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Old 01-14-2011, 04:41 PM   #1
Nate.
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Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

PokerStars--

You need to make some serious changes at the PCA. I don't doubt that PokerStars is committed to giving its players a very good experience—you have proven for years that you are. However, many aspects of the PCA cardroom incline me strongly to think that you do not have the right people in charge of the PCA cash games. Here are some problems:

(1) Marked cards, especially “nailed” cards. We are playing for lots of money here, and there is simply no excuse for using cards too cheap to stand a normal 'squeeze'.

Now, (1) is bad but in a way understandable; what I am also worried about is (1*): when I talked to a floorperson about (1), he told me that all cards were equally likely to be marked in this way. Now, anyone who knows the most common reason for cards to be marked—being 'squeezed' for a sweat, especially in triple-draw games—will understand that not all cards are equally likely to be marked. I understand that businesses sometimes simply need to feed their customers lines to placate them—I don't enjoy being treated like this, but I accept it as a fact about the way the world works. However, this floorperson actually seemed sincere, and seemed actually to believe that jacks were as likely to be marked as aces. This is a very dangerous attitude to have: not only is it very very likely to be factually false, but (more importantly) it neglects the way in which a cavalier attitude toward marked cards creates a very cheater-friendly environment.

(2) You are unclear about your rules, and sometimes the rules do not fully exist. You said that we had to be 'away from the table' to text/Tweet during the main event, but when I asked three different people how far away “away” is, two had no answer and the third obviously made something up on the spot.

I overheard a conversation where a floorperson told two people to speak only English when cards were in the air. Someone said he “wasn't comfortable” with non-English talk even when cards ~weren't~ in the air, and the floor immediately said that only English was allowed at all times. Letting a floor get bullied like this is bad enough, but even worse is the very strong evidence this provides that the rules are not really determinate at all. I understand that these tournaments are very hard to hold, and that it is very hard to get everyone on the same proverbial page, but this kind of situation is entirely unacceptable.

There was also a situation involving a forward motion over the betting line. A floor explained that the bet had to stand because the chips had gone over the line. I immediately said that the line had been treated as a “courtesy line” all week. The floor then said “well, it's a betting line where I usually work, but you're right, it's really the forward motion that makes the bet stand.” Again, I understand the difficulty coordinating people, but the same factors that make floors hard to coordinate make the players used to very different rules, which in turn makes it unusually important for such important rules to be very clear.

(3) Floorpeople were not only wavering and inconsistent with their rulings, and unconcerned with having the same rules as each other; they very often made their rulings in a hasty manner, and often (IMO) poorly. I don't want to explain the situations in detail here, because (a) this post is taking a long time to write, and I have to get to dinner, and (b) we would be likely to get involved in a long discussion about the specifics of the situation. What is important is that there was often good evidence that the floors were making their decisions too hastily, and lacked the kind of poker expertise that is necessary to show proper judgment. In one case, a player had gone all-in and won, but had not been paid off for his whole stack—it was the main event, and he was about 15K short from where he should have been. The floorperson did not even ask for the most important details of the case; he only spent about 30 seconds at the table, and made a very hasty decision. (I also thought that the decision went the wrong way, but I think that roughly 30% of experienced poker people would disagree with me.)

Strangely enough, it is actually worrisome to me that your floorpeople are so polite. This attitude, combined with poor job performance, makes me think that these people are being hired for a friendly attitude rather than for competence. The best floors are often fed up with, and therefore short-tempered in the face of, cheating/angle-shooting/rudeness/etc; they are also always very firm.

(That last paragraph is speculative, and I fear that it might offend some people, but I thought it necessary to include. I'm sure the floorpeople are fine people who know a lot about some aspects of poker, and I mean no disrespect to them. I do, however, think that many of them are filling the wrong jobs this week.)

One last story, just by way of further evidence: twice, when a floor came to a table to examine a marked card, I tried to make it clear that the card from a deck that was being used in a hand still in progress. This didn't keep the floor from picking up the card and flashing it. An experienced floor would not have made this mistake. The fact that floors were almost universally paying no attention to this aspect of the situation makes me think that they don't know much about being floors.

(4) Your floorpeople, brushes, and chip runners are overworked. I would like to be charitable, and attribute the laziness / poor behavior I describe in part to your staff's being under pressure because of this understaffing. Your players are paying a lot of money to be here, and part of what we are paying for is an adequately staffed cardroom. An understaffed cardroom is also very attractive to cheats.

(5) Your dealers are often not shuffling properly, and often not executing other procedures properly. This creates many problems, including again that cheaters will have a much easier time cheating, and players will have a much harder time figuring out if a dealer is cheating.

(6) Your Random Bounty tournaments put valuable information in the hands (minds) of TD's, who must simply trusted to be responsible with that information. However trustworthy the TD might be, transparency is a vital part of poker security. (This is something I've written about elsewhere.)

Again, I don't doubt that PokerStars is committed to fair play. However, especially with so many online players around, who don't know how to protect themselves, it is absolutely necessary for PokerStars to have better procedures all around the cardroom. With the popular skepticism about online play being what it is, imagine how bad it would be for a PCA cheating scandal to be widely publicized. This is what PokerStars is setting itself up for. And even if no such scandal happens, the poor cardroom management means that players are losing money (to bad floor decisions and to angle-shooters), playing time (mostly because overworked brushes take far too long to fill seats), and the enjoyment of a well-run game.

Given that PokerStars has no malicious intent, these problems could be remedied by hiring some good poker people, experienced in the security and efficiency issues of live play, as consultants.

In the spirit of balance, I should note that (despite some unacceptable procedural issues) PokerStars has gotten many excellent dealers to the Bahamas to the event. I am very impressed with them, as a group. Kudos to PokerStars for this; please keep doing whatever you did this year to bring back a similarly qualified group.

Finally, although I spent quite a long time writing this post, I haven't had time to proofread as carefully as I prefer to. I'm sorry for any unclarity or mechanical errors in this post. I'm quite confident about my facts, though.

All my best,

--Nate

EDIT: Here is a better link re: problems with randomized bounties.
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Old 01-14-2011, 04:52 PM   #2
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

start in reply 42 in the link above
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Old 01-14-2011, 05:35 PM   #3
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

I found same five or six dealers serving a table in rotation in the main event to be strange. That shouldnt happen imo. Some dealers were pretty bad, and it puts a table at a disadvantage to get these dealers come back all day long.
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Old 01-14-2011, 06:26 PM   #4
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

I won my 1st table yesterday so I played the 2nd round of the 5k bounty shootout today. I registered online to the 1k HU weeks ago and spoke w/ a floorman and asked him to unreg me (it's on the same day as 2nd round of BSO). He said "It's OK just don't get your ticket at registration desk" (there was a waitlinglist). Later when we were 3 handed at BSO, I was told that I'm in the HU event and blinding out...

I was pretty tilted and busted out the BSO then busted out the HU event vs a huge fish in 20 min, fml
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Old 01-14-2011, 06:32 PM   #5
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

subtle
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Old 01-14-2011, 06:35 PM   #6
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

I would just like to comment on the $1100 6max tourney the other day. I showed up at 4 (when it started) to sign up for it and was unable to even get a chance at being an alternate. Why are there no tables to play at :'(
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Old 01-14-2011, 07:08 PM   #7
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

Also, giving 1000 people identical decks to those that are used in all of the tournaments is incredibly dumb.
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Old 01-14-2011, 07:16 PM   #8
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

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Originally Posted by Zimmer4141 View Post
Also, giving 1000 people identical decks to those that are used in all of the tournaments is incredibly dumb.
with no hole punch?
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Old 01-14-2011, 07:23 PM   #9
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

i've always been tilted by a bunch of the dealers at PCA, but given the logistics of bringing down enough expert dealers, i can deal with it i suppose.

haven't played much cash at PCA, but the one time i did i dropped/lost/someone stole a 5k chip and when asked if they could review the security cameras in the room i was told they weren't even on...doh! (this was 2007)
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:14 PM   #10
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

while alot of these issues are absurd, do remember they only play/have poekr going on for 2 weeks of hte year or whatnot
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:20 PM   #11
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

Imagine if you were a lowstakes baller like me.. where in the 300 turbos I literally had 3 dealers who refused to count stacks when players were all in and called. The players had to count their own stack then the player paying the winning player would often count out the amount quickly and ppush the chips over while the dealer just blankly stared into space. It was literally like an honor system they were so bad at sorting everything.
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Old 01-14-2011, 09:29 PM   #12
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

reading about this stuff is starting to make me not want to go, ever. Poorly ran, overpriced event, with it being easy to collude/cheat........
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:08 PM   #13
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

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reading about this stuff is starting to make me not want to go, ever. Poorly ran, overpriced event, with it being easy to collude/cheat........
+1
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:18 PM   #14
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

In response to Nate's post, i actually had a European Pokerstars Team Pro, in the main event, speaking a foreign language to one of the dealers. It was tilting the **** out of me. I've played a number of the tournies this week and find it unacceptable for players (sometimes seated next to each other) speaking a different language and dealers/floorperson not telling them to stop. Its ridiculous.

The fact a representative of the organisation is openly doing this is terrible. The team pro in question and the dealer got told off by one of the other players at the table and the team pro stared at him in disgust. The dealer said "we are not in a hand" which disgusted the player and when he busted the team pro and dealer continued to talk in another language.
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:23 PM   #15
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

Also, in terms of floorstaff/dealers being overworked, many dealers have been working 15hr+ days THE WHOLE WEEK. Off course working these hours means they are gonna feel overworked and have a bit of a can't be f**ked attitude.

Dealers here are payed by tips only. So the total number of tips is collated at the end and then divided by the total number of hours worked to get an hourly rate then dealers are paid based on the corresponding hours. They also get their accomodation and flights paid for so obviously it is in pokerstars favour to have less dealers as although it doesn't make a difference to the wages paid, the associated costs per staff member is less (flights/accom). This shouldn't come at the expense of a good, well run, well dealt tournament in my opinion.
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:40 PM   #16
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoolWaTeR;24156288[B
]In response to Nate's post, i actually had a European Pokerstars Team Pro, in the main event, speaking a foreign language to one of the dealers. It was tilting the **** out of me. I've played a number of the tournies this week and find it unacceptable for players (sometimes seated next to each other) speaking a different language and dealers/floorperson not telling them to stop. Its ridiculous.[/B]

The fact a representative of the organisation is openly doing this is terrible. The team pro in question and the dealer got told off by one of the other players at the table and the team pro stared at him in disgust. The dealer said "we are not in a hand" which disgusted the player and when he busted the team pro and dealer continued to talk in another language.
Im english speaking and never understood the bolded comment. NOT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD SPEAKS ENGLISH. How are some people arrogant enough to tell other people to be quiet at a table if they cant speak english? or to speak only a language they dont know? People are playing in this tournament from tons of countries, with tons of languages. What are they supposed to do? Sit there silent, if they find someone from there country? Thats the language they speak. You speaking english (which they cant understand) is no diff then them speaking there language. Or am i missing something? Should they learn english to come play the event?
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:49 PM   #17
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

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Im english speaking and never understood the bolded comment. NOT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD SPEAKS ENGLISH. How are some people arrogant enough to tell other people to be quiet at a table if they cant speak english? or to speak only a language they dont know? People are playing in this tournament from tons of countries, with tons of languages. What are they supposed to do? Sit there silent, if they find someone from there country? Thats the language they speak. You speaking english (which they cant understand) is no diff then them speaking there language. Or am i missing something? Should they learn english to come play the event?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_mDTLphIVY
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:55 PM   #18
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

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Originally Posted by walkmyline View Post
Im english speaking and never understood the bolded comment. NOT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD SPEAKS ENGLISH. How are some people arrogant enough to tell other people to be quiet at a table if they cant speak english? or to speak only a language they dont know? People are playing in this tournament from tons of countries, with tons of languages. What are they supposed to do? Sit there silent, if they find someone from there country? Thats the language they speak. You speaking english (which they cant understand) is no diff then them speaking there language. Or am i missing something? Should they learn english to come play the event?
haha, you are such an idiot or such a troll that its not worth my time explaining why you are wrong. Hopefully someone else does.

I'll give you a hint though: Allowing other languages other than english to being used opens up the door to lots of cheating! Think about it! lolol.

If you were at a table and saw a player talking to a dealer/another player during hand in a foreign language in a tournament with 2.3 million for first.....and didn't speak up and say anything to the floor.....then you are one naive idiot.

think about the cheating scandal in partouche w/ the cameraman lol.

Also, you must not have seen rounders.

Its just a common rule "english only at the tables" For a NAPT event....it should be english only.. in LAPT / other EPTs I'm sure they are allowed to speak native languages. In the US though, it should be and obviously is english only.
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:29 AM   #19
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

Quote:
Originally Posted by walkmyline View Post
Im english speaking and never understood the bolded comment. NOT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD SPEAKS ENGLISH. How are some people arrogant enough to tell other people to be quiet at a table if they cant speak english? or to speak only a language they dont know? People are playing in this tournament from tons of countries, with tons of languages. What are they supposed to do? Sit there silent, if they find someone from there country? Thats the language they speak. You speaking english (which they cant understand) is no diff then them speaking there language. Or am i missing something? Should they learn english to come play the event?
r u ****in serious?
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:32 AM   #20
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

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r u ****in serious?
completley
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:37 AM   #21
Nate.
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

All--

It would be great if this thread could be about systematic problems with the PCA and not with isolated procedural incidents, which are to an extent unpreventable. However, there is obviously a close connection between the procedural incidents and the systematic problems--they will happen much more frequently when the systematic problems are in place, and they will also be much more annoying to the players. A few more comments

(1) Re: Dealers:

As I said in the OP, I've been pleasantly surprised with the quality of the dealers. This is also something that I think Stars has a relatively small degree of control over, however; I imagine that getting so many dealers to travel is a big logistical problem. FWIW, tonight (~after~ I published the OP) I lost a $1850 pot in which a mechanical issue involving some pretty serious dealer laziness and inattentiveness played a key part. It didn't bother me much, I didn't chew the dealer out, and I still think that Stars got a good crop of dealers. I suppose I'm less impressed than I was before, especially given some of the other issues in this thread.

This relates to:

(2) Re: Jiggybluff, who says that I should remember that Atlantis only spreads poker during the PCA.

This is definitely something I have in mind, and I hoped to make clear in the OP that I'm trying to focus on things that Stars really ought to be able to control. Admittedly, my knowledge of the logistics of these things is limited. But many of the issues I wrote about are things that one might expect to be ~less~ difficult to organize for a once-a-year event. (The understaffing of the brush position is one obvious example of this.)

I'm hesitant to speculate about the underlying causes of the problems. From my perspective, it appears that Stars simply has very little commitment to getting the staff on the same page about rules, and often takes a very naive attitude toward cheating (not just at this PCA).

It might be very difficult to get qualified floors to come to the PCA, but they are simply essential to running a cardroom in which players feel comfortable playing for lots of money.

(3) Re: English

I love how international the PCA is, and I always feel a little disappointed when someone is told to stop speaking another language at the table. Poker is a global game, and anyway the person complaining is often a highly disagreeable character who goes on and on about how you have to be careful because he once saw two Asians cheat by talking about their cards in another language.

That said, this is a great example of some things that are wrong at this tournament. The staff cannot enforce the rule consistently, and as I mentioned in the OP one floorperson even changed his own ruling on the issue within a 30-second discussion. Much of the staff seems to have the view that if doing Y (e.g., speaking French) instead of X is not causing cheating ~now~, then it doesn't matter, and we might as well just do Y. But that view is backward: often, poker would be overrun with cheaters if we did Y instead of X. To insist that something be done properly isn't to accuse someone of cheating; rather, we do things right so that cheaters can't take advantage of us.

For whatever it's worth, over the small sample of people I've played with, more of the native speakers of non-English languages were annoyed at the inconsistent application of the rule than the rule itself (if PokerStars even had a single rule to begin with).

All my best,

--Nate
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:01 AM   #22
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

thanks for explaining nate without the use of idiot.
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:15 AM   #23
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

all i know is if people don't stop speaking ****ing sputnik they aren't gonna see 6th street
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:31 AM   #24
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

All--

One more illustrative story:

The floor gets called to an Omaha game. Two players had agreed to run the whole board twice, and the dealer was down to the bottom card of the deck for the last river card. The floor gets called. It turns out that there had been a rule against running the whole board twice, not that I'd heard anything about it the many times whole boards had been run twice. But here's the important part: the floor immediately rushed to a hasty and bad ruling: because the players were doing something against the rules, even though they didn't have much way of knowing it was against the rules, it was OK to deal the bottom card of the deck. The floor actually gave that part of the ruling as she was rushing away from the table, having barely heard what went on.

Now, I don't think any good floor would think this way. It's not right to say "the players were wrong, so screw them and do whatever." (Again, bracket off the fact that the players probably had no way of knowing that running the whole board twice was against the rules.) The players are playing for a lot of money, and have the right to a good decision, even if something has gone wrong. In this case, the floor should think about ~why~ the rules are as they are, and what would be most fair. There were several pristine cards just sitting there: the burn cards. It would have been much better to deal one of those than the bottom card.

Again, this person seems very well-intentioned and motivated, and I'm sure she did something right to get the job she has. Also, she was pretty clearly rushing because the room was understaffed and she had so many things to deal with at once, and anyone who's held a certain kind of job has to sympathize with that. But if this is how she's going to handle decisions, she has no business being a floorperson.

I've seen quite a few floors get called this week. They've gotten some of the easier decisions right. But not once, in a tougher situation, have I seen the floor get all the relevant information and use proper poker thinking to get the ruling correct.

All my best,

--Nate
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:33 AM   #25
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Re: Serious Cardroom Problems at PCA

I counted these.
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