Hi all. Sorry for the silence... I had a bunch of things going on and blogging became a much lower priority:
* My mom came to visit for 3 weeks and we were busy enjoying her company.
* Kids on vacation = no vacation for DoubleFly
* The interest rate markets have become surprisingly active, so I've been doing a little more work on that front.
So in what little free time I've had, I've been playing some poker and blogging has taken a bit of a back-seat. I'm actually debating if this is something I want to continue with. I loved writing when I could do it every day, but now that I have a lot of other things taking up my time, it's starting to seem more like "work" than something I do for "fun". I'll probably mull it over the rest of the year. It doesn't help that I've had a bunch of downers related to poker:
* I had a really ugly disagreement with Will Hill over my affiliate agreement. I don't want to get into it, and we are trying to work it out, but the whole incident really soured me on anything related to affiliate programs.
* I had my first DOWN month since I started playing poker almost 6 years ago - back in May. I didn't get in as much volume as I would have liked, so the variance in a small sample was going to catch up with me eventually. But I came back strong in June, July and now August. Sometimes, you need a little nudge to get things back on track.
* It was pretty shocking finding out Alan Jackson on BFP looked at stats in a similar way as I did, and he was sharing it with everyone. But the old man still has a bunch of tricks up his sleeve. Poker's all bout staying one step ahead.
Sorry about the abbreviated post, but a few people were asking where I was (and if I were dead, etc...) so I thought I would pot an update. Hope you guys are all enjoying your summers.
So how do the US sites stack up? My quarterly review of PokerScout data continues...
1. Bodog. I guess this site must be super-fishy. Because anonymous tables, 4 table max and low rewards aren't exactly reg-friendly. Maybe one day when I have some free time, I'll give this a look.
2. Revolution. This is what happens to sites that take 5 months to pay out. Not sure what happened... I can only imagine they must've had a huge cash shortfall (like the DOJ seizing some of their assets, or a processor running away with their money, or Jen Larson needing a ton of plastic surgery to escape of the wrath of people she embezzled). In any event, it looks like the transfer times are getting a little better (but still incredibly poor),
3. Merge. $4 max rake for NL400 and below and $5 max rake for NL600 and above. Apparently management is so out-of-touch with the games today that they thought this was a good move. Umm... no. Doublefly's prediction is that by the end of the year, they will be the #5 US poker site in volume (at best). They will be surpassed by Winning and Ultimate Poker - easily.
4. Winning Poker. Why "easily"? Because Winning is the only site where: 1) Rake is "normal," 2) Payouts are reasonable (for a US-facing site), AND 3) You can multitable with a HUD. Wow. Such basic requirements for a poker site, and yet none of the top 3 meet all three criteria. So if you need a great deal on Black Chip and I'll add in some "stuff" like a free database review, HH opinions, and other stuff, send me an email (email@example.com), along with your 2+2 screen name.
So here is my quarterly review of the top poker site traffic from PokerScout. I do believe we are approaching the seasonal lows, with finals, summer vacation and the WSOP around the corner.
1. Stars - TBH, I don't think the games are that bad. And making
over $100K as an SNE is nothing to sneeze at in this environment. Yeah - maybe there aren't
as many fish, but if you can't beat some guy playing 24-48 tables at a
time taking less than 4 seconds on average to make a decision, something
may be wrong with you. And there's something to be said about the fact
that they are the 800lb gorilla and will probably do what they can to
make sure everything is legit and running smoothly. I hear that they developed anti-ratholing guidelines recently - that's always a plus for the industry when the leader makes a move. They aren't the leader for nothing.
2. FT - Their popularity keeps dropping and dropping. The two proven
ways to keep a site going are: (1) get more fish, (2) pay regs more.
They are doing a horrible job at both and the traffic stats confirm
this. I always thought they should focus more on route #2 because their
brand is somewhat tainted post Black Friday. I know fish are retarded,
but even retards are going to be leery about going to a place that just
scammed all of its customers (even if under new management). There are
tons of regs
that just love the software (like me). Instead, they chintzed us by
offering 30-35% rewards (in line with Party and 888), and
we said GFY. So if they are going to focus on #1, they should at least
open a sportsbook or something. I hear handicapped horse racing is
making a comeback (see Party). Thankfully, they are supposed to bring back Black Card, and they added a new twist by selecting top players in various categories for a temporary sponsorship. So things are starting to look better.
3. Ipoker - Yes. Their software is terrible. And they recently took a dip from punishing a bunch of fishy skins. But there is no other
site that is still relatively fishy where you can get phenomenal rewards for relatively modest play...
especially if you know someone awesome. Eh hem. Can't stop coughing for some reason. Anyway,
hence the new gigantic banner on the blog. I had previously rejected
all inquiries about a banner ad, but I finally felt like this was an
appropriate time to "sell out". :-) Mostly it was because with
retarded moves by Party and FT (initially), our choices are becoming more limited. They recently added bonuses you can play off that are much
better than taking the cash, so you make about 15% more in rakeback than
before. And if you know someone awesome (cough cough), maybe they can
add in some "stuff" like a free database review, HH opinions, and other stuff.
If you are interested in playing on William Hill (a top tier skin), send
me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), along with your 2+2 screen name. The games are getting
tougher all the time, and you need every edge you can get.
That concludes the shill portion of my post. :-)
4. Party - F.U. Segregation goes against many of the things that make poker so great - being able to compete against the best, freedom of choice, etc. If you want to protect the new player, just have them play the play money tables or limit their buy-in level until you think they are ready. That's what multiple buy-in levels are for!!! FT actually started noob tables, which I don't totally hate. If you need to control bumhunting at higher stakes, there are better ways (later post). But don't penalize people for being good at what they do. This isn't a handicap race - I'm a god damn poker thoroughbred wanting to run in the Triple Crown. I have no interest in having to carry extra weight to even out the competition. I was so happy to hear that BWIN.Party's Q`1 revenues fell 17%, led by a 37% drop in poker revenue. Bah ha ha ha! That's what you get for screwing regs.
5. 888 - I'm still having trouble getting over the mental hurdle of paying max $3.50-$4.00 in rake. Especially since people are getting it in lighter and lighter. I understand that sometimes you can pay $4 for a cup of coffee when the one across the street is only $2.50. But if it's close enough in quality, I'm going to go for the cheaper one. I also don't want the poker sites to think it's okay to charge more rake. With the games getting tougher, the trend over time should be lower... not higher. You vote with your feet. But the traffic trends don't lie - and they've been hanging in there for a while. Not sure if this is going to be my next rant, but since I have been known to splurge on a good cup of coffee once in a while, I'll hold off (for now).
Sorry about the late post. I've been super-busy with personal stuff, including having to go down to Houston for a long weekend for a wedding. Sadly, it was the cousin of the young man who died two months ago. I'm glad for my friends that they were able to get though it. Because as happy as I know they were for their nephew and his new bride, there was a big part of them that probably kept thinking that they would never see their own son getting married. And then we had out-of-town guests stay with us for a few days.
I thought I would talk about my goals for last month:
1. [ ] 100k+ Hands
2. [ ] 50 BIs
3. [ ] lose 10lbs
4. [ ] work
out 2x a week 5. [x] try to click < 50% of Tonna's spoilers
See a pattern there? You may be saying to yourself, "at least you got one thing checked off." Well, not really - it was mostly because I stopped reading the Stars thread altogether - haven't had time. So basically, I was 0 for 5. This is the type of role model I want to be for my kids.
To be fair, I was pretty close on the first three. Never got to working out... exercise equipment still broken. Still too lazy to fix it myself and too cheap to pay someone to do it.
In all seriousness though, I was really busy last month. I feel like I'm in a bit of a time warp because I wasn't goofing around (much), but I have no idea where all the time went. I helped out a little with the elementary school book fair, spent some time with the kids (my 5 year old is getting really good at Mario Kart - even beat me a few times), tried to fix my 30" monitor that broke from apparent overheating, watched a bunch of poker videos, did some more poker affiliate/staking stuff, and took a glance at the interest rate markets every now and then to confirm they were doing nothing (and they were).
I guess the only goof-off thing I've been doing (other than this blog - ah hem) is crushing what I can only imagine is some poor 6 year old (I hope it's not an adult with a 6 year old vocabulary) at Scrabble or WordsWithFriends before I go to sleep. My sn is doublefly22 on Scrabble and Doublefly on WWF, in case you want to take on the old man. I haven't seen any baseball, basketball, hockey or golf in months - I actually got rid of the TV in my office because I found it too distracting. I just sit in my office all day doing "stuff." Maybe this is what happens to old people - stuff just starts slowing down to the point where even when you think you are doing "stuff," other people just see you sitting there doing nothing. Or maybe there's something else...
The other day, a good friend of mine and I went to a local sushi restaurant for lunch. They have pretty good bluefin toro on the menu, and it was one of our favorite places to go. But a strange thing happened. Even though we had been good customers for years, he said they had a change of supplier and instead served us what could only be described as "Chicken of the Sea." I had to spit that shit out it was so bad. I was just like WTF?!? Then he says they also had to increase prices 66%. So I told him to go fuck himself, and went to the men's room to try and rinse that shit out of my mouth.
On my way back, I notice other patrons I had never seen before eating MY bluefin toro. Seriously?!? So you didn't run out of toro... you just refuse to give me any and are giving it complete randoms. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm a (semi) respectable citizen, I would have taken a flamethrower and burned that fucking shit hole down. So I get back to the table so that we can leave, and my buddy is sitting there eating that crap they served! I'm like WTF?!? How can you possibly eat that shit?!? And pay more for it?!? He completely agreed with everything I said and was just as vocal about it, but yet he just sat there eating it like a god damn pansy. In fact, I looked around and most of the other regulars were sitting there eating the same crap. Some of them even wore these ridiculous disguises to look like new patrons so they would be served the good stuff. So I left by myself.
Did this really happen? Well... yes and no.
It wasn't a sushi restaurant. It was Party Poker.
I wrote about it a month ago, so I'm not going to go into the details again. But I was looking at PokerScout a month ago and was shocked to learn that they actually MOVED UP to be the #2 poker site in the world (they used to be #3). Part of it is that FT is falling like a stone (imagine that! Give crappy rewards and regs won't play - watch carefully Party), so all Party had to do was stand still. But how can it stand still when it just served all regs Starkist tuna and cut the top rewards from 50% to 30%? Shouldn't it have dropped?!? Am I in Bizarro World?!? Someone please help me understand. There are so many other poker sites. Why would you stay?!? People whine about an injustice and do squat about it. So annoying!
At least at Stars, they are offering ahi toro, though their Zoom and table starter experiments. Isn't that preferable to Starkist and paying MORE for it? And Stars is not being offensive or shady about it. TBH, I can't think of any place I would rather NOT play than Party.
For a while, I was pretty disgusted because Party actually creeped up to be the number #2. Well, after a few more weeks of what probably turned out to be regs working off their bonuses, I am not happy to report that there is justice in the world and now Party is the #4 poker site... soon to be #5 (they are only 10% ahead of 888). FT shafted regs and fell like a stone (and are now trying to recoup by bringing back BlackCard and rewarding top regs). So I hope the poker leaders finally get the message that running a profitable poker business in 2013 involved taking care of your regular customers. My head wants to explode every time Zach talks about how regs don't pay rake and it's all paid by the fish. As these recent missteps by FT and Party show, if you don't take care of your regs, you are going to go down and go down fast.
Next time, I'll post what I think are the top poker sites for ROW regs.
Hint: has something to do with the massive banner on the top of my blog. In these times where the games keep getting tougher, you need the best rewards you can possibly get.
I forgot to mention... since the guys in the SSFR thread had a monthly goals thread, here is what I put down as my goals for the month:
1. [ ] 100k+ Hands
2. [ ] 50 BIs
3. [ ] lose 10lbs
4. [ ] work
out 2x a week
5. [ ] try to click < 50% of Tonna's spoilers
1. Basically I want to try and get in about 7 hours of play a day... like any other 9 to 5 (less 1 hour break and time to do non-play related poker activities like review, managing stakes, managing affiliate business, etc).
2. 50 buy-ins in 100K hands gets me to a 5bb/100 win rate (not ptbb), which I think is respectable for a mass multitabler. I would like to put down dollar amounts and graphs like I used to, but I have some legal reasons for not being able to. You can thank the DOJ.
3. My mom said she won't come visit me unless I lost 20 lbs. I lost 10 lbs the first week of the diet (last month), so I just need to lose 10 more. After that crazy first week, I've been averaging 2 lbs a week, so I'm close.
4. Unfortuantely, our treadmill and rowing machine both died during the same week. It wasn't me! I swear! Paying over $1K to fix a ten year old Precor treamill seems pretty dumb. And the cable snapped on my Concept II erg (rowing machine). So add that to my long list of things to do. But earlier this month, Mrs. Fly and I went for a 2 hour walk around the neighborhood. It was nice, because with the kids always yapping away at dinner, we don't get to spend as much quiet time to talk during the day. I told her I once walked 20 miles for breast cancer and she burst out laughing. Bitch. But she has since had to chair the elementary school book fair, so the walks should resume next week.
5. So there's this reg TonnaMunz (seems to be likeable) who at the end of each post on 2+2 puts a spoiler box and there's a little heart in there... At the end of EVERY friggin' post! But being the dumb-ass I am, I feel obliged to click the spoiler box, even though I *know* it's going to be that retarded heart. So I say to myself "don't click it! you know what it is!" but I click it anyway. So I must've wasted a good 5 - 10 minutes of my life clicking his god damn spoilers. Now I know what Whale must've felt like when I used to put little smiley faces at the end of some of my posts. :-)
Anyway, now that I'm back to blogging, it should be interesting to see how many of my goals I manage to achieve.
The Golden Age of Bumhunting is coming to a close.
I guess it probably started a year or two ago when Stars' legal department sent around a letter telling the major hand history sites to stop selling their hand histories. After years of playing cat and mouse on how to stop datamining, who knew that's all it took? If you can't "clearly" see who the bums are, it makes it harder to hunt for them, no? So if the leader can stop datamining, then so could everyone else... if they wanted to. Of course, there are other ways to identify the fish, but I don't want to derail my own post.
But more recently, there have been FIVE more developments that are making it more difficult to bumhunt:
1. Segregation. I had thought the goal of segregation was to have players of equal ability play each other, to generate the most rake possible. But at least at Revolution, one of the factors in determining your tier seems to be whether or not you bumhunt. People who do no table selection seem to be more likely to have a large selection of tables. Of course segregation is going to be implemented differently across sites, but I thought this was an interesting concept. Because why would a site want to discourage winning high volume players who do no table selection from playing? Win rates are going to get lower over time anyway... you're going to need horses to keep the games going. The people you don't want are the guys who get 50-60+% rakeback deals playing a minimum number of hands and taking a disproportionately larger amount of the site fish's money. And most sites have been cracking down on the skins offering such deals.
2. Increasing availability of Zoom/Rush/FastForward/Speed tables. When you join a pool of players, you can't pick and choose which ones you want to go against. It used to be just FT had this game. Now all of the top 4 sites do.
3. Table Starters. Stars seems keen on implementing some anti-bumhunting measures - Zoom at higher stakes and table starters have already been implemented, and it should be interesting to see what other measures will be implemented (ie table camping, ratholing, grimming, etc) after the spring meetings. Table starters removes some of the selection process in sitting at a table.
4. Anonymous tables. iPoker recently added anonymous tables to their mix. Bodog had been offering anonymous tables for years and have been doing very well. Obviously, if you have no idea who you are playing with, it's harder (not impossible) to bumhunt.
5. Crackdown on skins offering regs high fixed rakeback. Most sites now are going to an increasing rewards structure. iPoker and some of the US sites have already done this. Because who wants a bunch of low-volume bumhunting regs on their sites?
So to summarize the status of the top 4 poker sites:
1. Stars - started implementing Zoom at higer stakes and table starters
2. Party - segregation
3. iPoker - introduced anonymous tables, but they may not take off
4. Full Tilt - owned by Stars
So you can still bumhunt in the near future on the lesser sites (and maybe iPoker). And even on the above sites, you can still find ways to to "aggressively table select." But in many businesses, you'll find that wherever the leaders go, the rest of the industry follows. And the trend against bumhunting the past few years has been clear.