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Year in Review: Early fall features global poker
As the days slid into August and September, poker tournaments definitely took on a more international flavor. At the same time, other issues in the community continued to garner attention.
In early August, a light at the end of the tunnel appeared for American players embroiled in the NETeller situation. After the plea deal that ended the legal action in U.S. courts against the founders of NETeller (Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre), the company began to release funds - estimated in the millions of dollars - that had been held in limbo since the beginning of 2007. The release of the monies officially put an end to the turmoil that had raged all year long.
The UIGEA was one of the reasons for the NETeller fiasco, so it came as a surprise when a presidential candidate came out in favor of its repeal. Texas Representative Ron Paul added his name to the legislation that Rep. Barney Frank introduced to end the UIGEA.
Paul is running for the Republican nomination for President in 2008 and, although he is not considered a front-runner, his support for Frank's proposal demonstrated that prominent members of the political world were paying attention to the issue of online gaming.
After being shut out from the live coverage that it enjoyed in 2006 at the World Series of Poker, CardPlayer Magazine and its subsidiaries were able to work out a deal for exclusive coverage of the World Poker Tour and its events.
Message boards and forums were abuzz with the issue of media conglomeration at tournament poker events. The controversy continues to date, with no resolution in sight as 2007 ends.
In what would be one of the dominant stories of late 2007, poker rooms began to ban players for sharing accounts. In a high-profile banning, poker professional Dustin "NeverWin" Woolf was kicked off of PokerStars and "YourTimeIsUp" (a player coached by infamous online player JJProdigy) was dismissed from Full Tilt.
These players were sharing accounts to gain certain advantages with anonymity that other players would not have. Online security issues continued to make headlines in subsequent months, as we will see.
Meanwhile, the international poker world exploded with high-profile events. In August, the APPT debuted with its first-ever tournament in Manila. It would prove to be one of the best start-ups in poker history as many players from the Pacific Rim flocked to tournaments in Manila, Seoul and Macau and to the Grand Final in Sydney.
But the APPT was definitely overshadowed by the action in September in London. The World Series of Poker stretched away from the confines of Las Vegas for the first time in September with the WSOP Europe, a set of three tournaments that drew the cream of the poker world to England.
Thomas Bihl was able to overcome a stacked final table to take the first WSOPE bracelet and Italy's Dario Alioto took the second, but the £10,000 Championship Event would make history.
For years, many had heard about the online wunderkind that was "Annette_15," and the WSOPE Championship Event would prove to be her coming-out party. Days away from her 19th birthday, Norway's Annette Obrestad outlasted 362 of the finest the poker world could offer and became the youngest-ever bracelet winner in the storied history of the WSOP.
Because of American laws that prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from entering a casino, Obrestad's victory at her youthful age will probably stand the test of time and the American tournament scene will have to wait to see her in action.
In other tournament poker news, poker veterans Dan Harrington and Bill Edler captured World Poker Tour titles and Jordan Morgan captured a WSOP Circuit championship. The European Poker Tour kicked off its fourth season with Sander Lylloff and Joseph Mouawad winning the stops in Barcelona and London respectively.
As the days grew shorter and the calendar pages were peeled away to the final months of 2007, there was still a great deal of turmoil in the online world, both in tournaments and in the capitals of the world. We'll look at those next as the Year in Review continues.