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The Nightly Turbo: Laak & Esfandiari Open, PokerStars Goes Mobile in UK, and More

Phil Laak

Now that you've emptied your wallet on flowers and dinner for Valentine's Day, our gift to you is to catch you up on the latest poker news from around the world. In this edition of the Nightly Turbo, we're covering an upcoming poker series hosted by Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari, a mobile poker app for PokerStars players in the United Kingdom, and more.

In Case You Missed It

Kurt Jewell won his third World Series of Poker Circuit ring on Monday. Get all the details in our recap from the WSOPC Harrah's Tunica Main Event.

The World Series of Poker's Jack Effel joined the PokerNews Podcast this week. Effel and the crew discussed everything you need to know about the 2012 WSOP.

Could federal online poker be a last-second bill attachment? Rich Ryan discusses that and more in his latest Five Thoughts piece.

We all know what poker players do on the felt, but what about in "normal" life? In the latest from the Off the Felt series, we talk to Dennis Phillips about prop bets, the world champion St. Louis Cardinals, and more.

World Poker Tour CEO Steve Heller is the latest industry exec to be featured in The Insiders series. Heller discussed online poker legislation and the WPT's expansion into Europe, among other topics.

Gigi Gagne was the chip leader going into the final table of the World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open. Find out how she accumulated her massive stack in our WPT recap.

So Sick!

It's only fitting that we bring you news about Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari on Valentine's Day. The two poker superstars and longtime BFFs will be hosting the Laak & Esfandiari Open from March 1 through 4 at Montreal's Playground Poker Club.

The first event on tap is a $2,200 heads-up tournament, which features a best-of-three format and will be capped at 32 players. Notables likely to attend the event include Erik Cajelais, Marc Karam, Mike “Timex” McDonald, Pascal Lefrancois and former NHL player Guy Carbonneau.

Part of the fun during the festivities will be the friendly prop bets between Laak and Esfandiari. The two friends have already agreed on a last-longer bet for the heads-up event, and the loser will be humiliated by the other in front of everyone at the Playground on Sunday, March 4th.

There will also be a $550 Deepstack event beginning on Friday, March 2. The field will be broken down into two days — Day 1a’s players will represent “Team Laak,” and Day 1b’s players will represent “Team Esfandiari." Depending on which day the winner of the tournament advanced from, the loser will again be humiliated in front of everyone in attendance.

Laak and Esfandiari love to torment each other, so we're looking forward to this one.

For a full schedule and details on the Laak & Esfandiari Open, visit

Take PokerStars Wherever You Go

On Tuesday, PokerStars announced the launch of a new mobile poker app that will allow players in the United Kingdom to play free and real money games on Apple and Android devices.

Just like the desktop software, the PokerStars Mobile app offers real-money games in varieties like Texas hold'em, Omaha and Omaha hi-lo. Players can compete in multi-table tournaments, sit-and-gos and ring games, and they'll even find familiar features like multi-tabling and hand histories.

“PokerStars Mobile is more than just the migration of the existing PokerStars game product to the mobile platform,” said PokerStars' Director of New Platforms Jeffrey Haas. “It’s an intentional product designed specifically for the form factors of mobile and tablet devices, and the different ways people play games on them. This is the best authentic poker experience available for mobile devices today.”

Check out the full story at

BubbleProtection Signs Ylon Schwartz

Former November Niner Ylon Schwartz is the latest pro to join forces with BubbleProtection, a company that offers tournament players the opportunity to purchase insurance against busting on the money bubble. Schwartz has been appointed the company's third spokesperson, joining Chris Moorman and Will "The Thrill" Failla.

“I am proud to be associated with a company that has introduced the most innovative new poker product I have seen in many years,” said Ylon Schwartz, who took fourth place at the 2008 WSOP Main Event. “BubbleProtection presents a new wrinkle in how to play tournament poker. It offers a user a significant strategic advantage during the most crucial stages of tournament play, allowing you to accumulate chips leaving you in a powerful position for the endgame. "

Bubble Protection is available to all non-U.S. players for all regularly scheduled tournaments on PokerStars, Party Poker and the iPoker Network. Its purpose is to safeguard online poker players from landing on the money bubble in tournaments.

Read the press release about Schwartz at

Online Poker Traffic Report

On Monday, released its online poker traffic rankings for the previous week. The tracking site reported an overall drop of 4 percent, mainly due to a falloff at two of the industry's heavyweights.

PokerStars saw a significant decline after its 75 Billionth Hand promotion ended the previous week. The world's leading poker room dropped 11 percent following an 18 percent gain the week before. PartyPoker, the world's No. 2 real money poker room, dropped 3 percent, but still held a comfortable lead over the rivaling iPoker Network, which landed at No. 3 this week.

As for year-over-year numbers, online poker has seen a worldwide decline of 27 percent since this time last year. Most of that falloff can be attributed to the departure of Full Tilt Poker and the CEREUS Network, but the International Poker Network (down 45 percent) and PKR (down 26 percent) have also seen a significant decline.

The biggest climbers over the past year are the Merge Gaming Network (up 100 percent), 888poker (up 76 percent) and Bodog (up 59 percent).

The full report can be found at

The Life of a Poker Reporter

On Monday, we brought you a meme created by Dan Dedich breaking down the perception of poker players. Our very own Rich Ryan responded by making his own about poker reporters:

The Nightly Turbo: Laak & Esfandiari Open, PokerStars Goes Mobile in UK, and More 101

Way to blow our cover, buddy.

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