Snoopy's Virtual Felt

Snoopy's Virtual Felt

Monday, 11 November 2013

Adam Goulding rounds up this month's biggest stories.

Yong at Heart

Dusk Till Dawn head honcho Rob Yongput fingers to keyboard recently for a vitriolic blog on the current state of online poker, speaking candidly about its flaws and highlighting some of the key issues that are discouraging new players from joining the game.

Yong shines the spotlight on a number of topics, ranging from tracking software to chat bans, and suggests practical changes such as multi-tabling restrictions, increased minimum buy-ins, and less focus on six-handed play. While I agree with most of Yong's points, the real problem is in implementing some of these changes on a platform that is so susceptible to abuse and increasingly difficult to police.

The biggest hurdle, however, is in creating unity between the cardrooms. Many still rely on the volume of high-raking pros and don’t boast the liquidity or necessary marketing budget to sacrifice this level of action. There are also the many sites that are skins of a wider network, which are unable to implement changes autonomously. The network providers merely consider the short-term profits and have no interest in reducing their daily rake and losing regular players to their competitors in the hope of creating a more attractive setting for amateurs.

VF Yong

This doesn’t mean it’s not the right path to take; it's just that without a governing body it’s close to impossible to mobilise so many different companies into actively pursuing one ideal. For change to occur, players need to vote with their feet (or fingers), but the monopoly of PokerStars and the high-variance of MTTs mean that the weaker players still have a reason to return.

One of Yong’s suggestions that can and should be applied is increasing the awareness of security procedures, be it the promotion of RNG (Random Number Generator) audits to cynical players or promoting the eradication of bots. Poker players are always searching for a reason to justify their bad play and, as “misfortune” becomes a less feasible option, “online poker is rigged” is the inevitable response. A more open approach to security will help dilute these misguided claims and give them less credibility when being spread throughout the live community.

One argument that I hear relentlessly is that software such as Hold'em Manager and Sharkscope is accessible to all and that it’s up to the players to educate themselves about the tools available. Many recreational players don’t have the time or expertise to sufficiently operate these devices, yet are aware they are being used against them. Most importantly, however, these tools take the fun out of the game and make online poker a soulless, purely mathematical recreation that is of little interest to your average punter.

Cash games are now pretty barren on many sites, with pros tackling pros while complaining that “it’s not as profitable as it used to be”. You have to look at the facts: it's a fact that anyone can use the software, but it’s also a fact that they don’t, and it’s these players you need to attract back into the game.

In response, Yong has introduced ”Online Club Cash Games” to the DTD online cardroom, a selection of eight-handed ring-games exclusive to members of the live club. There is no tracking software, chat abuse is treated in the same manner as it would in brick and mortar, and players must use their real names in order to play. Meanwhile, there is instant Skype support available and also the possibility of earning sponsorship.

Yong later stated that he would quit poker, and consequently sell DTD, if the promotion failed to succeed, pointing to an unwillingness to invest in a self-cannibalising industry. While Yong’s departure from the world of poker would undoubtedly be a huge loss given the amount of money he has injected into the industry, it may be an inevitable one.

A post from Phil Galfond entitled “Let’s Make Some Changes” triggered his initial blog entry, but despite Galfond’s high profile, those words were written in January 2012 and little has changed since. Sadly, I have a feeling that Yong’s efforts will have a similarly minimal effect.

A Devilfish out of Water

It was raining cats, dogs and eagle rays last month as The Weather Lottery announced the sale of Devilfish Poker to former gaming subsidiaries managing director Jeff Williams for the princely sum of one English pound.

Devilfish Poker was one of the many cardrooms to succumb to the declining ecology and struggled to find a permanent home after unprofitable stays at the now defunct Cereus and Entraction networks, before finding its final resting place at Play2B Star.

The company’s namesake, meanwhile, has become an ambassador for Dusk Till Dawn and currently hosts “The Devilfish Room”, where he runs tournaments, promotions and a weekly leaderboard.

VF Devilfish

They Think It's All Over...

With the speed of a slug in treacle and the all the bureaucracy of a Vogon admin assistant, the US government has finally commenced the process of reimbursing American players left out of pocket in the aftermath of Black Friday.

Coordinated by Garden City Group, notices were emailed to all victims in mid-September with players invited to file a petition at However, a leaked email suggested that not all players would be eligible, with employees, affiliates, directors, shareholders and former pros excluded.

VF Washington

The deadline for claims is November 16th but given that only 23,500 petitions have been submitted (that’s a mere 1.68% of emails sent), the government could be looking at a rather nice payday. Either way, initial repayments should be fulfilled before Christmas unless there is a discrepancy with the figures in which case the saga is likely to continue well into 2014.

Middleton Hits the Hole

Royal Armouries, the Industrial Revolution, erm… Tony Yeboah; not too much has come out of Leeds in recent centuries, but that could all be about to change with the recent emergence of poker prodigy Tom Middleton.

Middleton is a 26-year old pro who has been tearing a new exit hole in the poker world of late with success on both the online and live circuits, most notably his triumph at EPT Barcelona when he became Season 10’s opening Champion.

VF Middleton

As if €942,000 in spondoolies wasn’t enough to keep the safe warm, two weeks later he was back on the online grind as “hitthehole”, besting 1,032 in the PokerStars Sunday 500 for a further $89,061.60. He then finished the month in style with some WCOOP bucks, this time slicing and dicing his way through a near 10,000 field to finish fifth in Event 66, the $215 freezeout, for $72,585.

What the heck do they put into those Yorkshire puds? [Gravy – Ed.]

Ivey Poker Releases Mobile App
When he’s not tangling with high-end casinos or tackling the high-rollers in Macau, Phil Ivey is busy conquering the online world and promoting his latest self-named adventure, Ivey Poker. A fresh new site with oodles of oomph, Ivey Poker launched a mobile app in late September, offering free poker to those with Apple or Android devices.
The application will be available to all and will allow players the chance to learn the game for free, as well as improve their skills by chatting to the pros and watching instructional videos.

VF Ivey Poker

“I decided to put together this free-to-play social game,” chirruped Ivey in a captivating interview, “where you can play for free and you can play against some of the best players in the world and you can improve your game pretty quickly and become a better player”
So “learn, chat and play with the pros”? Now that sounds awfully familiar.

After much buzz and hoopla Caesars Interactive finally released their online cardroom this September, becoming only the second real-money poker site behind Ultimate Poker since Black Friday. As with its competitor, the new will be restricted to within Nevadan borders but will also be available to visiting players, meaning those making the annual pilgrimage will be able to retreat to their hotel room to tackle the online grind.

As expected, the launch comes armed with an array of dangling carrots including freerolls, satellites and Mac compatibility. They’ve also announced the inaugural Online Championships in October with a rather sumptuous $500,000 in added money.The addition of to the fray does raise legitimate questions regarding liquidity and whether this town is big enough for the both of them, but the pending arrival of New Jersey into the market suggests that other States will be following suit and that shared liquidity will be a likely result, especially between the smaller states.


However, the combined forces of politics and bureaucracy can always throw an unwelcome spanner in the works, and with regulation operating on a state-by-state basis, it could take an awfully long time before the “united” States are fully on board.

It’s Tyne for Change
St. James’ Park, the Millennium Bridge, Cheryl Cole… It’s time to add another to the list as Black Belt Poker look to take the North of England by storm with our latest live extravaganza. Newcastle Live will take place on the weekend of November 16th to 17th, with the popular Aspers Casino playing host to Black Belt Poker’s inaugural venture. The Main Event will be a £180+20 NLH freezeout with a 40-minute clock and 15,000 starting stack, meaning players can enjoy a deep-stacked tournament at an affordable price. At the last Black Belt Live event in Stratford, London, 40-year-old sales director Nik Stylianou overcame a field of 287 to capture the illustrious title. This time – as the giant finger would say – it could be you. Entry is exclusively through the Black Belt Poker card room. Check out the site for more details.

VF Ninja

Tags: Adam 'Snoopy' Goulding, Rob Yong, Dusk Till Dawn, Devilfish, Phil Ivey, Tom Middleton,,