No Anti-UBT bias here

Discussion in 'Ultimate Blackjack Tour' started by KenSmith, Oct 29, 2007.

  1. KenSmith

    KenSmith Administrator Staff Member

    Recent events here have led to LVA posts implying that my BJT administrative decisions are tainted by an anti-UBT bias.

    Considering the history of disciplinary bannings, I can see how that belief could have arisen, and I would like to set the record straight.

    My sole concern is insuring that BJT remains an orderly place for discussion. As long as posts don't cross the line into personal attacks, I'll allow virtually any opinion that a member wants to express, whether I agree with it or not.

    In particular, some posters here seem to take every opportunity to blast the latest developments at UBT. Many of the UBT-blasting posters adjusted their rhetoric pretty quickly after I introduced the explicit rules against name-calling and personal attacks. And that's good. That means the rules are working.

    However, if anyone believes that I'm coddling the anti-UBT crowd at the expense of the pro-UBT crowd, that's just not the case.

    If anyone assumes that I condone the UBT-bashing, or even agree with it, they're dead wrong. Allowing those opinions to be expressed does not mean that I hold those opinions myself. And, I don't.

    Yes, I still have issues with Bet21. Those have been widely discussed here. But, whatever their relationship was before, Bet21 is not UBT, nor ClubUBT. Whatever ties existed before the UIGEA law passed have long since been cut. Whatever influence could be exerted on Bet21 by UBT appears to have disappeared with the change in ownership. That's a shame, but there's no point beating on that topic any further.

    Let's look at UBT's situation today. They sure seem to be providing a good and fair product with good customer service these days.

    Maybe some of you don't like their commercials, or maybe you don't think they've done enough marketing, or whatever. But, seriously, the way some of you bash them you would think they are kitten-smothering serial killers.

    That's rubbish. I think that UBT is still doing the tournament community a lot of good. I saw some mention of a ClubUBT affiliate program launching soon. When that happens, I will proudly add a banner for them here at BJT. In fact, if they'll send me artwork to do it now, I'll put the banners up now for free. After all, this community is all about tournament blackjack, and they deliver plenty of that every single day.

    It is true that I may have to occasionally drop the hammer on a UBT supporter because of an out-of-control post, but my own opinions on these matters usually fall right into their camp. I've stayed away from most of those threads, but perhaps that was a mistake. I'll make more of an effort going forward to clarify my position. But, never assume that just because an opinion appears on this board that I agree with it. In many cases, nothing could be further from the truth.
  2. Barney Stone

    Barney Stone New Member


    IMO it is ludicrous to call you UBT bias or a basher.

    For the rest of us, :) , I think there is a fuzzy line between bashing and constructive criticism. For example I think there MIGHT be a problem with the seating program at ClubUBT. Many people dislike the advertising. IMVHO ClubUBT should be listening to these opinions. We pay for the service we are the customer.

    Let me make one thing clear as far as myself. My family and I play ClubUBT and like it. Its fun without a lot of $$ risk. I would recommend becoming a member today.
  3. TedinNaples

    TedinNaples New Member

    Ken, I think it's great that you've expressed your opinion about the UBT and clubUBT.

    What I've loved about your site from the day I joined is, as you just said, you "allow virtually any opinion that a member wants to express, whether I agree with it or not." And I admire you for not attacking back when you and your site have been attacked on the LVA forum numerous times.

    You also said, "In particular, some posters here seem to take every opportunity to blast the latest developments at UBT."

    I guess you're including me in that group. And rightfully so. I call them as I see them. As someone who has now been involved in the elimination blackjack tournament environment -- having played for over a year on bet21, and attended one live UBT event -- I think that I'm a pretty keen observer on what has transpired. And given my 20-year marketing background, I'd like to think that I'm qualified to talk about marketing and customer service.

    To set the record straight on this site: As Glenn Beck says, here's what I know about ClubUBT:
    . ClubUBT has made a solid effort to bring tournament blackjack to the public.
    . ClubUBT has exhibited excellent customer service.
    . ClubUBT has made some modifications to the rules and play on its site to make it an ever better and user-friendly place to play.
    . ClubUBT is a great deal for the recreational bj and poker player.
    . Club UBT does award $100,000 in prizes and cash every month.
    . They offer more poker tournaments because their customer base tells them there is more interest in poker than bj.

    Here's what I don't know about ClubUBT:
    . Why do they continue to shortchange the bj player (or award the poker player at the expense of the bj player) when it comes to the number of players who win tournament chips at their tournaments. Sometimes the inequity is 3 or 4 times, i.e., 50% of poker players win chips while at a similar bj tournament only 10-20% win chips. This has nothing to do with the popularity of poker vs bj, but rather the structuring of the prize pool.
    . How long can the club continue to operate at a loss? Yes, they appear to be well-funded, but so were many dot coms that busted many years ago.
    . Ken, you just mentioned that an affiliate program is launching soon. Great idea! But why did it take at least four months to do so? Why wasn't this in their initial marketing plan, to help attract members from day one?
    . Why doesn't the club send a representative to this forum and the LVA forum to solicit feedback, answer questions, and share what's coming up?

    My pointing out, what I believe are, flaws in their marketing and their product, is because I'd like to see them succeed. If I didn't why would I share my ideas about improvement, not only on forums, but during a long conversation with their Customer Service Manager? Wouldn't it make sense for the Club to talk to their critics and their customer base? But, maybe they already do. I don't know.

    If anyone has read my opinions about the club, they'd realize that I no longer have a problem with them. I wrote a very long post weeks ago after my conversation with the customer service manager. I said I changed my tune about the club. So I'm not sure why some people think I bash them at every opportunity I get.

    To set the record straight on this site, here's what I know about the UBT:
    . Man, they're trying real hard to make this ebj work.
    . They have a slick and high-quality production tv show.
    . Their tv commercials lack creativity, and some lack integrity and true honesty.
    . While solid ratings were touted for year one of the UBT on CBS, the ratings for year two are nowhere near that of year one -- it looks like it's been 50% of year one.
    . To the average viewer, it looks like either they're hiding stuff or not telling the whole truth -- similar to most infomercials, which some observers says the show comes off looking like.
    . They have not been too successful in having live tournaments at different venues, nor at attracting many "paying" (non-comped) players to these venues, except for Barona, and now at Rampart.
    . The communication about cancelled tournaments or last-minute changes in tournaments, or even of total prize structure has been lacking. Some say it's not their responsibility, but that of the hosting venue. Maybe so. But it's their product, so some steps should be taken to keep the value of their product high.

    Here's what I don't know about the UBT:
    . There seem to be a lot of "insiders" that are allowed to play at their tournaments. Do the owners or powers-that-be realize, and have they spoken to legal counsel about this, that they may be skirting the law with this? Would a casino allow their employees or investors play in a tournament run by their casino? Every company that runs a promotion/contest, and every game show out there, has strict eligibility requirements set forth. And so does ClubUBT. But what about the actual UBT.
    . Why has it been so tough to get consistent live tournaments up and running around the U.S.?
    . Why have many venues that have tried the UBT brand of bj tournaments, backed away from it?
    . As with the Club, why doesn't the UBT send an "official" spokesperson to the LVA and this forum, to answer questions, solicit feedback and make announcements to, what is currently, their core audience?

    I'm sure there's more, but I've tried to cover the majority of my opinions -- many of which have resulted in attacks on me and who I am, questioning my motivations and sanity.

    Like you and (I'm sure) everyone else on this board, Ken, I would love to see the UBT succeed, to the point that one day I could choose to attend a different UBT event every month, including ones in Florida, Atlantic City, and Mississippi -- making travel to them a lot easier than having to fly across the country.

    As far as my issues with the people involved with promises made to the bet21 community -- which I believe was the core group of people who could have assured the success of the UBT -- that's a different story. You, Ken, had the integrity of removing your link to their site, and to actually stop playing on their site. Other bj professionals promised benefits and bonuses to players who paid and signed up at bet21, and when those promises were not kept, it was the players who were short-changed. Players who may have lost their faith in online blackjack, and even live events that involve these same people. On at least two recent occasions on the LVA forum, I've asked whether any of these pros (four of them -- all well-known in the bj community) would be willing to step up and acknowledge what they promised and why these promises were not kept. None have replied. I would say their silence speaks pretty loud. And for my bringing this up, I get labeled a whiner and troublemaker and worse. I guess the truth hurts.
  4. BJFAN4

    BJFAN4 New Member

    Well said Ted.

    I agree with everything you have said. Congratulations on having the courage to post it. As far as I am concerned, the original link between UBT and Bet21 may have been severed post UIGEA, but the lack of integrity demonstrated by the pre-UIGEA operators/promoters of BET21 in the matter of the bonus money remains a deplorable business trademark for these individuals.
  5. fgk42

    fgk42 New Member


    Since you have “broken the silence” in your position concerning UBT I wanted to put my .25 for my “official stance” regarding UBT and Club UBT.

    All one has to do is go back and read my posts from 2006 regarding UBT to see that I was extremely excited about the possibility of live UBT games. I traveled to Aruba for their inaugural event where I first met Ken Smith and many other posters here.

    With regard to playing EBJ online – I can honestly say that until April or March of this year I probably was in the top 10 players (based on the number of games MTT & SNG) because I just enjoyed the game.

    When Club UBT came out I was initially skeptical of the game and the use of the TP. I made no secret about my displeasure of their INITIAL point distribution system. The folks at Club UBT changed it, added different promotions, etc., and in its current format I feel that Club UBT represents a good value for the average BJ player.

    I’ve been very critical of their advertisement during the UBT shows because in my opinion the ads are not the same quality as the post-production. In addition some of the wording – such as win 10,000 in our monthly tournaments is down right false. The Club may AWARD 10,000 for the tournament but the winner doesn’t get the 10,000 as implied on the television ad. I was/am critical of things like that because I feel that in the long-run it hurts the image of BJT in general – I say that because the general public likely doesn’t know the difference between EBJ and traditional BJT.

    What the UBT started out doing with the invitational season 1 and the show – I feel that was a good thing for TBJ – overall. What I have been most critical of is the execution of how it was done. In fact most of what I’ve written about EBJ over the past 15 months has been, in my opinion, pretty evenly based. I’ve applauded them when I felt things went well and been critical when things didn’t go as well.

    Lately some people may have interpreted my posts about the Barona 1,000,000 UBT TOC stop as being anti-UBT. They aren’t. I’m merely posting things that have not been addressed. Having an “unofficial” spokesperson post that the final table will likely be a chop rather than a winner take all is of little comfort when (1) it isn’t official and (2) the people at UBT won’t say what steps they are taking to do just that.

    Speculation is what people do when all the facts are available. Stooping to name calling and mudslinging is not in anyone’s best interest. However when people hold themselves out at “pros” in their field the bar of performance and standards is raised.

    There have been several “pro” BJ players who have said/promised one thing and yet they failed to live up to those promises. In fact when it was pointed out that their promotions are false or inaccurate they continue to flaunt it. Shame on them!

    When players, such as myself, stand up and point this out then I get attacked as an anti-UBT player which is funny considering some of the people attacking me haven’t supported the UBT ¼ as much as I have with my time and money.

    I don’t understand why this thread even had to be started in the first place. People are entitled to their opinions. This is your site and if you don’t agree with those opinions then you have the right to blast those posts – it happens all the time at other forums. It’s called censorship by the owner.

    The only reason I’m even responding to this thread is because of one sentence that I just don’t get:

    Maybe I missed those posts – maybe they got deleted but I don’t get the impression that anyone, with the exception of Hermanski (banned for Life) ever bashed UBT that hard. Maybe the people at UBT would rather no one pointed out anything wrong and that we could all sit around a campfire and sing Kumbyeya? If I didn't care so much I'd simply walk away - never return and tell everyone it s***ed.

    But I didn't because I wanted to see them improve their product (which they did with their last tournament and which Club UBT did with their point system) and get better. When a company doesn't re-assess their product/services to meet the needs of their customer(s) how will they ever get better? Didn't GM learn that lesson?

    Criticism – absolutely. Why publicly? Because unfortunately UBT doesn’t have a PR person like WSOB, or or even did.

    If you believe that asking the hard questions, like Ted did in his post is anti-UBT bashing maybe that could explain your stance.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2007
  6. TedinNaples

    TedinNaples New Member

    response to post by toonces on LVA

    Notice I didn't say "response to toonces's post on LVA" since I still don't know whether to write toonces' post or toonces's post. Anyway...

    Thank you so much for your recent post on LVA where you addressed several posters, including me. You seem to be the most level-headed poster, so I really really read and tried to understand everything you said.

    I will reply to the items you addressed to me. We'll see if the other people do the same.

    . bet21 bonus: I never really had an issue with them not paying me my $200 or so in bonus money. As you said, I more than made up for that in the overlay tournaments I found myself in. My issue with bringing it up again recently was as part of the "integrity" and "truth" issues I have with the bj pros who could have made the biggest difference in expanding bet21 and live EBJ tournaments. The two issues that are still not resolved are:
    . How could Joe, the most outspoken member of the bj community make promises about the bet21 bonus -- heck, he challenged Fred to a bet -- only to never say a single word about it ever again, when it was obvious that the bonuses were still never going to come. Did he lie? Did he go on bad info? A simple apology or explanation would have been the end of it. still hangs over the bet21 community. Many players left the site because of it. Did that not affect the future of ebj?
    . Hollywood Dave still has a link at the top of his home page, promising up to a $350 bonus when you sign up at ultimate bet for elimination blackjack. If there is no bonus, isn't what he's promoting a lie? How does that help the future of ebj?

    . bj vs poker on the club: Your point about the bj fields being smaller than the ones in poker is a valid one. I am just looking at the odds of at least getting my tournament points back when I play. And they're extremely low on the bj side. Maybe other players see that too, so they sometimes stay away from the bj tournaments to preserve their points. Which could then lead to why there are fewer players on the bj side. So couldn't this just be a vicious cycle that feeds on itself, and explains why the site remains more favorable to the poker player, even though it's advertised as clubUBlackjackT?

    . The UBT show: I agree with your comments.

    . Sponsorship: I understand your points about sponsorship. I don't have a problem with players being sponsored or comped...unless, those players have inside info or financial interests. I agree that the club's software doesn't give any player an advantage. But take this scenario for a future live UBT event:
    You're sitting at the final table with Joe and HD (I use them since you used them, and they may -- or may not -- have inside info or financial interests). As happened to me at the Venetian UBT event, the dealer makes a mistake by revealing the next card. I understand there are rules regarding how to treat this, but I couldn't tell you what they are. So let's say this happens at your table, and when all is taken into consideration, you realized that what the dealer just did, gave an advantage to Joe or HD. Wouldn't the average player, who knows that Joe and HD are really tight with the people at the UBT, question what just happened? And if they, or you, lost because of this dealer error, would you not be tempted, at the very least, to make some inquiries or to possibly seek legal counsel and action?

    My point is, whether you or another player would or wouldn't do that, if I were in charge of the UBT, I'd be scared witless that something like this -- a lawsuit or even the negative publicity of a charge of cheating -- could ruin my business and take the whole house of "cards" down with it. Why would a professional organization or business put themselves into a possible scenario like this?

    When I was at the UBT event, the Venetian pit personnel had Joe choose a card to see which players at all the tables would get the button. Of the 100 or so people who were playing that day, I say it should have been the "average" Joe and not the "professional" Joe to choose that card. I also observed the pit personnel consult with Joe when a ruling needed to be made. Huh?!?! Joe knew many of the players at that tournament. Heck, his girlfriend was playing there. (Just so I'm clear since Joe will be reading this: I AM NOT SAYING THAT JOE DID OR WOULD EVER DO SOMETHING UNDERHANDED IN A UBT TOURNAMENT. I TRUST JOE WHEN IT COMES TO THE PLAYING OF A TOURNAMENT.) My concern would be, and it SHOULD be the concern of the UBT and host casino, that this would smack of impropriety, or not being totally on the up and up. Heck, it's easy to see a scenario where a casual first-time player, who only knows about HD or Joe, question whether the whole thing is on the up-and-up. Wouldn't it be easier to have another official from the UBT available to choose the card or to make rule decisions? Why should an actual player be responsible for that?

    I know this is going to put me in deeper water, but I'll say it now so some of the players who may be affected by this have ample time to check things out with the powers-that-be at the UBT. Heck, this may even get me thrown overboard at the UBT cruise in April. Prior to any UBT tournament that I will be involved in, I will seek out the main representative from the UBT, and ask them if there are any players registered for the tournament who have a financial interest in, or inside info regarding the operations of, the tournament. If the answer is either in the affirmative or "we don't know" -- I will press further, and explain exactly what I've said above, providing them with the scenario that could get them into hot water.

    This is really no different than Joe's and HD's wanting Rick to tell them where all the money was going. They wanted to know whether Rick's tournament was fair and square and whether it provided the players a fair return on their money. Same with me.

    Does Rick play in his own tournaments? I don't have the answer since I've never been to one of them. If he does, then I'll say the same thing -- it's wrong, and probably illegal. If he doesn't, then that shows he understands the legality of it. Does the UBT understand this as well? Remember, I'm not talking about the club, but they have posted their rules of eligibility. And based on those rules, certain players are not allowed to play -- and they don't, except for "beat the pro" tournaments.

    I know that mace will probably not like what I said a few paragraphs above. But, mace, do yourself a favor, and before you fly to Florida to board the Carnival cruise in April to play in the UBT tournaments, contact the head honcho or legal department at the UBT and ask whether your involvement with the UBT would make you ineligible to play. If it doesn't, then I hope to see you at the final table. If it does, please don't shoot the messenger, since I will have saved you the money you would have spent to fly out here, and the disappointment you would have felt at the last minute when you were told you couldn't play.
  7. toonces

    toonces Member

    Ted, the problem is that sponsorship = "Financial Interest". If you are going to start doing that all UBT events, it's going to get real ugly real quickly. This is the way things have been done for a long time in the poker community and you are going to be messing with the bread and butter of a lot of pros' cash flow.

    As for your scenario, that happens all the time in different ways. If I am a regualr in my poker room, I'm going to get the benefit of the doubt on a poker ruling. If you aren't aware of all of the rules going in, you may very well lose an important ruling. Dave or Joe are probably going to have more influence in general, but a good floorperson is going to be deliberate in any ruling that directly involves someone with extra influence.

    I am reasonably comfortable that even if Joe has advanced knowledge of tournaments before we do, there is know non-public knowledge of the operation of the tournament that we do not either also have access to or can figure out. I just think this is a bad tactic to take, just like UBT suing the WSOBJ or the WPT lawsuits.
  8. TedinNaples

    TedinNaples New Member

    toonces, I respect your opinion and will rethink my position. I am also giving myself a 3-day ban or longer on this site for now. It seems like almost everything I say on this site is more fuel for the fire on the LVA site, and is taken out of context or in bits and pieces.

    I've knocked my head against the wall with Joe. I've apologized when I was wrong, I tried to make peace with two very long unemotional and respectful posts last Sunday, and they basically went ignored.

    I'm amused at all the digs and accusations thrown at me on the LVA site. That's fine. I won't be replying. What's the point?

    I've tried to contribute to the advancement of the UBT and the club. Some people don't like my style of writing or what I write about? Fine. I've made my points, I've tried to get answers from the pros, and I've either been attacked or ignored by them.

    The next year or two will show whether the UBT and the Club will be successful enterprises or not. I doubt anything anyone shares or questions on these two forums will make any difference anyway, given what I've seen so far.

    Good luck on your bet21 tournaments and on the club, toonces.
  9. fgk42

    fgk42 New Member

    Ted, since I was there too I feel free to comment on this point of yours. Just a month earlier there was a circuit event at the Venetian. The night before, Friday night when the Venetian was hosting their SNG's - before I had arrived - Joe and another TBJ "pro" were asked to leave the property by uninformed security guards. In addition Joe and this other individual were told they could not compete in the circuit event.

    The irony behind that was Joe was the UBT leasion to the host casino and he was 86'd from the very event he was supposed to be helping!

    When the UBT stop was held having Joe Pan pick that card was a nice touch because in a way the Venetian people was kind of saying - "we're sorry about last month" (at least that was how I interpreted it). from the circuit event to the UBT stop the Venetian did a 180 degree about face in their attitude towards the UBT and in my mind hosted a great event and demonstrated with the Super satellite and "free" rebuy, how the UBT and a host casino could conduct a win-win scenario.

    Concerning the pit personal asking Joe about rulings - I can't comment on that because I didn't see it. However as the "official" leasion between UBT and the Venetian it is only logical that if there was a question about UBT procedures then Joe would have been the person to ask.

    Since the UBT wasn't hosting the event I didn't have any problem with Joe or any UBT employee playing in the event. Why? It was the Venetian staff running everything just using UBT rules. Conflict of interest there? I didn't think so or I wouldn't have played. Just my .25 on that subject.
  10. Archie

    Archie New Member

    No anti-UBT in this group

    I'm a regular reader of both this Forum and LVA.

    Ken, Mace, Fred, Joep, Ted, Dave, Toonces, Rick, Leftnut are all interesting prolific posters articulating opinions, well informed or not, and initiating threads, useful to the BJ Community as a whole more often than not, for one purpose only : the onging success and expansion of BJT online and land based.

    IMO, they are all honest, sincere individuals who have at heart, like most if not all of us members of either forums, the success of UBT, ClubUBT, Bet21/UB.

    Well informed or not, knowlegeable or not, you all make a valuable contribution and I'm grateful to each and everyone of you.

    Thank you
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2007
  11. TXtourplayer

    TXtourplayer Executive Member

    Agree to disagree

    Thanks for your kind words Archie, that really means a lot to know the players appreciate what you’re doing, (or at least trying to do anyway...LOL).

    Now myself like others were very excited in the beginning of the UBT. As FGK pointed out about him, you can go back to the beginning and see I too was a big promoter of the UBT.

    I did ask alot of questions about UBT and that is where the problem started. I just needed to know what, when, and where so I could get sponsorship for the UBT events due to the cost.

    Things got out of control and I was as guilty as anyone from UBT for popping off during the exchange of jabs. Just because we got into a difference of opinions I never stopped playing any of the UBT events that were held in Vegas while I was out there (weekly Palms and Rampart).

    Now on the other hand, the Tulsa events have a similar format and rules to my TBJPA events (I actually designed these events for them and TBJPA sanction them). And Joep has played in them several times.

    During last week in Tulsa, Joep and I played against each other several times and had a blast joking around with each other.

    My point is just because we may disagree on our opinions over different tournament formats and or rules doesn't mean we shouldn't still support whatever tournaments are available to us as players and get along with each other. All this bickering is doing nothing but hurting all the tournaments.

    I have invited Joep to play in the Tropicana event in a couple of weeks; I hope he attends the events along with several other players.

    Hopefully we can start getting EVERYBODY back into supporting the tournaments again and having bigger OPEN events with good rules for the players.

    At least that is my opinion, I can only hope others agree.

    Last but not least, I can assure everyone that Ken Smith isn't anti-bias of UBT, he along with several other players (to long of a list to mention) support ALL the tournament formats.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2007
  12. Barney Stone

    Barney Stone New Member

    Last edited: Oct 29, 2007

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