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 Ray Bitar's surrender in New York, Sam Trickett being assaulted in Las Vegas, and more.
Ray Bitar Surrenders
On Monday, the poker world was stunned to learn that Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar had surrendered to U.S. authorities in New York
Bitar, one of the 11 men indicted by the Department of Justice on Black Friday, was arrested Monday at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Upon his arrival, a superseding indictment was unsealed charging Bitar with defrauding poker customers by lying to them about the security of their funds. He pleaded not guilty.
“With today’s arrest and the new charges brought against him, Raymond Bitar will now be held criminally responsible for the alleged multi-million fraud he perpetrated on his U.S. customers," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. "The indictment alleges how Bitar bluffed his player-customers and fixed the game against them as part of an international Ponzi scheme that left players empty-handed.”
According to an alleged e-mail Bitar sent to Full Tilt employees, his surrender is "part of the process" in completing the pending deal with PokerStars and the Department of Justice.
"We have all worked hard over the last 15 months to preserve Full Tilt’s assets and potential in order to provide for the repayment of all players, and that continues to be our top priority," Bitar wrote. "It is as important as ever that we all do everything possible to make that happen and, hopefully our deal with Poker Stars will very soon make our goal a reality."
For more, read the story at PokerNews.com.
Belt the Champ
Ultimate Poker, the new social online poker site developed by Fertitta Interactive and CyberArts, has announced the sponsorship of the UFC with the launch of a free “Belt the Champ” online poker tournament running now through July 22.
The free-to-play tournament will offer the winner a trip to Las Vegas in September to experience VIP treatment at UFC 151, which will feature the UFC Light Heavyweight championship between Jon “Bones” Jones versus Dan Henderson. The grand prize includes the opportunity to place the championship belt on the winner of the fight.
“We are happy to be in business with Ultimate Poker and this is undoubtedly the coolest prize we have ever given away,” said UFC President Dana White.
To compete in the “Belt the Champ” tournament, all you need to do is visit the Ultimate Poker Facebook application, click on the “Tournament” or “Sit n Go” tab to register. The tournament is free for all Ultimate Poker players with no chips or money required.
More information on the "Belt the Champ" tournament can be found at Heavy.com.
888 Aligns with WMS Gaming
On Monday, online gaming operator 888 announced a strategic partnership with slot machine supplier WMS Gaming Inc. The deal will see the launch of a real-money online poker offering once the licensing and regulation process is completed in Nevada and other U.S. states.
WMS will market and distribute 888’s online poker platform to land-based casino customers in venues in the U.S., initially with a play-for-free offering. The joint offering will be ready to go as soon as a real-money platform is given the green light by gaming authorities.
Both companies have already submitted online gaming license applications to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
“WMS is one of the main gaming suppliers in America, with a network of relationships with land-based operators that is second to none," said 888 CEO Brian Mattingly. "The combination of 888’s cutting edge online poker platform and WMS’ customer relationships, marketing and distribution capabilities, provides the opportunity to build a substantial online presence.
"By deploying our joint online poker solution, casino operators in the United States will be able to provide their customers with a robust and secure network with the liquidity and games offering to give the best possible player experience."
Early this year, 888 extended its partnership with Caesars Interactive Entertainment into the U.S. By combining forces with WMS, 888 plans to power a selection of Caesars' poker brands once online gaming is legalized and regulated.
For more, read the press release issued by 888.
Zynga Interested in Ongame?
Now that Shuffle Master has pulled out of its deal to purchase the Ongame Network, sources have told eGaming Review that social gaming giant Zynga is the frontrunner to buy the online poker network from bwin.party.
EGR reports that Zynga visited the Ongame headquarters last week and made a verbal offer to purchase Ongame. A handful of potential buyers are reportedly in the mix, but Zynga appears poised to fire the winning bid ahead of legalized online gaming in the U.S.
In March, Zynga launched proprietary platform at Zynga.com where users can find their favorite games without logging into Facebook, where Zynga's games were previously hosted. The extension from Facebook gives Zynga more financial independence and paves the way for the company to employ a real-money gaming platform.
Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said in March that real-money online gaming would be a "natural fit" for the company.
You can find more on this story at eGaming Review, but beware of the paywall.
Belgium's Blacklist Grows
The Belgium Gambling Commission has updated its list of blacklisted online gambling operators. The latest additions include Bet365, www2.bwin.com, 7Red.com, Maaslandgames.be and SJbet.at.
In May, Belgium blacklisted 30 nonlicensed sites including Bwin, Betsson, Betfair, William Hill and 888. Under the 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.
Among the sites granted licenses to operate in Belgium include PokerStars, Partouche, Unibet and Casino777. Meanwhile, 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.
Trickett's Bad Beat
Sam Trickett earned more than $10 million for his runner-up finish in the Big One for One Drop on Tuesday. But his after-party celebrations were spoiled when he and his girlfriend, Natasha Sandhu, were assaulted by six men outside of a Las Vegas club.
Trickett posted via Twitter shortly after his $10.1 million score that he was going to drink until his "organs hurt." Hours later, Trickett was accosted by six strangers who beat him up and spat on Sandhu. Trickett was left with several bruises on his face and a gash across his nose.
Is this what happens if ur successful? literally beat the sh** out of me and spat in @NatashaSandhu face all over nothing...Follow @Samtrickett1
Sandhu, Tickett's girlfiend of seven years, added her own account of the situation and thanked her followers for their support.
Ok so I can say now...last night didn't end so good, left the club and 6 guys jumped sam....I have tweeted a picture...Follow @NatashaSandhu
Thanks everyone for your kind messages,very appreciated!were having a cosy night in now just got into bed and put a film on :)Follow @NatashaSandhu
Read more at UK.PokerNews.com.
Ivey Returns to #1
The latest edition of ESPN's The Nuts has been released. The monthly blog post ranks the best poker players in the world at the moment. The 10-person panel includes Elaine Chaivarlis, PokerNews' editor in chief; Don Peters, PokerNews' tournament reporting manager; and ESPN's Andrew Feldman, Gary Wise, and Bernard Lee, among others.
Phil Ivey returned to the top of the rankings after dazzling the poker world with five final tables in 13 days at the 2012 World Series of Poker. The panel gave a collective apology to Ivey for dropping him from the top spot, saying, "Welcome back, Phil. We're sorry to have doubted you."
Jason Mercier fell one spot to No. 2, but his time there may be limited. Michael Mizrachi and Phil Hellmuth, fresh off winning WSOP bracelets in June, climbed to No. 3 and No. 4 in this month's rankings and could continue to rise with a solid showing in the final stretch of the WSOP. Hellmuth reached the final table of the Big One for Big Drop; should he win the $18 million prize and his 13th bracelet on Tuesday, the panel could see enough reason to make him No. 1.
If you want to find out what the rest of the list looks, check it out at ESPN.com.
Dan "Jungleman" Cates has selected the winner of his WSOP Challenge.
In May, Cates offered to give away a World Series of Poker Main Event seat to a person who performs a good deed and records it on video. More than 30 videos were submitted to Cates before the June 20 deadline. The winner was Daniel Suava, whose Good Deeds Hugs video got the most votes from viewers and received approval from Cates on Monday morning.
In addition to the $10,000 Main Event seat, Suava received free air travel and a free room at the Rio, as well as a free poker lesson from Cates himself. Suava will play the Main Event on Sunday or Monday.
“Words cannot possibly describe how incredibly excited, gobsmacked and thankful I am," Suava told the PartyPoker Blog. "This is a dream come true. Wait, this is real right? Somebody slap me. Whoop whoop! Vegas baby!”
As it turns out, Suava could play more events than Cates at this year's WSOP. Entering the Main Event, Cates hadn't played a single tournament at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. We'll have to wait and see if he plays the Main Event; that could all depend on the lure of the cash games going on in Vegas later this week.
Here's a look at the winning submission from Suava, who certainly got some help from a friend:
Read more about the Jungleman WSOP Challenge winner at the PartyPoker Blog.
On Wednesday, PokerStars continued its expansion around the globe by becoming the new sponsor of the Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP), considered the most prestigious poker stop in Brazil.
Under PokerStars' guidance, the BSOP will have a slick new look and feel as the live tournament design will be enhanced. The first PokerStars-sponsored BSOP event will take place in São Paulo from July 26 through 31 in Parque Anhembi. The BSOP has addition stops in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Balneário Camboriú.
“Incredible news! It will be great to travel all over Brazil playing in the outstanding BSOP circuit," said Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari. "This is a truly unique opportunity to see the growing poker scene all over the country."
“Now we count on a community of 49 million players in the world," added BSOP CEO Igor Trafane. "Besides the number of participants, we’ll increase the technical level of the circuit, with more Brazilian players and possibly foreign players”, he analyzes. The news is also supported by the Brazilian Poker Confederation (CBTH)."
Read more at the PokerStars Blog.
WPT National Series Madrid
The World Series of Poker wasn't the only series running this week. After four days of play at the World Poker Tour National Series Madrid, Peter Olsen outlasted a field of 166 to win €60,000 and his first WPT title.
The final table began with eight players and Olsen sitting fifth in chips. The leader going into the day was Raul Mestre, and after several hours it was Olsen and Mestre battling for the title. Mestre started heads-up play with the chip lead, but Olsen fought back and used a timely river card on the final hand of the match to claim the victory. Mestre was all in preflop with against Olsen's , but the board gave Olsen the come-from-behind win.
Here's a look at the results from the final table of the World Poker Tour National Series Madrid:
|3||Rosa Maria Isla||€27,000|
For more on the event, visit PokerNews Spain.
Follow PokerNews on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.