Monthly Archives: December 2008

Who's going to be Playing Poker on Christmas?

I’ve noticed that several of the major poker rooms out there are offering people special deals on Christmas day.  Most of these deals involve doubling or tripling the amount of reward points players can earn on Christmas while some places are offering other bonuses too.  I have also seen that some rooms are holding special tournaments during the holidays in an effort to draw more players in.

Now I understand the reason why these poker rooms are offering lots of tournaments and deals to draw people to their sites – they need to do something to get people to play on Christmas.  But honestly, even with these bonuses and tournaments, who is going to be taking time away from Christmas to jump into an online tournament?

There is certainly some incentive with the double and triple bonus points but I just don’t see a whole lot of people rushing to take advantage of this stuff on the 25th.  I really doubt that I’ll be hitting the tables to take advantage of these deals unless they’re still going on at 10 or 11 o’clock.  Definitely not during the earlier hours though when everything is going on with regards to Christmas.

I’m sure that the special deals these rooms are offering will entice some people to the tables but I won’t be one of them.  Those who are hardcore enough poker players to be hitting the tables on Christmas probably won’t be staying long anyways.  However, the few that do enter the tournaments will probably be getting a great vaule since the rooms will have to stake a lot of the prize pools.

Just How Much Money Did Party Poker Make?

Like a lot of other people who follow the happenings in the poker world, I recently noticed that Party Gaming (parent company of Party Poker) co-founder Anurag Dikshit pleaded guilty to charges of violating the United States Wire Act of 1961.  Basically this means that it took the US 2 years to find him guilty of offering online poker to Americans from 1999 to 2006 through the usage of communication wires.

For his punishment, Dikshit has to pay the United States government a hefty sum of $300 million in addition to possible jail time.  And according to news reports, Dikshit has already paid $100 million of the settlement and is set to pay the next 2 installments of $100 million within a six month span.  And the thing of it is, Dikshit only owns 27% of Party Gaming so how does he have $300 million sitting around to hand over to the US government in a six month span?

All of this really got me wondering just how much money Party Gaming could have made during its glory days before the UIGEA was enacted.  Now you’ve obviously got to throw in the fact that Party Gaming’s premier site, Party Poker, was the biggest room for about a 7 year span before 2006 and that’s why Dikshit was getting rich.  But how rich he got is the question. (P.S. You guys should also try out Betfred poker as they have a kick ass $600 sign up bonus).

Well according to the Forbes Magazine list of the world’s richest people, Anurag Dikshit was ranked as the 207th richest person in the world with $3.3 billion.  No wonder he can afford the $300 million fine!  What’s more is that two other Party Poker owners in Ruth Parasol and Russ DeLeon both own 14% of the company and share spot 424 on the list with $1.8 each.

So together the 3 are worth $6.9 billion which is mostly comprised of profits from the Party Gaming and Party Poker successes.  This makes the estimated $40 – $50 million bankroll of poker stud Phil Ivey look like pocket change. 

The Evolution of Poker Backing

Poker backing was once looked at as rich poker personalities paying buy-ins for washed-up players who couldn’t afford their own tournament entry.  And it hasn’t always been looked at as the best investment either since, for every Scotty Nguyen who earns his backer a million dollars, there are hundreds of stories where staking a player turned up nothing for the backer.  Another problem with poker backing in the old days was that players would win and then run off with the cash leaving messy court battles in the wake.

However, these fears and premonitions have all but vanished in today’s poker world where backing a poker player is as common as ever.  There are even websites and companies dedicated to bringing poker backers and players together in order to make both sides happy.  One such website is Poker Pro Exchange which allows backers to stake both online and live pros in various events.  They even have their players sign contracts in advance stating they will share whatever winnings they have to ensure that no problems arise.

Those who don’t have thousands of dollars to contribute to buy-ins and also get a piece of the action for very little by using sites like Poker Pro Exchange.  Last I checked, people were staking players in the LA Poker Classic for as little as $25.  Some of the players on their roster are quite well known too like “Cowboy” Kenna James and 1983 WSOP Tom McEvoy.  Major players like these can enter more tournaments when they’re backed which allows them more shots at hitting a big pay day.

And to me, the whole concept of backing a player for as little as $25 over the Internet is very interesting; but it also kind of reminds me of horse racing.  After all, you’re putting money on the player who you think will finish in a top spot and you can do it in several different tournaments too.  Who know though as it might be kind of fun to throw down a little money sometime and see what happens.

Poker is Most Widely searched Term

The fact that the WSOP had a record breaking year in terms of participants and the game of poker continues to thrive despite worldwide economic trouble is definitely enough to say poker is on an upswing again.  But for those who still doubt that poker isn’t back to where is was prior to the 2006 UIGEA, consider this: poker was the most widely searched term of 2008.

Lycos Inc, a company which provides numerous media services including search engine statistics, claims that poker was the most widely searched subject from January 2008 to December 2008.  And this is pretty incredible if you think about what poker is up against in the search engines.  You’ve not only got subjects like movies stars, actors, famous athletes, and news but also things dealing with the adult industry and poker was more searched than all of these.

Other subjects which were widely searched included Paris Hilton, golf, and former Vice President candidate Sarah Palin.  With her new show “Paris Hilton’s New Best Friend”, Hilton was looked up so much by people that she almost single-handedly eclipsed poker as a search term.  However, she fell just short of that mark according the Lycos stats.

The fact that poker is the most widely searched term of 2008 just goes to show how the game is catching on with general audiences as well as with those who put in hours at the table and read every strategy book under the sun.  With the number of people looking up poker, I expect the game to grow to epic proportions within the next 2 or 3 years. 

This is of course barring any unforeseen events such as another UIGEA-type disaster or the domain name problem caused by Kentucky.  Hopefully, everything is quiet on the legislation front from here on out so the game continues to grow at the rate it is going. 

No Easy Poker Variations

I recently came across a poker strategy article on how poker players should be playing more Pot Limit Omaha and Limit Omaha HiLo.  The author’s reason for why people should be playing these games more is that players can hope to win more money with them since they’re less populated poker variations.  Basically, these two games aren’t like Texas Hold’em where everybody and their brother is an expert.

But to be honest, this author’s line of thinking is way out of date since people have already moved on to playing games like Pot Limit Omaha and Limit Omaha HiLo.  At the bigger poker rooms, you’ll commonly find full tables in most of the Pot Limit Omaha and Limit Omaha HiLo stakes.  I mean they have WSOP events for these games and online events like the Full Tilt Online Poker Series include these two variations as well. 

If I had to say it, we’re past the point where a person can dominate a poker variation just because there’s so many people who don’t know how to play it.  Every poker variation from 5 Card Stud to Texas Hold’em has players who are killing the game.  We are in an era of poker where there are going to be people who are great in every single variation.

A few years ago, you could jump in a game of something like Omaha HiLo and find people who weren’t so good at the game, but the same was true of Texas Hold’em before the boom in 2003.  People just were not as good at the game back then.  But now, way more people have jumped into the game of poker and there will always be people to fill in where there’s money to be made.

You could say that the smaller rooms have people who are less apt to be good players in the lesser played poker variations.  However, you’ll have a very tough time finding full tables at the limits you want in anything but Texas Hold’em.  Really, there are no shortcuts in today’s poker game and to make money with it, you’ll have to put in hours at the table and study lots of strategy.

Poker Stocks falling along with the Market

Those who pay attention to the stock market know that things aren’t exactly going well for most industries.  And because of the falling stocks, many businesses and companies are seeing their shares lose considerable value.  Unfortunately, the poker industry hasn’t been void of this problem and they’re struggling right now just like everyone else.

One place where this downward trend can definitely be seen is at PartyGaming (owner of Party Poker) as their stocks are only worth about one-third of what they were a year ago.  But if PartyGaming thought they were doing bad then they should take a look at what has happened to World Poker Tour Enterprises.  The WPTE opened this year with a stock price of $1.65 a share.  However, their online poker room crumbled over the summer and their TV deal with FSN is not as rich as the one with GSN was.  Now their stocks are sitting at just 36 cents a share.

Trouble has also hit a lot of the major poker software developers with Playtech and CryptoLogic suffering some pretty heavy losses.  At one point this year, Playtech was up over $700 a share but now it is mired at about $400 a share.  CryptoLogic has fared much worse since they opened the year at $17.46 a share but have free-fallen to $2.31 a share.

Now I’m sure the falling stocks of a few major companies won’t destroy the poker industry, however, this is a pretty disturbing trend.  I guess it just shows how closely the worldwide economy and online poker are tied together.  If people don’t have the money to play poker with, then they obviously aren’t going to be hitting up too many online rooms.  Hopefully things will start getting better soon.

How Legal is Online Poker?

Most poker players in the United States play the game over the Internet without any worries.  After all, there is no specific law in the US which states that online poker is totally illegal; only the UIGEA which makes specific elements of online gambling illegal.  You can say that online poker is illegal in certain states such as Washington where being caught playing over the Internet can yield the same punishment as raping someone.  But once again, it can’t be said that online poker is illegal across America…unless you’re listening to 60 Minutes.

A recent 60 Minutes broadcast of a segment called “The Cheaters” focused on the cheating scandals which took place at Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker (both have since been joined by the CEREUS network).  In the segment, 60 Minutes did present some facts to their general audience who probably has no clue how online poker really operates.  However, they also managed to botch several things within the show’s airing as well.

One thing they repeatedly said was that online poker is illegal which is not necessarily true.  As mentioned before, in certain states like Washington, it can be a crime to play online poker.  But if you’re talking about the US in general, then ‘no’ it is not illegal to play poker.  There are just too many variables at work to simply label online poker as being illegal.

Another thing that 60 Minutes got wrong was that no legal action has been taken in the case involving UB and Absolute Poker.  This is false due to the fact that the Kahnawake Gaming Commission is currently seeking legal action against Russ Hamilton.  This is a very big fact to get wrong along with repeatedly saying that online poker is illegal.  Hopefully, this misinformed segment on 60 Minutes doesn’t tarnish online poker much.