more of that in the next year.”

How the Sports Industry is Being Disrupted by eSports

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It has been quite clear for a while now that the sports industry has been plagued by a plethora of issues – these include the drastic decline in live viewership as well as the possibility of the legalization of sports betting in all states which the leagues are not yet prepared for. The drastically declining live viewership has its roots deeply entrenched in the distribution model that has by all means been outdated. The dominant companies are to blame for this since they are responsible for the slow rollout and implementation of technological innovation in the industry – for instance, the NFL is still not allowing teams to post replay content on social media and FIFA snailed its way to the implementation of goal-line technology.

The sports industry has quite a lot to put up with and with the entry of eSports, the atmosphere is about to get even more competitive. eSports has been on a roll for a while now and as is stands, even people who are not avid gamers acknowledge its popularity. With the tremendous annual increase in viewership over the past couple of years, the eSports industry has bloomed rapidly thanks to the constant experimentation as well as the innovative ways it allows viewers to engage with online content.

Now, platforms like Twitch and even YouTube are facilitating the streaming of hundreds of games including popular eSports titles like League of Legends and Dota 2 both of which generate over 60 million viewed hours monthly. These numbers are significantly large and thus it is impossible to downplay the importance of game streaming especially after putting into consideration the current media landscape. eSports is breaking new grounds for content delivery and interactivity through a number of outstanding service models and this can be partially attributed to the inherently digital nature of eSports which makes the integration of new technologies rather easy and natural. On the same note, this presents new ways to cash in on revenues from different aspects of the eSports business models that are apparently way more efficient than those of regular sports. But why is there such a huge divide between the two?

As it turns out, eSports is more open to innovation, is very engaging and has the potential to grow into something much bigger. This does not necessarily mean that traditional sports completely lacks similar qualities – there are just a number of issues that are holding the industry back. One of the most significant being the dependence of large sports corporations like UEFA and FIFA on revenue streams from cable companies who in most cases buy rights to be the sole broadcasters of matches. It is rather obvious that this leaves regular sports in the stone age in terms of delivery as viewers are now migrating to streaming services. This is where the changes need to be initiated and many of them have already acknowledged the huge market shift and are already taking necessary steps towards regaining the lost glory. Meanwhile, eSports has never shown as much promise as it has now.

Mississippi Optimistic About Legalization of Sports Betting

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Of all the petitions in the United States Supreme court at the moment, the one involving the legalization of sports betting seems to be commanding a lot of attention especially among various stakeholders on both opposing and supporting sides. As it stands, legal experts, attorneys as well as states’ rights activists are very optimistic about the possibility that the Supreme Court will abolish the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 that effectively forbade sports betting in all the states save for Nevada.

On December 4th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether sports betting should be legalized at New Jersey racetracks and casinos, and, Mississippi is one of the five states that officially backed New Jersey’s effort. In case the Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey Mississippi’s state officials and gaming operators are already prepared to offer sports betting services from the word go.

“Should the Supreme Court issue a favorable ruling, the Mississippi Gaming Commission will be ready to address sports gambling,” Allen Godfrey, executive director of the commission said. “The time would be determined more by how long it takes the operators to get ready to offer it as a regulated game.”

The ruling which is expected to come in the spring is already causing quite a stir in legal circles. While it is very difficult to accurately predict the outcome of the Supreme Court hearings, many court analysts have expressed their confidence in the ruling falling in favor of New Jersey.

State lawmakers in Mississippi have already tweaked the state’s laws pertaining to sports betting so as to create an opening for immediate implementation once a favorable ruling is made. In case this comes to pass, it will be the second big change in the state’s law after House Bill 967 that was passed by the Legislature in the 2017 session. Apparently, House Bill 967 holds the magic key to the immediate implementation of sports betting – the lawmakers managed to slip in some language that would effectively legalize sports betting in Mississippi once the ban is lifted. The lawmakers and legislative leaders, however, denied having prior knowledge of the loophole that they created when passing the fantasy sports gaming law.

“We did not see (House Bill 967) in the same light as sports betting. We knew there was a federal law that prohibited sports betting but allowed fantasy sports gaming,” Senator Sean Tindell said. “We weren’t concerned with sports betting then because we knew federal law would trump anything we could pass.”

A lot of people have been watching the Supreme Court case very closely and the results will have rather broad implications according to Jonathan Wood, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, a Washington-based legal firm.

“If New Jersey wins, it means states have a lot of power to experiment on a lot of issues. If the leagues win, the federal government would effectively be telling states what laws their voters can or can’t pass,” he pointed out.

PokerStars Announces 2019 PokerStars Player’s Championship

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PokerStars live events are coming back with a bang after the site staggered through the past couple of years with their live tournament series. Stiff competition from rival sites that upped their game in the same period was bound to cause a bit of a stir in the industry and they have indeed given PokerStars a run for its money when it comes live poker festivals.

In response to the growing competition, Daniel Negreanu on behalf of PokerStars announced the PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC). The announcement that was made in Prague highlighted the juiciest $25,000 buy-in event that is set to be held in the Bahamas and is anticipated to be the best event come 2019.

There are, of course, a plethora of $25,000 buy-in events around, but PokerStars will be giving out 300 free Platinum Passes or PSPC packages each worth $30,000 in preparation for 2019 – this will be done all through 2018 and will also include hotel and travel expenses. As such, by the end of 2018, PokerStars will have pumped about $8 million into the championship’s prize pool with an additional $1 million to be added to the first-place prize as soon as the event kicks off on January 6th, 2019.

“We expect the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship will set the new global standard for live poker tournaments,” said Rafi Ashkenazi, the Chief Executive Officer of The Stars Group. “We want to demonstrate and reinforce our commitment to the game, and give something back to the players by investing in our live events in a meaningful way. Our objective is to create an event that brings professionals and amateurs together, creating many winning moments and unforgettable stories.”

Thanks to this new initiative, 300 ordinary or upcoming poker players will have a shot at playing alongside poker bigwigs for the mind-boggling prize money without having to battle through fields of thousands of players before they get to the final table. The next batch of Platinum Passes are to be awarded in the online Winter Series event that will take place from December 25th to January 7th – so be sure to add that to your calendar especially if you are not within U.S borders. More Platinum passes will be handed to poker players during the PSL Macau, IPO in Italy, PokerStars Festival London and all through 2018 till all the 300 Platinum Passes are in the hands of the lucky poker dreamers. Also, look out for the Platinum Passes at the PokerStars signature online series WCOOP, SCOOP as well as Sunday Million and Sunday Storm events.

‘Entourage’ Star Jerry Ferrara to Scout Knicks eSports Team

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The New York Knicks has managed to recruit ‘Entourage’ actor Jerry Ferrara as the head scout for the entry into the upcoming NBA 2K eSports League.

“It came together naturally,” Ferrara said in an interview with ESPN on Thursday. “I’m an avid Knicks fan, and I love gaming. I currently have seven games that I love playing and following. But 2K is my Number 1.”

The 38-year-old actor also mentioned how his love for NBA started off after in the early 90s after he played some basketball video games such as the NBA Playoffs and Lakers versus Celtics on Sega Genesis. Ferrara, a Brooklyn native will be part of a team that will analyze games at a combine set to be held in February next year – the combine is intended to assist in team drafting in March in preparation for the new eSports league. Other than analyzing gamers, Ferrara will also serve as a creative consultant for the eSports team. He is very excited about analyzing the gamers at the combine to which he pointed out that he could not wait to “sit in the war room during the draft.” As far as his acting career is concerned, he says the Knicks will definitely understand that he may need to leave town every once in a while for an acting job – he, however, hopes that the current situation will allow him to spend at least a couple of days every week on the job.

“I’m hoping I can help with team chemistry,” Ferrara said. “And given my background, we’re going to do some cool things with digital so that fans can learn who our players are.”

“I’m convinced if I were born 10 years later, I’d be doing something in eSports. Maybe not a pro gamer but something in this industry.”

To qualify for the NBA eSports combine, the gamers will need to win 50 games in the pro-am mode of NBA 2K18 in January. Each of the 17 NBA teams that are expected to participate in the league will be required to draft a team in March before the 16-week season begins later in May.

Revel, Former Atlantic City Casino Headed for Sale

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With all the buzz that has been going on around the state of New Jersey between the tribal casino owners and MGM Resorts International, it seems that more parties are beginning to show an interest in getting a piece of the Atlantic City pie. Now, a Colorado company has filed for the license for former Atlantic City casino, Revel. The report which was issued by Moody’s Investors Service on Monday 11th December 2017 details the plans of a Colorado firm to buy the now shuttered Revel casino for $200 million – the Colorado company which is known as AC Ocean Walk LLC also had to put up $100,000 as a non-refundable application fee. Moody’s Investor Service also went further and issued another report for the company’s plans for the casino once it is acquired. These plans included a projected May 2018 launch date – if everything goes as planned, that is. In the report, Mood’s Investor Service outlined that AC Ocean Walk LLC had also briefed the ratings agency on the financing and subsequent plans.

According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, AC Ocean Walk LLC which also happens to be controlled by Bruce Deifik applied for this license back in October and this application is the latest indication that it is only a matter of time before a deal for the sale of Revel casino is reached. Glenn Straub, the Florida developer who bought Revel casino out of bankruptcy about two years ago has however repeatedly denied claims of a deal to sell it off. Despite Straub’s consistent denials of the claims, the buyers are now in possession of mortgage details from a court proceeding that is set to determine whether he needs a casino license to reopen Revel under a different moniker, Ten.

Prior to its closure in September 2014, Revel had only been operational for only a little over two years within which it did not make any profit and also went bankrupt, not once, but twice. Regardless, AC Ocean Walk LLC believes that they could turn the tide on Revel’s ill luck thanks to the newness  and the overall good condition of the property as well as the company’s ‘good liquidity.’

2018 World Series of Poker Schedule Officially Announced

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It is a very exciting time for poker players who can now start sharpening their poker skills after the recent announcement of the longest-running, richest, and the most prestigious poker series in the world, the annual World Series of Poker. The poker series which has been in existence for nearly half a century unveiled its 49th series schedule for the summer of 2018 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. While there are several additions and changes to the 2018 WSOP, the online poker segment will be an eye-catching series of events that will feature four bracelet events hosted by the WSOP website. This is a clear indication that internet gambling is on the verge of a revolution especially because of the fact that there is a lot of optimism that the interstate online poker liquidity agreement could be passed before the 2018 series comes to an end in the summer.

“With today’s announcement, we hope there is enough time to adjust your holiday wish list,” said Jack Effel, WSOP Tournament Director. “We feel very good about the multitude of offerings on the 2018 World Series of Poker schedule and look forward to welcoming everyone to the Rio in Las Vegas this summer.”

The WSOP tournament series is set to begin on May 29th and come to an end on the 17th of July with the series being kicked off by the satellites, cash games and tournament registration on May 29th. Many of the fan-favorite poker events have been retained in the schedule and they included the $1,500 Millionaire Maker that is scheduled for the 9th of June, $565 Colossus on June 2nd, $888 Crazy Eights for June 30th, the $50,00 Poker Players Championship for June 15th and not forgetting the $2,620 Marathon of June 11th. These aside, poker players will also be treated to a number of new and exciting World Series of Poker events including the $100,000 HIGH ROLLER No-Limit Hold’em, the $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty NL Hold ’em, the $50,000 HIGH ROLLER No-Limit Hold’em and the $1,500 THE CLOSER No-Limit Hold’em among many others.

Also, for the very first time since 2014, poker enthusiasts will see the return of the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop which is the most expensive and perhaps the most exciting poker tournament to enter in the history of American poker. The mind-boggling event that is tailored for bankroll giants kicks off a day after the Main Event is concluded on June 14th.

You can view the entire 78-event gold bracelet tournament schedule on http://www.wsop.com where you will find all the events neatly listed. There is a downloadable version of the list you can download and keep offline as well.

Futures Officially Launch as Bitcoin Price Reaches New Highs

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Bitcoin has indeed come a long way and it is now a step closer to legitimization with the recent launch of a product that allows investors to take bets on the cryptocurrency’s price in the future. This new contract on the Chicago Board Options Exchange was just in time for bitcoin’s 10% jump which was responsible for igniting fresh speculations that it was just a bubble especially after the prior 40% climb in price. The new Chicago futures trading indicates great optimism on the side of traders that bitcoin will trade at even higher prices come January.

When the futures exchange debuted on Sunday, bitcoin futures exploded thus forcing the Chicago Board Options Exchange to halt operations for a little while so that the market would cool down. Still, bitcoin which is the underlying asset, in this case, had a price bump of about 26%. It began at $15,460 before midnight on Sunday (London time) then surged forward to reach a record high $18,700 after which it had a slight relapse to $17,800. The price volatility exhibited within such a short period of time was responsible for a number of bumps including the halting of trading activities twice.

CBOE also explained that website was being strained by the stupendous amount of traffic in a tweet that read:

“Due to heavy traffic on our website, visitors to https://t.co/jb3O722hoo may find that it is performing slower than usual and may at times be temporarily unavailable. All trading systems are operating normally.”

Bitcoin is becoming more mainstream and the launch of this contract is just the beginning of what is expected to be a very smooth ride into the next year and beyond. CBOE has since stabilized and the exchange currently lists three bitcoin features that will each expire in the first three months of 2018. The final settlement value of all the three contracts will then be determined by bitcoin’s price on exchange Gemini. As it stands, the introduction of bitcoin futures is already curving up an upward trend for bitcoin’s price and now with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) planning to launch bitcoin futures of its own on the 18th of December, we can expect the price of bitcoin to surpass the $20,000 mark very soon.

Is Sports Betting on the Verge of Going Mainstream?

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With several legislations being pushed for at the Supreme Court, we should soon expect sportsbetting to explode nationwide the same way casino gambling quickly bloomed after it was officially legalized in Atlantic City in 1978. Now, the eagerly awaited Supreme Court ruling on New Jersey’s proposed legislation should be upon us within the next few months into 2018. This is even more exciting because the gaming expansion bill that was recently passed says that in case the Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey’s sportsbetting bill, the state of Pennsylvania will also move to have sportsbetting legalized.

D-Beaver County’s Representative Robert Matzie is the biggest champion of the legislation to legalize sportsbetting even though it is dependent on the Supreme Court decision to overturn the ban. Matzie has always been of the opinion that the growth of online fantasy sports has been a core propellant of sportsbetting – it is nearly mainstream at the moment. In a memo to the legislators, Martzie pointed out that:

“Sports betting in the United States totals an estimated $400 billion per year, with only 1 percent taking place in legal form. Fantasy sports betting draws in an estimated 57 million participants. The reality is that not only has the perception of sports betting changed over the years, but the ways in which to participate in some form of sports betting has greatly increased.”

In Nevada, about $5 billion was wagered on sports in 2016 and in October this year, sports bettors wagered a record-breaking $517 million. Compared to the amounts that are speculated to be wagered in offshore online betting joints, these numbers are rather minute – if sportsbetting is legalized then all that revenue will be channeled back to various states.

However, major sports leagues have been very open about their disapproval of the bill as evidenced by the huge role they played in opposing the attempt to lift the ban on sportsbetting in New Jersey. This is likely to shift with the new federal legislation that is being pushed for by NBA’s Adam Silver – this would be a logical move since it now seems to be inevitable that sportsbetting will be legalized and the only way to go about it is to find a way of profiting from it. Gamblers enjoy a plethora of options most of which are illegal and by passing this bill, the lawmakers are hoping that sportsbetting will gravitate towards legal market instead hopefully within the shortest time possible.