Friday, December 02, 2011

Talkin’ Bitar, Facebook, and Bodog

Wicked Chops InsiderA few items stood out this week among the various articles and headlines falling under the “poker news” heading.

F-Train’s lengthy feature on embattled and indicted Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar that appeared on the Wicked Chops Insider site was damned riveting. He interviewed a number of Full Tilt Poker employees who while remaining anonymous otherwise opined openly about the “rise and fall” of Bitar and FTP.

It’s an enlightening read start-to-finish, in truth an important part of a larger narrative about the history of online poker that currently exists only in fragments all over the web. Haley Hintze’s forthcoming book on the UB/AP scandals will be another important part of that story, too. (By the way, Haley has an interesting new post up this week regarding Phil “The Chairman of the Board” Tom, father of Absolute Poker’s also-indicted owner Scott Tom, a story that kind of resonates with the Bitar article in a couple of spots.)

As I was talking about here a couple of weeks ago, one needs a subscription to read the Wicked Chops “Insider” pieces, although the cost for one is quite modest. As indicated by a minor furor on Twitter prompted by the appearance of F-Train’s article earlier this week, there are some who are opposed to the idea of paying anything for this variety of what might be called “intellectual property” online.

As I think I implied in my post a couple of weeks ago, I definitely share some of that same skepticism. Nonetheless, I have gotten myself a subscription to the Insider Wicked Chops site, partly out of simple curiosity, and partly out of a desire to support some friends and colleagues. Whether you choose to or not is your call, but if you do, a captivating read awaits.

Facebook logoSpeaking of transitioning into the real-money world, another story of note this week concerned the social media behemoth Facebook contemplating entering into agreements with PokerStars, 888, and a half-dozen other online gaming companies. The report appeared on another subscription-only site, the eGaming Review, the cost of which is much too prohibitive for your short-stacked friend. But Paul Hoppe offered a nice summary on PokerFuse that provides some details.

It sounds like Facebook may follow the affiliate model and start directing users (not U.S., of course, and over 18 years of age) to the online gambling sites. It’s further possible that the site could let some companies work up apps that would run within Facebook, too. In any case, should Facebook make this step they’d instantly become a massive player in real money online gambling outside the U.S. (and maybe, eventually, in the U.S., too).

While I have a Twitter account (@hardboiledpoker) I use fairly often, I have continued to resist Facebook pretty much altogether. I do have a Facebook account, created mainly to set up a page for my novel, Same Difference. But don’t bother “friending” me or anything, because I almost never log in.

Part of it is because I’m too lazy to get in there and learn how to use the site, but I’m mostly staying off because of what sounds like a constant need to update settings in order to keep Facebook (and who knows who else) at arm’s length from my bidness. Not to get all Tao of Fear or anything, but I’m half-convinced if I log into Facebook for more than a minute or two I’ll wind up under such heavy surveillance I might as well be part of a Witness Protection Program.

Bodog's new anonymous tablesFinally -- to segue to one last story from this week -- this desire to remain anonymous online came up again with Bodog’s announcement that they were suddenly removing all usernames and avatars from cash games and tournaments. Can no longer see mucked cards in hand histories anymore, either (if you can even see HHs at all -- I am not 100% clear on that).

The move is being dubbed as further underscoring the “Recreational Poker Model” the site is championing since it thwarts the use of HUDs or tracking programs to compile data on opponents. Whether it hurts or helps the recreational player is in fact an issue over which reasonable people might disagree. In any case, this development follows a move back in September to remove full tables from being listed in the lobby, thus making it harder for sites like PokerScout to count players. (Read more on that here.)

I still have an empty account at Bodog, a site on which I used to regularly back in the day. I haven’t bothered to log in over there in a good while, partly because I tend to work on my laptop (a Mac) and not my desktop (a PC), and Bodog doesn’t run on the Mac.

While the idea of non-trackable, anonymous play might sound okay, not being able to consult my hand histories seems highly problematic, particularly if any suspicions regarding cheating/collusion were to arise. Again, while I’ve always been highly circumspect about putting cash on an online poker site, I’d be even more so when it came to a site where there were no identifiers at all for players, nor any simple way of keeping track of your play. (For more concern being expressed about the new anonymous tables, see this article over on Pocket Fives.)

Sure is a wild, weird world online. Thanks again for tripping over to my little corner of it this week.

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Blogger Littleacornman said...

I agree entirely with your thoughts on Facebook.Perhaps there is a bit of the Tao of Fear in being concerned too about my real name/identity being on such a powerful tool as the internet for the rest of time.

I may have chosen a stupid name after too many smokes one night but I'll stick to being Acornman or Zagga ( Stars name) online for now.

Unless of course,by some miracle, real money Facebook poker unleashes the biggest fishfest since the 2005 boom...

12/02/2011 6:54 PM  

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