Back to blogging, back to work.

July 25th, 2016

Time to re-birth this blog, it had a lot of traffic at one time. I’m about to embark on a new journey.

Life is just a ride.

Is Bovada legit? Who cares. BetAmerica is 100% Legal!

October 4th, 2013

OK first before I get into this, playing online poker or placing bets online, as a US Citizen, is not illegal in most US States. But what is illegal is the taking of US citizens money for iGaming sites as per the 2006 passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

And let’s be clear, the UIGEA is about transferring money, not granting or prohibiting any type of gambling. HOWEVER…

and this is a big however. A really big

However, there were two exceptions to UIGEA:

1. pari-mutuel wagering
2. fantasy contests where the prize pool is given in advance and the outcome is from indivduals from more than one real life event. (aka – not the same game!)

Are the only two legal contests to be played for real money, online, in the US. (except for Poker in Nevada, but that’s another story.)

And thus, I bring you, BetAmerica. The first US iGaming website to offer everything legal for US iGaming.

Yes, I work there. I love it there, we are building something new. Honestly, it’s 1999 on the internet again since this is all new to the US.

We are having some Guaranteed contests this weekend for our FanEx Sports product:

$1 entry – $400 pick 3, QB, RB, WR using standard scoring.
$5.50 – $2000 QB Throwdown (pick 3 QB) – using Easyscore (just passing yards)

So if you like the NFL and you like money, give it a try. It’s fun. It’s legal. It’s easy.

Sign up now – Click HERE.

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Someone is wrong on the internet… (HU games.)

September 1st, 2012

Recently, I was involved in a “disucssion” about how Heads-Up games impact the poker economy. The entire discussion can be found here: Merge quietly eliminates most of limit holdem tables(WARNING: the link is to NVG on 2p2.)

Cliffs: Merge takes away some HULHE tables, regular poster, player, respected community member, Gildwulf makes a post about it, I reply, “Awesome” and then I basically continue to be adamant and rather strong worded without any really back up to my words. I am also called some names (fwiw, I used strong language, was condescending but no names.)

OK so here is what I was really trying to say:

We live in the world of Big Data. This is an technology buzz word for what is really an emerging industry of analysis using computers, specifically algorithms to come up with some hypothosis to how to improve things.

Big Data, The Moving Parts Fast DataBig Data – Flow

Your every move is being tracked.

That’s just the way it is. And this will only continue to grow going forward.

This is almost certainly true for online poker as well.

The Merge network operators did not wake up, pour a cup of coffee, head to the office and throw a dart at a board and then eliminate these heads up tables.

What likely happened is that they analyzed the data. What data specifically? For starters:

  • Who wins.
  • How much do they win.
  • At what rate do they win it.
  • What games are they playing.
  • What type of opponents do they play.
  • Are their opponents long time players, first time players, etc
  • How much are their opponents depositing.
  • How long does that deposit last.
  • How much rake is generated at these games.
  • How many tables run daily.
  • How many players play the games.
  • How fast do the winners win.
  • How fast do the winners lose.
  • And I could go on and on and on…
  • All the data is collected by a computer and out pops and answer after months (or even years) of analysis. They then discuss how to do this with holding their customers happiness high, without making changes to fast, and without trying to make a big stir of things, etc.

    Now, what I wrote here is just a snippet of what goes on.  (Well, what *should* go on.)

    The goal of the poker network is to make money. They make money by collecting rake. They need players to play there to collect the rake. They need players to play longer if they want to increase what the poker site earns.

    I dont have any of the Big Data, but I can tell you that HU online players have been chewing up recreational players for years. I also played and still play some HU now and then, it’s easier money when you get the action. (Waiting for the action is s skill among its self btw.)

    So HU players feel threatened when here are changes to this system. One of those changes was the publishing of information, specifically strategy, on how to play Heads up. This happened around 2006-07 when the online poker training sites, to which I am one of the founders of a major one, started popping up. There are about a dozen or so sites today, housing a few hundred coaches in a variety of games.

    As the former COO of DeucesCracked.com, I had access to data. I cannot go into specifics for obvious reasons. But what I can tell you is that the amount of online professionals out there is tremendously small to the amount of players trying to learn how to play.

    Poker is HARD.
    It takes a lot of WORK.
    Many fail.

    I used golf as analogy for how poker coaching does not effect the poker economy as much as many of the retractors think it does. Yes, good players have been produced from online poker training. The regulars in the games have seen these players grow and get better. The regulars play with them everyday. They see them everyday. Why? They are GOOD at poker. This very small subset of players that succeed all know each other names, why? Good players do not go broke and stick around.

    What they DONT remember is the amount of players that watched those videos and gave it a “try.” Those that took shots thinking just watching a video was enough. Just having a subscription is not enough, you have to WORK. We say this all the time at DeucesCracked, you have to put the work in.

    Online poker coaches and video training is just another tool. You have to do the work regardless to succeed.

    So why the golf analogy?

    With 28,000 PGA pros, most teach, 100s of golf schools and there are MILLIONS of videos, yet only 255 players have won money on the PGA tour this year (and the season is almost over).

    Let me say that again, only 255 players have won money on the PGA tour.

    At this high level, all those players have physical skill sets where the average golfer could not tell the difference. If you played one round with the top 500 golfers in the world, you would be awe stuck on how they hit the ball. You would also likely not be able to tell the difference between them all. Yes, some do drive farther, putt better, ball strike better than the others but when it gets to that level the differences are subtle. A lot of golf is mental.

    If you do not think so, just think of leading the British Open only to bogey the last four holes to lose it on the final day. Did Adam Scott suddenly not have the physical ability for those last four holes?

    I think not.

    That about ends my rant and with all that being said, I’m sorry for being a general douchnozzle in the thread.

    Good luck,
    Joe

     

     

     

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    Rumor PokerStars buys FullTilt. – The great mashup.

    April 24th, 2012

    NOTE: this is just a great mash up of the best sources out there on the topic.

    Early this morning a thread appeared on the TwoPlusTwo forums: Big News: PokerStars Purchases FTP(?) – the reaction was not serious at first but if you move a few posts down you can see NoahSD (respected poker community leader and confidant (and personal friend)), adds that the thread should be left open and possibly taken serious.

    The news then followed, like wildfire:

    Via PokerFuse: PokerStars Reaches Agreement to Buy Full Tilt, Settle with DOJ.

    Via PokerUpdate: Pokerstars purchase Full Tilt Poker.

    Via iGaming Post: Groupe Bernard Tapie fail in FTP purchase

    Via PokerStrategy: Full Tilt Takeover – Tapie Group Out, PokerStars In? [+ FTP Attorney Statement]

    PokerStrategy again: GBT Attorney Behnam Dayanim Explains Situation to PokerStrategy.com

    Via iGaming Business: PokerStars buys Full Tilt.

    Via Bluff Magazine: Tapie Abandons Full Tilt Poker Acquisition; PokerStars Steps Up?

    Via iGaming Post again: PokerStars/FTP Latest – Back in the US soon & players paid in 90 days!

    Then finally on the PokerStars Corporate Blog – POKERSTARS’ STATEMENT REGARDING SETTLEMENT DISCUSSIONS

    Lastly – The GBT Repayment Plan, Fact vs Fiction – via @Diamond_Flush

    Its of no coincidence, in my opinion, that the rumor was launched as the Global Gaming Summit and Expo kicked off in San Francisco this morning.

    So what do I suggest?

    Keep watching:

    PokerStars Corporate Blog and PokerStrategy’s News feed.*

    * PokerStrategy’s news on FTP has been fairly consistent, first to press, and accurate over the last year as a whole.

    (PokerFuse has been solid in their reporting was well.)

    Why people do not get TwoPlusTwo.

    March 22nd, 2012

    The recent banning of Daniel Negreanu from the TwoPlusTwo forums has brought this rant about why people (and smart people) just dont get TwoPlusTwo (2p2).

    Let me preface this post by telling a bit of my 2p2 story. I was lucky enough to find 2p2 from the early days I lurked for years and then finally made a post in early 2003, finding 2p2 changed the course of my life.

    Literally. (To read more of how I found 2p2 read: My Poker Story here.)

    I have learned a lot about the internet by watching the forum grow over the years. Under the UBB format (launched in Sept 2002), I am registered member 2620 and I believe 2p2 has well over 250,000 registered users now and has moved well beyond poker (maybe poker has moved on at the same time.)

    The TwoPlusTwo community has become so big that it is mapped on the internet.

    Here is what everyone frequently forgets:

    2p2 is a business.

    Yes, that’s right, it’s a business. And we all know businesses can do whatever they want with their properties. Which means that posting on 2p2 is a privilege, not a right, and with privileges comes respect for the rules.

    While the forum is fairly free to post anything from anyone when you register you agree to the Terms and Conditions. The T&C of 2p2 is set up to protect it’s business. Looking at the T&C you can clearly see that posts made to promote businesses are not allowed.

    When you have a business (and I have several) and you are part of a community (like 2p2) it’s hard not to promote your business. I have been guilty of it in the past. I know many others have as well. But in all honesty you have to be extremely naive to get banned from 2p2. They are really easy to work with. That’s right, I said it, EASY. They’ll give you warnings, they will communicate you, and when they make a decision, you have to respect it.

    It’s not that hard to understand.

    While Daniel’s Vlog has been posted on 2p2, it was posted by fans of his.. Daniel needs to stop pretending he did not know what he was doing, just read the T&C, and thank 2p2 for the warning honestly.

    If 2p2 allowed posters to promote their businesses, they would lose business, two fold. Their advertisers would not pay to advertise and the forums and would be run over by spam. Daniel remembers the days of Rec.Gambling.Poker, he knows how an unmoderated forum can be run over.

    It’s not that hard.

    Most posts on forms of social media have an underlying motive that has to do with business or ego.

    Why do you think I made this one? :-D

    Thanks for reading,
    Joe

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    Notes from iGaming North America

    March 12th, 2012

    Last week I attended iGaming North America and it was quite eye opening and exciting.

    Here are some brief notes on what I observed.

    The window for Federal regulation of online poker has likely closed for now. This was the general consensus from the conference. This certainly does not mean to drop all efforts, as contacting your US Congress person to get them to support online poker is always going to be a good idea. To find out more about contacting legislators about online poker regulation head on over to the Poker Player Alliance. The PPA makes it very easy for you to contact your representation.

    Why has the window closed?

    1. The opportunity for Federal Regulation seemingly has passed as we are now in an election year and the lame duck session has past (111th Congress 2010).

    2. The States do not want Federal Regulation. See “States want Internet gaming left to them” published during the conference.

    3. State have to focus internally, as you can imagine, with current gaming regulations and bodies, including B&M casinos and Tribal authorities.

    Now the race for States is on to lead the way in online poker (and gaming) regulation. See: “Nevada confident to win race to be first State to offer online poker.”

    There are a good dozen or so States leading the way and that list (in no real order but some piority) includes:

    Nevada, Iowa, New Jersey, California, Mississippi, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Hawaii, New York.

    NOTE: this list consider states discussing lottery ticket sales online as well.

    There is still plenty of talk of online poker regulation on the Federal Level. Any talk is good talk, the more in the public the subject is the better.

    See this video: Fmr. Sen. Al D’Amato on Legalizing Online Poker on Fox Business last Friday, March 9th.

    If I get a chance I’ll try to put up some more notes. Feel free to email me or follow me on twitter:

    Thanks for reading,
    Joe

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    iGaming North America

    March 1st, 2012

    I will be in Vegas starting this weekend and through Wednesday to attend iGaming North America.

    If you are going to out there and would like to meet up: feel free to email me or follow me on twitter:

    I created a iCal for the conference, just simple titles and times, you can download it here: iGaming NA iCal.

    Travel safe,
    Joe

    Online poker chat box gold mining.

    February 23rd, 2012

    Imagine: you are a kitchen appliance maker, you sell innovative machines for cooking, people use them at home.

    And you can sit in their kitchen and listen to talking about your products.

    Imagine: you sell running shoes, there is a marathon group that uses them.

    And you can listen to the entire group before, during, and after the marathon as they wear your shoes.

    Imagine: you make cookies, groups buy them and meet to discuss your new flavors.

    And you can be a silent “eye in the sky” listening it to them discuss your cookies.

    Online poker rooms can do everything listed above, but how?

    For years online poker chat boxes have been key attractions to recreational players. The chat box is often the sole reasons for some players to keep returning to playing poker. Not convinced? People have met and married through online poker chat rooms. Just think of how many conversations have happened over online poker chat rooms, returning day after day, so much where couples are saying “I do”!

    From the play-money tables to the highest stakes, the chat-box has been the source of socializing during online poker. During these conversations the online poker room and it’s products are being discussed. Players are talking about everything from how the cards are being dealt, to security, to competitors products, to what they feel and think about your brand.

    This is GOLD. This is an online marketers dream. Companies pay big money for such feedback. And it’s all right there for online poker rooms, sitting in their text files of the chat rooms.

    How do sites find and use the data?

    First, I highly recommend listening to: Freakonomics Radio Podcast: How Biased Is Your Media? and reading the ensuing blog post for an actual example on how words become data.

    I could write series of blog posts about what online poker rooms should be looking for and how they can use and analyze the data but here is short list of keywords online poker rooms can search for:

    Deposit
    Security
    Algorithm
    Rigged
    Credit Card
    Real Money
    Gamble
    Software

    Online poker rooms can find conversations about these issues above, it’s all right in the chat logs! The list could go on and on to include phrases and combinations of keywords, the discussion around them, and the ideas of the customers involved in these conversations, etc, etc.

    The gold is in the chat box conversations. Just got get it!

    If you have any topics you would like to discuss or hear more about free free to email me and don’t forget to follow me on twitter:

    Thanks for reading,
    Joe

    Make sure you check out my previous post: Three things operators need to improve games, for more on topics like these.

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    RIP player to player transfers and $1k/$2k HORSE story.

    February 16th, 2012

    I read recently on LegalPokerSites, Player to Player transfers will not be allowed according to the State of Nevada’s Minimum Internal Control Standards. I cannot blame them, player to player transfers are an open door the wrong people to abuse.

    Player to player transfers opened up around 2004 (I am guessing here). I remember playing on Pacfic and PokerRoom in 2000-2003 and then Paradise and Party from 2003-2005 but I believe (correct me if I’m wrong) there were not any player to player transfers. I’m not sure who was first to implement them and I did not think too much about it at the time as I assumed it would be well regulated by the poker sites.

    Then around 2008, especially on Full Tilt and PokerStars, player to player transfers were very very common. Which leads me to a personal story on how crazy the whole online poker boom of the mid-2000s really was.

    After watching some football at my brothers house, my wife was driving my family home when my phone rang. It was the high-stake player, FoxwoodsFiend, who is a friend and a DeucesCracked coach. The conversation goes something like this:

    FWF: Hey Joe, what are you doing?
    me: Driving home after a family party, you?
    FWF: Not much, you want to play some poker tonight?
    me: Ummm, sure, what states?
    FWF: $1000/$2000 HORSE…
    me: ……………..ummmmm, what?
    FWF: $1k/$2k HORSE on Full Tilt, the game is heads up right now, Eli Elezra and this crazy NL player, ASHMAN.

    (At the time, ASHMAN was known to really gamble it up, this was one of Ash’s first meteoric rises to high stakes. Since then, I’ve befriended Ashton and have actually coached him in mix-games.)

    me: Give me one second.

    At this time, I pulled the phone down and asked my wife it was OK she watched our then-year-old daughter and explained what was about to happen.

    me: Yes, I’ll play. I’ll need a transfer obviously.
    FWF: How much do you need?
    me: Well, I have to sit with at least 25 big bets ($50,000) and would like a little back up if it starts out slow.
    FWF: OK, no problem, I’ll get you more than enough by the time you are home.

    We then figured out our deal and I was set to play.

    So, there I was heading home to play some of the highest stake poker that was ever played online. I had about $12,000 in my Full Tilt account at the time as I played mid-stakes online.

    I got a glass of water, went to the bathroom, and sat in front of my computer. I opened up Full Tilt to find $102,000 in my account. I thought, wow, what a moment, what a unique and amazing moment.

    What would my grandfather think?

    What my grandfather, who lived through the great depression, grinded out nealy 40 years of hard work, scrapping and saving everything for his family, barely getting by at times, think of this?

    Crazy right?

    I got in there and got some good cards early, getting maximum from a few hands right away.

    We played three handed for about 15 minutes which I was a bit surprised but soon after that the game quickly filled.

    As sure enough, I eventually ended up in a tough spot against one of the better players. I did have the best seat on Eli and Ashton, which did me well for the session, but it was only a matter of time before I played a tough hand vs one of the other players. That is when I got tangled up with John D’Agostino, a very solid, east-coast player with a lot of stud-game experience.

    Full Tilt Poker $1000/$2000 Limit Razz $200 Ante – 4 players – View hand 1641825

    3rd Street: (0.8 SB)

    Eli Elezra: xx xx 9 of diamonds____Eli Elezra brings in for $300____Eli Elezra folds

    theASHMAN103: xx xx 6 of diamonds____theASHMAN103 folds

    Hero: 9 of spades 2 of hearts 5 of diamonds___Hero completes___Hero calls

    John DAgostino: xx xx 4 of hearts____John DAgostino raises

    4th Street: (5.1 SB) (2 players)

    Hero: 9 of spades 2 of hearts 5 of diamonds 8 of spades___Hero bets

    John DAgostino: xx xx 4 of hearts K of spades____John DAgostino calls

    5th Street: (3.55 BB) (2 players)

    John DAgostino: xx xx 4 of hearts K of spades 5 of spades____John DAgostino bets

    Hero: 9 of spades 2 of hearts 5 of diamonds 8 of spades 8 of hearts___Hero calls

    6th Street: (5.55 BB) (2 players)

    John DAgostino: xx xx 4 of hearts K of spades 5 of spades 7 of spades____John DAgostino bets

    Hero: 9 of spades 2 of hearts 5 of diamonds 8 of spades 8 of hearts 6 of clubs Hero has 15 seconds left to act___Hero calls

    7th Street: (7.55 BB) (2 players)

    John DAgostino: xx xx 4 of hearts K of spades 5 of spades 7 of spades xx____John DAgostino bets

    Hero: 9 of spades 2 of hearts 5 of diamonds 8 of spades 8 of hearts 6 of clubs T of hearts___Hero calls

    Final Pot: 9.55 BB

    John DAgostino shows 7 of diamonds 5 of clubs 4 of hearts K of spades 5 of spades 7 of spades A of hearts (K,7,5,4,A)

    Hero shows 9 of spades 2 of hearts 5 of diamonds 8 of spades 8 of hearts 6 of clubs T of hearts (9,8,6,5,2)

    Hero wins $19,098.

    I posted the hand on the PokerRoad forums at the time (click here), and Barry Greenstein, Daniel Negreanu, Daniel Alaei, and Isaac Haxton gave their thoughts on the hand. The hand was also heavily debated on the twoplustwo stud forum as well: Razz vs Dags.

    This was one of those moments in online poker that will likely never happen again. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time and had put in the work to be prepared to play.

    I can only dream of being in this situation again. Crazy right?

    Thanks for reading,
    Joe

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    Three things operators need to improve games.

    February 8th, 2012



    Transparency – Drive out fear.

  • Let players know how your deck is dealt. – You don’t have to publish the algorithm but there are many ways you can reach out and let players know as much as you can on how the hands are dealt. Make a video with someone who wrote the algorithm, interview them, show their background. You dont have to show the actual math but the more players know, the more secure they will feel; the more secure players feel, the more they’ll play.
  • Let players know their funds are safe. – If it comes down to flat out telling them where the funds are, tell them if you can. If there is a requirement for your licence to put funds in escrow, show them the documentation or as much as you can.

  • Social – Poker is a social game, it is one of the main reasons recreational players play. I’m sure the chat boxes of the play-money games are the most used and there is a reason for it, study it. The live poker scene is a testament to the social aspect of poker and there are some good things casinos do that can help online poker (I must note I feel strongly that online poker and live poker are different games and I’m making an exception here.)

  • Hosts – Having some extra brand (managerial) presence for your cash games would make for a more friendly place. Some sites currently do this during big final tables for MTTs; its time to do it for cash games. High-stake live games (Note: I really do not like live-game/online poker comparisons but must here) have had game-hosts for years. Live hosts get the games going, moderate them, ensure a friendly atmosphere, get the players what the need, are the bridge from the floor to the players, they are a concierge, a high-touch service for poker players and the system works well in live games, its time online poker rooms consider such a position.
  • Call the floor button – Obviously this can be easily abused so the implementation has to be carefully worked out and there are many ways to implement a call-button but that is a separate (and boring for most readers) post. However, we all agree a friendly playing ground is the best for all players. You can ensure a friendlier game if there were easier ways then emailing support while playing about in-game issues. In turn, when implemented properly, a call-button will allow players to feel more secure. More secure players play longer, playing longer is better for the games/site/poker economy, etc.

  • Educate – Those that know or want to know will play more.

  • Teach poker – Yes, I’m obviously biased having been a poker coach for the last eight years and one of the founders of the top online poker schools, DeucesCracked.com, but given from my experience over that time I have come to the conclusion that the one thing to get players to play more, is to teach them. When they have vested time and money into poker education they will play more, it’s that simple really.
  • Level the field – I know this strikes fear into most operators today and I added an excerpt below about professionals, but educating players will level the playing field, well, at LEAST it will give the feeling that the field can be leveled. Not all players will perform, no matter how much the education, as execution is difficult. However, if the playing field feels like it is leveled, it will drive out fear, driving out fear will make for a much better playing experience for recreational players.

    About Professionals

    Right now there is a lot of anti-pro sentiment from the online poker industry. Sites are blocking data-mining, removing winning players, creating anonymous tables and making other moves in the name of “recreational” players. The problem is, these moves have nothing to do with recreational players, they have everything to do with pro player and specifically are anti-professional (not pro-recreational). The success rate of professional players, with data-mining, with software, with poker coaching, with books, with HUDs, with every tool you can imagine is LOW compared to the potential player pool. It takes a lot of work, time, and effort to play professionally. You don’t have to worry about professional players so much as you have to put extra effort into recreational players.

    I started this post (over a week ago) before I found these three posts by Dominik Kofert the CEO of PokerStrategy.com. Read them here:

    View: Don’t discriminate against winning players
    View: The Secret Value of Winning Players
    View: The Future of Poker

    If you have any topics you would like to discuss or hear more about free free to email me.

    Thanks for reading,
    Joe

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