Sooner State Showdown: WPT Choctaw Kicks Off in Oklahoma; Andrew Moreno Crushing

Sooner State Showdown: WPT Choctaw Kicks Off in Oklahoma; Andrew Moreno Crushing

The poker community has found its way to Southern Oklahoma for the start of the WPT Choctaw, which kicked off at 11 a.m. Friday morning, and Andrew Moreno wasted little time stacking chips.

Early turnout indicates the tournament is headed for a huge field with over 225 players already registered at the time of publishing, five hours prior to the end of Day 1a registration. Players will have another opportunity to get in on the $3,800 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament on Saturday.

Moreno Cruising, Buckner Out

steven buckner wpt choctaw
Steven \”Cuz\” Buckner was eliminated on Day 1a at WPT Choctaw.

There are some heavy hitters in the field, including last year’s runner-up Steven “Cuz” Buckner, who was an early exit on Day 1a this year. He’ll have another shot to build up a stack and return to the final table on Day 1b.

The defending champion, Chance Kornuth, hasn’t yet appeared at Choctaw Casino & Resort, which boasts one of the top poker rooms in the country. Kornuth, the Chip Leader Coaching founder, had one of the most memorable World Poker Tour victories last May when he took down the event for over $460,000, 5% of which went to poker dealer Randy Gordon, who is battling cancer and used the money to fund his treatment.

Kornuth’s WPT Win Helps Fund Cancer Patient’s Treatment

Ray Qartomy, who also reached last year’s Choctaw final table and finished third, was back in action on Day 1a and quickly built up a stack to twice the starting size.

Two of the greatest players in WPT history, Anthony Zinno and Eric Afriat, were among those competing in the opening session. The duo each have three World Poker Tour titles and a combined 14 final table appearances.

Tournaments aren’t won in the first few levels, but everyone at this point is chasing Andrew Moreno, who has already increased his 50,000-chip starting stack to over 270,000 before the dinner break. No other player was even close to his stack at the time of publishing.

Moreno, brother of vlogger Johnnie “Vibes” Moreno, has become a beast in tournament poker the past couple of years. He won the $10,000 buy-in Wynn Millions Main Event for $1.4 million in 2021 and has been crushing ever since. According to Hendon Mob, his live tournament cashes exceed $3.9 million. If his early heater at Choctaw is any indication, he could crack the $4 million mark this month.

Other big name players who have appeared in the Main Tour event prior to dinner break include Jeremy Ausmus, Michael Wang, Jacob Ferro, Jesse Lonis, and 2018 World Series of Poker (WSOP) runner-up Tony Miles.

Day 2 at Choctaw begins on Sunday, followed by Day 3 on Monday when the tournament will play down to the final table. Those at the final table will then take a break for a few weeks and travel to Las Vegas to play down to a winner at the Luxor’s HyperX Esports Arena.

*Images courtesy of WPT.

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Triple Crown: How Can Gamblers in Recovery Prepare

Triple Corona y Los Apostadores en Recuperación

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) recognizes that the road to recovery from problem gambling is rarely without its challenges. One such challenge many in recovery may face is being exposed to situations that may trigger compulsive betting, including large-scale betting events such as the Triple Crown, a series of three thoroughbred horse races that happen every year from May to early June. [1] 

The Triple Crown is considered a particularly challenging feat in horse racing, as it requires a three-year-old horse to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. As such, only 13 horses have achieved this in racing history.[2] While millions of people across the country gear up for this event, we must also acknowledge the potential threat these races pose for those struggling with problem gambling. 

With horse races taking place nearly year-round, and many occurring right here in Florida, the sport is particularly popular among those looking to make every event an opportunity for wagering. In the Sunshine State, spectators can place bets on races in person at any of the five horse tracks hosting these events, along with any of the more than 20 pari-mutuel facilities across the state. While online sports betting is illegal in Florida there are also apps and other online sources available for online bets to be made with horse racing, and daily fantasy sports only, offering a loophole to Florida’s online sports betting laws. 

The summer’s Triple Crown events are some of the largest and most widely celebrated horse races of the year. But for those who struggle with excessive betting, the celebration may bring anything but joy. Whether a person is actively seeking recovery or just beginning to recognize the signs of compulsive gambling, the FCCG would like to take this as an opportunity to help individuals prepare ahead of time. 

If you are currently working on recovery from compulsive gambling, Here are a few steps you can take to protect your progress:

  • Unsubscribing from any emails, text messages or mail promoting these events
  • Make plans with friends or family on race days to keep your mind occupied instead of searching for updates
  • Letting friends or family know this is a difficult time for you and asking for their support

If problem gambling is something you are still struggling with, you may also consider:

  • Going “off-grid” on race days by hiking or getting out in nature to avoid race updates
  • Seek professional support by calling or texting Florida’s Problem Gambling HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT

For some, the Triple Crown can be seen as a beacon of hope when problem gambling losses have climbed to unmanageable heights. The odds of a big win are very slim, yet that “last-ditch” appeal may be highly tempting for those on their journey towards recovery. In these situations, the most important piece of advice to remember is you do not have to go at it alone. Call or text Your One Sure Thing, Florida’s 24-hour Problem Gambling HelpLine, 888-ADMIT-IT, to access the recovery resources you need to keep your mind, and your wallet, off the Triple Crown. 

  1. Hoppert, Melissa. “What to Know About the Triple Crown.” New York Times, May 18, 2022.
  2. Ibid.

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Triple Corona y Los Apostadores en Recuperación

Triple Corona y Los Apostadores en Recuperación

El Consejo de Florida sobre las Apuestas Compulsivas (FCCG) reconoce que el camino hacia la recuperación de las apuestas problemáticas rara vez está exento de desafíos. Uno de esos desafíos que muchas personas en recuperación pueden enfrentar es verse expuestos a situaciones que pueden desencadenar apuestas compulsivas, incluidos eventos de apuestas a gran escala como la Triple Corona, una serie de tres carreras de caballos pura sangre que se produce cada año desde mayo hasta principios de junio. [1] 

La Triple Corona se considera una hazaña particularmente desafiante en las carreras de caballos, ya que exige que un caballo de tres años gane el Derby de Kentucky, los Preakness Stakes y los Belmont Stakes. Como tal, solo 13 caballos han logrado esto en la historia de las carreras. [2] Mientras millones de personas en todo el país se preparan para este evento, también debemos reconocer la amenaza potencial que estas carreras representan para quienes batallan contra las apuestas problemáticas. 

Dado que se producen carreras de caballos casi todo el año, y muchas se corren aquí en Florida, el deporte es particularmente popular entre quienes buscan hacer de cada evento una oportunidad para apostar. En el Estado del Sol, los espectadores pueden apostar en carreras presencialmente en cualquiera de las cinco pistas de caballos que albergan estos eventos, junto con cualquiera de las más de 20 instalaciones pari-mutuel por todo el estado. Si bien las apuestas deportivas en línea son ilegales en Florida, también hay aplicaciones y otras fuentes en línea disponibles para hacer apuestas en línea de carreras de caballos y sólo deportes de fantasía diarios, que ofrecen una laguna en las leyes de apuestas deportivas en línea de Florida

Los acontecimientos de la Triple Corona del verano son algunas de las carreras de caballos más grandes y celebradas del año. Pero, para quienes batallan contra las apuestas excesivas, la celebración puede traer cualquier cosa menos alegría. Ya sea que una persona esté buscando activamente la recuperación o apenas esté comenzando a reconocer los signos del juego compulsivo, a la FCCG le gustaría ver esto como una oportunidad para ayudar a las personas a prepararse con anticipación. 

Si actualmente está trabajando en la recuperación de las apuestas compulsivas, aquí hay algunos pasos que puede seguir para proteger sus avances:

  • Cancele la suscripción a cualquier correo electrónico, mensaje de texto o correo que promocione estos eventos
  • Haga planes con amigos o familiares los días de las carreras para mantener su mente ocupada en lugar de buscar actualizaciones
  • Haga saber a sus amigos o familiares que éste es un momento difícil para usted y pídales su apoyo

Si las apuestas problemáticas son algo con lo que todavía está batallando, también puede plantearse:

  • “Salir de la red” los días de carreras haciendo senderismo o saliendo a la naturaleza para evitar las actualizaciones de las carreras
  • Busque apoyo profesional llamando o enviando un mensaje de texto a la Línea de Ayuda para Apuestas Problemáticas de Juego de Florida al 888-ADMIT-IT

Para algunos, la Triple Corona puede verse como un faro de esperanza cuando las pérdidas por apuestas problemáticas han subido a alturas inmanejables. Las probabilidades de una gran victoria son muy escasas; sin embargo, ese atractivo de “última oportunidad” puede ser muy tentador para quienes están en un viaje hacia la recuperación. En estas situaciones, el consejo más importante que debe recordar es que no tiene que hacerlo solo. Llame o envíe un mensaje de texto a Your One Sure Thing, la línea de ayuda para apuestas problemáticas de Florida las 24 horas, 888-ADMIT-IT, para acceder a los recursos de recuperación que necesita a fin de mantener su mente y su billetera lejos de la Triple Corona. 

  1. Hoppert, Melissa. “What to Know About the Triple Crown.” New York Times, 18 de mayo de 2022.
  2. Ibid.

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Vermont Poised to Become Second State to Approve Sports Betting in 2023

Vermont sign

Even for a state used to hightailing it down snowy slopes, Vermont has shown some serious acceleration in sports betting legislative efforts. It is close to becoming the second US jurisdiction to legalize sports betting in 2023 after only starting a feasibility study in December.

On Thursday, the Vermont Senate passed H 127 on its third reading and Senator Alison Clarkson has asserted that the market will go live in January.

will give pro-sports betting Governor Phil Scott five days to sign or veto the bill

Clarkson’s optimism overrode any inkling that the House won’t approve the Senate’s amendments to H 127 early next week. The Vermont legislature will adjourn May 12, so if the House concurs on the Senate’s amends, it will give pro-sports betting Governor Phil Scott five days to sign or veto the bill. If he does neither, however, H 127 will still become law.

That means just two months after a study committee gave the thumbs up to create a sports betting market, Vermont is on the brink of becoming the 38th US state to legalize it. What is unique about this bill, meanwhile, is that it would make Vermont the only state in New England to solely allow digital wagering.

Vermont also caps the number of digital betting platforms to six and has set some strict consumer protections in the process. One of these is that operators have to disclose their marketing and advertising plans in their license applications.

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Molly’s Game Film Review – Is it Worth Watching?

Molly's Game Film Review - Is it Worth Watching?

Molly’s Game Film Review – Is it Worth Watching?

It has been a few years since the premiere, but Aaron Sorkin‘s 2017 film has remained in the public consciousness thanks to its availability on streaming services. It’s time for PokerNews to take a look back with a review of Molly’s Game to see if it’s worth watching.

Molly’s Game Review

Jessica Chastain narrates the story of Molly Bloom, a champion skier that suffers a career-ending injury on her road to the Winter Olympics. After the injury, Bloom moves to Los Angeles and finds herself in the world of high-stakes gambling, where she eventually hosts a game that attracts the rich and famous from around L.A.

The film carries all of Sorkin’s trademarks in his directorial debut. The dialogue is dry and speedy, while the story still takes its time to let its characters develop relationships with one another. Sorkin’s ability to build great drama through dialogue comes from his background as a playwright, and Molly’s Game feels like it could have worked just as well on a stage with a live audience.

Molly Bloom
The real-life Molly Bloom.

British-born Idris Elba is excellent as Bloom’s lawyer, Charlie Jaffey, who is one of the few characters that is not based on someone from Bloom’s real life. Jaffey reluctantly agrees to represent Bloom when she needs him the most. Bloom’s father is played in flashbacks by Kevin Costner, who does some of his best acting as an uncompromising figure in her early life as a high-level skier. Michael Cera also turns in a great performance as the whiny, petulant “Player X” and Jeremy Strong shows a few early signs of Kendall Roy in his role as real estate developer Dean Keith.

Chastain remains on top of her game throughout the movie, handling the demands of Sorkin’s dialogue with ease and giving depth to Molly Bloom as a high-achieving character that finds control over her life slipping away. Adapting the autobiography of a living figure can be a risky proposition, but both Chastain and Sorkin do a great job of making you root for Molly Bloom without any over-the-top emotional manipulation.

Molly’s Game doesn’t strike the same tone as other gambling movies, mostly because the people doing the gambling generally serve as antagonists to the main character—who doesn’t play any poker. It doesn’t celebrate or glorify the lifestyle of a high-stakes gambler, even if it occasionally gives you a sense of fantasy for the money and culture surrounding that scene. Bloom’s flaws are front and center, and they play a role in her downfall—a level of honesty about the story that Bloom was not shy about when she wrote the original book.

Photo by Michael Gibson - © 2017 - STX Films
Jessica Chastain & Idris Elba. Photo by Michael Gibson – © 2017 – STX Films

Molly’s Game Cast

Character Actor/Actress Overview
Molly Bloom Jessica Chastain Molly Bloom is an Olympic skier that suffers an injury during a qualifying event for the Winter Olympics. Her transition to the next stage of her life leads her deep to the world of high-stakes poker.
“Player X” Michael Cera Player X is a narcissistic movie star that finds himself wrapped up in the consequences of gambling addiction. Cera plays a compositive character, meant to stand in for several individuals.
Charlie Jaffey Idris Elba Jaffey is Molly’s lawyer and her voice of reason. He helps her navigate her issues with the FBI.
Larry Bloom Kevin Costner Costner plays Molly’s father, Larry, a no-nonsense perfectionist that was hard on his daughter from an early age.
Dean Keith Jeremy Strong Keith is a real estate developer that hires Molly as his personal assistant. He introduces her to the world of high-stakes poker.

Molly’s Game Plot

After Molly Bloom suffers an injury during a qualifying event for the 2002 Winter Olympics, she skips out on law school and moves to Los Angeles. She quickly lands a job as a bottle service waitress at the Cobra Lounge, where she meets Dean Keith, a noisy real estate developer that runs a high-stakes poker game.

Keith hires Bloom as his personal assistant and soon she is managing his game, where she meets a variety of wealthy businessmen and Hollywood celebrities. After a conflict with Keith, she strikes out on her own and dives deeper into the world of high-stakes gambling.

The story exists in two time periods, with a present-day story of Bloom’s and her lawyer, Charlie Jaffey, as he represents her as she navigates her troubles with the FBI. Bloom spends much of the film fighting a lonely crusade, but that is balanced by the story of her relationship with Jaffey, who helps her when no one else would. The film flashes back to fill in the context of her legal troubles with Bloom’s conflicts with people like “Player X”, a narcissistic Hollywood celebrity that harbors a gambling addiction—as well as the organized crime figures that fight for their piece of the underground gambling world.

Photo by Michael Gibson - © 2017 - STX Films
Photo – © 2017 – STX Films

Molly’s Game Explained – What Was it Really About?

Molly’s Game isn’t a poker movie, so don’t expect a lot of drama to be built around what happens on the felt. The movie is about Molly Bloom fighting to overcome a series of obstacles and claim her place in the world of high-stakes gambling. Her growing list of adversaries, and eventually her own demons, contribute to the legal and personal troubles that result from a life in that world.

“It’s a story about decency,” as Sorkin said in an interview on NPR. “This was a morality tale of doing the right thing when the wrong thing is easier.”

Consensus – Is Molly’s Game Worth Watching?

The movie retains a strong 7.4 rating on IMDB and an approval rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the strong writing should keep it among the better movies in the “gambling genre” for some time. Molly’s Game is worth watching if you are looking for a docudrama of the high-stakes poker world.

Poker Breakdown – Is Molly’s Game Realistic?

Molly’s Game is based on her book of the same name, so you can expect a biased perspective towards Bloom’s side of the story, but like the book, the film portrays her flaws in an honest light. Aaron Sorkin’s writing does the job of building a realistic world, and the gambling scenes aren’t out of touch. Poker players may find some of the lingo to be over the top.

How to Watch Molly’s Game

You can watch Molly’s Game on DVD, Blu-Ray, and on several streaming services to either rent or buy.

Is Molly’s Game on Netflix?

Molly’s Game is currently available to stream with a subscription on Netflix.

Is Molly’s Game on Amazon Prime?

Molly’s Game is available to rent on Amazon Prime for $3.99, or you can own it for $9.99.

Is Molly’s Game on Disney+?

Molly’s Game is not available to stream on Disney+.

Photo by Michael Gibson - © 2017 - STX Films
Photo by Michael Gibson – © 2017 – STX Films

Molly’s Game FAQs

Who are the 4 celebrities in Molly’s game?

Jessica Chastain, Michael Cera, Kevin Costner, and Idris Elba

Did Leonardo DiCaprio play in Molly’s Game?

No, Leonardo DiCaprio did not play in Molly’s Game, though it is rumored that he attended to watch.

Did Molly From Molly’s Game go to jail?

Molly Bloom did not serve any jail time for her role in the illegal money laundering and illegal sports gambling operation. She was sentenced to one year of probation and 200 hours of community service.

Is Molly’s Game a true story?

Molly’s Game is based on the real-life story of Molly Bloom.

Is there a sequel to Molly’s Game?

No, there is no sequel to Molly’s Game.

Who is Player X in Molly’s Game?

“Player X” is a composite character, which is meant to represent several different people from the real-life story.

Who plays Molly in Molly’s Game?

Molly Bloom is played by Jessica Chastain.

How much did Molly’s Game gross?

Molly’s Game grossed $59,284,015 at the worldwide box office.

When was Molly’s Game released?

Molly’s Game was released on December 25, 2017

What is Molly’s Game rated on IMDB?

Molly’s Game is rated 7.4 on IMDB.

Is Tobey Maguire in Molly’s Game?

No, Tobey Maguire is not in Molly’s Game

Name Surname
Matt Hansen

Live Reporting Executive

Las Vegas-based PokerNews Live Reporting Executive, originally from Chicago, IL

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Three Online Slots Made with AI Assistance

Three Online Slots Made with AI Assistance

The casino industry online and on land has been using artificial intelligence (AI) for quite some time now. However, with the advent of Generative AI across several models, the term with broad meaning can now be used to generate images directly from text prompts.

With competition for your gambling dollar strong, and an ever-increasing number of people around the globe partaking in risk-based entertainment along with a variety of other reasons we’ll look at as this report progresses, it comes as no surprise that AI-generated images have found their way onto slot reels, albeit only on virtual online slot machines at this point.

April 2023 saw the release of at least three online slot titles with imagery created by or with the help of artificial intelligence. The three pioneering companies and titles we’ll cover here are NetGaming (Wild Buffalo Bonanza), Endorphina (Joker Ra), and BGaming (Alien Fruits). And while there could be more (disclosed or undisclosed) we’ll focus on these games as they all came out about the same time and have been heralded in the press – or at least press releases – as innovations and game changers.

Click on the following links to see release notes and details of the following slot titles developed with AI-assisted imaging:

Wild Buffalo Bonanza (released by NetGaming on April 13, 2023, to Whitehat Gaming operators and globally on 4-27) See here.

Joker Ra (released by Endorphina 4-27) See here.

Alien Fruits (released by BGaming on April 13, 2023) See here.

A Little Background on AI in the Gambling Industry

One of the most obvious ways AI has been used in the gambling world is for security Facial recognition coupled with AI has been used to identify card counters, self-excluded gamblers, banned cheats, and organized criminals from land-based operations. On the negative side, it has been used in whale playgrounds like Macau to identify high rollers in order to target them for casino profits through various tradecraft.

On the online end of things, AI can analyze data on player patterns and habits and when an aberration occurs even real-time play can be examined more closely by the machine or by operations management. If it appears the purported gambler is not behaving like the known player, steps can be taken to prevent fraud including theft from the player or casino such as money laundering.

AI is also used more extensively all the time in jurisdictions with robust player protection frameworks to identify problem gamblers and either intervene automatically or by alerting staff who know what to look for, what type of questions to ask, and which actions to take to protect vulnerable persons.

Artificial intelligence has been used by companies big and small in all online markets analyzed. There isn’t much public domain information available but reading between the lines can be productive when the story seems to be the same or similar if what is seen in the gaps is the same across multiple platforms, markets, and jurisdictions.

In a nutshell, the most obvious use of AI in online casinos is in collecting data on players’ behaviors and then shaping the online experience to give gamblers the most satisfying experience possible without affecting the odds or any other element of a fair game.

Understanding what type of slots most appeal to a certain player and then making similar titles with some of the same or similar maths or mechanics will allow the operator to further define what the player is after. Was it simply the buffalo theme or was it the risk and reward factor? Was it the fact there are two bonus rounds or the possibility to buy one of the bonuses?

Just a Few of the Things Affected by AI

These are but a few of the elements that can be sussed out to deliver a better player experience. A better experience means more intense engagement and deeper engagement means longer playtime. Since the House always wins in the end (or at least can maintain an edge until time guarantees it if players don’t quit while they are ahead), the longer a player plays the more they will lose, on average.

The type of bonus you use most often, the sort of wagering requirements you normally accept, whether or not you are more apt to take a once-in-a-lifetime huge cashout type offer or are simply happy to greatly extend playtime and are willing to accept a huge percentage match in exchange for liberal terms and a maximum cap on how much you can win – these can all be handled by AI. In fact, they are and have been for nearly a decade in some instances – but again – it’s not really something that operators or marketers want their competitors to know or even their players – that could take the fun out of it for some.

While many things are accomplished by algorithms or outright AI in the background, none can change the end result of games like slots. Well, sure they could, but not in a way that matters. Regulators such as the BGC, (UKGC) not only require a game to have a stated or “theoretical” RTP (return to player percentage) they also require the actual RTP to fall in line with that given number.

How long (how many iterations or spins) it takes to reach it, how long it stays at that point, and how often and far it deviates over the course of time are simply matters of volatility rather than payback percentages and that is taken into account as well. If it takes a low variance title 400,000 spins for the actual RTP to arrive at the theoretical RTP number – and stays within the standard deviation (say 5 points above, 5 points below, or anywhere in between) for 95 out of 100 simulations (5% confidence interval) then it would appear not to matter to the regulator just how that occurred as long as the maths are solid.

By the same measure, players shouldn’t care how it occurs as long as it occurs – and – each spin has the same chance to produce any given result.

Thankfully, there aren’t any games that mess around with the maths that are written in stone. There was one product on the market several years ago that was really a scratch card but looked like and behaved like a slot machine. The problem with it was that as soon as the “jackpot prize” was awarded – once out of every million interactions – it was no longer available to be won until “all the tickets” were sold – or every spin needed to award each and every prize was executed. The developer responsible for that type of game changed methods prior to being awarded a license in Great Britain.

AI could handle every element of all of the inner workings of a slot game and even come up with new mechanics that nobody has tried so far. It’s entirely possible that there are labs undertaking the challenge right now. However, the first AI-generated slots were strictly garbage – even though high-quality clones could be created today with the tech.

Garbage in – Garbage Out

In 2019, Ars Technica reported on a duo of developers who created a robot to create mobile slot games in 2013. The experiment created over 1,500 junk games with minor variations in theme and changed perhaps one image to match the theme. The games, available on Google Play, are all dead now and the duo credits their junk with helping “train” Google algorithms to recognize and remove certain types of apps.

According to Ars: “In their GDC presentation, <the devs> mostly left the data up for people to peruse in a laughing manner, but also with a human angle about the costs that might arise if you chase such a robo-generated app dream with profit, not laughs, as the goal.”

The direction today’s developers are taking in an increasingly competitive marketplace seems much better – the images are stunning and on point and the game maths and mechanics are still, presumably, human creations. Where AI-assisted game development goes from here is anybody’s guess.

Source: Here’s How Casinos Are Using AI, Medium, May 31, 2021

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Turn $1.10 into a Main Event Seat for The Festival Malta at WPT Global

Turn $1.10 into a Main Event Seat for The Festival Malta at WPT Global

It is fair to say that The Festival has taken the live poker scene by storm. The brainchild of Martin “Franke” von Zweigbergk, The Festival is a live poker series like no other. Not only does it features dozens of so-called traditional poker tournaments, but also hosts blackjack, roulette, and sports betting tournaments, in addition to the ever-popular Cash Game Festival.

The Festival jets off to the Mediterranean from May 14-21 for The Festival in Malta, the latest stop on this super-exciting tour. The Portomaso Casino will be full to bursting while The Festival is in town, and you could be one of the hundreds of poker players fighting it out for the lion’s share of the €550 buy-in Main Event’s prize pool, and doing so for as little as $1.10 thanks to WPT Global.

The €550 buy-in Main Event of The Festival in Malta runs from May 16-21, and it should award some impressive prizes. Martin Mauthner won the inaugural event in Bratislava in September 2021, and walked away with €56,870 after a heads-up deal.

Eirik Kristiansen banked €56,100 for his victory in Tallinn, while Michel Molenaar reeled in a The Festival record €126,650 after coming out on top of the Bratislava event in October 2022. More recently, in February 2023, Ignacio Menendez captured a £37,595 prize in Nottingham, which featured a £500 buy-in instead of €550.

Past The Festival Main Event Champions

Date Event Buy-in Entrants Prize Pool Champion Prize
Sep. 2021 Bratislava €550 621 €304,245 Martin Mauthner €56,870*
Jun. 2022 Tallinn €550 552 €264,960 Eirik Kristiansen €56,100
Oct. 2022 Bratislava €550 1,271 €603,725 Michel Molenaar €126,650
Feb. 2023 Nottingham £500 609 £232,292 Ignacio Menendez £37,595*

*reflects payment after a deal

Play Online WPT500 Mexico City Flights From Your WPT Global Account!

Head to WPT Global For Cheap The Festival in Malta Satellites

WPT Global continues adding partners, and The Festival is the latest major name to put pen to paper with the official online poker site of the World Poker Tour. This weekend is your final chance to win yourself a The Festival in Malta Main Event package worth $1,650, and do so from as little as $1.10.

The Festival in Malta satellites’ Day 2 takes place at 5:00 p.m. UTC on May 7, and you cannot buy into it. Instead, you must play your way through one of the qualifiers. $1.10 feeders run daily at 4:00 p.m. UTC, and $22 qualifiers at 7:00 p.m. UTC daily. There’s even a Last Chance Turbo at 2:00 p.m. UTC on May 7. Navigate your way through to the satellite’s Day 2 and you will be in with a chance of bagging a $1,650 The Festival in Malta Main Event package.

  • €550 The Festival in Malta Main Event seat
  • Five nights’ accommodation for up to two people at the Golden Tulip Vivaldi Hotel
  • $370 paid into your WPT Global account to go towards travel expenses

Imagine turning a $1.10 investment into a trip to Malta! Make it happen this weekend!

Join WPT Global Today

The launch of WPT Global means that poker players around the world now have the chance to win their way to WPT events, win prizes and enjoy exciting games such as Poker Flips. As one of the world’s largest cash game poker networks, WPT Global is available in over 50 countries and territories worldwide.

WPT Global offers a large deposit match bonus: 100% on deposits up to $1,200 (using any payment method). New players depositing a minimum of $20 automatically receive this match bonus which is unlocked in $5 increments (credited straight to the cashier) for every $20 of rake contribution.

Both tournaments and cash games count towards bonus unlocking; new players have 90 days from the date of first deposit to unlock and claim their full bonus amount.

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Illinois Gaming Board Approved Relocation of Penn Casinos

Illinois Gaming Board Approved Relocation of Penn Casinos

Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) has approved the relocation of Holywood Aurora and Hollywood Joliet casinos owned by Penn Entertainment. The parent company of the two suburban Chicago casinos and the Ameristar Casino facility located in Eastern Chicago received the approval to reconstruct Joliet and Aurora at more convenient locations.

Significant Step:

As KPVI reports,  Penn Entertainment plans to invest around $545 million into the two Hollywood Casino gaming properties following the IGB’s approval. Marcus Fruchter, the IGB administrator, reportedly commented: “Approval of the relocation proposals for the Hollywood Aurora and Hollywood Joliet casinos is a significant step in the regulatory process to bring new gaming venues to these host communities.”

Fruchter added: “The IGB will work with Penn Entertainment as it moves through the regulatory process to ensure these relocated casino venues are constructed, opened, and operated in an efficient, ethical, and compliant manner.”

According to the source, Penn Entertainment officials were aware that the competitive Chicago market requires huge investments to run Hollywood Casinos into profitability and avail of the opportunity to create numerous jobs in both communities. The relocation plans testify about Penn’s adoption of realistic prospects for the suburban sites and seem adjusted to the company’s financial estimates regarding the new locations.

Joliet Relocation:

According to the source, Penn will replace the Hollywood Casino riverboat on the Des Plaines River located southwest of Will County city with the $185 million Joliet land-based casino project which will be located in the Rock Run Crossings development at the nearby intersection of Interstates 80 and 55. The new Hollywood Joliet Casino will include around 800 slot machines and 45 table games, as well as a Barstool Sportsbook, prestigious bars and restaurants, conference and meeting space, and an event facility.

Aurora Relocation:

Hollywood Aurora Casino will not be developed on a downtown island in the Fox River as initially planned. Instead, the land-based casino will be constructed in a location close to Interstate 88, near the Chicago Premium Outlets Mall and the Fermilab campus. The $360 million development will include casino space with almost 900 slot machines and 50 table games.

Awaiting Regulatory Approvals:

This will reportedly be the second-largest Penn development in the Chicago area after its East Chicago development, Ameristar Casino, offering 1,177 slot machines and 42 table games. But the Aurora facility is set to have similar features as Ameristar and will include a 200-room hotel, a wellness center, bars and restaurants, conference and meeting space, and an event facility.

The construction of the Hollywood Joliet and Hollywood Aurora casino projects is reportedly scheduled to start by the end of 2023 following final regulatory approvals and permits now that the IGB has approved the relocation of subject properties.

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Play in $4,000 Worth of Freerolls at 888poker on May 6

Play in $4,000 Worth of Freerolls at 888poker on May 6

The freerolls most online poker sites tend to have small prize pools of $50 to $200, and although and free cash is always welcome, those sums hardly set pulses racing. 888poker is bucking the trend of small freeroll prize pools by running not one but two $2,000 free-to-play poker tournaments on May 6.

888poker YouTube Channel $2,000 Freeroll

Your first chance to play in a $2,000 freeroll on May 6 is at 8:00 p.m. GMT, which is when the 888poker YouTube Channel $2,000 Freeroll shuffles up and deals. As the name suggests, the freeroll is to celebrate the awesome YouTube channel that 888poker’s streamers and ambassadors have helped grow.

Not only does subscribing the 888poker YouTube channel mean you will never miss any of the incredible content posted there (and there are some real gems uploaded), but you’ll also find the all-important password on the 888poker YouTube community tab, which you’ll need to have a chance of winning some of that free $2,000.

$2,000 King Charles Freeroll

King Chalres Freeroll

The $2,000 King Charles Freeroll commences half an hour after the YouTube event at 8:30 p.m. GMT. This particular freeroll, designed to help celebrate the coronation of the United Kingdom’s King Charles, is open to every customer that has made at least one deposit into their account; there are no other entry requirements, just turn up, register, and try to bag yourself some free cash.

888poker LIVE Barcelona Runs May 10-22; Will There be a Spanish Main Event Champion?

What Else is Happening at 888poker?

It is not only the pair of $2,000 freerolls that should have 888poker players tingling with excitement because there is a whole lot more to the site than free-to-play tournaments. Although, PokerNews has some exclusive freerolls taking place at 888poker during the month of May.

For a start, 888poker is still the only online poker site that runs daily mystery bounty tournaments; you could say they are the masters of this popular, exciting format. Hot of the hugely successful Mystery Bounty Weekend, 888poker is running a $109 buy-in $100,000 guaranteed Mystery Bounty tournament at 7:00 p.m. on May 7. Satellites from mere pennies are available right now.

Then there are the satellites for the upcoming 888poker LIVE Barcelona Main Event, which your very own PokerNews live reporting team are covering in great detail live from the Casino Barcelona. Will you be joining the 888poker and PokerNews team in sunny Spain in a few days’ time?

Grab the Best 888poker Welcome Bonus

Download 888poker via PokerNews to lock-in the best 888poker bonus found anywhere online. The bonus releases into your playable account balance as you play real money cash games and tournaments. There are so many fantastic games to play, that you should have your 888poker bonus fully released in next to no time.

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Climb the Bet365 Queen of Cards Leaderboard For Up To €500 Cash Weekly

Climb the Bet365 Queen of Cards Leaderboard For Up To €500 Cash Weekly

Bet365 Poker has launched a brand new promotion that could see walk away with weekly cash prizes of up to €500 just for playing your favourite games. The Queen of Cards Leaderboards run from May 1 through June 5, and see you pick up leaderboard points based on the number of queens that are in your winning hand.

The Queen of Cards Leaderboards revolve around cash games and Twister tournaments, the latter being bet365 Poker’s jackpot sit & go games. Hit these games between 10:00 a.m. GMT on Monday through to 9:59 a.m. GMT the following Monday, and you could see a cash prize worth up to €500 land in your bet365 Poker account balance.

Although this value-packed promotion is split into four leaderboards – they are based on stakes and buy-ins for fairness – you can accumulate points for all four leaderboards. Should you manage to top all four Queen of Cards Leaderboards, you’d walk away with a cool €1,400!

Perhaps the best feature of the Queen of Cards Leaderboards promotion is the fact it is not geared towards high-volume grinders like many other online poker promotions. Only your first 1,000 hands during the qualifying period earn you leaderboard points, again, ensuring everyone is competing on a level playing field.

It is possible to reset your hand counter at any time, but this also resets any points earned, so be warned!

How Do You Earn Queen of Cards Leaderboard Points?

Earning points for the Queen of Cards Leaderboards promotion is simple. Bet365 Poker gives you precious leaderboard points each time your best five-card poker hand contains a queen.

For example, if you are dealt pocket queens then you would automatically receive two points. Should that pocket pair improve to a set, then three points are all yours, but only if your hand is a winner.

Furthermore, Bet365 Poker applies a multiplier to your points based on the stakes you made the hand at. For blinds of €0.05/€0.10, €1/€2 and for Twister buy-ins of €10 and €100, your points are multiplied by 1.25x.

For blinds of €0.25/€0.50 and €2/€4, and Twister buy-ins of €20 and €200, those points receive a 1.5x multiplier.

Win Up To 250 Free Spins With the Bet365 Free Spins Burst Promotion

Premium Cash Leaderboard Prizes

To earn points and prizes in the cash game element of the Queen of Cards Leaderboards promotion, you need to hit the Premium Tables, which are cash game tables only available to Bet365 Poker customers.

For the purpose of the promotion, Low Stakes are considered €0.05/€0.10, €0.10/€0.20, and €0.25/€0.50, while High Stakes games have blinds of €0.50/€1, €1/€2, and €2/€4.

Low Place Low Prize High Prize
1 €200 €500
2 €100 €250
3 €75 €100
4-5 €50 €75
6-10 €25 €50
11-25 €10 €25
26-50 €5  

Twister Leaderboard Prizes

The Twister leaderboards are also split into low and high stakes games. Buy into €5, €10, or €20 Twisters to earn points for the Low Stakes leaderboard, and €50, €100, or €200 games for the High Stakes leaderboard.

Low Place Low Prize High Prize
1 €200 €500
2 €100 €250
3 €75 €100
4-5 €50 €75
6-10 €25 €50
11-25 €10 €25
26-50 €5  

Love Soccer? You’ll Love These Bet365 Offers

Start Your Bet365 Career With a €365 Welcome Bonus

You need a Bet365 Poker account to get involved in the Cheltenham Champions promotion. Those with an account can fire up the Bet365 Poker software, opt-in, and start meeting the entry requirements. Anyone reading this without an account can download Bet365 Poker via PokerNews and become eligible for a sizable welcome package.

Regardless of your initial deposit size, new Bet365 Poker customers receive a €365 redeemable bonus that releases into your account as you play real money cash games and tournaments. You receive 10 Status Points for every €1 or £1 you contribute to the cash game rake or pay in tournament fees.

The first two €2.50 bonus payments will be released into your playable balance once you earn 25 and 50 Status Points, respectively. The following 24 increments land in your account each time you earn 100 Status Points, with the remaining instalments redeeming after every 250 Status Points earned.

In addition to the €365 bonus, you also reel in a €1 Twister ticket, a free spin on the Welcome Prize Wheel, and some special welcome missions where you earn one-off prizes

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