Winning Poker Players: Friends or Foes?

One of the main goals of this blog is to provide a CRM perspective on any major related event that has an industry-wide interest. The recent revision of the Bodog’s Poker Room is a perfect match to this definition, and as such, we have asked Scott Yeates to provide his view on this move:

A few sites that offer poker have declared war on winning players. By war I mean that they are taking away some of the tools good players use to have an edge on recreational players. Bodog announced that all their tables will be anonymous tables going forward. Instead of having BigEd, LargeMarge and DumbThomas playing their tables, they will have Player 1, Player 2 and Player 3. Bodog Poker’s decision blocks all data mining software from working on their site.

“Half of my advertising budget is wasted but I don’t know which half” – Henry Ford

Poker sites have the same issue Henry Ford did in regards to winning players. Some winning players are good for the site while other winning players are bad for the site. Winning poker players add liquidity which is good for a poker site. The players the sites are most concerned about are the cheaters.

Winning players that cheat are huge problem for all poker sites. Cheating comes in many forms: a couple examples include bots and collusion. Online poker bots automatically read the recommended action and perform the suggested action for you without the need of any interaction on your part. A single poker table can have multiple bots working together sharing their hole cards. The more information the bot software has the better it is for the bots to make the correct decision in each hand. Collusion is when two or more players work together to the determent of the other players. Where do bots play? The simple answer is everywhere simply strategy can be made to win the game. Bots have been profitable playing games as diverse as $25-$50 Pot-Limit Omaha.

Sites that offer Poker have the same problem Henry Ford had: which half is the good half? Labor for security to figure out the answer to this question can be very expensive. By making Bodog’s poker tables anonymous Bodog has given up on the goal of catching cheaters. The problem is that by doing so they have also taken away the ability for the players of catching cheating counterparts. This is true unless Bodog plans to just ban all future winners. Many other sites have introduced anonymous tables but Bodog is the first to change every table. How big would Ford be today if Henry decided not to spend any money on marketing? Not sure, but we will see how it works for Bodog in the near future.

— PLEASE NOTE: the follow-up article of our XMAS Promothon Analysis Review will go live on TUE, December 20th. Behave yourselves.

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5 Responses to Winning Poker Players: Friends or Foes?

  1. Nigel Blower says:

    Whilst Bodog’s move is a drastic one, until the large rooms offer the same tools (as standard) to all their customers, this is the way it has to be. What sort of a customer experience is it when as a new customer, you are unaware of the significant tools your more experienced opponents have at their disposal.

  2. Scott Yeates says:

    Thank you for the comment, if they are unaware, how does it change their experience?

    • Nigel Blower says:

      The advantage that the tools give the pros over the fish, means that the fish’s initial experience is likely to be a losing one, and the faster the initial deposit goes, the less likely they are to re-deposit, which is contrary to the objective of creating regular depositors.

  3. Alex Tanner says:

    Looks like another move by a poker room that fails to address the real problem. In this case, Bodog appear to be making the game ‘fairer’ by making players anonymous and banning tracking software. Why would you do that? To level the playing field.

    As you rightly point out Scott, it also means Bodog washes its hands from catching cheats.

    But the real question is not “how do we level the playing field?” but “why is the playing field unlevel in the first place?”

    The reason is that for many poker rooms, poker has become a profession as well as a game. As soon as you get professionals – ie the ‘grinders’ who multitable for hours a day to earn a living – playing against casual players, there is a problem

    The second problem is the way the poker economy works. Poker companies generate revenue from rake, but they REALLY generate revenue from DEPOSITING PLAYERS. And players that deposit, and bring fresh money into the poker economy, are generally losing players.

    The answer is to accept that the playing audiences are different and cater for them accordingly. Charge your pros rake – and don’t give it back to them. Let your casual players play on tables with no rake, but where they receive advertising.

    Casual poker can be a profitable operation – Zynga has proved this. Poker operators need to think out of the box.

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