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Top News – 2011 WSOP Takes Off, Ivey – Out

Top News – 2011 WSOP Takes Off, Ivey – Out

So, of course, the biggest news of the week is that the 42nd annual World Series of Poker has finally kicked-off on Tuesday. However, one person, that you're all familiar with had stole WSOP's thunder by announcing he was not going to play the tournament due to Full Tilt Poker not making payouts to their users and filed a law suit against Tiltware – Tilt's software and marketing company.

The next day Tiltware had issued a statement of their own claiming that Ivey is only concerned about himself and not the average online players and is seeking financial gain instead of helping Full Tilt payout their players. It seems that the battle between Ivey and Full Tilt has only begun and we will most likely see more action in a few weeks to come. In other news we have some names who are doing well in the first few of World Series' events.

WSOP Starts

The most important poker event of the year, the 42nd World Series of Poker went off on Tuesday with 2 bracelet events – Event #1: the $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em and Event #2: the $25,000 No-Limit Hold'em Heads Up Championship – a brand new tournament in the series. The WSOP will run for almost two months and will host a total of 58 events finishing July 19th when the top 9 players in the Main Event will be determined. They will come back to Vegas in November to settle things out and see who will win the most prestigious poker title in 2011.

The 2011 World Series of Poker is planning on serving more than 70,000 poker players from all over the world and grant over $180 million in prize cash. The tournament will be filmed by the world's biggest sports channel ESPN and then broadcast in the US as well as other countries. This year's series will feature 58 events (one more than 2010) and give away the same number of gold bracelets. No-Limit Hold'em, Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, 7 Card Stud, HORSE and a number of other poker variations will be played at the WSOP tables with event buy-ins ranging from $500 to $50,000.

Ivey Boycott's WSOP, Sues Tiltware

The start of the World Series was not the only big news this week. It so happened that the same day, one of the most prominent poker pros, a (still) member of Full Tilt Poker Team Pro, Phil Ivey had issued a statement claiming he will not play this years WSOP as a sign of support to those who are still waiting to get their funds back from Full Tilt Poker. He also filed a lawsuit against Tiltware, Full Tilt's software and marketing company, because of the unsettled player accounts.

Here's Ivey's full statement:

“For many years, I have been proud to call myself a poker player. This great sport has taken me to places I only imagined going and I have been blessed with much success. It is therefore with deep regret that I believe I am compelled to release the following statement.

I am deeply disappointed and embarrassed that Full Tilt players have not been paid money they are owed. I am equally embarrassed that as a result many players cannot compete in tournaments and have suffered economic harm.

I am not playing in the World Series of Poker as I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot. I am doing everything I can to seek a solution to the problem as quickly as possible.

My name and reputation have been dragged through the mud, through the inactivity and indecision of others and on behalf of all poker players I refuse to remain silent any longer. I have electronically filed a lawsuit against Tiltware related to the unsettled player accounts. As I am sure the public can imagine, this was not an easy decision for me.

I wholeheartedly refuse to accept non-action as to repayment of players funds and I am angered that people who have supported me throughout my career have been treated so poorly.

I sincerely hope this statement will ignite those capable of resolving the problems into immediate action and would like to clarify that until a solution is reached that cements the security of all players, both US and International, I will, as I have for the last six weeks, dedicate the entirety of my time and efforts to finding a solution for those who have been wronged by the painfully slow process of repayment.”

You can also read it on Phil Ivey's website.

Tiltware Responds

Surprise, surprise! Tiltware did not agree with Ivey's accusations and therefore decided to issue a statement of their own claiming that Ivey is not concerned about the poor players, but is actually interested only in his own good and wealth. The idea is supported by the fact that in his lawsuit Ivey said he “has been damaged by lost business opportunity, lost income, and damage to his personal and professional reputation all in an amount that exceeds $150,000,000”. Ivey has hired the Las Vegas lawyer David Z. Chesnoff to help him with the lawsuit which he filed in the District Court of Clark County, Nevada.

Here's a short version of what the lawsuit says and what Ivey want's from Tiltware:

“Ivey is suing for injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and damages. The first cause of action, injunctive relief, is focused on Ivey's non-compete contract and making in unenforceable. In the second cause of action, breach of contract, it says the Plaintiff (Ivey) has been damaged by lost business opportunity, lost income, and damage to his personal and professional reputation all in an amount that exceeds $150,000,000.”

And here's Tiltware's response to Ivey's statement and the whole lawsuit thing:

“Contrary to his sanctimonious public statements, Phil Ivey’s meritless lawsuit is about helping just one player – himself. In an effort to further enrich himself at the expense of others, Mr. Ivey appears to have timed his lawsuit to thwart pending deals with several parties that would put money back in players’ pockets. In fact, Mr. Ivey has been invited -- and has declined -- to take actions that could assist the company in these efforts, including paying back a large sum of money he owes the site. Tiltware doubts Mr. Ivey’s frivolous and self-serving lawsuit will ever get to court. But if it does, the company looks forward to presenting facts demonstrating that Mr. Ivey is putting his own narrow financial interests ahead of the players he professes to help.”

WSOP Underway

With 3 days of the 42nd annual World Series of Poker already in the books, we have the first results. Event #1: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em had finished and Sean Drake was crowned the best poker-playing casino employee. Not only did he win his golden bracelet, but also received more than $80,000 of cash.

These are the final Event #1: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em results:

1. Sean Drake – $82,292
2. Jason Baker – $50,807
3. Claudio Falcaro – $32,753
4. Christopher Perez – $23,994
5. Daniel Quach – $17,835
6. Richard Kozlowski – $13,437
7. Adam Falk – $10,247
8. Joseph Zeman – $7,906
9. Edward Marcus – $6,165

Event #2: $25,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em Championship is also at its final stage with only 4 players left at the tables after 3 days of play. In tomorrow's semifinals Gus Hansen will face last year's WPT London champion and the winner of 2010 EPT Deauville Main Event Jake Cody and Eric Froehlich will play against Yevgeniy Timoshenko, with the winners facing off in a best of three heads-up duel.

A couple of non-bracelet events were played as well, including the Grudge Matches. The replays of the historic WSOP Main Event heads-up battles saw some interesting action in which not all of the the original winners have “defended” their titles. In the first match-up Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth went back to 1989 when they were the last two men standing and Hellmuth denied Chan of his third in a row WSOP Main Event title. However, Chan got his revenge 22 years later, which was yesterday as he beat Hellmuth and won the first of the three Grudge Matches.

The second battle featured Chris Moneymaker and Sammy Farha in a replay of the 2003 WSOP Main Event final match when Moneymaker became the first online qualifier to win the World Series. 8 years latter Moneymaker once again proved he's better than Farha and defended his title. Two down, one to go – the third and the final Grudge match will be played today between Johhny Chan and Erik Seidel for some 1988 Main Event action.

And that's all we had for today, next week we'll come back with more 2011 WSOP news.

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