Share this on

Congratulations high volume PokerStars players, you’re now proud contributors of the David Baazov legal fund!

In a statement issued Wednesday via Yahoo! Finance, Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov vowed to “vigorously contest” formal insider trading charges brought against him by the Canadian AMF (Autorité des marchés financiers). Some online poker pros may find themselves wondering this coming weekend if 4 percent-ish roughly equates to a sufficient amount of vigor.

With poker media outlets and forums alight with a bonafide new angle on the industry’s version of The Hatfields & McCoys (i.e. Stars and its High Volume Players), recently retired Poker Life Podcast host Joey Ingram obligingly returned to the mic with an “emergency” YouTube show Wednesday featuring $13 million live tournament winner, Prismata investor and Global Poker League first round pick Mike “Timex” McDonald.


The first half of the 80-minute program was dominated with discussion about PokerStars’ re-entry into New Jersey, the site’s upcoming rake increase slated for March 28th, and of course Mr. Baazov’s plight.

Starting off with a shout-out to the ongoing TwoPlusTwo Forum Thread pertaining to the latest news, Ingram and McDonald referenced a few reaction posts from disgruntled PokerStars players who came off as rejoicing. The irony of many Stars players being abruptly placed into a pressure-laden predicament, and then having the tables turned on the individual most credited with causing their stress is just too much to pass up on in a News, Views & Gossip forum setting.

Make no mistake, the charges against Baazov are bad news for the online poker industry and the knee-jerk posters will realize this soon enough. True to its recent penchant for surprise, no one anticipated this week’s Public Relations Trifecta pulled off by the world’s leading online poker brand.

For the first time in months, the timing for a PokerStars fluff piece was just right a few days ago thanks to a Garden State return, but only in the hours before word spread about the site’s pending rake hikes. Add formal criminal charges of Stars’ #1 shot caller into the mix and New Jersey has been relegated to a delightful cherry on top of a Shit Sundae in less than 48 hours.

After pointing out a much publicized 20% dive in Amaya Inc stock Wednesday and giving some love to the original PLP (Pratyush Buddiga), ChicagoJoey and his guest contemplated how the PokerStars brand and key staff members will deal with yet another negative news cycle.

After agreeing that the company is unlikely to offer up a lot of info, the duo segued into a comical Where Are They Now? back and forth about former PokerStars Spin & Go winners who are allegedly on a first-name basis with Sunglass Hut personnel. To paraphrase McDonald, Baazov doesn’t keep all the dough — some of it goes towards keeping designer boutiques in business.

On the real though, Timex thinks that players who are quick to blame PokerStars for all their woes should take a more objective approach to evaluating their game. It’s not easy coming to terms with owning dwindling expectation as a former consistent online poker winner.

The “four percent” rake increase coming March 28th got some airtime, and the pair pointed out that there are several ways to interpret the same data. The official word from Stars may be that the average rake expense toll will be just a few basis points above ’bout tree fiddy, but if you take a look at a graph published this week by 2010 EPT UKIPT Grand Final champion David Vamplew, you’ll quickly see that the old poker observation of “it depends” is more accurate.

Just shy of the 40-minute mark of the March 23rd Poker Life Podcast episode, the PokerStars discussion dwindled into a detailed analysis of bar graph design, and the two moved on.

What Else is Going On in Mike McDonald’s World?

Mike McDonald was selected in the first round of the inaugural Global Poker League Draft and will compete on the Montreal Nationals team. Fans of his patented stare will be in for a treat if he decides to whip it out during his first GPL Poker Match. He’s a lot more bullish on the whole concept than he was in 2015 and is willing to contribute to assist in its success.

On the physical fitness front, Mike weighed in on an upcoming MMA-style contest between high profile poker players Olivier Busquet and JC Alvarado. A social media still image of Busquet was provided for live viewers, and from a casual fight fan’s perspective it looks like the 2014 EPT Barcelona Super High Roller winner is indeed taking the commitment seriously.

McDonald talked about his competitive high school volleyball games, Papi had a handstand fail and the episode ended with Timex pimping Prismata to the point where he has me wondering what I’m missing.

The YouTube view count hadn’t caught up yet, but the Like to Dislike ratio seven hours after Wednesday episode originally aired was 35 to 0. It’s a triumphant comeback for Joey Ingram, who was dragged out of retirement by David Baazov.

David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as "dhubermex" online, David's poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.