Posts Tagged ‘Live’

Daniel Negreanu Had Losing “Breakeven” 2017 in Live Tournaments

 Daniel Negreanu Had Losing “Breakeven” 2017 in Live Tournaments

Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu has always been an outspoken member of the poker community and tends to be open and honest about how things are going at any given time in his career. Case in point: as 2017 came to a close, he posted his annual live tournament results on his blog, revealing that he had a losing year.

Not beating around the bush Negreanu displayed the numbers right off the bat. $ 2,874,164 in buy-ins and $ 2,792,104 in payouts for a net profit of -$ 86,140.

Now, for the vast majority of the world’s population, losing over $ 80,000 in a year would be devastating, and while Negreanu certainly wasn’t happy with the number, he saw it as basically breaking even. He calculated his average buy-in at $ 40,481, so ending up down about two buy-ins – to him – was almost nothing.

I would LOVE to be able to look at an $ 86,140 loss as breakeven, to shrug it off like it was pocket change, so part of me read that in Negreanu’s blog and was appalled. But really, I get it. I haven’t played online poker in a few years, but when I did, my average tournament buy-in was probably $ 5. So if I played on a regular basis through the calendar year and finished down $ 10, that would certainly be quite close to breakeven. So I get it.

One reason Daniel Negreanu elected to share this information with the public was set out in the first paragraph of his post:

I mention this because I think my 2017 was a good illustration of the illusion that players cashing for $ 2 million in a single year is a great accomplishment. In the old days, before super high rollers, you could all but guarantee that cashing for $ 2 million would mean the player had a winning year. Well, the truth is, if a player plays the full high roller schedule and cashes for $ 2 million, they are all but certain to have had a losing year, and that’s before expenses.

He estimates that with the $ 1 million Big One for One Drop returning to the World Series of Poker this year, combined with the Super High Roller Bowl and other high roller events, some poker players could easily spend $ 5 million on buy-ins. He added that though most who spend millions on buy-ins have backers for some of it, he funds himself completely. The one exception will be for the Big One for One Drop, where he’ll probably sell about half of his action, “as it just seems like a bit of a crazy amount of money to risk in one tournament.”

Negreanu also posted his live tournament results for the past five years, showing that he also lost money – $ 1,246,693 – in 2016. Overall, though, from 2013-2018, he is up $ 8,733,074 in live tourneys. The big year was 2014, where he profited $ 7.1 million. All or most of that (depending on how much he had of himself) came from the Big One, where he placed second for about $ 8.3 million.

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PokerStars Goes “Back to the Future” In Making Changes to Live Tours

 PokerStars Goes “Back to the Future” In Making Changes to Live Tours

For those of us old enough to remember the original Dallas television show, we remember one season in particular. That season revolved around Pamela Ewing (played by actress Victoria Principal) after the death of her beloved husband Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy). In real life, Duffy had refused to sign a new contract with the show and was written out. But a year later, Duffy signed a contract and was ready to come back. The problem for writers of the show was how to do it.

In the end, they wrote the now-famous “shower scene” in which Pamela wakes up from an evening’s slumber and hears the shower running. She walks into the bathroom, up to the shower door and yanks it open. Turning around, Bobby is there and ALIVE, taking a shower like nothing has happened and saying, “Good morning!” The writers were telling the viewers that the entirety of the previous season had been a dream in Pamela’s mind.

PokerStars seems to be attempting to pull off this same trick with some recent announcements regarding their live tours.

It was revealed on Friday that, instead of continuing forward under the “PokerStars Championships” and “PokerStars Festivals” monikers, the live tours under the PokerStars banner would revert to their titles of the previous years. The 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure had already embraced that change (in 2017, it was known as the PokerStars Championship Bahamas), but now the rest of the PokerStars offerings are heading “back to the future.” Effective immediately, the European Poker Tour (EPT) is back in operation, as are the smaller regional tours such as the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT).

In making these moves, the honchos at PokerStars and The Stars Group are basically Pamela Ewing looking into that shower and saying, “We made a mistake.” To rebrand their efforts and separate them from the heyday of the Scheinberg Family’s ownership, Amaya Gaming (now known as The Stars Group) thought that naming the tours after their flagship brand was the way to go. They quickly found out, through abysmal attendance at many of their PokerStars Championship and Festival events, that they were damaging their brand rather than enhancing it.

What is perhaps more significant with the lack of success of the PokerStars Championships was player perception. Many top pros, dissatisfied with the way that the then-Amaya Gaming was treating the customers (players), decided to vote with their wallets and not take part in their tournaments. The Stars Group is looking to change that as well with the announcement of a new tournament along with the reversion back to the EPT fold.

While announcing the return of the EPT and its kin, PokerStars also announced a brand-new tournament in which it will not only offer $ 9 million of its own money but also hope to bridge the span between the online and live poker worlds. The Players’ No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC, for PokerStars Players’ Championship) will be a $ 25,000 buy in tournament that will be held the week prior to the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. The Stars Group is holding nothing back in trying to reclaim those players that had previously walked away.

Over the span of 2018, 300 “Platinum Passes” will be handed out to players. These free tickets include the $ 25,000 buy in to the tournament, six nights accommodations at the Atlantis Resort Nassau (the longtime host of the PCA), $ 2000 for travel expenses and other goodies. The “Platinum Passes” will be earned by the players, though, in winning major tournaments online at PokerStars.

For those that don’t win a package, they will be able to participate also by simply ponying up the $ 25K buy in, for which they won’t have to pay the juice. Besides giving away 300 seats into the tournament, PokerStars is going to seed the tournament further with another $ 1 million in cash. The tournament, before a single participant has been determined, is worth $ 8.5 million ($ 7.5 million in seats given away plus $ 1 million from PokerStars directly); you can guarantee that the top poker professionals are going to want to get into this event despite its hefty price tag.

Will the changes help the PokerStars brand? Some would say that, by admitting they made a mistake with some of their past acts, that PokerStars is on the way to improvement. It will be something that will take some time, however, as they reset their product, wake up from their Pamela Ewing “dream” and try to take on new challengers that have raised their heads.

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PokerStars to Restrict Satellite Winners to One Prize Package Per Live Event

 PokerStars to Restrict Satellite Winners to One Prize Package Per Live Event

PokerStars has made yet another significant change to its online poker room policies, eliminating the ability for players to earn multiple seats into live tournaments via satellites. This is a massive departure from tradition, as many players (though not “many” relative to the total poker playing population) found satellites to be profitable endeavors past the initial tournament seat.

On the PokerStars blog, PokerStars Poker Operations Manager Mike Jones hearkened back to the 2003 World Series of Poker, which was famously won by amateur Chris Moneymaker, who also famously qualified for the WSOP Main Event via a $ 39 satellite on PokerStars. While satellites existed before then, they really weren’t all that popular as a means to gain entry into a bigger, more expensive tournament. Moneymaker’s success changed all that, though. Once amateur players saw what Moneymaker did, online satellites- not just at PokerStars – exploded. Now they are commonplace, woven into the fabric of online poker rooms.

Pokerstars, though, has seen the negative of satellites. Jones continued:

While recreational players dream of winning the poker experience of a lifetime with PokerStars, a fortunate and skilled few win multiple packages and seats to our live events, when they can only use one of them. These players have taken advantage of a system that allowed them to profit from winning against recreational or less experienced players. While this hasn’t been against the rules, it doesn’t make for as enjoyable experience as we would hope. The practice has, in fact, been off-putting for many, as we are seeing an increasing number of recreational players not even attempting to qualify for live events. This means that they are as a group less likely to experience the excitement that comes from playing live and the further investment in the poker world that comes from playing in a major live event.

The reason players continue to qualify for live events via satellites even after winning a seat is because they can convert the additional seats into cash. Say, for example, a person two prize packages for the WSOP Main Event via Stars satellites that pay for the $ 10,000 seat plus $ 2,500 in spending money for hotel and flights (I am just ballparking the prize package value). That player might use the first prize package to play in the Main Event, but since he is obviously just one person and can only occupy one seat, PokerStars gives him $ 12,500 for the second seat.

Many poker pros have taken advantage of this system over the years, often finding satellite fields to be softer than those of normal tournaments. Some pros win these things repeatedly, turning their seats into cash time after time.

PokerStars has seen the problem with this for recreational players, so starting with the satellites for PokerStars Festival Dublin, players can only win one prize package into the live tournament. No more playing in loads of satellites to win multiple seats.

“This limitation will, we hope, make sense to the majority of you and stand to reason as being fair,” wrote Jones. “We believe the change will create a more level playing field for all that want to visit our lower buy-in Festivals or experience the glitz and glamour of one of our bigger Championship events.”

PokerStars Festival Dublin runs September 25th through October 1st. Satellites are currently active at PokerStars.

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PokerStars Introduces MEGASTACK Live Tournament Series

 PokerStars Introduces MEGASTACK Live Tournament Series

Last year, PokerStars dismantled the European Poker Tour and created two new live tournament tours, the PokerStars Championship and the PokerStars Festival. They are your traditional tours, the PokerStars Championship looking very much like what the EPT was, with the PokerStars Festival coming in at a lower buy-in, akin to the World Series of Poker Circuit. On Friday, PokerStars announced yet another new live tournament series, called the PokerStars MEGASTACK (yes, and ugh, it is all CAPS), geared towards recreational players who cannot afford to compete in high buy-in tournaments.

The first PokerStars MEGASTACK will be at London’s Hippodrome Casino April 7th through April 9th. The buy-in is just £170, which is still a solid chunk of change for most people, but for poker players interested in competing in a good tournament, that is as light of a payment as one can hope for. All players start with 50,000, so there should be plenty of opportunity to play some poker (obviously, that all depends on the blind structure, but one would assume since it is live PokerStars event and not a daily nooner at a random casino off the Vegas Strip that things will be alright). Each tournament has three opening flights with one re-entry permitted per flight.

And since these are tournaments for recreational players trying to build a bankroll the PokerStars MEGASTACK events only run Friday through Sunday. As a PokerStars blog post put it:

We know it’s not always easy to find the time to play live tournaments, with one eye on your straight draw and the other on the clock as you try to work out if you can make it to work on 45 minutes sleep. That’s why MEGASTACK events are designed to fit your schedule rather than that of your boss, taking place from Friday to Sunday, leaving you all the time you need to enjoy the game.

There are also online satellites available for those who want to try to get in for even less money than £170.

If you are looking at that price point and thinking to yourself that there are no MEGASTACKS tournaments scheduled for the United States because the price is in British pounds, then you would be correct. Currently, there are only events scheduled for the Hippodrome, but according to Pokerstars, they will spread to other locations in the United Kingdom and Europe. No mention of the U.S. yet.

Here are the dates on tap so far for the Hippodrome:

• April 7th – 9th
• May 5th – 7th
• June 30th – July 2nd
• September 22nd – 24th
• October 20th – 22nd

And that’s really it. Frankly, I’m surprised that I was able to write even this much about the MEGASTACKS tournament series, as it isn’t all that big of a deal. But while I downplay it a little, it really could be a very nice addition to the live tournament schedule. Instead of having to watch as all those deep-pocketed poker players get to play in four and five-figure live tournaments, casual players can get in on the fun in what one would expect to be well-run tourneys with good blind structures.

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BetOnline Live Blackjack Dealer Allegedly Cheats Player

 BetOnline Live Blackjack Dealer Allegedly Cheats Player

Online blackjack has been around for just about as long as online poker has and while plenty of people have been skeptical of the poker random number generators (RNGs), many more have been skeptical of RNGs used in blackjack. Online operators compete against the players, so even though the odds are in the house’s favor, there is certainly motive to cheat. And when the cards are virtual, one can never been 100 percent certain – even with all the technical verifications and certifications in the world – that there is no way anything fishy is going on.

As a way to ease this trust issue and to make online casinos have more of a “real life” feel, some sites started up “live dealer” games, which are exactly what they sound like: real human dealers are dealing real cards to players over the internet. Players still click buttons to indicate their hit/stand decisions, but the dealers on the screen really put the cards out. It’s not something I’ve ever played, but it’s a decent idea that has gained in popularity in recent years.

Even though live dealer games are partially meant to engender trust, one recent game has shown that even live dealers and/or the online casinos may try to screw customers out of their money. On January 25th, Michael Morgenstern, who calls himself a “blackjack professional,” live streamed a 75-minute session of him playing in the live dealer blackjack games of BetOnline.com. This past weekend, he posted a portion of that video that shows what looks to be the dealer cheating.

Morgenstern did not notice the problem while he was playing; it was pointed out by a viewer in the comments of the YouTube video.

In the hand, Morgenstern made the unusual decision to split Twos against the dealer’s King, something that players rarely do. This seems to be because Morgenstern was counting cards, which he indicates once the hand is over by referencing the “negative” count of the deck. He likely split the Twos because he felt the deck was in his favor.

Morgenstern busted the first of the split hands with a 25 and was then dealt a Nine on the other Two, so he doubled-down. He received a Six on his next and final card, giving him a 17 on the second hand of the split. The dealer then dealt himself an Eight, giving him an 18, beating Morgenstern (normally, the dealer would deal himself both cards when the players are dealt their two initial cards, but apparently on BetOnline, he only deals himself one card and saves the other for after all the players have acted).

What was discovered by the viewer, though, was that when Morgenstern was dealt the Six, the dealer pushed the top card of the shoe up and took the second card to give to Morgenstern. Clearly, the proper procedure was to deal Morgenstern the top card from the deck, not the second card.

It is entirely possible that it was a mistake, but it seems unlikely, as sliding the top card out of the way to grab the second card is not a natural thing to do. It is also obvious that the dealer makes a sort of double finger-flicking motion before sliding the top card out of the way. Internet sleuths believe that he is not just randomly flicking his fingers, but rather rubbing his finger on the card in an effort to feel some sort of marking that indicates the value of the card. The idea here is that the markings indicate that the card is an Eight, which would’ve given Morgenstern a very good 19. The dealer didn’t know what the second card would be, but he allegedly took the chance that it was worse for Morgenstern than the Eight and then the dealer would get the Eight and beat Morgenstern.

Of course, that the dealer cheated is pure speculation right now, but the video is pretty damning. A further question is: did the dealer do this on his own or did someone off camera direct him to do so? If we may further speculate, what seems to make the most sense is that someone at BetOnline told him to do that, unless there was some internal incentive for a dealer to produce losing sessions for players.

The original video for Morgenstern’s session is below. The hand in which the alleged cheating occurred begins at about the 13:30 mark. Warning: there is a lot of foul language in the video.

And here is the edited video that specifically points out the cheating. There is no audio in this one.

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