Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Day: February 4, 2021

Asia-Pacific Gaming, Crime
Triad Leader ‘Broken Tooth’ Wan Kuok Koi Sought in Malaysia for $1.4 Million Fraud

Posted on: February 4, 2021, 03:27h. 
Last updated on: February 4, 2021, 03:49h.

Philip Conneller

Read MoreAuthorities in Malaysia say they believe Macau gangster and VIP room owner “Broken Tooth” Wan Kuok Koi is hiding out in the country.
Triad-branded beer, anyone? Wan launches his latest “Hongmen” product. (Image: Kharon)The Straits Times reports the 65-year-old head of the 14K triads is currently wanted in Malaysia for fraud. That’s after he allegedly failed to transfer $1.4 million in shares in Malaysia Bursa-listed computer software company Inix to a third party, as had been agreed.In August last year, Inix surprised the country’s business community by introducing Wan as its new non-executive chairman, an appointment that lasted all of four months.In December, the US Treasury Department announced sanctions against Wan for spreading his triad criminal network through Southeast Asia and across China’s Belt and Road economic bloc.The Straits Times does not go into detail about Wan’s alleged Inix shares fraud. But it adds that Malaysian authorities are also looking into possible share-price manipulation following unusual trading activity in Inix stock around the time Wan was appointed to the board.Malaysian police are also in the process of asking Interpol to put out a red notice for the gangster.Broken Tooth’s ‘History and Cultural Association’In Malaysia, an individual is disqualified from being appointed a director of a company if they have been convicted of a crime or finished serving a prison sentence within the past five years. Wan was able to become a chairman of Inix because he has been out of prison since 2012.In November 1999, he was sentenced to 15 years for illegal gambling, loansharking, criminal association, and the attempted car-bombing of a police chief.Under US sanctions, American citizens are forbidden from doing business with Wan or any company associated with him, a development that likely hastened his departure from Inix. According to the Treasury Department, Wan has founded an organization called “the World Hongmen History and Cultural Association (WHHCA),” which he has been promoting in the lawless areas of Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.The Hongmen is an ancient Chinese fraternal society. But the Treasury thinks the WHHCA is a front for the triads. Wan has been selling Hongmen-branded beer, wine, and watches in China, Cambodia, and the Philippines.Meanwhile, a company controlled by Wan, the Dongmei Group, is building the Saixigang Industrial Zone in Myanmar. According to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the project is designed to be a new hub for Chinese casinos and online gambling businesses forced out of Cambodia because of a recent crackdown by the Chinese and Cambodian governments.Turf WarIn 1990s, Wan presided over the 14K during a vicious turf war with rival triad group Shui Fong over control of Macau’s VIP rooms.As of August 2020, Wan still owned the Macau National Ying VIP Club at the Casino L’Arc Macau, according to a Malaysian securities filing seen by Kharon, a global security-focused research and data analytics company.Today, according to USIP, the 14K triads have a deep presence in the US in the heroin trade, illegal gambling, extortion, and human trafficking.

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Arkansas Supreme Court Throws Casino License Back Into Chaos

Posted on: February 4, 2021, 03:30h. 

Last updated on: February 4, 2021, 03:42h.

The Arkansas Supreme Court is supposed to provide impartial resolutions to legal disputes. But the state’s highest court this week only added more legal complexity to an already complicated case involving a casino license in Pope County.

Arkansas Supreme Court Pope casino license
The Arkansas Supreme Court, seen here in a recent gathering of the justices, has weighed in on the casino license earmarked for Pope County. The high court’s ruling, however, will only complicate matters more. (Image: Arkansas Supreme Court)

In a unanimous decision issued today, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that the Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) had the right to intervene involving a lawsuit brought by the Gulfside Casino Partnership against the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) last year.

Arkansas voters in 2018 voted to allow four land-based commercial casinos in the state. The ballot referendum authorized Southland and Oaklawn racinos to pivot into full-sale casinos with slot machines and table games. Two from-the-ground-up casinos were also approved, one each in Jefferson and Pope counties.

The Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma and its Downstream Development Authority moved quickly after winning approval in Jefferson and receiving its license from ARC. The tribe opened the Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff last October.

Pope Casino License Back in Jeopardy

Under the 2018 constitutional amendment passed by voters, project proposals to county governments must include support from local officials, including a county judge. The Gulfside Casino Partnership’s casino bid in Pope County included the support of Pope County Judge Jim Ed Gibson.

However, Gibson exited the position at the start of 2019, and his successor, Judge Ben Cross, favored a casino submission from CNB. After the Racing Commission deemed Gulfside’s bid invalid because of not having a current county judge’s support, Arkansas Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox ruled in Gulfside’s favor on grounds that the 2018 ballot referendum said nothing about the judge needing to be sitting on the current county bench.

Fox also prevented the Cherokees from intervening in the case. And the Arkansas Supreme Court said that was wrong.

The seemingly minute ruling this week has big consequences. The high court’s decision reopens the matter to new legal challenges. CNB attorneys have already stated publicly their plan to appeal the Racing Commission’s decision last week to formally approve the Gulfside casino plan.

Legal Nightmare

Pope County’s eventual casino will open many years after Jefferson’s. The saga began when ARC Commissioner Bruce Rice was deemed to have had a bias in scoring the two casino presentations. Rice gave Gulfside a perfect 100 points, while only 29 for the Cherokee scheme.

Rice’s 71-point differential single-handedly tipped the overall results in Gulfside’s favor. ARC decided to recuse Rice from the licensing and deemed his scores invalid.

Lawyers, including Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office, stepped in. ARC Chair Alex Lieblong’s text messages with CNB attorney Dustin McDaniel later resulted in Lieblong excusing himself from the matter, too.

ARC, with an independent third-party counsel, decided last week to proceed with Gulfside. But the Arkansas Supreme Court’s ruling gives additional legal groundway for CNB attorneys to halt Gulfside from breaking ground.

The case continues.

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Business, Illinois, Sports betting, super bowl LV
Super Bowl specials aren’t allowed, Illinois says

Illinois sports bettors may be excited to bet on this weekend’s Super Bowl, but the Illinois Gaming Board has reminded everyone to have fun within their guidelines. Specials and fun props go a little too far, they noted in a meeting last week.Illinois Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter reminded the public that only bets with “activity directly within the control or jurisdiction of the NFL and/or individuals subject to the NFL integrity policy.” Bets on the length of the national anthem or how many movie ads we’ll see? Not allowed.Fruchter admitted that these fun specials are good for “the growth and success,” but it’s too early for Illinois bettors to have them. According to him, it’s “imperative that sports wagering be conducted with the highest standards of integrity, and without any appearance or possibility of potential impropriety.”There’s some logic to his argument, but not when you consider Illinois gamblers could just open up an account with an international sports book to bet on the fun stuff.Although the regulator is handicapping locally licensed operators by not allowing the action, they’re doing pretty well without it. The sports betting industry has made $1.4 billion in the state since it launched, and month after month their revenues continue to grow. Those numbers could continue to expand rapidly, after Governor J.B. Pritzker loosened online sign-up requirements for land-based sportsbooks in November.That move allowed 97% of wagers to be placed online in November, with Football alone drawing $253 million in handle. Although the 8-8 Bears won’t be in the game, the American Gaming Association expects up to $4.3 billion to be bet on Sunday’s game, and maybe having a couple of great teams in the contest will inspire Illinoisians to put up a few bucks.If anybody wants to bet on the game, maybe even for the first time, we’ve got a nice guide on how to get started. Any if any of those taboo prop bets interest you, we’ve highlighted our favorites.

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Poker Players Channel Their Fear in Positive Ways

Poker is a game in which the fear of loss is always at or just beneath the surface.  Since we can’t eliminate fear, we need to learn to use it to our best advantage.  This can result in causing an opponent to fold a winning hand or can simply allow us to shrug off a bad beat.There is a pervasive feeling amongst the less experienced online poker players that fear is something to be feared.  This is a big mistake.  In fact, it is one of the biggest mistakes poker players make.  The fear of losing hems us in and makes us less aggressive and more timid.Fear is an unavoidable aspect of poker and in fact of almost everything we do. Playing poker online does reduce fear because it reduces the tells that telegraph information we want to keep hidden.  But even online poker can’t eliminate fear entirely.  The proper attitude towards fear is that it is a good thing.  Fear is like pain; we would all like to live in a world without pain.  But in the real world in which pain exists, we can use pain as the push we needed to go to the doctor and have a test done and find out what’s wrong inside our bodies very early so we can be cured.Fear of Getting Bluffed by an AmateurThere is no denying that Phil Helmuth is a great poker player.  But every great player has a weakness and Helmuth’s weakness is the fear of losing to an inferior player.  We are not talking about a player who is marginally less adept at the game than is Phil Helmuth.  We are talking about a player who in chess terms would be labeled a “wood pusher”, someone who truly doesn’t know what he’s doing.YouTube is rife with clips of Phil Helmuth hitting tilt because he lost to a rank amateur because Helmuth could not bear the possibility that he might lose to such a poor player.Poker FaceThe image that most poker players want to cultivate is a stoic, unemotional type who can remain completely deadpan even when he has the nuts and is hoping to get a lot of action.The poker face belies the deep swells of emotion that underlie it.  A lot of players go against nature and try to deny that there is such a swell of emotion beneath the surface and the façade.When we have the nuts and are hoping for some action, we do need a strong poker face but it’s a mistake to deny the emotion that is roaring just beneath the surface.Accepting MoneyA lot of people don’t understand money.  It is for that reason that so-called cryptocurrencies have entered the money marketplace.  These alternative forms of “money” exist for only one reason: there are people who fear that government money will crash and lose massive amounts of value and that only the cryptocurrencies will survive to have purchasing power.Poker players need to accept the idea that it hurts to lose money but only by losing money can we learn how to win money!  This is the first lesson in cultivating fear in a positive way.  We need to accept—even embrace—our fear of losing in order to develop the skills necessary for winning.We are told all the time to play only the best hands as we enter the world of real money poker.  Still, we know that the better players will limp in with very “poor” hands.  They do this because they want their opponents to be unclear of what they actually have.  Even if they lose some money on this particular hand, by staying in the pot for another round, they have turned the fear against their opponents rather than turning it inward onto themselves.ObjectivityFear of losing money or of being bluffed successfully by an amateur cause us to lose objectivity.  Instead of analyzing the hand at hand, we feed into our fear and are more prone to making irrational decisions.Evolution played and continues to play a role in our fear at the poker table.  Early man faced life and death dangers every day.  He learnt to deal with a dangerous situation quickly, without resorting to rational analyses of the dangers involved, and most often lived on.The entire human race owes its existence to the cultivation of quick responses to fear predicated in the real danger of being killed that our far ancestors used to survive. At the poker table, no one is in danger of being killed by a bear or a mountain lion.  We don’t fear the weather like ancient people did.  That’s because we understand the weather a lot better than they did.  The only real fear we have at the poker table is losing some money or of being embarrassed by poor judgment.We can live in poker terms simply by accepting two things: one, that the fear of losing will never dissipate completely and, two, we are going to lose a lot of hands no matter what we do or how well we analyze the situation.  Fear doesn’t keep us from losing; fear keeps us from learning how to win.Fear and TellsThe very notion of a tell in poker is that some players show their emotions.  When they have a good hand they react differently than when they have a poor hand.  Most often, a tell is a function of how directly we let the fear of losing a hand come bubbling up to the surface.  Conversely, a tell when our hand is strong is usually based on the fear that we won’t win enough on this great chance to win a big pot.By accepting the presence of fear, we can eliminate, over time, the physical response we show based on those fears.The basis of tells in both subliminal and non-subliminal fear leads to the fact that many poker players overestimate danger.  A lot more people are afraid of flying in an airplane than they are of riding in a car but the odds are a lot greater for the possibility of death or injury whilst riding in a car than in flying.We overestimate the danger of airplane travel.  Similarly, we often overestimate the danger of losing a hand and the corresponding money.  Reacting outside of the parameters of our fear leads to far more wins than reacting within the parameters of our fear.

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Naked Woman Shuts Off Power at Las Vegas Casino: Police

Posted on: February 4, 2021, 03:18h. 

Last updated on: February 4, 2021, 03:18h.

A naked woman was arrested after breaking into a fire control room and shutting off power at Circa Resort in Las Vegas, police said.

Circa Resort
Circa Resort towers over other properties in downtown Las Vegas. A naked woman is accused of temporarily shutting power at the resort late Monday. (Image: Fox5 Vegas)

Alissa Neeley, 28, was booked into the Clark County Detention Center early Tuesday. She faces a charge of theft of a fire prevention device. Neeley was released from jail on her own recognizance and is required to stay away from the downtown resort. She is due in court on March 30.  

Neeley had been a guest at the resort on Monday. At about 9:30 pm, she was kicked out for walking around in the hotel with no clothes on, police said. She also is accused of entering rooms designated for employee use only. Her driver’s license identified her as an Iowa resident, authorities said.

About 30 minute after she was evicted, power went out in the casino, the hotel, and the parking garage, according to media accounts. The parking garage is known as Garage Mahal.

The power outage disabled slot machines, fire alarms, elevators, and more. A maintenance worker investigating the outage found the woman sitting naked on a chair in a secured control room in the parking garage, police said.

Security officers placed the woman in handcuffs and notified the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. 

It was unclear how Neeley was able to get into a secured control room, authorities said. She declined to speak with police.

Power Outage

Electrical power at the resort was out for about three hours. Power was restored Tuesday at about 1 am. 

Circa spokeswoman Angela Ciciriello said this was an isolated incident, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

We have implemented additional security measures to ensure our facilities are protected,” she said.

Police said the woman caused about $5,000 in damages. She bent switches on the control panel, creating a delay in restoring power at the resort. She also disabled some wires, police said.

Historic Fremont Street

Circa is at the northwest corner of historic Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. It is the first resort to be built in the downtown casino district in 40 years. The resort opened late last year as an adult’s only hotel-casino. A steakhouse on the site is the only place anyone under 21 is allowed.

Circa is on a portion of Fremont Street covered by a lighted canopy that displays colorful electronic images. This portion of the street is a pedestrian mall. 

Late last year, the canopy displayed a tribute to former Las Vegas investor Tony Hsieh. The ex-Zappos CEO died in November from injuries in a fire at a home in Connecticut.

Fremont Street is known for several longstanding casinos. The El Cortez and other properties on Fremont once were controlled by reputed underworld figures. One of these gangsters, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, went from the El Cortez to open the Flamingo in 1946 on the Las Vegas Strip south of downtown.

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High Stakes Poker S8 E8: Find Out Which Player Went Broke & Quit the Game

Tom Dwan

Wednesday’s latest “High Stakes Poker” episode on PokerGO was a continuation of the last week’s game, which was played $200/$400/$800 w/ an $800 ante from the third blind.

The episode started with six players in their seats while Tom Dwan was sitting out. Here’s how things stack up at the top of the broadcast:

Player Stack
Rick Salomon $606,000
Jean-Robert Bellande $489,100
John Andress $298,000
Sean Perry $271,600
Damien Leforbes $157,800
Michael Schwimer $75,700

Leforbes vs. Schwimer – No Apologies for Running Good

Damien Leforbes

In the first hand of the new episode, Damien Leforbes raised to $2,500 from middle position with the {7-Diamonds}{7-Clubs} and the ever-aggressive Michael Schwimer three-bet to $9,000 from the cutoff holding the {k-Spades}{8-Clubs}. Action folded back to Leforbes and he called to see the {8-Spades}{8-Diamonds}{5-Spades} flop, which gave Schwimer trip eights.

Leforbes check-called a bet of $6,000 and then check-called one of $15,000 on the {4-Clubs} turn. The {7-Hearts} river was gin for Leforbes, who checked his full house. Schwimer bet $24,000, which left him just $21,000 behind, and Leforbes check-raised all in.

“Did you get lucky as shit on me?” a seemingly-frustrated Schwimer asked before calling off and discovering the bad news.

“I will not apologize for running good,” said Leforbes as he pulled in the $153,400 pot.

Dwan vs. Schwimer – “I’m in Pretty Good Shape”

Tom Dwan

After reloading to $100,000, Schwimer raised to $3,000 from the hijack and Dwan, who had returned to the game, three-bet to $13,000 from the small blind. Schwimer called, the flop fell {4-Spades}{5-Clubs}{2-Hearts}. Dwan continued for $14,000 and Schwimer, who flopped top two pair, just called to see the {a-Hearts} turn.

Dwan made top pair but still checked, and Schwimer followed suit. On the {j-Spades} river, Dwan bet $25,000 and Schwimer leaned back in his chair while letting out a big sigh before saying, “All in.”

It was $73,000 total and Dwan hit the tank.

“Didn’t snap-call, I’m in pretty good shape,” Schwimer claimed. Dwan thought long and hard before paying it off, and just like that Schwimer doubled back by claiming the $200,800 pot.

Sean Perry vs. Jean-Robert Bellande – JRB Puts Himself in Hot Water

Sean Perry

Dwan opened for $2,500 with the {a-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds} and Sean Perry looked down at the {a-Spades}{a-Hearts} next to act. He three-bet to $8,000 and then Jean-Robert Bellande, who had lost a six-figure pot to Dwan the hand prior, four-bet to $30,000 out of the small blind with the {10-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}.

Dwan folded and Perry, the son of poker pro Ralph Perry, paused for a few beats before five-betting to $70,000. Bellande asked how much his opponent had behind, which was $246,000, and Bellande opted to call.

He flopped top pair on the {10-Spades}{5-Diamonds}{7-Hearts} flop and checked it over to Perry, who bet $40,000 into the pot of $144,100. Bellande called and then check-called a bet of $70,000 when the {9-Clubs} turn gave him an open-ended straight draw.

After the {7-Diamonds} paired the board on the river, Bellande checked for the third time and Perry moved all in for his last $136,000. Bellande asked for a count and realized he had the bigger stack, albeit by a slim margin of $18,000. Eventually, Bellande called only to see his opponent table the goods.

With that, Perry doubled in a juicy pot worth $637,700.

Bryn Kenney vs. Sean Perry – Nine High, Not Like a Boss

Bryn Kenney takes a seat in High Stakes Poker.

After Rick Salomon left the game, a new player joined the game in Bryn Kenney, who bought in with a massive stack. Here’s how this stacked up at that point in time:

Player Stack
Bryn Kenney $836,900
Sean Perry $635,300
Tom Dwan $429,800
Michael Schwimmer $367,000
John Andress $223,800
Damien Leforbes $209,900
Jean-Robert Bellande $151,000

In his first hand of this episode, Kenney raised to $4,000 from the cutoff with the {9-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds} and Perry called from the big blind with the {8-Clubs}{7-Clubs}. The {2-Clubs}{8-Spades}{8-Hearts} flop gave Perry trip eights and he check-called a bet of $10,000.

Perry checked again on the {7-Spades} turn, which gave him a full house, and Kenney continued to bluff by firing out $23,000. Perry just called and then checked yet again on the {q-Spades} river. Kenney took the bait and triple-barreled it with a bet of $64,000, but had to fold when Perry finally woke up with the check-raise to $219,000. Kenney took an early hit while Perry collected another big pot, this one worth $359,8000.

Michael Schwimmer vs. Bryn Kenney – One Will Quit the Game

Michael Schwimer

In the penultimate hand of the episode, John Andress had the $1,600 straddle on and both Dwan and Bellande called, the former under the gun and the latter on the button. Schwimer then raised to $4,000 with the {k-Clubs}{5-Clubs} in the small blind and Kenney called from the big with the {4-Hearts}{4-Clubs}. All the aforementioned players called and it was five-way action to the {2-Spades}{4-Diamonds}{k-Spades} flop.

Schwimer continued for $15,000 with top pair and Kenney raised to $52,000 with his set. Andress folded, Dwan gave up his flush draw, and Bellande got out of the way. Schwimer called and the {a-Hearts} turn gave him a wheel draw, which he checked.

Kenney bet $71,000, Schwimer called, and the {5-Diamonds} completed the board on the river. Schwimer improved to two pair but checked to Kenney, who bet $165,000. Schwimer snap-called off his stack and then let loose some expletives upon seeing Kenney had the best hand to win the $597,200 pot.

“Alright, that was fun boys,” Schwimer told the table before giving up his seat in the game.

Remember, High Stakes Poker will air every Wednesday but is only available to PokerGO subscribers. If you’re not currently subscribed, you can get a monthly subscription for $14.99, a three-month plan for $29.99, and an annual subscription for $99.99.

*Images courtesy of PokerGO.

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William Hill statement on the rise of the gambling black market

Here at William Hill, we have long been concerned by the black market in gambling and the threat it poses to customers. We want everyone who gambles to be certain that the operator who’s taking their bets plays by the rules. The problem is, that’s not always the case, and that’s a problem for our customers, for us and for the whole betting industry.  We are pleased that the Government has rightly included this issue as an area of focus in the Gambling Act Review consultation.
Last week, Neil McArthur, CEO of the Gambling Commission — Britain’s gambling regulator — wrote to the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group. In that letter he set out his view of the black market and explained that, “Criminals seeking to circumvent the regulated sphere and exploit the vulnerable are demonstrating increasing sophistication, complexity and capability which poses challenges to us to keep pace.”
This is also our view of the gambling black market: it is a growing problem that we must confront. The reason is that unlicensed operators do not offer the same protections as licensed companies. They do not have any of the safer gambling protocols in place that we use, there are no age verification checks, no anti-money laundering precautions, or any of the consumer protections that are now standard in the industry. 
 It is all the more important now, as evidence suggests that the black market is growing. The Gambling Commission’s own record of success in confronting these illegal operatives supports this conclusion. In 2019-20, the Commission carried out 59 enforcement actions against unlicensed operators. So far in 2020/21, the equivalent number already stands at 74 — a significant increase. 
This is not a new problem — sadly, there have always been illegal bookmakers, in Britain and elsewhere. What makes the current black market threat so pernicious is its ability to exploit technology in order to make itself more available to gamblers. Now, a person on a legal betting site is only a few clicks away from a black market option.
Everyone who gambles in Britain deserves protection from illegal operators. We must do all that we can to make sure that remains the case.  We would encourage all our customers to report information about black market/unlicensed gambling operators to the Gambling Commission via its Confidential Reporting Line 0121 230 6655 so that they can take the necessary action.
Please read today’s PwC report on the black market here.

Ulrik BengtssonChief Executive, William Hill

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Affilka, Press Releases, SoftSwiss, WildTokyo Casino
Affilka by SoftSwiss enters into partnership with WildTokyo Casino

Affilka, an Affiliate Marketing Platform developed by SoftSwiss, has concluded a deal with a third-party casino WildTokyo Casino. A newly launched Affiliate Program “AffRepublic“, provided by WildTokyo Casino, will run on Affilka, enabling its users with a combination of security and all the necessary functionality for efficient workflow and partner cooperation. Affilka has already shown some amazing results working with a variety of brands operating on the SoftSwiss online casino platform. And now, it keeps on gaining momentum and actively expanding its third-party client portfolio. As in Q4 of 2020 alone, Affilka onboarded 4 new third-party clients and that is just the beginning. Affilka is an affiliate marketing platform developed by SoftSwiss. A reliable, safe and trustworthy tool for iGaming operators to manage, track and analyze their affiliates and their marketing performance in real-time. The solution allows to unite several casinos or sportsbook brands and products under one referral program as well as offering automated payouts to affiliates via built-in payment processing methods, an advanced commission constructor, powerful reporting and in-depth analytics.Anastasia Borovaya, Affilka Product Owner at SoftSwiss said: “2021 has just begun and here comes one more astonishing achievement for Affilka! Our winning combination of built-in payment processing, ultra-flexible commission constructor and easy-to-use interface will aim at making new AffRepublic a highly efficient affiliate program. Looking forward to the start of our very fruitful cooperation with WildTokyo!”WildTokyo commented on the partnership: “For a long time we were looking and thinking about which software provider to choose for launching our business and Affiliate Program “AffRepublic”. After much deliberation, a decision was made in favor of SoftSwiss. Their platform combines smart technology with stylish simplicity and ease of use, as well as all the necessary functionality for effective work and cooperation with partners. We’re excited to be partnering with Affilka and looking forward to the start of our cooperation”.

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Hand Review: Did Polk Shove Too Light for Value Versus Negreanu?

Doug Polk chose to play his pocket eights aggressively.

The ongoing $200/$400 heads-up no-limit hold’em match between Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu has captured the attention of the poker world, particularly with the dearth of other action of interest out there.

Two legends of poker battling back and forth for pots worth sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars has naturally produced some interesting hands that merit a closer look from a strategic point of view.

Getting an expert’s perspective on such a hand isn’t easy considering how few HUNL specialists are out there and qualified to comment critically on these stakes, but PokerNews did manage to get hold of one: Kevin Rabichow. The high-stakes pro and Run It Once Poker ambassador graciously agreed to help break down a pot I found fascinating while covering the action.

Kevin Rabichow
Kevin Rabichow

The hand can be viewed here but for those not wishing to relive it in video form, here’s how the action goes:

Negreanu raised to $960 on the button and Polk reraised to $3,945. Negreanu four-bet to $10,800 and Polk called, bringing a {6-Clubs}{5-Diamonds}{k-Clubs} flop. Both players checked and the turn was the {k-Hearts}. Polk led out $6,479 and Negreanu called. On the {7-Spades} river, Polk shoved for $32,132. Negreanu quickly called with {j-Spades}{j-Hearts} and won the showdown against {8-Hearts}{8-Diamonds} to scoop a $98K pot.

PokerNews: How does being 125 bigs deep change preflop strategy with these hands if at all? Is everything they do here standard?

Kevin Rabichow: The interesting decision preflop as you get deeper is how do you adjust what you’re going to stack off compared to three-bet-call or just call. Maybe you three-bet less than usual here but I still think this hand’s always a three-bet. Sometimes you can five-bet all in for 100 bigs but maybe not 125.

On the flop, we see both players check. I assume that’s also pretty standard or is there an argument to bet {j-}{j-} because this is a good flop for the four-bettor’s range, and aces and queens are potentially bad turns than can cost you a pretty big pot?

It’s common for button to bet range on this flop. The key thing is it’s king-high. When the board comes king-high, the really important thing in heads-up preflop ranges is that button will have all ace-kings and big blind never has any ace-kings. You can’t say that as confidently in other formats but in heads up you can.

Daniel should probably just bet. If Doug folds queen-jack or something with an ace in it, you get some equity out of the pot and can charge a gutshot or open-ended straight draw. I think it’s a little non-standard not to bet. If I was gonna check anything, my first choice would be queens or jacks, though. If you’re gonna play checks, this hand is up there.

After a {k-Hearts} turn, Doug leads one-third of pot. Is this for standard for value and protection?

Doug is very GTO-focused. He’s trying to just play well and learn from the solver. The solver wouldn’t check very much. {8-}{8-} is the type of hand that wants to lead small. It does depend on what types of hands Daniel is checking back though.

We had seen Daniel occasionally check as strong as top pair in these four-bet pots.

That makes it really tough if he’s checking {k-}{x-}. What Doug has to ask himself is, ‘Is this hand good enough to bet for protection?’ Not just does it want to because it clearly does.

Keep in mind stuff like queen-six suited or ace-five suited are preflop bluffs and made a weak pair. That’s part of the range that gets overlooked heads up. Daniel’s gonna bluff with raggedy {q-}{x-}, {k-}{x-}. He could have pair of sixes or fives. If he folds out something like {a-}{10-} that has six clean outs, that’s also great for him.

It’s kind of thin. I think it’s still clear the bet is fine.

We see a pot-sized shove on the {7-Spades} river. I assume it’s for value? Is this too thin?

I think on the surface, it’s a pretty normal shove in heads up. In this situation, it’s a little thin. The key thing here is Doug’s out of position. It’s a thin value shove for one pot-sized bet, so that makes the math pretty easy. If he was to check and get shoved on he needs 33% to check-call. Traditionally if you make a value-bet, you want to get called by a range you’re ahead of. When he shoves and gets called, maybe he’s got 43% equity.

It gets weird out of position with these thin, in-between hands. But, he’s ahead of {a-}{6-}, {a-}{5-}, {a-}{q-} even which might hero. A rivered pair of sevens which is unlikely but maybe a {9-}{7-} hand that bluffed preflop could have gotten here. There’s stuff that he beats but it’s certainly not thrilling.

But, Doug is someone who bluffs a lot, and Daniel will make hero calls. Maybe Doug doesn’t think check performs very well. Maybe he’s saying if he has {j-}{j-} or {q-}{q-} it’s a cooler, which I kind of agree with. I think Doug’s shoving for value fully expecting to lose more than time.

Daniel Negreanu
Negreanu won the huge pot with jacks.

So, even though he might be beat more than half of the time he’s called, jam can still be good for value?

You have to look at the [expected value] of check as a whole versus the EV of jam as a whole. If he jams, he always gets called by better hands and sometimes by worse hands. When he checks, Daniel will always check back the hands Doug beats. But, the concern is he will bluff sometimes and he will value-bet all the better hands. If he feels he cannot check-fold, then value-betting becomes worth considering.

Does block-betting the river make any sense?

From what I’ve seen of Daniel’s game, I think block is very likely the best play. That would probably be my first choice. I think it’s a good play. It’s quite possible Doug randomized for his sizing or just kind of got caught up in making a greedy sizing choice.

Blocking river in a spot like this is definitely part of good strategy. The likely response we’re hoping for is Daniel calls with {j-}{j-}. If that’s the play he takes even a little bit of time, that’s an amazing result. We get extra value from fives and sixes and don’t lose the max against {j-}{j-} and {q-}{q-}.

What do regular players need to understand about heads-up no-limit that makes this shove good?

I think the framework within heads-up no-limit is to realize like {j-}{j-} and {q-}{q-}, even if we think Daniel is conservative, it’s not an overwhelming majority of his range. We can’t focus so quickly on that part of his range. Because preflop ranges are so wide, it’s important to remember that ace-high needs to call the turn and {6-}{x-} and {5-}{x-} need to call river a lot of the time against a jam. Just recognizing that the overall strategy good heads-up no-limit players use in this spot isn’t overly focused on the top of Daniel’s range. There’s all this trash and all these other weak hands.

What parts of heads-up no-limit can fans watching take and try to apply to their own games?

Honestly, it’s probably just aggression. Recognizing the value of finding bets and stacking off uncomfortably light. It trickles to the rest of your strategy. The benefit of Doug having plays like this that are thin and look wild is you allow yourself to be aggressive with the bluffs in your range and find thinner value bets as a result. Your aggression goes up and you win more pots.

Almost all players are not aggressive enough, even professional players. Six-max, tournaments…players are by and large not aggressive enough. Here’s a player at the top of the game on the biggest stage and he’s going after it every pot. That’s something worth trying to emulate, I think.

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Main Event Day 2 was a tough one for Team Intertops but one player is still in the game.After almost nine levels of 60 minutes each, the 2019 WSOPC Caribbean $1,700 Main Event has reached the money. All remaining 18 players out of 165 entries have $3,500 locked up for their efforts, but all eyes are set on the top prize of $67,000.Intertops qualifier Phillip Cardella was one of the players that doubled on the stone-cold money bubble and bagged up 107,000. He’s looking to get back into the action today at 3:30pm local time to fight for the prize money and the WSOPC ring.While our other players were eliminated during Day 2, some went back playing various cash games or played at the Event #32 NLHE $400 like German qualifier Lukas Wahlster. This semi-turbo event saw a lot of action but Lukas made his way to the final table, eliminated in 6th place with TT against QQ. In addition to winning some nice extra cash for his trip he had a great time so far in the event and is enjoying his spare time in the Caribbean.As a little compensation for all of you who couldn’t make we have one more freeroll coming up later today. You can find the password for the freeroll on our partner blog alongside new stories, updates and pictures from the tournament as well, don’t miss to check it out!Living the dream St Maarten – $200 GTDDate: April 1ststarts at: 6pm Easternfreeroll Player pictures provided by TK Poker / Bülent Toluay

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