Posts Tagged ‘Online Poker

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.

21
Dec
09

The Lost Boyd

Let me take you back to 2004. Poker was in the midst of the ‘Moneymaker Effect’, the world was captivated and confused in equal measure by Greg ‘Fossilman’ Raymer, and The Crew were set to take over the world.

Led by Russ ‘Dutch’ Boyd, and featuring an assortment of exciting young players including bracelet winners Brett Jungblut and Scott Fischman, The Crew were seen by some to be emblematic of the first wave of young internet pros.

But the game has passed them by somewhat, with Fischman the only member of the group close to keeping pace with the even younger and even more aggressive twentysomethings coming through towards the end of the decade.

Even Fischman’s final table at 2008s WSOPE Main Event pales in comparison to the expectations surrounding The Crew when they burst on to the scene in the first half of the decade.

Now Boyd is back in the news, but it’s not for his poker play.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=scott+fischman&iid=1861118″ src=”0/1/d/3/NBCs_4th_National_b189.jpg?adImageId=9578592&imageId=1861118″ width=”428″ height=”594″ /]

Crew member Scott Fischman

……….

2+2=5

It emerged recently that the 29-year-old is being sued by popular poker forum Two Plus Two for trademark infringement, with regards to the domain name ‘twoplustwopoker.com’ which he registered in 2004.

Despite the name having expired, Two Plus Two owner Mason Malmuth continues to seek damages from Boyd for what he has described as a “blatantly infringing, bad-faith registration.”

As Boyd’s site – when it existed – offered links to other poker-themed websites, so it is easy to see why Malmuth would take issue with what he might see as an exploitation of the respected ‘Two Plus Two’ banner for Boyd’s personal gain.

So, what has caused someone like Boyd, who once had the potential to let his poker do the talking, to find himself back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons?

Spot of bother

This is not the first time controversy has courted the University of Missouri graduate. Back in 2001, before his WSOP breakthrough, his ‘PokerSpot’ online cardroom landed him in all sorts of difficulties.

When PokerSpot closed down, it was alleged that the company failed to return players’ funds to the tune of around $400,000.

After months of silence, during which a number of players were unable to withdraw funds from the site for a variety of reasons, Boyd provided this open letter.

And the main issue to this day is arguably not the failure to recompense people who deposited money on PokerSpot per se, but rather the alleged reneging on promises – that’s right, promises – that the money would be returned.

Of course I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but if this money is still yet to find its way back to its rightful owners, then might Boyd be able to pay back any existing debts with the money earned through his more recent venture twoplustwopoker.com?

Dutch courage

It is certainly true that the online game is not what it once was. The top players are increasingly aggressive, the pots are getting bigger, and the variance is growing to unprecedented levels.

And while many pros have no trouble making money from the online game, several of them have begun looking elsewhere to generate a more steady income to augment the money they make playing poker.

Howard Lederer, once one of the best players in the world, has arguably found it hard to compete with the best of the best as the structure and makeup of the game has changed.

But he is now seemingly set for life due to his involvement with Full Tilt Poker, a company which brings in many millions a year for the 14 pros who make up ‘Team Full Tilt.’

With this in mind, Boyd’s early venture with PokerSpot showed him to be ahead of his time. But the bottom line is it didn’t work out for him, in terms of income and reputation.

And surely the best option for Boyd is to stay away from controversy, stay out of the headlines, and go back to doing what he does best so he remains well-known as a poker player.

At this stage I do not want to say too much, as as far as I can tell the talks between Boyd and Malmuth are still ongoing and the argument – if not necessarily ‘raging’ – is still very much alive.

All I feel justified to comment on so far is the fall from grace of a player who had the potential to become one of the game’s greatest.

Now, unless a resolution can be found, it looks as though Boyd may be travelling down the same road once trodden by his namesake Russ Hamilton – a road which may end in him being remembered for something other than his poker ability.

And I think we can all agree that this would be a huge shame, as – regardless of the dated and sometime-ridiculous marketing of the crew – there is no doubting the talent and intellect of Dutch Boyd.

Scott Fischman’s website: http://www.scottfischman.com/

Howard Lederer profile: http://www.fulltiltpoker.com/howard-lederer

Team Full Tilt: http://www.fulltiltpoker.com/our-team

15
Nov
09

Just a kid with a dream

Nothing excites young poker fans more than an unknown player emerging from nowhere to take on the big guns.

The classic example of such a player is Phil Hellmuth, who was a new name for many when he became world champion in 1989.

But the rise of internet poker has added a new dimension to the journey of the challenger – complete anonymity, save for a screen name.

The daily grind

As soon as a new name sits down at the same online table as Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius or one of the many other high-stakes pros, speculation begins as to his or her identity.

Occasionally it will emerge that the player in question is a regular in mid-stakes cash games who has decided to ‘take a shot’ at the big time.

Of course, such a decision is a huge gamble for most players, but they could do worse than taking a leaf out of Tom Dwan’s book.

Top high-stakes pro Tom 'Durrrr' Dwan

Dwan, known online as ‘durrrr’, started out with a bankroll of $50 and played $6 tournaments to build this up to an amount which he could take to the cash tables.

He patiently decided to grind his way up the stakes, before taking on the big names only after attaining plenty of cash-game experience.

And look at him now. At just 23 years of age, durrrr is the newest member of Team Full Tilt, entitling him to a percentage of the lucrative Full Tilt Poker company and ensuring he will probably never have to worry about money again in his life.

But how much did you lose?

Dwan claims that he has never gone broke in all his time playing poker, despite reported seven-figure downswings, but who knows if the same can be said for some of the other youngsters who flirt with celebrity and poker immortality.

Within weeks of sitting down with $250,000 at a high-stakes online cash table, even a few days’ absence from the tables can lead to an online ‘superstar’ being ‘confirmed busto’ by the often-unforgiving Two Plus Two forums.

The latest to try their luck goes by the name of ‘Isildur1’, but who knows how long he (or she) will last before being replaced by another magnet for applause and abuse.

Online poker is a fickle business.

Danger is my middle name

It seems as though the gamble doesn’t pay off for a number of young pretenders, but the few who succeed are in line for huge rewards and even greater acclaim.

One prime example is Di ‘Urindanger’ Dang, who won the biggest pot in the history of online poker when his pocket aces defeated the pocket kings of none other than durrrr.

Di Dang (right) and his brother Hac (middle) are two online pros who have proven to be no flash in the pan

And many other online whizzkids have adapted their skills to the live game, with Matt Graham and Matt Hawrilenko winning bracelets at this year’s World Series of Poker and Joe Cada taking down the Main Event title.

With all these success stories, no wonder they keep coming back.

Tom Dwan signs for Team Full Tilt: http://www.fulltiltpoker.com/tom-durrrr-dwan-signs-to-team-full-tilt

Full Tilt Poker: http://www.fulltiltpoker.com/




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.

RSS pokernews.com latest stories

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Phil Hellmuth’s tweets

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Daniel Negreanu’s tweets

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.