With the summer's excitement at the World Series of Poker in Vegas just around the corner, a couple of winners in the seasons final pre-WSOP Circuit event grabbed headlines of their own, Lou Esposito and Cory Carroll. The spring edition of the Full Tilt Online Poker Series produced a big winner as well, and as always, a couple of political/legal items were in the news. Here's what grabbed our attention as May rolled on:
Lou Esposito Takes New Orleans Circuit Event — The final WSOP Circuit event on the schedule before the poker world focused its energy on Las Vegas occurred during the fourth week in May, and the WSOP-C New Orleans main eent drew 346 runners and generated a $1.6 million purse, the largest in Louisiana poker history. When the dust settled after three days of play, Lou Esposito emerged as the champ, collecting $516,801, a WSOP Main Event entry, and the diamond-encrusted ring for the win. Clint Schaefer finished as the runner-up, with David Fox in third and Phil Gordon in fourth.
U.S. Withdraws from WTO GATS Pact — The years-long battle in the World Trade Organization between the United States and other countries seeking equitable cross-border treatment regarding online gambling took a twist in May that few onlookers had foreseen: The U.S., after losing all judgments and appeals in the case with Antigua & Barbuda, announced that it was, in a very real sense, taking its ball and going home. The U.S. announced that rather than comply with the WTO's strong indications that its market — specifically horseracing, but applicable to all online gaming in the greater sense — should be open to online, international competition. The U.S. said 'no way,' and announced that it was withdrawing from that section of its commitments as outlined in the WTO-negotiated General Agreement on Tariffs and Services (GATS) that it had signed in 1994. The WTO mess continued to garner headlines throughout the year.
Cory Carroll Wins WSOP-C Caesars Palace — Canadian online poker star Cory 'ugotpzd' Carroll broke through on the live tournament scene in May by capturing the Circuit ring at WSOP-C Caesars Palace, one of two Circuit events in the month. Carroll already had significant online wins to his record, but topped Justin Pechie to win the $506,176 first-place prize at a tough final table that also included David 'The Dragon' Pham and Chad Brown.
'John_McClane17' Captures FTOPS IV Main Event — Full Tilt's FTOPS IV series in May included ten events and generated a total prize pool of nearly $6 million, of which just shy of $1.9 million was awarded in the series' main event. That tourney was won by the anonymous and somewhat mysterious 'John_McClane17,' who had little online history prior to the event but came through to claim the winner's share, some $336,217.95. Meanwhile, FTOPS IV continued the site's record of producing ever larger and richer online poker-tournament series.
DoJ Seizes Citadel Commerce Funds — While NETeller was the largest online-payment processor to have funds seized by the U.S.'s Department of Justice during 2007. In May, e-wallet firm Citadel Commerce (MyCitadel), acknowledged that it had roughly $9 million seized by the USDoJ; Citadel, like NETeller earlier in the year, drew the attention of the U.S. for supplying transaction support to bookmaking sites, and, also like NETeller, it soon exited the U.S. market. As summer neared, the exodus from the U.S. of many e-wallet services left online poker players scrambling for new ways to fund their favorite sites.
'Ante Up for Africa' Fundraiser Announced — Poker does 'good works,' too, as epitomized by the 'Ante Up for Africa' charity fundraiser announced by Harrah's in May. Co-hosted by Don Cheadle and Annie Duke, the fundraiser would be scheduled for the off day immediately before the start of the WSOP Main Event, and drew dozens of big name players, Hollywood celebrities and pro athletes. The event generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid for the war-torn Darfur regions of Sudan and Chad. The fundraiser has already been announced as a returning part of the 2008 WSOP schedule.