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Quick Review of 2011

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It was always going to be a better year than 2010 - simply because my dear Father passed away that year.

2011 was a great year all in all. It was still tremendously tough getting used to life without Dad, but some great stuff happened. Most notably releasing The Mental Game of Poker.

Talk about running bad, we released it on April 15 - what became better known as Black Friday, the darkest day in the history of online poker and without doubt the worst day in history to release a poker book.

As a result, we set our original lofty sales goal much lower for the year. I am pleased to say, all things considered, sales have been good. We beat our 18 month target in 7 months, and had our biggest selling month this month (Christmas, plus an unexpected surge on Xmas day from everyone who got a kindle as their big pressie).

More importantly, the reviews have been amazing. To hear that it has been a life changer for some is certainly more rewarding than anything else I have felt in my career and I would like to sincerely thank everyone who bought it, and in particular those guys who chose to discuss it on poker forums, twitter, and the like.

There was a ton of material Jared & I did not use, because the book was getting too big, so we will be working on turning that into something significant in 2012.

2011 also saw me move from PokerNews.com to PokerStrategy.com. I loved it at PokerNews, so it wasn't an easy move, but PokerStrategy are a big exciting company and it has been a great experience so far, and I look forward to helping them become the number 1 news source in poker in 2012 (I already think we are, but I would).

On paper 2012 is going to be awesome. The missus and I are off to Paris next month, we are getting married in New York in May, and going to the Olympics in June. Jared & I are working on 'Mental Game of Poker Project 2' and if that doesn't become a book (It might be a website for example) I want to have my second book finished in 2012 (Working on a couple of ideas at the moment but nothing concrete).

I don't set resolutions as such, but I do have a 'weight loss bet' starting tomorrow. I know 100% that these things are destined to fail, but in my case it is purely a short term thing, as I want to look good in my wedding photos. I am very content with the idea of putting the weight back on immediately after I get married (And America is a great place to do that) - more details on that tomorrow.

Will I blog more in 2012? Not sure, I am always hot and cold with blogging, and ironically blog less when the interesting stuff is happening, but I will try.

Happy new year all.

Vote For Me In The APAT Awards

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Go on, be a mate, vote for me as the 'Best Poker Social Media User' in the 2011 APAT Awards. 

You have to create a forum account, but it is worth it because APAT are a fantastic organisation who run affordable deep stack events up and down the UK, who helped pave the way for the fantastic structures we all enjoy in the UK live scene these days.

UK PokerNews is also up for an award, which is a partial brag because although I have left them, I was there for 9 months so it kinda counts too (Though Matt Pitt is doing a great job with it too and I am sure he would have been nominated regardless).

Mental Game of Poker Excerpt - Mental Game Fish

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Open publication - Free publishing - More mental game

One of the two most quoted and commented upon chapters in The Mental Game of Poker is the chapter about 'Mental Game Fish'.

Basically we say that most good players are still fish when it comes to how they deal with the mental side of their game, and we give a list of examples of what it is to be a mental game fish.

So ahead of the holidays we have released it as an excerpt, see how many you score.

The Mental Game of Poker is now on sale at www.mentalgameofpoker.com, Amazon.com, & Amazon.co.uk

(Note it is NOT out of stock like it says it is on Amazon UK)

Get Your Poker Press Release Noticed - Inside Poker Business Column

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If you have any interest in the inner workings of poker, bookmark Inside Poker Business as its superb. 


I am an editor of a news site, and not a week goes by without someone asks me for advice about how to get their press release noticed. Lots of them are very frustrated that they sent their release out and got next to nothing in editorial back from it. Many assume that they simply cannot compete when the larger operators contribute so much in terms of advertising revenue.

It is true that many websites and magazines will have ‘super affiliate’ deals with one of the major operators which could stop you in your tracks. The chances are also that your budget won’t be able to give away Porches or six figure sums away as promotional prizes either. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a press release noticed by the poker media, as long as you can give us something to write about.


It’s not my place to tell you what sort of promotions you should be running, but I can say that if you want them picking up by editors, and your budget is not limitless, you need to do something different. The smaller operators who manage to capture the attention of players and media alike tend to focus on niches or localised promotions. For example, PKR recently introduced the PKR Social series, offering fun breaks away like golf weekends or tickets to watch Mixed Martial Arts. Likewise, some of the smaller skins like Poker Encore offer satellites to mid stakes regional events like the Dusk Till Dawn Deepstack. These promotions won’t appeal to everyone, but those they do appeal to will become converts, and in the case of a journalist, that could translate to some very enthusiastic editorial.

If you are going to inform the media of newsworthy human interest story then take a step back and ask is it really of interest? Consumers are very savvy these days and they know spam when they see it. There are so many press releases that really only appeal to the person sending them. Press releases saying a player has signed a deal with a poker agency, or a sponsored player came 8th in a tournament, are not the sort of things that most consumers want to read. Before you send out a release of this kind, ask yourself if it would stand up on its own if you were to remove every reference to your brand from it, if the answer is no then it’s probably not the human interest piece you think it is.

So many press releases are sent every day, and you stand a much better chance of getting one picked up if you adopt a personal approach. Sending a direct, personalised email to anyone on your targeted release list is certainly going to help it stand out from the crowd. A quick follow up email or a friendly phone call will also reap dividends, as most writers are very keen to network and establishing a personal relationship will satisfy this need for them (Especially if you can offer them  your ‘exclusive’ earlier than their competitors).

Social media is playing an increasingly more significant part in the way poker is reported, so make sure you get into the habit of retweeting and liking your targeted editors Twitter & Facebook efforts. It can be surprising how powerful a rapport this can create. (And while we are on the subject, always put your press releases on twitter because it is fast becoming the first place we all check for news).

Sometimes it is not apparent to an editor where a press release may appeal to their target audience, so try and identify areas where there is mutual interest. For example, news of your new poker tour may not be immediately of interest to the editor in question, but point out their biggest affiliate partner is hosting qualifiers and you might make an inroad. The result of your tournament may not be big news to a webmaster, but pointing out a deep finish by a member of their online community might become a perfect human interest piece. The poker world can be surprisingly small at times, so look for that common ground.

By the same token, try and identify any major conflicts of interest to manage your own expectations. The recent batch of ‘grave dancing’ press releases by some operators in the wake of Black Friday is a great example of this, as many editors understandably are reluctant to take on press releases that take shots at some of their major partners. If your brand is a major rival to one of their biggest partners, don’t be surprised if it gets ignored (and think how you would respond if you were asked to plug something that promoted your biggest competitor).


The timing of your press releases is going to play a key role in deciding whether it gets picked up. As a rule, try and avoid Fridays through till Mondays, as this is usually the time when tournament reporting takes centre stage. Tuesday to Thursdays are usually relatively baron periods, given that tournament reporting makes up a big part of poker news, so schedule your releases for then. Also avoid releasing anything around the time of major events like the WSOP, because there is only one place the audience and the media will be looking.

Frequency is another factor that is often overlooked; the biggest mistake you can make here is to send too many releases in quick succession. The more releases, the more diluted the overall brand message will get, and the less importance editors place on them. If poker room A sends three press releases a week and poker room B sends one a month, the likelihood is the second one is more likely to stop the press.

PokerStrategy.com Column - Poker 2.0: What Could Facebook Poker Do For The Industry?

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facebook
Is Mark Zuckerberg
bringing us online poker?
 
My latest column, originally published by PokerStrategy.com

The history books may not look back on this week as one of the turning points in the story of online poker, but this may have been one of the biggest weeks in online poker, at least since Black Friday.

This week, Bodog announced that their new platform would be 100% anonymous and player notes would be removed. So every time you sit down at the tables, you are doing so with no reads on the other players.

This means that the use of HUDs and datamining sites like PokerTableRatings would be deemed obsolete.

PokerStars have unveiled their first foray into mobile gaming, with a phone based client on PokerStars.it. This is also a big week for them for another reason, as they will attempt to host 250,000 players in a world record attempt tournament.

Finally, and most significantly by far, this week it was announced that Facebook is in preliminary talks with several poker rooms about hosting real money poker in the UK.

What all these moves (All of which I think are immensely positive) illustrate is that we are heading towards a new world order in online poker. One that looks out for the interests of recreational players first and foremost, rather than the 24 tabling professional player.

Not a day goes by without us hearing the words 'the games are getting tougher'. This is because there is so much great free strategy information readily available, but it is also because for several years now, online poker has had a cannibalistic ecosystem.

Big rakeback deals, poker software like HUDs, and datamining sites like PokerTablesRatings have all contributed to making low and midstakes games incredibly difficult.

Mass multi-tabling pros can be found at just about every online table with a free seat, and recreational players find a double figure queue waiting to clean out their roll almost as soon as they start playing the game.

These changes are not only great for the casual losing players, they are going to make the games so much better for the grinders too.


Facebook Poker - A Game Changer?

Onto the news that Facebook might be throwing their hat into the online poker ring. Real money poker has been knocking on the door of social media for a while now. We have all been waiting for Zynga Poker to launch a real money product, but they have just confirmed they will not be launching one for their 30 million registered players.

ChiliPoker, 888 Poker, and PokerStars are three rooms who have already made some progress in the social realm, but only as a supplement to their current client. 

As someone from the UK, I find the news about Facebook incredibly exciting, in fact I almost salivated when I first heard about it. We have all been looking for that second 'boom', this could be it people.

Why has the UK been singled out for this? Probably because historically gambling has been looked upon a lot more liberally over here than in other parts of the world. We don't (currently) pay tax on gambling winnings, and sports betting has always been celebrated by the mainstream media.

Bear in mind that Facebook has two hurdles to jump through here. Not only do they have to appease the country in questions gambling regulators, social media is also becoming a major topic for government and media regulators, with best practices and social responsibility being hot topics surrounding them.

So I think the UK is a natural starting point for Facebook to test the waters. I fully expect if it is successful, the operation will be expanded around the world (Hopefully not with segregated poker rooms per region).

Why is Facebook Poker such an exciting prospect? Because it opens the doors to players who would never normally have considered playing for real money. Facebook has over 800 million active users (30 million in the UK), that is a database that dwarfs the online poker population by a huge margin.

Rather than advertising or sponsorship, Facebook uses 'permission marketing' which is so much more effective. Word of mouth and recommendation from a friend is vastly more effective than watching a TV commercial, and that is exactly what you get on Facebook.

Brand new demographics will see that their friends are playing real money poker on Facebook, and that will make the thought of playing themselves all the more plausible.
facebook
The largest player database in the world
 


Although we have no idea what it will look like, or how it will be regulated, Facebook Poker is likely to be (Or at least perceived to be) much more financially secure than a standalone online poker room.

With everything that has gone on with Full Tilt, this could be of massive importance in regaining public confidence, and removing the 'Ponzi' label we are currently stuck with.


Social Responsibility & Safety

As excited as I am, I do have some concerns, which I am sure will be taken very seriously by Facebook, and already major topics of discussion in their negotiations with potential partners. 

One big one is that Facebook seems very easy to hack. Most of us have either had it happen to us, or at least to several people that we know.

Right now accessing a Facebook related app or website is usually just a matter of clicking 'Yes I Allow Permission To Access', but this would not be acceptable for real money poker. There will definitely need to be a secondary, independent, wall of security.

The second concern will be around vulnerable people. Although it is just as easy for someone who shouldn't gamble to open a poker account right now, this is a debate that is going to take place.

There will be extra temptation to play for people who probably shouldn't, and anti-gambling groups are going to be very opposed to Facebook Poker. So self exclusion and identify verification measures will need to be taken very seriously.

Finally, to go back to what Bodog have done this week, I hope that anonymity will at least be an option. It will be really cool to actually see who the person I am playing against is in real life, and could add a brilliantly fun social aspect to the game.

But by the same token, we don't want some poor soul who has had a massive losing week to wake up the next morning to 700 friend requests from predatory online poker players who have caught wind of their losses.

It could lead to online stalking much worse than takes place because of datamining sites, and could get seriously out of hand because of the much more personalised nature of social media.

But all in all, this is tremendously exciting news for online poker, at a time when it needs it more than ever. I will certainly be pressing the 'like' button for Facebook Poker.

by Barry Carter

Run Doggy, Run

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I know naffe all about Greyhounds, but last year I got shares in this little fella when he was a puppy, and he is just about ready to race any day now.

So expect to see me in betting shops soon, cheering him on, looking like a noob making £2 bets.

The one thing I do know about greyhounds, is he deffo would beat this little fella, whom I have 100% shares in.

Copyright © Barry Carter Poker