The Weekly Round-up – 10 May 2021:

The Tip Top Fox brings you the top poker and gambling industry stories of the week; Polk Calls Out Hellmuth Following High Stakes Duel Win; Ivey Makes Rare Interview Appearance; Court Date Set for £4.5M Football Index Customer Repayments

Polk Calls Out Hellmuth Following Second Win Over Negreanu

It seems that 2021 is the year for resuming rivalries and settling scores, at least when it comes to poker. Interestingly, it is the same three players whose names keep cropping up in all of the highly publicized callouts and grudge matches: Daniel Negreanu, Doug Polk, and Phil Hellmuth.

Following the conclusion of the first of the High Stakes Poker Duel matches between Negreanu and Hellmuth that saw the latter beat the former heads-up for $50,000, it was pokers’ all-time money winner Bryn Kenney the man calling out Hellmuth publicly on Twitter.

While Hellmuth has yet to take Kenney up on his offer, the second of the three probable High Stakes Duel matches between Hellmuth and Negreanu played out on PokerGO on 6 May, this time with the stakes increased to $100,000 per player.

Once again it was Hellmuth who emerged victorious, extending his High Stakes Duel winning streak to 5 games after defeating Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari 3-0 in the previous High Stakes Duel matches and bringing his series winnings up to $500,000 in total.

A third and final match between the two is all but assured, with Negreanu publicly congratulating Hellmuth on his win on Twitter and throwing down the gauntlet for a third time, also offering to take side bets on the match.

Negreanu’s Heads-Up Record

Those looking to make some quick cash might consider betting against Negreanu in the third encounter. It’s been a humbling time for Negreanu in the heads-up arena recently. Negreanu has lost all three heads-up matches he has played in 2021 – a fact poker pundit Norman Chad was quick to point out:

However, it is not Negreanu that everyone is gunning for presently. That honor belongs to Hellmuth. The Poker Brat was quick to point out that despite his solid heads-up record and 15 WSOP bracelets, he still struggles for recognition from his peers.

“It just blows my mind, but I just never quite get that respect,” Hellmuth told PokerGO. “And that’s OK with me. I just want to keep winning.”

Strangely, despite the last three losses, Negreanu is still considered a match favorite going into the third round. Interestingly his last major heads-up victory came over eight years ago during the 2013 €25,000 World Series of Poker Europe High Roller where he beat Brazil’s Nicolau Villa-Lobos to win his sixth WSOP bracelet.

Irish poker player and non-Negreanu fan David Lapin was keen to put Negreanu’s track record under the microscope. Lapin points out Negreanu has not won a heads-up match on US soil since 2008.

Polk Challenges Hellmuth

Having already beaten Negreanu for $1.2M and publicly settling their long-running poker feud, it appears Doug Polk now has his sights set on Hellmuth.

Polk publicly called out Hellmuth on Twitter the day after his second HSD win over Negreanu. The heads-up specialist even offered to put $1M on the match – to Hellmuth’s $0.

Buoyed by his recent victory over Negreanu, Polk has every reason to be confident against Hellmuth. Back in March, on the latest season of High Stakes Poker, Polk made one of the best laydowns ever seen in televised poker.

With Hellmuth not responding to Kenney’s challenge, it remains uncertain whether the “Poker Brat” will take Polk’s offer. But if Hellmuth is the “apex predator” he claims then Polk’s seven-figure sweetener will be hard to ignore. One thing is for sure, it would be a game to get any poker fan salivating in anticipation of.

Ivey Makes Rare Interview Appearance

Phil Ivey is considered one of the game’s greats. Before Black Friday effectively changed the digital poker landscape back in 2011, Ivey topped the online biggest poker winner’s list with over $19.2M in profits.

In addition to boasting $31.3M in live tournament winnings, Ivey also holds 10 World Series of Poker bracelets. This puts him in second place for most bracelets won – tied with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan. Hellmuth holds the record with 15.

He is also notoriously tough to pin down making Ivey interviews a rare occurrence. However, to celebrate the 100th episode of DAT Poker Podcast, hosted by Daniel Negreanu, Adam Schwartz, Terrence Chan, and Ross Henry, Ivey made an Ali-like return to the interview ring. With Negreanu asking most of the questions, it’s an interesting listen and one worth tuning in to.

Among the topics discussed were Ivey’s latest hobbies, which include golfing, – no surprise there – meditation, and yoga.

Like the rest of the world, Ivey has been on lockdown for the last year. With no live poker to speak of he has not had much opportunity for travel.

Ivey’s preferred travel destination of choice, Macau, has also stopped running live poker altogether during the pandemic, leaving him to reminisce on some of the monster cash games he played in the former Portuguese enclave.

Other topics that came up included: his thoughts on cryptocurrency; what it’s like to slap Daniel Negreanu in the face; his views on the World Series of Poker and whether or not he plans to compete this year; how he’d do versus Hellmuth, and whether he can surpass the latter’s WSOP bracelet record.

Court Date Set for £4.5M Football Index Customer Repayments

Football Index Logo

As reported in March, online gambling company Football Index lost its gaming license and collapsed spectacularly, owing customers millions.

Begbies Traynor LLP, administrators for the UK parent company BetIndex, released a statement on 5 May. In it they confirmed a 10 May court hearing date to determine the distribution of funds.

“On 30 April 2021 the Administrators of BetIndex Limited issued an application for the determination of the appropriate distribution of the monies held in the Football Index Player Protection Account, and the identification of the customer classes who may be entitled to participate in those funds,” the statement from Football Index read.

“This is the first step towards the distribution of cash balances to customers of the Football Index platform. The hearing will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Monday 10 May 2021.”

The hearing will take place at the Royal Court of Jersey.

Under Investigation

Administrators Begbies Traynor LLP were appointed to deal with the insolvency proceedings back in late March. Following that, a UK government investigation into the company launched at the end of that April.

John Whittingdale, Secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, commented, “It is reported that many thousands of customers are affected by the product’s collapse, with some having lost very large sums… This review will aim to establish both how this situation came about and what lessons we can learn from it.”

Launched back in 2015, Football Index marketed itself as a “challenge to traditional bookmakers”. The site functioned as an online betting exchange similar to the stock market. 

Users traded in “shares” of football players, which fluctuated in price, receiving dividends based on player performance. 

Distribution of Funds

With £4.5M held in the Football Index Player Protection Trust Account, BetIndex is liable for £3.2M in customer account funds.

In addition to player funds, there is the question of the money wagered on dividend payments. Originally Football Index’s terms & conditions classed these funds as ‘at risk’ as they were in play and thus not covered by the crash of the business.

Administrators determined, however, that as the wagers placed are still active, site customers may be owed dividends for sums invested into players.

This makes the date at which dividends are to be calculated crucial, and will affect the amount that some customers are paid. Administrators recommended the date when administration proceedings began – 26 March.

With a £1.3m surplus in the account after customer funds are paid, the court hearing will determine exactly how BetIndex will be allowed to distribute the funds.

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