The Transparency Project

Once again I have to give kudos to a company that gets it.  Harvard University partnered up with bwin to track and study the root causes of online addiction to discover ways to prevent problem gambling.  For those of us familiar with the bright side of poker but more importantly the dark side of the game it’s a refreshing stance to be taken by an online poker site. 

Invariably, there were some critics who thought something smelled funny in a private study funded by an online gaming company.  To prove their motives were altruistic bwin and Harvard have tried to make their data open and available to other scientists.  In an effort to advance the empirical evidence and knowledge base of addictions, bwin will make available actual Internet gaming activity records.  Bwin seeks to accelerate their understanding of problem gaming and institute mechanisms to detect it early.

I made this comparison before but this is night and day from the studies done by cigarette companies in the 50s and 60s.  Then they used the studies to figure out how to addict people and did it in their own closed offices in military like top secret fashion.  Now, this study is being done out in the open, in partnership with Harvard, and it’s to prevent harmful habits rather than accelerate them.

I thought the cigarette companies were idiots from the beginning.  Their science shouldn’t have been researching how to addict their customers, it always should have been figuring out a way to make their product non-harmful.   Forty years of research may have discovered a cigarette that doesn’t inflict cancer, a filter that delivers the nicotine without the carcinogens, or any number of advances. 

However, I must be clear, I compare gaming to cigarettes only to reveal how different they are from one another.  Certain people struggle with gambling addictions but the vast majority of players can enjoy it responsibly at an even keel.  This study seeks to help and prevent the few that struggle with their compulsions from getting addicted and to foster a healthy gambling relationship with those that don’t struggle with it.

For those of us that play online poker, that have a conscience, efforts like this might relieve some of the survivor-guilt.  I personally don’t want to play somebody that can’t afford to lose what he’s gambling.  There is the saying a fool and his money are soon parted, so if not by me someone else will do it, BUT if the opponent has a problem that he can’t control I’d rather play someone else.  The fact that these players play poker online beyond their control still does not sit right with me.  Online poker should be about fun, making money off people that can afford to lose it, and wagering folks that are wagering for the right reasons.

It’s refreshing to see an online poker site that agrees with me.  Live casinos will boot a player that is so drunk he doesn’t know what he’s doing.  Some are winning but most are losing.  In the long run that’s a good policy.  In the short run the player may complain.  They also track problem gamblers and try to help them out.  Bwin doing the same is a great thing.  I love to scoop pots, I love to play bad players, but I don’t like to take from somebody that is playing  afford to give it.  Such a weird dichotomy for us poker players. 

On February 16th, Professor Howard J. Shaffer, Director, Divisons of Addictions, will participate in a discussion in Burssels hosted by the European Gaming and betting Association.    For more invormation visit  http://www.thetransparencyproject.org.

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Trip to Porto

2009 promises to be a fun year. I only now became aware of an awesome opportunity for poker players that like to combine poker, travel and sports. Who doesn’t, right? Well, I know some of my peers like to travel to the Bahamas to play poker online all day. That’s fun. Get a wireless connection and stay in your room. At least maid and room service can convince you it’s no different than home.  Who cares if there is an island outside to explore.  And who needs sunlight, right?

For players that like to venture outside of their hotel rooms, bwin is debuting their new promotion the ”Magic Moment of Poker” 2009 that will offer players different opportunities to travel around Europe. Winners of online poker tournaments will get a prize package that will include a visit to a city in Europe, a sporting event, and a seat at a televised poker table. Not too shabby.

The first stop in this tour is a visit to Porto, Portugal. After taking in the sites of the Coastal city, the winners will get tickets to a game between two of the most illustrious soccer (er.. football) clubs in the country. The match takes place at Estadio do Dragao March 1st.

Touted as VIP accommodations, and surely a helping of old world charm, the stay should be just as fun as the poker. Bwin takes care of hotel, airfare, and meals. The entry into the tournament with a chance to win a seat in next November’s Vienna final will be the capper of the visit.

The trip gives travelers four days to see the sights, take in the game, and play some poker. The big three in Portugese soccer are Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica, and even casual fans will enjoy the chance to see two of them engage in a 90 minute drama while sitting in the beautiful 52000 seat stadium. The rivalry over the years is so close that Sporting Lisbon only holds a three game advantage in the win column.

After the game, the winners will then head to their televised match up. Seems like a pipe-dream huh? Actually, bwin Poker is offering a series of online satellites to get there. Play online poker for some low stakes and you could be there.  The first step costs but $6. Even better bwin is offering $50 to the pirze pools of each tournament.

These are the days to play in the satellites:
Thursday January 15
Sunday January 18
Monday January 19
Wednesday January 21
Thursday January 22
Sunday January 25
Monday January 26
Wednesday January 28
Thursday January 29
Sunday February 1

The final will feature:
1st – Soccer package to Portugal valued at €3,150
2nd – $200 cash
3rd – $100 cash “

Good luck to anybody playing. And have fun in Portugal. I had a friend stay there, 10 years ago, for essentially a Worlds Fair, though I think its called something else like World Showcase, and he raved about it and the people.

Alpine Cup Finalists

According to bwin’s poker blog (http://www.bwinpokerblog.com/ ) focusing on online poker tournaments, bwin’s top three finishers in their December 27th Alpine Cup texas holdem finals are kingmemo36, Hydro8, and Don Cool. They, as the latest members of bwin, can claim their $8,000 online poker prize package and get a ski/snowboarding weekend fit for poker royalty. PokerNews teamed up with bwin to reward these guys with a package at the PokerNews Cup Austria.

The PokerNews Cup Austria is held at Salzburg’s Concord Card Casino. The winners that make up Team bwin have won accommodations in the posh Alpine Palace nestled in the awe-inspiring Austrian Alps. The bwin Team is in for a luxury trip combining first class poker with winter fun. How to qualify now! The qualifiers run from now to early Febuary.

Here is what the $8,000 PokerNews Cup Premium Package includes;
• 7 nights luxury accommodation at the 5 star Alpine Palace
• Buy-in to the PokerNews Cup Main Event and 1 side event
• Flights and spending money
• Ski pass for the duration of your stay
• VIP shuttle from Salzburg to Alpine Palace with return by helicopter
• The VIP treatment including a spa treatment and invite to the VIP Welcome Party

Kingmemo36, Hydro8, and Don Cool join previous winners mazlumb2, liverpool170, and mr.Schne for a fun-filled weekend. The action was fast and furious and it took a bad beat for the winners to get their prize money as badblatt61, the bubble boy, got it all in with pocket Queens only to have the dominated pocket 10s of Kingmemo36 set up on the flop. The set held and badblatt61 was bad beated and sent home. He got a final ticket and $241 in cash for 4th. The top three are jet-setting though.

Kingmemo36 ran well with pocket 10s as he also knocked out the fifth place finisher, Playboy Royal, with them too. Playboy had 8s and hit his set on the flop, but Kingmemo36 also hit his set and Playboy, who was the chipleader at the beginning of 5 handed play was drawing thin and then sent to the rail.

The Aussie Millions Winners

Unfortunately I did not advance deep  to the finals stages of the Aussie Millions to win the $18,000 play texas hold’em prize package offered on PokerRoom ( http://www.pokerroom.com/promos/right-now/aussie-millions-how-to.html).  However, I must send out my congratulations to those that did including ChipLieder85, AmazingRiver, and CorpseGR.

Can’t beat the systems or the variety of means to get there. ..  

You can start in the Lucky Dollar level, where $1.00 + $0.10 gets you a chance to advance to the next level playing Texas Holdem online, $15 +$1.50, and from there $69 +$6.  Win a seat there and it gets you into the equivalent of a $500 +$40 buy-in.  Remember how Chris Moneymaker won big at the WSOP, same principle to get there.  Shannon Shorr of the Gulf Coast started his career with qualifiers to the Aussie Millions and then crushed the field once he got there. 

You could also have won the Big Bounty event which paid the top two places with the $18,000 packages and give you the opportunity to win $100 for each Team PokerRoom member you knocked out.  Then there was the Mobile Millions online texas hold’em poker challenge (http://www.pokerroom.com/promos/right-now/aussie-millions-mobile.html), and coming soon the Leaderboard Challenge and the Sit ‘n Go Jackpot.  All great wins to win the prize package.  There is another qualifier starting tonight. 

I hope to play tonight.  I have had a good streak going on this site and think I can advance past the early levels.  I’ve seen how hard Will Souther is working on a similar structure and I know it’s a challenge.  But it’s a fun one.   Pretty soon, I hope to be reporting from Melbourne.  Just as long as my big cards hold and my little ones improve.

Congrats to the Aussie Millions Poker Prize Package Winners

The Poker Room (http://www.pokerroom.com) has out done itself with qualifiers to the Main Event of the Aussie Millions (http://www.pokerroom.com/promos/right-now/aussie-millions/). You can play online texas holdem all the way to Melbourne. Their poker prize package now includes: $10,500 (Australia) buy-in to the Texas Hold ‘Em Main Event, $2,200 buy-in (AUS) to a six handed event, 11 nights at the posh Crown Victoria hotel ($4,000 U.S), and $3,000 (U.S.) expense money.

They have a few different ways to play poker to get there. Unfortunately, I have yet to advance deep in the Lucky Dollar online poker play qualifiers. With them basically you can get in cheap to the first level of satellites by playing a $1.10 qualifer and go up a ladder of events ($15 +$1.50, $69 +$6, $500 +$40). This is the type of way Chris Moneymaker qualified for the WSOP Main Event. One day he decided to play poker online in a small qualifer and kept advancing until he won his seat. The rest they say is history. I also read that Shannon Shorr started his texas holdem career at the Aussie Millions by progressing up a ladder of qualifiers. Once in Melbourne he crushed the the texas hold’em tournament.

I like Poker Room because they have 4 or 5 different ways to get to the main events of global poker tournaments. For the Aussie Millions, they also had the Mobile Millions (you can play mobile poker), a Bounty Tournament, and coming soon a sit ‘n go challenge and a leaderboard challenge.

 There is another tournament tonight which I might take a shot at.

Hopefully, you’ll read a blog post from me in Melbourne sipping a frothy beer if I do advance.