Posts Tagged ‘hand’

MPN Hand History Changes Coming in April

 MPN Hand History Changes Coming in April

The Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) is preparing to make changes to both the content and storing of hand histories in order to protect casual players. The changes, discussed in a blog post by Head of Product (Network Games) at Microgaming Alex Scott earlier this month, will go into effect in April.

Scott is among the rare breed of online poker managers/executives who is actually a player, as well, and approaches problem solving from a fair perspective, balancing the needs of the company with the needs of the player. In the blog post, he talks about how while hand tracking software like PokerTracker has been a great tool for players, it also provides sharks the ability to prey on fish without really having to observe and study their opponents’ play.

Writes Scott:

We have a difficult relationship with tracking software. Personally, I think it’s really important for players to be able to track and analyse their own gameplay, and tracking software is an excellent way to improve if used properly. It’s also a great way to be a responsible gambler, because you can’t hide from your results.

But I also think tracking software has changed the game in a way that makes it less fun. It allows you to gather huge amounts of data on your opponents, without requiring any significant attention or observation on your part. It allows you to exploit the weakest opponents exclusively, if you wish.

That last point, about “exploit[ing] the weakest opponents exclusively, likely has to do with the use of software like seating scripts, which search the active tables, see who is playing, look up the players’ stats in the hand tracking software, and then seat the software’s user with players who are known to be weak.

Hand tracking software uses hand histories to compile player data.

Thus, MPN will implement two changes to hand histories. In cash games, a full, detailed hand history will only be saved to a player’s computer if that player contributed money to the pot. In other hands, only basic information like the player’s balance and hole cards will be saved. With this, players will not be able to just sit back and gather truckloads of data on other players without putting forth the effort of playing poker themselves.

Additionally, there will no longer be any hand histories at all for anonymous tables. The whole point of anonymous tables is to shield players from being tracked, so eliminating hand histories will make hand tracking software useless at those tables. MPN will still be on the lookout, though, for people who try to get around the rules and use such software.

As Alex Scott summarizes it, “The net effect of this is that you can still use tracking software to track your own gameplay, and you can still use a HUD at the tables. However your tracking software will gather much less information about your opponents in general.”

This should still make hand tracking software useful for analyzing one’s own play, as players will still have records of what hole cards they themselves had each hand. In any hand in which a user didn’t contribute to the pot, they will still know what cards they had, that they folded, and what their balance was. There really isn’t much more data necessary for self-analysis in those situations. Sure, it would probably be nice to know what sort of betting happened or didn’t happen to make me fold certain cards, but it’s probably not a big deal.

Poker News Daily

Why is my Opponent Calling? Perhaps He Has a Hand?

 Why is my Opponent Calling? Perhaps He Has a Hand?

Success in the game of poker is entirely based upon the decisions that a player makes while they are on the table. There is that visual element – money won – that some would like to make the most dominant part of the game but the reality is if you don’t make the right decisions, you’re not going to be in the position of using that visual element. Thus, there are times when the decision you make – especially if it is wrong – can cost you.

One thing that can be especially costly is the “triple barrel bluff” that, in the testosterone fueled age that poker has become, is seen quite frequently. This tactic is usually used as the initial raiser in a hand – normally with something along the lines of Big Slick or some other Ace – powers through bluffs after whiffing on each street that are calmly called by the opponent. The three streets of action sometime end up with one or the other player all in, at which point the caller shows a hand that connected with the board and the bluffer is toast. We must ask ourselves if the bluffer ever said, “Why is my opponent calling?” Perhaps it was because he had a hand?

Success in the game of poker is entirely based upon the decisions that a player makes while they are on the table. There is that visual element – money won – that some would like to make the most dominant part of the game but the reality is if you don’t make the right decisions, you’re not going to be in the position of using that visual element. Thus, there are times when the decision you make – especially if it is wrong – can cost you.

One thing that can be especially costly is the “triple barrel bluff” that, in the testosterone fueled age that poker has become, is seen quite frequently. This tactic is usually used as the initial raiser in a hand – normally with something along the lines of Big Slick or some other Ace – powers through bluffs after whiffing on each street that are calmly called by the opponent. The three streets of action sometime end up with one or the other player all in, at which point the caller shows a hand that connected with the board and the bluffer is toast. We must ask ourselves if the bluffer ever said, “Why is my opponent calling?” Perhaps it was because he had a hand?

The most recent demonstration of this situation came at the 2016November Nine” play down earlier this month. After playing some outstanding poker on the first day of the final table, the Czech Republic’s Vojtech Ruzicka came into the second day and the tires blew out. After climbing as high as second place, Ruzicka came up against the veteran Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy and, by appearances, never even paused to consider what the wily Jersey pro might be sitting back on.

In the hand, Ruzicka raised to 2.5 million with a suited Ace (A♣ 10♣) and Josephy just called from the button with pocket eights. The Q♣ 8♠ 4♣ flop hit both players squarely and, with excellent reason, Ruzicka fired off another bet. Josephy, with the set, just made the call and, after a 3♦ came on the turn, Ruzicka shot off another salvo. Once again, Josephy just called with a board showing that only pocket Queens currently beat him. On a blank river, Ruzicka waved the white flag (this time) and, after Josephy popped a good bet out, Ruzicka let the hand go.

If the “double barrel bluff” wasn’t good enough, the “triple barrel bluff” that came next would eventually doom Ruzicka. Still sitting on a great stack, Ruzicka this time fired off with an off suit Big Slick and Gordon Vayo looked up his preflop raise with pocket eights in what was a “blind versus blind” battle. A Q-8-3 flop was a complete fan by Ruzicka, but he still opened the post-flop action with a six million chip bet. Vayo, on the same set Josephy had held, used Josephy’s action and just called Ruzicka’s bet.

A blank seven on the turn gave Vayo nothing to worry about, but Ruzicka shipped a 11 million chip bet to the center. A call again from Vayo saw a five on the river and, with only a 9-6, a 6-4 (neither raising hands) or pocket Queens beating him, Vayo was confident. Thus, when Ruzicka shipped the remainder of his stack to the center – 27.5 million into a 50 million-plus pot – Vayo immediately called and, when the results were seen, Ruzicka’s once mighty stack was down to virtually nothing; he would be out in fifth place a couple of hands later.

This wasn’t the first time that such a situation had arisen at the WSOP. In 2011 (and we have the video to show it), noted British poker professional JP Kelly found himself in a fight against Kenny Shih. After a Shih raise, Kelly three-bet the action and, after Shih called, a Q-Q-7 flop hit the baize. As the video shows – well, why don’t we let the video do the talking, shall we?

At a certain point – and probably WAY before the river even arrived – Ruzicka and Kelly both failed to think about why their opponent was staying with them in the hand. Just because you have a stack that is dominant, you can’t just fire off chips without considering two things. First is that thought regarding your opponent’s holdings. In this day and age of set mining, when your big Ace fans on the flop (and even if it hits), you must be aware of the potential for your opponent to be on a pocket pair (especially with position) and looking to hit against a non-made hand and an aggressive opponent. Then the set miner can sit back and let the aggressor do the betting and wait for a moment to strike.

The second part is that, for a bluff to work, it must tell a convincing story. In both Ruzicka and especially Kelly’s case, the board didn’t present any threat in that it was ragged enough there wasn’t any sneakiness that could occur. Shih’s hand is probably a bad example (as he held quads) but what if he had A-Q. Did he think that Kelly was three-betting with a 6-5 for the straight? Unlikely. Same with Ruzicka…when you’ve missed everything with your Ace, the board better present something to allow for your story to be told convincingly. In both cases, that story wasn’t there.

There are times when double and triple barrel bluffing can be successful. But there are also times when the bluffer must pause and consider that, per the old axiom, the “hunter” has become the “hunted.” By taking that moment to think, both Kelly and Ruzicka may have gotten out of their situations. In Ruzicka’s case (and especially with his chip stack when the meltdown occurred), it might have cost him a shot at poker’s World Championship.

At a certain point – and probably WAY before the river even arrived – Ruzicka and Kelly both failed to think about why their opponent was staying with them in the hand. Just because you have a stack that is dominant, you can’t just fire off chips without considering two things. First is that thought regarding your opponent’s holdings. In this day and age of set mining, when your big Ace fans on the flop (and even if it hits), you must be aware of the potential for your opponent to be on a pocket pair (especially with position) and looking to hit against a non-made hand and an aggressive opponent. Then the set miner can sit back and let the aggressor do the betting and wait for a moment to strike.

The second part is that, for a bluff to work, it must tell a convincing story. In both Ruzicka and especially Kelly’s case, the board didn’t present any threat in that it was ragged enough there wasn’t any sneakiness that could occur. Shih’s hand is probably a bad example (as he held quads) but what if he had A-Q. Did he think that Kelly was three-betting with a 6-5 for the straight? Unlikely. Same with Ruzicka…when you’ve missed everything with your Ace, the board better present something to allow for your story to be told convincingly. In both cases, that story wasn’t there.

There are times when double and triple barrel bluffing can be successful. But there are also times when the bluffer must pause and consider that, per the old axiom, the “hunter” has become the “hunted.” By taking that moment to think, both Kelly and Ruzicka may have gotten out of their situations. In Ruzicka’s case (and especially with his chip stack when the meltdown occurred), it might have cost him a shot at poker’s World Championship.

Poker News Daily

partypoker to Scrub Opponents’ Names from Hand Histories

 partypoker to Scrub Opponents’ Names from Hand Histories

The trend in online poker is to make the poker rooms more friendly to recreational players, largely at the expense of high volume, grinding pros. In October 2015, partypoker introduced “Phase One” of its attempt at “leveling the playing field.” Yesterday, the poker room announced its next steps in what it says will “….improve the ecology of its poker room and promote fair and ethical gameplay.”

Phase One, which took effect in mid-October, was an update meant to shield recreational players and novices from being targeted by experienced pros. In a blog post, partypoker outlined the following changes:

•    Players will be able to view the last 12 months of their own hand histories within the Missions icon in the partypoker software, but hand histories will no longer be able to be downloaded and saved to their local devices
•    Players wishing to wait for a cash game will join the room-wide waiting list and be randomly seated when a seat that matches their preference becomes available
•    Players joining a cash game will see the names of their opponents only once their first hand is dealt

Using a room-wide waiting list and preventing players from seeing the names of their opponents before cards are dealt scuttled people’s ability to use seating scripts. When you can’t choose your table and seat and don’t even know who you are about to play against, there goes seat selection, there goes hunting for novice prey.

On Tuesday, partypoker listed its new policies, which apply only to cash games:

•    Local hand histories will still be available for download however player screen names will be anonymised
•    Players own screen name will be visible, while remaining players will be listed anonymously in download files e.g. Player 1,2,3
•    Players will still be able to view the number of hands they have played, win rate and other statistics to help them improve their play.
•    The terms and conditions will change will change prohibiting the use of seating scripts. Following these amendments, players using any such software will be initially issued with a warning notice before being banned from using their account
•    Alongside these changes, players will be allowed to make a one-off screen name change

Looking at these, partypoker has reversed course on local hand histories, but has taken the precaution to remove the names of the other players so that nobody can be accurately tracked. As a nod to pros and serious amateurs who still use hand tracking and analysis software, though, players can still use statistics from their own hands to continue to educate themselves. They just won’t be able to see who they played against.

And while last year’s changes made seating scripts nearly worthless, these new ones have officially made them against the rules.

It should be noted that it does not appear that partypoker’s tables will actually be anonymous, aside from before players are seated. Names will still be shown during gameplay, so players can still make notes on their opponents. They will just have to do it by hand, while they are playing, as opposed to letting hand tracking software mine all the data.

All of these changes will take effect October 5th.

Poker News Daily

Time Running Out, Pennsylvania Doesn’t Tip Its Hand Regarding Online Gaming or Poker

 Time Running Out, Pennsylvania Doesn’t Tip Its Hand Regarding Online Gaming or Poker

With the time running out on its legislative session, the Pennsylvania state legislature has yet to act on funding their Fiscal Year 2017 budget, leaving in limbo the future of online gaming and/or poker in the state in limbo. As of yet, however, the members of the legislature haven’t exactly tipped their hands as to what will happen in the next few weeks.

If you’ll recall, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a $ 31.8 million budget in June, but didn’t include a way to pay for the said budget. The budget, which sat on Governor Tom Wolf’s desk for the maximum time allowed under Pennsylvania law, was missing one key component, however:  how to go about paying for everything. The discussion for that issue was tabled until the fall session of the General Assembly, which is coming up in the next few weeks.

According to the legislative calendar for the Keystone State, there are exactly three more sessions where legislative duties will be completed. Those are the following time frames:

September 26-28
October 17-19
October 24-26

At some point during the three sessions, the discussion for how the state will pay for the current Fiscal Year’s budget will come up, at which point the discussion of whether online gaming and poker – which was left in the last budget discussions before now – will have its greatest chances of being passed.

There are several options that face legislators regarding the proposed online gaming and poker regulation. They could pass the current spending package “as is,” which would automatically push through the bill and make Pennsylvania the fourth state to regulate online gaming and poker. There is some discussion, however, that some members of the Senate are not pleased with some of the caveats of the online gaming bill – which has in the past included discussion of slot machines in airports and video gaming – which could force renegotiation of the gaming bill.

Then there is the other potential facing the legislature. Pennsylvania legislators have already added to taxes on alcohol and have also started a tax on online spending, such as for Netflix, music downloads or books. But those taxes alone will not get the state to entirely fund their $ 31 billion budget. There are other methods that might get passed instead of online gaming, methods that, even in an unfriendly tax increase environment (as which exists in the General Assembly, a Republican-dominated body), may be considered before increasing the amount of gambling in the state.

The state could increase the sales tax by as little as a half a percent (from 6% to 6.5%) and find every bit of the money that is necessary for funding the shortfall that currently exists in the budget discussions, which is slightly more than $ 300 million. The state could also cut the budget (even though it has been signed into law by Wolf) or decide not to fund certain segments of the government as “non-essential” entities. There is also very little discussion as to who the supporters of online gaming and poker are in the State Senate.

On Tuesday, the state’s citizens (and those in the industry) will get some clue with a hearing being held by the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee and its chairman, Representative John Payne. Payne was integral to getting the House to pass online gaming regulations before the “summer break” and it is thought that the hearing will help the Senate be able to pass regulation. The hearing will focus on what has occurred in other states that have passed online gaming regulations and fantasy sports regulation and how it could be beneficial to the state of Pennsylvania. That hearing, which will start at 9AM on September 27, will be key to seeing what the current temperature is of online gaming and poker regulation for the state.

Poker News Daily

PokerUpdate.com’s “Most Memorable Televised Poker Hand of All Time” Competition Enters Final Four

 PokerUpdate.com’s “Most Memorable Televised Poker Hand of All Time” Competition Enters Final Four

Sitting on various barstools across the United States – hell, perhaps the world – there can be a wealth of arguments between poker players and fans. Who is the greatest player of all-time? Who is the best player right now? What was the worst bad beat? In many of these cases, it is tough to figure out the proper answer because there isn’t any evidence of what happened. Surely “Wild Bill” Hickok death while holding the “Dead Man’s Hand” would qualify as a huge bad beat, but it is the stuff of legend and not factually documented. What if, however, you could have a contest where there was plenty of documented evidence to let poker’s fandom decide?

The online poker news site PokerUpdate.com took on this task when it comes to what is the most memorable televised poker hand of all time. A few weeks ago, 32 contenders stepped up in an NCAA “March Madness” bracket style pool looking to determine by a fan vote what the most memorable hand in television poker history would be. All of the hands in contention for the award were chosen by the staff of PokerUpdate.com, with poker journalist Robbie Strazynski in charge of tabulating the results.

With voting on the Final Four open until Tuesday – and with the Final Round being conducted following the completion of the Final Four voting – Strazynski took a few moments to sit down with Poker News Daily to tell us more about the competition and perhaps some of the surprises he has seen during the run of the event.

Poker News Daily: Were there any hands that didn’t make the 32 hands that you thought should have?

Robbie Strazynski: I was pretty surprised that Daniel Negreanu didn’t feature in any of the 32 selected hands. He has obviously appeared in a sizeable percentage of televised poker hands and I found it strange that not a single of the most memorable poker hands selected by our panel of experts featured ‘KidPoker.’ His cooler hand vs. Gus Hansen, where his boat lost to quads on High Stakes Poker comes to mind in particular.

One other generic comment is that none of the hands selected were taken from Poker Night in America. Plenty of interesting and exciting poker action has featured on that show, including the memorable Shaun Deeb slowroll of Mike Matusow. Perhaps the show is still not as ingrained in our collective memories as all those great old WSOP broadcasts are from poker’s golden days.

PND: Now that we’re down to the Final Four, have there been any surprises along the way?

RS: Well, we didn’t “seed” any of the 32 hands, we only categorized them (each bracket was a category – funny, impressive, exciting or shocking). So, strictly speaking, there weren’t any “mathematical upsets” like a #1 seed beating a #8 seed.  With that said, I was shocked that the Matt Affleck vs. Jonathan Duhamel hand didn’t even make it out of Round 1 into the Sweet 16.

Matt Affleck’s wide-eyed reaction was one of the most memorable, in my mind, to ever grace our screens. Another hand I thought would ease into the Final 4, but which got ousted in Round 2 (Sweet 16) was Filippo Candio’s “Suckgasm”. It was in the “Funny” quadrant of our bracket, and Candio’s reaction to sucking out on Joseph Cheong was quite simply the funniest reaction I’ve even seen in a televised poker hand. Nevertheless, the people have spoken, and its fan votes that count, not my personal opinion.

PND:  What has been the most surprising thing about the competition to this point?

RS: I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised by poker media outlets, like yours, many of which have been kind enough to give our bracket some coverage on their sites. What warms my heart about that, specifically, is that despite the friendly competition we poker media outlets obviously have amongst ourselves, that hasn’t gotten in the way of providing coverage of an engaging poker event like ours that fans are clearly interested in hearing about and voting in. So, kudos to you and much thanks to every other poker media site that has also covered our bracket contest.

In the same way, the PokerUpdate team is always happy to give poker fans what they want, including when it means supporting the initiatives of and content produced by other poker media sites.

PND: The “Most Memorable Hand” concept works great as a one-time thing…what other tricks do you have coming in the future?

RS: While I can’t reveal to you any specific initiatives at this time, our general outlook is to try and be a site that informs and entertains poker fans. All of the content we produce, whether it’s written articles, infographics, or videos like the Weekly Burn & Turn on the PokerUpdate YouTube channel is produced with fan engagement in mind. In this day and age, we feel that passive consumption of poker media needs to evolve into something where fans are more actively engaged. So, the best answer I can give you is that whatever our next initiative will be, it will be guided by those same principles.

Many thanks to Robbie for taking the time to answer a few questions regarding the “Most Memorable Televised Poker Hand of All Time.” We also will remind you that the voting will be continuing as the “November Nine” approaches and the actual winner of the competition will be named prior to the next World Champion being determined. To be able to place your vote on who the eventual winner will be, be sure to head to the dedicated PokerUpdate website.

Poker News Daily



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