Tuesday, May 11, 2021

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Rush Street First Virginia Casino Developer to Launch Sports Betting

Posted on: January 27, 2021, 01:11h. 

Last updated on: January 27, 2021, 01:46h.

Rush Street Gaming is the first land-based casino developer in Virginia to receive an operating license to conduct mobile sports betting.

Rush Street Virginia sports betting mobile
Rush Street Gaming’s online sportsbook platform BetRivers.com debuts in Virginia tomorrow. Seen here is the company’s land-based sportsbook in Des Plaines, Illinois. (Image: AP)

Rush Street Interactive, the company’s online casino and sports betting division, will launch BetRivers.com in Virginia tomorrow, January 28. Only sports betting will be permitted on the internet platform.

Rush Street Interactive is the fourth online sportsbook to receive approval from the Virginia Lottery Board. The lottery agency is responsible for regulating the state’s rollout of commercial gambling.

FanDuel last week was the first to take sports bets online in Virginia. The sportsbook is partnered with the Washington Football Team, which has its headquarters in the state.

Virginia’s gaming bill, passed in 2020, allows for up to 12 sports betting licenses. However, the law says that “a permit shall not count toward this maximum if it is issued pursuant to an applicable major league sports franchise” that has a presence in Virginia.

BetMGM and DraftKings have also been cleared to begin online sportsbook operations. The Virginia Lottery can still issue another nine mobile sports betting licenses for operators not tied to a professional sports franchise.

Rush Street Seeks Casino License

Four cities in Virginia passed casino ballot referendums last November. One casino each is cleared for Portsmouth, Norfolk, Bristol, and Danville.

Portsmouth has partnered with Rush Street Gaming for its casino resort. The Chicago-based gaming group plans to spend $300 million to build a destination in the Hampton Roads town called Rivers Casino Portsmouth.

The property will be equipped with a hotel, indoor and outdoor concert venues, conference space, and multiple restaurants. The casino will feature slot machines and table games, plus a BetRivers Sportsbook.

Rush Street has been pre-certified by the Virginia Lottery Board to operate a brick-and-mortar casino in the Commonwealth. Once final approval arrives, Rush Street plans to quickly break ground, with a target opening set for 2023.

Caesars Entertainment is seeking a land-based casino license for its development in Danville. Hard Rock International is as well, but in Bristol. Both of those companies are additionally pursuing sports betting licenses.

The fourth casino town — Norfolk — is working with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. The Native American group has zero experience in the commercial gaming industry, but has brought in billionaire Jon Yarbrough to invest and codevelop the project. Yarbrough made his fortune developing and selling Class II bingo-based gaming machines to tribal casinos.

Virginia’s Ready for Some Football

As of tomorrow, Virginians will have four live mobile sportsbooks up and running. Their operations couldn’t come at a better time, as Super Bowl 55 will be played on February 7.

The matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and defending champion Kansas City Chiefs will almost certainly be the most legally bet-upon NFL title game in the history of the sport.

When the first legal sports bet in Virginia was wagered last week, the state became the 21st in the nation with legal, regulated sports betting. Virginia joins 14 other states that allow sports wagers to be placed online.

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Bail On (and Badmouth) Casinos That Do Any of the Following

We don’t consider ourselves the types to encourage criticism or negative PR, simply for the sake of it. However, there are instances when spreading the good (or bad) word about an online casino is an important public service.

If there was a casino on the web operating in a shady or irresponsible way, surely you’d want to know about it. Far better than signing up, handing over your private data and welcoming whatever the consequences happen to be.

This is why we actively encourage new and experienced online casino gamers alike to be vigilant and proactive. Whether poker’s your game or you’re all about online slots, you probably play the field when considering what’s on offer.

In doing so, you’ll encounter good and bad online casinos which deserve cheers or jeers. Where there’s a casino that’s not doing its job properly, the community as a whole needs to know about it.

As for when and where the time comes to both bail and badmouth an online casino, any of the following is about as unforgivable as it gets.

As gambling laws continue to become more and more relaxed each year, the barrier to entry for those who want to set up their own online casinos is becoming much easier to penetrate.

For players, this is generally good news. When more businesses compete for your attention or money, the better it is for you. With that being said, even if most sites are good, not all of them are acting in good faith.

1 – No License to Do Business

Right off the bat, any casino that doesn’t have a license is not a casino to trust with your time or money. Getting an online casino licence and following the rules can be extremely difficult and expensive. Precisely why unscrupulous operators sidestep official policy by simply setting up without a licence.

For the player, doing business with an unlicensed casino is dangerous for reasons that should be relatively obvious. They could disappear into the ether at any point with your money or your personal information, after which there’s no telling how bad things could get.

Avoid unlicensed casinos at all costs and advise everyone you know to do the same.

2 – Shoddy customer service 

You can find out everything you need to know about an online casino by putting its customer support team to the test. Not even in a particularly challenging way – a few simple queries and questions should do the trick.

For one thing, it should be as easy as possible to contact a customer support representative when needed. 24/7 customer support is a bonus, but decent coverage at most reasonable times is okay. If they’re hardly ever available and only accept email queries, alarm bells should start to ring. 

Quality customer support demonstrates a commitment to safety, satisfaction and enjoyment. Lacklustre customer support is a declaration that none of these things matter. In which case, why would you want to hand them any of your money?

3 – Restrictive payment policies

If you’re a casual casino gamer, a minimum withdrawal restriction of £200 isn’t going to be much good to you. For high-rollers, a combined monthly withdrawal limit of say £1,000 is useless. Across the board, excessive fees and commissions payable on withdrawals in general are unacceptable.

The more difficult, expensive or time-consuming a casino makes it to conduct transactions, the more advisable it is to avoid them. The web’s best casinos go to extremes these days to streamline and simplify their payment policies and procedures. Those that do the opposite really aren’t worth bothering with.

At the same time, any indications that they don’t take safety and security seriously when processing payments should be noted. If they genuinely prioritise security, they’ll make sure you know about it.

4 – Bonuses designed to deceive

It’s surprising how many online casino bonuses aren’t anything like they appear at a glance. As a rule of thumb, you can usually guarantee that the more ludicrously OTT the bonus is, the less likely it is to be legit.

Think about it – what’s the likelihood of any established and successful casino handing out £4,000 in ‘free money’ to new customers? Or for that matter, even passing out gifts of £50 that are as good as real cash? The answer is, of course, no likelihood whatsoever.

Bonuses that blindside you with enormous numbers like these are designed purely to deceive. Once you’ve checked out the terms and conditions, you’ll find that you’ve more chance of winning the lottery than getting your hands on any of this ‘free’ cash. 

It’s the responsibility of the casino to be as open and honest as possible – both with its bonus offers and promotional terms and conditions. If they’re clearly on a mission to deceive, they’re not prioritising your best interests.

5 – Negative reviews and feedback

Last up, paid recommendations and promotional messages can be surprisingly influential. Nevertheless, the fact that they’re sponsored means they’re not even close to honest or objective. Precisely where the value and importance of real-life customer reviews and recommendations comes into the mix.

Irrespective of how fair, transparent and legit a casino may sound, putting your trust in customer recommendations is the way to go. This is really the only source of genuinely unbiased and impartial information you have access to.

A few scattered complaints here and there isn’t disastrous – no casino can please all of the people all of the time. Nevertheless, if there’s a disproportionate number of negative reviews and generally sketchy feedback, it’s probably indicative of a shady casino. 

Take your time, compare the options available and find somewhere safe to spend your money. There’s no shortage of options, so why waste time on a casino you can’t trust?

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Essential Online Casino Tips

Newbies to online casinos can learn a lot on the way to becoming experienced players. What you can learn is dictated by what you already know, but there are no limits to what you can learn as you play. 

Still, a little knowledge goes a long way when deciding which casino to sign up with in the first place. 

With this in mind, these are some of the most essential tips shared by NewCasinosUK for anybody getting started with new slot sites for the first time:

Research the Bonuses Available
Online casinos are always offering bonuses, and one of the most common of these bonuses is the initial sign-up bonus, which you can only claim immediately after creating an account. There are a lot of these bonuses you can claim available at different casinos, as there are no limits to how many casinos you can sign up with.

However, such game bonuses come with various terms and conditions, including wagering requirements or play-through conditions (indicating the number of times you must wager the bonus before you can withdraw anything you win with it), maximum win limits, and expiry dates. These conditions apply to both free spins and sign-up bonuses, so need to be checked in full before signing up. 

Finding a Casino
Whether you are signing up with your first casino or looking to branch out to something new, comparison sites can help. That is, just as long as they’re independent and feature the recommendations of real gamers. If there’s any sponsorship involved in their recommendations, they can’t be counted on as 100% honest and objective. 

Again, playing the field for good bonus offers is an obvious way to go, but only if the bonuses offered are legit. If the terms and conditions attached to a bonus offer are too strict, it’s most likely not worth bothering with. 

Other than this, nothing matters more than ensuring the casino you choose is licensed and regulated. Irrespective of where you’re signing up from, it needs to licensed and authorised to be doing what it does. If not, you’re taking a chance even signing up with them in the first place. 

Mobile Play
Research suggests that the overwhelming majority of online casino traffic comes from mobile devices. In which case, it’s entirely likely you’ll spend much of your allocated gaming time playing on your smartphone or tablet. 

The good news is that almost every decent casino on the web right now is prioritising the mobile experience for mobile gamers. Some offer dedicated apps, but almost all reputable brands offer an excellent browser-based experience you can simply log onto. 

As for the bad news – not all casino brands do the same high-quality job creating an engaging mobile experience for players. Some disproportionately prioritise their desktop sites, only to offer mobile gamers a subpar experience. For this reason, it’s important to put their mobile casino to the test before signing up, just to ensure it’s on par. 

Payment Methods
This technically boils down to personal preference, but you need to ensure the casino supports your preferred payment method. This may be cryptocurrency, debit card, e-wallets, bank methods or prepaid cards. Whichever of these you prefer to deposit and withdraw with, you’ll easily find a casino that supports it.

That said, there are some casinos that continue to inexcusably charge their customers for even the simplest transaction. Processing fees, commissions on withdrawals – all of which are guaranteed to take a toll on your bankroll. 

Make sure you check the payment terms and conditions in full, in order to ensure you don’t end up being fleeced at a later date.

Customer Support
Speaking of being fleeced, there’s nothing worse than a customer support team that doesn’t care about customers. It’s pretty much as bad as no customer support being provided at all, as at least in the case of the latter you wouldn’t waste time trying. 

Assessing the quality of the customer support provided is as easy as checking out a handful of real-life customer reviews. Or if preferred, you could simply fire a few questions at the team yourself and see how (and if) they respond. 

Ideally, you’ll want to find a casino that offers customer support via a variety of channels. Live chat, telephone, email and so on – the more the better. 24/7 customer support is best, but being available during most peak gaming hours is good enough. 

Security and Safety
The extent to which the casino prioritises safety and security should be a make-or-break factor when making your choice. There’s no excuse for anything but making every possible effort to safeguard your customers, as a casino operator. 

Hence, this is critical when you are searching for a casino online that you will interact well with.

If the casino doesn’t prioritise safety and security, you’re risking a world of potential consequences each time you play. More so, your personal data and financial information could easily fall into the wrong hands. 

Check the casino’s policies and assurances regarding safety. Unless you take 100% confidence in their approach to keeping you safe, take your business elsewhere. 

Feedback and Recommendations
Last but not least, the point about checking what people have to say about an online casino warrants repeating once again. Real-life customer reviews are literally the only source of 100% impartial and objective advice to go on.

With sponsored reviews and recommendations, people will tell you anything to sign up and generate commissions for them. Even if it means pointing you in the direction of a terrible casino, they’ll do it. By contrast, real players just like you have nothing to gain from telling anything but the truth. 

That’s why before signing up with any online casino, it’s absolutely essential to check the consensus among past and present customers. If it all looks good, it probably is – and you’re safe to go for it. If the picture is in any way sketchy or suspicious, there’s no point taking the risk. 

It’s not as if there aren’t thousands of other options to choose from – stick with those with an established and reassuring reputation.  

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Five Reasons to Spend Less Money on Lottery Tickets (and More Elsewhere)

At the risk of causing confusion, we’re in no way against lotteries. In fact, playing lotteries you can legally take part in is something we recommend.

However, there’s a difference between playing lotteries and overplaying lotteries. The latter of which we recommend against, for reasons which should be relatively obvious.

A Surprisingly Common Compulsion
In the United Kingdom and United States in particular, a surprising proportion of people purchase lottery tickets in vast quantities. They attempt to improve their odds of winning by taking part in dozens of lotteries, buying countless tickets for each and spending a packet in the process.

On one hand, the answer is yes – playing the lottery can be enjoyable and you have to be in it to win it.  Likewise, you can statistically improve your likelihood of winning by buying more tickets.

But does this really mean that buying a ton of lottery tickets on a regular basis is a good idea?

If you ask us, the answer is no – and here’s why:

1 – Scratch Cards Are Better (Sometimes)
First up, scratch cards can be preferable to traditional lottery tickets in some cases. There’s a wide range of price options to choose from, you don’t have to wait for the numbers to be drawn and the odds of winning a prize are much better. 

Admittedly, it’s not very likely you’ll walk away with a fortune after buying a couple of scratch cards.  But when it comes to the odds of winning a token prize, you’ll often be looking at odds of say 1 in 3. Far better than the odds attached to most lotteries – even where the smallest of prizes are concerned.

An occasional scratch card can be great for a quick fix, though again is something that should be enjoyed in strict and careful moderation.

2 – Misleading Marketing
This is something of a personal gripe, but one that’s worth raising, nonetheless. The way most lotteries are advertised would have you think that everyone taking part is guaranteed a life-changing cash prize. Or at least, enough money to make a real difference to their bank roll.

A formal advertising policy prevents any direct claims (or even suggestions) of guaranteed wins being made in marketing materials like these. Nevertheless, lottery ads aren’t exactly subtle with the way they market their various tickets and products.

Casinos can also be guilty of glamorising the whole thing, but casino gaming is more about experience and enjoyment than prizes alone. Lotteries being the exact opposite, as there’s literally no gameplay involved after buying your ticket.

3 – The Worst Odds of Winning
Lottery tickets have, by far, just about the worst odds on the entire gambling landscape.  In the UK, the odds of matching six numbers on the weekly lottery draw are 1 in 45,057,474. If you try your hand at the EuroMillions jackpot, your likelihood of picking the right numbers is 1 in 139,838,160.

From a purely mathematical perspective, this is as close to impossible as makes no difference at all. Even when it comes to matching just three numbers on the lottery, you’re looking at odds of 1 in 97. Now ask yourself – if these were the odds attached to a game of roulette or blackjack, would you bother?

Of course you wouldn’t – it’s far more enjoyable to bet money on something with an exponentially lower house edge.

Though again, this doesn’t mean avoiding lottery tickets altogether is the way to go. It’s more a case of approaching them with care and caution, perhaps allocating more of your gambling bankroll to activities with better odds. 

4 – Total Temptation
Also a bit of a personal peeve, but the fact that you simply cannot get away from lottery ads (and availability) can be an irritation. Heavy restrictions are placed on where, when and how casinos and bookmakers can advertise their products and services.  With lotteries, you can barely turn a corner anywhere without being bombarded with all manner of ads.

Frankly, it’s an irresistible prospect and one the vast majority of laws are powerless against. Even those of us who know exactly how unlikely it is we’ll win are guilty of splurging on tickets from time to time.

Again, despite knowing full well that you’d be better spending your cash at an online casino.

5 – There Are Better Options Available Online
Last up, one of the main arguments against buying lottery tickets in the conventional sense is that there are far better options on the web. Specialist online lottery sites provide access to dozens, sometimes even hundreds of regular draws from around the world. Draws which in some instances have exponentially better odds than those at home. 

Prior to taking part, it’s essential to ensure that players from your jurisdiction are permitted. You’ll also want to examine the terms and conditions in full, as not all international lotteries work in the same way.

Nevertheless, you’ll find a ton of interesting and affordable options to choose from – occasionally with odds that are less astronomical. You’ll also find plenty of customer reviews and recommendations online, making it easier to know where to spend your money and what to avoid.

In Conclusion…
What’s interesting is how when polled, most people who take part in the lottery don’t consider themselves to be gamblers. Surprising, given how lotteries are technically among the riskiest forms of gambling in the world.

Hence, the best way to approach lotteries is as you would any other gambling activity with the same epic odds. Keep tabs on your spending, don’t get carried away and allocate more of your gambling bankroll to more enjoyable and satisfying activities!

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Ilyas Muradi Wins WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open

Ilyas Muradi triumphed after a long WPT final table.

After nearly a year of hiatus, the World Poker Tour has returned to the live felt, and it returned in force with 1,573 entries in its Lucky Hearts Poker Open $3,500 Main Event at Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida.

An unlikely champion emerged in satellite winner Ilyas Muradi. A player with minimal live cashes on record, Muradi managed to navigate to three-handed play, where he battled Ronnie Bardah and Robel Andemichael.

There, the remaining players came to a deal, one that saw each player secure a minimum of $545,500, with Muradi taking $580,000 as the chip leader. They then played for the remaining $40,000, which includes a WPT Tournament of Champions seat valued at $15K, which also went to Muradi.

“This is amazing, it’s making me want to cry,” he said afterward.

Final Table Results

Place Player Country Prize
1 Ilyas Muradi U.S.A. $620,000*
2 Robel Andemichael U.S.A. $545,000*
3 Ronnie Bardah U.S.A. $566,135*
4 Francis Margaglione U.S.A. $293,510
5 Jesse Lonis U.S.A. $223,895
6 Philip Shing U.S.A. $168,990
7 Andy Hwang U.S.A. $115,630

*reflects final table deal

The swell of entries allow the event to rocket past its $1 million guarantee to a laughable degree as more than $5 million went into the prize pool. Some of the players who cashed among the 197 paid places were Sam Panzica, Kevin Eyster, Joe McKeehen, recent WSOP runner-up Joseph Hebert, Aaron Mermelstein and Justin Liberto.

One major storyline picking up steam late was Darren Elias’ chase for an unprecedented fifth WPT title — he’s already the record holder with four. However, he lost a monster flip to fellow WPT champ Andy Hwang when jacks didn’t hold against ace-queen to bust in 10th, according to the venue’s live updates.

Muradi was able to surpass Hwang just before the final table, though, when he got pocket kings in versus the queens of Albert Barney Jr. Barney Jr. flopped a queen but a king on the river saved the day for Muradi and gave him the chip lead at the final table.

Bardah Has Early Success

A deep-stacked, lengthy final table was in store for Tuesday’s play down to a champion.

Muradi hit a rut early on when he semi-bluffed all in with a combo draw on the turn drawing dead against Andemichael’s full house.

In the mean time, while plenty of big pots were played, nobody went bust for awhile until Hwang, who had sunk to the short stack, couldn’t improve with ace-king against pocket sevens of Francis Margaglione.

Then, former “Survivor” contestant Bardah woke up with queens following an open by Jesse Lonis and a shove of 22 blinds by Philip Shing. He called and faded Shing’s {k-Hearts}{q-Diamonds} to bust him in sixth.

Bardah kept it up when he three-bet with kings and called a four-bet shove from Lonis, who had tens and didn’t improve.

Muradi’s Big Hold

Bardah and Muradi then played a three-bet pot that would prove a key turning point. At 125,000/250,000, Bardah opened for 550,000 first to act and Muradi made it 1.3 million on his left. Bardah peeled and {5-Clubs}{3-Diamonds}{2-Clubs} flopped. Bardah checked, Muradi bet 1,550,000 and Bardah shoved for about 7.6 million more. Muradi quickly called.

Muradi: {a-Spades}{a-Clubs}
Bardah: {k-Clubs}{q-Clubs}

If Bardah could topple the aces, he’d have more than half of the chips and be in command three-handed. Unfortunately for him, it ran {4-Spades}, {10-Diamonds} to flip their positions and give Muradi north of 20 million.

Former leader Margaglione then slid down to the short stack and busted to Bardah raise-calling for about 11 blinds with {q-Clubs}{9-Spades} and failing to best {a-Diamonds}{k-Clubs}.

Deal Made, Trophy Won

Play continued for a bit until break, when a deal was reached that saw each player lock up half a million. With plenty still on the line, though, nobody was ready to just gamble all in and call it a tournament.

Andemichael went from shortest stack to chip leader, while Bardah slipped down to 13 big blinds when he three-bet shoved {a-Spades}{2-Spades} and ran into the {a-Clubs}{9-Diamonds} of Andemichael. He couldn’t overcome the dominating hand, leaving Andemichael heads up with Muradi and stacks close to even.

Andemichael widened his lead at first, but Muradi brought it back and retook the lead when he got a river bet paid after turning aces up and rivering a full house.

The battle stretched well past midnight until Muradi finally won a flip for all the chips with pocket fours holding against {a-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}.

Lead photo courtesy of Seminole Hard Rock Poker

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Los Angeles Poker Rooms Given Green Light to Reopen this Week

California Governor Gavin Newsom gave Los Angeles poker rooms the green light to reopen this week for the first time since November. But, the card rooms will be forced to operate under strict guidelines that may not be appealing to some poker players.

los angeles poker rooms

When will Los Angeles poker rooms be granted permission to return to normalcy? (Image: discoverlosangeles.com)

Newsom on Tuesday lifted regional stay-at-home orders across the state, relieving bans on in-person dining, live poker, and other activities. Los Angeles County has the most coronavirus cases (1,085,044) and COVID-19 deaths (15,592) of any county in the country, by a wide margin. As a result, Newsom had taken extreme measures to limit the spread of the virus.

The Democratic politician, however, is hopeful the county, and the state as a whole, can turn things around. As such, he is now permitting restaurants and card rooms to begin accepting customers outdoors. That means if you’re looking for a legal card game in Southern California, you’ll have to play outside.

There are some additional restrictions imposed by the governor, including seating capacity. Card rooms are only permitted to operate at 50% of their maximum allowable room capacity, as determined by fire code. So, it would be wise to call ahead to put your name on a wait-list. Otherwise, you may end up waiting for hours. As soon as the doors open, you can rest assured hundreds of poker players will be excited to play.

Los Angeles Poker Rooms Ready to Deal

It’s been nearly two months since a legal poker game ran in Los Angeles County. The area is home to some of the biggest and best card rooms in the world, including Commerce Casino, which boasts more than 200 poker tables. Gardens Casino and Bicycle Casino (“The Bike”) also have more than 180 tables.

But, the number of tables available will be limited for quite some time due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each of the Los Angeles poker rooms will offer seating outdoors in makeshift, covered rooms. That’s been the norm in most California casinos since the coronavirus struck last year.

Newsom initially forced poker rooms to close statewide in March. He then briefly permitted Los Angeles’ card rooms to reopen in June before ordering them all to close again a couple of weeks later. They were allowed to reopen for a second time in early October before getting shut down again just after Thanksgiving.

Is the third time a charm? That’s what poker players in the area are hoping for, but it all depends on if businesses reopening across the state leads to another spike in COVID-19 cases.

Jon Sofen

Written by

Jon Sofen

Semi-pro poker player with 17 years experience on the felt and more than five years working as professional poker media.

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Daniel Negreanu vs. Doug Polk Grudge Match Entering the Final Stretch

The long-anticipated grudge match between Daniel Negreanu, one of the most prominent figures in the poker world, and Doug Polk, at one point the best heads-up player around, kicked off in early November of 2020.

Negreanu accepted Polk’s challenge to play at least 12,500 hands of $200/$400 HU Texas Hold’em, with the provision that the losing player has an option to extend the match for another 12,500 hands.

After several months of battling it out on the virtual felt of WSOP.com, the Negreanu-Polk match is entering the final stretch.

There are fewer than 6,000 hands to go (of the total 25,000), and Polk is, expectedly, in the lead. After the latest session, Doug is up $572,200, which is slightly more than 14 buy-ins.

Daniel is not ready to throw in the towel just yet, though. On the contrary, Kid Poker is determined to do everything in his power to try and win the match or close the gap as much as possible.

Coming Back at the Last Moment

It was just a few days ago that Polk managed to turn the profit of $1,000,000 for the first time in the match. After that long and grueling session, it looked like Daniel was done. It was a big deficit, and even Negreanu admitted that it would be hard to come back from that.

But he wasn’t giving up just yet.

On Friday, January 23, the two met up for another scheduled session, and the writing was on the wall. Everyone knew that this could easily be the most significant session of the entire match. If Polk were to extend his lead by another couple of hundred thousand, it would be all over.

However, the opposite happened. Negreanu threw caution to the wind, decided to deviate from the GTO strategy he’s been trying to learn and incorporate from the get-go, and went for it.

The result? He ended up winning $390,000, which was the biggest swing since the start of the grudge match. It wasn’t the full comeback just yet, but it at least left some hope going into the final few thousand hands.

Is Polk Ready to Lock Up the Win?

The last night’s session (Monday, January 25) was quite an interesting one. For the first time in the match, Polk started to limp some of his hands on the button instead of folding or raising.

The commentators and fans watching the action were equally confused. What was this novelty all about?

Negreanu was equally as confused. He decided to end the session as soon as the two-hour mark was up (the minim they agreed to play for every time) and look into this new strategy.

When the session was over, everyone was eager to hear what Polk had to say on the topic, and he obliged with a short post-session interview.


During the play, many in the chat speculated that he was doing it to decrease the variance and “lock up the win.” And, to the surprise of nay-sayers, Doug did confirm that he was incorporating new strategies that would prevent Negreanu from taking the higher variance route to try and catch up.

This doesn’t mean that Polk is ready to give back some money just to secure the win, though. Limping some buttons in heads up play can be and is legitimate, +EV strategy. It’s just much more complex to incorporate correctly as it requires more balancing and having different sets of hand ranges.

It probably comes as a bit of disappointment to those who have been following the Polk-Negreanu grudge match since the start. This approach will likely result in less fireworks. But, this challenge is all about money for Polk, and he’s never been particularly secretive about that fact.

A Lot of Money Riding on the Side Bets

When it became clear that the grudge match was going to take place, the poker world went crazy, looking to place some bets on the side.

Polk was going in as a clear favorite. The man who created the Upswing Advanced Heads-Up poker course and was considered the best HU player around for quite some time would clearly have an edge here.

On the other hand, those betting the Negreanu side were able to get some sweet odds. It seems that getting a bet in at 4 to 1 was very easy, and even better odds were available if you looked hard enough.

Confident he’d make an easy work of Daniel, Polk took up many side bets. He doesn’t want to talk about the amounts, which makes sense, but it’s pretty clear he has a fair bit of cash riding on the side.

So, for Doug, winning the match is imperative. When calculating his EV, he must take into account all the side bets as well, especially as the end is in sight.

Negreanu wants to win just as badly, although for different reasons.

It seems that Daniel doesn’t have as much money riding on the side bets, but for him, winning the match is a matter of pride. And, if he were to somehow beat Polk, it would give him huge bragging rights.

Negreanu is being very open about his desire to win. In the last night’s post-session interview, he admitted that, if he were to reach the point where folding 100 hands in a row would secure him the win (even by a single dollar), he’d lock it up.


But, the current situation is such that Polk has the lead and the upper hand, and Kid Poker has a pretty big gap to close. Negreanu will look for opportunities to create big pots, even if he has to take slightly –EV lines, while Polk will likely avoid major confrontations.

Can Negreanu Turn the Tables Around?

Going into the match, there was never any doubt about who the better player in the specific format was. Even Daniel admitted that Polk would always have the upper hand, but he was confident about his ability to learn and improve.

Going into the final stretch of the challenge with the deficit of almost 15 buy-ins, Kid Poker has his work cut out for him. Especially so given Polk’s motivation to take the lower variance route and not allow things to get out of control like they did a few sessions ago.

He’s definitely going against the odds.

That said, stranger things have happened on the felt, and if Negreanu can somehow manage another big session in the near future, it will be really interesting to see what happens in the last two or three thousand hands.

If you haven’t been keeping up, there is still plenty of action to go, and you can watch the two go at it three times a week (usually), on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.


You can observe the play live (no cards up, unfortunately) on GGPoker and Doug Polk’s official YouTube and Twitch channels, but there are also a few other streamers covering it.

Both players have been doing regular post-session interviews as well, so you can hear their thoughts about big hands, expectations, and plans for the future, etc. It’s a great way to kill some time while waiting for the new episode of High Stakes Poker to go live.

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Event 26: Kevin Love Doubles Thru Sean Shah

$2,200 Deep Stack PLO (Re-Entry)
Structure | Payouts
Level 13:  3,000/5,000
Players Remaining:  12 of 113

Kevin Love
Kevin Love

Kevin Love was all in preflop from the small blind against Sean Shah, who was under the gun.

Sean Shah:  AdQd10c2c
Kevin Love:  7s6s6c3h

The board came KsJs2s5h4c, and Love flopped a spade flush to win the pot and double up in chips.

Kevin Love  –  90,000  (18 bb)
Sean Shah  –  125,000  (25 bb)

With 12 players remaining, the average chip stack is about 188,000 (38 big blinds), and the remaining players are guaranteed to earn at least $5,876 each.

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Macau Professor Believes China Might Force Out US Casino Operators

Posted on: January 27, 2021, 12:50h. 

Last updated on: January 27, 2021, 11:18h.

A professor in Macau believes US casino operators might be wearing out their welcome in the world’s richest gambling market.

Macau Professor Believes China Might Force US Casino Operators Out Due to Trump Ties
Former President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping, seen here in 2017, were at odds for much of the past four years. When it comes to Macau and its licensed casino operators, China might end up with the upper hand. (Image: Getty)

Speaking at an event hosted by the France Macau Chamber of Commerce this week in the Chinese Special Administrative Region, Macau University Associate Professor Priscilla Roberts says the future operations of three licensed casino operators in Macau are in jeopardy.

I think it’s quite possible that American casinos will no longer be as welcome in Macau,” Roberts opined at the event titled, “America’s New President: A Turning Point for US/China Relations?”

All six current gaming concession holders are set to see their operating licenses expire in June of 2022. Three of those companies are headquartered in the United States — Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, and Wynn Resorts. The other three are based in Hong Kong — Melco Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, and SJM Holdings.

Trump Payback Possible

Roberts’ opinion on the future licensure of US casino giants in China’s Macau could be less about President Joe Biden and more about former President Donald Trump.

Trump had a combative relationship with China and its President Xi Jinping. The 45th president sought to remedy what he believed was China taking advantage of the US for decades.

Trump additionally blamed China for the COVID-19 pandemic, repeatedly calling it the “China virus.”

Trump is no longer in office, but some of the ex-president’s firmest allies remain heavily invested in China. Sands, the world’s largest casino operator in terms of revenue and market capitalization, is the empire of the late billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson, who died earlier this month at the age of 87, was a Republican Party megadonor. Along with his wife Dr. Miriam, the Adelsons gave more than $100 million to pro-Trump campaign committees.

Steve Wynn, also once a strong supporter of Trump and longtime GOP operative, is no longer invested in Wynn Resorts. However, like Sands, the company that bears his name derives the majority of its revenue in China. The firm losing its operational rights after investing billions of dollars in Macau would be a devastating blow to the billionaire’s legacy.

Unlike Sands and Wynn, MGM Resorts has no close ties to Trump. But being a US-based company, its odds of receiving a new license in Macau might be collateral damage.

“The major American casino industry has been heavily identified with the Republican Party,” Roberts explained. She added that any such effort to discredit the three US companies by China and Macau will “annoy Republicans much more than the Democrats.”

Sands Considers Abandoning US

Even prior to Adelson’s death, there were rumblings in the gaming industry that Sands was looking to fully move to its operations to Asia. Along with Macau, the company is invested in Singapore by way of its Marina Bay Sands.

Reports have surfaced that the company’s two casinos on the Las Vegas Strip — The Venetian and Palazzo — are on the market.

It could be part of Sands’ effort to improve its reputation among Chinese officials, with the ultimate goal of receiving new gaming rights in Macau. In 2019, Sands generated 64.3 percent of its revenue — $8.83 billion — in Macau.

Though he was a Trump supporter, Adelson also revolutionized Macau by way of the Cotai Strip. The late casino tycoon was the visionary behind Asia’s version of the Las Vegas Strip. Cotai is today where Macau’s highest of rollers gamble tens of billions of dollars away each year, generating roughly 90 percent of the region’s taxes.

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The Six Types of Casino Dealers You’ll Meet Along the Way

Online casino gaming is great, but there’s really nothing like the thrill of the traditional casino. Once you’ve experienced roulette in a hall packed with giddy gamblers, there’s no going back.

What’s also unique about the traditional casino experience is the interactions you’ll ‘enjoy’ with croupiers and hosts. We say ‘enjoy’ in the loose sense because not all casino staff can be counted on to enrich the experience.

Over time, you’ll encounter a whole bunch of different personalities along the way. Though the vast majority of dealers and hosts you’ll find at classic casino tables fall into one of the following six categories:

1 – The Seasoned and Proud Veteran
These are the folks that have been around for so long that there literally isn’t a single thing they do not know about the art of casino gaming. As an added bonus, they’re also more than willing to share their wisdom with others, due to the fact that they take such pride in their work.

What’s particularly great about these dealers is how you count on them for insights, information and entertainment, alongside an enjoyable and immersive experience. They’re also as kind to newcomers as they are accommodating to seasoned pros. 

Some players deliberately track these folks down before and after their shifts to ask them questions they wouldn’t be able to answer while on duty. Suffice to say, this is just about as bad as poor casino etiquette gets! 

2 ‒ The Overexcited Types
You’ll usually find that these are the younger members of staff at the casino, who most of the time will be relatively new to the whole thing. As a result, their excitement and enthusiasm for what they do manifests as somewhat hyper/frantic behaviour that can be a little overwhelming.

These are the folks to head for if you’re feeling relentlessly sociable and want to chat, laugh, shout and generally enjoy a high-energy experience. If you’re looking for something ultimately quieter and more reserved, they’re to be avoided at all costs.

It’s also worth noting at this point that the more interactive and enthusiastic the dealer is, the more likely they are to expect bigger tips. You’ll soon find their demeanour changes if they chat you up all night, only to be stiffed with a depressingly low tip at the end of it all.

3 ‒ The Slow and Steady Brigade
This is a comparatively rare breed of dealers, but one you’ll nonetheless encounter at some point. In contrast to the above, you’ll usually find that these folks are those that are more bored, jaded and disinterested in the whole experience than excited and motivated.

It could also simply be that they’re new to the whole thing and aren’t particularly confident, which can affect the pace of play. In any case, whether or not exceptionally sluggish gameplay is a bad thing is entirely a judgment call.

For some, taking things as slow as possible for a relaxing experience is the way to go. Likewise, slow gameplay also forces you to make the most of your bankroll – slowing the rate at which you burn through it.

By contrast, others are driven to the point of pure rage by dealers that aren’t super-slick and lightning-fast. Hence, it’s best to note the pace of gameplay before you take a seat.

4 ‒ The Apathetic and Expressionless Poker-Faced Dealer
These guys can prove quite entertaining without meaning to be. To be frank, these most often turn out to be the kinds of dealers who take themselves far too seriously. Despite the fact that they’re dealing cards or spinning a roulette wheel in a small backstreet casino in Swansea, they like to think they’re hosting billionaires in the heart of Monaco.

Subsequently, they spend the entire experience from start to finish with the ultimate poker-face plastered across their chops. Whether you win, lose or make the most ludicrous decisions imaginable, they’re every bit as expressionless as the guards at Buckingham Palace. 

Even if you attempt to talk to them, you can expect a somewhat robotic responses with little to no show of emotion or interest whatsoever. They know what they’re talking about, they do a fantastic job and they’re the personification of professionalism – they’re just a little too serious about the whole thing.

Still, those more interested in the game itself than the personality of the host often find these dealers pretty much perfect.

5 ‒ The Bringer of Bad Luck
From a purely logical perspective, this kind of dealer doesn’t technically exist.  Casino games across the board are games of pure chance, meaning the dealer has no real say in what happens. Likewise, the dealer is not out to get you – just remember where his/her tips come from. 

Nevertheless, it’s inevitable that you will eventually encounter a dealer who you genuinely believe is the ultimate bad omen. It could be that you’ve been striking it lucky all night, only for one specific dealer to reverse the whole thing in minutes. It could likewise be that there’s one specific dealer at your local casino who you always seem to have bad look against. 

All of which is purely a case of coincidence, but is difficult to accept when things take a turn for the worse. Don’t be surprised if at some point along the way, you genuinely believe one or more dealers at the casino has put a curse on you!

6 ‒ The Party Pooper
Last up, conducting yourself with a certain amount of decorum when playing games in a casino is important. At the same time, so too is having fun. Precisely what this type of dealer seems to be hell bent on preventing.

Mercifully, they’re a much rarer breed than their counterparts outlined above. Though they do exist, continuously shushing, frowning and generally being the ultimate buzzkill for those at the table. Yet somehow expecting you’ll tip them generously at the end of the whole unpleasant experience.

Best advice – avoid miserable-looking dealers entirely and take a seat where the croupier is clearly capable of cracking a smile.

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