Poker News April 2007

The earlybird supposedly gets the worm and BetUS.com already is angling for wagers on which players will make the main event final table at the 2007 World Series of Poker.

By this time next month, offshore betting sites are expected to be awash with odds-to-win on poker’s most prestigious event, as officials at sponsoring Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., are set to launch this year’s WSOP June 1, with the $10,000 No-Limit Texas Hold’em Championship slated to run July 6-17.

Last year’s WSOP attracted 8,773 attendees, but many observers predict this season’s tournament may draw only one-fourth as many entrants because Harrah’s has severed ties with offshore books that aren’t official co-sponsors.

Las Vegas pro Phil Ivey, often referred to as the Tiger Woods of poker, leads BetUs.com’s final table roster at plus $14.00, with Canadian native Daniel Negreanu the second choice at plus $18.00.

Multi-gold bracelet winner and 1989 champion Phil Hellmuth, 2000 winner Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Allen Cunningham, fourth place finisher in 2006, are plus $25.00.

“Great Dane” Gus Hansen and 1987-88 winner Johnny Chan check in at plus $30.00 and are followed by a group at plus $40.00 that includes 1998 champ Scotty Nguyen, 1995 winner Dan Harrington, Erik Seidel, Howard Lederer, Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, John Juanda, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi and Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari.

Among a group posted at plus $50.00 are former champions Carlos “The Matador” Mortonson and Greg “Fossilman” Raymer.

The highly popular World Poker Tour has yet to produce a female champion and BetUS.com’s opening WSOP list includes just three women: longtime poker pros Annie Duke (plus $65.00) and Jennifer Harman (plus $80.00), along with actress and former Oscar nominee Jennifer Tilley, who won a gold bracelet in the 2005 ladies event.

Jamie Gold, the Hollywood talent agent who dominated last year’s main-event action, is plus $65.00, along with a lengthy list of others that includes former champions Huck Seed and Chris Moneymaker, veteran T.J. Cloutier, WPT TV host and 2006 Tournament of Champions winner Mike Sexton, Josh Arieh, David Williams, Chip Reese and Barry Greenstein.

Joe Hachem, the 2005 champion, and poker legend Doyle Brunson are both plus $80.00.

Movie stars and poker aficianados Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who won Academy Awards for their “Good Will Hunting” screenwriting efforts, opened at plus $150.00.

Longest shots of the more than six dozen listed players are Tim Zalac, Chris Fuller and Grant Robinson at plus $1000.00.

The Rio Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas again will host the event.

Former host Binion’s Horseshoe at one time offered WSOP odds, but Nevada gamers nixed the practice.

*****

A million bucks doesn’t buy what it once did, so BoDog.com founder Calvin Ayre is offering a record-breaking $2 million grand prize to the winner of his Wild Card Poker II.

Response to Ayre’s submitted video casting call has been so overwhelming that BoDog.com has extended the call to May 6 and expanded ways users can enter.

By visiting http://www.bodog.tv/audition, potential contestants can choose between submitting an online audition video or a photo to earn a shot at the grand prize.

Eleven of the 12 spots are available to users submitting audition videos and photos online, which means competition to appear on the show is fierce.

Eleven lucky online contestants will be whisked away on an all expenses paid trip to beautiful British Columbia, Canada, where they will join the rest of the crew for a 30-day video shoot.

Filming for Wild Card Poker II begins this summer and will air on a major television network in the fall.

“Season II is already shaping up to be bigger and better than ever before,” said Ayre, the show’s host and creator.

“The new direction we’re taking with the second season of the show — integrating the social networking and user generated content world by casting 11 of the contestants online — is guaranteed to have an interesting effect on the dynamics.

“One thing is for sure, with a $2 million grand prize up for grabs, the competition is going to be intense.”

Calvin Ayre Wild Card Poker II is a reality TV lifestyle show combining aspects of Texas Hold’em poker with everyday life.

Season II pits 12 contestants against one another in a number of poker infused lifestyle challenges.

*****

Poker’s leading players will gather April 21-27 at Bellagio in Las Vegas for the Season V-ending $25,000 buy-in WPT Championship.

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