Posts Tagged ‘game’

Legislation Introduced in Hawaii to Regulate Video Game Loot Boxes

 Legislation Introduced in Hawaii to Regulate Video Game Loot Boxes

I suppose it is appropriate that I am writing this article about video game loot box legislation as I am watching Overwatch, one of the most popular video games in the world and one of the ones best known for its use of loot boxes. Recently, two pairs of bills were introduced in the Hawaii legislature that look to regulate loot boxes in an attempt to protect consumers.

For those unfamiliar, loot boxes are in-game collectibles that contain random items. These loot boxes (they go by different names in different games) can be earned by playing, be bought with in-game currency, be bought with real money, or any combination of the three, depending on the game. Players will usually know what sorts of items can be found in loot boxes, but they will not know EXACTLY what items will be revealed.

In some games, like Overwatch, loot box items are only cosmetic and serve no real purpose, whereas in other games, the items can give players an in-game advantage, like an ability boost or a more powerful weapon.

The criticism of loot boxes is that they represent a form of gambling, that every day, players spend money on loot boxes, hoping to open one up to find a very rare or powerful item (usually, the items are quite common or unexciting). There are even some (unauthorized) sites where players can make money buying and selling these items, or even using them to gamble with.

Because of their gambling-like properties, lawmakers in Hawaii have introduced the bills to try to accomplish a few things:

1) Restrict the sale of games with loot boxes or similar mechanism to customers 21-years of age and older
2) Require game makers to make the probabilities of receiving certain items very apparent when a customer is about to buy loot boxes or even simply open one
3) Require game makers to label games that have loot box mechanism. This label would be on the packaging if the game is on physical media like a DVD or on the game’s sale page if it is a downloadable game.

As a video gamer myself, I am fine with loot boxes to a certain extent, though I also consider them a form of gambling if players are buying them with real money or with in-game currency that has some sort of real-world value (even if it can’t actually be sold). The system Overwatch uses is totally fine with me, as loot boxes can easily be earned just by playing the game and nothing included in a loot box offers a player any sort of advantage in-game. Everything is cosmetic.

What I don’t like are games where it feels compulsory to buy loot boxes because they contain items that give players gameplay advantages. This gets into “pay to win” territory, as it really hurts people who either can’t afford loot boxes or simply don’t want to buy them. This is even worse in games that already cost money to buy, as opposed to free-to-play games that use loot boxes as a way to try to make a profit.

The post Legislation Introduced in Hawaii to Regulate Video Game Loot Boxes appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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“Molly’s Game” Premieres Today with Jessica Chastain Garnering Oscar Buzz

 “Molly’s Game” Premieres Today with Jessica Chastain Garnering Oscar Buzz

With Christmas just around the corner, time for many people might be a bit short. For those who are finished with their preparations (lucky dogs!), a movie might be in the cards. For those who have a fondness for poker, the latest attempt at a “poker movie” hits screens across the country and around the world today, with Oscar buzz aplenty.

After a long buildup Molly’s Game, the directorial debut of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin that stars Jessica Chastain as the titular star of the film and Idris Elba as her attorney. If you don’t know the story of the book penned by Molly Bloom, it is the story of a plucky underdog that was able to overcome the odds and become a winner…

OK, that’s not true, at least most of it. Molly’s Game, based on the book of the same name written by Bloom, was her expose of her time running and operating the biggest cash games around. From Hollywood, where Bloom ran her game for actors, directors, and other businessmen, to New York, where hedge fund managers, stockbrokers and politicians got in the game, Bloom detailed her time hustling to make a good deal of money for herself, all from tips from the players. It also detailed the down side, which saw Bloom abuse drugs, be stalked by the Russian mob and, eventually, her arrest by federal agents for illegal gambling (Bloom says it was because she started taking a rake off her games).

The poker world has anointed the film the “next big poker film,” but Sorkin has been trying to quash those thoughts from the start. And, to be honest, there is very little poker in the film. What does make the film, however, is the star turn of Chastain, who has been nominated twice for an Academy Award but never won. That may change with Molly’s Game.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Chastain discussed her interactions with Bloom and her research into portraying the complex lady. “To understand how she got trapped by these people, this was hard, and I think I was guilty of some judgment,” the Mail quoted Chastain. “We as a society have fallen to the pattern of blaming women for things, the way they look, dismissing them, shaming them for revealing their bodies. I absolutely had that judgment before I met her.”

According to Chastain, she felt that Bloom’s reasons for creating and running these poker games – where millions of dollars were on the table and Bloom herself says she earned upwards of $ 4 million per year from running – was, in part, a response to her father’s treatment. “It comes from her childhood. Her dad made it clear that he made the rules,” Chastain said in the interview. “She would have to follow them until she makes her own money. So, she goes for an industry where she feels she can get that liberty.”

Much like the book, there won’t be any names mentioned in the cinematic version of Molly’s Game. Bloom, who was privy to a great deal of private information from very powerful people, chose not to broach those trusts in her tome (the closest she gets to dirt is against actor Tobey Maguire, who comes off as a douche in the book). Sorkin, in adapting Bloom’s book into a screenplay, held to that bond and didn’t reveal any dirt either.

The film itself has earned quite a bit of awards buzz for its participants. Chastain has already earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress and there is considerable attention being given to Sorkin (Adapted Screenplay), Chastain and Elba (Best Actor) for this year’s Oscars. Whether it will meet the critics’ high standards remains to be seen, however.

Molly’s Game opens today in a limited release, with a wide release set for the beginning of January. The cinemaplex is a bit crowded this weekend, with the release of Hugh Jackman’s musical The Greatest Showman, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Jumanji:  Welcome to the Jungle, and Matt Damon’s Downsizing all in the mix (and another Academy Award hopeful in All the Money in the World coming on Christmas Day). If you’ve been good and got all your Christmas responsibilities completed, some time at the cinema might be just what the doctor ordered.

The post “Molly’s Game” Premieres Today with Jessica Chastain Garnering Oscar Buzz appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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PokerStars Testing Shorter Time to Act at Select Cash Game Tables

 PokerStars Testing Shorter Time to Act at Select Cash Game Tables

In what seems to be a never-ending effort in the poker industry to speed up the games, PokerStars announced last week that it will be conducting a trial of some new “time to act” settings at its cash game tables. Announced in a post on the corporate blog, the goal of the new settings is to try to reduce the impact of unnecessary tanking.

“One of the most frustrating aspects of playing cash games can be making a disciplined fold and then having to wait for your opposition to play out a painfully slow hand before you get to make your next decision,” wrote Dan Price, the PokerStars Ring Games Manager. “Unsurprisingly one of the most common complaints we receive is about opponents taking forever over the simplest decisions… even going into their time-bank just to fold pre-flop!”

To that end, PokerStars is implementing the trial of the new “time to act” settings on a limited set of tables today. At the ultra-micro stakes – $ 0.01/$ 0.02 No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha – the time a players has to make a decision has been reduced.

On the other cash game tables, and on these tables prior to today, players have 18 seconds to act pre-flop if not facing a raise and 25 seconds to act pre-flop when facing a raise and in all situations post-flop.

Now, on the trial tables, those time limits have been reduced to 12 seconds and 15 seconds, respectively.

Knowing that there are some situations in which a player needs more time – perhaps a tricky board with one’s entire stack at risk – PokerStars has not changed the time bank rules. Everyone starts with 30 seconds in their time bank (an extra bucket of time a player can use if the regular timer elapses) and gets an extra 10 seconds after every 50 hands played with a maximum of 600 seconds in a time bank.

“We will monitor the impact that these changes have on the games and will, as always, listen closely to the feedback of our players,” Price wrote. “We seek to keep our games fun, exciting and engaging for all players but appreciate that there may be some players who are upset with the new pace of the game. However, we are confident that this is a big step in the right direction for the vast majority of players.”

Of course, those who have absolutely no patience and can’t even wait even a few seconds for other players to act can always play poker over at the Zoom Poker tables, where players get whisked away to a new table and a new hand right after they fold. Problem solved!

To clarify, though, the time to act rules have not changed for the Zoom Poker tables, nor have they changed for tournaments. Right now, it is at the $ 0.01/$ 0.02 No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha cash game tables only, though we should probably expect it to be expanded to other cash game tables once the trial period ends.

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Ignition Casino Switches to Quick Seat Cash Game Lobby

 Ignition Casino Switches to Quick Seat Cash Game Lobby

Ignition Casino and its twin online poker room, Bodog, recently made a major change to their cash game lobbies, moving from the traditional table listing to what the poker rooms call the Quick Seat lobby.

This lobby variation is nothing new; it has been around in the online poker world for years. What makes this interesting is that it is now the only way to find a cash game seat at Ignition Casino. The way we have been used to for as long as internet poker has existed is now gone. No more perusing the list of open tables, no more seeing what the average pot size and percent of players to the flop are, no more ability to open a table to see who is playing.

Now on Ignition, players will just choose their stakes, the maximum table size, the game (Texas Hold’em, Omaha, or Omaha Hi/Lo), and game variation (No-Limit, Pot-Limit, or Fixed-Limit). When all that is settled, the poker client will find the proper table and seat the player.

It looks like the idea behind the change is to protect recreational players from being targeted by sharks throughout the lobby. With no ability to find their prey, sharks can’t really hunt anyone down anymore. When they can’t do that, the recreational players will likely not lose their money as quickly, not only keeping money in the poker economy but also increasing the chances that they reload after going busto. Plenty of people have fun while losing money and the longer it takes to go broke, the more probably it is that the players still enjoy themselves.

Oddly, Ignition already had anonymous tables, so it was already next to impossible for any recreational players to be preyed upon. Perhaps the Quick Seat lobby is just a way to cover hat one percent of the time sharks were still able to target weaker players.

Reviews of the new system have been mixed in the poker community. While many applaud Ignition for taking another step to making online poker just about poker and taking away much of the edge third-party software tools provide, others feel the Quick Seat lobby just makes playing more difficult.

The way it makes it more difficult is that most people have certain preferences when it comes to the games they play. Some like starting new tables. Others only want to play at full tables. The Quick Seat lobby doesn’t allow players to choose. Thus, if someone who hates starting a table or playing ultra-short-handed ends up at an empty table, they will either leave and try again, sit out until more players arrive, or play begrudgingly. None of these options is ideal.

At the same time, some players have reported having great success with Quick Seat, especially multi-tablers. Quick Seat guarantees players will get into a game, as opposed to a traditional lobby that often has just a couple tables of a certain type with long waitlists.

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PokerStars Alpha Testing Bonkers New Power Up Poker Game

 PokerStars Alpha Testing Bonkers New Power Up Poker Game

Hold onto your butts, everyone. A new poker game from PokerStars is in the pipeline. And this isn’t just another Spin & Go or Zoom Poker variation. Power Up, now in very limited Alpha testing, is something that takes a game of hold’em and quite literally adds new cards that give players the power to transform the hand. In Power Up, the players get magic powers. They even get magic powers to counteract each other’s magic powers. I’m dead serious about this.

In a post on the PokerStars blog, PokerStars Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Severin Rasset explained that his company has “been putting significant resource toward poker innovation.”

“The common goal of these innovations is continue to maintain a high level of engagement from our active players, to reactivate players that may be tired of playing poker as it is today, and to speak to potential players that haven’t discovered the game yet,” he added.

Then he explained Power Up and what is going on with the game:

Today, the latest of our innovations, PokerStars Power Up entered Alpha testing. It’s a combination of traditional enjoyable No Limit Hold’em injected with powers that give players the ability to influence how hands play out and change up game play in a variety of ways with boards, cards and chips. This project introduces a lot of new features to poker that we have built from scratch and it’s taken a lot of time and effort to get to this stage in the game’s life. We balanced the game for six months in a sandbox environment with a group of very high volume experienced poker players and gamers to attempt to break the game in every possible way. We integrated a new engine within our software, created animations and powers, and put a lot of time and thought into how poker players will have fun with the game.

Let’s back up. While PokerStars has revealed little about how Power Up works, here’s what we can glean from the short, 35 second video and pictures on the blog:

Power Up is a hold’em game (perhaps some sort of short-handed Sit-and-Go contest, but we can’t be sure) in which, in addition to hole cards, players get special power-up cards. These cards can be used at various spots in a hand – maybe each betting round, if desired – to completely alter the hand. Some power-ups change cards. Some remove cards. Some add cards. Some let players see cards to come.

Based on a screenshot of these power-up cards, here is a list of at least some of them:

Clone – receive a copy of the last power played this hand
Disintegrate – Destroy a targeted board card dealt this street
EMP – prevent powers on this street
Engineer – choose the deck’s next card from three options
Intel – view the deck’s top card for the rest of the hand
Reload – redraw selected hole cards
Scanner – view the top two cards in the deck; choose whether to discard them
Upgrade – draw a third hole card, then discard one
X-Ray – force all opponents to expose one hole card

There very well may be more power-up cards; those were just in the screenshot. Additionally, there appear to be point values assigned to each card. Mediarex Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Global Poker Index, introduced a similar game a year ago called HoldemX, also in Alpha testing. Power-up cards in that game, called “xcards,” also had point values. Players were given a points budget before a match and could select a number of cards to have on hand using the point values and budget as a guide. It is possible that the points on the power-up cards work the same way.

This game obviously alters the skill aspect of poker, as someone getting outplayed can reverse the flow of a game through the use of the power-up cards. At the same time, the use – and possible pre-game selection – of these cards is a skill in and of itself, so people who are used to the machinations of a game like Hearthstone may already have a step up on the competition.

As mentioned, Power Up is only in Alpha testing right now. PokerStars has sent invitations to a select number of play money players in the United States to help provide feedback and make sure everything works on a technical level.

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