12 December 2003

And to continue with poker on Television, Penguin have launched a TV poker guide labelled: "Up to the minute guide to poker on TV". What strikes me is the paucity of programming in my country (UK), but I guess it's just a question of time - 2004 will be the year of Poker!

If anyone is in doubt that televised poker is one of the major fuel of the Poker boom, than just read this excellently funny column about the WSoP on ESPN. Small extract: "There’s tense music and several extreme close-ups on the good guy and the bad guy and the girlfriend who had no say in the matter and the dealer and the deck of cards, and then the next card is the ace of spades and everyone is jubilant and they won enough money to save the inner-city youth center and they live happily ever after forever. Or something like that.

The World Series of Poker is similar, except over and over again..."

11 December 2003

HDouble on his blog:The Cards Speak (A Poker Blog) follows on one of my recent post with some very interesting thought about how gambling and poker in particular is a subversion of capitalism: "For those unsatisfied with American capitalism, the convenience of online gambling has created an opportunity for knowledgeable and skillful gamblers to make a large amount of income. The "rugged individualism" of old America is returning in the waters of the internet gambling, a place where income is solely dependent on one's knowledge of the game and the ability to recognize positive expectation gambles".
I remember earlier this year hearig about a career promotion study conducted by IBM. Can't find the link to the study, but my notes say that IBM discovered that the following factors were behind promotion: Task (i.e your ability to do the job, your work skills): 10%, Image and personal style: 30% and representation and visibility: 60%. Disturbing stats, I think. So the fuel of our capitalist society is not what we know, what we are good at, but how loud we shout about it!
I leave you with this quote from the book "The support economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and The Next Episode of Capitalism", by James Maxmin and Shoshana Zuboff: "when people can successfully maintain and verify the most valued aspects of their identity, they live longer, healthier and happier lives."
See you at the poker table!

It seems that I am definitely not the only one seeing enormous growth potential for online poker in 2004. Mixe Sexton reviews 2003 in Inside Professional poker and predicts in excess of $30 million prize pool for the second season of the WPT. Gambling magazine has a good feature called Poker: the next big wave which gives amazing insight into poker business!
I wonder though what you think will be the most innovative things happening on the online poker scene next year. I still see a lot of progress that can be made in the playability of all online cardrooms: more game types, more community features, mix of off and online (that's already happening, but I'm thinking more about some community feature there, rather than taking your players to casinos for a TV show), different rake structures, better hand analysis and stats, localisation (Still can't find a decent French based online rooms - French is my mother tongue, hence froggy!) both for the environment and support, more innovative incentives (why doesn't someone offer an immediately available bankroll that you can only take out once you've doubled it?), better control for erratic or compulsive behaviors, and last but not least network reliability (Party has been down three times in the last two weeks, whilst I was playing! - The worst is their refusal to acknowledge it, but I'll rant about this another day!). I could go on, but let me know what you think will drive the poker industry in 2004 - or what you would like to see. I'll post all back here for further discussion, you never know where this may lead us!

Data drawn from eMarketer's latest Online Content: Trends & Opportunities Spotlight Report shows U.S. Internet users will spend $3.1 billion on online gambling in 2003, despite it being illegal for online gambling sites to operate in the U.S.! Here is a link to the overview of the report, which includes other interesting stuff about online content in general. I was somehow hearted to see that adult content seems to represent only 11.3% (still gigantic..) and is being surpassed by dating for example. Reassuring when at the same time you hear that the number of online adult pages has grown to 260 million.
2003 will remain for me the year where online dating took over the Internet. Where is it not being offered? AOL for example, has just released love.com, a new dating site, built around the popular AOL IM service.
Whilst I don't really believe Poker will ever be as popular as dating, I still think 2004 will be the explosive year for online poker. Just as dating services, be prepared for more and more online brands starting to offer affiliated online poker. In the UK, Victor Chandler is paving the ground with deals with football sites (football 365), male lifestyle sites (FHM) and others. A friend of mine who sell gadgets online tells me he gets calls every two days from gambling companies wanting to develop an affiliation with his site - and although he would never allow a pure gambling proposition to be linked to his brand, he is starting to warm up to poker - "Because it's more social and skills based, and some of my clients have mentioned it!".
So don't tilt, next year, the ocean will grow twice as rich in new fish!

10 December 2003

Full house: High stakes poker is packing casinos and making a run on TV is yet another coverage of the poker phenomenon (religion,...), but there are some pretty amazing statements. Bits and pieces:
"The Nov. 7 issue of Card Player, at 142 pages, was the largest in the magazine's history....
In 1996, the casino paid ESPN "big bucks" to televise the U.S. Poker Championship, according to Gitto. "The past couple games we've been getting it for free. Now they're bidding against each other to get in here. We've been flooded by proposals (to film there)."
"The last few years, Internet poker has doubled every month," Shulman said. "It's gigantic."

"I think the lady at the table thought "five black cards" was a pretty good hand."
Comments on the poker celeb show on Bravo from
BG from the random thoughts and thoroughbred selections blog. LOL

09 December 2003

One of the unintended benefit of this poker blog is the wealth of conversations started with poker players around the world. Not a day now without an email or a comment from a fellow poker player.
Hdouble, in comment to my latest post, referred to an article about  "Capitalism and the Late Popularity of Gambling" and how Poker is "a way to use your talents/brain to make money outside of the system". I tried to find a link back to the article without any success, but found a few gems on the way.  In Getting rid of annoying myths about gambling, student and gambler Terence Chan does an excellent work at summarising the idea that Poker is fundamentally a skills game. From his page, I'll borrow this excellent quote from Lou Krieger: " Poker is a microcosm of all we admire and disdain about capitalism and democracy. It can be rough-hewn or polished, warm or cold, charitable and caring, or hard and impersonal, fickle and elusive, but ultimately it is fair, and right, and just"
Now that the scene is set, we can somehow safely move on to Capitalism magazine which reviewed Investing and gambling back in May this year. Columnist Don Luskin reacts to the media outcry on "republican morality advocate" William Bennett, found out to be an avid gambler, and his subsequent decision to stop all forms of gambling. But is gambling not just the same as investing on the stock market? Asks Don Luskin. And he goes on to compare roulette type  gambling and Poker: "
Poker, on the other hand, isn't gambling. If you're a skilled player, poker is investing because you put money at risk with the rational expectation of earning a return. Even if you're an unskilled player, the possibility of becoming skilled through study or experience is always an option for you".
 What strikes me again is the inherent hypocrisy of so many politicians. The cato Institute, a non-profit public policy research foundation, has a number of good articles and white papers arguing the need for balancing the risk of gambling and its regulation [PDF document], and the freedom of americans to choose how they want to spend their money.  Fact is you cannot stop people having fun. " The Founders clearly thought that our "unalienable Rights" to "the Pursuit of Happiness" included gambling"

To finnish this post on a much lighter note check out those funny poker quotes. And I'll add my own contribution, (it's probably more of a wish...)
You know you have a poker addiction when.....You have read this post till the end!

08 December 2003

I have said and written a few times that poker is becoming a new religion. I wasn't too sure what I meant by this, even if believed in it, but there's always been something profoundly ritual about poker - a game of hope-. And its new found respectability, its reach to mass audiences via the Internet and television, is giving poker a cult status.
Now, Mark Morford, says poker will give us our humanity back....Which is definitely a much nicer way to draw the parallel with religion. Even if there's booze and hardcore sex in the way! Go read
Real Men Need Poker Night, it's a joy of a read.
Maybe it's time I close the computer, and sit back and watch the faces of my friend as we deal the cards, in hope of nothing else but a goold old bit of laughter and humanity!

Jay Greenspan has a great poker site and forum called pokersavvy. Tip of the hat to Iggy for pointing the site out and in particular the following excellent article:
The World Champion and Me.
Where We meet Mr Moneymaker himself.

There is something highly disturbing in This somewhat plane article about the growing popularity of poker on TV. It hit me as I was reading those lines:
"No, I'm not encouraging gambling.
Yes, I understand it's against the law in most U.S. precincts.
No, I don't want people to be risking grocery money or mortgage money on games."

What is Poker TV if not a clear encouragement to gamble? Now don't get me wrong. I have got nothing personally against gambling. I believe it should be controlled, I think there is an inherent risk for addiction, which game operators need to be aware of and monitor. My call if for responsible gambling within a framework. Making gambling illegal is not the solution!
And here comes the big dilemma! In most american states, gambling is illegal. Yet Poker is being televised all over the country, in effect bringing it to much wider audiences then the Las Vegas cardrooms addicts. And it's proving to be a hit! Why do you think Party poker is sponsoring the WPT on TV? Because it brings them new customers! It creates more gamblers! More ILLEGAL gamblers! There is something rotten in the US of A.....

Hear, hear! My poker blogging friend
Pauly just wrote me this: "I don't play online anymore... because I'm afraid I'd get hooked..."

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