Year in Review: Seidel finally wins WPT title

Makin' it rain!
Erik Seidel finally gets a WPT win.

This is the fourth 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 from all corners of the poker industry.

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

Tournaments

EPT San Remo

In only his second live tournament, professional online poker player Jason Mercier captured the introduced HR 5767 with the intent of prohibiting the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve from implementing UIGEA regulations.

The two poker-friendly representatives were joined at the end of the month by Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) in sending a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke calling on the two agencies to stop work on implementing the UIGEA.

Washington State

In Washington State, meanwhile, attorney and PPA state director Lee Rousso announced he was giving up his race for the office of governor when a change to the state's primary system dashed his chances of a dark horse win.

Later in the month Rousso did get some good news when Judge Mary E. Roberts granted him a May 15 hearing in his case challenging the state's online gambling ban.

Industry

WPT settles lawsuit

On April 18 World Poker Tour Enterprises, parent company of the WPT, announced it had settled a long-standing lawsuit filed against it by a group of professional poker players including Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Andy Bloch and Phil Gordon.

The dispute centered on the WPT's player release form, which the players said required them to waive the rights to their own images for product promotion. WPTE agreed in the settlement on a new release form that was acceptable to all parties.

"We are glad to put this dispute behind us, and we look forward to working with all players to grow the sport of poker," said Steve Lipscomb, WPTE founder and CEO.

Ferguson, speaking for the players, said they were pleased with the outcome of the lawsuit.

"We are especially happy that this new release will apply to all poker players who wish to participate in WPT tournaments and events. WPTE has created some of the best poker events in the world, and we are excited to participate in them once again."

Bodog founder steps down

Calvin Ayre
Ayre steps down from Bodog throne.

Calvin Ayre, the Canadian multimillionaire who founded online poker room Bodog Poker's parent company in 1994, announced in late April that he would step down as CEO of the company.

"While it has been great fun to live my life in front of the world's cameras and online though my blog, I am looking forward to a more private and meaningful period of giving back and working to support the Calvin Ayre Foundation," Ayre said.

Media

Poker on the small screen

With the WSOP drawing nearer, Europeans itching for poker on television were able to get a solid fix. Sky Sports gave the 2007 WSOP Europe the royal treatment in late April, broadcasting the WSOP's inaugural European Main Event on three channels over the course of eight consecutive nights from April 21-28.

Those tuning in got to see in-depth coverage of then-18-year-old Annette Obrestad make a run through the event, capping it with a heads-up victory over John Tabatabai to become the youngest bracelet winner in WSOP history.

... and on the big screen

The film industry has been trying to get poker right again ever since Rounders went over so well in 1998. The quotable Matt Damon drama touched a nerve with the same generation that would start playing online poker in the wake of Chris Moneymaker's win, but the flicks that have followed have been a mixed lot at best.

Director Zak Penn's The Grand, a freeform improvisational mockumentary centering around a fictional WSOP-like poker tournament, barely did $100,000 at the box office when it opened in March. But the shoestring-budget comedy starring Woody Harrelson, David Cross and Cheryl Hines fared relatively well with critics.

The poker drama Deal, starring Burt Reynolds as an aging poker pro, was shot down like an all-in bluff by film critics.

The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips summed up the film in his review with backhanded praise for Reynolds: "Moving slowly these days, Reynolds does less than no acting in this role, and he's still the best thing in Deal."

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Check back on Wednesday, when May will be the star of PL.com's continuing year-end wrap-up.

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