Jonathan Jaffee Wins WPT Montreal Event

November 27, 2014

A Happy Thanksgiving goes out to everyone, and you can say that Jonathan Jaffee’s holiday has kicked off the right way after the events at the Playground Poker Club in Montreal, Canada came to an end. When all was said and done, the World Poker Tour WPT Montreal event came to a close by crowning Jaffee as the champion. The event got a good following, and also had quite a large number of players buy-in to the action as well. There were three total days of play before we got into the final table, and when we managed to get there, it was Jaffee who was leading the way in terms of his chip stack.

Jaffee started the final table holding 7.495 million in chips, but he had some major competition, specifically from the player right behind him, Ratharam Sivagnanam, who was holding 6.845 million in chips. After those two, there was quite a drop off, as Samuel Chartier was in third place with 2.065 million chips, Guillaume Nolet was in fourth with 2.06 million, and the final two of the final table were rounded out by Mukul Pahuja (1.9 million) and Kevin MacPhee with 1.57 million. Those four obviously had some moves to make if they wanted to contend for the championship, and with that, the action was underway.

It took just 10 plays into the start of the final table for our first elimination. Nolet raised out of the cutoff and Pahuja defended his big blind. The flop came down 5-3-2, leading to a bet of 190k from Nolet, and a check-raise all-in for Pahuja. Decision time was set for Nolet, and as both men had nearly equal stacks, Nolet made the call, showing A-J with quite a few outs. He could take the two over cards, gut shot straight draw or the draw to a heart nut flush. Pahuja on the other side, showed 6-5 for top pair and a gut shot straight draw. The turn was a 10, while the river was an eight, meaning that Nolet was all but out of the action. He was knocked out on the very next hand in sixth place.

Chartier was the next to hit the door, although he did get it all-in with pocket sevens. Unfortunately for him, he ran into the pocket Queens of Sivagnanam, who saw the board run out Ace high, leaving us with just four players left in the action. The knockout for Sivagnanam was a big one, as it gave him the chip lead over Jaffee, sitting with 8.37 million to 7.85 million in chips. Pahuja was in third with 3.71 million and MacPhee was bringing up the rear with 2.005 million chips. There was plenty of action to come though, and things were far from being over.

Next up was a spot when Jaffee made a button raise, but MacPhee went for the steal and pushed his stack all-in from the big blind. Unfortunately, the steal was a bad decision, as Jaffee showed A-Q of clubs. MacPhee wasn’t far behind, though, as he had K-10 off suit. The flop wasn’t a great one for him, though, as it came down A-Q-8, but did leave him with a straight draw. Another Ace came on the turn, meaning that it was the end of the road for MacPhee, and it also gave Jaffee the lead in chips.

Pahuja, who had fought all along the way was unable to keep up at this point, and on Hand 54 he was sent home when he five-bet his stack all-in with A-Q against Jaffee. Jaffee was holding pocket Kings though, and when a King came out to give Jaffee a set, that was a wrap. Pahuja was sent out in third place, with a payday of $201,920.

With that knockout, Jaffee was holding nearly a three-to-one lead over Sivagnanam (16 million to 5.935 million), but there was still plenty of action on the way. It took a total of 54 hands to get to heads up, but the two played their heads-up match for 81 hands alone. After going back and forth and trading the lead, the tournament came to an end on Hand 135.

The final hand saw Sivagnanam limp, and then Jaffee put out a 1.4 million chip bet. Sivagnanam thought about the decision before pushing all-in, leading to a snap call from Jaffee. Jaffee was happy with the spot, as he had A-K against the 10-8 of Sivagnanam, and when the board came down 6-4-3-J-Q, it meant that Jaffee had taken down the WPT Montreal Championship, and brought home a payday of $463,432. For second place, Ratharam Sivagnanam earned $313,318.

Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City Closing in December

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.

PokerStars Announces Increase in Rake from November 4

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

Victory for Chris Lane in the Vicksburg Main Event

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