Weekly Poker Roundup: July 3, 2015
Happy Independence Day to all of you reading this from the United States. Stay safe this weekend. But before you light any fireworks, how about reading a little about what happened in poker this week?
WSOP Goes Online
Thursday marked the first time that a World Series of Poker bracelet event was contested online. A total of 905 players paid $1,000 for the No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which was paused with six remaining. Those six have a day to rest or travel (or both) before meeting at noon on July 4th at the Rio in Las Vegas to compete for the bracelet at a live final table.
California iPoker Not Looking Good
California State Assemblyman Mike Gatto cancelled next week’s internet poker hearing that was supposed to be held before the State Assembly’s Governmental Organization Committee next Wednesday, July 8th. Gatto published a brief statement, saying that the hearing for Assembly Bill 9 was cancelled because there was “no consensus on the issue yet.”
The lack of consensus has been the problem for the better part of a decade now in California, as there are simply too many stakeholders who can’t agree on how the market will be divvied up. The stickiest issue right now is whether or not California’s online poker legislation should have a “bad actor” clause. Several of the state’s Native American tribes are remaining firm on this issue, feeling that an operator who offered online gambling to California residents after a certain date (typically the end of 2006) should be barred from being able to apply for a license. Those who fight for bad actor clauses typically argue that they don’t want companies who flaunt America’s laws to be able to profit off the poker industry, but really it is just because they are scared of the competition. PokerStars is clearly the operator at whom bad actor clauses are targeted, as Stars is the biggest, baddest poker company in the world, one who most assume would take command as the market leader in any state it entered.
Notable WSOP Bracelet Winners
Carol Fuchs became the first woman to win a bracelet in an open event at the 2015 World Series of Poker, winning the $1,500 Dealer’s Choice Event. The last female to capture a bracelet was Vannessa Selbst, who won her third last May. A total of 21 women have now won open WSOP tournaments.
The Dealer’s Choice Event is one of the toughest at the World Series of Poker. At each table, there is a separate dealer’s choice button that moves once every orbit. The person who holds this button, as the name would imply, gets to decide what game is played for that round. A total of 18 games are possible, including the usual suspects such as No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha, as well as less common games like Big O (Five-Card Omaha) and Five-Card Draw. Any game may be chosen at any time, so one game may be played several orbits in a row and some may never see the light of day. It just depends on the players at the table.
Jonathan Duhamel won his first bracelet since claiming the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship. He did so in a big way, too, winning the $111,111 High Roller for ONE DROP for nearly $4 million. In those two WSOP victories alone Duhamel has earned almost $13 million.
$5,555 of each buy-in (plus any other money people wanted to donate from their winnings) went to the ONE DROP charity, an organization created by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte with the goal of making clean water available to everybody around the world. The first ONE Drop charity event at the WSOP was held in 2012 when the $1 million buy-in Big One for ONE DROP debuted, with Antonio Esfandiari winning it for $18 million. The Big One took a break the following year, as a million bucks is a rather steep price to pay for an annual tournament. Daniel Colman won the Big One in 2014, taking home over $15 million.
Finally, the World Poker Tour’s reigning Player of the Year, Anthony Zinno, won his first WSOP Bracelet, winning the $25,000 High-Roller Pot-Limit Omaha. He has now cashed five times at the 2015 WSOP, all final table finishes. Because of this success, Zinno has elevated to second in the 2015 WSOP Player of the Year standings behind only Mike Gorodinsky, who won the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.
Bitcoin Gambling Site Hacked for $1 Million
Ok, this isn’t poker related, but it is interesting nonetheless. One of the heads of Primedice, an online gambling site that only accepts Bitcoin, explained on Medium.com how his site was victimized by a hacker last year who ran off with over a million dollars.
The gambling on the site is quite simple. Players choose a win probability or amount to win (the two are obviously related) and then the site rolls a virtual die, spitting out a value of 0 to 100. If the value is greater than the chosen win probability, the player wins. Easy.
In August 2014, after a short closed beta, Primedice launched the third version of its site and soon thereafter, suspected two players of funny business based on their winning and cashout frequencies. As no evidence of wrongdoing was found, Primedice allowed the two accounts to cashout. The next month, another account, Hufflepuff, began betting $8,000 per second (PER SECOND) for several hours at a time. And Hufflepuff won. Again, Primedice suspected cheating, but found none, and allowed Hufflepuff to cash out over 2,000 Bitcoins.
A few days later, Primedice figured out that it had been taken. In order to come up with the dice roll value, the site’s random number generator (RNG) creates a random “server seed” which it combined with the player’s “client seed” to produce a random result. It then shows the player the server seed to prove that everything is on the up-and-up. Hufflepuff (whose real-life owner was behind the other accounts) figured out how to confuse the RNG by flooding the site with requests, causing the RNG to re-use server seeds. Thus, Hufflepuff was able to know what the dice rolls were going to be and therefore could win to his heart’s content.
Primedice tracked the culprit down on a Bitcoin message forum and demanded the money back, but Hufflepuff would have nothing of it. In fact, he created another account and took more money from the site. And since Bitcoin is an anonymous, decentralized, peer-to-peer currency, Primedice has not been able to get its money back, which amounts to about $1 million.
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