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Inside Straight -- News

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Jan 08, 2010


New Episodes of High Stakes Poker Begin in February
Show to Feature New Co-Host Kara Scott
By Kristy Arnett
Kare Scott
The Game Show Network’s High Stakes Poker, the popular cash-game poker show, will begin airing its sixth season on Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. ET. The network has announced the player lineup, as well as the fact that Kara Scott will join Gabe Kaplan as a co-host.
Scott is a TV personality, as well as a poker player. Known in the poker community as the host of the European Poker Tour, Scott has also made a few major-tournament scores. She cashed in the World Series of Poker main event in both 2008 and 2009, and also finished second in the 2009 Irish Open. For the show, Scott will report from the High Stakes Poker suite and will interview the players about strategy.

She replaces A.J. Benza.

The following players are scheduled to appear on the show; this is a partial list and is subject to change: Patrik Antonius, David Benyamine, Doyle Brunson, Tom Dwan, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Sammy George, Barry Greenstein, Phil Hellmuth, Andreas Hoivold, Phil Ivey, Mike Matusow, Allan Meltzer, Daniel Negreanu, Dennis Phillips, Lex Veldhuis, and Yevgeniy Timoshenko.

The $200,000 minimum buy-in cash game was filmed at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas in November. Spade Suit

Barney Frank Holds Poker Hearing; UIGEA Delayed
Finally, Some Noticeable Progress for Poker Advocates
By Stephen A. Murphy

Just a week before the regulations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) were scheduled to go into effect and perhaps make it even more difficult for Americans to play poker online, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury agreed to a request by Rep. Barney Frank and the Poker Players Alliance to delay that deadline six months while Congress takes up the issue itself.
Barney Frank
On Dec. 3, nearly seven months after Rep. Frank introduced the legislation, the Massachusetts Democrat delivered the case for regulation of the online gaming industry. The 90-minute hearing featured several expert witnesses and questioning from a handful of members of the House Financial Services Committee. No committee vote was taken, and Rep. Frank concluded the meeting by saying, “We will be returning to this subject next year.”

The meeting was mostly informative, as various panel experts explained their backgrounds and what stance their organizations held on Frank’s bill to regulate the industry, and answered questions. However, it was sometimes contentious, as Rep. Frank and Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) traded their very opposing viewpoints.

Rep. Frank opened the hearing with a statement on the necessity of regulation, and reiterated his belief that Congress was wrong to originally pass the UIGEA in 2006; it’s a law that makes it difficult for payment processors to transfer money to online gaming sites.

“I continue to believe that it is a great mistake for the Congress of the United States to tell adults what to do with their own money on a voluntary basis,” said Rep. Frank, the chairman of the committee.

Rep. Bachus, the ranking minority member of the committee and a staunch opponent of Frank’s bill, said that the chairman’s bill would undercut the committee’s past efforts to protect children.

“I believe that Internet gambling is, has been, and will continue to be a substantial threat to our youth … It leads to addiction, bankruptcy, and crime,” said Rep. Bachus.

The committee called upon seven witnesses during the hearing: Robert Martin, the tribal chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians; Parry Aftab, the executive director of WiredSafety; Malcolm K. Sparrow, of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Keith S. Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling; Jim Dowling of the Dowling Advisory Group; Samuel A. Vallandingham, the chief information officer and president of the First State Bank of Barboursville, on behalf of the Independent Community Bankers of America; and Mike Brodsky, the executive chairman of

Martin, whose tribe has independently pursued intrastate online poker in California, was the only person on the panel who officially opposed Frank’s call for federal regulation.

Perhaps the most persuasive testimony in support of online poker regulation came from Ms. Aftab, who admitted that she had qualms about online gaming, and even went so far as to commend the efforts of Rep. Bachus. But, she said that her experiences have led her to support Rep. Frank’s bill.

“I get about a thousand e-mails a day from people who come to us for help, and many of those are relating to online gambling,” said Aftab. “It is particularly interesting, and I call it ironic, that I am sitting here today, saying that the only way to protect consumers from online gambling risks is by legalizing it. I never thought I would ever say such a thing, but if we don’t legalize it, we can’t regulate it.”

Aftab said that the current policy on online gaming is flawed, and represents a “hear no evil, see no evil” strategy.

After each witness testified and answered questions from the members of Congress in attendance, Rep. Frank adjourned the meeting and said that Congress would continue the conversation after the new year. Spade Suit

Las Vegas’ CityCenter Has Arrived
First Property Opened Dec. 1
By Stephen A. Murphy

In the capital of the poker world, a mammoth entity has been growing. It is, of course, CityCenter, the largest private construction project of all time. For more than five years, the $8.5 billion development has been adding to the Las Vegas skyline.

The project has been delayed again and again, but the wait is finally over, as the first of five CityCenter properties opened to the public on Dec. 1.

Vdara, a condominium hotel that rises 57 stories above Las Vegas Boulevard, was the first CityCenter hotel to open. The new hotel is considered the “value property” of CityCenter, which is located in between Bellagio and the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino.

“We really believe the Vdara brand is going to be the sleeper of CityCenter,” Bill McBeath told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. McBeath will oversee operations for the new hotel.
Vdara houses 1,495 suites, all complete with kitchens. There are one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, as well as penthouse suites and corner-end suites with panoramic views of the city. Guests can book a room for $149-$2,000 a night.

Next to open was Crystals, a 500,000-square-foot retail, entertainment, and dining complex that held its grand opening on Dec. 3. The complex contains high-end stores such as Tiffany & Co, Louis Vuitton, Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, and Bally.

The Mandarin Oriental, a 392-room hotel that is hoping to attract high rollers, opened on Dec. 5. The luxurious property offers rooms starting at $545 a night.

Last but certainly not least in terms of the December grand openings, Aria, the centerpiece of CityCenter, opened on Dec. 16. The 61-story resort offers more than 4,000 rooms.

Of all the CityCenter locations, only Aria is considered a gaming property. The other hotels hope to attract guests with their gourmet restaurants, upscale shops, and inventive style. But, all are within walking distance of Aria. Among Aria’s casino offerings is a poker room with approximately 20 tables.

The final piece of the CityCenter puzzle will not come until late 2010, when The Harmon is scheduled to open. This fifth CityCenter property will feature 400 rooms and 17,500 square feet of event space.

CityCenter, which is a joint project of MGM Mirage and Dubai World, has reportedly hired 12,000 workers for the new properties, which is considered to be the largest single employment effort in the U.S. this year. Spade Suit

UltimateBet Changes Name, Gets Face-lift
Now Simply “UB”
By Julio Rodriguez

UltimateBet players were greeted with a software update recently, and the end result is a sleeker look for the site’s lobby, along with new table views and improved navigation and usability. The most glaring change is the site’s name itself, which is now just simply “UB.” UltimateBet had been known in the poker community as UB for quite some time, anyway, so the site decided to embrace the nickname and even create an entirely new domain and logo for
UB new facelift
“The launch of represents a turning point for our company,” said Paul Leggett, Tokwiro’s chief operating officer. “We have assembled a great group of professionals who are passionate about poker to build the UB brand. Our goal is to create products and services that poker players really want. We are trying to listen very carefully to both our players and the poker community to help us achieve this goal.”

Leggett added that the recent changes weren’t all about the new look.

“The launch of is not just a new domain with a different logo, it’s much more than that. It’s a complete new direction for UB. It’s software built with the serious poker player in mind. And finally, it’s tournaments and promotions that poker players care about.”

The tournament schedule will look different to players, as well, with more than 30 new tournaments and guarantees totaling more than $1 million added to the weekly lineup. The blinds structures have been improved, and the site recently announced the addition of synchronized breaks, putting it on a par with other sites that have done the same.

Phil Hellmuth, the brand’s most prominent spokesman, is excited about the company’s future. “In the 10 years that I have been involved with the UB brand, I have never been prouder to represent the company than I am right now,” he said. “We have great people captaining the ship, we have a great vibe, and some serious swagger. I look forward to the day when we are the largest poker site on the planet.”

Card Player readers are eligible for up to $1,300 in deposit bonuses. Check out for details. Spade Suit

Bodog Poker Open IV Crowns a Champion
Series Featured More Than $68,000 in Added Prizes
By Card Player News Team

Despite a still-rough economy, the recent fourth edition of the Bodog Poker Open (BPO) surpassed even Bodog’s expectations. The series was a value hunter’s heaven, as Bodog put more than $68,000 in cash and tournament buy-ins into the prize pools as added value. Who needs an overlay when a site’s willing to add money one way or another?

The crown jewel of its eight events was the main event, a $500 buy-in tournament with a $25,000 cherry on top in the form of added money. Alongside the BPO IV, Bodog also held what it called the Contender Series, a lower-stakes series (one-tenth the buy-ins) with comparable events.

How a Winner is Crowned
It’s nearly impossible to take down a tournament with a large field of players without drawing out on an opponent at least once. For Berend “MrElPaso” Spigt, it came at one of the most crucial points in the BPO IV main event. Play was three-handed, and a top online pro was still in contention for the title, in the form of Ari Engel (commonly known as, appropriately enough, “BodogAri”). The action was folded to Spigt in the small blind, and he pushed all in, having Engel’s stack of 11 big blinds covered twice over. Spigt, holding pocket nines, likely wanted a call, and Engel obliged, snap-calling with A-K and sending the two players to the races.
Ari Engel
Engel pulled ahead when the flop brought both an ace and a king. He pulled even further ahead when the turn was a brick, leaving Spigt only two outs to win and eliminate his experienced foe by catching one of the two remaining nines. Then — bang — an unlikely 9 on the river put an end to Engel’s deep run.

The hand sent Spigt into the heads-up match versus “dvbronco,” and they had nearly equal chip stacks. The match lasted a half-hour, which is a marathon in the online poker world. Spigt ultimately sealed the deal and pocketed more than $36,000 for his win. Dvbronco’s accomplishment was also notable, considering that he turned his ninth-place chip position going to the final table into a runner-up finish worth more than $24,000.

Anatomy of a Winner
Bodog Poker and Card Player often work together to give a little something extra to their players/readers, and the BPO IV was no exception. For the BPO, main-event winners of both the Championship Series and Contender Series are getting some extra love here by being profiled in the world’s pre-eminent poker authority.

Championship Series Winner
Name Berend “MrElPaso” Spigt
Place of Residence The Hague, Netherlands
Occupation Software developer
Poker Experience Six years, countless tournaments
Playing Style Loose-aggressive
No. 1 Tournament Tip Play to win, not to survive the bubble.
B Green
Contender Series Winner
Name B. “hitchchops” Green
Place of Residence Mesa, Arizona
Occupation Management/full-time contrarian
Poker Experience “Seems like forever …”
Playing Style “Maddeningly inconsistent. If I could confuse my opponents as much as I confuse myself, I might actually get somewhere.”
What He Likes Most About Poker: The mental challenge. So much in life requires no thought, yet poker demands it.

Best Value Every Week
Sure, the BPO IV had a lot of value-added cash and prizes, but to be fair, Bodog tournaments sport similar kinds of value every week.

The regularly scheduled Sunday $100,000-guaranteed event, for instance, usually sports an overlay of around $30,000. That means that around 30 percent of the already large prize pool is often put up by Bodog. In addition, Bodog features plenty of freeroll tournaments, leader-board contests, and point-buy-in tournaments for prizes like World Series of Poker seats.

Bodog is also one of the few sites with a continuously running 100 percent reload bonus promotion for its players, meaning that you can collect bonus cash every time you deposit, not just the first time. But if you are a new user, the site offers a 110 percent deposit bonus, up to $500.

Head to this link to collect a bonus now: Spade Suit