The Nightly Turbo: Patrik Antonius' $1 Million Challenge, Decision Day in New Jersey

Patrik Antonius

The nosebleed cash games at Full Tilt Poker have been action-packed since the start of the new year. Top pros are even facing off in million-dollar freezeouts, creating some of the most exciting games we've seen in years. We'll being you that story, plus a looming deadline in New Jersey, in this edition of the Nightly Turbo.

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Antonius Accepts Another Challenge

On Wednesday, high-stakes poker regulars Patrik Antonius and Rui Cao kicked off a cash game challenge that will see one of them walk away with $1 million. The heads-up freezout will be played on Full Tilt Poker and consist of three poker variants: pot-limit Omaha ($350,000 match), no-limit hold'em (350,000) and 2-7 triple draw ($300,000).

Cao initiated the challenge last Friday in a chat box after Antonius swept him clean during a triple draw match. Five days later, the duo had already completed their 2-7 challenge playing at $1,500/$3,000 limits on Wednesday morning. According to, Cao controlled the table from start to finish taking Antonius for his $300,000 chip stack in only three hours and 350 hands.

We have yet to witness Antonius and Cao playing the second stage of the three-session match, but Cao was busy Wednesday afternoon playing four heads-up PLO tables against Viktor "Isildur1" Blom. That'll be a nice little tune-up for Cao before his PLO match against Antonius.

The Nightly Turbo: Patrik Antonius'  Million Challenge, Decision Day in New Jersey 101
Rui Cao plays Viktor Blom on Wednesday

HighStakesDB has more.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

The deadline for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to act on an interstate online gambling bill is looming, and the state's online poker prospects are still hanging in the balance.

Christie has until 12 p.m. ET on Thursday to sign, veto, or allow the legislation to go through without action. In 2011, he waited until the final possible day to veto similar legislation from Sen. Ray Lesniak, who is the again the main sponsor of the measure.

Last week, after Christie voiced his concerns about online gambling in the Garden State, Lesniak told PokerNews that the governor is "clueless" about the issue, claiming that Christie thinks he knows better than the Atlantic City casinos about how online gambling would affect traffic coming to the city.

"There are economic studies that this will generate business and doesn't drive traffic away,” Lesniak told PokerNews.

If Christie does decide to veto the bill again, the state legislature will still have options to revive it. If Christie opts for a conditional veto, the legislature can re-enact the bill with amendments and present it again to Christie. For an absolute veto, the legislature can override it by a vote of at least two-thirds of the members of each house.

In 2011, Christie opted for an absolute veto, but Lesniak said he didn't try to overturn it because there was "no chance the Republican legislators even say a peep against anything the governor does."

We'll have more on this story as it develops. Stay tuned to PokerNews on Thursday for the latest from New Jersey.

Online Poker Delays in Nevada

While New Jersey waits for Christie's eight-ball to decide the state's online gambling future, companies in Nevada continue to prepare for the launch of its own interstate market. On Wednesday, the state Gaming Control Board (GCB) held its monthly meeting in Carson City and discussed the issue of technology testing for online poker sites.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, three companies requested extensions to complete laboratory testing as provisions of interactive gaming licenses approved last year. South Point Poker, ACEP Interactive and Monarch Interactive were given preliminary approval for extensions by the GCB, and if approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Feb. 21, the three companies will have until August to complete testing on their software.

Many pundits believed the first real-money online poker site would launch in Nevada by the end of 2012, but the testing by third-party labs has taken longer than anticipated. On Tuesday, PokerNews learned through a source that the Station Casinos and Ultimate Gaming were aiming to debut their Ultimate Poker product for real-money play by March 9, 2013. However, when asked for a confirmation of the launch date, an Ultimate Gaming spokesperson told PokerNews that the company is still "working with gaming regulators to ensure a successful launch and regulation process" for the product. Ultimate Poker is expected to launch some time in 2013.

The Las Vegas Sun has more.

Full Tilt Poker's Traffic Climbs

Full Tilt Poker maintained the No. 2 spot behind PokerStars in this week's Online Poker Traffic Report provided by Full Tilt Poker saw a 14 percent boost last week, much in part due to its Rush Week promotion.

Rush Week allowed players to earn up to $250 in bonus cash dependent upon earning enough points while playing Rush Poker. The promotion ended on Sunday but the site has a lineup of promotions to keep their numbers in place.

The Edge Up promotion runs through February and allows players to enjoy Silver status benefits for the full month as long as a fraction of a point was earned in January. Sit & Go Madness starts Feb. 8, followed by Happy Hour Week on Feb. 18.

PartyPoker again landed at No. 3 in the traffic rankings, but the site is expecting a bump during its World Domination promotion. The promo awards cities to players each time they earn PartyPoints. The more points collected, the more cities are conquered, which results in cash prizes and rewards.

Overall, online poker traffic fell 0.3 percent last week and is down 13 percent from this time last year. PokerStars maintained the No. 1 position but is down 18 percent compared to its Feb. 5, 2012 traffic data. There's no reason for concern about that dropoff, however, as the site was seeing an influx of traffic for its 75 Billionth Hand promotion at the time.

Here’s a look at the top 10 online poker rooms as of Wednesday:

RankSite7-Day Average (Real-money ring players)
2Full Tilt Poker4,800

Read the full report at

The Race to SuperNova Elite

About a week before the new year, PokerStars launched a contest to see who could reach SuperNova Elite status (1 million Frequent Player Points) first in 2013. As it stands right now, Ryan "MouldyOnions" Bell is the frontrunner with just under 900,000 FPPs, but Alex "AWice" Wice is still making a run for the honor. Sarah Grant caught up with some poker pros at EPT Deauville to discuss the difficulty of reaching the milestone this early in the year.

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