Here’s the Deal - Phil Hellmuth, Ivey, and Laak Make News

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Here’s the Deal presents a week’s worth of poker news - the good, bad, and sometimes ugly - in one place. Between the poker tournaments, player happenings, and political updates, there is a little something for every poker enthusiast.

Poker Events

The last World Series of Poker Circuit event of the current season recently wrapped up at Harrah’s New Orleans. After the 19 events were complete and the WSOP crew finished their work, it was Fred Berger who waded through the field of 156 players and won the $5,150 buy-in NLHE Championship event, defeating Mike Beasley in heads-up action to take down the $197,584 first place prize and the coveted WSOP-C gold ring. That ended the season of Circuit tournaments and allowed the staff a short time off before traveling to Las Vegas to be part of the 2010 World Series of Poker.

The World Poker Tour left their recent stop at the Grand Prix de Paris to head directly over to Barcelona, Spain for a WPT event there, sponsored by PartyPoker. The tournament became the biggest ever on Spanish soil with 326 players, and after the €3,500 buy-ins were tabulated, the prize pool came to approximately $1,311,460 in US funds. Ultimately, the final table found itself with 3 Spaniards and players from several other countries, and Ali Tekintamgac won the second live event he ever played. He walked away with €315,000, the WPT bracelet, and a seat to the WPT World Championship in 2011.

The PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour made its most popular stop of the season in Macau. With a high roller tournament and side events to accompany the 40,000 HKD Main Event, players came from many countries to participate. The Grand Lisboa played host to the tournaments, and the Main Event alone consisted of 342 players and a prize pool of 12,730,608 HKD. In the end, it was Victorino Torres who ended up in the winner’s circle with the equivalent of $416,000 for his victory.

The inaugural event of the World Team Poker took place in Las Vegas last week, as players representing eight countries gathered at the Golden Nugget to participate in the event. It was filmed as a TV production for later broadcast on Fox Sports Net. Play started at noon and ran straight through until approximately 8am the next morning, and an exhausted Team China finally won the tournament. The team consisted of Johnny Chan and David Chiu as co-captains, along with Maria Ho, Chau Giang, Derek Cheung, Winfred Yu, and Rich Zhu. They defeated Team Brazil, who took home $100K, and Team China grabbed the $300K grand prize to split among its team members.

Poker Players

Phil Ivey is known for his high-stakes cash game play in Las Vegas, though that action has primarily taken place in Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio in the past, where he plays alongside fellow poker pros like Doyle Brunson, Eli Elezra, and Daniel Negreanu. But Ivey recently signed a deal with the new Aria casino to allow them to use his name on their new poker room called the Ivey Room. The room held its grand opening on Saturday, May 22, and Ivey hosted the star-studded festivities as well as made a speech about the honor of having the poker room named after him. A $1 million freeroll for party-goers ensued to round out the evening.

Phil Laak has decided to attempt to break a world record during the first week of the World Series of Poker. Starting at noon at the Bellagio in Las Vegas on June 2, Laak will begin 80 hours of straight live poker, with any money he makes being donated to Camp Sunshine for children with life-threatening diseases. The current record is held by Paul Zimbler, who played for 72 hours straight in September of 2009.

In more “Phil” news, it was recently noted that Phil Hellmuth made a cameo appearance in a rap music video for the song “Sex Room” by Ludacris and Trey Songz. As the gentlemen are all playing poker, Hellmuth is right alongside them at the poker table at the Palms, raking in a huge pot of UB-sponsored poker chips.

Joe Sebok and Scott Huff, hosts of the UB-sponsored Poker2Nite television show, confirmed last week that the most recent episode was the last. The show has been canceled, seemingly at the word of UB itself. The show ran two seasons, the first on Fox Sports Net and the second on cable network Versus.

Poker in Politics

It was a big day on Wednesday, May 19, for Rep. Jim McDermott’s online gaming legislation, as it made its way to the Ways and Means Committee for a hearing. The Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2010 (HR 4976) went before members of Congress for a debate on the pros and cons of regulating online gaming in the United States. There were supporters and opponents of the bill, but the logic of the legislation won over some previous opponents and seemed to have a favorable hearing. The bill will now go for the mark-up process in the coming months and shoot for a hearing in front of the House Financial Services Committee in July.

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is still in the midst of organizing its rally to be held on May 27 outside the State Supreme Court building in Washington State. PPA state director Lee Rousso will be arguing his case inside the courthouse against a 2006 law that made online poker a felony. Not only did the PPA file an amicus brief with the court on behalf of Rousso, but it will sponsor the rally to follow the arguments. In addition, the PPA released information about a recent study that showed 80 percent of Washington voters oppose the law and more than 50 percent feel online gaming should be legalized and regulated by the state. With support growing for the PPA’s stance, the organization hopes the rally will show poker players out in force as evidence of it.