04 March 2004

Times of change.
My professional life has taken a drastic turn recently and as a result, I now have to travel a lot, and am generally much much more busy. I have found it almost impossible to find the energy and time to maintain my blog alive. As things happen, a poker playing friend of mine had been faitfully reading my ramblings and had recently asked me how to start her own blog. Instead of starting from scratch, I offered her to take over on vagaries.
So let me introduce you to Jeni, who combines charm to great poker skills (although she would probably beg to differ...on the poker skills I mean).
So without further ado, good bye, poker blogging friends, and please welcome Jeni in your great poker blogging community

23 February 2004

Don't ever try to play poker online from a hotel in Germany. Not only did I pay a fortune just trying to get access to the poker room (choice in this case, trying to get onto the World Blogger tour inaugural tourney!), I was also nearly kicked out of the hotel for illegal activities! I had the stupid idea to ask for help to be authorised to install the choice software on their terminal. They strictly refused to have a third party software installed, which I can understand for security reasons. But then when they found out I was trying to "gamble" online, Mein Gott! I love the relaxed german atmosphere :-)

And so it is that after ruining a good number of nights to get used to play at 2 AM in the morning, I had to miss the inaugural World blogger tour Tourney! Verdammt nochmal, as the germans say in their sweet and romantic language (do I sound frustrated?). To be honest, the sleep I had instead came handy, as I had a rather important and challenging monday. But still!

Judging by the blog reports from most of the 32 players, it must have been quite a party! It's also a good thing I didn't put any bets on the winner, as it turned out to be completely different from my amateurish expectations. Congratulations to Meangene, aka the President, who proves he is a real leader by claiming the champion title of the grublog poker classic.

For the complete results, go over to the organiser of this brilliant event, the mighty himself, who claimed a pretty good fifth place.

I was going to link to the various reports, but Jeremy from Love and casino war has done the job already. .

Sean from Anisotropyhas a great "final word" on his wrap up: " After the event, I was talking to Felicia about how much we both enjoyed the evening (and after Choice so rudely closed out the tables and didn’t leave us any chance to congratulate the players or the winner). We both thought it would really something to do this in a live setting (logistical hell aside). Playing with the bunch of bloggers that were there last night is as much about the social interaction as it is the cards, and a live game with all of these people in the same room would be something that would fill books and books of blog entries. Atlantic City is so close to me, so I’m biased and wouldn’t be opposed to doing something whereby a bunch of bloggers come out to AC over the summer for some fun, cards and other assorted tomfoolery."

Not sure I have ever seen such camaraderie form around a game. More and more certain about why I love this game so much though!

I'm now hoping I can make the 10th, for the second stop of the WBT, over at .

19 February 2004

Cardplayer has a new issue out, with a few good articles.
Lou Krieger uses a Makeover show metaphor to give some good basic advice, and it makes for a good fun read:
"I could probably use a makeover myself. After all, when you write books and magazine columns for a living and spend much of your spare time in a poker room — not exactly the place to go if you’re in search of the ultrahip, terminally trendy, and sartorially splendid — you don’t figure to be the point man for a nouveau chic lifestyle. And there’s no need to dress for success, either — especially when your office is a spare bedroom and no clients ever show up at the door — as evidenced by my wardrobe of sweatpants, an “Alaskan Outfitters” T-shirt, battered sneakers, and a yellow “Tyler’s” ball cap."
The strategic stuff comes later in the answer to five strong questions: Are you playing in the right game? Are you playing too many hands? Are you playing too deeply into your hands? Are you too fancy for the game you're in? Are You Failing to Get Value From Your Good Hands? Answers in A Poker Makeover

But the article I really liked is a short analysis by Steve Zolotow onthe future of online poker. Starting humbly with two wrong predictions he made a few years ago, he continues to say in Summary:
- "Any new site with excellent software and good publicity will be able to seize a market share"
- "The most successful software will be created by someone who realizes that online poker is not an imitation of live poker, but a different, more modern way to play."

Food for thoughts!

also has a new issue out, haven't taken the time to look at it yet, but I would be surprised if it wasn't as agood as usual.

Finally there was some pretty interesting follow up on my rant from yesterday, and how bloggers should be better supported by the big online poker rooms. Or not.
had the following to say: "Hell, Party or Empire oughta be paying me for telling everyone how soft the damn games are. I'm just drinking some Guinness and giving my two cents after all my experience playing online. And to be frank, I've had so few referrals (mostly fellow bloggers who have been reading my blog for an extended period of time, and I thank them for it) it doesn't matter, anyway. I'm here to write about poker.

But if Party/Empire (God forbid) ever falters, and someone else steps up and claims their market share, I'll be the first one on the soapbox, letting folks know where to play, referrals or no referrals.

And had a long great post about referral links: "When you download and sign up to a poker site via a link or a signup code, that affiliate is usually getting something based on your deposit, play, or whatnot. I highly encourage doing this, because it's to the benefit of the blogger (let's say) you read and love who provided the link, and it doesn't cost you anything now or ever will in the future. It's a nice way of paying it forward for all the hard work they do and in fact, can even help you with various bonus offers (an extra percentage atop your initial deposit). I have a list of links with various signup bonuses, but you can also sign up through other bloggers who are also affiliates. Like iggy or hdouble who bust their humps day in, day out to provide quality, thoughtful, entertaining writing and linkups. The hours it takes to read through all the wonderful blogs... think how many more hours it takes to research, collect those links, and write 'em up coherently in the first place.

The point is: if you're planning to sign up to a site anyway, sign up through an affiliate.

(This is also the case with other links that may be on the site, whether it be books, CDs, etc. -- if you're going to buy, buy through them... you would pay the same amount anyway, and the affiliate gets a few pennies and is that much more encouraged to carry on blogging.)

Well said grubby. The referral link to party is on the right, please feel free to use it to register there!

New poker blog of the day is , by Eric: The poker exploits of a poor college student. He just started playing on party, after building up some good play on UB. Good luck.

18 February 2004

Neri did come back to my email, with a very creative proposition consisting in me covering my blog with banners and text links for empire, against a reasonably large referral fee. Thanks, but no thanks. I can't understand that those so called e-marketing specialists still can't see the unique values of blogs, their associated communities and reach. The revenue models that can be applied to portals or "review" sites, or which makes perfect sense for a poker pulse, just cannot be applied to blogs, which are intensely personal and passion based. I am pretty sure Iggy has brough plenty of players to party, not because his blog is covered with party banners but because he constantly shares his passion for playing there! The power of endorsement.
So the message to the poker rooms out there is simple: Support the poker blogger community, and the community will endorse you. Period
Please, poker bloggers, let me know if I'm speaking out of terms here. OK, rant over.

17 February 2004

Well, I was greeted back in the nicest way possible, with a great comment by . I'll just post an extract below:
"When I first started writing my poker adventures (way before a poker journal), I did so out of the inspiration I received from a Brit I admire very much, Ray Morris-Hill.

He had been visiting from London and was in Vegas for a couple of weeks. I had already read all of his stories on Poker Pages, but suddenly there he was there, across the poker table from me!

We got to know each other, and I soon started writing stories.

Ray and I have remained good friends, although he is very busy with his business in London. I would encourage any reader to find his stories and devour them."

Well, I'll have to shamedly admit it was the first time I'd heard Ray Morris-hill's name. But how right Felicia is about his great story telling. Here is an extract from one of his trip report to Vegas:

"In this first week I had an almost obsessive desire to play, forgetting the principles of game selection I had learnt in June. In hindsight, the afternoon games were tougher with far more locals playing and fewer weak passive players. I should have learnt from that session. I had my fair share of good starting cards but sometimes that is not enough. My AA expensively came in third place, beaten by trips and a full house. The Wheel Spin was only good for $10 (the Excalibur has a Wheel of Fortune spin for the loser who holds AA or KK) so I was down on the deal. My QhJh made trip Queens on the flop but the other guy had Q5 and he must have known a 5 would come on the river. By 5.40 pm I was down $110 and in unknown territory. I should have stopped, had dinner and gone back later. "

And some timeless lessons:
"1 - I felt I had learnt far more from losing than winning.
2 - I was pleased my discipline had held in the lean times and resolved to keep it that way in the future.
3 - It is hard to feel positive when the cards run cold but things can change in one hand and you have to be ready to take full advantage.
4 - Leaks can appear in your game without you knowing. Re-read your favourite books and plug those leaks.
5 - Playing for too long can be fatal. Set a time limit and stick to it.
6 - Try hard to dismiss the concept of a winning or losing. I still find this very hard to do!
7- Maniac games sound attractive but they can be volatile. Be careful what you wish for! If you don't like the swings, pick another game.
8 - Learn 7 Card Stud. It proved useful for me to take a break from the fast and sometimes crazy pace of Hold 'em
9 - Patience is a virtue.

A few links to Ray's great trip reports on poker pages:
Trip Report: The British Invade Las Vegas!
A Knight's Tale - Las Vegas Trip Report
The Great Slovenian Poker Adventure

I keep seeing signs all over the place that the UK gambling scene is heating up. Harrah's have recently announced the launch of their interactive services, and chose the UK as their launching pad.
Harrah's to launch gambling site from UK
"Instead of casino games, Harrah's will be concentrating on skill-based games. Users will pay between £10 and £56 a month for unlimited access to the site. There is a fixed pool of prize money which must be given away each month, with a top prize of £150,000 on the main Wingo game."
Wingo???? No idea what they are talking about here, but the skill-based approach sounds vaguely familiar...!

must have been doing some more guerilla marketing for poker blogs, as I receive more and more "spam type" requests for various partnerships and other dodgy deals. Neri, who works for a company specializig in on line marketing of e-gaming sites kindly offered a "very attractive program for webmasters/site owners/poker players who wishes to promote Empire Poker (www.empirepoker.com). Empire Poker offers non stop poker action and I believe that we can build a very profitable relationship." I Emailed him back suggesting a private tournament for poker bloggers on empire, but still waiting for a response! Interesting though to see the large players starting to consider our little online poker estates as something of potential value. Who will be the first official sponsor of the WBT (world blogger Tour?) - Come on party, paradise or pokerstars, you know it's worth it!

And yes, the poker blogging world continues to grow. Here is the hilarious introductory post:
"This is an attempt to document my attempt to learn the game of poker. I have played in a card room once in my life, a week or so ago. Right now I play online at Partypoker.com, hereafter referred to as "PP."
Unfortunatly, I'm not particularly good. After having a big loss day yesterday, I'm down about $10 at the $.5/$1 tables on PP. About half of that is due to losing a showdown. I sill have a bad tendency to keep in hands even when I feel that i might be beaten. I'm working on it. I think that since I don't play a lot of hands, I try to hard to win on the ones that I do play. I made the remark earlier today to a friend that my games feels like a hemphiliac with a paper-cut; a slow bleed to oblivion. Aside from the occasional hand that goes to far, the blinds slowly attrit my bankroll."

16 February 2004

After a weird weird few days, let's try to get back to some regular poker blogging here.
I have been training to see how I fair playing at 2 AM in the morning, in preparation for the Grublog poker classic on the 22nd. But damn is this going to be hard! And Iggy has just announced his Blogger tournament, also starting at 21 PM ET (i.e. 2 AM GMT). Arggh.

In the last few weeks, I have had ongoing discussions with a European poker room, which wanted to organise some WSOP related action. All sorts of issues creeped in though, and for now it seems it is not going to happen. Ditto for the blogger tourney they were going to hold for us, although this one remains in the works.

So there I am, left a bit flustered and disappointed. But nevertheless, I shall continue undeterred to do my bit, holding the british poker blogging flag.

I was going to start a whole list of links to articles about poker greatness and the like, but there are just too many around, just reporting on the same thing again and again: In the wake of television shows, with the now famous lipstick camera, Poker has just exploded as a cultural juggernaut!

The Houston chronicle has a long long story called . Read this one, and you will almost have read them all!

I read an interesting interview by the CEO of Tribecca table, in one of the gaming magazines, who firmly believes the growth will stop in the US this year. He foresees massive consolidation, with groups like harrah's and others taking over the poker pure players like paradise or True poker. Can anyone actually stop Party, which now boasts 35000 players at peak times? Is liquidity the ultimate asset, or will the fish start to disappear once the "craze" is over? Will customer service, dedication to serious, professional play (as in the remarkable story about the True Poker CEO told on Iggy's no less remarkable blog) regain online the importance it has always had in B&M casinos? (I still think Party's record at customer service is appalling, and that they will suffer from this in the long term).
I personally believe that the next stage of growth will be in the UK and Scandinavia, and then in Asia. I also believe the demand will be fuelled by the large "American" sites, rather than local ones, with a few exceptions (watch out for Betfair, coming out soon I believe with their Cryptologic platform - this is bound to become a top poker destination). I also wouldn't be surprised to see a price war erupt, for the benefits of the players. Anyone for an advertising revenue only poker room, without any rake? (I'm sure some MBA grads are already planning this, together with the mandatory superbowl ads!)

Anyway, one of the best thing about this poker explosion is all the quality writing popping up daily on blogs and other online journals. I'll link to a few newbies in the next days, but for now I need to mention the queen of poker blogging, the great Felicia, who has finally made the move to a blog format. The new Felicia Lee journal is on. If you haven't yet seen it, do yourselves a favour and go read her brilliant poker stories.

That's it for today. Need a few hours sleep before my 2AM stand up ;-)

07 February 2004


[Client:] I have a £25 promotional deposit in my account, what are the requirments to be able to cash it
[cristianag:] hi one moment please
[Client:] no probelm
[Client:] problem even
[cristianag:] The funds on your balance that are on hold are from casino promotional bonuses that have to be used in the casino and cannot be used in the casino to buy chips. You may use these funds in the casino by restoring access to your account there by using your existing account details
[cristianag:] The monthly bonus offers apply to the download casinos only. These offers are only available once per player per month (the 'first chip purchase' bonus is available only once), regardless of the number of accounts. To cash out the bonus you must wager an aggregate total of £1000 for the initial £50 match bonus and £500 for each of the subsequent £25 match bonuses you receive. Until you have met the bonus wagering requirement, you will not be able to withdraw any winnings from your casino account
[Client:] thanks - crystal clear
[cristianag:] you are welcome

There is no hope...

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