PlayerVsPlayer Poker Graph Software

Most Online Poker Players Will Not Switch to Live Poker

There has been a lot of talk about online poker players transitioning to live poker play. I just don't see it happening, at least not in large numbers.

A lot of online poker players are essentially shut out of making money from poker.

There are a small number of poker players making millions of dollars a year online. There are some that can make a good living playing online poker at mid stakes full time with no other source of income.

The majority of poker players, that do have some sort of steady income from poker, are part-time poker players.

Playing live poker is going to be much harder to do than playing online poker. A typical part-time online poker player can come home after his day job, sign on to his favorite poker site, play a few hours and that's it. It's something that they can easily squeeze in between their job, their family and other commitments.

Now if s/he has to drive to a cardroom, wait for a table, tip dealers, pay for food, etc., they're just not going to be playing as much as they used to. It is going to be harder to fit into their schedule.

Live poker is much slower as well. When you're sitting at a poker table you can expect to be dealt around 30 hands per hour. That's not even factoring in commute and wait times. If you're mulitabling even just 4 tables online, you're being dealt over 300 hands per hour.

Winning poker players biggest competitor is variance. The way to conquer variance is to put in a lot of volume. Someone who only plays poker a couple of hours a night may only be able to drive once a week to a casino and play for 8 hours.

Now they're playing 240 hands a week compared to the thousands of hands they would normally play a week online. The long term in live poker is a lot longer than online poker.

People were able to have a good part-time job multi-tabling something as small as 25NL online and be their own boss. Now the minimum most people have access to live will be around 1/2.  

Even if live poker is easier it will get harder once the full-time pros transition to live. The loss of online poker is going to be hardest on these players, who make up the majority of online winners.

Received Email From PokerStars Regarding US Withdrawals

I finally received a reply to my support email from PokerStars. It seems that they are replying to each email individually so they can address any specific concerns that their players might have.

This personal attention is what we have come to expect from PokerStars. Understandably, we can't expect the same speedy responses we've become accustomed too given the circumstances.

In case anyone is still waiting for an email here is the generic parts.
We were very pleased to receive the news that allows US players to cash out their real money balances.

In response to this update, the Cash Out option in the PokerStars Cashier will temporarily be unavailable, to allow us to prepare the technical solutions and formulate the plan and processes required to allow you to cash out your balance.

Please be assured, US player balances are safe. We will notify all US players as soon as the cashier is available to allow you to proceed to cashing out. In the interim, any pending cashouts will be returned to your account in order to ensure players have the opportunity to cash out orderly.

Providing you with the facility to cash out is our top priority right now, and hopefully all US players will be able to cash out via the PokerStars Cashier in the near future.

In the event that you are no longer living in the United States, and can prove it, you are free to play on our site from your new residence. However, to do so, you will be required to submit proof that you are actually resident in another location to have your privileges reinstated. You will be able to keep your VIP Status, as well as your yearly VPP total (as of April 15, 2011).

Acceptable proof consists of copies of photo identification as well as a recent utility bill showing your new physical address. Just an address, without actual proof of residency, will not be sufficient.

Once you have moved, and have the necessary documents to prove your new residency, please email the documents to and we will assist you further.

We apologize for the temporary delay, and sincerely appreciate your patience and cooperation, as we continue working towards providing you with a solution to cash out.
You can also find information at the PokerStars FAQ for USA Players. Note because the domain was recently released it might take a couple of days for the DNS changes to propagate to your local DNS and you might get a 404 Not Found Error page. Be patient.

Another email I received is that USA players cannot purchase anything from the VIP store. If you have any pending purchases they will probably be canceled. This does not seem to apply to cash bonuses that you can purchase from the VIP store.

I don't think PokerStars will screw us over. Things are just going to take time to work themselves out. I'm sure the same is true for Full Tilt Poker. I'm willing to be patient but I hope they continue to keep information coming out while they work on resolving these issues.

Update: Received the following email from PokerStars Security:
We were very pleased to receive the news that allows US players to cash out their real money balances.

In response to this update, the Cashout Option in the PokerStars Cashier will be temporarily unavailable to allow us to prepare the technical solutions and formulate the plan and processes required to allow you to cash out your balance.

In the interim, any pending cashouts have been returned to your account in order to ensure players have the opportunity to cash out orderly.

Please be assured, player balances are safe. We will notify all US and US territories players as soon as the Cashier is available again.

Providing you with the facility to cash out is our top priority right now, and hopefully all US and US territories players will be able
to cash out via the PokerStars Cashier in the near future.

If your account balance is over 4000 USD you will be required to send documentation at cashout stage. In order to avoid delays at that time
we kindly ask you that you scan and email in advance the following two documents to

a) A clear photocopy of your government issued photo ID (front and back).

b) A copy of a recent utility bill or bank statement clearly showing your full name, current address and statement date (no older than 3 months).

Please ensure that you clearly state your UserID. If you have already provided the above documents in the past, you are NOT required to send these again.

We apologize for the temporary delay, and sincerely appreciate your patience and cooperation as we continue working towards providing
you with a solution to cash out.


PokerStars Security

Domain Names Shouldn't Hang Up Poker Withdrawals

Today the United States Attorney for the Southern District of NY put out a press release that they have come to an agreement that allows the domain names for and to be returned to the respective sites.
Under the terms of the agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, the companies agreed that they would not allow for, facilitate, or provide the ability for players located in the United States to engage in playing online poker for "real money" or any other thing of value. The agreements allow for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to use the and domain names to facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. players’ funds held in account with the companies. The deposit of funds by U.S. players is expressly prohibited. In addition, the agreements do not prohibit, and, in fact, expressly allow for, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to provide for, and facilitate, players outside of the United States to engage in playing online poker for real money. The agreements also require
the appointment of an independent Monitor to verify PokerStars’ and Full Tilt Poker’s compliance with the agreements. The Government stands to enter the same agreement with Absolute Poker if it so chooses.
I recently posted some information about the domain name seizures. They're not really that important and shouldn't have been something that hung up player withdrawals. The poker sites should have been able to process withdrawals without getting their domain names back.

Full Tilt Poker also put out a statement which states "in addition, the agreement represents an important first step towards returning funds to U.S. players because it allows Full Tilt Poker to utilize its domain to facilitate the withdrawal of player funds."

The agreement will help players get their money back but they didn't need the agreement to do so. This whole mess makes things difficult because they have to process a large number of withdrawals simultaneously while some accounts may be frozen  but it's good news that the sites have begun to comment on us getting our money.

The DoJ also stated that the seizures of the accounts where not intended to seize player funds and will help the poker sites get the money back to US players.
In fact, this Office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players, as today’s agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker demonstrate.
Today's news is good news as far as getting our money back but I found FTP's statement troubling. Implying that the domain name seizures held up withdrawals is just not true. I'm not going to be celebrating until more information comes out with how and when funds will start coming to us.

Update: The full text of the executed domain name agreements have been released online for both Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. The only text in the agreement relating to withdrawals is:
This Agreement does not prohibig, and, in fact, expressly allows for, PokerStars to utilize the Domain (and any other forms of communication) to facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. players' funds held in account with PokerStars. While withdrawal of funds is expressly permitted, the deposit of funds by U.S. Players is expressly prohibited. Pokerstars agrees that any financial transactions with players located in the United States shall be strictly limited to the return of those players' funds held in account with PokerStars.
The agreement doesn't seem to change the state of player withdrawals but it's nice that player withdrawals are becoming part of the conversation.

Will US Poker Players Get Their Money?

Photo by Jam Adams
Short answer. I don't know if we will but we definitely should!

Some quick facts. The UIGEA doesn't make payments from poker sites to players illegal. Only deposits.

Playing online poker is also not illegal in most states and whether or not online poker constitutes "illegal internet gambling" also hasn't been tested in a court of law.

Keep in mind I'm not an attorney, I'm not an industry insider and the following is going to just be my opinion based on what I've been able to determine from my own research.

Should US Poker Players Receive Their Funds?

I don't see why we shouldn't. As I mentioned. There isn't anything illegal regarding withdrawals as far as the UIGEA is concerned.

Even though the money was (or is in the process of being) seized for criminal activity, that criminal activity was not perpetrated by the poker players.

The counts in the indictment involve bank fraud and UIGEA violations.

Players who made deposits were not willing participants in any of the claimed bank fraud incidents. Even though the bank codes made it look like charges came from various web merchants, it's not like PokerStars told us to go to some website and buy 5,000 golf balls when we wanted to make a deposit.

We went to the poker client and clicked the deposit button and followed the instructions. Whatever happened behind the scenes happened without our control or knowledge.

Even though withdrawals are exempt from the UIGEA, I just wanted to make it clear that the money isn't being confiscated for anything the players did.

Why Aren't US Players Getting Our Money?

Recently, some banks have been giving poker players a hard time when they do make withdrawals. Some players have reported having their bank accounts closed. I'm not sure why this is happening but banks are either unwilling or being instructed to not handle withdrawals in some cases.

The big reason though is that the DoJ/FBI has seized a lot of accounts owned by the payment processors and the poker sites.

The way I understand how things work, payment processors open bank accounts for handling the transactions of the poker sites. They process both deposits and withdrawals on behalf of the poker sites. The payment processor earns a fee for processing these requests.

Since the payment processor handles money coming in and out they hold funds in their bank accounts to handle these transactions without constantly needing to transfer funds back and forth between them and the poker sites.

So you make a $100 deposit, it's going to stay with the processor. The processor isn't immediately going to send the money to the poker site. Where the money actually belongs is basically tracked in a spreadsheet. (Hopefully more sophisticated but you get the point.)

The gaming commissions that regulate these sites also have provisions that require player funds to be segregated from operational funds. Meaning that player bankrolls aren't supposed to be in the same bank accounts that the poker sites use to pay their bills, payroll, etc.

Our money is out there somewhere. The DoJ/FBI has put a freeze on it and it seems someone in government has incorrectly instructed banks to not allow players to receive withdrawals in some cases.

Who Owes The US Poker Players Their Money

The poker sites are responsible to return the money to their players when they request a withdrawal. I think it's pretty clear.

What's holding it up is that the bank accounts may have been frozen and the poker sites, even though it seems not all the accounts have been frozen, are a little less liquid right now.

Even with the loss of the US Market, they're still raking in millions of dollars a day so even if the accounts aren't released we should expect them to start saving up to pay us back. If not there will likely be legal action against them by the players.

In the case of Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars I don't think that will be necessary. They intend to remain in business outside the US and have invested a lot in their brands. Stiffing their players would tarnish their reputations too much.

It would make things easier if the DoJ/FBI would unfreeze the accounts in excess of the amounts their seeking in fines so that PokerStars can pay their players. It would be helpful if financial institutions were instructed to not give players a hard time if the receive checks or wires from these processors.

Like I said previously. That's our money and we didn't commit the crimes for which that money is being held. Think of it as if you parked your car with a valet and the valet decided to get drunk and drive your car through a store window. The car may be held as evidence by the authorities but you didn't participate or authorize the crime. You should get your car back as far as I understand or at the very least are entitled to seek compensation from the valet or his employer for the loss of your car. Forfeiting assets like this is meant to punish criminals. In the case of the car, you're not a criminal and shouldn't be punished.

How FTP/PokerStars Can Come Back to the US

A lot of different conspiracy theories have been discussed regarding online poker's Black Friday. I love conspiracy theories so here's mine. :)

I think there's a chance that sites like Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker/UB can return to the US market once online poker legislation is passed.

The way I think things might play out is going to be similar to the recent banking crises we had in the US.

Info Relating to Domain Name Seizures of Poker Sites

There's been some confusion about the seizure of the domain names and what it means. There's also been a rumor going around that the sites (PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, AbsolutePoker and UB) will be getting their domain names back this week.

I'm not sure about the rumor but here's some info that might clear up what it means for the FBI/DoJ to seize the domains. It actually doesn't mean all that much. At least in terms of putting them out of business.

First of all. The poker sites have what I would assume is a large infrastructure that runs their games as well as their various websites. They have all their servers (computers) in a secure data center outside of the jurisdiction of the US authorities.

Computers on the internet are identified via an IP address. This is a number that looks something like These numbers are inconvenient so there is a naming system, the Domain Name System (DNS) that allows the association of names to IP addresses. So if you type in an address such as your computer will do a DNS lookup through a series of DNS servers to resolve the name into an numerical IP address. Just like calling 411 and getting a phone number based on someone's name.

There are top level domains (TLDs), (.com, .net, .org) etc that are controlled by Domain Registrars. You can register a domain name (such as and have the right to exclusively use that domain name for your servers.

When you type into your web browser on your computer, your computer makes a request to the DNS server of your local ISP (comcast, Verizon, etc). Your ISP's DNS server then sees a request for a .com address and sends a request to the ROOT DNS servers which contain pointers to Domain DNS Servers, in this case a DNS server that is controlled by PokerStars, where an IP Address is returned for PokerStars' web server.

That information then gets sent back in reverse order until it winds up at your computer, then your web browser makes whatever request necessary using that IP address.

The ROOT DNS servers for all .com, .net, .gov (as well as .name, .cc and .tv) are controlled by a US based company called VeriSign. VeriSign is subject to the laws of the US and has to comply with any judicial orders that are issued to it.

When the US Gov't seizes a domain all they are really getting control of is essentially a couple of lines of text (or rows in a database) in the ROOT DNS servers. Those lines that used to instruct the ROOT DNS servers to contact PokerStars' DNS Servers to resolve names into IP address now contacts US Gov't DNS servers which ultimately results in requests being sent to US Gov't servers.

The poker site server infrastructure, which is safely housed in a data center outside of the US' reach remains untouched. If you knew the IP address you could theoretically still reach PokerStars website in this example.

DNS Servers cache requests. So if you make a request for on your computer, it will go to your ISP's DNS, then ROOT DNS and then PokerStars' DNS server. But if another customer with the same ISP makes the same request, your ISP's DNS server will just use it's locally cached data instead. For this reason domain name changes can take hours or sometimes a couple of days to propagate through the DNS system.

Different federal agencies have been seizing domain names for various reasons in the past few months. This has caused concern because the .com, .net and .org domain names are important top level domains (TLDs) in the Internet, which is considered global and shouldn't be owned/controlled by the US.

After a site like PokerStars loses their domain you can no longer access their website by going to Since the PokerStars client also needs to connect to PokerStars' server infrastructure and uses names (such as to find those servers, you can't play poker using their software.

Basically all PokerStars needs to do to get everything working again is to get a new domain name registration. In this case they chose The .eu TLD is administered by EURid which is a consortium of different European national domain registrars which the US can't easily touch.

They didn't have to pick They could have chosen (Isle of Man TLD) or even for that matter. The only thing that matters is that they have a domain name registration that points to their DNS servers and that their poker client is updated to point to the new server.

These are relatively simple changes to make and it's easy for a site like PokerStars to let their customers know that they need to go to a new url to download the new software. PokerStars was back up and running the same day. Then the software on your computer can be able to communicate with PokerStars' servers and function as normal.

The seizure of the domain names does very little to disrupt the business of these poker sites. It would be like the local police trying to shut down a crack house by changing the house numbers on the front door.

To me, it just looks like a lame show of force. If they continue to do these types of domain seizures it's going to make the rest of the world try and get these important TLDs out of the control of the US.

It looks impressive, but it's ultimately meaningless. I'm not familiar with how the forfeiture of bank accounts works but what Carol (forgot last name her blog is said on the massive QuadJacks Black Friday webcast, the funds weren't actually seized. Only a restraining order was placed on those accounts. I'm not sure how that will work for banks outside of the US. If someone can clarify how easy it would be for these sites to get access back to these accounts in different jurisdictions I would appreciate it if you left a comment.

*EDIT: Further research indicates the US has a lot of leverage over the forfeiture of foreign money. They usually get the foreign bank to cooperate. If they don't, they just seize the same amount from a local branch of the the foreign bank. The type of forfeiture (in rem) also doesn't require a conviction. This could be ugly.

Carbon Poker for US Players?

After being shut out of PokerStars and FullTilt Poker following Poker Black Friday I've been looking at options for US Poker Players that want to continue playing.

Carbon Poker is on the Merge Gaming Network and is still accepting US Players. They are licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

From what I've seen, the Merge network has good feedback from players. Some of the videos on BlueFirePoker (member reviews I've seen) were played on sites on the Merge network.

There seemed to be a good bit of traffic from 4NL to 50NL when I checked. There were also a few 100NL tables running.

There were a lot of US poker players at the tables.

There didn't seem to be much SnG traffic. There are a few MTTs running throughout the day though. There's a $33 $7k Guaranteed running right now that had 275 players registered.

The software looks pretty good. I played some play money games on it and it didn't take long to adjust. I really like the pot size betting buttons that are available. This is good because TableNinja won't work on that site. Fortunately the next release of Holdem Manager will work with Carbon Poker but I'm not sure if HUDs will be supported. Reading their TOS makes me think they're not allowed.

They have a bunch of freerolls and cool promotions including a bad beat jackpot. Use the following link and you can get 35% Carbon Poker Rakeback as well as a 100% deposit bonus up to $600.

The future of online poker in the US isn't clear but for now there are still some options for real money poker. I can't predict what might happen but I created an account with Carbon Poker after looking at different sites. Not sure if I will be depositing yet.

Update: Contacted Carbon Poker and they replied saying they are still accepting US Players and have not been affected by what happened on Friday. Still have some trepidation.

MicroRollers Home Game

Update: I haven't been able to log in at all to update the home game. My apologies to those recently trying to join.

I created this Poker Club on a while ago and it looks like it might be a good time to get it out.

Online poker will likely come back in the US at some point and it's important to not let our skills get rusty.

The general play money games are a joke and won't keep you on your game. So I thought maybe we could keep our chops by playing against other decent players for play money in my Home Game on

Sad Day For US Poker Players

I spent most of yesterday offline, you know, in the real world where people laugh instead of type LOL so when I finally logged into twitter and saw my stream going crazy I was a bit surprised.

When I found out what all the buzz was about I was in shock.

This isn't going to be a very informative post on the subject. I just wanted to air some of my thoughts and make a few other personal statements but here's the lowdown in case you missed it. If you're up to speed with what's going on click here to skip it.

The US States Attorney for the District of New York and the FBI unsealed an indictment that charges 11 individuals including the founders of "the big three" in online poker, PokerStars, FullTiltPoker and AbsolutePoker/UB (Cereus network) with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offenses. More information can be found in the DoJ press release on the matter.
The United States also filed a civil money laundering and in rem forfeiture complaint (the "Civil Complaint") against the Poker Companies, their assets, and the assets of several payment processors for the Poker Companies. In addition, restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts utilized by the Poker Companies and their payment processors, and five Internet domain names used by the Poker Companies to host their illegal poker games were seized.
As a result PokerStars and FullTiltPoker are prohibiting US players from playing in real money games on their sites. This includes cash games, multi-table tournaments and sit-n-go's. That constitutes the majority of real money online poker for US players.

This is sad because recent news made it seem like online poker in the US was getting close to a point where it would be regulated and any murky areas in the law would be cleared up.

The sizable legal staff that sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker employ have determined that playing online poker in the US is not against the law. I'm not a lawyer but from my understanding I can see the law interpreted that way. The problem is the law makes it illegal to wire money into or out of US based financial institutions. According to the indictment the poker sites and they're payment processors are alleged to have committed fraud in order to get around these restrictions.

When you visit the effected domains you're likely to see a message that the domain was seized instead of the actual homepage of the site you're visiting.

It may take a while for you to see the changes reflected when you visit the sites because the DoJ seized the domain registration and not the actual servers hosting the websites. The domain registration is in the US, the servers are not.

I read the 52-page indictment and it doesn't look good. Indictments usually don't. The defense of the poker sites looks like it's going to need to be that poker is not unlawful internet gambling and that they were insulated from the actions of their payment processors.

Last Night I Played My A-Game

Photo Copyright Andy Beecroft courtesy of
Last night I played some full ring NLHE for my cash game challenge.

I had the best feeling ever playing that session and for the first time I recognized I was playing well. I knew I was playing my A-Game. There was no doubt about it.

There isn't a time that I can remember feeling as comfortable playing poker as I did last night.

I've been putting in a lot of time trying to work on my cash game by analyzing my Holdem Manager database and watching a lot of videos on BlueFirePoker.

Up until this point I've been pretty happy with my play and my results but I've always had some doubts. Last night was comforting to realize that I do have an A-Game and it's pretty good!

So how much did I win? I'll get to that but some more details about the session first.

$50 Cash Game Challenge Update 3

It's been way too long, over a year, since I've updated my Cash Game Bankroll Challenge which I started with $50.

There were a number of reasons for this. One is that I was focusing so much time on my Double or Nothing SnG Bankroll Challenge. Another is that I was working on a similar cash game challenge that I wasn't publishing but I'll discuss later in this post.

In my last update, my bankroll was at $100. Current challenge bankroll is around $330. I've put in a lot of hands since then. almost 10x the number of hands in the first two updates combined.

My winrate for this update is just over 3 BB/100 which I'm not too thrilled about at these stakes. I think I can do a bit better.

Once my bankroll crossed the $200 mark I started adding more tables to my sessions and now play anywhere from 2-6 tables depending on my frame of mind.

Six tables is a little too much for my bankroll so I probably won't be doing that often. I'm also trying to really think about each hand more and pay attention to players even when I'm not in a hand.

I Joined A Poker Training Site

Now that the Double or Nothing SnGs  are gone I'm going to be playing more for my Cash Game Bankroll Challenge.

I think I play pretty well but I know that I can improve my cash game results. I hate saying that I make mistakes because I think there are a lot of different ways to play, but yeah, I probably make some mistakes.

I've been looking at poker training sites for months now trying to decide which one to join. I read different reviews for poker training sites throughout the web, I watched sample videos, I looked at stats of their coaches, etc.

It's such a pain in the ass because I don't like to feel that I wasted time and money so I do a lot of research on important decisions. Not that the cost of a training site is that big but there's a lot of time involved and the implications of choosing the wrong site can really set me back. Plus players constantly evolve and the game changes and it's important to keep up. Watching a few videos is nice but it's better to commit to a long period so that you can keep up with changes and really let what you're seeing soak in without rushing it.

It seems like everyone and their brother has a training site now. For the most part a lot of them are at least okay. Some sites are going to be better than others for certain games, some coaches are better than others, sometimes it's just a matter of what teaching style works for you.

For me, my primary objective was improving my cash game, specifically No Limit Hold'em, because that's where I feel there's the most potential to consistently make good money and keep a flexible schedule.

Of all the videos I saw there was one poker video coach that really clicked with me, Phil Galfond. So as of yesterday I am a member of his poker training site.

Add Rakeback to Your Blog

Blogger Rakeback Gadget
It's been a while since I've posted anything poker blogging related so I guess it's time :) Plus I've received a few emails about how to add Rakeback to a blog's sidebar like I have on my site.

It was a little bit involved and requires some programming skill so maybe it's not for everyone. The good news though is there's a much easier way to do it that is also more customizable than the rakeback widget I have on my blog's sidebar.

The rakeback site Full Rake Tilt offers two options for adding rakeback offers to your blog depending on if you use or a WordPress powered blog.

You'll receive anywhere from 2-4% of the MGR (monthly gross revenue AKA rake) that all the players you refer generate. The players will receive a portion of their rake back in addition to special bonuses, promotions and freeroll tournaments.

Not a bad deal for something that takes only a minute or so to set up. Just be sure to create an account and include your username when you set up your sidebar, as explained in the following instructions.

Blogger Rakeback Gadget

If you host your blog on instructions for adding a Rakeback Gadget are pretty straightforward. Just copy and paste a URL and your pretty much done.

WordPress Rakeback Widget

Instructions for adding a WordPress Rakeback Widget  are very simple because the widget is in the repository. Just do a search for "FullRakeTilt" and installing it is just a few clicks away. Full instructions are provided in the link above.

Review of Bfizz11 MTT Webinar

In an effort to try and improve my tournament play last Saturday I attended one of Brian 'bfizz11' Fite's MTT Coaching Webinars.

Last week I posted what I learned about Brian Fite and his webinars so I won't go into detail about his success in MTTs and other poker accomplishments but I wanted to post a review to illustrate what the experience was like.

Getting Registered

The first step is to contact Brian letting him know when you're interested in attending his webinar. His contact information is available on his website

If you're interested in attending more than one webinar he currently seems to be willing to discuss discounts so let him know how many you'd like to attend and ask what he can offer you.

Once you've agreed to sign up for his MTT coaching webinars you then make payments. For most players this will likely be through a transfer on either FTP or PokerStars.

Preparing For The Webinar

First, make sure you have the time available since the webinar runs at least 5 hours. Also gather some questions and hand histories of spots you want advice on.

The webinar uses which requires some software to be installed.

The process of getting the software set up is simple. You'll receive a link via email for the webinar. Clicking on the link will guide you on how to download and install the software. It took a few minutes but it was fairly simple.

After you have the software installed you request access to the webinar and you'll receive a second email that provides a link that will get you in. At least that's how I remember it.

Participating in the MTT Webinar

OK, you've got everything done and you've signed into the webinar. What you're going to see is a live view of bfizz's monitor where he loads up his tournaments for the day.

He uses a 30" monitor so if you don't have a monitor that large your going to have to view the webinar slighly reduced in size.

I have a 22" widescreen monitor and I had no problem following the action.  Even reading his HUD stats was possible.

Brian seems to be mindful of the fact that not everyone is going to be using a 30" monitor and keeps the tables big enough for us less fortunate to view. Good news is because of the coaching I'll probably hit a big score soon and head over to NewEgg to get one. ;)

During the session Brian is on mic talking through his thoughts on different hands and even commenting on some hands he's not in as well as general strategy.

The GoToMeeting interface allows viewers to participate in one of two ways.  You can type in a question that only the meeting moderator can read and Brian will answer it, or you can click a "raise hand" button which will let you use your pc mic to ask a question verbally.

Brian was very good about answering questions thoroughly that were typed in. Nobody used the mic during last session so I'm not sure how that works. Or maybe only the meeting moderator can hear???


From a technical aspect, getting set up for the webinar was very easy. Click a link, click a button, run some software, click another link. The video and audio quality were good and the interface was fairly simple to figure out.

This was the first time I participated in something like this and I don't really know any good poker players near me that I can actively share ideas with. I knew that watching a successful MTT player at work would be beneficial but I was still surprised how much I actually got out of it.

Being able to hear his thoughts on hands and ask questions in real-time is a great way to learn. Brian did a good job of keeping us informed of his thoughts. He has a grind house where he lives with a few players he coaches and stakes and he also makes videos for BlueFirePoker so it's no surprise he comes off as an experienced coach in his webinars.

Even from just one session I feel I learned a lot and my confidence has improved with regards to tournaments. If one webinar is good, more should be better. :)

Different people have different trouble spots in tournaments so being able to see how someone else handles that situation and ask why they did what they did can be very helpful rather than just reading about what someone decides to write in a book.

As I was watching the webinar I pretended I was the one playing each tournament and thought about what I would do in each hand. If he did something different than I would have done and I couldn't understand why it was great being able to ask him to help understand it better.

During the session I attended, not many people brought hand histories for review and neither did I so I can't really comment on that aspect of the webinar.

Overall I'm very happy that I attended the webinar and plan on attending another.  If you're looking for a way to improve your MTT results this seems to be a very good way to do it and given how long each webinar lasts, it's quite reasonably priced.

You can find out more about Brian Fite and his webinars at or follow him on Twitter (@bfizz11).

Sunday Storm - PokerStars $1/4 Million Revisited

The PokerStars weekly Sunday $1/4 Million tournament, the little brother of the big Sunday Million has been renamed to the Sunday Storm.

To help celebrate the new name change, PokerStars is giving the Sunday Storm a $1 Million guarantee on March 27th. Not a bad prize pool for an $11 tournament.

This is one of the tournaments I try and play regularly. The field is huge, over 25,000 players, which makes it a high variance event but it's one of the few tournaments that a low stakes player, like myself, can really hit a 5 figure win.

I took a big shot last week in the special 5th anniversary Sunday Million and didn't even cash so I'm looking forward to playing this $1 million Sunday Storm. This is a tournament I've played before and have cashed in. Got my first 3 figure mtt win in it :)

I've been reviewing my previous MTT hand histories from when I felt my MTT game was better than it is now and feel more confident after attending bfizz11's MTT webinar Saturday. It's been a while since I've been at a final table so I'm hoping I'm due and that it comes in this one :)

To play in the special $1 million dollar Sunday Storm you need to download a copy of PokerStars software. If you make your first real money deposit of $20 or more use the code "STORM" you'll get a free ticket into the $1,000,000 Sunday Storm. In addition you'll also get the 100% deposit bonus up to $600.

MTT Poker Coaching with Brian Fite

MTT Poker Coach Brian Fite
So I've been bitching about my frustration with MTTs lately and I decided it's time to do something about it. Namely finding an  MTT Poker Coach.

OK, maybe I stumbled into that decision. You see, some time ago I started adding some poker players to follow on my twitter account. Some of them because I've heard something about them, some of them because someone else I followed followed them and things like that. Point is, I'm not very familiar with everyone I've followed.

All I know is that there's one MTT regular on twitter, @bfizz11 (Brian Fite) whose tweets stood out to me because they're all similar. "Final table in xxx mtt", "just won xxx mtt for lots of money", "deep in the xxx mtt ". It seems like this guy's making one or two final tables every day. I'm not exaggerating. Here are his last 4 tweets.
bfizz11 Brian Fite
I took 3rd for $2k and min-cashed the Nightly, a good day overall. Getting to bed early tonight so I can crush it tomorrow.

bfizz11 Brian Fite
6 handed in the $55 rebuy and approaching the $$$ in the $163 Nightly on FTP

bfizz11 Brian Fite
25 left $55 1r1a on stars and 13 left in the $55 rebuy on AP

bfizz11 Brian Fite
31 left in a $55 on FTP, in the $11 rebuy money...cashed almost every tourney today so far it seems like time to close one out!
At first I thought this can't be real. Must be some guy that created a program that just randomly pulls tournament names and adds results or something like that. One day the program would have a bug that would be obvious and tweet something like 'I just finished %random(1-9)% in %getRandomTournament()%' or something like that. But it never happened so I did some digging.

After looikng up bfizz11's results it turns out Brian 'bfizz11' Fite's results are real! Before I really knew much about him I decided to contact him to find out if there's some way he could help me improve my mtt results, especially with regards to going deeper in MTTs and making more final tables.

Since my first contact with him I've learned a lot more about Brian. If you follow the tournament leaderboards you've probably heard of bfizz11. I don't, so I haven't. Here's a summary in case you're like me, plus some other facts.
  • Won a monthly Tournament Leaderboard Title
  • Won 3 Weekly Tournament Leaderboard Titles
  • Was 3rd in the PokerStars 2010 Yearly Tournament Leaderboard
  • Has over $125k in SnG Profits
  • Around $1.5 Million in MTT cashes
  • Makes Videos for BlueFirePoker
  • Was on the 2010 WSOP Main Event feature table (finished in the money)
  • Offers a weekly mtt coaching webinar
After messaging Brian I decided to give his mtt coaching webinar a try. It seems like an affordable poker coaching option even for someone on a micro stakes bankroll. :)

About bfizz11's MTT Coaching Webinar

Once a week Brian has a coaching session he conducts over the web, a webinar. The webinar lasts a minimum of 5 hours of watching Brian during an MTT session.

During the session Brian explains what he's doing and why and students can ask questions over their mics. In addition he'll review hand histories submitted by viewers.

Brian keep's the webinars small in size to give each attendee an opportunity to participate in the discussion.

A single webinar costs $150. That's less than $30/hr (since sessions run longer when he runs deep) which seems like a really good value to me.

So I'll be attending my first MTT webinar with Brian 'bfiz11' Fite soon and I'm really looking forward to it. I'll update my blog once I've completed it.

In the meantime you can keep up with Brian by following him on twitter (@bfiz11) and find out more about him and his poker coaching on his website

    2011 SCOOP Tournament Schedule Calendar Feeds

    The PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker is just a couple months away.

    The SCOOP is a special tournament series that PokerStars holds every spring since 2009 which has a special twist. Each event is available at three different stake levels, low, medium and high.

    This gives players of many different skill levels and means to participate. There are buy-ins as little as $11 and as much as $10,300 for the high stakes SCOOP Main Event.

    If you've ever wanted to play in a big tournament series like the World Series of Poker but the expenses of travel and those high buy-in tournaments was too much for you, the SCOOP is a good way to get a similar experience right from the comfort of your own home.

    You can download PokerStars and create a free account here.

    Even the low tournaments have big guarantees and could mean a big score.The thrill of playing in the special PokerStars Sunday $5 Million tournament has me wanting to take some more shots a couple of times a year at some big tournaments so I've been looking through the schedule to see what I might want to play.

    There are 38 events running from May 8th to May 22nd 2011. That gives me plenty of time to improve my MTT game.

    If you want to easily add the events to your calendar software on your desktop, iPhone or other device, I created some Calendar Feeds for the 2011 SCOOP Tournament Schedule that you can use. They are available as XML, iCal, or you can just view them as HTML and add them to your Google Calendar on iGoogle.

    2011 SCOOP Low Tournaments

    XML, iCal, HTML

    2011 SCOOP Medium Tournaments

    XML, iCal, HTML

    2011 SCOOP High Tournaments

    XML, iCal, HTML

    If you notice any problems with the entries please let me know. I'll do my best to update them if any events change.

    Looking for an easy way to track your SCOOP results and publish them on your blog? Check out my MTT Bankroll Management Spreadsheet.

    If you're not familiar with online poker tournaments here are some explanations of how tournaments are named that might help you:

    The format for the event name is something like "Evt 99-L: $100 NLHE Turbo $500K GTD"

    Evt is just short for event, 99-L signifies the number of the event and what stake level. Events range from 1-38 and stake levels are L for low, M for medium and H for high.

    After that is a description of the type of tournament. What type of game is played and if there are any special features of the tournament such as a Turbo, a shootout, or if it is not a normal full ring (9 players per table) tournament such as 6-max or 4-max.

    Finally there is the guaranteed prize pool marked as $xxx GTD. No matter how many players enter the tournament the prize pool will be at least the guaranteed amount. These tournaments are fairly popular and the prize pools generally are larger than the guarantees.

    Some tournaments are labeled as "2-Day" tournaments that are scheduled to run over the course of 2 days.

    Some abbreviations used in these calendars:

    NLHE - No Limit Hold'em
    PLO - Pot Limit Omaha
    HU - Heads up
    GTD - Guaranteed
    FL - Fixed Limit
    +R  - Any buy-in labeled $xxx+R indicates it's a rebuy tournament where you can purchase additional chips if you lose all your initial chips during the rebuy period.

    Daniel 'KidPoker' Negreanu vs Viktor 'Isildur1' Blom HU Match Is On!!!!

    Last month I posted on how Daniel Negreanu was practicing his HU game to play Viktor Blom in the PokerStars SuperStar Showdown.

    He had been taking on some really good poker players in 4 table HU matches trying to improve his HU game and he crushed most of them at $5/$10 NLHE HU.

    Recently he moved up to $50/$100 NL. He destroyed K_O_S_T_Y_A by winning over $100k (replay) but lost just over $100k to Sauce123 yesterday (replay) at these stakes.

    I was railing the game against KOSTYA and after he busted him on one of the tables another player sat with Negreanu. He played a few hands with him until he finished off KOSTYA on the other table and at the end of the session said something like 'you suck as a practice partner, you're nothing like Isildur'. I don't think he meant to be a prick but I found it hillarious.

    Now Negreanu thinks he's ready to take on Viktor Blom in the SuperStar Showdown.

    This will be slightly different that the other SuperStar Showdowns because it will run over 2 weekends, Sunday March 20 and Sunday March 27 at 3:00pm EST.

    Each day will consist of 4 $50/$100 heads up no-limit hold'em tables with each player having a $150,000 bankroll for the showdown and play the usual 2,500 hands. Then the next week they'll continue the match with the money they had the previous week for another 2,500 hands. Twice as many hands as the other SuperStar Showdowns!

    In my last post on Negreanu's heads up games I predicted that the match might come up in a couple of months. I didn't expect it so soon but he's been putting in a lot of time working on his game and recently tweeted that 'April is the new May', because he usually relaxes in May to get ready for the WSOP but with tournament schedules moved up this year, he'll be taking off in April.

    So March seems like the only time he can do it and why not when he's been on fire lately.

    I don't play a lot of heads up so I can't really comment on Negreanu's game but his results are pretty impressive and they've been fun to watch.

    This SuperStar Showdown should be $%#ing awesome to watch! If you don't already have a copy, download PokerStars software from to be able to watch the match. Once you create an account and log in, hit CTRL-P to bring up a window showing the currently logged in Team PokerStars players when the match is scheduled to run to be able to find Daniel Negreanu or Viktor Blom. Then double click one of their names and in the new window that comes up double click the 4 tables they're playing at to watch.

    I have a feeling this is not something most poker players will want to miss!

    Took A Shot And Missed

    Today I entered the PokerStars 5th Anniversary Sunday Million which had a guaranteed prize pool of $5 million with $1 million guaranteed for first place.

    The tournament wound up being much bigger. 59,128 players registered making the prize pool $11,825,600 with first place entitled to over $1.6 million plus the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 and almost $1.2 million for 2nd.

    This is by far the biggest tournament I had entered. I thought I would be a little more nervous about it and play like scared money but I had to play very tight because there were two players at my table involved in almost every pot with any two cards and not folding bottom pair and I wasn't connecting.

    I was involved in the very first hand with JJ. I called an EP open and flopped top set and turned a boat. At that point I probably should have played the hand a little slower but I won a decent sized pot which helped calm my nerves and get me in the right frame of mind.

    I can play a lot looser once I get a big stack but that never happened and I started getting very short. I lost a bunch of chips when I flopped TPGK and a gut shot but was up against two pair. After that I was card dead for a while or didn't connect with the flop and got a lot of action.

    Luckily I was moved to another table where I got a few walks in the BB and was able to shove steal from the SB a few times. Then I was switched to a table with some big stacks and a lot of action.

    As I dropped below 8BB I picked up a big pair and 3bet a MP min raise and was racing with AKo. My pair held and I was safe for a while.

    Then again under 10BB when I picked up AKo and shoved to take the blinds. A few hands later and it was another big pair that I shoved over an EP min raise. They called with a smaller pair and didn't improve to double me up before the break.

    I had enough chips to allow me to wait for good spots or good cards but neither came so my stack started to slide as the blinds began to increase. There was not going to be any stealing this time either with the big stack in the BB to my SB that was calling off fairly light.

    I finally pick up a big suited ace and shove around 8BB. One of the big stacks tanked and then called with a small pair. I didn't improve and I was out a few grand before the money. :(

    Even though I didn't cash I don't regret taking a shot and might try and do something similar once or twice a year. It would have been nice to have a big score but I'm happy with the way I played.

    Maybe MTTs Aren't For Me?

    I might not have the right mentality for MTTs. Big wins are few and far between and you wind up losing more times than you win. That's a bit disheartening for someone used to regularly winning single table tournaments. Going a whole day or two or more without even a mincash

    I always check out the lobby to see what first place gets to try and motivate myself but when I lose I don't feel like I've lost my buy-in, I feel like I lost first prize.

    My MTT game probably needs a lot of improvement as well but it's hard to work on my game when just playing is so frustrating. Especially at the small stake MTTs I play.

    I just don't know how to play at a table with 3 or more players that have VP$IP/PFR above 70/30. It sounds like it should be easy. Just wait for a big hand and punish them. But it never seems to work out that way.

    I'll lose a few pots in situations where I raise a hand like AK get called, flop top 2 and they hang on and catch something. They hold on with pocket 4s and river a set or their gutshot, backdoor a flush or my favorite, make a full house with A3 when it comes 3 on turn 3 on river.

    And the dreaded KQo. KQo is like kryptonite to my Aces. I get short and shove aces and as soon as I see someone 3bet my shove I know they have KQo and I know somehow they're going to suck out on me.

    Stealing blinds isn't an option because hands like Q3o, T4s, 83o apparently are too strong to fold and always seem to hit.

    Then there's the geniuses that will limp call a 3bet with 73o, call a flop cbet with bottom pair and turn trips or two pair after I'm already committed and still likely ahead.Spending 2 or 3 hours playing and then losing like that, with nothing to show for it just puts me in a bad mood.

    I think I play pretty well so it frustrates me when I can't seem to beat players that are just playing so horribly. The frustration then leads me to make mistakes.

    If I can only find my happy place and try to put in a decent volume I think I can do well and I'm going to try and do that or go crazy trying.

    Considering Playing The PokerStars $5million MTT

    This coming Sunday (March 6th, 2011) is the 5th anniversary of PokerStars' Sunday Million tournament. One of, if not the biggest weekly online tournaments. In honor of this event PokerStars is going to be increasing the prize pool significantly.

    For this special Sunday Million the buy-in will still be only $215 but there are going to be some extra incentives such as:
    • $5 Million guaranteed prize pool
    • $1 Million guaranteed first place prize
    • Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 for the winner
    Even though back in October I tried to come up with an micro stakes MTT schedule I haven't really been playing many. I try to play a few on Sundays, including the Sunday $1/4 Million but this last month I've been trying to get a lot of volume in double or nothing tournaments since it was going to be the last month.

    The biggest MTT I entered was $11 but I'm really considering giving this one a go. Huge online MTTs like this don't come around often. I have been doing pretty well in poker and was going to reward myself with an entry in a couple of WCOOP events but I didn't have the time so maybe I should play this instead.

    I'm a bit of a bankroll nit and I keep separate bankrolls for different types of games. I track my MTT bankroll using my MTT bankroll management spreadsheet. I've only played around 50 games on that bankroll but one nice final table got me off to a good start but since then not much has been going on.

    According to my bankroll management rules my max allowed BI is only $5.50, well short of the $215 BI for the $5mil. Heck even the occasional times I play the $1/4 mil is too much but I've been doing pretty well in those. Enough to do a little better than break even until I get the big score.

    If I play this, it probably won't be part of my regular MTT bankroll but instead out of the side money I don't have allocated to any particular bankroll.

    I don't want to get into the habit of playing outside my bankroll so I'm a little torn. This could be such a huge deal though. My MTT isn't that great anymore and I don't have too much time to practice until Sunday. Final tabling it would be a huge deal for me but going relatively deep would be very nice too.

    I'm being a whiney little **** about this I know. Is there anyone one else considering taking a shot at this? Any good links to articles/videos to help out my rusty MTT brain out?

    Pep talk time: I've made a few final tables in the past. No wins but a couple of seconds. I have pretty high ITM and finish in the last 20% over 30% of the time. So I have a good chance of at least breaking even and a one time shot like this won't kill me.

    Qualifying Through Satellites

    If $215 is too big for your bankroll you can try to win a seat through a satellite tournament with a much smaller buy-in, as little as $1 or just a few FPPs. You can view the list of satellites by opening up the $5mil tournament (#409020010) and check out the bottom of the tournament lobby where it lists Satellites To This Tournament

    If you've never played on PokerStars before you can download their software here.

    DoN SnG Challenge Update 14 (Final?)

    This is my last update for my Double or Nothing Sit-n-Go Bankroll Challenge because PokerStars has decided to discontinue the Double or Nothing SnGs .

    Things started off pretty well for this last update but towards the end I hit a bad streak where I lost around $300.

    The ending challenge bankroll was at $3,480. At my peak I was up to $3,760. My win-rate for this update fell to 54.9% because of the bad run but because of the large volume I was putting in at the $10.80 DoNs I did manage to increase the bankroll by around $676 since the last update. PokerStars did much better than me this time as I paid around $3k in rake. That kinda hurts.

    Not sure what happened. Everything seemed to go downhill after the 15th which was the original last day of the DoNs until PokerStars decided to extend them until the end of the month. Probably the usual combination of playing poorly, getting sucked out on and getting coolered.

    One disappointment for me is that I thought I had played enough games to earn enough FPPs for something I wanted from the VIP store. Either I was wrong about how much the item was or it was discounted the last time I looked so I'm a couple thousand FPPs short.

    My biggest disappointment is that I didn't get past the $10 DoN level. I probably should have been more aggressive with my bankroll management strategy to work my way up faster.

    What will happen with this challenge now?

    I'm not really sure. I have three options.
    1. Continue playing DoNs on a different site.
    2. Continue the challenge playing PokerStars' new Fifty50 tournaments.
    3. Just stop the challenge and move on to different things.
    Option 3 is appealing as DoNs have taken up a lot of my poker time and I've wanted to play more cash games and MTTs.

    Option 1 is a possibility but I'm going to try the Fifty50's and see how it goes. So far I've been doing really well in the 100 or so I've played. Much better than I've been doing in DoNs lately too so we'll see. I haven't played enough games to know for sure and once people get more familiar with the format games will likely get tougher. I'm also running WAYYY over EV so far.

    Other Sites That Offer Double Or Nothing SnGs

    If you're looking to keep playing Double or Nothing SnGs I've done some digging and found these poker sites that offer DoNs. Use the link and follow the instructions to get rakeback.

    SiteAllows USRakeback Bonus
    Cake Poker Yes33% 110% up to $600
    Minted PokerYes40%100% up to $400
    Carbon PokerYes35%100% up to $600
    Players OnlyYes35%100% up to $650
    PokerHeavenNo30%200% up to 1000 EUR
    PKRNo30%100% up to $800
    NoiQ PokerNo30%100% up to 500 EUR

    From what I've read traffic doesn't seem to be as good as on PokerStars so setting up accounts with different sites will be a good idea to be able to keep up the same volume you're probably used to. That's not necessarily a bad thing as you'll also be getting the sign up bonuses for the new sites if you use the links above as well as rakeback.

    If you've used a program like TableNinja, that won't work on these sites though there might be other options using AutoHotKey scripts.

    Greece To Get A Player On PokerStars Team Pro

    I seem to be running into more and more Greek poker players on PokerStars lately. This thread on 2+2 might partly explain why. It seems that there's a new category of player when you use the Find a Team PokerStars Player feature, 'Challenger'.

    There are three players with this title, Alexis 'J0hnny_Dr@m@' Zervos , George 'gkap13' Kapalas and Stavros 'IDOLLS' Kalfas. All three players are from Greece.

    According to Zervos' reply in the thread:
    this is a new concept by pokerstars in order to determine which player from greece can make team pro we have all been offered a sponsorship and according to the results in 2011 best performer will be awarded team pro status...
    So it seems one of the three Greek poker pros will be chosen to become a member of PokerStars Team Pro. The details haven't been made public but it seems they will be counting online as well as live results and more. I'm guessing that we'll see blog updates or a web page tracking their progress soon.

    In 2010 all three did well in PokerStars tournaments. Here were their results.


    PokerStars has also started the Greek Poker Cup, 'the first-ever major poker tournament on Greek soil'.The event will be held at the Club Hotel Casino Loutraki, the largest casino in Greece.

    Seems like this was a good market to target based on what I've seen so far. If you're Greek and you haven't created a PokerStars account yet click here to join the fun!

    Ding Dong The DoNs Are Dead!

    PokerStars announced this morning that they will be getting rid of the Double or Nothing Sit n Gos on February 15, 2011.
    PokerStars will no longer offer Double of Nothing Sit & Go Tournaments as of February 15th, 2011.

    This is not a decision that was made easily as these tournaments have proven to be quite popular with players. However, after thorough evaluation, PokerStars has decided that the format needed improvement.

    Newly introduced ‘Fifty50’ Sit & Go tournaments have been deployed to provide an alternative for players who have previously played the Double or Nothings. Fifty50s have many of the same attributes that attracted players to Double or Nothing tournaments:

    • Half of the players who enter the tournament receive a payout
    • The tournament ends when half of the players remain
    • There is no shorthanded play
    • They end quickly
    • They have low rake

    Fifty50s differ from Double or Nothings in their payout structure. Only half of the prize pool is distributed evenly amongst the top half of finishers. The other half is distributed based on chip count, with each chip having an equal value.

    This difference means that players always have some incentive to care about the size of their chip stack, whereas in Double or Nothings this was not always the case. This added element makes the Fifty50s a more skilful and, to many, more interesting format.

    The value of each chip in Fifty50s also makes situations where some players may softplay each other less attractive than in Double or Nothings. Some forms of poker invite this sort of implicit collusion more than others, as the rewards are greater and costs are smaller for making such plays. The Fifty50 format is an improvement over the Double or Nothing format in this regard as there is always a cost for a player to make a decision that doesn’t maximize the size of their own chip stack.

    While it is understood that many players may miss the old Double or Nothing format, improvements and changes to game formats are necessary from time to time. While the loss of a familiar game format can be frustrating or annoying initially, PokerStars is confident that Fifty50s will prove to be a superior tournament format.

    The rake structure is different for Fifty50s than for DoNs. It’s somewhat higher for Turbo Fifty50s than it was for Turbo DoNs at most stakes, but is lower at the $1 level. The rake for normal speed Fifty50s is significantly lower than it was for normal speed DoNs. The Double or Nothings offered rake that was in most cases twice as much for normal speed tournaments than for turbo tournaments. The Fifty50 rake is more in line with other PokerStars Sit & Go tournaments.

    PokerStars is currently evaluating all Sit & Go offerings, including rake. The stakes offered and rake for Fifty50s are in line with the changes planned for all Sit & Go Tournaments on PokerStars in the coming months.

    If players compare Fifty50 rake on PokerStars to the industry standard for similar Sit & Go tournaments, they will find that the comparison isn’t close; the PokerStars’ rake is much lower.
    I'm not very happy about this news since I've been getting very into my Double or Nothing SnG Challenge. I've played a few of the new Fifty50 SnGs and I'm not too confident they will be a good replacement in terms of profitability. Especially in the long run. I'm not sure yet what this is going to mean for my DoN SnG Challenge.

    There was a lot of speculation on the forums that the Fifty50's were going to replace DoNs because there had been so much cheating at the DoNs, especially with the big Chinese DoN cheating ring.

    Based in part on the wording in the announcement as well as some other things I've read my guess is it's not so much the cheating as was the false reports of cheating.

    PokerStars thoroughly investigates all reports of cheating. Because of some of the strategy involved in the Double or Nothing format some things may look like cheating, such as implicit collusion where two or more players may call a short stack's all-in on the bubble and check it down to try and knock them out.

    Even though a lot of rake was generated by these games the time it took up for the fraud team must not have been worth it? At least that's my guess.

    I'm really bummed out about it because I thought I'd have a real shot of making Supernova this year because of the amount of DoNs I play for my challenge. I wish they could have at least waited until the end of the month before killing these games since February is already a short month and I'm not sure if I'll be able to meet my VPP goal.

    Daniel Negreanu Gearing Up For The Superstar Showdown vs Isildur1

    Daniel 'KidPoker' Negreanu, known mainly as a live tournament pro, has been tearing it up online for the past year or so on PokerStars. Playing in the big tournaments, big NLHE cash games, micro stakes full ring NLHE, $5,500 heads up Sit & Gos and lately 4 tabling heads up $5/$10 no limit hold'em.

    He's been posting on the 2+2 forums looking for opponents willing to play 2,500 hands heads up against him across 4 tables.

    It can't be a coincidence that the Superstar Showdown against Viktor 'Isildur1' Blom consists of 4 tabling HU over 2,500 hands.
    Hardly a secret, I'm a fan of Viktor "Isildur1" Blom and watching him play the SuperStar Showdown on PokerStars on Sundays has inspired me to see if I can get to the point where I feel like I could be a worthy challenger for him.
    Blom made a big splash in the online poker world last year when he fearlessly took on some of the best poker players in the world running up millions of dollars in winnings but eventually losing it all but has come back in action as a PokerStars Pro.

    While Negreanu hasn't confirmed he's going to take on Blom he did say he's testing his metal to see if he can mentally and physically keep up with a game which at around 400 hands per hours is far far away from the 1 table, 30 hands per hour face to face battles that he's played for most of his poker career.

    Online play can be tougher but has some obvious perks. Like being able to play in your bathrobe. :) 

    He recently posted his heads up results on his blog and I've added in some recent matches.

    Opponent# HandsProfit
    ZeeJustin *2,494$16,277.75REPLAY
    Bonomo's numbers are a little off.

    For years now forum posters, especially on 2+2, have been ragging on Negreanu's poker skills, especially after his losses on GSN's High Stakes Poker. A number of posters thought he wouldn't even be able to beat the $10/$20 NLHE online. Negreanu jumped in to defend himself and at the end a challenge was proposed where he would play 2+2 poster 2eazy (bmwmcoupe on PokerStars) in a series of heads up matches at $25/$50 NLHE. After 5,000 hands bmwmcoupe walked away with around $30,000 of Negreanu's money.

    Winning 1/3rd of his previous losses back from bmwmcoupe in 1/2 the hands at 1/5th the stakes must have felt pretty good.

    Before the 2009 match Negreanu posted response on 2+2 and on his forum.
    What a lot of these guys don't get is that while playing 2-3 tables seems really easy to them, they grew up learning how to play poker that way and are comfortable splitting their focus between several games. I honestly have enough trouble focusing on ONE game online and picking up betting patterns, etc. that playing two or three games is very, very confusing to me and I can't keep up with the action. I get that all the kids multi-table, but I grew up playing poker a very different way.

    When I grew up playing poker there was always a ton of information available on a player, not only before I sat down, but in between hands watching them eat (sounds weird but it's info!), hearing them talk, finding out more about them. The game was much slower obviously, so after playing only 30 hands I had so much more information on my opponents than I would if I played 30 hands online. Adding more tables online only makes it that much harder for me.

    Many of them clearly underestimate how difficult it can be for a guy who's played live all of his life to get used to the idea that he is looking at little pictures instead of people and pressing buttons instead of using poker chips. My most valuable skill set is unavailable to me online and I'm not going to compound that problem by further confusing myself with even more little pictures and more buttons.
    Negreanu also felt that if he put in the time and effort he could become a real contender on the virtual felt. After nearly 2 years of hard work his results seem to prove his statement true.

    Coming up he worked hard at playing as well as promoting himself and the game. Constantly posting on the Internet and publishing articles in print media. His hard work has turned into enough success both as a player as well as a poker celebrity where he could continue to live a very good life without putting the effort he is in online poker. Between his tournaments, PokerVT, interviews, appearances, tv, movies, music videos and living his life, his schedule seems pretty packed which makes his dedication admirable. His renewed enthusiasm for the game is contagious and I've found myself playing more as a result.

    Bonomo, bmwcoupe (and I believe FMyLife if I remember correctly) all had praise for Negreanu at the end of their matches commenting that he was a tough opponent.

    Not too long ago players were lining up to get a piece of him and now a couple of the contenders quit him well before the 2,500 hand mark. Of the 3 players that did play all 2,500 hands only one profited against Negreanu, the other two lost more than 10 buy-ins.

    Negreanu felt his toughest opponent so far was Randy 'Nanonoko' Lew, the first player to play the full 2,500 hands. He had this to say about the 24 tabling NLHE beast in his blog:
    Playing against Nananoko was the best training I could ask for. He was five times faster than any other opponent I faced which forced me to not only time out a few times, but also led to a few misclicks. It's all part of the learning process, and I'm a big believer in going all out against the fastest competition I can find, because then when I play others, the pace will seem comfortable.

    It's no different than a baseball player swinging five bats before he goes up to the plate, or a golfer taking some practice swings with a heavy club.

    Nanonoko was also twice as aggressive pre-flop as anyone else I'd faced, 3 betting me 29% of the time, while my other opponents generally hovered around 15%.
    The tide turned both ways during the match and Negreanu was up over 7 buy-ins at one point but Nanonoko fought back to grind out a small win.

    In the matches I've seen, Negreanu has been playing very aggressively both pre and post flop especially in position. I didn't analyze the hands against others but versus bmwmcoupe Negreanu was a lot more aggressive than him preflop and even more so post flop. 2eazy played very passively, especially out of position. The last half of the match he was barely even c-betting the flop in position. Might have been disheartened after having lost so much already.

    When Will Negreanu Take On Isildur1?

    He hasn't said for sure but it's only a matter of time. My guess is it will be some time before the end of the year. If his momentum keeps up my guess is he might take on the challenge in the next couple of months.

    Negreanu has been doing well 4 tabling NLHE HU so far but Blom is a different kind of heads up player that's very aggressive and has the balls to play 8 tables against Phil Ivey, Patrick Antonius and Tom 'Durrrr' Dwan all at the same time.

    Playing against Nanonoko a few more times as well as other players that are willing to 3, 4 and 5 bet wider pre-flop and play more aggressively on the river, willing to check-raise shove anywhere from thin to the nuts and even total air, might be good practice.

    Maybe players like Phil Galfond or Daniel Cates will be willing to drop down in stakes to help Negreanu get ready?

    At this point I can't imagine him not taking part in the Superstar Showdown, it's just a matter of time. When it does happen it's going to be worth watching.

    Do you think Negreanu will have the stones to take on Isildur1 and if he does will he have a chance or just get eaten alive by the Swede?