Debate – payment pattern of poker tournaments

For many years now, Roger Hairabedian has been militating the idea of extending the payment structure to 30% of the players at the poker tournaments. He had the occasion to express himself again on this matter in the last issue of the Live Poker magazine. In the same issue, Philippe Ktorza condemns the low prizes offered to those who finish on the first payed positions.

In the last issue of Live Poker, Roger Hairabedian restated his credo about the payment structures of the poker tournaments: “Rewarding one player out of ten is not enough. On the internet, 30% of those registered are payed at the SitnGos […] We have to adopt the same policy in live tournaments. We should start with 20% at the ITM and, step by step, we will get to the 30%, with the final ten per cent simply reimbursed.”

Philippe Ktorza is another player who voices out his opinion in the last issue of the Live Poker magazine. He also condemns the nowadays payment structure but he has a different line of argumentation from that of Roger Hairabedian: “The structures don’t reward the performances to their real value. [Often] the gain doesn’t even cover the additional fees. Over an year, a player who finishes on 20nd position in most tournaments loses money, while one who finishes once on the podium wins. But who is the better one?”

The debate was carried over to the forum where a variety of opinions are expressed on the subject. Xewod suggests reducing the ITM to 10 or 12%: “ I don’t see why we should pay so many players unless they will be able to register for other events. At 30% it will break the tournament dynamics […]. The average will fall and this will surely render the poker game much less interesting early in the tournament.”

Xewod is nonetheless opposed to reducing the gains of the first positions because these prizes make the players dream and are the reasons for which they “register and compete”. This is the complete opposite of the opinions of Hairabedian (“It’s not so bad to cut from the gains of the first positions an amount that allows three times more players to survive”) or of Philippe Ktorza (“I suggest to reduce the prize for the top three winners and to always double the buy-in for the payed positions”).

Just like Roger, SquawK offers the example of the online poker rooms:”The online poker rooms try to extend to a maximum the number of players gaining in the tournaments. They do this because the players who want to double their investments will replay their gains, while the first prize usually retreat their gains from the site”. He admits nevertheless that “players who have an edge are disadvantaged on the long term”.

GameAddiction is another player who reflects on the edge subject: “I believe that the field should be extended in order to reward the proficiency. With the present structure, a good tournament player who finishes in 15 ITM along the year will win less than a player who wins a tournament […] Of course, the gap between the first places and the others should remain significant, but nowadays it is too huge in my opinion”.

PPA disappointed

With only 50-75 participants, according to USA Today, the rally organized by Poker Players Alliance (PPA) last Tuesday proved to be a disappointment for players as well as for the alliance itself. The rally had the purpose of attracting the media’s attention to the faith of the poker players after the events of 15th April (Black Friday).

With over 1 million members, the PPA managed to attract only 50 participants at their rally, in spite of the rally being announced a few weeks in advance and of the worst blow that online poker has suffered since UIGEA 2006.

The rally has benefited from the presence of some important pro-poker speakers such as John Campbell and Joe Barton (republicans of the states of Texas and California, respectively). Among the other speakers at the rally, we can mention Linda Johnson (Women’s Poker Hall of Fame), Greg Raymer (Champion of WSOP 2004 Main Event) and the president and ex senator Alphonse D’Amato.

Some questions arise from these state of facts: given the low participation rate at the rally, is the online poker legislation really a major concern for the voters? Is PPA the best organisation for representing the players’ interests? Or is this just a confirmation of the prejudice that poker players are lazy? Irrespective of the reason laying behind the low attendance rate at the rally, it is clear that neither the poker players nor the PPA will have a strong word against any of the legislation’s outcome.

PokerStars new VIP programme for 2011

PokerStars is planning some changes to their VIP Programme for 2011. These changes may come in response to a recent bug at their VIP programme that modified the value of the loyalty points and some players have taken advantage of the situation.

The new VIP programme establishes that the Reward Bonuses purchased from the VIP Store are instantly transfered to the player’s account. This promo is actually active since October 1st, 2010, and the announcement confirms it also for 2011. The other changes that are supposed to become active from January 1st, 2011 are:

The standard gain rate for VPPs is still 6x for cash tables with 8 or more seats, and 5.5x for the rest of the games, except for certain micro-stakes games. Depending on the stake at No Limit and Pot Limit No Limit Holdem, some changes will increase the VPP multiplier, making them quickly earnable:

$0.01/$0.02: 10x
$0.02/$0.05: 8.5x
$0.05/$0.10: 7x
€0.01/€0.02: 12.5x
€0.02/€0.05: 10.5x
€0.05/€0.10: 9x

This change is not just a promotion, it will be permanent. PokerStars mentions that “some older tables awarding the previous VPP rates may still exist until the first server restart of 2011.”

Further changes will be applied to the Supernova Elite programme as well. If a player earns the SNE status in 2011, he/she will receive numerous significant discounts through the VIP Store on packages to many of PokerStars’ sponsored main events such as EPT, NAPT, LAPT and APPT tours. The most important discounts are available for the Grand Finale packages at PCA or EPT. Players who have already earned SNE status, will still receive rewards as presented above. Supernova Elite VIPs will continue to receive 5 FPP per VPP if they have the SNE status, plus a free entry to the WCOOP Main Event.

Another change is applied to the Milestone Cash Credits whose prices will be reduced from 50,000 FPP to only 1 FPP, putting it in line with VIP Stellar Rewards. In order to simplify the programme, each Milestone Cash Credit is now $800 smaller but this doesn’t mean a change in value.

The new 100,000 VPP VIP Stellar Reward (valuing $200), will replace the 100,000 VIP Milestone Cash Credit. In addition, the first Milestone Cash Credit will be awarded at 200,000 VIPs and all the 20 VIP Stellar Rewards will total $1200.

Below is a list of Miles Stone Cash Credits available to Supernova VIP players for 1 FPP each:
$2,600 at 200,000 VPPs
$2,800 at 300,000 VPPs
$3,000 at 400,000 VPPs
$3,200 at 500,000 VPPs
$3,600 at 600,000 VPPs
$3,800 at 700,000 VPPs
$4,200 at 800,000 VPPs

Next, the Milestone Cash Credits for Supernova Elite players cost also 1 FPP each as you can see below:
$20,000 at 1,000,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 1,250,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 1,500,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 1,750,000 VPPs
$19,200 at 2,000,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 2,250,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 2,500,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 2,750,000 VPPs

$19,200 at 3,000,000 VPPs

Joe Tehan- the surprise of NAPT Los Angeles

Though Chris DeMaci and Jason Mercier were the public’s favourites for winning the North American Poker Tour, the big surprise of the evening was Joe Tehan. He gradually eliminated player after player, moving up to his victory.

The start of the final table had the following configuration:

1. Christopher DeMaci – 6,283,000
2. Jason Mercier -3,800,000
3. Ray Henson – 3,268,000
4. Jacob Toole – 1,975,000
5. Joe Tehan -1,907,000
6. Michael Binger – 1,670,000
7. Anh Van Nguyen – 1,058,000
8. Al Grimes – 982,00

An exceptional rush of cards completely changed the above configuration. Quite from the start of final table, Tehan (KK) succeeded a double-up against DeMaci (AK). Soon afterwards he became the chip leader and began winning all the coin-flips.

The final results of the NAPT Los Angeles are:

1. Joe Tehan – 725,000$
2. Christopher DeMaci – 440,000$
3. Al Grimes – 250,000$
4. Anh Van Nguyen, – 195,000$
5. Ray Henson – 145,000$
6. Michael Binger – 114,000$
7. Jason Mercier – 84,857$
8. Jake Toole – 60,000$

The North American Poker Tour (NAPT) is a PokerStars sponsored event along with other PokerStars tournaments from the same category:

Latin America Poker Tour (LAPT)
European Poker Tour (EPT)
Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT)
Australia and New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT)
Italian Poker Tour (IPT)

PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA)

Regional Championships of Online Poker (RCOOP)

The world’s largest online poker room, PokerStars, has announced the forthcoming Regional Championship of Online Poker (RCOOP). This sounds fun and challenging: fun because you get to play with people from your own region, probably even speaking the same language, and challenging because at the end, there will be a final winner for each region. This poker championship is something more than just fighting over big money: it’s about national or regional pride and winning the title of the best player in your region.

RCOOP is just another PokerStars event from the series made up of the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) and the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP).

However, the Regional Championships of Online Poker is a completely new event organised by PokerStars and consists of a series of tournaments, each series allocated to a different geographical region. In other words, Poker Stars has split the world in 13 regions within which players can compete against each other in the attempt to become the best player of their region. Each regional series is made up of 11 events, all with guaranteed prize pools!

The buy-ins are suited for all pockets and satellites can begin from just a few dollars. English will not be anymore the official language of the tournament. Players can chat between them in their own language. There will be more than $7,000,000 in guaranteed prize-pools worldwide, almost half of this money (more precisely $3,275,000) being attributed to the USA Championship.

The Regional Championships of Online Poker is not PokerStars’ singular event of this type. PokerStars is known for organizing many regional live poker tours, such as the European Poker Tour and the North American Poker Tour.

The 13 regional tournaments will start at the end of October 2010 and last up until February 2011.

1. Russian Open Championship Of Online Poker – October 31-November 7
2. Nordic Championship Of Online Poker – November 4-14
3. Baltics Championship Of Online Poker – November 4-14
4. USA Championship Of Online Poker- November 21-28
5. Canadian Championship Of Online Poker – November 21-28
6. Germanics Championship Of Online Poker – November 21-28
7. Asia Pacific Championship Of Online Poker – November 21-28
8. Mediterranean Championship Of Online Poker – November 18-28
9. UK & Ireland Championship Of Online Poker – December 5-12
10. Central and Eastern European Championship of Online Poker – December 6-16
11. Latin American Championship Of Online Poker – December 5-12
12. Iberian Championship Of Online Poker – February 13-20, 2011

13. Benelux Championship Of Online Poker – February TBD

David Vamplew wins EPT London 2010

The champion of EPT London 2010 is David Vamplew, a 23 year-old Scottish player who has just started to make a name for himself by defeating one of the most well-known and experienced poker players, John Juanda. He received £900,000 for first place.

Vamplew was surely not a favourite in the confrontation leading to the final table but he skilfully managed to raise a comfortable chip stack, surpassed only by Juanda and Kyle Bowker. It came as no surprise that the final table saw these three chip leaders play against each other. They started the three-hand table at fairly close chip stack levels: John Juanda leading with 10,5 millions, Bowker with 8,5 millions and Vamplew 6 millions.

After a clash with Juanda, Bowker left the final table. The third place brought him £300,000. For Juanda, this meant winning Bowker’s stack and almost doubling his own.

As a result, Vamplew had to enter in a heads-up against an opponent 4 times stronger than him in terms of chips but this didn’t discourage him. The heads-up lasted almost 4 hours and it was rather stark, with no amusing parts or dynamism. Juanda took his time to calculate each and every move and seemed fresh, only from time to time stretching his neck muscles. On the other hand, Vamplew looked at times physically drained and mentally exhausted and yet he managed to fight back and level the chip counts.

Vamplew gradually improved his situation. Juanda had to move in for his final 3.5 million; Vamplew called. Juanda showed K2 against Vamplew’s A3. Next, when Vamplew hit two pair on the flop, he became EPT London’s 2010 Champion. Juanda took home £545,000 for second place.

Juanda is one of the world’s top poker pros with four bracelets and more than $10.5 million gathered in his tournament history. In contrast, for Vamplew, the EPT London was the first major win and his second notable cash, the first one being at the World Series of Poker earlier this year.

“He got really unlucky,” said Vamplew about Juanda’s performance. “It will be really interesting to see what he had when it was broadcast, what he had when he was getting me off some of my hands.”

The final results of EPT London Main Event were:
1. David Vamplew – £900,000
2. John Juanda – £545,000
3. Kyle Bowker – £300,000
4. Artur Wasek – £240,000
5. Kayvan Payman – £190,000
6. Fernando Bito – £145,000
7. Tom Marchese – £100,000
8. Per Ummer – £66,800)

Borgata Poker Open

Though World Series of Poker Europe is receiving much of the public’s attention nowadays, the Borgata Poker Open has managed to attract unexpectedly large masses of players. The Borgata Poker Open is the 7th event in Season Nine of the WPT and probably the biggest one in the history of WPT. Upcoming events of this tour include the Festa al Lago at Bellagio casino in Las Vegas and the Foxwoods World Poker Finals in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

Most of the world’s top players are participating at WSOPE right now and therefore were unable to take part in the Borgata Poker Open. Nevertheless, the WPT event was a huge success due to last year’s decision to reduce the buy-in which helped attract professional players that are not willing yet to play in $10,000 buy-in events. The reduced cost of entry attracted an enormous field of more than 1000 players in Atlantic City to play in the $3,500 buy-in event. The large field of players required multiple starting days and created a monumental prize pool of $3.4 million.

After day 1a and 1b, only 641 out of 1042 players lasted to enter Day 2. At the end of Day 2 only 175 of them were still at the tables. Among the victims of Day 2 are Gavin Smith eliminated close to the end of the day, Tiffany Michelle and Kathy Liebert.

The minimum prize for a Borgota Poker Open finalist is $6,671 while the winner will get the reasonable sum of $733,802.

Chipcount at the end of day 2 :

John D’Agostino: $681.200
Giuseppe Pantaleo: $668.100
Francis Lamothe: $640.000
Lars Bonding: $521.900
Marc Goldman: $506.600
Jens Eisner: $477.900
Stan Sinclair: $449.300
Jeff Papola: $447.000
Kyle Loman: $406.100
Dwyte Pilgrim: $400.000
Olivier Busquet: $355.000

Daniel Negreanu -‘kid poker’ and ‘kid golfer’

Daniel Negreanu has put to good use his golf and poker skills at PokerStars EPT Vilamoura as he managed to win this exciting and innovative competition. This poker tournament combined golf fairways and poker tables into a splendid mix against the backdrop of the exotic sea-side resort of Vilamoura in Portugal.

On Day 1 the competition was held on the golf course. Depending on their performance at golf, each competitor had their score converted into equivalent chips for Day’s 2 poker confrontation.

After years of improving his golf techniques, Negreanu’s efforts are finally paying off. At the end of Day 1 his chips stack rose by $2,500.

The ‘Kid poker’ proved that he is just as talented in poker as in golf, if anyone would still doubt his poker skills after he has been a WSOP bracelet winner 4 times. On Day 2 he lasted until the final table where he went heads up against Pieter De Korver whom he eliminated, Negreanu holding Q-J against his opponent’s J-2.

The prize money from EPT Vilamoura is not something Negreanu would boast on but he has surely enjoyed this tournament. His passion for golf and poker surely brought him more satisfaction than the modest €8,000 that he received for his victory.

PokerStars and Full Tilt – “illegal” in the US

Bwin CEOs, Norbert Teufelberger and Manfred Bodner , have declared in an interview for that PokerStars and Full Tilt are operating “illegally” on the US online gambling market.

Bwin is currently the world’s third strongest poker services provider after PokerStars and Full Tilt and they believe that if they hadn’t withdrawn from the US market in 2006 they would have held the pole position right now.

Teufelberger is of the opinion that those two websites obtained their world-wide power due to their monopoly over the American market. It’s not that they have “premier marketing skills or premier technology”; it is their illegal activity in a very profitable context that renders them so strong against the competition. Otherwise, they will have no other competitive advantage to set them apart from the other online gambling operators.

“It’s not because they have premier marketing skills or premier technology, what they have is hundreds of millions of dollars from what we see as an illegal market. We would expect that once the US regulates, these two companies will not have access to the market, and once that happens we’ll then see who the leader will be. They say they’re not operating illegally but I think they are.”

Teufelberger is almost certain that once the US online gambling market will become deregulated, PokerStars and Full Tilt will no longer be offered a license to operate in the new market. He claims that US licensing authorities are aware of these two sites’ illegal activity and so the question is whether or not they will be prosecuted, let alone withdrawing their licenses.

“I used to be personally licensed and operated in the land-based environment in the US so I know how stringent the US authorities are in their licensing process and I cannot imagine that a company which in the view of the DoJ (Department of Justice) and several state licensing authorities in the US, that acts illegally, will be able or qualify to get a licence. In my view this will be absolutely impossible. What does that mean in the end? I don’t know. They may be prosecuted, they may not be prosecuted”.

The Bwin CEOs are however cautious as there is a probability that PokerStars and Full Tilt will be granted a license in the newly deregulated US market. If this will happen, then pulling out in 2006 will have been their “biggest mistake”.

Full Tilt Poker signs a partnership with a new F1 team

While PartyPoker hired the young Spaniard F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari as an ambassador for its poker room, Full Tilt Poker went further by signing a sponsorship deal with Virgin Racing Team, on the eve of a new Formula 1 season in Europe.

The news was made public at the Barcelona Grand Prix and it finalized discussions initiated last November between Full Tilt Poker and Virgin Racing, an all-new racing team registered for its first Formula 1 world championship.

Full Tilt logo will visibly appear on two drivers’ cars – German Timo Glock and Brazilian Lucas di Grassi. The replacing pilots and other team members will also brand the logo.

“We are really delighted to welcome Full Tilt to Virgin Racing. We are proud to add an industry-leading brand to our healthy partnership portfolio and I am particularly pleased that we have worked hard together with a partner who has seen the team develop from its birth through to our first competitive steps”, said Virgin Racing’s Chief Executive Officer Graeme Lowdon.

Chris Ferguson, one of the leading figures of Full Tilt Poker, confirmed these statements: “The partnership between Full Tilt and Virgin Racing is the brilliant result of many efforts of mindful consideration by both brands. With two leaders in their respective fields coming together, this is sure to be a groundbreaking partnership on the global canvas, providing yet another level of excitement for all fans.”

Taking into account this agreement, it is now clear that in the online poker rooms’ war, Full Tilt will benefit from a beautiful cover, for the event is worldwide broadcast and many European countries are about to officially open theirs online gaming markets.