Friday, May 18, 2007

DOJ Siezes More of Our Money: Citadel Commerce

More bad news.
Personally, I've never used Citadel Commerce, but they've fallen victim to another DOJ cash grab. You may know them better as myCitadel Wallet.

Citadel Commerce, a Canadian based company, gave a press release in late April that they had money "held up" by one of their U.S. based processors. Now, they confirm that the DOJ has seized over $9,000,000.

This is a company that stopped dealing with any U.S. customers at the same time that the Neteller legal problems began and yet they are still a target. They did more to comply with the DOJ's wishes than the e-wallets that continue to operate to this day, and yet...they did not escape the US Government's wrath. I hope nobody has any money sitting in ANY e-wallet. At this point, we have to assume that any of them can shutdown without any warning what so ever.

You did read your new Epassporte Terms of Service, right? Did you catch the changes where you now agree that Epassporte can confiscate your entire account if you fund it from an "illegal" source? Sounds to me that Epassporte doesn't want to deal with the headache of returning seized money to players. Easier for them to keep it all, eh?

Thank you, Big Brother. I feel safer already.

2007 WSOP Event Director Resigns

Still think the WSOP isn't a declining brand?

Robert Daily, former World Series of Poker Tournament and Events Director has agreed to become a member of the DG Holdings board, leading the company's online gaming platform division.

Mr. Daily leaves Harrah's after 11 years in various capacities. During his tenure, he served as the 2005 WSOP Event Manager and 2006 WSOP Tournament Director. Bob received the prestigious 2007 Chairman's Award for his efforts.

An interesting tidbit that could be easily skimmed over comes from the following quote from Mr. Daily, "After my resignation, DGH approached me to join their group as a board member to provide leadership to their online gaming platform – especially poker – and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I have made many great friends within the poker industry and I look forward to working with them in the future from a different perspective."

"After my resignation..." Hmm. Does something stink inside the WSOP? Why would the event director resign a mere two weeks before the event?

Read the official DG Holdings Press Release.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Full Tilt PokerBot Scandal Post-Mortem (Part I)

Now that the roar is dying down (Full Tilt Pokerbots(?) at Two Plus Two Forums), I thought I'd wrap it all up with what I, as a bot operator, have found interesting in this monstrous debate.

#1. "...As for 1forthethumb and mariojr, I've not only played with both of them but have talked to both of them..."

Most players still believe that a few replies in the chat window "prove" your bot is a human. You should already know how easy it is to inject a few semi-random chat messages now and then. Don't get carried away, however. Lack of response is less suspicious than a nonsensical or repetitive response.

#2. "...I mostly ignored bot issues because I agreed with the popular sentiment at the time that it was just too complicated to program a bot to play well at an kind of meaningful stakes...."

The players WANT to be deceived. They have self-inflated egos that have convinced their Id that they're some sort of super-human poker calculator...pulling information from the ether, evidently. All we have to do is lay low and allow them to believe this. Just as a fish can't believe he isn't a winner, these winning players can't believe their winning isn't the result of their own extraordinary talents.
Are these players making decisions outside the realm of what most bots do? Of course, but there is no guarantee they are making the correct decision. For many low stake players, they are talking themselves into exploitable bad plays much more often than they think...they seem to believe that the amount of thought put into a decision is a direct indicator of the QUALITY of the final decision. With the human mind, this is not the case.

#3. If you get mentioned on a forum. SHUT UP.

Don't be BrandonJoseph from the main thread, trying to spin the conversation to avert suspicion. It doesn't work and it will never work. Just keep your mouth closed. You will only give them more information by which to convict you. The forum lynch mob can't clear your name...but they can sure convict you and force the site into action. Let it die!

#4. "...30,000 hands, same site, three different players logging on at the same time, logging off at the same time, and not playing at the same table for any one of those hands?..."

If you do something so obvious, you deserve to get caught. It may take awhile for the players to catch on, but the sites are well aware. Don't rely on the site operators lax attitude. It can change on a whim and I will tell you from experience that some sites will catch you and then not take action until you've either reloaded the account for a bonus offer, or you've attempted a cash out.

#5. Players don't understand the economy of large numbers.

It's clear from this thread that many, if not most, players don't understand the scale of how a bot farm works. These players are driven to move up stakes as quickly as they comfortably can, and they assume your bot is doing the same. They simply do not understand that you can make a six figure salary mining micro stakes where each table is earning $.25/hour.
Could I move up limits with my bots? More than likely, but should I spend 100 man hours coding and testing this move, or should I spend 100 hours dropping 10 more computers (80+ tables) into my war room? The choice is easy at even the smallest of limits until you run out of IP's or funding accounts.

I will break here before this post gets out of hand. So far we've only scratched the surface of this thread. More analysis to follow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More Pokerbots Found at Fulltilt? *whistles innocently*

Alan Bostick, an interesting blogger currently writing at As I Please gives us a bit more information on the Full Tilt bot scandal(s).

2+2's favorite tinfoil hat wearer, MrGatorade, is on the witch hunt. He doesn't give criteria, just rattles off a bunch of names of heads-up poker bots at Full Tilt.

Full details at As I Please.

WSOP Changes Payout Structure

In what I believe to be the dumbest P.R/Advertising move in the entire poker industry, the people behind the World Series of Poker change to a flatter payout system.

It makes no sense to me. How much did 74th place get last year? Anybody know? Anybody care? I don't understand how the WSOP folks could be unaware of what every spam-blog poster on digg already knows: Big numbers sell! People don't sit at home and dream of 147th place in the WSOP Main Event, they dream of first place. They spend weeks or months dreaming of how they are going to spend the first place prize money. They talk around the water cooler about the lotto-sized final table stakes.

For whatever reasons, the WSOP has decided that the final table payouts will be smaller this year. Each player that reaches the top will get a smaller percentage of the purse than before, with the difference being splashed around down in the "barely cashed" levels.

For example, if you were 873rd place last year, you took home $14,605. This year (assuming the same number of entries) that would be a $22,266 win. Typically I like flat payout tourneys to minimize variance a bit, but NOT when the entire value of the tournament is derived from its shear size and enormous first place prize! Last year, Jamie Gold took home $12,000,000. The winner this year would receive just over $10,000,000.

With most players expecting a smaller field this year to begin with, why is the WSOP further damaging the buzz of their brand? It makes no sense. All they've done is weaken the single most important aspect of their brand for reaching those not completely immersed in the world of poker: That big, headline-grabbing first prize.

“We discussed this concept with our poker operations team and with members of the WSOP Players Advisory Council and the consensus was that spreading the wealth is the right thing to do,” said Greenbaum, Regional V.P. for Harrah's. “The new schedules are designed to increase the rewards to players who finish in the money but don’t reach the final table.”

Congratulation, Mr. Greenbaum. You just got angle-shot by a bunch of pros looking to reduce their variance at the expense of your marketing.

I can't find the table of exact payout structure at the WSOP's main site. They reference it but don't even link to themselves. Quality.
If you want to wade through their site for details: World Series of Poker

Firepay Assets Siezed by U.S. DOJ

Shares of Optimal Group Inc. (parent company of the Firepay e-wallet service) fell sharply Monday after the Montreal-based company had nearly $20,000,000 frozen by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.

$4.2 million has been siezed directly from the Firepay reserve accounts, with another $15 million siezed from Optimal Group's money market accounts.

While this won't be as disastrous as the Neteller account siezures, this is bound to catch some online poker players off guard. Neteller, E-gold, and now Firepay...Epassporte and the other e-wallets currently in operation can't be far behind.

Full details at