Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pondering the Aftermath

Update: The official statement is, apparently, that Full Tilt and Pokerstars have reached an agreement with the DoJ and will return all US players money, as well as continue service outside the United States, presumably in exchange for obscene amounts of money in fines.

However, at this point, the DoJ is saying "hey, we don't want your money, we'll make sure FT gives it back" while FT says "Hey, we want to give you your money, but the DoJ has it and won't give it up.

It's probably a waiting game at this point.


Friday April 15 is certain to become a legendary date in online poker history, as the United States Department of Justice issued a scathing indictment against three major poker sites: Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute/Ultimate Bet.

With the apparent removal of 20bb tables from Party Poker, Pokerstars and Full Tilt are rapidly becoming not only the best places to play, but the o
nly places, if you're a short stack player. If you're an American, then it's no choice at all.

I wish there was more that could be said on the topic, but for now it's all questions and no answers. It's unclear as to when (if) American players will be able to access their bankrolls on these sites, and these poker giants are currently blasted with epic volumes of customer e-mail, and hesitant to change customer addresses (I suspect their suspicions may be aroused by the thousands who allegedly managed to relocate outside the U.S. mere days after the announcement.)

For the record, my next blog post wasn't going to be about this at all. It was going to be about the importance of taking time off from your regular poker play. I guess I jinxed us all, because we're all getting a bit of time off. Even if you're not an American player, game quantity is shrinking and shifting considerably.

For those of you that don't know, I currently live in South Korea. My wife and I went on vacation to the port city of Busan, famed for its beautiful beaches. Yep, that means Asian swimsuit girl post-savers.

Thanks a lot, Department of Justice.

So for now, we wait.

I'm one of the "lucky" few, planning on moving to Canada in the next few months anyway to rebuild. How to rebuild is still a big question. It's a question that will likely remain unanswered in the coming weeks, as the dust on this won't settle anytime soon.

Good luck everyone, no matter how your poker is (or isn't) going. If the poker community can use their collective "one time" to find a strong way through this, I'd submit now is the time to bust it out.




Saturday, April 9, 2011

No Joke This Time- Short Stack Revolution Video 5 is Now Free

I decided to offer the segment titled Single Caller IP 1 as a free sample. No need to worry about getting Fricke Rolled this time, just CLICK HERE and fill out the form and you will be provided a special link for download.

Feel free to leave some comments here, but only after you have watched it. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Building True Loyalty in Online Poker



I read recently on Bill Rini's excellent blog which covers the online poker industry that the concept of "Loyalty" programs are a complete joke.  Poker is essentially a commodity business so most players will rationally act in their own self-interest and respond to whoever offers them the best financial incentives.  I generally agreed with this but got to thinking about ways that this could be changed.

Of course, when we are referring to loyalty programs, this generally only applies to players of the high volume nature.  While liquidity from recreational players is ranked the highest in terms of value, we still can't overlook the role played by high volume regulars whose play is necessary to run the engine that grinds recreational money down into rake for the site.

I received my Full Tilt Black Card in November.  I was fully expecting it to be just another piece of laminated card board, but was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a credit card shaped piece of painted steel with my name inscribed on it.  I know it's kind of cheesy, but I couldn't help but feel a little bit of pride while feeling it's weight in my hand.  Kind of like a trophy, I always thought.

On the surface, this can also be said of many of the items with Full Tilt's logo that can be found littered throughout their store, but herein lies the problem: once you have items that can be exchanged for points in lieu of cash based rewards that can be purchased with the same points, you have forever tainted the symbolic value of those items.  Let me explain:

Rakeback Nation has a great rewards system that offers items that can be exchanged for points built up by generating rake.  Unlike items bought at an online poker store for points, getting these items does not deduct from your rakeback in any way.  Similarly, there are no optional bonuses or gift cards that you have to pass up.  What does this mean?  This means that I can thoroughly enjoy the Kindle that I "achieved" without having to feel like I paid for it. 


While Full Tilt can counter that they offer a special avatar or watch for those who finish first in their FTOPS or Mini-FTOPS events respectively, since everyone understands that only one winner gets to enjoy these symbolic items and that there is a certain amount of luck needed to achieve them, they are not an appropriate way to incentivize play.  In the same vein, having your handle being listed on any kind of anonymous monthly leaderboard only to have it swept away the following month doesn't feel like your accomplishments are exactly being appreciated, either.  And just how are they recognizing such achievements?  By offering cash and buy in tokens, of course!  Once again, Bill Rini is right: all the sites are doing this and again reducing their product into a commodity business.  While this might be good for future advertisements of one's coaching services, it doesn't exactly appeal to someone's emotions and sense of loyalty.

Here is my proposition:  the sites should begin mailing out actual trophies and plaques that recognize personal, stakewide, and sitewide milestones that are achievable to anyone who grinds hard enough.  Furthermore, they should offer a permanent place on the site for a "Hall of Fame" for various achievements where a player can choose to be awarded with a photo and their real name.  Here are some suggestions:

Stakewide and Sitewide (based on minimum number of hands played):

  • Most hands played
  • Most money earned
  • Highest winrate
  • Most first place finishes
  • Most knockouts
  • Most cashes
  • Most final tables

Personal:

  • $10k in career winnings
  • $100k in career winnings, etc.
  • $10M in total wagers, etc.  (doesn't mean much, but makes you look a total baller)
  • 100k hands played in a month, etc.
  • Best poker blog ;)

It is no secret in business that people have bigger needs than just wanting more money- they want full appreciation for the work that they do.  Most of the work done by poker players is never recognized in any formal way- even for those at the top of their craft.  What player do you know that wouldn't want a special trophy room dedicated to honoring his achievements in a way that his friends and family can understand?  And how do you think they would feel towards the site that finally acknowledged such performances in a tangible way?

Let me know what you think!