Bwin.Party Joins Nevada's Online Poker Licensing Parade

Bwin.Party Joins Nevada’s Online Poker Licensing Parade - 8th March 2012

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Joining an ever growing list of potential operators and service providers under Nevada’s online poker licensing procedures, the online gaming giant Bwin.Party has officially tossed its hat into the ring.

Bwin.Party, the owner of what was the most popular online poker room in the United States, PartyPoker, prior to the enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, announced their intentions yesterday to acquire one of the licenses that the Nevada Gaming Control Board will issue for an intrastate poker network. While it may not come as a surprise to some that the largest online gaming operation in the world would want to be a part of the new Nevada gaming outlet, it had to jump through some hoops to be able to be eligible for one of the licenses.

Under the Nevada regulations, any potential operator or service provider has to partner with a licensed Nevada gaming operation to be eligible for one of the available licenses. To be eligible, Bwin.Party partnered last year with MGM Resorts International and Boyd Gaming, who are looking to operate poker sites. If either MGM or Boyd (or both) are granted a license, Bwin.Party would provide the software and be in charge of site maintenance as a service provider.

Bwin.Party’s entrance into the poker licensing parade isn’t the only notable company to announce their intentions. The Golden Nugget has applied for a license as an operator and three companies – SPIELO International, St. Minver and Boss Media – are looking to be service providers for any potential online poker sites.

The partnership between Bwin.Party and either/or MGM and Boyd is an attractive one, as Bwin.Party owns the World Poker Tour (many WPT events are held at MGM properties) and could be a major player with the MGM/Boyd outlets. Other companies have also noted the strengths of solid partnerships and have already put their names on the list for one of the potential Nevada licenses.

Another strong partnership would be between 888 Holdings and Caesars Entertainment. Caesars, as owners of the World Series of Poker, and 888 Holdings already operate a WSOP-branded online poker room for international players, but a Nevada license would allow the partnership to push their brand even further into the poker world’s consciousness.

The NGCB began accepting applications in February and is preparing for an end of year activation of their intrastate online poker network (it is possible that full casino operations could be conducted as well). The rush of applications hasn’t been slowed by the myriad of regulations that the NGCB put in place for any operation in its network.

The operators and service providers will have to pay a hefty up-front fee (thought to be around $250,000) for the license and will be required to maintain a fund for compliance investigations. Any potential operators must take thorough steps to prevent underage gaming and usage of poker bots and must also keep hand histories for a five year period. Foreign operators, as previously stated, must partner with a licensed Nevada casino operation to be able to participate in the Nevada online gaming network.

Under the regulations approved last year, players will have to be 21 years old to be able to play on a given site and can only have one account per operator. While credit cards are allowed as a method of funding, inter-account transfers would not be allowed. These regulations are just a few that the players will have to face.

The rapid pace of applications – and the potential to be in on the ground floor of a legalized U. S. market – should draw many more applications for operators and service providers over the next few months prior to the launching of Nevada’s online gaming operations later in 2012.


WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars Day Two: Scott Baumstein Leads Final 20, Jonathan Duhamel Continues 2012 Rampage - 8th March 2012

The World Poker Tour stop in San Jose for the Bay 101 Shooting Stars has proven to be an exciting event after working down to the final twenty players for Thursday’s action.

149 players and 19 of the remaining “Shooting Stars” (the professional players carrying a $5000 bounty on their heads) came back for action on Wednesday with Bryce Yockey, the Day 1A chip leader, holding court over Brandon Wong and Day 1B chip leader Christ Summers. All eyes were on the remaining bounties, however, and many of those pros with said bounty would not find their way to the play on Thursday. Almost from the opening gun, those Shooting Stars started falling by the wayside and, in some cases, at the hands of other notable pros in their own right.

Once the cards were in the air, Shooting Star Marvin Rettenmaier found his way to the door of Bay 101 at the hands of the underrated Joe Serock. Rettenmaier was all in on the button with an unsuited K-7 and Serock woke up in the big blind with pocket Kings. Two Jacks came on the flop and, once a third hit on the turn, the popular German pro was drawing dead and out of the tournament.

Moments later, “Shooting Star on Shooting Star” violence would take place between former World Champion Jonathan Duhamel and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier. With only about 12K in chips, Grospellier committed his stack after Duhamel had put out a raise. Duhamel made the call and turned up pocket treys, good enough for the pre-flop lead over Grospellier’s A-Q. A Jack on the flop and a King on the turn made the 2010 World Series of Poker Championship Event winner sweat a bit but, once no ten or one of his hole cards found the river, Duhamel had collected the bounty for his knockout of Grospellier.

As the field was winnowed down, these pro-on-pro clashes became more predominant. Jonathan Little (surprisingly not a Shooting Star) was able to take home a bounty when his pocket Aces took down Shooting Star Mike Matusow’s pocket Kings. In one of the more exciting hands of Wednesday’s play, Mike McClain (notable for being the “Agony of Defeat” player in the old WSOP/ESPN promo reels, but also a tournament poker millionaire) knocked out Shooting Star Scott Seiver in a four way all in where every player held a pocket pair.

It wasn’t until the middle of the evening that the survivors of the action on Wednesday were battling it out on the bubble. Over the span of an hour, the 37 players fought it out until a clash of Shooting Stars brought the players to the money.

After a raise from Men Nguyen, Kathy Liebert dropped her stack on the baize, forcing “The Master” to a decision. He asked for a count, stating, “If it’s less than 100,000 then I call.” Liebert held 92K and Nguyen did indeed call, only to find himself behind Liebert’s Big Slick with his A-10 of clubs. The flop was fortuitous, however, coming 10-9-8 with two clubs to catapult Nguyen to the lead. A third club on the turn sealed the deal for Nguyen, knocking Liebert out on the bubble and, to add insult to injury, collecting her $5000 bounty.

With the players in the money, the shorter stacks could exhale and be thankful to take in their $16000 minimum payday. Shooting Stars Fabrice Soulier, Linda Johnson, Allen Cunningham, Jason Mercier (by Duhamel, notching his second bounty) and Nguyen would be knocked out before the end of play on Wednesday. The start of day chip leader, Yockey, also would be eliminated before the final hand of the night.

Although they had planned to play to eighteen players, action was halted with 20 players remaining. When the cards fly on Thursday, the Top Six line up as such:

1. Scott Baumstein, 1.301 million
2. Andrew Badecker, 1.106 million
3. Moon Kim, 1.016 million
4. Joseph Elpayaa, 861,000
5. Erik Cajelais, 807,000
6. Jonathan Duhamel, 751,000*

* Shooting Star

While Baumstein and Badecker are riding high, Duhamel is continuing on his 2012 rampage. By knocking out two bounties on Wednesday, he’s on a freeroll now and more than likely will be playing without fear on Thursday. He’s joined by J. C. Tran as the only other Shooting Star remaining in the field.

It could be a long day for the remaining twenty men in this tournament. The players will play down today to the final six handed WPT final table; if past experiences with this process hold true, it conceivably could be early Friday morning before the final table of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars is determined. (Credit: Poker News Daily)