Friday, January 20, 2012

Why I Don’t Like ClubWPT

The ClubWPT experience is similar to my problems with NLOP, but it leaves a worse taste in my mouth.  Basically, the same kind of thing happened (which I will go into detail in a latter post, as I am still “testing”).  But while I did get some apologies (not nearly as profuse), I never received any answers. 

When I went to sign up at the link from the email it wouldn’t let me access the ClubWPT site nor download the software.  I tried everything with no luck. I finally got an email back from Dan at Pocket 5s (more helpful than the folks at ClubWPT) with an FTP site to download the software.  Loaded the software.  When I went to sign up the software wouldn’t let me create an account.  So I clicked on Customer Support and…I couldn’t get that website to pop up.  So I manually tried to get to the ClubWPT main site.  Nope.  Nada.  Just like the first time.

I finally reached customer support (guessed at their email address) and got some answers (they had some glitches), and I was able to sign on and sign up.  The first three times I tried to play, I was “thrown off” the system (acted like a disconnect, but I was still on the internet, so it wasn’t me).  I complained.  Not much in the way of apology or answers.  Finally, it happened in a multi-table tournament where I was running good (might have made the final table, maybe).  I tried to log off and get back on, with no results.  Couldn’t get the website, either (just like last time).  After an hour I gave up.

In email exchanges the next day, and in an on-line chat, here’s what I got:  uninstall the software, then reinstall it (and we’ll refund your points, which is nothing, really).  No real apology and no answers (and they treated me like a 5-year old…trust me, I KNOW how to uninstall software).  As of this writing I haven’t had any more problems, but I’m not encouraged.  After all, it’s still subscription poker.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why I don’t like NLOP / Card Player Poker (Zen Entertainment)

I had problems loading the NLOP software, and then, once I overcame that obstacle, it wouldn’t let me sign up for squat.  I fired off an angry email and, to their credit, they admitted a major problem (sort of) and apologized profusely.  They even scheduled (and invited me to) make-up freerolls.  Nice, but…it’s inexcusable to me to do all that beta-testing (which they did) and have an “improved” product that quite frankly wasn’t ready for prime time.  Since the big error-up, I’ve used the software a few times and I still don’t like it, won’t like it, and won’t be forking over $$$ to sign up.

Oh, forgot this - in order to install their update, the software suggested that I disable the User Access Control (in Vista and Win 7) or it wouldn’t work.  Are you kidding me?  More than 70% of all computers are running Vista or Win 7, and you want them to disconnect security?  Seriously?  Funny thing is, the third time this popped up I was going to do just that, and…then it allows the installation anyway.  Weird.

I don’t like their software interface.  Yes, PokerStars spoiled me - this one is not friendly to old eyes, with small buttons, harder-to-control slide betting dials, and so on.  Yes, I’m a crabby old man - get off my lawn.

Ads - 2 1/2 minutes for a Sit ‘n’ Go, and of course, all through the tournament.  A TEN MINUTE WAIT for a $50-in-cash freeroll - thank goodness not all ten minutes were full of ads (not that I was watching, anyway).

Slow, slow, slow software

Ads (I suppose you don’t get these when you pay, huh?)

The table doesn’t always pop back up when it’s your turn.  Well, it didn’t for me.  Just one of many software issues.  The pre-select buttons don’t always work, either.

Ads on the side, on the bottom, and constant reminders to do stuff so I can get more points (which is moot because I get 40 gazillion points every day just by logging on).

Did I mention the software is slow? Sometimes there’s a big gap of time between hands.  Split pots take forever. Slow, slow, s   l     o        w.

Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to make it to a break - more ads!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why I Don’t Like Subscription Poker

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been trying to play poker.  Emphasis on TRYING.  Yes, I tried to take advantage of two email offers I received the first week of January - one from NLOP (also Card Player poker - both run off the Zen Entertainment system), and one from ClubWPT (via Pocket 5s).  NLOP wanted me to experience their “new software” and enticed me (and hundreds others) to play in freerolls where we could win BIG CASH ($1000).  Pocket 5s pushed ClubWPT with a free one-month membership (and I could win cash on the site in their tournaments).

Neither one worked out so well.

I wasn’t much of a fan of subscription poker in the first place.  Basically, you get some points to start with that you can use at the various tables and tournaments.  To win more points, win a tournament or two.  To win cash, compete with 700 other players who play like they’ve been playing poker* on Zynga for a while (at least 30 minutes) and love to go all in and do crazy stuff and if you make the final table you might win $10, or maybe some more points.

     * or maybe they’ve been playing Farmville.  Hard to tell, really.

The game selection is far more limited than at a money site.  The only way to make money is at the multi-table tournaments - Sit ‘n’ Gos are just going to get you more points.  Ditto the tables.  It kinda makes sense for ClubWPT as the parent organization (the World Poker Tour) is a tournament-based system.  Still, if you’re a cash-game specialist, you’re SOL at NLOP or WPT.  BFD, you say? LMFAO.

The next two posts will document why I don’t like the specific software(s) of these games, like I needed any more reasons.  Still, it’s something to discuss.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Uh Oh…I Think I’ve Been Misconstrued…

Or as Charo used to say, “Mis-Con-Screwed.”  It seems that yesterday’s post has left some thinking I am all for 9 year olds playing poker online.  Nothing could be further than the truth.  I don’t think people who are too young to know what they’re doing should spend money like that.  Take those dang ring tones - 99 cents here, 99 cents there, and that stuff adds up.  The daily latte from Starbucks, too.  And what else are young people spending their money on nowadays that they shouldn’t be spending it on?  Probably lots of things (in my day it was 45 RPM records and Dairy Queen sundaes). 

You know the old saying that a fool and his money are soon parted, and while I mean no disrespect to young people, they lack the education and experience that “older people” have when it comes to spending money.  Of course, there are plenty of “older people” who waste their hard-earned money on a variety of vices, sins, extravagances and the like.  But that takes away from my point here in that young people should be taught to value money and not spend it frivolously (so that as they mature they would continue not to spend it so frivolously). And in that regard they should not spend it on gambling online.

But…I still believe they shouldn’t be spending it on all those other things I mentioned.  And yet, we only have the law prohibiting the ONE thing.  We rely on parents, society, and the “village” to take care of the rest.

That’s my issue.  We only make laws where we think we’re too weak to “discipline” others.  In my way of thinking, that means we KNOW that gambling is an irresistible temptation (because so many of us fall to its charms), and so to protect US (not the kids), we set up laws prohibiting this or that.  It’s the same thing with a lot of other so-called vices. 

Whatever happen to common sense, by the way?  Just sayin’ is all.

Sorry if you found my previous post as “unconscionable.”  And by the way, that’s how you spell it (at least I think that’s the word you wanted).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Underage Gambling? I Have the Solution.

Since there’s a lot of speculation that soon (or very soon) some states may begin to offer online poker to their residents, I thought I’d discuss one of the critical issues (to some, at least) that pops up whenever anyone thinks about expanding any form of gambling.
How do we keep the kids from it?

I mentioned in my posts below that if by chance, some state approves online poker, sets it up, some well-known casinos start to run with it, they gets some players, all is fine for a while, and then…something BAD happens (as in something BAAAAAAAAD), and that would ruin it for everyone.  Perhaps no scandal could be more significant that an expose of underage gambling.  Well, I know how to keep the little buggers from causing such problems.

I learned of this trick a long time ago, when I was a freelance writer, and I was interviewing some Lottery Director somewhere (Midwest state, I think).  They were just about to “open” their first instant lottery ticket dispensers.  Since “anyone” could just walk up to the machine and buy a ticket, what procedures would be established to stop underage players from participating?  I had heard talk of TV monitors, extra staff to supervise, credit cards required, all sorts of configurations.  The Director I was interviewing pooh-poohed all these suggestions.

“Let ‘em buy the ticket, what do I care?” he said.

I was incredulous.  How could he condone allowing youngsters to play the lottery, to spend their hard-earned allowances in the machine all in hopes of getting a winning ticket to cash…

Cash it?” he exclaimed.  “Who said anything about letting the little bastards cash in their tickets?  THAT’S when we check their age, and then dash their foolish dreams.”

And that’s the key for online poker.  Let anyone play, but when it comes time to actually draw money OUT of the system, well…you better be able to prove yourself now, y’hear?  Once word gets out that online poker is like the Hotel California, no 15-year-old will think twice about leaving the comforts of Zynga to try to thwart the legit poker rooms. 

Go away son, ya bother me…

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Poker 2012, Part 2 - Pessimism

OK, you’ve read why I feel optimistic about being able to play LEGAL online poker sometime this year, and this post takes the opposite view.  (If you didn’t read the Optimistic post, you might want to because this post makes references to it, and…well, this one is so much more so of a downer.  Be happy).

Why I am Pessimistic:

1.  Whatever happens will need the involvement of POLITICIANS.  ‘nuff said.  Especially on the Federal (read: dysfunctional) level.

2.  Whatever happens, be it Federal legislation (doubtful) or State sanctified (more likely), there will still be a need for some sort of overall Federal “OK” be it DOJ ruling, Congressional exception, etc. etc. etc.  Usually the Feds tell you what you CAN’T do, not what you CAN, and their interpretations have been…well…somewhat confusing at best.  Clarity, please.  Also, see #1.

3.  As I mentioned in the Optimistic post, states could have intra-state online poker up and running this year, but…populations being what they are, these games would only attract in-state players, which isn’t a big pool, and can’t compete with the behemoths of online poker days gone by (read: PokerStars).

4.  Yes, intra-state poker could give way to inter-state play (it almost would have to in order to be successful).  But again, this might require some sort of OK from the Feds.  See #2 and #1, especially #1.

5.  In a hurry to get things going, some state could take shortcuts, miss something, and screw it up big time.  By this I mean they could accidentally allow someone underage or not of that state to play, and the uproar might kill it for everyone.

6.  Not everyone is on the same page.  There are several Nevada gaming concerns looking positive on online poker, finally…but still others (Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson and now M Resort President Anthony Marnell III) oppose such moves.  We’re not all one big happy family.

7.  Perhaps more of a concern should be that those who were once against it are now (supposedly) for it.  Texas Rep Joe Barton (R) introduced the Online Poker Act of 2011.  A long-standing opponent of online gaming, his act seeks “clarification” but some have wondered what his motives really are.  The AGA was against it, the PPA for it.  Oh, the full name of his bill: “The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011  Another “what side is he really on?” player would be AZ Senator Jon Kyl - he has made comments to the effect of softening his stance (he’s been one of online gambling harshest foes).  He was one of two Senators who pushed the DOJ on their recent Wire Act ruling (Senator Reid-NV the other).  With friends like these…

Until such time when it all gets sorted out, US poker player live in that horrible state of limbo.  Some are making tiny deposits on some sites that say they “welcome” US players (and of course, the suspicions remain).  Some are stepping up their play to live brick and mortar action (great for those who live near a card room or casino, no option for those of us who live 2+ hours from a table).  Some are “content” to play for free on sites like Zynga (or still, for free, at non-US sites like PokerStars). 

And some plop down $19.95 a month to play at “subscription” sites like NLOP, CardPlayer, and the new ClubWPT.  Yeah…I’ll have something to say about sites like these later…when the dust settles.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Poker 2012, Part 1 - Optimism

Well, I was a man of my word.  I said I wouldn’t play poker for a few days, and I didn’t.  Still haven’t.  Partly because of my attitude (see post below), and…well, thank you germs.  I’ve been laid back and out for most of the week battling this damn cold, and by the time I was well enough in the head to consider getting back to active play, other stuff got in the way (end of year taxes for the biz).  So playing is still a bit off, but I did get to spend much of my laid-up time reading (and watching the occasional football), so I feel more than prepared to write my first posts for this year, all about…this year.

Much of what I’ve read in the last two weeks captures the essence of this post and the next one - it seems like a time for optimism AND pessimism.  This post will explain why I’m very optimistic about being able to play LEGAL online poker sometime this year, and the next post will take the dark side.

Why I am Optimistic:

1.  I always have HOPE (although I know that hope is not a plan).

2.  It’s MORE than time this thing got resolved.

3.  The recent Department of Justice decision regarding the 1961 Wire Act.  This supposedly only applies to sports betting; allowing states the right to offer their lotteries online, and the thinking is that online poker will soon follow. 

4.  Several individual states are getting their legislative act in gear - Nevada, New Jersey, DC, and others may have the “OK” in place sometime soon, allowing for INTRA-state online poker.  That means only those living in Nevada could play…but see #5.

5.  The precedent for INTER-state play has already been set - twice.  Powerball and Mega Million lotteries are inter-state, as is horse racing simulcasts.  It seems that while some states could opt-out of being a part of online poker, many more would have some sort of reciprocal agreement and want to opt-in.

6.  Many of those who used to be opposed to online gambling now seem to be on the “let’s do it” side.  Most important of these are the major casinos, as they now see how they might be able to get a piece of the action.

7.  Finally, it just might be that this is no longer a morality issue.  I have no idea why Congress felt it needed to sneak thought the legislation that became the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006.  I always suspect, due to those who were in favor, that gambling is still seen as one of those sins that we Americans are always in need of protection from.  But, like so much that used to be a sin but which is now seen as “normal” (don’t start me), the “threat” on online gambling is much, much lower than ever before.  Poker is everywhere…EXCEPT online, so morality isn’t the issue anymore.

Next time - why I’m pessimistic.