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The Weekly Turbo: Big Changes for the WSOP, Lock Poker Leaving Merge Network, and More

Did you miss any of the top poker news stories this week? Well you've come to the right place to get caught up. We're covering the big changes for the WSOP, Lock Poker leaving the Merge Gaming Network, and more.

Poker Business

2012 World Series of Poker on ESPN and WSOP.com

Just hours before the World Series of Poker held its annual conference call on Tuesday, ESPN unveiled the television schedule for the 2012 WSOP. Now, everyone is gearing up for poker's biggest event that is now less than three weeks away.

ESPN announced that it will be airing three events as part of its schedule this summer and fall. In addition to the Main Event, the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop and the WSOP National Championship will be showcased as part of the coverage. The final day of the Big One (July 3) and the Main Event final table (Oct. 30) be shown on a 15-minute delay, giving viewers a chance to watch the action with hole cards virtually live.

“Fans know Tuesday night is poker night on ESPN,” said Doug White, ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions. “Beginning with the Big One for One Drop and the WSOP National Championship, and continuing on Tuesdays with the WSOP Main Event, we will set the stage for this intense competition and continue the excitement through the Final Table in October.”

For a full look at the schedule, read the story here at PokerNews.com.

In addition to the ESPN coverage, the World Series of Poker will be streaming the final tables of all 60 bracelet events straight to your computer from May 28 through July 8. This year's prelim coverage will be aired on a five-minute delay without hole cards to comply with gaming regulations. David Tuchman will be joined by a rotating cast of analysts to provide commentary for the stream on WSOP.com.

For a full look at the schedule, read the story here at PokerNews.com.

Lock Poker Leaving Merge Network

Lock Poker is making big changes in the next few weeks. The online poker room announced Monday that it will be leaving the Merge Gaming Network and launching a new network called Revolution Gaming on June 1, 2012. As part of the move, Lock will be purchasing "selected" assets from the Cake Poker Network.

Lock Poker said in a press release that members of the LockPRO ELITE team will play a major role in "driving technology, marketing, player rewards and implementing a richer tournament schedule" at the new network, which will remain open to players residing on the U.S. Lock Poker is the largest skin on the Merge Gaming Network, which ranks eighth worldwide in online poker traffic according to PokerScout.com.

“We are very excited at the prospect of driving the product, marketing and overall vision of the network. It is a dream come true,” said Lock Poker CEO Jennifer Larson. “Merge was a great stepping stone for us but we have outgrown them. We really need to forge our own path to continued success. The only way to do this is to stay true to our of core philosophy: partnering with our players.”

For more, read the story here at PokerNews.com.

Bwin.Party Enters California

On Monday, bwin.party digital entertainment announced another partnership in anticipation of intrastate online poker legislation in the U.S. The U.K. online gaming giant agreed to a 10-year deal with the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) to provide online poker services in California once the activity is legalized.

In February, two California Senators introduced a bill that would allow online poker to be played within the state's lines. The Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2012, also known as SB 1463, is still working its way through the California legislature amidst opposition from several tribal casinos.

Bwin.party co-CEO Jim Ryan told PokerNews in February that California is a "compelling market" for online poker, but realistically online poker won't launch in the U.S. until 2013.

"California is the largest state in the U.S. in terms of population and is known to have a significant number of poker players who like to play poker online," Ryan and co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger said in a press release on Monday. "Combining our own significant assets and resources with those of UAIC will create a strong partnership that is well-placed to seize the opportunities that will arise if appropriate online poker legislation is enacted in the Golden State."

Bwin.party partnered with MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming last October to offer intrastate online poker in Nevada. The company submitted a license with the Nevada Gaming Control Board in March.

Read more in the press release at MarketWatch.com.

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DeepStacks at Mohegan Sun

On Thursday, the brand new DeepStacks Poker Tour announced a partnership with Mohegan Sun to host a series of championship poker events over the next few years.

The deal will initially see the DeepStacks Poker Tour Mohegan Sun National Championship take place from Dec. 1 through 3, 2012, featuring a $2,500 buy-in event with a $500,000 guarantee. DeepStacks Pros Michael Mizrachi, Mike Matusow, Randal Flowers and Justin "Boosted J" Smith will be among the players in attendance.

The championship final table will be televised regionally, with Joe Stapleton and Tristan “Cre8ive” Wade calling the action.

"Having one of the most respected brands in the world as our national casino partner is truly an honor,” said DeepStacks CEO Chris Torina. "Mohegan Sun is one of the world's premier resort and gaming destinations. We couldn't be happier to join forces with such a great casino."

The winner of each DeepStacks Poker Tour event will earn a seat to the DSPT National Championship at Mohegan Sun. Billy Vogel won the first event of the DeepStacks Poker Tour in Niagara Falls in February.

Read the full press release at DeepStacks.com.

Poker Legislation

New Jersey Has a Situation

Earlier this year, New Jersey Sen. Raymond Lesniak told PokerNews that the state would have online poker up and running in the state by the end of 2012.

Now, it seems, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has thrown another wrench into Lesniak's plans.

According to Philly.com, Christie's political ambitions could prevent the state from approving online gambling anytime soon. Christie is a major supporter of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Romney in this year's election. Romney, meanwhile, is believed to be courting the support of casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is stubbornly opposed to online poker legislation on the U.S.

That set of circumstances doesn't bode well for the online gaming industry or casinos in Atlantic City.

"Christie is putting the future of A.C. in jeopardy because of his overriding concern for support from [Sheldon] Adelson," Lesniak told Philly.com last week. "Atlantic City casino revenues have declined 29 of the 30 months since Gov. Christie's been in office. Internet gaming will add $200 million a year to their revenues, and likely will make the difference between some closing or staying open and saving hundreds of jobs."

Read more at Philly.com.

Spain's Regulated Gaming Market Set for June

After months of delays, Spain's new regulated online gambling market will open on June 1, 2012. The country is following the lead of European nations like Italy, Denmark and France by introducing a new set of standards for the industry.

PokerNews Spain reports that Spanish gaming licenses are expected to be handed out by the end of June. More than 60 operators submitted applications for licenses late last year, according to numerous reports. Among the rumored online poker rooms interested in the space were PokerStars, bwin.party, 888, and Ladbrokes. Once operators are approved for the license they can begin operating under a "dot-es" domain.

Under the new market regulations, the online poker player pool will initially be segregated, but changes could be made beginning next year to allow players to compete against other nations of the European Union.

All operators without a license will be prohibited from offering their services to Spanish gamblers. Bodog was among a handful of sites that recently exited the market ahead of the country's new gambling regulations.

PokerNews Spain has more.

European Sites Added to Belgian Blacklist

Internet service providers in Belgium have been ordered to block more online gambling providers from offering services to residents in the country.

The Belgian Gaming Commission has blacklisted Bwin, Betsson, Betfair and William Hill, along with several other operators that offer online poker and other forms of online gambling. Those providers join the likes of 888, TitanPoker, EverestPoker and ChiliPoker in being blocked in Belgium.

Under the new Belgian Gambling Act, players are only allowed to play on licensed sites, and the nation’s four largest Internet service providers are in the process of barring unauthorized domains. PartyPoker.com and iPoker, two of the biggest online poker sites in the world, have called the Gambling Act “unenforceable” because it leaves issues of taxation unresolved.

Three sites were granted licenses in February: PokerStars.be, Partouche.be and Casino777.be. PokerStars secured a license after developing a partnership with online casino operator Circus Groupe, allowing the world's leading poker site to operate under the regulation of the Belgian Gaming Commission.

Read more at eGaming Review.

Online Poker

"rUaBot" Crushes Kid Poker

The inaugural PokerStars Limit Hold'em Challenge took place Saturday afternoon, pitting one of poker's most familiar faces against a player whose identity remains unknown to the poker masses.

Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu was set to face off against German limit hold'em specialist "rUaBot" in a match consisting of at most 1,250 hands of $200/400 limit hold'em. Both players began with $75,000, and the winner would be determined by whoever had more money at the end of the match.

After a back-and-forth battle for the first couple hundred hands, "rUaBot" gradually extended his lead and closed out the $75,000 win after just 937 hands. Negreanu, a two-time limit hold'em bracelet winner at the WSOP, was noticeably frustrated after just over four hours of play, as evidenced by his chat after the match:

KidPoker: gg

rUaBot: gg

rUaBot: sorry for the sick run

KidPoker: its ok just glad its over!

KidPoker: have never in my life played 2 tables HU LH and I never will again

rUaBot: big thanks for playing here

rUaBot: oh

KidPoker: good night

For more details of the match, check out the PokerStars Blog.

Don't Mess with PokerStars

PokerStars' crackdown on third-party poker tracking websites continued this week when Sharkscope and Official Poker Rankings (OPR) complied with requests to operate only as an opt-in service for customers.

PokerFuse reports that Sharkscope and OPR have already implemented the new policy after making announcements on their websites. Both popular services have tracked online tournament results for years across a multitude of online poker rooms. PokerStars, however, has determined that the ability for players to extract information about new opponents ultimately creates an unpleasant environment, especially for the novice player. SharkScope and OPR had been using the opt-in method on a trial basis since 2009.

Earlier this year, PokerStars issued a cease and desist notice to data mining site Poker Table Ratings, which removed the profiles and statistics of all players on the site. Poker-Edge, another tracking site, followed suit a short time later.

PokerFuse has more.

Poker Players

Dwan Being Dwan

Hundreds of pros are gearing up for the World Series of Poker by honing their tournament skills playing the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker this month. Tom Dwan, however, has been noticeably absent from the series.

Apparently, Dwan has been busy mixing it up with some Chinese businessmen at Macau's Poker King Club, which has housed some of the biggest cash games in the world over the past two years. The games have been running as high as HKD $30,000/$60,000 (US $3,850/$7,700), with many pots hitting seven figures.

On Thursday, Poker Portal Asia reported that Dwan won a pot worth HKD $30 million (US $3.8 million) when he flopped top two pair with {A-}{10-} against an opponent's {A-}{2-} on a {A-}{10-}{2-} board. All the money went in on the flop, and Dwan scooped a giant pile of plaques after the turn and river bricked.

Unfortunately, we don't know much more about the action, but we can picture Dwan's excitement as he raked in the pot:

Read more at Poker Portal Asia.

Daniel's Weekly Rant

Daniel Negreanu was back at it this week with another Weekly Rant — one that didn't get taken down by Zodiak Rights. In this rant, he discusses the WSOP Conference Call, WSOP APAC, and SCOOP. Don't be annoyed by those birds in the background, they're actually pretty cool — only because they can talk.

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