Archive for April, 2011

More Updates on US Online Poker before San Remo

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

The news has been crazy. Since I first wrote about everything that happened last Friday, which most people in poker are calling Black Friday, more reports just keep coming in. I try to click on all of the links I see on Twitter, and it’s taking up so much time to get through them all! Big thanks to all of the poker media - and other media too - who have stayed on top of the story!

One of the biggest things on the positive side was a story that came out on Wednesday about deals with the Department of Justice. Full Tilt and PokerStars signed agreements to allow them to officially take back their .com domains and to be able to pay U.S. players their money. The DOJ even said it would work with the sites to be sure the players get their money back. Both sites said they would begin doing it as soon as possible, but I’m seeing that there are some problems because of the payments processors and banks that were seized. How are the sites going to wire the money to players? I guess they’re working on it, which is a good sign, but players have no idea when they’ll actually see their bankrolls again. It’s scary! I feel for the players who are trying to figure out how they’re going to pay their rent, mortgage payments, and other bills while they wait. I hate to see so many of my fellow players going through this.

My first thought when this all happened was that poker can now be regulated by the government, and the sites can come back soon. But the more I read, the more it seems that it’s quite a ways off in the future. I know that Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. John Campbell (one a Democrat and one a Republican) are working together on a federal bill, but even if it does pass, it will be a long time before the government can get their regulation department set up, issue licenses, figure out which companies can come back to the US, etc. It’s a huge process. But even to pass the law, those who want it will have to get past some pretty strong opponents like Spencer Bachus, who totally supports the UIGEA and is against anything that Frank and Campbell want to do. It’s going to be a big fight in Congress, and I just don’t know if poker has enough support. The PPA is trying to get members to send letters to Congress and President Obama about it, but is that enough? It’s going to be a long battle, I think.

The sites that were in the indictment took a big hit on the first week out of the US market. I saw a few reports that showed PokerStars lost about 25% of their players, Full Tilt lost almost 50%, and Cereus (Absolute and UB) lost about 40%. That’s a lot of players!

The other interesting thing, though, is that there are still some sites open to US players. How can they do that? Bodog and Cake are some of them that still allow US players to play, but I’m not sure if those players aren’t putting themselves at some risk by doing that. They saw what just happened to the bigger sites, so I would think they’d be afraid that their money would get caught up in those other sites too. The government played its hand and won, so I’m not sure what to think of the players who are staying in that game.

European sites are doing pretty well, though. It looks like those sites are seeing more new players because of the great promotions they’re doing. Even Chilipoker tried to turn Black Friday into Purple Day with a massive new bonus of 200% up to $1000. They’ll even honor the VIP of the sites that just lost US players and match that VIP level if players can take a pic of it and prove their status.

I’ve been playing online a lot lately on Chilipoker, even more since they created Chiliconnect. I talked about it before, but it’s new software that allows me to get involved with side bets and last longer bets with other players, and I can swap percentages in tournaments. I’m hooked! I’ve been playing several tournaments almost every day lately, and I’ve been running good too! :) I don’t remember the last time I ran so hot in online tournaments, but it’s been fun to get to know other players through the Chiliconnect. The extra action makes things fun, too. Anyone wanting to join me and place a few friendly wagers on some tournaments should look me up on Chiliconnect. I’m on there almost every day when I’m not traveling.

Speaking of Europe, I’m heading out on Monday to San Remo, Italy for the EPT stop there. I do wonder if there will be fewer US players than usual. But I read that players - even those from the US - who bought their buy-ins online will still be able to play in San Remo. And any US player can fly over there and buy-in directly. There’s such a big turnout there every year, and I hope it’s the same again this year. And I’m looking forward to talking to other players about everything that’s happened in the last week to get their perspectives.

So, wish me luck at San Remo! I hope I get a room with a great view like last year, but I hope the internet connection is better this year so I can give updates on Twitter and Facebook while I’m there. After that, it’s back home to prep for the WSOP.

All my best to US players who are struggling right now. I’m really hoping you get your money back soon!

Cheers!

Purple Day Stomps on Black Friday

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Beat the Black Friday with the Chilipoker Purple Day

In response to the Black Friday of the online poker, Chilipoker decided to announce its ‘Purple Day’.

More than ever, Chilipoker is a European safe and secure poker environment as the company never took any US bets.

To start a new dawn of safe online poker experience, Chilipoker is proud to offer you an exclusive package :

• First deposit bonus 200% up to $1,000 : bonus code - PAYDAY
• increasing the guaranteed prize pools of its famous online tournaments to $10 millions per month
buying Loyalty Points from others poker rooms (!)
• adding new daily freerolls to discover Chilipoker.com

Chilipoker is a member of leading iPoker Network.

Last week, Chilipoker launched its innovative social tool, named Chiliconnect, allowing online poker players to get connected and challenge each other.

To support our growth, a TV campaign will be launched very soon :

Chilipoker is also the proud sponsor of the DeepStackOpen tour in 7 cities in Europe with more than 450 players per legs.

Cheers!

US Government Versus Online Poker, Game On!

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Wow! I’ve been reading the news today and following along on Twitter, and it’s been a crazy day for online poker in the United States. It’s all so shocking!

So, thanks to some friends, I saw a copy of the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The indictment came from that office and the FBI to charge 11 people with PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker with big crimes. The people include owners and executives of those sites, and the charges include conspiracy to violate the UIGEA, violation of the UIGEA, operation of an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. All of these crimes have max penalties of jail time and in the area of $3 billion that the complaint is seeking from the poker companies and defendants.

It seems the first thing the U.S. government did was seize the domains of Full Tilt, PokerStars, and Absolute. UB seems to be affected, too. People started to have trouble gaining access to the sites, and some of the saw a notice from the Department of Justice saying that the domains were seized. Many U.S. players are starting to say that they aren’t allowed to play cash games on the sites, and some are even saying tournaments, too. It looks like U.S. players might be locked out of online poker on these major sites for awhile.

The official statement says that restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts used by those companies and their payment processors. Players are trying to cash out the money in their accounts, and it looks like checks are being issued, but if the banks can’t honor those checks, there may be a lot of bounced checks in the days and weeks to come. There’s still so much unknown about how this will play out.

Twitter has been blowing up with messages about this today. Everyone is trying to figure out what to do and what to say. The big companies are probably coming out with press releases, and organizations like the Poker Players Alliance is working on a statement.

It’s crazy that there have been so many efforts to legalize online poker in the U.S. recently, like with the U.S. government and in states like Nevada and California. But instead of working with our industry to help that happen, make it legal, and take the tax money from us, they decided to shut everything down instead. They’re arresting the bigwigs and freezing the money of the players who make a living at the game. What kind of solution is that?

There will be more news about this in the coming days. I’ll try to follow it, though I’m supposed to be traveling to San Remo soon for the EPT, so I’ll have to wait to see what happens. I’ll try to post here when I know more. Until then, I’ll post on Twitter as much as I can.

Good luck to all of my U.S. poker playing friends! I can’t believe what’s happening and hope it’s not as bad as it seems.

Cheers!

Chiliconnect, Charity & Lady Gaga!

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

There’s been a lot happening in the last few weeks! Be prepared. I’m going to cover a lot in this space today. ;)

First, I have to talk about the major excitement at Chilipoker. Well, it’s big news in all of poker, really! Chilipoker just released its new innovation called Chiliconnect. Bill Rini talked about it on his blog before it was launched or connect to Chilipoker. He talked about seeing the sample of the program that let the players connect to Facebook and Twitter from their online poker accounts so they could post updates as they played, but that wasn’t the best part. The best thing was that players can make side bets as they play. They can do last-longers, sell their action and buy action from others, and make all kinds of side bets. Bets are accepted or rejected and settled by the program, meaning the accounts are paid automatically.

Wow, right?! In the words of Charlie Sheen, that is so winning!

I can’t tell you how exciting this is. I play on Chilipoker all the time, but it’s always too hard to make side bets with people who are on the other side of the world. This solves that problem and makes every game you play so much more interesting. Even placing a $1 or $2 last-longer bet with someone at your table or in a tournament makes that game more fun. The software is so easy to use, and everything is explained so well. There is so much more to this than just Facebook and Twitter updates, and I hope players will love the betting action as much as I do! I really think that part of the software will be the biggest hit of all.

The best part of this is that Chilipoker listened to its players. They tuned in to what players wanted and made it happen. They worked on this for a long time, got the input of many players, and did something that no other online poker site has been able to do. Chiliconnect is the best thing to happen to online poker in so long, and I’m so proud to represent the site that did something so great!

Second, I recently attended the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational at ARIA. I’ve been a special guest at MJ’s charity events before, and I knew I couldn’t miss this one. Well, actually, I didn’t take part in the golf part, but I did go to ARIA and was there till the tournament ended. It was fun! There were two groups of players, Group A for the amateur players, and Group B for the celebrities. I watched everything play down at the final table, and Michael actually played well! He ended up coming in third place.

Next up was something I did at the beginning of the month that was just amazing. I went to the Lady Gaga concert at the MGM Grand here in Vegas! I’ve always liked her music, and was really excited about the show, but I had no idea how awesome it would really be!

When I first got my tickets, I wasn’t very happy about the seats, so I spoke with one of my host and ended up getting second row in front of the stage. It was a perfect view! I brought my friends Joy and Ruth with me, we later saw Mike Matusow and his girlfriend Annie LePage there also, we all were seated in the same section. And we all just loved the show! I have to say that this was truly one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, and I’d see her again in a minute. She was a great performer and never took a break to rest once, only took a few minutes between some songs to change outfits. She danced and sang the whole time, and she also gave a lot of speeches to her audience. Those were motivational with great messages, and she seemed to speak from experience, so sincere and genuine. She said things like “You are beautiful!” and “You are perfect!” She was very specific about telling people to be proud of themselves and of who they are, and that’s a message that a lot of people need to hear these days. And on top of everything, she looked fabulous! :)

I urge anyone who likes Lady Gaga to try to go to her concert. She’s incredible! I tried to get some pictures, but they just don’t capture the whole event. You have to be there to see it all! I also tried to take some videos to post to Twitter, but I was having problems doing that. I should’ve just taken some longer videos to post later, but my whole point was to try to give my friends an idea of how great it all was. Go to her concert if you can!

Another big thing on my plate lately has been Vietnam. You all know that I’ve spent a lot of time and money trying to take care of the people in my home country. There are so many there with so little, very poor people who don’t even have enough rice to eat. And there are temples that need repairs. One of those temples came to my attention from a friend, Linh, who has helped me organize many of my charity visits and projects there. Several years ago, she told me that money was needed for a project, and I gave it to her. Later, she sent me some pictures of a temple, pictures of her and a monk - who turned out to be the master monk - holding things like paintings, plates and kitchen utensils, books, etc. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, but later, Linh told me that my donation saved that temple from closing its doors due to damage caused by a hurricane and lack of finances and allowed them to buy everything that’s being used or seen at the temple. What an amazing feeling! Even better, I met the master monk at Chua Long Hoa on my last trip to Vietnam, and he emotionally told me that I saved this temple, a place that is his lifelong dream of a temple where people can come to learn Buddhism and pray. I felt extremely touched and honoured to have been given this opportunity to help.

It was then that I learned that the roof was leaking, and the whole top of the building was in horrible shape. In the room where the main Buddha is displayed, the roof leaks, flooding the room and raining directly on to the Buddha. I immediately told Linh that I wanted to contribute the money to replace the roofs. As the project went on, it was obvious that it was going to take more than a few repairs, so I told them to do everything necessary, including replacing some columns and main boards. It took a long time, but the whole project will now be done in a few weeks. I can’t wait to go see it. I just know that the master monk and the people who pray there are so happy, and that means everything to me!

I’m going to plan my next trip back to Vietnam for after the WSOP. It will be a good time to go. I not only want to see that temple, but I want to organize another praying ceremony for my dad and do some charity work while I’m there.

Speaking of poker, I was recently honored with a Maven Award from Women Poker Player Magazine. I had won the humanitarian award for my charity work, and I just received the crystal award yesterday. It was so fragile that they didn’t want to mail it, so Jane Goldberg drove to my lace in Las Vegas and hand delivered the award as she was afraid it might break if sent by postal! How very kind of her. It’s lovely.

Also in poker, I’m getting ready to head off to San Remo, Italy for the EPT stop there this month. After that, I’ll be back in Las Vegas for the 25K WPT World Championship at the Bellagio, and then it’s WSOP time! I’m going to hit the Series super hard this year. I’m very determined, and my focus will be better than in a long time. It’s definitely poker season, and I’m ready for it!

Cheers!

PR - April 5th, Chilipoker’s Big Announcement … Sure to Impress!

Friday, April 1st, 2011

A personal letter from Alexandre Dreyfus, CEO of Chilipoker.com

Dear Friends,

I am very excited and proud to announce that Chilipoker.com will soon reveal its new major breakthrough and development in the online poker industry. Next Tuesday afternoon (5th April) this innovative feature will finally be presented to the entire poker community with the hope that everyone will adopt this new standard of playing. These features will be exclusive to Chilipoker.com, a leading member of the iPoker network.

Demos and beta tests have already been carried out by players and influential poker bloggers:

“For all of the billions of dollars online poker companies have made in the last decade this has to be one of the biggest innovations in online poker that I’ve seen other than Rush Poker. ” B.

“A great execution of a good idea that proves that even in the restricted environment of a shared software network, there’s plenty of room for immersive innovation. I’ve seen the idea in play before, but not to this extent. And not this well balanced.” K.

Please keep tuned and if you wish to be involved in next Tuesday’s big announcement, please feel free to contact me.

In the meantime, I am also very happy to say that this weekend Chilipoker will run its DeepStack Open in Costa Brava where almost 500 players will compete.

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