April is the month where spring is supposed to come into full force. Brighter but rainier weather should be sweeping through. Unfortunately, some locations have experienced continued snowfall, high winds, and other freaky situations. That break from the norm isn’t just something associated with the weather, either. The poker world has also had its fair share of freaky happenings in the month of April. So why not entertain yourself with some of the most bizarre and interesting gambling news stories from the first half of April 2023?

This installment of Freaky Fortnight contains unusual gambling news from April 1 - 15, 2023

World’s #1 Chess Grandmaster Loses in High-Stakes Poker Game

Chess Piece

If you know anything about chess, you’ll know that Magnus Carlsen is a Grandmaster and world number one in the game. The Norwegian gamer celebrated 10 years in that position in 2021. One of his latest chess victories came about in February of 2023, when he won the Airthings Masters by defeating American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura. Yet the world’s best chess player swapped out the chess board and opted for a game of high-stakes poker in the middle of April.

Carlsen has played games of poker before, having a notable appearance at the Norwegian Championships main event last year. He finished in 25th position out of a field of 1,050 other poker players. It’s not bad going for someone whose primary focus is on chess. It seems as though he didn’t bring his luck with him for a recent session though.

Norwegian Chess Superstar Magnus CarlsenChess Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen

On Wednesday, April 12, Carlsen faced off against content creators and renowned poker player Mariano Grandoli at the Hustler Casino Live in Gardena, California as part of the Hustler Casino Live stream. It seems as though he had forgotten what poker was all about when he played quite the odd hand. That hand consisted of the seven of clubs and two of diamondswhich is worth noting as one of the worst starting hands and in any normal poker game would be folded straight away. Carlsen didn’t do this.

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Perhaps he was persuaded to play it by the potential bonus reward from the game. Any player who won after being disadvantaged with the 7-2 off-suit would receive a $100 reward from all other players at the table.

With this in mind, Carlsen raised the stakes to $125 pre-flop and was called in multiple spots. He then wagered a further $500 after a flop of the ten of hearts, ace of spades and five of diamonds. Three other players at the table called the bet, but Carlsen proceeded onwards. The turn saw the seven of hearts come into play, providing him with a pair. Unfortunately, fellow chess enthusiast Alexandra Botez made two pair with her hand.

Carlsen continued on with his dire hand, betting another $1,700, and the pot grew to $7,725 before the river card was dealt out. That was the seven of clubs. Normally, that would have given Carlsen a pretty-decent three-of-a-kind. As it happens, Botez had an ace in her hand, plus the only other seven in the deck. This made her hand very much superior to hiscompleting a full house.

Carlsen bet $4,100, and Botez raised all-in. The chess maven then folded, albeit reluctantly, letting the $17,095 pot go to his opponent. With gameplay like that, maybe he should just stick to chess!

Charges & Fines Dismissed for Players in Texas Poker Raid

Court Gavel

It’s never amusing to report on a poker club suffering a raid. That’s what happened to the Watauga Social Lounge Poker Club in Watauga, Texas last October. Local authorities stormed the placefining the players inside at the time, arresting staff members, and seizing over $200,000 from the premises. The poker room only opened in January of 2022, and it even had a blue ribbon-cutting event to mark the occasion.

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The warrant that local authorities held allowed them to seize “currency, gambling proceeds, financial instruments, and/or other items of value”. This, it said, was related to “obtaining, transferring, secreting or spending large sums of money made from engaging in specified unlawful activities.”

In total, 49 players were fined $360 each during the raid. Three of those players took a plea deal in December of 2022. Yet the remainder have been awaiting their day in court since the raid took place.

Fortunately, in a turnaround of fortune, some good news came to their door instead. Both their charges and their fines were being dismissed instead. That came as good news for the remaining 46 players. Yet it didn’t sit well on the whole, considering the authorities “robbed” them of their in-play $205,000 in October.

One player, Daryl Gresham, said that the case isn’t over until everyone’s money is returned. “I’m still disgusted at the authorities that this was ok in your offices!!!!! Remember to serve and protect, not to rob the people at gunpoint!” he said in an online post.

Another, Steve Nichols, posted his own take on the situation via his Facebook page. In it, he said that he wanted the trial to take place so he could have his proper say. However, he noted that it is “vindicating” to see the “District Attorney’s office cower in the face of folks willing to stand up to them”.

We’d definitely say that solidarity won out. It’s always amusing to see the law backed into a corner when they know they’re up the creek.

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Rammstein Frontman Lindemann in New Poker Commercial

Play Button

German industrial metal band Rammstein is no stranger to controversy with often violent lyrics and music videos with adult themes. Yet, Rammstein songwriter and lead vocalist Till Lindemann was recently involved in a project of a more lighthearted nature.

On April 3, the official YouTube channel of online poker site GGPoker released a commercial starring Lindemann. The nearly four-minute video sees Till portray five different characters partaking in a private poker game.

Till Lindemann of Rammstein stars in the latest GGPoker CommercialTill Lindemann Plays Poker With Till, Till, Till, Till, and an Unnamed Woman

Much like a Rammstein video, the advert features outlandish imagery, such as a stormy sea and a flying angel, that appears to have little to do with the main action in the poker game. Accompanied by Lindemann uttering laconic phrases like “I can laugh again” and “Guess I’m doing OK,” the effect is somewhat unsettling although the fact that we relied on auto-generated English subtitles, being unable to understand the original German audio, perhaps contributed to our unease.

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