Saturday, 7 April 2012

IOM Trip / Zoom

Another long interval between posts... I need to start updating more often again.

Edit: The lack of photos that I took is really an injustice to how nice the island is so I took some pictures to add in when I got home (from Google street view).


I returned from the Isle of Man meetings with Stars several weeks ago at their headquarters. Thanks to everyone who gave me their messages of support and ideas, it was very much appreciated. It was a really long flight there for me and flying ~14 out of 20 hours was pushing the limit. I basically didn't sleep at all on the way there and was feeling the vertigo, but American played a decent selection of movies and TV from NBC which kept me entertained.

After a day of recovery and meeting up with the other invitees, we had two brain storming sessions on subsequent days in mid March with Stars staff. I obviously can't say a lot compared to what the January elected reps were able to report back as their meeting suggestions were implemented immediately and public knowledge, while the March meetings were pretty much all regarding future considerations.

Here is the list of what was discussed. I'm not going to go into detail on anything:

  • PokerStars Financials
  • VIP History
  • Game Security
  • Software
  • Impact of WC Change
  • VIP Program
  • High Stakes Issues
  • Micro-Rake
So I can't really offer much else up besides my opinion. I found the meetings really productive from a problem solving and site improving perspective. I'm cautiously optimistic that things are going to improve given that Stars follows through of course.

There is still the odd concern out there that I would like to address that reps/invitees are just in it for their own personal gain. Logically I think that's actually impossible to accomplish even if it is their goal since there are always more than a handful of extremely intelligent players and staff around the table that are more than capable of picking any of those self serving interests apart.

Our schedule was pretty full so there was pretty much zero time for any sight seeing. I managed a half hour walk attempting to go around the block early one morning. That plan does not really work when you keep spiraling up around a hill. I also managed to run around 5 minutes prior to my taxi showing up to take me back to the airport trying to snap some poor quality, non-post worthy pre-dawn photos.

We didn't have any pizza, but the "chips" in the hotel bar were excellent! We also happened to have a few minutes left on our lunch break in the meeting room when real money Zoom was launched on .com. One of the other players grabbed the laptop hooked up to the projector to try it out while I loaded up my laptop. Despite my ability to super use him via projector screen, 4 tables of $0.01/$0.02 PLO was too much for me to handle on a tiny screen to even realize he was at my tables and bluff raising me off a number of pots, much to the amusement of everyone else watching the projector.

Edit: Here's a few pictures I've taken from the internet and google street view. They are basically the pictures I would have taken had I had a spare minute =)

Recovering from the flight, playing poker on the balcony

Out for chips and beer at the hotel on arrival the night before meetings begin.
Out for dinner with players and Stars reps and management at JAR - 2nd night

King Edward Road - Sefton Hotel
Out for a walk early morning
Driving up to Stars HQ
A view of Douglas Bay

I had a great time though interacting with the other players and the staff and would recommend that if you have the opportunity, you should go. The ability to actively discuss issues and ideas is orders of magnitudes greater than forum or email interaction.


The main reason for my lack of posts lately has been a direct result of Zoom, which I've played exclusively since they released it. Along with my new G13 which was super easy to program with Table Ninja, I've been playing some monster sessions that feel like nothing.

I got an email response earlier this from Stars that my January VPP reduction due to WC was 19%. I got a follow up email last week saying 15% of players had been calculated wrong and my actual reduction was only 12%. I am a bit on the laggier side.

However with Zoom, I seem to be a lot more laggy given that I'm only playing 4 tables and can concentrate so much better on postflop hand reading and identifying +EV situations. I'm actually seeing significant VPP rate increases over 2011 rates at all stakes I've played (25NL-200NL). I've also been running really hot and playing fairly well and am currently maintaining a whopping 12-14 bb/100 at 100NL Full Ring over a growing sample. I've also had a good amount of similar uccess at 200NL over a smaller sample, but I had a bit of a 16% W$SD implosion yesterday which wiped out nearly all of my profits from that stake for the month.

I think this is exactly what I needed. For the longest time I've wanted to cut tables to improve and focus more but I just can't bring myself to give up the volume. This lets me keep the volume and cut tables. I've considered trying to 6 table it, but right now I'm thinking why mess with something going so well?

The other great thing about Zoom is the complete lack of startup, sitout and shutdown times. If you're a mass tabler, with the state of the waiting lists in the lobby it's going to take you upwards of a half hour to get 12-24 tables going, and probably longer yet the higher you play. Which means you can't really take a break either once you're in full swing. It's also going to take you a considerable amount of time to shut down while waiting for hands to play out to finish your orbits. Plus you're always going to have that one troll table where someone sits out ahead of you giving you the privelege of playing a discounted orbit at the expense of your agitated wife wondering where you're staying 30 minutes after she told you dinner would be ready in 15 minutes. The discount is all fine and good if you're happy with slashing your hourly rate and don't have anything better to do than not give up that dollar in EV to go do something else. I would literally rather volunteer 3 hours a month at McDonalds if I could get back those 10 extra minutes every session.

With Zoom, you are instantly dealt in to all your tables the moment you join the pool. If you want to take a break you have a reasonable amount of time where you can sit out and come right back where you left off. And shutting down your sessions is as simple as fast-folding your hands to the big blind. This takes a matter of minutes depending on how many playable hands come up.

So with all of this time removed, it makes mini-sessions extremely easy to put in. Instead of playing mindless games on my phone to waste 10 or 15 minutes before leaving the house for something, I can fire up Zoom, put in 50 VPPs and 200 hands. If I did this on average every day with a very modest winrate, it would come out to an extra $1k FPP value and $1.5k winnings on the year and a significant boost towards my next milestone.

With all that combined now, I've gone from a 65k VPP reduced Supernova maintenance goal to a 200k VPP goal. I could potentially go for 300k but it's going to require a significant amount more work so we'll have to see what kind of volume I can put in over summer before deciding. Right now I need a 650 VPP pace for 200k and a 1025 VPP pace for 300k.

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