Gambling Legalized in Parts of Russia

July 22, 2014

The Russian government banned gambling in the year 2009 in the belief that it would solve the problem of rampant gambling among Russian citizens. Gambling has been heavily restricted in Russia since then and allowed only in four designated zones located in the country’s outskirts. However, the Russian government was unable to curtail gambling completely in Russia.

New casinos to be built

The Russian legislative body Duma has recently decided to create two special gambling zones in Sochi and the former Ukranian province of Crimea. While announcement regarding the construction of casinos came recently, the process was initiated in March, 2014 when Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Kozak discussed the possibility of opening a gambling centre with a large number of officials from the region. While the exact locations where casinos will be built has not been determined yet, a clause included in the bill passed by Duma states that gambling facilities will be established in the facilities where the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics were organized.

Kozak said that the locations for construction for casinos will be decided within 10 days. By constructing special gambling zones, Russian government wants to earn income in the form of taxes and license paid by casino organizers. Moreover, Russian government was also hoping that the construction of casinos would give a boost to Crimea’s economy and make the people of the newly annexed territory happy. In view of the failure of Russia’s first legal casino to generate any profits, Russian government was treading cautiously with the proposed new projects in Sochi and Crimea.

Sochi and Crimea- Ideal locations for a casino

By selecting Sochi as one of the location for the establishment of casinos, Russian government wants to utilize the Olympic facilities and get some extra returns made by private investors in the black sea region. The US$ 51 billion expenditure incurred for the Sochi 2014 Olympics included building of huge sporting infrastructure. The decision of Russian government is in lines with decisions made by other countries that have held major international sporting events. Countries like U.S.A and China that have organized Olympics have converted the gaming cities into sporting hubs.

A large number of international investors have expressed their interest to build casinos in Sochi due to its recent reputation as a gaming centre. Similarly, Crimea is also being proposed as an ideal location for the establishment of casino to reduce its financial dependence on Moscow. The newly added territory of Crimea is relatively poorer than other parts of Russia and the Russian government was hoping that the creation of a gambling zone would help attract investments, create new jobs, and give a boost to the regional budget. Russian government also has plans to develop Crimea as a tourist centre that can attract thousands of tourists from all over the world and make the economy self-sufficient.

Russia’s new approach to gambling

The decision to legalize gambling follows a new path that was chosen by the Russian government regarding gambling. By legalizing gambling, Russian government hopes to create special gambling zones that can be better regulated. At the same time Russian government also wants to put the infrastructure built for the Sochi Olympics to better use and make the Crimean economy self-sustainable. Many analysts have said that the Russia’s new approach towards gambling to be pragmatic and follows the policy of countries like China that has built special gambling zone in its special administrative region of Macau.

The failure of the 2009 ban made it clear to the Russian government that could not be eliminated through an outright ban. Fresh from his successes in foreign policy related decisions, Russia’s president wants to increase tax revenues at times when the country is experiencing a decline in revenues from sale of oil and gas. Russian government was expecting that legalizing of gambling would bring in additional revenues of US$ 150 million within three to four years.

Conclusion

Other than the creation of new gambling zones in Sochi and Crimea, Russian government was also considering the option of legalizing online poker. By legalizing online poker, Russian government wants to create a newly regulated market for gambling. All these recent developments point to a bright future for gambling in Russia.

Gambling Establishments Shut Down in Atlantic City

July 15, 2014

Atlantic City has seen a spate of a lot of gambling establishments shutting down or filing for bankruptcy in the past few weeks. Showboat and Revel are two such establishments which have faced this predicament. The news regarding both the establishments was not unexpected, but has nevertheless caused ripples of unease in the city for hard core poker players. Read more

2014 World Series Poker Update

July 7, 2014

The 45th annual World Series of Poker is happening at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas for the 10th consecutive year. The 2014 World Series of Poker (WSOP) has been raging since May 27 and is slated to conclude on July 14, 2014, with the Main Event scheduled for July 5 to July 14, 2014.

The WSOP consists of 65 events in total, with the Main Event offering a guarantee of at least 10 million dollars to the winner this year. Other highlights of this year include the return of the one million dollar buy-in Big One for One Drop Event. 14 more events have been included this year with the re-inclusion of the $10,000 buy-in championship across all the major events. Further, the first ever Dealer’s choice bracelet has been introduced this year.

For the first time ever, the WSOP will hold a $1K buy-in for the first in a variant other than the Texas Hold’em. The “Millionaire Maker” returns to the schedule, while the $1,000 buy-in tournament is all set to award at least $1 million to the winner. This year’s bracelet offerings brings forth the first-ever Dealer’s Choice bracelet. In addition to the bracelet events, the Rio will host Deepstack tournaments and Mega satellites on a daily basis.

The tournament so far

The tournament so far has been nothing but a whirlwind of intense excitement. Some key events have made its mark in the 2014 World Series of Poker (WSOP).

Nearly 8,000 odd players thronged the arena to try their luck at the Monster Stack at the WSOP. The 2014 Event #51: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack is ranked as the second-largest live non-reentry tournament in the history of poker tournaments. The first place continues to be ruled by the 2006 WSOP Main Event, which was jam packed with an astounding 8,773 players.

Earlier this summer, another event that drew crowds was the Event #8: $1,500 Millionaire Maker No-Limit Hold’em, which created a playing field of 7,977. However, that tournament did allow re-entries unlike the monster stack. 2014 will forever be known as the Year of the Monster Stack.

One of the most exorbitant poker tournament in the world, the $1 million “Big One for One Drop” tournament is in progress. In its second running at the 2014 World Series of Poker, the tournament has begun and comprises of 42 amateur and professional players who are all game to gamble.

Phil Ivey, one of the best poker players in the world, grabbed the WSOP spotlight by winning his 10th career bracelet in the 50th event of the 2014 World Series of Poker – Event #50: $1,500 Eight-Game Mix. Further, Phil Ivey became the fourth player to reach the double-digit mark in bracelets by winning the event over a 485 player field.

John “Johnny World” Hennigan was exalted as the new Poker Players’ Champion, when he won the $50K Poker Players’ Championship for $1.5 Million. The Poker Players’ Championship (PPC) is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious tournament to conquer at the World Series of Poker. Veteran poker professional John Hennigan not only earned his first PPC title, a whopping $1.5 million, but also his third lifetime World Series of Poker bracelet by winning the $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship.

Last year, John Hennigan finished third in the same poker championship. This year Hennigan’s name has further been etched on the revered Chip Reese Memorial Trophy following in the footsteps of Michael Mizrachi, Scotty Nguyen, David Bach, Brian Rast and Matthew Ashton.

Biggest and most shocking upsets

One of the downfalls at WSOP 2014, was that the $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship made history by being the second smallest ever, with a turnout of just about 102 players. Some of the big guns opted to skip the tournament altogether this year and several of the regulars were also missing from the championship scene.

Another shocking turn of events, took place during the same prestigious $50K Poker Players’ Championship itself. Brandon Shack-Harris, a key WSOP Player of the Year contender, was leading the final table of eight players that included Melissa Burr, Jesse Martin, Frank Kassela, Chun Lei “samrostan” Zhou, Abe Mosseri, Allen Kessler, and the ultimate winner John Hennigan. Tables turned when John Hennigan defeated Brandon Shack-Harris heads-up in a nail biting finish that prevailed after a very long but entertaining fight to the end. Had Shack-Harris emerged victorious in the $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship, he could have outdone George Danzer in the race for the coveted Poker Player of the Year title. Currently, Shack-Harris is in second position while Danzer is at first.

Among the deeply sad news to hit the poker world recently, Chad Brown, 2006 Poker Player of the Year, who has been battling cancer over the last few years, has entered into hospice care. Officials of WSOP on hearing the news of Brown’s condition, in a first of its kind, decided to commemorate the poker legend with a special honorary WSOP bracelet.

Prophecies and what to expect

Predictions of the WSOP 2014 tournaments are floating around in popular poker blogs for the benefit of the poker fans worldwide. One of predictions believe that ace player Daniel Negreanu may not win a bracelet this year. However, Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth are expected to grab a bracelet or more each.

With women players making an impact in the poker world, it is being prophesied that women poker players might make a few waves and create history at the events. Vanessa Selbst, one of the strongest female contender in the poker scenario today, is a key player to watch out for and will most likely make a mark in this year’s WSOP. Quite contrary, another popular blog feel that 2014 may not be the year for women winning bracelets, so we just have to wait and see how it goes.

Other predictions include, the estimation of around 200 to 300 seats awarded via WSOP.com that might result in two qualifiers making the final table. Mixed game events and the Dealer’s Choice event are gaining wide popularity among players and might end up setting some serious records this year. The Main Event field is forecast to draw to the arena around 7000 to 8000 eager players or more and might set a new record. It is also being said that the WSOP is in a commendable position to have a star-studded final table with only poker pros and no amateurs at the Main Event. Now this is something to look forward to.

Five Recent Happenings in the World of Poker

June 27, 2014

The WSOP 2014 saw a lot of events taking place so far – past bracelet winners have struck gold this time too and have made poker enthusiasts who predicted their wins proud. Exciting players like Volpe and Anderson won last year and they did not disappoint this year as well. Kabbaj made a stunning victory and Yoon bagged a quick, action-packed victory. Here are 5 recent events of the WSOP you should know about.

I want the gold

Volpe played a game that yielded him a very deep share of the pot. He joined at the final table of the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship and survived the bubble so well as to win all the chips in the play, defeating Daniel Negreanu. Negreanu was on his way to win his 7th bracelet but had to settle with the 2nd spot and $156,674 winnings. Volpe made his 4th largest cash win of his career and his total poker winnings now add up to 2.7 million just from live tournaments. He has won 4.78 million in total, combining his online poker tournament winnings too. This was, however, his first bracelet.

Calvin Anderson too won his first bracelet at the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low game with $190,538 as the cash prize and that was his largest career win so far. That also pushed his poker earnings from live tournaments beyond $1 million. One of the other finalists was Melissa Burr who won $10,000 at the 8th position. Anderson is confident he will win many more bracelets in the coming WSOP but cannot peg a number right now.

Cada snags number two

Poker enthusiasts were not in love with Cada in 2009 when he won the main WSOp event. He was en route to winning $8.5 million and had edged past a poker legend, Phil Ivey. This year however, was also good to Cada. He won his 2nd gold bracelet at the $10,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold-em Championship and $670,041 in cash. He faced very competitive gamers like Jeremy Ausmus, JC tran and Erick Lindgren. This lad from Michigan was very lucky when he won a coin flip against Ausmus at the heads-up play for 93% of the chips. Ausmus recovered and found a double up but was taken down with pocket jacks against the pocket queens of Cada.

Cada is one of the few consistent cash winners since the 2009 WSOP and has made 4 final table appearances as follows:

1. $10,000 Six Max – finished 1st with $670,041 (year 2014)
2. $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em – finished 4th with $161,652 (year 2013)
3. $1,500 Six-Max – finished 4th with $83,558 (year 2013)
4. $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Poker – finished 2nd with $412,424 (year 2012)

The Year of the Previous Bracelet Winner

There are 34 events at the tournament this year. So far, nearly a third of the events have been won by previous bracelet winners. This has been a year where players have captured, 2nd , 3rd , 4th and even 6th gold bracelets of their career. What this proves is that poker really is a game of skills and not much of luck. Previous bracelet winners have mastered the skills by practicing in online tournaments too. A large number of previous bracelet winners have also advanced to the final rounds and table. Deeper pot shares have gone to them. Read more

John Kabbaj Bags his Second Bracelet

June 19, 2014

The recent accomplishment of John Kabbaj is something that poker players dream to equal, if not better. Just a few days back, on July 14th, this determined man overcame his personal issues and won a whopping $267,327. With this winning, Kabbaj has exceeded $2,700,000, accounting for all his live tournament winnings. Those numbers alone are stunning. What makes the win even sweeter for this 40-year-old player is that it comes after a year full of personal issues.

To help other poker players who wish to earn deep at the final tables, Kabbaj says that it is advisable to take some time off and then focus on the game to achieve the best results. Over the past two years, he got divorced, sold his house and had to move to different countries. He describes this period as the worst two years of his life. However, he is now reaping the rewards of his poker skills at an Austrian mountain-top now, in a ski-resort, accompanied by his beloved companion, his dog!

Kabbaj used the World Series of Poker 2014 as a way to divert his attention from the tough times he has been facing over the past year. At a time when he was facing the “low of the low”, he went on to beat many renowned poker players to reach “the high now” to such an extent that even he is finding it a little hard to believe. The game he played was challenging with a lot of twists and turns, making his win all the more sweet.

The final day of the event

At the start of the final of this exciting game, there were 18 players around the table, all pitting their wits and talents against each other to clean the pot. Three and a half years into the play, Tyson Marks was the competitor to walk away from the table at the ninth spot, leaving top eight players at the table.

The table still had plenty of interesting players like Tom Schneider who, in a round of Omaha Hi-Lo, was raised in a middle position and was down to just over one big bet. Erik Seidel then called Schneider in the big blind and the two had to face a flop of Queen of spades, 9 of hearts, 8 of spades. Schneider then got his last share of the pot $22,000 in the middle on the flop and then Seidel called. Seidel then showed his cards – Ace of diamonds, ten of spades, 7 of spades and 5 of clubs. He had a straight and a flush draw and a backdoor low. Schneider then tabled Ace of hearts, 8 of hearts, 4 of hearts and 3 of diamonds. This gave him a better backdoor low. The game changer was the 6 of spades that helped Schneider draw half the pot by making a low. Queen of diamonds was the river due to which Schneider had to leave the game.

Mike Leah was the next to leave the table at the same game and he raised under-the-gun to 50,000. Kabbaj then called him from the big flop and they saw a flop of 5 of hearts, 3 of hearts, 3 of spades. Kabbaj earned 25,000 of Leah when he check-called him and a Queen of diamonds fell on the turn. Leah betted 50,000 after Kabbaj checked. Kabbaj doubled the bets to raise it to 100,000 which Leah topped by raising it to 150,000. Kabbaj then four-bet by which time Leah was in a bad spot, down to his last 15,000 which he committed.

At the end of the battle between Kabbaj and Leah, the latter had to leave the table with #31,115 for run.

The final game-play

The table now had 6 players when Siedel had to call it a day. Limits had not been raised and were still 25,000/50,000 but the game changed to Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo. Siedel and Keller fought it out and at the end, Keller had increased his stack to 600,000. Limits then went up to 30,000/60,000. Joe Tehan was the next to leave at the 5th place.

Terrence Hastoo was kicked out by Kabbaj in Omaha Hi-Lo when the former had just over a big bet after he turned trip fives. He manages a measly small double up through Kabbaj but that was not enough to let him play. When the players took an hour’s break for dinner, Kabbaj and Keller were the leading chip holders. Christopher McHugh was third. These were the final 3 contenders. When play resumed, McHugh started with a losing streak and lost the first 2 pots he had earned and then the chips to Kabbaj. The limits were then raised to 40,000/80,000.

Kabbaj raised 80,000 from a small bind while McHugh defended it. Kabbaj bet at the flop of Queen of spades, 7 of diamonds and 2 of spades. When McHugh called, a 7 of clubs was drawn from the pack after which each Kabbaj bet while McHigh called again. McHugh’s card fared very poorly in front of Kabbaj’s Queen of clubs, 7 of hearts, 5 of hearts and 4 of spades which allowed the latter to get a full house and the pot.

Kabbaj and Keller were the final two competitors. The former had a formidable 2-to-1 chip lead when the limits were raised to 50,000/100,000. The match was at an exciting stage where there were just 35 big bets and any pot had the power of swinging the match in favor of either player. Kabbaj here gained two pots in a heads-up play of Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo that left Keller with just 2 last bets. At this stage, Kabbaj completed to 50,000 in the game and Keller called. Kabbaj had some cards but things changed when he got a 7 of clubs on 6th street while Keller picked a 5 of spades. Kabbaj then rivered a 6 of hearts while Keller got an 8 of clubs which led to the victory of Kabbaj.

Conclusion

This event took place between 27th May and July 14th 2014 in Nevada. For the first time, this game had a guaranteed $10 million first prize. Kabbaj earned his second bracelet and became one of the most successful poker player of all times at this event.

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