Posts Tagged ‘Negreanu

10
Aug
10

Where do we go from here? – Cake Poker’s vulnerabilities

Online poker has been no stranger to controversy in recent years. Many believe the scandals at Absolute Poker and UltimateBet set the game back a few years, with some casual recreational players – perhaps the most common “donators” in the game – reluctant to trust a system under which seemingly blatant cheating went undetected for such a long period of time. Rather than placing trust in the fact that such cheating was eventually detectable, many may have been more eager to cry foul and explain away their losses – although of course the poker economy will have suffered as much through a failure to attract new players as through existing players dropping off the spectrum.

Perhaps equally significant is the realisation that the support or endorsement of a recognised pro can no longer be taken as a guarantee of safety. You need look no further than former World Series of Poker Main Event champion Russ Hamilton’s involvement with Ultimate Bet to understand that. In an age where television producers are peppering our screens with poker show after poker show, creating celebrities out of the likes of Negreanu, Hellmuth and Matusow (not to mention the appearances of Annie Duke and Jean-Robert Bellande on more mainstream shows The Apprentice and Survivor respectively), one might expect the idea of a name pro drawing punters to a poker site to be little more than a formality. However when some prospective players look, for example, at Antonio Esfandiari endorsing Victory Poker, they may be liable to think “what does he have to gain from this venture?”

It seems as though every time online poker looks to be playing itself back into the public’s good books, it takes another step back towards disrepute. The latest site to fall foul of a scandal is Cake Poker, whose security setup has been “exposed” by PokerTableRatings.com (PTR). The suggestion that “superusers” may be able to profit from seeing opponents’ hole-cards hearkens back to the Absolute Poker scenario, and Cake’s cardroom manager Lee Jones has seemingly been burdened with the task of placating critics.

Jones was – at least until recently – viewed by many as one of online poker’s “good guys.” Formerly occupying senior positions at Pokerstars and Cardrunners, few questioned Jones’ motives for joining Cake. And his supporters have by and large been vindicated in their trust up to this point, with the Bluff columnist taking an active role in answering queries and criticism on the Two Plus Two forums. But suspicions were raised when he was seen to be dodging some of the more difficult questions thrown his way.

Cake Poker cardroom manager Lee Jones

Before any more is uncovered about the situation at Cake Poker, it is only fair to look at Jones’ actions at face value. He certainly appeared to be trying his best to defuse the situation, using all the information at his disposal to respond to the queries of concerned players worried their money might be at risk. His failure to keep up the efficiency of his responses – while not in itself suggesting deceit or anything of the sort – certainly raises alarm bells. In an ideal world, all poker sites should be run with a degree of efficiency which ensures there are no “difficult” questions to answer. At the very least it should be easy for sites to deal with those questions which seem difficult at face value, and provide an explanation whenever pressed to do so. Given what has come before in the world of online poker, one man’s silence can often speak louder than even the most dubious excuse, particularly when preceded by such vocal attempts to provide a rational and thought-out explanation.

It could be the case that Lee Jones is a victim of his own efficiency and cooperation, suffering merely as a consequence of being so helpful and trustworthy in the past. We need to understand that this situation is different from minor faults and quibbles uncovered up to this point, and it is not unreasonable to expect those at Cake to take longer to provide answers in the light of their greatest challenge to date. The issue which perhaps should be at the forefront of our inquiring minds is the question of why Cake refused to cease operating once the flaws had been uncovered by PTR. In the long run, such an admission of concern would exonerate Cake’s management of any suggestions of negligence in allowing potential superusers to continue profiting from flaws which are now in the public domain. The longer behaviour like this continues, the more sceptics will look to put two and two together and make five. It is surely only a matter of time before unfounded cries of “inside job” begin to surface and Cake begins to be discussed in the same light as Absolute Poker or UltimateBet.

***

Cake have taken steps to protect their reputation in the last few days, with a comprehensive statement issued by Lee Jones going some way to clarifying the situation and revealing the reasons for some of the decisions taken. It remains to be seen whether this course of action proves to be well-received by those who initally questioned Jones’ prolonged silence. It is not unreasonable to think the level to which such a response is appreciated will correlate to the future security of Cake. That is to say, if no further problems surface, this explanation may be accepted, but Cake run the risk of further criticism if future problems lead critics to view such an explanation as merely compounding existing issues and sweeping concerns under the carpet.

Sites in Cake’s position should always be prepared to let their reputation take a hit from which they are able to recover, rather than sullying their good name to the point that their errors or misdemeanours spread through the rest of the game. Sometimes you must take a step back to continue moving forward.

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07
Jun
10

This is beyond fairytale, it’s inconceivable

It seems like just yesterday that Joe Cada’s pocket nines held up against Darvin Moon’s queen-jack in the final hand of the 2009 World Series of Poker main event, but now the greatest tournament in the world is upon us again.

Cada, now 22, has been fairly active in the opening events, and there have been a number of other good stories already.

Michael Mizrachi and brother Robert both made the final table of the $50,000 Players’ Championship, with ‘The Grinder’ taking home the precious bracelet and then almost repeating the feat in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud World Championships.

Michael Mizrachi has already won over $1.6million in this year's World Series of Poker

Englishman Praz Bansi followed up his third place finish at the WSOPE main event by securing his second bracelet in a $1,500 No Limit Hold ‘Em event.

Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen, second in all-time World Series cashes, won his first bracelet for seven years.

And Phil Hellmuth fell just short of a record 12th World Series title when he finished 15th in event #8, a tournament won by Canadian student Pascal LeFrancois.

But the main talking point in the series so far came in the early hours of this morning, when Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan finished second to New Zealander Simon Watt after an epic heads-up battle.

Victory for Dwan would have reportedly changed the face of poker worldwide, and not just because of the $614,248 he would have scooped for first place.

The 23-year-old, a regular in the highest-stakes cash games, made a number of bracelet bets before the series began, with a variety of top players – including Phil Ivey and David Benyamine – set to make Dwan up to $10million richer if he wins a bracelet, if reports are to be believed.

This raised, and indeed continues to raise, a number of questions.

Tom Dwan still has 40 events in this World Series to win a bracelet

First, when play got heads-up in event #11, many observers speculated whether Dwan would be willing to go all-in on a coin-flip, given that he would in theory not be flipping for a $300,000 prize difference, but rather for several million.

Secondly, it hopefully puts an end to suggestions that Dwan is a flash-in-the-pan success. His performances on High Stakes Poker and other televised cash games had already seen many doubters warm to the New Jersey resident, and his third World Series final table (all in different forms of the game, it is worth adding) hopefully demonstrate he has many strings to his bow.

And finally, Dwan’s prop-bets would seem to remove any doubt over whether some cash-game high-rollers don’t take the World Series that seriously. It has been suggested that, as the first prize money only equates to a handful of buy-ins in Bobby’s Room, the likes of Dwan, Gus Hansen and Patrik Antonius would rather forego the slog of tournaments and head to the cash games ‘where the real action is.’

If Phil Ivey’s run in last year’s main event, as well as Daniel Negreanu’s second-place finish in the WSOPE Main Event began to close the door on that myth, Dwan’s performance has slammed it firmly shut. Side-bets or no side-bets, the prestige of winning a World Series bracelet has no cash value. The action on the side may spice things up a little, but only to the point where there is absolutely no excuse not to gun for first place wherever possible.

Now only one question remains: with 40 events remaining in this year’s series, will Tom Dwan be able to capture that elusive first bracelet and pocket a little extra on the side?




Hi I’m Tom. I’m a freelance journalist, and I recently completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism at Cardiff University. In my spare time I like to play, watch and talk about poker. I hope you enjoy reading my blog.

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