2007 WSOP Schedule Released

I'm in Vegas for CES, but I'm staying just down the hall from where I lived during the 2006 WSOP, so it was a little surreal for me to read at PokerNews that the 2007 WSOP schedule had been released.

Really? Already? It seems like I was just here. In fact, I am here. Okay, I'm freaking myself out.

But enough about me, let's get to the poker. Dr. Tim says that the series will kick off 55 events on June 1, running for seven weeks before the Main Event begins on July 6th. Yeah, you read that correctly; we're going to have to be in Vegas for the 4th of July craziness.

They say that there will be several events other than Hold'Em (possibly responding to criticism from players after the 2006 WSOP was pretty much the World Series of Hold'Em) , including three different HORSE events, a SHOE event, and several different mixed games. There are lots of different buy-ins, as low as $1,000 and running up to $5,000 with the Main Event still being a $10,000 event.

Speaking of the Main Event, they plan to have three day ones, pushing through 3,000 players a day.

Uhm. Yeah. If they're stopping the online poker sites from running satellites and putting players into the Main Event, how in the world to they expect to get even 5000 players?

Dr. Tim has the full schedule of events including their buy-ins, at PokerNews.

Harrahs Reportedly Sold

At LasVegasVegas, flipchippro says that the rumors are true, and Harrahs will be sold to Apollo Management Group for around 17 billion dollars.

This is a big deal for several reasons beyond the obvious poker-related ones, and those reasons are scattered up and down the Strip from Tropicana all the way down to Sahara in the form of nearly every hotel that has a porn slapper out front; Harrahs is one of the largest employers in Las Vegas, and any changes in ownership will impact a whole lot of people who work in the hotel and casino industry.

It's also a potentially big deal for poker players: when the deal goes through, Harrahs will go from a publicly-traded to a privately-owned company, which should have some significant effects on the WSOP, not the least of which will be online satellites for the Main Event in 2007. After all the .net stickers in the Main Event and the UIGEA trauma in 2006, it seemed like Harrahs was going to make things very hard for the online sites to run the Moneymaker-style $40 satellites, but if the casino (and therefore the WSOP) is privately owned, that could change.

Poker Prohibition Act Hurts More than Just Players

Frist, Kyl, Goodlatte, Leach and other supporters of the poker prohibition act either failed to consider or chose to ignore the fact that passage of the act would affect more than poker players and poker sites.

There is an enormous industry built around poker's popularity right now, including magazines, television programming, and video games. Contrary to the laughable claim by the World Poker Tour that they are solely to thank for the boom, it is undeniable that online poker has driven the market.

People watch WPT or WSOP or Poker Superstars or any one of the other poker shows on television, get fired up, and race to their computers to pull or snap off a huge bluff. Those same people, who are hundreds of miles from a B&M casino spend lots of money on books and magazines to improve their game, which they play exclusively online. Maybe they buy video games for their kids so the kids can also play poker, without risking any real money. Now that those people can't play online, the industry they help support will suffer and most likely die.

Companies will stop buying ads, and will no longer spread money around the magazines and television shows that, for the last few years, has cascaded into employment for film crews, printers, editors, writers, and too many other jobs to list.

Bill Frist and his allies have, with one cynical, blatant, base-pandering move, hurt the livelihood of thousands of people -- perhaps more. Too many poker bloggers to count will lose enormous amounts of income, now that affiliate and advertising opportunities will almost certainly go away. Hell, this could mean the end of CardSquad, and WWdN readers are going to be pissed if I have to put all of my poker writing back there.

Over the last few days, I've clipped the following posts from Bloglines, which inspired this post:
  • Up for Poker has a magnificent, must-read commentary on the latest form of prohibition, which puts this into an historical context.
  • BLUFF magazine has a lot to lose if poker's growth and popularity in the United States is slowed or crushered. They've issued a statement, as has the PPA (who really dropped the ball on this one. This is why we joined, guys. This is why we joined.) You can read them together at Poker Gazette.
  • BG makes a very good point about why it's hard for him to get worked up about this.
  • Scurvydog wrote a post about how this will affect a lot more than his ability to play in a Wheetie or a Mook, and it is a very good representation of what I've read all over the pokerblog-o-sphere.
Scurvydog's post is what finally pushed me to sit down and write this. By taking away yet another one of our freedoms, the party of smaller government once again steps on the necks of anyone who is not ultra-wealthy or a multi-national corporation. Haven't we had enough?

The bottom line is, everyone who is not in the base Frist was pandering to when he jammed this through on Friday sees it for what it is, but that doesn't change one cold, hard reality: this bill's passage affects far more than just players or site operators. Poker is a huge business in America, and the unintended consequences of this bill's passage won't be truly felt for months. But when they finally are felt, it will hurt a lot of people who don't even play that much (if any) online poker. A lot of good people will suddenly be looking for new ways to support themselves and their families. For a government established by and for "the people," this Congress sure seems to have lost its way.

Image of Mustard Man provided in futile effort to "lighten things up."

2006 WSOP: Year of the Donkey

During the 2006 WSOP, I wrote, I've been around a lot of celebrities in my life -- hell, I was even one of them a long time ago -- and it's rare to see someone handle himself with the grace, poise, kindness and generosity that Greg [Raymer] has. There are a lot of very young self-professed professional players here, many of them in their early twenties, and with rare exception they are arrogant, immature, entitled, and entirely without honor or respect for the history of the game. It was so refreshing to walk with Greg through a writhing mass of his fans, and see him treat every single one of them with kindness and respect. Some of these "professionals" would be well-served to take a break from "investing" in Dolce & Gabbana and listen to him.

If you watched ESPN's WSOP broadcast last night, you got to see one of these arrogant, immature players in one Eric Molina, who at all of 21 years old thought he was cock of the walk, when he was clearly cock of nothing.

Change100: "In 21-year old Molina, we have a new poster boy for immature, overconfident, know-it-all internet poker donkeys. You know that asshole who has such a lack of self-esteem that he finds the need to berate your every play in a $20 SNG? Molina is that asshole come to life. It was just agonizing to watch this punk knock off player after player after player, berating each one for their moves."

Indeed. You can say whatever you want about Varkonyi, Moneymaker, or any of the non-professionals who have gotten very lucky and come out of nowhere to find big money in the Main Event, but none of them have ever displayed the crass immaturity and arrogance that I saw everywhere in young players this year.

Change has some other very choice words for Molina and other players at Pokerblog, in the first part of a series called "Grading the WSOP's Cast of Characters" Take a look, and join me as I wait breathlessly for the next installment.

WSOP Main Event: Where did the extra two million chips come from?

Near the end of the Main Event in this year's World Series, a shocking story came out of the tournament room: over two million extra chips had been put into play, and nobody could account for them.

The most obvious answer at the time seemed to be cheating by players; this would have been much easier than you'd think, because Harrah's used the same tournament chips for all the WSOP events, regardless of buy-in, making it easier and less expensive for potential cheats to enter a low buy-in event, palm off some larger denomination chips, and work them into play in the Main Event.

The second most obvious answer was simple incompetence on the part of the staff, probably during races when smaller denomination chips are removed from play, and replaced with larger denomination chips (during races, it's common for extra chips to be rounded up, so occasionally a 25 will end up equaling a 100, resulting in +75 total chips in play.) But was it actually possible to screw up so profoundly that an additional two million -- two hundred players' worth of buy-ins -- chips could be added?

Amy Callistri and Tim Lavalli did an outstanding investigation, and their results have been posted in three parts at PokerNews.com. It's an extremely long story, but it's exhaustively researched and worth your time.

Part One gives the background and explains why this matters, anyway.
Part Two addresses whether dead stacks and chip races could reasonably account for the additional chips.
Part Three tackles the more "nefarious" possibilities: straight up cheating by unscrupulous players and staff, or a simple but serious mistake?

Amy and Tim conclude -- and Harrah's acknowledges -- that this was a case of a very simple but extremely serious mathematical mistake: "[t]he $5000 chips were removed from play and a simple case of bad math, working without the safety net of basic accounting procedures, was to blame for the introduction of approximately two million chips into the main event. Day Seven would play on until approximately 2:00 AM. By this time, it was arguably an irreversible error; aided and abetted by hours of play, busted players and aggregated chip stacks."

Their story is much more than that, of course, and anyone who wants to know and understand how this could happen -- and what needs to take place so it doesn't happen again -- should head over to PokerNews and check out their story.

On the Corporatization of the WSOP

At the 2006 WSOP, Harrah's added several low buy-in events which began after the Main Event was underway. Unlike last year, where these added events were just daily tournaments in the same room as the WSOP, the events in the 2006 WSOP were bracelet events.

Of course, unless you were there, you probably don't know about these events or care who won them, because they were ignored by CardPlayer, which was the only outlet authorized by Harrah's to carry live event reports. It was unbelievable to me that there were bracelet events going on, right there in the Amazon room, and they weren't getting any coverage at all. Was it a glimpse of the future? Last year, many predicted that bracelets wouldn't mean what they once did, because there were so many of them to be won this year, and it appears that those people were right.

As the final table of the Main Event played behind us, I stood in the Amazon room and watched Bill Chen at the final table of one of these events. That's Bill Chen, who had two bracelets already, and was going for a third. I think that's kind of a big deal, but there was no media, few spectators, and nothing to indicate that this event meant anything at all, even though there was a WSOP bracelet on the line.

I said to a friend of mine, "You know, the World Series will always be a big deal, and it will always be The World Series of Poker . . . but looking at this," I pointed to the mostly-empty room, the final table of this event entirely ignored by the media and spectators and said, "I can't help but feel like this wonderful thing that was started so many years ago, this thing that really used to mean something . . . just doesn't any more"

"Welcome to corporate America's version of Poker," he said.

At the time, I just nodded my head, because it seemed correct, but the more I think about it, the profundity of the statement has really sunk in.

The World Series of Poker has become just another cog in the corporate machine: with an eye toward the bottom line, Harrah's cut corners on handling the players, repeatedly screwed the dealers, alienated much of the media, and stuffed their pockets with gigantic piles of cash from advertising and corporate sponsors (and never let any of that money find its way to the players, in the form of comps, a better playing experience, or even putting new decks of cards into play.) When he finally faced the media, Jeffrey Pollack gave a press conference that would have impressed Karl Rove. He dodged every pointed question, ignored the few tough follow-ups (which only came from bloggers, by the way) and had the nerve to proclaim that the WSOP was just getting started, as if over thirty years of history didn't exist.

When Becky Behnen took over the WSOP and, by all accounts, screwed it up real good, several players, including Doyle Brunson, left the WSOP and played in Jack Binion's World Poker Open instead. If Harrah's doesn't take a good, honest, critical look at the 2006 WSOP, and engage and listen to the players, there's a good chance for someone else to come along, just like Jack Binion did in the 90s, and provide a competing tournament that gets it right where Harrah's gets it wrong.

Nothing will ever entirely replace the World Series of Poker, but, as Michael Craig put it recently, "I don't think the people at Harrah's are necessarily evil. They are capitalists and I applaud that. But are they make-every-dime-we-can-and-get-out-of-town-before-sundown capitalists, or make-a-shitload-of-money-and-keep-'em-coming-back-for-more capitalists? Their behavior during the Series was too often the former, too rarely the latter."

Does Johnny Chan Have Ten Percent of Jamie Gold?

Rumors continue to swirl around 2006 WSOP Main Event champion Jamie Gold, and the poker media remains tightly focused on his lawsuit with XXXX. But what about his coach and apparent mentor, Johnny Chan? Is it true that Chan had 10% of Gold?

At LasVegasVegas, the Poker Prof has the answer:

In typical Prof fashion he went straight to the top name in the WSOP/Gold rumor mill. On Monday, the Prof spoke with Johnny Chan, the WSOP ten bracelet champion including back to back wins in the Main Event. Rumor says he had a deal with Gold and was promised 10% of the WSOP winnings. The Poker Prof asked Chan what financial arrangements, if any, he had with Jamie Gold and was he, in fact, owed 10% of Gold's $12 million winnings? Johnny Chan said, "None whatsoever." So, Gold owes nothing to Chan from the WSOP Main Event money.

In other Jamie Gold news, a friend of mine who works in a Los Angeles restaurant called me a few days ago, and said that Gold was "a complete prick" whenever he waited on him. In fact, other than a rather obsequious article in Cardplayer last week, I have yet to hear anyone who's had the, uh, pleasure, of interacting with Gold say anything complementary about the man.

Finally, Wicked Chops Poker adds that Gold is apparently working on a reality show called, "The Hottest Mom in America."

Yeah. Classy.

SAPD Reveals Evidence Against Richard Lee

They're dogs, and they're playing poker!The San Antonio Police Department disclosed some details about its investigation of WSOP finalist Richard Lee, who they allege is part of a illegal bookmaking operation.

Since February, a vice officer has rifled through trash, tailed luxury cars, gambled online and sorted through a string of local bank accounts and phone records in an effort to gather evidence against Lee and others, according to an affidavit for a search warrant released Friday.

What police found could alter the public poker face of this city's once-celebrated gambling star, who placed sixth last month while hyping San Antonio in the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas.

Lee, otherwise known as "The Chinaman," is the "biggest bookie" in San Antonio, according to a "credible source" quoted in the document. The affidavit also names Lee as the brains behind an illegal Internet gambling operation run in part from his Shavano Park home.

Wow. "The Chinaman." Welcome to 1956, everybody.

The SAPD allege that Richard Lee is connected to a website called www.betbsbnow.com which claims to be located off shore, but is, in fact, in San Antonio.

More details, including how the SAPD became aware of the operation and how they conducted their investigation, can be found at PokerGazette, via the link below.

My (pretty useless) analysis? Though he seemed like a really good guy when I saw him at the WSOP, and his recent comments to the press appear to confirm that, things look very, very bad for Richard Lee right now.

We should also be very concerned that opportunistic lawmakers, with an eye toward the election, will attempt to conflate this illegal bookmaking operation (if they prove their case in court) with online poker, and online poker players, especially since -- oh shit -- it appears that Mr. Lee was playing online poker when his house was raided which the District Attorney says "that act in and of itself is illegal." Oh boy. Here we go.

Richard Lee Responds

Photo by Flickr User MonocleThough no arrests have been made, Richard Lee issued a statement from his home today, regarding the raid and allegations against him I wrote about earlier.

"Just a few hours ago I was one of San Antonio's favorite sons," Lee said, sitting outside his posh home Wednesday morning beside a gurgling stone fountain. "It seems like maybe I've gone from hero to zero in the course of a few hours."

Lee added that he didn't feel he'd done anything wrong, and "if they prove differently on something I thought was OK, well, I guess I'm going to have to cross that bridge when I get to it."

Uh, Richard, there's this little thing called the Wire Act that pretty clearly states that what you were doing -- if proved -- was about as far from okay as you can get, so good luck crossing that bridge, sir. Some free advice: fold the jacks this time.

(Via Pokerblog, where Jennifer observes, "I find it interesting that Jamie Gold, in response to his lawsuit, needed a publicist to speak for him while Lee told reporters face to face outside his home." Indeed, Jennifer.)

WSOP Final Tabler Richard Lee Raided

Justice, from Flickr user MonocleI was in the media room when Richard Lee virtually guaranteed that Jamie Gold would eventually win the World Series. Jamie Gold hadn't made any friends at the Rio, as spectators, dealers, fellow players and members of the media enjoyed his inflated opinion of himself, his entourage, his body guards (allegedly hired so nobody would talk to him in the bathroom) and his outrageously rude, insulting, "I'm from Hollywood so I'm better than you" behavior. When we saw Richard Lee get all his money in with pocket jacks against the only guy at the table who could bust him, we wove a tapestry of profanity that still hangs over Las Vegas to this day[1]

The general consensus among the poker professionals and writers I know is that Jamie Gold and Bodog are bad for poker, (Bodog girls quite obviously excluded) so Richard Lee got himself a spot on a lot of lists when he gave Gold a nearly insurmountable chip lead with a questionable play.

It would appear that Richard Lee has gotten himself onto another, more serious list with another questionable play, possibly running an ilegal bookmaking operation out of a home in San Antonio. Police say that tax records indicate that the home is owned by Lee, and that it was the "brains or the nerve center" of an operation with payouts in excess of $500,000. At the house, police found a money-counting machine, five Lexus cars, multiple plasma-screen TVs, and a large amount of cash with receipts for dozens of bets.

If the allegations prove to be true, and if reports of it being that Richard Lee are accurate, it will be yet another black eye on the 2006 WSOP, which really can't afford many more.

Further details and analysis can be found at PokerNews, through the link below.

[1] With gratitude and apologies to Jean Shepherd.

2006 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion

The winner of the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event is Jamie Gold from Malibu, California. He will bring home a staggering $12 million dollars and the championship bracelet. Congratulations, Jamie! My choice, Allen Cunningham, came in 4th.

Here are the top 9 and their prize money:

1. Jamie Gold $12,000,000
2. Paul Wasicka $6,102,499
3. Michael Binger $4,123,310
4. Allen Cunningham $3,628,513
5. Rhett Butler $3,216,182
6. Richard Lee 2,803,851
7. Doug Kim $2,391,520
8. Erik Friberg $1,979,189
9. Dan Nassif $1,566,858

World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table

Unless you have been on a six-week bender, I'm sure you are aware that the final table of the Main Event at the World Series of Poker is being played today. Don't forget that you can catch live updates at Pauly's blog, which we all know is the best thing other than being there live.

I am (like most people I'm sure) rooting for Allen Cunningham to take down the event. Will he still be considered the most underrated poker player alive if he wins? My guess is no.

Game on!

Hellmuth Wins Bracelet #10

I've been away from my house for the majority of this week, so have missed what is happening at the World Series. You know what they say - you miss a day, you miss a lot, well I had no idea I missed something this huge.

I have to admit, I really didn't think he would do it this year. But, Phil Hellmuth has proved all the nay-sayers (including me) wrong. Phil earned his 10th World Series of Poker bracelet after winning Event #34, which was $1000 No Limit Hold'em. This once again ties him with Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson for most WSOP bracelets, who each earned their tenth last year.

In addition to the bracelet, Phil is also taking home $631,863 for his efforts.

Final nine in this competition were:

1. Phil Hellmuth Jr. $631,863
2. Juha Helppi $331,144
3. Daryn Firicano $187,219
4. John Spadavecchia $163,817
5. Terris Preston $140,414
6. Elio Cabrera $117,012
7. David Plastik $93,610
8. Rafael Perry $70,207
9. Tony Guoga $46,805

WSOP Warning: Careful in the parking lots

The Main Event of the World Series of Poker is set to start in a few days, and thousands of players who have won their seat online are beginning to trickle into town. By the middle of this week, the trickle will be a flood, and the Rio (which was uncommonly empty this weekend) will soon be swarming with players, their families, and their fans.

Many of those players will be walking into and out of the Rio with huge wads of cash in their pockets, and word around the Rio today is that Harrah's security outside the building (like in the parking lots) isn't especially great.

According to Jason "Spaceman" Kirk, Lilly Mizrachi was robbed at gunpoint last night while heading to her car in the parking lot. I haven't been able to verify the rumor, but I have seen countless hustlers, scam artists, con men, and other scum of the earth prowling around the Rio since I've been here.

If you're coming to the World Series, make sure you protect more than just your cards, everyone.

Who Will Win the Main Event?

With the huge number of players expected to enter the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event, it is going to be anyone's guess who will win it - but here is a list (current to today) of the top odds to win according to SportsBook.com:

Phil Ivey

Daniel Negreanu

Howard Lederer
Phil Hellmuth

Gus Hansen
John Juanda
Chris Ferguson

Michael Mizrachi
Layne Flack
Marcel Luske
Barry Greenstein
Carlos Mortenson
Scotty Nguyen
Mike Matusow
Greg Raymer
Sam Farha

Continue reading Who Will Win the Main Event?

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