George Danzer Gets the Better of Brandon Shack Harris to Bag the Coveted Title of 2014 WSOP Player of the Year

October 23, 2014

With the WSOP APAC 2014 drawing towards an end, the time has come to award the WSOP Player of the Year title to George Danzer who got the better of Shack-Harris. No other title runs in the past could possibly measure up to the level of competition that went on between the two excellent players for an entire season.

Back and forth battle between Danzer and Shack Harris

Danzer had started the year in fifth place in the Event 5: $10,000 Deuce to Seven Triple Draw. In his next event he went heads up with Shack-Harris who had come off of a dream start in the Event 3: The Pot-limit Omaha by bagging the first bracelet in his first event of the year.

That was the Event 18: $10,000 Razz and was being held for the first time in 45 years. In that event George Danzer outperformed Shack-Harris to win his first bracelet of the year. Shack-Harris settled for the second place, yet he had all the time he needed to cease an opportunity and for the length of that series he made four final table appearances and had cashed in another two events, but Danzer got the better of him with a second bracelet win at the Event 38: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo.

The margin was still narrow during the start of the APAC and this was when the duel gained center stage. After both had cashed in each of their opening events the momentum seemed to shift back and forth in between and shuffled three times in this tour alone. They even crossed tables for the second time in the No Limit Hold’em Accumulator in which Shack-Harris had fallen 30 spots behind Danzer.

Danzer then managed two final table appearances in his last two events of the season. The first one being the APAC Event 6: AU$1,650 Dealer’s Choice in which he ended up at 6th and in the AU$5,000 Mixed Event in which he won his third and the final bracelet of the season. With these two lavishing performances at the very closing stages he had gained an upper-hand over Shack-Harris.

Last ditch effort by Shack Harris

For Shack-Harris, it was hard to imagine the shift in the paradigm especially after a fantastic start to the year. He came into many of the APAC events not only as one of the favorites for the bracelet glory, but also as one of the major forerunner in the league for the POY title by also keeping last year’s title holder Daniel Negreanu in the shadow.

He was believed to be active in the title run after he managed to appear on the final table of the AU$1,650 No Limit Hold’em Terminator event. He needed a second place finish or better to race back to the top, but he fell out at sixth place. He even earned his spot in the AU$10,000 Main Event where had to finish second or better to earn his POY. He railed out for the 17th place after his pocket jacks were cracked by ace-of-spades and nine-of-diamonds of 2010’s POY winner Frank Kassela.

He knew he had one more shot at the high-roller event where he needed to finish fourth or better to qualify for the title and he bravely went ahead and registered. On the flop of queen-of-hearts, queen-of-diamonds and eight-of-hearts he held king-of-spades and queen-of-clubs while his opponent Sean Winter had a pair of aces that gave him a chance to find some momentum. Then the nine of clubs hit the turn and Shack-Harris crashed by the ace-of-spades that fell on the river. With that he was railed out of his last event and the last shot for the year’s POY title.

Danzer is the first ever WSOP POY since the year 2010 when Jeffery Lisandro achieved that feat. Since then, it is the second time that a player bagged three bracelets in a single calendar year. The feat is not memorable only for the dramatic, almost scripted-like course of events, but also for the competent gestures that both the men portrayed during the game’s longest POY battles that has went down in the history books as one of its defining moments. For George Danzer and for the fans of poker, there is a good reason to celebrate.

The Online Railbird Report

September 29, 2014

Currently the talk of the town in the poker world is the annual World Championship of global poker that is taking place on PokerStars. But even this high stakes event has stopped high-stakes games involving cash from taking place on that website and on another major poker site called Full Tilt Poker. Read more

New Jersey all Set for PokerStars Approval

September 17, 2014

Online poker players are enthusiastic about the return of PokerStars to the state of New Jersey. The state’s Senator Ray Lesniak has hinted as much and has also indicated that this return is going to be bigger and better, not just for the online players, but also for the state. Read more

Top Players Snubbed in the Latest List of the Poker Hall of Fame

September 15, 2014

Thanks to a flawed nomination process, some really deserving poker players who have all the necessary credentials, failed to get a place at the Poker Hall of Fame this year. Here is a list of seven of them who ideally should have found their name in the coveted list of ten poker players, but have been left out: Read more

Online Gaming to be Introduced in West Virginia

September 5, 2014

West Virginia lottery is poised to enter a new era; an era of online gaming in an effort to boost and sustain long term revenue, and to open up its business to untapped potential that could extend beyond the state’s relatively small population. The decision to consider online gaming comes in the light of new trends that indicate the future of the industry moving in that direction.

Potential online gaming options

While the details are still to be worked out, West Virginia’s Lottery Director John Musgrave did briefly outline the road map he intends to roll out in the near future. We are still exploring the option (online gaming) because we feel that’s the way the industry’s moving, so we want to plan for it,” Musgrave added. “We have not yet made any decision for how we’re going to implement it, but we are looking at it, studying it and seeing how our casinos in our jurisdiction can move in that direction.”

The proposed move is to introduce apps for smartphones and other mobile devices through which users could buy tickets online for Powerball, Megamillion and Hot Lotto among others. The applications would also allow customers to setup accounts and collect prizes online.

Even online poker could turn out to be a pick of the crop as trends show that a large number of West Virginians have registered accounts on popular US poker sites. While the legislation on a lot of these games is still pending, much of the law is subject to interpretation.

Taking a closer look at the state’s commercial casinos reveals more potential for West Virginia’s online gaming initiative. These operating casinos feature Black Jack, Roulette, Craps, Bad Beat Jackpot and Mini Baccarat among others. It is not clear yet if all of these table games will be made available online, but creating a mix between online and brick and mortar retail venues is Musgrave’s current aim.

Other states like Georgia, Illinois and Minnesota have already introduced online gaming options that have proved to be successful. West Virginia has a small population compared to its neighboring states, and since it does not boast of much tourist appeal, online gaming options that include inter-state compacts has the potential to make a significant contribution to the state’s lottery.

Changes needed in the state’s gaming law

Online gaming (iGaming) law is yet undergo any significant development in West Virginia. While legislation is not forthcoming , John Musgrave of West Virginia’s Lottery Department stated “ We need to discuss it [iGaming]. It’s the way of the future. We’re still seeing a decline (in revenue). We still are experiencing competition as the new casinos are coming up in Maryland and some in Ohio. That hasn’t plateaued.”

Recent legislation for land-based casinos fueled an expansion in the state and the outlying areas, and authorities appear to be more interested in that than in online gaming regulations. Given that making legislation is a gradual processes, and one that takes into account a holistic approach to society and business, it can be some time before law-makers turn their attention to online gaming in West Virginia.

But Musgrave is confident that the legislature could be implemented soon, and claims that the state of West Virginia is ready for online gambling in a big way, and would not require a change in its main laws to pass an iGaming bill in the state. He refers his claim back to an opinion offered by the Department of Justice that the laws that were thought to prevent certain types of lottery sale were in fact applicable only to sports-betting. This allowance has allowed intra-state betting to thrive in certain states in the US like Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey.

Some of these states that forayed into online gaming have reportedly generated millions of dollars in sales in the last two years alone. They did this by offering subscriptions and lottery tickets as well as prize drawings online. The state of Minnesota even introduced online scratch cards which resembled casino slot machines.

Legality of online poker in West Virginia

Online poker remains a gray area in West Virginia. Lack of clear legislation is the main cause of this. Gambling laws here are subject to interpretation, and while the legality of online poker remains an open issue, it certainly cannot be said with certainty that it is legal. The reason for this gray area is revealed upon closer examination of West Virginia’s gambling laws.

Words like ‘gaming’ and ‘gambling’ are used in the statutes quite freely and without reference to the context. The terms are loosely defined, and hence is the subject matter of great debate. The legislature outlaws a ‘game of chance’ held privately or publicly, but it does not define what a game chance is. It also states that any person who possesses a gaming table, slot machine and related items shall be guilty of misdemeanor, punishable with jail-time and fines. It outlaws establishments that permit and promote gambling, whether held in private or in public, giving the impression that even games held at home are illegal.

Facts, however, show that a leading number of US online poker sites allow West Virginians to register and participate openly without any legal fall-outs. A closer look also reveals that no arrests have ever been made in West Virginia in connection to online poker playing. While the debate is still open ended, seeking legal counsel to interpret these laws beforehand is definitely recommended.

The West Virginia Lottery has been a large source of income for the state, and it could benefit greatly from legislation that could enable a full expansion of online intra-state gaming. It is clearly an option that is worth delving into as people look to the Internet and enabled services for convenience and ease of access in a variety of areas. So why not gambling? On a consumer level, and an industry level, it makes as much sense as any other.

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