Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Online Casinos Hoping Poker Bust Will Increase Business

Not everyone was upset last month when the US Department of Justice came down hard on three of the top online poker sites in the world. Land-based and online casinos were the beneficiaries of that gaming bust.

The DoJ issued an indictment against PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. Executives from each of the companies were also charged in the indictment, and when news of the indictment spread, poker players around the world were concerned.

It was not only US players that were upset with the elimination of online poker players in the country, but also players in foreign countries that now had less opponents were upset. Many of them have moved their focus from poker to slots and other games.

Online casinos have always been popular in the UK and in other countries where the online gambling industry is regulated. With attendance down in online poker rooms, gamblers started to join slot tournaments to get their fix.

"I usually go back and forth between poker and slots every couple of weeks," said Martin Blanc. "But after all that stuff happened over in the US, I decided to just stay with the slots for a while. Maybe in the future I'll go back to poker, but for now the slots have my attention."

Online poker enthusiasts in the US are not completely left out in the cold. Dozens of online casinos still accept US players, and while it may not be the live player versus player action, the online casinos do offer various poker games that can be played against the house.

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The color quality of this slot is tremendous. Beautifully lush greens and colorful birds. The animation of each symbol is great too. Players will enjoy all the aspects of this slot. The symbols are all different types of birds, a bird house, a bird watcher, and a hatching little chick.

The hatching chick is the wild symbol. It substitutes for all symbols except the scattered Bird Watcher. When the wild egg is apart of a winning combo, it will expand throughout the entire reel. The Bird Watcher will trigger a bonus feature when 3 or more appear during a spin. The players have to find birdie for prizes.

The wager limits are right in a perfect zone for any modest player. They are between $0.01 and $0.50 per coin, up to 5 coins, per line, per spin. This is a 15 line slot therefore the max wagers are between $3.75 and $37.50 per spin. Players who play the max wagers will increase their chances at striking bonuses, but are not required to do so.

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Online Casino Poker Jackpots Bring Comfort To Some Players

The game may not be the same as playing against others in an online poker room, but the poker games offered at online casinos have had to do for many who lost their favorite online site when Full Tilt Poker shut down. The online casino poker games have even paid some nice jackpots of late.

Unlike poker sites, where the competitors are fellow players, online casinos offer an opportunity to play against the house. That is not always the best proposition for gamblers, but in recent months it has had to suffice while the poker rooms once again gain their traction.

One lucky player was not complaining on Monday when they walked away with a $219,215 jackpot on a Let 'Em Ride game. The jackpot was one of the highest paid out on a poker game over the past several weeks.

In the UK, several players have walked away from their computers thousands of dollars richer after playing video poker games. The Jacks or Better game, in particular, has paid players twice in the past week. Jackpot Deuces offered up $39,296 to one winner on Sunday.

Online bingo has become another popular choice of gamblers in the past couple of years. The bingo games had jackpots hitting fast and furious this past weekend. In the past five days alone, eleven bingo jackpots have been hit, all upwards of a thousand dollars.

Slots remain the most popular game for jackpots on the Internet. At times, the slot jackpots hit online can rival those found in land-based casinos. Dozens of payouts occur worldwide on a daily basis, and the majority pay players $20,000 or more.

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PokerNews GPI Update Episode #29: Viva Las Vegas


Eric and Rich are together in Las Vegas for the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, where they discuss the tight Global Poker Index Player of the Year races and the GPI 300. 

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Monday, January 26, 2015

World Cup of Poker IX locks final teams

WCP logo.JPGAfter two weeks of online battle, eight teams can now celebrate locking up spots in the live finals in the World Cup of Poker. All eight teams will get expenses-paid trips to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure where they will play for national pride and big cash in front of a live crowd.

Because the process of picking the teams is so difficult, we've once against conscripted the help of PokerStars' own Bunker Bob, a man who spends a great portion of his time in a fortified underground chamber crunching numbers on a big golden abacus (he had it polished last week!).

While the teams have not yet chosen their competitors, the following eight nations will have representatives in the Bahamas this January:

Rest of the World

To see how they got there, here's Bunker Bob's World Cup of Poker IX finalists' report.


Group 1: Canada were carrying a solid 63 point lead going into the second half of qualification, with seemingly only two of their opponents in with a shout of catching them. By the end of the third qualifying match though, defending champions Peru had forced their way into the picture. 'MrTWOPAIRJOR' beat Canada's '02/01/68' to the 99.7 points for first to keep the Peruvian interest alive. However Canada locked up both semi final spots to push Honduras and Argentina further back

Any Canadian fears were laid to rest in the final qualifier on Sunday, as they produced a rare clean sweep of the top four places. 'eqn778' was the eventual victor with a 118.4 point score. The emphatic performance means Canada progress with a thumping 206 point lead over their nearest rivals. A special mention must go to group runner-up Honduras, who went into the group as the smallest team.

Group 2: The standings were much tighter in Group 2, with just 50 points between the top four teams. It was pre-match favourites Brazil that took the upper hand after Saturdays qualifier, with 'thor99alpha' defeating his compatriot 'alan93sb' for the 66.75 points. Colombia brought themselves further into contention with a semi-final finish for 19.76 points.

Going into Sunday's final qualifying match, Brazil held the advantage, but with four other teams hopeful of toppling them. After six hours of play, it inevitably went down to the wire - 'JMTrindade' of Brazil against 'abcpoquer01' from Venezuela in a single heads-up match for a place in the Bahamas. There were 37 points between the teams, and a 40 point difference between 1st and 2nd. After a tense 70 hand battle, it was Brazil that took the maximum points and their place in the finals.

Group 3: Germany's domination of Group 3 continued in the second half of qualifying, as they locked up both tourneys; 'Joaggi' on Saturday for 129.56 points, and then 'monal1.' on Sunday for 136.58 points. The clean sweep of tourneys allowed them to rack up a competition-high of 655 points.

Greece and Poland should get credit for battling performances, but there was no answer for the numerous and merciless German team.

Group 4: Meanwhile, in the second European group, six European teams were scrapping for every point they could get. The favourites, the UK and Ukraine were way off the pace, and the underdogs sensed an upset. It was Bulgaria that capitalised, with 'pastroka6666' taking the win and 124.58 points. The Bulgarian cause was aided by Macedonia (FYROM), who fought through to take the runner up spot in the tourney. It would not be enough to get them in the hunt for qualification, but it denied the front-runners in the group from securing major points.

The final match saw 150 points on the line for first place, and the big dogs finally raised their game as the UK and Ukraine facing off in the final. It was too little too late though, as Bulgarian 'olelemaiko' had secured enough points in the semi-final to carry his team over the line. Croatia can be disappointed to be pushed into second, after they outpunched all but one of their bigger rivals.

Group 5: The first half of Group 5 was a tale of smaller nations keeping the giant Russian poker population at bay. In the second half, they were just too big and too strong. The Saturday qualifier witnessed a Russian whitewash, with the top four players all from that nation. '8invencible8' closed out the match to secure a gain of at least 157 points on all the other teams in the group.

In Sunday's match it was 'FrankyS15', again from Russia, that took the win. Only Portugal's 'trooll4ever' prevented another last four blanket finish for Russia. The result gave them a 340 point margin of victory in the group. Some credit must go to Ireland and Lithuania for keeping their opponents at bay in the earlier stages of the competition.

Group 6: Another upset was in the works in Group 6, with the Netherlands unable to turn their sizable poker population into good results. It was their Belgian neighbours that made the first move in the penultimate qualifying match, as 'Hartige' secured 123.82 points. Serbia did enough to stay in touch as 'sinaloa44' picked up 64.22 for second place.

The Sunday qualifier came down to almost a straight shootout between Romanian and Belgium from the quarter-final stage, with just a lone Cypriot player representing the rest of the group. It could have swung either way, but in reaching the final, Belgium did enough to earn their place in the Bahamas. They went on to win the tourney and 106.14 points, thanks to player 'Mikedem'.

Group 7: Taiwan took the initiative in competitive Group 7, when they took a 1-2 finish in Saturday's qualifying match. 'BladeQQueen' topped the field for 65 points, with his teammate 'lak512' crucially helping push the Japanese team out in the semi-finals. The result overturned the 8 point lead Japan had built up in the first half of qualifying, and gave them a big advantage going into Sunday.

However the dream ended in the quarter-final stage for the former winners, as their last remaining player fell with three Japanese players still in the tournament. Japan did not let the opportunity slip, and they closed out the tournament with a 1-2 of their own.

'Chiyoukan'picked up 88.75 points, and secured his country's second appearance in the live World Cup of Poker finals in as many years.

Group 8: The combined force of the Rest of the World team held a healthy lead going into the weekend's matches, but they lost ground to Australia and Kazakhstan in the opening contest. 'I'mJigJig' took 61.35 points for the antipodeans, and 'ZERENDA' a solid 34.05 points for Kazakhstan.

Sunday's match looked like a three horse race, and with the final four composed of the leading three teams, hopes were high around the globe. However, both RoW teams, represented by Turkmenistan and South Africa, would need to be eliminated before the final. It wasn't to be, as the latter progressed to the final. Kazakhstan's 'Papanya68' closed out the tourney for 61.02 points, but 'Deckoo8' from South Africa had done enough, sending Row through to another World Cup of Poker finals.

It was a great combined effort from the RoW team, as Iceland, Turkmenistan, Tunisia and South Africa all contributed to their progression.

The competition now moves to the players selection phase, with the eight qualifying teams selecting their four players for the live finals. The players will be chosen from four tournaments all taking place on August 26*:

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PokerNews Book Review: Moorman's Book of Poker by Chris Moorman

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Nearly a year ago I received an exclusive from D&B Publishing regarding an upcoming book by Chris "Moorman1" Moorman, who had the distinction of being the first player to win more than $10 million playing online tournaments. Poker strategy books hit the market often, but those authored by someone of Moorman's caliber are increasingly rare. It was immediately apparent the poker world was in for a treat.

“Any publisher would be delighted to publish a book by Chris Moorman. He is such an incredibly successful player online and live, and his results speak for themselves,” D&B publisher Dan Addelman told PokerNews at the time. “To be able to pass on some of the knowledge he's accumulated over the years will undoubtedly make the book a bestseller.”

I had the chance to speak with Moorman before he began writing the book, and he revealed it was something he wanted pour his "heart and soul into it" while delivering a text that would inspire, something akin to Harrington on Hold'em. So was he able to meet his lofty aspirations?

Moorman's Book of Poker, which hit the market late last year, takes a straightforward approach in which he analyzes 80 online tournament hand histories that were played by co-author Byron Jacobs, who you could call your run-of-the-mill mid-stakes grinder. Each hand falls under a specific tournament (i.e. PokerStars Supernova, Turbo 6-Max, Full Tilt "Rush," Turbo Full Table, 6-Max SNG Hyper-Turbo, and Random Hands), and addresses a vast array of topics including:

  • Profitable Hands Playing Deep
  • Donking the Flop
  • Considering Perceived Range
  • Accurate Sizing
  • Using Equity to Apply Pressure
  • Final Table ICM
  • Playing Way Ahead, Way Behind

In turn, each hand analysis is constructed in similar fashion. First, the hand is presented as a graphic with all pertinent information, including a narrative by Jacobs on how he played the hand and why. From there, Moorman comes in with an analysis of Jacobs' play, offering praise and criticism as he sees fit. Finally, Jacobs jumps back in with a short conclusion in which he basically sums up Moorman's main points.

Upon first glance I was worried Moorman's Book of Poker wouldn't apply to me, after all I live in the United States and am unable to play online poker. Despite examining only online hand histories, I was pleased to discover the vast majority of concepts discussed were applicable across the poker spectrum. In fact, one hand in particular had an immediate impact on my live game.

After reading Hand #7: Planning the River on the Turn, I made a little note right in the book's margin. "I may be giving too much credit to players who don't raise preflop," I wrote after taking Moorman's analysis to heart. The next day, I played a nightly tournament at my local casino and resolved to be fearless against preflop limpers. I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say I was impressed with the results. I actually wrote about it for my nationally-syndicated poker column, so keep an eye out for that in newspapers across the country.

Moorman's Book of Poker

Even though the material placated me, I must admit I wasn't a fan of the coaching format – at least not at first. Over the years I've become accustomed to reading poker books in which the author describes a hand with a suggestion as to what to do and why. Easy right? Well Moorman's Book of Poker proved a little more challenging in that you not only have to immerse yourself in the conversation between Jacobs and Moorman, but also put yourself in the former's shoes. You have to pretend you would have played the hand the same way. I wasn't a big fan for the first dozen hands or so, but then I began to realize the power of the coaching format.

Instead of Moorman offering his own hands, which would likely be from bigger buy-in tournaments and on a top tier level of thinking, Jacobs had the chance to throw an assortment of unique mid-stakes poker situations and get feedback. Obviously you wouldn't have played every hand like Jacobs, but in those instances you're presented with another learning opportunity. Imagine having the ability to run any hand by a poker pro and get their feedback. That's poker coaching in a nutshell, but hiring a coach can cost a fortune. Here, for the modest $34.95 cover price, you get a similar experience, though you have to live vicariously through Jacobs.

Doing so proved a surprisingly effective, and I must say I learned a lot from the book, which in turn made me a converted fan of the coaching format. Simply put, Moorman's Book of Poker is in the top tier of poker strategy books I've read in the past decade. It truly exemplifies the thought processes one must cultivate in order to advance to the highest levels of the game.

To give you a better idea of what Moorman's Book of Poker offers, I was fortunate enough to enlist Moorman's help. In last week's Hold'em with Holloway, my weekly strategy column here on PokerNews, I highlighted a hand from a $60 buy-in nightly tournament, one that presented me with multiple decision points. Check that piece out by clicking here.

This week, Moorman was kind enough to offer an analysis on the hand, much like he does for Jacobs throughout the book. Between my initial article and Moorman's analysis, we've essentially constructed a hand akin to the 80 featured in Moorman's Book of Poker, though mine is from the live realm. Regardless, it provides you a good glimpse of what you can expect from the text.

I highly recommend Moorman's Book of Poker for any low- to mid-stakes poker players looking to improve their game. It's especially applicable to tournament players, but plenty of the "thought process" concepts will translate well to cash games. Click here to pick up your copy through PokerNews Books Section.

*Lead photo courtesy of chrismoorman.com

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