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The Weekly Turbo: Viktor Blom Leaves PokerStars, Negreanu's Bankroll Challenge, & More

Weekly Turbo

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 Daniel Negreanu's bankroll challenge, Viktor "Isildur1" Blom parting ways with PokerStars, and more.

Poker Players

PokerStars, Viktor Blom Part Ways

PokerNews learned Tuesday that Viktor "Isildur1" Blom has parted ways with PokerStars and is no longer a member of Team PokerStars Pro.

Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars' head of corporate communications, told PokerNews that Blom and the company mutually agreed not to renew the Swede's expired sponsorship agreement. Said Hollreiser: "In his short time as a poker player, Viktor has played against the biggest names in poker at the highest stakes in the toughest games. It’s hard to recall a player who has kept the poker world so riveted at such an early stage of his career. We’ll be watching with great interest and we wish him nothing but success."

Blom joined PokerStars in 2011 after exploding onto the scene by playing the highest stakes available at Full Tilt Poker. His heads-up battles against pros like Tom Dwan, Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius and Brian Hastings instantly changed the landscape of high-stakes poker on the internet. Since joining PokerStars, one of Blom's shining achievements was winning 11 of his 14 matches in the PokerStars SuperStar Showdown, earning more than $1 million in the process. He also won the 2012 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure High Roller for $1,254,000.

“I’ve enjoyed my time as a Team Pro and I wish everyone at PokerStars the best," Blom said about his departure from PokerStars. "Now I just want to concentrate on playing poker.”

Read the breaking story at PokerNews.com.

Low Limit Grinder

In 2009, Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu decided to try something new. The man with millions in poker winnings set a goal for himself to turn $10 into $100,000 within three years by playing ring games at PokerStars.

Negreanu began by playing $0.01/$0.02 and didn't allow himself to move up in limits until he had 500 big blinds at the next limit. Why was he taking on such a daunting task? "It's kinda fun," he said in his blog. "It will help me have a better understanding for these lower limit games and the best approach to beating them."

Daniel's challenge hit a lull shortly after it began. In fact, it's already well past the three-year cutoff point. But on Monday, Negreanu resumed the challenge by sitting at a $.25/.50 no-limit hold'em cash game with a total bankroll of $221.70. This time around, the challenge won't have a time frame.

Negreanu playing $.25/.50 on Monday
Negreanu playing $.25/.50 on Monday

Ironically, Negreanu began the challenge after learning about Chris Ferguson's $0-to-$10,000 bankroll challenge from 2007. Of course, we all know how Negreanu feels about Ferguson now.

For the list of rules and results from Negreanu's bankroll challenge, check out FullContactPoker.com. And, if you want to face off against Daniel at the tables, you might be fortunate enough to have him sit down at your table in the near future.

Poker Hall of Fame

It's that time of year again. The World Series of Poker has opened nominations for the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2012, giving fans a chance to nominate their favorite players for induction into the group of poker's elite.

The Poker Hall of Fame traditionally elects one or two members annually and inducts the chosen members in November as part of the WSOP Main Event Final Table festivities. This year's final table will take place in October because of a conflict with this year's U.S. presidential election.

Among those already inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame are Johnny Moss, Puggy Pearson, Doyle Brunson, Jack Strauss, Benny Binion, David “Chip” Reese, Thomas Austin “Amarillo Slim” Preston, Stu Ungar, and Phil Hellmuth. Last year, Barry Greenstein and Linda Johnson were added to the prestigious club.

The main criteria for the Poker Hall of Fame are as follows:

  • A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
  • Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination (the “Chip Reese” rule)
  • Played for high stakes
  • Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
  • Stood the test of time
  • Or, for nonplayers, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.

Once the list of nominated individuals is complete, a committee of media members will review all nominations and determine which candidates are most eligible for induction. Last year's nominees who didn't make the Class of 2011 were Annie Duke, Jen Harman, John Juanda, Macel Luske, Jack McClelland, Tom McEvoy, Scotty Nguyen and Huck Seed.

To submit your nominations, visit WSOP.com.

Poker Business

DOJ Seeks Help

Full Tilt Poker customers in the U.S. may be waiting awhile to make a claim for the funds frozen in their accounts.

The Department of Justice is seeking a third-party payment processor to help facilitate the remission process for FTP players located in the U.S. An employment notice listed on the DOJ website calls for a claims administrator to "design and execute a process to solicit, receive and evaluate claims, and to process payments, for losses incurred by U.S. victims that are attributable to the fraud alleged in the above complaint."

The deadline to apply for the position is Aug. 31, meaning players may be forced to wait several more weeks before information about the remission process is made public.

The remission process has been a bit of a concern for U.S. players, even more so after a Forbes article questioned whether the government will actually repay players in full. Forbes writer Nathan Vardi also suggested that the government may pay out the money deposited by players on the site, rather than the actual funds in their account.

Meanwhile, PokerStars still intends to repay all non-U.S. Full Tilt Poker customers by Nov. 6. As part of the agreement with the Department of Justice last month, the company promised to refund players within 90 days of the formal closing of the deal to acquire Full Tilt Poker. The deal was finalized last week when PokerStars made its initial $225 million forfeiture payment to the government.

Read more at PokerNews.com.

Poker Approved in Maryland

Maryland officials have passed a measure to allow poker and other table games in casinos across the state. The House of Delegates passed the bill 71-58 late Tuesday night, and the bill made its way through the Senate by a vote of 32-14 on Wednesday morning.

Lawmakers also approved the development of a Las Vegas-style hotel-casino property near Washington, D.C. The property, which will likely be run by MGM Resorts International, will be located at the National Harbor waterfront complex in Prince George’s County and feature 250 table games, 4,500 slot machines, retail outlets, restaurants and a luxury hotel. State legislative leaders signed off on MGM's plans in June.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the bill into law Wednesday afternoon. O'Malley has been a major supporter of the measure, stating publicly that the state needs to create jobs and remain competitive with other states.

Read more at the Washington Post.

Laugh Equity

PokerStars has signed comedian Gerry Dee to represent the online poker room's free-play site, PokerStars.net. Dee, the star of the weekly sitcom Mr. D on CBC, will appear in TV commercials and at live poker tournaments for PokerStars.net. PokerStars has also signed on as the title sponsor of the Gerry Dee Comedy Tour.

"I'm better at math and statistics than the teacher you see on TV, so I'm not a bad poker player," said Dee, who recently invited Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu to appear on an episode of Mr. D. "I'm no pro but I've always been a bit of a poker buff. I really admire the skill it takes to compete at the top level. I'm excited about this partnership and am looking forward to improving my game!"

A PokerStars commercial featuring Dee will air throughout the fall to promote a series of free online poker tournaments where Canadians can win a trip to the Bahamas to play in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA). Dee will attend the PCA and film his experience there for a TV special.

Wednesday's announcement came one day after PokerStars and high-stakes legend Viktor "Isildur" Blom mutually agreed to part ways.

Read more at the Digital Journal.

Poker Tournaments

DeepStacks Expands

The DeepStacks Poker Tour is in the middle of its first season on North American soil, but the tour is already preparing for international expansion in 2013.

On Wednesday, DeepStacks announced that it has teamed up with the Players Poker Championship (PPC) to host a series of international poker tournaments beginning in Aruba next May. The poker festival will be highlighted by the $2,500 buy-in DeepStacks Poker Tour PPC-Aruba Main Event, which will run from May 6 through 9 at the Westin Resort and Casino. A handful of DeepStack Pros are already confirmed for the tournament, including Michael Mizrachi, Mike Matusow, Tristan Wade and Randal Flowers.

"Adding the PPC as a key strategic partner allows us to expand international operations immediately,” said DeepStacks CEO Chris Torina. "Aruba is one of the most beautiful locations in the world, and bringing the DeepStacks Poker Tour there shows we are serious about offering the very best in tournament poker.”

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

Renehan Wins LAPT Colombian National Poker Championship

Robbie Renehan claimed victory at the PokerStars Latin American Poker Tour Colombian National Poker Championship in Medellin last weekend. The 29-year-old Irishman bested a field of 337 over four days and collected $148,709 and his first LAPT title.

Renehan began the final as one of the short stacks (less than 10 big blinds), but slowly built his stack before he eliminated Cristian Velasquez in fifth place, allowing him to close in on the big stacks of Weider Gutierrez and Raul Paez. Gutierrez, the last Colombian left in the field, was crippled by Paez with four players left and eventually bowed out in fourth place. Paez hit a three-outer on the river, much to the dismay of Gutierrez and his rail, and the Colombian collected $52,091 for his efforts.

Despite winning the massive pot against Gutierrez, Paez wasn't able to make good use of his new chips. Paez's stack was cut from 5 million to around 1.1 million (with 6.1 million total in play), and he moved all in preflop with {A-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds}. Jayr Fregona called with pocket sevens, and his pair held up to eliminated the Spaniard in third place.

That left Renehan and Fregona playing for the title. The two traded the lead a few times, but it was Renehan who provided the final blow. On the final hand of the tournament, Fregona three-bet shoved for around 1.5 million with {A-Hearts}{8-Spades} and Rehenan called instantly with pocket queens. The board ran out {4-Diamonds}{2-Hearts}{7-Clubs}{10-Diamonds}{Q-Spades}, giving Rehehan a rivered set and the victory.

Here's a look at the results from the PokerStars Latin American Poker Tour Colombian National Poker Championship:

2012 LAPT Medellin Final Table Results

PlacePlayerPrize
1Robbie Renehan$148,709
2Jayr Fregona$114,857
3Raul Paez$69,914
4Weider Gutierrez$52,091
5Cristian Velasquez$39,960
6Hernan Villa$ 31,394
7Ruben Ospina$ 23,549
8Luis Felipe Herrera$ 17,840

For a closer look at how the final table played out, visit the PokerStars Blog.

Online Poker

Another High-Stakes Scam?

Controversy seems to follow Matt Marafioti everywhere these days. This month, the brash poker pro from Canada is under fire from the poker community because of allegations he was involved in a hole-card hacking scheme with Swedish poker player and IT expert Samer Rahman.

The speculation began last week when an anonymous person posted an alleged Skype conversation between Marafioti and Rahman at TwoPlusTwo.com. The dialogue contains discussion about hacking the computer of Canadian poker player Will "molswi47" Molson so that Marafioti could view Molson's cards. "Lets def get molswi," Marafioti allegedly said in the chat. "I can access his computers I think and he will play me all day."

Marafioti and Rahman had different stories regarding the chat log. Marafioti said he and Rahman were friends but that the Skype conversation had been "doctored." Rahman, meanwhile, denied that he and Marafioti were even friends.

However, several photos of Rahman and Marafioti together were posted by members of TwoPlusTwo, confirming that the two maintained some sort of relationship. Marafioti's friend William Reynolds then added fuel to the fire by posting a series of Twitter messages sent from Marafioti to him about Molson.

There have also been connections between Rahman and Swedish player Mohamed Kowssarie, who was alleged to have stolen millions of dollars from Patrik Antonius and Johnny Lodden in a 2007 hacking scheme. Antonius accused Kowssarie of sending a Trojan virus into his computer to see his hole cards. Kowssarie denied the allegations earlier this year in a Swedish poker magazine.

We'll continue to follow this story as it develops. In the meantime, we recommend checking out the thread at TwoPlusTwo.com.

PokerStars Mobile in Canada

Following successful launches in Europe and Austral-Asia, the PokerStars Mobile App is now available in Canada. The popular app is available for download on Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPad Touch, and on many Android phones and tablet computers.

PokerStars Mobile offers real-money games in varieties like Texas hold'em, Omaha and Omaha hi-lo, and players can participate in the same tournaments, sit-and-gos and ring games they would on their laptops or desktop computers.

Some of the features on the mobile app include multitabling (up to five tables on the iPad), player and tournament search, lobby filters, chat, and hand histories. The fast-paced Zoom Poker is also available on all devices.

For more information, visit pokerstars.com.

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