Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Pokerstars Rake Increases AGAIN

More Bad News Bears For Players


Pokerstars announced a few days ago that more rake rises are going to come in a week. It continues to destroy its old reputation of listening to customers and being "the people's" online poker site. Clearly, after the constant battering of its customers, then kicking them whilst their down, and then going in for another round of beatings at the hospital, it still wasn't enough!

As is of most corporations these days, they employ a non negotiable policy which is really more in align with dictatorships rather then democracy these days. They are right, you are not. Even strikes/boycotts hardly ever deliver change. It is more important to not back down and show weakness to their investors. It seems so rare these days to find companies go back on things because of their customers, which is so sad to see.
  • Spin and Go's $1 to $30 stake will see rake increase of 1%
  • MTTs see rake added to rebuys and add ons
  • MTT hyper turbos rake increase to 5%
  • Cap and percentage of rake will be increased in NL and PL games, mostly heads up.
  • Overall impact is about 4% increase in rake
Rake is super important for figuring out winrates in each game. The higher the rake becomes, the harder the games become to beat because there is less prize money to go round. So on top of the decreasing of their bonus schemes, they have decided to make the games harder in an already regged filled community. 

What surprises me is the fact that they are still going after Spin and Go's which are literally their only saving grace when it comes to SNGs. Every other SNG game is losing traffic, and popularity and they are not worried about jeopardising their only game that brings in recreationals.

Unfair Comparisons

Pokerstars laughably tried to justify their changes by comparing themselves to their "competitors" to justify this move. You cannot compare Pokerstars that has weekly average traffic of 150k players a week to 888poker (2k average), iPoker (1300 average) and PartyPoker (1150 average) according to PokerScout.

Pokerstars hilarious comparison chart. If you have data comparing multi-million supermarkets to your local cornershop does it have any relevance at all?
Here, Walmart (or Tescos in UK) is comparing itself to the cornershop and upping all their prices to match those. It is a ridiculous stance. Prices are obviously higher in a cornershop because they have less manoeuvrability to pay for their bills in a family run business, compared to huge shops buy in mass bulk, have huge buildings, have tons of employees, etc etc

In fact it would not be unfair to even say that they are not competitors at all, simply because anything they do doesn't even scratch Pokerstars traffic or player base at all. Pokerstars is clearly a monopoly, and they would not make these moves if they had a more even competitor. This is why these changes are unfair. Because they are happening whether you like it or not, and since they're the only ones in the market place so you either accept it or don't play online poker.

Pokerstars is like Internet Explorer coming on every windows installed PC. Remember those days? 

Even for some people who are still big Pokerstars fans it is too much. In this article, Robbie Strazynski talks about how increases in rake actually doesn't need to happen with this much urgency.
A look at page 28 of Amaya’s 2015 annual information form reveals that “The Corporation may prioritize customer growth and engagement and the customer experience over short-term financial results.”
It is clear that Amaya is ignoring this and going for the short term. Even with this in their handbook it amazes the poker community at how much more kickings they can take when they are down. Which is crazy, it means they actually don't have to do this and are choosing to!

Days of Economists over Specialists

There is quite a shocking move in Western societies where the higher ups are listening to economists more then people of specialities in certain fields. Looking at numbers, trends, and data only to use that to form decisions is a shocking choice when there are specialists in their fields that have spent years understanding it. Data summarises everything and unpersonalises everything into one nice easy pill. For the greater good!

This is what Amaya is doing. In January, Daniel Dvoress, Isaac Haxton and Dani Stern were invited by Daniel Negraenu to go to Ilse of Man Pokerstars headquarters to talk. For what seemed like a negotiation, quickly turned into a pointless media promotion for Amaya. Dani Stern posts about his experience here.

One of the interesting things was when they were talking about the removal of all FPP/VPPs in high stakes, and how Amaya presented them with statistics to suggest that it was worth doing. What was shown, was the statistics of a bunch of top winning players at those stakes, clearly not showing the majority of average players and recreationals that would benefit from the rakeback system.

It is clear that Amaya has a bunch of statisticians who have run simulations to suggest that this is good for the ecosystem. Regs are bad and recreationals are where the money is at. Maybe they are adding in the benefits of casuals going to poker, and then using the Casino and Sports Betting. They are going with this advice, instead of asking the community or current specialists in this field who have years of experience. It is the data that is skewed towards what they want to see. Most pre Amaya Pokerstars staff has left, it worries me at how many people are left that actually know what they're doing.

Sufficed to say, after this meeting nothing changed, despite Negreanu saying everyone was happy.

Political Timing Tells

Jo Moore worked in the press office for the government in the UK, and promptly resigned from her post after an email was leaked from her saying "Today is a good day to get out anything we want to bury". The day she sent out that email was the day 9/11 happened.

What she did happens all the time, but is something that is never said. It is the political strategy of releasing bad news that needs to be told, when there is a distraction happening. And it is no mistake that this announcement of rake changes happened on the day that New Jersey Pokerstars opened its doors.

I'm glad that Pokerstars is back in America, be it New Jersey, but yet again they fail to realise that this community is one of the smartest ever and that dirty tactics like this can be spotted a mile away. It is shocking how blatent Amaya can be, and to treat the community like they're so dumb really shows that they either have no idea what they're doing in terms of media promotion, or they just don't care how things look at all. I don't know which one is worse.

Who really knows when good news is gonna turn up from Pokerstars for once. Negreanu has constantly been going on about some great promotion that will turn up that will counter balance the VIP changes from last year that he was unable to announce. It amazes me how that guy still defends Pokerstars. It honestly has to be some crazy amazing fucking promotion for it to counter all the shit this community has taken over the past year...

Saturday, 5 March 2016

The 200x Spin

Sorry about the lack of posts, I've honestly been procrastinating hard! I don't really have a schedule or anything with these, but I did plan to do ~1 a week. Using the first tip... start it so you'll have the urge to finish! Wish I used that tip a lot more when I was studying...

One Game for $3000

Last Sunday I got a 200x. I've played about 12k number of games before this one popped up, so I was "due" one so to speak. I was told you should get a top 3 every 10k games or so, but of course since its random it doesn't work like clockwork.

The lure of Spin and Go's is hitting one of the top 3, especially the top one. But as a reg that isn't the priority, its about beating the games outright without relying on the multipliers. Many great players are doing this right now, but its a rough ride because of nature of this format.

Before, in other fast SNG formats, you would be at the mercy of how the cards fall in certain situations of the end game. It could be that you don't hold up or that you run into bigger hands which cant be helped. But with Spins, you have this as well as the prizepool being random, and most of the time a 2x the buy in "losing" format.

The funny thing was that I had just beat DeadInMay in a Heads Up in the direct previous game before the 200x [#Brag]. In clicking the register button and then seeing his username there, I was actually annoyed with myself because I didn't want to be in another game with this regular. It is a good idea to wait a few seconds before regging a new game, to allow the other reg to click first and decrease the chance that you will be in the same game as him again. But sometimes in a session you go on autopilot with clicking that button and its common to be in the same games quite a bit.

The 200x popped up, and the background colour was red. I play hyper simple theme on Pokerstars, so normally 2x's are Blue, 4x's are Turquoise, 6x's are Light Green, 10x's are Dark Green, and 25x's are Purple. Another thing that was also instantly noticeable was at the top of the table it says the prizepool. But since top 3 are paid out, this is significantly bigger because it lists out 3 payouts instead of one.

I saw so many spinning prizepools that it took me a good while before I realised it was $3600!

The Recreational Rides the Momentum

With the reads I had on the other reg, I felt that if I beat him then I would have a great chance vs the other recreational player.

The game started out with DeadInMay and the casual pulling punches. Going back and forth. He was quite stubborn and didn't seem to want to fold much. I soon picked up the chip lead vs DeadInMay who got it in with a straight vs my 2 pair and I filled up to a full house.

A few hands later, he opened I rejammed with A7 and the recreational woke up with 99 and the reg called with KJ. Ace for the win! I did hit it, but TheDirektor also hit a 9 for a set and he trebled up KO'ing the reg. What is funny is that I cover up the community cards and only look when it is over, so I actually had no idea that I had hit the ace til afterwards. The stress isn't worth it, and once your all in, see the cards that are called before it, and whether you win or lose.

I was still going into heads up vs a recreational with the chip lead. A dream scenario for any reg. However, I ran into a lot of awkward spots plus a lacklustre decent starting hands and/or boards post flop vs a stubborn opponent who didn't like to fold. In this fast 3 minute blind level game, things can change quickly.

In the end, my AA was too little too late and my trapping limp with a short stack at t100 (15bbs in play between us!) was coolered when the board made him trips on the turn.

On reflection, I didn't adjust vs him very well. I chose some questionable bluffing spots, and in turn also was too nitty vs his aggression. Then later on, he tightened up and I didn't shove loose enough.

Whats made worse was I had to play some more games after this to keep my pace and those didn't go well. But $300 for 2nd isn't terrible, as 100x, 200x and 10,000x 3rd and 2nd still get 10%.

It has to be said though, that it was well played by him. "GG" as would be said. As poker has aged and players has improved, the edge has decreased and casual player traffic has gone down significantly. Bumhunting (In cash games where a casual plays and regs follow him around for action) like wolves doesn't help bring in more new players. Its an unfriendly place for the recreational player, and only the hardcore stick around.

Spins certainly even things out for recreationals, especially for the short run in situations like this. He may not has had years of studying like me and other regs, but he certainly played to the best of his ability and wasn't scared to call down and play the board. "You cant nit your way to a win", I was told after a review session, being referred to some of the spots I played in the game. Thinking back he certainly didn't, so credit is given where its due, hell he managed to beat two regulars!

Check out for a Poker style Facebook!
If anything of this I hope that more recreationals play poker in general. If your reading this and thinking about having a dabble, go ahead and load up some $1 games! We need to put the fun back in these games and somehow make them more inviting somehow. If not they'll die and all the potential players will be playing Hearthstone!

Either way, whatever is said about this format, it was sparked a lot more traffic and casual players back into the single table format, of which was dying since Black Friday. It will be interesting to see what Pokerstars does to try and get new players in, will they introduce more jackpot formats like this?

Anyways, hope you guys run good at the tables, hopefully I wont procratinate so much til my next post!