Best Poker Sites: 888Poker vs PokerStars Part 1
In our second special edition on the pokerfuse podcast, your hosts Mike Gentile and Nick Jones sit down with Tom Waters, Head of Poker at partypoker, and Rob Yong, partypoker partner, to discuss the latest ecology changes at the online poker room.
Full Transcript Mike: Source and welcome everybody to the Pokerfuse Podcast this is 888 poker hoodies edition two coming at you on June 20th, 2019.
We had a pretty in-depth hour-long interview for you guys which I think we touched on some really interesting points.
Maybe we start off with that.
Tom: I think to answer this question as well, we should go back a little bit and maybe even to the start of the journey where this partypoker project started a couple of years ago.
We had very little poker expertise in the team.
Rob specifically has a massive amount of expertise, not just around catch games but around poker and has been involved in the industry for a long time.
Mike: One question that I have Tom is regarding the poker expertise on the team.
I would think personally that they would add a lot of expertise to your team.
Is that the case here?
It ensures we get it right but Patrick and Ike and Jason and all the other guys add a massive amount of value to us with knowledge and experience.
The guys in the team are poker players and one decision we made was in terms of recruitment that people had to either have poker experience or have played poker in order to join the team so that they can leave and breath it.
What can you tell us about the changes that are being implemented?
Tom: Maybe if I start with the basics and then Rob can add on top.
The problem, unfortunately, is the hand histories that feed these HUDs are used not just by basic tools and basic software, they feed bots, they feed more sophisticated tools and charts, and they also feed databases where organizations effectively pull data on the poker community.
This gives a massive edge to certain players.
People that can afford more sophisticated tools obviously get a greater edge, a new guy joining the site has no chance.
The average lifespan of a new player on partypoker and other sites is abysmal, I think most players are gone in a day.
These guys come in, they get eaten alive and they leave because they had a poor experience.
HUDs are just the parts of that.
I think the one point we should make absolutely clear continue reading we are not removing hand histories, we are making hand history available to our players that they can review back up to 90 days of gameplay.
So they can learn, they can go back, use the hand replayer and learn.
They cannot download the hand histories because that is the evil that feeds these other tools.
We are working in other areas to help these guys learn.
It was a massive gamble to take away these hand histories.
We are up week on week.
Nick: If I can just dive into that a bit deeper.
Have you set kind of red lines somewhere, like if numbers drop below this amount then you would consider reversing some of your decisions?
Rob: By 10% of it means, that means unique real money players on the system.
We expected it to be down.
I was actually just looking at the figures this morning, 'cause I just woke up.
Just an interesting question you say.
Do you guys like soccer?
Rob: Well, you can play like Pep Guardiola and just push on, do what you believe in.
Y ou can chop and change like some managers and not be sure of your convictions.
So, what would be the point of us rolling them back?
Hand Histories Mike: To follow up a bit on the downloadable HUDs, part of the reaction from the community has been that eliminating downloadable HUDs does not eliminate- Nick: Downloadable hand histories you mean?
How would you respond to something like that?
Even if you were doing something highly sophisticated that was pulling data out you would only be able to learn more here it on your own table.
When you also go back to the hand history office in the client to review our hands up to 90 days prior, the other players are anonymized also, so you can see your own play the other players are not.
Could you just explain a bit more your motivations for not supporting that kind of after -the -fact hand history support?
Tom: Because I think we can do it ourselves.
I think we can provide that data ourselves to guys, and this is part of the MyGame development.
Therefore, why do these people need these tools?
What are you doing with these hand histories?
Are you reading from some tool?
These guys are running hands through algorithms, solvers, bots, the highest levels of intelligence and coming up with solutions on how to play against opponents.
Nick: Would you say one advantage then of not storing these hand histories is to make it harder for people to study their own game?
Rob: Do you mean anonymizing usernames on the client or anonymizing had histories?
They run a program which effectively un-anonymizes the hand histories.
We tried it and unfortunately, that failed.
I would 888 poker hoodies want to run an anonymous site.
Anonymization is not something that we would like to do.
Other networks have done it and tried it.
Maybe it works for them but we want to be open and transparent.
My dad goes into my casino, sits down with seven players, knows who they are.
Knows a little beet about them, he knows who they are.
He has some sort of feel to the game.
Online poker is dying.
Tom: Also, guys, if you think you can flip it the other way.
Imagine going to a live casino and sitting down at a table, eight guys are all wearing balaclavas.
You would get up and walk away from the table, right?
I had no idea for ages.
We need to improve the image of online poker.
Catching Cheaters Mike: It sounds like you were embarking upon taking this conversation down the road of discussing aliases and screen names.
That is definitely a https://bannerven.com/poker/pokerrrr-2-poker-with-buddies.html we want to cover, but before we move on from the hand histories, one other major issue that has been raised in the community is removing the downloadable hand histories.
Tom: Yes, we touched on this a little bit already.
Not just bots, collusion, chip dumping, ghosting, et cetera.
Prior to this team being formed, we click to see more to rely on players a lot to report bots and cheating to us.
Often, we have accounts that are monitored for a period of time so that we can watch them.
When you have a bot ring, for example, you may identify one or two accounts that you want to monitor, and it may give more information about others.
These guys are also using a state-of-the-art tool that GVC has developed called E-protector which is affecting the bot detection system which takes rules that these guys input and methods that looks for bots and runs it through the database.
This tool is relatively new but is being developed and in-house all the time by this team.
These guys are picking up very, very quickly, any kind of cheating or immoral activity.
I think one big bot ring that we found, we detected towards the end of last year, their guys have stopped trying now.
We never used to see that.
We will start communicating to groups of players explaining the processes we go through.
When an account is reported to us, what we do about it and how thorough we are.
We will beef up this team, and the E-protector will become more advanced.
This area is just going to become stronger and stronger for us.
I have people that I pay to be in all these bulk groups and these cheating groups, just sitting there, feeding me information.
We have two, internal and external, and they work together.
Now obviously, the first two members that will join, my casino Dusk Till Dawn and partypoker.
For me, we have something big in our industry called KYC, know your customer.
Set that up, hopefully, get everyone to join and then hand it over to someone independent that could run it.
Mike: Just back to my question a bit.
From a PR perspective, do you guys have any plans to try 888 poker hoodies add more comfort to the community because now, the tools that they had to police themselves with downloadable hand histories are going to be gone.
You may have experienced somebody at the table in a way of players playing certain hands or has done something, then that that gives rise to the suspicion.
Nick: Just to dive into that a bit more.
You also publish a percentage of how many of them came from player reports initially.
Over the last six months, I think you closed just over 400 accounts, and it was had about 25% of them have come from player reports, about 100.
Very early on, when we started this conversation, you said that your internal team is capturing 95% or 99% of accounts.
With these accounts that you would check this out caught anyway without that reporting?
Then a follow-up question is, do you feel that this percentage will still be the same now you got rid of hand histories?
Does it say reports more come from gut feel and the data?
Tom: Well, to two things.
I think the last report, the percentage reported by players was much, much lower than it was when we started this exercise.
In those numbers reported by players, we have also included accounts that were already under suspicion by us, but not necessarily closed.
Now, maybe it would have taken slightly longer, but maybe not now because our processes are better than they were two or three months ago.
Players will still get that gut feel on the table.
They will still report accounts, those players will still be reported and blocked.
Player Aliases and Real Names Mike: All right.
Rob, you had indicated more info that online poker is kind of in the dark ages when it comes to identity and that partypoker would eventually be moving towards using real names on the site.
What more can you tell us about your plans in that area?
Rob: Well, I think this is a big culture shock for online players to make these changes.
We need to take it a little bit slowly.
First of all, I think if you look at the benefits of playing under your real name, first of all, behavior is definitely going to improve.
I mean, actually got buttoned myself and I went and checked who the guy was, he was actually a friend of mine.
First of all, people are doing things under disguise, and I think that to make online poker more 888 poker change default browser, nobody wants to be getting grimmed and being behaved badly towards.
The second upside is security.
In poker, every form of business in poker that uses an alias has gone south.
The fourth upside is community.
Just to build that community and that fun and that endearment back into poker.
Those are a few of the upsides.
Why in terms of qualification for these or online day ones for these events, et cetera, why are players hiding under an alias?
The downside is that someone knows who you are.
They are doing something against their own principles.
The third thing is that somebody is a really, really super high-profile person.
For example, I remember when Guy Laliberté was playing on Stars, he stopped playing because people found out who he was.
Mike: I would personally welcome the change.
I have heard some concerns.
Privacy issues, for example, is one.
I know especially because online poker is global, poker competition you have to adhere to the privacy regulations or laws of several different jurisdictions.
All of the data is kept private.
Rob: Can you think of a downside from a poker point of view rather than a regulatory point of view?
Tom: How can they see that?
They want to play these jackpot, sit and gos.
Nick: Is it fair to say this is very much a concrete plan on the partypoker roadmap to be rolling out real names across events?
Tom: Yes, but it will be phased.
Rob: I think to be honest, the high-stakes players have requested it as part of the security.
That would be one group that I would have thought would have pushed back against this a bit because, culturally, our society is such that we tend to try to keep financial transactions private.
Rob: I think these guys are quite smart.
What other future plans do you expect to roll out as part of your ecology overhaul?
I think, Rob, you had mentioned that in the past that there were some 50-odd changes that you guys had in the works.
What more can you tell us?
We have a group.
It will come at some point this year.
Rob: Obviously, run it twice, for me, actually is an advantage to the pros.
It earns that variants for them.
But saying that perception with the businessmen, it is the businessmen and niagara casino poker room players that are asking for run it twice.
You can sit at one table.
The idea, for me, is that we need to make this as close to a live-poker experience as possible if people need to feel safer.
We go have face verification.
To be verified, you will have had to pass all the various checks in the background that we do.
Just like on Twitter.
You get people who are verified.
Trying to give more protection for people.
How are you getting on?
Once you go over that, you auto-post.
Nick: One other thing I think you mentioned that was coming maybe later this month was the switch to 100 big blind buy-ins across your no-limit games.
It was either that or a minimum 100 big blinds?
I think that the reason for that is well-documented.
The pros want Tom to get frustrated and step up to the high stakes and blow his money off.
The recreational and casual players need them.
United States Mike: Tom, some questions that we have for you involve the US market.
Tom: Sure, you guys love the US and you always ask about the US.
Every topic, the US is tagged on the end.
Sure, you can ask about the US.
US is a huge opportunity.
The estimates of the market size for online gaming are phenomenal.
However, the opportunity only really materializes when the big states come in and they share liquidity.
You need California in there, you need New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, all of these states together, working together as a shared liquidity market.
The dream is the US legalizes everything as a whole, right?
I think there is slow movement, there is slow progress.
We have a Nevada license now so we will be looking to do something there at some point.
They may look to do some stuff in the short term then maybe we join them with a bit of expertise in the longer term, but slow burning.
I think just to give you a statistic, we have 110,000 people that have played in live events, or partypoker live events, since partypoker live was launched; 27% of those people play on partypoker every 30 days.
There is a reasonable crossover.
There is people who play live who just would refuse to play online.
I think our main focus will be to have the millions event which I see as advertising more than acquisition, so keeping the partypoker brand across those six continents.
I think the overriding strategy with live again is to make it more fun and try and make it more convenient and more easy.
How amazing if you could play into the money online or turn up and play the Rio.
God knows what field they would get if you could do that, because giving up nine days is a lot to people.
The focus on live is to, again, make poker more accessible and try and persuade these live players to give partypoker a shot.
What can you tell us about there?
We noticed that there is going to be some online circuit series held on partypoker.
Rob: We basically sponsor or license— We have the WSOP events outside of the US which we run in our partner casinos.
We run one in my casino as well.
They are normally a million for 1K type of level.
We had an opportunity, I think, and Tom was there with me.
Again, WPT, we have six to eight events a year.
Future Risks Rob: Just asking you guys.
There are lots of people of all player ability who like third-party tracking tools because they play on multiple sites so they want to see their profit and loss across multiple sites.
We actually have a product ourselves for Daily Fantasy Sports which does exactly that.
You can upload your, basically, hand history yourselves across sites.
They just want to see how much they won and lost.
Preventing that, I think, is a significant negative to a plan that I understand.
Tom: We hear you on the risks.
We polled two years ago, 50% of people wanted to keep HUDs.
We polled a year ago, 40%.
Now, I think my vote which is 9,500 unique people, 29% want to keep HUDs.
The thing I touched on you earlier about getting all the sides to work together as an industry machine casino royale kick out all the bots and cheaters.
You can try to make money in crypto or do something else.
I want to make one last point, the people that we catch that are using bot rings or cheating, some of these guys have never played a poker hand in their life.
If we make it hard to cheat in poker, these guys are going to go and try and cheat somewhere else.
I think our biggest cheat has never played a poker hand in his life, Tom, yes?
Tom: As far as we are aware, yes.
Rob: We talked plus poker pai gow him yesterday.
Our biggest ever cheat never played one hand of poker.
Mike: Are there any efforts to follow up the prevention of cheating or the detection of cheating with prosecution?
Ultimately, I think our responsibility is to pass that information on to the regulator.
The regulator can then make the decision on whether or not they feel that that person should be prosecuted.
Money laundering is a totally different situation, so we have responsibilities there to report any cases of money laundering to various financial authorities.
In some cases, detection of cheating will lead to prosecution; in other cases, it will be reported to the regulator where they decide to proceed or not.
Mike: Okay, guys, I think this was very informative, great.
It turned out really well.
Outro Mike: All right, so how do you think it went, Nick?
There is half a dozen interesting news articles that we need to be pulling out of that.
There was definitely some interesting information.
How do you think we did from an interview perspective?
Do you that think we pushed back enough on some of the things?
Do you think we asked the right questions?
Nick: I would be interested to hear our listeners opinions on that because this is new for us to be doing interviews on a live record.
It was a very interesting experiment.
For us, we definitely listening to feedback.
I think it was good.
Mike: In 888 poker hoodies end, they are going to do what they feel is best for their business, and I think they expressed that.
They covered some topics that they had covered previously but I think they also went a little black chip poker rakeback further in-depth on some other topics.
Nick: Yes, and explored some upcoming changes in partypoker.
Mike: On a bit of a different topic, what are your thoughts on the special editions of the Pokerfuse Podcast?
I guess this is us being awkward with the outro again.
Nick: I thought you could end on that fading … Mike: All right.
Mike: Fading in the music.
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