Weekly Poker Roundup: January 31, 2016
A Bot at a PokerStars TCOOP Final Table? Maybe.
Speculation in the poker community last week has it that a bot may have reached the heads-up portion of a PokerStars Turbo Championship of Online Poker (TCOOP). PokerStars claims that the player was a human, but evidence certainly makes things looks fishy.
A chat transcript from the tournament shows what happened when the two finalists, LuckBoxStami and IvanHaldi began to discuss a possible deal. The PokerStars chat administrator began by showing the two players what each would take home if the remaining prize pool was divided based on chip counts with $4,000 remaining on the table for the winner. It would have been a fairly even split, about $40,000 a piece.
It got weird, though, when LuckBoxStami agreed, by IvanHaldi did not respond. For nearly an hour, he remained silent and all efforts by PokerStars to reach him – via private chat and phone call – failed. All the while, LuckBoxStami expressed his feelings that his opponent was a bot and urged PokerStars to investigate (to the site’s credit the admin said they would). Eventually, the tournament resumed and LuckBoxStami won in six hands. The fact that IvanHaldi did play those hands AND was active in another tournament at the same time has made people even more suspicious that he might be a bot.
A few days later, a PokerStars rep responded to the speculation on Two Plus Two, saying an investigation was conducted and the player was determined to be a human. Very few people believe the site, though.
Annette Obrestad Goes to Work for the Enemy
On Thursday, the Venetian Las Vegas announced that Annette Obrestad has been signed as the Sands Poker Room ambassador. Obrestad had hinted at the announcement earlier in the week, later tweeting, “Guys, its (sic) official! I’m now an ambassador for Venetian Poker. I’m SOOOO excited. I hope to give a lot of you a chance to play with me soon!”
That is all great for her, but the odd thing about all of this is that Obrestad is legendary in the poker world as an online poker phenom who began rising to prominence when she was only 15-years old. She started with freerolls and eventually moved on to real money play when she won cash in the free tourneys. She achieved great success online before even being old enough to be allowed to play and eventually became the first winner of the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event.
So why is this odd? Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire who has funded the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling and has made it his life mission to end online poker in the U.S., is the owner of the casino with which Obrestad is now associated. A woman who owes her fame and fortune to online poker is now representing a man who wants nobody to ever accomplish what she has again.
Global Poker League Players Will Not be Playing for Free
A couple weeks ago, the team names and managers for the Global Poker League were announced; this past week details as to player compensation have been revealed, courtesy of the player contract that is available on the GPL’s website.
For the 2016 season, players will be paid $100 per hour; time actually participating in the competitions is what counts, so it benefits players to last longer simply based on the hourly rate. The rate will increase by 50 percent for the 2017 season. The winning team at the end of the season will receive $100,000, split evenly amongst the five players.
The players can also earn money from marketing and sponsorship deals. Net revenue earned by a team from things like merchandising and licensing (generated by the actual team, not by the league) is divided between the team that generates it and the GPL. The GPL takes 70 percent of Net Team Revenue (unfortunately, but then again, without the league, there is no revenue) off the top. 15 percent of the Net Team Revenue is split evenly amongst the five team members and 5 percent goes to the team manager. The other 10 percent is divided amongst the other players in the league.
Players who bring a sponsor to the league will receive 15 percent of the net revenue from that sponsor in the contract’s first year, 10 percent in the second year, and 5 percent in the third year.
Players who are not members of teams but are invited to participate in exhibition events will also receive the aforementioned $100 per hour wage. All event-related expenses such as travel and lodging will also be reimbursed by the GPL.
Poker Pros Report on Meeting with PokerStars About VIP Changes
Three poker pros – Dani Stern, Isaac Haxton, and Daniel Dvoress – recently met with PokerStars and Amaya reps at Amaya’s Montreal offices to discuss the issues they and many in the poker community have with the VIP program changes that went into effect on January 1st.
To summarize the meeting, we’ll skip right to what Stern wrote at the end of the report he posted on Two Plus Two. “We deeply regret that we are not bringing back any good news for the players,” he said. “We tried our best to present both practical and ethical arguments against the SN/SNE cuts, but PokerStars is not willing to reconsider any of the changes.”
Stern wrote, “….our highest priority was to address PokerStars’ decision not to give the 2016 rewards they had promised to players earning SN and SNE statuses in 2015.” PokerStars disagreed with the players that the site had an obligation to honor what the players saw as an agreement and has no intention to reverse any of the VIP changes.
The players did admit that PokerStars presented solid evidence that the “ecosystem” is broken and therefore changes to the site are needed, but the players disagreed that the VIP changes will do anything to help. They also felt that they were at a serious disadvantage in the day-long talks because PokerStars came armed with wheelbarrow loads of financials and other stats that the players had not seen before. The players only had minutes to look at the numbers and try to present their own arguments.
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