Weekly Poker Roundup: August 14, 2015
PokerStars Enters DFS Game
Not poker exactly, but it involves PokerStars, so that’s always an attention getter. On Thursday, PokerStars’ parent company, Amaya Gaming, announced that it has acquired Victiv.com, an Austin, Texas-based daily fantasy sports (DFS) site. Victiv will be re-branded to StarsDraft.com and initially launched in “select U.S. markets.” Which markets has yet to be announced. Later, PokerStars will integrate its new DFS offering into its poker software.
This certainly has the chance to be quite a big deal in the internet gambling industry, as it will be PokerStars’ first entry into the U.S. market since it evacuated following Black Friday on April 15th, 2011. Though there are several well-regarded DFS sites, the market is dominated right now by two: DraftKings and FanDuel. Whenever PokerStars’ name gets mentioned as possibly entering a new market (we are still waiting on its New Jersey online poker license application to be approved), the immediate thought is that it will spur on its competition to innovate, as PokerStars already has the respected name and the weight to instantly attract lots of players.
Pro-Poker New Jersey Legislator Mulling Gubernatorial Run
New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak has said that as long as he feels he has enough support, he plans to run for Governor in 2017. Lesniak has been one of the most outspoken proponents of gambling, specifically online poker, in the state and has worked hard to increase residents’ access to gambling for years. He introduced several bills to legalize internet gaming in New Jersey (as we well know, he won that battle), he has fought for the legalization of sports betting, he is a supporter of PokerStars’ bid to gain an internet gaming license in the Garden State, and he wants New Jersey to enter into agreements with other states and countries to grow the state’s player pool.
In an interview with NJTV News, Lesniak summarized the problems he wants to tackle, including gambling:
Well obviously fiscal integrity. So we need to get our financial house in order, but we need to do so many other things. We have to rebuild our criminal justice system from top to bottom. We have to build our infrastructure for sure. We have to have somebody fighting, for instance, to knock out that Exxon settlement so we can get that money into the state. We have to fight for sports betting. I’ve been fighting for that. Biggest problem is we don’t have anybody standing up for New Jersey and I intend to be that person.
iPoker Network’s Tiered Skin System Ends
The iPoker Network ended its three-year experiment with tiers Tuesday, as all of its member poker rooms now completely share liquidity. In September 2012, in an effort to encourage its skins to recruit recreational players, the iPoker Network divided its rooms into two tiers. For the top tier, reserved for the skins who successfully attracted casual (read: losing) players, it was business as usual. For those in the bottom tier, though, it was a distinct relegation. The rooms in that tier, rooms which implemented the lazy marketing tactic of high rakeback (which brought in winning professional players), no longer had access to all the tables they had before. It was particularly devastating because the tables which were ring-fenced were low stakes tables, the ones that casual players were most likely to frequent.
In order to receive an invitation to the upper tier, a poker room had to have a minimum of 6,000 in a month, recruit at least 850 new players a month, and each of those new players had to rake at least $5.
The split caused some reshuffling of the network, as some of the demoted skins merged with skins in the upper tier, while some just up and left. The network was serious about its poker rooms marketing towards recreational players, and it was willing to impose some rather draconian measures to make sure the point got across.
On Tuesday, though, the separate tiers were eliminated and the iPoker Network went back to giving all skins access to all tables.
Wisconsin Judge Says Poker Still Illegal, Skill vs. Chance Makes No Difference
Though poker can be played in Wisconsin’s tribal casinos, don’t hold your breath waiting for it to become legal throughout the state any time soon. On Wednesday, Circuit Court Judge Richard G. Niess denied a motion for summary judgment filed by the Poker Players Alliance’s Wisconsin state director, Steve Verrett, and professional poker player Mark “P0ker H0” Kroon.
Wisconsin’s statutes say that poker is an illegal form of gambling, thus not permitted in the state. The pro-poker side used the time-tested argument that poker is a game of skill and therefore should not be illegal. Unfortunately, while Judge Niess may have agreed with the skill-based explanation and had no problem personally with poker, it didn’t matter when it came to the law. The state’s legal code says poker is illegal, so it is illegal, regardless of how much skill or chance is involved.
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