Archive for the ‘Online Poker Information’ Category

Big Changes in UK Online Poker as Regulations Come Into Effect

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

September 16th marked the passing of the first main deadline associated with the newest UK gambling regulations. This Tuesday marked a deadline for online poker rooms to apply for a UK online gambling license. 

The deadline is in anticipation of October 1st, when the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act becomes active. Online gambling companies of all types – poker rooms, casino games and sports betting sites - must all obtain a UK license before the start of October if they wish to continue operating.

There is one further main consequence of this legislation, which won’t come into effect until December 1st. There will be a point of consumption tax on gross profits from any online gambling operator. This tax is 15%, and while it is unclear how this will affect poker room operations, it’s possible that they will increase rake or cash out fees.

What are Poker Rooms Doing?

The added expense and licensing process has already forced many small operators to shut down their poker and gambling platforms. However, most of the big brands will continue to operate as normal, so players will not see too much of a change as a whole.

Pokerstars, Full Tilt, Partypoker, 888 and Unibet are all expected to continue operating in the UK, assuming there are no hiccups with the licensing process.

Sites on the iPoker network on the other hand are choosing both options. Most of the major sites plan to continue operating, most notably Winner and Titan, which have both launched a localized version of their site on .co.uk domain extensions. Mansion poker, however, is one of the first well-known casualties so far. The popular iPoker site closed down right before the application deadline, as of September 15th.

The iPoker sites that are adapting to the changing situations, Titan and Winner so far, are both owned by PT Entertainment Services, a subsidary of Playtech. Playtech is known for their poker software and ownership of poker rooms. The current users of the sites have been transferred over without any significant difficulties.

Due to the structure of the legislation, the rooms continuing to operate need to have an intermediary license until the UK applications are evaluated and accepted or rejected. Titan and Winner Poker are bth using an Antigua license, which is one of a few different valid options for now.

Online poker in the UK is changing in a major way behind the tables, but if all goes as expected, there shouldn’t be too many differences for the average player. We will keep you informed if rake, fees or related operations are changed in the future because of this legislation.

Betfair Faces New Obstacles in New Jersey as Trump Casino Closes

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Betfair has been well-known in the online gambling industry since its inception. However, the legislation associated to online poker (and gambling) across the U.S. and many other countries has had a big impact on the success of Betfair’s revenue and options. The company was set to team up with Trump Plaza, a New Jersey casino, but it has recently been revealed that this casino is set to close. 

Operating an Online Gaming Site in New Jersey

New Jersey has always been a popular place to gamble, which is why it’s one of the main centers of attention in the battle for online poker legislation in the U.S.

Due to recent legislature, online gambling sites must currently hold an Internet gaming permit (IGP) in order to operate legally. The problem, however, is that only land-based casinos are eligible to apply and receive an IGP. The solution that online gaming sites have to employ is to partner with existing casinos and work out a licensing deal.

Originally there were 12 casinos that were permitted to apply for an IGP in 2013, the year the legislature was passed. This number has already been drastically cut down in 2014, projected to be at only seven casinos by the end of the year. The limited amount of casinos in the state compound the problem for Betfair.

With the closure of Trump Plaza and its casino, Betfair now needs to find a new partner if they want to continue operating in New Jersey. Given the overall presence of Betfair in the state, along with how much money they have invested, it’s likely the Betfair will attempt to find a new ally. However, this may not be easy or feasable.

The company has several obstacles in its way now. There are no casinos left, of those seven that have not paired with online gambling sites or are. Of these casinos, most have no incentive to enter a partnership with Betfair, as they already have significant exposure for their brand. Considering that Betfair’s main asset in this situation is their brand recognition, it is unlikely they will want to operate under a different name.

On top of these challenges, Betfair hasn’t had great success in New Jersey so far. For this year, they have achieved a revenue of $3.6mm, which may sound impressive, but is actually the worst in the New Jersey iGaming industy.

With very few options and not being able to bring too much to the table, Betfair may have to pay exorbitant licensing fees to potential suitors in order to continue operating. That being said, there is still room for growth in New Jersey’s poker and gambling industry, so future earning projections may make a deal that is difficult in the short term a good long term decision for the gaming giant.

Is the $4.9 Billion Acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker Good for Poker Players?

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The big news on the morning of June 12th was that the owner of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, Rational Group Ltd., had been bought out by Amaya Gaming Group, Inc., along with other companies in the Oldford Group umbrella.

Adding these two poker juggernauts to other gambling properties, Amaya Gaming Group has just become the biggest online gaming company by far, gaining an approximately 85 million new players in this deal.

Could this be the Answer for American Players?

Due to events leading up to and following the day known as Black Friday to online poker players, it has seemed like poker in the United States may not return. However, with new ownership that has a stellar track record of being transparent and following proper procedures to meet regulations, there may just be a bigger hope now than before.

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) fights for the rights of poker players and the availability of online poker in the U.S. Executive director of the PPA, John Pappas was optimistic about the big deal, saying, “Amaya’s acquisition should remove any perceived impediment for this popular brand to once again be available to players in regulated U.S. jurisdictions.  This is a positive development for poker enthusiasts and the potential return of the PokerStars brand will grow our game.”

Now despite that optimism, the CEO of Amaya Gaming has claimed that this acquisition was not dependent on obtaining a license in the U.S., although that may be a possibility in the future. For now, the company is set to license their industry-famous software to New Jersey online poker platforms.

Amaya and the Rest of the World

Amaya Gaming has extensive experience and presence in many major global markets across the world. The CEO has already stated that the primary goal of this acquisition is to grow the already over $1.1 billion in revenue these two massive poker sites generate on an annual basis.

Plans to accomplish this include introducing casino games and sports betting. With a new customer base of over 85 million customers, these new introductions could have a profound effect. While that $1.1 billion in revenue may seem impressive, making up about a quarter of the online poker industry, the casino games industry comes in at a hefty $25 billion a year. Gaining a substantial portion of that market could take the two online gambling sites to previously unknown heights.

Amaya’s Background

Rational Group was always based in the Isle of Man, not exactly the most regulated “country”. This contributed heavily to the stigma and wariness of Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars.

Amaya Gaming on the other hand is based in Montreal, Canada. This instantly adds a significant amount of trust and credibility to these tarnished giants, that suggests a more legitimate organization. Most of Amaya’s business is not online, but physically based in casino and lottery solutions. This is the first major only foray for Amaya, and it promises to be an interesting one.

The deal should be completed by September, so stay tuned for further developments and details.

Protecting Your Winnings: 6 Safety Tips

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Have you heard horror stories about poker players winning large sums of money and having it stolen? This happens both online and in live games, and while it is rare, it’s something that you should protect yourself against. Here are six tips to help keep your winnings safe.

1. Keep Private Information Private. No one should know your password or how you fund your online accounts. Even your personal information used as routine security checks by poker and online wallet sites should be kept as private as possible. No one should ever ask for your information from a poker site unless you have contacted them first, if you see someone asking for it in a chat box, ignore it.

2. Don’t Play on Shady Sites. The most common way for players to lose their money is to play on some unknown site with a small player base. When they go to cash out their money is either seized for some obscure rule or takes months or years to finally receive. Stick to the well-known sites with good reputations, check out the editor’s picks on the PokerTips homepage.

3. You Can’t Cheat at Poker. If you are a struggling player, you might come across a tempting offer to cheat on online poker sites. You’re only human, it’ll probably be tempting, but know that online sites these days are very secure and if someone could cheat they wouldn’t be telling anybody. These typically turn out to be scams or viruses that will try to harvest your information.

4. Don’t Loan Money to Other Players. While there are probably a few legitimate reasons to do so, there are also many scammers online who will try to take advantage of your generosity. If you send money to beggars online, you aren’t likely to get it back.

5. Use an RSA Token. Most major sites offer RSA token authentication for a miniscule cost, even certain e-wallets do too. These tokens generate a one-time password as needed when you log-in to your poker account. This makes it virtually impossible for someone to hack into your account and steal your money. As you accumulate more winnings in your account, this is more important.

6. Don’t Click Links in Emails. Phishing emails are one of the most common attempts at theft out there. People can create emails that look almost identical to the ones your poker room sends you. They include a link to a site that looks legitimate, but isn’t, and try to either infect your computer or get you to type in your password. If you ever need to contact support based on an email, type in the website yourself or search for it on Google.

Don’t let online theft deter you from playing online poker, just keep a watchful eye on the security of your accounts. If you follow these six tips you are very unlikely to ever have any problems protecting your winnings.

The Kryptonite of Online Poker Players: Casino Games

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

It’s no secret that casino games and poker go hand in hand, both in the real world and online. In fact, Full Tilt poker has recently signed an agreement to bring casino games to their platform, as many other major sites have already done. Even great poker players have a desire to gamble, and just like putting poker tables near slot machines, casino games online make it really easy to play. The problem is that many winning players lose their winnings playing slots, blackjack, baccarat, roulette and other fun gambling games.

The Problem with Gambling

blackjack casino game

Image via Flickr by Images_of_Money

The distinction of gambling is important when it comes to casinos. Poker is a game of skill where you are playing against other players, but not the house. All other casino games however do not allow you to gain an edge over other players, and they are mathematically set-up to favor the house. Some games like blackjack you can approach parity, but even optimal play will still cause you to lose in the long run.

On top of the fact that casino games are designed for you to lose money, they are also designed to allow you to lose a lot of money fast. The amount you can bet in a single poker hand is limited to what you have on the table, which is an amount you should be able to afford to lose. If you go to a blackjack table however, especially online, it’s usually possible to bring your entire bankroll to the table and theoretically bet it all at once if you wanted to.

The final issue, as you may have observed in poker, is that people get extremely frustrated when it comes to events of chance. If someone hits a few draws on you in poker, you might even go on tilt. Now imagine what happens when you’re playing blackjack and three or four hands in a row go against you, which is fairly common. If you happen to tilt at a blackjack table, you can practically kiss your bankroll goodbye. This happens time and time again to even solid winning poker players.

How to Deal with Casino Games

The ideal situation is to avoid them altogether, but as more of the major sites like Full Tilt poker incorporate them, this option is more difficult. Most poker clients allow you to go into settings and hide the casino games, which is the best option.

But what if you enjoy to gamble? As in, not to win money, you just like to flip a few coins or spin a wheel once in a while. The solution is to open an account on a separate site that offers casino games. Deposit a small bankroll of money you are prepared to lose and treat that as your recreation. It’s important not to confuse your poker bankroll that has all your winnings in it and your recreational bankroll that you have funded to play around with.

As long as you are a poker player you will be exposed to casino games. It’s important to keep your discipline and keep any recreational gambling separate from your poker activities to achieve long term success.

Could Virtual Reality for Poker Be the Next Big Thing?

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Virtual reality gaming has been the dream for first person shooter (FPS) game and massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) for ages, but it hasn’t been thought of as an addition to poker until now. Talks of incorporating the Oculus Rift with online poker have recently surfaced and are getting players excited.

Introducing the Oculus Rift

oculus rift virtual reality

Image via Flickr by Sergey Galyonkin

If you haven’t seen the Oculus Rift before, it’s a sight to behold. The product is essentially a pair of “goggles” that work seamlessly with certain games to provide an incredible virtual reality experience.

Just recently, the company was acquired by Facebook for $2 Billion, a major investment into the future potential of online gaming. Your eyes see a 1080p resolution on a 7-inch OLED screen. It keeps track of your head movements and relays them to the game, introducing some amazing possibilities. For the most part this technology is still in the testing phase of its development, only being released to game developers to work with, but should be coming out for consumer use in late 2014 or 2015.

How Does it Work for Poker

As noted initially, poker and traditional gaming doesn’t really go together, but virtual reality might just make it feasible. Not only would it be fairly simple to build a realistic poker game (compared to other video games), it would be able to add some of the environment that online players often miss.

Some players are unable to play live due to disabilities or sickness, while others are simply too far away or have no way of getting to a nearby casino or game. A virtual reality headset would allow you to immediately be immersed in a live poker situation.

Another way to think of this type of gaming is as a hybrid between live and online poker. You can combine the best aspects of online poker, with the look and feel of live poker, essentially getting the best of both worlds.

A likely setup would be to combine a virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift (or any of its competitors) with a gaming system with motion-sensing capability like the Xbox One’s Kinect. This would allow you to not only look around and sense the environment, but to interact with real chips and hand movements. Until the holodeck from Star Trek is invented, this will be the closest you will get to immersive poker in your own home.

While all this could still be a year or two off before it comes a reality, the fact that pieces are in motion means that this is a very real and exciting possibility for poker players around the world.

Russia Taking Action Against Online Poker

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

online poker ban in russia

Image via Flickr by Chingster23

If the past has taught us anything, it’s that the legality of poker will fluctuate time and time again. The United States has been the big example in recent years, but as legislation improves in the U.S., online poker is taking a hit in russia.

On March 21, 2014, all of Russia’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have prevented customers from accessing over 600 gambling related websites. This includes all of the well known sites like Poker Stars, Party Poker, Titan Poker and Unibet.

The strange thing with this sudden takedown is that the order being cited as the reason for action was given almost a year ago, in June of 2013. Pokerstars.com was blocked last year in September as part of this order, but had since existed through Pokerstars.net/ru.

Another point of note is that while people in Russia cannot access these websites, client functionality is still working for the time being, which means you may not have noticed any changes at the table. This will limit the amount of new players being able to sign up and is overall a step in the wrong direction for poker players in Russia.

This blockage was largely unexpected, as it is not illegal in many jurisdictions in Russia to play online poker. What remains uncertain is whether this is part of a larger plan to eradicate online gambling in the country, or if this is simply an action taken based on existing policies.

Gaming Intelligence claims to have inside sources, which led them to write “while a limited number of gaming domains currently appear on the list, it is believed that this is the start of a much wider crackdown on online gambling,” earlier this week.

If you don’t live in Russia you may not think this is a big deal, but just as Black Friday took a toll on the poker industry as a whole, blocking online poker in Russia could have a significant effect. A smaller player base affects everyone, and it could lead to legality issues in countries that have close ties to Russia.

While there isn’t much you can do right now to support Russian players, let this serve as a reminder to get involved and support online poker in your Country whenever legality issues are discussed. Poker is a fair game of skill and should be treated as such.

Is Poker Still Beatable in 2014?

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Image via Flickr by Chingster23

There’s no doubt that if you ask any poker player that’s been around since online poker began that he’ll tell you poker has gotten significant tougher to beat. There are a few main reasons that win-rates are decreasing and disappearing.

The Players have Improved

There are more excellent training resources than there ever has been in the past. When I began playing in 2006, Doyle Brunson’s book Super System was considered to be the holy grail of poker knowledge. There’s still a lot of quality information in it, but it’ll only get you part of the way to becoming a winning poker player in today’s games.

The ways people can learn have also improved. Instead of reading books, players can watch videos of top players and learn what and how they think. Poker software allows for sophisticated analysis of your play to identify where you are losing money. A dedicated beginner can now reach a decent level of play in a very short time.

Fewer New Players

While there will always be new players learning the games and recreational players just trying to have fun, there are less beginners who lose money when they play. This is due to several reasons, mainly that poker is no longer the ‘new’ thing that had a significant excitement factor when it was first announced.

You should also take into account the effect that ‘Black Friday’ had on online poker as a whole. The average American has more disposable cash than almost any average person in other countries. When Americans were banned from online poker, the games instantly got more difficult. It is possible in the future for it to be fully legalized, but for now you have to live in America to play on the sites that allow them, which aren’t necessarily any easier to win at.

The Rakes Have Increased

Years ago when poker sites were trying to attract as many players as possible the rakes were lower. You paid less to the site when entering tournaments and you paid a smaller tax on winning pots in cash games. Since the amount of new players signing up for poker has slowed down in recent years, sites have increased the rake to make more profit.

Now a few cents a pot doesn’t seem like it would have a huge effect on your win-rate, but when you consider that most players only win a small amount per session, an increase in rake can turn a winning player into a losing player.

Can You Win in 2014?

Winning is still possible, but it is also a lot more difficult. Players who don’t spend time improving their game over the years could find that they fall behind the average and become losing players.

For new players there is a much steeper learning curve, but if you approach the game with an intense desire to learn, you will be able to absorb enough to become a winning player faster than ever before.

Easier Ways to Win

When games become tougher it makes skills like table selection even more important. Learning advanced techniques that allow you to dominate at a level will allow you to sustain the winrate you’ve always desired or had in the past.

The alternative is to switch the game that you play. Texas Hold’em in particular has become fairly saturated with a lot of expert training material available. Switching to a newer form of poker where even the best players still aren’t that good is one of the best ways to increase your win-rate. If you’re a new player you start off at the same level as everyone else, but if you are an experienced poker player there are a lot of transferable skills that will help you become a winner in no time.

The bottom line is that if you want to keep winning at poker, which is becoming more difficult over time, you need to adapt your game and improve or find an game at an earlier stage of development to beat.

Play-Money Chip Stealer Jailed

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

A British court has sentenced Ashley Mitchell to two years in prison for hacking into Zygna’s poker application after which he stole some 400 billion chips. Zygna is a Facebook application where users play poker with chips that have no direct value. Mitchell found some value in the 400 billion he stole, however. He sold close to a third of the chips on eBay for $85,000. Zygna allows players to purchase chips for use at their virtual tables. The company said the price tag for buying 400 billion chips in a legitimate manner would have been $12 million.

Mitchell, a 29 year old IT expert, pled guilty to charges of converting criminal property and violating the Computer Misuse Act. His attorney informed the court that his crimes stemmed from a gambling addiction. The judge in the case wasn’t buying it. During sentencing, he said, “People rely on computer systems. Anyone who has managed to get into these systems for their own ends should expect a stiff sentence.”

Although Zygna has no real-money poker tables, their 38 million users technically means they have the largest pool of poker players than any single site. They are the only authorized seller of Zygna poker chips meaning discount markets and eBay auctions like the one Mitchell used to distribute his stolen chips are illegal.

How to Start a Poker Blog

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

So you wanna start a poker blog? That’s cool. Blogging can be a great way to gain a fan base, chronicle your path as a poker player, or even just release some frustration. I’ve maintained a poker blog for nearly three years now. One thing it’s taught me is that blogging isn’t easy. It’s given me a greater appreciation for poker bloggers like Daniel Negreanu and Shannon Shorr. Delivering good content on such a regular basis is harder than it might seem!

The first thing to determine if you want to start a blog is whether to do it on a standalone URL or host through a site like Blogger. Both sides have their pros and cons. With a standalone URL, you’ll have a little more flexibility as well as a cooler URL. The downside is that it costs money for the URL (about $10) and hosting (varies, but you shouldn’t have to pay more than a few dollars per month). Blogger is free.

If you are serious about starting a poker blog that you hope to direct a lot of traffic to, I would recommend a standalone URL and the blogging software WordPress which will give you way more flexibility with regards to customizing your site than Blogger. If you’re not taking the blog too seriously and are just doing it for fun, using the free site Blogger might be a better option for you.

Once you have your blog set-up, it’s time to start writing content. If you want to maintain a blog that generates a lot of interested, returning readers, here are a few tips:

1. Don’t focus too much on specific poker hands. All poker players have ran Kings into Aces. All poker players have seen an opponent hit a two outter on the river for a big pot. This doesn’t really make for interesting blog material. As a rule of thumb, I would avoid complaining extensively about bad beats if you hope to keep readers interested. For that matter, try to avoid talking too much about your specific poker sessions. Blog entries that contain nothing but updates on your $0.25/$0.50 session with hand histories and complaining just aren’t very interesting. Try to talk about poker in a more broad sense. Share your opinion on the latest current events in poker or give readers tips to help them succeed. For example, if you’re a really good 5 Card Draw player, talk about 5 Card Draw strategy, not just the results of your sessions.

2. Less is more. Avoid the temptation to be long-winded. The shorter and more concise your entries are, the more likely readers will read the entire entry and one day return to your blog.

3. Try to swap links with other bloggers. If you want traffic generated to your blog, you’ll need lots of links. Poker bloggers are often keen to the idea of linking to your blog if you’ll link to theirs in return.

4. Post interesting videos and images (while obeying copyright laws, of course). A picture is worth a thousand words. A video is worth ten thousand. Use this to your advantage.

5. Write in an organized, logical structure. Take this numbered list for example. It is laid out logically and straightforward with the main point emphasized in bold letters. Readers are much more likely to make it this far in the entry than they would be if it was just long paragraph after long paragraph.

6. Update as often as you reasonably can. The hardest part of blogging, as you’ll discover, is keeping your blog current. Make every effort you can to post an update at least once a week. Blogs that go long periods without being updated quickly fall out of people’s minds.

If you are interested in starting a poker blog and would like some assistance, PokerTips.org can help. We can either a.) set up a blog for you on a standalone URL or b.) set up a blog for you on a PokerTips domain (example: lordk.pokertips.org). In exchange for this we only ask for permission to post an occasional link to PokerTips on your blog. Just like I mentioned in point #3 about the value of links going to your poker blog, they’re valuable to us as well! If you’re interested in this, email me at cory[AT]pokertips[DOT]org or send me a private message, I’m “Ozone” on our poker forums, and I would be happy to help you get started.