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  1. Not everyone is ready for a return to live poker in Las Vegas but for those that are, there are plenty of games to choose from. More than six months after the Sin City Strip was forced to close its doors in response to the coronavirus crisis, many of the most popular card rooms in the city, including Bellagio, Aria, and The Venetian, have adapted to new health standards and found a way to get back to business. It’s not just the poker rooms that have been forced to readjust. The players who have made the decision to venture back into the casinos are returning to a game drastically different from the one they left. New regimented cleaning protocols, short-handed tables, limited room capacity, and plexiglass barriers have all been put in place and have quickly become the new norm. And, of course, wearing a mask is non-negotiable. With so much uncertainty still surrounding COVID-19, it’s understandable why many would opt to stay away. However, some professional and recreational players have reconciled with the current reality in order to get back to the live grind. “I think the concern with COVID is actually pretty low,” said professional poker player Christian Soto, talking about the vibe around the table. “At least at the Bellagio, where it seems like it’s doing a relatively good job. Every dealer change they wipe down a table. Every time a person quits, they wipe down that area. There’s the plexiglass, all that stuff, that kind of eases the concerns of COVID just because of how much effort is going into that.” “And I think that partially they amped that up because early on there were two or three cases of COVID right away at Bellagio.” Soto’s a self-described ‘live pro’, an instructor at the Solve For Why Academy, and frequent tweeter of threads that capture his high-stakes cash game journey. He’s been putting in a lot of hours as of late, getting up early to ensure himself a seat in his game of choice. But before he was able to get back in action he had to feel right about returning. “So, initially I was, ‘Okay, well how does it get transmitted? How easy is it to go from one person to another?’ And once we got a little bit more information, it’s not airborne and you really have to contract it by somebody coughing or sneezing or leaving it on the table…once we got that information, then I was, ‘Okay, well I think certain casinos are doing a pretty decent job at the table. As long as I’m doing my part, using hand sanitizers, stuff like that, then I think we’re good,” Soto said. For a pro like Soto, a return to the tables is part of his livelihood. For "Anthony" (who preferred to not have his real name used), a recreational player from New York City, it was an invite from his Zoom online poker group to go to Las Vegas in early September that marked the first time he’d done any real venturing out into the world in six months. “I don’t know. I think at a certain point, I think that we’ve got far enough in it where I felt like if I keep my mask on in public, and I have hand sanitizer and I’m not in really close quarters with anyone, like close quarters in terms of socializing in a large group, I felt like it was probably safe,” Anthony said. “I was not expecting there to be very big crowds. They were bigger than I expected, but I also was ready to leave if I needed to, if I felt unsafe.” Depending on who you talk to, perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the Las Vegas live scene are those crowds. With limited capacity, to ensure social distancing, rooms are experiencing long waitlists and are granting reduced lobby times for in-game players to keep their short-handed games running. “There’s more demand that there is availability in my opinion,” Soto said. “I’ve had to show up at Bellagio at six in the morning because if you don’t get there early you’re not going to get a seat for many, many, many hours. It’s insane. I’m not even joking, if you show up at 1:00 p.m. you’re going to have to wait three or four hours.” A floor supervisor who is currently working in a Las Vegas poker room and wished not to be named agreed that, while there are plenty of players who have decided to avoid the poker rooms, the demand for poker is there. “There is certainly a level of demand for poker in Las Vegas currently, even in its current state,” they said. “There are some pros willing to play under these conditions, but a good number have stayed away for the time being for various concerns. The pros I’ve spoken to recently remark that the games they have to choose from are ‘softer’ due to the reduction of pros populating them presently.” The supervisor speculates that pros are spending more time online or in the much talked about Las Vegas private games which is leading to a group of players at the table who “have never stepped foot in the room” before. They are also of the opinion that some of the early games in returning from the shutdown may have played higher with an influx of “pandemic money”, funds that may have been received from unemployment or severance, combined with people headed into Las Vegas to take advantage of cheap room rates aimed at rebooting the gaming economy. “There is a very limited level of concern expressed by players in the room. For the most part, the folks who are uncomfortable with being here, simply aren’t here. We still get phone calls from time-to-time asking what safety measures and precautions are in place, but the folks actually stepping foot in the room, they’re sated by the measures in place or don’t voice their concerns.” The players aren’t the only ones affected by the threat of COVID as the dealers and staff are also asked to deal with the current conditions. Unlike the players, these individuals are required by their employment to be on the premises. “When we all shut down in March I was apprehensive about what measures would be in place upon re-open, and was unsure how comfortable I was going to be spending time in a setting that - let’s face it - has never been highly regarded for its hygiene,” they said. “When the glass was put up, the masks became mandatory for everyone, the cleaning of the tables and cards, etcetera…it all came to fruition, I felt as though everything that could be done realistically was being done,” they said. ”I commend the time and thought put forth by the majority of operators in town. My apprehension has given way to being comfortable in a day-to-day routine. I know what to expect, which leads to peace of mind I suppose. “The majority of the staff at this point is on the same page, the only real difficulty is playing whack-a-mole with the players being lax on wearing masks properly. It tends to be exhausting. There are always people who pretend to be drinking their tea for 45 minutes at a time, with their mask hanging off an ear, things like that. It is an additional burden placed upon the floor staff, mainly because while we ask dealers to enforce the masks, they fear being militant with players about masks will impact their tips.” [caption id="attachment_632777" align="aligncenter" width="2048"] A busy Caesars poker room on Labor Day, 2020. (photo credit: @LuckysLasVegas Twitter)[/caption] While there may be some who are in opposition to masks, unconcerned with the comfort or safety of those around them, the enforcement of sanitary standards is part of what is keeping the live scene in action. That and the large plastic barriers which keep a group playing together also isolated from each other. For many, poker is considered a social game, where one would think barriers would dampen the enjoyment of playing. “I think some people that I play against are actually more comfortable with the plexiglass and the mask and things like that,” Soto said. “Generally, poker players are rather introverted. So this just gives them another barrier and they’re actually a little bit more comfortable than they normally are, which is a weird thing. It’s backward thinking, but it’s somehow, giving them more barriers, ends up being a good thing for them. They’re more comfortable and actually more relaxed than they usually are. “It could be something like that where it almost feels they're just very similar to being at home in front of a computer where they're just kind of in their own box. They're not necessarily around anybody. So, they feel a lot more comfortable than usual.” For Anthony, the barriers not only help soothe some health concerns but they also removed some of the other negative elements of live poker. “I pretty quickly liked them a lot,” Anthony said. “Some people complained about the dividers and not being able to hear, but I didn’t feel like it was that big a problem. There were very few instances where a hand was turned over before it should have been because the person couldn’t hear. “I personally loved having all the space. There were some of those stereotypical issues of the person sitting next to you smelling or taking up too much space or being too loud. A lot of that was mitigated by them. Did I like that it hurt some of the table talk? That was definitely reduced, except for a couple of very social, loud people.” Anthony took it a step further saying he was “hoping the dividers are here to stay” and that he enjoyed his week-long experience of playing short-handed poker in Vegas, even in a pandemic. “I did have a good time. I would have had a better time if I won a little more,” he said. “It was nice to be back. “I don’t know if I ever felt 100% comfortable. It’s going to be a long time before we ever feel comfortable. I think until the fire is under control and you feel comfortable in the people running the country. So at a certain point, you have to be like ‘We got to get on with our lives.’ Part of that is the entertainment of stress relief. “Are there better choices than going to Vegas? Almost certainly.” Since returning home to New York, Anthony has tested negative for both COVID and its antibodies. photo credit: @LuckysLasVegas
  2. In February, Nevada's Christina lindeyloo22Lindley (pictured) brought home the win in a Venetian Deep Stack event for $71,000, defeating a field of 317 entrants. That score came just a few months after a final table in a World Poker Tour event in Paris, a score that was worth $112,000. We caught up with her to gab about the World Series of Poker Main Event and her life away from the game. Visit PocketFives' Nevada poker community for the latest news and discussion from Nevada players. --- Follow professional sports tipsters, make your own betting tips, and compete for real cash prizes. Tipdayis the ultimate sports tipping resource. Check it out. --- PocketFives: How pumped are you for this year's World Series of Poker? What are you looking forward to playing the most? Christina Lindley: I'm prepared. I have worked more on my game this year than I ever have before. Studying has become my favorite pastime when I'm not grinding. I put together a very different schedule for myself that will include more of the deeper-stacked events at the WSOP as well as the extremely good value tournaments such as the Venetian Deep Stacks and Wynn Summer Series. I have really found that I am extremely comfortable deeper-stacked after touring the WPT this year and playing deep-stacked cash games over the last year. By focusing on cash games on my days off, variety and a steady income when not in tournaments will help relax me for longer tournament days. Psychologically, when you are winning more consistently, such as in cash games, I think it starts a culture of winning within you that carries momentum to tournaments. PocketFives: You had a big win at the Venetian earlier this year for $71,000 (pictured with trophy) over a final table that included guys like Matt All In At 420Stout. Talk about that tournament and whether it gives you any momentum leading up to the WSOP and other events. Christina Lindley: The Venetian $1K I won had a rather large field. All of the Vegas regs, and a few non-Vegas regs who happened to be in town for March Madness, and several tourists were all there. The final table had several live cash game regs whose games I was unfamiliar with. There was a lot of variety in the styles of play within the field, as in any other tournament. Three-handed, we were all pretty evenly stacked and the structure was really Turbo-oriented at the end. Running hot in high equity spots and being super-aggressive once I got heads-up were the keys to taking it home. I feel like momentum from that tournament has definitely propelled me to work even harder leading up to the WSOP this summer. PocketFives: Did the WPT event in Paris you final tabled play any differently than other WPT events you've been part of? And how has it felt to be the highest scoring players featured as part of the WPT's "One to Watch"this season? Christina Lindley: I had never played poker in Europe in my life until the WPT event at the Aviation Club in Paris. I really wanted to commit to the WPT and play as many of their televised events in Season XII as possible. I had always wanted to go to Paris my entire life and this seemed as good a reason as any to go. Months before, I began learning French through Rosetta Stone, which is still one of my hobbies to this day. The poker players at the Aviation Club de France (pictured) played very similar styles to Euro online poker regs. Because of playing online for so long in the beginning of my career and intermittently sprinkled in the last two years, I feel like I am very familiar with how to adjust to that style. There was one point on Day 3 when I had a really crucial hand that I won against Martin Finger, an amazing German whose game I really admire, and I was really happy that I had studied all of the PokerStars EPT replays. When I was originally chosen as a "One to Watch," I knew I had a lot to prove. I hadn't played much on the live circuit compared to online and wanted to produce tremendous results to show how far my game had come. Cashing a few times this season and making the final table in Paris have been very rewarding. I'm super-competitive, so to be at the top of the "One to Watch" leaderboard so far is really just a bonus. PocketFives: What are your thoughts on a shot clock in poker? Should one be implemented and, if so, how? Christina Lindley: I am not a fan of the idea of a shot clock. Anything that discourages amateur and recreational players from coming out and playing events is not good for the game. In addition, I am of the opinion that if someone knows they have a certain amount of time on each street to make a decision, that might even increase the amount of time they take when they see a clock, whereas otherwise they would have decided quicker. PocketFives: What do you do away from poker nowadays? How else do you keep busy? Christina Lindley: I have a great group of friends in Las Vegas and enjoy different adventures with them on a weekly basis. Art, culture, traveling, fitness, hiking Red Rock, going to wineries, painting, scary movies, and watching sports are among my favorite pastimes. Traveling for fun in between poker tournaments has been the most rewarding experience in the last year. Aceplay and the Stratosphere keep me pretty busy as well with fun events, TV shows, photo shoots, etc. PocketFives: Speaking of Stratosphere (pictured), you signed with the casino's free-play site, Aceplay Poker. How is that going? Christina Lindley: Aceplay Poker is a really fun, free website for anyone in Nevada. They give away tickets to big events such as concerts, NASCAR, sporting events, hotel stays, shows, and dinners in free promotions that run year-round on the site. They also give away seats into the $15k Guaranteed at the Stratosphere every month. Aceplay intends to eventually launch real money gaming in Nevada. PocketFives: Do you get to play any real money online poker in Nevada? Christina Lindley: I play online in Nevada, which is a really nice option to have for the first time in forever. Cash games online are pretty decent and there are usually several $1/$2 to $5/$10 games running across the board. There are usually enough games going on that you can play multiple tables of cash at once. The tournament guarantees are still way lower than I would like to see, but occasionally there are good MTT events online in Nevada with solid guarantees. A nice added benefit to having online poker in Nevada and Jersey is that they are running satellites online for big live buy-in events like back in the old days. More people who cannot afford to play in big events like the WSOP Main Event or the WPT Borgata will be playing because of the satellites these online poker sites are offering. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. It took a couple of days, but the Venetianin Las Vegas officially let the world know why it turned away PokerNews from reporting on its own sponsored Mid-States Poker Tour eventlast week. PokerNews' Brett Collsongave the following response from the Venetian's Kathy Raymond via Twitter: "Given our Chairman's clear position on the matter of online gaming, Venetian/Palazzo made a business decision to not allow an online blog during the MSPT event." PokerNews' Donnie Peters originally said the reason for the dismissal was unclear, telling PocketFives earlier this week, "With each MSPT event, PokerNews Live Reporting comes as an option for the venue. Venetian decided not to pick up this option and PokerNews was given no specific reason. We are aware of Sheldon Adelson's (pictured) stance against online poker and would like to remind everyone that his stance is a hindrance to the growth of the game we all love." Ironically, you might recall that the Venetian was the host site of a PokerStars-backed North American Poker Tour stop in 2010. Raymond commented in a press release at the time that she was looking forward to working with an online poker site: "I am both pleased and excited about our new relationship with the North American Poker Tour and PokerStars.net. I believe that the Venetian poker room will serve as the perfect home to the hottest new poker tour in North America." Adelson, Chairman of Las Vegas Sands, has been on a crusade against the legalization of online gambling in the United States and has pledged to spend "whatever it takes" to eradicate the industry, including the legal online poker sites in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. Over on Two Plus Two, founder Mason Malmuth questioned the effectiveness of a boycott of the Venetian and Palazzo, both owned by Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corporation: "We don't think that calling for a boycott of the Venetian would accomplish anything positive. If a boycott were somehow 100% effective, in our opinion it would have no affect on Sheldon Adleson or his anti-internet poker/gambling position, but a number of worthy people would lose their jobs." Malmuth added that after legislation was introduced in the US Senate by Lindsey Graham (pictured) to restore the Wire Act and prohibit online gambling earlier this year, Two Plus Two informed the Venetian that the site "would not accept any more advertising from them until all these issues were resolved." Adelson's stance has, in part, caused the American Gaming Association to take a step backin championing online poker legislation and instead follow a more back-seat approach. Adelson is also the brains behind the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. According to PennLive, Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson (pictured), who has vowed to spend "whatever it takes" to crush the internet gambling and online poker industries in the United States, allegedly contributed nearly $1 million to the reelection campaign of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. The problem: the donation was reportedly illegal. --- 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! --- Pennsylvania resident Nathan Sooy commented in a press release sent from the Keystone Group and picked up by PennLive, "The RGA and Adelson both say the donation was made mistakenly, but the intent is irrelevant. The Republican Governors Association Pennsylvania PAC received the money directly from Adelson. That is money that went directly and illegally to Corbett and the Pennsylvania Republican Party." PennLive quoted the same release as adding, "The RGA Pennsylvania PAC claims it returned the donation, but questions remain as to what communication has occurred between Adelson and Governor Corbett's reelection campaign. There is also some doubt about when the RGA returned the money to Adelson." The amount of the donation was $987,444, but Sooy is reportedly calling for a fine of $1.3 million. Although that might seem like a lot, it's likely the equivalent of pocket change to Adelson, who according to Forbes saw his net worth jump by $15 billionin 2013. Adelson's corporation owns Sands Casino Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, a state that is strongly considering legalizing online gambling. In fact, a bill to do exactly that was introduced in the state's Senate last week. Online Poker Report has a full breakdown of it if you haven't checked it out. However, Adelson's influence, potentially from a financial standpoint, could derail any bill in Pennsylvania, according to Online Poker Report: "The consensus opinion is that Pennsylvania is one of the most likely states to legalize and regulate some form of online gambling… [However, countering that are] well-financed opposition from Las Vegas Sands, a foggy legislative path through the House, and an uncertain fate for any bill that does reach Gov. Corbett's (pictured) desk." A complaint from Sooy was registered with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Sands also owns and operates the Venetianand Palazzoin Las Vegas, two casinos many poker players have vowed to stay away from while in town for the World Series of Poker at the Rio. 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. The war against online poker from the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and its founder, Sheldon Adelson, ramped up this week, as PokerNews was turned away from reporting on its own sponsored MSPT event at the Venetian in Las Vegas (pictured). The Venetian, a Sands property, reportedly cited "site's affiliation with online poker," according to Pokerfuse. PocketFives has verified that the PokerNews reporting team was turned away from the event at the Strip casino, although PokerNews' Donnie Peters said he was "unsure" if online poker was the reason for the dismissal. Whether the site will be able to report on future Venetian poker events remains to be seen. PokerNews' Brett Collson Tweeted a statement from the Venetian regarding the incident: "Given our Chairman's clear position on the matter of online gaming, Venetian/Palazzo made a business decision to not allow an online blog during the MSPT event." A post on Two Plus Two announcing the news read, "According to a reliable source, Sheldon Adelson wouldn't allow PokerNews to report updates and chip counts from the nearly $1m MSPT Main Event currently being held at the Venetian. Apparently, a few PokerNews links to online poker were enough to cause their removal." Whether Adelson himself was behind the dismissal, or merely an executive at the Venetian mandated it, remains to be seen. As one poster said on Two Plus Two, "It seems a bit of a stretch to think that a billionaire CEO of a company with a bunch of properties around the world would somehow be aware that PokerNews is covering the Venetian tourney and their website has some links to online poker." According to Pokerfuse, "[PokerNews] reported live from the eight previous MSPT stops this season." Peters told PocketFives, "With each MSPT event, PokerNews Live Reporting comes as an option for the venue. Venetian decided not to pick up this option and PokerNews was given no specific reason. We are aware of Sheldon Adelson's stance against online poker, and would like to remind everyone that his stance is a hindrance to the growth of the game we all love. PokerNews remains committed to the MSPT as the tour continues to flourish and we look forward to providing live coverage. With 12 events remaining on the 2014 MSPT schedule, we encourage all poker players to attend one of the upcoming stops." The PokerNews incident aside, Adelson and the Sands Corporation have waged a war against online poker since 2014 began, forming the Coalition to Stop Internet Gamblingand prompting the introduction of two bills, one by Senator Lindsey Graham and one by Congressman Jason Chaffetz, that would eradicate online poker and internet gambling from the US by clarifying the Wire Act of 1961. His vociferousness has also reportedly caused the American Gaming Association to take a step back from championing legislation legalizing online poker in the US, instead moving to more of a backseat role. Adelson(pictured) has pledged to spend "whatever it takes" to stop regulated internet gambling from becoming a reality in the US and the two aforementioned bills, as written, would snuff out regulated online poker sites in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Many poker players have pledged to stay away from the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas, both of which Adelson's company owns and operates. In 2010, the Venetian ironically hosted a PokerStars-backed North American Poker Tour event whose feature tournament paid out nearly $1 million. 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.
  6. In case you think that Las Vegas Sands head Sheldon Adelson (pictured) has a longstanding hatred for the internet gambling industry, you should check out an article from 2001 that appeared in the Las Vegas Sun. In it, Adelson charged that his company will "be in that ring," referring to the internet gambling arena, and praised lawmakers for pursuing pro-internet gambling legislation. Yes, that Sheldon Adelson. The same man who created the Coalition to Stop Internet Gamblingand said he'd spend "whatever it takes" to rid the US of internet gambling forever. As ESPN's "Monday Night Countdown" crew would say, "C'mon man!" According to the Sun in 2001, Adelson was "pleased that the Nevada Legislature has taken the lead in regulating internet casinos" and added, "Our hat will be in that ring, but I don't believe the US Congress or the current administration is very anxious to make it happen." The Las Vegas newspaper added, "Adelson said the ultimate acceptance of internet casinos may rest with the realization that billions of dollars are leaving the United States as gamblers play online casinos located offshore." He also stressed, "If more people accepted gaming, we'd also do well here." Just in case it weren't obvious, Adelson appeared to be pro-online gaming at the time, going so far as to say, "I applaud the gaming authorities in their efforts." And that was only 13 years ago. So what caused Adelson's about-face on internet gambling? As one poster on Two Plus Two joked of the now-81-year-old, "He was only 68 back then. You can't blame a guy for his youthful indiscretions. He was immature and looking to spread vice through the land. Now, he's a grown man and wants to prevent you from clicking mouses and losing houses." As posters on Two Plus Two pointed out, a sister company of the Venetianin Las Vegas, a Sands property, received an internet gambling license from Alderney in 2003. And, in perhaps one of the most hypocritical comments you'll ever see, Richard Depew, Venetian Interactive CEO, was quoted in the Sun as saying 11 years ago, "An internet gaming license in Alderney provides Venetian Interactive with some of the highest regulatory standards and controls in the industry, which supports our goal of providing a user-friendly gaming and entertainment experience in a totally secure and trusted environment." The statement's hypocritical nature stems from Adelson today questioning whether underage gamblers could be identified and rooted out in a regulated scheme. C'mon man! Sands has come out in opposition to rivals like Caesars Entertainment, which runs WSOP.com Nevadaand WSOP.com New Jersey and has been at the forefront of regulated internet gaming in the US. Perhaps Adelson's sentiments are more competitive-based as opposed to morally-based, but only time will tell. Sands has not yet opened an online gaming site in its home state of Nevada, one of three US jurisdictions with regulated gaming. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  7. One of the tenets of Sheldon Adelson's fight against online gaming and poker is that "it can't be policed to prevent" underage gaming. It is a belief that the billionaire casino mogul (pictured) has stated on many occasions and about many other subjects including underage drinking and prostitution. --- 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. --- While Adelson states that these activities can be controlled in a casino, a new web series will premiere on Wednesday and expose Adelson's company, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and its lies regarding "controlling" certain aspects of its operations. The Tim James Showis expected to premiere on Wednesday online and its eponymous host has decided to target Adelson and the Sands' operations at the Venetian(pictured below) and the Palazzo. "Why does this person, who is currently the third richest person in America, singlehandedly fund the fight against online poker?" James asks at the start of his teaser reel for the webisode. "I wanted to find out what his rationale was." James targets statements made by Adelson in a Bloomberg interview in which the billionaire casino owner states that the physical casinos aren't supposed to allow underage gamblers. James arranges for an operation in which a female who was only 19 went into the casino with a fake ID. That person then proceeded to have free run of the Venetian's grounds. "She played slots, she played dice, blackjack, and poker," James reports while running video of the female enjoying these things. He indignantly continued, "An underage person can go into your casino, be served alcohol, and gamble." Thinking that it may have just been an isolated incident, or perhaps one with male power figures giving an attractive young lady the benefit of the doubt, James runs the same experiment again using a 19 year old male. "This time, however, we sent him in with no ID at all," James said. James then shows video of the male doing the same things as the young lady, including cashing in a ticket at the cage and playing poker on the floor of the Venetian. The crux of James' argument comes in the next segment of the teaser reel. Taking information from his two subjects, he tries to sign them up for accounts on WSOP.com, which are rejected. Over five different manipulations, James' subjects are continually spurned from signing up for an online poker account in Nevada, but easily gained access to online poker's biggest opponent's live casino and gambled and drank while underage. The teaser reel then delves into a darker issue – prostitution– and runs a clip of Adelson sarcastically saying, "Why don't we legalize prostitution; it's happening all over the place anyway?" James decides to go to the Palazzo himself to see if he can hire a prostitute on its grounds. Thanks to teaser reel editing, within seconds James has picked up an escort, settled on a price ($1,000), and has discussed with the prostitute that the management wants ladies of her profession there "for the rich guys." "All the things that you're trying to protect us from… you're not protecting us from. In fact, it's going on in your casino," James concludes. "Hopefully this video will be seen by enough people that they will realize that they thought you were protecting them before, but will have to realize you're not protecting them now." With the initial episode, James is firing the cannons directly across the bow of one of the most powerful gaming magnates in the world. There is little indication of what he might attempt to do in the future and it isn't known if James will continue with the same expose-style approach to demonstrating the hypocrisy of the LVSC's leadership and the continued violations of the law. Check out the Tim James Show's website. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. Image courtesy Huffington Post
  8. The World Series of Poker draws the primary attention for the duration of the Las Vegas summer. Tournament series across the strip grow each year and present legitimate competition to the offerings inside the Rio. Whether it's a single-day tournament, multi-million dollar guarantee, or three-figure buy-in mixed game events, there's plenty of poker to be played without ever collecting a WSOP receipt. Venetian DeepStack Championship Series Goes All-in The second-biggest series of the summer grows to gargantuan size this summer. The Venetian is throwing down $31 million in guarantees across 150 events between May 14 and July 29. Gone are the days of cramming into The Venetian poker room. The new era of the 103-table Sands Expo Convention Center arrives. Play starts on May 26 in an arena that rivals the size of the Amazon Room in the Rio. The Venetian and the Mid-States Poker Tour partner this summer for five events that include live streamed final tables. All five events carry a minimum $1 million guarantee and range in buy-in from $600 up to $5,000. Leading off the powerful lineup is the $1,100 $3.5 million event with the first of four Day 1s on Sunday, June 3. The $2.5 million guaranteed tournament of the same buy-in size last summer brought in 3,273 runners and promises to put 4,000 within striking distance next month. Other MSPT events on the schedule are the $600 $1 million guaranteed, $1,600 $3 million guaranteed, $3,500 $3.5 million guaranteed, and $5,000 $1 million guaranteed. A total of 16 events carry the big blind ante with single-day events and the two $5ks included. The series wraps with two $1,100 $1 million guaranteed tournaments that start after the WSOP Main Event gets going. Wynn stays Winning The most aesthetically pleasing playing area in Las Vegas puts $7 million up for grabs in the Wynn Summer Classic from June 1-July 16. All events aside from three at the Wynn are single-day events and every single No Limit Hold'em tournament offers the big blind ante format. Price points at the Wynn are $400, $550, and $1,100 with the guarantees for the respective buy-in levels are $50,000, $100,000, and $200,000. The rake is lower at the Wynn and the guarantees for multi-day events are sky-high. Last summer's $1,100 $1 million guaranteed brought in a field of 2,320. The Wynn placed two of those events on the calendar for 2018. The $1,100s own three starting flights each and start on June 14 and June 26. The Wynn Summer Classic Championship is a $1,600 $1.5 million guaranteed giant that should draw huge with a WSOP Main Event post-lim date of July 9. A $1 million guarantee for the 2017 Wynn title put a prize pool of close to $3 million up for grabs. ARIA offers low buy-in No Limit and Mixed Games The ARIA Poker Classic has a little bit of everything for both professionals and recs looking to get some value for one day of poker between May 26 and July 8. The majority of events on the ARIA schedule price out between $240 and $500. No Limit Hold'em is the main game but mixed game players can find a tournament or two of their liking during the summer. $470 non-Hold'em events include Eight-Game Mix, Omaha Hi-Lo, 2-7 Single Draw, and H.O.R.S.E. The "main event" of the ARIA Poker Classic is the $500 $1 million guaranteed WPT500. Nine starting flights are available with the first falling on June 25. Jon Borenstein won 2017's WPT 500 by defeating 3,542 entrants to take home the $230,000 first-place prize. Odds and ends Other properties who carry summer series include Planet Hollywood, Golden Nugget, and Binions. All have No Limit and Mixed Games available for low buy-ins with compatible structures for single-day and multi-day events.
  9. Another week into the Las Vegas summer and more prize pools outside the Rio are building into seven-figure territory. Last week's individual performances of Antoine Saout and Chris Moorman were replaced by big fields and huge numbers. The Venetian Sets a New Record The Mid-States Poker Tour $1,100 $3.5 million guaranteed event set a record for entries in a tournament at The Venetian. A total of 4,411 entries took part in the tournament to compete for a prize pool of $4.3 million. 451 players made the money and a few notable names found themselves deep to play for the $548,341 first-place prize. Two-time WPT Season XVI final tablist Derek Wolters placed eight to collect $64,511. Former WSOP final tablist Owen Crowe was the last Canadian standing and earned $150,525 for sixth. David Levine emerged victoriously and earned the over half-million prize for first. Levine's largest tournament cash before the MSTP was $16,910 for an event at the 2018 L.A. Poker Classic. Other relevant players to reach the top-50 include Iaron Lightbourne (12th), Nick Pupillo (29th), Joe Elpayaa (30th), and Mike Del Vecchio (32nd). The second MSPT seven-figure event is currently on Day 2 at The Venetian. 2,779 runners crushed the $1 million guarantee for the $600 entry to put a $1.425 million pot up for grabs. Three more events are left on the MSPT/Venetian schedule with the $5,000 $1 million guarantee up next on Friday, June 15. Familiar Names Come Close at Wynn In the final days before the first multi-day event at the Wynn Summer Classic, a few well-regarded players almost made it to the finish line in a single day of work. Christian Harder formally got on the board by placing third in the $1,100 $200,000 guarantee. Harder collected $29,876 with Andrew Hills winning the event and $72,799. A few days later, Greg Raymer took second in the $550 Seniors Event. Raymer withdrew $34,416 from the prize pool and Nicole Honour earned first place along with $52,718. The first multi-day event kicks off on June 14 when the first of two $1,100 $1 million guarantee opens up. Three starting flights are available for the tournament which is expected to draw close to 2,000 runners. Michael Wang Almost Repeats The choice between events can be a conflict at times and that was the case for bracelet winner Michael Wang. Stuck between Planet Hollywood and the Rio, Wang decided to defend his title in the $600 $1 million guaranteed clash he won in 2017. https://twitter.com/miw210/status/1005360505198768128 In a field of 2,238, Wang placed seventh for $29,909 and is sure to be back in the final table mix again this summer. Other final tablists included Marshall White and Marvin Rettenmaier. The 2017 version featured a field of 2,721 and Wang's share for first place was $205,165.
  10. There’s nothing quite like the first time. For serious poker enthusiasts, there may be nothing more exciting than making your first trip to Las Vegas to participate in, or simply geek out to, the World Series of Poker. For those lucky people making their first trip to the series in 2018, we have some suggestions on how to fully embrace the WSOP experience. You won’t find any Cirque Du Soleil show recommendations or directions to the best sushi restaurants here, this is simply a guide to diving head first into a complete WSOP summer poker experience in Sin City. Hit The Hall The first time you head to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, tell your taxi or Uber driver to take you to the front entrance. Sure, they can drop you off at the “poker entrance” but you should experience the walk down the long hallway that leads to Rio convention area at least once. The closer you get to the action the more you’ll be inundated with banners of former WSOP Players of the Year and Main Event Champions. Doyle, Stu, Chris…Moneymaker. And, yes, Ferguson. They’re (almost) all there. Of the three major tournament areas, the Pavillion is the one you’ll see first. Go inside and take a deep breath in. Yes, some of the smells may be from players who have been up for days, unable or unwilling to shower, but everything in the Pavillion is pure poker. The cricket-like sound of shuffling chips, the floor at the big board announcing a new table of $10-20 Big O and single table satellites filling up and getting underway. The Pavillion houses cash games, satellites, the Daily Deepstack tournaments and occasionally overflow from WSOP bracelet events. For daily grinders, the Pavillion is where a ton of the action happens. Walk the hallway with the vendors, but be wary first-timers: try not to let someone attach a magnetic aura bracelet to your wrist or entice you with a whiff of orange colored oxygen. However, if you see Bart Hanson, Jonathan Little or even PocketFives' own Lance Bradley spending time in a booth, walk on over and see what's up. Interested in some “poker sunglasses”? They’ve got those too. It’s a mini poker market and just maybe you’ll find something you like. Finally, on your first pass check out both the Brazilia and the famed Amazon Room. In 2017 they had moved the televised "mothership" to the Brazilia so make sure you do a slow pass and get a behind the scenes look at what you watch on ESPN or PokerGO. Then hit the Amazon to see the room where so much WSOP history was made. Star Gazing When it comes to seeing stars, a trip to the WSOP is unlike a trip to Hollywood because poker celebrities are just about everywhere you look on any given day. The personalities you watch on TV like Negreanu, Greenstein, and Raymer are often times at the tables grinding it out to try to win another bracelet. There walkways in each of the tournament rooms where one can quite often spot a noted pro from the rail. Often times if you see one of your favorites in the hallway, they’d be happy to hear what a fan you are and pose for a shot for your Insta. Of course, use discretion. Quite often these guys are playing for many thousands of dollars, so use that keen poker instinct to pick an appropriate time to introduce yourself. Get Your Feet Wet, Splash Around If you came to the World Series to play, then it’s time to play. At the WSOP just about every poker experience is at your fingertips. Small stakes to nosebleed cash games are running 24/7. Want to win your way into a bracelet event? There’s an entire section dedicated to single table satellites that start as low as around $125 that can help you win entries to buy-in to bigger events. Tournament aficionados may choose to jump into one of the popular Daily Deepstacks. There’s four that fire daily - 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. They are all one-day events and have a buy-in ranging from $200 - $365. They are noted for having massive fields and pretty big paydays for those that can make it to the end. Take That (Gold Bracelet) Shot It should go without saying that when shot taking, never play with any money you can’t afford to lose. There’s little in the poker world that feels quite like taking a seat in a WSOP bracelet event for the first time. The WSOP gold bracelet has been one of the most enduring accolades in the game and anyone with the gumption and the buy-in can take a shot, make a run and potentially become a hometown hero, returning with a new piece of jewelry. Want to outsmart the masses when it comes to registering? It’s way too easy. Hit the cage when there’s no one around. Registration for every event is open around the clock, so take an unscheduled trip to the convention area at the end of the day or late into the night and register for any event days in advance. The lines can get extremely long for events like the Millionaire Maker and Monster Stack on the day of. Also available, online registering with a credit card via the WSOP’s partnership with Bravo. See Other People So you’ve seen the sights, watched the stars and taken a seat in a WSOP event. It’s been great, but you are sick of the Hash House and All American Bar & Grille. Perhaps, the Rio is wearing on you. Well, for many the entirety of their WSOP experience is actually far more than the series itself. Many major Las Vegas properties throw their own expansive summer poker series and there’s a ton of fun to be had there as well. The Aria poker room is one of the most acclaimed in the city and their Aria Poker Classic features two events daily (one at 11:00 a.m. one at 7:00 p.m.). If you bust in the tournaments at the Aria, you can hop in a cash game, get a pretty great grass-fed burger or slice of Forester pizza at Five50 Pizza Bar. The Wynn has a summer series of their own. Their poker room is one of luxury and their tournament area gives one the feeling like they are playing in an island resort. It doesn’t stop there: the Venetian, Golden Nugget, Binion’s and Planet Hollywood all have an extensive schedule of tournaments and cash game offering to go along with them. So when planning a schedule mix it up and see what’s out there. Whether you plan on heading to Las Vegas for two days or two weeks (or longer) there’s plenty to do for the complete poker fan.
  11. The Venetian leads the charge for another week outside of the Rio for large fields and mega prize pools. The latest recipient of a six-figure score in the DeepStack Championship Poker Series is Michael Soyza. The Malaysian defeated 2,877 entrants in the Mid-States Poker Tour $1,600 buy-in $3 million guarantee to collect $588,249. Another Multi-Million Guarantee Crushed Soyza won a live-streamed final table in a Day 3 that lasted for 15 hours. 2018 WPT Fallsview Poker Classic runner-up Ryan Yu held the lead coming into Day 3 and bowed out in ninth place for $62,143. Another Season XVI runner-up reached the final table in Paul Fisher, who took fifth at WPT Choctaw. Fisher was the first player eliminated from the final table. A few others who had their hole cards shown on camera where WSOP Circuit ring winner Peter Vitantonio, past MSPT Main Event champ Rich Aslup, and eventual runner-up Jeremy Saderne. The $800 8-Max $800,000 guarantee hit an overlay snag and drew a crowd of 881. Arunas Sapitavicius emerged to win $133,609 in a heads up deal with Manuel Ruivo, who took home $130,391. MSPT hosts one more Main Event at The Venetian this summer. The $3,500 tournament carries a hefty guarantee of $3.5 million and finishes on June 30 at a live stream final table. Single-Day Prizes at the Wynn The Wynn resumed their familiar schedule of one-day events and produced a few more quality winners. Antoine Saout added a second trophy to his summer collection for winning The $1,100 $200,000 guarantee on June 23 outright for $87,089. On June 2, Saout won the $600 $500,000 SuperStack at The Venetian to ship $137,504. Joining Saout in the Wynners Circle are Gerald Ringe, who earned $45,808 in the June 25 $500 $100,000 guarantee and Justin Brach. Ringe's title compliments his 2015 bracelet for conquering the $1,500 Stud Hi-Lo tournament. Brach finished on top of Joe Kuether in the June 24 $1,100 $200,000 guarantee and cashed out for $92,079. The next multi-day event at the Wynn starts on June 26 with another $1,100 $1 million guarantee with three starting flights. When the Wynn put a seven-figure guarantee on the board two weeks ago, 2,427 entrants participated to set a record for the largest field at the property. WPT ARIA 500 Underway The 'Main Event' of the ARIA Poker Classic kicked off this week with the multi-flight WPT500. The $1 million guarantee is expected to draw over 2,500 runners during the nine starting flights before Day 2 opens on July 2.
  12. The Venetian and Wynn continue to trot out quality fields and huge guarantees. In the past week, Wynn held their largest event to date as part of the Wynn Summer Classic and The Venetian made headlines for some controversy at their recent live streamed final table. Strong Final Table Ends with Asterisk The highest buy-in to take place outside of the Rio this summer in a non-high roller event brought 178 entrants to The Venetian. The $5,000 $1 million guaranteed Mid-States Poker Tour event produced as good of a final table as live stream viewers could ask for. Alex Foxen, Kristen Bicknell, Kahle Burns, and Jake Schindler headlined the event and all but Schindler were among the final three. After declining a chop deal with the couple of Bicknell and Foxen, Burns lost and earned a $120,000 bronze medal. England's Conor '1_conor_b_1' Beresford delivered fifth place and his largest cash of the summer. Foxen and Bicknell immediately chopped afterward and Foxen took home the trophy along with $239,000. Bicknell earned a quality $200,000 score. Accusations of soft-play and potential collusion filled the social media space during and after the event. The live stream indicated no blatant chip-dumping but the attention stays on that side of the aisle. Another six-figure was produced at The Venetian in the past week as Ben Jones won the $1,600 Six-Max $750,000 guarantee event outright. Jones beat Alexander Lakhov heads up to claim the $193,468 first-place prize. Lakhov settled for $109,138. David Jackson and Kevin Saul both made the final table while Jessica Dawley and Mike Del Vecchio placed at the final two tables. Wynn Brings in the Masses The first multi-day event of the Wynn Summer Classic attracted 2,427 runners for the $1,100 $1 million guarantee. 251 players made the money and top two prizes were chopped between Kwun Li and Dominic Coombe. The pair earned $280,594 and $266,639, respectively, for their two days of play. Coming in third was past MSPT Venetian champion Thomas Boivin. In June 2016, the Belgian outlasted a field of 2,887 to chop with Mukul Pahuja and earn $352,153. This time around, Boivin cashes out for $149,961. Ian O'Hara and Upeshka De Silva are among the other final tablists. The Wynn's schedule lists one more $1,100 $1 million event starting on June 26 with three starting flights available. ARIA 8-Game High Roller Ends in a Deal The $50,000 Poker Players Championship is the highest buy-in mixed game event on the schedule but ARIA added a matching event of their own for 2018. The $25,000 8-Game mix on June 14 attracted 30 entrants and featured quite a few players who entered the PPC the next day. Phillip Sternheimer and 2017 PPC winner Elior Sion chopped for $275,000 and $220,000 at a final table that included Luke Schwartz, Isaac Haxton, and Alexander Kostritsyn. All five players rolled over their cash into the PPC but none made the money in the year's pinnacle mixed event.
  13. As 2019 draws to a close, PocketFives takes a look back at the year that was in poker news, going month-by-month through the biggest and most important stories of the year. In September, the long-rumored sale of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino was finally announced leaving players to wonder what's next for the WSOP. Caesars Sells The Rio, Retains WSOP The rumors that the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino would be sold came to fruition in September as Caesars Entertainment Corp CEO Tony Rodio announced that New York real estate company Imperial Companies purchased the home of the World Series of Poker for $516.3 million. For poker players, the immediate concern was what exactly would happen to the World Series of Poker summer series. “The World Series of Poker will be hosted at the Rio in 2020 and Caesars will retain the rights to the event. The site of future WSOP events will be announced at a later date.” “The retention of the World Series of Poker and retention of Caesars Rewards customers are all factors that make this a valuable transaction for Caesars,” Rodio said. Now that the Rio has officially been sold and the deal closed, speculation will begin as to where the WSOP will land when their deal with Imperial Companies is complete. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zgone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] Venetian’s ‘Total Prize Pool’ Scheme Earns Criticism The Venetian Poker Room in Las Vegas drew the ire of the poker community when they decided to try something new with their guaranteed in their upcoming Lucky Shot Poker Series and Drawing. Rather than offer a traditional guarantee, which can be exceeded if things go well for the poker room, allowing players to battle for larger prize pools - the Venetian rolled out a ‘Total Prize Pool’ scheme which locked in an amount no matter how many people showed up to buy-in. “Any funds collected above and beyond the total prize pool will be the sole property of The Venetian Poker Room,” the structure sheet read. This meant that while the Venetian was on the hook for the advertised prize pool, they were in the position to collect unlimited rake depending on how well the tournament did. In the end, the Venetian's Lucky Shot Poker Series and Drawing ended up with a $27K overlay. Ken Strauss Arrest Report Shows Troubling Tale After Ken Strauss’s wild display at the World Series of Poker, one that got him disqualified for exposing himself at the table, his legal troubles continued. In the end, he was arrested in September on terrorism charges. In the midst of his bizarre behavior at the Rio and a tabletop dance on a craps table at the Luxor, Strauss drew the attention of authorities based on some troubling tweets and that he told employees at the Venetian that he would ‘harm anyone who comes near him and would also harm himself.” Strauss was arrested, charged with a Class B felony and had bail set at $150,000. ‘BigBlindBets’ Wins WCOOP Main Event High stakes cash game player ‘BigBlindBets’ topped the field of 2,236 entries in the $5,200 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker Main Event to take home $1.665 million in prize money. Danilo ‘dans170’ Demetrio finished as the runner-up, taking home $1.187 million for second place while well-known high stakes pro Talal ‘raidalot’ Shakerchi added $846,528 to his already substantial bankroll by finishing in third place. 'LarsLuzak' Crushes In September For PLB Win At one time Sami ‘LarsLuzak’ Kelopuro was more well known for his battles at the nosebleed cash game tables. In 2019, he emerged as one of the best tournament poker players of the year, rising to take the worldwide #1 rank. In September, Kelopuro added to his accolades by winning the PocketFives Monthly PLB and scoring an astounding $4.275 million in a single month thanks to the high stakes tournament scene happening on GGPoker.

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