Online Casino BTDino

The blog for the online casino btdino contest

Thursday, September 29, 2005

part three btdino

Hachem eliminated Steven Dannenmann six hands into the final showdown, when he flopped a seven-high straight.

When it was clear Hachem had won, his fans in the room erupted into "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!" Hachem immediately embraced Dannenmann, wrapped himself in an Australian flag and shouted: "Thank you, America."

Hachem's victory was astonishing because he had been nursing a short stack of chips for 11 1/2 hours through the night, waiting for the right moment and avoiding confrontations that could cost him a chance at the 36th annual no-limit Texas Hold 'em title.

"I never gave up," he said.

The 39-year-old gambler from Melbourne moved with his family from his native Lebanon in 1972 and gave up a 13-year chiropractic career three years ago to play poker for a living. This was his first appearance in the World Series of Poker.

Nearly 14 hours into the final round of seemingly interminable poker, Hachem pounced, bringing the tournament to a decisive end about an hour after sunrise.

The final play unfolded slowly as Dannenmann raised before the flop — three community cards — was turned over. Hachem called and the dealer revealed a six-five-four flop. Hachem checked, Dannenmann bet another $700,000 and then Hachem raised to $1.7 million.

The turn, or fourth card, was an ace and Hachem threw another $2 million into the pot. Dannenmann raised to $5 million and Hachem went "all-in" with more than $30 million, moving into a high-stakes gear that can either save or break a gambler.

part two online

Dannenmann called instantly and then Hachem produced a seven and three, giving him a seven-high straight. Dannenmann showed an ace-three, and needed a seven on the river — the last card — to match Hachem's straight. It didn't happen.

Dannenmann said his top priority was to have a good time. He even carried around a small sheet of paper with a list of things he should remember. Two of them were "have fun" and "nothing to lose."

Toward the end of the round, Dannenmann, a 38-year-old accountant and mortgage banker from Severn, Md., said he just wanted to finish the match.

"I got tired," he said. "I was bored of it. I was trying to make moves."

With the bundles of cash, Hachem also won the coveted white gold and diamond bracelet. It's the last time the event will be held at Binion's Gambling Hall & Hotel, where cowboy Benny Binion started the World Series in 1970.

Like Chris Moneymaker in 2003 and Greg Raymer last year, Hachem won in his initial World Series, likely changing his life forever.

"A million dollars changes my life, let alone $7.5 million," he said. "It changes everything. I can look after my family, my mum, my kids."

The final group of nine emerged from a field of 5,619 gamblers. They had survived eight days of mind-numbing poker, overcoming unlucky cards and Darth Vaderesque stares at the Rio hotel-casino and Binion's.

casino part one

When the first cards were dealt Friday, each player was capable of winning if he was willing to make some of the toughest calls of his life.

After Tex Barch was eliminated in a monster three-way pot, Hachem and Dannenmann found themselves heads up. Hachem was in command of $39.9 million and Dannenmann had $16.3 million.

Soon the two would make gambling history when they ended play at 6:44 a.m. — 13 hours and 56 minutes after the final round began. The table was 18 minutes longer than the previous mark, established in 1983.

To get to that point, the pair had to outlast seven other men — none of whom wanted to go quietly.

Everyone who began the day at the table was guaranteed at least $1 million.

Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, a well-known professional player who came in sixth in 2001 and 87th last year, had been considered a favorite but was the first to go. He had no regrets.

"I played the six best days of poker in my life," Matusow said. "I'm going to bed happy."

Penn law student Brad Kondracki finished eighth and Daniel Bergsdorf, a Swedish truck driver, was seventh. Scott Lazar was sixth, Irishman Andrew Black took fifth and Aaron Kanter wrapped up fourth, followed by Barch.

About 13 hours into the round, officials dumped the first-place prize in thick stacks of hundreds on a table near the players, causing shouts of "Oh, my God!" For the first time in the tournament, the remaining gamblers saw their elusive goal — guarded by security men with shotguns.

When Hachem finally confronted the mountain of cash, he asked: "Is this all mine?"

gaming in the casino

Wearing a tank top that read, "My boyfriend can kick your ass," actress Jennifer Tilly was just another poker fan that night, watching along with the crowd as her significant other, Phil "The Unabomber" Laak, beat the stuffing out of a "poker robot" programmed to play a strangely human-like game.

Observers who know Tilly from her roles in "Liar, Liar" and "Bullets Over Broadway" would have had a hard time figuring out who was the celebrity that night.

She was largely left alone by a crowd that was glued to a nearby plasma screen showing computerized poker hands. A few men ventured toward Tilly shyly, asking her to sign a recently published photo of herself in a poker magazine.

Tilly is part of a growing number of celebrities who are drawn to poker as a way of escaping from their closely watched, over-scheduled lives.

Known for playing dim-witted wives and girlfriends, Tilly also has her own reasons for becoming skilled at no-limit hold 'em -- called the "Cadillac" of poker games and the most difficult and complex game in a casino.

"People think celebrities are not very smart," Tilly said between fast-moving poker hands. "These guys are really smart."

Out of character, her high-pitched "little girl" voice has a deeper, more contemplative tone.

Tilly became the first woman in this year's World Series of Poker tournament to win a "bracelet" -- the coveted gold jewelry given to each winner of each individual poker event held over the multiweek tournament ended July 16. Tilly, who beat hundreds of top players in a women's tourney, also made poker history last month by becoming the first celebrity to win a World Series bracelet.

Pay my casino

It will pay up to $40m (£22.7m) in cash over a series of instalments for Club Dice, which runs four casino and bingo sites, and for Noble Poker.

Empire, which floated on the London market six weeks ago, has $47m cash in the bank. Its shares have raced up from the placing price of 175p to 223p.

Finance director Yossef Pereg refused to disclose the two individuals selling their businesses, and said the group could take up to three months to complete due dilligence.

Both acquisitions use Playtech software, generally reckoned to be the best on the circuit and used by another 50 independent gaming sites.

First-half profits from Empire jumped 87% to $25.5m on revenue virtually doubled to $49.7m. The only small fly in the ointment-was that revenue from virtual casinos dropped slightly due to what it called an 'extraordinary series of jackpots won by the company's players'.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Casino talent online

Stanley’s class at the table was not enough to fend off Ungar’s matchless poker talent, but he set an early standard for the kind of conduct that is increasingly required by the broadening television and Internet exposure given to tournament poker players.

Throughout this year’s World Series a new tournament rule was strictly enforced against players who deployed the “f-bomb” during the course of play. It made no difference whether the offending expletive was directed at another player, a dealer, the player himself, or the poker gods.

Any use of the “f-word” in any form led to an immediate 10-minute penalty, during which the player’s chips would be out of action except for paying the blinds and antes. No warnings. No exceptions.

The zero tolerance policy was strictly enforced by the dealers (apologetically at times), as they had been warned that they could be sanctioned for failing to do so.

On Internet poker sites as well, there are rules prohibiting abusive and inappropriate language in the “chat” box at the bottom of the screen where players can write messages back and forth to one another during the course of a tournament.

Recently I was playing a tournament late at night on PokerStars, the leading tournament Web site. When we got down to five players I was the chip leader. The player in third chip position made a standard raise before the flop. I was in the big blind with a suited nine-seven. I called the raise, figuring that if I caught a lucky flop I had a chance to bust him.

That is exactly what happened. The flop came ace-nine-seven, giving him top pair with his ace-king and giving me two pair. I bet about half the pot, and he raised all in. I called. He failed to improve, and was eliminated, two spots out of the money.

In the chat box, a sarcastic message appeared from the eliminated player, telling me what an idiot I had been for calling his pre-flop raise with such a weak hand. I pointed out that when the big money went in (after the flop), I had the best hand. He responded with a curt "f*** you."

Casino poker stars

Mr Mummery, a former director of Betinternet, one of the first internet operators to move to the island, said that recent changes to the duty regime and the scrapping of corporation tax from April next year had “created a lot of interest”.

Another key factor for PokerStars was the removal in January of rules barring companies from accepting casino and poker bets from America, where internet gambling is a grey area legally.

Mr Mummery said he could not comment on suggestions that PokerStars might be considering an initial public offering (IPO). But he said that moving to a jurisdiction with strong financial and risk controls would “help companies get backing from the City and other sources of funding”.

Alun Bowden, the editor of eGaming Review, said: “There are a lot of reasons for moving to the Isle of Man, which provides PokerStars with a base for European expansion. But it would also suggest to me that an IPO was probably on the cards.”

The flotation of PartyGaming, the world’s biggest internet poker company, in London at the end of June has encouraged smaller rivals to consider their strategic options.

Although PokerStars is still some way from taking a decision on a possible IPO, analysts believe a listing would enable it to become one of the industry’s main consolidators. One analyst said: “There are more than 1,000 internet poker sites, but in three or four years I would expect there to be no more than 50 or 60. As growth slows, so consolidation will become the name of the game.”

Although smaller than PartyGaming, PokerStars, which has a market share of about 10 per cent, has a strong franchise through its involvement with big tournaments such as the World Series of Poker Champions and the World Championship of Online Poker.

Poker party

For example, take a player who has never acted with initiative — he has never raised, merely called. Now, at the end of the evening, he is dealt a royal flush. The hand, per se, is unbeatable, but the passive player has never acted aggressively; his current bet (on the sure thing) will signal to the other players that his hand is unbeatable, and they will fold.

His patient, passive quest for certainty has won nothing.

The Democrats, similarly, in their quest for a strategy that would alienate no voters, have given away the store, and they have given away the country.

Committed Democrats watched while Al Gore frittered away the sure-thing election of 2000. They watched, passively, while the Bush administration concocted a phony war; they, in the main, voted for the war knowing it was purposeless, out of fear of being thought weak. They then ran a candidate who refused to stand up to accusations of lack of patriotism.

The Republicans, like the perpetual raiser at the poker table, became increasingly bold as the Democrats signaled their absolute reluctance to seize the initiative.

John Kerry lost the 2004 election combating an indictment of his Vietnam War record. A decorated war hero muddled himself in merely "calling" the attacks of a man with, curiously, a vanishing record of military attendance. Even if the Democrats and Kerry had prevailed (that is, succeeded in nullifying the Republicans arguably absurd accusations), they would have been back only where they started before the accusations began.

Control of the initiative is control of the battle. In the alley, at the poker table or in politics. One must raise. The American public chose Bush over Kerry in 2004. How, the undecided electorate rightly wondered, could one believe that Kerry would stand up for America when he could not stand up to Bush? A possible response to the Swift boat veterans would have been: "I served. He didn't. I didn't bring up the subject, but, if all George Bush has to show for his time in the Guard is a scrap of paper with some doodling on it, I say the man was a deserter."

This would have been a raise. Here the initiative has been seized, and the opponent must now fume and bluster and scream unfair. In combat, in politics, in poker, there is no certainty; there is only likelihood, and the likelihood is that aggression will prevail.

The press, quiescent during five years of aggressive behavior by the White House, has, perhaps, begun to recover its pride. In speaking of Karl Rove, Scott McClellan and the White House's Valerie Plame disgrace, they have begun to use words such as "other than true," "fabricated." The word that they circle, still, is "lie." The word the Democratic constituency, heartsick over the behavior of its party leaders, has been forced to consider applying to them is "coward."

Online casino discrimination

A World Trade Organization arbitrator today gave the United States until April 3 to end discrimination against foreign online betting companies following a complaint by the Caribbean island of Antigua.

WTO judges ruled April 7 that the U.S. ban, in the interests of "public morals," can stand only as long as the prohibitions don't discriminate against foreign companies. The United States has said it can comply with WTO rules by "clarifying" its restrictions, without opening itself to foreign Internet gambling.

Antigua-registered companies such as Sportingbet Plc and BetWWTS.com account for about a quarter of wagers in the estimated $7 billion to $12 billion global industry. The island, which developed online gambling to boost its tourism-dependent economy after a series of hurricanes, is seeking access to the U.S. gambling market, the world's biggest. U.S. residents account for about 55 percent of online bets.

Antigua, a nation of 67,800 people and the smallest WTO government ever to lodge a dispute, scored a victory against U.S. online gambling restrictions in November, when WTO judges said the Bush administration had failed to justify the ban on moral grounds and had committed itself to open the industry in 1995.

Monday, September 26, 2005

curb your enthousiasm

Bill Mann has had enough. My esteemed colleague has just read his zillionth article on WPT Enterprises (Nasdaq: WPTE) this month. In the last one, "The author beats to death the whole 'let's make poker references while talking about the stock' thing." And I guess it's up to me to do something about it.

Bill: Hey, Jeff! You know what would be really funny? You should write an article on poker and make a point of not using poker cliches.

Jeff: Yeah, Bill. That would be funny.

You know what's funnier is that when I started covering casino stocks regularly a couple of years ago in September 2003, my generally excessive interest was treated with some scorn here at Fool HQ. And it's not because casino stocks don't make for good investments -- the stock prices of virtually every casino operator in the game have multiplied since then. The issue was that nobody in the stock market cared about casinos and gambling at the time, and I was basically talking to a wall.

But nowadays, all anybody seems to want to talk about is poker.

And supposedly, there is now demand for such material: Since I first wrote about the World Poker Tour and current 62%-owner Lakes Entertainment in January 2004 (see "Betting the World Poker Tour"), coverage from the financial press has picked up considerably from zero. Maybe a dozen or so new poker-specific magazines have also popped up on the market, including Bluff, All In, and Deal. And in the past month alone, I counted no less than six articles on online poker just on our own Fool.com website, although I must point out that the last three were related to the recent stock activity regarding Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection Cryptologic (Nasdaq: CRYP).

I gotta tell you: The general level of journalistic creativity in the financial market is astounding. When 71-year-old poker legend Doyle Brunson may or may not have led a group of investors in making an unsolicited and unconfirmed $700 million bid for WPT Entertainment last month, writers from no less than three different financial news services cleverly labeled the bid to be a "bluff."

One wisenheimer went as far as to say that "The bid turned out to be a complete bluff; WPT management couldn't get Brunson's group to reveal its hole cards, and the deal was folded away in days."

All in online poker

Aug. 15, 2005 issue - Jason Kim was on a roll. One night last month, the 33-year-old policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce won $60 in just 15 minutes of virtual, low-stakes Texas hold 'em on the popular online gambling site PartyPoker.com. Playing from his home PC against a half dozen strangers from around the world, Kim won three hands with a pocket pair of aces, a two pair of kings and nines and, finally, by turning a full house from what poker pros disdainfully call "the hammer"—a seven and two of different suits. But when he's not sitting at his computer these days, Kim has a different moneymaking scheme on his mind: betting on the poker sites, instead of at them. Earlier this year he invested in the stock of Internet bank Neteller, which allows players to gamble online with real dollars, and recently he began studying the stock of PartyGaming, the parent company of PartyPoker."Everyone is going to be playing online in a couple of years," he says. "I want to get in before the gold rush really starts."

sportingbeds

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Sportingbet Plc, a U.K. online betting company, said it ended negotiations to buy Empire Online Ltd. Shares of Empire Online fell 20 percent, the most ever.

Discussions were halted by ``mutual agreement,'' London-based Sportingbet said today in a statement. The companies disclosed Sept. 5 they were in talks, three days after Empire said it had received an approach worth 790.5 million pounds ($1.4 billion).

``Talks were only ever at an early stage and were not able to move to completion,'' Empire Online spokesman Ged Brumby said. Chief Executive Officer Noam Lanir was ``very impressed'' with Sportingbet management, led by CEO Nigel Payne, ``and now better understands the leadership positions they've achieved,'' he said. No due-diligence information was exchanged, according to Brumby.

Sportingbet spokesman George Hudson declined to comment on the reason why talks between the companies had broken down.

Shares of Empire Online dropped 51.5 pence to 202.5 pence in London and closed at the day's lowest price. The slide was the steepest since the company sold stock in an initial public offering in June. The fall cut Empire Online's market value by 151 million pounds to 593 million pounds. Sportingbet stock fell 17 pence, or 5 percent, to 326.5 pence.

Empire Online, which helps gaming Web sites such as EmpirePoker.com gain customers, said Sept. 2 it had received an approach. The suitor would combine its business with Empire Online for 270 pence a share in cash and stock. Sportingbet identified itself as the suitor three days later.

PartyGaming, the world's biggest Internet gambling company, also may make an offer for Empire Online as it is the company's biggest Web site marketing customer, the Sunday Telegraph reported Sept. 4, without saying where it got the information.

poker legend

NEW YORK - Doyle Brunson can remember when being a professional poker player meant being an embarrassment.

The 72-year-old Texan recalls old friends crossing to the other side of the street when they saw him coming, and pulling out of the finals of a televised high-stakes tournament in 1972 because he didn’t want to shame his family by advertising what he did for a living.

All of which made Brunson’s situation on Friday night that much more interesting. With his trademark cowboy hat and his drawl as thick as Texas heat, he was the esteemed elder statesman at the “High Rollers Steak Dinner,” one of the opening night events at this year’s New Yorker Festival.