Olivier Busquet won his $270,000 mixed-martial arts fight against JC Alvarado. The World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions is underway and serving as a testing ground for digital shot clocks. Chino Rheem wins a third WPT title as Mike Shariati wins Player of the Year. PokerStars announces an overhaul of its MTT lineup. Rounders and Aviators lead the Global Poker League after three weeks. And more.

Brute Force Triumphs in Busquet v. Alvarado

For six months now, the poker world has been waiting with bated breath for the mixed martial arts showdown between Olivier Busquet and JC Alvarado. The two men agreed to the fight back in September last year and, unlike many such “poker fights” lined up in the past, included a hefty back-out penalty to ensure that, barring training injuries, the fight would be sure to happen. The purse for the fight was a substantial one too, with Alvarado putting up $150,000 and Busquet $120,000.

The match-up produced polarized opinions and therefore a lot of additional betting between members of the poker community; by the time fight night rolled around, even Pinnacle Sports even got in on the action, offering lines open to the public. Part of what made predicting a winner so difficult was the asymmetry of the situation: Busquet would have a 22.5 pound weight advantage, yet had never fought before, while Alvarado would have professional fighting experience on his side to offset his smaller size.

In the end, it was Busquet’s brawn which carried the day. Although the difference in technical skill was apparent to anyone who’s watched much MMA, Busquet’s strength advantage was so overwhelming that there simply wasn’t much Alvarado could do to him; I likened it to watching a fight between Captain America and the Hulk. Alvarado went to the mat fairly easily, but appeared reasonably comfortable there, and it looked like his game plan all along had been to try to get a triangle choke on Busquet. There were a few times he looked close to pulling the technique off, but Busquet was able to power out of it each time, and once it became clear that Alvarado didn’t have the strength to get a submission, his prospects quickly began to look bleak. After nearly three rounds of Alvarado getting pummeled by Busquet’s ground striking, the referee decided to call a stop to the fight, awarding Busquet the win by technical knockout.

Digital Action Clocks Unveiled at WPT Tournament of Champions

Season XIV of the World Poker Tour is in the books, more or less. The last open event of the season – the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown – wrapped up this week, and now all that’s left before Season XV kicks off is the Tournament of Champions. Seats in this event are awarded to the winners of all regular season events, and Champions Club members from previous years are allowed to buy their own way in. The WPT and its sponsors have added a whole slew of additional prizes for the winner, including a C7 Corvette, making for a fairly generous overlay.

The WPT has taken this opportunity to test out a new concept in the form of a digital “action clock,” an implementation of the shot clock concept that has been frequently tossed around as a solution to the stalling problem in poker. The tournament has only been running for a couple of hours as of this writing, but preliminary feedback from those actually in attendance seems positive, though others remain skeptical.

New Tournament Schedule Rolling Out at PokerStars

PokerStars has announced some pretty significant changes to its regular tournament schedule. There will now be three majors each day, spread out so as to be convenient for all time zones. The special “red” tournaments (Bigs, Hots and most recently Bounty Builders) will now run every hour on the hour. The weekend lineups are also changing a bit; if you’re a weekend warrior, do note that both the Sunday Storm and Sunday Million have had their start times bumped up by half an hour. The changes will go into effect this coming Monday.

Quick Hitters

Mike Shariati was crowned World Poker Tour Player of the Year for the just-concluded Season XIV, as Cate Hall came up just short of a last-minute upset in the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. Meanwhile, in the Global Poker League, the New York Rounders lead the Americas and the Paris Aviators remain on top of Eurasia.

Chino Rheem has won his third WPT title in the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale, an honor he shares with Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen and Anthony Zinno. How many more such hat tricks will we see before someone manages a fourth?

– Whoever ends up winning the fourth, it’s unlikely to be Gus Hansen, as he has more or less announced his retirement. He did not fare well in high-stakes games online post-Black Friday and has been inactive in that arena for some time; he’s now announced that he’s going to focus on family and stay home in Denmark from now on, rather than traveling to attend events on the live circuit.

– Justin Oliver may not (yet) have achieved his dream of getting drafted by the Global Poker League, but his attempts to do so have certainly caught the attention of the media. He discussed those self-promotion efforts and his poker career in an interview with Jen Newell at PokerUpdate.