What are the main poker news at the start of 2012? So far in 2012 there is no major news, mostly small stories that are a continuation of the 2011 stories.
The main story which we have not yet heard much about is Full Tilt Poker and the Group Tapie acquisition of their assets. As both the US Department of Justice and the current shareholders of the private company have given their approval to this deal, the technical details are now negotiated and finalized between Tapie and the DOJ. That step is expected to be completed for the most part in the next few months. Then the final step will be the reopening of the poker room and how they handle existing players’ bankrolls. This is the big question in the online poker community. It was even rumoured that some players will be reimbursed in shares of the new company. This type of transaction would only make sense for the largest bankrolls and it remains to be seen if this goes through.
Another news is the building up of the team of pros at lock poker. In the past Full Tilt and Pokerstars were the rooms hiring a lot of pros, and there were quite a few at UB Poker too. These were the major hirers of pros, now obviously a lot of these pros are looking for a new home. Interestingly Pokerstars has been somehow bucking the trend as they have let go a number of their top pros, Joe Hachem most recently. So with respect to Lock Poker, they are the ones doing a lot of hiring at this time, and they just added Kevin “Civell” Vandersmissen to their stable. Kevin is a young gun from Belgium who has been noticed in particular for finishing second at two EPT events. Lock Poker has not always been lucky with their pros as they was a cheating scandal last year involving one of their previous pros: José “Girah” Macedo. The latter could not resist the temptation to fleece his unknowingly students as he could see their hole cards. Lock Poker now have the largest stable of poker pros outside the majors and they are one of the dominant operators of US online poker.
Another interesting story is about what is going on with Phil Ivey. Phil was the leading player at Full Tilt Poker and is considered by most as the best living poker player (possibly the best poker player ever if he continues to be successful long enough to outshine Doyle Brunson and Stu Ungar). Phil was not just their top player, he was also a major shareholder and he took a big hit on both fronts after the downfall following Black Friday. Since April last year Ivey was nowhere to be found, not even at the WSOP. He was seen at the end of the last year at the Macau high stakes tables, but not at any online poker site. In fact given his caliber he could only possibly play at one site other than Full Tilt, and this is pokerstars. Coincidentally rumours are now spreading that a pokerstars poker player under the username ‘RaiseOnce’ is none other than Ivey himself. There is enough evidence including his playing style to be almost certain that this player is none other than ‘No Home Jerome’. A player to watch for sure.