Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Money for Nothing

Buckle up and hold on tight, folks, as this Sunday Black Belt Poker are hosting a Depositors’ Freeroll in which we are stumping up a whopping $5,000 into the prize pool. That’s $5,000 of value, absolutely free!

As well as a near $1,000 first prize, Black Belt Poker have also set up several bounties, with players earning $100 for eliminating a Black Belt Poker Pro, as well as an additional $200 each for the scalps of Black Belt Poker co-founders Neil Channing and Nik Persaud.

The tournament will be a No Limit Texas Hold’em Freezeout and will take place on Sunday, November 1 at 6pm, only on Black Belt Poker. To register for the event, follow these simple steps:

(1) Download the poker client and open an account.
(2) Deposit a minimum of $10.
(3) Link your cardroom account to your community account

There will be a short delay whilst we update your VIP status on iPoker, but after a period of up to 24 hours, you will be free to register for the freeroll which can be found under the ‘Schedule Tournaments’ > Freerolls tab.

This really is, as Dire Straits once sang, “Money for Nothing”, so for your chance to strike gold, simply click the link below to commence the registration process.

Download now ...


At the start of the month, Black Belt Poker hosted an online freeroll qualifier on the Black Belt Poker skin in which players battled like Trojan warriors for the opportunity to play in this year’s International Poker Open. The four lucky winners who headed to Ireland’s beer-guzzling capital were Ben Pooley, Kim Vernon, Grant Darnley and Steve Cash. Also joining them at the felt was 2008 Irish Open Champion and Black Belt Poker head honcho Neil ‘BadBeat’ Channing.

Incredibly, 1,440 salivating poker enthusiasts crammed themselves into host venue the Regency Hotel, all eager to spin up their initial buy-in of $225 into a rather more substantial $62,225. Unfortunately, our Black Belt Poker representatives were on a different page to the Poker Gods, and were thus unable to take advantage of the $27,000 in added money and tempting bounties that loomed over numerous heads.

First to hit the deck was Grant Darnley. Having lost a big pot during the opening levels, he made a squeeze play with pocket deuces during level four, but was swiftly picked off by pocket tens which held up on an otherwise uneventful board. “The tourist attractions made up the rest of my weekend,” reported Darnley, dejected, but keen to take advantage of his spare time. “Even as someone who doesn't drink Guinness the Storehouse was a must-see, and Temple Bar was bustling with activity on a surprisingly warm day. Some were even sunbathing on the side of the Liffey.”

Despite a plucky performance, Kim Vernon soon followed. He was graced with a very active table which witnessed an early elimination and plenty of big pots. One of those saw his stack severely dented in level two, Vernon ultimately folding A-K on a king high board only to be shown an ace. “In hindsight,” he added, “I felt I should have called.” Having clawed his way back up to 8,000, Vernon sang his swan song with pocket eights versus jacks, the board providing no further help. “It all got a bit messy in the bar later,” smiled Vernon, “listening to Mad Marty stories sitting with Matt Broughton of the Poker Show. It was a fantastic weekend but I will smuggle my own tobacco in next year: eight Euros for fags!”

Ben Pooley came armed with a smidgen of live experience, but his luck was sadly lacking. With blinds at 100 and 200, and a raise of 500 and a call before him, Pooley made it 1,200 with queens from the button. The initial raiser called and both players saw a 4-2-4 flop where Pooley was check-raised all in. He made the call and was shown an inferior pocket threes, but an ace turn and five river dealt out the cruelest of low blows and left Pooley with a paltry 1,200 in chips. A failed coin flip later with 3-3 succumbing to A-K on a dramatic J-Q-x-7-T board and Pooley was gone. “I found the standard of play a lot lower than I was expecting,” he mused. “No one on my table was doing anything crazy; I felt relaxed. The atmosphere was great and very enjoyable.”

With Neil Channing faring no better and Steve Cash unfortunately absent due to personal reasons, Black Belt Poker’s mini ambush of the International Poker Open was over, with bar-propping replacing poker as the order of the day. Ultimately, and despite a third of the field being made up of French players taking advantage of a bank holiday, the event was won by German born Markus Sippe, now residing in Luxembourg. He defeated the mammoth field, which included the likes of Andy Black, Padraig Parkinson, Surinder Sunar, Simon Trumper and Marty Smyth, to snap up the title and the accompanying spondoolies, whilst Irishman Jaye Renehan picked up $47,490 for second.

Our congratulations go to the Black Belt clan for frerolling their way to Dublin, but commiserations that their venture was short-lived and the final table remained Black Belt free. Next time, Gadget, next time.

If you like money for nothing, then be sure to check out our Depositors’ Freeroll which takes place on Sunday, Nov 1.

Showing Mercier

He might be busy winning tournaments left, right and centre, but American poker pro Jason Mercier wasn’t too busy to be interviewed by Black Belt Poker’s finest Parkinson impersonators, and duly obliged to a quick-fire interrogation during the recent WSOPE. Deep into the £10,000 Main Event, Mercier wasn’t looking in great shape when we caught up him, but it would appear our presence was a good omen as he later built up his stack rapidly, ultimately finishing fourth for a tasty £267,267.

A 20-something hotshot from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Mercier shot to fame when he took down the EPT San Remo for a whopping €869,000, fending off 700 other players in the process. But if anyone thought this was a fluke – a young rookie coming from nowhere to take EPT gold – they’d be severely mistaken as Mercier continued his fine form, winning both a WSOP bracelet and an EPT High Rollers event to take his total winnings to an astonishing $3,752,230.

Now, in an exclusive interview with Black Belt Poker, Mercier puts himself in the firing line to answer our best questions, discussing a host of topics ranging from sponsorship, staking, and taking shots. At one point, Mercier spoke about his disappointment in missing out on a sponsorship deal, despite impressive performances. “I thought I was going to get it when I won the High Rollers event,” he confessed, “and when it didn't happen, I felt there was a chance that I'd never get it until the laws got changed in the US. I guess winning the bracelet was what made Stars want to give me a deal.”

Of course, Mercier had plenty more to say, and went on to answer questions about Omaha, John Juanda and his own strengths and weaknesses. To read the interview in full, check out the ‘Articles’ section on Black Belt Poker where we showcase exchanges with some of the biggest names in poker including Patrik Antonius, Barry Greenstein, Richard Ashby and many, many more. Quick march.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Antonius - 50,000 Not Enough?

In an exclusive interview with Black Belt Poker, Patrik Antonius reveals his doubts regarding the durrrr Challenge, explaining how he thinks the 50,000 hand target is possibly not quite enough to determine who the best player is. “I thought it would be enough to see who's better,” he claims, “but now I feel the luck can still play a part because it looks like it could go any way. Out of the eight biggest pots, he's won six… playing 200,000 would perhaps be a little bit more accurate.”

As well as the durrrr Challenge, Antonius was questioned on a number of other topics. When the subject of Mark Vos cropped up, Antonius couldn’t withhold his anger, calling the former bracelet winner a “f***ing idiot”. Antonius showcased his dislike for the Australian in a recent interview with a UK magazine, and it appears as though little has changed.

Currently a member of the ever-growing Full Tilt team, the Flying Finn is widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, and is often mentioned in the same light as Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey and Chip Reese. Having initially started off as a tennis player, injury forced him out and led him to poker, where he has since become a titan of the game. As well a becoming a formidable force in some of the biggest cash games around – including appearances on the highly acclaimed High Stakes Poker – Antonius also boasts over $2.6 million in tournament winnings, including an EPT Baden title and a second place finish in the 2005 Five Diamond Classic in Vegas for $1,046,470.

If you would like to hear more from Antonius on the durrr Challenge and Mark Vos, as well a whole host of other topics, then be sure to check out this fascinating, tell-all interview now.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Kirton Call

Every month, Black Belt Poker updates the Belt status of its members: some slip, some rise, and some stay the same. Having only launched in September, we didn’t expect many changes, but were overjoyed to find that a total of 26 players had improved their Belt status and jumped up to the next level. Whilst we congratulate the 23 newly crowned Orange Belts and 2 Purple Belts, there is one player in particular who deserves plaudits for a quite splendid month.

On Thursday, October 1, Hugh ‘IrnBruHugh’ Kirton became Black Belt Poker’s first ever player to be promoted to Brown Belt through the Belt-Up rewards system. A product of April’s Grading in which 50 pre-selected players battled it out for a $20,000 WSOP package to Vegas, Hugh is a dedicated cash game player who has been consistently ambushing the iPoker ring games.

However, on Sunday, September 13, Hugh requested backing as part of his monthly package to play in the inaugural Monthly Million. The Monthly Million is a monthly (no shit!) No Limit Hold’em freezeout which takes place on iPoker – the world’s largest poker network. The buy-in is $535 and players are treated to a 10,000 starting stack and a 30-minute clock. In essence, it gives skill a greater chance of prevailing. With a $1,000,000 prize pool, the tournament is by far iPoker’s biggest regular event.

Despite being predominantly a cash player, Hugh duly entered the event and finished a remarkable fourth place for a whopping $50,000. As a result – and due to Black Belt Poker’s unique scheme in which we reward players Belt Points for cashing in MTTs that they have been staked in – Hugh earned enough Belt Points to not only see him jump up to Brown Belt status by the end of the month, but also have enough Belt Points in the bank to maintain his status for three months! As Brown Belts receive a minimum of $4,000 per month in live tournament sponsorship, this means that Hugh is guaranteed a total package worth $12,000!

Hailing from London, Hugh is a familiar face on the local circuit having become a regular figure at the now defunct Gutshot Club in Farringdon. He boasts a handful of results in live tournaments with his biggest win coming in 2007 when he won £12,810 in a £200 No Limit Hold’em freezeout at the London GUKPT. His iPoker triumph is therefore his biggest win to date, and Black Belt Poker would not only like to congratulate Hugh for his fourth place finish, but also for his achievement in becoming an esteemed Brown Belt player.

If you would like to ask Hugh a question or add him as a buddy, then feel free to check out his personal profile on the Black Belt Poker social network.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Movers & Shakers - September

The Black Belt Poker cardroom opened just four weeks ago on iPoker – the world’s largest poker network – and already, a number of players have been promoted to a new Belt category. In all, 26 players have been assigned new Belts including 23 Orange, 2 Purple, and 1 Brown! All 26 of these players will now earn points at a faster rate than they would at a lower Belt level.

At the end of each month, Belt Maintenance Points are transferred into Spending Points. This amount is dependent on your current Belt level. In the upcoming months, Black Belt Poker will be offering players a variety of ways in which to spend their Spending Points, including Black Belt Poker merchandise and online satellites into live events. Purple Belts will also be given the opportunity to utilise our ‘Ask the Pro’ feature in which they receive expert analysis from the Black Belt Pros. Anyone who achieves Purple Belt status immediately receives a free ‘Ask the Pro’ courtesy of Black Belt Poker.

For more information on the Black Belt Poker cardroom, the Belt-Up rewards system, or any of our promotions, please visit our help pages in the ‘Play Poker’ section of the site.

Black Belt Poker would like to congratulate the following players on their achievement for September (as well as the former Graders who maintained their Belt level) and wish you the very best of luck at the tables for the month of October:


Hugh Kirton


Adam Goulding
Jonny Goldberg


Lee Innes
Neil Blatchly
Gavin Hall
Javed Ghazi
Tom Bull
Chris Roadknight
Dewi James
Jack Sambrook
Jon Neale
Andy Brisland
Rod Stirzaker
Gary Brown
Alex Chambers
Mike Carroll
Ermyas Birru
Matthew Frankland
Mark Russell
Matt Smith
Mark Hodder
Nick Spiers
Andrew Cooper
Dean Brewer
Steve Rigby

Friday, 2 October 2009


At a whopping £10,000 a pop, Black Belt Poker’s presence was understandably light at this year’s World Series of Poker Europe, but that didn’t stop co-founders Neil Channing and Nik Persaud taking a stab at the £801,603 first prize, as well as Vegas 8 member and recent DTD conqueror James Keys.

But despite their bravado, they had a mountain to climb, and one that included more stars than the night sky. Ivey, Akenhead, Hellmuth, Harman, Juanda, Obrestad, Seed – they were all there, and to capture the WSOPE title, the winner would have to defeat one of the toughest pound for pound line-ups ever assembled.

But with the grit between their teeth, Black Belt Poker were braced and ready for action, determined to overcome the 334 thick field and get their mitts on some shiny, sparkling bracelet gold. Sadly, grit alone wasn’t enough. Neil, who had been drawn next to former bracelet winner Nenad Medic, endured a torrid time that was indicative of his recent form and misfortune. Numerous big pairs were received, but most went awry, and when he eventually managed to get all his chips in with Big Slick, he found Matt Stout sitting pretty with pocket rockets. No miracle cowboys, and Bad Beat was out.

All hopes thus rested on partner in crime Nik Persaud, a jovial, outgoing chap, but a wizard of the felt and all business when need be. This week was no different, and despite crossing swords with the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari and eventual finalists Praz Bansi and Matt Hawrilenko, Nik sailed comfortably into Day Three without so much of a murmur.

Similarly, James Keys had crossed rugged company, sharing tables with Eric Liu, Doyle Brunson and, at the start of Day Three, then monster chip leader Ian Munns. Having endured more ups and downs than a kangaroo on a bungee, the Keys’ stack eventually sank too far south, and the former Grader was gone – ejected from the feature table and into the out-stretched arms of the Empire bar.

Back from the break, Nik dug deep, battling like a Trojan to keep his tournament flame alight. However – and after several setbacks which inhibited him from gathering any genuine pace – Nik sang his swan song just several places away from the money, his Jh-Th versus Amnon Filippi’s Kc-Qd no good on a Qh-4h-9c-2s board, the 5d river dodging all his draws and sending him prematurely home.

And so, Black Belt Poker’s diminutive army had been brought to a halt before its infiltration of Leicester Square had barely begun. Whilst Belts were put back in drawers, Bill Clinton look-a-like Barry Shulman romped to victory to become Emperor of the Empire, fending off a star-studded final table which included two November Niners, six bracelet winners, and, now, the man with more tournament winnings than anyone else in the world, Daniel Negreanu.

A victory for the old school, but a defeat for Black Belt Poker.

Purple Patch

The Black Belt Poker cardroom has finally hit its purple patch – quite literally! In coherence with today’s Belt upgrades, Black Belt Poker are proud to announce the induction of a brand spanking new level: Purple Belt.

After garnering feedback from its members, the good people at Black Belt Poker have decided to add another Belt status in between the Orange and Green Belt levels in order to close the gap and make the jump from Orange that more achievable.

In order to achieve Purple Belt status, players are required to accrue a minimum of 5,000 Belt Points through raked hands on the Black Belt Poker skin. Players can take as long as they want to achieve this status, but need to remember that each month, 500 Belt Points are transferred into Spending Points in order to cover their Belt Maintenance cost for maintaining Orange Belt status. However, once you have reached that 5,000 Belt Points milestone, you will automatically be upgraded to Purple Belt at the end of the month.

There are a number of benefits in being a Purple Belt on Black Belt Poker. The first, and possibly most important, is that you will earn Belt Points at 2.5 times the rate of a Yellow Belt player. This means that for every dollar raked, you will be awarded five Belt Points instead of four or two which are awarded for Orange and Yellow Belt statuses respectively.

Unlike Orange Belt, the maintenance cost to maintain the Belt doesn’t equate to the Belt Points required to achieve that status. Despite requiring 5,000 Belt Points to obtain, players will only need to transfer 2,500 points into Spending Points at the end of each month in order to maintain Purple Status. This means that you will be guaranteed a minimum of two months as Purple Belt, whether you play a raked hand or not!

As with Green Belt status, Black Belt Poker are also rewarding players for their community contribution by offering a 10 percent reduction for those Purple Belts who fulfil some basic community contribution criteria. This includes making five posts on the Groups boards, extending your network with five extra buddies, and posting four hands for analysis on the Hands section of the Groups boards. If you achieve these simple requirements as Purple Belt, 250 Community Points (10 percent of 2,500) will be duly added into your account, thus resulting in your target for the month being reduced to 2,250.

We here at Black Belt Poker recognise that if you are a Purple Belt earning 2,500 Belt Points a month, you are a dedicated player keen to improve your game and become a better poker player. For this reason, we are offering players the opportunity for a free ‘Ask the Pro’ upon reaching Purple Belt status. If you have a hand that you want analysed or a question that needs answering, then simply contact to cash in your free ‘Ask a Pro’. Once we receive your request, we will forward your message onto the most appropriate Black Belt Poker pro who will offer extensive analysis on the hand or topic raised. In the near future, Black Belt Poker will also be putting the mechanisms in place which will allow players to spend some of their hard earned Spending Points on this feature.

Having only launched its online cardroom four weeks ago, this is just the start of Black Belt Poker’s mission to combine playing and learning about poker. In addition to ‘Ask a Pro’ we will gradually be introducing more and more features, as well as offering you a variety of ways in which to spend your hard earned Spending Points. In the very near future, we shall also be introducing a unique referrals system, which will give players the opportunity to earn points from referring players to both the Black Belt Poker community and cardroom.

It’s all happening at Black Belt Poker, but there are plenty more purple patches to come…