November 21, 2014
Well, for the world of live poker and live gambling, things are getting more and more interesting when it comes to New Jersey, and specifically Atlantic City. One of the most popular places to go gambling not only in the United States, but really in the world, has seen a bit of a downswing in terms of their traffic recently, which has led to some changes being made. One of those changes? The decision for Trump Entertainment Resorts to file a revised reorganization plan in bankruptcy court, and for the Board of Directors to approve the closure of the Trump Taj Mahal on December 12th of this year. This is not the first, obviously, as we’ve seen four other casinos close up their business to this point in 2014. The trend is continuing, and it’s not a good sign for the area.
While this isn’t groundbreaking news by any means, as it was actually expected to happen, there were still the hopes being held out that the Taj Mahal would be able to turn it around and not close up shop. Apparently, there were talks that in early September, the casino had broken some of their loan covenants, which meant that they had to set up a restructured deal in order to pay creditors. This is when things really started to turn, as they would have to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy if they didn’t do this. Now, the story and plot thickened from here, and things got incredibly interesting.
Carl Icahn, who is the billionaire investor that holds the bulk of the debt for Trump Entertainment, has said that he would be willing to put additional money into the casino. The deal that he was looking to make included him putting in an additional $100 million to keep things up and running, but New Jersey and Atlantic City would need to give him up to $175 million in tax relief. Obviously, it is very unlikely that this happens, which means that the closing is set for December 12th, and the bankruptcy hearing is set to be held six days after that.
Icahn did get some good news for himself, as he was looking to cancel the existing collective bargaining agreement with the casino’s main union, which was granted. This meant that there would be savings by ending the pension plan contributions and also a reduction to the health benefits. The problem still stood that Icahn would need tax breaks, and if that had worked out, then there was an outside chance that he could have possibly turned the $286 million in debt into 100 percent equity in the company.
While this is bad news for the gambling world as a whole, it’s even worse for Atlantic City and the job market there. Obviously with four other casinos closing, there have been jobs being lost all over the place. If/when the Taj Mahal does close, then another 3,000 employees are going to be without their jobs. The grand total for the five casinos that have closed up shop would then sit somewhere around 11,000 employees who have lost their jobs. The downswing that we’ve seen in Atlantic City has been largely due to casinos that were opening up in states around them, resulting in traffic declining at a rapid rate.
For example, you can find games and casinos offered in states such as Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, meaning that the visitors to Atlantic City don’t have nearly any reason to make the travels from their homes, when there are much closer casinos to where they reside.
You’ll find that to start 2014 there were around 12 casinos, but the number will be nearly cut in half by the time that we kickoff 2015. As for the other casinos that were shut down, this includes the Atlantic Club, which was nearly purchased by PokerStars, but ended up having to close up shop. The Showboat shut down on August 31st, and two days after that was Revel going under. September 16th was when the Taj Mahal’s sister casino closed up shop, as the Trump Plaza went under. Then, finally, is the Taj Mahal which is less than a month away from closing up shop. Out of the full list of casinos, Revel was sold in October, and the good news for gamblers in Atlantic City is that they are planning to reopen at some point in the future, but no specific dates or plans have been set in stone.
November 11, 2014
Pokerstars, one of the most known and beloved poker sites is in overhaul mode. They are planning certain strategic changes and implementing them, which has earned them the ire of a certain section of the community. Players have been discussing these changes and don’t seem to be very happy. Rake in simple terms is an entry fee of sorts taken by Poker rooms to organize games since there is no alternate to earning money as players raise money against each other. Read more
November 6, 2014
The final event of Heartland Poker Tour at Vicksburg witnessed a new champion this year in the form of Chris Lane from Brandon who won $43,597. Along with the prize amount Chris Lane has also won a package trip to the final event of Soaring Eagle Season Ten. He won the final round by defeating Jesus Cabrera in a nine hands match. Read more
October 31, 2014
It was an exhilarating finale as the 2014 WSOP Asia Pacific Championship came to an end with Scott Davies rising as the champion that saw a total of 329 participants vying for the top prize $850,136 as well as the WSOP bracelet. It was the first championship victory for the American who was over the moon after the victory. He described how it was so difficult for him to take the decision of playing poker as a professional and how as a youngster he used to watch Chris Moneymaker bagging the same event and now he finds himself achieving the same feat. Read more
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.