Weekly Poker Roundup: February 12, 2016
FTOPS XXIX: More Affordable Buy-Ins, Lower Guarantees
The schedule for the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) has been released; this will be the 29th running of the popular internet poker tournament festival. FTOPS XXIX will begin next weekend, starting February 21st and going through March 13th. It will feature 46 events and more than $1 million guaranteed prize pools.
Two events will be held each day with the exception of Sundays, when three events will run.
Though larger in terms of the number of tournaments than most past FTOPS, FTOPS XXIX is much smaller in terms of guaranteed prize money. Full Tilt has struggled to keep up since being revived by the Rational Group and it shows with FTOPS. FTOPS peaked just before Black Friday (as did Full Tilt in general) when FTOPS XIX had only one fewer event than this year, but guaranteed $22 million in prize money. Now, with traffic steadily dropping and a new emphasis on courting recreational players, the buy-ins for FTOPS have been lowered significantly, with many events costing just $25 or $50, compared to ten times that dollar amount last year. Not coincidentally, MiniFTOPS has been eliminated.
partypoker to Re-Enter Gray Markets
Following the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, partypoker withdrew from the United States market, willingly giving up its place as the giant of the online poker world. About seven years later, it pulled out of dozens of other “gray market” countries, those where there was some question as to the legality of online poker, even if it was not explicitly illegal. It is thought that partypoker (specifically, its parent company, bwin.party) did this in order to keep its nose clean for when it would eventually try to re-enter the U.S. by applying for an online gaming license in states where it was possible to do so.
GVC Holdings, now the owner of partypoker after acquiring bwin.party for £1.116 billion in September 2015, has now made it known that it plans to re-enter 21 of those gray market nations. In an interview with EGR, Group Head of partypoker Tom Waters said, “Along with other operators in the industry, we do accept gameplay from customers based in yet to be regulated territories where customers are not prevented from accessing online gaming products.”
“We have re-opened registration for a number of markets and could potentially look to do more if the commercials support it.”
PokerStars Launches “Duel” Mobile Game
Have you ever been jonesing for an online poker game but lament having no time to commit to playing? If you are in Norway, you are in luck, as PokerStars has launched “Duel,” a casual mobile poker game designed for people who only have a few minutes here and there to play.
Duel is a heads-up online poker app that can be played for real or play money in which two players compete in a series of hands, but rather than having to play in real time, the competition can be time shifted to whenever the players are available. A hand is dealt as it normally would be and players bet as normal, but once the first player acts, the other player can take all the time they need before making a move. It is like Words With Friends on Facebook – the players do not have to be online at the same time; after one player goes, the other player is alerted that it is their turn. No time banks or anything like that, though the games can’t go on forever – PokerStars has put a three-day limit on contests.
So as not to make it boring, each competition features 10 or 20 hands, depending on whether the game is for play money or real money, respectively. Each player acts first in half the hands and can act in as few or as many as they would like when it is their turn. Players start with 500 chips for each hand – the hands are played out independently of one another – and the player with the most chips for all the hands in total once they are all completed is the winner.
As stated earlier, Duel is only available in Norway right now, but will likely be rolled out to other countries soon.
Win Cake Poker Closes, Leaves Players Hanging
Win Cake Poker, originally known as simply Cake Poker, has shut down. That in and of itself was not entirely unexpected, as the site has been languishing for years. The interesting and unfortunate part of the whole thing is how many of Win Cake’s customers are being handled.
Win Cake players who are from outside of the United Kingdom are having their accounts transferred over to Juicy Stakes Poker, just as U.S. players did back in 2013. That sounds just fine, as both sites are on the Horizon Poker Network (formerly Revolution), but there’s a huge problem: the players balances are not transferring in full. According to various reports, players are being given anywhere from one to twenty percent of their Win Cake account balances in their new Juicy Stakes accounts. Most of their money is just gone. And to add insult to injury, players can’t even withdraw it right away. It is being treated as a bonus, requiring 150 percent playthrough.
UK customers are in better shape, though their situation is also odd. They are having their accounts sent over to Euro Club Poker and though all of their funds will remain intact, they will not be able to actually play at Euro Club. They will only be able to access their accounts to initiate a withdrawal. That is, if there are any viable cashout options.
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