From the hour-long call there were really only a few items that stuck out for me, the most notable being the mention of the new WSOP-branded real money online poker site soon to launch in Nevada. There were no details offered regarding when exactly the site will be going online, although it certainly sounds as though the plan will be to get it up at some point during the Series.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be heading out to Vegas again this summer around mid-June to be there for the last month or so. I’ll be spending most of my waking hours working (as usual), but I am curious about perhaps playing on a Nevada site or two while I’m out there, and I imagine the WSOP one might be one I’ll try, if indeed they get it up and running.
This 21-event “Carnivale of Poker” series that was mentioned might be interesting. There was talk of this being a revival of an earlier run series (from 1998-2000), described in the call as having once been the “second-largest poker event in the world.” I’m one of many unfamiliar with that earlier incarnation of the “Carnivale,” although this one sounds more like just an expansion of the Daily Deepstack tourneys -- i.e., more non-bracelet events to occupy folks with a greater variety of low buy-ins (from $365 to $1,675), plus that $5K Open-Face Chinese event.
If I followed the discussion correctly, it sounds like several of these “Carnivale” tourneys (for which winners will be awarded medallions) will play out as the Main Event winds down, which would mean unlike in past summers there will still be considerable WSOP-related action going on all of the way through mid-July.
The other item that interested me was the reference to using RFID technology in the playing cards at a number of final tables this summer in order to be able to show hole cards (on a delay) during the online streaming. Am curious to see that used, and will certainly be tuning in from home to get an idea of it before I get out there.
There were a number of jokes along the way, some of which landed and some falling a little short. A couple of shots were taken at Ultimate Poker (in the context of discussing the WSOP’s planned-for site). Reminded me a little of last year’s call in which there were various digs made regarding the recently-sunk Epic Poker League.
There was a timely remark right off the top about Russ Hamilton and recording the call, and another confusing one later about the erstwhile svengali Sam Chauhan and cooking food. Something about him creating a frequency through vibration of the powerful mantras to cook up some veggie burgers, I think.
All in all, it sounds like the plan going forward for the WSOP in most respects is to keep things as they have been for the last several years, only with more offerings (a record-number of bracelet events, the “Carnivale” tourneys). That said, it seems every year something comes up -- usually early on -- to add new wrinkles and/or make the new year different from what has gone before.
One of the reasons why the sucker remains interesting, year after year.
I’ve had one clip for some time that I’ve yet to introduce into the course, mainly because I haven’t really thought too much about it and where it might fit into the overall narrative we build in the class. I usually try to tie these clips to certain discussions or issues that come up. For example, when we talk about the Old West and the image of the cowboy and how poker played into that image, I’ve been showing scenes from old Westerns such as Tall in the Saddle (the John Wayne film I’ve written about here before).
But this one I have yet to find a place for, a scene from the 1922 silent comedy Dr. Jack starring Harold Lloyd. I like it, though, and so will probably try to include it somewhere this time around.
Here’s the scene (with some extra music and French subtitles to go along with those title cards):
He’s good in Dr. Jack as well where he plays the title character attempting to help a sick girl whose family is being taken advantage of by a rival, unscrupulous doctor. The movie is really mostly just a series of loosely-connected gags allowing Lloyd to do his usual stunts and often impressive physical comedy, which actually makes the poker scene easy to snip out of the film and present separately.
I could probably fit the clip in among others that demonstrate cheating being prevalent in early-era poker, although the cheating that happens here is a little different from the other examples I have. Looking at it again, I’m realizing how a poker game can be presented coherently and even with lots of nuance in a silent film. There’s something about the drama inherent in a poker hand that captures the attention, with the suspense built looking forward to the hand’s outcome having its effect whether or not we hear what players are saying.
It’s a carefully constructed scene, if you think about it. In fact, this is probably the most elaborate poker hand I can think of from a silent film. Of course, Lloyd’s animated expressions help him carry it. Unlike his contemporary Buster Keaton -- who often gets described as “poker-faced,” actually -- Lloyd usually possesses a more dynamic countenance that perhaps for some makes him a little more “human”-seeming.
The exaggerated reactions of the old fogies at the showdown are pretty funny, too. Everyone was so focused on their aces... they forgot to pay attention to the Jack!
Recall how we heard Ivey had visited the Mayfair casino last August, transferring a cool £1 million into the casino’s bank account while accompanied by a mysterious Chinese woman (styled “a beautiful Oriental female” in most of the U.K. reports where the adjective isn’t considered non-PC the way it is in the States). Then over a couple of evenings Ivey proceeded to play high-stakes Punto Banco, a variant of baccarat, for about seven hours altogether.
On the first night Ivey started out betting £50,000 per hand, then was allowed to increase the stakes to £150,000. After initially finding himself down nearly £500,000, the momentum swung back Ivey’s way and he ended the evening £2.3 million up. He then came back the next night and his streak continued, enabling him to leave £7.8 million ahead -- i.e., a win of almost $12 million or the equivalent of Jamie Gold’s 2006 WSOP Main Event first prize (the largest ever for the ME).
Ivey’s session immediately made headlines in the Daily Mail, with the initial reports also noting how Crockfords had not paid Ivey his winnings right away. Then came word of the casino’s plan to investigate casino footage, interview staff, and inspect the cards and dealing shoe used during the two sessions before paying Ivey. Another item of potential interest was the fact that the woman accompanying Ivey had been banned from another London casino previously.
Soon it became apparent that Crockfords might not be willing to pay Ivey his winnings at all.
Crockfords did allow Ivey to withdraw the £1 million with which he’d started, but otherwise they were resisting paying Ivey the rest. By the time the situation had dragged on into the fall, it was apparent the case may end up in the High Court, and indeed last week news came that Ivey was suing Crockfords in an effort to claim his winnings in what will surely be a huge, sensational legal story.
Then yesterday the Daily Mail reported that in response to Ivey’s lawsuit, Crockfords is now alleging that rather than having enjoyed a streak of good fortune in the chance-based game, Ivey “exploited tiny flaws in the card design” as he played, and thus was able to bet accordingly. According to the article, “the cards were flawed because of a mistake during the cutting process at an overseas manufacturing plant.”
Thus the allegation is that Ivey somehow knew about or discovered the flaw, with his request to the dealer that the cards (while face down) be turned in such a way that would enable him to spot the distinctive characteristics more easily and thus know what cards had (or hadn’t) been dealt.
From the outside, the casino’s case sounds sketchy, given that Ivey obviously had nothing to do with the cards being used in the game. Anyhow, it’s all very eyebrow-raising in an “international-man-of-mystery” kind of way, and the Mail and other outlets have routinely brought up by way of comparison James Bond and his game of baccarat in the original Casino Royale to help their stories more readily catch the reader’s eye.
I wrote up a “Pop Poker” column for PokerListings about the film, which often gets mentioned in those “best poker movies” lists one sees popping up from time to time around the web.
Those comparisons are being made because the plot of Kaleidoscope involves Beatty’s character, Barney Lincoln, pursuing an elaborate scheme whereby he doctors the plates from which the Kaleidoscope brand playing cards are printed. The cards are used in casinos all over Europe, and thus we see Lincoln spend the first half of the film enjoying win after win as he plays Chemin de Fer (another baccarat variant), wearing a conspicuous pair of thick-framed eyeglasses as he does to help him see the markings.
Lincoln is eventually found out in the film, and the plot takes a turn as he gets recruited by Scotland Yard to help them capture a villainous crime lord, Harry Dominion, played in over-the-top fashion by Eric Porter. The latter half of the film features a high-stakes game of five-card stud involving Lincoln and Dominion, and does include a few interesting moments -- particularly after a deck change introduces non-Kaleidoscope cards into the game.
If you’re curious about the film, check out my discussion over on PokerListings. There you’ll see I was kind of lukewarm on it, not really being that entertained although I can see some fans of Bond and/or Bond parodies perhaps getting into it. It’s also cool for those who enjoy swinging ’60s fashion, U.K. style.
More pertinently, those of us who know Ivey and his high-roller ways also find his enjoying a winning streak of 40-50 bets’ worth at a chance-based game to be much less remarkable than is the case for Crockfords’ owners. Then again, as we’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few days with regard to the revival of the UB cheating scandal, being able to know all of the cards that have been dealt is a sure way to increase one’s chance of winning.
Here is the groovy title sequence for Kaleidoscope:
One of the ways I usually end up helping out at these shows involves handling various jobs associated with the maintenance of Vera’s horse. In other words, having long ago agreed to be her groom, I continue today as a different kind of groom for her.
I’m not a rider myself, but I am qualified for several of these highly necessary tasks, including the important one of periodically keeping the stall clean. That’s right. I’m talking about being able to use a long-handled tool especially designed for digging and shoveling.
And no, I’m not talking about shinola.
Anyhow, being away from home as I was, I was only intermittently “on the grid” for the last several days. However, I was sufficiently connected to become aware on Friday night that Russ Hamilton’s former assistant and would-be fall guy Travis Makar had suddenly made available a host of new information regarding the extensive and widespread insider cheating scandal and subsequent cover-up at Ultimate Bet.
I’m sure you know all about this release of information, too, including its highlight -- two audio recordings of meetings secretly made by Hamilton himself revealing details of both the cheating and the early stages of the cover-up. The recordings have been known by many to exist for quite a while, actually, but their having been made public now finally gives everyone a chance to listen and learn a lot more about how deep the scandal went and how devious Hamilton and others were.
As I say, I was occupied for much of the weekend, unable to sit in my usual workspace in order to listen, read what others were saying, formulate thoughts and take notes, and write. But I was able to hear the entire five hours’ worth of meetings on my iPhone as I went about my work around the barn.
Having only listened through once, I’m not ready today to offer any sort of comprehensive response to what appears on the recordings. I imagine I will eventually find the time and energy, however, to add another post (or posts) to the pile being created by others as well as the one I have built here at Hard-Boiled Poker over the years.
We all knew Hamilton was an immoral ogre, but on the recordings he seems positively inhuman. Others on the recordings (UB founder Greg Pierson, attorney Daniel Friedberg, attorney Sandy Millar), while being badgered about by Hamilton, seem nearly as repulsive.
I will say I thought more than once while listening about the Watergate tapes, which as someone with a special interest in Nixon I’ve listened to quite a bit over the years. The ambience and whole “we gotta contain this” purpose of the discussions almost uncannily recalls the experience of listening to those tapes, too.
Such a mood is firmly established at the beginning of the first-released recording:
Hamilton: “So, Dan… where are we at here?”
Friedberg: “Well, Greg said this thing is spiraling.”
Hamilton: “Say that again?”
Friedberg: “This thing is spiraling.”
I also had another thought as I listened, connecting the entire, complicated saga with what I was doing at the time. And yes, that thought was partly inspired by the sound of Hamilton visiting the restroom after the meeting concluded on the first-released recording, sounding as though he was (with great difficulty) emptying his bowels -- a hilarious coda seemed to literalize the overriding metaphor of the meeting that preceded it.
You push stuff around and dig and dig, and dammit there’s more there. Finally you just give up and stop digging, because otherwise it never ends.
Just like with UltimateBet.
Two Plus Two Pokercast. The interview is now up over at Betfair Poker, and features the pair talking about what has now become an eight-plus year run at poker podcasting.
I’ve written here many times over the years both about Mike and Adam’s original podcast, “Rounders, the Poker Show” (that ran from April 2005 to December 2007) and the 2+2-based show they’ve been doing since January 2008. A remarkable run not just for podcasting, but for poker, too, where there are very few on the reporting side of things who’ve lasted that long.
In the interview the pair start out talking about how the original “Rounders” show got started, discuss the move to 2+2, and then share some thoughts about memorable moments and guests. The conversation next moved over to consider their contribution to the chronicling the story of poker -- especially online poker -- over the last eight years. I got them to opine a little toward the end about the state of “poker media” (so to speak), too.
Regarding that latter subject, Mike brought up a point about the passion many who get into reporting on poker demonstrate, which he attributed to the fact that the great majority of those who write and report on poker play the game as well. (Such is true of the two of them.)
I think Mike’s right on that count, that is to say, just about everyone who takes a shot at podcasting about poker or writing/reporting on poker in some fashion is at the very least a casual poker player, with many being a lot more serious about the game than that. I also think that among those who end up sticking with poker reporting for a lengthy period the amount of time spent playing the game often begins to wane (something I’ve experienced), but there nonetheless still exists that ability to think about the game from a player’s perspective.
Kind of makes poker different from other sports and/or other subjects of news reporting, if you think about it, in which that overlap between participant and observer isn’t so great.
With most sports, for instance, ex-players frequently become broadcasters or get involved with the media, but they necessarily do so after their playing days are behind them. Poker, meanwhile, doesn’t really feature players “retiring” and then moving over to the media side (except perhaps when it comes to that sort of gradual sliding away from playing to which I was just referring). That is, the line between the two -- player and reporter -- is not just blurry, it’s essentially non-existent.
To build a little further on Mike’s point, when it comes to those few who have reported on poker as long as Mike and Adam have, it’s probably safe to say just about all of them have a special passion for the game that has sustained them. I know that is the case for Mike and Adam, and I think the poker community has a lot to be grateful for when it comes to what those two have contributed to the game over the years.
It was definitely fun to talk to a couple of guys with such enthusiasm for poker, not to mention take a shot at interviewing a couple of the best interviewers in poker (in my opinion). Check out the interview.
I wrote about last week. More details regarding the non-payouts, ever-shifting policies, Two Plus Two refusing their adverts, and various other dramas concerning sponsored players (and their perceived responsibility/culpability) continue to emerge every day.
For a good catch-up on the situation since last week, check out Haley Hintze’s most recent articles on Flushdraw regarding Lock: “Lock Poker Malaise Deepens as Trade Values Crash, More P2P Restrictions Allegedly Introduced” and “Monitoring the Lock Poker Spiral: The Shane Bridges Blowout.” (There’ll probably be more on Flushdraw to come.)
Also, Todd “DanDruff” Witteles’s thread-starting post (as “Kilowatt”) on Two Plus Two from Monday titled “Lock Shady Practices 101” provides another thorough summary of the situation up until a couple of days ago.
There are numerous, rapidly-growing threads on Two Plus Two regarding Lock. In some ways I’m surprised to see so much response, not because complaints aren’t warranted but because I hadn’t necessarily realized the site had earned so much traffic. It certainly seems that within the crippled U.S. online poker scene of the last two years, Lock had carved out a significant place.
And now with Lock’s final crash starting to appear imminent, there’s a certain canary-in-the-coalmine feeling that the whole “rogue” approach of small sites trying still to serve U.S. players is about to blow up once and for all.
I was intrigued a little this morning by a post from 2+2 moderator “SGT RJ” in the humorously-named “Lock Poker Crisis Containment Thread.” I say the name is funny because the thread -- begun less than a week ago -- is now approaching 1,400 posts.
In her post, SGT RJ offers some advice to posters as well as to those burdened with the unenviable task of trying to get funds off of Lock. She also makes a distinction between 2+2 posters and others who might have played on Lock. Or who, I suppose, might even be thinking of signing on and depositing on Lock.
“If you are knowledgable about poker in general, and frankly if you’re on 2p2 and following these mess of threads,” writes SGT RJ, “you’re probably more tuned into the poker world than 95% of the regular joes who play.”
She goes on to say “I think it’s part of our responsibility as poker players to not give business to owners and sites who have demonstrated, time and again, that they do not have the players’ best interests at heart.”
We circle back, once more, to that unavoidable conflict in poker, namely, the fact that it is a game based on self-interest that also requires cooperation among competitors in order to exist at all.
The idea of more informed players being “responsible” for the community as a whole in a situation like Lock is certainly more obvious to us post-Black Friday than it was before. I’m thinking back to Bill Rini’s provocative post from a while back titled “Who to Blame for Black Friday?” which I opined on here a bit in “Talking Black Friday and Blame.”
This notion that for online poker to work at all there has to be a sincere working together among all parties -- including a shared responsibility and trust -- is a new thing, I think, at least for those of us in the U.S. The tone of responses from players to Ultimate Poker’s first week of operation perhaps reflects this changed mindset, with many seeming to demonstrate patience and a willingness to remain hopeful and supportive of the site as it experiences various early growing pains.
In any case, I tend to agree with SGT RJ about players needing to avoid Lock if possible. And perhaps there’s a further need, too, for those who know about Lock’s problems to make an effort to publicize those issues to those who don’t (an idea reflected in the new “#LockPokerSucks” hashtag on Twitter).
I thought I’d briefly share one idea that came up in that conversation, ripping it free from the context entirely to apply it in ways other than its original intention. It’s not too complicated of an idea, but one that I found myself thinking a lot about afterwards.
Was something someone had told him. Then he told me. And now I’m telling you.
Referring to this writing project of his -- on which he’s been working for quite some time -- he noted how another friend had humorously pointed out to him that he probably wouldn’t have even embarked on it in the first place if he hadn’t been somewhat naïve to have begun it.
Hearing him share that self-deprecating observation, I couldn’t help but think about how I, too, will sometimes think similarly about myself and various projects I’ve begun in the past -- some of which I have finished, some of which I have not.
Just yesterday I wrote a blog post in which I made a reference back to an earlier post written a couple of years ago. Rereading that old post led me to click around for a little while and read a few others. At one point I found myself lingering over one of them thinking to myself a couple of thoughts.
One was to marvel at the energy and enthusiasm I’d pumped into the post, so full of opinions being confidently delivered one after another.
The other was to think how naïve I was when I wrote it, and how knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.
I shared that story with my friend, adding that it seemed like there was probably some sort of “life truth” embedded in that observation about needing to be naïve in order to do most things that are worthwhile.
Think about the first time you sat down to play poker and how naïve you were. Think about how much more you know now about the game and how to play it. Then answer the following question...
If you knew then how much you didn’t know about poker, would you ever have played at all?
QuadJacks who after leaving for a stint with the Global Poker Index has recently returned to revive QJ in time for the upcoming World Series of Poker, has penned an interesting article for the May issue of Two Plus Two Magazine. The article is titled “The Poker Community versus the Poker Public,” and among the topics addressed is the distinction between the two groups identified in the title.
In the article, Valerio comments on frequent, often loosely-defined references to a “poker community” which often seems to include players, Two Plus Two posters, and others fairly in tune with the game as it is played in cardrooms, online, and on the many tourney tours. I like his suggestion that those belonging to the group have an “affinity for poker goes beyond merely playing it.”
He then discusses the “poker public” as a larger group of which the “poker community” might be understood as a subset, encompassing people who aren’t necessarily living and breathing poker the way the “poker community” often does. Some play, but not all do, as there are some in this larger group who are content merely to watch others play on television or in person. All, however, are interested in poker in some fashion.
Valerio ultimately offers advice to all regarding the significance of this distinction, in particular directing his comments to those working in various poker-related industries (esp. online poker) who have a vested interest in trying to attract members of the “poker public” into the “poker community” as players.
In other words, while the title of the article might suggest an adversarial relationship, Valerio’s clearly petitioning for better communication and respect between the groups. It seems a worthwhile point to make, perhaps of special significance to certain parties within the “poker community.”
The article reminded me of various debates that have popped up before over recent years, including some of those “Is it good for poker?” discussions focused on moments when poker occasionally earns brief attention from so-called “mainstream” popular culture. A reference by Valerio to Two Plus Two’s central place in the “poker community” also made me think of a post I wrote here a couple of years ago “On Poker Communities” that overlaps a little with some of what he discusses.
However, a lot of my thoughts after reading the article centered around the experience of teaching my “Poker in American Film and Culture” class for the past couple of years, one consequence of which has been being frequently forced to think about the larger “poker public” Valerio describes.
Most (not all) who sign up for the course have at least some interest in poker, with a few being players themselves. Readers of this blog -- most of whom are probably best considered part of the “poker community” Valerio is describing -- might be surprised to learn that very few among those who take my class play poker regularly, let alone are as serious about the game as most of us are. And I even have a few take the class who have never even thought much about poker before at all, let alone played.
It might have been different if were teaching the class a few years ago. Black Friday happened during the first semester I taught the course (spring 2011). I know I had quite a few online poker players enrolled in that first installment of the class, but obviously the situation has changed since then. These days there are usually only a few who take the class each time around whom I’d unequivocally peg as coming from the “poker community” group.
In any case, talking with groups of people who mostly belong to that “poker public” about poker and its place in American culture has forced me to think a lot about how people outside of our “poker community” view the game and its significance. Often there are some great differences between how the two groups think of poker, the most conspicuous usually being the way the “poker public” views poker as essentially just another gambling game while those in the “poker community” often consider poker as something much different.
Being the teacher in this dynamic, I guess I’m also quite conscious of how those in the “poker community” sometimes recognize a need to educate the “poker public” about certain important elements of the game (including its skill component). But I’m also aware that I often learn a lot from my students, too, regarding the topics we discuss, and thus can say from experience that the “poker public” can teach the “poker community” a lot, too.
Here’s a link to the iTunes preview page for the app (doesn’t load iTunes, like some links irritatingly do), and here’s the link to a page discussing it for the Android.
The app has been created by the PokerNews folks and is connected to PN’s live reporting. Speaking of apps and PokerNews, the PokerNews app has also been updated considerably over time to include not just live reporting but news, videos, the podcast and so on. The sucker is a lot less buggy, too, than when it first surfaced back in the summer of 2010.
Players who download the free My Stack app onto their phones or iPads can now update their own chip counts as often as they like. I noticed today that a couple of players have already started to use the app at the WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Philadelphia event as well as the EPT Grand Final which has just gotten underway.
From the WSOP-C event, Matt Glantz updated his count a few times yesterday before busting shy of the cash. Meanwhile, Jeff Rossiter updated his count once today during the early going at Monte Carlo before he was eliminated. Just below is a screen shot of what it looks like when a player updates his or her own count, with an icon distinguishing the update from one made by a PN reporter.
Players can also add comments to their updates, which can be seen if you check under the “Player Updates” tab on the PN Live Reporting page. Glantz took advantage of that feature to add some funny comments to a couple of his Day 2 updates yesterday, if you want to see some examples of that.
Am intrigued by this new development, which makes me think back to the first days of seeing players reporting via Twitter and by other means their tourney progress, something that really only started happening a short while after I began reporting from tourneys back in 2008. I’m remembering a post I wrote during the 2009 WSOP titled “Land of 1000 Reporters” in which I believe I reflected for the first time on how it wasn’t just me reporting from these tourneys, but a lot of those participating in the tourneys were reporting as well.
I imagine there will be some issues that will arise with the new app. I am sure there will be some instances of erroneous counts being reported now and then, although the designation that a player entered the new count should help minimize the problems that would ensue from that. There could be other hiccups associated with the app and/or its use that haven’t been considered as yet, too, although my sense is it will be an overall positive when it comes to reporting.
I’d be curious to hear others’ thoughts about the app. I’ll be interested in hearing what those who end up using it think about it, too.
The Daily Currant guys for a short while as I believe a couple of people might have thought my faux app to have been an actual one.
I’m calling my app the Mickey123. It harnesses the considerable resources of the world’s foremost chip counter to provide an easy point-and-click method of tabulating one’s stack, as demonstrated above.
As Mickey Doft would say, it’s unbelievable.
Just as New Orleans is often identified as a starting point for poker in the U.S., there, too, have some speculated the first strip poker games took place. Others have located the game in 19th-century brothels, introduced as a way to enliven further the usual negotiations occurring in such establishments.
In American popular culture, references to strip poker can be found in cinema dating back to the silent era. One of the more famous (or infamous) examples comes in the 1928 silent film The Road to Ruin starring Helen Foster as the wayward youth, Sally Canfield.
Blurring the line between “educational” and “exploitative,” the film was highly controversial in its day, banned in several U.S. cities yet apparently shown in high schools as a stern warning against delinquency’s dire consequences. It was also one of the top grossing films of the year, earning a not-insignificant $2.5 million at the box office.
From the start, sweet Sally, her neglectful parents having failed to provide her proper guidance, falls in with the “wrong crowd” and swiftly slips into a downward spiral. Before her sad story concludes, it will involve smoking, drinking, drug use, premarital sex, prostitution, and abortion.
Remade as a talkie in 1934, The Road to Ruin again starred Foster (with a different name), in what was in fact a relatively tamer version of the same story, though still plenty controversial by the day’s standards. Among the several mostly incidental changes to the story, the partygoers play dice rather than poker as they gamble away their garments.
Other strip poker scenes pop up in ’30s and ’40s films, such as in the 1932 political satire The Dark Horse starring Bette Davis. That one begins with a party choosing a woefully-unqualified gubernatorial candidate out of a hat, then finds his campaign manager struggling throughout to keep the candidate in line. Eventually the rival party employs the campaign manager’s ex-wife to woo the candidate to a mountain cabin for a game of strip poker, leading to further hijinks. And long underwear.
The witty and provoking Mad Youth (1940) also features strip poker being played by a group of teens while their parents are away having their bridge club, with some clever cross-cutting between the two card games affording a few grins.
We hear a mother commenting at the bridge game over her cards about her dutiful daughter. “Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about my Beth,” she says at one point, calling her a “model youngster.” Back to the poker game, where Beth is removing her top. “She’s such a modest little mouse,” adds Mom later. Jump cut back to Beth, now wearing the tablecloth!
Strip poker became increasingly popular in America during the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in popular culture with increasing frequency -- along with other formerly forbidden fare -- as the nation embarked upon what would come to be called a “sexual revolution.” Milos Forman’s 1971 comedy Taking Off comments on such cultural shifts while also incorporating strip poker into the story.
Eventually the Tynes and another couple find themselves at the end of an enjoyable evening, drunk, stoned, and playing a game of what is described as “Texas one-card showdown.” In the game, each player draws a single card, with the one drawing the lowest having to remove an article of clothing.
The game progresses -- providing a kind of literal reference to the film’s title -- with Larry ultimately the big loser. He delivers a rambunctious song in the nude, the performance having the others in stitches, when his singing is interrupted by the surprise return of their daughter.
Further evidence of strip poker’s popularity around this time is provided by the 1972 publication of Playboy’s Book of Games in which is included a detailed section describing how to play.
“This exciting game, though very popular in some circles, is rarely if ever discussed in card books,” writes author and noted gambling expert Edwin Silberstang (who sadly passed last year). He goes on to present the game as a great way “to break the ice” at social gatherings.
Strip poker’s popularity faded somewhat thereafter, although if references in popular culture are an indicator, the game remains firmly in the public’s collective consciousness.
In the early 1980s, among the first games created for home computers were forms of strip poker, with players rewarded with static, monochrome images for winning hands -- crude and crudely-rendered. Such games have progressed with the times, of course, and continue to be played today.
There was a short-lived game show, Strip Poker, on the USA Network (in 2000-01). Unsurprisingly, Lady Gaga and her supporting cast play the game in her 2008 video “Poker Face.” The American Pie franchise has alluded to the game more than once.
And in the opening of The Social Network (2010) we see Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg busily creating and launching his “Facemash” site (a Facebook prototype) while students across campus party it up, with strip poker among their chosen festivities.
In that latter example, one might read an implied analogy between the sometimes intimate “revealing” that social networking sites like Facebook can encourage and the literal exposure that happens in a game of strip poker. Both could be said to satisfy in different ways humans’ voyeuristic tendencies.
Not to mention the desires of some to “showdown.”
I’m not an NHL fan, but I’m aware their playoffs have begun as well with the 16 teams making it to the hockey postseason similarly engaged in best-of-seven matchups as they start the lengthy process of determining a champion.
Was thinking today how the shifting dynamic of a best-of-seven tournament can resemble a Texas hold’em hand.
The first two games of a series -- both played at the higher-seeded team’s arena -- are a bit like preflop play. Having home court/ice could be said to be like playing from late position, where you are going to be able to operate a little more freely than otherwise and where expectations of winning are greater.
Then when a series reaches Game 3, that’s a bit like what happens after the flop. The first three community cards further define how players can proceed in a hand, much as the results of the first two games in a series can have influence on how teams perform going forward.
Game 4 continues in the same vein, sometimes ending with a sweep (like a bet-and-fold winning the hand right there), a team moving ahead 3-1 (assuming a position of strength going forward), or the series getting knotted 2-2 (as though flop betting -- or checking -- failed to establish one player as having the “lead” or appearing at an advantage to win the hand).
Game 5 is then very much like the turn. In both the playoffs and in poker, it’s the “pivotal” game or street. Again the series (or hand) can be over right here, but if it doesn’t, the team who wins Game 5 -- just like the player who plays the turn most effectively -- is often now in good position to end as winner.
I’d finish the analogy by referring to both Games 6 and 7 as the “river.” I’m more familiar with the NBA, where relatively few series actually get all of the way to Game 7. But however you look at it, both of those games are like the “endgame” portion of a poker hand where final, decisive moves are being made.
And I suppose when those series do get to a game 7, weird, unexpected things sometimes happen as well, much like a surprising river card that gives an underdog the win.
I’d explore all of this more thoroughly, but I think before watching tonight’s games I need instead to watch “The Adventures of Christopher Bosh in the Multiverse” again, starring Miami Heat forward and superhero from Zorg-nok Chris Bosh.
Been trying to follow all of the online poker-related developments, although it’s starting to feel a little like I’ve accidentally sat down at a table where they’re dealing some brand new variant with multiple flops and extra streets where I’m not sure about hand values and I don’t even really know how many betting rounds there are.
Kind of makes me want to sit back and take a hand or three off, just to avoid playing out of turn or any other missteps.
On Monday I was writing about the current troubles at Lock Poker, the latest issue to emerge symbolizing the confusing and highly uncertain world of so-called “rogue” offshore U.S.-facing online poker sites. Easy enough to draw a conclusion there to steer clear of Lock and other such sites, although it’s still a bit headachy trying to delve into the specifics of what is happening with the communications and cashouts (or lack thereof) and ever-shifting landscape for players.
Then yesterday came the sudden launch of Ultimate Poker, which created some huge buzz and various conversations and commentary throughout the day and night.
Again, lots of questions linger as the site moves into its second day of offering actual U.S. licensed and regulated real money games to players in Nevada. PokerScout reported a peak of 136 players on the site during its first day of dealing, and a quick check of the “Hand ID” numbers at the moment suggest more than 25,000 hands have been dealt at the cash tables and in sit-n-gos.
Amid all of the talk of triangulation -- a word that always sounds short of breath -- and other matters related to players’ attempts to get up and running on Ultimate Poker, I wondered some more about how quickly the sucker went live, with only a few hours in between players being able to make initial deposits and the games getting underway. (No free play games, either, to test out things beforehand.)
But like the great majority of those talking about Ultimate Poker right now, I’m not actually playing on the site as I am not in Nevada. Thus am I hesitant to say much at all regarding how things appear to have gone during UP’s first day, although I have been following with interest the various posts, forum comments, tweets, and other talk about what’s happening.
Then last night came what appeared to be another item of apparently uncertain significance as Alexandra Berzon of The Wall Street Journal reported that the deal between PokerStars (or, rather, the Rational Group) and the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel (or, rather, Colony Capital LLC) had reached an impasse thanks to the passing of an important deadline established between the two entities.
According to Berzon, the deal had been contingent on Rational obtaining a Preliminary Casino Authorization (i.e., a temporary license) to operate in NJ by last Friday. That day came and went, and thus the agreement between the two parties expired. While the significance of the news was initially unclear -- neither side had offered any on-the-record comments for Berzon’s article -- this morning it sounds like the deal is well and truly nixed, as the Atlantic Club’s CEO is confirming that to be the case. Though again, it is hard to pin down what it all means for New Jersey and/or PokerStars going forward. (Hard for me, anyway.)
Finally, there was one more item popping up this morning over on Politico suggesting that yet another federal online gambling bill was about to be proposed by House Rep. Peter King (R-NY). Actually that item initially suggested another Congressman (Jay Rockefeller) was to propose the legislation before a correction soon followed.
Of course, it seems like just about every story we’re hearing at present having to do with online poker seems in need of correction. Or at least revising to add further clarification. And the fact that half of these stories are hidden behind pay walls doesn’t make it any easier for the majority of us wanting to know what’s up.
I’ve made the analogy before here about how reporting on poker -- like poker itself -- is often a “partial information game,” although when I have it has been in the context of reporting on tourneys in which those of us on the side cannot see hole cards or know players’ thoughts, entire shared history, and so on.
Such a characterization seems appropriate with regard to stories about the status online poker in the U.S. at present, too. Like I was saying above, the whole scene regarding online poker’s present and future in the U.S. is getting so muddled it’s becoming increasingly difficult even to follow the order of play.
Makes the game more unpredictable, I guess, and thus more apt to surprise us. Even so, I think I might just sit out and watch for a while before getting further involved.
Ultimate Poker site in Nevada suddenly springing to life this morning to deal its first hand. The site went live just about an hour ago at 9 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, noon here on the east coast.
Like you, I awoke to the news that UP was going to be going live today. Kind of surprised, actually, that there wasn’t a lengthy roll out or even any real advance notice beforehand, although I guess we all knew the launch was going to be soon. I went ahead and registered with the site, even though I’m in North Carolina and cannot play as yet. I will be in Nevada this summer, however, for the World Series of Poker, and so might well get on there to play a bit while I am there.
That said, there are other issues presently in the way of my playing on Ultimate Poker besides not being physically located within Nevada.
My cell phone carrier is Verizon, and apparently that’s going to exclude me right now as well. In order to play on Ultimate Poker, one must have a cell phone in order to use the site’s “location services” function. In order to determine that a player is in Nevada, the player has to respond to a text message sent to his or her cell phone, which theoretically confirms for Ultimate Poker that the player is within Nevada’s borders. (Easy to imagine folks scheming to work around this method of confirmation.) Anyhow, apparently Verizon customers are out of luck with regard to this system, and so cannot presently get verified to play.
Another hiccup for me is the fact that there really isn’t a good option for Mac users to play at present. There is a workaround, apparently, but it’s more than I want to deal with, especially as I’m not even in NV.
Hopefully both of those issues get resolved before mid-June when I get to Nevada with my Verizon phone and Mac laptop. Not going to get too worked up over the various snags as yet, though, as I think it is only fair to let the site get up and operational before any judgments can be meaningful.
I watched the first hand being dealt on Ultimate Poker a while ago. A $4.55+$0.45 turbo sit-n-go appeared in the lobby at the top of the hour, and after about nine minutes or so the nine spots were taken and the single-table tourney got underway. Check out the Hand ID# in the top left corner:
The player chazman then knocked out prognostic on the very first hand of the SNG after the latter flopped top pair then chazman turned a spade flush and they got it all in on fourth street with prognostic drawing dead. In the end, chazman finished third for $8.45, jharrington took second for $12.50, and a player simply named Ken won the sucker for $20.
Shortly after that SNG began the lobby began to fill with many other sit-n-go options with buy-ins ranging from $0.25 up to $100. Cash tables appeared in the lobby as well, with limit hold’em games ranging from $0.05/$0.10 up to $10/$20, and NL games from $0.01/$0.02 to $3/$6. All games are hold’em right now, as well.
Not too much is happening as yet, though. At the moment it looks like only seven players are sitting at the cash tables. Meanwhile there haven’t been enough players to get a second full-ring SNG going, although two have started a $5 heads-up one.
Of course, as I mentioned, it was only hours ago that most even heard the news that Ultimate Poker was going live, and given the hoops those who are in Nevada presently need to go through before being able to deposit and play, I wouldn’t expect the site to get too much traffic during these first few hours or days.
It could be that part of the thinking behind surprise-springing the launch in this way was to prevent having too much business right off the bat, thereby enabling those running the show to ease into things a little more carefully. A better explanation, though, is that Ultimate Poker simply wanted to be the first to deal real money hands, period, as the benefits of being the only option in what is necessarily a small marketplace are obviously huge.
In other words, I sincerely hope the rush to be first doesn’t mean any unforeseen (or yet-to-be-dealt-with) issues arise to create problems going forward for U.S. Online Poker 2.0.
I had a conversation with someone a week ago about online poker, a person entirely unfamiliar with its history as well as all of the recent legal machinations here in the U.S. He couched his questions to me within the very reasonable skepticism a lot of people have had about any form of online gambling.
“Is it really safe?” he asked.
People asked the same question before Black Friday, thinking about all sorts of potential issues that gave them pause when it came to online poker. Indeed, they asked the same question even before the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 came along to force all of us to start adding certain disclaimers when arguing for the relative safety (or legality) of our favorite game.
There was a period prior to the emergence of the insider cheating scandals on Absolute Poker (news of which first broke in October 2007) and UltimateBet (which surfaced soon after, finally acknowledged by the site in March 2008) when I think most of us would answer such a question defensively. “It’s totally safe,” we quickly retorted, noting how cheating was unlikely -- why cheat when so much money can be made without doing so?!? -- and how depositing and cashing out posed little problems, if any.
Sure, after the UIGEA the business of moving money on and off sites became slightly more troublesome than before. But few harbored much concern about the games being safe to play.
The scandals certainly introduced seeds of doubt, but even then -- from early 2008 to early 2011 -- most of us continued to play without much fretting, some even on Absolute and UB. There’d be occasional problems with certain sites when it came to moving money, with those issues starting to multiply considerably during the last months of 2010 and first part of 2011. But few players felt too much concern, and indeed, there existed thousands of American players who were secure enough with the situation to consider themselves full-time online professionals.
Thus was the shock of Black Friday made all the more intense (for most). Going forward, nothing seemed certain about playing online poker from the United States, even if the many smaller sites continued to operate without interruption. Indeed, for a short period -- say six weeks or so -- it almost felt like a few of those tiny sites might soon be moving up to claim the spots formerly occupied by the giants who’d been suddenly struck down and driven from the U.S. market.
to become Bovada).
It wasn’t always simple, but some of us managed to get some cabbage onto those sites and continued playing. I personally looked into it, found the whole process less than inviting, and quickly gave up. However I did win some money on a freeroll over on Hero (a Merge skin), and so kind of kept my hand in that way playing for nickels and dimes without having to deposit.
Lock Poker was then part of the Merge Network, too. Lock had first launched back in late 2008 on Cake, and not too long after signed noted pro Eric “Rizen” Lynch as a representative who I believe also had a position as a VP in the company. They also signed about a dozen more players to sponsor in 2009, then in April 2010 made the move over to Merge.
By 2011, Lock had become slightly better known thanks in part to sponsoring the BLUFF Online Poker Challenge (starting in 2009) which got the site some extra publicity. Not all of that attention was positive, however, especially when one of the players allowed to participate in that initial challenge was noted multi-accounter Josh “JJProdigy” Field. Previously Field had been caught and prohibited from playing on other sites, then went on PokerRoad Radio (in early 2008) to say he couldn’t promise he wouldn’t find a way back onto the sites from which he’d been banned.
But Field ended up not partaking in the challenge after all once “a situation” arose regarding possible account-sharing on Cake. In any event, by the spring of 2011 that’s pretty much all I knew about Lock Poker. Then a few months later came that whole ugly “Girah” saga on the site, another negative story partly concerning a site-sponsored competition that seemed to show the site failing to act responsibly in response to a cheating scandal.
All that was more than sufficient to reduce my interest in possibly playing on Lock Poker to nil. Actually for a brief period in there (from around June 2011 to October 2011), Lock wasn’t even accepting new U.S. signups. But they did begin taking Americans again, and during the last year-and-a-half I noted in passing the site gradually building a large roster of nearly 30 sponsored pros, among them Lynch, Michael Mizrachi, Chris Moorman, Paul Volpe, Melanie Weisner, Casey Jarzabek, Brett Jungblut, Matt Stout, and Annette Obrestad.
start their own Revolution Network.
Now the situation at Lock has apparently taken an especially unpleasant turn. Complaints from players facing lengthy cashout delays -- as in several months -- have recently come to dominate all current news about the site. And after a long time simmering, that situation presently appears to have reached a kind of boiling point with reports of players being informed they can no longer cash out funds received via player-to-player transfers on the site.
The sudden introduction of the new ban on cashing out transferred funds -- the news of which was delivered to players via an email last week -- considerably heightened already significant player concerns about the money currently sitting in their Lock Poker accounts. You can read some details of the current situation over on 4Flush. Haley Hintze has a story on it for Pokerfuse as well (although you can only read the first half of that one without a “PRO” account).
Skimming the various 2+2 threads concerning players’ present predicament, it sounds as though there were a decent number of full-timers in the U.S. who had found themselves ultimately choosing Lock Poker as a current option for playing significant volume and at meaningful stakes. Weighing all of those risks discussed above, a number appear to have stubbornly taken to Lock and tried to treat it as a replacement for Stars, FTP, Absolute Poker, and/or UB.
Considered in a vacuum, a prohibition against withdrawing funds that have been obtained via transfer is not unreasonable. I remember once long ago getting paid for an article I had written via a transfer on an online poker site, and when I tried to withdraw the money immediately I was informed that I could not do so without first playing a certain number of hands.
I understood the purpose behind the policy. The site felt obligated not to allow willy-nilly transfers and withdrawals as though it were a financial transaction provider -- not to mention one with zero transaction fees -- and not an online poker site. In fact, even though the exchange of funds between players has always been a significant part of poker, generally speaking, I’ve always thought it would be perfectly within reason for sites not to allow player-to-player transfers at all.
Such a prohibition certainly seems like it could be in the sites’ interest from a legal perspective, as talk of money laundering and other questionable practices that sometimes get associated with sites would become less applicable. It also would probably help lessen problems with collusion, multi-accounting, and other terms-and-conditions-defying behaviors if swapping funds back and forth between player accounts weren’t possible.
I’m not entirely up on how the regulations have been drawn up in Nevada (or where they are headed in New Jersey), but I am guessing player-to-player transfers aren’t going to be an option when it comes to Online Poker in America 2.0. (Perhaps someone better informed on this can let me know what to expect along those lines.)
As I say, I was never too tempted by Lock to try them out, but I can’t imagine anyone would be today. Thinking back, the name of the site probably turned me off right away.
I mean, sure, I might have been able to figure out how to get some funds on there. But was I ever going to be able to withdraw money from a site called Lock?
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