Year in Review: Tourney, legal action heat up

Third Time's the Charm
Third time's the charm for Ferguson.

This is the third 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 ugliness of the UIGEA, setting the stage for an even bigger year in 2008. With December drawing to a close, it's time to take a look back at some of the biggest developments in poker during an historic year.

March was the busiest month of early 2008 for major tournaments around the world, but there just as much going on throughout the industry, including on the legal front.


NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship

NBC's annual poker tournament went off again at Caesars Palace at the beginning of March, and it saw one of poker's best players take home the title once again. Previously a two-time runner-up, Ryan Young in heads-up play to claim his win.

"When we got to three-handed today I did feel a little bit of pressure. I really didn't want to get third again," Moore said in his David Pham (fifth), Michael Mizrachi (seventh), Chau Giang (eighth), and Pat Poels (ninth). Phil Ivey also finished just outside in 10th place.

Markholt told PokerListings that other than being able to play the small-ball style he prefers, having friends and family in the audience was his biggest asset.

"Having them here can be huge," Markholt said. "It's really great to know you have some support, win or lose, but I knew they were on the way."


PartyPoker CEO steps down

PartyPoker had been the king of online poker before the UIGEA, but the room fell on hard times when it closed its doors to American players. In early March Mitch Garber, PartyGaming CEO, announced he would step down from his post.

Garber had the misfortune of helming the company through a 67% drop after the UIGEA was passed, reason enough for him to decide to relocate his family back to North America.

PokerStars launches LAPT

LAPT chips and cards
Welcome LAPT!

While its competitors floundered in the post-UIGEA market, online poker giant PokerStars thrived. It announced it would capitalize on the success of its live European and Asian tours with the launch of the Latin American Poker Tour in early May.

"Poker is exploding in Latin America and the game is more than ready for its own major poker tour," said LAPT President Glenn Cademartori. "In every regard, the LAPT is going to put Latin America on the map as the newest hotspot to play high-stakes international poker."

Legal Issues

Massachusetts targets online poker

In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick pushed a Casino Expansion Bill before the state legislature that included language targeting online poker. The bill called for those playing poker online to be punished by jail terms of up to two years and fines of up to $25,000, while pushing to expand legal, licensed casinos within the state's borders.

The Poker Players Alliance and the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society joined forces to rally against the bill on March 18.

U.S. settles one net gambling dispute, ignores another

Ripples from the United States government's decision to limit competition for the online gambling market within its borders continued to be felt in March.

In a deal similar to those negotiated with Canada, the European Union and Japan, the U.S. settled its dispute with Costa Rica by opening up markets in research and development, storage, technical testing and analysis to the Central American nation.

Antigua and Barbuda waited for March 31 to hear from the U.S., but Uncle Sam never called. The tiny Caribbean country had won $21 million per year in arbitration over its five-year-old WTO dispute with the United States several months before, and the 31st was the deadline for the U.S. Trade Representative to offer a settlement proposal.

That deadline came and went without any American action, leaving the future of the settlement in doubt.

EC targets proposed French gambling law

In March the European Commission continued its campaign against anticompetitive laws within the EU's member nations. The EC issued a detailed opinion against the French government's draft decree that would have enacted a law in France similar to the American UIGEA.

The decree would have required banks to block transactions coming from online gambling operators outside France, even those fully licensed and regulated in other European nations.


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Tune in again Monday for's recap of April's highlights in our continuing year-end roundup.

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