Poker in the News — Weekly Round-up for December 28, 2018

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Dec 28, 2018

Super High Roller Poker Win For Poker Pro

Isaac Haxton cracks his biggest tourney win yet, taking career earnings north of $23 million

Respected US poker pro Isaac Haxton has pushed his career live tourney earnings north of $23 million after winning the $3,672,000 main prize in the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller playing in a field of 36 world renowned rivals.

Haxton held the chip lead going into the third and last day of the competition, chased closely by UK pro Steven Chidwick, who was ultimately eliminated at third for $1,512,000.

Chidwick’s departure started the heads up, with US pro-on-a-roll Alex Foxen holding the chip lead, but it was not for long; Haxton in a single hand took the chip lead back to claim a 2:1 chip advantage that he later extended to a 7 to 1 lead that he rode through to a main prize win, sending Foxen to the exit and a still impressive prize of $2,160,000.

Other final tablers cashed:

Talal Shakerchi United Kingdom $1,188,000
Adrian Mateos Spain $972,000
Igor Kurganov Russia $756,000
Ali Imsirovi Bosnia and Herzegovina $540,000

World Poker Tour And Allied E-Sports Merger

Black Ridge Acquisition has agreed to purchase the World Poker Tour (WPT) Enterprises and Allied Esports International assets from Ourgame International

World Poker Tour Enterprises and Allied Esports are to be acquired from Ourgame International Holdings by Black Ridge Acquisition and merged in a $213.8 million deal.

The combined company will operate as Allied Esports Entertainment (AESE) and focus on providing in-person experiences, multi-platform content and interactive services across poker and video gaming, catering to an audience estimated to be as large as 2.2 billion people.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019, with the new business to be listed on the NASDAQ Capital Market Exchange.

The acquirer is a special purpose acquisition company, sponsored by Black Ridge Oil & Gas, and is headquartered in Minnesota. Its director Lyle Berman will become chair of AESE, with Ourgame chief executive Frank Ng taking on the CEO role at the new business.

“In more than 40 years in the gaming and entertainment business, this is the most exciting opportunity I have seen,” Berman said. “The capital from the Black Ridge SPAC will be used to expand AESEs global property network, accelerating their first-mover advantage as the company continues to build a brand that is synonymous with eSports.”

Ng will be supported as chief executive by many of the same team he worked with at Ourgame. Eric Yang will serve as vice chairman; Ken DeCubellis as finance chief; David Moon as chief operations officer, and Adam Pliska takes on the role of president.

This transaction will be transformational for our rapidly expanding company and provide the eSports community with a fully capitalized, globally connected eSports enterprise capable of producing the volume and breadth of esports entertainment products the industry is increasingly demanding, Ng said. By applying WPTs proven business model to the much bigger, higher-growth global esports business, we are creating an eSports entertainment platform that is long-lasting and positioned to capture the esports monetization opportunity.

The new entity will combine Allied’s network of properties and facilities with WPTs expertise in live events, content distribution and customer engagement, with a pledge to deliver unparalleled experiences to a global esports audience.

This will include creating original content to share across partner distribution platforms including digital, traditional and social media, as well as developing a proprietary online platform to deliver branded entertainment for participants and viewers globally.

Pokerstars And UFC Partner For UFC® 232: Jones Vs. Gustafsson 2

In Las Vegas December 29, 2018

Mixed martial arts organisation UFC and Pokerstars have entered into a new marketing partnership, marking UFC’s first-ever ‘Official Poker Partner’ and creating a new sponsorship category.

Under the terms, PokerStars will enjoy a branded presence inside the Octagon® at UFC’s final Pay-Per-View event of 2018, UFC® 232: JONES vs. GUSTAFSSON 2.

Additional branding opportunities include the integration of PokerStars branding during UFC’s telecasts, as well as digital and social media, and other promotional opportunities.

“We’re excited that PokerStars has joined our roster of global partners and has helped us create a new sponsorship category for our final event of 2018,” Paul Asencio, UFC Senior Vice President, Global Partnerships, said. “This agreement lays the foundation to work together with PokerStars in the future to grow our respective customer bases in key markets.”

“UFC and PokerStars have a lot in common,” added Christopher Coyne, Chief Marketing Officer of Stars Interactive, a division of The Stars Group. “We want to thrill and entertain, both in our products and customer experience. UFC is the world’s leading MMA promoter with millions of fans and followers around the globe, while PokerStars is the heavyweight of online poker. It’s a classic combination.”

Through UFC’s worldwide programming distribution, PokerStars’ brand has the potential to reach 1.1 billion TV households in more than 160 countries and territories in 40 different languages.

Speciale Invest Backs Indian Tech Gaming Poker Startup

Pocket52 claims a sophisticated player experience with a multitude of new features

Bangalore-based tech gaming online poker startup Pocket 52 has raised an undisclosed seed fund led by investor group Speciale Invest.

The online poker platform said it had taken a major step in evolving Random Number Generator (RNG) technology with iTech certifying Pocket52 as a cryptographically secure RNG platform.

“Pocket52 is the first company to develop a cryptographically secure RNG, powered by Lava Lamps in India called RNG+,” a press statement reads.

Pocket52 is co-founded by Nitesh Salvi, Saurav Suman, Debashish Bhattacharjee and Satyam Verma, serving as chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief marketing officer and chief technology officer respectively.

“A decade of unsatisfactory experiences inspired him [Salvi] to build a space of his own in the Online Poker Circuit. Nitesh along with the founding team aims to reconstruct the online poker experience with the help of Data & Machine Learning.”

Pocket52 describes their offer as a “whale of a product” with the potential to attract a large user base and foster their sustenance.

Arjun Rao, General Partner at Speciale Invest:

“We’re excited to support Pocket52 in their vision. Their vision is to bring technological innovations to the Indian online gaming sector. Of course, poker is their first game. They have a strong product differentiation around the game-play. Their integrity levels, fairness and high-quality player engagement, strengthen our confidence in them.”

Founder of Speciale Invest, Vishesh Ramraja:

“The growth rate of the Indian online poker gaming industry is very high. It is a land of opportunities. Pocket52 has taken the technological lead in this space and we are happy to be a part of their growth journey.”

Brian Cullingworth

Infopowa news was a staple of Casinomeister’s news from 2000 until 2019. Brian Cullingworth was the main writer, contributor, and was one of the most knowledgeable persons I have ever known involved in the online casino industry.

We first met in January 2001 at the ICE in London where I observed him going booth to booth interviewing online casino, software, and licensing jurisdiction representatives. Brian was also heavily involved with our forum as “Jetset“, he was involved as an informal consultant to eCOGRA, the OPA, and was a player advocate who assisted countless aggrieved players with his connections to industry folks. He also published “Casino Cautions” via Infopowa news for quite a number of years. These can be found in our news archives.

His passing in February 2019 was a dark day for us. He will be forever missed.

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