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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Face Up Gaming is going to die die die...

if it can't figure out how to handle a few hundred users on a Saturday afternoon...

Now, maybe there are extenuating circumstances (I live in Reston, where we had some weird-ass derecho storm take out most of the power in the area Friday night, along with Amazon's cloud servers for NetFlix and Instagram...not sure if the disconnects were regionally based or not) - but my god, the lobby chat and Twitter feed were all full of bloggers and regs that couldn't stay logged in, disconnected and couldn't log back on multiple times, you name it - just a huge technical disaster and fuckup all the way around.

I mean, it looked like the same number of players registered (149 vs. 144) - so why the site has such a hard time keeping players logged in... I mean, you wouldn't put up with this in a free Facebook game, much less a subscription model site... You are paying for the site to run RELIABLE tournaments, after all.

But that wasn't the worst of it. Poker players are whiners, let's be honest. The lobby chat was whiny, no doubt. And, I noticed that one change from the first tournament was that free accounts, like mine, can't chat - that's a feature reserved for paying subscribers - so I had no way of adding in my two cents or feedback to the mix

That doesn't mean the solution is that lobby chat should be turned off at the administrator's request - which is essentially saying, "We don't give a fuck what you say, you're too annoying, we have your mobneys, and we can't fix it anyway, go piss off."

Imagine Stars EVER doing this to their players.
Hell, FTP wasn't even that unresponsive while they still had a site ;-)

So, before anything else, this needs to be said.

DO NOT SPEND ANY MONEY ON FACE UP GAMING UNTIL THEY CAN DEMONSTRATE THE ABILITY TO RUN A STABLE, PLAYER-FRIENDLY SITE.

With that in mind, the tourney. Finished 40/149.

Nothing that notable. I did flop quads on a Grump board (422) the second hand in, so I still run goot on this site. Then I disconnected about nine million times, finally logged back in and shoved 97s into AQo for about 15BB and got there (who knew when I was going to get a chance to play a hand again?)

Then I ended up running AT into 33 and 55 and not hitting, and A9s into K8 and not holding, and I was down to 800 chips. I did get it back to about 3K by the first break by actually ninja-ing it up pretty good, then doubling through with QQ.

Then nothing but treading water during hour two (and another couple of disconnects), until I shoved QQ into Numbbono's AKo and lost the flip.

Anyhow, I may play more of these Al-sponsored tourneys, but there's no fucking way this site is getting any other action from me unless things change. In retrospect, maybe I was too kind in my evaluation of the Flash-based gaming engine. Flash does suck, after all.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I played online poker today. Really.

Well, I saw the post come across my RSS feed where Al decided to put together a tourney and resurrect the BBT on FaceUpGaming. Well, if I don't have to sign up and pay for it at first, sure, I'm game on a Saturday afternoon for a quickie freeroll.

Anyway, I finished 16/144 after 90 minutes of work - and got 300 tournament points, which I'm sure I can trade in for some of my FTP mobneys any day now....

I can sum up my MTT play pretty easily - way out of practice. I sucked my way to (almost) a top 10% finish.

I raise/folded preflop far too much, mostly b/c I was always short stacked and didn't have a lot of room to maneuver postflop. I flopped sets with pocket aces twice in 30 minutes for double ups, won a BvB standard flip for another double up early in hour two, then basically bled chips until we got down to two tables. I moved in UTG+1 with Q9s for like 4 blinds, and this guy just had to look me up with AK from the blinds and hold. Typical... ;-)

So, pluses and minuses of FaceUp, b/c I'm sure part of the reason we were invited to play was to blog about the site, give feedback, yadayadayada.

-Software is a hell of a lot better than any other free/subscription site - especially that silly RISE site that tried to get some traction last year. No, that doesn't mean it's perfect - far from it. Let's list all the weird quirks.

-No observer chat - no chat unless you're sitting at the table period - and no chat once you're eliminated from the MTT. There's a plus to this (no pissed off tilty bon mots) but also a minus (you can't continue to talk to someone after you get bounced) - and obviously with blogger-style tournaments, it's a major drawback to NOT be able to chat with another table while playing on yours.

However, it is an interesting feature to have voice and video chat available - not that I really wanted to see and hear Lightning and Wolfshead while playing - it feels so weird after years of static avatars and text chat -  but it's a nice perk nevertheless.

-Really hard to type in bet sizes to raise, or even click the slider around to make a raise, as the slider clicked in increments of 1. Not real useful at 200/400/50 level.

-Not sure if it's because the game engine is Flash-based, or because my Windows machine sucks, but I couldn't resize the table at all. Either I had to go full screen or vertically center the table by hand so I could see the controls I needed. By the way, if I could play this site on my iPad - if there was an HTML5 version - THAT WOULD BE AWESOMESAUCE...

- What good are the Level reminders at the bottom left of the screen if I can't see them b/c they take up more space than allotted and I can't expand or rollover the text to read it?

-Tourney lobby doesn't update chip counts during the tourney, just shows eliminated players and final place. How hard would this be to fix?

-Generally, the UI controls just aren't very refined at this point. They work, with the exception of easily typing bet sizes, but they don't work as smoothly as they should.

Now, all this being said, the game engine seems stable and relatively quick, esp. with all-ins, and the average recreational player is not going to care about a lot of these issues.

For semi-serious players, though, they're fairly important. Especially the MTT structure.

I'm not going to go all Chainsaw on it, but when you eliminate over half the field in the first hour (144 to 49) and start with 80BB stacks, but the average stack isn't even 10BB at that point (288K in play/49 players = 5900 avg. stack entering 300/600/75) - that's awful quick.  Maybe it's the combination of 6 minute levels with blinds doubling every other level, or maybe it's because we don't even see antes until level 9 (150/300/25) - but it just seems too fast.

If I'm going to pay these guys $25 a month to play in an online league, I'd want better MTT structures for my money. Honestly, I'm halfway tempted to try it, because I love the idea of playing in a regular league and seeing how good or bad I'd finish up over time, and because as quirky as the software is, it's still playable IMO.

Not asking for superstacks that take 7-8 hours to play, but 3-4 hours with a little bit of postflop play for almost 150 players isn't unreasonable. It's something that could easily be fixed by a little tweaking and flexibility with structures, so it's definitely not a fatal flaw or anything...

All in all though, it was very enjoyable, I played with quite a few familiar names in both bloggerland (Gracie, Julius Goat, BuddyDank, Al at a couple of tables) and Ante Up nation (OffDeadline, BerniceQ, who won the whole thing..) - which was nice as there weren't a whole lot of people that played both BBT and Ante Up other than me - and I'll certainly try to make time for this again if it actually picks up as an ongoing series...

******************

So, since I haven't blogged at all in 2012, what else has been going on?

The family has been fine - BabyGirlHeff has been a very trying and high-maintenance two-year old, but she's also sharp as a tack, so I guess that goes with the territory of dealing with smart toddlers.  She also loves the hell out of some Phineas & Ferb, which isn't a completely horrible, vapid cartoon...

I'm actually switching jobs this weekend - working with the government really started bringing me down, so when I was approached to go work for Verizon Digital Media Services as a metadata engineer, it didn't take much to convince me to go back to a commercial media environment. I'm not 100% sure what this job will entail - and it might very well suck - but I'm more than willing to take the chance that it won't.

My wife went contract on her job, mainly to free up some time to build up her photography/marketing business - or rather, I should say our business, as I'm now part-owner after her previous partner wanted out at the end of 2011. We do everything from weddings to portraits to building websites for small businesses - and even though doing work like this can be very tenuous and cutthroat, I really think we have a sustainable business model moving forward. So we shall see.

Life does have a way of changing. Maybe now I'll have some time to blog more often than every five months...