Archive for December, 2011

Duhamel attackers arrested

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Four people charged with assaulting Main Event champ

2010 Main Event champ Jonathan Duhamel might be sleeping a bit easier this week after police in Canada arrested four people in connection with his home invasion on December 21.

The incident left Duhamel hospitalised with minor injuries, as his assailants made off with petty cash, a Rolex watch and more importantly, Duhamel’s 2010 Main Event bracelet,

Although police are still searching for the bracelet and cash, the watch has reportedly been recovered and 20-year-old Bianca Rojas, 22-year-old John Stephan Clark Lemay and 26-year-old Andre Robert Perron have been arrested and charged with breaking and entering, robbery, assault, and forcible confinement. An unnamed fourth person has also been arrested.

Mark David, a spokesman for the Agglomeration de Longueuil police department said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg this week: ‘The initial call was that two men had gone to Duhamel’s home. They rang the doorbell, and when he opened the door they beat him up and they stole goods from his house. So conspiracy would be setting this up or planning the event. There’s (sic) four people in this event, so somebody at some point planned this.’

As always, PokerPlayer will bring you more news on Duhamel as and when we have it.

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Betfair Fixes Software Flaw

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Online betting exchange Betfair has said that it has identified and corrected a software flaw that caused in betting at the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown to be voided.

A flaw allowed the winning horse to have £800,000 staked on her, and at odds of 28-1 would have generated a payout of £23 million. However, the bets were all negated by what Betfair has called a flaw that allowed a bot betting program to make the large wager.

Betfair Spokesman Tony Calvin said the issue is “highly embarrassing and an unacceptable betting experience for people”, but also added that “there was a unique set of events that allowed this to happen”.

Calvin also said that if betters are dissatisfied with how the issue has been handled, that they should voice their concerns with the Independent Betting Arbitration Service.

A statement by Betfair on Thursday said that “we have identified the issue and replicated it in a test environment last night. A fix was applied overnight, and is now subject to rigorous testing.”

The identity of the better who made the rogue wager has not been identified, although speculation is running rampant that the better is an individual, not a bookie looking to hedge bets.

“If you’re looking for a £1 million-plus customer, you would be barking up the wrong tree. People think we are protecting the customer, but that is not the case.” Calvin said.

Categories: Casino, Gambling News

Norwegian Gambler Wins Two Jackpots At Mr. Green

December 30, 2011 Leave a comment

A Norwegian punter won two separate jackpots at Mr. Green Casino on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, winning a total of €171,000.

The 40 year old punter was playing the Hall of Gods slot on Christmas Eve, and hit a staggering €137,000 win. The next day he played NetEnt’s new Jack and the Beanstalk slot when he won an additional €34,000. The player then decided to gamble safely by activating the Green gaming feature on the casino, which allows players to set gambling limits before he cashed out.

“I just couldn’t believe my luck when I won on Christmas Eve, and I was totally amazed when it struck again on Christmas Day” the lucky winner said.

Categories: Casino, Gambling News

ElkY: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

A blistering hot Autumn day and I’m standing outside a central London photo studio waiting to meet the poker X-Man. Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier is without doubt one of the biggest characters in the game, a larger than life figure who destroys tournaments with such ease it’s as if he’s evolved some form of poker superpowers.

He’s an almost mythical figure in poker circles, as feared as he is respected for his ferocious talent. A ten-foot tournament titan destroying all in his path. As the man himself once said, ‘You cannot beat me. I’m ElkY!’ But squinting into the unseasonable sunshine, I almost don’t see the slight figure standing confused a few metres from me. It’s a bit like the scene in The Wizard of Oz when the wizard appears from behind the curtain. An unassuming sort of guy wearing a black T-shirt and jeans looks up at me and smiles. So this is ElkY? He’s a lot shorter than you might think.

The carefully sculpted hair and designer shades are in full effect, but there is no overwhelming physical presence or air of authority. With the small manbag over his shoulder and protein shake in hand, he could be a university student out for a wander in the sunshine. He’s friendly and a bit goofy, a bit more geek than chic. And as we wander down to the photoshoot he starts chatting easily about his upcoming fight with Lex Veldhuis (more on that later) and the EPT London taking place down the road.

It’s easy to think the world is mistaken about ElkY. He’s just another poker pro who takes the game seriously and runs good at the right times. There are no superpowers. But appearances can be deceptive. There is a lot hidden under the surface with ElkY, as I start to discover as the day goes on.

The story of ElkY

ElkY began playing poker in 2003 when he was living in South Korea making a living as a videogames pro. He was introduced to the game by some of his fellow players and it was love at first sight. ‘I didn’t even know the rules when I started,’ ElkY says with a huge grin as we find a quiet corner at the Hilton Metropole where the EPT London main event is taking place.

‘For the first two months I was just playing for fun and losing a little, but then I started to read the books and learn about the game. I really wanted to get better.’

He was quickly crushing the cash games, and playing tournaments on the side. He would wake at 3am to play the big MTTs and soon found that poker was taking over his life. This was no small change for Elky. This was a young man who left behind a life and family in France aged just 19 to move halfway around the world to South Korea to play videogames. A lifestyle he was now in turn getting ready to turn his back on. In some ways, however, those years playing videogames could be seen as training for poker, and they had a major impact on his

‘All those years I spent in Korea made me very competitive,’ ElkY says with a steely look in his eyes. ‘I was 19 years old when I went to Korea and there were thousands of people cheering against me.’ The experience injected some steel into the young ElkY. ‘Now I never back down from challenges,’ he says. It’s an attitude that can lead him into some bizarre situations, not least his long-awaited kickboxing fight with fellow poker pro Lex Veldhuis.

Fighting talk

‘It started in 2009 when we were at the Barcelona EPT in the hotel,’ ElkY says. ‘Most of the guys were playing poker, but me and William Thorson were drinking and maybe I had one too many drinks and knocked over Lex’s laptop charger. And then I knocked over a lamp. He was like “Stop that or I will beat you up”, and I said “Come on you can’t beat me, I’m ElkY.” Maybe I had too much liquid courage in me and I was like, “Okay, let’s bet.” The next morning I was like: “Oh f♣♥♠, now I have to learn how to fight.”’

ElkY threw himself into the challenge, hiring a personal trainer and devoting hours to sparring and training for the fight. There is €100,000 at stake, but for ElkY it’s about much more than money. Like everything else, it’s about the challenge. ‘I can’t just hang out. My friends say come hang out and I am like, why? What are we doing? I need to do something. If nothing happens, I get bored. I need action.’

That hunger for action is part of what makes him such a phenomenal poker talent. That’s his first poker superpower: he views life as one big challenge, and he never wants to be the one to back down. ‘I once made a bet to drink half a bottle of vodka in one shot,’ he says, still reeling at the memory. ‘That was not the smartest bet. I won the bet, but I was pretty sick for a day. I’m not as crazy any more. I still party, but not during poker tournaments.’

For all the talk of downing vodka bottles and kickboxing prop bets, ElkY’s real challenge is at the poker tables, and he’s a focused, intense presence when it’s game time. He doesn’t drink before tournaments, gets up early, works out a few hours before play and watches what he eats.

‘There are so many times to party so it’s a waste to do it before a poker tournament. Not sleeping and partying all night is the worst thing you can do, as you are going to make mistakes. If you want to be the best at poker you have to sacrifice some things.

There is nothing wrong with playing as a hobby, but if you want to be one of the best you have to dedicate your life to it.’

Focus, focus, focus

ElkY’s place in poker history is already assured. If he never played a hand again he would still be remembered as one of the legends of the modern game. He first found fame in 2006 as the first player to reach Supernova status on PokerStars and again as the first Supernova Elite in early 2007, playing a sickening number of heads-up sit-and-gos to get a million FPPs in just four months.

At the time he was mainly a cash game player, although he’d already shown his tournament chops with a second-place finish at the Copenhagen EPT. But through his PokerStars sponsorship he was becoming more and more of a live tournament player, leaving behind his online roots. And it was 2008 that proved a breakout year for the Frenchman.

He kicked things off in the Bahamas winning $2 million at the PCA, final-tabled the Grand Prix de Paris for $122k and took down the WPT Festa Al Lago for $1.4 million in October. In ten months he’d achieved more than most poker players will manage in a lifetime.

The pace didn’t slacken in 2009, as he began the year winning $433k at the PCA high roller followed by a third place in the WPT World Championship in April for $776k. It seemed like he couldn’t stop winning. Except of course, he could. And the poker success started to slow down, with 2010 proving his worst year since he hit the live circuit. ‘It was the toughest year I had since I started,’ ElkY says with a rueful smile. ‘When you play online it’s hard to run bad for more than one week if you grind hard. But live it can last for months or even years.’

So how did he cope? ‘I just focused,’ he says with a Gallic shrug. ‘Everybody can play well when they are running good, but playing well when you’re running bad is when it matters the most.’ But surely it was a frustrating time? ‘There were lots of frustrating times,’ he admits. ‘I was getting very disappointed as I get very emotional when I lose. I always expect to win.’ And that in a nutshell is ElkY’s biggest superpower. His unshakeable self-confidence.

I cannot lose

‘I’m not stupid and I know I am not always going to win, but I always think I will,’ ElkY says, laughing at himself as he finishes the sentence. ‘If you have a lot of confidence in key spots it’s really important in poker. Technique is not everything. I am very good at playing my A-game under pressure. The more pressure there is the better I can play.’

As the pressure builds in a tournament, some players wilt and some players thrive. The likes of Ivey seem to physically grow as the tension ramps up and the adrenaline starts to surge. ElkY, his shades now resting on his lap, starts moving in his seat just talking about it, his eyes lighting up at the memories. ‘The adrenaline is one of the things I love most about poker. When you make a deep run in a tournament you really feel the pressure and you feel more alive. When you go really deep it’s a very special moment and there is this big rush.’

It’s this surge of adrenaline that is sometimes behind some of ElkY’s more infamous moves. He’s a man with a reputation for wild, even crazy play at the table and it’s one he thinks is well deserved. ‘You have to do things that are crazy sometimes to mix up your play and be unpredictable. Sometimes you have to make a move that is not optimal and follow your instinct.’

No fear

If ElkY looks like he plays with no fear, there is a good reason for that. While most great poker players are often described as fearless, that is usually a combination of discipline, experience and focus. For ElkY it’s just another superpower. He just doesn’t feel it. ‘I almost never feel fear. I always think I can do things and if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t matter. F♥♣♦ it. It’s harder for a player with fear to always make the right move. I’m excited because it’s a big spot, but I don’t feel fear.’

That mix of self-confidence and fearlessness is what held ElkY together during a relatively quiet 2010. His 2010 was still the type of year most players dream of, with nearly $500k in winnings and two smaller tournament wins in France. But come on, this is ElkY. If you’re not hitting them out of the park then you’re not playing ball. And it didn’t take long for the tournament monster to return. The EPT Grand Final in Madrid saw him win not one, but two high roller events for €675k.

‘I always do pretty good in high rollers,’ ElkY says by way of explanation. ‘I have a lot of history with the other players and it’s easier to figure out their playing styles. When I won it was crazy, because I knew I was going to win. People were making fun of me because I was so short-stacked and I kept folding. But I said if I double-up once it’s going to be all over.’

ElkY has his doubters, of course. Those who believe he has run insanely above expectation. After all, surely nobody can be that good at poker. To win so much in such a short space of time has to be about more than confidence, fearlessness and focus.

‘Of course I got lucky in some key spots,’ ElkY says, ‘but I also worked really hard.’ And that is what is often forgotten about ElkY: he’s devoted countless hours to studying poker and working on his game. He hasn’t just run good. ‘I try to give this image I am crazy, but I am much more analytical than people think. I’m much more technical than feel-based. I try to compile all the information I have and evaluate a range on each street and come up with the best decision. Adaptability is one of the biggest parts of my game.’

So that’s it. He’s just an average super-powered crazy Frenchman, with no fear, ridiculous self confidence and a photographic memory. Oh wait, did we forget that bit? ‘I have a really good memory,’ ElkY admits. ‘I can remember poker hands really clearly. I can even remember hands my friends played. I can remember most of the big hands from the PCA final table.’

All down to luck

And it was his memory that caused him to end up playing the $10k stud event at the 2011 WSOP this summer. Despite all his success at the poker table, a WSOP bracelet had long eluded ElkY. He had only made one final table, back in 2007 when he finished ninth.

‘It was the series I ran the worst in,’ he says. ‘It was crazy, but I guess it’s just variance as I ran good in other tournaments.’

The $10k stud championship event then was not one he had high hopes of breaking his bracelet duck in. Persuaded to take part by a friend, he sat down with only a rudimentary understanding of the rules. ‘I went to raise and the dealer said “complete” and I didn’t know what he was talking about,’ ElkY says laughing.

He had to ask how many bets he could make on each street, and when it was his turn to act. It’s easy to imagine some of the older players rolling their eyes at the crazy Frenchman, but ElkY caught up quickly and caught some cards to make it all the way to the final table. By now he was in uncharted territory. A few WCOOP mixed events was the sum total of his stud tournament experience and short-handed final-table play was a real challenge.

If there is one thing ElkY loves, however, it’s a challenge. ‘I had never played short-handed and I had so much less information,’ ElkY says. ‘I followed my instincts and played aggressively and got lucky that my heads-up opponent was kind of frozen. At one point I had a 25-to-1 chip deficit and the bracelet was inches away. I thought about just picking it up and running away. The last time I was in that spot was 2007 and I was thinking how sick would it be to have to wait another five years. But I just thought, okay, I have 1.5BB, I can still do it.’

Living the dream

And of course ElkY did it. How could you ever doubt him? He loves winning and nothing else comes close. Not money and not fame. ‘I can come second for $300k and be really disappointed or win for $30k and I will be so happy. The feeling of winning is the best. When I win more money I am more happy because it’s a more prestigious event, but it’s nothing to do with the money. I just come to win.’

But with so many poker accomplishments under his belt, what does ElkY do next? ‘I really want to make poker history,’ ElkY says after a long pause. ‘But I don’t have any targets. I will see how I feel. I’ve never had a big plan for my life. I just do things I love until I am bored.’

And this is perhaps ElkY’s ultimate superpower. He just enjoys life. He lives life at a hundred miles an hour and for now poker is providing the ride of his life. His official home is in London, but in reality he rarely sees ‘home’ and lives wherever the next tournament is. He talks of winning two EPTs or the Main Event, but that’s not what drives him on.

‘I don’t know what I will do next. I will see how I feel next week. I used to love videogames, and now I love poker. I might wake up one day and move on to something else. But for now I am going to play every live tournament I can,’ he says with a big smile. Everyone else should be very scared. This X-Man is not going away any time soon.


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NFL Betting Odds Show Tim Tebow Faces Kyle Orton with Playoffs in Reach

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

It may not be their only way of crawling into the postseason, but it is certainly the most exciting. This Sunday Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos will look to lock down a playoff berth with a Week 17 victory over former quarterback Kyle Orton and his new Kansas City Chiefs.

After the Tebow-Orton debate raged on in Denver for the first half of the season, the Broncos eventually catered to youth and have not looked back. Now, not only has the 24-year-old inspired a franchise sorely lacking in motivation, he has helped put them back on a direct track to success.

When the two clubs kick off in Denver this weekend, the Broncos will have the early advantage, but that is not to say a win over Kansas City is guaranteed. To this day the Chiefs – just 6-9 overall – are the only team to beat the Green Bay Packers in 2011.

Will the one-two combination of Denver’s defense and Tebow’s ‘will to win’ be enough to power the franchise to the much-needed victory? Sometimes a team’s most dangerous opponents are those with nothing to lose.

As the sun sets on Kyle Orton’s regular season, you can be sure that he will have nothing to lose against his former squad.

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Gaming Stocks Up After DoJ Opinion

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

The legal opinion of the U.S. Department of Justice that online gambling does not violate The Wire Act of 1961 has sent share prices of some gambling operators higher this week.

Some of the surges in share prices since the opinion include:

  • Scientific Games Corp, up 15.37%

  • Wynn Resorts, up 3.4%

  • International Game Technology, up 4.95%

  • MGM Resorts International, up 4.62%

  • Bally Technologies, up 1.57%

Todd Ellers, a market analyst at Roth Capital Research said We view the ruling as a significant event for the U.S. gaming and lottery industry that essentially opens the door for states to consider offering internet gaming and lottery products (ex sports wagering)…”

“(W)e believe individual state lotteries and vendors like Scientific Games, Gtech , and Intralot will be the first to benefit from selling virtual lottery tickets online. In addition, casino operators with strong brands would also benefit from operating virtual casinos if authorized by enough states. Finally, traditional gaming suppliers like IGT, Bally Technologies, WMS Industries , Aristocrat and Konami should also benefit from providing game content and/or technology to host online casinos.”

Some state officials throughout the country has already expressed their desire to launch online options as soon as possible. Massachusetts State Treasurer Steven Grossman said that he will be investigating all online options that may be available to his state.

Illinois officials have also been quick to jump in reaction to the news, with Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones saying “This is a perfect … progression for any lottery because it’s adapting to new consumer buying habits and new technologies,”

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton concurred, saying “The idea is to have the lottery function like a modern business using modern technology. In that regard, it’s great to have the federal government’s OK on this, and we now look forward to seeing some results.”

Categories: Casino, Gambling News

Playtech Releases “The Mummy” Slot

December 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Earlier in the month online gambling software developer Playtech released its latest slot based on Universal Studio’s feature film “The Mummy”.

The game is based on the 1999 version of the film and features characters such as Imhotep, Princess Nefertiti, scarabs, crypts, and other Egyptian features within the movie. Additionally, the game features actual scenes from the film.

The video slot also features traditional slot fare such as expanding wilds, collapsing reels, multipliers, scatters, re-spins, bonus features, and more.

Categories: Casino, Gambling News