DAILY BUZZ: California Online, No Party Merger, Antonius Interview

Welcome to the BLUFF Daily Buzz, where we scour the entire internet for all the latest news in and around the world of poker. If it involves chips and cards, or people known to associate with chips and cards, we’re there.

Group planning to push California intrastate online poker in 2010

A consortium of Indian casinos and non-tribal, legal card rooms including Commerce Casino is planning to approach the California State Legislature next month with a deal it thinks is too good to refuse: open up an intrastate poker network for Californians on the internet and tax the estimated 1 million of them who are already playing online poker.

Opinion on the legality of such a network is split down predictable lines: the federal Justice Department says it would break federal gambling laws, while noted gambling law expert I. Nelson Rose, who has advised Commerce Casino on the matter, says that any service operated solely within state lines and open only to Californians would be legal. The legislature would also have to be careful in how it set up such a network. In order to avoid jeopardizing the $361 million in revenue it receives every year in a deal with Indian casinos, says State Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood), chair of the Governmental Organization Committee, any legislation would have to permit Internet games without allowing expansion of electronic gambling in casinos that would compete with Indian slots.”

If such legislation were to pass, Wright estimates that there would be between 300 and 400 entities who could apply to have their own online poker rooms, including the 67 Indian tribes with gambling compacts and the 89 licensed, non-Indian California card clubs. Rose, meanwhile, notes that legalizing online poker within the state would probably generate about $250 million for the state if it were to take the same percentage cut as it does from the Indian slot machine deal.

(Casino group wants to set up Internet poker sites and share revenue with cash-strapped state – Los Angeles Times)

PartyGaming, Bwin say merger talks overblown

This weekend Britain’s Times Online ran a story reporting that PartyGaming and Bwin, two of the biggest online gambling firms in Europe, were planning a merger that would create a £2 billion ($3.26 billion) powerhouse with a hand in nearly every type of betting operation allowed in the EU. PartyGaming’s shares jumped 2.5% on the news, while Bwin’s rose by 4.1%.

Now the two firms are refusing to confirm the rampant speculation. According to eGaming Review, Bwin says that it is interested in some sort of market consolidation but that it was not involved in high-level talks with PartyGaming. Instead both firms are reported to be in ongoing, low-level talks with multiple market players. That’s good news for American-facing rooms PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, both of whom would probably feel a significant impact from having the fourth- and fifth-largest poker networks combine into a single entity. Still, it looks like consolidation in the European market is just a matter of time and it might not be long before you’re reading about a big merger involving at least one of these companies.

(Bwin, PartyGaming dismiss new merger speculation – eGaming Review)

Antonius: Isildur1’s game selection “the worst in the world”

Coinflip.com has an interview posted today with Patrik Antonius in which the Finnish Full Tilt pro answers questions on a number of topics, with the foremost of those being his opinion of Isildur1. Antonius says that the mystery man is “the worst in the world” at game selection for playing eight tables of heads-up games with Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, and Antonius himself, but that he also has an incredible talent for the game.

“His ability to switch gears quickly has taken me somewhat by surprise,” said Antonius. “After a few sessions I thought I had a good read on his play, but then he always managed to surprise me by varying his play very skillfully. With more patience and experience, I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes the next superstar at high stakes, but only time will tell. He certainly has the talent for it.”

The interview hits plenty of other bases, including the future of poker (“everything points towards growth”), whether the online games will continue to get bigger (“there simply won’t be enough players with enough money”), and why the early poker boom was so great (“the overall quality of players sucked back then and it was really easy to build a roll”). It’s worth a read for Antonius fans or anyone who’s generally interested in high-stakes online poker.

(Patrik Antonius: Isildur1 can be the next high stakes superstar – Coinflip.com)

Madsen: “Like a wombat, Mortal Kombat”

It’s a good thing that Jeff Madsen, who’s currently 12th in our Player of the Year race and has two final tables in preliminary events at this month’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio, has that whole poker thing to fall back on, because a career in hip-hop doesn’t appear to be in the cards. The two-time WSOP bracelet winner is the Jerry Yang of rap – technically he’s playing the same game as all the greats, but somehow the magic just isn’t there. If you haven’t had your daily cringe yet you’ll want to check out Madsen’s newest freestyle rap video over at PokerRoad. (It’s laden with profanity, so don’t click through if you’re work.)

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