Muskan Sethi Dubbed India’s First Female Poker Pro

December 1, 2016

muskan-sethi-india-pokerWhile poker popularity is increasing in India, it’s still not a female-friendly game. But Muskan Sethi could go a long ways towards breaking this stereotype.

The 27-year-old spoke with India Today about what she’s had to endure while breaking into her country’s poker scene.

“I did get it initially. Usually the poker community treats me like a guy because the poker face is a man’s face, an anonymous face,” said Muskan. “But when they find out that I am a girl, they tell me ‘Go back to the kitchen.'”

Muskan lives in a society where women are told to go play cards by themselves, or not play at all when guys are in a poker game. But luckily, it seems that the game has opened up for her personally.

“Times have been changing,” she said. “I am still experiencing the change. Earlier they would not be too keen to have me play with them. But now they know how good I am at the game and enjoy playing with me.”

One driving force for Muskan entering the poker world was how she had to watch televised poker tournaments due to her dad.

“As a kid, instead of watching cartoon, I had to watch poker and I hated it,” she said.

The good news though is that Muskan eventually grew to enjoy playing poker.

“When I turned 20, I started playing it on Facebook for fun. It was then that I realised that I was good at it and started enjoying it,” said Muskan. “Every time I sat to play, I would clean the table out. So I decided to take it up seriously and started entering tournaments online.”

Eventually, the Delhi resident moved on to dominating her home poker game. This inspired her to take up online poker professionally, where she eventually earned a spot on PokerStars The Shark Tank (see below).

Muskan has since become a successful live and online poker player, and she’s gaining plenty of fame as “India’s first female poker pro.”

Tom Hall Wins $950k in Easy Weight Loss Bet

November 25, 2016

tom-hall-pokerThe standards for big poker prop bets must be going down. After all, Macau-based poker pro and businessman Tom Hall just won a weight-loss bet that paid him $950,000 – and the best part is that the wager didn’t have a time limit!

According to Hall’s Facebook, he instead just needed to avoid buying wine and certain luxury items while dropping from 115 kgs (253 lbs) to under 103 kgs (227 lbs).

The wager was originally for $1 million, but he allowed a buyout for $950,000 as it became obvious that he could resist the temptation of luxury items while shedding the weight.

Here’s a quick look at one thing that truly motivated Hall to put up $100,000 in this bet, which offered him 10-1 odds:

“I only fitted into XXL US sized T-shirts (that’s XXXL Asian sized). I’m always giving the American Nation shit for being a bunch of tubbies and there’s me only fitting into supersize clothing.

“I hadn’t been able to tuck my shirt into my jeans without looking like a middle-aged car salesman with a beer gut for so long, I had reverted to the “trendy” lets leave my shirt hanging loose look – reality – I’m way too fat. I also spent my time at poolside wearing a T-shirt when on tour with the Valley Rugby guys as was too embarrassed about my multiple spare tyres.”

Some of the factors that helped Hall stay motivated while he lost the weight included using MyFitnessPal, listening to the Joe Rogan podcast while working out, intermittent fasting, getting a trainer, and making it publicly known that he was trying to lose weight.

tom-hall-weight-loss-betHere’s an excerpt about the latter:

“Challenge yourself with the “public” watching. No matter how you dress it up, part of wanting to lose weight and be fitter is the vanity factor. I wanted to look healthier (and less fat). For those of you that live in Asia or have children, you know how direct comments can fly at you. “Daddy you’re really fat and your tummy is jiggly”. “Waah Mr. Hall, you so fat now”. “Sir, you shouldn’t eat so much you got fat” etc etc. Got all of those.

“I chose to share my journey on Facebook. To me it meant that I couldn’t hide, or make excuses, succeed or fail people close to me would know what was happening. It also worked as I got loads of comments and messages pushing me along. Thank you all.”

As you can see in the picture to the let, Hall points out what nearly $1 million looks like in Macau casino plaques.

Following this prop bet, Hall is already getting another one together where he’ll put up $100,000 at 1-1 odds, with winnings going to one of Joe Rogan’s charities.

PokerStars Festival New Jersey Totally Bombed

November 17, 2016

pokerstars-festival-new-jerseyMarch 21, 2016 was an exciting day in US online poker history since it meant the return of PokerStars to the American market. They’d been out of the US since April 15, 2011—when Black Friday happened—so it was nice to see them partner up with Resorts Casino Hotel.

PokerStars has taken the next step in their US online poker mission, launching the PokerStars Festival New Jersey from October 29 to November 6.

One great result from the PokerStars Festival is that it gave recreational players a chance to meet some of the game’s biggest pros. And this no doubt touched poker enthusiasts who joined the festival.

But in terms of overall attendance, the PokerStars Festival New Jersey completely bombed.

A perfect example is the $230 Turbo NLHE event, which drew just 19 players. At least this tournament still happened, though, because the following events had to be canceled due to lack of attendance: $5k NLHE, $340 Freezeout, and a $3k re-entry tourney.

Another sign of the festival’s unpopularity is that the $1,100 Main Event only attracted 208 players. James Acosta triumphed over the the field, but his prize was just $38,220 due to the lack of players.

Neil Johnson, PokerStars Department Head of live Poker Operations, believes that the light attendance is due to his company’s 5 years away from the American market.

“The market has evolved drastically in the United States,” said Johnson. “We’re not cannon-balling into the pool; we’re stepping into the pool. We want to make sure we’re meshing with the DGE and make sure we’re meshing with Resorts.”

Despite poor numbers at the PokerStars Festival, the world’s largest poker site certainly isn’t giving up. They plan to look at their mistakes and improve for when they hold the PokerStars Festival London.

Considering that London has a metropolitan population of almost 13.9 million people, there’s a good chance that they’ll have more success here than the PokerStars Festival New Jersey.

Gus Hansen Playing Backgammon, Poker Again

November 10, 2016

gus-hansen-pokerEarlier this year, Gus Hansen finally got back into online poker. And now, it looks like he’s venturing into live poker and backgammon too.

“I really don’t think I’ve played a poker tournament for two years. I’ve been to Vegas once or twice and played side games, but I really haven’t played any tournaments,” Hansen told PokerNews. “I’m actually thinking about getting into the swing of things and playing some tournaments later this year and next year.”

Hansen expanded on his future poker and gambling plans by mentioning the Aussie Millions.

“Gambling is gambling. Poker is definitely part of that but I did start out with backgammon and that sometimes resurfaces with a game here and there,” he said. “But I’m definitely thinking about going to the Aussie Millions next year and some other tournaments.”

Prior to playing some poker in Las Vegas this summer, Hansen hadn’t played a single hand in over a year. So what kept him away from the game for so long?

“It’s no secret that I’ve had some serious online losing. It’s kind of old news,” Hansen explained. “So you lick your wounds, clear your head and do some other stuff. But that doesn’t change the fact that I like to compete.

“My endeavors throughout my life have led me to gambling, whether it’s one game or another. That’s always going to be a part of me and I’m always going to be seeking that. Obviously, I’m not going to play as much as when I played fucking 24/7, every day. But I will always be around in some way, shape or form because I like it and overall I’ve done pretty well at it.”

One more interesting topic that Hansen discussed was his dealings with Full Tilt Poker post-Black Friday.

“It felt good to be back with a team. I’ve always had a good experience with Full Tilt,” he said. “Obviously, some things went wrong but it got resolved with PokerStars stepping in. They chose a different path because PokerStars was getting to be such a giant.

“I didn’t think too much about it. You have a business and you make some decisions. Maybe they’re wrong ones, maybe they’re the right ones, but obviously I would have liked to continue. But that was their decision so I didn’t really spend too much time thinking about it.”

Gus Hansen has been one of the most-interesting characters in poker for well over a decade. So it’s nice to see him return to the game that made him famous.

Phil Ivey Loses £7.7m Appeal to Crockfords

November 4, 2016

phil-ivey-crockfordsPhil Ivey lost his £7.7 million appeal against London’s historic Crockfords Club casino. Lady Justice Arden said that while Ivey was honest about his edge-sorting skills, what he did essentially amounts to cheating.

Edge sorting involves exploiting design imperfections on the backs of flawed decks. If a player can identify that one side of a card is marginally longer than the other, they can predict card values and improve their odds of winning.

Ivey admitted to using this technique when he won £7.7 million from Crockfords Club casino in Mayfair (central London) in 2012. He believes that this was an “honest game” of skill, with no cheating occurring.

After Ivey won, Crockford said that they’d have to wire the winnings because it was a bank holiday. They sent back the original £1 million but not the profits.

This sparked what the Telegraph describes as the biggest legal battle in history.

Genting, owner of Crockfords, claimed that edge sorting isn’t a legitimate strategy and that he violated casino rules with the technique.

Justice Arden from the Court of Appeal upheld the original decision, saying that a player can cheat “without dishonesty or intention to deceive.” She added that it’s an implied contract not to cheat.

“In my judgment, this section provides that a party may cheat within the meaning of this section without dishonesty or intention to deceive: depending on the circumstances it may be enough that he simply interferes with the process of the game,” said Arden.

Arden also believes that the actions of Ivey and his accomplice, Cheung Yin Sun, interfered with the normal running of the punto banco game.

“It is for the court to determine whether the interference was of such a quality as to constitute cheating. In my judgment it had that quality,” she explained.

Ivey’s defense all along has been that the casino granted every request he made. Therefore, no cheating occurred and he legitimately beat the casino at their own game.

“I was upset as I had played an honest game and won fairly. My integrity is infinitely more important to me than a big win,” said Ivey.

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