The Weekly Round-up – 19 July 2021:

Daniel Negreanu Wins 2021 PokerGO Cup

The Tip Top Fox brings you the top poker and gambling industry stories of the week; Negreanu Wins PokerGO Cup; Six-Time World Series Bracelet Winner Layne Flack Dead at 52; Sunday Storm Crash Costs PokerStars $366K; Element Partners Acquires WPT For $105M

Negreanu Breaks Eight-Year Losing Streak With PokerGO Cup Championship Victory

Daniel Negreanu is probably one of the biggest names in poker. Unfortunately for “Kid Poker” a number of recent high-profile defeats against Phil Hellmuth and Doug Polk meant the prolific professional was making headlines for an eight-year losing streak rather than for his poker achievements.

However, proving the adage ‘you can’t keep a good man down’ just weeks after getting swept 3-0 by Hellmuth in High Stakes Duel, Negreanu silenced his detractors by becoming the inaugural PokerGO Cup champion.

In true dramatic style, the result came down to the final heads-up battle between Cary Katz and Sam Soverel in the last event of the series. With Negreanu holding a narrow lead on the PokerGo Cup Series leaderboard, should Soverel win, the latter would be crowned Series Champion.

Katz did not disappoint, battling back from a 3-1 chip deficit to clinch Event #8: $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em and grant Negreanu the overall title of PokerGo Cup Champion.

It was a bittersweet day because I busted and I didn’t win the million dollars, and I busted in an ugly fashion, but ‘El Jefe,’ Cary Katz, came through for me and got the job done,” Negreanu told PokerGO shortly after the final event played out.

Negreanu’s Road To Victory

Daniel Negreanu wins the inaugural PokerGO Cup Championship. All images courtesy of PokerGO.com

As reported last week, it was Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Ali Imsirovic the man topping the PokerGO Cup leaderboard midway through the series after taking down two events. Imsirovic was way out in front with a commanding lead of 423 points, 107 points more than next-closest rival Jason Koon.

Negreanu had entered all six of the events played at that time, hovering somewhere near the bottom of the table on 48 points after an eighth-place finish in Event #3: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em and a sixth-place finish in Event #5: $25,000 No-Limit Hold’em.

Negreanu Breaks Losing Streak

After busting well before the cash in Event #6: $25,000 No-Limit Hold’em, the stars aligned for Negreanu in Event #7: $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em.

Negreanu bested a 35-strong field, emerging triumphant over David Coleman heads-up to take the $700,000 top prize and the title; his first since 2013 when he won the WSOP APAC Main Event for $1.08 million.

Negreanu celebrates his first win since 2013 with victory in Event #7

You can view all the action from Negreanu’s PokerGO Cup victory on PokerGO.com.

“If I look at my results since 2013, I’ve cashed for $20 to $30 million, so I’ve still been able to post wins in terms of finances, but the elusive top prize has been missing,” said Negreanu about his last eight years of runner-up finishes.

“I’ve been a bridesmaid so many times. Just the demons and the ghosts in your brain, like when I’m heads-up with [David Coleman] and that three hit the turn, it was just every reminder, like Buckner back in Shea Stadium. Every possible bad thing I’m thinking in my head. I can’t help it. I’m human. So just to get that win out of the way it feels like I don’t have to think about that anymore.”

Daniel Negreanu

That win put Negreanu third in the overall PokerGO Cup leaderboard standings on 468 points, just two points shy of Coleman, who climbed into second place with his runner up finish. Imsirovic kept his lead with a fifth place finish to top the leaderboard on 497 points with just one event left to play out.

Katz Does Negreanu A Favour

Event #8 $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em drew 23 entrants in total.

After both Imsirovic and Coleman came up short of the cash spots the door was wide open for Negreanu to make his play for the series title.

It was not a given, however, with Negreanu needing to finish in third place or better to guarantee the Player of the Series title.

Cary Katz wins Event #8 for $1.058 million

Unfortunately, the one man who could steal Negreanu’s thunder was the man to eliminate him from the tournament.

Following Dan Smith’s exit on the money bubble, his pocket tens no match for Katz’s pocket jacks, Negreanu and chip leader Sam Soverel played a huge pot that saw the latter’s pocket eights crack the former’s pocket aces.

Negreanu was out in fourth place, and while he made $230,000 for his deep run, he still had to sweat the action as should Soverel convert his chip lead into the win, he would take the series title.

Soverel dispatched a short-stacked Sean Winter in third place for $368,000 to take a commanding 3-1 chip lead into the heads-up confrontation with Katz but ultimately came up short, giving Negreanu more kudos to accompany his Event #7 win.

2021 PokerGO Cup Top 10

RankNameCountryEarningsPoints
1Daniel NegreanuCanada$996,200537
2Ali ImsirovicBosnia and Herzegovina$545,500497
3Cary KatzUSA$1,161,800475
4David ColemanUSA$710,000470
5Alex FoxenUSA$533,200421
6Sam SoverelUSA$812,200361
7Jason KoonUSA$446,000316
8Dylan LindeUSA$255,000255
9Sergi ReixachSpain$320,700244
10Jake SchindlerUSA$324,000194

Six-Time World Series Bracelet Winner Layne Flack Dead at 52

Layne Flack at WPT Choctaw Season 2017-2018. Image courtesy of WPT Flickr

The global poker community was in a state of shock on Monday as reports surfaced that six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Layne Flack had passed away at the age of 52.

According to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the 52-year-old was found dead at his Las Vegas home. News of Flack’s death was brought to the poker community’s attention by top mixed game specialist Randy Ohel via Twitter, though there were no details about the cause of death.

Following the tragic news, many of the game’s top professionals posted tributes to the six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner on Twitter, chief among them Phil Hellmuth, who called him “one of the biggest and best personalities in the poker world!” in a long, heartfelt message on the social media platform.

Others to leave messages included Daniel Negreanu who posted: “RIP Layne Flack… We go way, way back and I’ll cherish all the crazy memories. Knowing Layne, I imagine he would want us all to celebrate his life and share some laughs about the good old days.

Respected tournament director Matt Savage was another who seemed shell-shocked by the news.

Back-to-Back Flack

A former poker dealer who managed a small poker room in Billings, Montana, Flack was originally from Rapid City, South Dakota. After winning his first World Series of Poker bracelet in 1999 in the $3,000 Hold’em Pot Limit event for $224,400, Flack opted to turn professional.

Later that same year, Flack earned his “Back-to-Back” moniker after taking down two $300+$30 tournaments at the 1999 Legends of Poker Series in Las Angeles, winning the $300+30 7-Card Stud and the $300+30 Limit Hold’em Shootout in two consecutive days.

Flack then followed this up by winning two more WSOP bracelets in 2002, and a further two in 2003 to cement his nickname and go down in poker folklore as Layne “Back-to-Back” Flack. His sixth bracelet and largest WSOP win came in 2008 in the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha, which earned him $577,725.

In total, Flack won over $5 million playing live tournaments and is one of just 16 players to win at least six WSOP titles.

Layne Flack’s WSOP Bracelets

YEARTOURNAMENTPRIZE
1999Event #12: $3,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em$224,000
2002Event #4: $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em$303,880
2002Event #19: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em$268,020
2003Event #18: $2,500 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo$119,260
2003Event #25: $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout$120,000
2008Event #34: $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha$577,725

Sunday Storm Crash Costs PokerStars $366K

Pokerstars Sunday Storm Tournament Series
Pokerstars Sunday Storm Tournament Series

Technical issues with one of PokerStars most popular tournament series, the Sunday Storm, has cost the online poker site over a third of a million dollars after the event was abruptly canceled this past Sunday, 18 July.

The $10+$1 event, run on PokerStars’ global dot-com platform, regularly draws fields in excess of 30,000, and to celebrate the series 10th anniversary, PokerStars had guaranteed a $1M prize pool, with the eventual winner set to scoop a $100,000 top prize.

However, due to unspecified technical issues, the event was canceled roughly 20 minutes before the start of late registration. While the tournament had attracted a sizable 64,617 entrants, roughly 25,000 of whom still remaining in the running, that left a significant overlay of $366,753 ($289,213 including rake).

PokerStars Takes The Hit

While some of the remaining players were quite vocal in their displeasure on social media, some calling it a scam, as you can see from the above tweet PokerStars handled the issue admirably, opting to invoke the sites’ “roll forward” clause.

All surviving players were refunded their initial $11 entry fee, and with PokerStars choosing to honour the $1M guarantee, half of the remaining prize pool was then distributed evenly between the players, with 16,667 of them receiving a payout of $19.26.

The other half of the remaining prize pool was then allocated by the chip percentage each player still in the event had in their stack, with payouts ranging from $26.83 to $208.92.

While this is a long way off the chunky payouts some of the chip leaders may have been eyeing up, the fact PokerStars did their best to compensate all affected players and even coughed up the overlay went some way to alleviating the negative fallout a technical issue of this size inevitably generates.

PokerStars has yet to confirm the nature of the technical issue that resulted in the events’ cancellation, though player complaints included unresponsive betting buttons, table freezes and players unable to receive hole cards, despite the tournament clock still running.

With all other tournaments, sit and go’s and cash games on the site remaining unaffected, it looks likely that server issues with the sizeable turnout were the root cause of the problem.


Element Partners Acquires WPT For $105M

WPT Fallsview Poker Classic. Image courtesy of WPT

As reported back in March, one of global poker’s more recognisable brands, the World Poker Tour (WPT), was up for sale with growth equity firm Element Partners, LLC and US casino chain Bally’s becoming embroiled in a bidding war over acquiring the company.

Originally, Element Partners had offered a $78 million bid for the company back in January but were forced to renegotiate after Bally’s swooped in with a $90.5 million offer.

After months of wrangling, Element Partners were successful with their second bid, buying WPT and all related assets for a total of $105 million. The transaction was approved at a special meeting of the Company’s stockholders on 1 July 2021.

“This is a momentous day for AESE and an opportunity to focus on growing the business in exciting and innovative ways,” said Frank Ng, CEO of Allied Esports Entertainment in a Business Wire press release.

“Congratulations to Adam Pliska and his entire team at World Poker Tour as they too move into a new, successful chapter.”

Following the completion of the WPT Business transaction, the Company is comprised of its esports business, Allied Esports, and cash resources from the sale.

This is the fourth time the WPT has changed hands since its 2002 inception. Party Gaming paid $12.3 million for the brand back in 2009. Then Ourgame International Holdings Ltd paid $35 million to acquire it in 2015.

Widely considered one of the world’s most recognisable poker brands, the WPT was instrumental in the global poker boom of the early 2000s with a hugely popular televised high-stakes tournament series. Now in its 18th season, the show is broadcast globally in more than 150 countries and territories.

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