Posts Tagged ‘Live’

PokerStars to Restrict Satellite Winners to One Prize Package Per Live Event

 PokerStars to Restrict Satellite Winners to One Prize Package Per Live Event

PokerStars has made yet another significant change to its online poker room policies, eliminating the ability for players to earn multiple seats into live tournaments via satellites. This is a massive departure from tradition, as many players (though not “many” relative to the total poker playing population) found satellites to be profitable endeavors past the initial tournament seat.

On the PokerStars blog, PokerStars Poker Operations Manager Mike Jones hearkened back to the 2003 World Series of Poker, which was famously won by amateur Chris Moneymaker, who also famously qualified for the WSOP Main Event via a $ 39 satellite on PokerStars. While satellites existed before then, they really weren’t all that popular as a means to gain entry into a bigger, more expensive tournament. Moneymaker’s success changed all that, though. Once amateur players saw what Moneymaker did, online satellites- not just at PokerStars – exploded. Now they are commonplace, woven into the fabric of online poker rooms.

Pokerstars, though, has seen the negative of satellites. Jones continued:

While recreational players dream of winning the poker experience of a lifetime with PokerStars, a fortunate and skilled few win multiple packages and seats to our live events, when they can only use one of them. These players have taken advantage of a system that allowed them to profit from winning against recreational or less experienced players. While this hasn’t been against the rules, it doesn’t make for as enjoyable experience as we would hope. The practice has, in fact, been off-putting for many, as we are seeing an increasing number of recreational players not even attempting to qualify for live events. This means that they are as a group less likely to experience the excitement that comes from playing live and the further investment in the poker world that comes from playing in a major live event.

The reason players continue to qualify for live events via satellites even after winning a seat is because they can convert the additional seats into cash. Say, for example, a person two prize packages for the WSOP Main Event via Stars satellites that pay for the $ 10,000 seat plus $ 2,500 in spending money for hotel and flights (I am just ballparking the prize package value). That player might use the first prize package to play in the Main Event, but since he is obviously just one person and can only occupy one seat, PokerStars gives him $ 12,500 for the second seat.

Many poker pros have taken advantage of this system over the years, often finding satellite fields to be softer than those of normal tournaments. Some pros win these things repeatedly, turning their seats into cash time after time.

PokerStars has seen the problem with this for recreational players, so starting with the satellites for PokerStars Festival Dublin, players can only win one prize package into the live tournament. No more playing in loads of satellites to win multiple seats.

“This limitation will, we hope, make sense to the majority of you and stand to reason as being fair,” wrote Jones. “We believe the change will create a more level playing field for all that want to visit our lower buy-in Festivals or experience the glitz and glamour of one of our bigger Championship events.”

PokerStars Festival Dublin runs September 25th through October 1st. Satellites are currently active at PokerStars.

The post PokerStars to Restrict Satellite Winners to One Prize Package Per Live Event appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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PokerStars Introduces MEGASTACK Live Tournament Series

 PokerStars Introduces MEGASTACK Live Tournament Series

Last year, PokerStars dismantled the European Poker Tour and created two new live tournament tours, the PokerStars Championship and the PokerStars Festival. They are your traditional tours, the PokerStars Championship looking very much like what the EPT was, with the PokerStars Festival coming in at a lower buy-in, akin to the World Series of Poker Circuit. On Friday, PokerStars announced yet another new live tournament series, called the PokerStars MEGASTACK (yes, and ugh, it is all CAPS), geared towards recreational players who cannot afford to compete in high buy-in tournaments.

The first PokerStars MEGASTACK will be at London’s Hippodrome Casino April 7th through April 9th. The buy-in is just £170, which is still a solid chunk of change for most people, but for poker players interested in competing in a good tournament, that is as light of a payment as one can hope for. All players start with 50,000, so there should be plenty of opportunity to play some poker (obviously, that all depends on the blind structure, but one would assume since it is live PokerStars event and not a daily nooner at a random casino off the Vegas Strip that things will be alright). Each tournament has three opening flights with one re-entry permitted per flight.

And since these are tournaments for recreational players trying to build a bankroll the PokerStars MEGASTACK events only run Friday through Sunday. As a PokerStars blog post put it:

We know it’s not always easy to find the time to play live tournaments, with one eye on your straight draw and the other on the clock as you try to work out if you can make it to work on 45 minutes sleep. That’s why MEGASTACK events are designed to fit your schedule rather than that of your boss, taking place from Friday to Sunday, leaving you all the time you need to enjoy the game.

There are also online satellites available for those who want to try to get in for even less money than £170.

If you are looking at that price point and thinking to yourself that there are no MEGASTACKS tournaments scheduled for the United States because the price is in British pounds, then you would be correct. Currently, there are only events scheduled for the Hippodrome, but according to Pokerstars, they will spread to other locations in the United Kingdom and Europe. No mention of the U.S. yet.

Here are the dates on tap so far for the Hippodrome:

• April 7th – 9th
• May 5th – 7th
• June 30th – July 2nd
• September 22nd – 24th
• October 20th – 22nd

And that’s really it. Frankly, I’m surprised that I was able to write even this much about the MEGASTACKS tournament series, as it isn’t all that big of a deal. But while I downplay it a little, it really could be a very nice addition to the live tournament schedule. Instead of having to watch as all those deep-pocketed poker players get to play in four and five-figure live tournaments, casual players can get in on the fun in what one would expect to be well-run tourneys with good blind structures.

Poker News Daily

BetOnline Live Blackjack Dealer Allegedly Cheats Player

 BetOnline Live Blackjack Dealer Allegedly Cheats Player

Online blackjack has been around for just about as long as online poker has and while plenty of people have been skeptical of the poker random number generators (RNGs), many more have been skeptical of RNGs used in blackjack. Online operators compete against the players, so even though the odds are in the house’s favor, there is certainly motive to cheat. And when the cards are virtual, one can never been 100 percent certain – even with all the technical verifications and certifications in the world – that there is no way anything fishy is going on.

As a way to ease this trust issue and to make online casinos have more of a “real life” feel, some sites started up “live dealer” games, which are exactly what they sound like: real human dealers are dealing real cards to players over the internet. Players still click buttons to indicate their hit/stand decisions, but the dealers on the screen really put the cards out. It’s not something I’ve ever played, but it’s a decent idea that has gained in popularity in recent years.

Even though live dealer games are partially meant to engender trust, one recent game has shown that even live dealers and/or the online casinos may try to screw customers out of their money. On January 25th, Michael Morgenstern, who calls himself a “blackjack professional,” live streamed a 75-minute session of him playing in the live dealer blackjack games of BetOnline.com. This past weekend, he posted a portion of that video that shows what looks to be the dealer cheating.

Morgenstern did not notice the problem while he was playing; it was pointed out by a viewer in the comments of the YouTube video.

In the hand, Morgenstern made the unusual decision to split Twos against the dealer’s King, something that players rarely do. This seems to be because Morgenstern was counting cards, which he indicates once the hand is over by referencing the “negative” count of the deck. He likely split the Twos because he felt the deck was in his favor.

Morgenstern busted the first of the split hands with a 25 and was then dealt a Nine on the other Two, so he doubled-down. He received a Six on his next and final card, giving him a 17 on the second hand of the split. The dealer then dealt himself an Eight, giving him an 18, beating Morgenstern (normally, the dealer would deal himself both cards when the players are dealt their two initial cards, but apparently on BetOnline, he only deals himself one card and saves the other for after all the players have acted).

What was discovered by the viewer, though, was that when Morgenstern was dealt the Six, the dealer pushed the top card of the shoe up and took the second card to give to Morgenstern. Clearly, the proper procedure was to deal Morgenstern the top card from the deck, not the second card.

It is entirely possible that it was a mistake, but it seems unlikely, as sliding the top card out of the way to grab the second card is not a natural thing to do. It is also obvious that the dealer makes a sort of double finger-flicking motion before sliding the top card out of the way. Internet sleuths believe that he is not just randomly flicking his fingers, but rather rubbing his finger on the card in an effort to feel some sort of marking that indicates the value of the card. The idea here is that the markings indicate that the card is an Eight, which would’ve given Morgenstern a very good 19. The dealer didn’t know what the second card would be, but he allegedly took the chance that it was worse for Morgenstern than the Eight and then the dealer would get the Eight and beat Morgenstern.

Of course, that the dealer cheated is pure speculation right now, but the video is pretty damning. A further question is: did the dealer do this on his own or did someone off camera direct him to do so? If we may further speculate, what seems to make the most sense is that someone at BetOnline told him to do that, unless there was some internal incentive for a dealer to produce losing sessions for players.

The original video for Morgenstern’s session is below. The hand in which the alleged cheating occurred begins at about the 13:30 mark. Warning: there is a lot of foul language in the video.

And here is the edited video that specifically points out the cheating. There is no audio in this one.

Poker News Daily

BetOnline Addresses Alleged Live Dealer BlackJack Cheating Incident

 BetOnline Addresses Alleged Live Dealer BlackJack Cheating Incident

As we told you on Tuesday, there has been a lot of talk in the past week about an incident on BetOnline.com in which a live blackjack dealer appeared to cheat a player. The site has responded by saying it is investigating the incident; it has also jettisoned the provider that had been running the live games.

To review, BetOnline offers “live dealer” blackjack games in which a real dealer in a studio deals real cards, but rather than players sitting in seats at the table, they are playing remotely via the computer. It is meant to both ease trust concerns of those skeptical of random number generators and give players a more entertaining game with a live feel.

On January 25th, Michael Morgenstern, who says he is a professional blackjack player, streamed a BetOnline blackjack session. He didn’t know it until someone pointed it out in his YouTube video’s comment section, but it appeared that in one hand, the dealer did what is called “dealing seconds,” or dealing the second card from the shoe instead of the top card.

It can be seen in the video, as well as a second video Morgenstern posted with that hand singled out. The dealer slid the top card up and took the second card, dealing it to Morgenstern. As it turned out, that card, combined with the next one that was given to the dealer (in this game’s format, the dealer takes his second card after all the players’ hands have been completed), caused Morgenstern to lose the hand.

It is not known why the dealer would have done this. It could have been a mistake, but it certainly looked like cheating. Again, why he did it is the question. Was he acting on his own (and why would he?), did someone from the blackjack operator tell him to do it, or did BetOnline have something to do with it?

Obviously, one would not expect BetOnline to admit that it was cheating anyone (and we’re not saying they were). This week, company put out the following press release, implying it was as surprised as everyone else:

BetOnline.ag has been notified of an instance of potentially questionable behavior by a black jack dealer from its previous Live Dealer Casino Provider on the date of January 25th, 2017. The Company removed the previous Provider’s Casino and replaced it with the much improved Visionary iGaming Live Dealer product on February 18th 2017.

BetOnline.ag is currently looking into the issue with help and careful cooperation from the previous Live Dealer provider. BetOnline.ag asks that anyone who feels they may have been affected by this dealer’s actions to contact them by email at Casino[at]BetOnline.ag.

As always, BetOnline.ag takes client feedback seriously. And nothing is more important to BetOnline.ag than the integrity of its gambling offerings and the enjoyment of its players.

It is somewhat interesting that BetOnline canned the casino provider that it was using during Morgenstern’s session and replaced it with a new one on February 18th. That could seem suspicious; if one wanted to buy into a conspiracy theory, it could seem like BetOnline knew what was going on and made the change, hoping it would blow over.

If we give BetOnline the benefit of the doubt though and assume the company isn’t just straight-up lying (yeah, yeah, I know), it looks like that conspiracy theory doesn’t quite work. In a press release on February 18th announcing the casino provider switch, BetOnline said that it began searching for a new provider in early January:

After client-side complaints regarding the number of available tables, games offered, lackadaisical dealers, and poor hand reporting became common-place (regarding GGL), BetOnline took on the task of finding a superior Live Casino Vendor. After a month-long search in early January 2017, it was decided that ViG would offer a superior product for the BetOnline.ag Players. ViG was notified mid-January, and as of 18 February 2017, the new vendor is in production on BetOnline.ag. Client feedback has been very positive since the switchover!

Then again, maybe the cheating was going on for a long time and BetOnline finally decided to change it up. Who knows? It certainly would be interesting to find out if what happened to Morgenstern was an isolated incident or if other customers had been cheated and just never knew.

Poker News Daily

John Duthie Takes Helm of partypoker LIVE

 John Duthie Takes Helm of partypoker LIVE

John Duthie, former PokerStars executive and founder of the European Poker Tour, has made the move over to one of his ex-company’s rivals and has been named President of partypoker LIVE on a five-year deal. Announced in January, partypoker LIVE, as the name implies, is partypoker’s new live poker tournament tour, slated to begin in late March.

The hire is a bit of a coup for partypoker, as Duthie is a legend in the industry, one of the founding fathers of live (and successful) international poker tours. He is also an accomplished poker player in his own right, with more than $ 3 million live tournament winnings.

In an announcement on the partypoker blog, Duthie expressed his excitement for his new role:

I have been impressed with the progress of partypoker and in particular the number of trusted, experienced and well-respected individuals and organisations that have chosen to put their support behind the partypoker brand. I believe there is a gap in the market for an operator whose primary focus is poker and who will listen to, and work with, the poker community as this was something that was absolutely key to the growth and success of the EPT. I still love the game just as much as the first time I saw my first flop and I believe this passion will help partypoker LIVE become the largest and most fun poker tour in the world. I plan to enjoy myself immensely working with and meeting old friends.

He expanded on his comments about “listening” in an interview with the partypoker blog, saying, “Anything that any player has to say, I’ll happily listen to. To be honest, I’ve always listened to players. You can mould an event into something very successful with just good feedback. Listening, making changes and combining them with our own ideas can only be for the good.”

There are currently seven confirmed partypoker LIVE tour stops, as follows (list courtesy of the partypoker blog):

March 23-27 – partypoker Million Sochi [Sochi Casino & Resort] – $ 1 million guaranteed, $ 1,100 buy-in
April 6-10 – partypoker Grand Prix Austria [CCC Montesino] €500,000 – guaranteed, €225 buy-in
April 18-23 – partypoker MILLIONS [Dusk Till Dawn] – £6 million guaranteed, £5,300 buy-in
April 25-May 1 – partypoker Grand Prix Canada [Playground Poker Club] – CA$ 500,000 guaranteed, CA$ 220 buy-in
April 27-May 1 – partypoker Grand Prix Germany [King’s Casino] – €500,000 guaranteed, €225 buy-in
May 5-10 – partypoker Million North America [Playground Poker Club] – CA$ 5 million guaranteed, CA$ 5,300 buy-in
June 1-5 – partypoker Million Germany [King’s Casino] – €1m guaranteed, €1,100 buy-in

Tom Waters, Managing Director of partypoker, weighed in on Duthie’s hire:

We are thrilled that John has joined us at the beginning of this journey. Very few people in the world have made such a significant contribution to poker and his experience, relationships and understanding of players will be a huge asset to us. Our guarantees are ambitious but our marketing strategy is to provide value to players instead of investing money outside of the poker community and we are confident that with John’s guidance we can optimise this strategy for the benefit of the live poker market. partypoker LIVE will offer a minimum of 5M GTD for 5K buy-in, 1M GTD for 1K buy-in and 500K GTD for 200 buy-in and we plan to visit as many continents and countries as possible. All events will feature at least one Online Day 1 for players who have limited time to spend away from home or simply wish to reduce their expenses. We love our holiday themed events such as the Caribbean Poker Party and are planning more of these.

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