People News: WSOP rules regarding Covid raises questions among players; Matt ‘ADZ’ Marafioti committed suicide; Former NBA player Burks charged for illegal home games; Poker Pro Locker faces jail time

In this column, we deliver you the latest and most interesting news and gossip from our favourite poker people.

WSOP rules regarding Covid raises questions among players

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Hosting a live festival where each event attracts hundreds of entrants is especially difficult given today’s current health crisis. The annual World Series of Poker scheduled for this September has been the talk of the town lately as it released its updated official tournament rules for this year’s games. 

Rule 115 specifically, raised a number of questions from the community in which it noted, “In accordance with guidelines promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control, [Rio] reserves the right to remove any Participant from any WSOP Event at any time prior to or during the WSOP Event.

The rule further mentioned that any player who “received a positive test result for COVID-19 or come into close proximity (within 6 feet for 15 cumulative minutes) of any person who has tested positive for COVID-19” can instantly be removed from the tables and shall not be entitled to a refund or any compensation for that matter. 

Having attracted negative attention, WSOP cleared the air by posting clarifications on the controversial rule. The brand highlighted their intention to put the health and safety of WSOP participants and Team Members as their top priority while coordinating protocols with CDC guidelines and local government mandates.

However, the case wasn’t put to rest as its statement secondly noted that exposed players “will not be required to leave the tournament and quarantine if they are fully vaccinated within the appropriate timing parameters and remain asymptomatic since the time of exposure.”

These distinct rules, considering the unique public health situation, cast a doubt on the participation of many poker characters, with a few icons having already expressed their expected absence in the anticipated events. 2003 WSOP Main Event winner Chris Moneymaker for one, will not be attending this year’s festivities due to Covid-19 related risks, more so that his 9 year old son is unable to receive the vaccine.

Former Global Poker Index’ (GPI) Player of the Year, Alex Foxen and two-time GPI Female PoY, Kristen Bicknell have both previously expressed their doubts on getting the vaccine and while that is of their own personal choice, their participation in this fall’s WSOP events will likely be affected. Foxen carried out to call the brand’s latest rule to be “disgustingly discriminatory, historically ignorant, first step down a slippery slope” while encouraging players to likewise boycott WSOP regardless of their vaccination status.

Six-time bracelet winner, Daniel Negreanu on the other hand, followed WSOP’s statement with additional clarifications regarding Rule 115. While the GGPoker ambassador’s information is not official, Negreanu works closely with the brand and is a reliable source for related news.

Over a month is left on the calendar until the awaited live events kick off at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and with the situation constantly evolving, players must remain open to any possible changes that may occur within the period. This year’s schedule will begin on September 30 through November 23, 2021 and will award a total of 88 gold bracelets to its lucky winners.

Matt ‘ADZ’ Marafioti reportedly committed suicide

One of the legendary early online grinders known as ‘ADZ‘, Matt Marafioti reportedly committed suicide after battling a series of mental issues in recent years. The recognized pro’s health problems were not a secret to the public eye as his social media account was evident of triggering episodes. The recent incident reported a 33-year old man who had jumped off the 28th floor of a friend’s apartment.

Marafioti’s popularity quickly rose within the poker community as he dominated the cash game area during the earlier years of the poker boom, and while that was a decade ago, many iconic characters were seen paying tribute to the legend’s passing.

Former NBA player Antonio Burks charged for illegal home games

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While playing live poker has been sorely missed for the last year or so, it appears former Memphis Grizzlies point guard Antonio Burks has gotten into some legal trouble for running his own underground games in his home in Tennessee. Burks was officially charged with aggravated gambling promotion and possession of gambling device or record after police found two poker tables, game paraphernalia, a ledger of recorded debts, a surveillance system, and cards entitled “Burks Poker Palace Rules”.

The unexpected search resulted in three individuals being detained with one having admitted that illegal gambling had occured in the location and that the accused had been staking him in the said games. Burks has since been released from custody and is due to appear in court this coming August 24th.

Poker Pro Ashley Locker faces jail time for drug dealing

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England’s Ashley Locker has been handed a 26-month prison sentence following his arrest almost two years ago where the British pro was found to have six wraps of Cocaine and close to £2,500 on his person. A further search of his home led police to find 55 grams of cocaine, empty sealable bags and a record of payables from his customers, in the property.

Anna Bond, who worked in defense, informed the judge of Locker’s huge poker and gambling debts in an effort to gain sympathy and possibly, a lighter sentence. Locker’s biggest live cash to date was that of a WSOP event in 2018 where he received $49k in winnings. His luck seemed to run out as only a few cashes were recorded following his career-best score, holding a record total live earnings of just under $112k according to The Hendon Mob.

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Janette Dee

Graduated from De La Salle University, Janette works as a full time teacher in Manila, Philippines. She has long joined the local poker community as a recreational player for the last decade. Having a natural love for the game, she decided to branch out into a different avenue of poker. Currently, Janette works for Somuchpoker as a content writer reporting local and international news for the site.

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