Lara Brown

Formula One legend Mika Hakkinen has become the latest high-profile name to join the popular online poker website Unibet.

Unibet chose Hakkinen to promote the Finnish-facing site and to help develop Formula 1 content. At the moment it is not clear whether Hakkinen will represent the company in any upcoming Unibet Open tournaments.

Hakkinen, with two F1 titles to his name, is widely regarded as one of the best drivers in the sport.

Unibet has been trying to attract recreational players recently and has roped in non-poker players like eSports streamers to compete in its Battle Royale format Sit & Go's.

It must be noted that Hakkinen does not have any prior experience in the business.

The Unibet brand has been active on this front and has signed Ian Simpson, Dara O’Kearney and Dave Lappin as brand ambassadors earlier in the year. Sam Grafton and Charlotte van Brabander were already on the roster.

There are also reports that Unibet might recruit Viktor “Isildur1” Blom.


Ryan Jone became a two-time WSOP circuit main event winner after beating 945 players to clinch the WSOPC Rio for $269,327. The North Carolina pro's win helped take his career earnings to $842,303.

The $1,675 WSOPC Rio main event, hosted at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, offered a prize pool worth $1,417,500. Among the big names who walked away with a return on their investment included Steve Gross in 85th ($3,161), Erick Lindgren in 49th ($4,451), Ravi Raghavan in 32nd ($6,308), Michael Tureniec in 17th ($14,047), Ari Engel in 14th ($17,038), and Dylan Wilkerson in 11th ($20,908).

Nine players made it to the final table and after a series of eliminations, Jones and Muruz Yohannes were left to fight it out for the title. The final hand of the heads-up battle was played when Yohannes (8s-7s) reraised all-in on a Js-7c-5c flop. Jones (Qs-Qh) made the call, and a Qc and Kc on turn and river, respectively, meant Muruz Yohannes had to be happy with a second place prize for $166,585.

Final Table Results:

1: Ryan Jones $269,327
2: Muruz Yohannes $166,585
3: Jeremy Joseph $122,954
4: Nikolai Sears $91,996
5: Tony Utnage $69,698
6: Martin Zamani $53,468
7: Jett Schencker $41,519
8: Daniel Engels $32,645
9: Cody Pack $25,969

Poker legend Billy Baxter registered the second biggest win of his professional career after coming 3rd at the L.A. Poker Classic $1,100 $1 Million Guaranteed event for $173,580.

The tournament, which saw 1,840 players take part, witnessed a deal being struck among the finalists with $27,000 being difference between 1st and 4th places.

The L.A. Poker Classic $1,100 buy-in event offered a prize pool worth $1,840,000. Some of the big names that earned a return on their investment included Eli Elezra in 138th ($2,400), Mike Shariati in 132nd ($2,620), Sorel Mizzi in 117th ($3,090), David Pham in 111th ($3,090), Kelly Minkin in 94th ($3,620), Dan Heimiller in 66th ($4,510), John Racener in 31st ($7,070), Cate Hall in 27th ($8,120), and David Baker in 25th ($8,120).

Nine players made it to the final table and after the game eventually reached four-handed play Jesse Vilchez, Aditya Prasetyo, Daniel Barriocanal and Billy Baxter subsequently agreed to divvy the money up with all the remaining players on between 38 and 56 big blinds.

Baxter, after this win, has now taken his career earnings to $2,602,892. The 77-year-old has 7 WSOP bracelets, all in lowball games, and is only behind Phil Ivey (10) in terms of non-Hold’em bracelets won. 

Final Table Results:

1: Jesse Vilchez $185,010*

2: Aditya Prasetyo $186,770*

3: Billy Baxter $173,580*

4: Daniel Barriocanal $162,000*

5: John Conkright $72,320

6: Walter Fisher $58,250

7: Maxwell Lineberger $48,270

8: Lou Ojeda $38,250 

9: Kevin Andriamahefa $28,410

Online poker giant PokerStars has announced that it has started testing a new poker game called ‘PokerStars Power Up’.

According to a blog post on the website, PokerStars described it as a traditional No Limit Hold'em game, with the addition of power cards that allow the player to influence hands and alter gameplay.

Power cards include ‘Clone’, wherein the player is given a copy of the last power played in the hand; ‘Engineer’, which allows the player to select the deck’s next card from three options; and ‘X-Ray’, which makes it mandatory for players to reveal one hole card.

Severin Rasset, director of poker innovation and operations at PokerStars, said:

“Power Up is currently in closed Alpha, meaning that we still have a lot of adjustments to make and many more features to add.

“For these reasons, it’s only available to a limited number of people and real money games are still a long way off.

“We’ll periodically expand the pool of players, while tweaking and adding features, while constantly taking feedback from the participants.”

Rasset further added:

“More projects are in development with one common objective - to bring sustainable growth to PokerStars through exciting new products that people will discover and re-engage with.

“And this will mean that more people will continue to enjoy the great game of poker.”

On the face of it, this looks an exciting new idea from the PokerStars stable. It remains to be seen how the players receive this concept and whether it delivers benefits to the company in the long run.


PokerStars parent company Amaya Gaming was fined in New Jersey for allowing wagers from out-of-state players.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) said a “flaw” in geolocation software allowed customers outside the state to gamble at, thereby violating the DGE’s strict intrastate gambling rules.

Amaya was fined $25,000 (€23,500) by the regulator in a decision taken on January 20. However, the decision was made public only this week.

The NJDGE said its investigation proved that “a limited number” of out-of-state patrons were allowed to wager “for a short period of time before a subsequent geolocation check detected such patrons and blocked them”.

The NJDGE added that PokerStars has now updated its software to ensure course correction.

The DGE said it found “sufficient legal and factual support” to explain the imposition of a $25k fine on Amaya US Services Ltd., which executed a stipulation of settlement with the DGE.

 Last year, gaming technology supplier GAN too was dealt with in a similar manner by New Jersey for having “inadvertently activated software" that enabled six out-of-state gamblers to wager via Betfair Interactive.

Some of the biggest names in the poker circuit were honored for their performances in 2016 at the recently held 8th Annual Swedish Poker Awards took place recently. Sweden’s Player of the Year (POY), a title that has been won by high-stakes online cash player Viktor “Isildur1” Blom and 2014 WSOP Main Event champion Martin Jacobson, too was handed out at the ceremony.

This year that honor belonged to Simon “C Darwin2” Mattsson who also won a separate award for Achievement of the Year. Mattsson has amassed $4,988,194 playing online tournaments, including $3,007,385 on PokerStars under the screen name C Darwin2. He has accumulated another $693,128 at live poker events.

Last year, Mattsson won $3.5 million online and $102,237 from live tournaments. Commenting on his solid show, he said:

“It is very rewarding to receive awards when so many others have also accomplished great achievements and results during the year. The most important thing for me right now is to try to be humble and to realize that every year might not be like 2016. It is a matter of not becoming content, to keep my feet on the ground and to not think I am better than I really am."

With this award, Mattsson joins the likes of the 2-times WSOP winner Chris Björin (2010), WSOP champion Alexander Anter (2011), and the 2013 EPT London winner Robin Ylitalo (2013).

Other players to receive awards at the Annual Swedish Poker Awards included Simon “Dybban” Lindell for Ambassador of the Year; “DeathByQuads” for Breakthrough of the Year; and amateur player Bo “Tommy” Alm for Regarding Player of the Year.

Michael Hahn emerged victorious at Heartland Poker Tour’s Ameristar Casino East Chicago leg’s main event, beating 590 players to take home the first place prize of $190,417.  The $1,650 buy-in event had a pool worth $849,866 on offer. 

Hahn has now taken his career earnings to $1,029,818 thanks to the biggest payday till date.

Some of the notable names to have earned a return on their investment included Ravi Raghavan in 56th ($3,047), Eddie Ochana in 50th ($3,300), Shiva Dudani in 43rd ($3,893), Dash Dudley in 22nd ($5,585), Fadi Hamad in 14th ($9,732), and Nadya Magnus in 11th ($13,032).

After few days of intense poker, nine players made it to the final table. Post a series of eliminations, Michael Hahn and Nikola Budrakoski remained to battle it out in the heads-up round.

The final hand of the game was played when Budrakoski shoved his remaining 13bbs pre-flop with pocket fives. Hahn made the call with Ad-6d, and hit a flush to condemn Budrakoski to a second place finish for $117,631.

Final Table Results:

1: Michael Hahn $190,417

2: Nikola Budrakoski $117,631

3: Daniel Loizzo $77,095

4: Jacob Baumgartner $53,569

5: Vihn Tran $38,928

6: Joseph Elpayaa $30,212

7: Brekstyn Schutten $25,388

8: Jerry Siemienas $21,157


9: Stan Jablonski $16,925

Rehman Kassam emerged victorious at the first edition of the PokerStars Festival London Main Event, beating 944 players to take home 89,320 ($111,638). The win helped the 23-year-old to take his career earnings to  $239,498. Commenting on the win, Kassam said “it was great to play at such a big tournament.”

The event, held at the Hippodrome casino in London, had a prize pool of £824,112 ($1,030,037) on offer. 183 players earned a return on their £990 investment. This list included the likes of Luca Pagano in 104th (£1,690), James Akenhead in 89th (£2,105), Liv Boeree in 76th (£2,105), and Diego Gomez in 50th (£2,640).

Eight players made it to the final table and after a series of eliminations Kassam, Daniel Harwood Eric Cech were left to fight it out for the coveted title. The trio then cracked a deal that saw Harwood take £95,000, Kassam £81,320, and Cech £70,000. This left £8,000 on the table for the final winner. Cech was the first to exit, leaving Kassam and Daniel to battle it out in the heads-up round.

The final hand of the match was played when Kassam (K-10) and Harwood (10-7) went all-in on a 10-6-5 flop. The 4 and Q dealt on turn and river meant Kassam was crowned champion for the inaugural edition.

Final Table Results: 

1: Rehman Kassam (UK) £89,320*
2: Daniel Harwood (UK) £95,000*
3: Eric Cech (Au) £70,000*
4: Yuriy Boyko (Ire) £43,370
5: Clement Tripodi (Fra) £31,510
6: Ludovic Geilich (UK) £22,950
7: Alexis Fleur (Fra) £16,702
8: Lam Van Trinh (UK) £12,150

Thomas Boivin emerged victorious at Event #6 of the Aussie Millions - the AU$1,150 No Limit Hold’em Six Max tournament - to take home A$117,950 (US$88,195). The Belgian poker pro outplayed a field of 516 players over the course of two days to mark the second biggest win of his career.

This win has now helped Boivin take his live earnings to $616,583. That's not all. He's also won close to $452,680 playing under the screen name Martom.

The AU$1,150 buy-in tournament, held at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, had a prize pool of A$528,900 up for grabs.

Some of the notable players to earn a return on their investment included Joe Ebanks (48th), Johanssy Joseph (37th), Martin Finger (30th), Duff Charette (31st), Darryll Fish (24th), Daniel Tang (20th), Steffan Sontheimer (17th), and Thomas Muehloecker (14th).

Six players made it to the final table and after a series of eliminations, it was left for Boivin and Joel Feldman to fight it out for the title.

After a protracted heads-up battle, Boivin was crowned champion, while Feldman had to settle for $78,440 as second place prize.

Final Table Results:

1: Thomas Boivin (Belgium) $117,950
2: Joel Feldman (Australia) $78,440
3: Kitty Kuo (Taiwan) $47,385
4: Francesco Sergi (Australia) $34,225
5: Manig Loeser (U.K.) $23,640
6: Andrew Hinrichsen (Australia) $17,030


PokerStars' parent company Amaya Gaming has stated that it expects to generate a record revenue for the 12 months through to December 31, 2016.

The company expects its revenues to be in the range of $1.15 billion (€1.08 billion) and $1.16 billion, compared to the $1.07 billion posted in 2016.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) are expected to be in the range of $521 million and $526 million, an improvement over the 2016 total of $459 million.

In addition, adjusted net earnings should fall between $364 million and $374 million, up from $291 million in 2015.

Rafi Ashkenazi, chief executive of Amaya, commented:

“We anticipate that 2016 will be a record year of revenues for Amaya; we also saw better than expected fourth quarter results from our casino offering, operational excellence program and a successful re-launch in Portugal, all while continuing to take an efficient and measured approach to marketing our product offerings.

“We built positive momentum in 2016 that accelerated throughout the year and which we believe was largely the result of the positive impact of our strategy to improve the poker ecosystem for recreational players and leverage our global competitive advantage in online poker to acquire new customers, cross-sell existing and new customers into our online casino and sportsbook offerings, and maximise the lifetime value of all of our customers.

“We expect to continue this momentum and execute on our strategy in 2017 despite anticipated further headwinds, including continued declines in the value of our customers’ local currencies against the US dollar, which has been significant over the past two years, and the previously announced potential cessation of our real-money online poker offering in Australia.

“We anticipate that certain operational initiatives, including the introduction of a new cross-vertical customer loyalty program, the potential expansion into new markets, our continued focus on achieving product parity in our online casino and sportsbook, and our operational excellence program, will help to both drive our business forward and mitigate these and future headwinds.”