Online Poker World Looks to South America, Asia for Boost

February 24, 2017

machu-picchu-online-pokerIn the mid-2000s, online poker experienced a boom thanks to the game’s rapid growth in America. When the US signed the UIGEA into effect, poker sites targeted European countries for further growth. But with the game now stagnating in both of these regions, online poker is setting its sights on South America and Asia.

This trend has been brewing for a few years now, but brands like Bodog and PokerStars have increased their South American and Asian marketing efforts recently. Asia is a potential goldmine with its 4.44 billion people, while South America has 422.5 million residents.

PokerStars ended its European Poker Tour in 2016 and plans to dedicate more efforts to their Latin America Poker Tour (LAPT) and Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT). Additionally, they’ll be running the PokerStars Festival, in Chile, Korea, the Philippines, and Uruguay this year. Other big events include an event in Macau and the PokerStars Championship in Panama.

Bodog, which exited Europe in 2012 and the US in 2013, has been focusing on Asia for a while, establishing a strong foothold in China and Vietnam. But just recently, they’ve expanded into the South American market, targeting countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, and Peru.

Bodog spokesman Ed Pownall talked about the company’s strategy and where they see it heading.

“The Latin American region has long been seen as a growth area for the online gaming industry but we felt leading with poker was the best point of entry as we have made such a strong name for ourselves in this arena,” said Pownall. “Furthermore, the innovative brand has also introduced Bitcoin payment processing as part of its service in those countries, together with more familiar deposit and withdrawal options.”

With some of the biggest brands in online gaming making inlets in South America and Asia, it’ll be interesting to see when other poker sites begin following suit.

What’s Ronaldo Doing for PokerStars? Added $500m to Nike

February 18, 2017

ronaldo-pokerstarsLast year, PokerStars made bold moves by reducing VIP rewards for high-volume grinders, adding new products, and shifting their focus entirely towards recreational players. The foundation for many of these moves were made in 2015, when Stars began signing footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo.

Poker purists have questioned these moves because, after all, the game is poker. But then again, one also has to think about the international appeal Ronaldo has, and what he can do for Stars in terms of drawing recreational players.

According to HypeBeast and Hookit, Ronaldo generated $500 million in added value for Nike. And the biggest reason why is his massive social media following.

Forbes was kind enough to break down the $500 million figure, which you can see below:

“Ronaldo posted 1,703 times overall on social media in 2016. Those posts generated 2.25 billion social interactions (likes, comments, shares, retweets and views on videos), per Hookit. Nike was referenced or its logo visible in a photo or video in 347 of the posts, which had 477 million interactions. Hookit’s methodology looks at promotion type and quality, as well as interactions and market-driven rates. The result: $499.6 million [USD] for Nike in media value from Ronaldo’s posts.”

Nike signed Ronaldo to a $1 billion lifetime deal last year, and it appears that he’s already made half that back for the company in one year.

We have no idea what PokerStars is paying Ronaldo, but Brazilian footballer Neymar has a €4 million annual deal with the company. Even assuming that Ronaldo’s deal is double or triple this amount, he’ll be bringing PokerStars back a big return thanks to his social media following.

This being said, we can continue to rip the way that poker sponsorships are going. But it’s obvious that Stars will do what’s best for them, and that definitely appears to be having Ronaldo on-board.

New Bill Would Lower Vegas Poker Room Age to 18

February 11, 2017

jim-wheeler-nevadaAs it stands, you can’t get into a Las Vegas poker room without being 21 or older. But Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler is trying to lower the state’s minimum gambling age from 21 to 18.

Called Assembly Bill 86, this piece of legislation has been submitted to Nevada’s legislature. If successful, AB86 will allow both state residents and visitors to enter casinos and poker rooms as long as they’re 18.

Wheeler, who often wears a white cowboy hat, has been asking around to see what others think of his proposal. “Well, the fact is in this business you actually have to put a bill out before you get comments on it,” he said.

Nevada’s current age limit of 21 has been in effect since gambling was legalized in the Silver State in 1931. However, some lawmakers have begun to question this limit in recent years, including when a bill was introduced in 2008.

The idea behind the 2008 legislation was to lower the gambling age and help Nevada casinos during the Great Recession. But it couldn’t get enough support, meaning, in better economic times, AB86 has an en even tougher climb ahead.

Most US states impose an age limit of 21 because, like with alcohol and marijuana, they want to prevent young people from the harmful side. But Wheeler believes that if you’re old enough to be in the military, then you deserve more liberties.

He said, “I think if you’re old enough to go to Afghanistan, or Yemen, or Iraq and fight – if you’re old enough to drink in some states – if you’re old enough to vote – then you ought to be old enough to gamble, if that’s what you want to do.”

One thing making this situation stickier is that casinos – like other businesses – can only serve alcohol to people 21 and older. So if 18 year old’s are allowed into the casino, employees will have an even tougher time making sure that minors don’t get served. Nevada’s toughest penalty for inadvertently serving a minor is a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

2017 Aussie Millions is the Most Successful Ever

February 2, 2017

Shurane-Vijayaram-Aussie-MillionsThe 2017 Aussie Millions is officially in the books, and it turned out to be the most-successful year in the event’s history.

Lasting from January 11th to 30th at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, the 26-tournament schedule drew 7,049 total players – the most in Aussie Millions’ history. This was 11% higher than the 6,370 players who turned out in 2016, and 28% more than 2015’s attendance.

Even the A$10,000 Main Event fared well, despite having no online qualifiers after breaking ties with PokerStars. The 2017 Aussie Millions Main Event drew 725 players, down just a bit from the 732 who played last year.

There was every reason to believe that the 2017 Aussie Millions wouldn’t be as successful as years past. Not only did the Aussie Millions get removed from PokerStars’ Asia Pacific Poker Tour, but Crown also had to cancel the A$250,000 Challenge due to low participation from recreational players.

Nevertheless, the Crown Melbourne counteracted the negative impact by hosting live qualifiers.

“So we added in two highly successful warm-up weeks as early as June last year,” said Crown Melbourne Tournament Director Joel Williams, “and this ensured that the awareness and excitement of the 2017 Aussie Millions was building within the poker community both locally and internationally, and gave everyone as much opportunity as possible to be part of this great event.”

One highlight from this year’s event included Taiwan’s James Chen winning the Event #2: $2,500 H.O.R.S.E. (A$39,700) and Event #9: $25k NLHE Challenge (A$861,840).

An even bigger highlight was amateur poker player and Australia’s own Shurane Vijayaram winning the Main Event for A$1.6 million. What makes this amazing is that Vijayaram qualified through a $130 live satellite and worked his way up to a massive fortune.

Given the success of the 2017 Aussie Millions, the event looks poised for a bright future, even without a lucrative online poker sponsorship.

Former Poker Pro Vanessa Rousso Releases “Kiss Face” Song

January 26, 2017

vanessa-selbst-djUp until 5 years ago, Vanessa Rousso was a regular on the poker tournament circuit and sponsored by PokerStars. But over the last few years, she’s been pursuing her passion of being a DJ and making dance music. Now, Rousso will release her first single – “Kiss Face” – on February 5th.

Kiss Face was put together with Melissa Ouellet, Rousso’s long-term partner and mentor. Ouellet has had a long and successful career in the music business, making her a great person to learn from. Here’s a look at the official tweet from Oullet’s Twitter account announcing the song:

“Lookout @N1TEL1TE is about to drop our first OFFICIAL release ‘Kiss Face’ on @VanessaRousso’s bday Feb 5th!#Music”

Rousso spoke about her single further by saying that it was supposed to be a tune playing in the background of English singer-songwriter Adele’s song “Hello.” But she and Ouellet liked the track so much that they decided to use it as a standalone song.

As for Rousso’s background in this space, she studied at the Berklee College of Music and has been interested in this type of career for years. Furthermore, Rousso likes the vibe that she gets from a music career better than simply winning money off other poker players.

“The thing about music is you’re actually connecting with people and making them feel positive emotions in a very different way from the way I interact with people at the poker table,” she explained, “and it was kind of like the missing link for me. It was like your soul kind of like has the need to connect with other people.”

For her poker career, Rousso has won over $3.5 million since starting out in 2005. She quit playing a heavy schedule in 2011 to focus on other things like her music career. But she’s continued to min-cash in various tourneys, including the 2016 WSOP Colossus II.

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