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Old 12-14-2010, 05:14 AM   #1
genjix
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Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

Hey,

Everyday 200k play on PokerStars. After the day's end, PokerStars has netted a nice $1.34 million. They give themselves a nice pat on the back while the players have been exploited. Running a Poker site is not a high-cost expense.

Rake distorts the games. Without rake, a losing player might be breakeven, a breakeven player a solid winner and a winner is a MASSIVE winner. People move up faster leading to more fish at higher stakes benefiting the whole Poker economy.

Even with the huge sums taken out of the games by the sites, they still offer shoddy service in return. PokerStars gives you a couple of TV tournaments and a piecemeal updates to their software. Cake Poker gives you atrociously bad security; any programmer can tell you how easy it is to secure your software using programming that is free on the net.

We're proposing a community run Poker room. The software will be completely free/open so anyone can inspect it to make improvements. Because eyes of the whole Poker community will be fixed on it, flaws & security problems very quickly disappear. And if you wish to make your own Poker room then you can! As the server code is also free & open.

We've been working on this rake-free Poker room. For those interested there is an online meeting between Poker players at 22:00 GMT (5PM EST) on Thursday Dec 16th in #pokerface on Freenode. For anyone not familiar with IRC you can join the chatroom here:
http://pastecoin.com/cgi-bin/irc.cgi

If you're interested in this project but won't be able to make the meeting, don't worry about it. The meeting will be logged and posted on the wiki. Even if you're not a developer we need regular poker players to tell us what they want so please attend and voice your thoughts.

See you there!

--- some screenshots of our work so far ----

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Old 12-14-2010, 05:21 AM   #2
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

btw we are not some corporation... Just Poker players wanting to make things better. By giving away the software we hope for a true competitive environment with lots of Poker rooms offering competing sites, and driving down the rake.
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Old 12-14-2010, 05:28 AM   #3
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

How would cashouts and deposits work? Would you allow US players? I mean, obviously you need some money to run a site worth playing on.
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:07 AM   #4
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

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How would cashouts and deposits work? Would you allow US players? I mean, obviously you need some money to run a site worth playing on.
Yes to both questions. Anyone worldwide can play- Americans, Italians, French, ... We will explain this fully at the meeting but the way it works is:

We're using a form of distributed cryptocurrency called Bitcoin. This makes the law totally ineffective as you're not playing with real money but with 'bitcoins'. And you're not gambling either.

It's similar to the situation with Pachinko balls in Japan. Because gambling establishments cannot exist and they're not allowed to exchange money at gaming houses, they sell these balls outside and then you go inside and gamble with this form of 'currency'.

For depositing you would just use one of the many growing exchangers for putting PokerStars $, US$, €, , ... into -> BTC. Then you'll play with BTC and when you request a withdrawal (which is instantaneous), it goes back into your account as BTC which you must then exchange back into $ or whatever.

We're not exchanging the Bitcoins (that's done by third parties like MtGox or others) so we're not breaking any laws. Since the software is being run by the community it's non-profit. Lastly since anyone can setup a Poker room (as the software is free & opensource), anyone can just recreate a new room to replace a site if it gets shut down.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

However if YOU want to make a real-money gaming site... Then our software is there and you just need to hook it up with whatever payment processing system you want to use.
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:18 AM   #5
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

Sounds legit lol , so we gambool with chocolate coins and gummy bears ? I'm arrrr in lol
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:25 AM   #6
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

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Sounds legit lol , so we gambool with chocolate coins and gummy bears ? I'm arrrr in lol
chocolate coins?
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:27 AM   #7
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

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Originally Posted by genjix View Post
For depositing you would just use one of the many growing exchangers for putting PokerStars $, US$, , , ... into -> BTC. Then you'll play with BTC and when you request a withdrawal (which is instantaneous), it goes back into your account as BTC which you must then exchange back into $ or whatever.
That's an interesting idea; however if you hope to compete with any sort of serious traffic - as suggested in your opening line - you will need to realise two things;

(a) The above process is not straightforward, and will put off many many recreational players who want to just pull out the credit card.

(b) Once any sort of volume is achieved then the buys selling BTC will be treated as gambling payment processors. This type of thing has been tried before. Anyone who accepts credit cards for the sale of BTC's is at risk. Anyone who writes a cheque to a players bank account in return for BTCs is at risk. You fail to grasp that it is not about finding a loophole around the letter of the law. "We don't sell gambling money, just BTCs!" will not wash.
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:27 AM   #8
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

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Originally Posted by Leroy_Jenkins45 View Post
Sounds legit lol , so we gambool with chocolate coins and gummy bears ? I'm arrrr in lol
As I said, if you don't like it then our software is still there and anyone can make a Poker room as long as they hook it up to a payment processor. We just don't do this to avoid legal repercussions/headaches.

The bitcoin economy is worth $1 mil making it the most successful virtual currency to date. I don't mean to sound like a promoter, but your criticism of bitcoins is unfounded.
$1 = 4.65 BTC

Traders are actively using bitcoin currency right now, so it's proving itself. It's not unreasonable to use them for an online Poker room.
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:31 AM   #9
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

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Originally Posted by hepzebah View Post
Anyone who writes a cheque to a players bank account in return for BTCs is at risk. You fail to grasp that it is not about finding a loophole around the letter of the law. "We don't sell gambling money, just BTCs!" will not wash.
We don't sell BTCs. Third party traders do. If every single one in all countries get shut-down then you can exchange BTC with trusted members on forums for instance... Here's another site not using a trusted party to exchange the funds (it's just based on trust/ratings):

http://bitcoin-otc.com/vieworderbook.php

Processors that I know of (probably more and list will grow as time goes on):
https://www.bitcoingateway.com/
https://mtgox.com/ <- best service IMO
http://www.bitcoin2cc.com/
http://www.nanaimo-gold.com/
https://btcex.com/
https://www.bitcoin4cash.com/buy.php

Last edited by genjix; 12-14-2010 at 06:40 AM.
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:35 AM   #10
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

But you need some money to set this up.

Even if people contribute their time to write the software for free, you'll need servers, internet bandwidth and customer service people before you even start to think about recruiting players.

Edit: I've now read your wiki, which still doesn't talk sensibly about raising cash if you ask me.

Anyway, you've got another problem which is that many people (rightly or wrongly) just won't trust a community written site. There are plenty of people who suspect that Stars/FTP are rigged and many of the reasons why Stars/FTP wouldn't do this don't apply to you.

One of the arguments you are going to have to win is that all you coders would be quite capable of changing the RNG when you play (or having superuser accounts w/e), but deleting the code when you are not there.

To people with limited knowledge of these things that would appear pretty scary.

Last edited by bookish; 12-14-2010 at 06:45 AM. Reason: Further thoughts
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:40 AM   #11
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

May I ask why you chose to use python?
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:43 AM   #12
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bookish View Post
But you need some money to set this up.

Even if people contribute their time to write the software for free, you'll need servers, internet bandwidth and customer service people before you even start to think about recruiting players.
We have this. Don't worry about software development. Our greatest concerns are finding an admin to organise resources and alpha-testers (they are crucial and the lifeblood of any project).

Customer service can easily be done using forums. Just look at Ubuntu Forums- they have some of the best customer service I know of and it's all provided by the community.

Imagine that players will have an incentive to provide good customer service. And maybe forum posters that get the most karma (for making good posts) will receive some pay. These structures are organic and evolve by themselves in a project.

Quote:
May I ask why you chose to use python?
Rapid speed of development and excellent libraries (twisted, PySide, pokereval)

Last edited by genjix; 12-14-2010 at 06:53 AM.
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:56 AM   #13
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

Is this already launched? If so, how many players?


Another question. Have you talked to any lawyers about this?
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:03 AM   #14
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

very interesting indeed!
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:08 AM   #15
genjix
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

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Is this already launched? If so, how many players?
No. We are looking for testers and ideas people as we're writing software and it's working, but these points slow us down. We need to stress test this as I want this to be solid. I want security to be paramount if people are trusting their money with this site.

Quote:
Another question. Have you talked to any lawyers about this?
Although we wouldn't mind speaking to a lawyer, it's not a priority. The protocol is federated so servers can be hosted in many countries (shut one down and it continues running). I won't go into the technical details, but we have a system in place to make sure funds will always be secure in case of seizure (at worst we have a few hours in which to quickly secure the funds into an alternate account which takes ~10 mins).
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:18 AM   #16
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

I really like your idea, its been called for by the community for a while now, but nobody has stepped up. I think there are a lot of players who would invest in a idea like this if there are a group of people that will get it done.

But saying all that, I think that the easiest way for this to happen is for a investment group to buy a small existing network and go from there. Starting something from scratch is a very long process unless you throw ALOT of money at it.

Next point is, are you sure having a 100% rake free room is the best business model. To attract fish you need a well built platform and good advertising which all cost $$$$. No fish, no poker room

Last edited by Invertible; 12-14-2010 at 07:29 AM.
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:20 AM   #17
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As far as stress testing, send a poster by the name of wellju a PM. That's what he does for a living.

Not a priority to speak to a lawyer? With something like online poker, if one of your priorities isn't to make sure you're not going to get ****ed in the ass by some law, you're doing it wrong.

I'd like nothing more than to see this take off and become successful and a medium for players to make a lot of money, but the eternal pessimist in me says even if you do make it that far, you'll get ****ed in the ass by governments and it would all come crashing down.

Last edited by Mike Haven; 12-14-2010 at 07:25 AM. Reason: 2 posts merged
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:25 AM   #18
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

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Originally Posted by LirvA View Post
As far as stress testing, send a poster by the name of wellju a PM. That's what he does for a living.

Not a priority to speak to a lawyer? With something like online poker, if one of your priorities isn't to make sure you're not going to get ****ed in the ass by some law, you're doing it wrong.
Thanks for the tip about wellju. Also love your avatar

It's not a priority because we're a multi-headed medusa; cut off our head and more will replace it. Anyone can setup a Poker site leading to competition (free market ftw). Additionally Poker sites aren't connected to exchanges, and the protocol is able to federate itself across many countries.

That's why I'm emphasising that the software is free. Anyone can make improvements. Anyone can setup a rival site.

Technology wins.
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:25 AM   #19
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

The only way in which there can be winning players, solid winning players and massive winning players is for there to be losing players, solid losing players and massive losing players. There can only be more money moving up to higher stakes if there is plenty of it being lost at lower stakes.

The model of a "everyone is a winner" poker room doesn't work - since in order for money to be won it needs to be lost elsewhere. As such the main service rooms such as PokerStars provide (and the main reason we players need them) is not that they provide software but that they provide marketing and retention measures that make sure players are depositing new money on a regular basis.

That being said - how are you planning on fueling player winnings and attracting and retaining regular losing players that pump money into the system on a daily basis?

I see the bit-coin-currency system as a key detracting point for the recreational fish - just as the entire "community based programing" approach will quickly have the recreational constantly losing player thinking that everything is rigged against him. As brought forth by a previous user - the suspicion that certain groups programmed trojans, super-user accounts or rigged algorithms will be extremely high in an environment where many people have access to the code.
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:28 AM   #20
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

I have thought for a while that a distributed game protocol using bitcoin or some other e-cash for transactions would be just about impervious to government intervention. Also e-cash systems historically have failed, probably because there was almost no real-world use for them. It was never really advantageous compared to just using regular money because there's never been a killer app for micropayments. Well, MMO games and second life are starting to approximate e-cash systems, so maybe bitcoin will be the one that is successful. Also, the time is right for micropayments now with ubiquitous mobile apps (how many bitcoins for a smurfberry?)

It is not hard to buy bitcoin and it can be used more or less directly by an online poker site, so in event of continued DOJ pressure and no regulation bill, it may reach the point where it is easier to play on such a site than to play on an established site using traditional money. On the other hand, there is no real reason Stars, etc couldn't add a bitcoin deposit option. It is not really necessary for bitcoin and a community-based site to be coupled together.

The thing about bitcoin is that because of their cryptography, it is equivalent to cash. There's not a paper trail. The person or organization selling the bitcoins does not know what they will be used for, when or where and does not need to be involved in the eventual spending of the bitcoins. There are many legal uses for bitcoins, so it would be almost impossible for the DOJ or anyone else to argue they are a gambling transaction processor, any more than the guy that hands you your withdrawal at the bank is facilitating underground gambling if you happen to take the cash to the back room in Chang Long's restaurant.

Bitcoin is hardly the first e-cash system, but every successive e-cash system has been better than the last, IMO Bitcoin's biggest flaw is the built-in deflation; the biggest risk is that someone will crack the proof-of-work system.

My cyberpunk instincts tell me that, if not Bitcoin, then some sort of cryptography-based cash will eventually rival government-backed fiat currency, as no government can resist debasing their currency. Cryptocash is also at least moderately resistant to the ever-growing government intrusion into financial privacy.
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:28 AM   #21
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

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Originally Posted by CantFold2u View Post
As such the main service rooms such as PokerStars provide (and the main reason we players need them) is not that they provide software but that they provide marketing and retention measures that make sure players are depositing new money on a regular basis.
.

+1

You can sing this. Like 2+2 the community will be populated with regs not losers. The payment methods will be usable by regs not losers. The site will appear trustworthy to regs not losers.

So why will regs play there?
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:30 AM   #22
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

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Originally Posted by genjix View Post
Thanks for the tip about wellju. Also love your avatar

you're welcome and thanks


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Old 12-14-2010, 07:31 AM   #23
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

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Originally Posted by fluffysheap View Post
I have thought for a while that a distributed game protocol using bitcoin or some other e-cash for transactions would be just about impervious to government intervention. Also e-cash systems historically have failed, probably because there was almost no real-world use for them. It was never really advantageous compared to just using regular money because there's never been a killer app for micropayments. Well, MMO games and second life are starting to approximate e-cash systems, so maybe bitcoin will be the one that is successful. Also, the time is right for micropayments now with ubiquitous mobile apps (how many bitcoins for a smurfberry?)

It is not hard to buy bitcoin and it can be used more or less directly by an online poker site, so in event of continued DOJ pressure and no regulation bill, it may reach the point where it is easier to play on such a site than to play on an established site using traditional money. On the other hand, there is no real reason Stars, etc couldn't add a bitcoin deposit option. It is not really necessary for bitcoin and a community-based site to be coupled together.

The thing about bitcoin is that because of their cryptography, it is equivalent to cash. There's not a paper trail. The person or organization selling the bitcoins does not know what they will be used for, when or where and does not need to be involved in the eventual spending of the bitcoins. There are many legal uses for bitcoins, so it would be almost impossible for the DOJ or anyone else to argue they are a gambling transaction processor, any more than the guy that hands you your withdrawal at the bank is facilitating underground gambling if you happen to take the cash to the back room in Chang Long's restaurant.

Bitcoin is hardly the first e-cash system, but every successive e-cash system has been better than the last, IMO Bitcoin's biggest flaw is the built-in deflation; the biggest risk is that someone will crack the proof-of-work system.

My cyberpunk instincts tell me that, if not Bitcoin, then some sort of cryptography-based cash will eventually rival government-backed fiat currency, as no government can resist debasing their currency. Cryptocash is also at least moderately resistant to the ever-growing government intrusion into financial privacy.
OK can you tell me how you envisage a new player who surfs over to WikiPoker.com or whatever makes his first deposit? His second deposit? Talk me through the Bitcoin process.
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:35 AM   #24
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hepzebah View Post
.
You can sing this. Like 2+2 the community will be populated with regs not losers. The payment methods will be usable by regs not losers. The site will appear trustworthy to regs not losers.

So why will regs play there?
Two choices:

- Play against bad regs with no rake.

- Play against 6 bad regs and 2 regfish and 1 donk with rake raping you.

That's how I see the situation at NL50, at least. I don't mind playing against other regs myself.

fluffysheap made a good correct post. He's obviously another hacker too.
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Old 12-14-2010, 07:37 AM   #25
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Re: Rake-Free & Open Poker Room, Run By the Poker Community?

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Originally Posted by hepzebah View Post
OK can you tell me how you envisage a new player who surfs over to WikiPoker.com or whatever makes his first deposit? His second deposit? Talk me through the Bitcoin process.
When you buy stuff on EBay, you're transferring $$ into your paypal account, then onto EBay.

Likewise you transfer $$ using BitcoinExchangeSiteX.com to your bitcoin account, then onto WikiPoker.com
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