PokerStars is rolling out a new feature called Side Bets and Nick and Mike discuss the details. Then the guys talk about some of the new bills that have been introduced in the US that could legalize online poker in those states, and they wrap things up with news of the latest online poker tournament series and the trend towards freezeouts in both live and online poker tournaments.


Full Transcript

Mike Gentile: Hello and welcome everybody to the Pokerfuse Podcast. It’s January 23rd, 2020, this is episode number 39. I’m your host, Mike Gentile, along with my cohost, Nick Jones.

This week on the podcast: PokerStars has begun introducing a new feature called side bets, currently only available to select customers in certain jurisdictions. We’ll tell you what it’s all about and discuss its similarities and differences to other features offered in online poker.

It’s the start of the new legislative season in states across the US. We’ll get you up to speed on which states are considering legalizing online poker so far this year.

Finally, a new batch of online poker tournament series had been announced for the start of the year. We’ll touch on some of the highlights and discuss the trending popularity of freezeouts as a format for both live and online poker tournaments.

PokerStars’ New Side Bets Feature

PokerStars has introduced a new feature, side bets, that are taking place alongside their online poker games. Nick, tells what are some of the details about these new side bets offered at PokerStars?

Nick Jones: What we know is, I will prefix all of this is, we actually haven’t tested it ourselves. It’s apparently live in the UK market and in the EU market, but it’s only live for a select cohort of players so that’s certain customer accounts, and none of our accounts that we have access to have it enabled. We’re piecing this together from information on the PokerStars website, from certain player reports, and some screenshots that we’ve seen.

As we understand it, as the name would imply, you can place ultimately casino bets really at the poker table about what hole cards are going to be dealt next and what flop cards are going to be coming, so you can bet that you’re going to get a pair of aces next hand or the flop is going to have three of a kind on these kinds of things.

Mike: When I originally saw this, my thought was, “Why? Who would be interested in betting if the flop is going to come three of the same suit?” I guess it will appeal to people that play casino games. It seems to me that they’re targeting the people that dabble in both poker and casino games.

Nick: Yes, that’s ultimately it, isn’t it? It’s a casino side game. Having casino games on the side of the poker table is certainly nothing new. It’s the exception to think of an online poker room that doesn’t offer casino games integrated into the poker lobby. Off the top of my head, the only one I can actually think of is Run It Once Poker. All the other operators will have casino games and sports betting where possible built into the client. That could just be—

The PokerStars lobby has for years had a casino and Vegas tab, the slots, Vegas-style slots, and a sports betting tab. They are there in the lobby. You might, on the poker table, be prompted or suggested like, “Hey, do you want to place a sports bet? Click here to go to the sports bet,” and some poker operators go a step further. 888 is perhaps the best example I know where they actually have built into the poker table a mini side window where you can play a quick hand of blackjack on the side.

The idea of encouraging poker players cross sending them into the casino is certainly not new. What seems to be new here, at least today, I can’t think of any other operator has, where you can basically bet on the poker hands that you are also participating in. That seems to be the new thing here.

Mike: As you pointed out in the article that you authored over on Poker Industry PRO, it’s really not that different from the all-in insurance that PokerStars is currently offering. That is a gamble. It is loosely based on— not loosely. It’s based on the actual poker hand in play, so would the new Sidebet feature. It feels a bit different to me because it feels more strategic, whereas the Sidebet one, it’s a higher hold for the house. I think it’s about 2% to 3%, is the house advantage on side bets?

Nick: Yes, that’s correct.

Mike: Compared to the 1% for the all-in insurance?

Nick: Yes, we’ve seen some pay tables, I haven’t done the math on and how close they are to the reality. On the PokerStars website, it says that the house edge is around 2.7%, which is basically exactly what Europeans single zero roulette, I think the house edge there is 2.72% maybe. The paytable here is you can bet 42 to one that you’ll get dealt a pair of aces, I think the actual odds of 44 to one, something like that. That’s obviously where the edge comes in.

You’re absolutely right, I think the PokerStars motivations for doing this is the same. It’s giving people with a real money gambling wallet lower friction reasons to gamble on a house backed game, that’s definitely it. As you correctly point out, with the all-in insurance, there’s definitely strategic reasons that you may wish to take it. There’s still debate going on about whether if you’re a serious poker player you would ever take all-in insurance.

Some people say if you’re taking a shot at higher stakes, it might be worthwhile. People say maybe if it wasn’t 1% but 0.5%, it’d be worth it. It definitely conveys some advantage, you’re basically offloading your risk. The side bets, it doesn’t impact your poker hand at all, it’s just a straight-up kind of bet. It just happens to be really associated with the hand of poker that you’re playing.

Mike: Yes, I think the biggest difference between the two is that the all-in cash out directly affects your stack, whereas the side bets does not, because that money that is used to wager on those side bets and that is won from those side bets goes directly into your account and not to your stack at the table, correct?

Nick: Yes, that’s absolutely right. Everything you bet and all your winnings are just done with your Stars wallet, so they don’t impact in any way. I assume other people at the poker table have no idea that you’re participating, and it’s much like if you fired up a jack black hand, your opponents at the poker table wouldn’t be associated with that in any way. Again, other than the fact that the result of your casino bet is based on the hand that you get dealt or the flop that comes down, otherwise it’s basically an unrelated kind of casino bet.

I was even trying to think like, “Okay, maybe you could hedge your variants,” like you could bet on getting dealt a poor flop— Sorry, get dealt a poor hole cards like you’re dealt two seven off because you could offload some of the cost and ultimately having to fold that hand. From looking at the paytable, they’re all the things that you might want to bet on or all things that you would want to play from the flop anyway, like pocket pairs, suited aces, these kinds of things. I’m not even sure if there’s anything there strategically you could do.

Mike: Is there any other interesting aspects of what actual wagers are allowed? Now you just said that a majority of them are things that you would want to play post-flop. Is there anything that jumped out at you when looking at what’s offered?

Nick: No, I mean, that seems to be it, the hole cards and, again, you can bet on what comes on the flop. It can be a straight flush flop or three of a kind flop. Again, they don’t really seem particularly relevant I guess to the actual poker hand at play. I think perhaps the most interesting thing is the— again, it’s integrated directly at the poker table, so it’s there next to the dealer hand history, your notes and statistics, that little pane that you get in the bottom left-hand side, it’s a tab on that. It’s right there, there’s no extra pop-up, nothing like that.

In that tab, you can see a history of your bets, you can see your Stars Wallet balance, and you can also apparently do auto betting. You can say, “I want over the next 10 hands, I’m going to bet on getting a pair of aces,” and you can set a stop-loss on those bets, you can set a maximum win, or you can just set X number of hands, but that is apparently built-in. Although in the screenshots we’ve seen, I’m not quite sure where that functionality is based so maybe that’s not quite live yet, but that’s the only other kind of piece of information we could glean.

Mike: Another thing that I guess maybe they would be moving towards or maybe that would be more appealing to poker players would be to play against other players and not against the house. I recall back watching High Stakes Poker back in the day when everyone would have their side bets and they’d be betting on the flop, diamonds they’re going to come. It seemed there was more appeal there because they were competing to take each other’s money and not competing against a house backed game like the side bets are structured currently, but maybe that’s something to consider in the future.

Nick: Yes, it is. Perhaps the closest equivalent today that’s live is GGPoker has a side game, and it’s completely separate to the poker table, but it’s called Cowboy Poker. It works very similarly it that, much like you say, it’s peer-to-peer in the sense that— you load up Cowboy poker and there are two cartoon characters, at cowboy and a bull I think, and they’re playing heads up I think basically all-in games. They both got hole cards, it goes all-in, one of these two players wins, and you place a bet on which of the two you think will win, and there are also bets on what the flop will be.

Very similar to the bets that you can place in this PokerStars side bets, and it’s communal like you say, so you play with other people. I think you can see where the money is going, so more people have put money on the bull over the cowboy, much like a live dealer casino game is I suppose, but it’s completely separate. What you’re describing there marries the two things, like why can’t you have it so that everyone who’s folded pre-flop, you can bet on who’s going to win the hand. I suppose that’s going to open up too much opportunities for collusion though, isn’t it?

Mike: Yes, I remember High Stakes Poker, they had their prop bets, and they would keep track of them on paper, and it would be like, “Okay, if diamonds, if the flop is all diamonds,” then that’s an ongoing bet that maybe Phil Ivey would’ve had, or maybe Doyle would have any straits or any flushes and depending on what the flop came, each person would then get the win for that particular prop bet, and they would owe that other person money. It was completely independent of the pot. It was also completely independent of the stacks on the table.

Nick: It’s fine. I did a thread on Twitter about this PokerStars side bets, I was getting people’s feedback on what they thought of the new feature and stuff. I also asked if people are aware of this kind of thing happening where people could place bets on the hand going on in online poker, and someone replied— I think it was— Ike Haxton actually replied to me and said he remembers back in 2004 that partypoker had a feature very similar to this where you could bet on an all red or all black flop, but he said that the feature—

This was fascinating to me, as he recalls the feature didn’t last that long because players would sit at full green PLO tables, share hole cards, and with the card removal effect be able to gain an edge on the bets. If you know you’re holding more clubs, then you get a profitable situation, basically card counting, there’s going to be an all hearts flop, and so that feature was pulled.

Mike: The way to remove that potential angle would be to have it peer-to-peer and not against the house, therefore the players have no advantage to share hole cards, I guess. No, I guess they could if there was somebody at the table that wasn’t participating in the prop bet.

Nick: Yes, you could still team up, couldn’t you?

Mike: Yes. It’ll be interesting to see how this progresses. If it’s accepted regulatorily, I think that it should be fine. It probably falls under the same regulations as other casino games, so it’ll be interesting to see how this progresses.

New Online Poker Bills in the US

Nick: A new year always brings renewed hope that we’re going to see more states coming online in the United States for regulated online poker and other regulated games. Normally what happens is we’ll get a flurry of news about half a dozen states got these bills and they’re progressing and looking great and all that, and then as the year progresses, those hopes diminish and maybe one squeezes through. Mike, it’s a new year, what ones should we be getting really hopeful about to have our hopes dashed in six months time?

Mike: Yes, and that’s really it. It’s pretty much throwing stuff up against the wall and see what sticks, and usually, nothing sticks. This year early on, we have legislation introduced in a few new US states that could legalize online poker. I think probably the favorite of all of them right now is Kentucky. It’s still very early days, so that’s something to consider as well, but the bill would authorize online poker, would not authorize online casino games, which is interesting.

Kentucky is a small state, so I’m assuming that any profitability or attention by operators there would be eventually to combine player pools with other states so that’s maybe something that until the Wire Act gets resolved, we may not see a lot of push by the operators as far as lobbying goes to try and get these across the finish line, but it’s probably the highlight of the bills that have been introduced so far this year.

Nick: It’s funny because I expect you to say when we have these conversations once a year, it’s California or something like that; it’s New York. Kentucky, when you say Kentucky, the one thing that I know when it comes to online poker in Kentucky is the PokerStars court case. It’s fascinating to hear— If you were to ask me to rank the US states in the least likely to authorize online poker, I probably would have thrown Kentucky in there just because of that case against PokerStars seemed particularly anti-online gaming, I suppose.

Mike: Yes, and it’s interesting, I was going through the actual text of the bill, and they do make mention of suitability. While that suitability is not addressed in great detail, the bill as it stands currently, which could change if it does make it through to be a law, specifically states that someone that has been convicted of a violation of UIGEA in 2006 would not be eligible. I think probably the keyword there is convicted.

Nick: Which is no one.

Mike: Right. While it maybe plays some lip service to those looking to have some kind of bad actor clause, in reality, it’s not.

Nick: Okay. Kentucky up there for 2020. New York must be in there, right?

Mike: New York is there, is there. Just to give listeners a bit of history, New York is notorious for their politicians coming out saying, “Wow, online gaming, online poker, we got a great chance this year. We’ve got all the votes, we’re going to make this happen.” Then, it’s just bullcrap, really, it’s what it is. I’ve grown so tired of listening to the lawmakers in New York because you can’t believe a word that they say; probably not unlike other politicians everywhere else, but it’s particularly frustrating to see other people putting their stock and faith in what’s coming out of New York.

This year, could it be different? It definitely could be different. I think probably the scene that last year we had Pennsylvania come online, we saw a new Michigan at the end of the year passed their law, we saw West Virginia. I think that that’s building up some hope and couple that with sports betting, which has removed a lot of the objections to online gaming. There is a real possibility we could see New York do something this year.

Nick: We’re also just saying, how much tax revenue is being generated from my gaming? I can’t remember the numbers now, but it’s reading the pokerfuse article from earlier this week about how much revenue is being raised in Pennsylvania, both from online poker and online sports betting, which is much larger. The more states that do it and have these revenue figures, the harder it is for, you would think, other states to be ignoring.

Mike: Right. What makes that even more urgent for states to pass online gaming laws is when the neighboring states do. Then what they see is they see that their citizens, their residents are traveling, going across the border, to spend money to give neighboring states tax revenue when they don’t have the law on the books to be able to collect that revenue themselves. That is definitely a factor in the state’s motivation to get these bills passed.

Nick: Okay. We’ve got Kentucky a surprise hopeful of 2020, New York once again going through the same steps but maybe this time there’s just enough to get it over the line. Is there anyone else we should be paying attention to?

Mike: The other one that may be more surprising than Kentucky is the state of Nebraska. Yes, Nebraska. The legislation there is called the Game of Skill Act. While it’s not specifically for online gaming, it would legalize games of skill with no particular prohibition on offering the game over the internet. They do specifically mention poker as one of those games of skills, but currently, I can’t say that I have a real good read on the likelihood that this bill is going to make it through into law.

Nick: Does the state have any kinds of legal bricks and mortar gaming at all?

Mike: That’s a good question. Nebraska, I would say probably not. I don’t know off the top of my head. I would guess if anything that they have it would be perhaps tribal, maybe charitable games. Yes, I’m not sure, I’d have to look into that, but they’re definitely not known for as a land-based casino destination in the US. I don’t believe they have any commercial casinos there, but I’d have to double-check to make sure.

Nick: It’s interesting to hear that two of the three states that you’ve mentioned there are poker specifically— not poker specifically but skill game space, which should include poker, and not online casino, which is obviously something that we have in Nevada but none of the other states that have passed. Again, legislation have been that specific in the games that they’ve been targeting.

Mike: Yes, and to be honest, that makes me doubt their ability to get these into law in the first place. It almost seems like if this was a wholehearted effort to generate revenue, then you would also see them including casino games. They’re coming in states that don’t have land-based casinos so perhaps that is the reason, and maybe this makes it more likely because they don’t subscribe to using casino games or games of chance as a way to raise revenue. It potentially could be a positive sign as well.

I guess we’re really going to have to wait and see. It’s very early days. This is not anything that is unusual for this time of year. New legislative sessions open up, and all kinds of proposals are put forth. These just happen to be the ones that are out there this year so far.

February Online Poker Tournament Series and the Freezeout Tournaments are Trending in 2020

Online poker tournament series have certain times of the year which they are really popular. I wouldn’t think that February is one of them, but it seems to me that there’s been a lot of activity as far as announcements for series that are coming up next month. Nick, what do we know on that?

Nick: Yes, February is the new September, or at least May I suppose. I don’t know, tournaments have become such a key thing. Big tournament series for all operators that I would say a year or two ago, I would say there were these three points of the year with February becoming this big thing alongside the classic September big series and the spring time. Honestly, though, some operators are running a big series almost every month that even those lines are being blurred.

With that said, every operator has got something going on in February. Not their biggest ever, not their biggest of the year but pretty big deals that if you are a tournament player, it is a time that you will want to be probably sitting and grinding across multiple poker rooms.

Won’t go into all of them in a huge amount of detail, but PokerStars has got Bounty Builder Series; partypoker, KO Series Kaos series. MPN has got their last ever universal championship of online poker, it’s also by some metrics their largest ever. That’s going on now actually, that started a bit earlier than the others, and I think it’s going on for one more week. Unibet has got the seventh Unibet Online Series. Who else have I forgotten? GGPoker has announced another new tournament series, not their Blade, a new brand. Everyone’s doing something big over the next two weeks.

Mike: Winamax too, right?

Nick: Yes.

Mike: I saw something one Winamax.

Nick: Winamax actually is a bit earlier, they do theirs in January, have done for a while. Theirs was the largest ever, ‎15 million euros years guaranteed. Their main event was the largest ever in the segregated European market, I believe it was three million euros years guaranteed and ended up paying out over four, so huge success for them. It was like probably a 12-day one-phase event, but even so. I think that’s all the big guys with something in the January or February period.

Mike: With all those that you mentioned, the one that I did not hear was The Turbo Championship of Online Poker or TCOOP as it’s been called. That’s usually running in that time slot and has not been scheduled this year?

Nick: That’s probably the biggest surprise from all of these things happening in February is that— PokerStars Grand TCOOP, I think for six years— It rebranded for some reason to Turbo Series, which happened in 2018 and 2019. Yes, this year they apparently are not running it, which is really strange. Eight years on the trot, January or February, big Turbo Series was I think originally always $10 million guaranteed. Last year, it was by far the largest, it got up $25 million guaranteed and was a success, paid out over $30 million across the series. Then everyone just expected it to happen, I certainly did just expect it to happen, and instead, they announced Bounty Builder Series instead in the same timeslot, same amount guaranteed, they ran the Bounty Builder Series.

As the name would imply, it’s a progressive knockout tournament series; all the rage, certainly a crowd-pleaser, certainly brings in the players, but they last ran one three months ago, so they ran two last year. The last one was in October, November time, and they’ve decided to run it again, which is odd to me, I’ll be honest. They have decided to really double down on that. Yes, whether we’ll see Turbo Series come in March or April, it’s always possible, but no mention of that as it stands so far.

Mike: Yes, I would be surprised if they don’t schedule it at some point this year. I’m looking over at the chart that we have on Poker Industry PRO, and it shows that the series guarantee has been $15 million since 2013 with the exception of last year where they bumped it up to $25 million like you said. It would seem very strange that they would go $15 solid for all those years, bump it up to $25, and then it would just disappear. They’ve got to have it earmarked for a different time slot I would imagine.

Nick: Yes. With that said PokerStars does take some steps which are surprising to me. I don’t understand why they renamed it from TCOOP to Turbo Series. Maybe they got customer feedback the five-letter acronyms are confusing but-

Mike: [laughs]

Nick: -it was WCOOP and then it was TCOOP. It just worked, it was the trifecta. They made it not quite as prestigious but up there, it was the third-string in the bow. As you say, it’s just things have become— Now, they’ve got Winter Series that just concluded at PokerStars, it ran December into January, it was massive. Again, eight-figure Turbo prize pools, really up there. they have MicroMillions, they have, just as you said, one every six weeks almost.

That Turbo Series, maybe it’s gone, who knows? It would be an odd move, but in the flip side, I wouldn’t be all that surprised just because they do seem to mix things up from my perspective somewhat unpredictably.

Mike: Yes. We’re also seeing some announcements come out about some of the Sunday Majors as well, so it’s not just Tournament Series but it’s the regular big tournaments that operators run on Sundays. I think PokerStars is doing something with a half-price Sunday Million, right?

Nick: Yes. The PokerStars Sunday Million listeners will know, we talked about this … a lot of weeks over the last year, switch to a $109 buy-in, over the summer ran a lot of PKO specials, some half-price ones. I think it’s this Sunday, they are running another half-price. It’s either that or it was the last Sunday. I think it’s this coming Sunday, it’s another half-price so a $54, $50 buy-in with the same million-dollar guaranteed prize pool.

I’m sure that’ll be a huge success, it was last time. The big thing that they’ve announced is that they are having another Sunday Million anniversary tournament. Can you tell me how much they’re guaranteeing, Mike, before I can bring it up?

Mike: I would say it’s somewhere around $13 to $15 million, somewhere in that ballpark? [crosstalk]

Nick: Yes. Now, it’s coming back and I guess— $12.5 million guaranteed, it makes it for them— the largest-ever prize pool they’ve paid out in a single tournament is $12.4 million, not coincidentally. They set this at $12.5 million, so it’s locked in to be the largest ever tournament that they’ve had both in terms of guaranteed prize pool and ultimate prize pool, but this guaranteed, it’s larger than the biggest they’ve ever had. That is happening— let me just bring up the date.

Mike: March-ish?

Nick: Yes, March is the anniversary time, isn’t it? Let me have a look, March 22nd. As we’ve seen before with the anniversary editions, they’ve doubled the buy-ins, it’s back up to the $215 level. This caused— I’m not quite sure of controversy is the right word, but it led to the CEO of the Winning Poker Network, a US-facing offshore site did a little video that went up on Twitter and did the rounds where he kind of criticized PokerStars because in the structure of this tournament, they have a 24-hour late registration period.

Mike: Okay, and what does he take exception with?

Nick: I guess I don’t really know. I think it’s just long late registration periods are somewhat frowned upon in some circles because, I guess, from a player’s perspective, and people make the assumptions from a recreational player’s perspective often without actually asking recreational casual players, but we make the assumption that they don’t like that because they want to sit down, spend their $200, and know that everyone who’s playing is playing, and more and more pros don’t join over the period of a really long late registration period. I guess that’s the general criticism of large late registration periods.

Mike: Excuse me if I yawn over that one. [crosstalk]

Nick: Right. 24 hours off the cuff sounds a bit absurd, but the reality is, ultimately what it is, is you can buy-in directly into Day 2, I suppose, so you can skip the first day and buy directly in. I think the main standout thing to me is that they’re running a tournament with a $12.5 million prize pool, which only has one Day 1, right? That’s the key thing. They need to get 62,500 entries to a tournament that has one Day 1, one Day 2, and one Day 3. Now, okay, you can buy-in and basically enter straight into Day 2, but I’m not even sure if— That’s strange, the fact they’re doing that—

The only tournament ever been bigger than this is the partypoker MILLIONS Online, which has run twice, it had a $20 million guarantee. Both times it spent practically a year ramping up with satellites. It then has between three and five Day 1s. It’s an extremely impressive achievement from partypoker, but this is a single-flight tournament. Yes, you can re-enter five times. Yes, there’s this 24-hour late registration period. But I don’t think that really takes away from what they’re going for, the achievement that they’re trying to hit.

Mike: Right, so I guess if we compare a 24-hour late reg period to having multiple Day 1s, that would really be the thing here, because currently there’s only one Day 1, but it has a 24-hour late reg period, so that’s, I guess, the big difference. I’m curious as to how those five bullets play into that late reg period. Can you wait to rebuy or is that something that needs to automatically happen at the time you bust?

Nick: That’s a good question. I assumed that you could re-enter whenever you liked. No, maybe not, maybe you have to pull the trigger immediately, that’s a good question. The main thing is if this had two Day 1s, no one would bat an eyelid. I don’t know, maybe I’m missing a point, maybe our listeners can point out to us on Twitter what we’re missing. We’re definitely not MTT specialists and never have been, so maybe we’re missing a nuance here, but to me, if PokerStars said, “Hey, we’re going to host a $12.5 million guaranteed tournament with two Day 1 flights,” everyone would be like, “Wow, cool.”

partypoker does that with— They have their Sunday MILLION tournament and it has— I think it’s like seven or eight Day 1 flights across the week and that’s still really cool, so I don’t know. Again, do tell us if we’re missing out on something. I would say we can lead into briefly that this definitely is part of a current conversation that’s ongoing about the role of late registration and multiple re-entries, and we’re definitely seeing some operators address that and do more freezeout style tournaments.

Mike: Yes, GGPoker is one of those. They recently launched their new Sunday Major, the GG Masters, and that has no re-entry, no rebuys. I think it’s been running for maybe three, four weeks now, close to a month. We also saw the World Series of Poker with some of their announcements recently about the events for this coming summer. Their championship events are freezeouts, and yes, that is perpetuating the trend that we’re seeing this year in live events or in events in general. That is something that it’s been talked about for a while, getting away from rebuys, but we’re really seeing a lot of action this year.

Nick: Yes, and I’m not sure how much to— Certainly in my mind, a lot of this— I saw through the eyes of Daniel Negreanu who tweeted a lot at the start of this year or late last year about he was— I’m going to put words in his mouth here. I’m ad-libbing a bit, but ultimately almost ethically or morally opposed to rebuy tournaments. I believe he said that this year he would only enter freezeout tournaments. Did you see that?

Mike: Yes, yes, I did. I saw a tweet where he said that he was considering only entering freezeouts in 2020.

Nick: Yes, and he said like, “This is going to cost me money, but I feel it’s the right thing to do,” to basically bring attention to what he sees is an issue. I would love to see something a bit more formalized to ascertain that people consider this a big enough problem. Often when I see conversations, again, people are making this assumption that casual players don’t like it, but it’s the pros who are saying they’re the ones who are going to not play any or against it.

Again, I definitely feel like I’m waiting to conversation, I don’t have enough nuance to come in strong on. What we can say is that this is Daniels’s position, he is an ambassador since November, December of GGPoker, and then GGPoker came out with their— our Sunday flagship event is going to be freezeout, no re-entries. I think the buy-in is around $150, $300,000 guaranteed which is really ambitious for the network.

They’ve had huge success with poker tournament over 2019, but even so have running that regularly, and they’ve committed to running this for the whole year because they have a year-long leaderboard race. The person who wins it, the person who gets the most points just playing the GG Masters on a Sunday will be offered an ambassadorship with the network which they valued at $500,000, I believe. They’ve really committed to running this for the whole year.

As you say, the WSOP, which you kind of think like Daniel Negreanu and that crew that he rolls with definitely has the ear of the WSOP, and I’m sure they’re kind of feedback was taken into account where you definitely had the WSOP look to address those criticisms and definitely kind of allay any fears that may be the main event would become a reentry or rebuy over time

Mike: Yes, I remember in recent years, or maybe not recent years, but in past years, there was the players’ panel that would have input into the upcoming schedule for WSOP, and Daniel was very active in that venture. I am not even sure if that still exists, but it definitely feels like he’s had some influence on what’s happening. This is a debate that’s been going for a long time in poker. The big knock against rebuys is it disadvantages the recreational player who shows up with one bullet because they just knocked out this world-class player and they’re feeling all good about it, and, bump, he’s right back at the table again.

Nick: It’ll be interesting to see this year if this kind of conversation continues. Definitely PokerStars are moving in the other direction as we say like their Sunday Million is three reentries, the anniversary is five reentries with that 24-hours-late registration period. partypoker definitely seems to want to do more freezeout events, and then GG Masters with their Sunday freezeout. We’ll see this year whether that’s a trend that continues.


Mike: Well, that wraps up this episode of the pokerfuse podcast. As a reminder, please give us a like and a subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow us and interact with us on Twitter. Nick is at @pokerprojones. I am @SpookyBugs. Thanks, everyone for tuning in.