Thursday, March 22, 2012

PokerStars Zoom Poker, like the Internet, could catch on...

As promised (threatened) here’s my take on PokerStars Zoom Poker.  I mentioned before about its “addictive” properties…in fact, I stopped off to play 50 hands just before writing this.  After three weeks of play (play money, of course, since I’m in the USA, FU-DOJ), I can report that:
  • Despite the fact that I’m more a tournament guy than a ring game guy, I love it;
  • I’ve doubled my play money stake to about $1.3 million in about 30 session of play at about 30 minutes each (yeah, I know, NBD, but it’s not like I play all the time); and
  • Like so many things in life, when magnified, flaws become evident.  In other words, fish get fishier, sharks get meaner, and if you’ve got holes in your game, you can drive a truck through them here.
If you missed all the excitement, here is the unofficial write-up (I forget where it came from, or I’d credit them):
              Real money Zoom Poker arrived on PokerStars over the weekend, with the game now available at NL2, NL5 and NL10 for Hold’em and the equivalent limits for Pot Limit Omaha.
              The game, which is very similar to the Rush Poker that proved popular on the now-suspended site Full Tilt, sees participants seated at either full ring or six-max tables, according to their preference, and then moved to another table as soon as they drop out of the hand. There is even a “fold fast” option, which sees players moved as soon as they decide to fold their hand, even if other players are still to act before them.
              Players on poker forums are reporting that they can get in excess of 250 hands per hour just playing a single table, and the software allows up to four to be played simultaneously. Up to 1,500 players are taking part in the game at any time.
              Zoom Poker is expected to be unveiled at higher stake levels in due course. “There might still be a few little bugs and things to work out before the higher stakes get here,” a PokerStars spokesman commented. The real money launch follows several months of testing the software system at play money tables.

I also just read a Poker News Daily report where other cash poker sites recorded a decline in traffic at the same time Zoom was introduced, and it was speculated that 25% of all cash game players on PokerStars were at Zoom tables.  Yikes!

I asked for comments here and on a couple of other forums, and I trolled some of the forums to see what other players are saying.  Basically players are polarized - they either love it, or think it sucks.  They either see plenty of fish and eat well, or for some reason have no patience and no success.  There is no in-between.  My favorite comment:   This is the sickest game ever. Love it so much lol. I'm a fish for new shiny things though.

I could write a book on strategy, but there’s no need - start with your basic ABC game, and then…decide whether you want to toss it away.  You see, EVERYONE ELSE is playing ABC (OK, almost everyone else), and they fall in love with their cards and forget everything else, including POSITION.  I am living proof to tell you that (a) you can play small ball (as there are more limpers than one might expect), and (b) you can bluff.  Really.

There is speculation that Zoom is only for nits, and while it does draw them a’plenty, there are some serious students of poker there who play position, play head games, and use their big stacks to bully other players.  It’s a cash game on steroids with different faces (but you’d be surprised how fast you see the same faces at your table due to the fact that you can play up to four tables at a time).

One final interesting note - yes, the Zynga factor (all-in clown ass move) exists on the play money tables (as it does at every play money table) but it’s more prevalent at the low-limit 6-max game than at the 20,000 full ring game.  Why?  Don’t know and don’t care.  A moron is a moron.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Name Change - and a Story!

The truth is, I had contemplated a name change for the blog for some time, but now is the right time (see more below).  The new name might look familiar to some of you, as it was the working title of a comprehensive book on all forms of gambling I wrote and tried to publish back in the nineties.  It was sort of an “idiot’s guide” to both the games of skill and the games of chance, and while well-written (my agent said so), it appeared that the world wasn’t ready for such a book.  Then, a year later, “The Idiot’s Guide to Gambling” hit the shelves, and it was apparent that world was ready for such a book, just not from me.

The story behind the “Wanna Bet?” comes from fourth grade.  There was this kid (we’ll call him Willie for now) who was always challenging anything anybody said.  If you said, “The Beatles are the first band to ever have five #1 hits in a row,” he’d sneer and say,

“Oh yeah?  Wanna bet?”

And you’d say sure and you’d bet a nickel and then you’d go look it up (this is before the Internet, kids…we had these things called libraries…kinda fun…ask your parents), and then Willie would get all huffy and say, “Well, double or nothing…I bet you the sky is blue, wanna bet?…” or some other nonsense crap that everyone knew was true like “I’ll bet you two and two is four, huh, wanna bet?” and the whole point is that Willie was always wrong and NEVER paid off, ever.

So the “wanna bet?” thing hung with me all through childhood and into adulthood (last month or so) and even today I get jumpy when I hear someone start out “Oh yeah…?” although nowadays they’re most likely to say, “Oh yeah, well f**k you!” which isn’t really all that different.

Now, I told you that story to tell you this one.  Obviously, I hate it when people tell you they’re right, insist that they’re right, and then, when you politely point out they’re full of it, they never pay off (financially or in other ways that would be somewhat satisfying to your soul).  Take AVAST, the “free” anti-virus software.  Please.

I’ve been using AVAST for almost 6 years now.  I like the program, especially the free part.  It does what it’s supposed to, is frequently updated with the latest threats, and…no problems, really.  I will continue to use it, but…a recent issue makes my blood boil.  It involves the newest release, version 7.something.

The long story short is that there’s a bug between AVAST and MS Outlook – it checks my email fine, but it won’t “let go” causing you to close the program with the ol’ CTRL-ALT-DEL (which brings up Task Manager where you close it un-automatically) and then you can re-open Outlook and use it normally.  Not a biggie (although every time new mail comes in it happens again, lather, rinse, repeat).  Still, I brought it to their attention at Customer Support.

Their first response (from Level 2, whatever that is), 3 days later, suggested that I make certain that I had the latest release of the program.  Wha?????  That WAS the problem.  So, I went to the forums to see if this was an isolated problem and no, it isn’t.  Several users reported similar hangs using Outlook, so in my response I told Customer Service this fact, and that maybe this is something that Level THREE might be interested in.  Their response (another 3 days) suggested this:
·       Uninstall the software
·       Clear cookies
·       Turn off firewall
·       Reinstall new software (which, in a bit of irony, he sent me a link to version 6, which didn’t go to version six as I hoped, but version 7…the buggy one).
Now, I did this knowing full well what was going to happen, and when it did, I emailed Customer Support (after getting stuck and doing the CTRL-ALT-DEL thing) and DEMANDED that they ACKNOWLEDGE that they in fact, do indeed, yes, no question about it, have a bug.

Three days later, they did so, kinda.  Bad news:  they’re not going to fix it until the NEXT update, which will be they have no idea when. 

So it’s on to Filehippo to see if I can find a copy of version 6.  I’m sure I’ll find one, and have
the last laugh on AVAST.  And I’m sure I won’t have any more problems with their Customer Support staff.

Wanna Bet?

Oh yeah, I have a new book coming out shortly, about Blackjack, not poker, hence the name change.

Monday, March 12, 2012

PokerStars adds "Zoom Poker" - have you tried it?

I'm working on a post about PokerStars new feature - Zoom Poker.  You remember RUSH POKER from Full Tilt?  (do you remember Full Tilt?  Irk irk).  Anyway, Zoom is PokerStars's version of Rush, and it's in Beta testing now.  I've been addicted to it playing it for the last five days...and would love to hear from others who have tried it to get your impressions.  And if you haven't tried it - go do it, have fun, and report back to me by commenting here. 

And thanks.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


The United States MUST, MUST, MUST find a way to legalize online poker, and soon.  And just like every politician that ever kissed a baby, I have a very good (read: selfish) reason - I will sell more books that way.

Here’s my rationale - the book started out OK on Amazon, but lately sales have been a trickle of their former selves…in the USA.  In the UK, I’ve sold a few, but in the last month, I’ve notched sales on (France) and today - (that’s Germany).  And remember - the book is NOT translated from English.  So people whose native language ISN’T English but CAN play online poker LEGALLY are buying the book.

Imagine what might happen if people who already speak English (well, American English) were allowed to play poker online.  And imagine if they needed a book to tell them how to succeed at small stakes (where damn near everyone starts).  Yeah, I did.

Sigh.  Get busy, Congress.  Or some of you states that seem smarter than Congress (just about everyone).

Oh…If you already bought the books, thanks, and go on Amazon and review it.  Please.  Lie if you have to.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Zynga - they won't let it rest...

Just saw this headline:

Just shoot me.  Do you know how I play at Zynga?  I let all the all-in freaks have their way, and then, when everyone is gone but me and 2 others...THEN I play.  And by "play" I mean "do goofy stuff and drive the all-in guy nuts."  It works about 2 out of 5 tries.