Hit and Run: WPT Tournament of Champions, More DFS Lawsuits, Ashkenazi Returns to Rational Group

The WPT Championship will now be an invitational, and the invitees are not all pleased. Lawsuits fly in the ongoing DFS meltdown. PokerStars and FullTilt parent company Rational Group has a new CEO. All this and more in today’s Hit and Run.

Not a championship, but a “Tournament of Champions”

Each season of the World Poker Tour (WPT) has traditionally ended with a $25,000 buy-in Championship event, open to the public but with seats awarded to the champions of each stop on the tour as part of their winnings. Last year, the buy-in was dropped to $15,400, but this year, the Championship per se is gone entirely, replaced with an invitational “Tournament of Champions.” Tour winners will still get free seats, while champions from previous seasons can buy their way in.

From the WPT’s point of view, making the season finale a small and star-studded affair is expected to draw in television viewers, but many players are unhappy with the decision not to exclude weaker competition.

Daily fantasy sports lawsuits continue

The fallout from the DKLeak scandal continues in the daily fantasy sports (DFS) world. The latest major development is that Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garc╠žon has filed a class action lawsuit against FanDuel on behalf of all professional football players who’ve had their names and likenesses used by the site.

The story initially broke late last week, but a more comprehensive article on the situation was recently published over at Flushdraw.

Meanwhile, Forbes reports that Virtual Gaming Technologies, LLC has just launched patent infringement complaints against not just FanDuel, but also rival site DraftKings as well as Fox Sports. This lawsuit alleges that technologies key to daily fantasy sports were in fact invented and patented by William W. Junkin, President of FantasySports.com and assigned to Virtual Gaming.

Quick Hitters

– Rational Group, the owner of PokerStars and FullTilt, and now the online gaming division of Amaya, has a new CEO in Rafi Ashkenazi. Ashkenazi has held high-ranking positions within Rational Group in the past, but has most recently been working at Amaya itself, as Senior Vice President of Strategy.

– Bryan Micon, the entrepreneur who ran afoul of the law after trying to operate the Bitcoin-based poker site Seals with Clubs, has managed to avoid jail time, instead getting probation and a $25,000 fine as part of a plea deal.

– Despite rumors, Macau Public Security Police have stated that they are not going to change their visa regulations for visitors from Mainland China. Macau is home to the highest-stakes regularly-running poker cash games in the world, but its gambling industry is currently facing a significant slump.

Poker Heaven, a Malta-based online poker site, has announced its closure, citing “increased market regulation across Europe and other environmental factors.” Player funds are apparently safe, and the site is referring its users to Betsafe to continue playing.

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