Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

New Poker World Order [Maps]

by , Dec 17, 2012 | 5:44 am

The World Poker Tour made its Chinese debut this weekend at the MGM Grand in Sanya. That’s some 400 miles down shore from Macau, where PokerStars recently hosted the inaugural “Asia Championship of Poker”, and next month will hold something similar called the Red Dragon. These events come just as Caesars, unable to get properly licensed in China, is officially retreating from the Communist gamblers’ promised land.

Meanwhile, Stars is apparently trying to  get (back?) into North America by buying a distressed brick-and-mortar casino in storm-ravaged New Jersey — this according to an announcement that may or may not have been conveniently timed to steal buzz from a WSOP circuit event going on in Atlantic City.

Game of Risk: Live Poker in an Online Age
Redrawing the Battle Lines

Game of Risk: Live Poker at the Dawn of the 21st Century

Check out how the three biggest brands in poker (and the online gaming sites behind them) stack up against each other. I make no claims of these maps being to scale nor anything more than “pretty accurate, I think,” but look past my amateur cartography to see how three Poker World superpowers — the biggest American casino corporation, the biggest European internet gaming company, and the biggest “offshore” online poker operator — have been competing fiercely to corner your neighborhood tournament market.

 WSOP / Caesars / 888
 WPT / BwinParty / MGM Resorts /

See below to for some historical perspective on how the current live-tourney landscape took shape over the first decade of the 21st century.


Poker Pointillism

by , Aug 28, 2012 | 12:18 pm

Perhaps sadly, I have little to report from this past weekend’s Face Up $10k WSOP Voucher + Cash tourney. I woke up in time, had all my logins figured out, had synced my watch with the atomic clock … but the reason I couldn’t get in this time? Not enough points!

Oh, the despair.

The event — easily findable right at the top of the lobby — cost 1,000 “tournament points” to enter. I had 350. Not sure how I got them, and whether my number is unusually small. I posted on Al’s Face Up wall seeing if he could ship me some points, but he was busy playing, I guess, or maybe working, or just consciously ignoring …

As a paying customer @FaceUpGaming, I didn’t realize I needed anything special to get into the real-prizes tournaments. Turns out “tournament points” are not the same as “play chips” — kinda a bummer, since I have about 1.77 million of those. I tried clicking around the Face Up website to see where I could find additional tournament points — surely there’s gotta be a friend-request button or kabuki trading post somewhere … no?


Poker Physiology

by , Jul 16, 2011 | 6:50 am

Jen Dunphy

Poker Life Coach


Your body is an intricate and delicate system designed to sense threat, and biologically programmed to avoid it. Your nervous system is a vast information highway that runs every cellular process in the body. From breathing and your heartbeat to movement and thought, your nervous system affects every process of your body.

So what’s happening in your body during a hand?

Because of the unknown outcomes, the variability of chance, and the sheer financial risk, poker is stressful by design. Let me be clear about what I mean. Let’s define stress as a physical, emotional or chemical factor that causes bodily or mental tension and let’s avoid judgment of whether stress is good or bad. Stress simply exists and we live in relation to it.

So during a hand, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or experience at the table, a body responds to stress exactly the same. Stress is a threat and regardless of the size, shape, cause or intensity the body reacts with a Fight or Flight response.

Originally intended to protect you, the fight or flight response causes a release of hormones that:

  • Increase your heart rate
  • Increase your blood glucose (blood sugar)
  • Put you in a “ready” state

Ever have the feeling that you need caffeine, sugar and other stimulants to keep you on your toes? You’re simply prolonging the “high” your body has already initiated.


Zynga Tries to Patent Virtual Casino Currency

An attempt to *own* social media gambling transactions?

by , Oct 29, 2010 | 10:00 am

In last Friday’s twitfeed, my favorite tech-biz site Tech Crunch tweeted about their post  “Is Zynga Trying To Patent Virtual Currency?” Apparently, the leviathan of multiplayer gaming networks — and big wildcard in the future of real-money online poker — filed a US Patent Application in March of this year in an effort to corner the virtual currency market.

At least that’s my take. After reading the actual legal document, “Virtual Playing Chips in a Multiuser Online Game Network”, I gather what they are really trying to do is define and patent the purchase and flow of “Non-Redeemable Virtual Currency” as it pertains *specifically* to gambling on social networks.


click to enlarge


Raymer Hosting Heartland Poker’s 5th Anniversary Bash

Scarlet, Scotty Nguyen jump on HPT bandwagon

by , Oct 14, 2010 | 9:48 am

To Fargo or Bust

I’m en route from Las Vegas to DC, taking the long way I guess you could say, and was driving over the state line of Wyoming => South Dakota when I got the following DM tweet:

@Pokerati to @scarlet_lv:  “10/15 is Heartland’s 5th anniversary bash near Fargo ND.  Think about going.  I can hook u up.”

Fargo?, I thought.  Really, DanM? It was about 600 miles in a completely different direction from where I was heading, but free booze …a party?  I quickly rerouted the Prius GPS to head northeast, and arrived in the city-of-the-distinct-accent late Monday night.

Yesterday afternoon, I ate some Thai with Jen Mastrud, GM and Director of PR for the Heartland Poker Tour, based here in Fargo, ND.  Waiting for the mint-leaf spring rolls appetizer, we chatted about the festivities, upcoming Season VI and VII events, and some poker poli-biz topics as they relate to a nationwide, smaller-stakes operation such as the HPT. 

Heartland’s currently in the middle of their Season VI Shooting Star Casino event in Mahnomen, MN (just across the North Dakota border), and Friday will be celebrating their 5th anniversary with a party hosted by Greg Raymer. @FossilMan will also be on hand playing some cash, and will compete in the 2-day $1100 Main Event, which final-tables on Sunday.


Your Guide to HR 2267 Markup Day

by , Jul 28, 2010 | 7:45 am

pic: @scarlet_lv

Editor’s Note: After seven months of what seemed like stall-and-get-nowhere — and a delay yesterday until today — the poker-friendly legislation that Barney Frank (and the PPA) has been pushing and refining since 2007 faces a critical vote. It’s an all-in situation … if we “win”, legislative matters related to online poker and gambling still have a ways and means? to go before seeing the desk of Barack Obama. However, if we lose — as we did by a tie vote back in 2008 — it’s back to the drawing board.

You can watch it all going down here, assuming there aren’t shenanigans in play to delay matters further. And because there’s always a chance I don’t know WTF I’m talking about, Pokerati has deployed a Beltway team to not only keep us posted on today’s developments from the Hill, but also to provide a primer on what’s really in play today for the future of internet gambling and/or poker in America.

You can follow reports from the Hill today on Twitter with @Scarlet_LV, and below is more about what she’s walking into.

HR 2267 Markup

A special report for Pokerati by @Scarlet_LV
photos by James Berglie / Be Photography

If all goes well, the House Financial Services Committee will decide today the fate of HR 2267, which seems to be the keystone for any new laws that stand to eliminate burdens of the UIGEA and establish a framework for the future of licensed and regulated online poker in the United States.

Today’s hearing is a “mark-up”, where the full committee debates amendments to a bill, and votes on a motion to send the bill to the House floor with recommendations on the amendments to consider for a decisive vote. Make sense?

I’m pretty sure that’s how it works — but I never would’ve expected two weeks ago when dealing the WSOP that I’d be on Capitol Hill watching a different (but not too different) game with so much riding on the deals being cut. For more explanation, see house rules and parliamentary procedures here and here.

H.R. 2267 Internet Gambling Regulation and Consumer Protection, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act.

To amend title 31, United States Code, to provide for the licensing of Internet gambling activities by the Secretary of the Treasury, to provide for consumer protections on the Internet, to enforce the tax code, and for other purposes.

Having attended last week’s meeting, I met this week with people who could fill me in on the amendments the Committee will be discussing today. Though more or fewer are possible, here’s what most expect:

  1. Barney Frank “Managers Amendment” — the contents of this will not be disclosed to anyone before the markup, but it will provide the baseline used to “define the debate”
  2. Brad Sherman –- his amendment will likely look to limit licensing to US-only companies and those that have not been acting “outside the law”.  Supposedly “smaller internet gaming companies” might be able to get around this if added to the bill, but bigger companies with a notable TV presence (such as FullTilt, PokerStars, and UB) would not be able to so easily if at all.
  3. Spencer Bachus / Michele Bachmann –- perhaps with elements of Sherman’s amendment included (I peeked over the shoulder of some lawyer suits holding it yesterday, he’s looking to completely gut the bill and more regulation to strengthen anti-gambling components of the UIGEA.

With these potential amendments, you get a sense of the driving forces currently behind the bill, and the key players. These became apparent during last week’s hearing — which sources tell me was rather unusual for a bill like HR 2267 to get a second hearing like that — as testimony from Members and witnesses helped shape matters that will be in play today.

As the mark-up proceeds, here are the different Members and groups claiming a stake in this piece of legislation.


Poker in the Round

by , Jul 15, 2010 | 6:16 am

This one goes to 11: Rob Gusman and Danny Egelhoff knew there had to be a better way to watch poker — all they needed was a high-resolution camera with 11 lenses digitally stitched together.

When Danny Egelhoff was a “multimedia producer” for CardPlayer in 2007, he quickly realized, “we needed a way to make watching poker more interesting. Events were edited down to boring bare essentials, and viewers were force-fed what they had to watch.”

Fast-forward to the 2010 WSOP … Egelhoff, 31, and his partner, Rob Gusman, 34, are founders of All 360 Media, an upstart video company launching what some are saying could be the most significant technological advancement in poker since the hole-card cam.

For the past six weeks, these friends of 10+ years have camped out in a makeshift bunker across the hall from the Amazon room. In addition to powerful computers, video equipment and an all-in-one printer/copier/fax, there’s an air mattress, mini-fridge, and 4-cup coffee-maker — all of which have played a role in bringing their vision to fruition. This is Egelhoff’s fifth Series, Gusman’s first. Taped to the wall by one of their monitors is a letter from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, approving All 360 Media to record limited casino action with these strange cameras the GCB had never before seen.

The device looks something like a studio boom-mike outfitted with a Magic 8-ball at its end. It’s actually a special camera (they have two of them) with 11 different lenses all pointing in different directions, packed into a small black orb, and digitally stitched together to provide a seamless view of an entire poker area. The set-up is so new it doesn’t yet have a name. But it uses the same basic technology that Google Earth deployed to map out the planet … upgraded and customized for watching poker.


NAPT, Venetian Part Ways over Row in Carson City

by , May 28, 2010 | 1:45 pm

The first in a four-part series about Nevada Gaming wrangling with a new era of poker regulation as Harrah’s and PokerStars fight …

The inaugural NAPT-Venetian was by most accounts a smashing success. PokerStars announced the tournament in January, and less than six weeks later — at a time when big-money players usually would be heading to California for the WPT-Commerce — 872 entrants made it to the Venetian for a televised $5k main event in Las Vegas.

(The February event, and others from the fledgling North American Poker Tour, are currently airing on ESPN-2 and TSN, the leading sports television channel in Canada.)

But it wasn’t the field size, TV cameras, or $4.1 million prize pool that made the NAPT-Venetian special … it was that the Las Vegas tournament was “presented by PokerStars”. Dot net.

Perhaps surprisingly, because we see so much PokerStars on TV … this was the first time since the UIGEA that a licensed Nevada casino partnered with PokerStars (or any site like it) for a major open tournament.

Its success didn’t go unnoticed. And that may prove to be the problem for PokerStars and the North American Poker Tour, as the inaugural NAPT-Venetian will probably — almost certainly — be the last.