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.

Online gambling is now prohibited in South Africa

Following the decision of the South African court on 20 August, online poker and all forms of gambling on Internet are now illegal and strictly prohibited in South Africa.

The GGB Committee – Gauteng Gambling Board – who has been struggling to ban online casinos for some time, was finally successful.

Besides, the Committee also said that any poker room or online casino offering its services in the country would be indictable.

The General Counsel of the GGB took charge of warning the operators: “If they carry on their activities, we will arrest and convict them”.

As a further deterrent to illegal gambling, authorities have insisted that any company violating the court order, would be excluded to apply for a licence in case the government decides to regulate the market.

The online gaming operators and players in South-Africa are now punishable by fines up to 10 million rands (1.36 million dollars), 10 years’ imprisonment or both.

The gambling actors who operate in the country are determined to appeal the decision.

The real substitute of a real-life dealer at!, as you may already know, is the only website that uses real cards. Its brand new technology offers the players the possibility to play online while at the same time respecting the randomness of real life cards.

Unlike other websites that use a computer with a randomizing algorithm, uses real decks of cards that get shuffled and dealt by a machine exactly in the same way as a dealer would do in reality.

We can find more details about the dealing system on their website:

“No pseudo random number generators (PRNGs) are used in the card shuffling and dealing system. Physical decks of cards are shuffled multiple times for each deal. Audit trails are maintained for all aspects of the card shuffling and dealing system.”

Tests have been carried out by iTech Labs to see if this system resembles reality and it seems to be a perfect substitute of a real life dealer.

“The deals generated by the system have passed tests for statistical randomness, and for the occurrence of standard poker hands. iTech Labs has found that the card sequences are unpredictable, non-repeatable and uniformly distributed. “

You can find more about this technology yourself on their website. In my opinion, it’s the fairest poker system for online players at present. Why? Because it’s real! The other websites, with an algorithm based system, may not respect so well the real-life cards randomness. A prove of this can be found on forums where discontented players blame the algorithm for dealing repeatedly the same cards in a short amount of time.

In case you were wondering, the game is not slowed down by its dealing system.

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.

Gambling experience is safer with two new online services

The online gaming industry has enriched itself with two new services that will make the gambling experience safer and more secure.

Let’s first talk about the “Safe Gaming System” (SGS). This is a new service designed to protect players against excessive gaming. It is based on the principle of external control corroborated with player’s will power. In fact, SGS is conceived on a dual approach. It assists players on gaming sites, establishing affordable spending limits. These are established in advance and “away from the atmosphere of a gambling venue”, which will allow players to think rationally.

In the second stage, SGS also provides a mechanism for financing accounts at online casinos. Players charge their SGS account in the limit of their budget and on a pre-established period. Then, they will deposit money at online casinos using a debit card issued by SGS. Once players run out their “affordable limits,” SGS will not accept any more money from them during the “current budget period”.

The other service was created by ImpulsePay and its role is to verify the player’s age. That’s how it works: once an online casino uses this service, it displays a “Buy Now” button on its website. The player has to click on the image and enter his mobile number. He then receives a secure PIN by SMS and after introducing the code on the site, the casino is informed if the phone number is assigned to an adult user. If it results that the player is minor, he will be redirected to a help page. Otherwise, the process is completed and the casino allows player to register.

Both services have just been advertised and are not yet integrated into the online casino industry.

PartyGaming signed an agreement with French bookmaker PMU

The British company PartyGaming, worldwide renowned in the online gambling field, has signed a multi-year agreement with French traditional bookmaker PMU (Pari Mutuel Urbain). The latter is the monopolistic operator who organizes horse races betting in France. Now, the new deal enables PMU to operate online poker as well.

“This agreement will come into effect once the PMU and PartyGaming have each received a license allowing them to offer online poker in France”, says a statement from PMU.

Both parts hope this agreement will bring them mutual benefits. PartyGaming, which runs the largest online poker room – PartyPoker – is the first online gambling company listed on London Stock Exchange. The agreement provides that “the PMU will benefit from the PartyGaming poker platform services and will ensure the commercialization of its poker offering and the management of its customers”. However, PartyGaming retains the possibility of getting a French license under its own name.

The main objective of the arrangement, as put forward by the PartyGaming’s Chief Executive Jim Ryan, is “to have the largest poker liquidity pool in France”. Similar B2B agreements have been signed in Italy and Denmark.

“Today’s agreement with PMU is consistent with our stated strategy of securing a small number of high value partners in regulated markets”, said Jim Ryan. “PMU is widely recognized as one of Europe’s leading betting businesses and we look forward to providing them with a world class poker service”, concluded Ryan.

The news on the PartyGaming-PMU partnership was nevertheless quite surprising. Firstly, because the partner chosen by the PMU was PartyGaming while Paddy Power seemed better placed. Indeed, the Irish operator has an online poker platform which could have been added to the existing agreement between the two companies. Secondly, because, as we remarked, this new agreement with PartyGaming is not exclusive, meaning that PartyGaming will have the right to enter the French market with a concurrent offer.

As a result of its recent agreements, PartyGaming is expected to improve its fiscal performances. The takeover of the WPT brand gives more reason to believe in a brilliant future for the company.