Monthly Archives: June 2009

The Misrepresentation of Poker in TV Shows

I’m not talking poker TV shows, but TV shows with poker in them – such as soap operas, dramas and the like. I was watching a serial drama last night (which I won’t name for fear of embarrassment) and when they talked of having a game of poker, I just smiled and waiting with anticipation for the laughs that were sure to follow. Yep you guessed it, it was Four of a Kind vs. a Royal flush, turned over as if these two monsters of poker clash on a regular basis. I often hear people talk about poker TV shows giving the wrong impression of poker by just showing the action hands, but it’s nothing compared with the action you get in non-poker TV shows.

Actually the Four of a Kind vs. a Royal Flush is not an extreme example. I remember once seeing a drama show with four people playing poker, and the hands were; Four Kings vs. Four Aces vs. Royal Flush vs…wait for it… FIVE QUEENS (they used wild cards). Oh how I laughed.

I know it’s all about entertainment but here’s a few tips for TV researchers:

  • Play Texas Hold’em – it’s the most popular version, so why not use it rather than strip poker or 5 card draw (usually with no draws due to time constraints). The only exception should be if there are hot chicks playing, in which case strip poker is perfectly acceptable.
  • “I see your…and” – When someone says “I see your bet” then it’s a call, end of story. There should be no further raising. This will get a lot of would-be poker players in trouble at a proper poker game, particularly if there’s a long pause between the words “I see” and “I raise you”. It may result in a smack in the mouth. The same goes for slow rolling!
  • Betting Limits – There are 3 main betting structures in poker; Fixed Limit, Pot Limit, and No Limit – and No Limit is still limited to what’s at the table at the start of a hand. Betting your house, car, or entire business empire is not a common situation for poker players. There is no such betting limit as Net Worth Limit.

I do hope any TV researchers reading this take onboard these constructive criticisms and I look forward to not seeing the great game of poker duly mis-represented next time I watch TV. Right must go, the World Poker Tours on telly.

$30 Million Poker Winnings Frozen

This week it emerged that $30 million of poker player’s funds has been frozen by the Federal Government. This has affected thousands of US player’s wanting to cash out from sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, something already harder to achieve since the UIGEA bullshit. What surprises me most is that PokerStars and Full Tilt don’t use multiple backup payment processors, and spread the load around a bit more. Maybe they do have alternatives, but they’ve been hit by this to the tune of 30 big ones, which has gotta hurt.

At this time it seems the online poker rooms are covering the money, so don’t worry poker players! Let’s not be scared by this act of aggression, though it’s not a good sign for the future. Just remember that online poker is not illegal, even if we’re made to think it’s a crime by people who want to suppress our freedoms. Let’s just hope that Barney Frank’s regulation bill gets somewhere, which seems unlikely (even if Obama likes poker).

Today I got an interesting email from Party Poker today, which read:

You may have seen the news about the freezing of payment processor funds in the United States and its effect on certain competitor online operators. PartyGaming Plc, the parent company of PartyPartners, withdrew immediately from the United States following the change in the law that took place back in October 2006. As a result, we are completely unaffected by these recent events in the US and your account with us will not be subject to any payment issues or lost revenue streams.

I guess you can’t blame them for this mailer, but it’s a bit of a cheap shot. If they weren’t listed on the London Stock Exchange then you could bet your house that they still be in the US market. Let’s not forget how much money Party Poker made in the days when they accepted US players, and how their share price and player numbers has plummeted since their withdrawal. But yeah, if you can play at Party then they are “completely unaffected by these recent events” – go figure!

Poker and Data Mining Software

I use Poker Tracker, and I love it. The main reason why I love it, is because I can keep track of my wins and losses, right down to each session, starting hand, and so much more. It’s a useful tool for learning what mistakes I might be making and how to improve my game. Every once in a while I’ll look deep into the statistics and see where I can plug a hole or two in my game.

The other major advantage of using Poker Tracker is the HUD. For those unfamiliar with this, it basically overlays vital information about your opponents onto the table. The basic stats are; hands played, voluntary $ put into pot (not including blinds), preflop raise percentage, and overall aggression factor. Some people argue that such software is cheating or is unfair as in the real world of poker (live casino play) you have to find this information through observation, and so should be the case for online poker. However my main argument against this is that many online poker players will just be there to grind away on multiple tables, playing virtually nothing other than premium hands, and while it’s their right to do so, it wouldn’t happen in live play (people would notice and they’d get no action). Without a HUD it would be very hard to notice the players who play in this way, and they’d probably end up winning my money.

While I think a HUD is fair game, I don’t think it’s right that people’s data can be bought. There are many sites that will sell hand histories, and you can import this data into your software. I think this is wrong and is cheating. It’s not right and is bad for online poker in general. I also think sites like Sharkscope, which mines data from the sites and displays it publicly is also wrong. It’s a matter of privacy and if a player wants to win or lose then it should be their right to do so in private. I know many online poker rooms are very much against this type of data mining, and Poker Stars has banned the use of Sharkscope on their site. I think this is the right thing to do, but they are probably facing a losing battle, as there are now so many data mining sites. My fear is that one day online poker will just turn into a battle of who has the best software.

Oh and before I go, just to update on my previous post. Unfortunately I’ve not won a WSOP seat just yet. I’ll keep trying though – you just never know!