Applications in Poker

The more one begins to understand the nuances of the game of poker, the easier it is to start believing that the concepts central to comprehending the game on a deep level are inapplicable in any other field. After all, in what other areas of our lives do we find ourselves regularly attributing mathematical denominations to other people’s actions and trying to figure out how to best exploit their weaknesses? Hopefully none, otherwise we would be exhibiting some decidedly sociopathic tendencies.

However, when we flip this dynamic around and start applying ‘real-world’ concepts to poker, there are a number of things we can learn. In particular, poker has a lot in common with academic disciplines such as economics, sociology, behavioral psychology, and even philosophy, and many concepts from these fields can be used to help us better understand the game of poker. One of these such concepts is the Pareto Principle.

What is the Pareto Principle?

In 1896, Italian economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto published a paper showing that roughly 80% of the wealth and land in Italy at the time was controlled by the richest 20% of the population, and suggested that this ’80/20 principle’ would hold true in many other environments as well.

He investigated other countries’ wealth distributions and found this to be true. In fact, Pareto took this principle far enough that he experimented with peas in his garden, recognizing that 20% of the peapods in his garden contained up to 80% of the peas.

Management consultant Joseph M. Juran later proposed that the idea be named the Pareto Principle and extended its application into many business contexts. Juran believed that in many companies, 80% of the profits came from 20% of the customers, and this has since become somewhat of a rule of thumb for many business managers. It can also be said that 80% of sales come from 20% of products, or that 80% of complaints come from 20% of customers, and so on.

How is it relevant to poker?

Tim Ferriss’ excellent book, ‘The Four-Hour Work Week,’ shows many different contexts in which the 80/20 principle is applicable. He suggests that it can be extended to a simple input-output metric: 20% of the inputs in any given business or economic system are usually responsible for 80% of the outputs.

Since poker is, at its core, an economic system unto itself and since we as poker players should be doing our best to see ourselves as small business owners, it makes sense that we would want to try to apply this concept to poker and see what we might gain from it. As it happens, there is at least one very obvious way in which the 80/20 principle applies directly to poker.

Inputs and outputs at the table

If we’re defining a game of poker as an economic system with a series of inputs and outputs, it makes sense that the inputs would be the decisions we make and the outputs would be our profits.

In fact, this delineation actually matches up perfectly with the kind of strategy we would usually be adopting at a nine-handed table: since a tight player may play around 15% of hands on average and a loose player may play around 25% of hands, it can be asserted that many players will usually be playing somewhere in the region of 20% of hands overall.

It makes sense to assume from this that all of the profit we make at poker comes from the 20% of the hands we’re actually playing, but we can take this concept a little further than that. We can look at the top 20% of this 20% of hands we actually play (4% of total hands) and extrapolate that 80% of our profits come from those hands – this is very likely accurate.

If you look at the average Holdem Manager 2 or PokerTracker 4 database, you’ll see that a huge proportion of a winning player’s profits come from those top 4% of hands (roughly TT+ AK+). This seems like a reasonable application of the principle – 20% of the hands we play account for 80% of our profits.

There are other applications of the principle that hold true at the table. We might be able to assert, for example, that 80% of our profits come from 20% of our opponents; depending on what games we’re playing in, this could easily be true. We could also flip it around and say that the biggest 20% of our mistakes account for 80% of our losses.

Whichever way you look at it, the input/output metric of the Pareto Principle encourages us to look not only at the thin, marginal edges that are so common in poker, but also to focus on getting the most out of less marginal situations and maximize our edge at times when we know circumstances are in our favor.

Off-the-table inputs and their effects

Of course, our on-the-table decision-making always has to be supported by healthy off-the-table processes and so we need to consider how the Pareto Principle affects things like game selection, session scheduling, and theoretical study.

It’s not a stretch to say that for players in certain game types, 80% of their profits could come from 20% of the games they play in, so they may benefit from cutting out many games in which their ROI is thinner and replacing them with other games or simply playing fewer tables.

Similarly, it’s reasonable to suggest that if we find ourselves putting in a large amount of volume during periods where we’re not able to play our best for whatever reason – be it tiredness, distractions, or lack of motivation – then we may find that 80% of our profits are made during 20% of our sessions, the 20% in which we are able to truly play our A-game and maximize our EV.

Finally, we may also see that if we’re spending long hours away from the table studying the game, we reach a point of diminishing returns. We study because we feel like we should be studying, but we’re just looking at hands aimlessly without really digging into the level of detail that would step our game up a notch.

This is an example of a situation where 80% of our improvements might come from 20% of our studying time, so consider carefully whether the studying you’re doing is really as efficient as it could be. If it’s not, do some research on learning styles and figure out which system of learning works best for you, focus on that one, and keep your studying as efficient as possible.

A final word

The Pareto Principle is just that – it’s a principle, not a rule. This means there are plenty of situations where it holds true, but some others where it doesn’t. Consider whether your own personal situation might require an adapted version of this rule. If you’re operating on a higher level of efficiency, you may find your input-output balance is a lot healthier.

Perhaps the top 40% of your inputs are generating 60% of your outputs or perhaps you’re even reaching a perfect 50-50 ratio – 1 input to 1 output. For many people, though, the balance will be more extreme.

In some circumstances, you may find that even the top 1% of your inputs are generating 99% of your outputs. Try not to see this as a mistake; see it as an opportunity for growth. Trim the fat, cut out that 99% of mostly useless work, and watch your graph trend upwards.

Amaya Officially Enters DFS

In breaking news, Amaya, the parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt, made good on its promise to enter the daily fantasy sports world before football season started by acquiring Victiv. The site will be renamed StarsDraftand, according to a press release, will be “initially launched at StarsDraft.com in select US markets and later through the PokerStars platform.”

Matthew Primeaux, CEO of Victiv, said in the same release, “StarsDraft will combine Victiv’s innovative platform and experienced DFS team with Amaya’s expansive consumer base and operational excellence as the world’s preeminent online gaming brand. We intend to capitalize on what we believe is strong crossover between online poker players and daily fantasy sports. PokerStars is the most trusted brand in online gaming and brings unmatched security, customer support, and technical infrastructure that we believe all players can rely on.”

According to Legal Sports Report, Victiv currently takes players from each state besides Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, and Washington. The site added, “Victiv is a second-tier site behind the DFS duopoly of FanDuel and DraftKings, making the cost of acquiring Victiv much more reasonable than taking over either of the top two sites, which now have billion-dollar valuations.”

Victiv, which launched last September and so is not even a year old, is based in Austin, Texas and its current management team will continue to steer the ship. The first game of the 2015 NFL preseason was four days ago and the first game of the regular season is on September 10, so the window for Amaya to enter the market prior to Week 1 was closing quickly.

PokerStars was recently seen surveying former players about DFS and this author had heard it was building its own DFS product and so might not be ready for football season. According to LSR, however, “Other than integration with the PokerStars client, that is off the table now.”

DraftKings and FanDuel have been busy partnering with some of the largest sports-related companies around. In fact, DraftKings was a presenting sponsor of the World Series of Poker. FanDuel and DraftKings have partnerships with many MLB, NBA, and NFL teams, just to name a few.

Yahoo recently launched its own DFS product, as did CBS, which calls its site SportsLine. Despite all of the recent launches and acquisitions, FanDuel and DraftKings remain the frontrunners and largest sites in the industry.

“It’s Really Good to See the Brazil Poker Community Evolve So Much”

In June, Rafael Watanabe do Prado, aka rwprado on PocketFives, took down the Full Tilt Sunday Major outright for $31,000. There were 620 entrants that day and the tournament fell short of its guarantee, creating a little extra value for everyone who entered. The Brazilian was one of five PocketFivers at the final table.

“I’m feeling great,” he said after the fact. “Winning a Sunday Major with so many respected players is very satisfying.” He’ll use the money from the Full Tilt tournament to pump up his bankroll and play more tournaments.

Here’s how the final table cashed out:

1. rwprado – $31,875.00 (rwprado)
2. withesark – $21,750.00
3. El Spewtardo – $16,500.00 (The Spewtard)
4. checktrap11 – $12,600.00 (Checktrap11)
5. asromaclan – $9,300.00 (girex91)
6. Hellzito – $6,600.00 (hellzito)
7. llumar24 – $4,800.00
8. trapnel – $3,600.00
9. SlowPlayAlex – $2,700.00

Prado was asked for his take on the other PocketFivers in the final nine. He said, “I didn’t have that many spots with girex91, but he looked like a really proficient player. hellzito is also a Brazilian player. I know him and have a lot of respect for his game. We also didn’t face each other too much because he got to the final table short-stacked.”

He added of the third and fourth place finishers, “Checktrap11 is a very aggressive and competent player. I won a hand where he got eliminated with a cooler pre-flop with K-K versus A-K. The Spewtard was the chip leader when the final table got six-handed. He played truly aggressively and I had to work hard to adapt myself against him.” In the end, PocketFivers raked in two-thirds of the prize pool.

Prado recently hit $1 million in career online tournament winnings and, since our interview, has climbed to almost $1.2 million. “It’s a really significant number,” he relayed about the seven-digit milestone. “With the spread of poker online, the fields are getting more difficult day by day. What works for me is to play loads of tournaments, study really hard, and always be prepared to change and adapt.”

Prado is the 22nd-ranked player from Brazil and #2 in the city of Bauru. “It’s really good to see the Brazil poker community evolve so much over the last few years,” he proudly boasted. “Today, we have many competent players and I’m honored to be part of this community.”

Besides poker, Prado enjoys traveling and recently returned from a whirlwind eight-month trip around the world. And when we say around the world, we aren’t kidding. Over the course of eight months, he visited Spain, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, and Hungary. That’s three continents if you’re keeping track.

“That trip was only possible thanks to poker because this is a job I can do in anywhere in the world,” he pointed out. “I also have other hobbies like watching TV shows, playing sports, and doing other online games.”

He closed by sending a shout out to his friends in poker who have helped make his success possible: Rafael Moraes, Thiago Crema, Marcos Sketch, Julio Lins, Edison Roberto, and Vitor Brasil. “I owe a lot of this achievement to them,” he said. “And also thank you to all of my non-poker friends and family. Thank you for the support!”

iPoker Tiered Skin System Comes to an End

The iPoker Network’s slogan is, “Always a full house.” For the last three years, though, it wasn’t. The member rooms had been living in a duplex, with some on the top floor and some on the ground floor, only co-mingling at certain times. But today, the walls are being knocked down and all of the poker rooms will be reunited in a single dwelling.
In September 2012, in an effort to push under-performing skins towards recruiting recreational players, the iPoker Network divided itself into two tiers. The Tier 1 rooms, which tended to be the bigger ones, were the rooms that had done right by the network and recruited players that contributed to the health of the network’s poker economy.
Tier 2 rooms were punished for their sub-optimal recruiting practices and were segregated from Tier 1 rooms at cash game stakes of $2/$4 and below and sit-and-go stakes of $30 and below. Players in both tiers were still pooled together for multi-table tournaments.
The issue at hand for the network was the skins’ ability to attract recreational players. As those of you who frequent this site know, the poker economy needs a steady flow of “recs,” or casual players who typically just play for fun and are not usually that highly skilled, to remain healthy.
These casual players tend to lose money, distributing it throughout the poker economy, and often re-deposit and do it all over again. They inject money into the network. Skilled professional players and serious amateurs are the ones, in general terms, who take money from the weaker players and then cash out, removing funds from the poker economy.
All networks want their tables filled with recreational players, but the iPoker Network decided to implement the tiered system to incentivize its member rooms to put forth the effort in recruiting those players. The rooms that were initially granted entry into Tier 1 had been successfully attracting those players through proper marketing efforts.
The skins relegated to Tier 2 had generally been just pulling in players through rakeback deals. There are multiple problems with marketing this way, but in iPoker’s case, the core issue was that generous rakeback deals almost exclusively attract the most highly skilled players, the ones who care the most about making a profit. These are the players who, despite their heavy action, iPoker did not want, as they suck money from the recreational players.
Tier 2 skins were punished for their poor marketing practices, stuck in a group with a lower player liquidity than Tier 1. They could eventually make their way up to Tier 1, though, by having a minimum of 6,000 active players per month and recruiting 850 new players each month who raked at least $5 each. There were other factors involved too, such as player deposit to cashout ratios, but the basic player counts were figures that had been released to the public.
Needless to say, Tier 2 skins were not happy about the development at all. Some, such as Pokerhuis and Gutshot Poker, left the network. Celeb Poker merged into Titan Poker.
The experiment is now over, as PokerStrategy reports that starting Tuesday, all iPoker skins will be back together on a unified network. The tiered system certainly didn’t help the network’s liquidity grow, as PokerScout had iPoker’s cash game traffic at 2,900 players when the tiered system began and it is only at 1,300 now. Of course, the liquidity of the industry as a whole has dropped, so perhaps the network would have been worse off without the tiered system, but it would be hard for an outsider to look at it and say it was a grand success.

Jason Somerville Signs a Partnership with Twitch

According to a post on Twitter, Jason JCarver Somerville has signed a new two-year partnership with Twitch.

Somerville’s Tweet received 121 re-Tweets and had been Favorited 556 times when we checked it out. He even took time to respond to several comments in the feed, including one asking whether his schedule would be as rigid as it was before. To that, Somerville replied, “I’m still gonna try to be consistent, but maybe with less ‘rules.'”

Run it Up will take place, as Somerville alluded to, every day. When asked whether he’ll be doing it every day for 730 days, or two years straight, however, Somerville responded, “Might be a LITTLE under 730 days. That would be ultra-tenacity tho for sure.”

Somerville has been largely silent on Twitch in the last couple of months with the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. He plays on his home site, PokerStars, which is not regulated in the US and so is not available to US players. His last Twitch broadcast came on July 1 when he was interviewed in the halls of the Rio in Las Vegas.

In March, Somerville began 70 straight days of streaming on Twitch. He has served as a pioneer of poker on the media platform and was nominated for an American Poker Award for Poker Media Content of the Year in February.

Somerville’s Twitch stream has received an incredible 7.4 million views and has over 105,000 followers. In an interview in May, the PokerStars pro told us, “Twitch is a great base to interact with users. It’s amazing for poker as both an entertainment and educational engine.” Somerville’s presence on Twitch has caused, either directly or indirectly, other staples of poker to stream, including Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth.

Isildur1 – The Biggest High Stakes Poker Winner in July

Just prior to the shutdown of the high-stakes games on Full Tilt Poker, online wunderkind Viktor Isildur1 Blom had a July to remember, taking in six-figures for the month.

According to statistics from HighStakesDB, Blom romped over the competition for pretty much the entirety of July. Over the span of 76 sessions during the month, the Swede played 6,432 hands against an array of competition. The bottom line, you might ask? Blom came out on the winning side, earning $251,572 during the month.

July could have been even better for Blom if it weren’t for that dastardly variance. On July 18, Blom was playing six-handed Pot Limit Omaha when he took down a pot of $228,952, almost as much as he made in the entire month of July.

On that same day, he also was able to take down the fifth largest pot of the month ($144,476) and the seventh largest ($138,476). These numbers must feel like pocket change to Blom, whose largest ever pot was won in November 2009 and was worth $1,127,955.

After exploding on the scene in the late 2000s and building up an online bankroll of over $5.5 million, Blom had a huge downswing, dropping as low as $2.2 million in the red as of December 2009. When Black Friday hit the online poker industry, Blom was $2.75 million in the hole and it looked like he would stay there.

Isildur1 fought back, however, getting back into the black at roughly $2.5 million by the start of 2013. Blom fell back under the breakeven line in January 2014 and, despite booking a win for July, finds himself over $4.5 million in the hole for his career online.

Blom’s performance during the month of July was $50,000 higher than the second place of Ben Sauce123 Sulsky, who manage to pull in $194,518 for the 31-day span. Sulsky showed a better win rate than Blom, however, as he only used 32 sessions and 3,666 hands to nearly reach the $200,000 mark.

John dagunman O’Shea ($161,598) also did well in July, but it was Phil RaiseOnce Ivey who made a big noise at the virtual tables.

Ivey only stepped to the PokerStars online games five times during the month and only played 722 hands, but he made the most of them. Taking down $150,993 for the month, his win rate of over $30,000 per session was by far the best of those ranked in the top 10 by HighStakesDB. It was enough to give Ivey the fourth place slot over lautie, who captured fifth by taking down $70,077 in July.

The big question will be how the changes at Full Tilt Poker are going to affect the high-stakes poker world. Last week, Full Tilt removed all high-stakes games over $10/$20. While Blom preferred to frequent the tables at Full Tilt, the rest of the top 10 on HighStakesDB table were all playing at PokerStars.

Three Biggest Mistakes in Cash Games

Many cash game players think tournament players suck at cash games. They are right and MTT guys probably suck at cash games even more than cash guys suck at MTTs.

Yes, I just said it and I’m not sorry. Sometimes the truth is tough, but I’m actually not here to offend you. Telling the truth might not make me everybody’s friend, but my mission is to help poker players improve their game first. So, let’s focus on that!

“If you don’t know who the sucker at the table is, it’s probably you”.

I’ve heard this phrase many years ago and never forgot it. Everybody knows that phrase, but nobody acts on it. One big reason for my own success as a player and the big success of all of my students is that we always know where we’re at in the food chain. People who don’t know this will inevitably lose their winnings or won’t become winners in the first place.

Very successful tournament players will go to a cash game table and often dismiss bad results as “variance” and other reasons. It might not always be variance, though, so in this article series I will point out three typical leaks and how to fix them.

Okay, now that we got this out of our way, let’s get to part one of this three-part series. As the title says, you’re going to learn the three biggest mistakes you make at a cash game table. You will also learn how you can fix them.

Part 1: There is no CHIP EV in cash games, aka Tournament Players Have a Terrible Understanding of Pot Odds and Equity

In tournaments, it is very important and often crucial to consider villains’ and your own stack size when making a decision. How many Ms or big blinds you have is not only a consideration for the current hand, but also for future decisions.

Situation #1

In a tournament, a player may not decide to call a min-raise out of the big blind with a hand (let’s say 8s-5s) because the likely check-fold on the flop could result in a lower stack size.

Problem #1

Why is this so important in a tournament? Lower stack means less fold equity for re-steals or open-raising / open-shoving. The ability to have fold equity is crucial in tournaments.

Tournament players are very good at being conscious about all of those little details. Small gains in EV such as calling a min-raise with 8s-5s can be a bad bargain if it consequently means losing a bigger EV spot by not being able to open-shove / re-steal. This probably matters less when you have a 70bb stack, but it can matter a lot when you’re below 30bb.

Many tournament players understand this on an intuitive level even if they can’t use phrases such as “sacrificing short-term EV in order to gain long-term EV.”

How to fix situation #1 in cash games:

There is no such thing as long-term EV in cash games. In about 99.9% of cases, you should make the instant “mathematical” correct play and totally disregard stack sizes. Stack sizes in Hold’em are an imaginary construct because you can always rebuy. There are very few situations in which stack sizes play a role on a rational level.

In other words, if you get the right price with 8s-5s in a cash game and there is nothing else to consider, you should be calling this hand in the big blind against a min-raise.

Situation #2

This principle is very simple to understand, easier than in situation #1. You’re playing an MTT, 20 players are left, and 19 get paid. Most players these days understand that you should avoid battles with other big stacks since it’s a lose-lose situation.

Let’s complicate the situation even further. There are nine people left, all of you get paid, but there is a big pay jump from seventh to sixth place. In spots like these, the most optimal Chip EV play is often very different than the “real” EV that can be calculated with models like ICM. Some plays can be very counter-intuitive.

How to fix situation #2 in cash games:

There’s nothing to fix. It’s knowledge you won’t be able to use. Those two spots are rather easy to understand and most tournament players will be able to fix them. If you’re somewhat of an advanced player, you know this stuff. So why am I stating the obvious in situations #1 and #2?

The main reason – and this is your biggest value from this article – is that your straightforward math gets messed up when your main goal is stack preservation and not maximum chip EV.

Here is a hand that could have been played by a tournament player. I’m not saying all of you, but many of you would have done a terrible move without even understanding how bad it is. Keep in mind I’m simplifying and exaggerating a lot of things to make a point, so don’t nit-pick the details. Understand the thought and idea.

Situation #3

We’re playing NL200, 6max cash game.
Hero is in the big blind with Th-7h

BTN ($200)
SB ($160)
HERO ($200)

BTN raises to $4, SB folds, Hero raises to $10 and wonders why the button never folds.

Problem #3:

In tournaments, you can often get away with using a very small sizing when re-stealing. Why? Because both you and your opponent know that despite him getting great odds, he has to be concerned about his stack size.

Another reason might be that he simply doesn’t know better and thinks along the lines of, “I don’t call 3bets with X or Y” instead of understanding that it’s not about the hand, but instead about the price you have to pay to play the hand.

Either way, small 3bets and small 4bets work very well in many tournament situations. They do not work very well in cash games. A smart opponent will simply call because he understands that he’s getting a good price. That’s it.

Solution #3:

Don’t offer your opponents too good odds when you’re re-raising. Make sure you’re (re)raising big enough. He’s not making a mistake by calling you super light. He’d actually make a mistake by folding too much. The typical recommended sizes these days for a re-raise is about 4x vs a min-raise and 3.5x vs a 2.5x to 3x open-raise.

That’s it for today. I’ve kept it simple for the start, but here is a little quiz where you can check if you have understood today’s lesson.

Check out the BPL Card for Live Tournaments!

If you play live poker tournaments, one major issue is handling a lot of cash. In most cases when you register for a tournament, you will need the buy-in in cold hard cash, and if you wind up finishing in the money, you will have a similar problem of once again walking around with money.

Thanks to a new product called the BPL Prepaid Card, developed by Bravo Poker Live, this problem may be a thing of the past. The BPL Prepaid Card is a new service designed to handle your buy-ins and cashes to prevent the unnecessary headache of needing a wallet bulging with cash.

Using this convenient service is very easy. All you need to do is to head to BPLCard.com, log in, and click on the “Apply Now” link. The link will walk you through what information is needed.

Once you have successfully registered, you can immediately add funds with a credit or debit card or via an ACH transfer from your checking account. After the funds are loaded, your BPL Player Card will be sent to your doorstep, ready to be used.

In addition to being able to use this card to register online for tournaments supported by Bravo Poker Live, you can use it to book your hotel accommodations if you’re playing in a tournament out of town via their website. Additionally, the BPL Prepaid Card should work anywhere the Discover Card is accepted, including ATM machines.

While it is certainly a huge convenience for poker players to be able to register for live tournaments with their BPL Players Card, it can be even a bigger convenience after cashing in any tournament at a supported casino. Many players after a cash have felt they have had a target on their backs walking out of the casino with a big chunk of cash. Now, instead of carrying around cash, you can ask the casino to load it up onto your card, which you can use later as you see fit.

Additionally, having the money on your BPL Player Card is safe and secure. Funds are FDIC secured and issued by Sutton Bank.

Meet the Top-Ranked PocketFiver in Bulgaria

In June, Alex Dimitrov, known on PocketFives as alexd2, won the PokerStars Sunday $109 Rebuy for $38,000 under the screen name grinder1992. There was no chop that day and Dimitrov led the six PocketFivers at the final table.

“Considering the fact that three months ago I didn’t even think I could go deep in it, I am incredibly happy with this result,” he told us. “I always thought this tourney was a tough and prestigious one.” There were over 700 entrants that day and the prize pool sailed past $200,000.

Dimitrov said that fellow PocketFiver vitinhorrn15, from Brazil, gave him the most trouble at the final table “because he was playing in position. Later on when we were three- and four-handed, he took from me a series of small to medium pots post-flop where I couldn’t do much. Still, I think I managed to keep the lead from the start to the end of the final table.”

As far as his plans for the money go, the top-ranked Bulgarian cited an EPT event as a possibility, but revealed, “I have two or three ideas for some investments outside the poker world and I will need to think about what exactly I want to do with it.”

Let’s get to Bulgaria now. Dimitrov leads the 298 Bulgarian PocketFivers with PLB scores and is #27 worldwide in the PocketFives Rankings. He said of poker in his home country, “Bulgaria is one of the smaller countries and there are not many secrets here. Almost all of the poker players know each other and see each other often. I definitely feel proud to represent my home country online with my scores and love to hear when friends of mine have nice scores as well.”

There are 44 PocketFivers with PLB scores from Sofia, Bulgaria (pictured), including Dimitrov, and the nation’s PocketFivers have amassed $23.1 million in winnings over the years.

The Sunday $109 Rebuy winner got started in poker playing in high school. He explained, “At first, poker was not interesting to me because I didn’t know anything about the game and things didn’t go well, but there was one schoolmate who was always making a profit and he was always the big winner. I talked to him, he give me some advice, and after that I started reading some strategies about the game online. Just a few weeks later, I started winning at school and then started playing online a lot.”

He has been playing full-time for the last four years and generally sticks to online poker. When he’s not tearing up the tables, Dimitrov is a fan of extreme sports. “During the summer, I go kite-surfing with friends and during the winter I love snowboarding,” he gleaned. “I like traveling around the world and, like most people, I like hanging out with friends.”

His largest online cash to date was worth $45,000 and came after a third place finish in thePokerStars Super Tuesday just nine days after his Sunday $109 Rebuy win. To open 2015, he finished second in the 888 Poker Whale and raked in $42,000. Dimitrov is already less than $50,000 away from hitting $1 million in online MTT winnings lifetime.

PartyPoker Clears Withdrawal Fees

On Friday, PartyPoker announced that it will no longer be charging for withdrawal fees for most of its options effective immediately. MasterCard, Maestro, Visa, bank transfers, Kalixa Pay, goplay prepaid MasterCard, ClickAndBuy, and PayPal will now be free of charge, with the site absorbing any costs into its overhead.

Players using these methods should be pleased, as who wants to pay for something when they could have it for free? Also, many of the site’s competitors already do not charge for these withdrawal methods.

PartyPoker Director of Games Golan Shaked believes it is important to strive to give players what they want. “Listening to the players is central to our ongoing strategy. When we started our Poker for the People campaign, withdrawal fees and our loyalty store were the two hottest topics raised at our live player forums,” said Shaked in a statement to the media.

You may have noticed that e-wallets such as Skrill andNeteller weren’t included in the list of withdrawal methods. PartyPoker currently charges 3% of withdrawals to its customers, which can add up quickly for players who are used to moving their bankroll around from site to site.

Shaked implied that Skrill and Neteller fees could also be removed in the future. “Our poker team has been working hard and we’re really pleased to have addressed these two issues, but there’s still work to be done,” said Shaked. “We will continue to look at ways to eliminate withdrawal fees from the small number of payment processors who currently charge a premium for their services.”

Another complaint being addressed is the timing of withdrawals. While PartyPoker isn’t known to be slow paying out its customers, it is also not as fast as some of the other industry leaders. According to Shaked, PartyPoker is striving to move from the middle of the pack to one of the leaders in processing withdrawals.

“Finally, we need to expedite the withdrawal process by shortening the time it takes to verify player winnings and identity. Our customers can look forward to seeing further significant improvements in the near future,” said Shaked.

The timing of this announcement is rather curious since PartyPoker is in a state of uncertainty, with the company likely being purchased in the near future. It seemed like a deal was all said and done in the middle of July, when it was announced that 888 Holdings, the owner of 888 Poker, purchased bwin.party for approximately $1.4 billion. This announcement only fueled the fire for GVC, the owner of Sportingbet, to offer a competing bid of around $1.6 billion.

The good news for players is that PartyPoker seems to be addressing concerns despite the likelihood that ownership of the online gaming company will change sometime soon.