19 PSPC Platinum Passes to Be Awarded All Through January

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A new year is finally here and looking back at the previous month, there are a lot of announcements that were made then that are going to make a huge impact in the near future. One of the biggest and most exciting developments in the world of poker was the unveiling of PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship which is better known as the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC). Billed as one of the biggest tournaments in the history of poker, the championship is scheduled for January 2019 and will attract a huge number of poker enthusiasts from all parts of the world. There are so many great things to look forward to in regards to the championship with the biggest highlight being the first-place prize which amounts to a whopping $9 million after PokerStars adds in an extra $1 million to it – PokerStars will contribute the remaining $8 million gradually before the end of 2018.

Starting this month (January 2018) and all through the year PokerStars will be giving away over 300 PSPC Platinum Passes each being worth $30,000 and including the $25,000 buy-in, about $2,000 for travel expenses as well as accommodation at the Atlantis Resorts where the championship will be hosted. This month will see 19 Platinum Passes fall into the hands of lucky participants in a range of online and live events that the renowned poker powerhouse will be hosting. What better way to begin a new year than getting to win one of this Platinum Passes which also gives you an assurance of beginning the next year (2019) with a bang. Here is how you can get a hold of these Platinum Passes:

From Online Events

  • Winter Series Main Event winners (December 25, 2017 – January 7, 2018) – 4 Platinum Passes.
  • Winter Series All-in Shootout winner January 8, 2018 – 1 – Platinum Pass.
  • Monthly Sunday Cashers Final winner February 3, 2018 – 1 Platinum Pass.

From Live Tournament

  • Italian Poker Open January 3-8, 2018 – 1 Platinum Pass.
  • ACOP Platinum Series 20 January 5-14, 2018 – 1 Platinum Pass.
  • PCA Bahamas 2018 January 6-14, 2018 – 5 Platinum Passes.
  • PokerStars MEGASTACK Ulster January 12 -14, 2018 – 1 Platinum Pass.
  • PokerStars Festival London January 22-29, 2018 – 3 Platinum Passes.
  • BSOP SAO Paulo January 25 -30, 2018 – 2 Platinum Passes.

Good Luck!

2017 Poker Wrap Up: Bitcoin, Hackers, and Ransoms

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As 2017 comes to an end we look back at some of the dark forces that afflicted the poker industry all through the year. When it comes to poker, it might still be too early to call it a year even if it is just a few more days to 2018 – it is one of the shakiest businesses in the world and anything can happen at any time. So, let us just delve into the events that shook the poker world most so far;

May’s Hack Jobs

The hackers targeted High-limit poker pros who they left defenseless by seizing control of their phones, Facebook and Twitter accounts. The poker pros who later publicly revealed that they had been the victims of hacking included Cate Hall, Dan Smith, Vanessa Selbst and Vanessa Russo. However, according to poker pro Doug Polk, the poker pros mentioned above were just a tiny fraction of the high-stakes community that had had their personal information stolen by hackers.

“The hackers have infiltrated bank accounts and tried to initiate wire transfers, used credit cards to rack up charges, gotten into Dropbox accounts containing copies of passports, credit cards, and tax returns, and extorted victims using incriminating information found in their email accounts,” Polk said in his popular YouTube channel.

Extortion

This was a result of hacking but this time it is not just individual players who were affected but a whole site – America’s Cardroom. The hacker demanded ransom forcing the site to cancel all ongoing tournaments and refund all player buy-ins in early September. The standoff which lasted for three days, however, played out in favor of Winning Poker Network CEO Phil Nagy who refused to pay the hacker saying:

“We had the attacker get on chat and say I am gonna attack you in one minute and he does the attack, but I will never pay an attacker I won’t pay a ransom, I won’t do it because once you let the bully get your lunch money, he’s taking your money all the time. Once they make you a bit*h, you are a bit*h, and I don’t like the idea of being a bit*h.”

Well Played!

Enter Crypto

Decentralized digital currencies have gained a lot of popularity in poker circles this year thanks to the buzz bitcoin has been creating. Cryptocurrencies have proven in a very short time that they are the key to turning an average poker bankroll into a massive pile of real money. In fact, a number of online poker sites are already supporting cryptocurrency transactions which come with the added advantages of reliability and unmatched processing speeds.

Still, we have to acknowledge the downsides of this particular arrangement by putting into consideration the unpredictable volatility of these cryptocurrencies – case in point, bitcoin. Crypto might be a savior thanks to the exceptional security associated with blockchain technology but a lot of this security is compromised when the decentralized currencies are hosted on centralized networks like poker sites. We wouldn’t that now, would we?

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.”

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.

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.

Bitcoin Futures Trading Takes Crypto to Mainstream Finance

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Today’s intersection of digital money and traditional finance being held at LaSalle Street in Chicago is set to be a game changer being that it will be the first major U.S. exchange that offers a Bitcoin-related product. Bitcoin is considered to be a wildly fluctuating currency but the large demand from individual investors has driven the cryptocurrency to rise by more than 1,500 percent in 2017 – in the past two weeks alone, its value has shot up by about 85 percent. These type of gains are powerful investor magnets even though they are the core reason behind the division between central banks from various parts of the world and Wall Street executives.

CME Group Inc., another Chicago-based exchange, and Cboe Global Market Inc. are offering futures that are anticipated to allow for great inflows of institutional money while at the same time easing the process of betting on Bitcoin’s decline. According to Galaxy Investment Partners CEO, Mike Novogratz, trading will most likely start slowly – the company is currently raising a cryptocurrency hedge fund whose target is $500 million.

Novogratz further added that, “If people have expectations that it’s going to have huge liquidity on day one, they’re just wrong. It’s going to take a while to build liquidity. People need to go through at least one cycle to figure out how it settles.”

The derivatives trading that the world is now witnessing is a result of Bitcoins record-breaking scores this year that were fueled by the high price gains it exhibited as well as its rogue anti-establishment endeavor to become free from government or institutional control. Derivative contracts are expected to propel Bitcoin further into the regulators’ domains, as well as the realms of institutional investors and banks.

“Derivatives should have the effect of bringing a deeper liquidity to the market which should reduce volatility,” said chief investment officer and co-founder of Monaco-based Altana Digital Currency Fund, Alistair Milne. “As the whole cryptocurrency economy gets bigger the volatility should reduce.”

Cloud9, Overwatch and Faker Triumph at The Game Awards

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Thursday’s The Game Awards that was held at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles was a very big day for eSports lovers who got to meet and see various eSports heavyweights nab some awards and recognition.

Overwatch – Best eSports Game/Best Ongoing Game

The first headliner was Overwatch whose team walked away from the event with two awards – one for the ‘Best eSports Game’ which it also received last year and another for the ‘Best Ongoing Game.’ The Blizzard-game has been very successful and this is expected to get even better with their newly launched competitive scene that was kicked off on Thursday with the Overwatch League preseason. Being fan-voted awards, the backlashes that have arisen regarding Blizzard’s success with Overwatch were overlooked since the numbers clearly reflected how devoted its fans are. Overwatch beat out Rainbow Six: Siege, Warframe, Destiny 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Grand Theft Auto Online to win the title.

Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok – Player of The Year

Having been long considered as the world’s best League of Legends player it was not surprising that the decorated international eSports star would walk away with the award. Faker beat out Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovac and Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David, Overwatch player Ryu Je-hong and Dota 2 player Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi.

This is, however, not the first time that Lee ‘Faker’ is basking in the glory of an anticipated win – he led his team, SK Telecom T1, to the League Legends World Championships for four consecutive years since 2013. SK Telecom T1 emerged the victor three times in 2013, 2015 and 2016 before they were beaten by Samsung Galaxy in 2017. Faker has also been for the past four years representing Korea as the mid-laner at All-Stars.

Cloud9 – Best eSports Team

To nab this award, Cloud9 bested some other great finalists that included Team Liquid, Lunatic Hai, FaZe Clan and even Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok’s SK Telecom T1. Earlier this year, the team raised about $25 million during their first round of venture capital financing and this award is a great way of capping off their already impressive year. The eSports team is popular for fielding professional eSports teams in Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Rocket League, Vainglory, League of Legend, and Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. In the League of Legends Championships Cloud9 finished second and this earned the team a spot in the quarterfinals of the World Championships.

Other worthy mentions included; Capcom’s Resident Evil 7: biohazard (Best VR/AR game), The Last of Us Part 2 (Most Anticipated Game), Forza Motorsport 7 (Best Sports/Racing Game), Super Mario Odyssey (Best Family Game) and Injustice 2 (Best Fighting Game) among many others.

MGM Welcomes Competitive Bidding for Bridgeport Casino

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MGM Resorts’ long-running feud with Connecticut’s tribal gaming operators has recently shifted to the town of Bridgeport where MGM has proposed the construction of a gaming and entertainment complex worth $675 million. Amidst all this, MGM Resorts International has reasserted a bid that sought to have the state establish a competitive bidding process for a casino in Bridgeport – the Southeastern gaming tribes of Connecticut have shown interest in partaking in this process as it seems to be the best way to go about the issue.

“The Tribes’ request yesterday to be ‘part of that discussion’ is good news for the people of Connecticut,” MGM Resorts senior vice president, Uri Clinton wrote on Thursday in letters addressed to Connecticut’s Governor Dannel P. Malloy and the state’s legislative leaders. “There appears to be, for the first time, agreement that such a discussion is in the state’s best interest.”

“That the Tribes also see the tremendous potential of Bridgeport confirms our analysis that Bridgeport is by far the best-situated location in the state for a commercial casino — and the only location with the potential to actually grow the State’s gaming revenue,” he added.

Prior to this, the chairmen of the Mohegan and Mashantucket tribes who are the respective owners of the Mohegan Sun and Foxwood Resorts Casino had sent a letter to Governor Malloy as well as state legislative leaders declaring their interest in establishing a casino in Bridgeport.

“Back in 2015, our initial proposal would have authorized three new facilities, one in north-central CT, one in the Danbury area and one in Fairfield County,” the letter read. “It was the legislature’s decision to move forward with only one site in the north-central Hartford region. If circumstances have changed and there is now real interest in putting a casino in Bridgeport, we want to be a part of that discussion.”

The two tribes have had an exclusive deal with the state to operate their casinos on the Southeastern corner of Connecticut for years and the entry of MGM Resorts presented a stalemate. They, therefore, wrote to the state lawmakers asking to be partisan to any deliberations involving Bridgeport. There is, of course, no love lost between MGM Resorts International and the bill that aims to grant the tribes exclusive rights to develop a third casino in Connecticut – instead, the casino operator is pushing for an alternative bill that calls for competitive bidding on which of the two parties get to build a casino in Bridgeport.

The casino gaming agreements signed by the casinos years ago had the casinos share their slot machine revenue with the state in exchange for being granted exclusivity within the borders of Connecticut. This was however on condition that the no other entity would be given the opportunity to establish a casino business in Connecticut, otherwise, the payments to the state would stop. To clarify this further, the spokesman of the tribe, Andrew Doba had this to say:

“MGM can say whatever it wants, but the facts are simple. Their project would cost the state $1 billion or more in lost revenue. Continuing our partnership costs the state nothing and will in fact only enhance the amount of revenue the state already receives.”

eSports Goes Global as Alibaba Bets On Long-Term Gains

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In the past couple of years, the Alibaba Group has put in some pretty huge investments in eSports with large-scale tournaments as well as a significant Asia Olympics bid. Formed and launched in 2015, Alibaba’s sports arm Alisports has always had its sight set on cashing in on the rapidly evolving world of eSports where video game pros square off in video game tournaments with huge cash prizes. Considering the millions of online viewers that are drawn into eSports tournaments, it is quite evident that the booming eSports industry is on its way to unprecedented highs in the next few years. While no significant strides have been made in regards to attracting a lot of sponsors and television rights, eSports have been backed by some great sports stars and with Alisports consistently pushing its limits in regards to the same, we should see the efforts paying off handsomely very soon.

Alisports’ first series of its World Electronic Sports Games reportedly cost the company about $22 million but the results were not very impressive – it was followed by a seventy percent loss in the investment. However, Alibaba is not throwing in the towel just yet since they are already predicting that their tournaments will continue raking in losses for the at least the next half-decade and that is a financial hit that the Chinese commerce mega-corporation is prepared to take.

“We are prepared to lose money. We can accept the losses now as we hope to promote this sport,” said Alisports CEO Zhang Dazhong in an interview with AFP, “For a sport that has a lot of participation, it must have a bright future. Even if for now you don’t make a lot of money, in the future, you’ll definitely be rewarded. This is something we firmly believe in.”

He further added, “We estimate that in five to ten years the business model will be more complete. On top of the competitions, we have to bear in mind the electronics business and marketing related to eSports.”

Findings from a recent study by Deloitte revealed that participation in eSports has bloomed especially on the onset of the traction gain of virtual games in the recent past – as of now, the worldwide eSports audience is estimated to consist of around 400 million people which close in on the numbers for baseball and American football. This year, the size of the eSports market is anticipated to double to about $696 million from the $325 million recorded in 2015 when Alisports was launched. Despite the fragmentation of the eSports market, Alisports and its parent company Alibaba believes that being that they are the global eSports powerhouse they are assured of plentiful returns from eSports in coming years. This tremendous leap in eSports popularity has propelled a lot of discussions regarding the inclusion of professional eSport gaming as an Olympic discipline – while not everyone is convinced about such prospects Alisports’ CEO hopes eSPorts will be part of the Olympics in 2024 or 2028.

PlayOJO Wins Malta iGaming’s Casino of the Year Award

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PlayOJO, which is a relatively new online casino has gained a lot of popularity in the recent past and now they have received another form of recognition. The Malta iGaming Awards recently crowned the new but popular PlayOJO Casino as 2017’s best casino operator. Malta’s iGaming Awards have always caused quite a stir in the online casino industry especially due to the prominence that accompanies the awards as well as their significance in terms of both local and international recognition.

The award did not come as a surprise considering the fact that PlayOJO has always strived to provide its customers with nothing but the best with its unique and innovative approach towards online gaming. Among the nominees were other equally impressive casino operators with outstanding backgrounds and excellent reputations which means that the competition was rather tight. However, the SkillOnNet powered PlayOJO emerged the winner – which makes it their second win after receiving the prestigious EGR Rising Star of the Year Award a few weeks ago.

Despite being in operation for just a little over a year, PlayOJO has most certainly created a lot of buzz in the world of online gambling by introducing some very innovative solutions as well as new technology to the industry. PlayOJO Casino’s Ohad Narkis was very excited about receiving the award something that he says proves their level of professionalism and commitment to providing the best online gambling experiences. He further thanked the judges for their honest opinions regarding the casino’s operational model and assured every player that they would definitely improve every aspect of it as they move along.

“We are delighted to have been named Casino Operator of the Year at the Malta iGaming Awards. Despite launching less than a year ago, we have already made a significant impact on the industry by taking the player experience to the next level. This award recognizes the hard work and dedication of the PlayOJO team, and I’d like to thank the judges for rewarding our achievements and successes in this way.”

Since it went live back in February, PlayOJO has proved to be a force to reckon with by being a disruptive challenger to most of the online casino operators, especially in the UK. Some unique features that have attracted a plethora of online gamblers include their responsible gambling policy as well as the money back option offered for every bet that a player places. However, the biggest selling point of PlayOJO’s operational model has been its approach when it comes to the casino bonuses and reward – they are all available to customers with no wagering requirements.