The Year in Poker: August, 2008
Following a short respite from the rigors of the World Series of Poker, the best players in the world spread out across the globe as August arrived, with major events in several international locales... and online... among the month's feature stories. Elsewhere, tough economic times for a couple of poker business ventures came to light in August, a harbinger of the downturn facing the entire business world as 2008 wore on. These were among the poker stories grabbing our attention in August:
"Dubbeemin" Takes FTOPS IX Main Event
The ninth edition of the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) occupied much of the online poker world during the first part of August, with the main event of the series scheduled for August 17. 4,880 players ponied up $500+35 each to take part, building a massive prize pool with $2,500,000 up or grabs. In the end it was "dubbeein" who outlasted the rest of the giant field, collecting a $432,400 first-place prize. "Valleyho" finished second for $262,500, while "TheTotalPkg" pulled in $170,000 for third.
Million-dollar Bad Beat Jackpot Hit at PartyPoker
A bad-beat jackpot worth more than a million dollars came about for the first time at major online site PartyPoker, and shortly after crossing that unheard-of threshold, the jackpot was hit. A German player named "Judith75" lost with quad nines to a royal flush held by "Hiyall", but both players ended up with far more in winnings than the pot itself. Judith75's take from the jackpot added up to $354,683.57, Hiyall collected $177,341.79 – plus the $24 in the fixed-limit pot, and each of the other players at the table garnered an extra $22,167.72 each.
Jose Miguel Espinar Captures LAPT Punta del Este
Major-event poker debuted in Uruguay for the first time ever at August's PokerStars.com Latin American Poker Tour stop in Punta del Este. 2008 WSOP bracelet winner Alexander Gomes and Costa Rican pro Alex Brenes (brother of Humberto) highlighted the final, but in the end the title went to poker newcomer Jose Miguel Espinar. Espinar reached heads-up play with a narrow lead over Brenes and managed to put the veteran away, securing the $241,735 payday for the win. Brenes collected $126,625 as the runner-up.
Yevgeniy Timoshenko Wins APT Macau
Upstart poker tour Asian Poker Tour, not connected with the similarly named PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour, began its own small series of events for the growing Pacific Rim poker market with a significant event in Macau. The APT recruited an impressive lineup of stars for the event, eventually fielding 257 players. Tournament veteran Casey Kastle made the trip across the Pacific and led the final, but the honors here went to Yevgeniy Timoshenko, who topped Joon Hee Yeah to win $500,000 and the APT Macau honors.
Chan Poker Shutters Virtual Doors
Many sites unable to offer services to the United States following the 2006 passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act suffered reduced revenue streams, and for a few sites, the departure was too much to overcome. One such was the namesake site of 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Johnny Chan, whose ChanPoker site opened in 2006 just prior to the UIGEA itself, and never had a chance to reach critical mass. ChanPoker struggled along for two years before calling it quits in August, a victim of the political wars affecting the online gambling scene.
Down Financials for WPTE
Another poker business which struggled through 2008 was World Poker Tour Enterprises, Inc. WPTE announced a restructuring of its business plan in August, just days before being notified of a potential NASDAQ delisting due to its depressed cash price. (The possible delisting was later suspended due to the greater economic strugg;es encompassing the business world.) The WPT continued to founder during the month and year despite its historic contributions to the poker world, and ended up with a new broadcast deal at FOX Sports Net. The WPT's online poker room also lost traction in a post-UIGEA, and a new subscription-based venture called ClubWPT was designed to take its place.