Neil Channing

Neil Channing Born in Reading, Berkshire in 1967, Neil ‘Bad Beat’ Channing is best known as a professional poker player. Indeed, his total live earnings of $3,458,652 rank 27th on the England All Time Money List, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database. Channing collected his best live cash so far, $1,263,261, or €801,400, when winning the Irish Open Main Event at the Citywest Hotel, Dublin in March, 2008 and was unveiled as a Sky Poker Ambassador in November, 2014.

Despite his prowess on the felt, Channing describes himself as a ‘professional gambler‘. He started playing poker, recreationally, as a youngster and, in his early twenties, graduated to playing tournament poker, albeit sporadically, at the Grosvenor Victoria Casino, London. Although, by his own admission, he was not the most attentive student, Channing graduated from the City of London Polytechnic with a degree in economics, by which point his focus had reverted to his first love, horse racing. He spent several years on the racecourse, making a decent living from placing and taking bets but, in his late twenties, his fortunes took a turn for the worse and he was forced to seek alternative employment.

Channing subsequently joined City Index, where he demonstrated a natural aptitude for spread betting, as an odds compiler and as a punter. Indeed, when he was made redundant, he opened an account with his former employer and won £140,000 in a nine-month period. Inevitably, his account was closed and he was also banned by Grosvenor Casinos for winning ‘a bit too much money’. Nevertheless, he continued to play tournament poker, with no little success, at Russell Square Casino, London – in the days before it was acquired by Grosvenor Casinos – but resisted the temptation to turn professional because of his involvement in other gambling ventures.

Channing formed a lucrative horse racing syndicate, such that, by the age of 33, he never had ‘less than a few hundred grand’ in his current account. In 1998, the deregulation of bookmakers’ pitches presented a new opportunity and he invested heavily in pitches at racecourses nationwide. However, the abolition of off-course betting tax, in 2001, coupled with the rise of online betting, sounded the death knell for that venture and Channing turned, once again, to poker, but this time as a full-time career. He was re-admitted to the Grosvenor Victoria Casino, albeit as a guest, where he played high stakes Omaha with money he ‘couldn’t afford to lose’.

Through thick and thin, Channing continued to visit Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker (WSOP), whether or not he could sensibly afford to do so. He collected his first live WSOP cash, $8,895, for finishing seventeenth in a Texas Hold’em event at Binion’s, Las Vegas in May, 2001, in the days when the fields were smaller ‘but everybody was a good player.’ Channing has yet to win a WSOP bracelet, but went agonisingly close to doing so when beaten in heads-up play by American Henry Lu, in a field of 2,770, in a No Limit Hold’em event at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in June, 2012.

Crown Casino Perth is Reopening in Australia

Crown Casino Perth is Reopening in Australia Crown Resorts has had an interesting timeline in 2020, reopening its resort location in Perth in June and planning on the much-anticipated casino grand opening in Sydney for December. Both optimism and controversy have flanked the reopening in Perth, with Crown Resorts hoping that its initial success was a good omen for recouping lost time and revenue.

However, with coronavirus precautions potentially stretching well into the new year, the casino operator may have anticipated the change too soon.

An Early Reopening

After Western Australia moved to loosen coronavirus restrictions in June, Crown Perth set its official reopening date for June 27. Operations were suspended on March 23 but the Perth location reopened under strict guidelines, following social distancing standards.

One of Many

The Crown Perth location offers a world-class convention center, hotels, food and beverage services, casino gaming options, entertainment, and tourism services. Along with Perth, Crown Resorts has a location in London and Melbourne. The Melbourne casino will remain closed through the rest of the year, in part due to an outbreak of coronavirus that occurred in July, just after the Perth location reopened.

Although the Crown Resorts location in Sydney has yet to be finished, it is on the fast track for completion within the year and is intended to open as a VIP exclusive casino. It is set to be only the second casino in operation in Sydney.

Preparing with Restrictions

Working with the Western Australian government, Crown Perth reopened for business in the casino and food and beverage outlets under temporary restrictions. Each venue agreed to observe capacity limits at a maximum of one person per two square meters. To ensure physical distancing on the casino floor every second slot gaming remained off and poker tables had a maximum of five players per table.

Crown Resorts chief executive Ken Barton ensured the dedication to these guidelines, saying “Crown’s priority is to the health and safety of our employees, customers, and the community. The physical distancing and hygiene measures have been developed in consultation with the Government, Commissioner of Police, and Chief Health Officer to allow reopening in a safe manner. We look forward to welcoming back many of our employees and customers to Crown Perth.”

Gambling on Results

The initial reopening of Crown Perth led to a spike in revenue, up 18 percent from the June reopening date to August compared to the same six-week stretch the previous year. Barton expressed that the rapid success, even with social distancing measures, meant that there was a “pent-up” wealth of gamblers waiting to return to Crown Resorts locations.

Hopeful Predictions

Ken Barton had previously said, “We’re confident that once the restrictions are eased, we’ve got enough data points to suggest people will want to come back,” citing the Perth location as proof players will be eager to return to Melbourne as well. Crown Melbourne accounts for nearly 70 percent of earnings for Crown Resorts and its extended closure has been an unwelcome hit to the year’s revenue.

Revenue and Controversy

In total, Crown shared that the COVID-19 lockdown had taken a whopping 80 percent from its yearly net profit with much of the loss coming from the lack of table turnover from VIPs and international high rollers. Many of Crown’s employees were covered by JobKeeper subsidies, of which Crown received $111 million by June 30.

Shareholders of Crown Resorts were lucky enough to receive the first half of a policy payment that paid out a 30¢ dividend per share every six months in April, in a move that earned criticism since employees were receiving JopKeeper pay at the time. Major shareholder and former executive chairman at Crown Resorts, James Packer, received $73 million as part of this dividend payout alone. Lawrence Ho, the other majority shareholder thanks to James Packer’s questionable dealings with Crown before stepping down, received a $20 million payout.

Premature Expectations

Australia has warned that international border closures as a result of a coronavirus outbreak are likely to last well into 2021, and even some internal border closures have been extended to the end of the year. And since live casino offer enhanced experience, online casinos are giving hard time to their land-based counterparts. For Crown Sydney, who plans on targeting VIP demographics and players from mega-casinos like Macau, this does not bode well.

Australia has handled coronavirus concerns relatively well, considering global numbers, keeping their recorded cases just over 27,000 and their total deaths around 900. The geography of the country helped to flatten the curve, allowing authorities to stop the spread by containing international and internal borders.

It’s a dog’s life

It's a dog's life

I too am looking forward to national bring your dog to casino day

Movies – The Color of Money

Movies - The Color of Money ‘The Color of Money’, released by Touchstone Pictures in 1986, was the sequel to ‘The Hustler’ and, once again starred Paul Newman, reprising his role as ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson, 25 years after his final showdown with Minnesota Fats in the original film. Minnesota Fats does not appear in ‘The Color of Money’, but Tom Cruise co-stars as Vincent Lauria, a talented protégé, not unlike Felson in his early years.

Together Felson, Lauria and his manipulative girlfriend, Carmen (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) embark on a tour of less-than-salubrious pool halls across the Midwest from Chicago to Atlantic City, where the professional ‘Nine-ball Classic’ tournament is their ultimate objective. Felson tells Lauria, ‘Pool excellence is not excellent pool’, but Lauria has difficulty coming to terms with his words of wisdom and insists on flaunting his talent at every opportunity, including, on one occasion,

to the accompaniment of ‘Werewolves in London’ by Warren Zevon, much to the dismay of his mentor. Felson and Lauria fall out and part company, at which point Felson comes out of retirement and resumes his previous career as a pool hustler.

Inevitably, their paths cross again when they come face-to-face in Atlantic City. Felson wins their match, only to learn that Lauria ‘dumped’, or intentionally lost, as part of a betting scam. Lauria gives $8,000 out of his winnings, but Felson forfeits his next match and returns the money. Felson requests a private rematch, in which, just before breaking off, he looks Lauria in the eye and tells him, ‘I’m back!’

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Tonda Dickerson’s Lottery Win Mayhem!

Tonda Dickerson's Lottery Win Mayhem! Though we all like to create a narrative where we’re in control of our lives and destiny, so much in life is down to chance. Somebody is no doubt at this very minute getting blindsided by a out of control rickshaw or  clobbered in the head by a for sale sign, due to an ill-timed gust of wind. If you can imagine it happening, it probably has, and though some misfortune is self inflicted, Darwin Award style, often it’s a case of ‘nobody saw it coming. The same of course applies to good fortune. Fate hands some a free pass in life and endless riches without much of a struggle along the way. Tonda Dickerson’s story stands out on account that she experienced both the best and worst of what fortune can offer.

Dickerson’s life was as ordinary as can be, divorced and in her late 20s she was just going through the motions of everyday life. By day, she worked as a waitress at the Grand Bay Waffle House in Alabama and any one day resembled the next. That was until the day that Edward Seward walked in, ate a hearty breakfast and then handed her a lottery ticket as a tip. This simple task was a set a chain of events into motion that she could have never in her wildest dreams or nightmares anticipated. The date was Sunday, March 7th, 1999. The lottery took place on the following Saturday. She won that lottery.

Suddenly in possession of a winning lottery ticket worth $10 million, Dickerson’s fortunes looked to suddenly be massively on the up as she accepted $375,000 over the next 30 years rather than the lump sum payout.

Fate however had other ideas. She soon found herself embroiled in multiple legal battles, with both her work mates (who deemed that the lottery ticket tip should be split between them all), the IRS and even the man who gave her the ticket in the first place!  Though Dickerson stated that she didn’t agree to split the winnings, it took a jury took just 45 minutes to decide against her. She had turned down a settlement that would’ve allowed her to keep a cool $3 million of the Florida jackpot.

Not willing to let her millions evaporate into thins air, Dickerson took the case to the Alabama Supreme Court, which reversed the Circuit Court decision in 2002. Two years later she was taken to fend off a case by Seward, who had stated that Dickerson offered to buy him a stuck if the ticket was a winner. Her respite didn’t last long though, as the very same week her ex-husband who she divorced in 1997 was shot after attempting to kidnap her! He had taken her to a remote area and threatened to kill her, but while pleading with him to let her answer her ringing phone on account that people would be looking for her, she pulled a .22-caliber handgun out, shooting him in the chest.

Anticipating that possibly she’d experienced her last bit of bad (or rather harrowing) luck, her troubles were not over yet. She spend the next decade battling with the IRS, as they argued about how much she owed them. In March 2012 though her attorneys successfully argued that the IRS was wrong to demand $1 million in gift tax  after Dickerson gave most of her winnings away to her family business.

Finally past these challenges (but without any money), Dickerson has not been heard of much since, though the fact that she now works as a poker dealer at the Golden Nugget casino in Biloxi, perhaps is a strange yet fitting endless to her ‘run in’ with ‘good fortune’.

Of course this isn’t the first rags, to riches, then back to rags again type story of huge lottery wins. How about  Ronnie Music Jr, the Waycross, Georgia man who won $3 million then had the bright idea of using it to invest in a meth ring. or Urooj Khan, poisoned with cyanide a day after a $1 millon win. Sometimes getting everything you’ve ever dreamed of is just the beginning of the story, rather than the end.