Year in Review: Tournaments galore

Matt Brady
Matt Brady picks up a win in Aruba.

This is the 10th 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.

October was one of the biggest months of 2008 for live tournament poker action, with a mix of big names and unknown amateurs taking down the top prizes all around the world.


Sun City Millions

South Africa has been emerging as a poker nation in the last few years, especially since Raymond Rahme's third-place finish in the 2007 turned out in force for their first major international tournament, with well over half of the 305-player field coming from the South Pacific nation.

Given the numbers, it was no surprise that a New Zealander came out on top. Daniel Craker, a 30-year-old plasterer from Wellington, took down the $200,000 NZD ($156,693 USD) top prize.

WPT North American Poker Championship

The WPT NAPC takes place on Canadian soil and this time around it looked like it might be won by a Canadian pro when Gavin Smith and Marc Karam turned up at the TV table alongside Kathy Liebert.

A Canuck did take home the top prize, but it was unknown amateur Glen Witmer who claimed the $1,254,152 CAD.

WSOPC Horseshoe Southern Indiana

The annual WSOP Circuit stop in southern Indiana went off in mid-October with its smallest field of all time, drawing only 84 players with its $5,000 buy-in. Samuel "Gramps" Oberlin claimed the winner's prize of $143,064 along with a championship ring and a buy-in to the 2009 WSOP Main Event.

WPT Festa al Lago

Bertrand Grospellier
ElkY became the third player to win both an EPT and WPT title.

After dropping Festa al Lago from its schedule during Season 6, the WPT returned to its senses and signed up with the Bellagio tourney again for Season 7. The results will make for great television when the world gets to watch Team PokerStars Pro's Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier add a WPT title - and $1,411,015 - to his resume.

ElkY came out on top of a field of 368, including final-table competition from the likes of Adam "Roothlus" Levy, Nenad Medic and heads-up opponent Nam Le, and became the third player to win both an EPT and WPT title.

He gave PokerListings an in-depth interview after his win.


Duplicate Poker shuts down

In a sign of the economic times, fledgling skill-based poker site Duplicate Poker shut its virtual doors in early October.

"Duplicate is sadly bidding farewell to its players," a letter on the room's Web site said. "We are a small victim of the global financial crisis. Hopefully at later time and in a better economic climate Duplicate Poker will re-appear."

Duplicate offered a version of poker where players played against others who were dealt the same cards; whoever played the hand better - and not whoever had the most luck - would come out ahead.

Hall of Fame gets 2008 class

Dewey Tomko
The face of a Hall of Famer.

The Poker Hall of Fame announced in late October that it would induct two new members when the WSOP Main Event final table played out in November. The new members were three-time bracelet winner and two-time Main Event runner-up Dewey Tomko and hole-cam inventor (and Holocaust survivor) Henry Orenstein.

Legal Issues

October saw the continuation of the drama started by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear the month before when he initiated legal action to seize the domain names of over 140 online gambling operators.

Early in the month the Bluegrass Institute, an independent, nonpartisan association of writers and speakers who analyze state and local public policy in Kentucky, teamed up with the Poker Players Alliance to host an emergency summit examining the legal issues surrounding Beshear's unorthodox decision.

Among the questions posed were whether Kentucky had the jurisdiction to seize the domain names, what threat the action posed to Internet freedom and innovation, and whether domain names fit the Kentucky statutory definition of a gambling device.

Nearly one month after the governor initiated the court action, computer problems delayed the release of the circuit court ruling when it was due to be handed down. Once Kentucky got its computers working again, the court sided with the state on nearly every issue at hand and gave the online gambling operators until Nov. 17 to block IP addresses from within Kentucky.

The stunning decision was denounced by industry and Internet advocates alike, such as iMEGA Chairman Joe Brennan Jr. and Internet Commerce Association President Jeremiah Johnston.

"This is a dangerous decision not just for domain name investors and developers but for all who value commerce and free speech on the Internet," said Johnston. "The Court has incorrectly held that domain names are a form of property subject to in rem jurisdiction anywhere on the face of the Earth where their associated Web sites may be viewed on a computer screen."

The decision prompted iMEGA to petition the Kentucky Court of Appeals for a writ of mandamus to block the lower court's action.

"Since the lower court elected to ignore Kentucky law, and instead reached back to a law the current one supplanted, to find a rationale justifying these seizures, we have no choice but to go to the Court of Appeals," said Brennan.

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