In this column, we deliver you the latest and most interesting online poker industry news from across the world and all platforms.
Kentucky fines PokerStars $1.3 billion
A fine that the U.S. state of Kentucky had imposed on PokerStars in 2015, has now been re-imposed on the poker giant and the poker world is baffled. This fine still has to do with Black Friday and after Isai Scheinberg’s trial we all thought that this dark chapter of poker history could finally be closed.
But it seems that due to recent financial success of PokerStars and the mother company Flutter during the pandemic, Kentucky decided to try to get a piece of that.
The original lawsuit came in 2013 when Kentucky filed an investigation where they found out that during the time that PokerStars was not supposed to operate in the U.S., 34 thousand Kentucky residents were exposed to the poker operator and $290 million were wagered.
In 2015 Kentucky then demanded triple of that amount to compensate for damages from illegal gambling.
In 2018, however, this appeal was overturned and that should have been the end of it. However, last week the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled the lawsuit valid again and the state of Kentucky now demands a hefty $1.3 billion in fines.
PokerStars had only earned $18 million in rake in the state and is not willing to pay this strangely large amount for “damage caused to the families of Kentucky and the state as a result of many years of irresponsible and criminal actions,” as Governor Andy Besheer said.
It is likely that Flutter will manage to reduce these charges, but the only really good outcome would be to actually get them to zero, because if Kentucky gets away with any of this, PokerStars might face more charges from other U.S. states. That could be devastating.
Nanonoko becomes Security Consultant for ACR
Americas Card Room has announced that they have hired Randy “Nanonoko” Lew as a Security Consultant and Gameplay Expert.
Not all our big news happens at the tables!
We’re pleased to announce that we have hired Randy “Nanonoko” Lew @nanonoko as a Security Consultant and Gameplay Expert.
— Americas Cardroom (@ACR_POKER) December 24, 2020
The poker site will use Nanonoko’s expertise as a player to work with their security team on suspected fraud, collusion and bot activity. He will also review hand histories when the security team is forced to do an investigation and give his expert opinion.
Randy Lew has over $1.6 Million in live tournament earnings, is known as one of the masters of multi-tabling online and has been working as an ambassador for PokerStars in the past. All this can help a smaller poker site indeed to improve security, but this fairly high profile hiring is a strange one considering Nanonoko is currently living in Australia and so not even able to play on the site.
There are definitely many more equally capable poker people out there that could have been added to the team. Nevertheless, we’re glad to see one of poker’s favourites building industry relationships of this sort and we wish him lots of success catching the bad guys.
Irish Poker Open 2021 Online – what about WSOP?
The Irish Poker Open usually take place in Dublin each year in spring and are a legendary stop for many poker fans. This year, during the start of Covid restrictions the organizers were one of the first to decide on taking the event online. It was run on partypoker and was a smashing success.
The decision for 2021 has already been made. The Irish Open are not going to chance it and they already announced the online version of the popular event on partypoker.
The full schedule is still being worked out, but we do know that there will be a €1 million guaranteed main event and that the festival will start on 29th March.
At the same time discussions have begun on poker forum TwoPlusTwo and the Twitterverse, if there is going to be a WSOP live in 2021.
It is very early to say, of course, but most people seem to think that we will not have a full-blown live WSOP at the Rio in the new year. Daniel Negreanu had started a poll about this and almost 9,000 people voted. The result is fairly clear with half the people presuming no live WSOP in 2021.
Do you think the WSOP 2021 will happen as normal this summer at the Rio?
A full schedule of live events.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) December 20, 2020
What do you think?
PokerStars Biggest55 – Big Overlay
PokerStars has entered a new era where they seem to be more ok with facing overlays. This has been a successful marketing tool of big competitors like partypoker and why not also wave with a lot of extra value on PokerStars?
You can now already pinpoint a few events in the upcoming Blowout Series that will very likely overlay, but most recently the Biggest 55 did not hit its guarantee of $2 million.
There were 33,380 entries in the large amount of Phase 1 tournaments, which means that PokerStars had to add $331,000 to the prize pool. Russian player “julik433” was the player that turned $55 into the first prize money of $200,000.
Look out for the next event on PokerStars with a big overlay. My prediction is that it will be the $11 New Year’s Bash on 1st January with a $2 million guarantee.
partypoker: KO Series and cash drops
PokerStars’ big competitor partypoker has announced a December tournament series of their own – the KO Series. It will run from 25th December to 19th January and offer more than $6.2 million in guarantees.
Everybody loves knockout tournaments, so this series is bound to be a success. What is also going to be a big success are partypoker’s new cash drops, they call them “Table Boosters”.
Cash drops are basically splash pots. A way to induce action by sweetening the pot with extra value coming out of a poker room’s promotional fund. This is something that could have been seen fairly often in live poker. But also online sites have adopted this promotion, most famously Run It Once Poker.
There are no details on this, however, and no official announcement. This news has been coming through the grapevine, so keep your eyes peeled on partypoker communications.
UNO on Winamax
A poker site that is always stepping up with innovative ideas is the French market leader Winamax. They were the inventors of jackpot Sit & Gos and their version of it is called “Expresso”.
A big issue with Jackpot Sit & Gos are the 2x multiplier games that players dislike very much. Sites have tried to come up with solutions to make even these interesting. Winamax did have a collaboration with Monopoly before where 2x games awarded Monopoly cards and once you had certain cards collected you could win extra prizes,
Now they announced a new collaboration with another popular family game: UNO! Over the course of 15 games with a 2x multiplier your task is to shed your 7 UNO cards to win additional prizes. So, same concept, but different.