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Monday, August 14, 2006

poker superstars: Poker Stars Purchase W Las Vegas Condos

11 August 2006

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – (PRESS RELEASE) -- Nearly 9,000 poker players from around the world have descended upon Las Vegas for the 37th Annual World Series of Poker. Four of the most popular and prolific professional players among them recently purchased fully-furnished luxury hotel condominium residences at the W Las Vegas Hotel, Casino & Residences.

* Phil Hellmuth won the 1989 World Series of Poker championship event at only 24 years of age. He's made the money in more than 100 major tournaments, made more than 80 final tables, and won 18 events. He has won 10 WSOP bracelets. Hellmuth, who won the W Las Vegas Poker Invitational earlier this year, applied his studio condominium grand prize as a down payment on a penthouse suite.

* David Williams found fame when he placed second in the 2004 World Series of Poker. This 26 year old has earned more than five million dollars in poker winnings and in four years, has made the money in 17 major tournaments and reached nine final tables. He earned a WSOP bracelet in this year's tournament.

* At age 28, Antonio Esfandiari, "The Magician," has made the money in 16 major tournaments, appearing at 11 final tables. He appeared in the second series of the Poker Superstars Invitational tournament, and currently appears in the Game Show Network series High-Stakes Poker.

* Phil Laak is one of the more colorful players on the tour, donning a signature hooded sweatshirt when playing. He acted as host and dealer for the E! Network's Hollywood Hold'em program and shares a passion for poker with his girlfriend, actress Jennifer Tilly.

The W Las Vegas will embrace the stylish, signature comforts the W Hotel brand is renowned for, including striking architecture, multiple restaurants, exhilarating nightlife and a destination spa. The highly anticipated property will span 24.5 acres at the corner of Harmon and Koval, the epicenter of the burgeoning Harmon Corridor boutique district, and will be the first W Hotel property with a casino.

Hotel condominium residences including studios, one bedrooms and suites are available for purchase and can be combined to form larger residences. These fully-furnished units are designed by Charles Allem, who was named one of the top 100 interior designers by Architectural Digest. Reservation lists are forming at with studio residences priced from $650,000.

Residence owners and guests will experience lifestyle amenities at the W Las Vegas ranging from destination dining and nightlife to world-class shopping at the 100,000 square foot Fred Segal retail emporium, the first of its kind outside of Southern California. Relaxation can be found in the exclusive Bliss(R) Spa or lounging in a private cabana at the ultra-luxe WET(SM) pool, while those seeking excitement can choose from top-shelf entertainment and an action packed casino. The W Las Vegas experience is made complete with the backdrop of Las Vegas and W Hotels brand legendary Whatever/Whenever(R) service.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

poker superstars: Maryland accountant Benjamin Lin thrashes all-star lineup at final table at WSOP event 28

by Nolan Dalla filed under World Series of Poker

World Series of Poker
Las Vegas, NV – When play at the final table of the $5,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud championship became three-handed, a few bystanders glanced at the remaining players up on the main stage at the Rio. They had the following exchange:

Spectator 1: Who’s left?

Spectator 2: I see Cyndy Violette up there.

Spectator 1: Who else?

Spectator 2: There’s Sean “Sheik” Sheikhan.

Spectator 1: What about the other guy?

Spectator 2: I don’t know. He’s just some other guy.

Benjamin Lin represents all the “other guys” who play poker. He epitomizes many thousands of mostly-unknown names and faces who plow through huge tournament fields, make final tables, yet are not given the attention and admiration they probably deserve. While television and media focus mostly on the poker superstars, many “other guys” (and ladies, too) are out there day in and day out fighting for prize money and respect – not necessarily in that order.

Three days ago, Benjamin Lin walked into the Rio Las Vegas as a 31-year-old accountant from suburban Washington-DC, who liked to play poker in his spare time. After winning the Seven-Card Stud championship at the 2006 World Series of Poker, presented by Milwaukee’s best Light, Lin is walking out of the Rio as the latest WSOP gold bracelet winner. He pulverized a highly-competitive field of 182 entrants who each put up five grand in what has become known as the “world championship” of one of poker’s most long-established games.

After 174 players had been eliminated over two days, eight players took the final table on the Rio poker stage. The eight finalists comprised a formidable lineup. Two were former WSOP gold bracelet winners – “Miami John” Cernuto with three wins, and Cyndy Violette with one victory.

This final table was exceptional for at least one reason. Perhaps no single individual has done more for poker during his lifetime than Mike ‘The Mad Genius” Caro. The former hippie used to destroy lowball draw games that were popular in California during the 1970s. Later, he started writing about poker and became one of the game’s top theorists. Caro played against (and beat) a computer, devised numerous strategies that helped thousands of poker players, and appeared on national television numerous times as the game’s top spokesman. In the 1990s, he founded “Mike Caro University,” which held classes at the Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles. Books, magazine articles, and seminars turned losers into winners. Yet for all of his contributions to poker science over the years, many newcomers still do not know of Caro’s profound impact on the game.

In the stud event, Caro -- who rarely plays in poker tournaments -- was making his first WSOP final table appearance in twenty years. Unfortunately, “The Mad Genius” was the first player to bust out. He lost holding (Q-10) 10-K-5-2 (X) against (K-10) A-K-3-7 (3) – which made two pair. Caro collected $21,385 for eighth place, which was his third cash at this year’s World Series.

Lupe Munquia went out next. Munquia, who owns a paint and body shop in Odessa, Texas, crashed in seventh place when his split kings were topped by two pair. Munquia had (K-4) K-2-A-10 (3) which lost to Allen Kessler’s (J-3) A-8-3-8 (6). Munquia received $29,939.

Patrick Bueno was the next player to be eliminated. The businessman from Paris, France went out on a diamond draw, which missed. Meanwhile, his opponent Benjamin Lin made a lowly pair of nines which was enough to take down the pot. Bueno was sixth – good for $38,493.

On the very next hand, Benjamin’s chip stack increased even more when he knocked out veteran poker superstar “Miami John” Cernuto. “Miami John,” who once worked as an air traffic controller before becoming a full-time professional, went off the radar screen when his buried tens failed to improve. Cernuto had (10-10) Q-3-J-2 (8) which lost to Lin’s (Q-8) Q-J-A-5 (4). Fifth place paid $76,986.

Allen Kessler has been playing on the tournament circuit for five years. The Temple University graduate has cashed many times and has made it to several final tables, but he has yet to achieve a WSOP win. Kessler’s attempt came up short again when his split tens improved to two pair, losing to Cyndy Violette’s higher-two pair. The final hand showed Kessler with (K-10) 10-3-5-4 (4) against Violette’s (J-6) 2-J-Q-K (Q). Kessler collected $76,986 for fourth place.

When play became three-handed, Cyndy Violette had to like the circumstances. Violette, who has been playing professionally for 15 years and who is one of the East Coast’s top Seven-Card Stud players, was competing for gold bracelet Number Two. This marks the third consecutive year she has made it to a WSOP final table. Violette was the early aggressor but just as it appeared she might run over the table, her two opponents began playing back at her and started taking down big pots. On her final hand, Violette was dealt several high cards and missed a flush draw, which knocked her out of the tournament. Violette’s (Q-9) A-10-7-K (X) with four hearts was cracked by Lin’s (K-K) 8-6-6-3 (X) which made two pair. Cyndy Violette received $102,648 for third place.

Sean “Sheik” Sheikhan has been described as poker’s lightening rod. He certainly electrifies any game he plays in – mostly the world’s highest-limit cash games. Sheikhan did his best to unnerve his opponent with table talk, daring his adversary to call when at a competitive disadvantage and at other times simply making it clear to everyone within listening distance that the “Sheik” was the better poker player. Unfortunately, Sheikhan ran bad in heads-up play, often starting with a solid hand which turned into a loser.

Sheikhan lost the final hand of the night when his (9-6) K-A-K-J (2) was snapped off by Lin when he caught an inside straight on seventh-street. Lin ended up with (9-9) 6-8-10-5 (7) – good for the ten-high straight. Sheikhan, who was born in Iran and now lives in Las Vegas, collected $171,080 for second place.

Benjamin Lin took his place the elite class of 396 players (out of over a 100 million worldwide) who have won a WSOP gold bracelet over the entire 37-year history of the world’s premier poker spectacle. Lin’s winnings amounted to $256,620.

Winning an event at the World Series changes everything. Perhaps the next time he makes it to a final table heads-up, the conversation will now describe Benjamin Lin as a poker champion – playing against the other guy.

Note: “X” denotes unknown card.

Overall Tournament Statistics (through end of Event #28):

Total Entries to Date: 25,432

Total Prize Money Distributed: $ 52,786,707

Monday, August 07, 2006

poker superstars: Shulman Wins Again at PSIT 3

He Makes It into the Quarterfinals
Jeff Shulman does it again.

Shulman, Card Player’s President and CEO, advanced another round in the Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament 3 (PSIT 3) by winning his table of three. The match was shown on FSN Sunday night.
Last week, FSN aired the first Super 16 match between Shulman, Mike Matusow, Eli Elezra, and Mike Sexton. Matusow won that match, leaving Shulman, Elezra and Sexton to battle for their lives. The winner of the tournament advanced, while the losers were sent packing.

Shulman was the point’s leader for round one, and an early exit in the Super 16 round would no doubt be a disappointment. Sexton was the first to go on Sunday, after he bluffed a large portion of his chips away against Elezra’s pocket aces.

Next week, FSN airs the first match of four between Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Johnny Chan, and Phil Hellmuth.

PSIT 3 airs every Sunday at 8 p.m. local time. Click here to visit’s Internet package dedicated to covering this TV event.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

poker superstars: A Look at 10 Celebrity Poker Players

by Damien Chambers

Turn the channel to any high-stakes poker event, and chances are high that you'll see at least one Hollywood celebrity in the thick of the action. With flexible schedules and larger-than-average bankrolls, celebrities have both the time and inclination to hone their poker playing skills in tournaments around the world. Some, of course, never rise above the rank of amateur, but others go on to become familiar faces in the world of poker. What follows is a list of ten of the best celebrity poker players in the world (listed in no particular order).

Ben Affleck - It's hard to argue Affleck's status as one of the best celebrity poker players in the world after he won the California State Poker Championship in June of 2004 (where he won $356,400). When he's not acting in movies such as Daredevil or Armageddon, Affleck collects vintage video-arcade machines and has been known to take poker lessons from pros like Amir Vahedi and Annie Duke. His win at the California Championship also qualified him for a seat at the 2004 World Poker Tour final tournament.

Patrick Bruel - Patrick Bruel is a well-known French singer and actor, having performed in over 40 television and film productions and recorded numerous top-selling albums. He also happens to be a world-class poker player. So while he may go unrecognized by American movie audiences, poker players from around the world will instantly recognize his face. Why? Well, in 1998 Patrick picked up a World Series of Poker bracelet for winning the 1998 $5000 Limit Hold'em event. He has also placed in the money numerous times in WSOP events, and earned over $750,000 in live play events.

Jennifer Tilly - This Oscar-nominated actress has starred in such hits as The Fabulous Baker Boys and Bullets Over Broadway. However, she has publicly stated that she's becoming more interested in poker than acting. One look at her accomplishments in the poker world and it's easy to see why. In June of 2005, Tilly outlasted 600 other players and won her first World Series of Poker bracelet (and $158,625) in the Ladies' No-Limit Hold'em event, becoming the first celebrity to do so. She has also won the World Poker Tour Ladies Invitational Tournament and competed in Poker Royale, Poker Superstars, and Celebrity Poker Showdown.

Josh Malina - With acting credits such as Sports Night and The West Wing, Malina is a respected actor of both the stage and screen. He is also an avid poker player. In fact, when he was struggling to get his career off the ground, he would often play poker in order to have enough money to pay his rent. Now that he's financially secure, Malina is spreading his love of poker by producing Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown.

Matt Damon - After starring in the poker film Rounders, you might expect the world-famous Damon to know his way around a deck of cards. He's a regular entrant in the annual World Series of Poker, and his most interesting WSOP story occurred back in 1998. Miramax Studios entered both he and Edward Norton in the WSOP Main Event ($10,000 buy-in) to promote the upcoming Rounders. Damon played well, but he was eliminated on the first day by poker legend Doyle Brunson after Damon's pocket kings failed to beat Brunson's pocket aces.

Tobey Maguire - In October of 2004, the star of the Spider-Man franchise demonstrated his poker skills by winning the first-ever Phil Hellmuth Invitational Poker Tournament. He also picked up $95,480 for the win, causing Andy Bellin to remark to Phil Hellmuth, "This kid could be a legitimate pro." He has finished in the money in several other events and has received lessons from poker pro Daniel Negreanu. And keep in mind that he's only been playing seriously since 2004.

James Woods - Having starred in movies such as Salvador and Another Day in Paradise, James Woods is one of America's most respected actors. And not only is he a familiar face in poker rooms across the country, he's also the face of a new poker site. Their selling point is that players have a chance to match poker wits with top stars like Woods. Not that matching wits with Woods is a good idea, considering he has a 180 I.Q. In 2006, Woods finished in 24th place out of 692 at the L.A. Poker Classic for $40,000.

Mimi Rogers - When she's not starring in hits like Lost in Space and Austin Powers, Mimi Rogers moonlights as a pretty darn good poker player. Tom Cruise's ex-wife took first place on an episode of Hollywood Home Game, and also finished in the money during the World Poker Tour's Shooting Star Championship.

Wil Wheaton - One of the stars of Stand by Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wheaton plays in big-money games in Los Angeles all the time, is a frequent participant in online poker rooms, and was even invited to play in the World Poker Tour Championship. He is also a member of Team PokerStars and played in the 2005 World Series of Poker.

Gabe Kaplan - Best known for his role on Welcome Back Kotter, Gabe Kaplan is such an accomplished poker player that most no longer regard him as a "celebrity" player. His first World Series of Poker appearance came in 1978. In 2004, he finished third at the World Poker Tour's No Limit Hold'em event, winning more than $250,000 in the process. He has also taken second place in the World Series of Poker Limit Hold'em event. His career tournament poker earnings exceed $680,000. He also serves as an expert poker commentator, having appeared on such shows as the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, Intercontinental Poker Championship, and High Stakes Poker.

When he's not reviewing movies or losing money at the poker table, Damien Chambers can usually be found at

Thursday, August 03, 2006

poker superstars: Seven Top Poker Players File Antitrust Lawsuit Against The World Poker Tour

by staff filed under Poker News

Las Vegas, July 19, 2006 -- Today, seven of the world’s top poker players filed an antitrust Complaint against WPT Enterprises, Inc. (“WPTE”) in federal district court in Los Angeles. By this lawsuit, Plaintiffs Chris Ferguson, Andrew Bloch, Annie Duke, Phil Gordon, Joseph Hachem, Howard Lederer, and Greg Raymer seek to enjoin – and seek treble and punitive damages for – WPTE’s continuing violations of federal and state antitrust laws.

WPTE operates the World Poker Tour (“WPT”), a series of televised, high stakes poker tournaments that are run by various casinos located throughout the United States and in parts of Canada and Europe.

The Complaint alleges that WPTE and the casinos have unlawfully conspired to eliminate competition for the services and intellectual property rights of top, high stakes professional poker players. In particular, the Complaint alleges that the casinos have agreed with WPTE that they will not host any non-WPT televised poker tournaments. The Complaint also alleges that WPTE and the casinos have conspired to fix the price and other terms and conditions under which Plaintiffs and other professional poker players are forced to give up their valuable services and intellectual property rights in order to participate in WPT tournaments.

Plaintiff Chris Ferguson stated as follows: “WPTE has stacked the deck against all poker players who wish to compete in its tournaments. They are using our names and images to sell their products without our prior consent and without any compensation. We cannot let these wrongful actions stand. We will prosecute this lawsuit for as long as it takes to change WPTE’s unlawful ways.”

Plaintiff Annie Duke stated that: “We are bringing this action to change the way WPTE treats players. Our goal is not just to win for ourselves, but to set a precedent so that all players can be dealt a fair hand.”

Plaintiffs are represented by the law firm of Dewey Ballantine LLP, whose lead counsel, Jeffrey Kessler, has successfully represented NFL, NBA, and other players in similar antitrust suits. Mr. Kessler stated the following: “It is now well established that the antitrust laws protect professional athletes and other players when agreements are entered into that restrain competition for their services. This is as true for the business of professional poker tournaments as it is for professional football, basketball, and other sports. Professional poker players are entitled to a free market for their services, which will also benefit consumers since the result will be more and higher quality poker tournaments.”

Plaintiff Greg Raymer stated that: “Our success in this lawsuit will benefit all current and future poker players. I am proud to be part of it.”

Plaintiffs are seven of the most widely recognized and successful professional poker players in the world. Plaintiffs Howard Lederer and Phil Gordon, for example, are two poker superstars who have won three WPT tournaments between them. Plaintiff Chris Ferguson, perhaps the most widely recognized poker player in the world, and Plaintiffs Joseph Hachem and Greg Raymer, have each won the World Series of Poker (“WSOP”) Main Event. Plaintiff Annie Duke has also won a WSOP event, and is regarded as the best and most accomplished female professional poker player in the history of poker. Plaintiff Andrew Bloch has two WPT “Final Table” appearances.

About Dewey Ballantine LLP

Dewey Ballantine LLP, founded in 1909, is an international law firm with more than 550 attorneys and locations in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, East Palo Alto, Houston, Austin, London, Warsaw, Frankfurt, Milan, Beijing, and Rome. Through its network of offices, the firm handles some of the largest, most complex corporate transactions, litigation and tax matters.