Weekly Poker Roundup for January 29, 2018

WSOP to Use Shot Clock, Big Blind Antes

The World Series of Poker announced via Twitter this week that the highest buy-in events at this summer’s WSOP will feature both a shot clock and a big blind ante. WSOP social media manager Kevin Mathers originally broke the news on Twitter that the additions would be to the $1 million Big One for One Drop, but just a couple minutes later, the official WSOP Twitter account posted that the $50,000, $100,000, and $1 million events will all have the shot clock and ante.

Whereas a regular ante involves all players at the table putting chips into the pot before the cards are dealt (like a blind), the big blind ante makes the player in the big blind contribute the antes for all of the players at the table. This simplifies the ante process while still adding the incentive that an ante adds.

The shot clock has become a very popular addition to tournaments in the last year or two. It speeds up play by limiting the amount of time players have to ponder their actions. The World Poker Tour has an Action Clock that is activated on the money bubble and near the end of tournaments; players are given limited number of special tokens that can be used to add time to the clock for important decisions.

ElkY Ends PokerStars Relationship

Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier announced this weekend that he has left Team PokerStars Pro, making him the third ultra-high profile player – after Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier – to do so in the past month. The French pro had been with PokerStars for 11.5 years, which is an astoundingly long time relative to the age of the online poker industry.

In a statement posted on social media, Grospellier said, in part:

We had a wonderful journey together, and I am so glad for all the great people it gave the chance to work with and befriend, but 2017 showed me it was time to stop and open up a new chapter. Team Pro used to be a core part of their strategy, but it became evident this was not the case anymore during the last few years. I respect that.

On my side, I am happy to have been involved — except those last few years, unfortunately — on how PokerStars could offer the best poker experience and improve players’ satisfaction. It was an amazing experience, especially during the Scheinberg era, until 2014, when their vision brought poker, PokerStars, and the players to constant new heights.

What exactly the problem has been he does not say, but it certainly seems that he has not liked the direction PokerStars has taken since being acquired by Amaya (now The Stars Group) in 2014.

Isaac Haxton Signs with partypoker

As PokerStars loses pros, partypoker keeps adding them. The latest player to sign a sponsorship deal with partypoker is Isaac Haxton, typically known as simply “Ike.” Haxton was quoted on the partypoker blog:

I am very excited to be joining the partypoker team. I’ve been very impressed with their growth over the last year or so. From expanding their online cash game and tournament offerings, to improving their software, and most of all rolling out their ambitious and innovative live events program, their commitment to growing the game and providing a great product for their players has been clear. I’m truly proud to represent the company, which I believe is going to be the future of poker, online and live.

Many poker pros who become sponsored by poker sites or are named their “ambassadors” often work with the sites in a consulting relationship, aside from just slapping a patch on their shirt for live tournament appearances. It sounds like Haxton might do some of this, though the announcement simply states that he “will play a key role in partypoker’s efforts to work closely with the poker player community.”

Haxton’s live tournament resume is pretty insane. Though he somehow doesn’t have a WSOP or WPT title yet, he has almost $16 million in live tournament earnings, including a staggering 30 six-figure cashes.

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