The Poker Year In Review: April-June 2012



As the final days of 2012 click off the calendar, we’re taking a look back at the year that was in the world of poker. In the second quarter of the year, rumblings began about the return of a dark online poker site returning to the game and the poker community prepared for its biggest events of the calendar year.

April

As the month began, there were rumors of the return of Full Tilt Poker. Job postings by Pocket Kings, Ltd. (the ownership behind Full Tilt) and license applications for bringing the site back online raised the hopes of many. With Groupe Bernard Tapie in long-going negotiations to purchase the site, it was thought that the sale of Full Tilt to the French investment group was imminent.

This opinion began to shift by the end of the month, however. Groupe Bernard Tapie couldn’t come to a deal with the U. S. Department of Justice for the purchase of Full Tilt, introducing a new player into the game. The rumors of PokerStars’ purchases of Full Tilt – as well as settlement of its own legal issues with the federal government – exploded at this point, with players eagerly anticipating the millions of dollars locked up on the darkened Full Tilt being released in time for the World Series of Poker.

The poker world looked back on the first anniversary of “Black Friday” as the middle of the month passed. With the departure of the three main online poker sites in the United States – PokerStars, the darkened Full Tilt Poker and the CEREUS Network rooms Absolute Poker and UB.com – American online action had shifted to formerly sparsely populated online rooms or players had gotten out of the online game altogether.

As April closed, the poker world mourned the loss of one of its great champions. After a lengthy illness, 1972 WSOP Championship Event winner and four-time WSOP bracelet winner Amarillo Slim” Preston passed away at the age of 83. Recognized as one of the first poker professionals to attempt to take the game into mainstream culture, Preston was also a writer and hosted what was, at the time, one of the biggest tournaments outside of the WSOP, Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker (it closed in 1991). The loss of Preston gave pause for many in the poker community to remember a great champion.

May

With their pinnacle event starting at the end of the month, World Series of Poker officials announced the next expansion of the brand. Already venturing to the Old Continent with the WSOP-Europe, it was announced that the next step for the WSOP would be into Australia. In April of 2013, the first-ever WSOP Asia-Pacific (APAC) will take place at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia.

Coming off their disappointing (and failed) efforts to buy Full Tilt Poker, Groupe Bernard Tapie pushed off its ambitious plans for its own tournament series. The International Stadiums Poker Tour, originally scheduled to hold its first event in the fall of 2012, was instead pushed off until 2013. Although the tournament is still on the schedule for May 2013, there is a great deal of discussion as to whether the event will actually be pulled off.

As the month came to a close, Germany’s Marvin Rettenmaier took down the title at the Season X closing event for the World Poker Tour, the WPT Championship. In one of his major triumphs during the 2012 tournament poker season, Rettenmaier was able to outlast Nick Schulman, Michael Mizrachi and Philippe Ktorza to take down the historic title and its $1.196 million first place prize.

June

As the month began, poker players from around the world began to descend on the Rio in Las Vegas as the 43rd Annual World Series of Poker began. Andy Bloch shed the title of “best player to never win a WSOP bracelet” in defeating Barry Greenstein in Seven Card Stud to pick up the jewelry, while John Monnette won his second WSOP bracelet in taking the $5000 Stud event.

In the middle of the month, history was made on the felt in the Rio. Matt Matros became one of the few men who has won bracelets in three consecutive years at the WSOP when he won the $1500 Six Handed No Limit Hold’em event, while Phil Hellmuth earned his record-extending twelfth bracelet in winning his first non-Hold’em bracelet in Razz.

Allyn Jaffrey-Shulman broke through to win the first bracelet by a woman in four years by taking the Seniors’ Event, mowing down the field to take the title and its $603,713 first place payday. As the month came to a close, Michael Mizrachi made further history in becoming the first player to ever win the $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship twice.

In news outside of the WSOP, Bally Technology and International Game Technology became the first companies to be granted licenses for the new Nevada intra-state online poker network. Delaware became only the second state to open its doors to online gaming, passing through legislation that would open the state for full-fledged online casino gaming in the state.

Over the next three months, the WSOP be a dominant part of the poker news cycle. But online poker – and the ongoing drive to bring back Full Tilt Poker – would also have its impact.

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