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The new year is only slightly more than three weeks old and already a number of interesting things in the world of poker have happened that have people talking.

That goes for both live and online poker. If January is any indication of how the rest of the year might go, 2016 may prove to be quite eventful. Or uneventful, in the case of regulation in the U.S.

Making a Splash

Antonio Esfandiari relieves himself in a container under the poker table at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for a prop bet. His classless act was only somewhat mended when he donated the entire $50,000 from winning the bet to charity. “The Magician” knows many tricks, but making his pee disappear is apparently not one of them.

PokerStars meets with top players regarding changes made to the VIP program. Daniel Negreanu, who was there as a sort of go-between amid players and PokerStars’ brass, told CalvinAyre.com that “it seemed like everyone was happy.” Tweets from pro players who attended the meeting – such as Ike Haxton and Dani Stern – revealed that they were anything but happy after departing.

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Opportunity Lost?

California lawmakers schedule an online poker hearing in the first week of the new year, raising hopes that negotiations behind closed doors since the 2015 legislative session ended may have resolved the differences among stakeholders. The hearing never goes off as planned, leading one industry insider to tell Cardplayer.com that the open window is closing and that online poker in California may become a “lost opportunity” if nothing is accomplished in the near future.

Two other states re-introduce online poker legislation in 2016: Washington State and New York. Both are considered long shots to gain approval among their respective state lawmakers this year. Washington has the toughest anti-igaming laws in the nation, while New York is concentrating on expanding land-based gambling with new casinos located upstate.

Sportification in Progress

The Global Poker League announced its 12 teams and their respective captains. Players will be drafted next month to fill out the teams. This is a massive undertaking designed to create mainstream interest in the game of poker. Whether such a plan will work remains to be seen. Attempting to elevate poker to the level of other major sports can only benefit the poker industry and has become a hot topic of conversation.

PokerStars’ players upset over the restructuring of the site’s loyalty program began the new year with a seven-day player strike. For the second time in as many months, the boycott was deemed, for the most part, ineffective. Apparently, additional protests are planned for the future. It seems as though the strikers are losing momentum. PokerStars already admitted that communication with players regarding the VIP changes could have been handled better. But don’t expect the site to make any concessions no matter how many times players strike.

Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.

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