Year in Review: ElkY pounds PCA in Jan.

Bertrand Grospellier
Bertrand Grospellier got his year off to a good start at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

Poker had a big year in 2007 as it bounced back from the ugliness of the UIGEA, setting the stage for an even bigger year in 2008. With the month of December now drawing to a close, it's time to take a look back at some of the biggest developments in the world of poker during an historic year.

This is the first in a 12-part series taking a month-by-month look at what happened with poker in 2008. The series will publish every other day until the end of the year, covering the major happenings on the tournament circuit as well as news in online poker to legal news from the poker industry.


ElkY wins the PCA

The Freddy Deeb (fourth) and John Spadavecchia (sixth). Russ "Dutch" Boyd placed just outside the bright lights in eighth.

After the final cards were dealt, Faustman told PokerListings that thanks to his strategy he wasn't the least bit intimidated by the all-star lineup he faced at the TV table.

"I had a game plan coming in to project the image of an amateur who didn't know what he was doing, so I was leading out a lot with big hands and they were reraising me a lot. That was my strategy, to make them think this was my first time in this atmosphere.

"And the bottom line is that I used to deal this game. One of my favorite sayings is that this isn't my first time at the rodeo. I've been here before, maybe not at this level, but the experience certainly pays off."

Borgata Winter Open

Gavin Griffin closed out the month of January in style with a historic win at the Borgata Winter Open. With his epic heads-up win off David Tran, Griffin took home the first-place prize of $1,401,109. He also entered the record books as the first player to win tournaments on the EPT and the WPT and at the WSOP.

Gavin Griffin
Gavin Griffin completed the Poker Triple Crown in January.

After his win, Griffin told PokerListings that the significance of his win wasn't lost on him.

"It means a lot, you know? The fields are so tough these days. There are so many young online players who play really well and all the people who have been playing live for years."

He also said that the experience he gained winning the other events helped him get there for a third time at Borgata.

"Having been there before has got to help. Not only that, I've also won big tournaments before so I don't have that monkey on my back like I've been there before but I couldn't win. I'm not thinking that way; I'm more thinking that I've won before and I can do it again."

Legal Issues

European legal developments

On the other side of the action, January saw plenty of movement on the issue of online gambling in Europe. While online gambling is considered a legitimate industry in Europe, some members of the European Union began the year with signals that they would move to restrict it within their national borders.

The Dutch government announced its intention to ban all online gambling not operated by Holland Casino, one of two properties in the government's gambling monopoly in the Netherlands, as a measure to reduce gambling addiction. Meanwhile, the same government monopoly increased advertising for its lottery program.

In Finland there were rumblings about online poker from two different government ministers. The Minister of Social Affairs announced a plan ito allow Finnish players to claim back their losses, which would have effectively ostracized all Finnish players from the rest of the world's gaming sites.

Just days later, the Scandinavian nation's minister of culture and sports came out in favor of introducing a national online poker room for Finns.

In the U.K., where online gambling was explicitly legalized in 2005, two offshore havens were denied a place on the British government's list of approved nations that can advertise online gambling services within the U.K.

The Caribbean nation of Antigua and the Kahnawake tribe in Canada, two of the top entities for licensing and regulating online gambling operators, were rejected for inclusion on the U.K. "white list" in mid-January.

American legal developments

In the United States, the uncertain legal atmosphere created by the UIGEA in late 2006 still hung in the air as 2008 began.

Near the end of the month, NETeller made its final payment to the U.S. government as part of a deferred prosecution agreement.

The $38.5 million check the company wrote to Uncle Sam in January was the last installment of a total $136 million obligation, allowing the company to be done with America once and for all.

Across the continent in Washington State, meanwhile, one man decided to make a run for the governor's office on the strength of his support for online poker. Lee Rousso, a Washington attorney who challenged Washington State's online poker ban in the summer of 2007, ran on a platform that included legalization of online poker as well as other issues such as selling the state's lottery business.

And on the live poker side of the equation, the ownership of the world's largest poker tournament changed hands. In what must have looked like a fantastic deal before the financial turmoil that came later in the year, the sale of Harrah's to the Apollo Management Group that had been initiated in 2007 was finalized at the end of January.

That put the World Series of Poker in the control of its third owner since 2003, leaving the long-term fate of the world's most prestigious poker tournament uncertain.

Stay tuned for the February installment of the Year in Review on Dec. 11.


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