PartyPoker Goes Anonymous, Bans Seat Scripting

September 29, 2016

anonymous-poker-tables-party-pokerPartyPoker has announced two big changes to their site that will help recreational players. First off, their cash game tables will be completely anonymous, preventing players from seeing each other’s screen names. Second, seat scripting software has been totally banned from the site.

Popular at other online poker rooms, anonymous tables protect players’ identities so that pros can’t target them with Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) – third-party software that provides detailed statistics on opponents’ tendencies.

The ban on seat scripting ensures that players can’t use software programs to find the softest cash tables available. Players who get caught using seat scripting software will first be issued a warning, then have their account closed on a second infraction.

These changes will definitely benefit recreational players, most of whom don’t use complex software programs.

One more minor move that PartyPoker made includes allowing players to download hand histories again. They did away with this last year by only allowing players to download their own hand histories. But this small change will help skilled players in some manner.

Tom Waters, head of the PartyPoker operation, said that these changes will “offer a level playing field that allows players of all abilities to compete fair” and deliver “a fair and ethical product whilst still allowing them to learn and improve.”

PartyPoker is one of several major poker sites that have worked to make recreational players more comfortable. Given the slow decline in online poker traffic, sites are doing everything they can to encourage more signups and new players. And this means that pros aren’t as valued as they once were.

As for PartyPoker’s traffic, they currently sit fifth overall in the world, drawing 950 cash game players an hour. It remains to be seen whether the latest moves will boost their traffic.

A Closer Look at Vanessa Selbst’s Law Career

September 22, 2016

vanessa-selbst-law-pokerVanessa Selbst is the most-successful female poker pro of all time, having won over $11.8 million in live tournaments. But the 32-year-old is also a successful lawyer who specializes in civil rights cases.

In the midst of her professional poker career, Selbst still found time to attend and graduate from Yale Law School. Given that it’s tough enough to pass without playing in major poker tournaments, this is quite an accomplishment on its own.

“I’m a little bit weird within the poker world, in that I have these other passions,” she said. “For me, I’m never really just happy playing poker.”

The Bustle recently did a feature on Selbst and her acute abilities in both poker and law. And they found that her motivation for pursuing civil rights cases comes from things that happened to her in the past.

“In law school, I did actually get falsely arrested twice,” said Selbst. “Once I went to jail, and once I just had to get in the back of a police car, and both were completely bogus charges.”

In addition to helping people who may have had their civil liberties violated, Selbst has also been highly active with different foundations. Here’s one excerpt from the Bustle that explains this:

“Using that inspiration, Selbst has found ways to merge her seemingly unrelated passions of poker and law. In 2010 — the year she took the poker world by storm — Selbst created a private foundation called Venture Justice, through which she uses her poker winnings to fund socially conscious startups and entrepreneurs. “I knew that I wanted to do something with aspiring social entrepreneurs and people who want to make a difference, and I wanted to be able to put my money into helping them do that,” she says.

She also sits on the board of Urban Justice Center, an organization which provides legal advice to and advocates on behalf of vulnerable communities in New York City. “I just firmly believe that if you’re someone who has been given advantages in life that you have some sort of obligation to give back,” she says. As a native of the NYC area herself, it’s clear that those communities have grown close to Selbst’s heart.”

Despite being active with the Urban Justice Center, running Venture Justice, and being a lawyer, Selbst still finds time to cash in poker tournaments. That said, we can expect to see her grow in both poker and law in the future.

Andre Akkari Gets Sponsorship Deal with Puma

September 15, 2016

andre-akkari-pokerBrazil’s Andre Akkari has landed a unique poker sponsorship deal, signing with the athletic clothing brand Puma.

While this type of deal seems almost impossible to American players, it’s a reality in Brazil because poker is largely recognized as a mind sport here – rather than gambling. The fact that Puma has inked a deal with a poker player may open up similar opportunities around the world for other pros.

As for Akkari, he’s gained a lot of attention in his country of 200 million people. He’s not only seen as an excellent poker player, but also somebody who lives an interesting and flashy lifestyle.

A perfect example of how highly Akkari is regarded in Brazil is the fact that he was elected to be the Olympic torch holder at the 2016 Rio Olympics, along with Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima and World Cup champion Mário Zagallo.

This attention has earned Akkari a sponsorship deal with PokerStars, and now another deal with Puma.

Signing with Puma puts him in elite company that includes singer Rihanna, 9-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, and fellow poker pro Joel Thomas Zimmerman ‘deadmau5.’

As for his poker career, Akkari has earned $1.54 million in live tournaments through a career that began in 2006. His crowning achievement includes winning a 2011 WSOP $1,500 Hold’em event along with $675,117.

The Brazilian has been even more successful online, earning $3.3 million in online poker tournaments. Given that he’s a regular winner on PokerStars and a near hero in Brazil, it’s no surprise that he’s landed some lucrative sponsorship deals.

We’ll likely see him donning Puma gear along with a PokerStars patch in all future tournaments.

Fedor Holz Warns About Alex Dreyfus’ Business Dealings

September 7, 2016

alex-dreyfus-pokerFor the past few years, Alex Dreyfus has made a name for himself within the poker world by launching the Global Poker Index (GPI) and Global Poker League (GPL). And many are hoping that Dreyfus is successful in his bid to “sportify” poker. But there have recently been some warning signs surrounding Dreyfus and his business dealings.

Through a 2+2 thread, German poker players Fedor Holz and Hendrik “ValueH” Latz shared stories about how they made what they thought were merely USD-for-euro exchanges with Dreyfus. But the players later learned that these amounted to more of short-term loans, where Dreyfus was using the money to fund his poker businesses.

Here’s an excerpt from Holz’s post, which is under “CrownUpGuy”:

“On 3rd June 2016, Alex approached me and asked for 10,000$ cash in Vegas to trade for a euro bank transfer, stating that “he spend 50k$ [in the] last few days for [their] studio” now “reaching his daily limits”.

The same day I send him my bank details via e-mail and he responded with “Thanks will be proceed current next week”.

I was very busy in Vegas and didn’t do my accounting until end of July/beginning of August assuming that he wired me the money in euros when this message reached me on 28th July 2016:

“I just wanted to tell you, that I’m a bit late re: the transfer of 10k, as I spent a lot of resources last 6 weeks due to our vegas investment, and I’m in the middle of strategic/financing deal, which – if you allow me – to have few weeks more (end of august, early september) to process the Eur, bank transfer (with interest), would be highly appreciated. I apologizes for delay. Not my style, just Entrepreneur life. Hope it is fine for you.”

I responded that “it’s okay, [but] I’d like to get it out of the way as soon as possible”.

Holz did eventually get his money, but only three months after the fact, which is odd considering that Dreyfus said he’d send the transfer the same day.

Latz has a similar story, where he gave US$20,000 to Dreyfus and expected his euro transfer the same day. After inquiring about the money, Dreyfus told him that it’d been a rough summer for the GPL and he didn’t have the funds. The key point here is that the GPL founder asked for a currency trade – not a loan.

The good news is that both Holz and Latz got their money with 5% interest on top of it. The bad news is that Dreyfus basically admitted that he used both exchanges as short-term loans because the GPL is struggling.

This doesn’t bode well for the young poker league, especially with another story involving murky terms and conditions on WSOP Main Event prize packages that Dreyfus was supposed to give out.

Phil Galfond Launching Online Poker Site

September 1, 2016

phil-galfond-pokerHaving been in online poker for over a decade, Phil Galfond believes that he knows what players want. Using this knowledge, the high stakes pro plans to launch his own online poker site in the near future.

“I want a fair, honest, transparent poker site that believes in the dream that I have lived,” Galfond writes in a recent blog post. “I’m going to give it my best shot.”

While Galfond doesn’t mention what his poker site will be called or any specific details, he discuses every base that he thinks a quality online poker room should cover.

Here are a few points that Galfond mentions in his post at RunItUp:

“It should value the professional for embodying the dream that brings so many people to poker. For proving that poker is a game of skill. For promoting the game of poker to their fans, students, followers or subscribers.

“A poker site needs to believe in the dream of poker as a career. It shouldn’t cater to professionals over other players, but it must make every policy change with the viability of the dream in mind.

“A poker site needs to be a software and user experience company. Like other software companies, it should be eager to mine the trove of knowledge, experience, ideas, and feedback that is its player base. It should seek to build a fun and engaging environment that all types of players enjoy playing in.

A poker site should be transparent. It can’t respond to every little idea, thought or wish, but it should do its best to explain its actions. It can’t seek to please everyone by making changes that hurt the business, but it shouldn’t ignore the public. It should be held accountable for the decisions it makes. It should be able to explain itself in a way that reasonable customers will understand.”

While Galfond doesn’t come out and say it, one could assume that he’s looking for what PokerStars doesn’t offer. The world’s largest online poker room made unfavorable changes to its VIP program that hurt high-volume players. PokerStars and other sites have also made strides to create a recreational-friendly environment.

It’s unclear how Galfond will straddle the line between protecting recreational players and satisfying high-volume grinders. But based on his description, it looks like he has something in mind.

No date has been set for the upcoming poker site’s launch, but we can be sure that it’ll generate plenty of buzz when it does launch.