Sunday, September 21, 2014

A taste for wine



My new apartment in Salzburg has come together so well. My girlfriend and i've finally finished with the decorating and she or he could be very pleased with it. I just assembled the last piece of furniture, our couch. I've also managed to thoroughly replenish my wine refrigerator. We decided to drain it out before the move, since wine doesn't exactly travel well. (Well, that, and that i desired to buy some new wines anyway!) Mostly, we drank it ourselves although we gifted a couple of bottles to friends.

You probably thought I USED TO BE just a beer drinker since I've gone to the difficulty to establish my very own homebrew operation. Actually, I've collected wine for a very long time. Once I was four years old, my parents moved our family to Portugal and our house outside Lisbon had it's own little vineyard. When it was time to harvest, I got to stomp the grapes, which was such a lot fun. So I knew about wine from an overly young age. These days, my favorite wines to drink are Riesling, a white wine from Austria and southern Germany and red wines from a region within the south of France called Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I DO NOT spend some huge cash on wine, maybe $20 to $50 a bottle. I'm more interested by the taste in place of even if it has a posh label or comes from a famous place. A $50 bottle will also be just pretty much as good as a $500 bottle in the event you know what you are looking for.

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Team PokerStars Pro George Danzer

My girlfriend's dad is a small merchant and travels around to wine tastings, mainly as a hobby. I HAVE BEEN going to tastings myself about once a month or even won a wine-tasting competition. There is a place up here that could be a big wine retailer for restaurants and stuff and each few weeks they've tastings. At this one, they unfolded 16 different bottles, vintages from 1977 as much as 2005. Everyone tasted the wines blind and needed to write down what grape they believed it was, the rustic it was from, the region, the year, and the winemaker. There has been a scoring system that awarded points for proper answers. Correctly guessing the rustic was two points, the vintage was two points, and the year, grape type, and region were five points each. I got lucky on this instance because we ended up tasting some wines I USED TO BE conversant in. One among them I hit exactly--the region, the grape, the vintage, everything. I took home a magnum bottle of champagne for winning.

In a way, wine tasting competitions are so much like poker. You come back in prepared, but sometimes it takes numerous luck to win. At this competition, I got lucky for the reason that wine I guessed was certainly one of maybe five or ten wines I MAY identify exactly. It's like getting an excellent table draw on Day 1 of a tournament. You'll be able to either draw a gaggle of wines that you just knew rather well otherwise you can draw some you are not acquainted with in any respect. However, within the last competition I took part in before this one, I STOPPED last! That time, I wasn't as acquainted with the wines and it was more like an unpleasant table draw.

So now that I've conquered beer and wine, perhaps my next move have to be a distillery. My mom actually got me a small one for Christmas that I HAVE BEEN fooling around with. When you start making your personal beverages, you actually can't stop!

George Danzer is a member of Team PokerStars Pro.


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EPT11 Barcelona: Alec Torelli put to the test - and this time it's personal



Here she puts the high roller Alec Torelli to the test relating to his wife. It perhaps doesn't go quite so well for Torelli as he would have liked.

Follow the entire action from the tournament floor at the main EPT Barcelona page. There's hand-by-hand coverage within the panel on the top, including chip counts, and have pieces below. Follow the action from the High Roller at the High Roller page. Here is a wrap of yesterday's action, and there is also EPT Live, that is streaming action from the overall table of the primary Event.

NEIL3692 EPT10SAN Daniel Cates Isaac Haxton Neil Stoddart.jpg

Alec Torelli, playing high stakes cash with Dan Cates

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

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Casinos contemplate social gaming future



Does social gaming be capable of positively transform the land-based casino gaming experience? Kevin Vonasek, chief product officer for NYX Gaming Corp., a provider of online gaming solutions, certainly believes it can, and recently witnessed a small-scale example of it doing so.

Early this year, Vonasek began hearing good stuff about MyVEGAS, a free-play social casino app developed by PLAYSTUDIOS, then hosted by MGM Resorts International, that provides players an opportunity to acquire “loyalty currency” and earn valuable, real-world rewards from Las Vegas-based attractions and entertainment properties. Curious, he asked an organization receptionist to join, play and report to him at the experience. Two days later, this person approached him requesting a while off—apparently, she had won enough for a mid-week stay for 2 at Circus Circus Las Vegas and very desired to take them up at the offer.

“If [MGM Resorts] had just sent her a text message, e-mail or printed junk mail piece, I’m sure she should not have responded,” Vonsek said. “But because she played the MyVEGAS games and felt like she earned the prize, she asked for 2 days off, bought a $300 plane ticket, flew to Las Vegas, and stayed at Circus Circus and had a good time. MGM Resorts evidently has had 80,000 people come through its properties to redeem various MyVEGAS offerings.”

“That is what social gaming and social casinos are all about—extending a property’s brand beyond the walls of the casino, and giving someone a fully different form of gaming experience,” Vonasek added.

NUMBERS GAME

Vonasek relayed the anecdote during a session on social gaming strategies that came about earlier this year on the Southern Gaming Summit conference and trade extravaganza in Biloxi, Miss. The subject and timing of the session was apropos, given the extent of interest both social games and social casinos have garnered from the brick-and-mortar casino community. Indeed, given recent usage and revenue figures from both varieties of “free” play, it’s easy to grasp the excitement.

As a whole, the international social games market is anticipated to have a combined annual growth rate of 16 percent, and become a $17.4 billion market by 2019, in step with a report from Transparency Market Research. The outlook for the social casino games subset is equally rosy. In line with SuperData Research, there have been 205 million active social casino players in 2013, a host that may be expected to grow to 269 million by 2016. All told, the worldwide social casino market generated $2.35 billion in revenue for 2013, a 47 percent increase over the $1.6 billion it generated in 2012. It’s estimated that the social casino games market could hit $4.4 billion by 2015.

“Many consider social gaming to be the latest and strongest prospect for the way forward for the gaming industry,” said Craig Border, vice chairman of database marketing for Marketing Results Inc. “There are various numbers to support this position, the possible is huge.”

The size and potentially lucrative nature of this social casino market segment is definitely not lost at the terrestrial casino marketplace. Some large casino operators have already taken steps to become major players on this space, akin to Caesars Interactive Entertainment, which has bought social game developers comparable to Playtika and Buffalo Studios. Casino game providers have also gotten in at the act. Slot machine giant International Game Technology entered the social casino market in 2012 with the acquisition of DoubleDown Casino; and Bally Technologies just this last summer with its acquisition of Dragonplay. Indeed, for slot providers in general, a stake within the social casino realm pays out in two ways—by developing games on the market as apps to mobile and Internet users, and by selling social casino games and systems to land-based operators for white-label applications on their websites.

STRATEGIC OPTIONS

And for essentially the most part, that is how most brick-and-mortar gaming operations have handled the free-play phenomenon, by offering third-party social casino games to customers on their websites. Many operators view such systems as a hedge to the eventuality of for-pay online gaming, a method that also has applies today.

“Ultimately, the casino is establishing a web-based relationship, a mobile relationship with the client so that they begin to interact with the valuables that way,” Vonasek said. “So if iGaming does happen, whether it is legalized within a casino’s jurisdiction, the valuables has already built up that online database and relationship with the client where they're willing to have interaction with the power outside of its walls.”

However, the promise of immediate revenue from online gaming for casinos throughout the U.s.a. has declined somewhat of late, due partially to delayed legalization processes in lots of jurisdictions and the fewer than stellar performance of Internet wagering in states where it's allowed. Meanwhile, thanks largely to the growing approval for smartphones and tablets, mobile-device friendly social game use continues to skyrocket, which might result in business opportunities for operators with social casino systems in place. 

“Social gaming is a rapidly growing industry, definitely about it,” said Bob Hays vp and head of North America for Williams Interactive. “If persons are not for your casino, we all know they're spending nearly all of their time on mobile devices. Once they are playing on their mobile devices, they're downloading apps, they aren't browsing. For plenty of of the gamers, specifically casino slot players, the apps they're downloading are casino slot games.”

Indeed, in keeping with a contemporary active gambler report from Williams Interactive, 75 percent of land-based casino patrons actively play social games, up from 54 percent in 2010. The report also found that after it came to active social casino players visiting land-based gaming facilities, 33 percent had done so prior to now week, 45 percent within the last 90 days and 82 percent inside the last year.

“Your players which might be for your land-based operation are certainly spending time with social casino content and those who are in the market spending time with social casino content are visiting your casinos very often,” Hays said.

The report also showed that social games have a broad demographic appeal and that almost 70 percent of social casino players are under the age of 50, and 50 percent at the moment are 40 years of age or younger. These players access the social casino in multiple sessions each week, with each session lasting a regular of 20 minutes.

“As I DO KNOW from my land-based experience, operators are very focused presently on finding how you can bring more of this age group into the casino and feature them be a part of the logo community,” Hays said. “If the player is new, you've gotten a chance to procure them during the social games. If the individual is already a player within the property’s database, and in the event that they visit the social casino four times a week, that may be 80 minutes of engagement in a low-cost, mobile model with the goal of enticing them to visit the land-based casino.”

Tonya Roedell, director of digital and systems professional services for Aristocrat Technologies, has seen similar numbers and usage for the company’s nLive virtual casino solution. Aristocrat has found that there's a 57 percent higher casino visitation rate from customers who first play at a property’s social casino, and that these players provide 38 percent to 40 percent more ROI for the operator. “So not just are social casino players visiting a property’s online space and land-based casino, but also they are increasing their spend on the property whenever they become active within the online space,” she said.

These statistics, combined with the expansion of DoubleDown, Zynga and other gaming companies with strong social casino products, may entice brick-and-mortar operators to develop their very own social casino concepts and enter the distance as a for-pay social game competitor. One of these strategy is also easier said than done, especially for smaller brick-and-mortar operators, warns Vonasek.

“The collection of social casino players who actually pay real money for site currency and other extras is within the low single-digits, 5 percent tops,” Vonasek said. “And it’s already an overly well-serviced industry competing for the players actually willing to open their wallets. You'll attempt to make millions from direct social casino gaming as everyone hoped when the technology first developed, but remember to invest properly because you’ll wish to compete against the DoubleDowns and Zyngas of the world.”

Instead, Vonasek recommends that regional land-based casino operators use social games and free-play casinos as a marketing tool. “A social casino is nothing instead of an extension of a property’s marketing campaign,” he said. “Operators can use social gaming to drive new players right into a players’ club and the brick-and-mortar casino experience. In addition they provide a chance to have interaction with a customer every day, to get involved with their lives beyond standard marketing practices. It’s a fully different more or less relationship.”

OBSTACLE COURSE

Operators trying to create marketing-oriented social games and social casino sites face challenges besides. To start, the social game or social casino offering must be greater than only some games hosted on a property’s homepage. Content is king with regards to social gaming and key to making return traffic.

“Casino operators wish to extend the land-based brand to the net space beyond just the website.” Hays said. “They need some form of compelling content or experience that may be going to drive the player to the emblem around that online presence.”

MGM Resorts and MyVEGAS shows that such concepts do exist, it only a matter of finding and fine-tuning them.

Other items brick-and-mortar operators want to remember when developing social casino concepts include:

  • Targeting the best customer. Social casino patrons may also be loosely grouped into two categories, “gamers” and “gamblers.” Social casino gamers play primarily for entertainment value and are the purchasers possibly to transform into paying social casino customers. Brick-and-mortar operators trying to find new customers or boost return visitation are targeting social casino gamblers, customers who genuinely enjoy slot machine or table game play and are in all probability to transform to paying land-based customers. To draw social casino gamblers, operators wish to develop content that keeps existing casino game math models and minimizes friction points that block player access to favorite content.
  • Offering enticing rewards. Social casino gamblers seek real-world prizes and standing versus advancements in game play often sought by social gamers. Social gamblers don’t mind coming to land-based operations to redeem these rewards.
  • Integration with existing land-based customer management systems. Social casino sites geared toward attracting social gamblers with the goal of increased brick-and–mortar attendance and play should be certain their offerings synch with a property’s and loyalty club systems.
  • Staff with marketing personnel. Sites geared toward growing revenue from social gamers often employ virtual economists, psychologists, monetization experts and other professionals. For sites trying to develop more brick-and-mortar trade from social casino gamblers, staffing with existing iGaming or land-based marketing experts makes more sense.
  • Make sure the offering can function across all communications platforms.The social game or casino experience must function across all channels of communication with the customer, especially mobile.

“Mobile is the most well liked entertainment device for social gamblers,” Vonasek said. “They have these devices of their hands on a daily basis in their lives. That is where the brick-and-mortar casino operator must be.”


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2006 UIGEA Law Now Harming Legal US Gaming In 2013



Published on November 17, 2013 by Tom Jones

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was installed place in 2006, with probably the most prevalent a part of the law placing an emphasis on financial institutions blocking transactions to and from online gaming sites. Seven years after the ill-advised law was created, it's now causing problems among states with regulated Internet gambling.

Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey have all spent the past several years creating laws regulating online casinos. Over the last few months, Nevada has launched their first online sites, with New Jersey set to take action on November 26th. Operators of those sites, however, are finding that financial institutions haven't yet adapted to the legalized type of gaming.

Operators are complaining that PayPal, American Express Co., and Bank of America Corp. has been declining transactions to regulated online sites. With only some states having regulated the industry thus far within the US, financial institutions are erring at the side of caution.

"There are still things that may get it wrong inspite of controls in place," said Steve Kenneally, Vice chairman of the yankee Bankers Association.

Visa and MasterCard have taken a special approach. The 2 bank card companies have updated their coding to permit for regulated online gambling transactions to move through. While the bank card companies have adapted, it's still as much as the issuing bank whether the transactions are processed.

"Until the entire kinks are worked out of this new regulated system, customers are going to continue to have their transactions declined," said analyst Brad Simmons. "THE METHOD to regulated online gambling was grueling, and until federal laws change, there'll stay obstacles for regulated online casinos."

While some bank card companies have began to adapt, American Express is hoping true to their company principle of not allowing their cards for use for any type of gambling.


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Jason Zarlenga Reflects on Winning Two MSPT Titles and Becoming All-Time Money Winner



This weekend the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) could be at Running Aces Harness Park just outside the dual Cities in Minnesota, after which from September 20-28 the tour will head to Wisconsin for the Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells. Not up to two weeks ago, the MSPT visited the “Dairy State” for an event at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, which turned out to be the second-largest event within the tour’s history with 487 entries.

Michigan’s Jason Zarlenga emerged victorious in that event to capture the $120,164 first-place prize. What’s more, it marked the second one MSPT title Zarlenga captured in Season 5, joining the likes of Matt Kirby and Dan Sun because the only two-time champions. His previous victory came back in May when he conquered a field of 411 entrants to win the MSPT FireKeepers for $101,482. To top all of it off, the most recent win established Zarlenga because the MSPT’s all-time money leader with $223,970 in winnings and put him firmly in contention for Season 5 Player of the Year honors.

Zarlenga, who grew up in Boardman, Ohio, was certainly one of four children – two older sisters and a younger brother – in a close-knit Italian family. Either one of his parents were schoolteachers, so it was only natural that education was a concern for Zarlenga. He attended Kent State University where he earned a bachelors degree in finance, and followed that up by obtaining his JD at Thomas M Cooley Law School. However, as opposed to entering the sphere of law, he decided to pursue his dream – poker.

“I learned to play poker after I was roughly 10 years old. My childhood friends and that i would scrape together are change and play five-card draw and the winner would go buy Subway,” Zarlenga recalls. “Not until the last three years did I start taking poker seriously, and that i went during the hard times identical to anyone on this profession learning game selection and money management. I went broke more times then I WILL BE ABLE TO even count before hitting an excellent score on the MSPT FireKeepers back in May.”

Indeed, it’s safe to mention that tournament in Michigan changed his life and got the ball rolling on what was a red-hot 2014.

“I can needless to say morning find it irresistible was yesterday. I bagged a tight Day 1 stack with around 130,000 which had me at a top 10 stack with 90 remaining,” says Zarlenga. “I awoke the morning of Day 2 and that i literally had such a lot confidence I posted some phrase on Facebook stating: ‘Been waiting a very long time for this moment and that i promise you nobody on this field wants it as bad as me because I NEED this as bad as you'll breathe!!’ I won the primary hand of the day with a pleasant semi-bluff and not relinquished the chip lead until the overall table.”

Jason Zarlenga

Zarlenga’s revelation came true when he defeated Mike Deis, who currently leads the MSPT Season 5 POY race, in heads-up play to capture the title. It couldn’t have come at a greater time either because the 2014 World Series of Poker was right across the corner.

“Winning right before the series gave me numerous confidence and the required bankroll to be in the market all summer,” Zarlenga reveals. “The WSOP was a terrific learning experience thus summer. I'VE BEEN out before for the WSOP but never stayed the entire summer. I played my first WSOP event was the Milly Maker and that i actually went really deep busting 389 out of 7,977 cashing for about $5,000. I played the principle Event for the primary time ever and it was one of the most coolest three days of my poker career.”

Zarlenga, who's friends with 2013 WSOP Main Event champ Ryan Riess, didn't make it past Day 3 of the principle Event, but his buddy and traveling companion Adam Lamphere, of whom he had a piece, finished in 41st place to get Zarlenga “unstuck for the summer.”

Fast forward two months and Zarlenga and Lamphere found themselves on a ferry crossing Lake Michigan. On the last minute they decided to make the trip to Milwaukee for the MSPT’s first stop at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, and it proved a sensible decision as both Lamphere and Zarlenga made the general table. Lamphere bowed out in 10th place for $6,109, but he stuck around to cheer his friend to victory.

“The second major was actually more rewarding than the primary as it had now given me the arrogance that i'm just pretty much as good if not better than anyone at any table I play with during any tournament,” Zarlenga says with a smile.

With two six-figure scores under his belt, Zarlenga put his finance degree to work by investing a few of his winnings into the stock market. He paid off any other debts, but rather then that he’s avoided any big purchases and instead plans to make use of the remainder of the money to travel and pursue his passion.

That includes making his approach to the rest stops at the MSPT Season 5 schedule in an try to win Player of the Year. As a rule two wins can be enough to secure the honor, but consistent deep runs by both Deis and MSPT Team Pro Kou Vang have made the race a heated affair.

“Mike Deis better check his rearview because POY is something that may be in sight and that i would like to capture it,” Zarlenga says before elaborating on why he likes the MSPT. “The MSPT is simply ran amazing all of the way from the highest to bottom. Eric Anderson and Bryan Mileski treat all of the players with respect and feature placed on a super tourney at every stop I’ve encountered. The structure is ideal which supplies any player, amateur or pro, good enough time to do your thing. The $1,100 buy-in isn't too expensive that's another bonus for all players.”

Zarlenga has confirmed to PokerNews that he'll be at both this weekend’s MSPT Running Aces and the MSPT Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells the week after which you could. follow live updates from both those events in our Live Reporting Section.

For additional information at the MSPT Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells, visit msptpoker.com.

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