Nineteen players owe Groupe Bernard Tapie $16.5 million, Daniel Negreanu calls for old-school Vegas punishment for Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, a former Zynga engineer is spilling some secrets over on reddit.com, and the Super Bowl was yet another super fail for the Pigskin Diaries.
Let’s get to it.
When I was in high school, a good friend of mine, Tim, suggested I start reading Bill Simmons’ column on ESPN. I obliged and soon became fascinated with his Friday columns because he picked every National Football League game against the spread. It was during that same time period that Tim, I, and a handful of our closest friends began playing poker. We were thirsty for action, even if it was only for five or ten dollars.
Enter sports gambling.
The first game I ever wagered on was the 2006 BCS National Championship Game. Tim had the University of Southern California (-7.5), and I was on the University of Texas Longhorns (+7.5). Texas won outright in a thrilling game, and I shipped a crisp $20 bill. Time to party.
Nearly a month later, the Pittsburgh Steelers were set to take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Pittsburgh, the sixth seeded team in the AFC, was favored by four points, and Tim and I decided that Seattle was the right side. It’s a good thing neither of us knew how to bet online (yet), because the Steelers won 21-10, covering with ease.
Over the next six years, I, like Mr. Simmons, picked every single NFL game against the spread. During the first few seasons, I would select a side in each game and simply list my picks on AOL Instant Messenger or in a Facebook note. I then graduated to my own blog, where I elaborated on the picks, and now, because the editors here at PokerNews are apparently crazy, you can read my picks on one of the most popular poker websites in the world.
Unfortunately, despite never finishing a season under .500 ATS, I have never picked the Super Bowl correctly.
On Wednesday, Jennifer "Jennicide" Leigh began a two-day red wine cleanse diet. She posted five videos on her YouTube channel documenting her drunken journey, which began with a glass of wine as soon as she woke up — not something we recommend. In fact, by the end of the day, Jennicide ends up not recommending this diet for pretty much anyone. Here are her revelations from the end of Day 1 of her diet.
Will she continue on with Day 2? Follow her on Twitter to find out.
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Off the Felt is interviewing your favorite people in the poker industry to find out more about their lives — you've got it — off the felt. We recently sat down with Kenna James to talk a little poker, radio shows, and a rodeo team.
How did you get started playing poker?
I got a job in the poker industry as a dealer at Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles in 1996. From there I got into directing tournaments and gradually developed myself as a player. I had a fascination and love for the competition of the game and an aversion to working a regular 9-to-5 job. So I pursued it with a passion and in five years I was playing it professionally.
What is your tournament schedule like for the next couple of months?
I just returned from the Aussie Millions and I’m in L.A. right now for the LAPC. I don’t tour full time anymore, though, so this may be it until the WSOP. My cats miss me and I enjoy being home. In the past, I would follow up the LAPC with the Bay 101 tourney, then on to Europe before heading home to the WSOP.
Phil Ivey boycotted the 2011 World Series of Poker after Black Friday, citing that, "I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot. I am doing everything I can to seek a solution to the problem as quickly as possible."
Now, after binking a huge score Down Under, it appears as if Ivey's fans, who still can't compete, are boycotting him.
1. Ivey, Ivey, Ivey?
Over the weekend, Phil Ivey won the second annual Aussie Millions $250,000 Super High Roller, defeating a field of 16 players and banking a cool AUD$2 million. Earlier that same day (doesn’t that sound absurd?), Ivey finished 12th in the Aussie Millions Main Event, earning AUD$100,000. A year ago, Ivey would’ve been glorified for what he did in Melbourne — it’s extremely difficult to finish in the top 12 of a Main Event, let alone win a Super High Roller in the same day — but because Full Tilt Poker has yet to pay back it’s players, the Ivey bandwagon carries significantly less weight these days.
Remember when Ivey reached the World Series of Poker Main Event final table in 2009? The poker community exploded with excitement. I was sitting behind the media risers in the Amazon Room next to the then Commissioner of the WSOP Jeffrey Pollack when Jordan Smith was eliminated, and the November Nine was set. Every eyeball in the room was on Ivey, who begrudgingly stayed for group photographs and a brief meeting. During the latter part of the WSOP, there was a wealthy businessman playing the big game in Bobby’s Room over at the Bellagio. Ivey was itching to take his seat in the game — he had been double dipping all throughout the Main Event.
Now, instead of praising him, poker fans are quick to jab Ivey.
From the PokerNews write-up:
“Mr. Ivey, Please your money in to new full tilt operating funds…” – narucy
From Andrew Feldman’s write-up on ESPN:
“Where’s my FTP money Ivey?!?!?! I could give a $@%! about how much he wins until I get my FTP cash back!!!!” – TaurenForTheWin
“Wasn’t Mr. Ivey one of the guys that profited heavily from the ponzi scheme at Full Tilt poker? Why is he even allowed to play in these poker tournies?” – ringworm218
From the sweat thread on TwoPlusTwo:
“Two millionaires playing heads up for money that won’t really make a difference to them. It’s a good thing us FTP players paid for this heads up match. Fu Ivey hope your ex takes as much as you have taken from us.” – joeyrulesall
Ivey has become the most polarizing figure in poker. He’s our Tim Tebow, except that Tebow's success has been in a vacuum, and Ivey is one of the greatest poker players of all time.
The nonstop, 24/7 news cycle certainly plays a role in all of this. Although there isn’t a CNN for poker, Twitter, Facebook, and TwoPlusTwo do a fine job of spreading information like wildfire. Five years ago, Ivey’s divorce from his wife Lucietta wouldn’t have been news. In fact, I bet you didn’t know that Daniel Negreanu divorced his now ex-wife in 2007. Is Negreanu a bad person? Of course not. However, his image would be drastically different had he divorced on the other side of 2010.
We will learn more about Ivey in the coming years, but for right now we’re arguing over things we don’t know. We don’t know how big a role, if any, Ivey played in the mismanagement of Full Tilt. We don’t know when he first learned about the events of Black Friday. We don’t know if he was sincere when he skipped to the 2011 WSOP. We don’t know any of these things, and to assume otherwise is nothing short of asinine.
Let’s not get into a shouting match with one another to see who’s the loudest. Let’s wait for some facts to come out before we judge for or against Mr. Ivey.
2. Balancing your life
On Monday, Phil Galfond sent out a tweet about a blog post he had just published on his personal website. Before retiring to bed, I pulled it up on my iPhone, thinking I would skim it for some wizardry and then fall asleep, but instead I read all 2,000 words. Galfond prefaced the post with a warning: “I’ve been sleeping very poorly, and I’m currently failing at trying to fall asleep. If this post is a bit rambly and weird…no complaining…you’ve been warned. I wrote this without thinking or editing much.”
Galfond proceeded to talk about balancing life and poker, which is neither rambly nor weird. It’s necessary. If a player has no escape from poker, then the game can consume them. Conversely, if a player doesn’t study or put in the hours, then they won’t be as successful on the felt. There needs to be a give and take, and right now, Galfond feels like his life is out of balance. Here's my favorite part of the post:
“See, normally, I have a lot of things going on in my life…a lot of things that make me happy. If poker was going badly, I had my friends, my activities. I truly was leading two lives. Phil-the-poker-player was losing and stressed, but Phil-the-regular-person had a full life outside of poker that even a $1.5m downswing couldn’t put a scratch on.
So now, I’m in Vancouver on a downswing. A somewhat rough one, though no worse than I’ve experienced many times before. But this time, it’s different. I step away from my computer and what do I have?”
Galfond, who is considered one of the best players in the world, peels back the curtain and bravely discusses the treachery of his downswing. It is a must-read for all aspiring poker players, so that they know how difficult it can be to play the game professionally. I respect Galfond so much for publishing this for the world to see, and I hope that the positive feedback motivates him to re-balance his life so he can come back stronger than ever.
My advice: take an impromptu vacation with some of your closest friends, Mr. Galfond. Leave the continent, turn off your electronic devices and enjoy yourself. Let nonpoker Phil breathe a little bit.
The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure just ended, but January is still jam-packed with poker tournaments all over the world — from Melbourne, Australia, for the Aussie Millions to Deauville, France, for the European Poker Tour at the end of the month, and everything in between. Because of the abundance of tournaments, we felt like it was our duty to get you pumped up to play your A-game — or try at least. After polling Team PokerNews, we've come up with 10 songs to add to your "get-pumped-up-for-the-tournament-I'm-going-to-crush" playlist. Good luck at the tables.
1. Eye of the Tiger — Survivor
This Rocky video is way more convincing than the official video that features the members of Survivor stomping their way into a warehouse to jam in front of a gold lamé sheet.
2. All I do is Win — DJ Khaled
"All I do is win, win, win, no matter what. Got money on mind, I can never get enough." Are there any other lyrics out there that are more pertinent to a poker player?
3. Taking Care of Business — Bachman Turner Overdrive
Poker players don't get up in the morning, they don't take a train to their grind station/local brick-and-mortar, nor do they get to work by nine, but they're certainly self-employed, and they take care of business. Minus the whole "working overtime" part, because, let's be honest, poker players have a hard time showing up, let alone staying for overtime.
4. Killing in the Name — Rage Against the Machine
The song is about racism in politics. We don't care. It gets the blood pumping. Just don't take the song title too literally if you suffer a bad beat while it's playing.
5. Public Service Announcement — Jay-Z
If you aren't nodding your head after "Allow me to re-introduce myself, my name is HOV," then something is wrong with you. And you don't "check cheddar like a food inspector" either.
Off the Felt is interviewing your favorite people in the poker industry to find out more about their lives — you've got it — off the felt. We recently sat down with Allen Bari to talk a little poker, smashing laptops, and mixed martial arts.
How did you start playing poker?
I grew up playing high-low stud games with my friends from home. Two of my best friends' dads had a weekly game and we would have our own game. I eventually started playing low-stakes no-limit online my freshmen year of college, and in underground cash games in New Brunswick.
What does your poker schedule look like for the next few months?
I don't plan on traveling very much in 2012. I am working on some businesses outside of poker and in the meantime will travel to Borgata to play cash and tournaments. I plan on going to San Jose for Bay 101 in March, but don't plan on going anywhere else really over the next few months poker wise.
Where is your favorite tournament stop to play?
I love playing at Borgata because it is close to home and that is where I normally play anyway. The tournament staff is great there and the rooms are nice. It's cool to be close to friends knowing if you make a final table they can make short trip and sweat you.
Who do you think will win the Super Bowl?
I'll just jump on the bandwagon and pick the Green Bay Packers since they're beasts and I don't see who is going to beat them if they play their A-game.
What is the most ridiculous prop bet you’ve been involved in?
I don't really prop bet much, but my friend Adam from Hoboken and I make stupid bets all the time and he once laid me 10,000 to 1 that I couldn't rip a small tree out of the ground on the streets of Hoboken. I took the bet and didn't move the tree. If I had won, he would have owed me $200K.
Do you have any hidden talents?
During an outrage after you bust from a tournament, what’s the most destructive thing you’ve done?
I have smashed a laptop after a terrible Sunday and broken it before.
You won your first WSOP bracelet this summer, congrats! What did you do to celebrate?
Went to Oyshi to celebrate with friends.
Team Jacob or Team Edward?
Allie, my girlfriend, is making me say Edward.
You versus Jason Mercier in an MMA bout, everything allowed, who would win?
It would be a close fight, but if he didn't instantly kill me, I would tear him apart because I would never give up until he stopped breathing.
What is your favorite thing about Las Vegas?
I don't really even like Vegas, which is one of the reasons why it's gonna be so easy to cut down on traveling. I guess the only thing I like about Vegas is having a lot of my poker friends living there.
If you were to open a restaurant, what professional poker players would you hire to help you run it?
Dan O'Brien cause he likes to eat a lot, and is extremely organized and would be a really good business partner. He is hardworking and would definitely be a huge part of our success.
If you were able to sing a duet with anyone and star in his or her music video who would it be?
Michael Buble. He has a great voice and I think my voice would compliment his.
What is your favorite club in Las Vegas?
Tryst. Love the waterfall inside.
What is your dream car?
What would you be doing if you weren’t playing poker?
Building custom furniture, running my own business, or fixing up houses.
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The National Football League is holding its annual Pro Bowl this weekend, but, despite going 0-2 picking the Conference Championship games last week, we're not big enough degenerates to bet on the game. You know you have a problem when you're betting on an exhibition football game where neither team can blitz, but the players can Tweet during the game.
It's a shame Chad Ochocinco is in the Super Bowl — he finally had a chance to be productive on the football field.
We're still going to talk football this week, however, because PokerNews' very own Donnie Peters had a brilliant idea: "We should draft Pro Bowl teams using poker players."
So, without further ado, it's time for the first ever Poker Pro Bowl draft! Each person must select a poker player for the following positions: quarterback, running back, wide receiver (2), tight end, defensive lineman (2), linebacker (2), defensive back (2), kicker/punter, head coach, and owner. Mr. Peters won the virtual coin flip (don't ask), so he will have the first selection. This is a snake draft.
1. Phil Ivey (WR), Comparison: Calvin Johnson
Phil Ivey is the best in the game and everyone knows you need a stud at wide receiver if you're going to have a team that competes. Who better to fill this spot than Phil Ivey? He's on the taller side of poker players and looks like he'd be able to hold his own on the field using his size and running tough routes. Also, everyone knows wide receivers tend to be the prima donnas in the league and rumor has it that Ivey is a bit of one within his inner circle.
We all know Ivey isn't very outspoken and doesn't seek the spotlight of the media, so we needed to find someone to compare him to that is the best at what he does without needing attention like Terrell Owens or Chad Ochocinco. Calvin Johnson fits the bill. He's an amazing talent on the field, just as Ivey is on the felt. His raw ability stands out above the rest and allows him to excel in all areas of his position.
2. Erik Cajelais (LB), Comparison: Brian Cushing
Erik Cajelais is an absolute monster, and if any of Donnie's players roam over the middle, then they're going to get their heads taken off. Seriously, have you taken a look at this guy? If I put a bad beat on him, I’d be tempted to muck my hand to save myself from getting killed. Hopefully his attitude is on par with his physical attributes – I need someone as crazy as Brian Cushing on my roster.
3. Jason Mercier (DB), Comparison: Deion Sanders
I played basketball with Jason Mercier at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, and he’s fairly athletic for a poker player, but I don’t care about that. The reason Mercier is on the roster is because we need his good charm. The guy’s won over $7.6 million since 2008, is engaged to a very lovely girl, and in the summer of 2010, the best basketball player on the planet decided to take his talents to Mercier’s hometown team. Must be nice, right?
The comparison to Deion Sanders has nothing to do with football either, but there's no other poker player I'd want on my team in "prime time."
4. Erick Lindgren (QB), Comparison: Tom Brady
Like Tom Brady, Erick Lindgren simply looks like a quarterback. He's a good-looking guy and one of the best in the game, which makes him an easy fit for quarterback. We all know he absolutely loves sports and the guy can probably throw one heck of a football. He also fits the part in that he has a gorgeous wife in Erica Schoenberg, something all quarterbacks need to have.
5. Sam Trickett (DB), Comparison: Darrelle Revis
Sam Trickett used to be a pretty good soccer player a couple years ago before he really got into poker, so we know he has to be quick and good with his feet. All cornerbacks need to be quick, agile and have great footwork in order to cover the receivers on the opposing team. Trickett is a great fit for this position, both with his build and skill set, and, just like Darrelle Revis, he will shut down Team Ryan's best receiver.
6. Jason Koon (RB), Comparison: Bronko Nagurski
Bronko Nagurski was the biggest player in football back in the day, and took pleasure in plowing people over. Jason Koon seems to have a motor like Nagurski – and that’s when he’s sitting at a poker table! If you gave him a football and told him to run forward as fast as he can, I don’t think an NFL player would be able to tackle him, let alone a poker player. Koon is fearless, in shape, and is a great motivator. What more could you possible ask for out of a running back?
7. Patrik Antonius (DB), Comparison: Troy Polamalu (except the whole hair thing)
Neither Patrik Antonius nor Troy Polamalu seem to say much, but both of them are absolute studs. At the 2011 World Series of Poker, Antonius had a tennis prop bet against Brandon Adams, which he won handily, and Antonius looks like he could put a big hit on a defenseless receiver. Not that Team Ryan would ever do such a thing, we just want to set the tone early.
8. Nick Schulman (WR), Comparison: AJ Green
Nick Schulman can play all the games, which we'll equate to running all sorts of routes. He's tall and long, which really helps at the wide receiver position. I was going to compare him to Randy Moss, but he's a bit old now so we'll go with AJ Green. Similar build, and he's young and driven.
9. Eric Stocz (TE), Comparison: Rob Gronkowski
This is easy. Eric Stocz used to play tight end for the Detroit Lions before moving into poker. Enough said.
If you've ever seen Stocz in person, the guy is a beast. A true specimen. We'd have to say he'd be very similar to Rob Gronkowski because of his build, although his hands would probably be a little less sure. Tight ends do a lot of blocking, though, and we know Stocz could really overpower just about any other poker player in the world he'd have to block.
8. Huck Seed (WR), Comparison: Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez doesn't play wide receiver. However, just like Huck Seed, he has a background in basketball. Seed is the ultimate possession receiver because he's a giant. One time at the WSOP, he was in the Pavilion Room during a Day 1, and tried to jump and touch one of the flat screens hanging from the ceiling. He missed, so he took his chair from the table and placed in under the screen. Just before he ran and jumped off of it, a floor person stopped him. That's the kind of dedication we want on Team Ryan.
9. Greg Mueller (TE), Comparison: Jason Witten
Remember when Jason Witten had his helmet ripped off against Philadelphia and proceeded to run 30 yards down field with blood dripping from his nose? The only poker player I can think of that would do the exact same thing is Greg Mueller. Mueller, a former professional hockey player, is as crazy as he is big, and there isn't a poker player in the world that can cover him. Hopefully he can catch, but if not I'd have no problem using him as a blocker.
10. Nenad Medic (RB), Comparison: Peyton Hillis
Nenad Medic is big, tall and strong. He's a solid, but aggressive poker player and we really see him doing nothing else but running over his opponents on the field much like he does at the poker table. Like Peyton Hillis, he may not be able to cut left and right with the best of them, but he has power to overcome that and can switch gears if he needs to.
11. Michael Mizrachi (LB), Comparison: Brian Urlacher
Michael Mizrachi's big and looks like he'd love to crush some people. We also know he loves to plays tons of pots and linebackers get involved in nearly every play on defense, which makes Mizrachi seem like a solid fit here. Mizrachi has a solid build and can captain the defense, much like Brian Urlacher. He has plenty of experience on the felt as Urlacher has on the field. He also has power, although not the best speed in the world, but enough to get the job done.
12. Ashton Griffin (WR), Comparison: Wes Welker
Ashton Griffin ran 70 miles in ONE DAY. All he has to do is run drag routes and slants — a la Wes Welker — and create after the catch. Too easy.
13. Lex Veldhuis (LB), Comparison: Ray Nitschke
Instead of pummeling players like Ray Nitschke, Lex Veldhuis will just kick them in the face.
14. Carter Phillips (LB), Comparison: Clay Matthews
Carter Phillips would make a great running back, but we've already got Medic slotted in there so we like Phillips at the linebacker spot. He's also a little smaller than Medic and quicker, so we feel his skills would be better on the defensive side of the ball hawking the offense. Phillips would be like Clay Matthews on the field - fired up for every play, agile, aggressive and powerful. Matthews is also an intelligent player and so is Phillips on the felt. He'd be ball hawking all day long giving the offense fits.
15. Eric Baldwin (DB), Comparison: Dashon Goldson
With this being a draft, I knew Rich would love to have Eric Baldwin at quarterback given his baseball background, so I went and snatched him up for the defensive back position. With Baldwin's background in sports, he'd be athletic and be able to correctly adapt to a lot of things he would see on the field, as most athletes do. Not to mention, if Lindgren goes down as quarterback we have a back up set.
Dashon Goldson seems like a good comparison. He's a solid player on one of the best defenses in the league. We all know Baldwin has world class caliber and has the skills to back up his game.
16. Bill Perkins (Owner), Comparison: Mark Cuban
Before I talk about Bill Perkins and why he's my favorite person in the world, let me tell you that I was devastated when Donnie grabbed Baldwin. He knew I wanted him as my quarterback, and swiped him from me just before I could grab him. So sick.
It's OK though, because Perkins will fill any and every need Team Ryan has. Perkins is so baller that he flew down to the PCA for the $100,000 Super High Roller, flew back to the states, and then flew back to the Bahamas for the $25,000 High Roller! Who takes two trips to the same PCA? Bill Perkins, that's who.
17. Jean-Robert Bellande (DL), Comparison: Albert Haynesworth
Every team needs a rebelling, badass player, and Jean-Robert Bellande is a perfect fit. Bellande, a former Survivor contestant, is tall enough to bat passes down, big enough to stop the run, and broke enough that if there is a prize for winning the game, then he'll bust his ass until the final whistle.
18. Jerry Buss (Owner), Comparison: Jerry Buss
He owns the Los Angeles Lakers, need we say more?
19. Andreas Krause (DL), Comparison: Jared Allen
Have you ever seen Andreas Krause in person? The guy is a beast and looks like he could move mountains, which is exactly what you're looking for in a defensive lineman. He's built like Jared Allen, and would be great at both pass rushing and run stopping.
20. Brandon Adams (QB), Comparison: Peyton Manning
The aforementioned Adams may have been owned by Antonius in tennis, but he's still a super computer that can dissect a defense in the blink of an eye. As long as he doesn't have neck problems, Adams would be very Peyton Manning-like, calling players at the line of scrimmage, rather than in the huddle.
21. Phil Hellmuth (DL), Comparison: Ben Wallace
I know that Ben Wallace never played in the NFL, but Phil Hellmuth has one job: knock the ball down! Hellmuth has to be drafted - even if he struggles on the field, he's going to fill the seats.
22. Teddy Sheringham (K), Comparison: Morten Anderson
Teddy Sheringham used to play professional soccer in Europe at the highest level in the world before moving towards playing poker. Who else would we want to have kicking our field goals? Sheringham scored nearly over 350 goals professionally and played from 1983 to 2008, which is very similar to Morten Anderson, who holds the record for most points in the NFL and played from 1982 to 2007.
23. Erik Seidel (Head Coach), Comparison: Bill Belichick
Erik Seidel is a mastermind. He could easily figure out the game of football and set his team in the winning direction. He and Bill Belichick are both very unemotional, yet at the top of what they do professionally. They both have uncanny genius that can't even be explained in words.
24. Haralabos Voulgaris (Head Coach), Comparison: Mike Leach
No, I don't think Haralabos Voulgaris would stash any of my players away in a closet, but, like Mike Leach, Voulgaris is extremely bright. His tweets about the NBA show he knows a lot about strategy, and would definitely be able to put my players in a position to succeed.
25. Faraz Jaka (K), Comparison: Steve Weatherford
I've never seen Faraz Jaka kick a football, but one of his good friends, Steve Weatherford, will be punting next Sunday for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Jaka and Weatherford became good friends at the University of Illinois, and I'm sure Big Blue's punter can teach The Toilet a few things. Worst-case scenario, I'll have a flashy punter to keep things interesting on fourth down.
26. Artur Wasek (DL), Comparison: Vince Wilfork
Just like Krause, the guy is a house and would stuff up the inside to block the opponent from running all day long. Wasek is a bit bigger, but that's what you'd be looking for as an inside lineman. Plant this guy in the middle of the defensive line, and gobble up anything that tries to run within arms length.
|Head Coach||Erik Seidel|
|Running Back||Nenad Medic|
|Wide Receiver||Phil Ivey|
|Wide Receiver||Nick Schulman|
|Tight End||Eric Stocz|
|Defensive Lineman||Andreas Krause|
|Defensive Lineman||Artur Wasek|
|Defensive Back||Sam Trickett|
|Defensive Back||Eric Baldwin|
|Head Coach||Haralabos Voulgaris|
|Running Back||Jason Koon|
|Wide Receiver||Huck Seed|
|Wide Receiver||Ashton Griffin|
|Tight End||Greg Mueller|
|Defensive Lineman||Jean-Robert Bellande|
|Defensive Lineman||Phil Hellmuth|
|Defensive Back||Jason Mercier|
|Defensive Back||Patrik Antonius|
Which team is better? Who would you have drafted? Let us know in the comments below!
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Travis Makar released audio tapes of a meeting that implicates former Ultimate Bet owner Russ Hamilton and others in the theft of more than $50 million from players.
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