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Apr 13, 2015

Weekly Flop: Jaime Staples Twitch Star, NYPD Sergeant busted for Poker, Alex Jacob Jeopardy

By RTR Dennis

Nothing immediately stands out about Jaime Staples' online poker career, at least in terms of deserving a sponsorship deal. However, his solid winnings combined with his Twitch following and strong broadcasting skills have landed him a deal with PokerStars...Ralph Mastrantonio, a retired NYPD sergeant, has taken up a second career - running illegal poker games. Mastrantonio was recently busted for his poker ring, and he now faces up to five years in prison...Once a rising star in poker, Alex Jacob is now using his wits to battle contestants on Jeopardy. See how Jacob has performed on Jeopardy in this edition of the Weekly Flop.

Jaime Staples signed by PokerStars on Strength of Twitch Broadcasts

After trying his hand at being a professional golfer, Jaime Staples began playing online poker. And now, five years later, he's accomplished the dream of many poker pros: getting a sponsorship deal.

At first glance, Staples' $467k in online tournament winnings don't stand out from the many other skilled pros who remain unsponsored. However, what truly separates the Canadian from the pack is his Twitch broadcasts, which have attracted thousands of fans. Case in point, 4,800 viewers were on hand to see Staples win a PokerStars Big $109 tournament for $19,422. Not coincidentally, it was after this victory that Stars contacted the 23-year-old about joining them.

What has really helped Staples gain a solid Twitch following is his voice, smooth broadcasting skills and willingness to interact with viewers. And his signing really hammers home the point that PokerStars is looking to Twitch to boost their traffic. Many see this live-streaming service as a natural compliment to online poker since players can follow pros, make comments and pick up tips.

Sgt. Mastrantonio busted after running Booze-filled, Rake-collecting Poker Games
Maybe this story isn't Molly 'The Poker Princess' Bloom running illegal poker games for mega celebrities in New York. But retired NYPD sergeant Ralph Mastrantonio has grabbed his share of headlines after being arrested for running a poker ring in Staten Island. And this was definitely a significant game because it raked thousands of dollars a night, with free booze and Italian food being served to players on the side.

The probe into Mastrantonio's poker game began in 2011, when Queens prosecutors received a tip that a police detective (Richard Palase) was associating with organized crime figures; this investigation also led to the snaring of Mastrantonio.

Defense lawyer Daniel Bibb finds the assertion that the 55-year-old retiree and Palase were rubbing elbows with the mafia almost laughable. "The closest they got to organized crime was Sammy Gravano's (Gambino family underboss) niece-in-law."
Regardless of what Bibb thinks, Mastrantonio is facing some serious federal charges that could put him in prison for up to five years - not exactly ideal for somebody who spent their life busting criminals.

Famed Poker Pro Alex Jacob wins on Jeopardy

It's been a while since Alex Jacob has been in the poker spotlight. In the mid-2000s, he was considered a rising star after finishing second in the 2006 Foxwoods Poker Classic ($655.5k) and winning the 2006 United States Poker Championship ($878.5k). However, the afro-sporting Jacob would eventually fade away from poker to follow other pursuits.
Apparently, one of these pursuits involves becoming a quiz-show guru, because he recently won on Jeopardy. Jacob dominated the episode he won right from the beginning and further built his lead after risking everything ($8.6k) on a Daily Double and correctly answering the question.

TwoPlusTwo users applauded this risky move because Jacob had good knowledge of the category that his Daily Double appeared in. In contrast, some players wait until Final Jeopardy to make a big move, which can be tricky because they have no control over what category the question will come from. So while Jacob may not play a lot of poker any more, his knowledge of taking a good +EV risk certainly came into play here.