Mississippi Grind: Next Great Poker Movie?

September 30, 2015

mississippi-grind-poker-movieMost poker movies suck…it’s a tired subject. And as is commonly pointed out, only Rounders really comes out looking like a cinematic masterpiece at the end of the day. But it appears that we may have a new poker movie that can live up to Rounders – Mississippi Grind.

Recently released in theaters, Mississippi Grind takes audiences on a gambling journey with Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn as they form a “friendship” that’s built around Reynold’s good-luck-charm status. As for Mendelsohn’s character, he’s a degenerate gambler/real-estate agent who’s eyeing a high stakes poker game in New Orleans as his get-out-of-debt card.

So far this movie has drawn an incredible rating of 90% at Rotten Tomatoes. And Sean Fennessey, a film critic from Grantland, believes that Mississippi Grind may have done something that not even Rounders accomplished. Here’s a small look at what you can expect, based on Fennessey’s Grantland review:

“Poker, particularly when played in casinos, is about deadening. Fold. Fold. Call. Fold. Fold. Fold. Bet. Watch cards. Crumple into felt. Fold. For most who play, it is pastime as punishment, routine as regret. Make your mind strong by being dull.

Routine punishment and dull minds are not exactly the stuff of movie lore, and so poker has something of a checkered history at the movies. It is rarely portrayed accurately — not hugely important — but its extremes have a tendency to blur the refinement in the game. Rounders elegantly jargonized the game for newcomers. The Cincinnati Kid designed a world of grandeur. Maverick deconstructed and mocked that world. But none of these movies re-created the feeling of being alone and bored and inconsolable and stuck on the game in a lousy casino on a weekday night in the middle of nowhere. Mississippi Grind, the new film from writer-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, does just this.”

Alex Dreyfus says Poker needs an Image Makeover

September 25, 2015

alex-dreyfus-pokerFor years poker has survived on the idea that anybody can step into the game and make big money. Unfortunately, perception doesn’t meet reality these days, and the average beginner stands little chance of succeeding until they spend hours bettering their game. So Alex Dreyfus believes that it’s now time to give poker a makeover – one that shows it’s a game, entertainment and sport rolled into one.

Dreyfus still sees a lot of potential in poker, especially since his surveys indicate that 30% of people either play poker or have friends who play it. But what’s weighing poker down is the simple fact that players don’t realize what to expect from it these days. Below you can see some great points from the piece that Dreyfus wrote at the Huffington Post:

Poker is a Sport.

Is Poker a sport? That’s a rhetorical question. Yes and no. It is a mind sport, a skill game. You can watch it on ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, Eurosport and many other channels. Is it because it’s broadcasted on a sport channel that makes it a sport? No. Poker is a competitive game, like any other sport. You play tennis, you play football, you play rugby, you play poker.

Being a high-level poker professional today requires a very healthy lifestyle. When you look at the best poker players, the players that are travelling all over the world and make a living from these competitions, they are all very fit and most of them are training every single day to be physically and mentally prepared for the competition. After all, each hand, each game is a fight against another opponent. The game of poker today, is not the same it was 10 years ago. The top players aren’t either.

Poker is Entertainment.

More than three million people play poker everyday – for free – on Facebook without any hope of earning money or prizes. Millions of people are watching poker shows on TV and most important, more are watching real-time poker competitions on livestream. It is thrilling to watch poker, there is an inspirational aspect that makes you believe – rightfully – that you could be sat there, next to the champions.

PokerStars Malware could reveal Your Hole Cards

September 21, 2015

Think you are safe playing on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker? Guess again because hackers are using a Trojan Virus to remotely gain access to your hole cards.

This scare was uncovered by Robert Lipovsky, who’s been monitoring the online poker world and IT security matters for years. The last scandal that Lipovsky revealed was one called Poker Agent, a trojan virus that stole Facebook users’ login credentials and used them to take credit card information from Zynga players. Now Lipovsky warns that Win32/Spy.Odlanor is being used to rip off PokerStars and Full Tilt players.

As explained on his blog, Lipovsky breaks down how Odlanor works in a few simple steps:

1. The victim goes on some random site to download unlicensed poker software like Poker Calculator Pro, Poker Office or Smart Buddy.

2. Attached to the unlicensed software, the malware takes screenshots of the player’s PokerStars or Full Tilt window.

3. These screenshots show both the hole cards and player ID, which hackers can retrieve remotely.

4. The hacker visits the player’s table and begins using knowledge of their hole cards to victimize them.

If there’s any silver lining here, this doesn’t appear to be a worldwide problem yet. 36% of these attacks are coming out of Russia, while another 35% are from the Ukraine. Meanwhile, the victims are mostly concentrated in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

Nevertheless, Lipovsky warns that any hacker could use Oldanor, and players from any company could be victimized. The fortunate thing is that the online poker community is typically good at rooting out such blatant cheating attempts. And since PokerStars is now regulated in many parts of the world, anybody caught cheating with Oldanor will likely be prosecuted.

Look for Overlays in Daily Fantasy Football

September 9, 2015

As you may know, daily fantasy football sites offer guaranteed prize pools in certain tournaments to attract more players. For example, they might hold a huge tourney with a $250,000 guaranteed prize pool. If buy-ins were $50, then the site would need 5,000 players to reach the guarantee amount. But what if they don’t reach the guarantee? Then we have what’s called an overlay, which, as I’ll explain below, is highly critical to your daily fantasy football success.

How to hunt for Overlays

While there are many guaranteed tournaments that actually meet their guarantee, you can still find overlays when you look hard enough. The best way to do this is to simply look at various tourneys an hour or half hour before kick-off and see where the guarantee is at. For example, maybe there’s a $50,000 GTD. that only has 700 entries ($50 buy-ins); at this rate, 300 more players would need to enter just before the game started.

Assuming only 100 more players entered, you’d have an overlay of $10,000, meaning there’s an extra $10k in value for the collective player pool. Breaking this down further, you as an individual would be getting an expected value of $1.20 for every dollar of your buy-in.

You may not win, but Consistency is Key

Just because you’re getting good value on your buy-in does not mean that you are guaranteed of winning anything. In fact, you might go home empty-handed when the tournament is all finished. However, this is by no means a failure if you keep seeking out overlays because the more you do so, the more positive expected value you’ll get on a consistent basis.

So once again, always be on the lookout about an hour before kick-off so that you can take advance of profitable situations prior to game time.