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12 February 2012

Poker News Media: Bluff Media U. S. Operations Purchased By Churchill Downs, Inc.


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Bluff Media U. S. Operations Purchased By Churchill Downs, Inc...

In a stunning late afternoon announcement on Friday, the famed equine organization Churchill Downs, Inc., announced the purchase of the entirety of the Bluff Media organization’s United States properties.

Although terms of the sale were not disclosed, the purchase by Churchill Downs, a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the tag “CHDN,” is viewed as a potential move by the company to enter into the online gaming business. In the press release announcing the sale, Churchill Downs representatives state, “(It is Churchill Downs) intention to further expand and build upon Bluff Media’s current content and business model…this acquisition potentially provides (Churchill Downs) with new business avenues to pursue in the event there is a liberalization of state or federal laws with respect to internet poker in the United States.”

The sale is literally for the entirety of Bluff Media’s U. S. operations. Bluff Magazine (in both its print and online versions) and several of its blogs, forums, rankings and other URLs (interestingly, such as will be under the new ownership, but another part of the company that was purchased may be of interest to players. ThePokerDB, one of the more reliable poker databases on the internet, will also be under the Churchill Downs twin spires.

While Churchill Downs has purchased the entirety of Bluff Media, the powers that be will remain in their current positions. Co-presidents Eddy Kleid and Eric Morris, who have been at the helm of the company since its inception, and vice president of online operations Jeff Markley all will remain with Bluff Media and continue to lead the company going forward. Foreign versions of the magazine, such as Bluff Europe, are not expected to be impacted by the sale.

The sale of Bluff Media has once again sparked consideration that the movement towards federally legislated internet poker in the United States. On the Two Plus Two forum, poster ‘oneonth3run’ asks, “Anyone in the know care to speculate what this could mean in the larger picture? They must be expecting certain things to happen at the top, and I wonder how they will utilize BLUFF going forward.”

Others in the 2+2 thread picked up the discussion as to why Bluff made this move at this time. Poster ‘AdamSmall’ stated, “Bluff was a perfect acquisition target really. They’re a US-based, US-heavy poker media company that presumably got hurt badly by Black Friday. They have a lot of reach and a good amount of history in the industry, and I think between their history and their brand name they have a lot of value still. The name Bluff is a very noticeable, reputable and easy to remember name for both current and prospective customers.”

The history of Bluff has been one of the success stories of the poker industry. Starting out as a bimonthly magazine in 2004, within a year it was published on a monthly basis. The magazine became the primary challenger to one of the venerable poker publications in the industry, CardPlayer Magazine, and also has been a partner with the World Series of Poker for its online and radio coverage.

The new partnership will be a way for one of the most recognizable names in the thoroughbred industry to enter into any potential U. S. online poker industry. The owners of the namesake racetrack which hosts the Kentucky Derby, the company also has interests in other racetracks around the United States, its own website (, and half-ownership in Horse Racing TV, among other items. Prior to the announcement of the purchase on Friday, Churchill Downs, Inc. closed at $55.87 on the NASDAQ exchange, a $.44 drop (.78%) from their Thursday price. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Day 1A: Uri Kadosh, Eliyahu Levy Lead Jason Mercier...

The first of two Day Ones is in the books for the World Poker Tour’s Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open in Hollywood, Florida, with a cozy starting field that should get larger after Saturday’s play.

125 players stepped up on Day 1A, putting up their $3500 buy in for this non-televised event and, although the field was a bit smaller, there were still challenges around the room. Season Ten Player of the Year leader Will “The Thrill” Failla, reigning POY Andy Frankenberger, Jonathan Little, “The Raw Deal” host Tony “Bond_18” Dunst, Shaun Deeb and Matt Waxman were just a few of the familiar faces at the start of the day, but they would be joined by other challengers who decided to take a late registration option.

One of those tables was particularly challenging. Noah Schwartz, Christian Harder and Matt Stout all ended up on the same felt due to late registration for the tournament, while other players went about their day of work with different results. Christopher Tryba was an early casualty when his pocket Jacks failed to catch against an opponent’s pocket Aces, but former WPT champion Rhynie Campbell was able to drop Steve Levy when his Aces stood up against Levy’s K-Q.

As the players worked their way to the dinner break, the field was dramatically reduced in comparison to the time played and the low blinds. From the 125 starters, only 96 players made their way to dinner in a somewhat happy mood. Campbell was one of these eliminations at the hands of Deeb.

It was thought that this pace couldn’t be maintained but the players actually increased the rate of eliminations as the night wore on. Deeb continued to accumulate chips as, against then-chip leader Matthew O’Donnell, he was able to get O’Donnell to lay his hand down on a 6-5-5-8-9 board to move up to 95K in chips. Dunst was not as fortunate, losing with pocket tens to his opponent’s pocket eights.

The Day 1A chip leader would not be determined until the second to last hand of the night. After a short stack moved all in, Uri Kadosh (who had avoided the limelight for much of the day) made the call and tabled Big Slick against his opponent’s suited 4-2. A four came on the flop but, unfortunately for the short stack, a King was there as well. Once the turn and river didn’t bring another four or a deuce, Kadosh had eliminated his opponent to end the night over the 275K mark and reduce the field to fifty players:

1. Uri Kadosh, 275,500
2. Ely Levy, 218,550
3. Jason Mercier, 176,400
4. Omar Sider, 170,600
5. Nick Avera, 133,200
6. Michael Michnik, 121,100
7. David Tiffenberg, 112,900
8. Shaun Deeb, 112,700
9. Victor Heffesse, 111,900
10. Mike Corbett, 111,300

Other notable names that are above the average chip count (44,347) include Shannon Shorr, Matt Giannetti, Schwartz and Waxman, while Allen Kessler and Failla will have some work to do on Sunday.

Perhaps the reason for the high knockout rate on Friday was the “second chance” option the Lucky Hearts tournament provided. For those players who were eliminated on Day 1A, they could buy in again on Day 1B and take a second shot. Several players, including Todd Terry, Kathy Liebert (who commented over Twitter, “I’m on Level 3 today, I think that’s better than Level 1!”), Dunst, Little and Lichtenberger have decided to step up for that second barrel.

By the end of action on Saturday, the total field size as well as the payouts will be known for this latest WPT event. Befitting the tournament’s name, the final table will be played out on Tuesday (Valentine’s Day) and will definitely award the champion with an excellent six figure score. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

Russia’s Rinat Bogdanov Wins WPT Venice Grand Prix...

Battling through a twelve hour final table – as well as the uber-aggressive opponents surrounding him – Russia’s Rinat Bogdanov emerged as the champion of the World Poker Tour Venice Grand Prix early Saturday morning (Venice time).

When the final six men came to the table on Friday afternoon, Italy’s very own Andrea Dato held the lead with his 1.591 million chip stack. This provided him with a good lead over two other contenders, Day Three chip leader Simon Ravnsbaek (922K) and Bogdanov (905K), while the other three members of the final table – Alessandro Longobardi (558K), Andrea Carini (347K) and Gianluca Trebbi (343K) – had their work cut out for them if they were to make a run at the championship.

From the start, Ravnsbaek and Dato were the major players on the felt, pushing their shorter stacked opponents around and adding to their chip stacks. The duo would even clash with each other, with Ravnsbaek coming out on the worse end of a couple of exchanges to chop his stack from second place to fifth within the first hour of action.

After another hour of play, the first elimination would occur. After Dato raised the pot to 50K, Carini pushed his remaining chips to the center of the felt. After Dato made the call and tabled pocket eights, Carini saw that his chances were slim with an off suit A-3. By the turn, he had a gutshot straight draw to go with his Ace, but couldn’t find either on the river, eliminating Andrea Carini in sixth place.

Following Carini’s elimination, Ravnsbaek began to mount a comeback. He doubled up through Longobardi when his pocket Aces were the cooler to Longobardi’s pocket tens, then would take over the lead when he doubled again with A-Q versus Dato’s pocket eights. After three hours of play, Ravnsbaek had been from the penthouse to the basement and back again, holding a slim 200K chip lead over Dato that, unfortunately, wouldn’t last very long.

After moving all in on several occasions, Gianluca Trebbi was eliminated in fifth place when his 10-7 of hearts failed to catch against Longobardi’s pocket Jacks. Ravnsbaek’s aggressive play finally caught up with him when he pushed all in for 600K with pocket deuces and Bogdanov looked to see pocket tens in his hole cards. Once the board ran with no help for him, Ravnsbaek was out of the tournament in fourth place.

By the time the dinner break rolled around, Dato had moved back into the lead over Longobardi and Bogdanov, with the Russian’s chip stack shrinking in comparison to his two foes. Dato and Longobardi went to battle following dinner, with Dato picking up a big pot on a complete bluff to push his stack to the three million mark and drop Longobardi to just over one million.

It was at this time that Bogdanov began his charge. Basically pushing with any two cards, Bogdanov would find a double through Dato to get back into the mix. After picking up a big hand against Longobardi, the three players were virtually equal in chips.

Bogdanov would make the first breakthrough, resulting in the elimination of Dato. After Dato jammed with an unassuming K-4 off suit, Bogdanov found Big Slick in his hand and made the call. An Ace on the flop basically ended the hand and, once a blank came on the turn, Andrea Dato was out in third place and Rinat Bogdanov became the surprising chip leader.

Within two hands of Dato’s departure, the tournament was over. After losing the first hand, Longobardi raised it to 200K holding an off suit K-Q and Bogdanov made the call with only a 6-4. Longobardi caught a Queen on the flop, but there was a four there as well and Bogdanov called a bet from Longobardi. When a six came on the turn, Bogdanov made two pair and check called another bet from Longobardi. Another four on the river brought the fireworks as, after Bogdanov checked, Longobardi fired off 300K. Bogdanov moved all in and, after a moment, Longobardi made the call, only to see his Queens up vanquished by Bogdanov’s full boat.

1. Rinat Bogdanov, €229,800
2. Alessandro Longobardi, €111,700
3. Andrea Dato, €72,275
4. Simon Ravnsbaek, €52,565
5. Gianluca Trebbi, €42,705
6. Andrea Carini, €32,195

With the end of the WPT Venice Grand Prix, the tournament circuit will come back to the U. S. for their next three tournaments. Beginning today, the Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open is in action while, later in the month, the L. A. Poker Classic will be contested. In March, the WPT will visit San Jose, California, for the Bay 101 Shooting Star and, in April, the WPT will head back to Europe with a stop in Montesino, Vienna, Austria. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

2012 WPT Venice Grand Prix Day 3: Simon Ravnsbaek Leads Tight Final Nine...

It is going to be a short day at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Venice Grand Prix on Thursday. If this wasn’t the World Poker Tour, the nine players remaining might be going to bed mentally preparing for Day 4’s final table action. But this is, in fact, the WPT, and final tables here are six-handed, so Day 4 will see just three eliminations before adjourning. Bagging up the most chips at the end of Day 3 was Denmark’s Simon Ravnsbaek, proud owner of a 795,000 chip stack.

Ravnsbaek isn’t on an island, though. Alessandro Longobardi is right behind with 783,000, Andrea Dato is close with 726,000, and Jason Wheeler is sitting on a stack of 699,000 chips. In fact, it looks like it could still be just about anybody’s tournament, as all but two players have over 400,000 chips. And those two players – Rinat Bogdanov and Massimo Mosele – have 20 and 16 big blinds, respectively, so it’s not like they are already at “all-in with any two cards” mode…yet.

The story of Day 3 was arguably the fireworks that surrounded the chip leader going into the day, Marcel Bjerkmann. The fun started on the bubble when the tight Lionel Tran moved all-in for his last 50,000 chips with pocket Kings. Bjerkmann had tons of chips, so why not call with J-4 suited? Tran was still doing alright after the flop of J-T-8 rainbow, but another Jack on the turn allowed the chip leader to suckout and put everyone remaining into the money.

A little while later, after Bjerkmann had been moved to an aggressive table, he four-bet shoved on Simon Ravnsbaek with just A-4. Ravnsbaek made the call with Q-Q and doubled-up to about 330,000 chips. Bjerkmann was still doing fine, though, falling to 460,000.

After the next break, things got crazy. James Akenhead raised to 8,500 pre-flop and was called by Andrea Dato, Marcel Bjerkmann, and one other player. Upon the Qc-8h-7s flop, the players check to Dato, who bets 15,000. Bjerkmann decided to go with a check-raise to 44,000, forcing the other two players to fold before Dato called. The dealer laid out the 8d on the turn, prompting a 64,000 chip bet from Bjerkmann and another call by Dato. Bjerkmann again led out on the river for 82,000 when the 4h was dealt. Dato proceeded to ponder his move for two full minutes before calling.

As he was the original bettor, Bjerkmann had to show first, revealing he was on a complete bluff with just 5c-9c. Dato must certainly have had that beat, but it almost must have been a tough decision to call, considering how long he took to act. Right? Not quite. Dato flipped over pocket 7’s for the full house.

Bjerkmann was incensed. “That is the sickest slow roll I have ever had in my life,” he growled at Dato. “Do not talk to me dude. If you see me in the street do not talk to me.”

Undeterred, Bjerkmann kept on plugging away, but that didn’t mean he was calm. He continued to jaw at Dato throughout the night, regardless of whether or not the two were involved in a pot together (they were on more than one occasion). Eventually he succumbed to the current chip leader, Simon Ravnsbaek, as his Ah-8h could not improve against pocket 5’s.

Play will resume at 1:00pm local time as the tournament makes it down to the final table. Again, it should be a short day, as only three more players must be eliminated for that to happen.

2012 WPT Venice Grand Prix – End of Day 3 Chip Counts

Simon Ravnsbaek: 795,000
Alessandro Longobardi: 783,000
Andrea Dato: 726,000
Jason Wheeler: 699,000
Gianluca Trebbi: 474,000
Andrea Carini: 430,000
Jeremie Sochet: 402,000
Rinat Bogdanov: 201,000
Massimo Mosele: 163,000 (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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