David Baazov, the genius behind the Amaya. How did he succeed the impossible

If you remember, a few months ago, we wrote an article about Mark Scheinberg, the former Poker Stars boss. You are certainly aware of the fact that Scheinberg received 4 billion dollars from selling the famous poker site. Today we will, however, find out the story of the one that made Scheinberg rich and I warn you, this is himself very young and very smart; if not, he wouldn’t have been capable to buy a company worth several times less than his with other people’s money…

In 2014, Baazov was known as the “king of on-line gambling” after the Amaya, a small company in Montreal, Canada purchased Poker Stars. I have to mention the fact that in 2012 or 2013 during one of our magazine’s visits to London for the ICE, we visited the Amaya stand without knowing who they are or who they were to become…

Who is David Baazov?

Doing my research for this article, I have found out many things about Baazov and I’m am sure that I have only found out very little from the public information available about him. I’ll try to focus on the beginning of his business career and the incredible story behind his company’s buying the Rational Group (company which held the Poker Stars brand).

David was born in Israel to a Georgian family and was raised alongside his other 5 siblings as a modern, Jewish, Orthodox family, his father working in construction. At the age of 1, his family moved to Montreal, Canada. He loved math, but didn’t have much interest in school and at he droops out of school at the age of 16. His parents did not agree with his dropping out and so David left home. For several weeks, he slept at friends or in parks, and finally succeeded in renting an apartment with his brother’s help. In time, his relationship with his family improved. He started selling discount coupons for chemical cleaning and clothing shops by mail. Then he started selling hardware, especially computers. For some time, things went really bad, until he managed to obtain a computer sell/re-sell contract with the Montreal public library worth 20 million dollars over 5 years. After having lost a valuable contract, he suddenly sold the company.

In 2005 he entered the software business, particularly casino software and created an electronic poker table, allowing people to play poker without a human dealer. He named this company Amaya. The company registered 6 million dollars in income and as to obtain more money for his future projects, he listed the company on the Toronto Venture Exchange market where one of his shares sold for less than 1 dollar. By selling a minority share pack to the public, he made 5 million dollars which he used to make various cheap acquisitions such as Chartwell Technology and Cryptologic, companies producing software for casino games for on-line operators. He also bought Ongame, an on-line poker software producer. Nobody understood what he was doing or what plans he had for the future, however, the first blow was to take place in 2012.

That is the year he bought Cadillac Jack, a slot machine producer, for 177 million dollars. Now, Baazov had cash-flows of approximatively 36 million dollars per year, which made him highly “liquid”. The evolution of the Amaya shares increased significantly, doubling their value from 3.50 dollars in November 2012 to over 7 dollars at the end of 2013.

However, he did not wish to stop here, he had another target in sight and it was a truly great “prey”: Rational Group (owner of the Poker Stars brand).

How does (sometimes) the little fish swallow the big fish…

Think about the fact that Amaya, at that moment in time, was worth at most 150 million dollars with shares under 7 dollars/share and wanted to buy a giant company – the world leader in on-line poker which had over 1.13 billion in income at that time and about 400 million dollars in profit annually. nobody thought this transaction could ever actually take place, there lacking many millions of dollars.. and besides, Poker Stars had legal issues with the American tax authorities.

Apparently, nothing and no one can stand in the path of Baazov’s ambition to seal the deal. With patience and abnegation, he started to put his plan into action step by step. The first thing he did was to contact the Scheinberg family (Isai – the father and Mark – the son). They were surprised at first and altogether not confident in David Baazov’s proposal. They ignored him for some time. However, they did not wish to rule out any proposals. Poker Stars was in the shadows during that time, in order to make money, they had to enter the American market, but here, only 3 states allowed on-line gambling: New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. Cash-ins from on-line poker were too small, about 10 million dollars per month.. California seemed blocked and is to this day “at the point of building a sufficiently complex legislation for on-line gambling”, so in one word, a dead end.

And then, the idea of the Scheinberg family making an exit seemed plausible enough.

What did Baazov do? In short, he bought Poker Stars with other people’s money! Brilliant! With an extraordinary ability to persuade and a lot of perseverance, David Baazov gathered 4.1 billion dollars to buy Rational Group (which in the meanwhile bought Fulltilt Poker, its lifetime rival).

Until the end of the summer, he convinced the Blackstone Group (a large financial investment fund headquartered in New York) to pay 1 billion dollars and to buy Amaya shares, while other investors, including BlackRock, one of the greatest hedge fund companies in the world, managing values of over 5.7 trillion dollars! also bought a great deal of shares. For the rest of the amount of 2.9 million, Baazov and Blackstone went to the banks – including Deutsche Bank and Barclays.

Baazov did not only convince them through persuasion, but through numbers as well. The most important numbers from Rational Group or from the audit made by the other large investors found that at that time there were 89 million clients of which 5 million players rolled constantly every month, and 60% of income earned by Poker Stars was due to players registered between 2001-2010, which said a lot about the confidence in the brand.

Done! The deal was sealed! Mark Scheinberg became a very rich man, richer than Steve Wynn (at that time). And think about the fact that no real estate assets were being sold, only digital information and the promise that those 89 million clients of the Poker Stars and Fulltilt Poker sites could become consumers of other things as well, such as on-line casino games or what have you.

In that moment, the prices of Amaya shares sky-rocketed (they were worth 2600% more than at the time of its listing on the exchange), and the only 12.5% of Amaya shares held by Baazov were now worth 800 million dollars!

A true lesson on how to become very rich on other people’s money!

Epilogue

In the meantime, Baazov is the former CEO of Amaya, having sold the larger part of his shares to third parties. However, various issues have arose with the Canadian justice as a result of the Autorité des Marches Financiers (AMF) (Financial Supervisory Authority) in Canada sued David Baazov and some of his associates in March 2016, on grounds of their being implicated in a series of share transactions related to Amaya, including the acquisition of the Rational Group company in 2014. It was actually this month (e.n. – January 2018) when the judge on the case, Salvatore Mascia, rejected Baazov’s request to suspend accusations against the former Amaya CEO.

(Română) ONJN a elaborat Codul Etic al Comunicarii Responsabile in Domeniul Jocurilor de Noroc

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Thomas Marchese, a young man who made a future through poker

It’s possible that you might not have heard about Tom Marchese too often, however he appeared on the global poker scene 10 years ago like a high speed train. He was born in New Jersey, and now lives in Las Vegas, where he spends most of his time playing poker in the city’s casinos; besides two travels to Europe, once in Canada and a few times in the Caribbean, the American participated to tournaments only on USA soil. He was named player of the year by Card Player in his year of debut.

The Debut

He has loved playing poker since high school, when he played amicable hands with his friends for $5. In 2006, when he was in college, he played on-line under the username “kingofcards”. He first played on-line after a few of his friends lent him $50, which he rapidly turned into $300 and then into $30,000 playing Limit Texas Holdem with buy-ins which started from 0.50/$1 to $30/$60 in just a few months. After a while, he started to play No Limit Texas Holdem starting with a small blind/big blind of $2/$4 and then raising to 25/$50.

In 2007 he started playing heads-up tournaments and hands with few players (the so-called short-handed games) and started to create an important player reputation in the virtual field. after finishing his studies, he moved with a groups of friends to Vegas, occasion on which they exchange ideas, discuss strategy and play a lot of on-line.

The people from Highstakes Data Base discovered him in the winter of 2010 playing high stakes poker on PokerStars, and since then, they have registered 48,792 hands played by Marchese, resulting in $124,249. Poker hands played on Omaha.

The Successes

Tom Marchese

He steps out for the first time live in 2009 without any notable results, and in the next 2 years, he gains about $2,500,000 from tournaments. A very interesting fact to know about his career is that even though he played at many final tables, he hasn’t yet won a WSOP bracelet or a WPT title.

We won’t go over all of his achievements, but we will try to underline what is most important for our readers. In January 2010 he played in Atlantic City at the Borgata Winter Open, finishing in 3rd place in the Main Event with a buy-in of $3,300, earning no less than $190,027.

In February he played in Vegas again, the $5,000 tournament called NAPT Deep Stack Extravaganza at the Venetian, rounding up his accounts by gaining $827,648. The year 2011 isn’t such a winner for Marchese, even though he has earnings, however, 2012 debuts with a great victory: he wins the Super High roller tournament at the WPT World Championship in Las Vegas where he “hits” a little over $1,300,000 and passes a field of 34 players. Well, after this success, he wins another 4 tournament until the end of the year: 2 Festa Al Lago tournaments held in October and another two WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic tournaments, held at the start of winter. In 2013, he plays 6 important tournaments, without any significant results.

2014 is his most prolific year, winning $4,472,478. Therefore, in June 2014, he plays the Super High Roller held at the Casino Bellagio in Las Vegas, tournament with a $100,000 buy-in, where Dan Smith (1st place) and Jason Mercier (2nd place) are the only ones ahead of him in the top. Then, at the beginning of autumn, he plays the Aria $100,000 Super High Roller 2 tournament and wins it, winning a prize of $1,306,800. Marchese’s third hit during this fine year is placing 2nd in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic tournament, in the tournament with 55 $100,000 buy-ins No Limit Hold’em WPT Alpha8.

Next year, he plays 15 tournaments with buy-ins between $1,500 and $500,000 where he earns 3 more victories and 6 other presences at final tables, and gaining various prizes in money from the rest.

2016 is another important year for him. He continues to play at the highest level in the high-roller tournaments and plays the WSOP tournaments where he doesn’t succeed in winning much, maybe 14 place in the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event Championship (Event #68) should be mentioned.

Last year he once again increases his bankroll in a constant manner, adding another $793,162 to his gathered riches, earned in the played tournaments. In total, up to now, Thomas has won $16,698,175 from poker! A huge amount. and all of it until the age of 30.

A young millionaire who made a future through poker.

The Future

He contemplates his future daily, and until now, he has succeeded in wisely investing his poker earned money, considering and acknowledging that at some point in time, he will have to retire.

BITCOIN needs a lot of regulation

And that’s because this crypto-currency is becoming increasingly known and accepted in digital transactions. Online Gambling has had a serious role in the acceptance of this form of payment worldwide.

What do we do with digital currencies? They are becoming a convenient and often used form of payment for many users. There are also more and more gambling sites that offer the possibility of payment by crypto-currency. Bitcoin is a crypto-currency that is not controlled by a single administrator and can be used to buy things in an electronic format worldwide. Bitcoin’s popularity has prompted an increase in demand in 2017, pushing other cripto-currencies, such as Ripple and Ethereum, to also take advantage of this wave of confidence in electronic currencies.

Discrediting Bitcoin

I have no opinion, neither for nor against Bitcoin, but I am for regulating this new way of payment. I believe that the state authorities, the EU in the case of Europe should get involved and regulate the market before it is too late. First of all, this would benefit the consumers. We must think about them first and foremost. Recently, an article, in fact a written review by the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance – CSIF, has been published, which is supported by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington neoconservative think tank.

The CSIF analyzed Bitcoin’s “illicit entries,” examined the Bitcoin movement derived from “clearly identified illicit activity”, which the study primarily defines as any Bitcoin moving from the “black markets of the internet” (the so-called darknet) as well as the Bitcoin derived from fraud activity, Ponzi Schemes.

Before moving on, it is worth mentioning the report’s finding that the total percentage of “dirty bitcoins” entering conversion services was relatively small. Only 0.61% of the money entering the conversion services in the four years under review was found to come from illegal sources.

The study, which covered Bitcoin transactions in 2013-2016, also noted that in 2016 there was a “decrease in the proportion of illicit transactions”. The authors considered that this decline is probably due to Bitcoin’s growing popularity as a speculative investment, plus the better compliance with anti-money laundering rules by conversion services. For example, illicit entities accounted for 3.6% of the volume of transactions on gambling sites in 2015, but this percentage dropped to only 0.57% in 2016.

The study refers to “bitcoin mixers” and gambling sites as processing a lot of the “dirty bitcoins,” but the authors of the study do not take into account the fact that the online gambling sector was largely responsible for the early development of Bitcoin. Gambling sites have long managed a disproportionately high volume of Bitcoin transactions in the years covered by the CSIF study, and it is therefore normal to find a high volume of illicit transactions.

Fortunately, the same study shows that only 3 entities which are bitcoin mixers and online gambling sites account for “97% of the illicit volume of bitcoin traded through them.” That means an entire industry cannot be discredited because of just a few negative examples.

Rumor has it that this material clearly wanted to create a negative impression on the association between gambling sites and Bitcoin. It is worth mentioning that Sheldon Adelson, owner of Las Vegas Sands, renowned for his antipathy of online gambling, has also been on the list of donors to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and promised many times that he would do everything in his power to discredit and eliminate the online gambling market.

Is Bitcoin an investment or a form of gambling?

Bankers are trying to answer this question, and confusion is becoming even greater because Bitcoin, due to its intrinsic speculative nature, is considered by some financial specialists as gambling in its own right.

Just recently, the head of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz said Bitcoin was not an investment, but a form of “gambling”.

 

Poloz issued a strong warning to cripto-currency investors. He said: “A lot of words have been used, but I think the main thing is that buyers should be aware that bitcoin is much closer to gambling than it is to the idea of investing.”

In the interview he gave to CNBC, he added: “There are certainly a lot of unknown things around them.” Referring to the term crypto-currencies used, he said they were “crypto, but not currencies.” He immediately added that he did not understand the role of crypto-currencies, and that he did not consider them to be values or goods. But rather some sort of securities (such as shares), technically speaking.

“But the tax authorities treat them as securities. Because you have to pay tax on a gain or a loss of capital”, Poloz continued.

In the opinion of the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Bitcoin has no intrinsic value, so it can not be classified as a good and instead is “speculative or gambling”.

According to CoinDesk, the value of bitcoin drastically dropped a few days ago, very close to the $10,000 mark, compared to the giant level reached before Christmas 2017, $20,000…

 

Stephen Poloz concluded that the crypto-currency issue is on the agenda of central banks around the world and does not believe bitcoin will be part of a digital currency of central banks.

However, he believes that whoever invented bitcoin is a genius, and the bitcoin mechanism and technology can be applied in the future to the economy.

I believe that it is time for Bitcoin, and generally the electronic currencies, to be regulated somewhat this year. It is not normal for players to be left unprotected in the face of potential abuse by operators that allow Bitcoin as a form of payment. In addition, we must also take into account the fiscal area plus the unfair competition that derives from a lack of regulation by the competent state authorities.

The Monty Hall problem in betting

by Mircea Panait

Often, we have to choose. In betting, these situations are frequent, and even after substantial analysis, less expected results may appear. Those moments when the odds seem against you, the quotas seem deceiving and you find yourself in a position where you don’t know what to do. I tried to find the answer and the viable solution to these issues in the article that follows.

What to do when the quotas are against you?

The solution to the Monty Hall problem

The Monty Hall problem is a first example of the manner in which, when faced with choosing a favorable result in place of two unfavorable results, we have a certain incapacity when correctly weighting the chances of success.

This is essential for the punter, because, in layman’s terms, if a punter cannot identify the implicit probability and the quotas offered by the betting houses which are “valuable” to him, it will be almost impossible for him to make money in the long run.

The Monty Hall problem

Let’s say you can win a car. The car is behind one of three doors. A goat is behind each of the other two. You must correctly guess behind which door the car is hiding, but you do not have the knowledge or information to allow you to choose the correct door.

After having chosen a door, one of the other doors opens to unveil one of the two goats. Now you have another option – exchange the chosen door or stand by your initial choice?

Named after the host of the show “Let’s make a deal”, a popular show in the USA during the ‘60s and ‘70s, which was the basis of the dilemma, the Monty Hall problem is a simple mathematic puzzle, which efficiently demonstrates the manner in which people fight with what seems to be a very direct choice.

With this simple riddle, but very cleverly presented, the show demonstrated the manner in which the ordinary person may demonstrate a counter-intuitive behavior when confronted with several possibilities at a time – and the same is valid for occasional punters, as well. When this question was asked in Parade magazine, 10,000 readers complained that the answer was not published correctly – including several math professors.

The solution to the Monty Hall problem

The solution to the Monty Hall problem is simple: always open the doors. After opening the first door, the car is certainly behind one of the two closed doors (even though you cannot know which door). The majority of contestants at the show did not intuitively see any advantage in opening the doors, presuming that each door has an equal probability (1/3).

This is incorrect – actually, the chances of winning the car double after opening the first door. Although it is true that the initially, each door had a 33.3% chance of the car being hid behind it, after unveiling the first goat, the probability of the car being behind the remaining closed door is of 66.6%.

It is easier to calculate these probabilities imagining that choosing between the original door (the probability of 33.3%) and the combined probabilities of the other two doors (33.3% + 33.3%). This is due to the fact that, once you choose a door, the other two doors are then associated together – there is a 66.6% chance behind one of those two doors. When one is then limited, there is still a 66.6% chance that the car is behind the remaining door.

What to do when the quotas are against you

This problem cleverly illustrates how easy it is to fall in the trap of treating non-random information as if they are random. The current British show “Deal or No Deal” – which implies 26 unopened boxes, and contain different quantities of cash – offers tribute to the show “Let’s make a deal”, exploiting in the same way the probability appreciated by a vast public. the contestants do not understand that they find themselves in a strong or weak position from a statistical point of view and, in exchange, act under the influence of certain false sentiments regarding chances of success.

Such mistakes are frequent in gambling games when punters act against their interests. Therefore, it is recommended that you treat bets responsibly and not be attracted by marketing traps believing that you can strike oil.

Bets need the ability of understanding of quotas offered during an event represents the statistical probability of the said event. It does not matter if it is the case of a football, tennis or basketball match, if you play the lottery or on-line sports betting, understanding and finding the value is the key to profit.

Specialization vs. Volume: Which would be the most profitable option in sports betting?

by Valentin Macovei

Is it better for a punter to play 30 or 300 predictions per month? We will try to answer this question which is on the mind of a great deal of sports betting enthusiasts in the following.

Each time, the same ideas are found among the advice provided by sports betting specialists, of which we will list those which are most often mentioned and also commonly supported by professionals:

  • The contouring of a separate budget destined for bets, which shall not imply the funds necessary for other expenses and the loss of which shall not affect the proper course of things of the person in question;
  • The application of a fixed or variable stake on a scale of 1 to 10 money management strategy;
  • Specializing on a certain sport, on several competitions and several teams or sports players;
  • Respecting the strategy initially established and setting realistic expectations, such as a 5% profit after each (complete) bank turnover.

All well and good, but with regards to the concept of specialization in sports betting, there are enough contradictory opinions – and for good reason.

When it comes too specialization, it is said that choosing certain more obscure niches most often represents winning moves. We are told that valuable bets within the world’s sports competitions matches are not so easily found, which is true most of the time, however, this sentence omits a large part of the truth.

What is it about? This is how it is:

  • The matches from less popular sports and competitions have quotas to which operators keep a larger winnings margin than in the case of those of top championships. Yes, as in, for example, the Premier League matches, on the primary lines we may find payouts of over 97%, which cannot be said for 4th league matches in Germany.
  • Sports betting houses offer users the possibility of playing relatively small amounts on the matches which do not benefit from great exposure, exactly because the risk of losing is very high in such confrontations. Furthermore, players who win several consecutive bets in such a competition are rapidly restricted or even banned from the site.
  • Not many betting markets open up to matched from relatively unknown tournaments, and the offer is most often published very late, and in certain cases we can bet on these types of games only live.
  • Another significant con is the fact that obscure leagues are usually not listed on the Betting Exchange platforms, and even when they are, the offer is almost never complete, therefore the punter cannot be sure that he will find a decent quota for the targeted prognostic.
  • The second hand sports events do not benefit from decent mass-media coverage (most often, the case of non-televised matches), nor decent coverage on social media networks, therefore, a last minute injury suffered by an important football player shall usually go unnoticed by the punter until the start of the match.

Even if we were not to take lesser known competitions into consideration, we must admit the fact that even specializing on two relatively popular championships would highly limit the number of bets we can play monthly, which can theoretically also significantly limit the profit we could expect.

In antithesis, the primary arguments for playing a large volume of prognostics each month are without a doubt the reciprocal annulment of bad luck and luck, as well a maximizing the player’s net profit. The calculation is simple: at a (realistic) 5% return on investment, the punter must play as many bet per month as to win as much money as possible.

Thinking that the football teams usually have between 4 and 6 matches per month, we realize that things are not so great for a punter niched on the king sport who chooses the specialization way, while a tennis specialist may play even more bets in a month is he closely monitors – let’s say – 10 players.

The paradox of the situation is the following: the specialization shall surely help the punter establish a greater number of correct predictions, however, this shall happen after a larger number of played tips. Practically, playing only a few prognostics per week, a niched player risk being significantly affected by bad luck and even to turn a loss at the end of the year. therefore, a punter who is not so specialized and who has a lower return of investment may make more profit (and faster), as long as he has a substantially larger volume of played tips.

However, which would be the best options, that of specializing in several competitions/teams/players or playing a considerable amount of tips monthly? It is very difficult to give an answer to this question, as there are enough variables which are to be specified before providing an answer (of course, in a particular manner and without generalizing).

If we were to look through several prediction sites from around the world, we would observe that the vast majority of top tipsters do not bet on football, even though it is the most bet on sport on the planet. On the other hand, we might think it is easier to rig a tennis match than a football match. as you can see, we may encounter real difficulties when it comes to choosing the sport on which to bet, as well – that is if we wish to treat bets seriously and not as a hobby.

The best thing that a punter wishing to perfect himself and to follow a professional approach, is to choose a success model for himself and to do his homework well. Yes, more specifically to copy the style of an efficient tipster, following his history and reading his analyses (where possible). Only after the player has acquired some experience and has several data, may he review the game style based on the kept registry, with hopes of progressing step by step.

Be warned, however, because it does not necessarily guarantee success, but it at least offers a path which favors punter maturity, aspect without which nobody may hope for a medium and long term profit!

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