Weekly Poker Roundup: February 26, 2017
Maurice Hawkins Sets Another WSOP Circuit Record
Maurice Hawkins won a $365 buy-in ring event at the World Series of Poker Circuit Palm Beach Kennel Club stop this past week, giving him an insane nine WSOP Circuit rings for his career. He is now tied with Alexandru Masek for the most rings of all-time. Hawkins, though, has won much more money on the Circuit, $1,366,228 versus Masek’s $711,761.
This is just more of the same for Hawkins, who may be the most underappreciated player in poker right now. In 2016, he won three WSOP Circuit Main Events, becoming the first player to ever do that in one year. Only two other players – Chris Ferguson and Blair Hinkle – have even won three Main Events in a lifetime.
Hawkins isn’t bothered by a lack of recognition (though he was just awarded Breakout Player of the Year on Thursday at the GPI American Poker Awards). After the tournament, he said, “I would rather be under-respected and overpaid than over-respected and underpaid.”
Super High Roller Bowl Expands Field
As we mentioned last week, the Super High Roller Bowl had a bit of a problem when registration opened for the $300,000 buy-in tournament. The event was capped at 50 players, but only 35 spots were open to the public; the other 15 were given to the ARIA – the host venue – to distribute as the casino chose. Well, 54 players attempted to register, leaving a number of big names out in the cold. To try to remedy the situation, the Super High Roller Bowl decided to have a lottery to make it “fair.”
Players hated that solution, as well, as why should those who were at the front of the line to register have to possibly miss out because of their names weren’t picked out of a hat? So, the Super High Roller Bowl changed it up again, this time expanding the field from 50 to 56 and reducing the number of reserved ARIA seats from 15 to just two. All 35 lottery winners were still included and 19 more who wanted to play will now be able to.
California Online Poker Bill Introduced
A bill to legalize and regulate online poker has once again been introduced in California, this one – AB 1677 – advanced by long-time poker supporter, Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer. Pro poker forces have been trying to get online poker going in California for about a decade now, but has much support for it as there is, nothing has gotten done.
Arguably the most imposing obstacle to the legalization of online poker in the Golden State is a coalition of hardline Native American tribes who want to keep as much of the poker industry for themselves at the detriment of other possible operators. AB 1677 does grant the tribes one significant concession: the state’s racetracks are not eligible for operating licenses. In exchange, the racetracks will be given a portion of the state’s online poker revenue. The racetracks can also become service provider partners with licensed operators and share in at least half the revenue.
The hardline tribes have always wanted to keep PokerStars out of the California market, but this bill would keep PokerStars in play, as it does not have a “bad actor” clause.
Australia Senator Trying to Protect Online Poker
With restricting gambling legislation pending, online poker players may be playing on borrowed time in Australia. The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 hasn’t passed yet, but it is expected to eventually, and when it does, it could spell the end for online poker.
The bill is designed to stop internet “in-play” sports betting, which currently online legal if the bets are placed over the telephone line. Operators have created smartphone apps, though, to get around these restrictions. In closing the loophole, though, the bill would also ban any online gambling that is not explicitly legal, including poker.
Poker players have at least one lawmaker on their side. Senator David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party has introduced an amendment which would carveout a slot for online poker and blackjack, making them legal. He is the only member of his party in the Senate, so it will take a lot of consensus building for him to advance his amendment, but it’s a start.
If all else fails, though, he said in a Facebook video that players should just get a VPN and create and offshore account to keep playing. Alright!
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