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  1. In recent days, PokerStarshas been reaching out to former New Jersey VIP players and meeting with them via a series of summits in Jersey City and Atlantic City. The site, which Amaya Gaming purchased along with Full Tilt Poker three months ago, appears on track to enter the New Jersey market by the end of the year and perhaps as soon as next month. --- 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! --- The Atlantic City meet-up was on deck for Wednesday from 12:30pm to 2:30pm local time at the Landshark Bar and Grill at Resorts, according to a post on Two Plus Two. The Jersey City meet-up took place on Monday at Hyatt Regency's Vu Lounge. The e-mail sent to players read, "As a valued former PokerStars VIP in New Jersey, we would like to invite you to meet two members of PokerStars' management who will be in the area next week. They will be hosting two discussions in a casual setting with the goal of meeting the New Jersey player base and inviting feedback on any topics or concerns you as a player may have." The e-mail continued, "The meetings will be in an open house format and you can drop by at any time during the scheduled sessions. RSVP is not required. However, if you know in advance that you'll be attending, please let us know at which location we can expect you." One PocketFiver from Atlantic City was contemplating attending the PokerStars meet-up, but would have to miss an event during the ongoing Garden State Super Series on Borgata Pokerand PartyPokerin order to do so. He posted in our New Jersey poker community, "Anyone get another invite from Stars? Would involve taking a GSSS night off, so curious about the exclusivity before I decide/RSVP, but I do love PokerStars, so will probably do it anyway." One person who attended Monday's session told PocketFives that he was "a little disappointed," adding, "It was a marketing questionnaire to find out the status of the New Jersey poker community." One player who attended the meetings this week told PocketFives, "They answered a lot of general questions but were hesitant to lock in to anything in terms of an opening date, as they are still going through the licensing process. But, they did mention that once licensing was approved, it would probably only take a few weeks to be up and running." The same player added, "They wouldn't or couldn't go into much detail on anything relating to opening promotions, rewards, or rakeback as of right now. They had a mock/tentative MTT schedule printed up for eyes only. It was a fuller schedule with guarantees in line with what we currently see being offered, just a wider variety of buy-ins, guarantees, structures, and tournament styles. They seemed very keen on adjusting guarantees accordingly once the player pools and volume was established." The review of PokerStars' application for an operating license in New Jersey was suspended last Decemberafter the site had agreed to partner with Resorts. In June, Amaya Gaming bought PokerStars' parent company for almost $5 billion, possibly paving the way for the world's largest online poker site to enter New Jersey pending approval. As part of Amaya's transaction, Rational founder and CEO Mark Scheinbergand "other principles" agreed to resign. However, "Rational Group's executive management team will be retained and online poker services provided by PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will be unaffected," so it remains to be seen if regulators will be satisfied by the changes made at PokerStars and Full Tilt. We'll keep you posted on the latest poker news right here on PocketFives. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. The proposed deal between Amaya Gaming and the Rational Group, the parent company of PokerStarsand Full Tilt Poker, has brought the world's largest online poker room back into the discussions for New Jersey's online gaming industry. In response, an ally of Sheldon Adelson's (pictured) Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling has penned an op/ed for the Newark Star-Ledger that advocates for the PokerStars licensing process to be done under public scrutiny. --- 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! --- Carl Zeitz, who was a member of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission (NJCCC) in the 1980s and is now an advisor to the Coalition, cited in his op/ed that PokerStars is on a "fast track" for review and licensing. Zeitz said that because PokerStars is being licensed as a "service provider" rather than a casino operator, the benchmark is to achieve. He added that the New Jersey online gaming industry "is being regulated without an open public process revealing the people and businesses running this socially and economically risky new gambling." Zeitz pointed out that during his time with the NJCCC, the organization and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) were instrumental in setting a high standard for casino licensing. In 2011, however, the NJCCC was reduced from a five-member body to a three-member caucus, with many of the powers the organization had passed to the DGE. "The compromise and outright abandonment of the dual agency safeguards and systems now calls into question the kind of tough, open licensing and regulation we worked hard to achieve in New Jersey at the outset of legal casino gambling," Zeitz wrote. Zeitz went on to point out the issues that PokerStars has faced since the "Black Friday" indictments of 2011, saying that PokerStars "violated or continued to violate US laws with impunity." He added, "No such violator should ever be deemed fit to engage in a legal gambling business, especially if the law-breaking involved gambling statutes." "Who, in an open, contested, public hearing governed by due process will ask sworn witnesses the hard questions?" Zeitz asked. He then listed questions he would like to hear in such a hearing: What are the terms of the acquisition and financing by Amaya Gaming to purchase PokerStars? What is the stake of those under indictment (presumably meaning Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate of PokerStars)? What lawsuits are pending against the company relating to prior bad acts by those being severed from the company? How will they be paid, how much, over how long a time frame, through what financing methods, and with what recourse against the company if it defaults? Zeitz finished his op/ed by stating, "PokerStars should face the scrutiny of a casino-licensing standard. They have not and, until they are, all of it is open to doubt." The Zeitz op/ed seems to be another method of attack by the Adelson-led Coalition in either delaying or preventing PokerStars from being licensed in the state of New Jersey, which is in danger of losing one-third of its 12 casinos in nine short months. The process of that licensing is, however, moving forward and may be completed by as early as this fall. Visit PocketFives' New Jersey poker community for the latest news and discussion from New Jersey players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. According to the Associated Press, talks between Amaya Gaming, which announced one week ago that it plans to acquire the parent company PokerStarsand Full Tilt, and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement will begin on Thursday. The focus: getting PokerStars licensed in the Garden State, a process that wound up in a dead end last December. --- 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 now for a chance to win the a Dream Holiday with the Grand Poker Adventures throughout 2014! --- Amaya purchased the Rational Group, the parent company of Stars and Tilt, for $4.9 billion last week, making Amaya the largest publicly held internet gambling firm on the planet. You'll recall that last December, New Jersey gaming officials suspended their review of PokerStars' licensing application for two yearsdue primarily to "the unresolved Federal indictment against Isai Scheinberg for the alleged violation of Federal gambling statutes… and the involvement of certain PokerStars executives with internet gaming operations in the United States following the enactment of the UIGEA." Isai Scheinberg, his son and CEO Mark Scheinberg, and various Rational Group Board members will vacate their positions as part of the company's sale to Amaya, and the deal is scheduled to close in September. However, the "executive management" teams of PokerStars and Full Tilt will remain intact. New Jersey DGE Director David Rebuck (pictured) told the Associated Press, "We've had discussions with Amaya to reactivate the application and we plan to begin discussions with them [on Thursday]… We'll look at whatever they bring over… I think in the long-run it will be a good story for New Jersey. I'm optimistic that they know what the rules are and I fully expect them to be very aggressive because they want to be here." A spokesperson for Amaya told the Associated Press, "They are optimistic they will get this done quickly," with the AP alluding to the "fall" as its timeline for approval. Last July, PokerStars partnered with Resorts Atlantic City to offer online gambling in New Jersey, although whether the partnership will hold post-sale remains to be seen. Amaya currently works with sites like Ultimate Poker and CaesarsCasino.com in New Jersey, providing casino games. In its statement explaining its decision to suspend the review of PokerStars' application, DGE officials noted that "significantly changed circumstances" could result in the application once again being considered. One of the largest gambling-related sales ever and the departure of key owners could likely constitute such a circumstance. Visit PocketFives' New Jersey poker community for the latest on this still-developing story. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. In case you're wondering why PokerStarshas not been approved for a license in New Jersey, the reason is that the site is in "time out," according to internet gambling advocate and State Senator Raymond Lesniak. Yes, PokerStars is in the same state my two-year-old son is in when he throws blocks at the television. The reason PokerStars is off the grid right now in the Garden State: Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, of course. Lesniak posted on Twitter: Lesniak was kind enough to answer several follow-up questions to his Tweet and said that the cause of PokerStars being in time out is Adelson: "Christie just giving Adelson time during Congressional lame duck session to kill Egaming." There are strong rumors that we'll have a hearing about prohibiting online gambling during the upcoming lame duck session on Capitol Hill in the US. Whether a bill will be passed in some form remains to be seen. Lesniak was quick to point out that PokerStars' application has not been formally put on hold, but said his thoughts were based on "37 years of political insight." This author originally expected PokerStars in New Jersey around October 1. Now, it appears we could be waiting well into 2015. Despite plenty of gripe from the general public that New Jersey's internet gambling revenues have been lower than expected, it was recently revealed that Borgata's online gaming arm turned a profitin the third quarter. Borgata, of course, runs Borgata Poker. Regarding PokerStars, Borgata officials said during an earnings call that they expect the site to be in the market at some point: "With respect to PokerStars, once again we don’t have any insight or any knowledge. As we built the model to operate online gaming in New Jersey, we just assumed they would be involved at some point in time. So, that's the ultimate decision by the New Jersey regulators, then that's it. We'll be prepared to deal with it." At the federal level, Adelson (pictured) is supporting bills by Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would effectively prohibit internet gambling in the US and roll back the Wire Act of 1961. The bill, as presently written, would also wipe out the regulated internet gambling industries in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. According to the Poker Players Alliance, fantasy sports sits like FanDuel would continue to be permitted. The PPA declined to comment on Lesniak's Tweets. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest poker legislation news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  5. In September of last year, New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak hinted that PokerStars' approval to operate in the Garden State was imminent. But as the months pass by, many are wondering just what, exactly, is holding up the process. Speaking to Business Insider, several political insiders place the blame squarely on the shoulders of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (pictured). "Christie put a stop to it," said Lesniak. "With a high degree of confidence, it's apparent that's exactly what has happened." The entry of PokerStars into the market could bring significant benefits to beleaguered Atlantic City. The site hopes to use its brand recognition and marketing prowess to sign up a new wave of online poker players. The gaming giant had also planned to invest $10 million in a showcase poker room at Resorts Atlantic City. Local union leader Bob McDevitt believes that PokerStars could bring upwards of 1,000 much-needed jobs to the community. So why would Christie, the Governor who once signed off on internet poker in New Jersey, delay something that seems like a clear win for the state? The answer is likely tied to Christie's personal ambitions of becoming commander-in-chief in 2016. Through massive donations to GOP candidates, Las Vegas Sands CEO Adelson(pictured) has become such a powerful force in American politics that right-wing presidential hopefuls are virtually required to pay homage to the billionaire and parrot his causes. Unfortunately for Christie, Adelson is vehemently opposed to online gambling and has been making good on his promise to spend "whatever it takes" to put a stop to it. That puts Christie in an awkward position, but delaying PokerStars' licensing could be a way for him to prove his loyalty in the eyes of the Republican mega-donor. Lesniak, who was instrumental in legalizing i-gaming in 2012, says it's common knowledge that Christie is doing Adelson a solid by blocking PokerStars. "It's pretty well known," he said. "But I don't think anyone's going to go on the record to confirm it." McDevitt was one of those who was willing to speak out, saying that, "PokerStars should have been already up and operating long before this point." He added that it was his own understanding that the Attorney General's office and the Governor were holding up approval. Another source was more resolute, saying, "There is no question in my mind that Sheldon Adelson is the reason why this hasn't moved forward, and that's the only reason." Christie has called the allegations that he put PokerStars on ice as a favor to Adelson "nonsensical." Christie's relationship with Adelson, however, is the subject of a biting New York Times piece, which questioned whether the two "friends" were acting in an inappropriate manner for a politician and a private citizen. While through the years, the Governor and his family have enjoyed perks like jaunts on Adelson's private jet, Christie claims that the men don't discuss issues like online gambling policy during such trips. Adelson, however, tells a different tale, once letting slip that the two discussed online gambling legislation. He implied that Christie wanted to veto the New Jersey i-gaming bill, "as Mr. Adelson would've wanted," but decided against it. He allegedly told the tycoon that the only reason he didn't use the veto was out of fear that the move would be overridden. Visit PocketFives' New Jersey poker community for the latest news and discussion from New Jersey players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  6. According to State Senator Raymond Lesniak (pictured), PokerStars, the world's largest online poker site, will launch in New Jersey in March. Now that the so-called "lame duck" session of Congress in the US is behind us and lawmakers around the country have taken their posts, the focus in New Jersey may now shift to PokerStars being licensed. Longtime industry pro and Online Poker Report front man Chris Grove Tweeted to Lesniak on Saturday, "What about PokerStars - how's that appeal going?" Lesniak responded, "March 2015." You can follow Grove on Twitter at @OPReport. You can follow Lesniak at @SenatorLesniak. Lesniak, who said late last year that PokerStars was in "time out" in New Jersey, added on Twitter, "Adelson's play to ban eGaming in Congress is dead and PokerStars' new ownership [is] too formidable to deny." In the middle of 2014, Amaya Gaming bought PokerStarsand its sister site, Full Tilt, for $4.9 billion to create the largest publicly traded internet gambling company in the world. In the process, it eliminated PokerStars' ownership during Black Friday. During last year's lame duck session, it appeared that New Jersey officials would let Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson (pictured) potentially ban internet gambling in the US at the Federal level before deciding what to do with PokerStars in the Garden State. Online Poker Reportelaborated, "It's worth noting that Lesniak isn't the only voice suggesting that PokerStars' outlook in New Jersey has improved. A recent note from Adam Krejcik at Eilers Research put PokerStars' chances of cracking the New Jersey market in 2015 at better than 50%." In PocketFives' New Jersey pokercommunity, PocketFives co-founder Adam Small said in a thread, "The assumption continues to be that Stars/Tilt will get approved. This hasn't really changed since the Amaya acquisition. The only thing that's changed, from where I'm standing, is ETA. That still appears to be very much in the air." Rumors circulated, for example, that PokerStars would launch in New Jersey last October, but those didn't pan out. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  7. On Friday, the transactional waiverallowing Amaya to operate in New Jersey was published. The waiver outlines several terms Amaya must adhere to before launching. It is not known when the Amaya brands PokerStars and Full Tilt will begin operating in New Jersey, where their land-based partner is Resorts. Six Months or Bust The waiver is good for six months "subject to final approval of the Regulated Gaming System and each game by the Division's Technical Services Bureau." During this time period, PokerStars will undergo plenty of testing to ensure it can geo-locate players and address underage and problem gamblers. Repayment to New Jersey Players The Division of Gaming Enforcement, or DGE, added that Amaya must "escheat to the State of New Jersey all funds remaining in any PokerStars' accounts for New Jersey players received prior to April 15, 2011 before commencing internet gaming operations in New Jersey." PokerStars repaid US players immediately following Black Friday, while Full Tilt, then under different ownership, failed to do so and is in the process of repaying US customers. DGE specifically references PokerStars, not Full Tilt. Heave Ho, Four Must Go Not sure where we came up with that subtitle, but it rhymes. The DGE is demanding that "four individuals identified by the Division as having failed to establish the requisite good character, honesty, and integrity required by the Act due to their involvement in the business activities of the PokerStars Entities between the enactment of UIGEA and Black Friday" be dismissed. It is not known who the four individuals are. The Blacklist Isai Scheinberg (pictured), Mark Scheinberg, Pinhas Schapira, Yehuda Nir, Paul Telford, Paul Tate, Nelson Burtnick, Ray Bitar, Rafael Furst, and Chris Ferguson are prohibited from being involved in the business in any way, shape, or form without DGE approval. Reports, Reports, Reports Amaya must let DGE know if it begins to operate in any new jurisdiction, if any complaints are brought against the company, and any other event that would affect the transactional waiver. All transactions and business records can be reviewed by DGE at any time. Private Eyes Are Watching You According to Online Poker Report, DGE's investigation into Amaya was exhaustive. It included review of 45,000 pages of documents, 71 interviews, and review of Amaya's 2014 records with the help of a consulting company. Visit PocketFives' New Jersey poker community for the latest news and discussion from New Jersey players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  8. As reported in PocketFives' New Jersey poker community, PokerStarshas begun contacting New Jersey players with outstanding balances ahead of offering real money games in the state. Why? New Jersey regulators mandated that the site dispose of outstanding balances to Garden State players in order to receive a license. New Jersey players with unclaimed funds, seemingly regardless of the amount, were sent an e-mail in recent days that read in part, "As we recently have received approval in New Jersey and anticipate beginning to offer real-money online gaming soon, we wanted to provide you with the opportunity to obtain the funds." In order to claim the money, players can log into PokerStars, e-mail support@pokerstars.net, send snail mail, or go in person to an office in Atlantic City. The e-mail explained, "We are required to make a diligent attempt to renew contact. If contact is not renewed, we are required to transfer your account to the custody of the State of New Jersey. The State is required to maintain custody of these funds until you come forward to claim them from the State. The State must pay you interest when the funds are returned." If players with unclaimed funds do not contact PokerStars by December 28, the site is "required by law to transfer these funds to the custody of the State of New Jersey. Once the funds are transferred to the State, you will need to submit a claim to the New Jersey Unclaimed Property Department to recover your funds in accordance with the New Jersey's Uniform Unclaimed Property Act." As PocketFives Community Manager Kevin KevmathMathers (pictured) said of the December 28 deadline, "It seems to guarantee Stars won't be in NJ until at least January 1." One PocketFives New Jersey member said he received an email for $4.27, while another got an e-mail for $0.04. The latter player received an email that said, "As the remaining balance is less than the cost to process a return of the funds, we’d like to offer you the option of instead donating the funds to CCGNJ: Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey charity." Mathers speculated that players with less than $1 in unclaimed funds would likely have their balances donated. The e-mail was dated October 29. Visit PocketFives' New Jersey poker community for the latest news and discussion from New Jersey players.
  9. The biggest news story last week was the licensure of PokerStars in New Jersey. When the site will launch isn't clear, but what we do know is the world's largest online poker room returning to the US for the first time since Black Friday will have major ramifications for the industry. The Snowball Effect One of the major effects of New Jersey officials licensing PokerStars has to do with the prospects of the site getting licensed in other states, current or future, that will allow online gambling. As PokerNews' Chad Holloway put it on Twitter, "Going to be hard for opponents & legislators to argue bad actor after PokerStars passed the rigorous & unprecedented DGE review process." Nevada and Delaware are the only two other states that allow internet gambling right now, but Pennsylvania, California, New York, and others could follow suit. Already licensed in the US, PokerStars could have a leg up on its competition. One state we won't see PokerStars in, for at least the short-term, is Nevada. Reporter Jon Mehaffey said on Twitter, "NV regulations have a tainted asset clause. That keeps PS/FTP out of NV. The Amaya sale didn't change that." Other states could include "bad actor" clauses in their regulations as well. Rising Tide in New Jersey Rather than poach all of its competitors' customers in New Jersey, PokerStars could grow the market in the Garden State. Global Poker Index's Alex Dreyfus explained, "Amaya/Pokerstars is very cautious to develop the market size of NJ and not just poach others' customers. Other states will look at that. Therefore, AYA/Stars need to bring innovation and moves that will enlarge the market. That's why it's unlikely to go live in Q4." Dreyfus has predicted a 2016 launch for PokerStars in New Jersey, while others have reasoned that November or December is likely. Current operators in New Jersey include PartyPoker and 888 Poker. Compacts-A-Plenty PokerStars' presence in New Jersey could lead other states to seek compacts with New Jersey to share liquidity. As the Poker Players Alliance said on Twitter, "Many ask if PokerStars in NJ means [New Jersey playing with the] worldwide player pool. It does not (for now), but I believe it makes NJ an attractive compact partner." The legal framework is not currently in place in New Jersey for players to compete with the global pool, but that could change in the future. Nolan Dalla said of the timeline of other states coming online and forging compacts, "[It] will be some time before pacts with other states. PA/NY possible within 18 months. Then dominoes tumble." We'll keep you posted on the latest news related to PokerStars' return to the US. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  10. PokerStars has endured setback after setback in its long road to becoming licensed in the US iGaming market. On Wednesday, the company's persistence paid off, as the gaming giant was granted a transactional waiver to open its doors in New Jersey. It's partnering with Resorts Casino Hotel, which also runs ResortsCasino.com. Poker pro Greg Merson(pictured) was one of the first to offer congratulations to the Isle of Man-based company. "Dear PokerStars, we here in NJ would like to welcome you with open arms! #murica," he Tweeted. PokerStars pro Liv Boeree broke the news to her 108,000 Twitter followers as well: "Wooooooooo PokerStars have been approved for a New Jersey gaming licence!! Back in the US again." When New Jersey legalized online gambling after a key Department of Justice ruling on the Wire Act of 1961, the site's path to offering its product in the Garden State seemed simple enough. PokerStars later found a partner in Resorts Casino Hotel, but was denied an iGaming license when questions about the company's owners arose. It pressed on, eventually being acquired by Amaya Gaming and enduring a seemingly endless iGaming license application process by state regulators before getting the green light on Wednesday. More industry heavyweights chimed in on the decision on Twitter, including Alex Dreyfus, head of the Global Poker Index. He said that PokerStars will not just poach players from existing operators, but will "develop the market size of NJ." He also speculated that the company wouldn't launch until next year. "I believe Amaya/Pokerstars will launch in Q1 2016, no need to add cost on Y15," he said. "Need a strong strategy to develop a market without killing it." Competitor WSOPjoined in the course of congratulations, telling PokerStars, "Welcome to the Garden State… Seems appropriate with @RealKidPoker a vegan and all." And speaking of Daniel "@RealKidPoker" Negreanu (pictured), the six-time bracelet winner had his own response for his 375,000 Twitter followers. "Getting a lot of texts when I landed. Lots of people all of a sudden looking to spend some time on the Jersey Shore," he said. PokerStars head of corporate communications, Eric Hollreiser, got in on the action as well. "Hello New Jersey," he Tweeted. "How YOU doin'." A tweet by PokerStars' Garry Gates telegraphed the return of PokerStars live tournaments in the US. "Tomorrow marks my 5-year anniversary at PokerStars and I'm pleased to announce my new job/title is Live Events Manager, North America," he said. It's unclear when Stars actually plans to launch, but with so much time to prepare, it's unlikely that it will need much more. So far, Amaya CEO David Baazov has delivered on his promises of getting PokerStars licensed before the end of the third quarter and launching the company's daily fantasy sports site before the beginning of the NFL season. Poker entrepreneur Steve McLoughlin had this to say: "Isai waited 14 years for this date. This was his ultimate goal to be licensed and regulated here. Thank you for all you have done Isai!" Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  11. According to iGaming Businessand other outlets, the seemingly lengthy delay of PokerStarsgetting licensed in New Jersey has to do with a "thorough, comprehensive review" by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. --- 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. --- The review in question centers on Amaya Gaming's purchase of PokerStarslast year. DGE Director David Rebuck was quoted in an iGaming Business article as explaining, "We've done 80 sworn interviews, we've traveled to half-a-dozen foreign countries. I'm not going to be the first person to sabotage the work of this Division. We're going to do this in a very professional way, which will be published to the world, because whatever decision we come down on will be scrutinized and some will hate it and some will love it." There you have it. A precedent will be set one way or the other. As Poker Industry Pro put it, whatever decision New Jersey makes could have a ripple effect in other current or future regulated gaming markets in the US: "The extended process and the depth of the DGE analysis may make it extremely difficult for other states to deny PokerStars a license if the DGE deems them suitable to be an operator in New Jersey." Amaya acquired PokerStars and its sister site, Full Tilt, for $4.9 billion in June 2014. Mark Scheinberg (pictured), the founder and CEO of PokerStars' parent company, stepped aside in the process, potentially satisfying issues New Jersey regulators could have had with the presence of Isai Scheinberg and other post-UIGEA executives. PokerStars officials have been adamant that the poker room will be licensed in New Jersey by the end of the third quarter, which is coming up next Wednesday. Amaya's stock run-up in the weeks before its PokerStars purchase has also been under investigation, potentially complicating matters, although that probe was not cited by iGaming Business as a reason for the licensing delay. Already licensed and operating in New Jersey are sites like the bwin.party-managed PartyPokerand the 888 Holdings-owned 888 Poker. Visit PocketFives' New Jersey poker community for the latest news and discussion from New Jersey players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  12. It might have taken longer than expected, but the Amaya Gaming brands PokerStarsand Full Tilthave been authorized to operate in New Jersey, according to an Amaya press release. In what could result in a domino effect of sorts in other states debating whether to allow PokerStars and Full Tilt to operate, New Jersey gaming officials approved both brands, which have a land-based partner in Resorts Casino Hotel, which also operates ResortsCasino.com. David Baazov, Chairman and CEO of Amaya, commented in the same press release, "We are very pleased to add New Jersey to the long list of regulated markets that have found PokerStars and Full Tilt suitable to offer real money online gaming. I want to thank the DGE for their thorough and fair review of our business. We look forward to bringing our popular brands, innovative technology, marketing prowess, and world-class security and game integrity to the growing New Jersey online gaming market. We anticipate providing additional details of our launch plans in the near future." Speculation has run rampant on social media as to when the brands will debut. A soft launch period will likely occur and estimates of real money gaming have ranged between November of this year and Q1 2016. As Global Poker Index's Alex Dreyfus put it, "I believe Amaya/Pokerstars will launch in Q1 2016. No need to add cost on Y15. Need a strong strategy to develop a market without killing it." Baazov (pictured) added that Amaya will continue to be consumer-driven: "Since the acquisition, we have consistently delivered on our stated strategy. Today's announcement follows the divesture of our B2B businesses for total gross proceeds of approximately US $524.8 million; the launch of casino games on PokerStars, which we estimate has one of the largest active user bases of any online casino; the refinancing of our long-term debt; and the reduction of our annual interest expense by approximately US $62 million. We are excited about our new product pipeline and enthusiastic that we will experience growth in existing and emerging markets in the future." Amaya's stock ended Wednesday's trading up 6% in the last two hours the markets were open, signaling that major news was in the offing. Over on Twitter, talk around Midnight ET on Wednesday had to do with whether the short-lived PokerStars-backed North American Poker Tourwould find its way to Resorts. Other players in the New Jersey market include PartyPokerand 888 Poker, which share liquidity with Borgata Poker and WSOP.com, respectively. Like the other sites in the market, PokerStars players will only be allowed to play with other players in New Jersey. Our New Jersey poker community was bustling with the news, with one person theorizing, "If they have a decent geolocation, they will take over New Jersey." PokerStars left the US market on Black Friday. Baazov and others were adamant that the Amaya-owned site would get approval by the end of Q3 2015, a deadline the company beat by a matter of hours. We'll have more updates on Thursday right here on PocketFives.
  13. [caption width="640"] PokerStars officially launched in New Jersey on Monday, March 21, 2016.[/caption] Thanks for following our live blog coverage of the PokerStarsNJ launch. 9:13 PM: With nearly 1,200 seated players, there are currently eight full $1/$2 Six Max NLHE tables and 14 full $0.25/$0.50 Six Max NLHE tables. 8:01 PM: The threat of an overlay in the big nightly events on Day 1 was probably overstated. The Big $50, which carried a $1,500 guarantee needed 33 players to reach the guarantee and ended up with 79 for a total prize pool of $3,594.50. The biggest guarantee of the night was in the Nightly Stars $100. With a $10,000 guarantee the event needed 109 players to avoid an overlay. With another 58 minutes of late registration available, there are 115 players in the event, making the guarantee easily. 6:52 PM: One of the products that U.S. players will find new on PokerStarsNJ is the Spin N Go. The Hyper Turbo sit n gos, which are played three-handed, do not have a set prizepool. Before play begins players watch a spinning wheel with prizes ranging between two and 10,000 times the buy-in. Just before 7 PM three players signed up for a $5 Spin N Go and wound up splitting $6,000. 'sumzyy' took home $5,000 for winning and 'NJPLandy15' and 'alucard 27' each earned $500 for finishing second and third. If you don’t already have a PokerStarsNJ account you can sign-up here and be ready to play as soon as you’re inside the state of New Jersey. 6:20 PM: The 'Big $50' tournament which runs nightly at 6 PM and has a $1,500 guarantee, had no trouble meeting the number of the first night. With registration open for another 1 hour and 40 minutes, there are 30 players registered, meaning they've raised exactly $1,500 so far. However, unlike in other markets around the world, the buy-in of $50 is inclusive of fees, so the buy-in for this event is actually $45.50 + $4.50. This leaves the net overlay currently at $135. 5:43 PM: Six full days before their first "Sunday Major", PokerStarsNJ has a player registered for their marquee Sunday event, the Sunday Special. 'RevelOwner', who has been active on the site during throughout the day, signed up for the $200 buy-in, $50,000 guaranteed event. The full PokerStarsNJ tournament schedule includes regular daily events with buy-in from $5 to $100 and guarantees as high as $10,000. 5:37 PM: Heading into the busier part of the nightly tournament schedule, PokerStarsNJ broke through the 500-player mark with four tables of $5/$10 Six Max NLHE running, two full tables of $2.50/$5 Six Max NLHE and a full lineup of NLHE games from $0.05/$0.10 and up. 4:22 PM: Chris Moneymaker is known for winning the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event, but he's not just a one trick pony. Moneymaker, playing under the screen name 'Money800NJ', is currently playing $1/$2 Pot Limit Triple Draw. And he's making hands like a boss. 3:41 PM: Jason Somerville, a Team PokerStars Pro, is in New Jersey and started streaming on Twitch.tv/jcarverpoker just after 3 PM. Somerville, playing as 'jcarverNJ', currently has just over 5,000 people watching him play a $20 deepstack NLHE event. 3:01 PM: Just after the clock struck three o'clock, PokerStarsNJ hit another milestone, topping the 400-player mark for the first time. As the afternoon approaches and more of the 9-5 bridge-and-tunnel crowd make their way home, this number should see a bigger jump. 2:50 PM: The PokerStars media event at Resorts Casino & Hotel has all of the big name Team Pros on hand to show off the new PokerStars NJ product. One of those players is Jason Mercier and he even managed to bring along his dog, marshmallow. 1:00 PM: It appears that at least on Day 1, PokerStars is quickly becoming the top site. A look at the lobby of competing sites shows PokerStars as the leader. PokerStars: 283 connected players WSOP.com: 110 cash game players* partypoker: 189 connected players *data from PokerScout.com 12:16 PM: Mainstream media is starting to pick up on the scent. The Associated Press just released a story about the re-launch of PokerStars in New Jersey and mentions the possibility that the Garden State might need to start working with other states for this thing to really take off. New Jersey has been seeking reciprocal compacts with other states and even other countries to offer Internet gambling with larger combined prize pools, but so far it has only succeeded in taking small steps toward that goal. 11:29 AM: The excitement of PokerStars being in just one state is spilling over to surrounding states - even if the play isn't. Players in the Pennsylvania Poker Community are talking about making the trip into New Jersey to play - one player did so during Soft Launch and was pretty impressed by the product, calling the software "by far the best offered in NJ right now". 11:00 AM: A new high in number of connected players of 169. There were three full $0.25/$0.50 Six Max NLHE tables and two tables of $2.50/$5 Six Max NLHE for the first time. 10:34 AM: The first official tournament now has a winner with 'Pandemicz' taking down the $15 No Limit Hold’em (Six Max, Turbo, Progressive SuperKO). 'Pandemicz' beat out PocketFives members 'Mrs. Baskets' and 'LennyCappy' to win $82.03 plus $50.57 in bounties. 10:23 AM: While the cash games are picking up and multiple tournaments are now running, there are still no ZOOM tables running. 10:15 AM: Check out our PokerStarsNJ FAQ for many of the answers to questions you might have about the return of PokerStars to the United States. 9:57 AM: New Jersey native Vanessa Selbst is apparently contemplating moving back to her home state. 9:45 AM: Traffic has peaked with 91 active players. Most players are playing $1/$2 Six Max NLHE and $0.25/$0.50 Six Max NLHE. There is also a single table of $0.50/$1 Six Max Pot Limit Omaha running. 9:30 AM: Registration is closed on the first official tournament on PokerStarsNJ. The $15 No Limit Hold’em (Six Max, Turbo, Progressive SuperKO) got 27 entries, pushing the total prize pool to $364.50 - well past the $250 guarantee. There were two other tournaments scheduled for earlier in the day, but both were cancelled after not making the minimum number of players. 8:33 AM: More and more players are finding their way to the site. Lobby shows 62 players playing and two full $1/$2 Six Max NLHE tables. The first guaranteed tournament of the day is set for a 9 AM start and has three players currently registered. 7:57 AM: It's no surprise that PokerStars has put the full weight of their Team Pros behind the launch. While Jason Somerville is scheduled to stream from New Jersey later on Monday, another Team Pro is making his way there now. [CCODE] [/CCODE] 7:41 AM: PocketFives member Steven Madara, the #17 ranked player in New Jersey, is up early and playing. Madara, playing under the screenname 'FadeOrHoldz', is seated at a $1/$2 Six Max NLHE table. 7:30 AM: A little over an hour into the day and there are 32 active players on the site. The most popular tables are $0.05/$0.10 Six Max NLHE where three tables were running. 6:13 AM: PokerStars issues a press release announcing they have passed all New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement soft launch requirements and are now 100% live in the Garden State. "We could not be more proud to bring PokerStars to New Jersey. Working with our partner, Resorts Casino Hotel, we look forward to providing the most exciting, innovative and secure gaming experience to New Jersey," said David Baazov, Chairman and CEO of Amaya, PokerStars' parent company.
  14. Online poker giant PokerStars has returned to New Jersey. Since it has been five years since PokerStars offered real money play to American players, PocketFives has constructed this Frequently Asked Questions page to help answer any questions that may come up. Do you have to be a New Jersey resident to play on PokerStars New Jersey? While you don't need to call the state of New Jersey home to play for real money, you do need to be in the state of New Jersey while playing. Players visiting New Jersey can play on the site as long as they pass the Geo Location test. What is Geo Location? To ensure that players are physically in the state of New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement requires PokerStars to verify a player's location using IP address and Wi-Fi signal triangulation. Who is PokerStars licensed by? PokerStars is licensed by the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement. Can I use my old PokerStars account login in New Jersey? For launch, PokerStars has created the Quick Account Creation process which allows players who previously had PokerStars accounts to use that information to sign up. To take advantage of the Quick Account Creation, follow the instructions below: Login using existing PokerStars User ID and password. Press ‘Create Account on PokerStars NJ’. You will see confirmation that your account was successfully created. After login, you will be asked to acknowledge that you are at least 21 years of age and that you agree with the End User License Agreement. In order to play for real money, you will be required to complete electronic account verification. Your personal details from your old account will be pre-populated to speed up the registration process. Players who wish to create a new account and screenname and keep their previous account for play outside of New Jersey can do so. What methods of deposit and withdrawal are available? Players will be able to deposit via Skrill, NETELLER, VISA, MasterCard, ACH bank transfer and in person at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. Are PokerStars New Jersey players playing against players around the world? Due to gaming laws, the PokerStars New Jersey product only includes players within the state. How do I download the PokerStars NJ software? Download the PokerStarsNJ client here. To register your account visit www.pokerstarsnj.com. Can we play on mobile devices? The PokerStars App will be available at launch and will allow players to play cash games, sit & gos and spin & gos. Will casino games be available or just poker? PokerStars is licensed to offer a full slate of casino games as well as poker. Blackjack, roulette, baccarat, video poker and slots will be available at launch. How can I add my new PokerStars NJ screen name to my PocketFives profile? Login to your PocketFives account On the top right, click on your PocketFives username and select 'Profile' Choose 'Edit Poker Names' From the drop-down menu, select 'PokerStars NJ' and enter your screen name and click 'Create New' Please note: It can take up to 24 hours for your screen name to pop up in your profile.
  15. [caption width="640"] PokerStarsNJ is back on U.S. soil for the first time since 2011.[/caption] Monday, March 21 will go down as one of the brightest early days in the history of regulated poker in the United States. Sure, the markets are few and far between and this new world of online poker is in its infancy, but when PokerStars, after nearly a five-year hiatus from dealing real money poker in the United States, made its return, people got excited. The day, which PocketFives covered live, featured a number of important firsts. First tournament win. First time over 500 seated players. First time over 1,000 seated players. First set of nightly tournaments. While there was probably some celebration in PokerStars’ offices in New Jersey and Isle of Man, there are probably also multiple whiteboards and legal pads filled with notes on things that worked and things that didn’t on Day 1. While nobody from PokerStars is likely to share the content of those whiteboards or notepads, watching the day unfold from the outside looking provided a unique perspective as the day unfolded. Here is What We Learned. People still love PokerStars Black Friday was over 1,800 days ago. That was the last time that PokerStars dealt real money poker in the United States, so its return to the market comes after a lengthy absence. There was probably very good reason to assume people would be excited about the return, but even the most optimistic soul probably didn’t think PokerStars would find itself over 1,000 seated players for a good chunk of prime time on Monday night. While recent events with the rest-of-world product have turned some high-stakes regulars against the company, the general reaction from New Jersey players on Monday was one of pure excitement. Following the social media chatter throughout the day, there were very few complaints or messages of disappointment about what was happening in New Jersey. Spin & Gos are hot; Sit & Gos are not When PokerStars dealt its last hand of real money poker in the U.S., sit & gos were one of the most popular products the company had. Recreational players – those without a six-hour window to dedicate to playing a multi-table tournament – were more than happy to play a sit & go and, good or bad, be done in an hour. In 2014, the company introduced a new concept: the Spin & Go. Played three-handed, the Spin & Gos are a hyper-turbo tournament where, instead of playing for the buy-ins of all players, the prize pool is determined by a pre-tournament spin of a wheel. Players end up playing for between 2X and 10,000X the buy-in amount. The PokerStarsNJ launch gave Americans their first taste of this new product and they proved to be extremely popular. On the other hand, those sit & gos that were once a staple of the overall experience struggled to find traction. Watching all lobbies throughout the day on Monday, the SNG lobby looked and felt like a bit of a ghost town. Those recreational players, the ones who originally flocked to them, seem more keen on gambling it up a little bit to find a big prize pool to play for in a Spin & Go than grinding out a smaller payday in a standard sit & go. PokerStars enjoyed a late-mover advantage When the New Jersey market first opened up, there were a number of hurdles that operators and players faced. While most players were expecting and hoping for an experience identical to the one they had pre-regulation, the reality was a lot different. The sign-up process was different, more personal information (including Social Security Number) was required, credit card companies were slow to differentiate between regulated, legal online gaming operations and offshore gray market sites and depositing wasn’t easy. One of the biggest issues was geo-location. NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement regulations require operators to limit their offering to people within the Garden State. Geo-location software was supposed to make this an easy process, but players were often met with confusing situations, including being told they weren’t in New Jersey even though they were attempting to play from that operator’s Atlantic City casino. But while partypoker, 888, WSOP.com and the now-defunct Ultimate Poker suffered through those early hassles and made their own share of mistakes along the way, PokerStars sat back and were able to observe and be ready for any potential problems. GeoComply, a third-party company that is now the standard-bearer for the gaming industry, solved the geo-location issue. Credit card processing still isn’t perfect (some players reported issues depositing with VISA on Monday), but it’s a lot further developed than it was. The initial guarantees weren’t all that aggressive PokerStars developed a reputation years ago of being the site for tournaments. When they announced their PokerStarsNJ tournament schedule last week, it was met with a shoulder shrug or two and considered pretty standard for the state. To be fair, the New Jersey market isn’t big and there are already a couple of operators with market share. That being said, PokerStarsNJ had no trouble at all making the guarantees on Day 1. A snapshot of some of the regular schedule and how they did against the guarantee. The Big $5: $500 guarantee, $759.85 prize pool The Big $10: $1,000 guarantee, $1,274 prize pool The Big $20: $1,000 guarantee, $1,601.60 prize pool The Big $50: $1,500 guarantee, $3,594.50 prize pool The Nightly Stars $100: $10,000 Guarantee, $12,943.80 There were a few smaller events that did have an overlay and a lot of this early success can be chalked up to the overall buzz and excitement about PokerStars being back in action, but should these numbers continue to be better than the guarantees, it seems likely that PokerStars will come up with bigger guarantees quickly to maintain this momentum. Not all the news was good on Monday PokerStars is a mammoth operation and the New Jersey market represents a fraction of its player base and revenue. So while that state, and a lot of the other U.S. markets, were celebrating Monday, the company managed to drop a bombshell on the rest of its player base. The price of poker was going up. Just after Noon ET, the company announced an increase in rake that averages out, according to PokerStars, to 4%, but "PokerStars will still have the lowest overall pricing (known as 'rake') of any major online poker operator." The increase comes just a few short months after the dramatic altering of the PokerStars VIP program that led to player strikes and meetings between high-profile players and company executives. The announcement, which did not impact the PokerStarsNJ rake, was not received well. The timing could have been a coincidence, but it still felt like a dark cloud on what was otherwise a day of rainbows and sunshine. While New Jersey players were happily clicking away at flush draws and making hero calls for the first time in five years, regular players in other markets were again taking to social media to express their frustration, anger and disappointment with the way in which PokerStars is conducting business. Rather than enjoy a day or two or seven of mostly positive coverage, the company found itself swimming in a sea of negative energy.
  16. If you're an avid reader of PocketFives, then you probably already know that PokerStars, the largest online poker site in the world, was recently licensed in New Jersey to offer real money games. The site is expected to launch sometime in the beginning of 2016 following a short test period. Players in our New Jersey pokercommunity have been buzzing about the prospects of PokerStars launching despite a strike against its worldwide dot-com site that's entering its third and final day. Recently, several PocketFivers reported that PokerStars was actively surveying players, which is not the first time this has occurred. Here are the questions PokerStars asked its former New Jersey customers: 1. Are you aware that playing online poker for real money is now regulated in the state of New Jersey? 2. Are you aware PokerStars now has approval to operate real money poker games in New Jersey? 3. Have you seen any advertising related to online poker in the last three months? 4. Are you currently (within the last three months) playing online poker for real money in New Jersey? 5. Which of the following online poker sites have you played on for real money in New Jersey in the past six months? 6. How often do you play online poker for real money? 7. How much time per week do you play online poker? 8. Have you ever made a real money deposit with any of the online New Jersey poker sites that you play with? 9. Which of the following payment options have you ever used to deposit? 10. Have you encountered any problems when setting up an account to play online poker in New Jersey? 11. Which of the following online poker game types have you ever played in the past six months? 12. And which game type have you played the most in the past six months? 13. Over the past two years, PokerStars has introduced a variety of new poker game types and innovative software features. Which of the following are you aware of? 14. Which devices do you ever use to play online poker? 15. Have you played online casino games for real money on any regulated sites in New Jersey? As you can see, the questions cover an array of topics, including brand awareness, depositing, game selection, play habits, technology, and software. The survey was emailed to New Jersey players who formerly had a PokerStars account. Again, when the site will launch remains to be seen. When PokerStars does debut, it will join a marketplace that already includes PartyPokerand 888. Initially, players in the Garden State had a variety of issues signing up for regulated rooms, including failed geo-location and rejected credit card transactions. The former still appears to be an issue for some, while the latter has been partially solved by the introduction of a brand new credit card code for licensed internet gambling sites. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest New Jersey news.
  17. [caption width="640"] Just days before their full launch, PokerStars NJ announced their tournament schedule.[/caption] After a long and hard-fought battle, PokerStars New Jersey officially began dealing legal, real money poker hands in New Jersey on Wednesday, kicking off a five-day "soft launch" phase mandated by state regulators. The excitement was palpable amongst the New Jersey poker community, which was happy to see the familiar PokerStars software client once again available in the Garden State. On Thursday, the online poker giant gave players even more to look forward to by announcing the recurring daily and Sunday Major tournament schedule. Since the site is ring-fenced and limited to the players in state of New Jersey, the events on the schedule offer just a fraction of the guarantees available to PokerStars players in other parts of the world. Even so, when the site ends its soft launch period and opens up to the entire state, or potentially pools players with other US states, there is plenty of room for growth. Daily Tournaments The daily tournaments are broken down into six categories: The Daily Bigs, The Hot Turbos, KO Fever, Nightly Stars, Change-Up and Moonlight Express. Here’s more: The Daily Bigs are freezeout tourneys running daily running from 4 PM-7 PM that feature 10,000 chip stacks with 8-12 minute blind levels. Buy-ins for the four events on offer start at $5 and max out at $50. The $50 tournament boasts a $1,500 guarantee, the highest of the group. The Hot Turbos feature fast-paced action, with players starting with 10,000 chips and blind levels increasing every five minutes. Tournaments run from 8 PM-12 AM with buy-ins going as high as $50. KO Fever is comprised of four Super Knockout or Progressive Super Knockout tournaments which start at 1:30 PM and run until 10:30 PM. The $50 entry tournament is the highest on offer for the group and guarantees $3,000. Nightly Stars is a $100 nightly tournament beginning at 7 PM, which boasts a $10,000 guarantee, the biggest of all the daily events. Change-Up is made up of three tournaments with buy-ins of $5, $15 and $20. As the name implies, these events shake things up by offering Omaha Hi-Lo, Omaha and Stud. Moonlight Express is a $20 buy-in late-night tournament which kicks off at 11 PM. It features a Hyper-Turbo structure and a $1,000 guarantee. Sunday Majors New Jersey players will also able to enjoy the five following Sunday tournaments: Sunday Warm-Up kicks off the big Sunday tournaments at 4 PM with a $50 buy-in and a $10,000 guarantee. Sunday Storm is a $5,000 guaranteed tournament which starts at 5 PM and, at $10, features the lowest buy-in of all the Sunday Majors. Sunday Special boasts a $50,000 guarantee, the biggest of the day, with a $200 buy-in. Qualifiers will be running and give players the opportunity to enter for a fraction of the price. Sunday High Roller begins at 7 PM and boasts a $500 buy-in with a $15,000 guarantee. The buy-in is the biggest of the day. Sunday Supersonic is the last tournament of the day and features a speedy Hyper-Turbo structure with a $75 buy-in and $5,000 guaranteed. This schedule kicks in on Monday, March 21 when the "soft-launch" phase is officially over. The first PokerStars NJ Sunday Majors will run March 27. Sign-up for PokerStars New Jersey now from anywhere in the United States and be ready to play the second you're in New Jersey.
  18. [caption width="640"] Poker players are counting down the days until PokerStars returns to U.S. soil.[/caption] For the first time in nearly five years, players in the United States will be able to play on PokerStars for real money beginning Wednesday, March 16 - but only those who are actually in New Jersey. With the official launch of PokerStars' New Jersey product set for March 21, the online poker giant has decided to "soft-launch" on March 16. Soft launches are required under New Jersey gaming regulations to allow the operator and regulators to review and correct any potential issues. The soft-launch announcement comes five months after PokerStars' parent company, Amaya Gaming, announced they had received approval from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to bring their online gaming products, poker and casino, to the Garden State in a partnership with land-based Resorts Casino. The site will have limited operating hours during the first three days before moving to an around-the-clock product on March 19. There is also a cap of 500 active players at any given time. Soft Launch Hours · March 16 & 17: 4 pm - Midnight · March 18: 8 am - Midnight · March 19 & 20: 24 hours Players can create a new account if they wish, however PokerStars has created a Quick Account Creation process for those who had a previous account that includes exclusive benefits. Beginning March 16, players can download the PokerStars NJ software and login using their previous User ID and password. Those that do will be credited with their previous VIP status and be able to convert Frequent Player Points into StarsCoin immediately at a rate of 1.6 FPP per StarsCoin. Players who complete the Quick Account Creation process will have their previous account closed. For those wishing to continue playing on their PokerStars account outside of the U.S., they'll need to create an entirely new account and will not be credited with any previous VIP status levels. For further information on the return of PokerStars visit thePokerStars NJ FAQ.
  19. The long-awaited return of the PokerStarsbrand to the US market is here… almost. Amid the hoopla of the ongoing Global Poker League draft, which is taking place in Los Angeles, officials from Amaya Gaming's headquarters in Montreal dropped a bombshell. PokerStars will launch in New Jersey on March 21, allowing New Jersey players to compete with other New Jersey players using PokerStars' software at PokerStarsNJ.com. PokerStars is teaming with Resorts Casino Hotel, located in Atlantic City, and several promotions, tournaments, and features have already been announced. "PokerStars is the global leader in online poker and trusted by its customers for its robust and innovative technology, world-class security, and game integrity. We are honored and excited to now bring these experiences to New Jersey," said David Baazov, Chairman and CEO of Amaya Gaming. "We're also thankful to Morris Bailey and the fine team at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City and look forward to a successful collaboration." Morris Bailey, owner of Resorts, added, "Resorts Casino Hotel continues to be the preferred Atlantic City partner and home for outstanding global brands. First with Mohegan Sun and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville and now, with PokerStars joining that portfolio, Resorts is poised to offer players the best online and brick-and-mortar casino experiences anywhere. We expect that the launch of PokerStars will further spur the positive momentum we have already made in the New Jersey online gaming market." PokerStars left the US market entirely on Black Friday in 2011. Its parent company, Amaya Gaming, received a six-month transactional license to operate in New Jersey last September. In order to launch, PokerStars had to repay former New Jersey players, remove four staffers, and report regularly to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, or DGE, among other requirements. Also last September, Amaya received the green light to launch its Full Tilt brand in New Jersey, but no indication has been given when or if Full Tilt will be unleashed. Outside of the US, PokerStars and Full Tilt are combining liquidity sometime this spring, with preference being given to PokerStars' software, so it's conceivable that Full Tilt will not launch in New Jersey any time soon. According to Thursday's press release, Amaya expects to conduct a testing period with DGE that will take place in mid-March before the 21st. If successful in beta, the rollout should go on as planned on March 21. PokerStars will be available in New Jersey on desktops, mobile devices, and tablets, and one tournament mentioned by name in the press release was the Sunday Special. It should be noted that New Jersey players will nothave access to games like the Sunday Million, WCOOP, and SCOOP, as the site is only intrastate in New Jersey and not connected to the rest of the world in any way other than using the same software. Spin and Gos will be available in New Jersey, as will online casino games like blackjack, roulette, baccarat, video poker, and slots. New Jersey players who already have a PokerStars account can create one on PokerStars NJ by using their existing user ID and password. Until May 31, according to the site, "We will credit you with a welcome offer of a VIP status, a play money chips balance, and StarsCoin based on your play history." There's also a $25,000 freeroll scheduled for March 27 at 5:00pm ET. First place in it will take home $5,000. PokerStars joins an online poker market in New Jersey that already includes brands like PartyPoker, 888, WSOP.com, and Borgata Poker. Right now, Borgata Poker and PartyPoker are on the same network, although rumors this week, which have been denied by PartyPoker, have Borgata parting ways with PartyPoker and instead using Pala Poker's platform. 888 and WSOP.com are on the same network.
  20. Launched to the delight of New Jersey poker players in March, the PokerStarsNJ.com offering has been steadily building its player base with innovative promotions like Card Hunt, and events like the New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker. The site is keeping its players busy this summer with a new promo, the $50,000 Summer Daily Challenge, during which players can compete for a share of the five-figure prize pool through $1,000 value-added events. Up until July 17, PokerStarsNJ players can win their free entry into daily All-in Shootouts by completing one of the following three challenges: Play a scheduled tournament with a buy-in of $1 or more Play 30 real-money cash-game hands at limits of $.05/$.10 or higher Play two Sit & Go or Spin & Go tournaments with a buy-in of $1 or more To be eligible for the promo, players must first opt in by clicking “Start” on the Challenge of your choice in the Daily Challenge Window. The option can be found at the top of the right-hand navigation in the desktop client, just above “Account” and “Settings”, or via the “More” menu in the mobile app. Sign-up for PokerStars New Jersey and get a 100% bonus up to $600.After completing one of the three Challenges, players will be auto-registered for the 8 PM ET All-in Shootout running the following day. Don’t have time watch the Shootout go down? No problem. The event requires no skill whatsoever, and allows players to sit back and relax while their chips are automatically shoved all-in every hand. If you bust out quickly, just remember that the next Shootout is just around the corner, and all you’ll need to do is complete one of the three Challenges to earn your entry into the next day’s event. Only one Daily Challenge can be completed each day, however. While $20,000 will go to sweeten the pot for the All-in events, players who earn multiple Shootout tickets will have a chance of winning part of an even bigger prize. Those who complete eight or more Daily Challenges by July 16 will be entered into PokerStars’ $30,000 Summer Bonus Challenge Freeroll, taking place at 5 PM ET on July 17. The freeroll is a regular tournament, not one of the after mentioned All-in affairs, and requires that players be present to participate.
  21. [caption width="640"] Peter Smyth came all the way from England to play the PokerStars Festival New Jersey after winning an online qualifier (PokerStars photo / Joe Giron)[/caption] Every time PokerStars hosts a live event, whether it’s the European Poker Tour, the Asia-Pacific Poker Tour or the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, there’s always a slew of players who have made their way to the tournament by qualifying online. With the rebranding of all of their live tournaments under the PokerStars Live umbrella that didn’t change and as the first PokerStars Live Festival event plays down to a champion Friday night, two players remained who had a shot at turning a small online buy-in into a five-figure live score. And that’s basically where the similarities end. Peter Smyth is a 60-year-old British retiree who plays on PokerStars.com more as a hobby than as a means of making any money. He does okay - he’s a SuperNova - but playing poker for him is all about having some fun and taking advantage of his math, statistics and gambling background. “When it comes to mathematics and gambling, everybody is good at something and that just happens to be my thing. I’m certainly not a professional, there’s much better players than me, I’m very pragmatic and realistic about that. It’s the mathematical challenge, I’m not great at reading people, which is part of the reason I prefer to play online, I think I play a lot tighter live, maybe a bit frightened to make a fool of myself or something,” said Smyth, a former trading director for one of Britain’s largest gambling companies. Smyth was playing on PokerStars.com from his home in England and noticed the satellite in the tournament lobby. “(The buy-in) was like $200 and I just happened to notice, I was playing in a couple of other tournaments at the time, and it looked like there might possibly be an overlay,” said Smyth. “I haven’t played live for maybe five or six years, just the traveling and stuff, and I thought well it looks like value. I think there were three packages and there were just 12 players and you could re-enter once. And I thought well why not and I got through okay, so that was fine.” Next thing he knew he was booking airfare on his way to Atlantic City. [caption width="640"] Michael Gagliano is one of New Jersey's most respected online pros (PokerStars photo / Joe Giron)[/caption] Michael ‘Gags30’ Gagliano is a professional poker and the #8-ranked poker player in his home state of New Jersey. He makes his living playing on the regulated poker sites his state has to offer and the surrounding live tournament scene in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He also won his first World Series of Poker bracelet this summer. Gagliano qualified in a $109 buy-in satellite that guaranteed 25 seats. Being a pro in one of the only three states to offer regulated online poker means being able to take advantage of low buy-in qualifiers for some of the bigger land-based events that fill the calendar. ‘I knew they had satellites for this. There was a few that ran during the week that only had one seat. So I played a couple. I was pretty sure I was going to come to this anyway, but once I won a seat, obviously I had to come,” said Gagliano. “I play all of the satellites. I played all of the satellites for this, all of the satellites for Borgata. Anything that runs that’s going to be in the area, I definitely play a satellite for it.” Smyth eventually busted in eighth place, turning his $200 investment into a $4,455 payday. He had dreams of turning his satellite win into top three money and sticking around the East Coast in hopes of running it up, but it wasn’t meant to be. “If I finish in the top three I might well stay and play next week in the Borgata, possibly,” said Smyth before he was eliminated. “If I finish seventh or eighth I’m back on the plane, back to England and back in front of the screen again.” Gagliano, as he’s done for most of the tournament, is still hovering near the chip lead with seven players remaining in the hunt for the $38,220 first place prize.
  22. [caption width="640"] Jesse ‘Rou$ey’ Elliott wrapped up 2016 NJCOOP by winning the Main Event, his second win of the series (Borgata photo)[/caption] The first ever PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker finished up this week after over two weeks of exciting action. In total, 43 events were played with over $1,200,000 in guarantees up for grabs. The action culminated on October 31 when Jesse ‘Rou$ey’ Elliott took down the $500 buy-in, $200,000 Guarantee No Limit Hold‘em Main Event for $38,380. Elliott earned the title after defeating a final table that included Darren ‘oldmoneyD’ Elias and PokerStars Team Pro Victor Ramdin. The event drew 425 players, leaving a slight overlay to the guarantee. That win marked Elliot’s second of NJCOOP as he shipped the Event 21 $350 No Limit Hold'em “Sunday Special.” After agreeing to a deal with PokerStars Team Pro Chris Moneymaker, Elliot walked away with $17,817.72 while Moneymaker took home $15,942,72 The highest buy-in event of NJCOOP saw 115 players enter the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em High Roller. ‘babooshk’ found his way to the top of the final table mountain and $25,011.89 richer after beating ‘HoodP0PE’ to ship the event. While most of the mixed game events took place during the first week of the series, the $100 No Limit Hold’em/Pot-Limit Omaha Six Max started the second week off strong with 210 entries creating a prizepool of just under $20,000. In the end it was ‘icrackstick’ winning the event along with $4,434.05 Following five starting flights, Day 2 of the $150 No Limit Hold‘em Six Max kicked off on Thursday, October 27 with 32 players remaining from the 307 who entered across the opening flights. It was a “Who’s who” of PocketFivers at the final table as Jeremy ‘FunkyJesus’ Danger, Fred ‘ScoobyD0O’ Ferrell, Matt ‘el binko’ Iles and Joshua ‘YogaGrandma’ Berardi were among those who made it to the final six. In the end, Danger defeated Ferrell heads-up to win the title and the $9,467.40 first place prize. The $300 No Limit Hold‘em Four Max drew a field of 179 players that ended in a three-way deal. Kevin ‘sofcknsickk’ Campbell and Steve ‘7douche’ Madara were among those in the deal with Madara winning first place and $9,322.18 while Campbell took second and $9,329.53. ‘HoodP0PE’ took third place and $11,352.65. The final event of NJCOOP was a $150 No Limit Hold’em Hyper-Turbo Six Max which drew 164 entries. First place was $5,420, which was won by ‘Three6Latvia.’ With this series now in the books, the official leaderboard has been netted out. Players battled it out looking to earn their share of a $10,000 prize pool. Finishing on top and the recipient of $T2,000 is ‘Ken Kratz’ who finished just a few points ahead of Jeremy ‘FunkyJesus’ Danger. For his finish, Danger earns $T1,500. A listing of the top five finishers on the NJCOOP series leaderboard is below. Ken Kratz - 595 Points - $T2,000 Jeremy ‘FunkyJesus’ Danger - 545 Points - $T1,500 David ‘supadphat’ Cheng - 485 Points - $T1,000 Daniel ‘AvaGray’ Lupo - 455 Points - $T900 loxonbagel - 440 Points - $T800 Event #20: $100 Mixed No Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha ($15,000 Guaranteed) 123 entries (87 re-entries), $22,674.60 paying 36 places icrackstick - $4,434.05 GUUUULP - $3,084.48 SlaynEryDay - $3,084.48 HowieWelper - $1,542.24 BBQBill7 - $1,156.68 Gay4Tray - $790.39 Event #21 : $350 No Limit Hold'em “Sunday Special” ($75,000 Guaranteed) 194 entries (111 re-entries), $99,735 paying 45 places Jesse ‘Rou$ey’ Elliott - $17,872.72 Chris ‘Money800NJ’ Moneymaker - $15,942.72 Skrelnick - $10,970.85 HowieWelper - $8,228.13 skeemer1 - $5,684.89 Matt ‘el binko’ Iles - $4,388.34 (papamat25) David ‘coles93’ Coleman - $3,390.93 (dehhhhh) Hangman4444 - $2,393.64 WoAtSnJoEs11 - $1,745.36 Event #24: $150 No Limit Hold’em Six Max ($35,000 Guaranteed) 309 entries, $42,549.30 paying 32 places Jeremy ‘FunkyJesus’ Danger - $9,467.40 Fred ‘ScoobyD0O’ Ferrell - $6,807.88 CiceBru - $5,156.97 Matt ‘El binko’ Iles - $3,510,31 Joshua ‘YogaGrandma’ Berardi - $$2,680.60 3betsolight - $1,808.34 Event #25: $300 No Limit Hold‘em Four Max ($30,000 guaranteed) 97 entries (82 re-entries), $50,100 paid to 24 places Steve ‘FadeOrHolz’ Madara - $9,322.18 Kevin ‘T1111111111M’ Campbell - $9329.50 HoodP0PE - $11,352.65 MacheteSpray - $3,181.11 Event #28: $1,000 No Limit Hold‘em Highroller ($100,000 Guaranteed) 68 entries (47 re-entries), $109,250 paying 18 places Babooshk - $25,011.89 HoodP0PE - $22,511.89 Rimmer27 - $14,202.50 7Mickey - $9,826.25 TheChosen175 - $7,101.25 Craig ‘YourPetCat’ Rubinstein - $4,916.25 (craigruby) Event #40: $500 No Limit Hold‘em Main Event, ($200,000 Guaranteed) 314 entries, (111 re-entries) $200,000 paying to 54 places Jesse ‘Rou$ey’ Elliott - $38,380 (No_Xcape) LookAtMyDabx - $28,500 TheBurrSir - $21,000 WoAtSnJoEs11 - $16,000 AnteUpPlease - $11,200 BOnEheAd109 - $8,500 jimmyk99 - $6,500 VRamdinNJ - $4,500 Darren ‘oldmoneyD’ Elias - $3,320 Event #43: $150 No Limit Hold’em Hyper-Turbo Six Max ($15,000 Guaranteed) 68 entries (53 re-entries), $22,582.80 paying to 24 places Three6Latvia - $5420.00 theman_mot - $3737.45 Mr.A.Iverson3 - $2,822.85 finest021 - $1919.53 1234 fifffff - $1467.80 BOnEheAd109 - $1016.22
  23. The inaugural PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker kicked off with a bang last week and has so far proven a big success, beating nearly every one of its guarantees. While 19 events have been checked off the schedule so far, players still have plenty more chances to get in on the action. That includes the festival’s much-anticipated $500 buy-in, $200,000 No Limit Hold‘em Main Event, which plays out on October 30-31. ‘FIGHT_4_F00D’ took the honor of winning the very first NJCOOP title after besting a field of 176 in the $100 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Warm-Up. The New Jersey grinder banked a $4,637 score after taking down David 'Supadphat' Cheng in heads-up play. A total of 70 players bought-in to the Event #2, $200 No Limit Hold‘em Turbo tournament, pumping up the prize pool to $14,880. ‘ShrimplyPibs’ went home with the title and a $4,092 payday after defeating Keith 'Donnysack' Donovan and Daniel 'AvaGray' Lupo at the final table. Event #4, the $250 No Limit Hold‘em Sunday Special, attracted 287 entrants who made 162 re-entries. The extra buy-ins were enough to push the prize pool to just over its $100,000 guarantee. ‘BOnEheAd109’ took the top spot, along with nearly $20,000 for his first-place finish, after dispatching opponents ‘Cass N Hoes’ ($14,646) and ‘MrA.Iverson3’ ($10,723). Monday’s Pot Limit Omaha Highroller Six Max tournament garnered 51 players, creating a prize pool of $39,010. ‘iFoldN0T’ prevailed in the $500 buy-in event, beating out ‘Poppie3333’ to take home a $10,630 payday. 'ShrimplyPibs' was back on top in the $100 No Limit Hold‘em 1R1A event, winning his second first-place title of the series. The tournament’s 139 entrants made 94 rebuys and 24 add-ons, edging up the prize pool to $23,592, just over its $20,000 guarantee. For his latest victory, ShrimplyPibs added an extra $5,426 to his bankroll, leaving opponent ‘BBQbill7’ to take the $3,774 runner-up prize. The Event #11, $20,000 guaranteed No Limit Hold‘em Heads-Up CAP 128 tournament boasted a field of 87 runners, and paid out $24,360 to the top 8 places. When all was said and done, ‘Ken Kratz’ took the title and banked an $8,526 payday after taking out ‘Superflu0us1’, who took $4,872 for his second place finish. Thursday’s $500 Eight-Game Six Max event was one of only two tournaments to not meet its guarantee. New Jersey grinder Daniel 'AvaGray' Lupo was the biggest beneficiary of the overlay, taking home an $8,000 payday for his first-place finish. Event #18 was a No Limit Hold‘em, Deepstack Eight Max tournament with a $15,000 guarantee. A total of 250 entrants made 73 re-entries, smashing the guarantee with a $22,950 prize pool. ‘Gay4Tray’ expertly navigated the field, taking the title and a $4,647 payout after besting ‘BigAl07094’. Event #1: $100 No Limit Hold’em NJCOOP Warm-Up 176 entries (71 re-entries), $22,674.60 paying 36 places FIGHT_4_F00D - $4,637.15 David 'Supadphat' Cheng - $3,401.19 Joseph 'B3ndTheKnee' Liberta - $2,562.22 (j_liberta17) Maynardsdik – $1,927.34 Pokerphace77 - $1,315.12 Iquitonce - $1,020.35 Cass N Hoes - $793.61 Richp10 - $566.86 AAAHustla – $430.81 Event #2: $200 No Limit Hold'em Turbo NJCOOP Warm-Up 70 entries (10 re-entries), $14,880.00 paying 12 places ShrimplyPibs - $4,092.00 Keith 'Donnysack' Donovan - $2,752.80 Daniel 'AvaGray' Lupo - $2,083.20 rimmer27 - $1,413.60 (rimmer27) BADBEATSBYME - $1,041.60 PureWizardry - $781.20 Rafo 'Hyerolla777' Jan - $632.40 Hubbiee - $520.80 FlawlessBINK - $446.40 Event #4: $250 No Limit Hold‘em Sunday Special SE ($100,000 Guaranteed) 287 entries (162 re-entries), $104,617 paying 63 places BOnEheAd109 – $19.877.51 Cass N Hoes - $14,646.38 MrA.Iverson3 - $10,723.24 Asremb - $8,160.12 Justcuz77 - $5,753.93 S3lfreliance - $4,446.22 ClownUpGuy - $3,400.05 Scamfest – $2,353.88 Michael 'Systematuk' Matuk - $1,736.64 Event #9: $500 Pot Limit Omaha Highroller Six Max ($30,000 Guaranteed) 51 entries (32 re-entries), $39,010 paying 12 places iFoldN0T - $10,630.25 Poppie3333 – $7,119.32 76ersaregood - $5,461.40 LookAtMyDabx - $3,705.95 FIGHT_4_F00D - $2,730.70 Handledd - $2,048.02 Event #10: $100 No Limit Hold‘em 1R1A ($20,000 Guaranteed) 139 entries (94 rebuys, 24 add-ons), $23,592.60 paying to 18 places ShrimplyPibs - $5,426.37 BBQbill7 - $3,774.81 OldmoneyD - $2,866.50 Coles93 - $2,123.33 Chr0meKing - $1,415.55 Shadyrant04 - $1,179.63 Cjdstable123 - $9,43.70 CReinhold - $770.77 ForTheThr1ll - $589.81 Event #11: $300 No Limit Hold‘em Heads-Up, CAP 128 ($20,000 Guaranteed) 87 entries, $24,360 paying to 8 places Ken Kratz - $8,526 Superflu0us1 - $4,872 T1111111111M - $2,436 chipperrrrr - $2,436 BOnEheAd109- $1,522.50 TeethOfBags - $1,522.50 Moose4life - $1,522.50 hagz2richez - $1,522.50 Event #14: $500 Eight-Game Six Max ($20,000 guaranteed) 42 entries (7 reentries), $20,000 paid to 5 places Daniel 'AvaGray' Lupo - $8,000 mrblonde2020 - $5,400 supadphat - $3,000 FunkyJesus - $2,000 loxonbagel - $1,600 Event #18: No Limit Hold‘em Deepstack Eight Max ($15,000 Guaranteed) 250 entries (73 re-entries), $22,950 paying to 32 places Gate4Tray - $4647.42 BigAl07094 - $3557.25 Tclark828 - $2639.25 Heart Tree - $1950.75 Chris31488 - $1262.25 eliozica - $1032.75 T1111111111M - $803.25 Brikhappy - $631.12
  24. [caption width="640"] Jesse 'No_Xcape' Elliott has NJCOOP in his rearview mirror as he chases down the PokerStars Festival New Jersey Main Event title[/caption] Earlier this week Jesse ‘No_Xcape’ Elliott, the #10-ranked online poker player in New Jersey, thought he had put the exclamation point on an impressive run of poker when he took down the first ever PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker Main Event for $38,380. Eight days before that he won his first NJCOOP title when he won the $350 buy-in Sunday Special Special Edition for $19,299. Sandwiched in between those two wins were two other NJCOOP final tables; an eighth place finish and a third place that came after a chop. The rarity of putting up two big wins in such a short time span isn’t lost on Elliott. “What can I say? Back to back? What are the chances of that happening? And in one of the biggest weekends in New Jersey online poker history,” said Elliott. “To win a $100K and a $200K (guarantee) and then chop (another one) and get to play it out with Chris Moneymaker? That doesn’t happen.” While the two wins were great for the bankroll and a real confidence booster, Elliott looks back at the one he chopped and has some regrets - something he chalks up to not having a killer instinct because of a moral dilemma poker gives him. “I ended up getting screwed on the deal. I chopped for third place money by like two bucks. I should have won it,” said Elliott. “Sometimes I’m too nice and chop instead, because poker is kind of weird for me because I don’t like taking other people’s money but that’s the nature of what you have to do, to hurt, to beat them. It’s kind of like a Catch 22 for me.” Now he’s on to Day 3 of the PokerStars Festival New Jersey with just 23 players remaining. He’s got the fifth shortest stack after losing a big pot late on Day 2, but considering it’s an event he almost didn’t play for a couple of reason, having a shot at the $38,220 first place prize money is basically a bonus. “I almost didn’t come but the two wins and then I told my buddy Justin ‘pocketprofits’ Wong ‘If I win big money (Tuesday night) I have to go. I have to ride it out’ and I chopped the Borgata $10K so here we are,” said Elliott. That’s right, a day after winning nearly $40K in the NJCOOP Main Event he posted another big score online and that’s when he decided to make the one hour drive from his home in Sewell, NJ to play the $1,000 buy-in PokerStars Festival Main Event. There’s also another reason he almost didn’t bother to come to Atlantic City this week. His three year old daughter, one of three kids, isn’t a big fan of daddy leaving the house to work. “I almost didn’t even come to this because I hate it when she says ‘Daddy stay”. and I say I gotta go to work. ‘Oh, okay, I’ll go up to work with you in the office”’, because she’ll lay on the floor while i’m playing online,” said Elliott. “Me and her are inseparable because I had a really rough upbringing with my father, so I try to over the top with stuff like that.” The NJCOOP Main Event win almost didn’t happen for a couple of reasons. The two-day event started on Sunday, the same day as partypoker was having massive geolocation issues right at the height of its Garden State Super Series Main Event. Elliott was playing that too but just like a number of players that kept getting disconnected from the party software. “Because of what was going on with Party/Borgata that day, I was actually blinding out of the (PokerStars) Main because I kept restarting my computer, thinking that the geo-problem was on my end,” said Elliott. “And I thought it was weird because it wasn’t happening on Stars but it was happening on Party, so I kept restarting. I restarted twice and I lost like 7,000 in the Main on Stars.” That was on his second entry in the event, which also almost didn’t happen. “I actually satellited twice, thankfully, into the Main through PokerStars. If I didn’t get that second satellite win and have the 500 tournament dollars sitting there, I don’t know if I would have re-bought,” said Elliott. “I do this for a living, I know it’s a huge prizepool, but I have a mortgage. You have to protect your money or you’re going to be gone. You hear horror stories of a lot of these guys going busto. I have three kids. But thank god I won that second one or that would have been a $38,000 mistake.”
  25. [caption width="640"] Despite a history of winning at almost any game he tries, Randy Lew wasn't able to make any magic on the foosball table[/caption] Over the last 12 years or so, Team PokerStars Pro Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew has developed a real reputation for taking on any nearly game and learning how to crush it. First it was fighting video games, as Lew, a student at UC-Davis in Northern California, became one of the worlds best at Marvel vs. Capcom 2 at a time when eSports wasn’t something anybody really thought much about. He eventually transitioned to poker, where he became one of the world’s most prodigious multi-tablers, eventually setting the Guinness World Record for the most hands played during an eight-hour session. So when PokerStars announced that the inaugural PokerStars Live Festival event in Atlantic City would have a StarsFun zone, filled with games like pinball, corn hole and table tennis, it felt like it was a place built for Lew to show off some of his non-poker talents. Challenging Lew to a best-of-three contest at a selection of the games on hand might not have been the best idea, but PocketFives Editor in Chief Lance Bradley did it anyway. Game 1: PacMan Battle Royale A classic take on the old school arcade classic, PacMan Battle Royale puts both players into the PacMan map at the same time. The only twist is instead of clearing each map and moving on to the next one, players win by eating their opponent or having one of the ghosts do the work. Each “match” is a best-of-three of its own. Given his history with arcade games, Lew was a natural favorite here. With neither Lew nor Bradley being overly familiar with this version of the game, the early action was more about eating dots in an attempt to clear the map. The dots continuously reappear however and after a few minutes of stumbling through the game, Bradley won the first of three matches by cornering Lew’s PacMan. Throughout the match Lew talked about his hectic schedule and how it keeps him on his toes. Lew flew to Atlantic City from Australia where he had been playing and streaming on Twitch. “I’m still on Australia time right now,” Lew said. “So getting adjusted wherever I travel is always hard.” Not hard enough to prevent him from winning the second game, capturing one of the power pellets and chasing Bradley across the screen at double-time to set up a rubber match. “I’m heading back to Macau after this for the 2016 Asia Championship of Poker,” Lew said. The third match took longer than the first two combined with both Bradley and Lew chomping up pellets and avoiding each other altogether. The game took a sudden turn when Bradley went on the offensive after grabbing another power pellet and eating Lew’s PacMan to end the match. Bradley won the match 2-1, but the game also kept track of the total number of pellets each player accumulated and Lew came out well ahead. “So it’s kind of a push, right?,” joked Lew. Result: Bradley wins the PacMan Battle Royale 2-1 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three. Game 2: Pop a Shot Basketball You’ve likely played this game before or seen it in some bar. Each player gets 60 seconds to hit as many shots as possible. While Bradley and Lew were waiting to take their turn, a fan approached Lew and told him he was the reason he started playing poker. “It was just your old videos and stuff, maybe five years,” the fan said. “Always wanted to meet you.” The pair posed for a photograph and Bradley played the role of photographer. Lew, who has developed a loyal following on Twitch, enjoys the opportunity to engage with fans at live events. “It’s a big part of what I do. People come up to me all the time and say hi or ask me a question,” said Lew. “It’s fun. I don’t mind it all.” The StarsFun Zone has been running daily high score progressive contests with the best score so far being 104. It was clear just seconds in to the Bradley vs. Lew match that the record was in no danger. Bradley missed his first 12 shots, some not even reaching the rim, finally hitting one to get on the board. Lew had already put up 18 points. Lew continued to build his score while Bradley flailed away in a desperate attempt to catch up in the last ten seconds when made shots were suddenly worth three points. It didn’t matter. Result: Lew wins easily, 35-21 to tie the best-of-three match at one win apiece. Game 3: Foosball “So, uh, you foos?,” Bradley asked Lew. “I mean, I’ve played before, yeah,” said Lew. “Cool, let’s make that the third game,” said Bradley. Lew didn’t know what was coming. “I’m just a super competitive person. When I get into something, I do everything I can to become the best at it,” said Lew. “So when I decided I wanted to play more live tournaments, it wasn’t about anything but wanting to get better and better at it.” Bradley opened up a 4-0 lead before Lew realized what was happening. The next few minutes were a bit of a blur for the Team PokerStars Online Pro. Five nothing. Six nothing. “I need to at least get one goal here,” said Lew. Lew’s first live poker tournament win came over five years in Macau as he outlasted 574 other players to win the HK$30,000 ($3,865 US) buy-in Asia-Pacific Poker Tour Macau Main Event. He’s shifted more of his attention to live tournaments that allow him to also stream online play, so Macau and Australia are popular choices. “Sometimes the schedule is a little tough,” said Lew. “The PokerStars tournament schedule is more focused on the European and Canadian time zones so sometimes I’m getting up at 1 am to play an online schedule. It’s not always easy.” Probably easier than this foosball match. Seven nothing. Bradley scored the next three goals to shut out Lew and take the third and final match. Final score: Bradley 10, Lew 0. Bradley wins the best-of-three 2-1. Lew’s pain – if there was any – didn’t last long. He immediately went on to take on fellow streamer Jonathan Little in a first-to-five sit-n-go match streamed on Twitch. Lew ended up winning that 5-1 to finish his day off on a winning note.

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