Online poker pro Jason Somerville is a very busy—and very popular—man these days. Last week, the 28 year old signed yet another sponsorship deal with one of the largest Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) sites in the world, DraftKings. That brings his current sponsorships to three, including his Twitch Poker webcasting contract and PokerStars Pro status.

Somerville fist gained universal recognition after Ultimate Poker went live in Nevada, becoming the first regulated online poker site in the US. Jason was a key ambassador for that brand, helping to build awareness and player retention by hosting a regular web show called Run It UP.

Run It Up's Jason Somerville joins DFS site DraftKingsUltimate Poker eventually dropped the young poker pro in September of 2014, just two months before closing its virtual doors forever. But his time at UP, and his RIU web show, made him extremely popular among the online poker community. That opened the floodgates for other operators to pick him up, and PokerStars wasted no time in knocking on Somerville’s door.

Since then, he’s taken his Run It Up episodes to the live streaming channel known as His moniker, “jcarverpoker”, quickly wrangled up a mass of over 100,000 followers, inciting another sponsorship deal to promote Twitch Poker.

Now, young Jason has inked a contract with DraftKings to promote the DFS wagering giant on his RUI webcasts.

As part of the deal, DraftKings will be hosting a series of online satellite competitions leading into a special Run It Up Reno poker series slated for October. Taking place at the Peppermill Casino, the 6-day event will include a number of $125 buy-in tournaments, followed by a $565 RIU Reno Main Event. Projecting a field of at least 500, Jason Somerville will also be on hand, of course, hosting poker seminars along with “surprise celebrity guests”.

UFC Merges RIU with DFS

In an exclusive interview with LegalSportsReport, Somerville said that he’s not a big DFS bettor and only signed up an account with DraftKings a few months ago. Thus he was very hesitant to sign the deal, fearing the incorporation of DraftKings into RIU wouldn’t “be authentic”.

However, Jason was eventually swayed by the operator’s recent affiliation with UFC. As a longtime fan of UFC who frequently vocalizes that fact on RIU, he felt he would have no problem bridging the gap between his online poker livestream webcast and DFS sports betting.

The poker pro admitted that the majority of his viewers have probably never dealt in daily fantasy sports, but that he believes some of his fans will be intrigued by the possibilities, just as he was when he joined DraftKings earlier this year.

Somerville predicted that “a pretty decent amount” of his viewers would try it out, despite the majority of Twitch viewers not being sports fans, per say. When you consider that a whopping 1.4 million Americans tuned in to watch his most recent livestream, even a minuscule percentage of that would be an impressive turnover for the DFS site.

No Conflict of Interest between PokerStars & DraftKings

Interestingly enough, while DraftKings and FanDuel battle it out for the position of #1 DFS site in North America, the 3rd place position (sitting upon a rung of the ladder far below the top two rivals) is Victiv, which just happens to be owned by Jason’s other sponsorship partner, PokerStars.

Despite promoting a rival brand, there should be no conflict of interest between his ambassadorships with PokerStars and DraftKings. DFS and online poker are very far apart in terms of skillsets. And besides, realistically speaking, being one of the world’s largest online gambling companies, Somerville’s promotion of DFS could feasibly draw players to the PokerStars-owned DFS site as well.

PokerStars Pros have been on a mission over the last few weeks to raise awareness among poker players in California. The campaign, called Californians for Responsible iPoker, involved major stars of the felt like Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst and Jason Somerville, visiting land-based card rooms throughout the state. The tour may be over, but its promoters believe the effects will linger indefinitely.

Lee Jones of PokerStars talks California iPokerThe PokerStars Pro Tour finished up with a final stop at Turlock Poker Room & Casino, where Negreanu and Selbst were joined by the online poker giant’s Head of Poker Communications, Lee Jones. His commitment to the cause has been unrelenting as Jones rode the tour bus along each of the 11 stops, taking a “do whatever needs to be done” stance.

According to Jones, as well as PokerNews, who was in attendance for the last four legs of the tour, the response from the community has been overwhelming. As the PokerStars branded RV rolled up at each stop, poker fans were lined up out the doors to meet the pros, get autographs and discuss their desire to see online poker regulated in California.

When asked what Jones believed was the biggest takeaway from the tour, he had a difficult time pinning down just one. Overall, though, Jones said, “the biggest takeaway is a renewed love of the game and its community.”

He said that so often, the limelight is focused on high-stakes games, big tournaments and grinders, but that there’s an immense population of players necessarily who don’t fall into any of those categories. “These people just love poker,” said Jones.

Everyone who turned out for the final leg in Turlock, CA seemed to agree on one point. Online poker is something they want and deserve to have the right to play. Jones was exceptionally pleased to see how devoted these fans were to the regulation of internet poker, many asking Negreanu and Selbst how they could help to achieve that goal.

“These people love poker not because they think they’re going to win or lose a million dollars, but just because they’re having a great time playing the game. They love going down to the poker club, seeing their friends, drinking a beer, and seeing what the cards bring,” said Jones.

“In many ways, seeing Daniel and Vanessa and being on the road with them, seeing the people swarm around them, again, they were all just totally unabashed fanboys and it just felt really good to see that,” Jones continued. “The smiles, the energy, the happiness of everybody — that’s the big takeaway I have. Plus, they all wanted to help. We forget sometimes that poker is supposed to be fun, and it’s just been fun at every single one of the 11 stops.”

Jones looked on as the mass of poker-loving attendees were all signing up for Californians for Responsible iPoker. He only hopes that their dedication to the cause will carry on well beyond the tour’s end. He said, “we all hope that they will follow through when we send them an email that asks, ‘Hey, will you fire an email off to your assemblyman?’”

Jones said he knows that PokerStars will continue to push heavily for regulated iPoker in California, although he was unable to share any specific details at the time. Continued propagation is “absolutely crucial,” said Jones. “If you start something and you don’t keep up the momentum, then it just dies.”

The Portuguese government recently chose to regulate internet wagering, with license application scheduled for acceptance in September 2015. However, with an exorbitant tax rate, online gambling in Portugal may continue to be dominated by black market operators.

Online Gambling in PortugalThere was a resounding cheer of joy from enthusiasts of online gambling in Portugal when regulators chose to end the monopoly of the state lottery on internet wagering. But it was soon revealed that licensed operators would be required to pay taxes of 15-30% on gross gaming revenue (GGR), and that could deter many legitimate operators from applying for a license.

According to a study of online gambling in Portugal by PricewaterhouseCooper, it’s already been predicted that up to 80% of all companies who receive a license to operate will go out of business within 12 months. And that summation was derived immediately from what gaming analysts are calling an exorbitantly high tax rate.

As a direct result, analysts fear that grey market operators will thrive in the Portuguese iGaming industry. Because unlicensed operators won’t have to pay punitive taxes, they will be able to provide fans of online gambling in Portugal with more attractive promotions and bonus offerings.

PokerStars & Full Tilt Withdraw from Online Gambling in Portugal

In lieu of the licensing application process that kicks off in two months, Amaya Gaming has withdrawn its PokerStars and Full Tilt offerings in the region. The online poker giant wants to make sure that, when September rolls around, its operations are seen as wholly compliant and worthy of licensure.

In a statement from PokerStars, the operator made it clear that they “fully expect to apply for a license in Portugal so that we can provide a fun, safe and competitive environment for Portuguese consumers to enjoy online poker.”

Other Operators Take Precautions while Weighing Options

Several other major online poker and casino operators have followed in the footsteps of Amaya Gaming by withdrawing their services from the soon-to-be regulated Portuguese iGaming market. However, they’ve yet to decide whether it will be worthy of their time, effort and money to apply for a license, or simply avoid online gambling in Portugal from here on out.

888 Poker, Betfair, PKR and William Hill are just a few of the iGaming operators who fit into this category. They have already ceased operations in Portugal, but are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach before pursuing steps to re-enter the market in a licensed, and consequently taxed, capacity.

These companies would prefer to evaluate the landscape of online gambling in Portugal once regulation goes into effect in the fall. If the market becomes saturated, the high tax rate could spell disaster for profit margins.

Examining the current situation in France does not incite a positive outlook. Online gambling in Portugal is shaping up to mimic that of the several year old French market, where high taxes and ring fenced networking has hindered growth.

If, however, the Portuguese government takes a strong enough stance against unlicensed operators, it could leave enough wiggle room for a few licensed operators to compete for traffic and generate enough revenue to survive in the newest European online gambling market.

California iPoker Awareness with PokerStars Pros Daniel Neagreanu and Jason SomervilleThe great state of California has spent so many years debating online poker regulation without any real progress that I’ve found myself groaning each time another news story on the issue hits the presses. But this year, unlike all others, a bill has actually moved beyond the first phase of reading, and Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu and Jason Somerville are doing their part to ensure it continues to see progress.

PokerStars has lobbied hard for passage of an internet poker bill in the Golden State—preferably one that allows the world’s largest poker operator to participate—and who better to represent the campaign than two of the most popular and prolific poker pros of our time? Negreanu and Somerville have agreed to host an iPoker Awareness conference in Sacramento, California on Thursday, May 21, 2015.

The terrific twosome will kick off the event in the Compagno Room of the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento. Negreanu and Somerville will be on hand from 10am to 12 o’clock noon. All in attendance will be able to talk with the poker pros about online poker and the political side of the debate, as well as play a little online poker with them (for free-play, of course) if interested.

PokerStars chooses Crème of the Crop to Represent

PokerStars couldn’t have possibly picked a better team to represent their interests at tomorrow’s iPoker Awareness session. Anyone with any interest in live or online poker knows of Daniel Negreanu, and Jason Somerville became a more high-profile player right around the time that Nevada launched the first US-regulated online poker site in April of 2013.

Daniel Negreanu: Known for his outspoken attitude when it comes to the game of poker, Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu has 6 WSOP bracelets and 2 WPT titles. He’s considered the most affable player in the poker world, and also happens to be at the very top of the All Time Money List with $29,973,908 in live tournament cashes.

The Canadian born poker pro posted his intentions to appear at the California iPoker Awareness seminar via his Twitter feed on Tuesday. “Will be in Sacramento Thursday to talk politics and online poker on behalf of @PokerStars. Feels like the right time to get CA on board!”

Jason Somerville: While this American poker pro may not be as decorated as his fellow iPoker Awareness speaker, having just one WSOP bracelet to his name thus far (with great emphasis on the term ‘thus far’), his popularity among the online poker masses is unquestionable.

Somerville has been actively producing poker videos on YouTube since 2011, and in 2014, started up a live-streaming poker series on Twitch known as Run It Up. After his former sponsor, Ultimate Poker, shut down in Nevada last year, Somerville signed on as a member of the Team PokerStars Pros, and is now in the third season of this immensely popular Run It Up broadcasts.

Jason Somerville also mentioned his upcoming appearance at the iPoker Awareness hearing on his Twitter feed, saying he’s “excited to be heading to Sacramento tmw with @RealKidPoker to talk online poker regulation on behalf of @PokerStars!”

Perfect Timing for CA iPoker Awareness Session

PokerStars couldn’t have timed out the iPoker Awareness conference any better. It takes place just one day after today’s scheduled Joint Hearing among the Assembly GO Committee in which legislators will discuss an “Overview of Gambling in California-Legality, Authorization and Regulation”.

You can listen to the hearing live today at 1:30 PST.

The subject of Assemblyman Adam Gray’s California online poker bill, AB 431, will be high on the agenda at the hearing. After its initial reading, the measure was referred to Committee, officially making it the first such bill in California to make it to the first stage of voting. The bill received unanimous votes in favor of referral on April 27, 2015.

PokerStars Million Dollar Spin N Go PromoApril 28, 2015 was a typical Tuesday for most of us. Professional poker player Jaime Staples was streaming a tournament on PokerStars that day via his Twitch account (PokerStaples), which was typical for him as well. But before long, something extraordinary happened. The online poker room’s famous Spin N Go lottery tournaments struck a $1,000,000 jackpot prize.

The PokerStars Makes Millionaires promotion started up again recently, and three very lucky players who had entered one of the $5 Spin N Go hyper-turbo tournaments found themselves playing for the awesome 1st place prize of $1 million.

Staples Streams $1mm Spin N Go on Twitch

Staples got wind of the million dollar Spin N Go that was taking place and clicked his way over the to the table rail the action, bringing his Twitch fans along with him. As such, thousands of online poker enthusiasts looked on as “Bladsonpoker” of Poland, “hooomlesnurr” of Norway and  “ROliver CEO” of China took center stage to battle it out for the ultimate, 9-figure prize.

As is generally the case with hyper-turbo Spin N Go SNG’s, the action didn’t last long. It only took 7 minutes – a total of 29 hands – for a winner to emerge. That esteemed honor went to the Polish player, “Bladsonpoker”, who cashed in for an amazing $1 million prize after spending just $5 to play in the tournament.

As always, the 2nd and 3rd place finishers, “hooomlesnurr” and “ROliver CEO”, each received an inspiring payout of $100,000 each for their efforts, bringing the total prize pool to $1.2 million.

As the battle was unfolding, Jaime Staples commented to the thousands of viewers looking on. “This is so sick, man. Think about this: for a million dollars right now,” the poker pro exclaimed in awe.

Near the end of the tournament, with “Bladsonpoker” and “hooomlesnurr” fighting it out in heads-up, Staples criticized a decision by the eventual winner. With a single big blind remaining, “hooomlesnurr” went all-in, only to see his Polish opponent fold the pot to him. Ostensibly, Staples would have made the call, but without seeing the cards, it’s hard to say “Bladsonpoker” erred in his decision.

Taking the cautious route, the Pole was able to clinch the supreme Spin N Go victory just a few moments later. Looking down at A-2, “Bladsonpoker” called another all-in shove by the Norwegian, who held 10-7. The board played out, offering no help to either player and delivering the awesome $1,000,000 payout to “Bladsonpoker”.

Spin N Go Winner keeps Composure in Low-Cost Tourney

One can only imagine how ecstatic the Polish poker player was to have found himself sitting on a 9-figure cash, but somehow he managed to continue competing in another tournament he was already involved in before the $1 million prize notification popped up in the Spin N Go window. That other NLHE tournament had a nominal buy-in of just $4.40, yet “Bladsonpoker” remained active in it for the next 90 minutes.

The Polish online poker player has become the fifth person to ever win one million dollars in the PokerStars Makes Millionaires promotion, and only the second to win since the promo was reinstated on March 27. Online poker players still have a chance to win a million as the promotion will continue through May 24, 2015. However, the actual odds of a $5 Spin N Go hitting the $1.2mm jackpot prize pool are about 0.00003%, or 3,333,333 to 1.

Every online poker player can be classified into one of two groups – recreational players and hard core grinders; the amateurs and the pros. For Scott “Aggro Santos” Margereson, there can be no doubt which class he belongs to. The UK online poker pro just earned his third major online poker accolade by taking down the PokerStars Sunday Million, adding that honor to a pair of lucrative WCOOP Titles.

Scott 'Aggro Santos' Margereson wins PokerStars Sunday MillionOne of the highest cashes of the young Brit’s career came in the wee hours of Monday morning when “Aggro Santos” outlasted an enormous field of 6,393 competitors at the PokerStars Sunday Million. The highlight of the online poker world’s weekly tournament offerings, the Sunday Million guarantees no less than $1,000,000 in the prize pool each weekend. With so many participants eager to cough up the $200 buy-in yesterday, the prize was driven skyward to $1,278,600.

Going into the final table, Margereson was among the low stacks, taking only 6mm chips into a 9-handed competition where the leader held over 14mm. But Lady Luck graced the shoulder of the 22 year old online poker pro from the start.

From the small blind, all action was folded to him, inciting his first big move of the table as he shipped it all on J-7o. Things looked grim when the big blind, “Illraiseyou8”, called with A-Qo, but a Jack fell on the flop and breathed new life into PokerStars’ “Aggro Santos”.

As the Sunday Million progressed, Scott would personally eliminate “Illraiseyou8” in 6th place ($40,915), followed by “JIMMY5BELLYS” in 4th ($70,323) and “” in 3rd ($102,288). That brought about heads-up play between Scott Margereson and fellow British poker player, “KDJAll3”.

The final duel began with KDJAll3 in the lead, but it wasn’t long before “Aggro Santos” built his stack to a superior level. With that done, it was only a matter of time before Margereson finished him off. With both all in, Scott showed A-9o to KDJAll3’s K-To. The board offered no help, giving Margereson’s Ace ultimate power at the showdown.

And with that, the PokerStars Sunday Million was over. KDJAll3 collected the 2nd place prize of $143,842 while Aggro Santos scooped a 1st place finish worth $194,479.

PokerStars Sunday Million final Table Results

1st Scott “Aggro Santos” Margereson – $194,479
2nd KDJAll3 – $143,842
3rd – $102,288
4th JIMMY5BELLYS – $70,323
5th dmr1001 – $53,701
6th illraiseyou8 – $40,915
7th -demis-13 – $28,129
8th TMcK69 – $15,343
9th HomeFlax.AAs – $9,909

Just Another Great Day for Aggro Santos

Scott Margereson is not your typical online poker player. According to The Hendon Mob database, he’s racked up a total of 1,277 scores in online poker tournaments alone, valued at over $2.5 million. The young British online poker pro is no stranger to 1st place finishes, either.

In September of 2014, at just 21 years of age, he earned two Titles in PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) series. The first was a $325 WCOOP Turbo Zoom event that netted him $106k for defeating a field of more than 2,200. The second came just two days later, when he harvested the largest online poker tournament cash of his career to date for surviving a field of over 8,100 in the $215 Sunday Warm-Up (supplemented as a WCOOP event), worth a staggering $202k.

More than two years ago, Illinois residents Kelly and Casey Sonnenberg filed a loss recovery suit against PokerStars in an attempt to recoup losses suffered while playing at the online poker room. PokerStars filed a motion to dismiss the case, and on Tuesday, the judge sided with the defendant.

While the decision was gratefully welcomed by PokerStars, it was not an unexpected outcome. The plaintiffs had already failed in their first attempt at a class action lawsuit against PokerStars, which was dismissed last March by the same judge, the Honorable David Herndon. Similar to the first case, there were a multitude of problems with the Sonnenbergs case.

The lawsuit was filed based on the Illinois Loss Recovery Act (720 ILCS 5/28-8). According to Illinois law, gambling is illegal (unless it falls under the guidelines of an authorized activity, which online poker clearly is not). And anyone who loses $50 or more as a participant in an illegal gambling activity is able to file civil action against the “winner” for recovery of those losses. Once the amount of loss is determined by the court, “the court shall enter a judgment of triple the amount so determined”.

In short, the Sonnenbergs filed for loss recovery in hopes of receiving 3x the amount they had lost while playing online poker at PokerStars.

The plaintiff apparently failed to realize that a number of required factors in a loss recovery case had not been sufficiently met. Namely, losses may only be recovered from the “winner”, and as Judge Herndon pointed out in both dismissed cases, PokerStars was not the winner of the gambling activity in question.

Judge’s Ruling in PokerStars Loss Recovery Case

The judge said that, while the plaintiff was able to identify Casey Sonnenberg as the “loser”, they were unable to identify a “winner” in their allegations. PokerStars was deemed a service provider, simply hosting the game and collecting a rake. The online poker operator could not be deemed a winner because it did “not have a stake in how the game is decided.”Additionally, the judge declared that the “plaintiffs failed to identify a single cognizable loser or a loss” and that they failed to “plead basic facts, including: when the purported loss was incurred, to whom…the loss was sustained, and what is the amount of the loss in question.” Loss recovery casino against PokerStars dismissed by Illinois Judge Herndon

As such, Judge Herndon decided, “The Court agrees with defendants and again finds that plaintiffs have failed to plead both loser and loss sufficiently.”

Furthermore, the judge said that the loss recovery statute in Illinois is only a viable complaint if the lawsuit is filed within 6 months of the incurred gambling loss. He said the Sonnenbergs case cannot possibly fall within the law’s statute of limitations due to PokerStars being eradicated from the US market by the incidents of Black Friday.

“April 15, 2011 was the last conceivable date on which any “losers” could have sustained any gambling losses,” read the judge’s decision. “The original complaint in this case was filed on August 24, 2012”, which happens to be near 15 month after PokerStars was shut down by the US Department of Justice.

PokerStars’ Attorney Responds to Dismissal of Loss Recovery Case

PokerStars’ lead council, Jeff Ifrah, called the dismissal of the loss recovery case against PokerStars a “significant” win for the online poker operator. “In what is traditionally a plaintiff-friendly court, the judge dismissed with prejudice the outlandish claims of two defendants who were motivated to file by their mothers.”

Ifrah went on to say that, “Helicopter parenting doesn’t fly in the Seventh Circuit and our client is delighted to put this nonsense behind them.”

“Was PokerStars hacked?” That’s the big question on the lips (and fingertips) of millions of online poker players who call PokerStars their virtual home. In the last month, dozens of cases have been reported, stating their accounts were accessed and funds depleted, and the world’s largest online poker site is denying any fault.

The first suspicious activity was reported on Feb 22 by a member of the TwoPlusTwo forums, then elaborated on the evidence in second post, alluding to accusations of PokerStars hacked accounts.

Accusations fly - PokerStars hackedAccording to the victim, someone had accessed their account from a foreign country, requested (and was granted) an increase to the max deposit limit, made multiple deposits from a never-before used credit card, converted 69,000 FPP to $70 cash, registered a never-before used Neteller account, and proceeded to make two instantly-approved withdrawals to that account in the amounts of $800 and $790.

Those are some hefty accusations, and ones the player was able to back-up with more than enough evidence. In the beginning it looked like the victim had either given his password away, or his computer was compromised by malware. However, it wasn’t long before other victims came forward.

On Feb 27, a second player said he suffered an “almost identical” instance of his account at PokerStars hacked. Similarly, this player had a complex password and had never given it out. More analogous reports came pouring in from there.

Then it was confirmed that the alleged hacker in the first incident unsuccessfully tried to access the victims email account just minutes after the PokerStars account was entered, which alludes to the culprit retrieving the email address from the PokerStars account, but having no password to access it. according to the victim, this can only mean that the PokerStars password was not collected by malware, or the hacker would have accessed the email just as easily.

That led to even more suspicion and questions – was PokerStars hacked? And if not, is there an extreme security issue that needs to be addressed?

Each of the dozens of victims who found out their accounts had been hacked over the last month were notified by the same email from PokerStars.

Greetings from PokerStars.

Your account has been frozen as we have determined it was accessed from a foreign location without your knowledge. We have conducted a full investigation into your account and we believe that your PokerStars password may have been compromised.

Our facts to support this are as follows:

The logins to your account show no failed attempts; whoever accessed your account knew your password perfectly.

Computer finger printing technology is utilized by our Security Team in order to determine which computer your account was accessed from. In this case, our investigation concludes that your account was accessed from a foreign computer where no logins were previously detected from. It is therefore possible that your password has been compromised.

With regards to the bankroll in your account, unfortunately we have been unable to recover funds lost.

To conclude this matter, we would like to advise you that PokerStars will not be liable for funds lost on your PokerStars account. PokerStars will not be held liable for any losses as a result of insufficient security measures to ensure that your personal details remain secured. This is in accordance with the sections 10.2 and 10.3 of our Terms of Service which state your responsibilities as an account owner.


Essentially, PokerStars said the fault of a compromised password lies solely on the account holder and that they can offer no further help in the matter. Blaming the player might seem like an easy answer, but victims aren’t willing to let the case drop so easily.

Accounts on PokerStars Hacked due to Lax Security?

Was PokerStars hacked due to lax securityFor years, PokerStars has been considered the most reputable and trustworthy online poker room in the world, but some players that may no longer the case. Some players have become certain that the accounts on PokerStars hacked were entirely the fault of the operator’s lax security measures.

Let’s take a look at some more evidence. In most cases, the culprit logged in from a foreign country, or at least hundreds of miles away from the account holder’s regular log-in location, but that never raised a red flag. A never-before used credit card was used to make a deposit, but again, no red flag. A new Neteller account was used to withdrawal; no red flag. Increased deposit limits and multiple purchases were made in a short period of time; no red flag. Multiple withdrawals to never-before used Neteller account; no red flag.

What does it take to raise a red flag to the security team at PokerStars? Hacked account holders would certainly like to know the answer, and Michael Josem, head of PR at PokerStars (and formerly one of the key people responsible unveiling the UltimateBet super-user scandal) finally responded with some answers.

Michael Josem responds to Accusations of PokerStars Hacked

PokerStars’ response on TwoPlusTwo indicated that hacks on the site are actually down since January 2015, and that it’s player awareness that’s on the rise thanks to their recent email notification policy. Josem said that 52% of all attempted hacks were thwarted this year, and that the other 48% resulted in an average loss of $57.09 per victim.

“Going forward, we have two key strategies to further reduce the already-decreasing frequency of accounts being ‘hacked’,” wrote Josem. “We will more actively promote account security enhancements to players to make their account more secure. In addition, we will continue to improve our system for evaluating risky cash-outs. We continually refine our cash-out systems to combat overall fraud trends, and we want to keep the frequency of hacked accounts moving in a downward direction.”

Josem said that the lack of any failed password attempts “strongly suggests that the hackers knew the passwords.” He defended the company by adding, “Because PokerStars follows the best-practice security guidelines for storing passwords, we don’t store a copy of a player’s password that can be decrypted. Thus, we can’t review the strength of passwords of the players who were hacked, and have only limited ability to evaluate how those passwords might have been obtained by the hackers.

“There is no evidence of any misbehaviour by PokerStars insiders in this situation. Because PokerStars passwords are hashed, even if a PokerStars insider were somehow able to gain access to the password database, they would not be able to decrypt a player’s password.”

Players were notified of three ways they can further protect their account information, all of which are available to PokerStars members at their own discretion. They can enable RSA Security Tokens, set up a special PokerStars PIN#, and/or enable SMS Validation.

While many online poker players have historically seen such measures as nuisances, due to the recent outbreak of accounts on PokerStars hacked, any and all members would be well advised to take advantage of these heightened security measures. Members can enable SMS Validation under the ‘Account’ tab, or set up a PokerStars PIN# here.

As long as California lawmakers have been debating the issue of online poker regulation, there have been those who opposed the entry of any operator who ignored the UIGEA of 2006. For the past few years, ‘bad actor clauses’ have been aimed at keeping illegal operators out of California—if and when a bill actually passes, that is—but now it seems like more and more vested interests are swaying their favor in the direction of PokerStars.

California Assembly to Vote on Web Poker Bill AB 431Every bad actor clause to date has been (theoretically) aimed at preventing PokerStars from participating in a California online poker market. The company was portrayed in many lights, from duplicitous for its acceptance of Californians after 2006, to a threatening entity far too difficult to compete with.

Now some groups are changing their opinions of the world’s largest online poker room. The latest confirmation of compromise came from Jan Jones Blackhurst, the Executive VP of Communications and Government Relations for Caesars Entertainment. Chris Krafcik of GamblingCompliance confirmed the company’s opinion yesterday on Twitter:

Interestingly enough, the announcement from Caesars comes on the heels of the casino company’s California partner, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, who made a similar declaration just days prior. The Rincon were previously sided with Pechanga and its allies, who were adamant that UIGEA-breachers like PokerStars, as well as pari-mutuel racing tracks, should not be permitted to hold an online poker license.

On Tuesday, three of those tribes shifted their focus when the heads of the Rincon, Pala and United Auburn Indian Community each signed a letter addressed to the authors of California’s two online poker bills, Assemblymen Mike Gatto (AB 9) and Reggie Jones-Sawyer (AB 2291).

In the letter from the California tribes, it was suggested that lawmakers take “an approach that looks specifically at personal participation in unauthorized gaming.” While they still believe companies that willfully defied the UIGEA, and continue to be headed by the same individuals, should be excluded, the letter advised: “If a company that engaged in unauthorized gaming changed ownership, regulators would be able to review the effect of that change in ownership under the bill’s standards.”

Where they have yet to compromise, however, is the matter of whether assets belonging to a company under new ownership should be permissible. To that end, PokerStars may be able to enter a California online poker market, but whether they should be allowed to use the original PokerStars software is another matter.

“While we have not yet identified a possible consensus position,” said the tribes, “we encourage continued conversation on this important issue to identify an approach based on considerations of fairness, regulatory integrity, and legal requirements at issue.”

The letter appears to reflect the results of a tribal gaming meeting that took place in California this week, where the subject of online poker regulation was highlighted. All tribes agreed that compromise is the key to getting online poker legalized in the Golden State. It certainly seems that some tribes are working diligently toward that end, and in doing so, the Rincon have harvested the support of their gaming partner, Caesars Entertainment.

After absorbing endless criticism from serious online poker grinders, the success of PokerStars’ Spin & Go lottery SNG tournaments has spoken for itself. Last weekend, just days after the controversial new Lottery SNG format unleashed it’s very first $1,000,000 prize, two more members of PokerStars became millionaires playing $5 Spin & Go SNG’s.PokerStars Lottery SNG Spin & Go Tournament Promotion

On Monday, January 12th, during the wee hours of the night in South Russia, one extremely lucky member of PokerStars going by the screen name “sss66666” won the very first $1mm Spin & Go. It was a momentous occasion for the world’s largest online poker room, and an unforgettable, life-altering moment for the 33 year old handyman who won it.

But amidst the celebration, many online poker players complained over the extensive time frame. Lottery SNG tourneys were first introduced in PokerStars’ regulated markets in July 2014, then were installed on the operators’ global platform in September of last year, resulting in a rather long waiting period for a 7-figure jackpot to strike.

As one online poker player now famously commented on his Twitter feed, “It’s probably the last one, too.”

Boy was he wrong! Just a few days later, a second $1mm jackpot Spin & Go winner emerged, and yet a third on the very next day. If you lost count, that’s three million dollar winners in 7 days.

On Saturday, January 17, a member of PokerStars residing in the Czech Republic known as “Tornado111” bested the table of three to win the enormous $1,000,000 jackpot. Then, on Sunday, January 18, online poker player “anushan_2323” did the very same thing, taking down another million dollar prize.

Tornado111 wins PokerStars 2nd $1mm Lottery SNG

As Tornado 111 took his seat at the $5 Lottery SNG alongside “RusGreen” and “newmann”, the prize wheel spun its way to an incredible, maximum prize of $1.2 million. All knew they would receive either $100k or $1mm by the time it was over, and as fortune would have it, Lady Luck was clearly residing upon the shoulder of the Czech.

Tornado111 started off by eliminating “newmann”, who had the clear advantage with A-K over A-10 when they both pushed all-in pre-flop. The board brought another 10, and that was all for newmann.

On the final hand, with A-2 underneath, “RusGreen” pushed the rest of his stack, amounting to less than 4 big blinds. Tornado111 made the call with just 6-5, but Lady Luck struck again, rounding out a straight on the river to give him the $1,000,000 win. “RusGreen” and “newmann” earned $100k apiece just for participating.

Anashun_2323 wins PokerStars 3rd $1mm Lottery SNG

The very next day, Canadian online poker player “anashun_2323” joined “ChipsMongot” of Sweden and “jukeox72” of Germany at another $5 Spin & Go table. After a series of all-in shoves that kept the lead swinging like a pendulum in a tsunami, the tide finally took a decisive turn when anashun_2323 eliminated jukebox72 on A-10 over A-8.

The lead then went back and forth between the Canadian and Swede for several hands. In the end, it was anashun_2323’s A-K that put an end to ChipsMongot’s (8-8) run for the 7-figure prize. The 2nd and 3rd place finishers still split the lucrative $200k remainder of the lottery SNG prize pool.