Year in Review: WSOP champion finally named

Peter Eastgate
2008 WSOP Main Event Champion

This is the 11th 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.

This time around we take a look at poker in November.

Tournaments

EPT

The Michael Binger finally claimed his first major title two years after finishing the WSOP Main Event in third place.

"I think I play a really good short-stack game. So I wasn't worried when I got short. I knew which hands to push with and when to reraise," Binger said in his Jonathan Little outlasted a stacked David Pham before entering a match with online pro Jonathan Jaffe that saw the chip lead change hands nine times.

In his winner interview, Little acknowledged that the ending could have come out very differently given the length of his battle with Jaffe.

"In heads-up you're either going to be on the good side or the bad side," said Little. "In that last hand I could have easily had ace-ten and he had ace-queen ... you just got to hope you are on the right side of it."

Industry

UB-Absolute

The UltimateBet-Absolute Poker cheating scandal saga continued in November when Tokwiro Enterprises - the owner of both sites - reached a settlement with Excapsa Software, the former owners of UB.

Excapsa agreed to pay $15 million to Tokwiro, which would be used to repay UltimateBet players defrauded by cheating scams run by former WSOP Main Event champ Russ Hamilton.

Word of the scandals caused by cheating at UB and Absolute reached the American public in November as well, thanks to a piece aired on CBS News' weekly program 60 Minutes. The newsmagazine didn't add anything significant to the story that hadn't already been broken by poker journalists and bloggers months before, but it did bring the issue to the attention of hundreds of millions of Americans not into online poker.

The two poker rooms wrapped up November by finally launching their long-delayed CEREUS poker platform that merged the two sites' player bases.

Full Tilt Poker

Clonie Gowen
No Full Tilt logo in site.

While its competitors settled some outstanding legal issues, Full Tilt Poker found itself in a lawsuit of its own. Less than a week after she was dropped by the popular online poker room, Clonie Gowen announced she was suing Full Tilt for $40 million over Breach of Contract, Unjust Enrichment, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, and Fraud.

Full Tilt's software provider, Tiltware LLC, stated that "all claims have no merit and there are many inaccuracies improperly and unlawfully asserted by Ms. Gowen within her frivolous complaint."

A slightly better piece of business for the room went over in November when Full Tilt signed a deal with the WPT to become its exclusive online poker sponsor on Fox Sports in the US and in Mexico.

Legal Issues

Kentucky saga continues

A Kentucky appeals court granted a stay in mid-November in the ongoing dispute between the state and 141 online gambling operators. The stay meant that the sites were not required to turn over their domain names to the Kentucky government on Nov. 17 as previously ordered by a Kentucky circuit court.

A hearing on a petition from iMEGA was scheduled for Dec. 12 before the same three-judge appellate panel that issued the stay.

In a potentially positive development for online gambling operators and players, the Kentucky attorney general requested that his name be removed from the case, which had originally been filed by a different government department.

UIGEA

After two years without clarification of its hazy statute, the UIGEA received a final rule from the U.S. Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Board of Governors. The long-overdue regulations were set to take effect on Jan. 19, 2009 - the final day of the administration of President George W. Bush.

In order to give the financial institutions time to implement the new due diligence requirements, compliance with the final rule is not required until Dec. 1, 2009.

The regulations still do nothing to clarify what constitutes "illegal" online gambling.

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