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  1. As EC10 started his Sunday of poker last weekend, he probably did not realize his skills of multitasking were going to be put to the test. As the hour approached for two of the biggest online Sunday tournaments, the PokerStarsSunday Million at 4:30pm and UltimateBet's $200,000 Guaranteed at 5:00pm, EC10 threw down $430 to cover the buy-ins that would test his abilities. The Sunday Million drew a healthy 6,959 entrants; UB's $200,000 Guaranteed attracted 965, making for two large pools of skilled players vying for thousands of dollars. EC10 dominated both tourneys at the same time and was able to make his way on to both final tables. He took home fifth in the Sunday Million for over $41,000 and sixth in the $200,000 Guaranteed for $8,500. In the last year of our tracked online tournaments, EC10 has mostly played the $100-$200 buy-ins and has seen very consistent results. The Florida State University student's biggest cash before this weekend was in the PokerStars World Championships of Online Poker Event #9, Pot Limit Hold'em, last year. EC10 took over $21,000 for his sixth place finish. He also had two big wins coming from a Stars $200 buy-in for over $7,000 and a FullTilt Double-Stack for over $14,000. You can find him on UB under the name Monster Kill. Final tabling two Sunday majors on the same afternoon, however, is a feat of its own. One PocketFiver who is no stranger to phenomenal poker accomplishments is SCTrojans (pictured at right). Aside from capturing three Triple Crowns in just two weeks back in May, SCTrojans has established himself as a top-ranked player on the site. He comments on how tough of a feat it is to final table two Sunday majors on the same day: "Final tabling the Sunday Million is ridiculously hard in itself. The majority of top-ranked players probably haven't final tabled it in their hundreds and hundreds of entries, let alone on the same weekend as another major." He notes that his best finish is around 90th in the marquee Sunday tournament. "Anyone who final tables two Sunday majors on the same day has to be a pretty solid player." The Sunday Million regularly attracts around 7,000 online poker players, making for an enormous field and large paydays. Another P5er, knet_poker, was also able to go deep into the final table of UB's $200,000, finding himself at the same table as Monster Kill. The Cincinnati native placed third on Sunday and banked $18,000, the best finish by a PocketFiver in the event. Here are the top 10 finishers in both events that EC10 final tabled, as taken from our weekly Tournament Review: PokerStars "Sunday Million" $200+15 6,959 entrants - $1,391,800 paid out to 1,080 spots 5902838181 - $196,243 chipsncheese - $98,817 Tecknowledgy - $69,590 princess13 - $55,672 EC10 - $41,754 Infitilt - $30,619 Professor122 - $21,572 lostremote - $12,526 Ann Karen - $8,211 UltimateBet $200k Guaranteed $200+15 965 entrants - $200,000 paid out to 100 spots f4zi - $45,000 dangdokodang - $26,500 knet_poker - $18,000 GO F1SH - $13,100 Jay_Fiedler - $10,500 monster kill - $8,500 harrington25 - $6,500 midora - 4,500 135565 - $3,400 royo1 - $2,000 Congratulations to EC10, a poker star on the rise. Watch out for EC10 at your table from now on. He will long be known for accomplishing one of the toughest feats in online poker.
  2. On Thursday, April 19, 2007, two star-studded PocketFivers met on PokerStarsheads up for $1,000. They were the winners of the February and March PocketFives Monthly Leader Boards, Scott "emptyseat88" Fischman and Justin "YourTimeIsUp" Schwartz. In the end, YourTimeIsUp took down the heads up match and padded his wallet just a little bit more. This match marked the culmination of an incredible month for each of these two young guns. YourTimeIsUp notched the second highest monthly PLB score ever and emptyseat88 proved that he can dominate in both the live and online poker arenas. The heads up battle lasted only a few hands. A flop that gave an open-ended straight draw to Fischman and two pair for Schwartz set the tone. Schwartz comments: "I had J-9 off-suit on the button. The hand is by no means a monster, but position is everything heads up, so I raised it up. I flopped gin, top two pair, and Fischman bet the minimum, one-sixth of the pot. I then raised more than the pot, hoping Fischman would use the logic that I'm reading him as weak and trying to blast him off the pot in position. In actuality, over 95% of the time when I make that raise, I have Fischman crushed because whenever a player calls pre-flop and leads out of position heads up, it usually means he's looking to make a play on the hand. He misinterpreted my raise as weak and not super strong and incorrectly assumed he had fold equity. He over-bet shoved all in with his open ended straight draw and my two pair held." Next up for Schwartz could be P0KERPR033, who just took down the PokerStars Sunday Million. Schwartz comments on P0KERPR033's play: "He has improved a lot as a player since he came up in the rankings. He can be very tricky to play against when he has a stack and he is always fearless. He can tilt you. I think his success in MTT's comes from being very good at exploiting weaker players. By the time the final couple of tables come around and the field is much stronger, he has, a lot of times, amassed a great chip stack and rides it to victory." Schwartz had an amazing month in March to take down the PLB. Most impressively, he came in first in the Full Tilt $400k for a prize of just over $80,000. That alone was worth 660.94 PLB points. All in all, he had five different five-figure cashes in the month and won a total of five tournaments as well. The other big cashes were a win in the Full Tilt Saturday $300, second in the Full Tilt Sunday Mulligan, first in a Full Tilt $150, first in a PokerStars $50 rebuy, and first in a PokerStars $100. Fischman comments on what it meant to be a PocketFives Leader Board champ for February: "I had to play my ass off to achieve the honor and I was thrilled to find out that it came along with a $1,000 freeroll. It was fun while it lasted, but I don't see myself winning these types of leader boards again in the future. I will be focusing on live tourneys for the remainder of the year primarily and look forward to meeting some of my online rivals in person!" Fischman got to the match by winning the February PLB (the first month he signed up for the site) and defeating January champion ComeOnPhish last month for $1,000 in our heads up match. Congratulations to YourTimeIsUp on taking down the PLB match and we look forward to continued success from each of you. Visit the PocketFives Monthly Leader Board for more information.
  3. The fifth season of the World Poker Tour kicked off this week with none other than PocketFiver Devin "TranquilChaos" Porter finishing third at the Mirage Poker Showdown in his second WPT final table. The WPT has aired on The Travel Channel since the first season back in 2003, launching the poker craze and making The Travel Channel extremely popular. The Associated Press broke word on Thursday, April 5, 2007, that the WPT had entered into an agreement with GSN, The Network for Games, to air the sixth season of the show in early 2008. PocketFives.com sat down with Steve Lipscomb, President and CEO of WPTE, and Rich Cronin, President and CEO of GSN, to discuss the recent developments. The WPT originally scheduled a press release about the decision to go out on Monday, April 9, but the AP broke the news upon seeing an SEC filing concerning the matter (The WPT is a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ under the symbol WPTE). Lipscomb comments on the decision: "We launched the poker television phenomenon in 2003 on a small cable network. Since then, we have been looking for a place that is excited as we are about poker and its potential. The Travel Channel deserves credit for putting poker in prime time, which really helped us gain visibility. What we are announcing today is the next huge step in the growth of the poker industry. We can give poker a home on GSN on Monday nights [starting in 2008]." GSN airs High Stakes Poker, currently in its third season, on Mondays at 9:00pm ET. The sixth season of the WPT will air on the same night. Cronin explains how acquiring the WPT fits in with GSN's strategy: "The WPT is a huge brand with a gigantic following. When we re-branded ourselves in 2004 to become 'GSN, The Network for Games,' we felt casino programming would be essential to our brand. We started with the World Series of Blackjack and High Stakes Poker, but we've been eyeing the WPT ever since it launched and have wanted to have it on our channel for quite some time. It helps make us the top destination for poker." Lipscomb explains the effect that the WPT had on the demand for The Travel Channel: "We'd be thrilled if GSN were available more on basic cable. We had that effect on The Travel Channel. They expanded as a result of the benefit that the WPT brought to the network." GSN now has the rights to 23 two-hour episodes of the sixth season of the WPT, which is about the same number that The Travel Channel has rights to this season. The hosts, look, and feel of the broadcast will remain the same (see set picture at right), but the potential, according to Lipscomb, will be much greater for the WPT brand: "We are expanding internationally and are always looking for the next great place to do tournaments. A great example of this is the Fallsview Casino [near Niagara Falls,] which is a great facility. Given the fact that GSN is in Canada, we'll be able to leverage more of what we do there. We'll continue to make the television show better. We are recording our 100th event at the upcoming WPT Championship on April 25th. I've always called this the 'great American card game.' My dream was to find a place to find a place as excited as I am to grow poker on television." In the meantime, you can catch each episode of the WPT on The Travel Channel Wednesdays at 9:00pm ET. The tournament series has made 69 millionaires and has given out over $300 million in cash. Lipscomb comments on the premiere episode of the fifth season: "People responded literally by saying 'wow' or 'you did it again.' We had all of our staff watch it together on Wednesday night. People were blown away. This season shows that we have hit that stride." In 2008, you're definitely going to need to check your local listings for details, as the WPT moves to GSN on Monday nights. Thank you to Steve Lipscomb, Rich Cronin, and the Media Relations staffs at the WPT and GSN for their help coordinating this interview.
  4. When many outsiders examine the internet gambling situation, they always come back to one thing: money. Why doesn't the United States Government just tax internet gambling revenues? Why put an effective ban on an industry that can be so lucrative? The answers to these questions and more lie in the aptly named Internet Gambling Tax Act. Known as H.R. 2607 in Congress, it was proposed by Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) and offers up a framework for the Federal Government to tax the multi-billion dollar industry. The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee on June 7th and currently awaits debate. It's the last of four bills concerning online gambling sitting in the U.S. Congress. The Text The Congressional Research Summary gives an easy to understand synopsis of what the Internet Gambling Tax Act will do: The bill "amends the Internal Revenue Code to establish licensing requirements and fees for Internet gambling operators. It requires Internet gambling operators to pay to the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network during each 30-day period of operation a license fee of 2% of all bets and wagers placed during the preceding 30-day period. It requires the Director to grant Internet gambling licenses to applicants who meet criteria set by the Director and are generally fit to engage in the business of Internet gambling. It requires such operators to adopt appropriate mechanisms to ensure the collection of all taxes and license fees relating to Internet gambling that become due to federal and state governments." The Co-Sponsors The bill was introduced back on June 7th and has since attracted one Co-Sponsor, Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI). The Update According to Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas, this bill will eventually be attached to another existing online gambling bill: "The Internet Gambling Tax Act is technically a stand alone bill; however, in practical matters it would never move on its own but rather as part of a larger Internet gaming regulation bill." The ability for the government to be able to tax this multi-billion dollar industry will come into play when deciding which initiatives to pursue in the fall: "Certainly the potential to tax Internet gaming (through regulation) is a very attractive prospect for the federal and state governments. Every current form of regulated gaming (lotteries, para-mutual, and casinos) is a tax revenue generator. The McDermott bill makes passing Barney Frank's bill (H.R. 2046) more palatable for many members of Congress." The PPA has been much more quiet on the Internet Gambling Tax Act: "The PPA has not taken a position on the bill, but we do believe that taxation of Internet gaming (in some variety) is inevitable. Our hope is to limit the tax burden on players and McDermott's bill only seeks to tax operators, so that is a positive. It is important to remember that the federal government could raise considerable revenue with just Barney Frank's bill too. His legislation requires mechanisms so online players can accurately report their taxes each year. This would not be a new tax; it would simply capture lost revenue from poker winnings that are not currently being reported. While no one, especially poker players, wants to be paying more taxes, they should and must pay the rightful taxes they owe." Stay tuned to PocketFives.com for what promises to be a critical session of Congress this fall. News Resources Read the text of the Internet Gambling Tax Act by clicking here. Track the bill on GovTrack. Become a member of the Poker Players Alliance.
  5. After President Bush signed the Safe Port Act and the accompanying Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) into law on that fateful Friday the 13th last October, the Poker Players Alliancehas been in full swing trying to grow its numbers and influence as well as mobilize its current members. In the past two months, the organization has met with and informed the 110th Congress about all things online poker. Recently, a grassroots campaign was launched in order to thrust online poker further towards an exemption from the UIGEA. PPA President Michael Bolcerek provides his insight into the current state of affairs. The foundation for a successful grassroots campaign lies in the development of manpower at the local level. The PPA set out earlier this year by e-mailing each of its members - now 160,000 strong - looking for volunteers to fight the fight in their local Congressional districts through direct interaction with lawmakers and media outlets. Bolcerek comments, "It's been good so far. We've had members reaching out to local media. My mother showed me her local paper, the Fresno Bee, which had a letter in it about the PPA written by a local representative of ours. She read it and she showed her friends. That's the kind of action we want them to take." Over 250 applications for local representatives were gathered in total and the development of materials for them to use is now in full swing. Meeting with members of Congress and their staffs has also been a paramount focus for Bolcerek, who had just spent the previous three days on Capitol Hill. "We've had some very positive developments with the new Congress. Things are moving ahead nicely. It's a long process; it's a process of education. There's misperception from both Democrats and Republicans about the fairness of game, as well as what sites do and don't do to combat age verification. Part of our role is also to help change the perception of online poker operators and how they treat their players. No one is getting cheated." News has also surfaced in the state of Washington concerning efforts to remove completely or alter the gambling legislation that was passed there that essentially makes internet gambling a felony. The possibility of lowering the severity of the punishment from a felony to a misdemeanor for breaking the gambling law did not sit well with Bolcerek: "That is an insane law. Reducing it to a misdemeanor is absurd as well, though any effort in the right direction is good for our industry. It was a Washington representative [Chris Strow (pictured at left), Assistant Minority Floor Leader] who took it upon himself to introduce this legislation. We sent out emails to our members in Washington to contact the head of the state committee working on the bill to move forward on it." Residents of Washington can track the progress of H.B. 2127 by clicking here. One online poker site, Full Tilt, recently stepped up to the challenge of reaching out to its immense user base to inform them about the PPA and make signing up for the organization extremely cost-effective and simple. Becoming a member of the PPA - whether it be a paid membership or not - allows a user to collect either a bonus and/or freeroll entry, depending upon the level of contribution. This has since ballooned the PPA's membership to its current level of 160,000. "We're happy to get support from Full Tilt by letting its members know about the PPA and make it easy for them to join. We've been in discussions with them and other sites to try and raise awareness and help them spread the word to get involved and speak as one voice. We're really pleased at the level of involvement they have provided." Recently, the PPA brought in additional reinforcement: Alfonse D'Amato (pictured at right), a former Republican Senator from New York. During his nearly 20 years in office, D'Amato served as the head of several prominent Senate committees and brings a unique, tenured edge to the PPA. Bolcerek comments: "Alfonse has, obviously, a very experienced perspective of how to get things done on Capitol Hill. He also has a real passion for poker." A March 5, 2007 New York Times article highlights the local Senator's involvement with the PPA. While 160,000 members may seem acceptable in some eyes, for Bolcerek and the online poker community, membership must be increased: "We need to get to one million members. That's a real goal and we hope that other sites like PocketFives.com help spread the word about the PPA. You can sign up for free; you can just join as a voice." For more information or to get involved, please visit the PPA website at www.pokerplayersalliance.org. Strow picture courtesy of Washington House of Representatives website. D'Amato picture courtesy of Wikipedia.
  6. January 10, 2007 marked a historic day for PocketFives.com as member Ryan "Daut44" Daut won the fourth annual PokerStars Caribbean Adventure along with a $1.5 million paycheck and an entry into the $25,000 World Poker Tour Championship. Daut overcame a field of 937 entrants and nearly 150 PocketFivers, each of whom came to Paradise Island in The Bahamas in pursuit of poker glory. When asked what he would do with his newfound riches, Daut stated, "nothing, I don't really spend money. I'll pay my taxes, leave enough online to move up to $10-20 or $25-50, and invest the rest." Daut entered final table play fourth in chips with a little over 2 million, but far behind chip leader Isaac Haxton (a fellow CardRunners member), whose 9.2 million chip stack dwarfed over the rest of the table. According to PocketFivesLive.com Tournament Reporter Court Harrington, who witnessed the final table unfold, "Daut came out of the gate aggressive at the final table, and then changed gears and tightened up until the heads up play started. Then the aggression came back and he was able to overcome Haxton's significant chip advantage." Daut44 was recently crowned as a protégé of CardRunners.com owner Taylor "Green Plastic" Caby. According to Caby, "I'm very happy for Ryan and, although I'd love to take a lot of credit for his success, the truth is he was a very solid player before I started to work with him. The best part about him is that he has a great head on his shoulders and this should help him immensely when he starts to play at the bigger cash games." Four out of the six final table participants were CardRunners members, a phenomenal feat for the young training site. Caby comments on Daut's run through the final table: "He played great the whole way through. He was all in for all of his chips four times, AA to QQ twice, KK to 22 once, and A7hh on a two heart board to T7o on the same board (neither had a pair). It's pretty amazing he went the whole way without having to suck out or even win a race for his chips." PocketFiver Frank "Round42" Rusnak (pictured at left and a CardRunners member) finished in sixth after calling an all-in of Robert Ford with pocket kings after a flop of J-9-9. Ford flipped over A-K offsuit and a river ace sent Rusnak to the rail. Sixth place earned him a strong $247,234. Harrington explains, "Frank made solid plays and seemed much more comfortable at the table than many of the other players in the tournament without much live experience." Jonathan "FieryJustice" Little (also a CardRunners member) was eliminated in 5th place for $317,873. He pushed in for his last 315,000 chips and was called by Daut. Little had A-Q and Daut had K-6. A river 6 would give Daut trips and it was exit stage right for Little. Other top finishes included Scott "BigRiskky" Clements, who's known on PocketFives.com as JRAvila, finished in 8th place. According to Harrington, "Scott is one of the top tournament players out there right now. He continues to go deep in many tournaments and was considered by many to be one of the favorites in the late stages of the PCA." World Series of Poker Bracelet Winner Jon "Pokertrip" Friedberg (pictured at right) was eliminated in 9th place. His dominant style in both online and live play has not gone unnoticed, claims Harrington: "As well as Jon plays, I always expect him to be deep in every tournament he plays. When he was eliminated from the PCA, I'm sure all the other players were relieved to see such a dangerous player eliminated from the tournament." Fellow PocketFiver Justin "ZeeJustin" Bonomo finished 11th. Harrington comments, "Justin definitely has the most consistent results of anyone over the last few months. I would say he is the favorite to win player of the year this year." Next up for the PocketFivesLive.com crew is a walk on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for the Borgata Poker Classic. This event kicks off on January 26, with the final table scheduled to play out on January 30. Check out PocketFivesLive.com for more details!
  7. The Sunday majors this past weekend were full of PocketFivers taking home cash. For Jay "Stiches" Koeller, Sunday meant final tabling two major tournaments, the PokerStarsSecond Chance and the Full Tilt $400k Guaranteed. Winning the former and finishing fourth in the latter meant a hefty $70,000 payday. This 63 year-old retired real estate investor has been married longer than many PocketFivers have been alive - 29 years. He sat down with PocketFives.com to discuss his impressive Sunday. Koeller comments on his two final tables: "I always felt that I would crack one of the main tourneys, but to be at two final tables and finish 39th on Absolute at the same time even gets an old dog like me a bit excited - like wake up the neighborhood excited." Winning $46,000 in the Second Chance meant beating out 1,083 other entrants: "I arrived at the final table in the Stars Second Chance tourney with 42 big blinds and in second chip position. My plan was to play Tag style and avoid large pots with the other big stacks. That plan went awry on the first hand that I got involved in, but I wanted to send a message early that if I raised and somebody tried to take the pot away from me, I was willing to get my chips in the middle. That happened when the chip leader re-raised me. I put him on a steal and moved in on him. I think that helped set up my image for the final table and gave me the chip lead. Later, I got lucky in two classic races when my pocket tens and jacks held up against overs. I then had a 3-1 chip lead on the rest of the field and just kept the pressure on." Keoller comments on his play in the $400k on Full Tilt: "I arrived in a virtual three-way tie for the chip lead with approximately 85 big blinds and again was in position to play tight aggressive. It was a patient, tough final table and I was able to gain the chip lead early, but couldn't win the races once we got five handed. So after waking up my wife with shouts of joy from winning on Stars a bit earlier, I quietly sauntered to the bedroom and whispered, 'I only came in fourth on Full Tilt.' I was disappointed, yet overjoyed at the same time." His fourth place score earned him $24,000. 1,962 people entered. His wife was a profound influence in initially egging on Koeller to try his hand at poker: "I never played real poker until the boom hit during the Moneymaker era. My wife kept asking me why I couldn't do that. I am a compulsive sort of a person and once I get an interest in something, it's all or nothing. After a month or so of studying, I told her that I was placing $2,000 in a poker account and, if I lost, it I was done with it. I played limit exclusively for about two years and ran that up to $16,000. Then, and I still am not sure why, my account slipped back to less than my $2,000 seed money still playing limit, but I started experimenting with no limit." Things turned for the better in an odd series of events: "In June of 2006, I thought my poker career was over. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I made a small deposit on Absolute and entered a SNG with the last of my deposit and won. If I didn't win, I probably wouldn't have ever signed on the account again. I got an e-mail from Absolute saying that I was freerolled into a tourney. I figured that was a joke, but thought oh well. My nephew was having a live monthly tourney in his garage that night and, as time went on, I was playing live and online at the same time. Not being experienced in final table play, I squandered a huge chip lead, finished second, and won $14,700. I was astounded at my biggest win and realized that this was a resuscitation of my poker career. Since that time, I have been putting all of my efforts into studying and learning no limit." Koeller has come a long way since that free tournament on Absolute and credits Eric "Rizen" Lynch with some of his success: "I have to credit Rizen for writing articles in Card Player Magazine and leading me to PocketFives, PokerXFactor, and CardRunners." Congratulations to Stiches on two final tables on Sunday. We look forward to more great things to come.
  8. Players Onlyknows its audience: Competitive males with an itch to play at one of the top online poker rooms on the Net today. If you're a sports junkie, you'll love two promotions that Players Onlyis currently running. The first is called the "Fox Baseball Saturday Freeroll Tourney Qualifier" and culminates with one lucky person winning a World Series Prize Package in October. The second is the "NFL Ticket Blitz." There are 50 sets of football tickets being given away. You can also score Super Bowl tickets in a tournament later on this summer. These tournaments are a must for anyone looking for some of the best seats around and are available now on Players Only. Fox Baseball Saturday Freeroll Tourney Qualifier I cannot describe the Fox Baseball Saturday Freeroll better than the Players Only promotions page does: "Go grab a cold one and your lap-top and sit back on the couch and follow the 'Boys of Summer' on TV while playing in the Fox Baseball Saturday Freerolls. You could win tickets to see a live World Series Game in October." Fox broadcasts games each Saturday just before 4:00pm ET. Here are the details: Each freeroll starts at 3:30pm ET. You get 1,500 starting chips and blinds go up every six minutes, so be prepared to gamble. Everyone who makes the final table of the freeroll will be qualified to enter the Grand Final, which will take place on September 22nd. The Grand Final is a $55 buy in tournament that awards two trips to the World Series. It's that easy. You can buy in directly to the Grand Final or qualify through one of the freerolls Bonuses can be won for winning multiple seats to the main event as well. Everyone at the final table of the Grand Final will walk away with a great prize: 1st place: VIP World Series Package Trip (2 box seats to Game 1, first class air for two, suite, limo to and from stadium). 2nd place: Standard World Series Package Trip (2 field level seats, coach air for two, standard room, limo to and from stadium). 3rd place: Proton 37" LCD TV 4th place: $500 Circuit City gift certificate 5th place: Sirius Satellite Radio deluxe full package (includes car kit, home kit, portable boombox and $160 in gift cards to cover subscription fees and activation.) 6th place: Sirius Satellite Radio standard package (Includes car kit and $160 in gift cards to cover for subscription and activation fees) 7th place: 15" Sharp liquid crystal TV 8th place: $250 Amazon.com gift certificate 9th place: Bose Deluxe Headphones 10th place: $100 Circuit City gift certificate NFL Ticket Blitz From now until June 15th, you can check out the nightly NFL Ticket Blitz. Players Only is giving away a pair of tickets to an NFL game nightly at 10:00pm ET. The tournament is $5 to enter and actually awards $1,000 for tickets and all expenses: "You can get yourself tickets right on the 50-yard line and have a beer on us, you can grab a pair of cheap seats and take a limo to the game, or you can watch the action right at home and throw the craziest football bash your friends have ever seen." With NFL tickets hard to come by in some areas, this is a great way to get a seat on Sunday. There's a lot of flexibility in what you can do with the $1,000 as well, which makes for a nice prize package awarded each night. In addition, Players Only is giving away tickets to the Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix in February. On August 12th, the site is giving away Super Bowl packages to the 1st, 2nd, and 42nd place finishers in this tournament (the latter to honor the current Super Bowl). The buy in is 25 Gold Chips, which you can learn more about on the Players Only site. The only way to buy into this tournament is using Gold Chips and three people will become the envy of sports fanatics everywhere. So check out Players Only'sunique promotions going on now. Win your way into the World Series, Super Bowl, or a handful of NFL games this year. These tournaments are an excellent value for anyone looking to attend the best sporting events anywhere. In order to be eiligible for PocketFives promos, you need to sign up through the following link: Players Only.
  9. Fresh off its World Series of Poker Main Event Seat Giveaway, Full Tilt Pokeris at it again. This time, the site has drastically upped the number of guaranteed tournaments it offers. PocketFiver ftpdoug first broke the news on the site and, since then, the response has been overwhelming. The added guarantees are highlighted by the "Fifty-Fifty Guarantee," where you can play in a $50,000 guarantee tournament for a buy in $50 + $5. A bevy of satellites are available as well if the $50 is out of your price range. There are a dozen new guaranteed tournaments on Full Tilt Poker in total. In addition, the two major weekly tournaments have had their guarantees increased significantly. It's worth describing the Fifty-Fifty Guarantee in depth. The $50,000 guarantee tournament runs every Wednesday at 9:30pm ET. First place is worth at least $9,500. You can buy in for $55 or satellite in for as little as $2.25. If you want to spend those hard-earned Full Tilt Points, 50 of those will get you in as well. The tournament will become a staple of the PocketFives.com Online Tournament Player Rankings given its prize pool and overall value. Each player starts with 2,000 chips; blind levels are 12-minutes, starting with 10/20. PocketFiver ftpdoug shared his thoughts on the Fifty-Fifty Guarantee: "A nightly $50 at 21:30 seemed like a perfect addition. As for the silly name, that was my fault. I like silly names. We almost called it the 'nifty fifty.' So far the feedback has been excellent and I'm really pleased with how it's going. We also added a similar $50 at 15:30 ET for our European players (and our US players with awesome jobs), so nobody feels left out!" The fleet of added guaranteed tournaments is truly diverse and should allow players with varying bankrolls a reason to get excited. Besides the Fifty-Fifty Guarantee, there's another $50 buy in tournament at 11:30pm ET. It's a rebuy tournament with a $20,000 guarantee. There's also a standard $50 freeze out at 3:30pm ET with a $15,000 guarantee. If you like lower stakes, there's a $3 rebuy at 8:30pm ET with a $6,000 guarantee. Two $100 buy in tournaments have been added as well. There's one at 3:00am ET with an $8,500 guarantee and another at 9:00pm ET each Wednesday that's a rebuy tournament with $45,000 guaranteed. Tournaments are spread out over the day, so players from all over the world should find at least one time they can play. If all of that weren't enough for you, the weekly $400,000 guaranteed tournament has been upped to $500,000 and the $750,000 Guarantee is now a $1 million. Doug talks about the major changes to Full Tilt's tournament schedule: "I can say one of the best things about working here is when we add something that players want and it's a big success. PocketFives has had a real hand in helping shape our tournament schedule for the past year or so, and I'm sure that will continue." Special thanks to ftpdoug for providing PocketFives with the latest news from Full Tilt Poker. Check out the $4 million in guarantees on Full Tilt Poker. If you're looking for a great value, visit Full Tilt Poker today.
  10. Since the last time PocketFives.com wrote an article about the Poker Players Alliance, the major lobbying force for the online poker world, several major milestones have been reached. First, the PPA surpassed the half million member total and is rapidly approaching 550,000. The free memberships along with the addition of former three-time Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato (pictured) to its ranks have spurred tremendous growth and visibility. Now, John Pappas, a former executive with Dittus Communications, was brought on board to spearhead the government relations efforts of the PPA. The unique expertise that he brings to the organization is a testament to the proactive nature of online poker's leading political voice. Pappas was an executive at Dittus Communications, "one of Washington D.C.'s largest independent full-service public relations, marketing communications, and issue advocacy groups," according to its website. He was charged with ensuring that the right messages were sent to members of Congress. The PPA worked hand in hand with Dittus to spread the word to the media about the organization. The PPA outlines his new role: "John Pappas is now the Vice President of Government Affairs for the PPA. In this role, he will be coordinating the lobbying and grassroots efforts as well as spending a considerable amount of time on Capitol Hill educating lawmakers and staff about sensible regulation of online poker. With Representative Barney Frank's bill already moving forward and the likelihood of a poker 'skill game' bill being introduced soon, the PPA will be extremely active to ensure that Congress gives these bills full consideration." What prompted the move for Pappas? According to the PPA, "It was really about filling a need. Given Pappas' deep understanding of the policy and politics of the issue, it made sense that he step in to help the PPA directly in Washington. Not only is it a great opportunity for him to be at the center of a 'hot button' issue, it is good to have a dedicated, full-time staffer who cares deeply about the issue and is committed to ensuring that the rights of poker players are protected." Pappas comments on his new venture: "This is a great job that mixes the right amount of fun with hard work. No one believes that it will be easy to convince lawmakers to support us. It will take time, perseverance, and most importantly, it will take a full understanding of the facts. Online poker and internet gaming are easy things to demagogue. It will be incumbent upon me, the organization, and our hundreds of thousands of PPA members to fill the Halls of Congress with the facts so that our opponents' rhetoric will fall on deaf ears." Most importantly, "Being central to the upcoming debate on how to correct what happened last year will undoubtedly be the most significant professional experience of my career thus far." Pappas was the PPA's force behind various proactive events that PocketFives.com participated in. They include Write Your Congressman Day, a grassroots campaign to show online poker players' discontent with the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. As a direct result of this campaign, 5,000 e-mails were sent to Congressmen nationwide on a single day last May. Several months later, when the Senate was to debate the same measure, Pappas was once again on the move, coordinating the Phone March on Washington on September 12. His success in these two movements combined with his vast public relations experience means the PPA has added another key piece to the puzzle. If you're not already a member of the PPA, check out their website to become one today. Several different levels of membership are available, including a completely free one. It's important that the online poker community unite in Washington. Help see to it that the game enjoyed by over 20 million Americans is preserved for years to come.
  11. Some of the truly great online poker players anywhere in the world have managed to win the PocketFives.com Triple Crown. Winners must take down three multi-table tournaments across three different sites within a seven day period. Each tournament must have at least 100 entrants and a prize pool of at least $10,000. The Triple Crown champions include the very best online poker has to offer: TheWacoKidd, GB2005, BeL0WaB0Ve, Rizen, leggggggggggy, and gbmantis. Some have even managed to win it twice: PearlJammer, Ari, gator93, TheBeat, JohnnyBax, Annette_15, and colson10. Chalk up another Triple Crown winner, GBecks, who won the award over a two day period last weekend, taking down events on PokerStars, Full Tilt, and UltimateBet. GBecks won the $11 rebuy tournament on PokerStarsSaturday for $11,500. He jokingly claims, "I'm not sure if I've even played that tournament this whole year." During the same time, he was getting deep in the $100 six-handed tournament on Full Tilt and wound up winning that as well, cashing for $7,300 and completing two-thirds of his Triple Crown by day's end on Saturday. "So after all the excitement, I forced myself to get a couple hours of sleep to try to top off the Triple Crown and get ready for Sunday." His plan was to play the larger UltimateBet and Bodog tournaments to take down the last leg of the Triple Crown and was fortunate enough to win almost immediately. GBecks dominated the $200k on UltimateBet, winning $45,000 and landing his name, score, and date on the PocketFives.com Triple Crown Wall of Champions. His total take was around $65,000 as well, making the three tournaments profitable for both his wallet and his reputation. GBecks credits his growth to many including Tmay420, SBRounder, TheWacoKidd, PrtyPSux (pictured at left), Big Swing, MisterNiceGuy, badbeatme, bravejayhawk, and CrazyMarco. The native of Lawrence, Kansas lives in a house with others who play poker frequently. In addition, he says, "I play live. I haven't played many live tournaments yet, but plan to get into them more when I move to Los Angeles after the World Series of Poker this year. I have had a lot of live cash game success in $5/10 and $10/20 no limit over the past year or two." Like many, GBecks entered the online poker scene when Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer were winning millions in the 2003 and 2004 WSOP Main Events, respectively. "It was my brother 'jbecks' who got me started because he was the first person I'd actually witnessed playing online poker and of course around that time, home games and poker in the dorms were at an all-time high. I remember having $78 in my bank account and deposited $50 into Party Poker. I started at $.25/.50 and, in a couple of months, I had around $3,000. I took most of it out and went on a two week trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles with some buddies when school let out for the summer. By the time I got home, I was high on life with a $7,000 bankroll." He describes what advantage he has playing online poker: "The biggest edge for me is putting pressure on late in tournaments. It truly is a huge advantage knowing that so many people in the field are content with cashing or even just striving to cash. In the UB $200k, I went into the final table sixth in chips. Since the pay jumps seem so big at that point, players get scared to enter pots. I was able to accumulate most of my chips without showdowns and take control of the table. Everyone hated to lose chips and not even get to see my hand, but because of the money, they just let it happen." Now that he's $65,000 richer, GBecks has many applications for the money: "I've recently started investing in the stock market, bought a new Chevy Tahoe, paid my taxes, and, of course, I credit much of my success to my new computer." He is also considering purchasing a new home. In the meantime, we wish GBecks the best of luck and congratulate him again on his Triple Crown. For more information, check out the Triple Crown Wall of Champions.
  12. The World Poker Touris in the midst of filming its sixth season, an amazing feat for the little-known program that filmed its first episode back in June, 2002. With the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic on the horizon, the WPT announced several key additions to its staff as well as the development of WPT China, which will spread the WPT brand to the far reaches of the Earth. The moves are part of a bigger plan to leverage WPT's brand name and experience to enter new markets and new countries. PocketFives.com sat down with WPT Founder, President, and CEO Steve Lipscomb to discuss the company's growth. Andy Goetsch came onboard the WPT from CryptoLogic and is the new Vice President of Online Gaming for the WPT. He helped with the launch of the WPT's online gaming site and brings a seasoned industry perspective. Lipscomb comments, "Andy joins us to help us establish our rightful place in online gaming market. We'll market where it's legal and not problematic. At the beginning of next year, we're going to begin implementing a marketing plan that Andy's helped us put together." Lipscomb believes the WPT brand can help the product succeed in the online gambling market: "If we can compete, we'll be a significant player in a short amount of time." Rohin Malhotra used to work with PartyGaming and will help the WPT direct its television programming into new markets in new countries. Lipscomb knows his poker programming helped launch a craze in the United States: "We have best poker television in world. When we take that into international markets and find ways to leverage it, Rohin is an expert. He's a smart and savvy guy that knows the space well." In France, the appearance of WPT programming has launched a poker phenomenon across the country. Television ratings in France and elsewhere worldwide are as high as several of the highest rated cable programs here in the United States. In France, two new personalities take the place of Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten, broadcasting the action from the felt. "You'd never even know Mike and Vince existed," says Lipscomb. In addition to spreading its programming globally, the WPT is expanding its live tournament offerings in China. The game of choice: Traktor, which is "a traditional folk game," according to the WPT website. Lipscomb comments, "Traktor is wildly different than poker. What we're doing in China is going after a game they're used to playing over there. A third or more of the people in mainland China know how to play." The WPT signed an agreement with the China Leisure Sports Administrative Center, a government agency that oversees darts, ping pong, and other activities. There are a series of regional tournaments throughout the nation, leading up to a national championship in 2008. However, the similarities with poker in the United States are few and far between. Lipscomb explains, "WPT China is very different by its nature. There's no gaming. There's no buy in. It's a game of skill. We're taking a home-grown game that those guys love and holding tournaments all across the country that end with a national championship. The nature of a game allows a true champion to emerge." The response has been overwhelming so far. Many of the tournaments have reached their limits on the number of players. With the WPT growing leaps and bounds outside of the United States and outside of the "live" arena, one might think that Lipscomb isn't geared up for Season 6 of the WPT. Not so: "It's going to blow you away. I wish your readers could hear my voice. It is another level up. It's our job every year to outdo ourselves. When you watch Season 6 of the WPT, it will blow you away. The open is probably 10 times better than what we've done before. It's totally CG. It shows legitimately where the phenomenon came from." Season 6 will air on GSN, which Lipscomb believes is a "good home" for his brand. Stay tuned for more big things coming from the World Poker Tour as it continues international and online expansion. In addition, we look forward to watching online poker's biggest stars succeed in every WPT tournament on PocketFivesLive.com.
  13. Remember all those times you said to yourself, "Online poker should be exempt from all of this legislation. It's a skill game, right?" One Congressman has taken that mentality to heart and developed the aptly-titled "Skill Game Protection Act." Known in the United States House of Representatives as H.R. 2610, the Act seeks exemption from existing anti-gaming legislation for poker, bridge, backgammon, and mah-jong. The fact that H.R. 2610 specifically mentions poker should immediately get you onboard. Proposed by Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), H.R. 2610 is one of four pieces of legislation currently in line for discussion in Congress. This article seeks to break down the bill and provide an update from the Poker Players Alliance. The Text Congressman Wexler's bill focuses on carving out an exemption for skill games from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The bill emphasizes that minors should not be allowed to access gaming websites, that "persons with compulsive behavior should be identified and referred to treatment," that money laundering issues will be addressed, and finally, that the industry will be taxed. The bill specifically refers to poker, chess, bridge, mahjong, or any other game where the action is essentially player versus player and not player versus the house. Most importantly, according to the Poker Players Alliance, the bill clarifies the Wire Act of 1961 to allow skill games to exist within the existing legislative framework. PPA Chairman and former three-time Senator from New York Alfonse D'Amato comments on H.R. 2610: "Congressman Wexler's bill is a positive development for the millions of American poker players who enjoy one of our nation's great pastimes. Poker and other games of skill have fallen victim to bad public policy. Wexler's plan will give skill games the rightful protection they deserve and it will require the proper safeguards to protect children and those prone to abuse." He adds, "Congressman Wexler's legislation is necessary to provide equitable treatment for true games of intellect and competitions among individuals. Americans have played poker responsibly throughout our history and the Wexler bill will ensure that the game is enjoyed for years to come." Congressman Wexler came on the PocketFives.com Podcast in July and gave the following summation of his bill: "My bill would undo the prohibition that was put in place during the last Congress that prevents adult Americans in consensual fashion from playing poker and a whole other set of games. My bill essentially says that an adult in America can play a game of skill if he or she chooses and that the U.S. Government should not be in the business of deciding what games adults should be playing on the internet." The Co-Sponsors The bill was introduced on June 7th, but has not yet been discussed in committee. It was referred to the House Financial Services Committee (of which Congressman Barney Frank is Chair) along with the Judiciary and Commerce Committees. H.R. 2610 has garnered 13 Co-Sponsors to date. They are: Rep Ackerman, Gary L. [NY-5] - 7/18/2007 Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] - 7/10/2007 Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] - 7/17/2007 Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] - 7/17/2007 Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 7/27/2007 Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-23] - 7/10/2007 Rep Larson, John B. [CT-1] - 7/18/2007 Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 7/17/2007 Rep Ryan, Tim [OH-17] - 7/23/2007 Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] - 7/18/2007 Rep Thompson, Bennie G. [MS-2] - 6/27/2007 Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10] - 7/25/2007 Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] - 7/17/2007 The Update The PPA's John Pappas provides the latest update on H.R. 2610: "At this time, there is not a hearing scheduled on H.R. 2610, the Skill Game Protection Act. We do believe, however, that a House Committee will be holding a hearing to further examine the Internet gaming bills that have been proposed this Congress. Ideally, we would like to see this in September." Pappas believes that Wexler's and Frank's bills are compatible with one another (rather than competitive pieces of legislation), meaning that online poker has several outs right now in Congress. "The ultimate goal of this bill is to clarify the legal status of poker as a game of a skill and to exempt it (and other skill games) from the recently passed UIGEA as well as the 1961 WIRE Act. If this happens, it will be a huge victory for online poker. We will then need to work with the appropriate regulators to ensure that U.S. players will not have roadblocks when funding these 'skill game' accounts." Stay tuned to PocketFives for further updates on Congressman Robert Wexler's Skill Game Protection Act. If you're not a member of the Poker Players Alliance, you should be. 661,000 poker players have already become a part of this vital organization. Visit the Poker Players Alliance website for more details.
  14. Atlantic City, New Jersey - The Borgata Poker Open kicked off last week from the gambling capital of the East Coast, Atlantic City, New Jersey. Over 500 poker hopefuls from all over the United States traveled to the Boardwalk for their chance to capture part of poker history. PocketFives.com member Lou "ljrtr" Russo finished seventh in this event, taking home nearly $210,000. PocketFivesLive.com was on the scene for this trademark World Poker Tour event. "Lou Russo is a great guy and has been a successful live and online poker player for the long time, including multiple WSOP cashes," said PocketFives.com Content Manager and Co-Owner Adam Small. "It's no surprise to seem him do so well in yet another poker event." On his final hand, Russo pushed over the top of chip leader Mark Newhouse's raise and was called by both Chris Bell and Newhouse. The flop came A-A-J; Bell and Newhouse both checked. A king hit on the turn and once again, both players checked. The river was a seven of diamonds. Lou showed 9-9 and, for an instant, it looked like he might triple up, but Bell said, "I have the king." Bell's K-T had paired on the turn and he put Russo out in seventh position. PocketFivesLive.com Tournament Reporter Courtney Harrington on Russo: "At the table he is a solid and feared opponent that is always a threat to go deep in a tournament. But even more impressive than his play is his attitude; Lou is one of the most gracious and likeable players out there." The final six poker players that remained included poker professional Bell, a former realtor from Raleigh, North Carolina. The chip leader: Newhouse, who had more chips than the second and third place players combined entering final table play. The short stack: esteemed poker strategy author David Slkansky, whose book, The Theory of Poker, is one of the top selling poker books on Amazon.com. "Sklansky is David Sklansky: There is probably not a single person in poker with a better grasp of the math of the game," said Harrington. The final table will be broadcast on The Travel Channel as part of its World Poker Tour Coverage. All the coverage can be found at www.pocketfiveslive.com.
  15. Tuesday, July 11, 2006 marks a dark day for the online gambling industry, as the House of Representatives resoundingly passed the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. The measure now moves on to discussion in the Senate. PocketFives.com represents the voice of the online player and has been a major force thus far in trying to prevent such legislation from passing. Many members of the site stand to lose substantial amounts of income, as the best online poker pros in the world call PocketFives.com home. PocketFives is one of the largest online poker forum sites on the Internet and the livelihood of its members and staff is now in question. "I'm appalled by today's events," says PocketFives President Cal Spears. "Our site focuses wholly on online poker. Our poker pros who regularly visit, post, and write for the site are all greatly saddened. We hope the Senate will take a closer look at alternatives to banning the industry entirely. Online poker is a game of skill, not a game of chance. It needs to be treated as such rather than placed in the same breath as online blackjack and craps." Rather than electing to tax and/or regulate the industry, the United States Congress instead chose to prohibit online gambling entirely. Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-MA) were among the dissenters in today's proceedings. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act allows for special exemptions for horse racing and state lotteries, and prohibits all other types of online gaming. In retaliation, Congresswoman Berkley proposed an amendment that would have lifted all exemptions to the bill, but this was struck down by the 109th Congress. "It is troubling that horseracing and state lotteries are exempt from this legislation," says Spears. "To me, this is a clear example of the unfair nature of this bill. How this was able to be approved is beyond me." PocketFives has been actively involved since the beginning of the current bill's debate. The site held a Contact Your Congressmen Day on June 15, 2006, sending over 5,000 e-mails to lawmakers urging them not to support a ban on internet gambling. In addition, Congressman Frank appeared on the site's Podcast on May 25, 2006, to discuss the importance of preserving personal freedoms. Poker Players Alliance President Michael Bolcerek joined the show in June to discuss the bill itself. Both were ardently against such legislation. In a statement released on July 11, Bolcerek expressed his disapproval of the measure: "It is unconscionable that a skill game like poker gets swept into the net of prohibition, while online horse betting and Internet lotteries get free passes." PocketFives will continue to bring coverage of the bill's passage at www.pocketfives.com.
  16. PocketFives member and online poker superstar Crazy Cypriot went deep in the PokerStars.com World Championship of Online Poker Event #2, $500 No Limit Hold'em on Sunday, Sept. 17. With twenty players left, he, CardXfactor, and Miconwere all still in and the PocketFives community was rooting them on in force, despite the late hour. Crazy Cypriot, playing as "polpolpol," was the only one to make the final table, but he made the most of it once there. For the most part, Crazy Cypriot just sat back and picked his spots once at the final table of this online poker tournament. Even so, he somehow managed to accumulate chips nicely, hanging around at second or third in chips most of the way. He lost two big races near the end: his 7-7 vs J-10s when they were five handed, but he battled back from that until his A-K couldn't outrace the chip leader's 10-10, putting him out in third place. Argyris was kind enough to spare a moment of his time after his online poker marathon and PocketFives.com caught him on Instant Messenger where his name was displayed as "3rddd! 120 000$ En kales gia ton pono alla thelo Braceletttt", which we could mostly puzzle out, but wasn't sure exactly what it meant, so we asked, P5s: What does 'En Kales gia ton pono alla thelo' mean? It's all Greek to me ; ) Crazy Cypriot: Haha, it says, 120,000 dollars are good for the pain, but I want a bracelet!! P5s: I know it must be bittersweet coming so close to a bracelet in this major online poker event and coming up a little short. Do you have any regrets shoving the A-K, especially given that they were ready to talk deal just then? Crazy Cypriot: I would never fold AK in such a spot, and saying yes to the deal was partly to encourage him to push! I wouldn't accept a deal unless it was very good for me. P5s: I noticed you weren't really playing a ton of poker hands, but the pots you did take down were generally pretty big, not just the blinds. Was that part of your World Championship of Online Poker strategy or were you just playing tight? Crazy Cypriot: I talk to BeL0WaB0Ve all the time, and he and I have very similar styles in these tourneys. I had to adjust, everyone was stealing and everyone becomes aware of the stealer so the open raise steal becomes ineffective. So the re-steal becomes the new steal. I didn't make a lot of raises, but I made up for it with re-steals! P5s: You played really well, it was fun to watch! Crazy Cypriot: Thank you very much, a lot of races went my way and that was new to me! It was nice to run good late in a major online poker tournament for once. P5s: Well, a little luck never hurt anyone, but I am sure that wasn't all that got you there. So what's up for you next, time to crash? Crazy Cypriot: Actually, I have to go into work for a bit, then to my parent's house to eat and sleep for a bit. Then in five hours I have to be at a wedding! P5s: You are going in to work? What do you do other than play online poker? Crazy Cypriot: I am a manager at a recycling firm, it is sort of family owned. Recycling is so new in Cyprus that it is expanding very rapidly! P5s: Well congratulations on the big online poker win, and I won't keep you as it sound like you have a busy day, any last thoughts? Crazy Cypriot: Thank you to PocketFives for all the support, oh and most importantly I want a bracelet and I will win one soon!
  17. Congressman Robert Wexler(D-FL) made waves at the 2007 World Series of Poker. He stepped into the Amazon Room on Day 1-D and was met with a mountain of applause. He came in support of the Skill Game Protection Act, known in the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 2610. The bill does something that should excite each and every person in the United States that enjoys playing online poker - It carves out an exemption for games of skill. In Wexler's bill, that means games like poker and chess, where competition is between players and not against the house. Introduced last month, the bill awaits its time in committee and eventually debate on the House floor. Wexler took time to discuss the Skill Game Protection Act on the PocketFives.com Podcast. "My bill would undo the prohibition that was put in place during the last Congress that prevents adult Americans in consensual fashion from playing poker and a whole other set of games. My bill essentially says that an adult in America can play a game of skill if he or she chooses and that the U.S. Government should not be in the business of deciding what games adults should be playing on the internet." The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed last fall after a successful last-minute play by former Congressman Bill Frist (R-TN) that attached the legislation to an unrelated Port Security bill, which passed by an overwhelming margin in the House and by unanimous consent in the Senate. Wexler continues, "The irony is that the last Congress exempted horse racing and lotteries. It's an absurd result. It's a violation of the purest form of personal freedom. All that we've done is force people to participate on websites from overseas that aren't as well protected as they would be if they were in America. That money is being pushed overseas where they wont be paying income taxes." The tax component has been addressed by another piece of legislation proposed by James McDermott (D-WA), appropriately called the Internet Gambling Tax Act. It's H.R. 2067 and, like Wexler's bill, is still awaiting discussion. No matter what route Congressmen plan to pursue, the overall picture remains the same. Wexler explains, "Poker is a national pastime. People play poker in the House. There are stories about Reagan and Tip O'Neill playing poker when they got together. American soldiers play poker all over the world. It enjoys an enormous amount of support and I was happy to learn that there are more Americans who watch poker on television than watch college football and the NBA. I think that's an illustration of how much poker is part of the American fabric of life." Congressman Wexler came to Las Vegas with the Poker Players Alliance, the main lobbying arm of the online poker industry. Joining him were PPA President Michael Bolcerek and former three-time Senator from New York Alfonse D'Amato. The PPA has been extremely effective, according to Wexler, a great first-hand endorsement for PPA members everywhere: "The PPA has an incredible product to sell and there are good people behind it. What they're talking to members of Congress about is that no prohibition has worked in American history. Prohibition on alcohol didn't work and prohibition regarding poker on the internet ultimately won't work. What the PPA is accomplishing is educating members of Congress as to the current situation and also showing them that there are reasonable ways to fix it. My bill, I would respectfully suggest, is one of them." Wexler points out that the medium of playing poker has changed, not the game itself. With the advent of the internet, poker took on a whole new form. It is dealing with that change that has proven problematic for Congress. That said, reversing or providing for a carve-out from any legislation is not an easy task: "There's a lot of work to be done still. Most members of Congress don't realize that we have prohibited consenting adults form playing on the internet. They don't appreciate the level of passion that exists in the country on behalf of poker players who would like to play, but can't. We're just at the beginning of a crescendo of political efforts." The PocketFives.com Podcast featuring Congressman Robert Wexler will be released on Wednesday, August 1st. A special thanks to Wexler and his staff for joining the show.
  18. The quarterly PokerStarsSunday Million took place this past weekend, which meant a $1,050 buy-in and the presence of some of the biggest stars in online poker. After 1,712 entrants battled it out, a bombshell was dropped. Poker Room Manager Lee Jones, one of the most visible and amiable personalities in the online poker world, announced in the tournament chat: "And all four people still reading this will be the first to learn that this is my last Sunday Million final table as Poker Room Manager at PokerStars. I'm moving to a role at the EPT. Details on a forum near you shortly." PocketFives.com caught up with Jones as well as some of those whom he has affected for their thoughts on the news. "Details on a forum near you shortly" meant the this letter, which was posted on PocketFives.com shortly after the final cards in the Sunday Million had been dealt. PocketFives.com Co-Owner Adam Small comments on Lee Jones' departure: "Lee Jones has been one of the most visible and important figures in online poker throughout the growth of the industry. I think it's safe to say that online poker tournaments would not be what they are today if Lee had not been involved. I was sad to hear Lee was leaving, as he's been such a steady and positive presence at PokerStars." Some of the best online poker players anywhere and PokerStars regulars explained to PocketFives what Lee Jones meant to them and the industry as a whole. His profound impact can be seen in their responses. We thank each one of them for providing insightful and inspiring quotes on Lee Jones' monumental impact. Top 10 ranked player phatcat on Lee Jones: "Lee Jones was great. There has never been an online poker site representative as involved as Lee was. He's also a great guy who seems to have the players' concerns in mind and was always willing to listen. I met Lee at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2006 and he even sweated a final table I was at in one of the side events. He seemed truly interested in what I had to say or any comments or concerns I had regarding the PCA. He will truly be missed and I hope that whoever replaces him follows his lead and continues to strive to make PokerStars better for the players just as Lee did. It only seems appropriate for the obligatory Lee Jones-esque corny parting shout out: We're sorry to see you exit this final table, Lee. But your legacy as the greatest online poker room manager in the history of the world is nothing to sneeze at! We can only hope that your replacement will attempt to keep up with Joneses. Oh, and take the bad beat switch with you, please." PocketFiver Paul "beanie" Nobles comments on Lee's impact on PokerStars itself, focusing on his desire to include the interests of all players on Stars: "Lee changed everything. He brought an environment to PokerStars that was player-friendly and respected the player base." Recent PocketFives Podcast guest and CardRunners pro aarobeen on Lee's importance within the industry: "I always saw him do the right and fair thing for people even if it cost PokerStars in the short term. By being so well in touch with people, he not only gave PokerStars a good reputation, but he made people trust all of online poker." Shane "Shaniac" Schleger discusses how Lee helped legitimize online poker as a whole: "I think making Lee Jones the Poker Room Manager of PokerStars was an amazing decision, not just for Stars, but for online poker as a whole. As a figurehead, his presence really helped legitimize poker and Lee had the perfect temperament for the job. By legitimizing online poker, I mean that Lee helped make the game more accessible and less mysterious." Jordan "iMsoLucky0" Morgan, who placed second in the U.S. Poker Championships, tells what Lee meant to the online poker world: "Lee Jones has probably been the largest single positive influence on online poker while he was working with PokerStars. He understood how the community and industry worked and should work, and he never hesitated to do the right thing for the little guy, even if he had to bend the rules a little. He will be missed." Top ranked player Imper1um comments on the daunting task that PokerStars now faces in finding a replacement: "It's not going to be easy to fill the shoes of such a great Poker Room Manager. He has helped turn PokerStars into the number one customer-oriented poker site on the net. His kindness, genuineness, and quick wit at Sunday Million final tables will be greatly missed." SamENole echoes Imper1um's comments as well: "While Lee was easy to blame for countless bad beats on PokerStars, nobody can debate the job he did as their Poker Room Manager. PokerStars' customer service has become the industry leader on Lee's watch and will almost definitely stay that way long after Lee is gone." Finally, Eric "Rizen" Lynch, sums up what the entire online poker world is currently thinking: "To many people, the name 'Lee Jones' is synonymous with online poker. His enthusiasm for the game we love has made the game much more enjoyable for thousands of players both online and off. He has enriched the poker community and positively influenced many of the people (including me) he's come in contact with through poker. Lee is a great representative of poker and an even greater person. I have no doubt his future will be full of continued success." All is not lost. Lee will continue to serve in his role until April 1st. After that, he'll join the staff of the European Poker Tour, whose primary sponsor is PokerStars. On behalf of the staff and members of PocketFives.com, I would like to send a big thank you to Lee Jones, former Poker Room Manager of PokerStars, for his professional, sincere, hands-on involvement at PokerStars. Additionally, we wish Lee the best of luck in his new endeavor at the EPT.
  19. This week, the World Poker Tour officially released its schedule for the sixth season of its programming. The WPT will debut in style on GSN, The Network for Games, with 19 regular tournaments in casinos across the globe. Several other special tournaments, such as "Poker by the Book" and "Bad Boys of Poker," will be announced in the future. The sixth season calls for several brand new stops, including The Players' Club at Club Med in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Casino Barcelona in Spain, and Biloxi's Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino. All told, these stops represent significant change for the WPT as it enters its new broadcasting agreement with GSN. PocketFives.com sat down with Rich Cronin, President and CEO of GSN, to discuss the WPT's new schedule. Coming on the heels of Carlos "The Matador" Mortensen's come from behind win at the WPT Championship last month, the WPT is set to visit Mortensen's stomping grounds in Barcelona, Spain for the WPT Spanish Championship on October 12-16. Cronin comments on the new international event: "We're kicking off a new season and it's great to have some new locations, particularly Barcelona. Carlos Mortensen is now the WPT champion and we're going to Spain. It was just luck that the WPT planned Barcelona." Also new is The Players' Club at Club Med in the Turks and Caicos Islands on September 25-30. The poker room at The Players' Club spreads all levels of a variety of games each day, so this Caribbean destination is ideal for the WPT. According to Cronin, "These are some of the best casinos in the world." GSN was just informed of the WPT schedule and Cronin was elated to see some of the new stops: "It was a very pleasant surprise. We met with WPT officials last week in Los Angeles and they told us about the new schedule and I thought it was perfect." Cronin just returned from the National Cable Television Association convention in Las Vegas and received extremely positive feedback about his network's acquisition of WPT programming: "They were thrilled. The feedback was that the WPT made more sense on GSN than on The Travel Channel. They were aware we were doing well with High Stakes Poker and the World Series of Blackjack." In several markets, GSN is only available as part of an expanded cable service. This was also the case when The Travel Channel originally aired WPT programming several years ago and demand for expansion of the network onto basic cable increased dramatically: "We think that, as we get closer to the launch of the WPT on GSN, poker players who don't have our channel on basic cable will call. Cable operators are very responsive to what their subscribers want. I would encourage all poker fans to call in and request GSN programming if you don't already have it on basic cable." Here is a full rundown of the sixth season of the WPT. These dates are, as always, subject to change: The Mirage Poker Showdown The MirageLas Vegas, NV May 19 - 23, 2007 Final Table: May 23 Mandalay Bay Poker Championship Mandalay BayLas Vegas, NV May 29 - June 2, 2007 Final Table: June 2 Bellagio Cup III Bellagio Las Vegas, NV July 10 -15, 2007 Final Table: July15 Legends of Poker The Bicycle Casino Los Angeles, CA August 25 - 30, 2007 Final Table: August 30 WPT Ladies Night V The Bicycle Casino Los Angeles, CA August 18, 2007 Final Table: August 31 Gulf Coast Poker Championship Beau Rivage Biloxi, MS September 6 -9, 2007 Final Table: September 9 Borgata Poker Open Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa Atlantic City, NJ September 16 - 20, 2007 Final Table: September 20 Turks & Caicos Poker Classic The Players' Club, Club Med, Turks & Caicos September 25 - 30, 2007 Final Table: September 30 WPT Spanish Championship Casino Barcelona Barcelona, Spain October 12 - 16, 2007 Final Table Oct. 16 North American Poker Championship Niagara Fallsview Resort Casino Niagara Falls, Canada October 26 - Nov 2, 2007 Final Table: November 2 World Poker Finals Foxwoods Resort Casino Mashantucket, CT November 8 - 13, 2007 Final Table: November 13 Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic BellagioLas Vegas, NV December 13 - 18, 2007 Final Table: December 18 World Poker Open Gold Strike Tunica, MS January 20-23, 2008 Final Table: January 23 Borgata Poker Classic Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa Atlantic City, NJ January 26 - 30, 2008 Final Table: January 30 L.A. Poker Classic Commerce Casino Los Angeles, CA February 23 - 28, 2008 Final Table: February 28 WPT Celebrity Invitational Commerce Casino Los Angeles, CA March 1 - 3, 2008 Final Table: March 3 Bay 101 Shooting Star Bay 101 San Jose, CA March 10 - 14, 2008 Final Table: March 14 World Poker Challenge Grand Sierra Resort Casino Reno, NV March 25 - 28, 2008 Final Table: March 28 Foxwoods Poker Classic Foxwoods Resort Casino Mashantucket, CT April 4 - 9, 2008 Final Table: April 9 WPT World Championship Bellagio Las Vegas, NV April 19 - 25, 2008 Final Table: April 25 All told, the sixth season will provide a re-birth for the WPT. According to Cronin, "The GSN and WPT teams have already started doing some great strategic planning. They are a fantastic team and we look forward to working with them." We look forward to success from PocketFivers during the coming season of the WPT.
  20. It's the middle of April and, if you live in the United States, it can only mean one thing, filing individual income taxes. Due Tuesday, April 17th, individual returns are easily done online or by mail, postmarked by that date. Ann-Margaret Johnston, CPA, prepared this piece for the PocketFives community. Ann-Margaret is the author of How to Turn Your Poker Playing Into a Business. She is an accomplished accountant who is also becoming an accomplished writer as more of her work is published in leading poker publications. You can learn more about Ann-Margaret and buy her book at www.PokerDeductions.com. This is U.S. tax law. All of the information you'll need to file your 2007 Federal tax returns can be found by clicking here. The IRS has several simple options, including e-file, to make sure your taxes are in on time. If you're fortunate enough to be getting a refund from Uncle Sam, you can click here to get the latest status on where your refund is. Before you file, check out the following Tax Q&A, prepared by Johnston: The Basics Pro or Hobby Recordkeeping Home Games and Satellites Tournaments Foreign Accounts Miscellaneous Tax Filing Example THE BASICS -Please explain the tax basics for poker winnings and losses. The basic rule is this. If you earn money doing something, be it poker or any other form of income, you are supposed to claim this on your tax return. That is the tax law - they make it pretty cut and dry. Now, if you have poker winnings and losses, the next question is how to report it on your tax return. This is where you have to figure out if you are treating your poker playing as a business or not. If it is your business, you are able to claim all expenses that you incur related to poker, not just the amount you spend to play (losses). Some examples of this include your meals and entertainment, travel, auto expenses, etc. If your poker is a hobby, you can only claim the losses you have - not any other expenses. PRO OR HOBBY? -What are the differences between filing as a professional and filing as a hobby player? A hobby is an activity for which you do not expect to make a profit. If you are thinking of starting a business but it does not provide you with the ability to earn a living, or to make a profit, it very well may be a hobby. It is important to first distinguish as to what your intentions are with your poker playing. Ask yourself these questions: - How often do you play? - Do you depend on these winnings to pay bills? - Do you have another job and if so, how many hours per week do you work? - How much time do your dedicate to playing poker? The answers to these questions are important. A hobby is something you usually do in your spare time and is not relied upon to pay the bills. It is normally for fun or entertainment in addition to your other main income source. Profit is not typically the main goal when you have a hobby. It is important to know the difference between something that is a hobby and something that is for profit. Hobby expenses are deductible only to the extent of hobby income. NOTE: Gambling expenses, if you are a hobby, are treated different from any other hobby. Non-professional gamblers are not allowed to deduct expenses for transportation, meals, lodging, etc. You can only offset your income with the money you lose. As a professional gambler, you report your gambling activity on a Schedule C, Profit and Loss from Business. This form goes along with your personal tax return (Form 1040) and submitted to the government. This is the form where you summarize what you made from gambling, what money you lost and the gambling-related expenses that you had. At this time, the IRS will not allow you to deduct more expenses than income - even if you are considered a business. Of course this is not true for other types of businesses. "Regular" businesses can take more expenses than income and have losses on their tax return. Gambling is a totally different from other businesses. It has always been the rule that if you have gambling income you can offset it with gambling losses. This rule applies to the "hobby" gambler that can only offset these winnings if they can itemize. By taking it a step further and becoming a business, the IRS still applies the gambling rules. Basically, you cannot exceed gambling winnings and you have to show a net profit of zero if your expenses are more than your income. So what are the tax benefits of treating your gambling as a business? Well, it's the only way to take your gambling-related expenses even if you can only net them to zero. If you had income and were a hobby, you would still have to claim the income on the front page of your tax return. Remember the expenses are not deductible if you are a hobby, only the losses up to the income amount and only if you can itemize. Therefore, the adjusted gross income (AGI) for a professional gambler would be lower than the hobby gambler. There are credits that you may be able to take that are based on the amount of your adjusted gross income (AGI). The lower your AGI is, the more likely you are to be able to take other credits or deductions. Some of these credits include Earned Income Credits, Child Tax Credits, Education Credits, deductibility amount of IRA contributions, phase-outs of personal exemptions, itemized deductions, etc. -How does one file as a hobby player? If you are not a professional gambler, your wins must be reported on the front page of your 1040, on the line that says "Other income. List type and amount." This is called hobby income, specifically from gambling, and yes, you are required to report it. Hobby income is not subject to Self-employment tax. Self-employment tax is Social Security (6.2%) and Medicare (1.45%) and then you have to match it. Therefore, Self-employment tax is 15.3% of your net income. A person that has their own business has to pay this tax in addition to Federal income tax on their net income (and any state tax, if applicable). But, if you are a hobby, this is not the case. Although income from a hobby is not subject to Self-employment tax, it is taxed for Federal income tax, depending on your tax bracket. That is the good news. The bad news (possibly) is that the losses that can offset hobby income cannot be netted on the front page of your 1040 on the line that says "Other income. List type and amount." The losses to offset that income can only be deducted on a Form called a Schedule A. This form is for itemized deductions. Here is the bad part of all this. If you cannot itemize, you technically cannot offset those gambling winnings. It's unfair but it's the rule. If you have a substantial amount of losses, i.e. over about $10,000, then you may be able to itemize with just your gambling losses. -What must you do to be considered a pro? The IRS has several "facts and circumstances" tests in making the distinction between whether you are a hobby and a business. Unfortunately no one factor necessarily helps to determine this. The following are factors that should normally be taken into account: - Whether you carry on the activity in a businesslike manner - Whether the time and effort you put into the activity indicate you intend to make it profitable - Whether you depend on income from the activity for your livelihood - Whether your losses are due to circumstances beyond your control (or are normal in the start-up phase of your type of business) - Whether you change your methods of operation in an attempt to improve profitability - Whether you, or your advisors, have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business - Whether you were successful in making a profit in similar activities in the past - Whether the activity makes a profit in some years, and how much profit it makes - Elements of personal pleasure or recreation The IRS guidelines on this topic are available in Section 1.183-2 (a) and (b) of the Federal tax regulations which is a great topic to read if you are an insomniac! The above bullets summarize what they are looking for. -I made a modest amount playing poker in 2005, and now I'm conflicted as to whether or not I need to file a Schedule C form. I have no job. Poker is my only source of income, though it is far from a lucrative source, just enough to support myself. Do I need to file as a professional gambler if it's what I do full time? Or can I declare myself "unemployed" and report my poker winnings under gambling income on my primary form? As you obviously have found out, hobby income is not subject to Self-employment tax. Self-employment tax is Social Security (6.2%) and Medicare (1.45%) and then you have to match it. Therefore, Self-employment tax is 15.3% of your net income. A person that has their own business has to pay this tax in addition to Federal income tax on their net income (and any state tax, if applicable). But, if you are a hobby, this is not the case. Although income from a hobby is not subject to Self-employment tax, it is taxed for Federal income tax, depending on your tax bracket. That is the good news. The bad news (possibly) is that the losses that can offset hobby income cannot be netted on the front page of your 1040 on the line that says "Other income. List type and amount." The losses to offset that income can only be deducted on a Form called a Schedule A. This form is for itemized deductions. Here is the bad part of all this. If you cannot itemize, you technically cannot offset those gambling winnings. It's unfair but it's the rule. If you have a substantial amount of losses, i.e. over about $10,000, then you may be able to itemize with just your gambling losses. So you do not know if you can itemize or you have no clue what this means? Basically, the IRS lets you take a "standard deduction" on your return or you can itemize your deductions. The standard deduction amount depends on if you are single, married filing joint, married filling separate, head of household, or if you are a qualifying widow. The IRS lets you use the greater of the standard deduction or the itemized amount for the most tax benefit. How do you know which amount could be higher? You will want to calculate the numbers and see. Most people that itemize have the following expenses: - Large amounts of out of pocket medical expenses - Pay property taxes on a home/land etc. - Have State tax withheld or paid in during the year - Large purchases where sales tax was paid - Have a mortgage and pay interest on that mortgage - Have made both cash and non-cash contributions (clothing and other similar donations) - Have a substantial amount of business expenses that have not been reimbursed - Gambling losses The above items are some of the frequently itemized deductions. There are more deductions that can add to the total. The best way to know is look at Schedule A and the instructions to better understand what could help you make this determination. Again, if you see that the standard deduction amount is higher after adding these items together, then it is in your best interest to use the standard deduction amount. Unfortunately, you don't entirely reap the benefits of your gambling losses. And, to add insult to injury, if your income is really high, and you can itemize, the itemized deductions get limited! Feels like you literally can't "win," doesn't it?! The standard deduction numbers change each year. For 2005, If you are Married Filing Joint it is $10,000, for Single its $5,000, for Head of Household its $7,300 and for Married Filing Separate its $5,000. -Last year I had a part time job and simply put gambling winnings in as other income. But, this year gambling has been my only source of income. Can I still file as unemployed since I do not consider myself a professional yet and am still looking for a career outside of poker? Or do I have to file as self-employed? You don't have to file as a professional gambler. Doing that is a benefit so the IRS is more than happy for you to file as a hobby or "Other Income" **Remember - Do not think you can net out your wins and losses on that "Other Income" line. -If I file with the IRS as a pro online poker player, or even file for earnings as if it were a side job, does the Department of Justice or other law enforcement agencies have access to IRS records? In theory, the IRS is not the morality police for the type of business you have. They just want to make sure you report your income. I wouldn't suggest that you get terribly specific on your tax return. I would simply call your earnings "Gambling" which is not illegal. Its just best, in my opinion, to not specify. I said "in theory" but I have a feeling if you called your business "money laundering", my theory might be incorrect and you might find "Big Brother" watching you! RECORDKEEPING -How do you need to keep track of your poker play in order to satisfy the IRS if you get audited? If you are claiming that you have gambling losses, if you are audited, the IRS would most likely want you to prove that you really had those losses. By this, they would want to see how much time you spent playing poker, whether you are playing at a brick and mortar or on-line poker game. Also, you would want to keep up with tournaments that you are in, such as sit and goes, home cash games, satellites, etc. It is important to keep track of every bit of time that you are playing poker. The easiest way to do this is to have a poker log book. It's a basic spreadsheet that shows the date you played, how much time you played on that date, and the amount of money that you won or lost. I would also state where you were playing poker and what type of game you were playing (i.e. $10-20 limit or a tournament) I have an excel spreadsheet that is available on my website that you can download at pokerdeductions.com. You can also use poker tracker. -I'm disorganized and know almost to the cent how much I won and lost in poker in 2005, I just may not know exactly how much in each session over the 365 days. Would it be better to try to piece together a diary from memory or just guess on how much net I profit that I had? It really is best to try to re-create something. Now, remember that the IRS won't want to see any proof unless they decide to audit you. If they did audit you, and you say that you know to the cent how much you won and lost, the IRS would want to know basically how you came up with the number for this. You don't have to show each session but I would compile my any on-line records and have them in a file just in case. Those records may be enough to show. You would also want to list any brick and mortar wins and losses if you happen to play other than on-line. -I keep up with every session I play, how much I bought in for (started with), how much I ended with (often 0), and the net (profit or loss). Can I not just put in that total as additional income on my tax form, have it added to my total income and then tax derived there from? After all, that is what it is, additional income. Well, its not good news here. The problem is that many gamblers think that because you have enough losses to offset winnings, there is no reason to report either to the IRS. YOU CANNOT NET THESE TOGETHER AND NOT REPORT THEM! You also cannot net them together either. They, unfortunately, have to be separated. There was a court case about this exact situation involving a judge that was a hobby gambler. The judge testified in tax court that he thought he could "net out" his gambling wins & losses and if losses exceeded wins, nothing needed to be reported on the return. The end result is that the jury found that he willfully failed to report both gambling income and gambling losses. The Court of Appeals upheld the conviction. (US vs. Scholl, No. 97-10143, 97-10248) A little harsh, yes, but my opinion is that the IRS was making an example out of him for other gamblers. Unfortunately it set a precedent. -I haven't kept track of anything. I've won a good amount but as far as how much I've lost vs how much I've won, I have not a clue. What do I do if my record keeping absolutely stinks? It is best to try to re-create what you did as best you can. Believe it or not, the IRS requires you to keep a set of books and records for what you have listed on your tax return. Without SOMETHING, the IRS could disallow your expenses in an audit. -Do we really need to do all this session tracking? Lets say I withdrawal 10% of my online stack each month, or, lets say I withdrawal everything over a certain limit. No, you have to report what you made, not what you withdrew. You have to analyze your wins and losses as separate components. This sounds harsh but if you make money and don't report it, you are committing fraud in the eyes of the IRS. It would be the same principal as if you made money and you wanted to not report it because you haven't spent it yet! ON-LINE AND HOME GAMES -If I am an 18 year old non-professional poker player, am I obligated to pay taxes for online poker winnings? Also am I obligated to pay taxes on home poker games winnings? Yes, you are required to report any income on your tax return, whether you are a professional or not. Remember, it becomes a criminal offense to sign a tax return that is incorrect and untrue. If the IRS can prove that you had intent to violate the law, this is considered fraud. Then life gets really ugly for you with the government. If they determine fraud, there is no statute of limitations. What this means is that the IRS can look back to the first day that you ever filed a tax return. -Can home game losses be used on your tax return against your winnings? Obviously there is no paper trail of home games, so will an entry in the spreadsheet be sufficient? This same question can apply to casino cash games, since there is no receipt or paper trail. Yes, home game wins and losses should be reported, regardless of legality. Remember, the only thing they got Al Capone with was tax evasion! The IRS doesn't care if what you do is illegal or not, whether its playing on-line poker or drug smuggling. They want any income reported on your tax return. Home games, as well as any other cash games should be kept up on a spreadsheet. It is important to get into the habit of keeping up with your poker play. I have told people that if they are doing it as they go, its easier than if you have to try to re-create it later. Because there isn't a paper trail, it is more of a reason to keep good records. Remember that the IRS looks at your backup if you are audited and the more thorough that you are, the better off you will be if they question your play. -If I win a satellite for a tournament entry, do I have to declare it to the IRS? How should I do that if I don't get the cash, but only get an entry ticket? What if the package includes the entry fee, transportation and spending money - are these treated differently? Are the rules the same for all satellites, or does the size of the prize matter. Ok, this one will sound unfair but if you think about it, it will make sense. Let's say I pay $30 and after all is said and done, I win a seat to the WSOP valued at $10,000. If I play the WSOP and do not finish in the money, I basically won $10,000 and then lost $10,000 and am at a total loss of $30. The cost of the entry is the $10,000 that you won. When you receive the transportation and spending money, unfortunately this is also considered income. You can offset this (if you are a pro) with the ACTUAL expenses that you incurred. Think about it this way. If they give you spending money of $500 and you go and buy clothes, this is income to you and not used toward poker. If you took the $500 and used it for a hotel room during the tournament, then you can offset (if you are a pro) this against the money you received. The rules are the same no matter what. Income from any gambling, whether Poker Stars, Party Poker, etc., has to be claimed as income on your tax return. TOURNAMENTS -What are the rules for sharing tournament action? If you are swapping or selling action in a tournament and you win, you need to give the casino a Form 5754. You can find this Form along with the instructions on the IRS website at www.irs.gov. Believe it or not, this is a simple Form to understand and complete. All you do is complete Part 1 with the amount you won, your name, social security number and address. You then complete Part 2 showing each person that you are sharing your winnings with, along with their name, social security number, address, and the amount that you are paying them. Seems like you are a bit of a snitch but really you are helping everyone. If you decide not to prepare this Form, (or didn't know about it until now) the entire amount that you won will have to be claimed on your tax return. This can be a really big problem for several reasons. First of all, if your poker playing is something that you do for fun, i.e. a hobby, the entire amount you won will show up on your Form W-2G and will have to be claimed on the front of your tax return on Line 21 as "Other Income". The only way to offset the money you won during the year is with the money you lost during the year and with the money that you "payback" to others that back you. The only place to do this is on a Schedule A which is for itemized deductions. The bad part is that if you cannot itemize, you technically cannot offset those gambling winnings at all. It's not fair but it's the rule. Whether or not you can itemize can be determined fairly easily by looking at the instructions for the Schedule A. -I play poker as a hobby. I was lucky and won a $12,000 package which included my $10,000 buy-in in addition to $2,000 to cover my plane ticket, hotel room and food. How does this work on my tax return. Let's assume that this is all you made for the year. You would claim the $12,000 as income and then you would deduct the $10,000 as gambling losses (assuming you weren't "in the money" in the tournament). Unfortunately that is it. Even if you spend the $2,000 or more for your expenses, there is no way to write this off. You can ONLY do this if you consider your poker play as a business. -Using the same example, meaning that I won the $12,000 package but I am a pro, how would I treat this now? In this instance, let's assume this is all your income and expenses for the year. We will assume that you played the tournament and did not make any money. Let's also say that you ended up spending $1,500 for your hotel and plane trip and $500 for your meals. It looks as if you can write off the entire $12,000 income against $12,000 in expenses and gambling losses but here is the twist. Yes, your income that you would claim on your Schedule C is $12,000. Your expenses, however, are only $11,750. Why? Meals are only ½ deductible. Remember also to keep your receipts so that you can prove you spent the money. Otherwise, it would all be considered income. FOREIGN ACCOUNTS -What do I need to know about declaring foreign accounts? You have to answer the question on the Schedule B of your Form 1040 if you have "an interest in or signature or other authority over a financial account in a foreign country..." You have to list on the Schedule B what the foreign country is. The best way is to go on the internet and type in what specific law you are interested and try to find a "free" link. Its all out there, it just depends on specifically what you are looking for. -Is NETeller considered a foreign bank account? I know from the emails I have received from NETeller they certainly do not consider themselves a bank. This is a really good question - almost too good! Even after doing some research on this, I am not sure. I know that if you earn interest on your money, and a bank is holding more than $10,000, you have to answer the question on the Schedule B of your Form 1040 if you have "an interest in or signature or other authority over a financial account in a foreign country..." Netteller may just be a holding company and we really don't know where it is operated from. I know that you have to list on the Schedule B what the foreign country is. If you don't know, how can you answer that? If we cannot find this out, then we really cannot truthfully answer the question on the schedule. MISCELLANEOUS -Reporting poker income properly per the Federal requirements seems to cause a problem on my State income tax. If I report Federal Income properly (gross poker winnings or inflows reported as 'income', poker losses or outflows then taken as a 'deduction'), then the gross amount of poker revenue hits the top line of your State return and since you cannot deduct poker losses you must pay tax on poker revenue and not just your winnings. Netting your winnings on your Federal return solves this problem for the State return, but reporting only net winnings is not permitted on your Federal return. Tax law states that you cannot net your wins and losses - plain and simple. The problem is that many gamblers think that because you have enough losses to offset winnings, there is no reason to report either to the IRS. YOU CANNOT NET THESE TOGETHER AND NOT REPORT THEM! You also cannot net them together either. They, unfortunately, have to be separated. Although this hurts you on the State Return, there is really no other way around it. -What are some links to the actual tax laws so that I can look up specifics about these rules? You have the main IRS website at www.irs.gov. Then you have www.business.gov. Unfortunately most of the tax laws with opinions are in research packages. Such companies are RIA and TaxTools. EXAMPLE - FILING AS A PRO VS. HOBBY ON YOUR TAX RETURN Let's try to break this down so that you can see how it works on your actual tax return. It's important to realize what a difference this can make in your tax situation. Here is the scenario: Your poker is a hobby. You are single without children. You made $40,000 in winnings, $20,000 in losses and spent $10,000 for your other expenses such as hotels and plane tickets (let's don't assume any meals in this example). This is all you had. For your 2005 Tax Return, your income is $40,000, reported on line 21 as Other Income and the $20,000 would go on your Itemized Deduction sheet under Gambling Losses. You would get a personal exemption for yourself of $3,200 so your taxable income is $16,800. The Federal tax on this is $2,159, which is what you would owe the IRS. Now, lets take the same scenario above except now you are a poker pro and treating your poker playing as a business. Here is how it looks now. For your 2005 Tax Return, you report all of the information on a Form called a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business. You would show $40,000 as income, the $20,000 of wagering losses on the line for Cost of Goods Sold, and then claim the $10,000 as Travel expense. This gives you net income of $10,000. This $10,000 is subject to self-employment tax which is Form SE. So, $10,000 shows up on the front of your Form 1040 on line 12, which flows from the Schedule C that you prepared. You will have to pay self-employment tax of $1,413. This is calculated on Form SE as the $10,000 less 7.65%, and then you multiply that number by the self-employment tax rate of 15.3%. The IRS gives you a deduction of ½ of this number, which is $707 on the front of your return on line 27. Now your income is $9,293. You get a standard deduction of $5,000 since you are single, and you get the exemption for yourself of $3,200. Now your taxable income is $1,093 and your Federal tax on this is $109. Remember that you now have to add your self-employment tax to this of $1,413 which goes on Line 58 (this comes from the Form SE). Now you owe the IRS $1,522. See the difference in claiming as a pro versus a hobby. With this very basic scenario, your tax savings is $637. Believe me this amount is nothing compared to the larger numbers you will probably have. The more money you make, the more the tax savings as a professional poker player. Being able to write off expenses besides your wagering really makes a difference.
  21. LAS VEGAS, NV - The boom in online poker has spurred phenomenal growth in poker rooms across the nation. From the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, Mississippi to the Commerce Casino in the hills of Los Angeles, players are honing their skills online and putting them to the test in a casino. This year's World Series of Poker Main Event will draw over 8,000 poker players from around the world. They will vie for an estimated $10,000,000 first prize, life changing money for anyone in attendance. PocketFives.com (www.pocketfives.com), dedicated solely to online poker, recently launched PocketFivesLive.com (www.pocketfiveslive.com), featuring coverage of online poker players from PocketFives.com, both professional and amateur, playing in the biggest live tournaments. PocketFivesLive.com will make its debut just in time for this epic event. "PocketFives.com has many skilled online poker players that are performing well both live and online," says PocketFives President Cal Spears. "Every time they'd go far in a live tournament, the entire community would rally behind them and show support. It seemed obvious that the demand was there, so we decided to launch PocketFivesLive. We've always strived to recognize online poker players' accomplishments and this was simply the next step in our evolution." PocketFivesLive.com will provide updated, in-depth coverage of the largest prize pool tournaments in the world. After the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, the PocketFivesLive staff will move to the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles for the World Poker Tour's Legends of Poker. Other tournaments covered will include the Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas, the World Poker Challenge in Reno, and the World Poker Tour Championship in April, 2007 in Las Vegas. "The quality of poker tournaments we will be able to cover is amazing," says Spears. "Our live coverage of online poker players makes an exciting addition to our ever-growing site. Online poker players face many challenges when playing in a live setting and we want to showcase their successes." Players participating in any of a dozen tournaments over the next year can sign up at www.PocketFivesLive.com. Players will be covered completely free of charge. "Anyone who wants their family, friends, and fellow online poker players back home to track their action online, should come to PocketFivesLive.com and tell us you're playing. It is celebrity status for anyone, amateur or professional" says Spears. "Just sign up an account on www.pocketfives.com and we will do our best to ensure your progress will be followed." The site will offer comprehensive analysis of the poker tournament at hand, along with a complete image gallery, and a featured blog compiled by the PocketFivesLive.com staff. Updates will be posted as often as possible throughout the tournament and will include a feature that allows for news to be sorted by player. An image archive capturing memories from all tournaments will also be available. "The amount of information on PocketFivesLive.com will allow anyone to follow the tournament from the comfort of their home," claims Spears. "As you can tell from this years' World Series of Poker, internet poker players are the real deal. As they win more and more, the general public will become more exposed to the skill of online poker players."
  22. For those of you looking for new promotions, we've got one that'll get you excited. This Thursday, June 28th at 8:00pm ET, PocketFives is hosting a blockbuster freeroll on Players Onlyfor P5ers who have signed up through our links. The top 20 finishers win seats into the Sunday $25,000 Guarantee tournament. If that isn't enough, the first place finisher will win $1,000 and get to play the PocketFives ranked player of their choice heads up for another $1,000. The second and third place finishers will each win $500 and play the ranked player of their choice heads up for another $500. It's only available on Players Only. The $25,000 Guarantee is a $50 + $4 buy in tournament that runs at 9:00pm ET on Sundays. Players Only guarantees over $100,000 each week and 20 lucky PocketFivers will get a chance to take down the Sunday major. The chance to play any of our ranked players heads up with actual cash on the line is especially appealing. You can finally challenge johnnybax heads up for $1,000 or maybe you're better off facing TheWacoKidd or Imper1um. PocketFives will arrange everything for you; all you have to do is finish in the top three. It is a truly unique promotion with a lot at stake. Just sign up through the PocketFives links and deposit on Players Only. The password to enter the freeroll is p5sranked. Even though it's a freeroll, you must deposit to be eligible to win prizes. The success rate depositing with credit cards has been pretty high on Players Only. If you signed up through PocketFives' links for the last promotion we did with Players Only, you will be eligible to win prizes in this tournament. After the tournament, Players Only will go through the winners list to be sure all winners came through our links. If a winner did not come through our links or did not deposit, their prize will be given to the next player that came in through our links. The excitement doesn't stop here with the wide variety of promotions at Players Only. The site is now offering up chances to win NFL and MLB World Series Tickets. A great opportunity for any sports fan, the Fox Baseball Saturday Freeroll Tourney Qualifier has a range of prizes including a VIP World Series Package, an LCD TV, gift certificates, Sirius Satellite Radio Packages, and much, much more. Also, Players Only is giving you a chance to win 50 pairs of NFL regular season tickets each and every night as part of its NFL Ticket Blitz promotion. Each of these prize packages is valued at $1,000 for you to go out and buy tickets and then pocket the extra cash. If that wasn't enough, they're going to send three lucky players to watch Super Bowl XLII live in Arizona, a prize package valued at $3 grand! Check out the full details in this PocketFives press release about the Players Only promos. Along with the assortment of promotions, Players Only also offers an abundance of tournaments for any bankroll. Any time you're looking for some great action, you're bound to find it at Players Only. Here's a snapshot of their weekly tournament offerings: Players Only shows that they don't mess around when it comes to their guaranteed prize pools tournaments. For more info on these schedules go over to the Players Only website, and don't forget about their first time 100% deposit bonus of up to $1,000. You can download using this link to be eligible for all the PocketFives promos: Players Only. Just to recap, the freeroll with $5,000 in added prizes and the chance to face a PocketFives ranked player heads up if you finish in the top three takes place this Thursday, June 28th, at 8:00pm ET on Players Only. You need to download through this link to be eligible to enter: Players Only. The password is p5sranked.
  23. With the multitude of training sites available, how do you choose which ones to enroll in? Do you learn better by watching videos? Do you learn from private, one-on-one tutoring? Perhaps you'd learn better by traveling to a World Series of Poker Academy event and learning from the pros. Which pros, you ask? How about two WSOP Main Event champions, two PocketFivers, and a former FBI agent? This is the instructional staff that makes up the WSOP Academy. Two years old and growing leaps and bounds, the WSOP Academy focuses on the intermediate player looking to take their game to the next level. PocketFives.com sat down with Jeff Goldenberg, co-founder of the WSOP Academy, to talk about his site. Goldenberg comments on the foundation of the WSOP Academy: "Brandon Rosen and I, long-time friends, approached Phil Hellmuth over two years ago to pitch the idea of a poker fantasy camp bearing his name. Shortly thereafter, 'Camp Hellmuth' was born and over 175 people attended the inaugural event in August, 2005. After three very successful camps, we were approached by Harrah's to create a new poker camp under the WSOP banner. With Phil Hellmuth, Greg Raymer, and Scott Fischman as our lead instructors, we launched this newly-branded event. The current instructors also include Annie Duke, Joe Hachem, Alex Outhred, and Mark Seif. Students can interact with the pros, who actually designed the entire curriculum themselves. "The WSOP Academy focuses on live tournament players; however, we believe online players would benefit tremendously. All of our pros are very personable and, most importantly, are excellent instructors. Participants will have unlimited access to the pros for the duration of the event to ask questions, have discussions, and have the opportunity to play in a tournament with them in a non-threatening environment." Upcoming WSOP Academy opportunities include events at Caesars Indiana (outside of Louisville, Kentucky) on April 7-8 with Raymer, Fischman, Outhred, and former FBI Agent Joe Navarro. The WSOP Academy "Ladies Only Event" will take place on June 8-9 at Caesars Place in Las Vegas with instructors Duke, Outhred, and Navarro. Finally, right before the WSOP Main event, the "WSOP Main Event Primer" will happen on July 3-5, also from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Event enrollment fees vary by location, so check out the WSOP Academy website for more details. Another option for a great learning experience is Joe Navarro's one day "Read 'Em and Reap" seminars. The former FBI agent will conduct a full day session at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Saturday, March 31. Goldenberg comments on this exciting event: "Joe will run participants through an FBI-style training course focusing on the observation of non-verbal behaviors or poker tells. Participants will learn to become human lie detectors at the poker table while concealing their own tells from opponents. The information taught in this seminar is priceless and those who attend will be at a huge advantage over their opponents." Event registration is limited to 100 people, which means participants will receive personal attention. Information on the Navarro seminar can be found at www.NavarroPoker.com. So, if you're looking for some help with your game, check out the WSOP Academy. Call them directly at 800-989-WSOP (8767) or at www.wsopacademy.com. Thank you to Jeff Goldenberg for his assistance with this interview.
  24. Over the past few weeks, one PocketFiver has been racking up results. He won four major tournaments on UltimateBetin January, and then capped that off with another victory last week. His name: Randal Flowers, known in the online poker scene as RandALLin. Flowers took down the UB $30 rebuy three times, the UB $120+9 bounty tournament, and the Sunday $200,000 guaranteed. The latter netted him $46,000. PocketFives.com sat down with this poker phenomenon to talk about his amazing feat. Flowers comments on how he feels about taking down five major tournaments recently: "It feels good to put up these kinds of results as a reward for all my hard work I've put into poker. It really gives me a lot of confidence that when I play my 'A' game, I can succeed at such a fast rate." He's had to work hard short-handed as well, truly exemplifying all-around poker skill: "One thing is that I never had a big stack going into shorthanded play. I am very proud of my timing in picking spots to re-steal and lay down big hands in certain situations that would later lead to a better spot to get aggressive." Along the road to victory, Flowers faced several other PocketFivers when down to the wire in tournaments: Annette_15, shaniac, nowapowa, and jeffbeesdat just to name a few. He also played in the Atlantis Resort lobby along with these and other top members of the site: "The most interesting tournaments were the January 7th $120+9 and $30 rebuy. They were both on Day 2 of PCA that I busted out of. I came down to the lobby with everyone and busted out of the earlier Sundays and was still able to focus and play my best after busting out of PCA and all the bigger earlier Sunday tournaments." Such focus and determination has been a huge part of Flowers' success. RandALLin has been playing poker for about three years and has played professionally for the past year. On what motivates him to succeed in online poker, other than the obvious financial benefits: "I'm very competitive and kind of an extremist. Although I am really lazy, when I do choose to do something, I put everything I can into it. So what basically motivates me is I want to be the best and have a successful career." He has also had a little help from other members of the site: "The players I talk with on a daily basis about all types of situations for hands are what have really shaped my game." As is customary during interviews, we wanted to put Flowers in the hot seat and, when asked who the toughest PocketFiver he has run up against was, he responded: "Tmay420 is probably the toughest opponent because he is so good at mixing up his style while still not making any mistakes. I'd like to think my style is similar to him, but he is a very tough opponent to put on a hand in many different situations." Furthermore, "I really respect just about every top ranked player on PocketFives. The players I truly respect though are players like gobboboy, mig.com, apestyles, and shaniac who all are great players because they use aggression very well to make them tough to play against." A big congratulations goes out to Randal "RandALLin" Flowers for his tournament wins over the past few weeks. We look forward to seeing Flowers at many final tables in the future, both on UltimateBet and across the online poker world.
  25. The Irish Poker Open just wrapped up from the Burlington Hotel in Dublin and was, according to the tournament director, the largest tournament in Europe with 707 entrants. Down to three players, Sorel "Imper1um" Mizzi chopped three ways, taking home 477,000 Euros, or around over $600,000 dollars, and finished third. An online superstar, Mizzi made his first major live final table and entered as the chip leader. After flying back across the Atlantic to his hometown of Toronto, Canada, Mizzi sat down with PocketFives.com to discuss his blockbuster finish in the Irish Poker Open. Mizzi comments on how he felt: "I'm excited and satisfied. Obviously I'm a little disappointed that I didn't win the first place title, but not too disappointed because I know this will be the first of many opportunities. I feel that I played the best possible game that I could and had very few regrets about the way I played specific hands throughout the entire tournament. I feel that I'm starting to 'get' this live poker thing and I look forward to doing some damage in the World Series of Poker." The chop was made with Mizzi as the chip leader: "I ended up getting 477,000 Euros with 100,000 Euros still in the prize pool for first place. It was a terrific deal and tremendously in my favor. If I won the tournament without a deal, I would make 650,000 Euros. If I won it with the deal, I'd make 577,000 Euros. I was sacrificing only 80,000 Euros in order to guarantee nearly half a million when second place was only 325,000 euros. I couldn't have been happier." Much of Mizzi's success can be attributed to his bubble play with nine players remaining: "I had been raising close to 70-80% of pots, knowing that everyone wanted to make the final table and that I wouldn't be faced with much resistance. I managed to increase my chip stack by at least 20% during this 10-minute period." Once the final table field was set, Mizzi was confident: "I had raised to 85,000 pre-flop with blinds of 15,000/30,000 and was called by the big blind, Paul Dooley. He had been the only person at the table who was playing back at me and I was sure that he had no intention of slowing down. The flop came 9-4-2 and he lead all in for just over 500,000 into the 180,000 chip pot. Not even knowing how many chips the all in bet was, I called quickly, sure that I was ahead. He flipped over the flush draw, 7-8, and my A-9 for top pair, top kicker miraculously held. This was a crucial hand for me and put me in a dominant position at the table." Mizzi was in Monte Carlo (on the other side of Europe) and really wanted to head home after the European Poker Tour Main Event there. His sickness had finally caught up with him, but pokerjoe9 convinced him to head to Ireland. Mizzi comments, "I had heard so many good things about the event: there would be massive overlay, added money into the prize pools of all side events, and terrible playing fields. Everything that I heard was true, other than the overlay. I was barely able to register for the tournament. I was number 14 on the waiting list and only about 20 people from the waiting list ended up getting in, so I was very fortunate just to have gotten a seat." With an impressive live finish, it was time to celebrate. "I celebrated the night after the tournament by going out to a local night club. I've never really treated myself after winning a big tournament online, but after a score this big, I think I will. I'm going to buy a nice car within the week. Possibilities include the 350z, SL500, BMW M6, and others. I'll let PocketFives know which one I end up getting. Right after coming back from the night club, we celebrated further by playing Chinese poker at 2,000 per point and ordering loads of room service." Here's a shot of one of Imper1um's potential cars, the M6: We wish Sorel "Imper1um" Mizzi the very best in future events. Congratulations on taking down your share of a three-way chop in Dublin and we look forward to hearing what car you decide on.
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