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Found 16 results

  1. With the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event now underway, the team in charge of the WSOP is proceeding with as much of the normal pomp and circumstance that normally accompanies the summer series as possible. On Tuesday came the official announcement that nominations for the 2020 Poker Hall of Fame class are now open. As in years past, the WSOP is giving the public the opportunity to submit names for nomination to eventually create a list of 8-10 nominees. Unlike the last ten years however, where two nominees were chosen for induction, only one eventual nominee will be enshrined this year. The change marks a return to the pre-poker boom tradition of honoring just one individual each year. "We like tradition. One per year is the way it was for the majority of the Poker Hall of Fame's history. A single inductee seems to promote the prestige of the honor," said Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the WSOP. "Most of the finalists these past few years are very young men. I would hope and assume they will all get inducted eventually." The other change for 2020 sees the inductee being chosen by just the 32 living members of the Poker Hall of Fame. Since 2010, a select panel of poker media were also part of the voting panel. For Stewart, this change was one about returning to the early years of the Poker Hall of Fame. "For many years Jack Binion and his poker team just used to meet and decide. And I don’t think they ever got it wrong. In 2020, with 32 living hall of famers who take the criteria seriously, we think the honor is best bestowed by one’s peers," Stewart said. The number of players who have been nominated over past years but not inducted includes the likes of Mike Matusow, Chris Bjorin, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Max Pescatori, and Humberto Brenes. While those players are likely to be nominated by the general public, the likelihood that they make it through the nomination process to be the sole member of the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2020 aren't great. With that in mind, here are the only five names that have a shot at joining the likes of Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, and Chip Reese in the Poker Hall of Fame this year. Isai Scheinberg The founder of PokerStars, Isai Scheinberg has never been one of the 10 named finalists for the Poker Hall of Fame despite having a decent amount of support from key people in the poker industry. The most likely reason for that was the charges against Scheinberg from Black Friday. In 2014, Stewart told The Fives Podcast co-host Donnie Peters that Scheinberg would likely get in one day, but since Scheinberg "can't enter country to accept, likely isn't the time" to induct him. In March, Scheinberg plead guilty to one count of operating an illegal gambling business to settle the charges with the United States Department of Justice and was sentenced to time served and a $30,000 fine. As the driving force behind PokerStars from 2001 until 2014, when it was sold to David Baazov and his group of investors, many credit Scheinberg for setting the standard for the online poker industry while turning his company into the largest operator in the space. Former PokerStars Team Pro Daniel Negreanu is firmly on Team Isai when it comes the Poker Hall of Fame. Matt Savage Nearly 20 years ago, Matt Savage co-founded the Tournament Directors Association alongside Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher, and David Lamb. Since then he's been the tournament director of record for some of the largest and most prestigious poker tournaments in the world. That list includes the WSOP from 2002 - 2004 and the Bay 101 Shooting Star event which he oversees to this day. For the past 10 years, Savage has been the Executive Tour Director of the World Poker Tour where he has had arguably his greatest influence. Along with continuing to push for standardized rules and structures at all Tour stops, Savage has helped the WPT from a business perspective as the tour has grown while working with properties around the world, many of whom came from the introduction by Savage. While the resume is complete, Savage has the support of what often feels like the entire professional poker community. Players from around the world reach out to Savage as their first point of contact when it pertains to questions about tournament or poker room rules and rulings. His position as the de facto expert in his field is as solid as ... Savage has been nominated for the Hall of Fame before but whether or not is ever allowed to hold the honor of being the first tournament director enshrined remains to be seen. Bruno Fitoussi The Patriarch of French Poker, Bruno Fitoussi was nominated for the Hall of Fame in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018 without being inducted. While Scheinberg and Savage are both firmly entrenched as "builders", Fitoussi is one of the rare individuals who has successfully straddled between being a world class player who has successfully helped promote the game from the business side. Fitoussi has more than $3,000,000 in live earnings on his Hendon Mob profile, with $1.28 million of that coming from his runner-up finish in the 2007 WSOP $50,000 HORSE World Championship, one of his three second place finishes in bracelet events. He also served as a consultant for the Aviation Club in Paris, France and many considered him the face of French poker as he was a regular commentator for televised poker in his home country and across Europe as poker began growing in popularity. Fitoussi's struggle to go from nominee to inductee is likely a reflection of the heavily skewed American voting process used in years past. He's not getting any help this year either. Of the 32 voters, none are European. Only five of the 32 are not American and they all either live in the United States now (Negreanu, Johnny Chan, Scotty Nguyen) or spent a considerable amount of their career living in the U.S. (John Juanda, Carlos Mortensen). David Chiu Nobody has had their name included on the nomination list more times than David Chiu. The Chinese-born Chiu was nominated in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019. With a poker resume that most of his colleagues would kill for, Chiu seems like a good bet to be nominated yet again this year. He won WSOP bracelets in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2005, and 2013. Then in 2008, he beat Gus Hansen heads up to win the World Poker Tour World Championship for $3.4 million. He and Ted Forrest are the only players with at least five WSOP bracelets and an open WPT title to not be in the Hall of Fame. Chiu is also one of the most versatile players in poker history. A master of nearly every game on the WSOP schedule, Chiu has cashed 74 times at the WSOP and only one of his 24 final table appearances was in a No Limit Hold'em event. Joe Hachem Joe Hachem, the 2005 WSOP Main Event winner, has never been one of the ten nominees for the Hall of Fame, but a case could be made for him as a hybrid player-build nominee. Hachem beat a then-record field of 5,619 players to win the 2005 Main Event for $7.5 million and helped the popularity of poker in his native Australia reach never-before-seen heights. Hachem spent the years that followed traveling the world as a Team PokerStars Team Pro and in late 2006 seized the opportunity to prove he wasn't a one-hit wonder. Hachem topped the 583-player field to win the WPT Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic for $2.2 million. In the post-Moneymaker era, Hachem is only one of two WSOP Main Event winners to have won a WPT title after their WSOP win. (Ryan Riess is the other). In the years following Hachem's win, the Aussie Millions Main Event went from 263 runners to 418 to 747 and many in the Australian poker industry credit Hachem's win - the first ever for an Australian - as a key piece of the perfect storm that was the mid-2000s poker boom.
  2. For every fantastic poker movie of the past 25 years (Rounders, Mississippi Grind), there’s been another which missed the mark. But the poker world (for better and for worse) isn’t lacking in incredible storylines, interesting characters, and dramatic tension. From epic biopics and romantic melodramas to buddy comedies and political thrillers, the poker world should be a screenwriter’s goldmine. Imagine cast sheets packed with poker’s biggest names (Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Stu Ungar) and the A-list Hollywood stars who would portray them. Here are five of the best real-life poker plot lines that could be - and should be - made into movies. Lights, camera, ACTION! TEXAS DOLLY Director: Martin Scorcese Starring: Russell Crowe (Doyle Brunson) Christopher Plummer (older Doyle) Armie Hammer (younger Doyle) Tom Hanks (Johnny Moss) Owen Wilson (Amarillo Slim) David Koechner (Puggy Pearson) Timothee Chalamet (Stu Ungar) Matt Damon (Chip Reese) Danny McBride (Todd Brunson) Synopsis: In the early 1950s, a devastating leg injury crushes the NBA dreams of prodigious college athlete Doyle Brunson. He turns to illegal poker games to fuel his competitiveness and soon finds himself on the road with a motley crew of Texan card sharks. Over the next 60 years, Brunson writes the book on poker, wins 10 World Series bracelets, and navigates the online poker boom while becoming the greatest player of all time. At 87, Brunson decides to step away from the tables, but one final high stakes game brings the Godfather of poker out of retirement. This is a no brainer. A three-hour biopic of the legendary Doyle Brunson directed by the equally legendary Martin Scorcese? Yes, please. In fact, why hasn’t this film been made already? Texas Dolly would make such an awesome movie. Brunson has sixty-plus years worth of stories to cherry-pick from a lifetime of playing the highest stakes poker games in the world. Imagine the backroom poker scenes, gunpoint robberies, tender family moments, and busto-to-robusto drama that Scorcese could reimagine on the big screen. He’s made plenty of big, bold biopics before (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Aviator, The Wolf of Wall Street, to name just a few) so Brunson’s story will be in the safest of hands. Instead of going down the digital de-aging route like Scorcese did in 2019’s The Irishman, cast different actors to play Brunson at the different stages of his life. Have Armie Hammer as the young NBA-ready Doyle for the first 45 minutes of the film, followed by Oscar winner Russell Crowe as Brunson for the next 90 minutes. Finally, Oscar winner Christopher Plummer bringing things home as Brunson today. Then just look at that merry band of Texan road gamblers in the supporting cast. A bald Tom Hanks with thick-rimmed glasses and a cardigan would make for an amazing Johnny Moss (Brunson’s mentor) and seeing the late Amarillo Slim reimagined by his fellow-Texan Owen Wilson would be superb. Anchorman’s David Koechner taking on Puggy Pearson, young superstar Timothee Chalamet bringing Stu 'the Kid' Ungar to life, and poker-movie royalty Matt Damon becoming one of the game’s all-time greats in Chip Reese (Brunson's best friend before Reese’s death at the young age of 56). Oh, and let’s not forget Danny McBride bringing some light comedy to proceedings as Brunson’s son Todd, also a successful high-stakes poker player in his own right. It’s actually ludicrous that the Godfather of Poker’s story hasn’t already been told on the silver screen, because the rounder lifestyle of poker’s pioneers is just so damn romantic. It feels like this film would resonate with a large audience, whether the majority are poker players or not. But then maybe the lack of biopic is Brunson’s doing. Perhaps he wants to keep his life story close to his chest, just as he has with cards throughout most of it. But with his blessing, then please, someone please write the script (*cough* Brian Koppelman and David Levien *cough*) and make this movie happen. BLACK FRIDAY Director: Adam McKay Starring: Jeff Daniels (Howard Lederer) David Krumholtz (Ray Bitar) Billy Bob Thornton (Chris Ferguson) Mandy Patinkin (Isai Scheinberg) Michael B. Jordan (Phil Ivey) Michael Fassbender (Gus Hansen) Sam Rockwell (George W. Bush) Synopsis: It’s 2011 and the poker boom comes to a crashing end when the United States Department of Justice issues an indictment against the three largest online poker websites in the country: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. Popular PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg is among those indicted, but things are about to get even worse for the poker community when it’s revealed that Full Tilt Poker--run by Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and shady businessman Ray Bitar--has been defrauding poker players out of more than $300 million and doesn’t have the funds to reimburse them. A brutally honest telling of online poker’s darkest day could make for the most important poker movie ever made. The pros of a Black Friday film? It’s a story that has everything. Rags-to-riches tales from online poker greats; government dealings and courtroom drama; the shock of the day itself; and both likable and downright unsavory characters for us to root for and against. The cons? It wouldn’t exactly paint online poker in the finest light. If there’s one filmmaker who could get across the importance of Black Friday and explain the difficult concepts involved in an entertaining, educational way, it’s Adam McKay. While he cut his teeth making some of the best comedies of the past two decades alongside Will Ferrell (Anchorman, Step Brothers, The Other Guys) it’s McKay’s 2015 film The Big Short--about the investors who made a fortune by taking full advantage of the impending economic collapse in America in 2008--where he knocked it out of the park and booked the Black Friday writer/director gig. As for the cast, Jeff Daniels would make an excellent Howard Lederer. Daniels has carved a niche for himself lately playing powerful, unlikeable characters, and when it comes to Lederer...well, you can make of that what you will. Joining him at Full Tilt Poker would be the great Billy Bob Thornton as Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson--an ambiguous character whose involvement in the disgracefulness remains unclear--and David Krumholtz as Ray Bitar. The film would also feature top actors portraying some of poker’s biggest names for the first time on screen. Michael B. Jordan would provide the coolness Phil Ivey deserves, while Michael Fassbender as Gus Hansen would just be a joy to see. As for PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg, give Mandy Patinkin from Homeland the role, while Sam Rockwell who played President George W. Bush in McKay’s 2018 film Vice, could revive the role here for a few government scenes. SUITED CONNECTORS Director: Greta Gerwig Starring: Anna Kendrick (Kristen Bicknell) Channing Tatum (Alex Foxen) Cameron Diaz (Jennifer Harman) Will Poulter (Kahle Burns) Synopsis: Inspired by her poker-playing hero Jennifer Harman, Kristen Bicknell works her way to the top of a male-dominated game and becomes one of the best poker players around. When she falls in love with another top player, Alex Foxen, it feels like a match made in heaven. But complications arise when the two fierce competitors both wind up at the same final table of a major poker tournament and then get three-handed with Kahle Burns. In just about every poker movie, female characters are simply used as props to either annoy or inspire the leading man. Screw that. It’s about time there was a poker film with a woman crushing the game instead of just organizing it (Molly’s Game), and while there still aren’t enough women playing poker, there are plenty of world-class players who are as feared at the tables as any dude. As the No.1 ranked GPI female player in the world for the past three years running, Kristen Bicknell is undisputedly one of them. Like many other poker couples, Bicknell and Alex Foxen’s relationship was once just a lovely inconsequence to the poker community. But in 2018 it was suggested that they had gone easy on each other during the final table of the $5,000 MSPT Venetian, particularly when they got three-handed against Kahle Burns. The question is: can two competitive players really put their loving feelings aside and play coldblooded versus one another when deep down they both want to see each other succeed? It’s just a tricky situation and one ripe for some melodrama. Unlike other “road to the final table” poker films (looking at you, Lucky You), the conflict in this romantic dramedy doesn’t come from characters hating each other but rather characters loving each other, to the point where their game integrity is called into question. It’s also about what happens after the game is over. Greta Gerwig would be an incredible choice to direct Suited Connectors, a story largely based on a successful woman striving for greatness, who falls in love with someone completely different and yet perfectly similar to her. Gerwig’s two films so far (2017’s Ladybird and 2019’s Little Women) are both female-led stories, and she writes and directs with honesty and style. Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick has been brilliant in films like Up in the Air and The Voices and could pull off Bicknell’s dauntless determination, while Channing Tatum (aside from the fact he’s big and athletic like Foxen) has proven himself a fine (and funny) actor in films like Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street, and The Hateful Eight. As for Jennifer Harman--the player who inspired the real-life Bicknell--coaxingh the great Cameron Diaz out of retirement for the role seems like a win. THE WEIGHTING GAME Director: Paul Feig Kevin Hart (Bill Perkins) Jaime Staples (himself) Matt Staples (himself) Mike Vacanti (Zac Efron) Synopsis: Two professional poker playing brothers find themselves in a high stakes game on the yacht of an eccentric billionaire, with who they make a large bet: Brothers Jaime (304lbs) and Matt (134lbs) have to weigh within 1lb of each other in exactly a year’s time. If they can do it, they’ll win big. With the help of a strict personal trainer, they’re going all in. But life on the road makes losing and gaining both weight and money harder than they thought. Let’s lighten the mood a little with a road-trip buddy movie. The Staples brothers (Jaime and Matt) had the entire poker community rooting for them in 2017/2018 when they bet Bill Perkins that they couldn’t weigh within one pound of each other in 12 months’ time, all the while streaming poker online and traveling to live events. They did it, of course, in a great story of perseverance and hard work paying off. For the sake of the film, however, instead of the brothers streaming online poker, have them playing poker on the road. And make the Perkins character wilder and more erratic than Perkins is in real life, just to spice things up. There's no better pick to play the brothers themselves, so they'll both have to get some acting lessons prior to filming. But for Perkins, let’s throw his real-life friend and poker enthusiast Kevin Hart in the mix. Hart is one of the biggest movie stars in the world and anyone who has observed his spontaneous antics at the poker tables knows he would make this thing hilarious, as would Zac Efron as a fictional draconian version of the Staples’ personal trainer Mike Vacanti. In the director’s chair would be Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat), one of the reigning kings of comedy movies. The whole thing could be like the section of Rounders where Mike and Worm go on the road to run up a stake, only instead of trying not to get caught base dealing, the brothers are trying not to eat the wrong things. THE BLIND STEAL Director: Aaron Sorkin Starring: Emma Stone (Veronica Brill) Ben Foster (Mike Postle) Jonah Hill (Justin Kuraitis) Pete Davidson (Joe Ingram) Synopsis: Poker player and commentator Veronica Brill grows suspicious that a successful player in her game, Mike Postle, has been cheating for months on a live-streamed Sacramento cash game with the help of cardroom manager Justin Kuraitis. They deny the allegations and will do anything to discredit Brill, so she turns to someone she hopes can help expose the suspected charlatans: popular YouTuber Joe Ingram. There have been some incredible films with ambiguous endings over the years. You don’t get to know whether the robbers’ gold-laden bus teeters over the cliff edge in The Italian Job; you don’t get to know who the Zodiac killer is in Zodiac; and by the end of The Blind Steal--this telling of the Mike Postle cheating scandal which took place at Stones Casino, Sacramento from July 2018 through September 2019--you won’t know with absolute certainty whether Mike Postle was cheating or not. The viewers will have enough information to make an informed decision though, and that’s all thanks to writer and director Aaron Sorkin. In his screenplays for The Social Network, Moneyball, and his 2017 directorial debut Molly’s Game, Sorkin has been able to enlighten audiences on some dense subject matter (from computer algorithms and data analysis to how a game poker works) in just a few pages of the script. And thanks to Molly’s Game, it's clear he understands poker and the severity of the Postle allegations against many players, not just Veronica Brill (who brought the allegations to light). So, with Sorkin at the helm, who would he cast? For Brill, possibly Emma Stone. In films such as Zombieland, The Favourite, and Battle of the Sexes, she’s shown herself to be tough and determined with no sign of intimidation. As for Joey Ingram, Pete Davidson could sling on a tank top and blazer and showcase Ingram’s dogged resolve. Ben Foster would be perfect for Postle. Anyone who saw Foster as Lance Armstrong knows he’s a master of playing manipulative, conniving schemers looking to get ahead at any means necessary, even at the expense of others. He could handle Postle too. Justin Kuraitis is harder to cast as, frankly, there isn't all that much to go on aside from some post-settlement tweets. But based on those tweets, the character in the film is going to be stubborn, goofy, and a bit corrupt. Jonah Hill is a great actor who has been nominated for an Oscar twice (The Wolf of Wall Street and Moneyball). He’s got that down. The ambiguous ending of The Blind Steal mentioned earlier? It will be a bit like the ending of The Social Network, Sorkin’s Facebook origin story. Just like Facebook is an ongoing thing, so too is the Postle lawsuits and investigation. But maybe a film like this will inspire more people to seek the truth of what went on during those live streams.
  3. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. Listen in to an all-new episode of The FIVES Poker Podcast as Lance and Donnie return with all of the latest news from this week in the world of poker. It was a busy week when it came to legal procedures in poker including an end to three prominent cases. First, Phil Ivey's long battle with the Borgata in the multi-million dollar edge sorting case has finally been resolved out of court. At the same time, nearly a decade after Black Friday, PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg is in the clear from his charges and free to travel in the U.S. once again. Also, there was a settlement in the Mike Postle cheating allegations case which looks to put one of the biggest stories of 2019 to rest. Plus, WIRED Magazine took a deep dive into the Postle scandal which brings up some additional questions surrounding the case. So download and listen in! Subscribe to The FIVES and never miss an episode - available everywhere you enjoy your favorite podcasts. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  4. Barry Greenstein (pictured), Poker Hall of Famer and Team PokerStarsPro, took to his blog this week to make a case for why his sponsor doesn't deserve to be labeled a "bad actor" and prohibited from doing business in the US by state governments considering legalizing online poker. Read the blog. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsson Poker, a leading global online gaming provider. Betsson Poker is available on Mobile and offers regular promotions to live events around the world along with great bonuses and competitions. Play nowfor a chance to win the a Dream Holiday with the Grand Poker Adventures throughout 2014! --- "Bad actor" language is technically meant as a protection to consumers from nefarious gaming operators and has been inserted into the online poker legislation of various states. Generally, any company that continued to offer online gambling in the US after the UIGEA was passed is branded with the label. But as the three-time bracelet winner says, it's no secret that this type of verbiage is targeted directly at PokerStars, the site that upstart gambling interests fear will quickly corner the market, leaving little profits for them. Before Amaya's acquisition of PokerStars, the company's opponents highlighted the fact that founder Isai Scheinberg (pictured) had been indicted for violating the UIGEA, yet was still involved with the company. But Greenstein questions the legality of that indictment altogether after years of discussions with company lawyers and executives. "In every case, in every decision that was made, I was told PokerStars had lawyers who closely examine every detail to ensure that they were not violating any law and that their actions could be defended if they have to go to court or make their case for being licensed in the United States," he said. He gave one example where Stars' attorneys did, in fact, find issue with the legality of a situation and decided to play it safe when other companies did not. "When the state of Washingtonpassed a law banning online poker, PokerStars pulled out," he reminded. "Because UIGEA made it more difficult for payment processors to accept payments, some of them used deceptive (and probably illegal) methods for accepting funds." The consequences for those operators who blatantly disregarded the law, as he pointed out, were severe. "Full Tilt's decision to continue accepting deposits from these payment processors ended up contributing greatly to their bankruptcy," he continued. Greenstein also highlighted the fact that soon after Scheinberg's indictment, the DOJ had a change of heart and issued a memo clarifying that the Wire Act only prohibited online sports betting, not all forms of internet gambling. "You would think that after this judgment was handed down, all the charges would be dropped and PokerStars would be viewed in the right," he said. "[But] due to the indictment, PokerStars [was] worth too much money to the Department of Justice." The pro bashes his employer's competitors, whom he said spend "an incredible amount of time and money" lobbying to keep PokerStars out of the US. But now that the company has been sold to Amaya, he said, the proponents of the "bad actor clause" lose their argument again. Greenstein described the company as having a "family culture," which only tries to be the best "and will spare no expense to do it." He believes that other operators can't compete against Stars, "because PokerStars gained deep respect from the poker community for quickly repaying US customers after Black Friday and bailing out Full Tilt." In the end, he believed the opposition is simply based on the fear that, if PokerStars reenters the market, "they will continue to be the leading company as they have been for the last several years in Europe and as they were doing in the United States before they got shut down." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  5. Just three months ago, almost no one would have predicted that the relatively unknown gaming systems supplier Amayawas in advanced talks to purchase the parent company of the online poker behemoth PokerStars. Yet on Friday, the Canadian firm announced the completion of its acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt, instantly transforming it into the biggest publicly traded online gambling company on the globe. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- "We are extremely pleased to have completed this acquisition," said Amaya CEO David Baazov in a press release. "Through PokerStars, Full Tilt, and its multiple live poker tours and events, [Rational Group]brands comprise the world's largest poker business, generating diversified and recurring revenues across the globe from its extremely loyal customer base." Amaya's shareholders voted in favor of the deal earlier this week. The purchase was completed in an all-cash $4.9 billion transaction and includes the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands along with the popular European, Latin American, and Asian Pacific Poker Tour events. The company's poker sites are two of the largest in the world and have dealt over 100 billion poker hands and run over 800 million tournaments, according to the release. "Since launching PokerStars in 2001, we have grown the business each year thanks to constant innovation, unparalleled customer service, and the talent of our dedicated workforce," said PokerStars CEO Mark Scheinberg. "I'm confident that Amaya, together with Rational Group's leadership, will continue to successfully grow the business into the future." The transfer of ownership out of the hands of Mark and his father, Isai Scheinberg (pictured), is considered by many analysts to be the motivating factor behind the sale. On Black Friday, the elder Scheinberg was charged by the US Department of Justice with a bevy of offenses including violating the UIGEA, operating an illegal gambling business, and money laundering. The father and son's continual involvement in the company has already led to issues with PokerStars reentering the potentially lucrative regulated US gambling market. The sale to Amaya could potentially solve both of these problems. For one, the new company leadership would be untainted by Black Friday and, furthermore, the cash raised from the deal could be used for a settlement between Isai and the DOJ. That amount would likely be massive. In 2008, former PartyPoker CEO Anurag Dikshit handed over $300 million to the agency and sold his stake in Party Gaming, while Mark Scheinberg settled for $50 million last year. Insiders have said that one of Mark Scheinberg's final goals for the company was to see PokerStars reenter the US market. So far, though, the site has been blocked at every turn, first after an ill-fated agreement to buy the Atlantic Cluband later when New Jersey regulators suspended their review for two years. But with the transfer to Amaya, that vision might finally be turning into a reality. With the sale complete, many believe it's only a matter of time before New Jersey regulators give PokerStars the green light to open up shop in the state. In California, the company is making inroads as well, but is engaged in a fierce battle against a coalition of tribes who would rather not face the competition that a brand like PokerStars will surely bring. In April, the Rational Group announced a partnership with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and three large card clubs in its effort to begin operating in the populous state. As part of its lobbying strategy, PokerStars has continually highlights the fact that it holds more online poker licenses than any other i-gaming company on the planet. And according to the release, "works closely with regulators around the world to help establish sensible global regulation." Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest on the PokerStars sale. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  6. Recently, an article published by CalvinAyre set the poker industry abuzz with rumors that the Canadian firm Amaya Gaming would purchase the online poker behemoth PokerStars. But this week, perhaps hoping to quell the gossip, Amaya decided to release a statement that was seen as a tacit denial of the surprising report. The first inkling of a deal came on May 16, when Industrial Alliance Securities analyst Neil Lindsell stated that Amaya would likely sell its Ongame poker network in order to "trade up" to a bigger platform, according to the CalvinAyre piece. Since then, the company's stock has shot up from CAD $7.71 at the end of that trading day to CAD $10.89 as of Thursday, or 40%. Later came the CalvinAyre article, which stated that "solid" sources had assured them that a deal between PokerStars and the gaming software provider was in the works. Responding to the high trading volume, Amaya stated that "strategic acquisitions have been and are one component of the company's growth strategy and, as such, Amaya regularly evaluates potential acquisition opportunities." It went on to explain that "from time to time, this process leads to discussions with potential acquisition targets," but that "there can be no assurance that any such discussions will ultimately lead to a transaction." It seems plausible that, at the very least, some level of talks took place that might have helped to spark the rumors. When comparing the spike in Amaya's share price to Lindsell's "trading up" statement, along with the fact that the company hasn't released any significant news in the past few weeks to prompt such a surge, the acquisition theory is compelling. But, there are several reasons why a deal between the two companies wouldn't make sense. For one, it would seem that Amaya, whose market cap hovers around $500 million, according to CalvinAyre, would have trouble coming up with enough cash to purchase a company as big as PokerStars. After all, the poker giant paid its way through Black Friday, even shelling out over $700 million to purchase Full Tilt Poker and pay back its American players in the process. Second, a PokerStars/Amaya deal could have negative regulatory implications for the company's dealings in the regulated US internet gambling market. "Amaya Gaming services virtually every casino platform in New Jersey," said industry expert John Mehaffey. "It also owns the Ongame platform used by Betfair. Introducing PokerStars ownership into the equation before the company is approved could create a licensing conflict." Yet even if there is, in fact, no deal between PokerStars and Amaya, some think that PokerStars could still be looking to sell in order to distance itself from founder Isai Scheinberg and his son and current CEO, Mark Scheinberg. It's no secret that the poker giant has pulled out all of the stops in its quest to reenter the US online gambling market; a deal that severs executive ties with the Scheinbergs could be a final attempt at allaying regulator's concerns. In New Jersey, PokerStars' licensing review was suspended for two years due to the alleged ongoing participation of the elder Scheinberg in the company and the site has already been locked out of Nevada due to a "bad actor" clause. For the moment, that leaves California, where the company is doing battle with gaming interests who hope to insert a similar clause into any legislation that legalizes internet gambling. PokerStars announced a major partnership in California with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens. "As a general policy, Amaya does not publicly comment on potential acquisitions unless and until a binding legal agreement has been signed," Amaya concluded. "The company intends to make no further comment or release regarding current market rumors unless and until such comment is warranted." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  7. Now that the sale of the Rational Group, the parent company of PokerStarsand Full Tilt Poker, to Amaya Gaming has been announced, several in the industry have begun speculating about the future of PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg (pictured, image courtesy Bloomberg) The Canadian and Israeli in his mid-60s was one of 11 individuals indicted on Black Friday, but has yet to turn himself into US authorities or settle in any way. Scheinberg has denied all charges and when PokerStars settled with the Department of Justice in July 2012, the company admitted no wrongdoing. In an e-mail sent to members on Friday, the Poker Players Alliance, the main lobbying voice for poker players on Capitol Hill in the US, asserted that Scheinberg settling with American authorities would help turn the page on Black Friday. PPA Executive Director John Pappas wrote in the e-mail, "The players have asked and the media has speculated whether yesterday's acquisition would accelerate resolution of Isai Scheinberg's outstanding issues with the US Department of Justice. I certainly hope there is swift resolution of these matters. It is important for the poker community to close the Black Friday chapter and move forward. An agreement between Mr. Scheinberg and the DOJ would help do that." The sale was worth $4.9 billion and is expected to close in September. According to Bloomberg, Isai's son, Mark Scheinberg (pictured below, image courtesy Bloomberg), owns 75% of the Rational Group and is in line for a major payday as a result of the acquisition. He is selling his shares and resigning. As Online Poker Report's Chris Grove speculated, "Rumors that Isai Scheinberg is discussing a settlement with the DOJ have been swirling for months. This deal could represent a step in that direction, providing ready cash for a settlement and (arguably) a greater motivation for Isai Scheinberg to close the chapter completely. A deal would almost certainly come with an eight- or nine-figure fine attached. All parties involved are no doubt keen to reach a resolution, as none benefit at this point from the saga… dragging on." How much could Scheinberg's fine actually be? Last June, Mark Scheinberg settled with the DOJ for $50 million"as full and final resolution of any and all claims by the United States," according to the document outlining the agreement. In 2008, Anurag Dikshit, one of the founders of Party Gaming, forfeited $300 million and sold his Party Gaming shares in 2009. Also in 2009, Party Gaming agreed to a non-prosecution agreementwith the DOJ and paid $105 million. PokerStars' settlement with the DOJ, which involved acquiring its longtime rival Fill Tilt, weighed in at three-quarters of a billion dollars. Scheinberg was charged on Black Friday with conspiracy to violate the UIGEA, violating the UIGEA, operating an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. PokerStars Director of Payments Paul Tate was also indicted, but, like Scheinberg, has not surrendered to US authorities. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  8. After a long day of speculation, it was revealed on Thursday night that Amaya Gaming has acquired the Rational Group, the parent company of PokerStarsand Full Tilt Poker, for $4.9 billion. According to a press release, it's still subject to Amaya shareholder approval. Earlier today, we learned about the suspension of trading of Amaya's stockin Toronto. Then, we learned that Blackstone was raising $1 billion in funding. Now, we can get into the nitty-gritty details of the sale. According to the release, the shareholders of the Oldford Group, the parent company of the Rational Group, "will dispose of their shares to a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amaya." Mark Scheinberg, Rational's founder and CEO, and "other principles of Oldford Group" will resign once the transaction has been completed, potentially satisfying issues New Jersey regulators hadwith the presence of Isai Scheinberg and other post-UIGEA executives. Speaking of executives, "Rational Group's executive management team will be retainedand online poker services provided by PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will be unaffected by the transaction, with players continuing to enjoy uninterrupted access to their gaming experience." PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have a combined 85 million registered users. Whether the presence of PokerStars' and Full Tilt's executive management teams will complicate any "bad actor" issues in the US remains to be seen. David Baazov (pictured), CEO of Amaya, said about the long-rumored acquisition, "This is a transformative acquisition for Amaya, strengthening our core B2B operations with a consumer online powerhouse that creates a scalable global platform for growth. Mark Scheinberg pioneered the online poker industry, building a remarkable business and earning the trust of millions of poker players by delivering the industry's best game experiences, customer service and online security. Working with the experienced executive team at Rational Group, Amaya will continue that tradition of excellence and accelerate growth into new markets and verticals." Mark Scheinberg added, "I am incredibly proud of the business Isai and I have built over the last 14 years, creating the world's biggest poker company and a leader in the iGaming space. Our achievements and this transaction are an affirmation of the hard work, expertise, and dedication of our staff, which I am confident will continue to drive the company's success. The values and integrity which have shaped this company are deeply ingrained in its DNA. David Baazov has a strong vision for the future of the Rational Group which will lead the company to new heights." Now on to the topic the poker community has speculated about, the prospects of PokerStars and/or Full Tilt returning to US soil. "Bad actor" clauses in states like California may still prove to be problematic even under the new ownership, according to Online Poker Report, but the press release argued, "Amaya believes the transaction will expedite the entry of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker into regulated markets in which Amaya already holds a footprint, particularly the USA." Amaya will introduce more casinos games into the Full Tilt Poker client and help Rational's brand gain strongholds in sports betting, casino gaming, and social gaming. If you're a finance person, here's how the sale breaks down: $2.1 billion in senior secured credit facilities, $800 million in senior secured second lien term loans, $1 billion to be raised through the issuance of convertible preferred shares, $460 million to be raised through the issuance of subscription receipts, and about $540 million in cash. This paragraph uses language directly from the press release to avoid any interpretation. The Boards of Directors of both companies have already approved the transaction and Amaya's Board will remain the same following the deal, meaning it doesn't look like a reverse takeover as some had predicted. Stay tuned to PocketFives for complete reaction and analysis to one of the biggest stories we've reported in several years. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  9. For years, Isai Scheinberg (pictured), arguably the most important man in poker, has stayed out of the spotlight. Over the weekend, though, he stepped out of the shadows, bellied up to the poker table, and took down the £2,200 High Roller Event of the UK and Ireland Poker Tour Isle of Man stop. Scheinberg founded the online poker behemoth PokerStarsin 2001 in Costa Rica, but later moved it to Isle of Man. It was not always the giant it is now, sitting behind the likes of PartyPoker and even the old Paradise Poker back before the poker boom took hold. One of the worst moments in online poker history – the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 in the United States – actually helped PokerStars achieve its current dominant position. While many of its competitors exited the US market, PokerStars remained, scooping up loads of American customers looking for a new online home. Things changed for Scheinberg in June when PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, by way of their parent company, were purchased by Amaya Gaming for a healthy $4.9 billion. The deal was officially closed on August 1. While he won't be travelling to the United States any time soon, it seems that his new found riches and free time have loosened Scheinberg up a bit; he now has opportunity to do some more of the things he wants. Which brings us to the UKIPT Isle of Man High Roller Event. Seeing Scheinberg in public almost feels like seeing Big Foot. We wanted to believe he really existed, we had heard unconfirmed reports of a blurry figure every now and then, but we never had proof. But there Scheinberg was, one of 15 players in a tournament which, while not particularly high-profile, was still one that people followed. Scheinberg's appearance was almost certainly not a coincidence. PokerStars is based in the Isle of Man, so not only is that probably his home, but because PokerStars also operates the UKIPT, there were a lot of PokerStars employees in attendance. It was as if Scheinberg was saying, "I may not own this company any more, but I'm still here. Let's have some fun." Normally, PokerStars employees are not allowed to play on the tour, but that rule was lifted for this stop. After Scheinberg's victory, at least a couple dozen friends, players, and PokerStars employees gathered around him for the traditional "group winner's" photo, a great shot of a bunch of people who look truly thrilled to be celebrating with their former boss. Brad Willis did an excellent job painting the picture (shown here) on the PokerStars Blog, writing, "All along, Scheinberg let others have the limelight, and even when it was time for him to step up and collect his trophy, he let himself be surrounded – engulfed, even – by the people he trusted enough to let them be a part of PokerStars. Yes, he is in the picture, but true to his way,it's the crowd around him that gets the glory." Lee Jones, PokerStars' Head of Poker Communications, who placed 14th in the tour stop's Main Event, Tweeted about Scheinberg's victory, calling it a "most epic story." He may have been overstating things just a tad, but it was certainly a cool moment and it was fun to see one of the pioneers of the industry have a moment of celebration. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  10. When Caesars officials put out a call for 2015 Poker Hall Of Fame nomineesthis year, poker pro and MMA fighter Terrence TChanChan made a controversial suggestion: PokerStarsfounder Isai Scheinberg (pictured). --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- "In my opinion, if the man who has done more to grow poker than any other individual in the world in the past 20 years is not in the Poker Hall of Fame, it is illegitimate," he said in a 2+2 post. Chan was an early employee of PokerStars, working out of the company's offices in Costa Rica. He later decided to step down and play poker professionally and has since made a name for himself as an MMA fighter. When online poker went live in Nevada, Chan served as director of player operations for Ultimate Poker before the site closed its doors late last year. "PokerStars expanded into, and created, brand new markets where there were very few poker players," Chan continued. "We have all benefited from the company that this man built. Some people reading this played online poker professionally or made good money as serious semi-pros. Some made careers out of the poker industry in various ways." Scheinberg launched PokerStars on September 11, 2001 and grew the company into one of the biggest and most respected gambling brands on the globe. With its exclusive live poker tours, celebrity endorsers, massive online tournaments, and engaging television ads, the company brought poker to an untold number of new players. But as a choice for the Poker Hall of Fame, Scheinberg is a controversial candidate. On April 15, 2011, the US Department of Justice unsealed indictments against the PokerStars founder along with executives at UB, Absolute Poker, and Full Tilt. Of those four sites, PokerStars was the only operator that kept player funds segregated from its operating budget. PokerStars was able to pay back its US players immediately, while users of AP, UB, and Full Tilt languished. To the jubilation of the poker community, PokerStars eventually cut a deal with the DOJ to buy Full Tilt and repay its depositors at a cost of $731 million. Even so, Scheinberg has never answered to the charges and has chosen instead to remain outside of the reach of US authorities. In its bid to enter the legal US online gaming market, Scheinberg decided to sell the site to Amaya for $4.9 billion last year. But even with Scheinberg out of the picture, PokerStars has still not been approved for operation in the US. Caesars, which heads up the Poker Hall of Fame, has online poker rooms in Nevada and New Jersey. When PokerStars is approved for operation in the Garden State, the two companies will be competing against one another. That said, the gaming giant is not likely keen on glorifying the founder of another poker site in its Hall of Fame. Lee Jones, (pictured) head of poker communications at PokerStars, also went to bat for Scheinberg on Twitter. "Isai Scheinberg: in 2005, 20% of the players in the Main Event were PokerStars qualifiers. *20%*. Name a bigger influencer," he argued. Chan referred back to his original tweet to show how much the poker community supports his suggested nominee. "The… WSOP Tweet got 4 favorites. My tweet calling for Isai to be nominated got 36 favorites," he said. "WSOP has 32 times more followers than I do. Nine times as many favorites for an account with 1/32nd the following. You might argue the 'average poker fan' does not know who Isai Scheinberg is. That may or may not be true. But if that's the case, it's time to let them know." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  11. [caption width="640"] Ten players worth considering as the Poker Hall of Fame public nomination process opens[/caption] The public nomination process for the Poker Hall of Fame to determine the top ten candidates for official voting for the Class of 2016 opened earlier this month. The nomination period allows poker fans around the world to submit the names of players they think should be considered for inclusion in the Poker Hall of Fame. The Criteria: A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination Played for high stakes Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers Stood the test of time Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results. And while everybody has an opinion on who should or shouldn’t get in, PocketFives has created a guide for you of 10 names you should consider nominating. Keep in mind, many thought Phil Ivey would be a shoo-in this year, but turns out he's not quite eligible yet. With that in mind, we’ve broken the names into three groups: Obvious Choices, Dark Horses and Long Shots. Obvious ChoicesChris Moneymaker Rule of thumb – if an era is named after someone, then that person is probably a Hall of Famer. Chris Moneymaker was the right guy, at the right place, bluffing at the right time when he won the WSOP Main Event in 2003. ESPN audiences drank up a 20-something accountant from Tennessee facing down Sammy Farha for $2.5 million dollars. Moneymaker not only won, but somehow graciously handled the media firestorm of attention that no one could be prepared for. He was the face of the poker boom that followed and soon every line cook in the country was hosting a home game. Moneymaker wasn’t a flash in the pan, since his historic win he’s earned $1.1 million in tournaments and solidified himself as one of the top ambassadors of the game, greeting every critic with a smile. But his influence goes beyond a player and undoubtedly “contributed to the overall growth and success of the game.” Carlos Mortensen Carlos Mortensen first rose to poker fame after winning the 2001 WSOP Main Event but he is also the all-time leading money winner in World Poker Tour history thanks largely to his three WPT titles. His lifetime earnings are just north of $11.8 million. Mortensen has two bracelets in 35 WSOP cashes with another 20 cashes and seven WPT final tables. Should he get into the Hall of Fame, he would undoubtedly be the most WPT-centric player in the Hall of Fame to date, Mike Sexton withstanding (almost all tournament success in WSOP events). But with his banner hung in the Amazon Room the stewards of the HOF can breathe easy. Bruno Fitoussi One can’t discuss French poker without mentioning Bruno Fitoussi’s name. He was one-part Mike Sexton, one-part Mori Eskandani and one-part Chris Moneymaker when poker boomed on TV in France. He was one of the operators of The Aviation Club – one of Europe’s premier poker rooms – and the lack of European inductees is one of the PHOF’s most warranted criticisms. As a player he’s won $2.8 million around the world while logging 20 WSOP cashes. He finished runner-up in the 2007 $50,000 HORSE Championship for $1.2 million and finished 15th in the 2003 Main Event. Ted Forrest The six-time bracelet winner’s name keeps coming up in this conversation. He’s one of five players to win three bracelets in a year, nine of his 34 WSOP cashes were in events with a $5,000 buy-in or greater. Forrest doesn’t have the flash that screams Hall of Famer but he’s got a track record in all the games, was a part of “The Corporation”, the group of top level pros that took on billionaire banker Andy Beal, and as far as standing the test of time is concerned – he’s got 21 years between his first and most recent bracelet. David Chiu David Chiu just passed the $8 million in career earnings mark and he has five WSOP bracelets, 25 final tables and 73 cashes in the WSOP alone and finds himself in rarified air among the five-bracelet club, he’s one of three or four players that could arguably keep adding to his total. His game hasn’t aged like many in his age bracket – he’s cashed in six $10,000 or greater events since 2014, including the 2015 $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha event. Dark HorsesChris Bjorin Chris Bjorin’s grandfatherly smile and non-threatening demeanour masks that he’s won $5 million, two bracelets and a European Poker Tour title and it took Martin Jacobson winning $10 million in the 2014 WSOP Main Event to top him on Sweden’s all-time money list. Huck Seed If there was a Hall of Fame of Not Giving a Sh*t, Huck Seed would be there. There’s certain politicking and campaigning many nominees endure to gain entry, but that’s something this former Main Event Champ and four-time bracelet winner just won’t do. Todd Brunson Todd Brunson isn’t discussed much in after-hours PHOF talk but has won $4.2 million and has 50 WSOP cashes. He has spent most of his career focused on high stakes cash games. The largest strike against him is that he has just one bracelet and while nowhere in the requirements does it say “multi-bracelet winner”, it’s implied. Mike Matusow Mike Matusow’s life shows highs and lows of the life of a professional gambler better than any Hollywood flick ever could. He’s a true blue-collar player that’s won and lost at least $8.6 million, has four bracelets, spent time in jail and battled life-threatening medical problems all while being a big star in the TV boom era. The Long ShotIsai Scheinberg International poker politics are a curious thing, and while the entity that owns the PHOF prefers their own version of worldwide poker history, most everyone else recognizes Isai Scheinberg as the single most influential businessman in poker the world will probably ever see. Scheinberg was the former CEO of PokerStars and directed the company during its profitable and expansive rise to the top of the online poker world. The private ownership allowed Scheinberg and his management team room to innovate and become the overwhelming leaders in the industry. Photos courtesy of World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour.
  12. [caption width="640"] Scott Tom plead not guilty to the Black Friday charges in a Manhattan court room on Friday.[/caption] Almost six years after Black Friday, Absolute Poker founder Scott Tom has returned to the United States to face charges that he violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and was engaged in bank fraud and money laundering. Tom, now 37, voluntary arrived back in the United States on Thursday and after a brief hearing where he plead not guilty to the charges, was released on a $500,000 bond. Tom, along with 11 others, was indicted on April 15, 2011 as part of what became known as ‘Black Friday’ in the online poker industry. Tom’s lawyer, James Henderson, told Reuters that the case will ultimately be concluded via plea deal. "There's going to be a resolution in this case quickly," Henderson said. Another Absolute Poker employee and Tom’s step brother, Brent Beckley, served 14 months after pleading guilty to the bank and wire fraud charges. Rumors indicate Beckley may again be working in the offshore gaming world after joining BetOnline.com in a management capacity. Should Tom, who had been rumored to be living in Antigua since just after Black Friday, come to an agreement with prosecutors, he will be the 10th person charged on April 15, 2011 to resolve the charges. The only person named in the indictments that day that has yet to actually face the charges in some way is PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg. Absolute Poker, which was the parent company of scandal-ridden UltimateBet, was the third largest online poker room in the world at the time of the shutdown. While PokerStars made U.S. customers whole almost immediately and then purchased Full Tilt Poker and supplied those customers with their funds, Absolute Poker and UltimateBet have never returned any funds to players who had a balance on Black Friday. In November, Paul Tate, the Director of Payments for PokerStars, also returned to the U.S. and plead guilty. After paying a small six-figure fine, he was released without having to serve jail time.
  13. The Triton Million: A Helping Hand for Charity will be a record setter when action kicks off Thursday. The £1,050,000 buy-in tournament will make it the biggest buy-in in poker history, and the event comes with a unique format. It's a freezeout where recreational/businessmen players can enter via invite only. Those invited can then issue one invite of their own to a guest/professional players. As of Wednesday morning, 26 pairings had been named, but it's the 'what could have beens' that are equally as intriguing. Let's take a look at a handful of recreational-professional pairings that we would've liked to have seen compete in the Triton Million. Chamath Palihapitiya and Phil Hellmuth It's no secret that Chamath Palihapitiya and Phil Hellmuth have a close relationship. We've seen it on Hellmuth's social media accounts all too often. A former Facebook executive and now a successful investor, Palihapitiya fits the mold of the perfect recreational poker player to enter this field. He's played poker in the past, including the first-ever World Series of Poker Big One for One Drop that cost $1,000,000 to enter, and has three WSOP cashes and two World Poker Tour cashes. Being good friends with Hellmuth makes Hellmuth the perfect invitee for Palihapitiya, and getting the polarizing 15-time gold bracelet winner in the field would be very entertaining. Isai Scheinberg and Daniel Negreanu Now this, this is a pairing, and we'll call it 'getting the band back together.' The founder of PokerStars, Isai Scheinberg, paired with the company's former golden boy, Daniel Negreanu. It would be absolutely tremendous to see, and we all know both parties have enough money to afford the gigantic £1,050,000 buy-in. We all know how skillful and experienced of a poker player Negreanu is, but Scheinberg has conquered the felt before, too. He won the UKIPT Isle of Man High Roller in the same year that Negreanu finished second in the 2014 WSOP $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop. Tiger Woods and Antonio Esfandiari How can we not want to have Antonio Esfandiari, 'the magician,' the first-ever $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop winner, in the field? In order to make this happen, he needs a recreational player to invite him. Who bigger and better than Tiger Woods? You may be asking yourself, does Woods play poker and what's the connection here? Yes, Woods plays poker. He might not be entering the priciest tournaments in the world as some of these other recreational players are, but he’s the host of Tiger's Poker Night as part of Tiger Jam, held in partnership with the World Poker Tour each year, so he knows the game. On more than one occasion, Esfandiari has been one of the celebrity professionals to attend Tiger's Poker Night. Dan Fleyshman and Phil Ivey How do we get Phil Ivey in this field? We pair him with Dan Fleyshman, that’s how. Fleyshman doesn’t dabble in poker as he once did, but he’s still around the game enough that he could perform well in this tournament. One of his claims to fame is being the youngest founder of a publicly traded company and he's an active businessman and investor. Ivey is Ivey. His star power alone is worthy of entry into a £1,050,000 buy-in tournament, and we all know he has the chops to perform on the felt. He knows Fleyshman, so the pairing works, and we’d absolutely love to see Ivey in the field. David Einhorn and Erik Seidel Investor and hedge fund manager David Einhorn may not be a professional poker player, but he’s as avid a recreational player as they come. He's been known to compete in the highest buy-in poker tournaments the world has to offer, and he took third place for $4,352,000 in the first-ever $1,000,000 buy-in poker tournament the world has ever seen. With Einhorn being a New York guy, a perfect pairing would be Erik Seidel. Seidel is currently third on poker’s all-time money list with more than $35,000,000 in winnings, he’s an eight-time WSOP gold bracelet winner, and also a WPT champion. Although he’s of an older generation of players, Seidel continues to be a crusher on the high-stakes poker scene and has plenty of experience against the fellow professional players in the field. Haralabos Voulgaris and Daniel Colman Since Haralabos Voulgaris' new gig with the Dallas Mavericks, he hasn't been around the poker scene much. Not that the former professional sports bettor was grinding every tournament under the sun before he became the NBA team's Director of Quantitative Research and Development, but Voulgaris was known to get down in the high-stakes arena. Having played a couple million-dollar buy-ins before, this event is right in his wheelhouse. Voulgaris and Daniel Colman have a relationship that saw Voulgaris on Colman’s rail when Colman won the 2014 WSOP $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop. It would also be fitting to see Colman return to poker’s public stage in the largest buy-in event in the game’s history. Evan Mathis and Alex Foxen Maybe we’re reaching here, maybe we’re not, but these are dream scenarios so let’s keep rolling with it. Evan Mathis spent 12 years in the NFL and was one of the league’s top offensive lineman. He won a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos and reached the Pro Bowl on two occasions. According to Spotrac, Mathis has estimated career earnings from football at more than $21,000,000. He recently grabbed headlines when he sold a 1952 Topps rookie card of Mickey Mantle for nearly $3 million. That’s enough to pay for his entry, his guest’s entry, and have plenty left over. Sticking with the football tie-in, Mathis’ guest could be Alex Foxen, a former football player for Boston College. These two would be quite the presence on and off the felt and both have the skills to compete. Richard Seymour and Ryan Riess Another fantasy Triton Million pairing is Richard Seymour and Ryan Riess. This would give us who is arguably poker’s strongest mainstream connection, Seymour, in the field and the three-time Super Bowl winner has plenty of experience on the felt. He just came off a 131st-place finish in the WSOP Main Event. A huge sports enthusiast and a player friendly with Seymour is Ryan Riess, winner of the 2013 WSOP Main Event and also a WPT champion. Steve Aoki and Brian Rast The last dream pairing we'll look at involves superstar DJ Steve Aoki and top poker player Brian Rast. The two know each other, so the connection works for the invite, and Aoki has been known to play a bit of poker in his spare time. With Aoki being billed as one of the richest DJs in the world, the cake-tossing music maker should have enough cash to enter. If not, Rast can certainly front or find the money to get Aoki in so that he can play in the event. How To Watch the Triton Million Fans from around the world can watch the Triton Million for free on PokerGO. Ali Nejad will call the action, with professional poker player Nick Schulman alongside to provide expert commentary. Action starts Thursday, August 1, at 8 am ET and PokerGO will have coverage for the entirety of the event. If you don't already have a subscription to PokerGO, sign up today using the promo code "POCKET5S" for $10 off the PokerGO annual plan.
  14. Nearly nine years after the United States federal government charged him with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling, PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg has surrendered to U.S. authorities. According to a Forbes.com article, Scheinberg travelled from Switzerland to New York City on Friday, January 17 and was met by federal agents who took him into custody. According to the article, this was the culmination of negotiations between Scheinberg, 73, and the U.S. government which began when an extradition order was sought after Scheinberg travelled to Switzerland months earlier. Scheinberg founded PokerStars in 2001. Following the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, PokerStars continued to accept American customers and soared to become the largest online poker site in the world. On April 15, 2011 the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York seized the PokerStars.com domain name and charged Scheinberg and other executives from Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. PokerStars eventually re-acquired the domain name and continued to operate outside of the United States. In 2012, the company paid the U.S. government $731 million to settle a civil lawsuit the government had brought against the company. As part of that settlement, PokerStars acquired the assets of Full Tilt Poker and provided the government with $184 million to go towards making American Full Tilt players whole following the company's collapse in the wake of Black Friday. Scheinberg sold the company to a group lead by David Baazov in 2014 for $4.9 billion. According to Forbes, federal prosecutor Olga Zverovich told a hearing on Wednesday that Scheinberg had been negotiating with the government for some time. “We have an agreement in principle on the basic terms,” Zverovich said. Scheinberg is the last of those charged on Black Friday to face a judge in the United States. Scheinberg plead not guilty and was released on a $1 million bail. He also surrendered his passports.
  15. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. On an all-new episode of The FIVES Poker Podcast, Lance and Donnie discuss all of the latest news from the world of poker including the record-breaking PokerStars 14th Anniversary Sunday Million event and the continued worldwide surge of online poker. Plus, PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg entered a guilty plea this week in connection with the 10-year old charges stemming from Black Friday. Make sure to ownload and subscribe to The FIVES wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts and never miss an episode. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  16. Updated March 26, 10:30 AM ET Nearly nine years after the United States Government Department of Justice charged the owners of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker with operating illegal gambling businesses, in what became known in the poker world as Black Friday, the final defendant has pleaded guilty. Isai Scheinberg, the 73-year-old founder of PokerStars, plead guilty on Wednesday to one count of operating an illegal gambling business. He now faces a maximum of five years in prison. [ptable zone="888poker"][ptable zone="Party Poker NJ"][ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"] “Ten years ago, this Office charged 11 defendants who operated, or provided fraudulent payment processing services to, three of the largest online poker companies then operating in the United States – PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker – with operating illegal gambling businesses and other crimes. As Isai Scheinberg’s guilty plea today shows, the passage of time will not undermine this Office’s commitment to holding accountable individuals who violate U.S. law,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said. Scheinberg will be sentenced at a later date. "Mr. Scheinberg is pleased to put this matter behind him and that all charges other than violating the 1971 Gambling Act have been dropped. Notably, all PokerStars players were paid back immediately and Mr. Scheinberg played an important role in ensuring that all of the players from other sites were repaid as well," read a statement released by a representative of Scheinberg. In January, Scheinberg flew from Switzerland to New York City after negotiating with the U.S. government over the previous three months. During his first court appearance, federal prosecutor Olga Zverovich told a hearing that Scheinberg had been negotiating with the government and had an "agreement in principle" at the time. Scheinberg founded PokerStars in 2001 and grew the company into the largest online poker operator in the world. In the aftermath of Black Friday, the company continued to operate outside of the United States and eventually settled a civil lawsuit with the U.S. government by paying a $731 million fine. Scheinberg sold the company to a group lead by David Baazov in 2014 for $4.9 billion. The other 10 charged on Black Friday, Ray Bitar, Scott Tom, Brent Beckley, Nelson Burtnick, Paul Tate, Ryan Lang, Bradley Franzen, Ira Rubin, Chad Elie, and John Campos had all previously dealt with their charges.
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