The Weekly Round-up – 12 April 2021:
The Tip Top Fox brings you the top poker and gambling industry stories of the week; WPT to Co-launch NFT Marketplace; Former NBA Star Fired by ESPN After Poker Game; Bryn Kenney Challenges Phil Hellmuth
WPT Partners With Theta Labs to Launch NFT Marketplace
The poker Non-Fungible Token (NFT) movement is gathering steam, with the World Poker Tour (WPT) announcing its intention to get in on the action. WPT will be co-launching the world’s first real-time NFT marketplace with video delivery network Theta Labs.
The WPT marketplace launch coincides with the premiere of WPT Season XVIII on Sunday, 18 April in the US. Following a similar format to NBA Top Shots, WPT NFTs will encapsulate key “moments” in the popular poker tours’ history. Like the NBA format, the WPT NFTs follow a tier system with Base, Rare and Legendary themed poker packs.
“Our exclusive NFT launch with Theta Network is one of our biggest digital initiatives to date. For the first time ever we’re combining our global reach of live televised poker with an NFT marketplace, giving our fans an interactive, real-time opportunity to collect a piece of the WPT poker action,” said Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour.
“We are thrilled to bring some of our top Poker pros, players, and celebrities to the NFT world, featuring rare and legendary WPT packs in weekly drops and running exclusive one-of-a-kind auctions for super rare poker moments.”
For launch, WPT will be paying tribute to legendary poker icon Mike Sexton, who passed away in September 2020. Sexton, along with Vince Van Patten, was the face of WPT as lead anchor and commentator. To commemorate this, three exclusive legendary Mike Sexton NFTs are planned for release, which can be purchased by auction.
Former champion and current WPT commentator Tony Dunst is another excited about the fusion of the poker and crypto market:
As reported last month, NFTs are becoming increasingly popular, with Lithuanian-Australian businessman and poker icon Tony G launching his own line of digital trading cards.
An acronym for Non-Fungible Tokens, NFTs are digital “one-of-a-kind” assets that utilise blockchain technology. Like online cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, which also utilise blockchain technology, NFTs can be bought and sold online.
However, while cryptocurrencies are fungible and can be interchanged – a bit like swapping dollar bills with someone – NFTs are unique digital tokens representing an image, or captured video moment. It’s better to think of them as a rare collectible coin or like some kind of digital Pokémon trading card.
For example, an NFT of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first-ever published tweet is currently on the market for a cool $2.5 million – though we’re not sure how you’d hang that on your wall. Or why you’d pay that much money for it in the first place but to each their own.
Some NFTs trade for seven-figure sums. Some, like the NBA Top Shots, can vary in price from $99 all the way up to $999 for the limited legendary editions. While it remains to be seen whether the WPT NFTs will command anywhere near the same price or level of interest, there is a lot of crossover between poker and the crypto market.
With poker boasting a slew of popular poker tours like the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and iconic TV shows such as High Stakes Poker there’s certainly space for expansion when it comes to poker-themed NFTs so watch this space.
Former NBA Star Fired by ESPN After Live Streamed Poker Game
Talking about the NBA; Former star player and basketball commentator Paul Pierce has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this week.
The retired Boston Celtics star, who had been working as an analyst on two ESPN NBA shows, “NBA Countdown” and “The Jump”, landed himself in hot water with the network after live-streaming a poker game.
However, it wasn’t the poker that got Pierce in trouble, as you can see in the below video:
Pierce shared parts of the live-streamed game on his Instagram page. Highlights included massages from some scantily-clad ladies and smoking what looked to be copious amounts of marijuana.
With ESPN owned by Disney, which prides itself on a family-friendly image, it was almost certainly this risqué behavior as opposed to playing cards that landed the star in ESPN’s bad books. ESPN promptly fired him, leading the star to address the situation via his Twitter page.
A keen poker player, Pierce has appeared on PokerGO show “Poker After Dark” where he competed against Phil Hellmuth and the WPTs Mike Sexton in a $20,000 buy-in $100/$200 No-Limit Hold’em cash game. The retired basketball Hall-of-Famer has also taken part in several World Series of Poker events. Pierce even chalked up a deep run in the 2015 Main Event, busting just shy of the cash spots.
It seems unlikely that a professional poker career is on the cards for Pierce, but the iconic former basketball player is certain to find gainful employment somewhere.
Bryn Kenney Challenges Phil Hellmuth to $1M HU Match, Wrong Phil Responds
As we reported last week, Phil Hellmuth has recently completed the first of what looks to be several highly-publicized heads-up matches against fellow poker professional Daniel Negreanu over on PokerGO.
It appears that Hellmuth’s claim to be a contender for the “world’s greatest poker player” has earned poker all-time money winner Bryn Kenney‘s ire.
Kenney continued the trend of high-profile call-outs, taking the time to issue Hellmuth a $1M heads-up challenge on Twitter:
However, it was another famous poker Phil in the form of online legend Phil Galfond who responded. When Kenney said in a (now-deleted) comment he did not wish to play on Galfond’s Run It Once poker site, Galfond responded:
The two had a little back-and-forth, with Luke Schwartz’s name also coming up, but ultimately nothing came of it. Galfond was keen to point out he has not refused a challenge from anyone and a match was always possible.
Kenney returned to badgering Hellmuth, reiterating his offer of a heads-up match and suggesting it could be for a charitable cause:
Hellmuth is likely too busy with his scheduled $200,000 Poker GO “High Stakes Duel” heads-up rematch against Negreanu.
This is something Negreanu himself confirmed in his YouTube breakdown of the duo’s first match. While Hellmuth may not be in a rush to play Kenney, the rematch versus Negreanu will be of interest to all serious poker fans.