Thursday, November 19, 2009

Raise. Stack. Own. Rebrand. Try Again.

Vera and I do have a satellite dish and a hi-def teevee, but subscribe to the least expensive package available. So while we still get several dozen channels more than we need, we don’t get a few we occasionally want, including Fox Sports Net. Meaning I haven’t had the chance as of yet to see that Poker2Nite show hosted by Scott Huff and Joe Sebok which premiered last night.

As a longtime fan of the various podcasts produced by those two over the last three-plus years, I’m looking forward to seeing the show. I understand that UltimateBet -- the online poker site that signed Sebok as both a sponsored pro and a “media and operations consultant” back in September -- is the “presenting sponsor” for the show. Indeed, I believe episodes can be viewed over on the online site’s website, though I haven’t explored that yet.

Speaking of UltimateBet, you might have heard how the site has now “rebranded” to become I first heard about that via Twitter when I saw Spaceman’s tweet “UltimateBet's rebranding reminds me of when evil tobacco co. Philip Morris became friendly-sounding ‘Altria.’”

Haven’t too much to say about that, really, other than to express the usual cynicism most of us probably share regarding marketing. Makes me think of that line Raymond Chandler once had Philip Marlowe say regarding chess -- a line from The Long Goodbye that usually gets misquoted as applying to poker -- noting that the game was “as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you could find anywhere outside an advertising agency.”

As was the case when UltimateBet merged with Absolute Poker on the Cereus Network back in July 2008, itself a kind of “rebranding,” all of the new slogans and messages bear the burdensome weight of that legacy of four-and-a-half years during which some players were playing against opponents who could see their hole cards -- i.e., the most massive cheating scandal in the short history of online poker.

So forgive me a little chuckle when reading the explanation of the new slogan “Raise. Stack. Own.” on the UB blog: “I will raise you. I will stack you. I will own you. -- This is how winning players approach the game, no mercy.” Can’t say hearing the site say “I will stack you. I will own you” really encourages me to come back.

Neither does the site’s continued lack of response to my requests regarding hand histories.

I’ve chronicled my quixotic efforts to get UltimateBet -- or UB -- to send me hand histories here before, the most recent synopsis appearing in a post from a couple of months ago titled “On Those UltimateBet Hand Mysteries, er... Histories.”

Following Sebok’s signing with UB, I had been momentarily encouraged to think I would eventually get my hand histories sent to me, given his statements that when signing with the site they had indicated to him that would be one of the first orders of business. I wrote the site (again) in late September and received a quick response saying my request had been “forwarded to our upper management for further review of your request.” Then on October 1, I got a note from a “Poker Security Manager” saying that while I was unaffected by the cheating, “I will work on getting your data to you ASAP.”

Three weeks passed with no response, so I replied to the email I’d been sent. It was returned as undeliverable. I’m thinking that when the fellow said “ASAP” he might have been calling me a sap.

I griped a little at the time on Twitter about once again having appeared to hit a dead end in the quest for my hand histories. And to Sebok’s credit he responded to my whimpering, saying he was glad to hear about the problem and was doing what he could to get UB to be more responsive to these things. He also mentioned, though, that he had come to realize his efforts in that regard were going to take him longer than he’d originally hoped they would.

As I’ve said before here, I’ve got all kinds of respect for the Cub. I do worry, though, that when it comes to this business of fixing UB, you be running the risk of being rebranded yourself.

For those interested in learning more of the skinny regarding the whole UltimateBet fiasco, check out Haley’s “Just Conjecturin’” series of posts on the subject, the most recent of which explains how Ted Forrest’s name (and a couple of others) should be added to the list of those who’ve had an ownership interest in the maligned online site. Links to Haley’s posts (thus far):
  • Just Conjecturin’, Part 1
  • Just Conjecturin’, Part 2: Sebok Signing (Update)
  • Just Conjecturin’, Part 2.5: Oh, Those UB Hand Histories
  • Just Conjecturin’, Part 3: The 56% Solution
  • Just Conjecturin’, Part 4: Inside the Excapsa Ownership Bloc
  • Just Conjecturin’, Part 5: If a Forrest is Silent, Does That Mean There Aren't Any Trees?
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    Blogger Easycure said...

    UB is in trouble, don't you think? When the US market opens up in a year (or 2, or 5), they are going to be left in the dust. No hope because of no change.

    11/19/2009 11:17 AM  
    Blogger Sean G said...

    I'm a fan of Sebok and look forward to seeing his new show, but I am disappointed to hear you're still running into trouble requesting your hand histories. I've wondered if UB has been as forthcoming as Sebok said they would be, but most complaints I hear are "friend of a friend" type.

    Good luck, I hope they get things straightened out before Seebs loses his credibility.

    11/19/2009 11:54 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I agree wuth Easycure that as soon as the US market reopens to all, UB will be 1/2 the site it currently is.

    People only lay there because they have such limited choice at present

    11/19/2009 4:41 PM  

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