Forum Files – Forum Files: Isai Scheinberg for HoF, Mini Hold’em

Alex Weldon : August 11th, 2015

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With not much going on in the present for the time being, the poker world is looking both to the future of the game and to past controversies. This week on the forums, the biggest topics of conversation are whether Isai Scheinberg should be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame and whether a simplified version of Hold’em could be the gam of the future. Also featured in this week’s Forum Files is the question of why Brian Hastings is catching all the flak while Noel Hayes is getting a pass, and a review of a short documentary about Jason Koon’s super high-rolling summer.

Scheinberg Indictment v. Induction
Thread: Campaign for Isai Scheinberg for the Poker HOF

Terrence Chan is trying to drum up support for a petition to the World Series of Poker to induct Isai Scheinberg into the Poker Hall of Fame. Scheinberg was the founder of top online site PokerStars, though he has subsequently sold the company off to Amaya.


There’s no doubt that Scheinberg has been one of the most influential figures on the business side of poker, given the market share held by PokerStars. He also enjoys considerable goodwill from the online community, having made the decision to purchase Full Tilt after Black Friday and return players’ balances to them.


Black Friday is itself the trouble with the nomination, however. Back in 2011, Scheinberg was indicted to face five criminal charges for PokerStars’s operations in the United States. Since those charges are still outstanding, he cannot set foot in the U.S. without facing immediate arrest. Of course, one problem with that is that he could not actually attend his own induction ceremony; although that problem could be solved by way of a video conference or pre-recorded acceptance speech, the question remains of whether the World Series of Poker could really induct someone who is considered a fugitive from justice by the government of the country in which it operates.

Mini Hold’em: the Game of the Future?
Thread: New era of online poker: Mini Hold’em

Everyone agrees that online poker needs to find a way to attract fresh players if it’s going to sustain itself. Many also think that they know how to do it. The latest suggestion is a simplified “mini” version of Hold’em, identical in all respects to the conventional game, except with only a single card on the flop.

Unfortunately, this variant is unlikely to be the magic bullet that its inventor “Robusto2busto” believes it to be. Whether or not it would appeal to casual players is up for debate, but what’s provably true, and has been pointed out by several other posters, is that such a game would be much easier to solve or approximately-solve by computer. Given that the problem of bots becomes more serious by the day, a new variant which is even easier for AI than existing offerings is probably not a good idea.

What about Noel Hayes?
Thread: BetBright sportsbook director Noel Hayes is a cheater.

The biggest, longest-lasting poker scandal of the summer has been the Brian Hastings multi-accounting allegations. That thread has remained very active since it first appeared and now contains over 3000 posts. But what of Noel Hayes, the person whose account Hastings was using?

The difference between the two of them is, of course, firstly that Hastings was the active party, but also that Hastings was particularly high-visibility this summer due to his WSOP performance, while all that most people know of Hayes is that he’s “some rich business guy” and a bit of a whale at the stakes Hastings was playing.

However, Noel Hayes is not just a guy in “some business,” he’s in the gambling business himself, as the director of BetBright sportsbook. Calling him a cheater is perhaps overstating things, but assuming that he knew what Hastings was doing – and it’s hard to see how he could not have – he was certainly complicit in shady behaviour, which raises valid questions about his trustworthiness as the director of an online betting site.

Watch Koon Blow $600k in 18 minutes
Thread: New Short Poker Documentary with Jason Koon

This summer’s two super high-rollers in Vegas – the $111,111 WSOP One Drop High Roller and the $500,000 Super High Roller Bowl at the Aria – took place within a week of each other. Many top players played both, including Jason Koon. PokerListings.com decided to follow him through that time and put together a little mini-documentary about him and the tournaments. Unfortunately for Koon and PokerListings, he busted both tournaments, but it’s still an interesting little portrait of a top player.

The opinions expressed in-thread about both Koon and the video itself are varied, but overall, the consensus seems to be that this format has some potential. Of course, rather than reading about the video, you could also just watch it yourself – it’s only 18 minutes long, after all.

Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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