Monday, December 22, 2008

Ultimate Bet

So after watching Chad rip up Ultimate Bet like it's his job and hearing nonstop about the great structures available in the multi-table tournaments there, I decided to re-download the UB software and take a looksie for myself. I had an account at UB a good 3 or 4 years ago, played there a little bit, but quickly determined at the time that I did not like the software nearly as much as pokerstars -- the only other site I was playing on at the time -- and with the tournament availability at UB also paling in comparison to stars, I quickly got rid of the client and focused entirely on pokerstars until full tilt came into the picture some months later.

Now, the first thing you may be asking is how on earth can I put my money into a site that recently got caught with a massive cheating scam? The answer is I have no idea just how "safe" or "real" the poker there is, but if Chad has won fifty billion dollars there in the past couple of weeks, then I have every reason to believe that the site is now on the up and up. I certainly would never spend a dime at a poker site that I did not believe is offering legitimate poker (hence why I absolutely love when people claim the sites they play at are rigged or fixed in some way), and I know UB recently joined a new network of poker sites following the "superuser" scandal, so in an attempt to stay afloat it is probably fair to say that right now UB is among the safest of the poker sites. But I'm not trying to make any guarantees to anyone, I just figured it was worth checking out what a site that is bending over backwards right now to keep its users happy.

And what I found, I have to say I really liked. There are two aspects I was particularly into -- the software, and the tournament structures.

First, the software. UB has really got it going on in this department. I will still always be partial to full tilt, which I think has the best "last hand" feature, no problems with accessing hand histories, offers the best stats and the best in-tournament information about your current place in the tournament, stack size, etc. And I just like the look and feel of full tilt more than the other poker clients out there. But UB is right up there. The chat box is not intrusive and is easy to mute or detach, unlike some sites. The size and graphics of the cards is just right. They have a "bet pot" button and a good-working bet slider. You can get an array of stats at the click of one button for any playing session, and the "info" tab for tournaments gives you everything you want to know in one fell swoop. I know that in the past when I first sat down to play at a new site, it has taken me some time in all cases before being able to do well just due to adjusting to the new client, the graphics, where all the buttons are, etc. Not so with UB.

And this leads to the second big appeal of Ultimate Bet -- the structure of the tournaments. Every night at 8pm ET is a 20k guaranteed deep stack mtt, which starts you with 5000 chips and blinds of 5-10. Yes that is 500 big blinds to play with, which makes this totally unlike the daily tournaments at any other online poker site I know of. And the blind rounds in both the nightly 8pm 20k deep stack and the 9pm ET 30k bounty mtt are a full 15 minutes, which as I wrote about last week, make no sense IMO for a $10 buyin blonkament with a $150 first prize but which are awesome for a large mtt with a nice big prize pool worth winning. And the games play differently at UB as a result of these structural advantages, which I can say from just two mtt's played at UB so far. With stacks this deep and structures this slow, these things end up playing more like cash games for the entire first hour or so, if not more. There is far more limping and less raising in the earlygoing, and you can easily see a flop with just about any pocket pair or any speculative hand whatsoever and have sufficient odds to do so. There is far more postflop play for a longer period of time than in any other online site's regular daily tournaments, even the slow-structured mtts on full tilt and pokerstars like I have written about recently.

As a result, as these things get deeper, you pretty much always have the chance through the first several hours to raise, bet on the flop and still get away without decimating your stack. Imagine having just an average stack three hours in to the 50-50 on full tilt. Even at average, if you raise preflop and then c-bet the flop, if you have to fold after that, you just gave up probably 35-40% of your stack. Not so on UB. That would probably amount to 20% or less of your stack given the structure there, a good three hours in to their nightly guaranteed tournaments. And more than that, even at the final tables, the M's are a good 2-3 times higher than they are at the other major online poker sites. Now of course even with 15-minute blind rounds you're not talking about M's of 50 at the final table, but believe you me an average M of 15 is a hell of a lot better than an average M of 6 by the time the final table comes around. Anyone skilled at final table play should be thrilled to know that at UB the final table is not a complete push-n-pray cardrack fest like it is at most other sites.

That said, luck still plays a major factor in the final table play, of course. Here was me in my first mtt on Ultimate Bet this weekend in over three years:

So, a cool $2200 payout, plus 13 $10 bounties along the way to max out at just over a $2200 net profit for the tournament. And this, again, in my very first tournament with the new UB software that I had ever seen. That right there is a real testament to how useable the software really is, and how friendly the tournament structure is to skilled players. But as I said, luck still reared its ugly head in a big way for me at the final table, in two key hands. First, I picked up AA with eight players left, in the big blind no less, and to top it off the shorty in first position pushed allin before the action even got to me. We took the flop heads-up, with him holding JTs, and a totally innocuous flop quickly turned into tunner-runner straight for him and knocked me out of what would have been the chip lead. And, as if that wouldn't have been enough already, down to seven players remaining I got it allin with another shortish stack when I flopped two pairs before he again runner-runner four-flushed me to crush me.

This has been the story of my play of late -- I'm actualy making a fair number of final tables, but for some reason or another I just haven't been able of late to close the deal and home in on the top few spots when the real money is. Sure I am making nice profits along the way no doubt, and sure I've been able to crush at the end of some blonkaments, but those things are more like sng's than real mtts, and when the big money isn't on the line, it's just not at all the same thing. This weekend I thought I was playing well, but I will freely admit that after that second screwage at the final table on UB, my game was shaken badly and I limped my way to the next two spots before making an idiotic reraise against an UTG raiser with some shitty hand, 76o or some point, sitting on a miniscule stack of the five remaining players. But in other final tables recently, it hasn't been suckouts so much as lack of cards, lack of focus, or you name it. The bottom line is, any successful mtt player knows that the only way you really nail down profits over time in mtts is to consistently post top-3 cashes. You could make 50 big final tables a year, but if they are all 9th place finishes, you won't do nearly as well as the guy with 10 final tables, but including 4 wins, 4 second-places and 2 thirds. I need to focus better on final tables here as we head into the end of my best year by far in online poker, and this is a lesson I will not forget the next time I find myself in this situation, hopefully sooner rather than later.

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Blogger Mondogarage said...

"I know UB recently joined a new network of poker sites following the "superuser" scandal"

Um, the "network" UB joined is simply between UB and the other previously-known fradulent site, Absolute Bet.

They've already had one scandal where Phil Hellmuth (noted UB spokesperson) was awarded a pot in a 200/400 Limit HE cash game even after losing the hand at showdown.

You don't think there could possibly be anything even the least bit suspicious about that, no?

I won't be party to a site that even after getting caught cheating has not absolutely come clean, and continues to show an alarming lack of transparency.

But good job on your score, and if you're sold on doing business with them, good luck.

12:11 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You suck Hoy. So fucking lame. I'm done with this blog...personal stance I have with AP/UB and it's supporters.

no tolerance.

12:22 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Yeah I saw that story with Hellmuth on the cash game hand. Good stuff.

I don't know. Like I said, I wouldn't play there if I thought there was an issue currently, and if the previous scandal creates a positive situation for some people willing to take the risk, while others flat refuse to play there, I can live with that.

I can certainly understand someone simply refusing to play at UB or Absolute ever again.

12:22 AM  
Blogger cmitch said...

Nice score, but get your money off their site and run.

As much as I used to like UB (about 5-6 yrs ago), I can't see any reason to play there, especially after the latest incident. How in the world can a $5,600 (real $ not tourney chips) accidentally get shipped to the wrong person and that person, Phil Hellmuth, is a spokesperson for the site? Their blog post about it was pretty weak, also - just a mention of them having a software glitch that they are looking into. No mention of Phil.

I wonder how often this has happened in other smaller pots? If it happened in one pot with their highest profile player, it must have happened thousands of times in smaller lower profile games.

Get off UB now!!!

12:23 AM  
Blogger cmitch said...

Hoy, I'm not sure how you can say "Like I said, I wouldn't play there if I thought there was an issue currently" when this incident of the pot getting shipped to the wrong person just happened over the weekend.

If you trust the site, then you should at least wait until UB offers some sort of explanation of a $5,600 pot going to the wrong person. I mean WTF? If that happened at PS or FTP, I wouldn't play there until there was some sort of explanation and they dont have past probs like UB

12:27 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

WOW, what a bunch of bitches.... UB had some employees cheating, no doubts. In fact I wouldn't doubt if things like that happened on ALL the sites really. But for some $10 MTT players to really think their $10 MTTs are being rigged is just hilarious!!! If anything is/was ever rigged it is high stakes. Keep using things as being rigged as an excuse for you sucking at poker though...... If that place is rigged they sure love me. I received $15K in checks in literally 2.5 business days, no other site does that. I also had a real person on a live chat help me through the withdrawal procedure in real time. Bottom line is UB is kissing some major ass right now and as a result it is an awesome place to be playing poker at right now.

1:54 AM  
Blogger Mondogarage said...

I won't even accept blog advertising from them, and have turned it down in the past.

Look, we all know that poker is already perceived as a shady proposition (and in some instances, it actually is).

The problem isn't as much that the actual cheating took place before the place allegedly changed hands -- it's that the current ownership (which is only one degree removed from the previous ownership, frankly) has done nothing more than gloss over the scandals -- paying money back when caught, but not outing those responsible, and only suggesting we take them at their word that these problems are fixed.

If not for a few numbers crunchers over at 2+2, the scandal would still be going on today; it was never stopped because of someone on the inside seeing a need to stop it.

Here's the thing -- in my eyes, anyone who plays on that site now would seem to have to exercise some real moral equivalency in order to do so. Like, it's not that big a deal they cheated -- after all, as long they haven't cheated you or someone you know. Something like that. And that if someone displays the moral equivalency in that regard, then their moral compass may be as equivalent in other areas.

Like, it may be okay to lie to the UN Security Council, because while you don't have kids in the armed forces, the ends justify the means, but not okay to lie to you about the corporate health of your employer, because YOUR 401k is at stake, so their ends don't justify the means. Just a hypothetical.

I think that kind of shifting moral compass is just wrong. And I'm sad that you and Chad appear to value winning money over having a certain amount of principle. It's almost as if they saw that the scandals chased out a lot of the strong players, leaving behind only the fishiest of fish, and they've seen it as a golden opportunity for their advanced poker skills to take advantage of the weak.

My problem with this isn't with the latter part of this equation -- that's just poker. If you suck at poker, you're going to lose your money to someone better, as you should. It's with the former part -- joining a site with a long (and possibly still ongoing) history of cheating players, because the aftereffects of the ongoing scandals have shaped conditions on the ground in your favor. Benefiting from someone else's cheating to gain an advantage of your own just doesn't sit well with me.

2:25 AM  
Blogger Bayne_S said...

WTF Mondo.

Why use an Irag reference with Chad when he served in Iraq in past???

If you aren't selecting the weakest player at table as target you are not optimizing your poker.

Selecting the weakest site as a target is also acceptable when goal is to accumulate money.

Bodog has always had weaker players because good players hate bad User Interfaces.

Nice job on score Hoy.

2:31 AM  
Blogger PokerFool said...

Does UB do player-to-player transfers? I've actually been thinking of putting a few bucks on there.

If they do accept p-to-p transfers, and you want to swap some of that new UB winnings for some FT or PS money, let me know.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...


UB does allow p-to-p xfers. Hit me up on the girly if you want to chat, I am happy to swap UB for ftp or stars funds. Do you have my IM?

4:20 AM  
Blogger PokerFool said...

No, I don't have your IM. Here is mine (and for anyone else that wants to add me). I'm on Windows Live Messenger:

7:27 AM  
Blogger Mondogarage said...

"Why use an Irag reference with Chad when he served in Iraq in past???"

Reading comprehension ftw, Bayne. I was specifically referring to any person who may have thought it was morally okay to lie to the Securty Council while at the same time getting all righteous about your employer lying about its financial health.

Please point out where I related any of that to Chad's Iraq experience. FYI, I spent 16 years in the military myself, 13 of those on active duty.

Forest, there's the trees.

"If you aren't selecting the weakest player at table as target you are not optimizing your poker.

Selecting the weakest site as a target is also acceptable when goal is to accumulate money."

Even when that site has a lenghty (and quite possibly current) history of cheating?

"Bodog has always had weaker players because good players hate bad User Interfaces."

A bad user interface is one thing. A site that enables and even sponsors cheating, is something else entirely.

8:04 AM  
Blogger PokerFool said...


Yahoo and Windows Live messangers should be compatable (Drizz is on yahoo, and I can IM with him). Either way, my e-mail is the one above:

12:49 PM  
Blogger jjok said...

congrats on the score, my friend.

As for the UB scandal stuff, it's a buyer beware and that's about it.......I'm a "Captain Obvious" type of person. My personal opinion is that with bad publicity, UB will be on the up and up for a chad said they will be kissing ass and staying legit.

I honestly hope that you and chad continue to stomp a mudhole in that room......awesome.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Mondogarage said...

For what it's worth, there have now been at least four documented instances where UB awarded pots to either a losing hand, or to a player who sat at the table during the hand and didn't even have any cards....

The conspiracy theorists are noting that all of these other instances took place *after* the Hellmuth hand, as if UB is trying to manufacture a software problem to cover up shenanigans. You be the judge.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't morality an individual issue and choice? Nobody on this planet should tell anyone else what they are suppose to think is right or decent nor judge them for having different beliefs or morals.

Hoy, or anyone else for that matter can play where ever the fuck they deem the most profitable.

Nice score Hoy.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You preach ethics in all your post...damning those who screw the innocent albeit in different sectors...but you can support a fucking site like UB?

It's one thing to play there. If you think it's game selection, fine. But pimping the UB site on a (popular?) blog is shilling. You're a fucking hypocrite, a fucking sell-out, and lose all creditability.

Anyway, you obviously could give a shit. RSS canceled...I have better shit to read. (I know you could care laterz!)

10:29 PM  

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