by Joseph Smith Sr.
Event #31, a popular $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em tournament, drew a crowd of 1,631 entrants and offered a prize pool of $2,201,850 to be distributed among the top 171 finishers. Staying true to form and demonstrating the draw power of owning WSOP gold the field included some familiar faces among the hopefuls.
About a half hour before the midnight hour the heads-up play between Ronald Sullivan and Brett Shaffer came to an end when Shaffer's set of deuces outpointed Sullivan's Ace high. Sullivan will have an extra $258,695 in his bank account back home in Bradenton, Florida for his second place finish.
Brett Shaffer of Beloit, Kansas walks away with a nice $418,435 in cash, his second gold WSOP bracelet and perpetuity in the great World Series Of Poker history book.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
World Series of Poker Event #29 came to a conclusion early Monday morning and finished the distribution of the $2,650,375 prize pool to the top 117 finishers. The $2,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em tournament attracted a crowd of 1,165 players.
The scheduled three day event included some of poker's better known professional players. In the mix and also on the payout sheet were Brock Parker, Rep Porter, David Pham, Matt Affleck, Tony Dunst, the 1998 Main Event Champion, Scotty Nguyen and 2008 Main Event Champion, Jerry Yang.
An unofficial ten handed final table was reached at about 5:15 and played for two hours before a player, David Benefield, bubbled out to leave the official nine-handed final table. That's a two hour stretch showing how serious and dedicated these players are for WSOP gold. The winner's large pile of cash might also be a motivating factor.
In the end, Pierre Milan of Bagneux, CA, France rose above all the other entrants and claimed his first WSOP gold and a little over a half million in prize money after defeating Justin Oliver heads-up.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
Walking by the WSOP tables and seeing those playing in this event you would never guess it's a relatively low $1,500 buy-in match. With the likes of Ted Forrest, David Levi and Hoyt Corkins one would be more likely to believe it was one of the $10K buy-in championship events.
Almost six hundred players, 588 to be exact, signed up and paid the $1,500 fee to try and outlast everyone else in their quest for the WSOP gold and poker immortality. Just like days of old when thousands of hopefuls climbed White Horse Pass on their way to bagging their share of Alaska's gold the WSOP gold has the same magnetic force on those players seeking fame and fortune.
This event ended with Calvin Anderson besting second place finisher Joe Tehan and walking away with his first WSOP gold bracelet and $190,538 in his pocket.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
World Series of Poker Event #28 was a $10,000 buy-in World Championship of Pot-Limit Hold'em. One hundred sixty players, including many well known professionals and WSOP bracelet holders, settled into their seats at the Rio Hotel & Casino for the run to the cash and gold.
The top 18 players earned a share of the $1,504,000 prizepool with the winner taking down almost $400 thousand and one of those most sort after WSOP gold bracelets.
A few of the familiar faces at the final table belonged to Todd Brunson, Barny Boatman and Chino Rheem. Another well known poker professional, Dan Shak, bubbled out of the final table and collected $30,516 for 10th place.
Alex Bilokur of Russia had to overcome a 9 to 1 chip disadvantage to defeat Matt O'Donnell in heads-up play to win the World Championship event.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
WSOP event #27 attracted 743 hopefuls vying for the top prize of a WSOP gold bracelet and the $230,744 winner's share of the $1,003,050 prizepool. Each of the poker players put up the $1,500 buy-in for a seat in the H.O.R.S.E. Tournament.
Winner, Tommy Hang, collected all the chips when he rivered a Ten and completed his Queen high straight to trump all-in Jim Collopy's pocket Kings. Tommy Hang's largest previous cash in the World Series of Poker was $194,674 received for a 3rd place finish in the 2008 World Championship Limit Hold'em.
Hand will be returning home to Seattle, Washington with his first WSOP gold bracelet.
by M. G. Smith
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by Joseph Smith Sr.
Another $1,500 buy-in No Limit Hold'em tournament and another large field and prizepool. Event #26 seated 1,594 WSOP gold bracelet hopefuls seeking a piece of the $2,151,900 prize pool paid to the top 171 finishers. The winner walks away with $408,953 in cash and the champion's gold jewelry.
The dream came true for Andrew Rennhack of Seattle, Washington. Rennhack's pocket Sixes outpointed second place finisher, Michael Katz's failed flush and straight draw. Katz was still alive and hoping for a flush on the river if a spade showed but a heart came and Rennhack wins his first WSOP gold bracelet and $408,953 in cash.
Michael Katz of Manalapan, New Jersey takes second place and pockets $252,826 for his efforts.
by Joseph C. Smith Sr.
When 541 players pay $5,000 for a seat in a WSOP tournament they are expecting to reap a large cash prize and a priceless WSOP gold champion's bracelet. Event #24, No-Limit Hold'em Six Handed, certainly met their expectations offering a prize pool of $2,542,700 to be shared by the top 60 finishers and a winner's share of $622,998.
The final table of six was reached a few minutes before 7 PM. Finally in the early morning hours of Friday the heads-up came to a temporary end when after ten levels of play the two players were asked if they wanted to continue play for one additional level or adjourn for the day. The younger Eyster had the momentum on his side and wanted to continue but an older and visibly fatigued Neuville chose to stop and pick up the following day.
Resumption of play on Day 4 began at 1PM and on the 24th hand of the level Eyster had all the chips and a chair. The Lafayette, LA player came into today's heads-up continuation with an apparentattitude of ultra agression backed up by his 2to1 chip lead and relentlessly collected Neuville's rapidly disappearing chips.
Kevin Eyster is now the owner of a WSOP gold bracelet and $622,998 to add to his checking account while second place finisher, Pierre Neuville, will be cruising back to his home in Knokke-Heist, Belgium with $358,041 in his pocket.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
And you think you're life is difficult and complicated. How about those people that have to play Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or better. That's right, Half Omaha then half Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better.
470 poker players threw down the $2,500 buy-in to secure a seat in WSOP event #25. A prize pool of $1,069,250 would be divided among the top 48 finishers and the winner would also take home the most coveted, elusive prize in all of poker, a World Series of Poker gold champion's bracelet. The winner would also get $267,327 in cash and a comp to the Poker Kitchen.
When the dealing was finally done the winner was UK citizen and former WSOP bracelet winner John Kabbaj. In the 2009 WSOP Event #45 $10K Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship Kabbaj won his first bracelet and $633,335.
Kabbaj's second bracelet wasn't exactly a walk in the park when the heads-up play included another WSOP bracelet holder and poker phenom, Thomas “Thunder” Keller. Considered by many to be among the very best poker tacticians, Thomas Keller is always tough.
Acquisition Creates World’s Largest Publicly-Traded Online Gaming Company
(MONTREAL, CANADA & ONCHAN, ISLE OF MAN – June 12, 2014) – Amaya Gaming Group Inc. (TSX: AYA) (“Amaya” or the “Corporation”) and privately held Oldford Group Limited (“Oldford Group”), the parent company of Rational Group Ltd. (“Rational Group”), the world’s largest poker business and owner and operator of the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands, announced today they have entered into a definitive agreement (the “Agreement”) for the Corporation to acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of Oldford Group in an all-cash transaction for an aggregate purchase price of $4.9 billion (the “Purchase Price”), including certain deferred payments and subject to certain other customary adjustments (the “Transaction”). All $ figures are in US dollars unless noted otherwise.
KEY TRANSACTION HIGHLIGHTS
The Transaction will result in Amaya becoming the world’s largest publicly-traded online gaming company. The online poker platforms PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker are collectively the world’s most popular and profitable online poker brands with more than 85 million registered players on desktop and mobile devices.
For calendar year 2013, pro forma combined revenue, EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA of Amaya and Oldford Group were $1.3 billion, $474.8 million and $473.8 million, respectively. For 2014, the Corporation is projecting pro forma adjusted EBITDA, assuming the Transaction had been completed as of January 1, 2014, of between $600 and $640 million.
The Transaction combines complementary businesses with minimal overlap: Isle of Man-headquartered Rational Group’s B2C poker business including PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, live poker tours and events, and online and TV poker programming; and Montreal-headquartered Amaya’s B2B interactive and physical casino and lottery gaming solutions.
Under the terms of the Transaction, Oldford Group shareholders led by Mark Scheinberg, founder and Chief Executive Officer, will dispose of their shares to a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amaya. Mr. Scheinberg and other principals of OIdford Group will resign from all positions with Oldford Group and its subsidiaries on completion of the Transaction.
Rational Group’s executive management team will be retained and online poker services provided by PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will be unaffected by the Transaction, with players continuing to enjoy uninterrupted access to their gaming experience.
The boards of directors of both Amaya and Oldford Group unanimously approved the Agreement.
The Transaction will be financed through a combination of cash on hand, new debt, a private placement of subscription receipts, a private placement of common shares and a private placement of non-voting convertible preferred shares.
Affiliates of GSO Capital Partners LP (“GSO”), the credit division of The Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX), have agreed to participate in the debt financing, to subscribe for $600 million in convertible preferred shares, and to purchase $55 million of common shares of the Corporation with each common share priced at C$20 upon closing of the Transaction.
An investment manager (the “Investment Manager”), on behalf of its clients, has agreed to participate in the debt financing, to subscribe for approximately $270 million in convertible preferred shares, and to purchase approximately $55 million of subscription receipts.
No change related to this Transaction is contemplated for Amaya’s Board of Directors.
“This is a transformative acquisition for Amaya, strengthening our core B2B operations with a consumer online powerhouse that creates a scalable global platform for growth,” said David Baazov, CEO of Amaya. “Mark Scheinberg pioneered the online poker industry, building a remarkable business and earning the trust of millions of poker players by delivering the industry’s best game experiences, customer service and online security. Working with the experienced executive team at Rational Group, Amaya will continue that tradition of excellence and accelerate growth into new markets and verticals.”