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
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.”
Rule 115 is notable: pic.twitter.com/zZhLQLNEkC
— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) August 9, 2021
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.
Players, please see clarification on WSOP rule 115: pic.twitter.com/q2zdoylwxq
— WSOP (@WSOP) August 14, 2021
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.
— Chris Moneymaker ⭕ (@CMONEYMAKER) August 6, 2021
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.
Just more proof that this ISNT about health. I will boycott WSOP until this disgustingly discriminatory, historically ignorant, first step down a slippery slope rule is changed. I encourage others to do the same.
— Alex Foxen (@WAFoxen) August 18, 2021
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.
WSOP Rule 115 clarification:
No on-site testing or proof of vaccine required (as of today)
WSOP will not DQ a player unless they volunteer they have tested positive
Any contact tracing done by CDC in Nevada is independent of the WSOP.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) August 14, 2021
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.
It is likely, but not confirmed, that controversial early 2010s poker pro Matt "ADZ" Marafioti has committed suicide in New Jersey, near NYC.
— Todd Witteles (@ToddWitteles) August 14, 2021
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.
I really hope it's not true. When I first learned about poker when I was 18 I would pull up stars and sweat the 25/50 games. ADZ would be playing all of them, total boss. I dreamed of 1 day playing those games. Hope it's not true, but if it is ill always remember this legend. https://t.co/StipCYMJ0h
— Doug Polk (@DougPolkVids) August 15, 2021
Hearing about ADZ has me really shaken up. Didn't really know him at all but he came off to me as extremely generous, quirky, and someone who desperately wanted to be liked. Seeing he had a young son hits home particularly hard. Cearly troubled but I do believe he meant well.
— WIll jaffe (@dankness3) August 15, 2021
Old school legend and tortured soul. Hope you found peace bro.
— Ryan Fee (@RyanFeePoker) August 15, 2021
Rip ADZ, always very jovial with me, sad to see it’s true this time. Dark times…
— Salty (@msalsberg) August 16, 2021
Former NBA player Antonio Burks charged for illegal home games
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
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.