Launch Raises the Stakes for Online Poker will be 100% free and will not accept player deposits. “Our system allows the players to

stay engaged, earn chips and be extremely interactive with other players

and friends.”

To start playing today, visit

or visit us on Facebook

( and Twitter

( will provide players with the closest experience to live

table action on the Internet with an added social networking emphasis. The Web site and game will both

also feature a Spanish language option.

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–, a new, free-play online poker site run by

California’s legal gaming experts, officially launched today, offering

poker players around the world a state-of-the-art online experience that

brings the thrill of live games to their personal computers for free.

. The web site is powered by

Playtech (AIM – PTEC) and will be supported by Sciplay, a joint

venture between Scientific Games (NASDAQ – SGMS), a world leader in

delivering gaming products and services, and Playtech, an acclaimed

global developer of leading online gaming software and technology.

Players will be able to compete through their Web browser, or they can

opt to download the free desktop application. This will allow an easy transition when the

Facebook application is launched in the near future.

Omaha & Texas hold ‘em

Ring games, tournaments and Sit and Gos

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Easy gaming interface

“ has features that most other online poker sites do not

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Director of Online Operations at COPA. features: is operated by the California Online Poker Association

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governments and California card clubs that lawfully operate more than

65% of the poker tables in California. Both methods

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My Take: The Christmas message of the real St. Nicholas – CNN Belief Blog

More churches would be dedicated to him than to any other person except Mary, the mother of Jesus. Those in the pews had never heard anything like it.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion. Known as the myrrh or manna of St. Nicholas. Nicholas. Instead of fixating on the commercialization and greed that plague the modern Santa Claus, I chose to see in it the lasting power of a simple act of kindness.

But the Nicholas story was about a regular family facing a familiar crisis to which ordinary people could relate. English is author of “The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of St. It is then diluted in holy water and bottled for pilgrims and visitors.

Down dark steps you will enter a candle-lit crypt, built in 1089, supported by 26 marble columns. The vast majority of saint stories that circulated in the early church involved extraordinary miracles and healings or dramatic martyrdoms and confessions of Christ.

Four years ago, I embarked on a quest to discover the truth about Santa Claus and the original St. The story of his helping the three sisters jumped off the dry page of history and into the minds and imaginations of young girls and boys and adults.

Every year on May 9, one of the Dominican friars charged with the upkeep and care of the Basilica di San Nicola squats down in front of a small opening in the tomb and slowly collects a vile of the myrrh of St. To this day, Nicholas’ tomb continues to excrete a small amount of watery liquid.

Nicholas heard this heartbreaking news and resolved to do something about it. When he heard a bag hit the floor, the father leapt to his feet and raced outside, where he caught the mysterious benefactor.

Little is known for certain about the life of Nicholas, whose name means “the people’s champion.” He was born sometime after the year 260 and died sometime after 333.

The poor man reasoned that it was impossible to marry off his three beautiful daughters because they lacked dowries for proper marriages to respectable noblemen. It is said that the city was intentionally constructed in a topsy-turvy way so that anyone trying to raid it would get swallowed and lost in its labyrinth. It seemed only a matter of time before they would plunder the tomb of St. He challenges us at this time of year to give not only to those we know and love, but also to those we do not know and especially to those who find themselves in need.

And there, in a gray tomb, lies the “real” Santa Claus. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 with the other bishops of the Christian empire, where he would have seen the Emperor Constantine.

But St. Nicholas of Myra” (Baylor University Press, 2012) and associate professor of religion at Campbell University.

The old town of Bari is a brambly, medieval maze of streets and alleyways that cross and crisscross. The magical Christmas Eve visits from Santa Claus represent the vestige of this old story. English.

More than a footnote to the legend of Santa Claus, Nicholas is a model of Christian kindness, an inspiration for charity and a saint to be remembered. In the 1080s, Seljuk Turks invaded Lycia and Asia Minor (what is now Turkey). Through a grate you will see a large marble and concrete tomb, St Nicholas’ final resting place.

When medieval Christians looked at the great church frescoes, basilica mosaics and cathedral stained glass pictures of Jesus, Mary, John the Baptist, the apostles and saints of old, there was little to distinguish one saint from another.

Perhaps he would have slipped into obscurity as nothing more than a minor saint – originally he was a patron saint of sailors – except for one unique story that circulated about him shortly after his death.

Nicholas revealed his identity to the father but made him swear never to tell anyone what he’d done. As soon as they entered the church, they barred the doors, smashed the marble cover and looked inside.

No wonder, then, that sailors from Bari wanted his bones. The money was used as a dowry for the first daughter.

So there is a lot more to the story of St. Nick than meets the eye. Nicholas.

Indeed, Nicholas would become the most popular nonbiblical saint in the pre-modern church. He did not want praise or recognition for his generosity.

More impressive than its connection with modern-day Santa Claus traditions is the tale’s historical uniqueness. My search took me many places, sending me finally across the Atlantic to Bari, on Italy’s Adriatic coast.

They involved monks who went into the desert and experienced the tempting of the devil and the burning of the sun, mothers who’d had their entrails spilled onto the Colosseum floor for Christ, mystics who saw the heavens open in their visions.

By Adam C.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

The Barians resolved that his bones be moved, or “translated,” to use the expression of the day. You can go into the basilica and pray, rest or just gawk, but the real show lies below.

They found more than they had bargained for: Nicholas’ bones were floating in a sweet-smelling liquid like oil or water. Later tradition reported that, finding the windows closed, he dropped the bag of gold down the chimney, where it landed into one of the girl’s stockings that was hanging to dry.

It’s such a strange and surprising tale that historians assume it must be based to a large degree on fact. Nicholas was easy to spot. The basilica housing that tomb dates to the 11th century. The man grew so desperate that he lacked the very essentials of life.

The bones were taken back to Italy and a basilica was erected in Bari to house them. He feared they would each in turn be forced into prostitution to support themselves.

He was bishop of the church in Myra in what was then the Roman province of Lycia, Asia Minor. If you keep wandering, though, eventually you pop out onto a plaza and see the Basilica di San Nicola.

Nicholas had been aware of a certain citizen of Patara – in Lycia, modern-day Turkey – who had once been an important and wealthy man of the city but who had fallen on hard times and into extreme poverty. The first medieval drama that was not intended as a worship ritual and that was written in the vernacular was about Nicholas.

Sometime later, Nicholas made a second nighttime visit so that the second daughter might marry. His bold initiative to help three poor girls in need sparked a tradition of gift-giving that has carried into modern times. It is the tale of three poor daughters.

Editor’s note: Adam C. He was always pictured carrying three bags of gold. English, Special to CNN

They quietly made their way to the church of St. Nicholas, the liquid was highly valued for its purported miraculous and therapeutic qualities.

When Nicholas returned to deliver anonymously the third bag of gold for the last daughter, the curious father was ready. He bagged a sum of gold and in the dead of night, tossed it through the man’s window. Nicholas, hiding swords and shovels under their clothes. Under the nose of the Turkish overlords in control of the area 47 Barian sailors disembarked at Myra disguised as pilgrims.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Adam C

Whitewater Rafting in Cagayan River

Cagayan de Oro in Northern Mindanao is also known as the “City of Golden Friendship” and what better way to improve one’s friendship is by doing an activity together like whitewater rafting along the Cagayan River which is well-known spot for rafting and kayaking with its 21 rapids popularized when former President Gloria Arroyo herself took on the rapids.

What do you think of this story?

Select one of the options below. Your feedback will help tell CNN producers what to do with this iReport. If you’d like, you can explain your choice in the comments below.

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Philippines Floods 2011: Mass Burial Organized

The bodies are decomposing and there is no place where we can place them, not in an enclosed building, not in a gymnasium,” Cruz told The Associated Press.

More bodies continued to be found. Official figures put the number at 82, while the Philippine Red Cross estimated 800.. Flood waters came gushing after 12 hours of pounding rain, catching most of them in their sleep.

The disparity underscores the difficulty in accounting for people who could be buried in the mud and debris littering much of the area or could be alive but lost in crowded evacuation centers or elsewhere.

In Iligan, a coastal industrial hub of 330,000 people, Mayor Lawrence Cruz said the city’s half dozen funeral parlors were full to capacity and no longer accepting bodies. About 7,000 houses were swept away, destroyed or damaged, the Office of Civil Defense said.

Associated Press writers Jim Gomez and Hrvoje Hranjski in Manila contributed to this report.

Residents told local officials that plans for a mass burial was “un-Christian,” said Cagayan de Oro city administrator Griscelda Joson.

In nearby Cagayan de Oro city, the situation was more chaotic and people were resisting mass burials, instead demanding that bodies be interned until relatives can claim them.

He said many of the Iligan dead – 279 by official count – “are just piled and laid outside the morgues,” which ran out of formaldehyde for embalming and coffins.

President Barack Obama expressed deep condolences on Monday for the “tremendous loss of life and devastation caused by recent flooding in the Philippines.”

“For public health purposes, we’re doing this. While city officials were meeting Sunday, more than 40 bodies were seen floating off an island but the coast guard could not recover them, Joson said.

ILIGAN, Philippines — With funeral parlors overwhelmed, authorities in a flood-stricken southern Philippine city on Monday organized the first mass burial of people who were swept to their deaths in one of worst calamities to strike the region in decades.

Ramos, the head of the agency that is spearheading the recovery and relief operations, attributed the high casualties “partly to the complacency of people because they are not in the usual path of storms” despite warnings by officials that one was approaching.

“We’re using plastic bags, whatever is available,” Cruz said.


Although he said government agencies were responding in a quick and efficient manner, they were overwhelmed and the United Nations was preparing an appeal for urgent assistance.

The official death toll from Friday night’s disaster, spawned by a tropical storm, rose to 927. The first 50 or so unclaimed bodies were buried in individual tombs at the city cemetery, he said.

In a grim sign of desperation, a funeral parlor dumped about 30 badly decomposed bodies in a city garbage dump over the weekend, sparking protests from distraught villagers who were looking for the missing loved ones.

An estimated 35 percent of evacuees are children, said Trevor Clark, head of UNICEF in the southern Mindanao region. Benito Ramos, head of the Office of Civil Defense, said additional bodies were retrieved from the ocean.

The number of missing varied widely. About 580 died in Cagayan de Oro, most of them women and children, many of whom lived along river banks. Running water and hygiene were major concerns, followed by a lack of clothing, blankets and even shoes for young children, he said.

“In the spirit of our long history of friendship and cooperation with the Philippines, the United States stands ready to assist the Philippine people and government should humanitarian assistance and recovery efforts be needed,” a White House statement said.

“We lost count of how many are missing,” said Ramos.

About 143,000 people were affected in 13 southern and central provinces, including 45,000 who fled to evacuation centers

Betting Promotion Sweden AB (BETT.ST) Company Profile

The Company offers betting services within two product areas: Sports Betting and Live Betting. As of December 31, 2010, Betting Promotion Sweden AB had two wholly owned subsidiaries: Betting Promotion Holdings Ltd, which is incorporated in Malta, owns the intellectual capital of the Company and has no operational activities, and Betting Promotion Teknik Malmo AB, which is responsible for the development of the Company’s technology. It operates an automated trading system and specializes in the sport betting area.

Betting Promotion Sweden AB is a Sweden-based company engaged in the gambling industry. The Company’s main customers are the Internet-based betting exchanges. Through Betting Promotion Holdings Ltd, the Company owns Betting Promotion Ltd, owner of gaming licenses and game operator incorporated in Malta.

Plus500 sold to Playtech: What it means for customers stuck in account freeze

A spokesperson for Playtech told Business Insider it’s “too early to say on regulation and this will depend on the regulators response.”

Beyond that, there’s also the question of whether Playtech could decide to give up on Plus500′s UK regulated operation. Plus500 also has Cyprus and Australian regulated businesses that it could focus on.

Jean Frederic Chapuis (R) of France and Jonas Devouassoux of France compete in the Men's Ski Cross Finals during the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships 2015 on January 25, 2015 in Kreischberg, Austria.Lars Baron/Getty ImagesJean Frederic Chapuis, right, and Jonas Devouassoux compete in the Men’s Ski Cross Finals in Austria. Plus500 accounts have been as frozen as the snow their skiing on for weeks.

Customers of trading platform Plus500 have been through a lot over the last fortnight, with thousands of UK accounts containing people’s cash frozen while it overhauls its anti-money laundering procedures. 

So what does this mean for customers still frozen out? Not much, both sides have told Business Insider.

Now they face the prospect of the business changing hands while all this is going on, after Plus500 announced plans this morning to sell itself to gambling software company Playtech.

Playtech and Plus500 say estimates of when customers will be unfrozen remain unchanged, with a month the longest people will likely have to wait.

NOW WATCH: We got our hands on ‘Kinder Surprise Eggs’ — the global candy favorite that’s still illegal in the US

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Playtech pitch on the deal is that its scale and expertise will help clear up Plus500′s regulatory issues, but the deal is not set to complete until at least September — too late for customers caught up in the current crisis. 

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Man Dragged 300 Feet Down In Ocean By A Tuna Fish- Really!

Eric Guieb, accompanied Te in his treatment about SARV-001.

I know most people hear the word tuna and they think of a small 8 oz can of tuna fish that is great for sandwiches and casseroles. Jess Ramos,” the Coast Guard said in its website.

The Philippine Coast Guard in the district of South Eastern Mindanao said the diver was pulled underwater at a depth of about 300 feet.  He was in waters off Kiamba, Saranggani.

That is just what happened to scuba diver, Ramir Te.  He was on a fishing expedition when he was pulled underwater by a tuna around 5:45pm on Saturday.

Te was also treated by the Air Force in a recompression chamber while aboard Coast Guard search-and-rescue vessel BRP San Juan (SARV-001).  Hyperbaric doctor, Cdr.

While most of us think of tuna as small chunk-size pieces, they can actually be quiet large.  World records state they can be as long at 15 feet and weigh as much as 1038 Lbs.  Te is lucky to be in good condition and alive.

Te was than transported on a commercial vessel bound for Cebu on Monday.

“(He) was airlifted to Cagayan de Oro on (Sunday) by Philippine Air Force Helicopter accompanied by a hyperbaric doctor Dr. But most people do not think of a tuna to be a gigantic fish.  Large enough to pull a man down 300 feet into the ocean.

One Direction Bets on Undies: Band Members Set to Collect Bras on Stage

It seems Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson have a wager on who can collect the most underwear while performing on stage. Whoever picks up the most bras on stage thrown to them by the fans wins. Now some women compared with more than one pair of underwear and others get caught up in the moment and take off the underwear in the spur of the moment to toss them on stage.

One Direction Toronto 1The competition starts on the stage on the forthcoming US tour and it seems the bet is straightforward. As one garment equals one piece, the guys just need to keep picking up the pieces as they sing on stage.

One Direction is coming to America and the guys want to keep it interesting. While some bands outplay themselves, others keep it fresh with a little wager on the side. To be clear, the bet only involves bras and the fans need to throw them on stage voluntarily.

No word if the bet is for the number of bras for each performance or if the bet was for the entire season. Either way it will keep One Direction band members amused on stage as they sing in the sold out shows across America.