Archive for January, 2009

Are Bad Beat Jackpots Lotteries in Disguise?

It seems like every poker room has some kind of bad beat jackpot amongst their list of promotions.  These bad beat jackpots award players who are dealt a horrific bad beat with a huge sum of cash.   The majority of the time, a bad beat jackpot is progressive too so the amount in it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

A good example of this can be seen at Carbon Poker where their bad beat jackpot has reached epic proportions with over $1 million in the pool.  And people are flocking to the bad beat tables at Carbon Poker in order to try and win this jackpot which has gone unclaimed since it was started in the middle of 2008.  But herein lies the problem, the jackpot has never been claimed!

Now it’s certainly an admirable goal to try and win a bad beat jackpot as big as this, but is it really an acheivable goal or something worth going after?  And this goes for all of the bad beat jackpots in the industry as well since they are equally as hard (if not harder) to win as Carbon Poker’s.  In fact, if you are truly a bad beat jackpot hunter then the Carbon one is probably the best to go after since they offer the lowest qualifying hand in the industry with quad 7’s. 

So if no one has ever won a bad beat jackpot at the site with the lowest qualifying hand in over half a year then aren’t these promotions more like a lottery?  After all, a bad beat jackpot as big as this one will make anyone who wins it much richer (the person who has the bad beat hand gets 35% of the $1 million), but only one person is going to earn the big cash.  The player who delivers the bad beat gets 17.5% at Carbon Poker so they’ll also make major cash.

But in my opinion, these bad beat jackpots are fun to try, but one is better off trying to earn their money through normal table games and tournaments.  Of course, if you just want to get rich quick then go for it!

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More than One Court thinks Poker is a Skill Game

About a couple of weeks ago, poker earned a victory when a Pennsylvania judge by the name of Thomas James ruled that poker is a game of skill and therefore people cannot be charged with illegal gambling while playing online poker.  The ruling was in favor of Walter “Buzz” Watkins since he was charged with holding illegal poker games where money was exchanged in his garage. 

The only problem with this ruling is that it was only one judge in one small town called Bloomsburg.  And a ruling in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania isn’t going to change the precedent that has been set by the UIGEA and numerous other courts in deeming poker to be illegal.  But it did at least start a favorable trend since other courts seem to be agrreing that poker is a game of skill.

Just this week, a judge in Colorado also ruled that poker is a game of skill and believes that luck does not factor in as much as everyone thinks.  This ruling came after a man named Kevin Raley was facing illegal gambling charges after organizing a group of friends to play poker in a bar.  Raley was still arrested even though he did not realize that he was breaking the law in trying to organize a poker game where money is exchanged.  After his arrest, Raley said, “We never believed we were doing anything wrong whatsoever.  It’s entertainment.  Some people play golf, I play poker.”

The Poker Players Alliance was also very happy with the ruling since Colorado State PPA Director Gary Reed said, “The PPA is pleased with the outcome of this case.  It is further confirmation that poker is indeed a game of skill, not chance.  At the same time, the not guilty verdict cements the rights of Colorado citizens to enjoy the American pastime of poker and will allow law enforcement to use its scarce resources to investigate real unlawful activity in the state, not poker games.”

I’m glad that judges and courts are finally starting to recognize that the top poker players in the world are there for a reason.  It’s obvious to anyone who takes a little time to look into the matter that poker does contain elements of skill and the game can be beaten over time if a player is good enough to do so.  I can’t wait for the day when the majority of courts start to realize how much of a skill game poker actually is.

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2009 WSOP Schedule Released Already

The 2008 World Series of Poker was the greatest poker event ever held  (in terms of numbers at least).  It smashed the record for most participants in a single poker event with 58,720 people and also had the largest prize pool total with $180,676,248.  But even with the incredible success that the 2008 WSOP had, there are still many questions to be answered within the next year.  And some of these questions have definitely been answered with the release of the 2009 World Series of Poker schedule.

For those who were wondering if the Main Event final table will be delayed again, you’d better believe it will after ESPN experienced their best ratings yet with a 50% increase from 2007.  You can also guarantee that the media will once again beat the term “November Nine” to death since the final table delay will be from July 15th to November 7th (when it resumes again).

Perhaps the biggest change in the WSOP will be the switch from holding 55 events to expanding to 57 events.  What’s really interesting about the WSOP’s decision to give away a total of 57 gold bracelets is that one of the added tournaments will be a $40,000 buy-in event to commemorate the 40th year of the WSOP.  I think this event has similar makings to the H.O.R.S.E. tournament where only the top players are willing to shell out the $50K to enter it.

Another big change to the WSOP is that the rebuy tournaments will be removed from the event.  In 2008, there were four rebuy tourneys, but now there obviously won’t be any after the switch.  Don’t count rebuy tournaments out for the future though because they have been taken out and re-added in the past.  With all of the changes to the WSOP, I certainly can’t wait to see how things turn out this year.

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Just how Worthless is Free Poker?

Back in 2003, the Chris Moneymaker effect and the increased WSOP coverage on ESPN made me want to start playing online poker.  Like a lot of people, I began my online poker days by playing the free software that nearly every room provides as a means of getting people to give them a try.  And like a lot of people, I did great in these free rooms and steadily increased my chip stack over time.  Suddenly poker didn’t seem like it was going to be that tough so I started playing for money.

But I found out that free poker doesn’t prepare you for real money poker and I took my lumps early on.  And I know that the subject of how free poker is bad practice for real money games has been beat to death, but a friend of mine recently reminded me of this subject.  He told me about how he was going to start playing online poker for money and that he’d had a lot of practice playing this High Stakes on the Vegas Strip: Poker Edition video game.  In fact, he had played over 6,000 hands already against other people online on this Playstation 3 game.

I told him what I wish I would’ve known over 5 years ago in that he’d better start at really low limits if he thinks the High Stakes game prepared him (which it didn’t).  I also told him that free poker is great for those who just want to mess around and pass time with the game, however, you should never use playing for free as any sort of measuring stick for what you can do against real money competition.

People in free poker games have no regards for the play money they’ve been given (and why should they?) so they make the craziest, most ridiculous calls ever.  95% of the people in these play money games are not taking it serious and will call a raise or re-raise with something like a non-suited 10-3.  Anyone who is actually serious about playing poker for money needs to study strategy and work their way up from the lower limits.

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