Weekly Poker Update: June 7, 2021

Weekly Poker Update and Connecticut Flag

We’ve heard a lot in the past year or so about Daniel Negreanu’s feuds with fellow real money poker players, both on and off the felt. But we didn’t know that his latest battle would be against a plexiglass divider. It’s a battle he won this past week—to comical effect.

Kid Poker Versus Plexiglass

For those who might have checked out on Kid Poker over the past year or so, he’s been dealing with a bit of a rough patch. First, he lost to arch rival Doug Polk in the so-called “Grudge Match of the Century.” More recently, he’s gone down two to nothing to Phil Hellmuth in High Stakes Duel Action.

On top of that, he seems to be getting into a new Twitter war every single week. Perhaps he needed to let out his frustrations. Which is how we got to the point that he made short work of one of the plexiglass dividers put in place at the Venetian in Las Vegas as part of health and safety protocols.

Daniel Negreanu Plexiglass

Negreanu was in the midst of trying to make it to the final table in a $25,000 buy-in High Roller event. He was just shy of at least being in the money when he ran into a pair of rough hands against Chris Brewer. The second of those hands busted him out, at which point, Negreanu wondered what it would take to tear down the divider.

As he stood up on his chair to try and yank at it, he tried to use the divider for balance. But that was all it took, as it caved in and he ended up holding it in his hand. He handed the busted piece to Brewer with a laugh and was on his way.

To be fair to Negreanu, he actually has been playing well in tournament action lately, only just missing the money several times. He also gets a chance to come back against Hellmuth when the head-to-head series resumes in a couple weeks. In the meantime, his symbolic strike against the divider shows that he has a sense of humor about it all, which is half the battle.

Connecticut Joins the Party

Little by little, states across the US have taken steps to regulate online gambling laws in the hopes of gaining some revenue from poker popularity. This past week, Connecticut became the seventh state to make the leap. Democratic Governor Ned Lamont signed the bill into law to make it happen.

The bill represents an agreement between the state and its two Native American tribes, the Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, to allow them to administer a variety of online gaming options, including poker. Meanwhile, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation will be restricted to offering sports betting and online lottery games. It’s a power-sharing situation that was put into place as a way of growing revenue in the state.

To make this official, there still has to be an agreement reached with the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the US Department of Interior. Previous pacts made between the state and the tribes will have to be altered to reflect the new agreements. But that’s likely little more than a formality.

Pro Poker Player Maria Konnikova

From there, the next step is setting up operators in the state. That process can take a while. It wouldn’t be completely surprising to see Connecticut poker players not getting to be enjoy the digital felt until 2022, although it could happen a little sooner.

In any case, the next steps will be to see if the state strikes up shared pool agreements with the other states that have legalized online poker. And it also remains to be seen which domino will be next to fall in terms of the states deciding to join Connecticut and the others. Online poker continues to make massive strides in the United States, to the point where we can perhaps anticipate more than half the country being able to offer it within the next decade or so.

U.S. Open Poker Begins

The first event of the U.S. Poker Open took place this past week. Having this event returning is another good sign for the return of live poker. And the amount of entries right off the bat suggests that the players are itching to get back at it as well.

In the opener, 95 entries were willing to ante up the $10,000 buy-in at the Aria Resort and Casino. Big names abounded in the field, all the way through to the final table. That’s when Jake Daniels took over and came away with the victory.

Jake Daniels worked his way through the final table before ending up in a head-to-head with Dan Shak. Shak went into that final matchup with a solid chip advantage. But Daniels had the answer, coming from behind for the win.

For the victory, Daniels earned $218,500. That paycheck pushed his career earnings over $1.6 million in tournament play. As for the bigger picture, live, in-person, high-stakes tournament play seems to be thriving once again after being on life support for much of the last year or so.

College Poker Players Step Up

A new initiative by PokerStars is focused on college poker players, and it will be interesting to see what kind of interest it draws. The World College Poker Championship Main Event is on the docket for the summer of 2021. It will open to anyone over the age of 18 who can present a valid student ID.

Round One begins on July 24 at PokerStars.net, with the goal of cutting the playing field down to 50 players from each of the six regions.

A week later, Round Two of the Hold’em action will take place, with the remaining 300 shaving it down to 45. In the following week, the field will be cut down to six for the final table (for which the date has not yet been announced).

Keep in mind that there will be no monetary prizes handed out, preserving a kind of amateur feel to the whole affair. There will be prizes handout out though for the best performers. And the winner gets the chance to participate in a European tour event all expenses paid.

On the one hand, PokerStars, as long as it pulls the tourney off well, is doing some great marketing. You would think that any players who want to continue playing for real money in the future would have a familiarity with the site. Thus, PokerStars gets a competitive edge on some of the other sites looking for players.

In terms of the larger scene, this tournament could be something that attracts the next generation of players. College-age players should be well acquainted with the digital environment of the tournament. And if they perform well enough, or even just enjoy the experience, it could open the doors for a lifetime of poker action ahead of them.