Spin Cycle: Ivey’s 11th, Hard Rock’s Bespoke Slot Highlight Week In Gambling

Eric Raskin

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Welcome to “Spin Cycle,” Casino Reports’ weekly Friday roundup of all things impactful, intriguing, impressive, or idiotic in the gambling industry. Pull up a chair, grab a stack of chips and a glass of your beverage of choice, and take a spin with us through this week’s news cycle …

Ivey in a league of his own

A full 10 years after he won his 10th World Series of Poker bracelet, Phil Ivey, widely considered the best all-around poker player in the world for the past couple of decades, claimed his 11th career WSOP win on Thursday at the Horseshoe Las Vegas.

The triumph came in limit 2-7 triple draw, a game that bears almost no resemblance to the only game most people know, no-limit Texas hold’em. In 2-7, also known as lowball, players are trying to make the worst hand, none of the cards are face up, and they get to replace any or all of their cards three times.

Poker Hall of Famer Ivey, 47, beat Danny Wong heads-up, and also outlasted third-place finisher and six-time bracelet winner Jason Mercier, to turn his $10,000 buy-in into a $347,440 payout.

Ivey achieved multiple milestones with the score, crossing $10 million in lifetime WSOP winnings (a number that ignores whatever he spent on buy-ins over the years) and $45 million in lifetime tournament earnings (again, not a reflection of net profit). But most importantly, it puts him all alone in second place on the all-time gold bracelet list, lifting him out of what had been a four-way tie with Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Erik Seidel. He’s still staring up at Phil Hellmuth, who has 17 bracelets in his collection.

Fun fact: Zero of Ivey’s 11 bracelets have come in hold’em. 

(Courtesy of PokerGO)

A Hard Rock original

Online casinos are constantly looking for differentiators — especially in a highly competitive iCasino state like New Jersey — and exclusive games have become a popular way to stand out. To that end, Hard Rock Digital and game provider AGS announced Thursday the debut of their first bespoke slot together, strictly in the Garden State, titled Hard Rockin’ Reels.

“We are confident that Hard Rockin’ Reels will be a smash hit,” said AGS Vice President of Interactive Zoe Ebling. “This bespoke title, the first in partnership between AGS and Hard Rock, showcases our commitment to top-tier quality and innovation, designed to amp up players and redefine industry standards.”

The game is an adaptation of AGS’ Mega Diamond slot, and is a classic three-reel game, albeit with assorted multipliers for potential bigger wins, and featuring Hard Rock branding everywhere you look.

The Hard Rock Bet casino app is only available in New Jersey for now, though the digital sportsbook is up and running in six additional states.

Putting the ‘VP’ in ‘VIP’

One week after my colleague Brett Smiley published a comprehensive feature on the online gambling VIP world that featured former VIP leader Dillon Borgida’s far-reaching insights, Borgida announced Thursday that he is no longer a former VIP leader:

Borgida is going to Underdog, which, in addition to its fantasy sports offerings (which include its popular “best ball” tournaments), is also now a mobile sportsbook operator in North Carolina.

Borgida previously worked in the VIP departments at DraftKings, FanDuel, and William Hill.

“I’ve seen very little transparency from VIP teams over the years,” Borgida wrote on LinkedIn in explaining the career move, “and I hope to change that as much as possible.” He also singled out Underdog for doing the best job in the sports gambling space of “creating a joyful community.”

The Shuffle: Other news and views

THE REAL DEAL: Behind the scenes at a live-dealer online casino studio

SOCIAL CUES: Entering the social and sweeps casino space? 5 things to consider

THE MORE THE MERRIER: DC Council paves way for competitive sports betting market with budget approval

APPLES AND ORANGES: New York gaming shows stagnant land-based results amid record-breaking online sports betting numbers

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM …: The ‘ban or bankrupt’ bookmaking model sinks its teeth into the US

BUILDING A BRIDGE: PrizePicks announces responsible gaming collaboration with Kindbridge Behavioral Health

KNOW THY ENEMY: What the gambling industry doesn’t understand about the anti-gambling crusaders

HEAVEN AND HEEL: North Carolina betting revenue drops 40.1% in second full month

CT SCAN: Connecticut Lottery’s Andrew Walter talks iLottery launch, partnering with Fanatics Sportsbook, and more

BUY, BUY AGAIN: Light & Wonder board authorizes new $1B share repurchase program

RAISE THE ROOF: Rhode Island Senate approves doubling credit limit at Bally’s casinos

MEGA MINUTIAE: New proposal around Mega Millions price increase includes better odds, bigger wins

BALLY NO?: Johnson casts doubt on permanent casino in River West

EXPRESS TRAIN: New York lawmakers push for casino licenses to plug MTA funding gap

PRESSURE MOUNTING: Multiple states now in process of pressuring offshore gambling operator Bovada to exit

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HEIST: DA drops charges in Colorado’s biggest casino theft in decades, says employee was scammed

IT’S ALL POLITICS: Alabama Senate redistricting case could help gambling legalization hopes in 2025

NO ENCORE: Legal team urges early end to Wynn Resorts monitorship

WASH OUT: Washington State rules against social casinos in gambling suit

The Bonus Round

Completing the Spin Cycle with some odds and ends and our favorite social media posts of the week:

  • Remember back in March, when ESPN’s Rece Davis casually, sarcastically threw out the term “risk-free” on air with regard to a recommended bet? The Massachusetts Gaming Commission certainly remembers. The MGC, the strictest schoolmarm in the gambling regulation biz, has instructed its Investigation and Enforcement Bureau to “prepare for an adjudicatory hearing on the matter,” SBC Americas wrote. Let’s see if PENN Entertainment blows off this request to appear before the MGC …
  • Number of the week: 2,752,887. That’s how many dollars a lucky Wheel of Fortune slot machine player at Colusa Casino Resort in California won Sunday on a $5 spin — a tidy 550,577x return on investment.
  • It may be a bit excessive to call Craig Williams the Jontay Porter of U.K. election betting, but … this doesn’t look good. Williams, an aide to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, reportedly placed a £100 bet that the general election would take place in July. The way it works in England is that the prime minister chooses the election date. Sunak chose July 4 shortly after Williams placed his wager with legal, regulated book Ladbrokes. To some extent, I guess the operators need to do a better job of knowing their customers. If Triple-H came into my sportsbook and wanted to place a bet on the WrestleMania results, I’d like to think I’d have the good sense not to take his action.

We started this week’s Spin Cycle some WSOP history. Let’s end it with some WSOP heartbreak: