Weekly Poker Roundup: March 5, 2016
Six-Plus Hold’em Launches on iPoker Network
The iPoker Network has rolled out a new poker offering called Six-Plus Hold’em. The hold’em variant, popular in the high stakes games in Macau, is designed to add a little more luck to mix and a lot more action.
The mechanics of Six-Plus Hold’em are basically the same as in regular hold’em, except that sixteen cards – deuces through fives – have been removed from the deck, reducing the deck to 36 cards from the traditional 52. Aces can play either high or low, as they do now, so Broadway is still the highest straight, but A-6-7-8-9 is now the lowest straight.
The removal of low cards also changes the probability of hitting certain hands. Because there are fewer cards of each suit, flushes are harder to come by in Six-Plus Hold’em. Straights, on the other hand, are easier to hit. Therefore, the relative hand strengths are changed. The hand rankings for Six-Plus Hold’em from the top down, are Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Flush, Full House, Three of a Kind, Straight, Two Pair, One Pair, and High Card. Note that a Flush is now better than a Full House and a Straight is now worse than Three of a Kind.
Was Baazov’s Possible Bid for Amaya a Ruse?
A month ago, Amaya CEO David Baazov announced that he was interested in buying all outstanding shares of Amaya for CAD $21 per share thus taking the company private. His $21 price would set the market capitalization of the company at CAD $2.8 billion (USD $2 billion).
At the time, Amaya issued a press release informing the public of Baazov’s intentions, saying, in part:
“As of the time of this release, the special committee has neither received nor solicited a formal bid or offer related to a potential transaction and there can be no assurance that Mr. Baazov’s intention will result in a formal bid or offer or that any such bid or offer will ultimately result in a completed transaction.”
According to Flushdraw.com’s Haley Hintze, it appears that Baazov may have been bluffing in order to stabilize his company’s stock price. A soft deadline of March 1st was put in place for a formal bid from Baazov, but he never made it. As a result of the uncertainty surrounding a potential offer, Amaya has had to delay the release of its 2015 Q4 financial figures.
As Hintze points out, Amaya’s stock price over the last few months was a concern, one that Baazov may have found a way to remedy, simply by acting like he was going to buy the company. After a worse than expected earnings report for 2015 Q3 in November, the company’s shares dropped precipitously, from more than CAD $31 to below CAD $20 in a couple days. Over the next two and a half months, the stock price continued to fall, dropping all the way below CAD $14. After the announcement of the potential offer, though, the stock price bounced back up to around CAD $18 and has climbed over CAD $19 in the month since.
Hintze posits that this is exactly what Baazov wanted. He was never obligated to make a cash offer, so he can easily make up an excuse as to why he isn’t going to and Amaya shareholders could just as easily turn down a CAD $21 per share offer, as the stock price is now not much lower than that and trending slightly upward.
Georgia Casino Legalization Will Have to Wait at Least Another Year
Two casino bills which would have brought the state of Georgia closer to having real, brick-and-mortar casinos failed to advance in the state legislature this week, likely delaying any more potential progress until next year. HB 677, which was the subject of meetings last year, would have set the regulations for casino gambling for as many as six casinos in the state. Two would have been permitted in licensing regions one, which includes the metropolitan Atlanta area, while one would have been allowed in each of the other four licensing regions. The one-time licensing fees would have been $25 million for the main casino in region one and $10 for all others; the casinos would have been taxed 12 percent of gross gaming revenue.
The vast majority of funds the state would have collected from casino gambling would have been applied towards educational programs such as the HOPE Scholarship.
HR 807 would have put the decision to the residents of Georgia, adding a ballot measure in November in which voters could weigh in on whether or not they wanted to allow resort-style casinos to be built.
The bills were scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives last Friday, but that vote was pushed to Monday. On Monday, House Speaker David Ralston announced that no vote would be taken. Monday was “Crossover Day” in Georgia, the last day of the session in which legislation could pass from one chamber to the other. Thus, the bills are essentially dead until next year.
Poker Botters Have Conviction Overturned by Appellate Court
A group of five Svenska Spel account holders who had been convicted of fraud for operating poker bots and winning money from unsuspecting opponents were recently acquitted by an appellate court in Sweden.
The botters, who used computer programs to automatically play poker on the Swedish government-controlled poker site, turned a SEK 2.5 million (€270,000) profit after playing against a total of around 25,000 players. They were convicted of aggravated fraud.
But the Svea Court of Appeal overturned that decision, ruling that because poker is at least in part governed by luck, “aggravated fraud” could not have taken place. Because the bots could have gotten unlucky and lost, the court decided the bot owners were not guilty. It makes little sense.
There are a number of “aggravating” circumstances in the Swedish penal code – too many to list here – but several of them could easily apply to this case. “the crime was part of a criminal activity which was especially carefully planned or carried out on a large scale and in which the accused had a significant role,” for example. Hell, you could even argue that the possibility of chance helping the victims supports another “aggravated circumstance,” namely, “the accused intended that the crime should have markedly more serious consequences than it in fact had.”
Either way, even though the botters likely had their funds confiscated, it is sad that they were able to get away with little to no punishment.
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