Posts Tagged ‘Games’

Unibet Pares Back High Stakes Cash Games

 Unibet Pares Back High Stakes Cash Games

It has been a while since we have heard of an online poker room cutting back its high stakes cash game offerings, but here we are again. Unibet Poker has announced that it has removed its highest level of cash game, the €800 No-Limit and Pot-Limit tables. There was not a whole lot of action at these lofty heights, but Unibet feels that their elimination is the best move for the health of its poker economy. The games were added less than a year ago, in March 2017.

Unibet’s Head of Poker David Pomroy explained:

Our main priority has always been to safeguard the ecology of our site as everything we do is ultimately built on that foundation. The addition of NL800 and PL800 had contributed to short-handed games and slightly faster loss rates of recreational players at our higher stakes. Although the situation was by no means critical, we decided it was best to act on that trend sooner rather than later. We’ll be launching a new promotion next month which will be aimed at our recreational higher stakes players and will consider restoring NL800 and PL800 in the future once we feel a sufficient support structure is in place. This decision doesn’t change our long-term ambitions to continue growing the site but right now our focus is on ensuring that we continue to offer a non-predatory environment and the most enjoyable cash games online.

Analyzing that statement a bit (and without first-hand knowledge of what the Unibet lobby has looked like of late), it looks like what was happening was that deep pocketed casual players – and what in many cases may have been “fish” – were getting destroyed at the high stakes tables. There seemed to be a couple things at play contributing to that. One was that the €800 No-Limit and Pot-Limit tables were naturally not as popular as low stakes games and were thus less populated, creating short-handed tables. Second, those that did sit at the tables are generally going to be the most skilled players. Add those two things up and you get recreational players playing short-handed games – games in which blinds come around faster and which generally require more skill than full-ring – against tough players, resulting in rec players’ accounts getting drained quickly.

Online poker rooms love high stakes recreational players, as they are the ones that lose money and have to re-deposit, but they don’t want them losing quickly and not having fun. If that happens, the players are less likely to re-deposit and keep playing. Thus the need to protect them and, in Unibet’s case, remove the highest stakes cash game tables from the lobby.

The highest stakes No-Limit and Pot-Limit games on Unibet are now €400, the same level it was a few years ago.

The post Unibet Pares Back High Stakes Cash Games appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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How Do I Get Rid of Players in Low Stakes Games?

 How Do I Get Rid of Players in Low Stakes Games?

In the world of poker, everybody starts somewhere. If it isn’t in the “free chip” games on Zynga or the different online poker sites, it is in low buy-in games online ($ .01/$ .02 cash games or cheap tournaments) or cheaper live events ($ 1/$ 2 live cash games, up to $ 100 tournaments). Wherever you might go, you will always hear a certain refrain from players that are sitting on the rail.

“I had pocket Aces and jammed it up to five times the blinds,” it often goes. “The blinds both called and we saw a flop of 4-5-7 rainbow. The blinds both checked and I put out a big bet. Guess what? They both called! A Queen came on the turn and once again the blinds checked it to me, so I fired even bigger. This time, though, the small blind check-raised me and the big blind called! I called too and, once the river came with a 10, I thought I was good. After they checked again, I put the remainder of my stack in the center and they both called! The small blind had 5-4 off suit and the big blind an A-6 off suit…what the hell are they doing?” Usually the recounting of the story ends with, “How the hell do I get RID of these idiots in the low stakes games?”

The answer? You really can’t and you really don’t want to. Yes, it is quite maddening to sit around and wait for that big pocket pair – Kings, Queens, Aces, it doesn’t matter – play it aggressively and get snapped off in the manner explained above. But let’s first look at some of the action and perhaps see if there were some warning signs that might have led you down another path of action.

Raising pre-flop normally is an indicator that you have a good starting hand and, in this circumstance, there isn’t one better than pocket Aces. If you’re in middle position (as the above player was), then if another player before and/or on the button calls you, you can pretty much give them credence for another pair or a nice big Ace (A-K, A-Q, sometimes A-J). The blinds are where the situation gets a bit hairy, however.

In the past, players in the blinds would have normally laid their hands down, deeming it not a wise investment to call off so much money and then play the hand out of position. In today’s game, though, defense of the blinds is at a premium even in the low stakes games. The reason for this is threefold.

If a blind player only has to call a small amount to see the flop, then it is worthwhile for them to take a look and see what happens. The second reason is that, by defending the blinds, the blind player puts the nugget in their opponent’s brain (for future thought) that they aren’t just going to roll over and let them steal their blinds. Finally, there are the cases that, by calling out of the blinds, the player is looking for just the right flop to be able to make off with a big pot and, if it doesn’t come, then they can get away with no more expenditure.

Now let’s look at it from the numbers perspective. For the small blind, they’re facing a $ 9 call (five times the big blind of $ 2) if they want to continue with the hand. Even in a heads-up situation, they don’t have to be right all the time to make it a potentially profitable move, especially with the implied value down the road. In our above case, the player flopped two pair and, if they’re confident the player who raised has a big pair, now the small blind is in position to take a massive pot. A simple call on the flop sets them up for making a move should everything work right on the turn and river and the corresponding bet sizes will bring a big chunk of chips to their stack.

Even for the big blind, it is an $ 8 call (into what will be a $ 30 pre-flop pot after his call) and, by coming along, they too can make that same big score. In our example, the big blind flopped an open ended straight draw to go along with his one over card (a “false out” with the pocket Aces in play, but he doesn’t know that). It isn’t out of the question for that player to look to hit a sneaky straight and, in the right circumstance, make out like a bandit when the straight comes home.

Finally, there is the perception of money. For many playing poker, a $ 1/$ 2 live game (or a penny game online) isn’t going to break their bank. They’re not playing for rent or to make groceries for the night, they are there to have some fun and splash some chips around (you’ll find grinders playing the $ 1/$ 2, but it is problematic eking out a profit). Thus, when they see someone raising a pot and they’ve got anything that’s halfway playable, they might just stick around to “see what happens.”

The reality is that poker players want these types of players in their games. As maddening as it is to have those Aces cracked, most of the time (77%, to be exact, in our above example) the Aces are going to win the hand against the meager holdings of the blinds. That is nearly the same rate as pocket Aces going against any other pocket pair heads up (81% to 19%) and, with an additional player putting in cash, can be more lucrative when the Aces hold.

The thing that players must do is be wary of those callers. Anyone can call pre-flop with anything, but if they continue after that with simple calls or raises, it is time to start putting together (along with what the board is saying) a roster of hands your opponents could be holding. There is also that point where, if a board is very coordinated, that those Aces or Kings might have to hit the muck on the turn rather than continuing to chase a beaten hand.

Rather than bemoan the actions of players in the smaller games, why not embrace them? Encourage them to stay in the game and subconsciously encourage them to make those same moves against you. As you can see from the statistics above, a sizeable majority of the time you’re going to come out a winner…and then it is for your opponents to tell the tale of woe.

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Top Tournament Location bestbet Jacksonville Violates Florida Law with Some Games

 Top Tournament Location bestbet Jacksonville Violates Florida Law with Some Games

An administrative law judge in Florida ruled earlier this week that one of the top destinations in Florida for poker tournaments, bestbet Jacksonville, has been violating state laws in running certain games on their floor.

The case was a challenge by the Jacksonville Kennel Club, the owners of bestbet Jacksonville, and was heard by Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk. The original law designated that pari-mutuel operators – of which bestbet Jacksonville would fall under – could not operate games that are “banked,” or which feature the house playing against the players. Those types of games, most often blackjack, three card poker and other table games, are the purveyance of the Seminole Indians of Florida and their properties located around the Sunshine State.

To get around this law, bestbet Jacksonville offered a variant of three-card poker that, instead of having the house bank the game, saw a “designated player” used. That “designated player” would then play against the others in the game and take the position that the house would normally be put in. According to original complaints filed, however, bestbet Jacksonville allegedly took the actions a step further.

In the case of the Florida card room, which generates almost $ 1 million per month in action, they took the steps of hiring a third-party person to take the seat in the “designated player” box and were provided with chips that were handed out to other players. There is some question as to whether these third party players actually played any of the games they were sitting in on (and hence complying the law) or were just there to man the chip stack and not play (a violation). According to Jacksonville Business Journal writer Dara Kam, the complaints mentioned this factor, with a lawyer from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, William Hall, stating on June 1, “All the designated player does is sit next to the chips (and doesn’t play)…can that person legitimately be called a player?”

Apparently it was enough for Judge Van Wyk to make a decision on the case. In a 54-page decision, Van Wyk found that the bestbet Jacksonville “designated player” game was in violation of the state’s gaming codes. “Given the strict statutory prohibition against gambling, the intricate regulatory scheme imposed and the narrow carve out for card rooms, the games cannot be allowed to continue to operate in the current manner,” the judge wrote. “(The card room statute) is that authorized games are not casino gaming because the participants play against each other. As currently operated, the designated player is a player in name only.”

In making her decision, Van Wyk handed down a $ 4500 fine to bestbet Jacksonville (along with the order to cease the games). It is expected that attorneys for the card room will file an appeal and it is not known whether bestbet Jacksonville will quit spreading the “designated player” games until the final decision is rendered.

The case has become important because of the ongoing fight between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe that had exclusivity over “house banked” gaming in the state. The previous deal between the parties expired in December 2015 and, despite negotiations between the two entities, no new compact has emerged that passed muster in the Florida Legislature. If a deal cannot be reached, the state of Florida looks to lose approximately $ 3 billion in Seminole gaming revenues over a five-year period.

In just a few years, bestbet Jacksonville has become one of the most popular stops for many of the tournament poker circuits that traipse across the United States. As host for stops on the World Poker Tour, the Mid-States Poker Tour, the CardPlayer Poker Tour and other smaller circuits (not to mention their own in-house events), bestbet Jacksonville challenges some of the other operations in the state such as the Seminole Hard Rock locations and dog and horse racing tracks located around the state.

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PokerStars Halts Real Money Games in Slovenia

 PokerStars Halts Real Money Games in Slovenia

In an e-mail distributed to the media (as well as likely a similar message sent to affected players), PokerStars announced on Friday that it is withdrawing from the Slovenian online gaming market, effective today.

The official statement, issued by a PokerStars representative, reads as follows:

Our management team regularly review our operations market-by-market to assess commercial opportunities and business risks for our brands.  Following a recent review, we have decided to stop offering real money games to players who are physically located in, or have a registered address in, Slovenia from 4 July, 2016.  Player balances remain safe and secure, and players are able to withdraw their real money balances at their convenience. We do not currently expect to withdraw services from any other locations in the foreseeable future, and a full question and answer page has been provided for affected players.

We hope that we will be able to return to the market in due course, and will continue to support the implementation of fair and consistent regulation that serves the needs of all stakeholders and includes a strong commitment to consumer protection, particularly of vulnerable people, in Slovenia. There is already a successful framework for such regulation in Europe and PokerStars is currently licensed in 12 EU countries.  We hope to apply for a license in Slovenia when it is possible.

Online gaming regulations have been in the works in Slovenia for several years, but it was not until March 2016 that the country notified the European Commission of its intended changes to its gaming law, changes which included the legalization and regulation of online gambling. Should the new laws take effect, operators would be required to obtain a gaming license to offer their services in Slovenia, which would be good for ten years and renewable in five year increments after that.

This follows a pattern of PokerStars and its parent, Amaya, “clearing the deck,” so to speak, as it anticipates applying for gaming licenses in certain jurisdictions. In Slovenia, one would assume, PokerStars does not want to risk the possibility of rubbing regulators the wrong way by offering internet poker in the country without a license, even if it is not technically illegal at this point. This also serves the same purpose for future licensing in the United States; by pulling out “grey markets,” those jurisdictions where online poker isn’t explicitly illegal but not exactly legal, either, PokerStars is making sure that regulators in the U.S. (for instance, California, where legislation is currently being debated) don’t have any ammunition to reject their licensing application.

A week ago, PokerStars and Amaya did the same thing with Israel, pulling its real money offerings from the country. Israel prohibits most forms of gambling and while online poker is not explicitly legislated against, the other anti-gaming laws are typically applied to internet gaming. PokerStars message to Israeli customers was much more final-sounding than was the one to Slovenians, given instructions on how to cash out and not including optimistic language about future licensing.

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PokerStars Removes Lowest Stakes Cash Games in Belgium

 PokerStars Removes Lowest Stakes Cash Games in Belgium

PokerStars (and its sister site, Full Tilt, which is no longer an independent site) has made a number of changes over the past year or so to try to make the online poker environment more recreational player-friendly. Things like an loyalty system overhaul and the conversion of regular heads-up cash game tables to Zoom Poker tables have upset many high stakes grinders and professional players, but the goal was to keep casual players happy and coming back. On June 15th, PokerStars went the other direction, eliminating certain nano-stakes cash games – possibly just temporarily – on its Belgian site.

Some players experienced confusion when it happened, as it does not appear that PokerStars communicated the change to its customers. Instead, players who enjoyed $ /€/£ 0.01/0.02 cash games (No-Limit, Pot-Limit, and Fixed-Limit games with a maximum $ 2 buy-in) all of a sudden found them missing from the lobby. One player e-mailed customer support and posted the following response on Two Plus Two:

This is a follow-up regarding your recent email about NL2 cash game.

We have received the following information about these games. We are sorry to inform you that this is intentional.

We are indeed trialling [sic] the removal of $ /€/£ 2.00 No Limit as well as $ /€/£ 0.01/0.02 Pot Limit and No Limit games in Belgium, since June 15th.

We frequently review the selection of ring games and tournaments within our lobby and monitor how that affects the overall playing experience, whether playing on smartphone, tablet or desktop. We experiment with all aspects of the game by trying out new challenges, promotions and types of poker; launching new online series, such as the MicroMillions; and sponsoring live poker festivals around the world.

However, we do value your feedback and assure you it has been forwarded to the relevant team for this trial.

We apologize for the inconveniences and thank you for your understanding.

It would appear that the move is an effort to increase the amount of rake PokerStars generates from its lowest stakes players, a group of players that makes up a significant portion of the overall online poker population. Though most of our attention goes to the high stakes players – after all, big money is fun to rail and the most notable names play at those stakes – most players stick to small stakes games.

PokerStars’ rake structure is much lower at the $ 0.01/$ 0.02 levels than it is even one level up. As another poster on Two Plus Two illustrated, at the lowest stakes found on the site, PokerStars rakes just 3.5 percent of the pot with a maximum rake of $ 0.30. Compare this to the next rake level, $ 0.02/$ 0.05, where the rake is 4.15 percent with a maximum rake of $ 1.00. What PokerStars is likely trying to do is force players to move up even slightly where the pots are larger and the rake is greater. If it seems that players are content enough to play a little higher, rather than leave the poker room, thus generating more revenue for PokerStars, one would expect that Pokerstars would roll out the change to more of its player base, rather than just Belgium.

Belgian players to play at the same tables as players on the flagship “dot com” site, but since they still login with their own, separate software, it is relatively easy for PokerStars to make adjustments just for them.

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