Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Vegas: April 2008 Recap - Continued
- Waiting in line for an hour at the Payless Car Rental counter. It was ridiculous how many options they tried to sell you. You may pay less, but you'll wait more. Of course it didn't help that it was 1 AM.
- Waiting for 30 minutes at the Imperial Palace while A.I. gets his room sorted out. Of course it didn't help that it was 2 AM.
- Wino losing a boxing match with a Yucca cactus on a mountain biking trek. The penalty for losing was ~ 10 hours at the University Medical Center.
- Nursing a hangover while stuck in a Traffic Jam at the Hoover Dam.
- A.I. getting in trouble (after the fact) at the Pleasure Pit.
- The stupid $100 "free" slot play at Hooters. Is it really free if it eats 3 hours of your Vegas trip?
- Playing only 9 hands in a poker tournament. AA <>
As you can see overall the lowlights are pretty minor. And honestly they give character to the trip and make for a better story.
It looks like I'll be back for Event #36 of the WSOP. Hopefully no emergency room visits next trip!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Vegas: April 2008 Recap
- Hanging out downtown, including dinner at Hennessey's and gambling at the El Cortez. I was bombed from the El Cortez on so my recollections are questionable. Probably the best line of the evening was after tipping over Wino's drink at the BJ table I responded to the commotion with "It's not like it's the first time this felt has tasted beer."
- Closing down Mermaids after apparently being close to either 1) Breaking my hand or 2) Getting kicked out. Mermaids still pays out actual change and in my drunken stupor I kept playing and winning on these stupid nickel machines. I would then apparently get pissed at the nickels when I cashed out. When my hopper went dry for the second time (on different machines) I decided to get physical with Super Cherry. Fortunately nothing was broken and the casino personnel were too busy closing up shop to notice another drunk.
- The Hoover Dam was really interesting. Even the non-Engineers should be impressed with this work done almost a century ago.
- The pleasure pit at Planet Hollywood. Oh my!
- The Hard Rock and The Pink Taco. Excellent eats and great tunes (compared to the rest of Vegas).
- The WPT World Championship. We watched a bit from the rail in the overflow area. The table a foot from us had Eric Lindgren, Mike Sexton and David Pham. I didn't want to use the flash and all my pictures turned out poor. :(
- Bellagio Buffet. The grilled swordfish was dynamite and the cream brulee....
- Fat Tire at several bars.
- The Sahara was nicer than I remember. It's too bad the location sucks so bad.
- Video Poker at the MGM. I wonder if Tony made it to Planet Hollywood? He made it to 32 at least! Did she go with the strapless, but elegant, dress?
- Betting the Pistons at -10.5 on the only game in the series they've won!
- And last, but certainly not least - good friends!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Back in town!
Friday, April 18, 2008
Brandi Hawbaker Dead
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Isaac Baron in Final 4 of EPT Championship - O'rly
gl Menlo - TID!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
More ePassporte Coverage
"Although we do not believe we have done anything illegal, we do not wish to be associated with anything that might be considered illegal by the United States Government," a statement issued by ePassporte read.
Gambling911.com has long advised its readers to stay clear of ePassporte, which has encountered numerous complaints over the years including the confiscation of merchant funds. ePassporte representatives routinely post under aliases on the TwoPlusTwo message boards bashing Gambling911.
PitBullPoker provided Gambling911 with a copy of the letter received from ePassporte.
"We will deal with the customer service issues for our account holders as they arise and as we deem appropriate," the letter went on to read.
ePassporte Owner Denies Merchant Account Because of Girlfriend
ePassporte Claims Investigation Into Online Poker Forces Them to Shut Down
ePassporte Shutting Down According to Online Poker Community
The online poker scene is generally buzzing with people trying to move funds around in response to ePassporte's actions. Some relatively high vig is even being offered on the 2+2 P2P transfer thread by those with cash on Cake Poker.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
ePassporte reportedly pulls plug on US players
April 11, 2008
To all Cake Poker Customers:
We have received notice from ePassporte today that they are unable to continue to provide CakePoker with merchant e-wallet services. We have since confirmed that this situation is not unique to CakePoker and is, in fact, industry wide.
While we are disappointed with this decision, we want to reassure all players that there will be no impact to either your account balances or your account status at Cake. We are pleased to have launched earlier this week with a new payment processor and have already secured alternative processors/eWallets that we will be launching in the weeks to come. We are also in discussions with other providers that will be making their services available in the CakePoker cashier soon. Players are welcome to inquire with Customer Support for more details.
As always, we value your business and will continue to make every effort possible to make your poker experience a great one.
The CakePoker Team
Friday, April 11, 2008
Why PokerStars is Clearly Number One
If you are PokerStars you continue to provide perks to your customers. Stars now has a SnG Leaderboard. The best part is there is no extra charge or rake. They are simply giving more money to the players. Compare this to the post deleting, "you can use our comps three ways!", idiots at CarbonPoker and you can easily see why one site is on top and the other continues to wallow in their own feces.
Get ready for blast off, because PokerStars new weekly Leader Board promotion is truly out of this world. The Battle of the Planets gives PokerStars Sit & Go players a chance to compete against each other for prizes worth more than $3,000,000 per year.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Gary Wise Feels the 2+2 Banstick
Wicked Chops Poker and Neverwin Poker are on top of the story as usual.
Gary's site is wisehandpoker.
Monday, April 07, 2008
Vegas in 11
Friday night I played my first real session of MTTs in almost 4 months. A couple cashes and one final table but the big prizes eluded me. As the night and beers ran on Hyper and I decided to get the video chat going. I'm guessing he got sick of my beer fueled IMs. I'm not sure beer fueled web cam is much better though?
Friday, April 04, 2008
Carbon Poker: Innovative Software Hampered by Poor Management
So what do you get when you combine innovative poker software with frequent unique promotions and generous reloads? An exploding player base, right? Not if you have poor customer service, frequent problems with your promotions and the audacity to delete virtually any negative forum posts.
Carbon Poker has a long and not exactly storied tradition. They started out as Poker.com (PDK), but after the 2007 Aussie Millions realized their name presented some advertising complications. Sites were allowed to advertise as long as they dropped the .com extension. This was great for sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt because they could use their same logo and the loss of .com meant basically nothing. For a less known site like Poker.com dropping the .com left you with simply Poker. So you get a bunch of players at a poker tournament wearing a shirt or hat that says Poker. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the ineffectiveness of this advertising.
So afterwards Poker.com became a poker portal and started pimping out their page with advertisements from other poker sites. They simultaneously created the Merge Poker Network and Carbon Poker to be their new poker site. Players were allowed to keep their PDK logins, but new players wishing to play on Merge had to get an account on Carbon Poker or another skin. This move left many in the industry shaking their heads. PDK was actually a growing site and to completely discard the brand and start over seemed foolish. Couldn’t they have adopted the .net approach and focused on events that allowed .net advertising? The portal move also brought to light some of the history of the poker.com domain. Several articles highlighting the questionable ownership of this domain were written.
Readers of this blog know that my comments on PDK and Carbon have generally been positive. They were the first site to sponsor a Blogger Poker Tour and it was excellent value for those that participated. They were the first / only site to offer a lower stakes championship series. That had an excellent, albeit horribly managed, Christmas promotion last year. Even with all of these unique ideas the site has continued to flounder.
-Unique Promotions (Championship Series, Xmas Scavenger Hunt, Secret Santa SnGs, Heartbeat Freerolls, Pots of Gold, etc.)
-Ability to show one card when mucking, rabbit hunt and now “Run it Twice.”
I think it’s worth elaborating on Carbon’s unique promotions. Besides the poker client you can also login to an Admin screen on their web page. This is a rather useful page that shows current promotions and your status for various freerolls. They also tend to link the unique promotions off here. For example, in December the scavenger hunt required you to complete 12 different tasks to win various prizes. The neat thing was the tasks were very different. Several of the tasks were just getting comp points. Others involved winning with a certain poker hand (KQhh), playing in a special SnG, finding a hidden symbol on their web page, playing in a certain number of tournaments, etc. The most impressive part was the tracking page through the admin screen was generally excellent about updating your status. It knew almost immediately when I won my KQhh hand. This was no small programming feat to pull off.
Not all of their promotions are home runs, but most are different. This adds a coolness factor to the site. Unfortunately the promotions sometimes feel rushed. The tracking systems don’t work correctly and rules changes are required. More on that below…
Poor customer service: Maybe Stars has set the bar too high in this area. I expect an actual response (not automated) within a couple of hours and a resolution within a day or so. Generally Stars has a response and resolution within an hour, sometimes only minutes. I have a trouble ticket that’s been open at Carbon for over 3 months now. Several times during promotions I had questions and the customer support person had virtually no clue about the promotion’s specifics. It does no good to role out a unique promotion and not arm your customer service professionals with answers.
Frequent promotion problems: Here is where we crucify Carbon for being different and unique. They try all these unique promotions and things don’t work quite right. People rightfully get pissed and the site responds that we’re trying to be different. By all means please be different, be unique, but test out your damn promotions ahead of time. Let’s go through some recent examples.
Back to the cool scavenger hunt idea from December. As mentioned previously this promotion gave out a range of prizes based on completing tasks. The original terms and conditions spelled out 3 limited prizes (1 - WSOP ME Seat, 3 - 30” Dell LCDs, 5 - Dell Laptops). All other prizes including a Nintendo Wii and iPod Nano were unlimited. Not necessarily easy to get, just not limited. On December 6th, with 20% of the promotion period completed they change the Wii and Nano to be quantity limited. The Wii went from unlimited to only 10. Do you think some people were slightly pissed? So now if you were pacing yourself to win this Wii prize you were likely screwed. The story gets better though. While the individual prize tracking was great there was no overall tracking. So you had no clue where you stood on the limited prizes. Management promised updates via their forums, but they only updated twice and way late in the month. In fact with several days left a Carbon Poker employee made a post indicating that anyone willing to put that extra effort in to win a limited prize would get one. Guess what, more than 10 people qualified for the Wii and some people got left out. Nice!
As you know I put in a crap load of hours and qualified for the LCD and Laptop on 12/31 in the early afternoon. For some reason the admin screen didn’t show me as having reached the required level for those prizes even though the comp point counter did. I gave it a couple of hours and then emailed support. This started a whole chain of notes where they claimed I did not play the correct number of hands even though the counter said I did. We went off to a New Year’s Eve Party without this being settled and several thousand dollars worth of prizes on the line. I traded several more emails with customer support and basically had to ask them how many more points I needed. At that point a different CSP wrote back and said I had X number of points. That wasn’t the question I asked, but X number of points was more than enough for the prize. So I wrote back to clarify that I had indeed achieved enough points for the Laptop / LCD. Finally after ~10 emails they confirmed I had. What a joke.
You’d think they would learn from these issues right? In February they ran another unique promotion that had to do with getting the most consecutive hands with a heart during a certain freeroll. You needed to play a certain number of hands to qualify for the freeroll and then you received a coupon. Several times during the month the coupon system didn’t work and people missed tournaments. The running heart counter during the freerolls was also broken for most of the month.
Deleting Forum Posts: Carbon and PDK have / had a reasonably active user forum. As you can imagine there were some unhappy people and many of them posted their frustration. Instead of answering their customers the Carbon response was to basically delete all negative posts. The moderators defended the scavenger hunt rules changes by saying the T&C allowed Carbon the right. Maybe so, but that doesn’t make it right. I’m pretty sure in most
When the hearts promotion started to go bad more people voiced their frustrations followed by more deletions.
This is not the way to gain and maintain loyal customers.
PokerScout lists the Merge network as 20th overall. That’s near the bottom of
Carbon wallows in mediocrity while Cake flourishes. I wonder why?
So how does Carbon Poker straighten things out and actually grow their site.
- Continue to offer unique promotions, but maybe actually beta test them a little. Maybe redo some of the successful past promotions and this time pay better attention to detail.
- Don’t change the rules in such away that your customers feel screwed. This is just bad bad business.
- Site employees should respond more frequently on the forums and lay off the delete button. Moderators heavy on the delete button should be reprimanded. These forums are an incredible customer feedback tool, so use it! Listen to your customers and promptly address your concerns. You can’t make them all happy, but you need to make many of them happy or you’ll no longer have a business.
- Update the comp point store. Why even have a comp point store if most everything is out of stock? Why still have Poker.com gear? You moved on to Carbon over a year ago.
Business history has shown over and over that technology and ideas are worthless if you can’t execute.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
UIGEA House Hearing Today
Proposed UIGEA Regulations: Burden without Benefit?”
Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology Subcommittee to Hold Hearing Proposed UIGEA Regulations
Washington, DC – Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology today announced that the subcommittee will hold a hearing to discuss proposed regulations to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 10:00 a.m.
The hearing was extremely positive for those opposed to the UIGEA. The enforceability of regulations was deemed laughable and the contradictoray nature of the UIGEA was evident as well. Here is how TheEngineer from 2+2 summarized things.
I thought we owned it! Bachus was the sole voice against us, and he was reduced to arguing with what should have been his own witnesses (the ones from the Fed and from Treasury). And, we waved around his letter from the NFL as if it was the Bible or the Constitution or something special like that, as if we should all care! LOL.
The witnesses all spoke out against the regs as being ill-founded and unenforceable. That was great, as it probably started splitting pro-business Republicans and social conservatives.
Another important victory was in that the regs, which were already clearly far from completion, were likely pushed out even further.
I think we are a long way from getting this broken law repealed, but even a regulation delay is a positive thing.
Go Barney Frank!
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Vegas is Approaching!
Anticipation is the greatest!
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