Archive for the ‘Poker World Commentary’ Category

Allowing Fish to Spawn

Monday, May 13th, 2013

One of the epic fails of the online poker industry has been protecting the fish. Back in the day (think 2003), there were significant player protections so newbies didn’t get completely hosed. For example, players were limited to the number of tables they could play at once (just one for awhile  at 888 Poker). Limit poker was also far more popular back then, and no limit tables were a bit of a rarity.

While limit poker is more boring than no-limit (which is why no-limit eventually won out), limit does help protect newbies from losing too much, too quickly. For example, a common newbie mistake is calling a raise cold with a non-suited ace and rag. In limit, they won’t lose their whole stack if they hit an ace but lose the hand. In no-limit, they will.

If someone calls with A6 offsuit and manages to just win by hitting an ace, they likely will win a small pot, but will lose a medium to large one. Since the variance in the size of the pots is much smaller in limit than in no-limit, this means that your wins won’t be drastically smaller than your losses. For example, if the blinds are $1-$2, winning with A6 just by hitting an ace may net you a $10-$15 or so in winnings in both limit and no-limit. However, in limit, the most you’ll likely lose with this hand is maybe $20, but one could easily lose $40+  if they don’t know any better at no limit.

With limit poker on the backburner and multi-tabling the new norm, the fish eventually died out of poker rooms. However, the past few years of prohibition in the US may allow a ‘respawning’ time. Once legalized online poker catches on (by this I mean more than just one site in Nevada… more like  people in California, New Jersey, and a couple other states playing too), there will be a significant increase of interest in poker. A lot of these people interested used to play poker back in 2004-2006 and have forgotten about how much money they may have lost back then.

With all of this dead time in the poker world, recreational players will be able to muster the courage to give it a go again. I don’t think we’ll have a boom similar to the first poker boom, but we’ll certainly have an increase in casual players. Hopefully though, the poker rooms will build in some player protections (the number of tables someone can play at once, disabling tracking software/player notes, or pushing limit poker again, etc.), so that the fish don’t go the way of the dodo again.

Real-Money Online Poker Launches in Nevada

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Legal online poker has finally arrived in the U.S., at least for 1% of its population.

The state of Nevada’s legal online poker market officially launches today at 9:00 am local time when Ultimate Poker will begin accepting deposits. Ultimate Poker is a subsidiary of Station Casinos LLC. Their namesake, which has drawn raised eyebrows from some in the poker community due to it’s similarity to the scandal-ridden site Ultimate Bet, is owed to a partnership with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Ultimate Poker recently signed poker’s all-time leader in live tournament winnings, Antonio Esfandiari, as an ambassador of the site.

Ultimate Poker will accept business from anyone 21 years of age or older provided they are located within Nevada’s geographical borders. The company will triangulate signals from the mobile devices of their customers to confirm geographic compliance. Players can deposit using a MasterCard, bank transfer, via a mailed check, or by visiting any of Nevada’s 16 Station Casinos in person.

While news of legal real-money online poker launching in the U.S. carries symbolic importance, there remains a huge hill to climb for the game’s state of prohibition to come to an end in the U.S.; just under 1% of U.S. residents call Nevada their home.

Online Gaming Legalized in New Jersey

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Online gaming proponents in the United States scored arguably their biggest victory this week when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into a law a bill to legalize online gambling within the state’s borders.

The bill will allow Atlantic City casinos to operate online gambling sites including online poker rooms for residents of New Jersey. The state joins Nevada and Delaware as the only places in the U.S. with some form of legal online gaming.

Governor Christie vetoed a similar bill two years ago and conditionally vetoed this bill just weeks ago requesting some minor changes before signing it into law.

The new bill will pave way the way for PokerStars to re-enter the U.S. market; in January, the leading online poker room agreed to purchase the fledgling Atlantic Club Casino in Atlantic City.

It is not yet apparent when the first online poker games will go live in New Jersey, but it should be expected that the licensing process for gaming operators will take several months at a minimum.

New Jersey Gov. Christie Conditionally Vetoes Online Poker Bill

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Legal online poker could be coming soon to New Jersey. Yesterday, the state’s governor, Chris Christie, conditionally vetoed a bill that would have legalized online poker in his state. The news is seen as a positive step by online poker advocates. Two years ago, Christie outright vetoed a similar bill.

By conditionally vetoing the bill, Christie has indicated he objects to parts of the bill but is open to passing an amended form of the bill. The Internet gaming bill will now be redrafted by the state’s legislature with Christie’s recommended changes which are said to be fairly minor in nature. A primary element of Christie’s conditional veto include increasing the taxes on operators from 10% to 15% and creating a 10 year expiry date on the bill which would require the state to re-establish it as law in the next decade.

State Senator Ray Lesniak, the sponsor of the bill, anticipates the state’s legislative bodies will approve the changes to the bill within the next two weeks.

Not only is this news a positive step for proponents of online gaming in New Jersey, but it also indicates a potentially positive shift in the national attitude towards the subject; Christie is considered a potential Republican candidate for President in 2016. Christie’s willingness to endorse online gaming could have a ripple effect on others in his party who have historically been online gaming’s biggest detractors.

PokerStars Play Money Games Arrive at Facebook

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

In the world of play money Texas hold’em poker on Facebook, Zynga now has a competitor with a pretty good reputation: PokerStars.

The world’s largest real-money online poker room announced today that their play money-only “.net” version of their games will now be available through a Facebook app. The Facebook app will pair players from PokerStars mobile and desktop software games. Additionally, PokerStars’ “Zoom Poker” interface will be available through the Facebook app. Zoom Poker is a fast-paced style of online poker where upon folding a hand players are immediately moved into another game where a new hand awaits them.

PokerStars’ Facebook play-money games will permit players to send chips to their Facebook friends. One could expect the influx of new play-money activity on PokerStars through this new Facebook app to result in an uptick in the real-money action on the “.com” version of the site’s games.

Howard Lederer Settles with DOJ, Admits No Wrongdoing

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Howard Lederer’s troubles with the U.S. government in the wake of Full Tilt Poker’s collapse following Black Friday appear to be behind him. The former director of Full Tilt reached a settlement yesterday with the Department of Justice through which he forfeited an unspecified dollar amount but admitted to no wrongdoing in the case.

In September, the DOJ filed a civil suit against Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Ray Bitar and Rafe Furst seeking a combined $137 million in damages from the men on the basis of their responsibility behind the Full Tilt “Ponzi scheme”. Lederer was sought personally for $42.5 million. He agreed to turn over two bank accounts of unknown value to the U.S. as well as a vintage sports car and two Las Vegas properties with a combined estimated value of $975,000. Additionally, Lederer agreed to a civil money laundering penalty of $1.25 million; he has been given the next 36 months to pay that debt in two installments.

Rafe Furst settled with the DOJ four weeks ago in a similar fashion to Lederer, by forfeiting an undisclosed sum and admitting no wrongdoing. Bitar and Ferguson’s civil cases remain pending.

In the Howard Lederer settlement with DOJ court document, ‘The Professor’ maintains that Full Tilt Poker “was a legitimate business providing services to its customers within the bounds of the law.” As part of the settlement, Lederer also agreed to have no part of any business that derives money from online gambling in the United States until he obtains the appropriate authorization from all relevant government authorities.

Former U.S. customers of Full Tilt Poker remain without word from the government as to how they can process a claim on the money they are entitled to following the PokerStars buyout of Full Tilt Poker.

Next Few Months Hold Potential For US Poker Legislation

Friday, December 14th, 2012

The good thing about the state of US online poker is that it really can’t get any worse. Sure, there is the bright spot of Nevada online poker, which should be coming online in the next few months. But Nevada is less than 1% of the total US population. Getting excited about just poker in Nevada is like getting excited about legalized online poker in Finland.

There’s a few potential big developments coming soon that could really help the industry.


The grandaddy of them all has some potential. Two key Republican senators, Senator Kyl (the original anti-online gambling crusader turned ‘poker is okay if we crack down on the others guy) and Senator Heller (from Nevada), confirmed that they believe they have enough Republican senate votes to get pro-online poker legislation passed if it is attached on to something else. Of course, there needs to be something to attach it to, like the UIGEA was attached to the SAFE Ports Act. The PPA has been quoted that they aren’t terribly optimistic that there is a piece of legislation that can work (any sort of fiscal cliff bill is likely off limits) and the partisan divide is so tough that getting anything through seems to be a stretch.

But hey, there’s two ways to look at that. One is that since the PPA is always optimistic, the fact that they’re pessimistic means we shouldn’t really hold out much hope for anything soon. The other way to look at it is that since the PPA is generally wrong, maybe they’re wrong about being pessimistic and something actually will happen.


A bill legalizing poker in California will be introduced next week. This bill has a very good shot at getting through since the pesky Indian tribes that have slowed things down in the past seem to not be a problem anymore. California already has legal brick and mortar poker, a major budget deficit, a huge population base,  and a general liberal stance towards the Internet and poker. If we get legal online poker in California, then that will be huge.

Not only is the raw size of California important for the poker world, it’s likely other states will copy what California does. Nevada is viewed as some degenerate gambling state by most, so just because they pass something, it doesn’t mean other states will copy. On the other hand, California is often a model. After all, everything ‘cool’ seems to start out in California whether conservatives like it or not. If this can get passed, even if the federal bill fails, this will be huge for the poker industry in my opinion.

New Jersey

New Jersey acted like they were going to get legal online poker done before Nevada. They didn’t. But now they’re going to try again anyways.

A bill recently passed in the New Jersey committee and should see both New Jersey House and Senate action by Christmas. It remains to be seen whether Chris Christie would veto this bill or not. He may have his sights set on the GOP nomination for presidency and may wish to cater to the base, but look at what catering to the base ultimately did to Romney’s presidential bid. Sort-of-but-not-really close, definitely no cigar in the general election.

New Jersey is somewhere in between Nevada and California in terms of importance. It’s bigger than Nevada but still has that ‘gambling degenerate’ state label as viewed by other states. PokerStars seems to think New Jersey is important enough that they may buy a land based casino there so they’ll be eligible to offer online poker in the state.

Mobile App Replaces Deck of Cards

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Don’t have a deck of cards laying around? No worries, there’s an app for that. As long as you have $1.99 and an iPhone or iPad for every player in the game, playing cards are officially obsolete.

Bold Poker replaces a deck of cards with iPhones. Have a look at their promotional video to see how it works:

The Bold Poker app requires an iOS-based device for every player in the game plus one to be used for the community cards. So a five-player poker home game played with the Bold Poker app would require six iOS devices, such as five iPhones and an iPad or some other combination, plus the $1.99 app download.

It’s a lot of electronic equipment and set-up needed to circumvent a good ol’ fashioned deck of playing cards. But no longer will anyone be able to claim your poker game is anything less than state-of-the-art. However, Bold Poker currently is yet to support other features like keeping track of bets and chip counts.

One of your home game players prefers the Android platform? Screw him. Apple users only is Bold Poker’s philosophy as their product is currently available only in the iTunes store. Visit Bold Poker for more.

Danish Poker Pro Shot During Home Robbery

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Danish news magazine Ekstra Bladet is reporting that three masked men invaded the home of poker pro Theo Jorgensen and shot him in the leg three times during the robbery. Jorgensen’s injuries are not expected to be life-threatening.

The attack occurred last evening in Jorgensen’s home some 20 kilometers outside of Copenhagen. Three masked men robbed Jorgensen of the U.S. dollars and Euros he had in his home and shot him in the leg three times while his wife looked on. Jorgensen is recovering in a Denmark hospital and is listed in stable condition.

Jorgensen is ranked third on the all-time Denmark poker winnings list behind Gus Hansen and Peter Eastgate. Roughly a quarter of his career gross poker tournament winnings came from a victory in the WPT Grand Prix de Paris in 2010 for $850,000.

Today, Jorgensen made a brief statement on his Facebook page in the Danish language. When translated, it reads:

Dear all,

It is important to me to emphasize that I am a careful man. I was prepared mentally and practically that this situation could happen, to protect myself and my family against people from the outside. I know that people can have a misconception about how much cash I have in my home. I have alarms, always as little cash as possible and generally take my precautions. Unfortunately, that was not enough.

Under the circumstances I am fine and want to focus on taking care of my family so we can get through this.


Our thoughts are with Theo and his family as they recover from this shocking and unfortunate incident.

Pokertox: Botox for Poker Players

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

The Huffington Post recently featured an article on botox for poker players called “Pokertox” introduced by Dr. Jack Berdy.

Berdy believes that poker players are the next big market for botox. His process involves consulting with poker players to determine what they believe are their major “facial” tells. Berdy is hoping to create a niche market of poker pros who come to him for botox refills every three to four months.

Berdy should have consulted with some poker players before launching these services so someone could have told him the idea is stupid as hell. “So far, no one has signed up for the service,” says the Huffington Post article. What a shock! Dr. Berdy should expect that market trend to continue indefinitely.

There have been plenty of bad poker ideas over the years, but Pokertox might be the worst one we’ve heard yet.

Click here for the full story from Huffington Post.