Virtual Felt

Virtual Felt

Monday, 1 April 2013

Adam "Snoopy" Goulding snoops around the world of online poker


Party Poopers

Online cardrooms are constantly looking for ways to keep their new players happy and ensure they have a long and enjoyable stay, but Party Poker took it one step further recently when they decided to segregate their player-base into pools and implement restrictions as to who you could play.

Much like the recent iPoker split, the aim was to keep the fish away from the sharks and restrict members to players of their own skill level, meaning they could only sit at tables with opposition of a matching (or thereabouts) win-rate.

Party Poker slipped in the change without notifying the players, but the alarm bells soon sounded when people complained of low traffic and lobbies that differed to those of their friends’. In response, Party Poker quickly confessed, adding that they are "testing various features to make poker a fun and more entertaining game" and "are continually looking for ways to balance our poker room ecology". In other words, how can we earn more rake?
While failing to inform the players is cheeky, the actual segregation is unethical as it removes the open platform and punishes players for the dastardly crime of winning.

The most interesting question, perhaps, is whether or not this move benefits Party Poker in the long term. While limiting players to opposition of their own skill level, in theory, should result in the weaker players losing their money at a slower rate and, consequently, earning more rake for the cardroom, at the same time, it makes it very difficult for professional players to survive as they will be continually facing tougher opposition, thus causing them to leave the site and cause traffic issues for Party. What is likely to occur is a bizarre cycle in which the winning players leave when they get promoted to a higher level and return when the system resets due to their absence.

It also makes the incorrect assumption that the weaker players are stupid; once they realise that they are merely being molded into rake machines, they will look elsewhere for their poker. Whether you're a losing player or not, one of the key attractions of poker is the prospect of winning money via self-improvement, but Party Poker are denying players this by making it tougher every time you win.

One big problem Party will face, however, is that the sharks will find ways to exploit the system and ensure that they are only ever facing inferior opposition. For years, cardrooms have battled against multi-accounting, chip-dumping and the various other misdemeanors of the cyber felt, but now they are virtually egging players to break the rules and create new accounts.

Personally, I can appreciate a cardroom’s primary objective as a business is to increase profit margins, but I believe this is a misjudged and ineffective approach to the issues of bum-hunting and player stalking.

Instead, what cardrooms should be exploring are more natural ways to reduce the edge that more experienced players have beyond the basic decision-making process, such as the existence of HUDs, buddy lists, the option to change your screen name, and capping for multi-tablers.

The bottom line is that, in their bid to create a level playing field, Party Poker are doing the exact opposite. If some players can choose to sit with players that you can't, how can this be fair? Remember, if you haven’t spotted the sucker at the table within 15 minutes, then you’re probably playing on Party Poker.


Stars Power

You'd have had trouble convincing the pros of yesteryear that one day there’d be a tournament with a near 50,000 entries; if you’d told them that it wouldn't even be the biggest ever, they’d choke on their Strawberry Daiquiris and direct you to the nearest nuthouse.

But in early March, that’s precisely what happened, as 49,827 parted with $200+$15 a piece for the seventh anniversary of the Sunday Million on PokerStars, all mustard keen to take advantage of the $7m guarantee and $1m first prize.

A mere 15 hours later, we had a champion: 'benislovas' of Lithuania, who captured the title and $848,589 booty. However, flying the flag in second was former UK number one David “sexygee” Gent, who prospered most in the three-handed deal, but couldn't quite get his hands on the $140,000 that was left up top.

Having disposed of 'Kasra84' of Germany in third, the final hand saw David min-raise the button with KcJh at the 2.5/5 million level, before betting the flop and turn of a TsQd3d4h board.‘Benislovas’ check-raised all in with Td9s for second pair, and David called but failed to improve on a Th river.

1st: Benislovas - $848,589
2nd: sexygee - $836,321
3rd: Kasra84 - $813,370
4th: n0rflip - $358,809
5th: peilompogos - $254,321
6th: stradale430 - $181,376
7th: 2outs4cake - $117,303
8th: rewgr343 - $85,759
9th: Heminsley - $62,102


Once you iPOPS…

iPOPS returns to the iPoker Network this month for its fourth outing with a fresh lineup of 15 eclectic tournaments and an increased guarantee of $1.2 million. To cater for wallets of all sizes, there will be two tiers of tournaments with buy-ins ranging from as little as $2+0.20, right up to the $350+20 high-roller.

The starting whistle sounds on April 28, with a $200,000 guaranteed $125+15 freezeout, and culminates in a $200+15 Main Event on May 05 with a whopping $500,000 guarantee. Satellites for all tournaments are already running on, including five Megas with a total of 300 seats.


Jesus Rises

Whether it’s Alex, Sarah or Sheila, there always seems to be a Fergie in the media, and the latest to grab the spotlight is everyone’s favourite vegetable-slicing ballroom dancer Chris “Jesus” Ferguson. Like his other famous namesake, Ferguson has apparently risen from the dead following a forced absence to reach a settlement with the Department of Justice nearly two years following Black Friday and the subsequent demise of Full Tilt Poker.

Mirroring his partner in crime Howard Lederer, Ferguson appears to have evaded the initial $42 million sought, instead handing over a minimum of $2.3 million, along with the cash in a mysterious account simply named: “Ferguson Account”. In addition, he forfeits any remaining interest in Full Tilt Poker and agrees to have no financial connection with any business offering unlawful poker or gambling in the US.

With Howie inducing comas with the Lederer Files and then snaking his way back onto the poker table, it’ll be interesting to see if Ferguson follows suit, although I suspect his return won’t be met with balloons and party poppers.


The Land of the Free

New Jersey has become the latest state to sign a bill into law for the licensing and regulation of online poker. Although only the third behind Nevada and Deleware, it’s an influential state, and Chris Christie is a prominent and respected governor quickly gaining in popularity.

Among other things, the bill states that only casinos located in Atlantic City will be able to host gaming sites, which has led to PokerStars’ parent company, Rational Group, bidding for the purchase of the Atlantic Club Hotel Casino, which would place Stars in a powerful position when the doors finally open.

Tags: virtual felt, adam goulding, black belt poker