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by Roy Brindley |  Published: Jun 01, 2007

Yahoo! Opens Real-Money Poker Site

In a move that will surely change the online poker market, online giant Yahoo! has launched a real-money online poker site at This is the first instance of an online company the size of Yahoo! entering the poker world, but will likely not be the last.

The basis of Yahoo! Poker is a partnership with St. Minver Ltd, and Sweden's Boss Media AB. St. Minver offers fully managed "white label" gaming services for blue-chip media brands, as well as integrated solutions for European sportsbooks. Boss Media AB develops complete gaming software systems, and boasts the Swedish government's own online poker room at Svenska Spel, which is part of the growing International Poker Network.

With a massive database of online consumers and a long history of online marketing, Yahoo! certainly has the muscle to take a large piece of the online poker pie. Its success will no doubt be carefully scrutinized by the likes of Google, MSN, and eBay.

Next-gen poker site signs up number 500,000
When PKR launched in the autumn of 2006, a lot of people thought the site would have a hard time filling tables without joining an established network - but the next-generation poker room stood firm and remained resolutely independent.

Just seven months from launch, it looks like that stand has already paid off, with PKR announcing that it now has more than 500,000 registered players.

While the numbers in themselves are impressive, it's an achievement that looks even more remarkable against the backdrop of recent events in the U.S. Recent research by betting consultancy GBGC named PKR as one of the five most popular online cardrooms; it was the only one to achieve the ranking without taking American players.

With thousands of players online at any given time, PKR has established a solid player base in record time. It seems that PKR's stunning 3-D graphics and innovative game-play features that let players express themselves have attracted the interest of both seasoned players and newcomers alike. You'll now find tables loaded with players, and tournaments filling up fast. The growth is so dramatic that PKR has claimed the mantle of "Fastest growing poker room in the world."

And according to PKR, this growth isn't fuelled by just its next-gen offering attracting a new breed of player to the site, as it's also proving a hit among more experienced players, too.

"PKR's added realism appeals to experienced players because they feel that they can bring the know-how and savvy they've gained through playing in cardrooms and casinos to the online arena," explained Neil Wright, PKR's cardroom manager.

PKR also has proved to be a hit amongst tournament players, thanks to a schedule that offers an attractive blend of manageable fields, serious guaranteed prize pools, and affordable buy-ins.

"We put a great deal of thought into our tournament offering, and we were determined to find the 'sweet spot' in terms of playability and reward," said Wright. "This means offering our players significant prizes, but without having to pay hundreds of dollars to enter or commit to playing for twelve hours before they see a final table."

PKR is aiming to continue its impressive growth with some strong additions to its offer. Its first-ever festival, Springfest, has proved to be a massive success, while its unique World Series of Poker offerings are attracting even more serious players. its new screen-in-screen multitabling format makes it a lot easier to play a number of games at a time.

But it doesn't stop there. Away from the tables, PKR has also added some highly innovative features that should appeal to its hip young user base. My PKR, a social networking space that lets PKR players have their own blogs, friends listing, and tournament results area has proven to be a big hit, and there are plans to add even more community features on the site in the coming months.

Paris pulled
The television cameras were pulled from Europe's only World Poker Tour leg when the Grand Prix de Paris tournament was snubbed due to gaming regulations in France.

"We did not receive assurances in the time needed to proceed with filming the event. We continue to work with Parisian officials to obtain permission to film at the Aviation Club at a later date. We have a great relationship with the WPT charter-member casino and look forward to resuming our tour stops in France," said an official statement from the WPT organisation.

New U.S. broadcaster for the WPT
Meanwhile, WPT Enterprises and GSN, the premier U.S. cable network for interactive game programming, have announced an agreement to air season six of the World Poker Tour.

As part of the deal, and in replacing current broadcaster the Travel Channel, GSN will broadcast 23 individual WPT season-six poker events in two-hour episodes filmed in casinos and cardrooms around the world.

Broadcasting of the shows on Challenge TV will not be affected.

To date, the WPT has awarded more than $300 million in cash prizes, crowned 69 WPT poker-made millionaires, and recently recorded its 100th episode.

Jamie in the clear
The World Series of Poker will not penalize reigning WSOP Champion Jamie Gold for two rules infractions that occurred during the 2006 WSOP main event.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Gold said that in one incident, he exposed a holecard to an opponent. He said that in the other incident, he told an opponent he held top pair and top kicker after the opponent had bet. While common in cash games, such actions are violations of WSOP tournament rules.

Under the 2006 WSOP rules, Gold would have been subject to a penalty, requiring him to sit out 10 minutes of play - if WSOP floorpersons had seen either of those incidents when they occurred. The rules for the 2007 WSOP call for a 10-hand rather than 10-minute penalty.

After The New York Times interview was published, senior WSOP officials reviewed video footage and had two conversations with Gold about the incidents. Gold freely acknowledged and expressed contrition for the rules infractions, attributing them to his exuberance and excitement at participating in his first-ever WSOP main event.

The WSOP officials determined from the video review and the discussions with Gold that he did not deliberately attempt to violate the rules and that no penalties would be invoked retroactively for the incidents.

"Not only were we impressed with Jamie's candor (frankness) and contrition, but we also recognized that tournament officials didn't witness the incidents or take appropriate action at the time of the rules infractions," said Jeffrey Pollack, commissioner of the World Series of Poker. "We share culpability in this case and are satisfied that the actions in question were inadvertent mistakes. We look forward to Jamie's participation in the 2007 WSOP.

"I do want to stress, however, that we do not condone any violations of the rules and will make every effort to enforce them in every WSOP event."

Mark makes his mark for charity
Champion greyhound trainer Mark Wallis, who just missed the money in the Irish Open, recently organised a poker tournament at Harlow Greyhound Stadium that raised £700 to be split between St. Clare's Hospice and Harlow Retired Greyhound Trust. Amongst those playing was former soccer star turned football agent Barry Silkman.

A sporting move
Online gaming group Sportingbet has announced that it is to transfer its licensable activities, which includes its UK and European management team, trading team, and marketing group, to Guernsey in the Channel Islands before September.

The Paradise Poker operators said the move comes amid "considerable uncertainty" surrounding the operational requirements of the 2005 UK Gambling Act.

World Poker Congress
The second-annual World Poker Congress (WPC), the only event to examine the synergy between traditional land-based poker rooms and the online poker industry, will take place in Malta, Nov. 29-30.

Net loss
The much maligned online payment company NETELLER, which was forced to pull the plug on all U.S. transactions in late January, has announced that it would no longer process transactions from Canada and Turkey, due to the risk to its ongoing business in both regions.

Ladbrokes makes a deal with the World Series of Poker has become the first and possibly only online poker site to have struck a deal with Harrah's Rio Hotel and Casino, whereby it can make direct buy-ins to the World Series of Poker for its online qualifiers.

It's understood that each and every director of the UK bookmakers (Ladbrokes) had to sign legal documents allowing background checks before the "fast-track" buy-ins, preferential hotel room bookings, and players lounge package would be allowed within the Rio.

Ladbrokes' cause was also doubtlessly helped by the fact that it had never accepted U.S.-based customers.

The Ladbrokes World Series package is an attractive one, offering entry into the $1,500 limit hold'em event on Tuesday, July 3, $10,000 main-event entry, $2,000 travel and expense allowance, $3,000 of "free accommodation" for two at the Rio (14 nights: Saturday, June 30 to Saturday, July 14), two tickets to the Ladbrokes welcome party, and two passes for the players lounge, which is open daily during the event.

Combined, the prizes are worth $16,500, but the site is adding "free accommodation" to the winner, which is some incentive, albeit costly for the site, which is celebrating its fifth birthday, as it intends to send 100 qualifiers to the tournament.

SKY's poker schedule
SKY Sports' commitment to televised poker has been underlined with its summer/autumn schedule, which is set to boast Ladbrokes' European Ladies Championship, the Betfair-sponsored Masters of Europe, and the sixth Poker Million.

Meanwhile, Matchroom Sports' latest six-seater shootout tournament, the World Open III, will make up UK terrestrial broadcaster Channel 5's summertime poker fare.

Tournament benefits cancer research
A poker tournament in aid of cancer research staged at the Duke of York Public House in Telford, Shropshire, and sponsored by, raised more than £1,000 for the good cause and created a prize pool of £840.

"We wanted 40 runners and managed to muster 36, which was pretty good for our first real go," reported organiser Tony Jennings. "It was a £20 buy-in with an hour of £10 rebuys and an option of an add-on. Amongst the field were 16 Ladbrokes players who had responded to postings on their player forum, and four lady players."