Thursday, January 27, 2011

UBOC vs FTOPS: It's Not Even Close

Well, apparently the art of putting together a kickass online poker tournament series has not been lost entirely -- it's only pokerstars and full tilt who either can't figure out or don't care about the needs of their U.S.-based poker customers. On pokerstars' side, it appears to be the latter, as the real issues with the annual WCOOP on pokerstars are the start times, which -- all being in the early afternoon east coast time -- make it more or less impossible for any U.S. player who works a job or is not either a professional poker player or unemployed to play in them.

But, as I have written about here several times over, in full tilt's case the problem is far worse. Full tilt seems to have adopted a hybrid approach to the U.S. - Euro issue, offering a number of events in the afternoons (prime Eurodonk time) as well as a U.S.-facing event almost every evening during the quarterly FTOPS tournament series they run. But what's so horrible about full tilt is that, while three or four years ago I looked forward with baited breath to playing in the myriad attractive events they had to offer in the FTOPS, nowadays they have slowly but surely eaten away at all of the good events, leaving in place just a small handful of pretty much bullshit tournaments in their FTOPS tournament series.

Ultimate Bet, on the other hand, has really got it going on. I imagine some of this stems from the site's past problems, and the resulting need / desire to really cater to their players, but why on earth is catering to the players such a lost art these days? In the land where full tilt has almost no good FTOPS tournaments anymore, and does whatever they can to promote gimmicks like Rush poker and the new multi-entry tournaments that are straight-up designed to hurt the customer base at the expense of the poker site's rake coffers, the UBOC has come around this year and I cannot tell you how exciting almost every night's tournament is. It is like night and day compared to the FTOPS, which leaves me asking why the shike can't full tilt offer the customers what we want?

Let me show you exactly what I mean. Here is a comparison of the current UBOC VI schedule of tournaments, and the upcoming FTOPS XIX series scheduled for next month. After each event on the list, I'm going to put a rating (scale from 1-10, 10 being most attractive and 1 being least attractive to play), indicating how attractive that tournament is to me to want to try to play in, being that I am basically these sites' exact demographic among U.S. players for their periodic tournament series -- my ratings will take into account the game being played, the structure, the buyin, and the gimmicks involved. And to keep things as short as possible, I'm only going to list the tournaments that are in prime evening time on the weeknights (say, after 7pm ET New York time) -- so none of the afternoon events in the east coast. Take a look at the below and you tell me who knows how to satisfy their U.S. poker tournament customers, and who simply just doesn't give a shit:


1/17/11 20:05 UBOC 4 NLH 4-MAX $300+20 $100K guaranteed Rating: 5
1/17/11 20:05 UBOC 5 NLH ($200 Rock Star Bounty) $200+15 $100K guaranteed Rating: 10
1/18/11 20:05 UBOC 6 PLO 6-MAX $200+15 $50K guaranteed Rating: 9
1/18/11 20:05 UBOC 7 NLH Deep Stack $300+20 $100K guaranteed Rating: 9
1/19/11 20:05 UBOC 9 PLO 1 rebuy + 1 add on $200+15 $100K guaranteed Rating: 8
1/19/11 20:05 UBOC 10 NLH Deep Stack 6-MAX $500+30 $250K guaranteed Rating: 6
1/20/11 20:05 UBOC 11 NLH Deep Stack $150+12 $75K guaranteed Rating: 10
1/21/11 20:05 UBOC 12 Sniper NLH Deep Stack ($15 bounty) $150+12 $75K guaranteed Rating: 10
1/24/11 20:05 UBOC 18 NLH 1 rebuy + 1 add on $200+15 $150K guaranteed Rating: 8
1/24/11 20:05 UBOC 19 8 Game Mix (HORSE+PLO, PLH, PLO8) $200+15 $50K guaranteed Rating: 8
1/25/11 20:05 UBOC 20 Sniper NLH Deep Stack ($20 bounty) $200+15 $100K guaranteed Rating: 10
1/25/11 20:05 UBOC 21 NLH/PLO Mix $200+15 $50K guaranteed Rating: 9
1/26/11 20:05 UBOC 23 PLO8 $200+15 $75K guaranteed Rating: 7
1/26/11 20:05 UBOC 24 NLH Deep Stack (antes from the start) $300+20 $100K guaranteed Rating: 10
1/27/11 20:05 UBOC 25 NLH ($200 Centerfold Bounty) $150+12 $75K guaranteed Rating: 10
1/28/11 20:05 UBOC 26 NLH Deep Stack $150+12 $75K guaranteed Rating: 10

So, in UBOV VI, there are 16 nighttime events, perfect for primetime U.S. players, and of those 16 events, seven score a perfect 10, another three events score a 9, and still another three tournament score an 8 on my 1-10 scale of how much I would like to play in these tournaments. The buyin levels are generally good -- $200 or so -- there's not a ton of gimmicks, and there's certainly not a ton of shitty games or tournaments with so many bells and whistles that are designed to benefit the flonkeys at the expense of the skilled players. Even when they offer rebuys -- which I think is an essential part of any real tournament series for sho -- they generally limit those to 1 rebuy and 1 addon. This is still a lot of money to put into one big tournament, but it just doesn't compare to a straight-up unlimited rebuy, where you have no idea how much you might have to buy in to compete with the others in there whose bankrolls might otherwise allow them to play incredibly loose over a number of different buyins a la Daniel Negreanu in the WSOP rebuy a few years back. In all, out of 16 events designed for U.S. players, fully 13 of them are the kind of tournaments I am really interested in playing, and as a result, I've played in many of the UBOC tournaments and really find myself looking forward to the series almost every night of the week while it's running.

Now let's flip over to full tilt, who again is scheduled to run FTOPS XIX starting in just a couple short weeks once again on their site, where once again I will provide the schedule, stripping out the afternoon events, and putting an attractiveness rating 1-10 next to each event:


2/7/11 21:00 ftops #4 NLH 6-MAX $1000+60 1M guaranteed Rating: 1
2/8/11 21:00 ftops #7 HORSE $200+16 100k guaranteed Rating: 6
2/9/11 21:00 ftops #10 NLH 6-MAX Rebuy $100+9 500k guaranteed Rating: 5
2/10/11 21:00 ftops #13 7-Stud Hi/Lo $200+16 100k guaranteed Rating: 3
2/11/11 21:00 ftops #16 Razz $300+22 100k guaranteed Rating: 1
2/12/11 21:00 ftops #21 2-7 Triple Draw $300+22 6-max 100k guaranteed Rating: 1
2/14/11 21:00 ftops #27 NLH Multi-Entry $1000+60 750k guaranteed Rating: 1
2/15/11 21:00 ftops #30 9-game 6-MAX Multi-Entry $500+35 200k guaranteed Rating: 1
2/16/11 21:00 ftops #33 NLH 6-MAX Rebuy $300+22 1M guaranteed Rating: 1
2/17/11 21:00 ftops #36 7-Stud $200+16 100k guaranteed Rating: 1
2/18/11 21:00 ftops #39 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo $200+16 150k guaranteed Rating: 1
2/19/11 21:00 ftops #43 Badugi $200+22 50k guaranteed Rating: 1

O. M. M. F. G. Look at that embarrassment up there. After seeing UB go out of their way to satisfy what they U.S. customers want at the times when the U.S. customers can play the most when it comes to their annual UBOC series, just look at the filth that the FTOPS has become. Of the 12 weeknight events in New York prime time, one of them is a 6 (being generous -- HORSE), one a 5 and one a 4, and the other nine U.S.-accessible tournaments are all 1's on my scale. Flat-out 1's. And frankly, a lot of them should really be more like negative 100's -- in that I would not play them even if someone else offered to front me the full buyin and to keep 90% of what I win -- because going through the motions of actually playing such a shitty game would bother me a heck of a lot more than the price of the buyin.

It's pretty unbelievable really if you think about it. Every single one of the 16 UBOC nighttime tournaments on Ultimate Bet scores higher in terms of attractiveness to me, than every single one of the 12 nighttime FTOPS events on full tilt. How can that be? There's not a single exception -- the very best of the FTOPS weeknight tournaments -- a $200 limit HORSE event -- is less attractive to me to play than the very worst of the UBOC tournaments, which was the 4-max $300 buyin nlh event. Think about that!!

It's just another example -- right along with Rush poker and Multi-Entry tournaments and the like -- of full tilt not having the customers' best interests in at the front of its mind, or really as a consideration anywhere in its mind at all. Whereas UB is actively looking to excite their U.S. fan base and create tournaments that we actually want to play in.

And people actually wonder why I continue to play at UB despite their past problems.

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Blogger Drizztdj said...

So when the US players are not allowed to log-on anymore, who is going to have the foreign player base left to survive the US Government's "cool off" period and possibly re-enter the market afterwards?

Hint: it ain't the one with the casino attached to it.

3:20 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Point taken.

Unfortunately, that doesn't even begin to address why the FTOPS events at the pro-U.S. times all rank as "1"-level events on my list. That is just plain pathetic, and it hasn't got the first thing to do with a future regulated market in the U.S.

If you are suggesting that FTOPS is afraid of catering to U.S. players, then why have any FTOPS events at all at 9pm ET? Instead they just put up $300 Razz tournaments and $300 Triple Draw tournaments and 50k guaranteed Badugi events for the Americans? It's laughable man.

3:54 AM  
Blogger BadBlood said...

Hoy, I understand your frustrations, but I'd like to ask you an honest question.

What has UB done to earn your trust such that you're willing to play on that site?

Your points are valid, but for someone like myself who has never played on UB for real money, why would I give them my business?

4:30 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...


Totally different question from what my UBOC vs. FTOPS post is about today, and worthy of a whole post in its own right, as it is probably not something I can adequately address in a blog comment. And, frankly, probably not something I would bother posting about given the likely spewage that would result here in the comments. Suffice it to say that I have been and continue to be willing to give any good-quality poker site a chance despite the integrity problems they have (all) had in the past, and I have been very impressed with that I've seen on UB as a result. If the site was not superior in so many ways, I surely would not continue playing there. I could ruminate on it but in the end it doesn't get a whole lot deeper than that.

5:07 AM  
Blogger Neil said...


9:00 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

Sorry about last comment, was an error.

First time commentor on this blog from the land of Eurodonk i'm afraid. I have played in a few FTOPS events over the last couple of years but play more MiniFTOPS events as they suit my bankroll and (used to) offer some well structured NLH events which i enjoy. I am just a recreational player however.

I must say that even from this side of the Atlantic i am beginning to dismay at some of FTP's decisions. Just one 9 handed NLH FO that is not multi entry in the upcoming FTOPS and MiniFTOPS XIX and that is Event#1. JUST ONE!!

I have also been taking part in Iron Man for the last 10 months and used some of my medals to buy some MiniFTOPS tickets last year. I now discover that many of my tickets to the NLH events i enjoy (including the so called MainEvent) will just get me 1 entry to a multi entry tourney, and i will have to buy in another 3 times to have the same chance as other people. In my opinion the tickets are now worth less and i'm not looking forward to the tournaments as much as i used to.

If people want to play Draw games, stud, razz and badugi, that's fine by me but let's at least cater a little more for the majority of players without trying to force them to stump up 4 buyins. If your ABI is $30, what are you supposed to do now? Compete at a disadvantage or lower your stake and play worse structured events with more entries. I don't want to do either.

Of course i don't know what the future holds for ME MTT's post FTOPS XIX but i'm sure they are here to stay, at least for a while, and equally sure that many of the weekly guarantees will also be trialled as ME.

I guess it may be time to look for another site, i play a few games on 888 here and also like the look of UB and your comments reinforce that. Shame, because i love the software and used to love the MTT's at FTP.

Anyway enjoyed the blog and thanks for the info about UB


9:30 PM  
Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Nobody is in the least surprised a scumbag like you plays on UB.

9:39 PM  

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