Thursday, 27 October 2016

Its Time for DNegs to Quit Pokerstars

Its almost been a year ago since the controversial changes to the VIP program by Amaya. Negreanu responded to the community in an interview talking about the changes.

Starts at 4:20 where he talks about Pokerstars. Goes on for 30 minutes.

One of the biggest things he highlighted was an "amazing promotion" in 2016 that would offset some of the negativity from these changes. This was repeated multiple times. Now it is clear that that so called amazing promotion was either cancelled, or basically never intended to happen but said to DNegs to soften the blow. With other companies this wouldn't be a consideration as its a dirty tactic, but as we've seen so far with Amaya things like this don't seem out of their reach considering the fraudulent advertising of SNE continuing.

Apart from the SNE fiasco, the biggest and most insane idea was to effectively kill off the higher stakes by having the rakeback being completely taken away from those games. This move makes no sense whatsoever from a business standpoint, as these higher games should give Pokerstars the most money in rake. Either way, Negreanu objected to this, as did the whole poker community, and they went ahead and did it anyways.

Last year Negreanu had responded by calls to quit. His defence, which seems reasonable, was that he was staying because he believed that he had the ability to influence Amaya. But its been a year now, and quite frankly its been pretty embarrassing on how out of touch he is with the online community.

Not only did this God tier promotion never happen, every change stuck including the effective destruction of high stakes games. Those players moved down stakes since it wasn't worth it anymore, therefore causing a trickle down effect on making lower staked games more reg filled and tougher.

Its clear that he doesn't play a lot of online poker, he play more live and has had success with it more. In fact he probably plays more Hearthstone then online poker these days. His experiences of playing live and Amaya's [bias] "statistics" shown reinforces their belief that online poker needs a weird ecosystem which only consists of recreationals that lose slower, winning regs, and no breakeven regs at all. Add this to the idea that (quote) "Higher rake is good for the game"

Other Pro's have taken a stand. Its clear DNegs has no influence, and therefore he doesn't have the reason to stay anymore if he is meant to represent us. If the money doesn't matter to him which it seems like it doesn't, he should quit.

Hate on Breakeven Regs & Obsession on "EcoSystem"

I just do not understand why Amaya (and Negreanu) for this matter believe that they need to influence this ecosystem so much. It seems like they're complicating it so much. I'm sure any economist looking at this business model would be completely baffled as to why they would take steps towards discouraging (mainly breakeven) regs to play.

Even if they were using the same strategy of a casino, of which Amaya's background is in, where it is player vs the house it makes no sense to me. Clearly, most of the money would be from the super rich VIPs who gamble high, get perks, and keep coming back for more. Planning things out for the year can be easier since they could assume a certain amount of money is coming in, at certain dates whenever that VIP decides to visit the casino. So your target market priority should be catering to those people.

Poker is not player vs the house, it is player vs player and the house takes a cut from the action. The house shouldn't and needn't care what happens in the game itself. All they should care about is the numbers of people playing, the more people the more rake, the more profit. I don't know where this ecosystem statistical analysis shit has come from, to me its all bullshit overcomplicating stuff with no substantial proof that this is what is happening anyway.

Here comes the Plane!

Lets compare their model to an airline business. The biggest money comes from the VIPs. These guys buy first class tickets, enjoy the VIP lounge, and most importantly have a subscription. They guarantee a number of flights a year and are encouraged to fly more by the number of perks they get. These are the regs, breakeven or winning.

The recreationals are the economy guys. They are poorer, don't spend as much, and possibly depending on how they see the service might decide not to come back. They might like it, but since they rarely fly only do so every now and then. These customers are inconsistent  money makers, and don't spend that much.

A VIP Lounge for Virgin Atlantic's most valued VIPs, a thank you to their highest paying, most regular customers! #Appreciation

If this airline decided to adopt this Amaya ecosystem then what would that look like?

  • This airline would really want a lot of economy class or one off first class customers.
  • Existing VIPs would have their perks slashed, almost to the same ones as economy customers.
  • Economy class customers that are trying to upgrade to become a VIP would not be welcome at all, in fact they would be banned and not even be allowed to buy a ticket.
  • Tickets would be sold and denied based on a economy class/VIP class ratio determined using statistical analysis. 
  • With all these changes a hike in prices all round would happen instantly.
This business model is clearly insane. The answer is simple, get more customers, get them to stay and upgrade to a VIP subscription. As much as people hate Spins, this has lured in a lot of new players, and possibly got them coming back. But then slashing all the VIP programs, blaming breakeven regs for a bad ecosystem despite the fact that they give a guaranteed income monthly/annually, and raising the rake is counter intuitive.

The Galfond Hope...

Phil Galfond has announced that he is opening a new poker site in 2017. It is something that he is pursuing to see if something can be done about this monopoly and they way we're being treated in the industry.

Not much has been confirmed about it so far, but it has been stated that it wont be available to USA players, sorry dudes.

Wow, Transparency and Feedback from a Poker Site? Can we dream one day this will happen? xD

Hopefully this can turn into something good? Unlike Negreanu he plays a lot of online, and has a better understanding from that point of view. It seems that we've all been waiting for someone to step up and take a chance. If it fails, well at least someone has tried!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

A Touristy Visit to Prague!

Last week I went to take a break in Prague. Jumping in before those Brexit prices go up, we hopped on an EasyJet flight and found an apartment for 200ish Euros for 3 people for 4 nights on!

I actually haven't had a proper holiday in about 2 years, and I decided that I might as well. I'll try to make this post helpful to you guys if your thinking about going, as well as my general observations of Czech culture! Hopefully if there are things I pointed out that aren't to my taste I don't mean to offend you helpful Czech dudes!

Literally took about 5 minutes on Tiltbook for some helpful advice. Thanks guys!

So from the Airport we took a bus (no. 100 I think) to Zlicin so that we could Metro it into town! The journey took like 20 mins, and we bought a ticket from the helpdesk for around 100 crowns, so 36 crowns per person for a "90 minute" ticket. This allowed for unlimited journeys for 90 minutes for tube and bus as far as I know.

We worked out that 30 crowns is 1 British Pounds, so that's pretty cheap! But then again, we're from Britain so almost anywhere outside of our expensive country would be considered cheap!

Once at Zlicin, we went to our apartment based in Andel which conveniently was on the same line. Not that the Metro is that complicated, especially compared to London, there are only 3 lines. We found our apartment after some google mapping and possibly an expensive phone bill later on. Our place was on top of a hill... on like the top floor... 8 flights of stairs! What exercise!

Guess which day we went to Prague Castle?
Our place was not bad for the price, but had some defects with the kettle lid not shutting, very important for us Brits and our tea, and a window to the small terrace that wouldn't shut properly. But nonetheless, the view was pretty awesome.

The Prague Castle

Armed with Lonely Guides Handbook which my sister brought, first thing we checked out was The Prague Castle. It is the largest "ancient" castle in the world according to the Guiness World Records occupying an area of 70k m squared!

The castle is divided into many different buildings and sections that you can visit. However you have to buy a ticket and different tickets gave you access to different areas. Even when we got the higher tier ticket which was 300 crowns, we found that this still didn't give us access to all areas, there were some places where you still had to pay! So beware!!

Another thing to note was that on the back of the ticket it gave you a map of what was where. Well... loosely. The numbering of buildings in Roman numerals didn't help either lol. But either way, the whole area is quite awesome, showcasing that European style of architecture.

The Golden Lane is an area close to the castle with a narrow street where the workers for the King lived.

Epic View of Prague from The Castle
Honestly as sad as this sounds, looking at this I really cant stop thinking about the new map released on Overwatch, which is based in Germany. But it still feels like the developers did their research in trying to get that European style of architecture!

Old Town (Stare Mesto) & Charles Bridge

Just like London, this city also has a river running through it. And with that comes some amazing bridges. It does seem that the river here is wider then the Thames and has many smaller canals running off it, as we see various dams and water control around.

Of course, this being the more touristy areas there are vendors selling things all over the place. There are blackened statues of Saints on the bridge, and some have sections still in gold. The most notable one being St John of Nepomuk, which has a section of it in gold and touching it will bring you good luck. But then again, its a skill game so we don't need luck right?

Asian Tourists touch St John's "Gold bit" for luck! Get out those Selfie Sticks!
The Old Town is like the tourist square of Prague. Again, vendors are everywhere and tour guides try to rip you off with horse/weird looking car rides. In the main square is the Old Town Hall, and on it is the famous Astronomical Clock erected in 1410 making it the third oldest working one in the world.

The "Times Square" of Prague?
We got there close to midday and decided to stay for to see the chimes and the excitement there was palpable. But this excitement turned into disappointment pretty quickly as all that happened was that a small door opened and some small figurines went past them. It was quite a funny moment actually as it was completely packed. In some ways its a bit of a shame because it took away from the beauty of the clock itself...

Anticipation to see what will happen when the clock strikes 12!

Beer Factory & The Jewish Quarter

One of the more niche places we found was the Brewery called "U Fleku".  We took a tour for 100 crowns and it really shows when a guide really loves showing people around. In the garden is a devil painted on the wall. It is said that this is a test to see whether you've drunk too much. If you see a dancing devil or more then one, it was time to go home! The beer is brewed and only served there and people travel there just to try it.

How drunk are you? Look at the Devil to test!
After the tour we got some food at the restaurant there. It really did have an Asterix & Obelix feel to it, as waiters would walk around with trays of pre-filled glasses of beer and shots around to hand them out, as well as a live accordion player!

Special brew! Tastes like a pale larger but is dark!

Not really sure what this was, but was very sweet like sambuca and had a good burn afterwards!
Afterwards we went to the Jewish Quarter and took a tour. This is one of the most expensive tours in Prague, priced at 380 crowns but it is quite an in depth and informative one, so if historic stuff floats your boat its quite worth it.

Pinkas Synagogue memorial. 77k Jewish names handwritten on the walls that died in WW2.

The Spanish Synagogue

10 Lessons Learned in Prague
  1. The beer is really, really good! Its more of a lighter beer, which is what I like. Usually dirt cheap like 30 crowns = £1!
  2. Smoking is still allowed everywhere, including inside restaurants. Its funny that I find this weird, but it is. Just shows how something you get used to can feel different so quick.
  3. There are tons of stairs everywhere! 
  4. Which gives me the impression that there are not a lot of fat people around as I hardly saw any?
  5. There doesn't seem to be many black or muslim people around either.
  6. Women are beautiful, but they make it harder to realise as a lot of them have RBF's.
  7. Every menu item has numbers on them which represent possible allergies. Seems like an EU regulation as its written on the last pages.
  8. Apparently charging for toilets is a great business as its everywhere, even MacDonalds! Usually 30 crowns, and don't expect that makes them clean!
  9. Czech food feels like to me has like a "Sunday Roast" style to it. Beef Goulash being the most famous, which is like a beef stew served with dumplings and/or steamed cabbages.
Beef Goulash with a side of "Dumplings"

10. And confusingly enough for a Chinese person, Czech dumplings are not steamed wraps with fillings inside, but rather a very white bread that you eat with your meat!
For when you need to get drunk asap

The Dancing House weird shape

The New Stage Theatre 

The Rudolfinum Music Hall

Retro Metros with Retro Designs
Of course I'm sure there's loads more to see, we also visited a National Park and walked around a lot. A touristy holiday can be quite exhausting if you want to see all the sites. I really love to panoramic the shit outta my iphone lol. This was a nice break, but I do prefer visiting friends that want to show you why they love their city.

Anyways, hope this is helpful if your wanting to check out Prague, its a very beautiful city!