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  1. Badih Bou-Nahra (aka Bob) recorded his second WSOP cash during the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event. His first came in 2008, when he finished 51st in a $2,000 No Limit Hold'em event for $7,500. Talk about a repeat performance! He finished in seventh in the 2011 Main Event for $1.3 million after entering the 2011 WSOP November Nine with the sixth largest stack at 19.7 million.. In November 2008, Bou-Nahra took down a $1,020 No Limit Hold'em Second Chance tournament during the PokerStars Latin American Poker Tour's stop in San Jose, Costa Rica for $30,000. The five-figure score was his largest live cash prior to the 2011 WSOP Main Event. He has also found success on the island nation of Aruba, where he banked $8,000 for taking 50th in the Aruba Poker Classic in 2007. Two years later, Bou-Nahra was back in the money in Aruba, this time finishing as the runner up to Renea Mahaffey in a $1,000 No Limit Hold'em preliminary event. Although he started Day 8 of the 2011 Main Event in Las Vegas with the second smallest stack, he quickly shot into the top ten. On a flop of 6-5-J, Bou-Nahra led out for 675,000 and online poker pro Phil USCphildo Collins moved all-in. Bou-Nahra called all-in for his remaining stack of 4.56 million and both players tabled their cards, with over 10 million in chips hanging in the balance. Collins showed K-J for top pair, but Bou-Nahra had him dominated with 6-5 for bottom two pair. The board ran out 10-4 and Bou-Nahra doubled up - talk about good timing heading into the 2011 WSOP November Nine. Collins' involvement in the hand may have been a product of an earlier pot where Bou-Nahra raised to 850,000 after Collins limped before the flop. Collins thought for a few moments before relinquishing his hand and Bou-Nahra flashed a woeful 10-5 suited. He told the table while raking in the pot, "Gotta make a bluff sometimes." Bou-Nahra hails from Belize, where he owns and operates a card room. He was seated at the ESPN feature table when the 2011 WSOP Main Event field was redrawn at 18 players and held the fourth largest stack of his tablemates. Throughout his live poker play, you can often catch Bou-Nahra wearing a blue Belize baseball cap.
  2. The last player from the Czech Republic standing in the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event, Martin Staszko entered the 2011 WSOP November Nineplay down day with the 14th largest stack out of 22 finalists at 6.38 million in chips. He was one of 11 non-Americans to make Day 8 of the $10,000 buy-in poker tournament and, at 35 years of age, was one of the oldest players in the field. He was the chip leader entering the November Nine at 40.18 million and lost heads-up to Pius Heinz. No player from the Czech Republic had ever made the final table of the WSOP Main Event. Therefore, his friends and family back home in Trinec were ecstatic that he had driven deep in the most prestigious poker gathering on the face of the Earth. Staszko scooped a major pot off poker pro Lars Bonding on Day 7. Staszko fired out a bet of 330,000 on a flop of A-K-4, all clubs and Bonding called to bring a red ace on the turn. Staszko pushed out another bet, this time 580,000, and Bonding once again made the call. The river was a red nine and Staszko refused to slow down, moving 1.16 million in chips into the center of the table. Bonding called quickly, only to see Staszko table pocket fours for a boat. Earlier in the day, Staszko doubled up the last woman standing in the 2011 WSOP Main Event, Erika Moutinho. She 3bet all-in before the flop with pocket jacks and received a call from Staszko, who showed pocket sevens. Moutinho's hand held and she doubled up. However, the girlfriend of David Doc Sands Sands did not survive to see Day 8. According to the Hendon Mob, Jan Skampa was the all-time tournament money leader from the Czech Republic as of July 2011 at nearly $1.5 million in earnings. Staszko sat in 19th on that leaderboard at $83,000, over half of which came after he finished 11th in the EPT Deauville Main Event in 2010. The Main Event in Las Vegas marked his fifth in the money finish of the 2011 WSOP.
  3. Matt Giannetti makes his home in Las Vegas, Nevada, ground zero for the poker world, and is 26 years of age. Giannetti entered 2011 WSOP November Nineplay with the third largest chip stack at 24.75 million and finished in fourth place for $3 million. The University of Texas graduate, who is known as hazards21 in the online poker world, made himself known on Day 7 of the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event. On a board of 8-5-7-2-7 with three clubs, Giannetti boldly open-shoved all-in for 1.58 million in chips. Amazingly, Brazilian poker player Hilton Laborda made the call and showed A-3 of clubs for the nut flush. However, Giannetti had him trumped with a wired pair of deuces for a boat. Just like that, Laborda's Main Event was over. Giannetti shot up to the top of the 2011 WSOP Main Event leaderboard with over 16 million in chips after ousting the South American and was poised to stamp his ticket to the November Nine. Coverage found on WSOP.com recounted the end of the hand, which had the Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas buzzing: "Once again, Giannetti's full house beats Laborda's flush, and this one has sent the last remaining Brazilian to the exit. On his way out, he stopped by his loyal rail for a few moments of consolation." Earlier on Day 7, Giannetti spiked top set against Laborda's flush, but running nines gave the Sin City poker player a full house and over 12 million in chips. For Laborda, it meant a massive hit to his chip stack and shrunk the hopes of becoming the first South American November Nine member. Giannetti wore an unassuming black t-shirt and white baseball cap on Day 7. Giannetti is a veteran of the live poker felts. He took 35th in the 2006 WPT Championship for $65,000. Three years later, he appeared at a final table of a $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event at the WSOP for $66,000. PokerStarspro Jason treysfull21 Mercier was the winner in that tournament and scooped his very first WSOP bracelet. According to the Hendon Mob, Giannetti had nearly $500,000 in live cashes heading into the 2011 WSOP Main Event. Online, he's faced off against some of the top names in the industry like David "Viffer" Peat and Andy BKiCe Seth in cash games.
  4. The last Ukrainian poker player standing in the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event, Anton Makiievskyi calls Dnipropetrovsk home and entered the tournament's play down day as the chip leader with 21.0 million. He finished in eighth place for $1 million after flopping kings-up, but eventual Main Event champion Pius Heinz hit a boat on the turn despite being a 10:1 underdog to pull ahead for good. 2011 marked Makiievskyi's first trip to Las Vegas, and he definitely made the most of it. Amazingly, four Ukrainian players took home bracelets during the 2011 WSOP, as the game continues to become more and more popular in the European country. He entered the 2011 WSOP November Nine with the eighth largest stack at 13.83 million. When 22 players stood strong in the 2011 WSOP Main Event at the start of Day 8, Makiievskyi was atop the pack, leading Ireland's Eoghan O'Deaby about 1.5 million in chips. Much of his damage came by virtue of winning a pot worth 20 million late on Day 7 after Christopher Moore 4bet all-in on a flop of K-J-J and showed A-J for trips. However, Makiievskyi had the goods with K-J for a boat in an epic confrontation. Coverage found on WSOP.com explained the excited scene at the Rio during the waning hours of Day 7 with an $8.7 million first place prize hanging in the balance: "What a massive pot at 20 million in chips between a flopped full house and trip jacks, but Moore would need help on the turn or river in this one." The turn was a six, leaving Moore calling for an ace on the river. However, a four came to give Makiievskyi the largest pot of the WSOP Main Event to that point. Makiievskyi also sent French poker player Guillaume Darcourt to the exit on Day 7 after his pocket nines took down a race against Darcourt's J-10 of diamonds. The board filled out 2-6-6-2-8 and Darcourt, at one time the chip leader in the Main Event, prematurely exited in 35th place for $242,000. We can be sure that Ukrainians around the Rio were jumping for joy. Members of PocketFives.com seemed overly impressed by Makiievskyi's run in the Main Event. Take Shannon ShannonShorr Shorr, for example, who Tweeted headed into Day 8, "ESPN coverage of WSOP continues to deliver. Excellent interview by Anton Makiievskyi. Carter King's was awesome the other day."
  5. Ben Lamb, known in online poker circles as Benba, was the near wire-to-wire chip leader in the final days of the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event. His march to the 2011 WSOP November Nine began with a strong run during the annual tournament series that saw him capture a bracelet in the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship for $814,000, besting a field of 361 players. Lamb continued his strong surge in PLO by finishing second in a $3,000 event for $259,000. To top off those two impressive runs, Lamb took eighth in the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship, an Eight Game event whose final table was played entirely as No Limit Hold'em, and walked away with $201,000. He entered the Main Event second in the WSOP Player of the Year race behind Phil Hellmuth. Lamb entered the 2011 WSOP November Nine with the fifth largest stack at 20.88 million and ultimately exited in third place for $4 million. Online, Lamb won a Full Tilt Online Poker Series, or FTOPS, jersey in 2009 in a $240 buy-in tournament that attracted a healthy field of 3,334 players. He walked away with $146,000 for the win and outlasted Full Tilt Poker player Cosmin Cosma heads-up. WSOP coverage labeled at the time labeled Lamb "the player who is on the hottest streak of any player at this year's WSOP" and added, "Lamb is playing as well as, if not better than, any player in the world at the moment." That's a tough combination to beat. Lamb entered Day 7 of the 2011 WSOP Main Event in second place behind Ryan Lenaghanand owned a stack of nearly 10 million. He was the first player in the 2011 WSOP Main Event field to pass five million in chips and helped out his cause in part by busting David Labchuk on Day 6 with pocket aces against pocket jacks. The money went in before the flop and the board fell an uneventful 8-5-K-9-3, sending Labchuk away short of the November Nine and pushing Lamb's arsenal to nearly 4.5 million. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native has the respect of many of his peers on PocketFives.com and, in 2011, owned over $1.1 million in tracked online poker cashes, including a half-million dollars each on PokerStars and Full Tilt. He joined the online poker community in the latter half of 2008.
  6. Ireland's Eoghan O'Dea entered Day 8 of the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event in second place on the leaderboard with a stack of 19.5 million, trailing only the 21.0 million chips belonging to Anton Makievskyi. He ultimately finished in sixth place for $1.7 million. O'Dea had three in the money finishes at the 2011 WSOP entering the Main Event, the largest of which totaled $3,300 and came by virtue of finishing 155th in a $1,500 No Limit Hold'em tournament. He'll enter the 2011 WSOP November Ninewith the second largest stack at 33.93 million. Check out our exclusive Eoghan O'Dea interview. In 2007, O'Dea took 26th in a $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha tournament during the WSOP for $16,000 in an event that saw Alan Smurfit walk away with nearly a half-million dollars for first place. He may be best known in the poker world for taking second in the World Poker Tour's Main Event in Marrakech, Morocco for nearly $400,000 in 2009. O'Dea fell heads-up to Frenchman Christophe Savary in the tournament, but defeated most of the pack of 416 entrants. In 2008, O'Dea finished second in the Poker Million VII final for $260,000 after winning two preliminary matches. In his Poker Million VII semifinal, O'Dea trumped fellow countrymen Marty Smyth and Roy Brindley, along with David "Devilfish" Ulliott and PartyPoker bad boy Tony G. Smyth ultimately edged out O'Dea in the finals and walked away with a $1 million grand prize. O'Dea has cashed in live tournaments around the world, including in the United States, Australia, Ireland, Morocco, the United Kingdom, St. Kitts, and Aruba. O'Dea relegated Andrew Hinrichsen to the rail in the 2011 WSOP Main Event on Day 7 with pocket kings against A-K. The board ran out all hearts and, holding on the only heart of the group, O'Dea scooped the pot and eliminated Hinrichsen in 23rd place. Hinrichsen was the final elimination of Day 7; he walked away with over $300,000. O'Dea was just 26 years old during his 2011 WSOP November Ninecharge. His father, Donnacha O'Dea, won a WSOP gold bracelet in 1998 and made not one, but two Main Event final table appearances. Needless to say, poker runs thick in O'Dea's blood.
  7. The very first tournaments of the 2012 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker, or SCOOP, kicked off on Sunday. Each PokerStars SCOOP contest features three buy-in levels - low, medium, and high - meaning there's an event for every budget. The kickoff low-stakes event was a $27 No Limit Hold'em Six-Max tournament that nearly tripled its guarantee of $250,000, as over 25,000 entrants turned out to create a prize pool of $638,000. PokerStars member Blackbeatywalked away with the title and a bounty of $74,000, while PocketFives member estofesto finished as the #2 player on the final leaderboard and officially pulled in $53,000. Blackbeaty had offered a deal heads-up, but estofesto would have none of it, politely posting in the chat, "It's ok. Let's play. Thank you for the offer." Third place in the low-stakes kickoff SCOOP tournament belonged to Canada's Mtlboy, whose real name is Rayan Chamas. The $35,000 payday was his largest tracked cash on PocketFives, besting a $30,000 haul for winning the Sunday Kickoff on PokerStars in February. Last August, Chamas won the site's $162 Sunday Six-Max for $21,000. A pair of Danish poker players in Lund(pictured) and postenfinished in fourth and sixth, respectively, in the six-max tournament. They both sit in the top 60 in the PocketFives Sortable Poker Rankings for Denmark. Here's a look at how the final table cashed out: 1. Blackbeaty - $74,008.00 2. estofesto - $53,209.20 (estofesto) 3. zebest_666 - $35,919.40 (Mtlboy) 4. Lundsild - $18,687.02 (Lund) 5. darknikson - $10,737.54 6. posten - $6,788.32 (posten) The mid-stakes version of SCOOP Event #1 was a $215 No Limit Hold'em Six-Max tournament whose prize pool lapped $1 million. The rich tournament concluded with Heminsley bringing home $123,000 for first place. He was one of two players to bank six-figures, joining the runner-up, com 157, in that department. Hungary's tracyerlanded in third place and walked away with $86,000 from the mid-stakes event. The Hungarian's largest tracked online poker score to date came in 2010 by virtue of winning the PokerStars Turbo $30,000 Guaranteed for $16,000 and defeating three of the top 200 players in the PocketFives Rankings at the final table. The mid-stakes version of Event #1 of SCOOP ended with the following result: 1. Heminsley - $123,868.99 2. com 157 - $116,365.99 3. tracyer - $86,455.69 (tracyer) 4. jonwayne69 - $90,882.55 5. SpeckBasu - $30,748.41 6. mandza17 - $16,269.00 The high-stakes Event #1 finale was still raging on at the time of writing. When the $2,100 No Limit Hold'em Six-Max tournament had 41 players left, the chip counts were as follows: oncommand - 507,554 (norajean) Allingomes - 436,374 (Allingomes, pictured) busto_soon - 414,864 (busto_soon) Fiskin1 - 329,491 AJacejackAJ - 302,342 (Mutha Flushaa) StingsHUH - 298,793 FU_15 - 261,608 (fu_15) E1ephant - 260,108 LukeFromB13 - 252,977 (IWEARGOGGLES) Tagult - 246,852 (Tagult) By the way, PokerStars is holding a special freeroll on May 13th at 2:30pm ET for PocketFives readers. It's a winner-take-all freebie for a $1,050 ticket into the 27th event of the Spring Championship of Online Poker. We'd like to thank PokerStars for bringing this type of value to the PocketFives community. Sign up for PokerStars today.
  8. Major online tournament action was headlined by thePokerStarsSpring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) events, with BrazilianAllingomestaking home $282,240 for his outright victory in the High Stakes $2,100 NLHE 6-max Event #1. In the PartyPoker, WPT PokerPokerfest Main Event, PocketFiver AndyBonifiedWard of the United Kingdom earned $216,918 for his outright victory upon outlasting more than 1,850 opponents in the $640 buy-in NLHE championship. Fellow member tracyer placed 3rd in the Stars SCOOP Mid-Stakes $215 NLHE 6-max event for $86,456. Congratulations to all PocketFivers who cashed in Sunday's online tournaments. Here are the final table results: --- PartyPoker, WPT Poker "Pokerfest Main Event" ($600+40 NLHE) *$1m Gtd. 1,854 entrants - $1,112,400 paid out to 99 spots 1. TheSpider $216,918.00 ( Bonified) 2. xAndorx_ $119,583.00 3. Rakoneey16 $75,643.00 4. Duke_Silver $58,957.00 5. CrazyButcher $47,833.00 6. xalexmegasx $36,709.00 7. petvet33 $28,366.00 8. redsouppirate $19,467.00 9. vvirtue $14,461.00 ( vvirtue) 10. Bananazoo $9,455.00 ( bananazoo) --- PartyPoker, WPT Poker "$100k Gtd. High Roller" ($500+30 NLHE) *$100k Gtd. 335 entrants - $167,500 paid out to 40 spots 1. KARAOKE_PRO $43,550.00 ( Milana) 2. Dubya32 $25,878.00 3. j8chatz $14,656.00 ( JoeChat) 4. Sir.rui $11,725.00 5. KPitts34 $10,050.00 ( KJulius10) 6. urkburck $8,375.00 7. poopoo111111 $6,700.00 8. banditpandaa $5,025.00 ( 1banditpanda) 9. TonyCunst $3,350.00 10. b1gsl1ck $2,512.00 --- iPoker Network "iPOPS $100k Guarantee" ($500+25 NLHE 6-max) 230 entrants, $115,000 paid out to 30 spots chilenod - $28,175 trojanec - $18,515 generalshifty - $13,225 myyear2012 - $9,775 I0wnfunkyt0wn - $6,900 ipopyouup - $4,600 --- bwin "ChampionChip $250k Guaranteed" ($190 NLHE) 1,379 entrants - $262,010 paid out to 220 spots 1. elgrade1 $41,097.93 2. The_Fishest $28,040.77 3. Jonny200 $20,334.91 4. Farley008 $14,983.62 5. MORRISWEED $11,077.17 6. xximprovedxx $8,219.58 7. wellyxx $6,635.60 ( emeriaa) 8. Kotten_88 $5,180.05 9. KIKEA85 $4,034.87 10. alexcroco $3,167.96 --- bwin "$100k Guarantee" ($100 NLHE Rebuy) 519 entrants - $128,800 paid out to 76 spots 1. wellyxx $25,122.67 ( emeriaa) 2. CToft1985 $17,453.65 3. ArrrrPoorYou $12,495.22 4. 12jimmy16 $9,255.72 5. OMGTobyLewis $6,842.62 6. BetfFairy $5,077.42 7. armyvet42 $4,098.96 ( StatusUp) 8. gwka $3,199.83 9. Laban173 $2,492.43 ( Mrdawwe) 10. Explo_me $1,956.92 --- 888"$100k Mega Deep" ($200+15 buy-in NLHE) 489 entrants - $106,479.58 paid out to140 spots 1. slow_roller1 $27,696.00 2. 22jateko $17,310.00 3. BlackBrahman $10,963.00 4. xHitNRunnerx $7,812.58 5. EternallyYrs $6,000.80 6. beyond88com $4,616.00 7. lpoker64 $3,462.00 ( lpoker64) 9. daz_lockyer $1,961.80 ( gekophonic) 10. sheeba555 $1,269.40 --- PokerStars "SCOOP-01-H" ($2,000+100 NLHE 6-max) *$750k Guaranteed 784 entrants - $1,568,000 paid out to 90 spots Allingomes - $282,240(Allingomes) arturitooo - $211,680 raidalot - $156,800 Str8$$$Homey - $109,760 dirty.brasil - $78,400 yasunori66 - $47,040 --- PokerStars "SCOOP-01-M" ($200+15 NLHE 6-max) *$500k Guaranteed 784 entrants - $1,084,600 paid out to 720 spots 1. Heminsley $123,868.99 2. com 157 $116,365.99 3. tracyer $86,455.69 ( tracyer) 4. jonwayne69 $90,882.55 *4-way deal 5. SpeckBasu $30,748.41 6. mandza17 $16,269.00 --- PokerStars"SCOOP-02-H" ($2,000+100 NLHE) *$1m Guaranteed 966 entrants - $1,932,000 paid out to 108 spots 1. greezhool $220,517.13 2. @cey@lone $193,219.28 3. SamSquid $234,193.06 ( TheSquid) 4. LukeFromB13 $187,073.39 ( IWEARGOGGLES) 5. 7Be/eC7 $194,753.14 *5-way deal 6. pyszalek $80,178.00 ( Pyszalek) 7. 810ofclubs $60,858.00 ( 810ofclubs) 8. cassiopak $42,697.20 ( cassiopak) 9. pokerpro_kk1 $24,729.60 --- PokerStars"SCOOP-02-M" ($200+15 NLHE) *$1m Guaranteed 8,240 entrants - $1,648,000 paid out to 1,080 spots Isildur1 - $247,200.00 RaisingRay91 - $181,889.76 szwindel - $131,840.00 Fred_Brink - $87,344.00 ( Brink) vikAAAA - $67,568.00 rzr900rzr - $51,088.00 cloaknet - $35,432.00 Gusparo - $19,776.00 ( Gusparo) lubor74 - $12,772.00 --- PokerStars"Sunday 500" ($500+30 NLHE) *$300k Guaranteed 961 entrants - $480,500 paid out to 144 spots 1. probirs $75,056.42 2. montecarlo13 $69,958.48 *2-way deal 3. mypokerf $45,647.50 4. pezler06 $34,115.50 ( pez102) 5. Klebanov999 $24,025.00 6. nachobarbero $19,220.00 7. ElRupert $14,415.00 ( Rupert) 8. respect82 $9,610.00 9. tRaMp$d0PrAy $5,525.75 ( taypaur) --- PokerStars"Sunday Rebuy" ($100+9 NLHE w/rebuys) *$225k Guaranteed 1,239 entrants - $416,600 paid out to 144 spots 1. paulitschMC $76,029.50 2. zangbezan24 $55,366.14 ( Imper1um) 3. highdro420 $41,660.00 ( D Ro) 4. pappadogg $31,245.00 ( pappadogg) 5. Mafews $21,871.50 6. ThEcLaiMEer $17,705.50 ( TheClaimeer) 7. Skipper-dawn $13,539.50 ( Lihn) 8. Olembe $9,373.50 9. LiroLa $5,832.40 ( LiroLa) __________________ *As of August 1, 2011, PocketFives is no longer promoting U.S. facing poker sites. Any poker site that allows U.S. players will NOT be included in our tournament reports. **Information is based on official feeds that PocketFives receives from each poker site listed above. Chop amounts may not be reflected in some tournaments. ***If a screen name is not listed under a PocketFives member's profile EXACTLY as it appears in the final table feeds we receive directly from the sites, then his/her name will not be included in the report. The screen name must be entered in the player's profile by the time the event concludes or it will not register in this report.
  9. Rumors circulating around the online poker world on Sunday have the Merge Gaming Network site Lock Poker acquiring the Cake Poker Network. When asked whether there was any truth behind the rumors, a Lock Poker representative told PocketFives on Sunday, "I cannot comment right now, but I can say that we will be putting an official press release out this week." PocketFives has learned that the press release Lock alluded to is due out on Monday. An article on Gambling911 speculated that Lock Poker would be purchasing the entire Cake Poker Network, as opposed to just Cake Poker itself, and vacating the Merge Gaming Network. Whether the combined Lock and Cake network would be called Lock Poker, Cake Poker, or something entirely different remains to be seen. Our source at Lock Poker did not comment on the future of Lock's brand. Gambling911 reported that Lock would be "re-branding the [Cake Poker Network], driving technology, marketing, player rewards, implementing a more aggressive tournament schedule, and incorporating a new company philosophy, essentially restructuring the entire Cake Poker Network." An e-mail sent from PocketFives to Cake Poker seeking comment was not returned at press time. The original poster in a PocketFives threadshared his alleged inside information: "Had a Lock pro tell me Cake and Lock are merging, or Cake is buying them? Said this was all going down in June." In response to the thread in the Poker Sites forum speculating that Cake could be acquiring Lock, our source stated, "Cake is definitely not buying Lock. We currently represent 40% of the traffic on Merge, we are the largest room on Merge, and have been for the past five months." Other Merge sites include Hero Poker and Carbon Poker. According to the traffic ranking site PokerScout, the Merge Gaming Network's cash game traffic is up 6% year-over-year to a seven-day running average of 1,640 players. PokerStars, Full Tilt, and UB leaving the U.S. market on Black Friday helped increase its relevance, as Merge continues to accept American players. The failed Lock Ops tournament series could have been a catalyst for the rumored jump to Cake. On April 23rd, Lock Poker officials Tweeted, "We are sad to announce that Merge has officially canceled Lock Ops and revoked previous approval given to Lock to run the series." A visit to the Lock Ops website on LockPoker.eu reveals text that says, "Lock Ops: Coming Fall 2012." The series was originally scheduled for May 6 to 20. We should point out that PocketFives does not recommend playing online poker on sites offering rake-based games in the United States like Lock Poker and Cake Poker. Your money may be at risk. We feel more comfortable at this time recommending no-rake sites such as HogWild Poker. Stay tuned to PocketFives for more on this developing story.
  10. The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is expanding globally once again. Five years after the debut of WSOP Europe, WSOP officials have announced the establishment of a new branch of the WSOP in the Asia-Pacific region. The World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific (WSOP APAC) will kick off April 4th, 2013 at Australia's Crown Melbourne (pictured) and run through April 15th, featuring five bracelet events. "Our goal is to establish the worldwide grand slam of poker and use our platform to elevate the game through a series of major championships," said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart in a press release. "With WSOP Las Vegas growing annually and WSOP Europe poised for long-term success after five years, the time is right to turn our attention to the dynamic poker scene in Asia and Australia." When asked if the mention of a "grand slam of poker" suggests that a fourth World Series of Poker location is in the works, Caesars Interactive Entertainment Vice President of Corporate Communications Seth Palansky told PocketFives that there was "nothing imminent," but the company is "actively looking at possibilities." The Crown Melbourne is no stranger to major poker events, as it is the host of the annual Crown Australian Poker Championship, better known as the Aussie Millions. In existence since 1998, the Aussie Millions is the richest poker tournament in the Southern Hemisphere. Crown Melbourne's Chief Executive Officer Greg Hawkins weighed in: "This exciting partnership brings together two industry leaders, and two strong brands, to create a premier poker event in this region. Our agreement firmly aligns with our objective of attracting the very best local and international players, all vying for a coveted WSOP bracelet. We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved with the Aussie Millions and look forward to featuring WSOP Asia-Pacific on our poker calendar in April 2013." And of course, the WSOP and Australia can't be discussed without including 2006 Main Event Champion Joe Hachem (pictured), a Melbourne local who calls the Crown Melbourne his poker home. "It's thrilling to think the World Series of Poker is coming to Australian soil," he said. "I know first-hand what a life-changing moment winning the WSOP gold bracelet was and how it served as a catalyst for the growth of poker in Australia and Asia. It will be a dream come true to host a worldwide poker event such as this at Crown. I can't wait." The WSOP first expanded outside the United States in 2007, when the WSOP Europe was held in London, England at the Casino at the Empire in Leicester Square. Thomas Bihl won the first bracelet away from U.S. soil after taking down a £2,500 HORSE event. The story of the inaugural WSOP Europe, however, was teenage online poker phenom Annette Annette_15 Obrestad (pictured), who in winning the WSOP Europe Main Event became both the first woman and youngest person ever to win a WSOP Main Event, regardless of location. Obrestad was just a day shy of her 19th birthday and it would be two years before she could legally play in the WSOP in the United States. In 2011, the WSOP Europe was held outside England for the first time at the Majestic Barrière and Le Croisette Casino Barrière in Cannes, France. The WSOP has also expanded to South Africa, but WSOP Africa is part of the WSOP Circuit and therefore its events do not award bracelets. The complete schedule and dates for WSOP APAC will likely be released later this year.
  11. This has certainly been an interesting day for online poker players around the world. With information and rumors about the possibility of PokerStars buying Full Tilt Poker flying around the internet, players are still trying to wrap their heads around the "whats," "whens," and "whys" of it all. Poker players in this internet age are not usually shy about letting their feelings be known, so let's take a look at what some of them have to say about what has been going on during this fine Tuesday. Blair blur5f6 Hinkle, a World Series of Poker bracelet winner and once ranked in the top 200 in the PocketFives Rankings, summed up the prevailing emotions of the poker community, Tweeting, "My head is going to explode! #FullTilt #pleasebetrue." Mike SowersUNCC Sowers, who was ranked as high as eighth in the PocketFives Rankings when PokerStars and Full Tilt were flying high, Tweeted, "Pretty unbelievable if true... #wontbeholdingmybreath #yogatimestill." And then there was Ryan gutshtallin Welch (pictured), who made it up to fifth in the PocketFives Rankings in 2009, has won over $3 million online, and captured his first WSOP bracelet two years ago. He invoked the tried and true prayer of poker players everywhere, Tweeting, "I'm using my one time on this Pstars FTP deal. The U.S. poker community could use some good news finally. #PokerTilt." The face of PokerStars, Daniel Negreanu, had not heard anything more than the poker public as of this morning. PokerListings caught up to him in Monte Carlo, site of the European Poker Tour Grand Final, where he told them, "I have no information on it other than what I'm reading, but people I'm talking to seem to believe it's true." He added, "The idea of PokerStars buying Full Tilt for $750 million seems impossible to me, so based on what I know it would really surprise me. But it would definitely be good for poker players because PokerStars is a good company and players wouldn't have to deal with those [Full Tilt] scumbags anymore." Not everyone is popping the champagne just yet. Tristan Cre8ive Wade, winner of a bracelet at last year's WSOP Europe, took a "wait and see" approach, posting on Twitter, "I know Stars wanted to buy FTP in the past, but not sure how legitimate all the commotion about it today is. I hope it happens." While he remained cool and collected, TwoPlusTwo super moderator Mike Haven posted on the forums, "I can't confirm that this is true, because of NDA reasons, but I can say that a welcomed press release may follow in the near future," seeming to indicate that the rumors are true. More important, though, is the question on what to name April 24th, 2012 should the rumors of PokerStars buying Full Tilt prove to true. April 15th, 2011 was dubbed "Black Friday," so what about this Tuesday? "Green Tuesday" and "Red Tuesday" seem to be the most popular options, with the latter building up steam. Adam Roothlus Levy (pictured) had another idea if all of this comes crashing down. "If this isn't true, today will be infamously referred to as 'BlueBallsTuesday,'" he posted on his Twitter account. For some people, though, the idea of getting their Full Tilt bankrolls back isn't what moves them, nor is the thought of getting to play on PokerStars again. Some people see the bigger picture. Popular poker author and "Noted Poker Authority" Ed Miller had his priorities properly lined up: "1st order of business: E-mail Lee Jones about that velour FTP smoking jacket I ordered last April that never came. #PokerStars #RedTuesday." What's your reaction? Let us know by posting a comment here. Check out today's related headlines: Rumor: PokerStars Buys Full Tilt, GBT Says Statement Coming Shortly GBT: Issues Surrounding FTP Purchase Proved Unresolvable Analysis of Alleged Full Tilt Buyout by PokerStars
  12. For months and months, poker players everywhere have been frustrated by numerous news bits about the possible impending sale of Full Tilt Poker. With hundreds of millions in player balances dangling in the wind, the anxiety over this story has clearly been justified. Today, it appears we have received some real news: PokerStars is apparently purchasing Full Tilt Poker for $750 million and will pay back all player balances worldwide. So what does all this mean, and what incentive did PokerStars have to make this deal? The reasons for PokerStars seem obvious to me. They had an opportunity to do three things, all of which are of huge value to their company. First, they can make good with the DOJ. It's generally assumed that this deal is directly related to PokerStars having come to terms with the DOJ in regard to the charges that were levied on Black Friday. PokerStars covering US player balances is a big part of this. The DOJ can avoid public backlash from US citizens without cost to taxpayers. That's a big win for the DOJ. By making this deal, it's possible that PokerStars will have an opportunity at some point to legally reenter the US market. Even if not, though, ending their squabbles with the DOJ has major value to them. Second, they're avoiding once again having to contend with the biggest competitor they've had in the last 5+ years. Nobody really knows if Full Tilt would be a force once again under new ownership, but PokerStars spent many millions of dollars trying to outflank them over the years. Now, they can rest peacefully knowing that their market dominance will remain intact for the time being. Instead of finding ways to counter Full Tilt's advantages, such as their software and the Rush Poker concept, those valuable advantages will now belong exclusively to PokerStars. Third, PokerStars looks like a hero to poker players everywhere. It's a huge win for them from a PR perspective. For any current or prospective customers who ever doubted their commitment to protecting player balances, doubt no more. Their (and Full Tilt's) former US customers will also remember this well if PokerStars is someday back in the US market. PokerStars will forever be the company that swooped in out of nowhere and saved thousands of poker players from getting shorted immensely on their payouts. As far as what's going to happen with some of the nitty-gritty issues that players and industry people will be concerned about, I have a few guesses. My first guess is a big one, and probably one a lot of people will disagree with. I think that PokerStars will either close the Full Tilt brand or make it a "skin" of PokerStars. I'm aware that the sources today have stated that there will be two separate sites. PokerStars has some incentive to keep it that way, as there are a number of users who prefer each of the two types of software and have loyalties for one reason or another to a particular brand. But, there is a lot of baggage associated with the Full Tilt brand. It will always remind people of Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, if nothing else. Both FTP and Stars require millions of dollars per year in software development and maintenance costs. FTP has some enormous liabilities in the form of bad affiliate deals that were costing them hundreds of millions per year prior to their shutdown. It'd be easier for PokerStars to simply hit the reset button on all the mistakes Full Tilt has made than to try and dig their way out of Full Tilt's problems. Regarding rakeback, I previously considered it 5% at best that a new owner would honor existing rakeback deals for players on Full Tilt. That number has gone down to 0% as of today. Whether or not they continue to operate the Full Tilt Poker brand, PokerStars is well aware of the many problems generated by the rakeback scheme. The last thing they want is people trading around and selling accounts based on those accounts having special privileges. I assume they will stick a knife in it on day one and replace it with a loyalty program for all customers, just as they have on PokerStars. Similarly, revenue sharing affiliates should not expect their deals to be honored. There's some possibility that PokerStars offers a few large affiliates some sort of buyout in order to establish a good relationship with them going forward. I lean toward very few affiliates getting anything at all for prior sign-ups. I'm sure there will be all kinds of speculation about this posted today, and I'm looking forward to hearing the opinions of many others in the industry. It looks like the path is cleared for players everywhere to get their Full Tilt money back. And no matter where else this takes us, that has to be a good thing.
  13. The Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) wrapped up its stop at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas over the weekend with a talented final table, one in which all six players had resumes of which most poker players would be jealous. The person with the most sparkly bullet point, Phil USCphildo Collins (pictured), also won it all and cashed in for $71,556. Before last November, Collins was known more for his profitable online poker career than his accomplishments at the live tables. Known as USCphildoin the online world, he has won millions of dollars playing internet poker. While he is essentially a live pro now, Collins was once ranked as high as fifth in the PocketFives Online Poker Player Rankings. In tournaments alone, he won more than $1.6 million on Full Tilt Poker and over $1.3 million on PokerStars. Collins is one of the elite few to have amassed over $3 million in Rankings-eligible tournaments. A wider audience recognized Collins when he made the final table of the 2011 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, becoming a member of the 2011 WSOP November Nine (pictured). A Las Vegas local and fan favorite, he eventually finished fifth in the tournament and earned $2,269,599. "Playing eight days in the [WSOP] Main Event is an experience almost no one gets to have," he told HPT officials after his win. "You leave a better player." And while even a victory in an HPT event can't match a final table in the WSOP Main Event, Collins was impressed with the tournament. "I've really enjoyed my experience with HPT. The structure is phenomenal," he said. Collins had to outlast a very skilled group of opponents at the final table on Monday. There was Terry Presley, winner of the HPT Main Event at the Downstream Casino Resort in Oklahoma and now, thanks to his sixth place finish in Vegas, the head of the HPT Player of the Year Leaderboard. Then you had Dan O'Brien, Collins' friend and former roommate, who has scads of WSOP and World Poker Tour cashes as well as experience as a live commentator for poker tournament broadcasts. Leo Superfluous ManWolpert, who referred to his tablemates as "superstars," had a WSOP bracelet to his name, earning it in the 2009 $10,000 Heads-Up World Championship. The third place finisher in Vegas, Steve gboro780 Gross (pictured), is one of the most feared and respected players online. Gross last hit the top spot in the PocketFives Rankings back in 2010 and has over $5.8 million in recorded online tournament winnings. In an HPT press release, Collins called Gross "the best online player ever." The HPT Palms' runner-up was Toronto's Matt AdzizzyMarafioti, who is now just shy of $2 million in live tournament winnings in his career. Like Gross, he is better known for his online play. Going by the name ADZ124, Marafioti is one of the most formidable high-stakes cash game grinders on the internet. While reaching the final table of the WSOP Main Event was "basically the coolest thing you can ever do in our industry," according to Collins, beating those five superstars at the HPT final table has to be one of his prouder accomplishments. Up next for the HPT is the Golden Gates Casino and Poker Parlour in Black Hawk, Colorado. Qualifiers for the $1,500 + $150 Main Event are already underway, with the big tournament beginning on Wednesday with the first of three Day 1 flights. The 2012 HPT Palms final table results were as follows: 1. Phil USCphildoCollins - $71,556 2. Matt AdzizzyMarafioti - $41,570 3. Steve gboro780Gross - $25,897 4. Leo Superfluous Man Wolpert - $22,489 5. Daniel O'Brien - $17,173 6. Terry Presley - $14,666
  14. According to Pokerfuse and posters on TwoPlusTwo, Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT) could be breathing life into a brand new Full Tilt Poker company. In an article published on Tuesday, Pokerfuse noted, "Laurent Tapie has recently been appointed the director and secretary of a new Irish registered company: New Full Tilt Limited. The company was originally incorporated on February 14th, 2012 with a starting capital of €1 million." Read more by visiting the FTP Poker Sites thread. When the new Full Tilt could open for business is anyone's guess, as the company has been engaged in acquisition discussions with GBT since at least September, when the Alderney Gambling Control Commission revoked Full Tilt's operating license after claiming it was misled. Pokerfuse added, "In March, Laurent Tapie and Prosper Jerémy Masquelier were appointed the sole directors of [New Full Tilt Limited]." Over on TwoPlusTwo, posters unearthed the existence of two new registered companies in Malta. The first was Full Tilt Holding Limited, listed with an address of C 55932 Regent House, 52, Fifth Floor, Bisazza Street, Sliema. The second new company bearing Full Tilt's name was New Full Tilt Limited, which had the same address. On the website Solocheck.ie, the existence of New Full Tilt Limited was confirmed. Laurent Tapie (pictured) is listed as being "35-39 years of age" and has a "partial address" in France. PocketFives had previously reported that Tapie had been spotted in Dublin, Ireland, the location of the headquarters of Full Tilt, several days per week. Solocheck.ie describes New Full Tilt Limited as a "software consultancy and supply" firm. The news that New Full Tilt was flush with cash and naming directors received a mixed reception on TwoPlusTwo. There, one poster pointed out that Full Tilt owes a considerable amount more than €1 million to its customers: "In before people ask, 'So he's only refunding €1 million?' Good news obv, but I don't think it's as good news as most make it out to be at this time." According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Full Tilt owed nearly $400 million to players from the United States and around the world as of March 2011. In recent days, PocketFives has relayed signs Full Tilt could be ramping up for a re-launch or repayment of player deposits. On Jobs.ie, job openings related to Full Tilt included customer service representatives, team leaders, and supervisors that paid at least £25,000 per year. However, the positions are listed as "contract" jobs, meaning they could just be short-term appointments. Also, Full Tilt subsidiary Orinic Limited applied for a Category 2 e-Gambling License with the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. According to our original feature article on Full Tilt's activities, "Orinic Limited is associated with Full Tilt Poker and is the only part of the organization that didn't have its license revoked last September. No mention of the ownership behind Orinic Limited is stated in the announcement." One poster on TwoPlusTwo was optimistic about the flurry of activity coming from what was once the second largest online poker room in the world: "Pocket Kings hiring a load of staff, New Full Tilt Poker registered as a company with Laurent Tapie as director. What more do you want (apart from a nice check for money)?" On Twitter, ESPN's Andrew Feldman (pictured) wrote on Tuesday, "Lots of FTP rumors going around. Was told yesterday, 'There is going to be a major development shortly.' More details when I have them." He added, "Re: FTP, I'd assume that we'll know when they're ready to officially re-launch when Team FTP gets adjusted/removed. No way that stays pat." Feldman could not be reached for comment when contacted by PocketFives. When asked for comment on two articles that appeared on PokerQ4 on Monday, Full Tilt Poker legal counsel Jeff Ifrah told PocketFives, "Sorry, no I cannot." Tapie lawyer Behn Dayanim also declined to comment, saying, "Nope, sorry." Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest developments.
  15. You've seen high hand bonuses at casinos throughout the United States and throughout the world. For example, if you get a Royal Flush in spades, you get $100, or if you make quad eights, you get $75. Napa Valley Casinoin American Canyon, California, just outside of San Francisco, is taking the high hand concept to a new level by introducing a progressive component. Plus, it is not taking money out of any pot to pay for it. PocketFives sat down with Napa Valley Casino's Chris Henderson to get the details. PocketFives: Thanks for joining us. Tell us about the high hand promotion. Chris Henderson: We're waiting for final approval from the state, but the idea is that the top 31 hands in poker will receive a bonus. For each of these hands, we'll have a progressive bonus. Depending on when players hit it and what the payout is, it could be worth a lot. PocketFives: Why did Napa Valley Casino decide to introduce this promotion? Chris Henderson: It's something new and creative, and it allows more bonuses and jackpots to be hit instead of the traditional monster bad beat and small bad beat jackpots. Our big one hits about three times a year, so only a few players can achieve it. This promotion has 31 hands, which allows players to receive a wider variety of bonuses and jackpots. PocketFives: Where will the jackpots start? Chris Henderson: I think we're going to start all of them at $100 or $200 and go up by $25 every day they don't hit. We don't have a jackpot drop like other casinos, either. Instead, this is something that's budgeted within our own budget. There's nothing the players need to pay for. We want players to play more frequently and longer. If quad fours is worth $125 and they hit it, now they have the opportunity to play for a couple more hours. It allows players to stretch their time because they have a higher probability of receiving free money from the casino. There may be some other nuances, but that's the basis of what we're going on. This is very unique within the Bay Area and Sacramento. No one has this kind of system anywhere else. Most casinos have two bad beats, a progressive Royal Flush bonus, a high hand jackpot, and an aces cracked jackpot, but that's pretty much it. PocketFives: Napa Valley Casino does not have a jackpot drop? Chris Henderson: We have no jackpot drops at all. If you think about other places taking $1 off a table for a jackpot, we don't have that here. We're not trying to be greedy. We just want our customers to come to our casino, sit down, and play their favorite poker game. They're not paying for drops. They're not paying for sodas or food. We appreciate them so much and want them to be in our facility. PocketFives: Is it too late for people to enter the Player of the Year race? Chris Henderson: No. All you have to do is make the top 40 by the end of the year. The way our system works, we have five tournaments every week and a deep stack tournament that is worth double points. If players show up, they can make the top 40 easily. PocketFives: We noticed a thread in the Live Poker forum here on PocketFives in which Napa Valley Casino is enlisting prop players. What personalities are you looking for? Chris Henderson: We'd like players who are friendly, like to play, and can play a wide variety of poker games to be part of our family. They need to love the game of poker. Visit Napa Valley Casino's websitefor more information.
  16. According to eGamingReview(EGR), Nick Hammer, Robin Hougdahl, Steve Segal, and Todd tbt4653Terry have filed a new lawsuit against Full Tilt front men Howard Lederer (pictured) and Chris Ferguson. Both pros have already been accused of running a "global Ponzi scheme" by the U.S. Department of Justice, and the latest legal claim charges them with "conversion and of exercising 'unlawful dominion and control' over player funds," according to EGR. EGR quoted a portion of the latest lawsuit, which states, "Defendants approved distributions and loans to the other owners of Full Tilt Poker from funds directly traceable to the player accounts... The distributions and loans to Lederer, Ferguson, and the other Full Tilt Poker owners were from intermingled funds containing monies from the player accounts." Full Tilt allegedly owes $150 million to U.S. customers and was bucked from the American market one year ago on Black Friday. It purportedly shelled out over $400 million to its executives and pros. According to Vegas Inc., which EGR also cites, "The lawsuit claims Lederer received some $42 million in distributions and 'profit sharing' payments, some of which was loaned from Full Tilt and may or may not be outstanding, while Ferguson similarly received $85 million, some of which may have been in the form of loans." The suit was filed in a Federal court in Las Vegas, where Lederer lives and Ferguson(pictured) reportedly has "conducted substantial business." Terry and company already filed one lawsuit against Full Tilt executives under the RICO Act. Whether the newest legal hurdle will delay the finalization of a deal that would send Full Tilt's assets to Groupe Bernard Tapie remains to be seen. As one poster on TwoPlusTwo pointed out, "The purpose of the suit seems to be to get more than 100% of losses via an award of punitive damages." According to PokerNews, the original RICO Act lawsuitfiled by Terry, Segal, Hougdahl, and Hammer "was dismissed in January by U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand, who said he did not believe that charges alleged in the class-action complaint directly caused the confiscation of player funds." On TwoPlusTwo, players bantered about whether the lawsuit could adversely impact a sale of the former online poker giant. "If [the lawsuit]doesn't hold up the deal, then go Todd Terry," wrote one member of the poker community. "If it does, then he really needs to stop. I would assume [Terry] could get in contact with [Groupe Bernard Tapie legal counsel Behn Dayanim] if he wanted to, though, and discuss what his suit would do/not do to the deal." An e-mail sent by PocketFives to Full Tilt Poker lawyer Jeff Ifrah seeking comment on the most recent legal filing was not returned as of press time. There has still not been a resolution to the rumored sale of the room to Groupe Bernard Tapie, a transaction that will likely feature the U.S. Government as a middleman. Last week, PocketFives published a feature article outlining signs Full Tilt could be ramping up for a re-launch. For instance, Orinic Limited, a company associated with Full Tilt, reapplied for an online gaming license with the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. Meanwhile, a variety of Full Tilt job openings are posted on Jobs.ie, including customer service representatives, team leaders, and supervisors. Quoting our original article, "The customer service jobs would pay in the neighborhood of £25,000 to £30,000 per year and the team leaders' and supervisors' salaries are listed as 'negotiable.'" Whether players would receive all of their funds back, or merely a percentage on the dollar, is not clear. We'll keep you up to date on the latest Full Tilt news right here on PocketFives.
  17. One of the most polarizing figures in the gaming community, Las Vegas Sands Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Sheldon Adelson (pictured), announced this week that he will expand his company's foothold into Europe. According to Reuters, Adelson is seeking to create a "mini-Las Vegas" in Spain, particularly the cities of Barcelona and Madrid. To achieve this, Adelson is looking to spend approximately $35 billion on the project, which, according to the CEO, will be entirely owned and operated by the Sands and the first such casino-style location in Europe. "We are looking at 12 integrated resorts (with) 3,000 rooms each," Adelson stated as he opened the doors on his new property in Macau on Wednesday. "It will be about half the size of the Las Vegas strip in Spain for the European market." The buildings, which Adelson did not go into detail about, will cost around $2.5 to $3 billion each. The market for such a resort in Spain would focus on drawing people from western and central Europe. Reuters pointed out that the current economical state of Europe, which is reeling from the bailouts of several of its member nations, might make building such a large complex difficult, even for the billionaire. For his part, Adelson didn't address that issue, but believes that the casino project will prove worthwhile by the end of its construction, which is estimated to take five to ten years. Analysts for Reuters believe that the proposed project would be dependent on tax breaks from the Spanish government, something that Adelson and the Sands are extensively looking into. The Las Vegas Sands Corporation announced in February that it was planning to erect a Spanish casino complex that would feature a 36,000-bed hotel, 18,000 slot machines, and three golf courses. The price tag: approximately €15 billion. Adelson's position in the gaming industry has often had him at odds with online gambling supporters and his fellow casino owners. He has been a longtime opponent of opening up online gaming dating back to 2006, when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed through Congress and signed into law. Since that time, Adelson has repeatedly butted heads with other casino operations that have supported a Federally regulated and licensed online poker industry. In December 2011, Adelson was a lone voice in expressing his opposition to proposed legislation from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (pictured) that would have made online poker legally available to the American public. In his opinion, Adelson said he didn't believe there were enough safeguards to prevent underage people from being able to play online. His opinion has drawn the ire of many of his fellow casino operators, including Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International, and Boyd Gaming, all of which have signed agreements with online poker rooms should the legal environment in the United States change. With Federal legislation currently at a standstill, the state of Nevada has stepped up to take the reins of online poker for its citizens. The legislature and Governor Brian Sandoval passed legislation that could make the state the first to offer online poker to its residents. As such, many casino operations that support a Federal mandate have moved forward in an attempt to get licensed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. As of today, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation has not applied for a license nor teamed with any online poker service provider to enter the Nevada market. Adelson also has been a longtime supporter of the Republican Party. He has been a major contributor to several Republican campaigns in Nevada and has counseled UIGEA mastermind Jon Kyl (pictured). Most recently, Adelson earned national attention for donations he made to assist the Presidential campaign of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich through the pro-Gingrich Super PAC "Winning Our Future." It is estimated that Adelson donated at least $15 million to "Winning Our Future," although the gaming mogul himself admitted last month that Gingrich's presidential run was "at the end of its line."
  18. It's been eerily quiet on the Absolute Poker and UB fronts. Like Full Tilt, UB and Absolute Poker officials have been relatively silent in updating the general public about the status of their funds, which have been frozen on the CEREUS Network rooms since Black Friday last April. A year later, discussions between the CEREUS Network sites and the U.S. Department of Justice could soon be coming to a conclusion. An Absolute Poker and UB spokesperson told PocketFives on Wednesday, "Our discussions with the DOJ are still in progress. We are confident that these discussions are nearing resolution, while legal constraints prevent us from making further details public or speculating on a time line at this stage." What the "discussions" entail and when a resolution could happen are not yet known. Last June, it was reported that the CEREUS Network was in debt over $50 million, but only had $5 million in assets. Absolute Poker and UB are largely dormant, as according to the traffic ranking site PokerScout, the two rooms' cash game traffic is down 99.8% year-over-year. In mid-December, Absolute Poker co-founder Brent Beckley told a Federal judge, "I knew that it was illegal to deceive the banks." Beckley and Absolute Poker's Scott Tom were both indicted on Black Friday, and Tom has not yet been brought into custody. Read more. On why the updates coming from UB and Absolute Poker have been few and far between, TwoPlusTwo poster "PokerAddict" speculated, "I too have wondered why AP/UB news has not existed, especially compared to FTP. I wonder if they are happy getting Brent to plead guilty and the amount of money they seized, realizing there is no other money." In a thread in the Poker Sites forum here on PocketFives, posters were largely disillusioned with the situation, with one member of the online poker community admitting, "My UB money has been dead to me for months." Another poker player echoed, "You don't know how many times I've thought to myself it'd be nice to have my UB bankroll IRL right now." In October 2011, CEREUS' parent company, Blanca Games, proposed liquidating its assets in order to repay players. The proposal, which was made to the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), has not been referenced since, but PocketFives has heard rumors from credible sources that players could be repaid 15 to 20 cents on the dollar. The KGC commented at the time, "Over the past several weeks, we were advised of a potential solution prepared by Blanca and its representatives establishing a process to liquidate Blanca's assets and distribute proceeds to players. We understand that this process has been presented to [the DOJ] for consideration and approval." Meanwhile, player cashouts have seemed to grind to a halt. One member of PocketFives posted in late February, "The min cashouts stopped long ago, I have had one pending for more than six months or so. Pretty sure the shop has closed up now." Last month, Avoine, a subsidiary of Madeira Fjord that purchased Absolute Poker in late 2006 or early 2007, claimed it had no knowledge of any wrongdoing at the embattled online poker site: "During the period of 2007 to the present, neither Avoine nor its management knew of the allegedly wrongful conduct upon which the plaintiff's forfeiture claim is predicated." The natives are unquestionably getting restless when it comes to UB and Absolute Poker. One poster on TwoPlusTwo addressed how Blanca Games managed to shed seemingly all of its player deposits: "It is insane that they don't have money to pay. This isn't even counting their profits; we are just asking for the money we deposited. Even if the company was breakeven, they should be able to pay us back. IMO it is a joke that after everything that has happened, there has been absolutely no pressure on these criminals." We'll keep you posted with the latest news from UB, Absolute Poker, and Full Tilt right here on PocketFives.
  19. Many in the online poker industry believe it's not a matter of if, but when Full Tilt Poker will rise from the ashes and re-launch under the direction of Groupe Bernard Tapie or another investor. With a deal reportedly in the works, posters on PocketFives have been busy debating whether they would placate the new Full Tilt, or avoid it like the plague, in a Poker Sites thread. On this holiday weekend, we thought we'd take a look at arguments on both sides of the coin. After several posters decreed that they'd only play on a new Full Tilt if the management were different from the current crop, one member of PocketFives shared his bankroll plans: "I would withdraw like two-thirds of the $13,000 or so I had on there ASAP. I will play with the rest depending on traffic and how secure my money feels. The software is still better than any apart from PokerStars." You'll recall that PokerStars launched Zoom Poker in recent weeks, which is reminiscent of Full Tilt's Rush Poker. Another poster echoed, "It will depend on how they address the issues that led to the downfall. If funds aren't segregated, licenses aren't held and valid, and they aren't 100% transparent about how they operate, then no. If they show they want to fix the issues and put some money into customer service to compete with Stars on that front, then I'll probably be back at whatever they call the re-launched site." Big prize pools and high player counts could be enough to lure a number of players back, including one PocketFives member who argued, "Whoever was playing and making money will continue to play there. They might not play for a month, but then they will realize that making money is more important than holding a grudge, and the big prize pools and site traffic will bring all the fish back who were holding a grudge." In the end, Full Tilt's software could be its saving grace, as a wealth of PocketFivers fondly recalled the client. In that camp were comments like, "Hands down, there was no poker software like Full Tilt. The graphics, the MTT structure, and the tournament schedules are just a few reasons why I would return in a heartbeat. As long as they ban those degens who helped the world's second largest poker site come crashing down, I am game!" Speaking on the software, another online poker player joked, "Their software is better than sex. I'd snap-play." Groupe Bernard Tapie and Full Tilt have been negotiating a deal for months now. While the lack of finality has enraged much of the poker community, the fact that the two parties are still engaging in discussions caught the eye of several players, including one that posted, "I figure if the new owners go to all this effort to buy and fix this company, then they are probably very solid and trustworthy." As the rumored deal stands, Tapie would be responsible for paying back players outside of the United States, and the company has allegedly secured third-party financing in order to do so. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice would handle American refunds. This setup led one poster to maintain that playing on Full Tilt could be considered a "thank you" for getting his money back in the first place: "If FTP comes back, it's because GBT came in with their own money and saved your ass. The absolute least you could do is play and generate some rake as a 'thanks.'" Finally, one poker player from Canada argued that he did not want to return to a shark-infested Full Tilt: "The games will be much harder to beat and there will be a lot fewer fish to win money from. Who are the players that pay the closest attention to what happens on the online poker scene? The sharks, not the fish. Who will go back right away when it is legalized, sharks or fish?" Will you play at Full Tilt Poker if it comes back online? Let the community know in this PocketFives thread.
  20. While there has been no formal announcement that the long-rumored deal between the French investment firm Groupe Bernard Tapie and the shuttered Full Tilt Poker has been completed, there are indications that Full Tilt could be opening its doors again, potentially within the next few weeks, or paying back players in the near future. Without mentioning who is applying for the license, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC), the same organization that revoked Full Tilt Poker's license last year, issued a simple, one-paragraph statementsaying that Orinic Limited applied for a Category 2 e-Gambling License with the regulatory board on March 23rd. Orinic Limited is associated with Full Tilt Poker and is the only part of the organization that didn't have its license revoked last September. No mention of the ownership behind Orinic Limited is stated in the announcement. The application has a clause built in for anyone who would like to object to Orinic Limited receiving an e-gaming license. The AGCC's statement says in part, "Any person wishing to raise any objection to this application so that the objection shall be considered by the Commission... should, within 14 days of the date of publication of this notice, deliver, or send to the offices of the Commission a written statement of the objection and the grounds on which it has been raised." The 14-day period discussed in the AGCC announcement expires on Friday. On the heels of the application to the AGCC for an operating license, an employment website in Ireland has burst to life with job openings at the offices of Full Tilt Poker in Dublin. On Jobs.ie, PocketKings Limited has a slew of open positions listed inside the company. As with the AGCC application, there is no indicator as to who owns PocketKings Limited at this time. The website lists 14 potential job openings for PocketKings, with the statement that the positions are "urgently required" to be filled. Each of the listings states that they are "contract" jobs, meaning that they are short-term, but it is noted that the openings could become permanent. The listings are for customer service representatives with multi-lingual capabilities, including Dutch, Portuguese, German, Italian, Russian, Hungarian, and Romanian, and there are two listings for Team Leaders and Supervisors. The customer service jobs would pay in the neighborhood of £25,000 to £30,000 per year and the Team Leaders' and Supervisors' salaries are listed as "negotiable." In each of the job postings, there are descriptions from PocketKings that the company is the "support arm" for Full Tilt Poker and, as such, it sounds as if the former #2 site in the online poker industry is looking to make a return soon, or potentially pay back players. In addition to the statement regarding Full Tilt Poker, one of the skills asked of potential applicants is having "knowledge of poker," although that is not considered essential. Groupe Bernard Tapie lawyer Behn Dayanim told PocketFives on Tuesday that he had "no comment" regarding the status of the asset acquisition. An e-mail sent to Full Tilt lawyer Jeff Ifrah was not returned at press time. We'll keep you posted right here on PocketFives.
  21. One of the online poker world's best known names, Terrence Unassigned Chan (pictured, known as TChanon PocketFives), wants to get some kicks outside of a poker table as he looks forward to his debut in the Mixed Martial Arts arena on March 30th. He has multiple PokerStars SCOOP and WCOOP titles, including two SCOOP titles in the same night in Six-Max events four years ago. "S**t just got really real," Chan opened on a blog post from Tuesday. "I got a text message out of the blue. Mike Haskamp, co-founder and matchmaker for the Legend Fighting Championships, texted me to ask if I was interested in taking a fight on two weeks' notice here in Hong Kong. I said hell yes, I am interested!" The next fight card for LFC is slated for March 30th at the AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong, with co-feature events pitting Lightweight Champion Jadamba Narantungalag, making his first title defense, against Nam Yui Chul. Also on tap is the first ever Featherweight Championship between Ji Xian and Yusuke Kawanago. Chan's fight is on the under-card of the LFC slate, putting him against Muay Thai fighter Alex Lee. "Two weeks' notice is obviously not an ideal situation," Chan wrote on his blog. "Since I'm coming off a fight in which I took no damage, it's perfectly fine. I'm healthy and in shape." The fight for Chan will be his debut on the MMA stage and will be Lee's second MMA fight following a loss by submission (rear naked choke) to Mark Eddiva in January 2011. Chan, however, is well aware of the challenge he will be facing by stepping into the ring with Lee. "My opponent (pictured) is a veteran of over 20 ring fights in Muay Thai, boxing, and karate," Chan detailed on his blog. "(He's) bigger, stronger, taller, more experienced, and, being Hong Kong born and bred, will likely be the crowd favorite. Do I care? Not in the least. I am full of confidence and being the on-paper underdog is only going to make this win sweeter." The rules that the LFC fights under are a bit different than what most Americans have seen when it comes to MMA. Instead of a cage arrangement, the LFC fights in a roped ring that is normally seen in boxing. In another departure from American-style MMA fights, elbow and knee strikes to the head are allowed when the fighters are on the ground. "This is no joke," Chan understatedly said. "We are playing in the big leagues now, kids." Chan, known as Unassigned on many of the online poker sites he plays at, has been at the forefront of poker since his start on the virtual felt in 2005. Chan has been able to parlay his online success into the live arena also, earning over $900,000 in his live poker career according to the Hendon Mob database. He also owns SCOOP and WCOOP titles. But Chan seems to want the thrill of another challenge with one of his passions in life, MMA. Chan began training in Muay Thai two years prior to his debut on the world poker stage as a way to stay in shape. After watching bouts from the now-defunct Pride Fighting Championships, Chan added in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu to his repertoire of training. With almost a decade of such drilling under his belt, Chen believes he is ready to take on the challenge of entering the MMA arena. For those that are interested in seeing Chan make his debut on the MMA stage, the fights will be streamed on YouTube beginning at 11:00am GMT in the United Kingdom and at 7:00am ET in the United States. As Chan's fight appears to be the first one on the under-card, his fight against Lee should start soon after the show begins.
  22. This month, the PocketFives Podcastwelcomes one of the game's longstanding players, Faraz The-ToiletJaka (pictured). He's fresh off a third place finish in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event for three-quarters of a million dollars and recently took fifth in a $5,000 preliminary tournament held during the L.A. Poker Classic for $33,000. Not too bad for a player who has been a nomad for the last nine months. His success in tournaments is well documented. He has $2.6 million in tracked online tournament winnings and another $3.2 million in the live arena, according to the Hendon Mob. What about cash games? Could Jaka expand his presence in that area in the future, especially given the changed climate post-Black Friday? On potentially playing higher stakes cash games, Jaka told PocketFives Podcast listeners, "I do prefer deeper stack cash games. I've never played much online cash, but I'll go in and play $10/$20 cash games at the Bellagio where I can buy in for 500 or 1,000 big blinds... Being able to play good deep stack poker would give me a bit of a jump-start if I wanted to become a cash game specialist, but it would take a lot more than that." If you haven't heard where Jaka's online screen name, The-Toilet, comes from, we thought we owed it to our audience to ask. "I got my screen name because when I first started playing poker in the dorms, I had no idea what I was doing," Jaka said. "I assumed suited cards were good because you'd make flushes. So, I played every single suited hand. I'd get people to call and they'd scream, 'The toilet flushes again.' When I was signing up to play online, I didn't know what to put as my screen name, so I just put that. I wasn't thinking long-term." He has been a staple of PocketFives since 2006 and commented that his fearlessness at the tables lives on after six years: "I am willing to play any two cards in any position. It's really more of a timing thing for me, though. I can go out there and say I will never play this hand in this situation, but if there's not an all-in involved, I'm capable of playing any two cards in any position." Jaka was the World Poker Tour Player of the Year during Season VIII, but does he still consider himself to be an elite tournament player? "If I didn't consider myself to be one of the top tournament players out there, there's no way in hell I should be playing the fields I play against," our Podcast guest responded. "Most professionals would think so whether they are or not. A lot of times in poker, people think they're better than they are. That could be a bad thing, but it's necessary from a competitive standpoint." Jaka's fifth place finish in a $5,000 LAPC preliminary event pitted him against some rough competition. The final table included the likes of Vanessa Selbst, Jonathan Duhamel (pictured), Matt All In At 420Stout, Josh brikdog24Brikis, Stephen stevie444Chidwick, and Mclean pureprofitfour Karr. "That final table was definitely one of the toughest final tables I've ever had to be at," Jaka recalled about his competition at the Commerce Casino event. "It got close to 100 entries. When a $5K gets 100 entries, it's usually a good thing and should have a decent number of soft spots, but that was not the case in this particular one. I was kind of surprised." Selbst walked away a winner and banked $140,000 after a heads-up deal with Duhamel. Jaka was also a regular in events sponsored by the Epic Poker League, which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has not yet announced its future. "The Epic events are awesome," Jaka argued. "I think everyone who is there really loves them. $400,000 added plus the freeroll - it's amazing. It is definitely a different atmosphere. You're there with all regulars. It's kind of like a bunch of friends shooting the shit and hanging out... They definitely treat you great." Finally, Jaka has a number of side businesses, including a casterboarding company and a new venture whose goal is to introduce an alternative to products like Vitamin Water. These diversions help keep him fresh at the table: "It's about a balance. When I've been grinding hardcore for a couple of months, I'll do the opposite: I'll relax for a couple of months and focus on something else. Have something else in your life that is important to you that you're emotionally invested in. I have two startups. I'm always running to Chicago to visit by friends. I put value on hanging out with my parents." Check out the rest of this month's PocketFives Poker Podcast.
  23. In a thread from earlier this year we found interesting, posters on PocketFives bantered back and forth about the best PCs to use for online poker. How much memory do you need? How much processing power do you need? What if you're on a budget? With computers coming in a limitless number of shapes and sizes, finding the ideal one for your online poker experience can be quite daunting. To help you out, let's take a look at what a few PocketFives members believe are the best poker PCs. One of the first responders in the thread gave his advice when it comes to owning a top-tier poker PC: "Main issue you would need to be concerned with is having a fast processor speed and sufficient memory to run multiple programs [and] have a fast ISP upload/download connection. Probably want to have 6 GB to 8 GB of processor memory... If your current PC is more than four or five years old, then you would probably benefit by getting a new system with the latest OS." A Connecticut online poker player outlined, "Windows 7, i7 core, motherboard with at least three 6 Gbit/s SATA ports, and three SSD with similar read/write speeds connected to 6 Gbit/s SATA ports. Cheaper SSDs have write speeds significantly lower than their read speeds. [Also, get] a 2 TB hard drive for storage, 12 GB of RAM, install Windows 7 on one SSD, poker clients on the second SSD, and Holdem Manager on the third SSD." The same poster also stressed the importance of having an above average video card. While some posters in the thread noted that the above machine would likely be quite pricey, others reiterated the importance of using an SSD, or solid state drive: "If you are using Holdem Manager, then the one of the most important things you can do is use an SSD instead of a standard one. I have found it makes a huge difference, especially with a lot of tables open." What if you don't need or want a poker computer that is tricked out? Can you get away with something more cost-effective? "Most new PCs these days have more than enough RAM and everything," one PocketFives member from New York argued. "If you just want a PC to play poker, then even something basic with 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB hard drive is plenty. But if you can afford more, go for more RAM and a better processor." He added that a computer with 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB hard drive would likely cost around $400 to $500. Another poster reinforced the notion that a fully featured computer wasn't necessarily needed: "I can run 4-5 sites (20 tournaments), other software, chat on Skype, check emails, surf the internet, listen to music, etc. on a 17" laptop with 4 GB of RAM, not the greatest processor, and an additional 24" monitor." Owning twice that number of GB of RAM was a Costa Rican PocketFives member, who described, "I use a Dell XPS with 8 GB of RAM and it runs Holdem Manager, multiple sites, and as many tables as I can play without a sweat." PocketFives Mod Alex RedIceRapGerlach, who hails from Germany and has nearly $500,000 in tracked online cashes to his credit, shared his poker setup: "I have a 17" Macbook Pro with 750 GB and run both Mac and Windows on it. Really great laptop, but quite expensive. It cost me 2,300 Euros, which should be about $3,000." For those of you out there interested in Holdem Manager, the program's stated system requirements are as follows: 1.0 GHz CPU, 512 MB of RAM (2 GB recommended), 1024x768 screen resolution, Windows XP, and Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 or newer. Holdem Manager officials suggested, "Having a fast hard drive helps Holdem Manager's performance drastically. We suggest using a 7,200 RPM hard drive or faster." We want to hear from you. What PC setup do you use for online poker? And what advice would you give to others? Post here or visit the thread in Poker Community.
  24. In an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journalearlier this week, noted gaming journalist Howard Stutz commented on the failure of the Epic Poker League (EPL) and compared it to the demise of an ambitious foray into professional football. Stutz pointed out that the demises of the EPL and the United Football League (UFL) due to financial difficulties have nothing to do with the popularity of either sport. "Football is America's #1 sport," Stutz noted. "But the UFL found football fans weren't interested in a league that played almost alongside the NFL." Stutz said that the UFL lost $100 million in its first two years. In comparing the UFL to the EPL, Stutz said, "The collapse of the Epic Poker League doesn't mean the game's meteoric rise in popularity is waning. Quite the opposite; poker continues to reach new heights." In making his case, Stutz pointed out that government regulation of online poker on both the national and state levels is likely and that the 2011 World Series of Poker set records for player numbers and prize money. The reasons for the EPL's failure, according to Stutz, are many. "It tried to grow too quickly and it couldn't attract enough participants," Stutz observed. "In an effort to spur attendance, the league added $400,000 in prize money to each of the three events [that were played]. That move only drained resources." Those three events, worth $1.2 million combined, along with the potential additional costs of a fourth tournament ($400,000) and the $1 million Championship Event helped to hasten the EPL's parent company's bankruptcy filing. Although some agree that the idea was a good one, the financing has always been the key question for the survival of the company. Daniel Negreanu (pictured) was one of those who doubted the EPL, stating soon after its first event that it wasn't economically viable and that it would "never work." After further details of the Federated Sports and Gaming Chapter 11 bankruptcy procedures became known (the company only had roughly $15,000 in liquid cash and owed almost $4 million to creditors), some have criticized it for its lack of foresight. "Surely no one is surprised that this has happened," TwoPlusTwo poster "madlondoner" stated. "If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. [Players] should consider themselves lucky that, although they had perceived equity to be stolen, they didn't lose any actual equity, as all the money put into each tournament was paid to the players. The tournaments were rake-free, included free hotel accommodations, and had guaranteed prize pools [worth] more than the entrance." On the other side of the equation, Matt Glantz, who once speculated that Groupe Bernard Tapie would try to back out of acquiring Full Tilt Poker, lamented the loss of EPL tournaments. Glantz wrote on his blog, "I do not feel that I got slighted by the EPL even if they never have another event after today. I played in all three events with the $400K added. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would do it all over again next year even if there were no added freeroll promised in the end." World Poker Tour reporter B.J. Nemeth noted on his Twitter feed, "From everything I can tell, Epic Poker took nothing from poker and gave a lot back. The money flowed in, not out. Really hope they rebound." Poker player Randy Dorfman echoed some of Nemeth's sentiments, stating on Twitter, "Feel horrible for the people that worked for the Epic Poker League. They were some of the nicest people and treated us well."
  25. The online poker room Lock Poker is once again making headlines for all the wrong reasons. This time, the issue at hand is a potentially damaging password security flaw. The problem was brought to light on March 11th by a poster on the TwoPlusTwo forums who goes by the screen name deafeye. According to him, someone who is properly motivated would be able to see players' passwords. "Lock Poker is tightly integrated with their casino. A while back, that was the only way to deposit for non-Visa card holders in the U.S.," he began. "After you log into Lock's casino, right click and hit 'View Source' (on the non-flash part). You will be shocked to see your password in plain text inside the source. No encoding, no encryption, just plain text. It also means they store your password in plain text for anyone on the Lock team to see." A short time later, deafeye posted the relevant lines of code, which clearly showed entries for "user," "sPassword," and "IP." He had, of course, removed his password, while a forum moderator deleted his screen name and IP address just to be safe. Forum member "Whitelextown" disputed one point deafeye made, saying that the password is encrypted on Lock's end and that the site is an "https" site, meaning that the information is, in fact, transmitted securely. According to Whitelextown, the plain text that is seen in the code comes from a "generated cookie" on the player's computer. He said, however, it is akin to "having your social security number on your license plate." Further frustrating deafeye was the fact that he told Lock Poker about this in June of last year, but the issue still did not appear to have been corrected. A few hours after the original TwoPlusTwo post, Lock Poker Room Manager and well-known player Eric Rizen Lynch, responded, saying, "RTG (the casino side) pushed an update that broke our encryption. We have since pushed a software update out that fixes this. When it was originally reported (what OP in original thread is referring to), we fixed it and then when this new update was pushed, it broke it again." Lynch elaborated, "We have taken steps to ensure that future updates won't cause this to happen again. No one should be seeing it anymore, and if for some reason someone does, please let me know about it ASAP so I can have the appropriate people look at it." On Monday, Lynch(pictured) added that the Lock Poker security team has implemented one-time authentication tokens for all flash games. However, his explanation did not go over well. deafeye, in particular, got even more fired up. He announced that he would try to de-compile and then reconstruct Lock's casino games to show that the site can be hacked. If he accomplishes the task, he will test it only on play money servers, but will also release his solution on TwoPlusTwo so that others can not only take a look, but also use it however they would like. This is not the first time Lock Poker has been embroiled in controversy. Last year, sponsored Lock Poker pro Jose GirahMacedo won the Bluff Pro Challenge, which was co-sponsored by Lock Poker and held on its site. Soon thereafter, Lock disqualified Macedo, citing violations of Lock Poker rules, specifically including "computers at multiple locations logging in and playing on his account." Later, online pro Haseeb DogisheadQureshi admitted to chip dumping $100,000 to Macedo during the competition. Although the poker room had already disqualified Macedo, it never specifically said anything about the chip dumping, going so far as to say that he actually "won enough money from his own IP to have legitimately won the challenge."

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