Diversions and Debates around New University Builds

Students at Essex University are being faced with a barrage of new builds on campus this year, causing diversions and turning the campus into a building site.

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Every university needs to grow and expand its facilities over time, but Essex University currently has six different builds underway, transforming the campus into something quite unpleasant on the eye. Students are having to naviagte their way through different routes to reach accommodation and lectures, raising questions of whether the number of simultaneous building projects has become excessive.

The biggest projects currently in progress include: a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Centre, a temporary car park for contractors, an overhaul of the lakeside barbecue area and a redevelopment of the sports centre. Many of these developments are set to continue to the end of the current year, or beyond.

The total number of constructions currently going on is six, and students have given mixed responses to dealing with the problems, and looking forward to the potential benefits. Michelle Burke, a 33-year old History student at Essex University said “The visual issues don’t bother me, it’s the other inconveniences caused like diversions, internet service disruptions & problems that affect students living here during the building work. The university could definitely do with more parking, although I’m not sure why it’s temporary or limited to contractors”. She praised the expensive new development on campus though, stating that “The science, technology, engineering and maths centre (STEM) sounds like a good investment in education”.

This sentiment wasn’t shared by all students however, as Kristjan Purru, a 20 year old film student described the ¬£13.2 million STEM centre as “money wasted” but claimed his biggest issue was with the travel disruption, adding that “the thing I dislike is the closure of the footpath near the business school”.

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third year economics student Andrew Cheung also offered his views in the following interview: https://soundcloud.com/user-933074734/interviewbar

It is clear that students can see the benefits of further developments, but there is clearly a widespread feeling that the disruptions are being felt, and they look set to continue for several months yet.

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Star Names Leave Their Mark on the WPT Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Florida

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Jason Mercier, Ryan Riess and Daniel Weinman were the stars of a riveting week in Florida, as they each won an event at the WPT Hard Rock Poker Showdown. Tony Sinishtaj also furthered his own credentials by taking down the $3,500 event.

First, it was Mercier who made headlines, defeating fellow pro Justin Bonomo heads-up to win the $25,000 event. The large buy in ensured a high quality field numbering 116, with every player at the final table being a professional. Well known players such as Bryn Kenney and Olivier Busquet managed to cash in this event, finishing 7th and 5th respectively, with Juston Bonomo and Jason Mercier being joined by Loni Harwood in the final three players.

Despite Bonomo and Mercier providing illustrious company for Loni Harwood, she certainly brought tournament pedigree to the table, having three World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit victories and a WSOP bracelet to her name. Had things unfolded a little differently, she could also have added this title to her collection, but her challenge was ended by a crazy hand in which Jason Mercier hit one of two cards left in the deck to eliminate her. Once he had gained the upper hand, Mercier never looked back, slowly grinding Bonomo down before eliminating him. Hometown hero and five-time WSOP bracelet winner Jason Mercier took home the trophy, along with $794,600 in prize money.

The $3,500 event belonged to Tony Sinishtaj, although it could easily have gone the way of enigmatic young pro Daniel Colman. Colman burst onto the poker scene in 2015 by winning the Big One for One Drop, netting the 1st prize of $15.3 million, only to then refuse to smile for photos or do any interviews. Colman was among the final four players in $3,500 event, and played a huge pot against Sinishtaj where he made the right call and was a strong favourite to win the pot, only for his opponent to get extremely fortunate to end Colman’s tournament and take the chip-lead. Sinishtaj went on to win the event, taking home $661,283 as he bested the field of 1,207 players.

The $10,000 event saw the big stars of the poker world shine once more, as 2012 WSOP Main Event champion Ryan Riess added a WPT title to his world champion’s crown. Riess ovrcame a field of 349 players to get his name on the WPT trophy for the first time. He won $716,088 for his 1st place finish.

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The Hard Rock Poker Showdown was rounded off by the special $15,000 invitational event – the Tournament of Champions. Only those with their name on the trophy could participate, and sponsors ensured that a car and a $100,000 bonus cash were added to the prize pool. The event saw a total of 66 players buy in.

For quite some time it seemed that fan favourites Michael Mizrachi and Erik Seidel could take the top prize. Three-time WSOP bracelet winner Michael Mizrachi built up a strong chip stack at the end of the second day, and eight-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel was an ever present threat throughout the event.

Seidel would eventually fall in 5th place for $73,575 while Mizrachi was one of the final two players standing, facing off against Daniel Weinman for the title. In the early stages of heads-up play it appeared that Mizrachi had the measure of his opponent, and had soon overturned the chip defecit he began with, drawing almost level in the chip counts. Then came an ourageous bluff from Weinman, in which he forced Mizrachi to fold a flush before showing him he had been bluffed. The match was over moments later when Weinman’s ace-eight managed to spike an eight on the turn to outdraw the pocket fives of Mizrachi, who had moved his remaining chips in pre-flop. Mizrachi took home $218,000 for his runner-up finish, while Weinman claimed the $381,500 1st prize.

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The World Poker Tour now moves on to Beijing, where the next festival will take place between April 14th-19th.

Miami Trip

I do apologise for taking a break from this blog, and temporarily turning it into the monthly word rather than weekly. I have been busy undertaking an exciting journey, which began as follows…

Having written part-time for a website called Somuchpoker during the last two years or more, I have had the fantastic opportunity to write about poker, which has been a serious hobby of mine since 2010. This hands-on experience of journalism has been a great addition to the skills learned during my studies, and right at the end of my second term, I was offered another great opportunity.

The website I write for, which targets an Asian audience was invited to send two people  to provide coverage of the World Poker Tour (WPT) events which were set to take place at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Fort Lauderdale, just outside Miami. Flights and hotel costs were all covered by WPT, who treated us wonderfully while we were there.

On the first day, I walked into a casino for only the second time in my life. That may seem strange given my enthusiasm for poker, but I have always lived some distance away from the nearest casino and for the most part, have been happy enough playing my poker online. Despite not having any great interest in casinos, Hard Rock was an impressive spectacle. As soon as I walked in, there was a wall of rainbow-like illumination from the hundreds of slot machines which pinged and buzzed with activity as I walked past. We eventually found our way into the poker section, and walked into a large hall which had press tables at one end and around a dozen poker tables at the other.

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Only two tables were occupied at this point, as the $25,000 buy-in High Roller event was down to the last dozen or so players, but we had the potential for an exciting story as Jason Mercier, holder of five World Series of Poker titles, a European Poker Tour title and winner of this same event in 2015 was still in the hunt. By the time the final table got underway the following day, Mercier was still going strong and our hopes of a big name player taking the High Roller title were given a further boost as he got down to the final two players. At this stage, which we call ‘heads-up’ in the poker world, he only had to defeat experienced pro Justin Bonomo to claim the title, and he went on to do just that, winning the 1st prize of $794,600.

The second day provided no major stories, but we were there covering proceedings all day as a relatively unknown player won the $3,500 buy-in event. Then came the $10,000 event, and once again we had an interesting story developing, as the 2013 world champion Ryan Riess was gaining the upper hand on the final table. He also went on to deliver the story we hoped for, winning the event for $716,088. With the open events concluded, all eyes turned to the special invitational event. The Tournament of Champions had a $15,000 buy-in fee, and was reserved only for those who had won a WPT event in the past. The WPT trophy which awaited the champion was impressive to say the least.

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The Tournament of Champions lasted three days in total, and there were plenty of big names involved. Ryan Riess was joined by Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Mike Sexton, Erik Seidel, who is the holder of eight World Series of Poker titles, Dominik Nitsche, who has three, Michael Mizrachi, who also has three, and Scott Seiver, who has one. All players were of course holders of a WPT title too, and so the quality of play within the field was high. Sponsors of the event had thrown an extra $100,000 and a car into the prize pool, which was already over $1,000,000 creating some added value for those involved. By the end of the second day, we had our final table set, with Mizrachi and Seidel both still in the tournament.

For once, we had to settle for a slighty lesser known player winning the top prize as Daniel Weinman defeated Michael Mizrachi heads-up, and Erik Seidel could only manage 4th place. But still, the tournament made for great viewing and capped off a great week of WPT events.

 

Alongside the many hours of reporting we had put in over the course of six days, we found a little time to enjoy an ice hockey game courtesey of WPT and were even given a free bottle of champagne each. With the final event wrapped up and an unforgettable time spent attending one of the world’s biggest poker events, it was finally time to head to the airport. My journey back was not quite as smooth as I had hoped though, as delays to my first flight caused me to miss my connecting flight, and I had to spend 12 hours stuck in Newark airport. It took a total of 29 hours from leaving my hotel to arriving home, but it was all worthwhile.

 

Myself, Loic and Lars who worked for another poker website stopped to take one last photo before sharing a taxi back at the end of the final day.

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