UB to relaunch Blackjack Tournaments

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by Hollywood, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. Hollywood

    Hollywood New Member

    Well Well Well....

    Hi there, BJT.com. Long time since my last post! As many of you may know, I've been pursuing poker on a more full-time basis, and have been a sponsored pro for over 2 years now with online poker site UB. However, I never lost my passion for blackjack, and one of my pet projects over there the last few years has been a strong effort to relaunch the blackjack tourney schedule. Well, that day is finally here:

    On March 15th, UB will be making a major announcement concerning the future of blackjack tournaments online. All details, launch date, schedule, promos, etc will be released then, but a few things I can tell you right now...

    An all-new schedule with the biggest daily, weekly, & monthly guarantees available anywhere; freeroll opportunities for more ca$h; special promotional tourneys celebrating the relaunch; & for the 1st time, all-new BJ satellites that allow players to win seats into the larger guarantee events for as little as a few bucks.

    Lots of other exciting details, dates, and all-important guaranteed prize pool information coming to you March 15. I know the rumors have been floating around about this for a long time, and I think you guys will be very happy with the result. I've personally worked my tail off to make sure this is the coolest thing we've seen in the Tournament Blackjack world for quite awhile!

    With the demise of all the marquee televised events & the continued decline of live casino offerings, its more important than ever for us to find a home for blackjack tourneys, and doing so online ensures that players from around the world all have open, easy access to all levels of events. Finding a critical mass of players is key to offering the biggest guarantees on a regular basis, and its my goal to see that happen!

    Alright people, good talk. March 15th it begins...

    rock on --

    countmein, LeftNut and zweeky like this.
  2. pokernut

    pokernut New Member

    Don't think I could play on a proven crooked site and I can't understand why you want to associate your name with such a site. Oh yes guess I can it is money.
  3. Hollywood

    Hollywood New Member

    That's a pretty inaccurate characterization. I'd be happy to give you a more complete breakdown of the situation you're referring to:

    Several years ago there was a significant scandal in which the former owners/management sold Ultimatebet & then continued to play on the site with the aid of their old diagnostic software, which allowed them to view poker players' hole cards & cheat people out of quite a lot of money. It was horrible, and when the new management discovered what was happening, they took several steps to handle the situation.

    First and foremost, they immediately cut off any access that anyone involved with the old site still had, and started an investigation into the extent of who was involved & the level of damages players incurred. A comprehensive list of cheating accounts that had access to this hole card software was compiled, and the new management ended up refunding every dollar lost by players to these accounts over every single hand played. The total refund -- out of pocket for new ownership -- was in excess of 20 million dollars. Since then they've tried to recoup portions of this expense from the old investment group that sold them the compromised site.

    Secondly, and just as importantly, they completely rebuilt the entire software platform for both Ultimatebet & Absolute Poker from the ground up, calling it 'Cereus.' This was not only to make sure that no one with any former access could continue to use backdoors into the client to cheat players, but also to build in an incredibly stringent set of security measures greater than any other site in the industry.

    Eventually Ultimatebet rebranded as simply 'UB' to completely break with the former site & in my opinion, is now one of the *safest* places to play poker & blackjack online thanks to the extreme level of scrutiny & transparency that's followed. Of course the site will always have its critics, but to simply say 'the site is crooked' or 'the site cheated players' doesn't take into account the fact that the SITE didn't do any of these things; previous management/ownership did, AFTER they sold it.

    As far as the cheaters themselves, there have certainly been some names released, Russ Hamilton's in particular. Unfortunately there is no court of law that has the jurisdiction to prosecute these particular international internet crimes. Our best hope is to wait until the USA's stance on internet gambling matures & the US justice system is more receptive to prosecuting these types of crimes. The good news is, the evidence is all digital so its not going anywhere -- and the new UB has the most incentive of all to truly bring these perpetrators to justice, since they footed the $20+ million in refunds out of pocket, as a good faith measure & to get the company back on track.

    Finally, i take particular exception to the insinuation you made that i have sold out in some capacity; let me assure you that there is absolutely no amount of money they could pay me to trade my personal integrity or my reputation in the gaming world. Those of you that know me know that no matter how much of a loud-mouthed punk I may sometimes act like in the media, I have always conducted myself in every business or gaming transaction with 100% honesty. And there is no way I would involve myself with UB if I wasn't completely satisfied with the response & measures they've taken in light of such a terrible event.

    Ultimately, I wouldn't expect anyone to play on the site who didn't have the same confidence as I do in the software & integrity of the company. And by all means, do your own homework on this issue, as there are plenty of forums out there offering an awful lot of evidence, analysis & criticism on every aspect of what happened.

    However, it is not my intention to turn this announcement of new BJ tourney offerings on UB into yet another thread on another website about aspects of the scandal. All i can say is, if you are that unsettled on the issue, then no one is forcing you to be involved with the new BJ schedule. But I for one can only vouch for where things are now, and have nothing but excitement for the truly awesome things just around the corner on UB.

    rock on, people. March 15th!

    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
    mociferous likes this.
  4. BJFAN4

    BJFAN4 New Member

    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
  5. RKuczek

    RKuczek Member

    As Dave said,

    " ... to simply say 'the site is crooked' or 'the site cheated players' doesn't take into account the fact that the SITE didn't do any of these things; previous management/ownership did, ... "

    This is an important point which has been entirely ignored in the UB discussions. No one has presented any evidence that the SITE was rigged to cheat players. Individuals, who were playing on the site, used their administrator access to developmental utilities, used in developing the site's software, to read the hole cards of other players and cheat them. These individuals had administrator password knowledge as a result of their connection to UB. They cheated for their own benefit, not for the SITE.

    Every online poker/casino site has seen players cheating for their own benefit. At least through collusion and multi-accounting.

    One casino software company even advertised its software as having a 'feature' where the online casino could take back winnings from players who had won too much, limit player winnings through altering probabilities to disadvantage players, and also could prevent large jackpots from hitting. That would be cheating by the site, wouldn't it? UB has not been charged with anything like that, while we know this software with a built-in cheat was used by some sites.

    The fact is, we don't really know if any site is honest, nor which of the players we are playing against in any game may be cheating. Just because they haven't been caught yet doesn't mean they are honest. Also, every site is pretty much riddled with poker bots. It is almost impossible to find a microstakes NLHE game on any site, including UB, that doesn't have at least one bot playing.

    That's why we need effective and comprehensive government regulation of online gambling.

    Even as far as the individuals named as cheaters, what has been made public are statements that these people cheated, from the KGC, not really hard evidence; real evidence has come from other sources, and consists almost entirely of linking accounts registered to certain individuals to the cheating. What hasn't been made public, if it exists, are provable links between those people and the accounts registered in their names (that these people actually set up the accounts), evidence they actually played on those accounts, and links between withdrawals from those accounts and deposits to their personal bank accounts. That may be the reason, as much as anything, as to why there haven't been prosecutions, because there isn't sufficient evidence to make those links, and the probability of successful criminal prosecution is therefore low.

    Are some people involved in the cheating scandals still connected with UB? Is cheating by individuals on UB still occurring? Is UB software rigged to cheat players? I don't know. But I don't know that about ANY online gambling site.

    As I said in a post in another thread:

    I guess my bottom line is "they may be cheating me, but I'm still winning money and cashing out profits". No other site offers bj tournaments to USA players with reasonable (or no) fees for withdrawals and acceptable deposit methods and costs. With the UIGEA in force, and sometimes actually being enforced, the ability to move money in and out of sites is restricted, and sometimes disrupted with actions against processors, etc. UB may not be a good option, but it pretty much is the only viable option for blackjack tournaments. So as long as I can make some money on it, why wouldn't I? Moral outrage is nice, but it doesn't buy me a Big Mac.

    So I, for one, will be glad to see UB start up some good TBJ offerings.

    Thanks for the good work, Dave.
  6. countmein

    countmein New Member

    Cant wait loved Bet 21....again thanks....countmein...
  7. zweeky

    zweeky Member

    There is a 25 minutes interview with Hollywood Dave posted on pokertube dot com
  8. LeftNut

    LeftNut Top Member

  9. LeftNut

    LeftNut Top Member

    Has anyone seen or heard anything about these UB BJT's?
    I just did a reasonably thorough perusal of their site and didn't find anything.
  10. Sandy Eggo

    Sandy Eggo Member

    Nothing since we played the test tourney last week.
  11. Hollywood

    Hollywood New Member

    New Schedule!

    OK guys, here it is. I waited an extra day to release this info because I wanted to be 100% sure on some things, and it looks like there is some good news & bad news to report:

    First, the bad news. Thanks to the 11th-hour testing some of you helped me with last week, we discovered a small issue in the way our payouts are being reported in the tournament lobbies that needs to be fixed before we can officially launch things.

    Basically, one of the things I've changed from the old BJTs you may have played is the way players are awarded finishing position. It used to be, for instance, that in a tourney that awards prizes for the top 9 spots, finishers 1-6 at the final table would receive their corresponding prize, but finishers 7-9 would end up being awarded to the 3rd-place players at the semifinal table (assuming 3 SF tables advance 2 each to the FT of 6) in what I considered to be an unfair order (ie, arbitrarily awarding 7th, 8th and 9th place to players based on final chipcounts or what hand they made it to before being eliminated, etc). I changed this so that these 3rd-place SF players would all finish in an equal TIE for 7th-place position, rather than trying to determine who to specifically award 7th/8th/9th place to.

    Sounds good, right? Development made the changes for me, and as you may have noticed during testing last week, if you finish in the money before reaching the final table, players finish in a series of ties corresponding to how far they made it. So all 3rd place players at the SF tables tied for a spot, all 4th place players tie, etc etc. However -- and this is the small issue that's holding the launch up -- the actual prize breakdown listed in the tournament lobby still lists individual prizes for all finishing spots! So in the example above, where 9 places pay, there are actually separate prizes listed for spots 7, 8 and 9 -- even though the three players finishing in those spots actually end up in a TIE for position.

    We wanted to test the default logic the system uses to award prizes in that scenario, and found that it was doing the appropriate thing -- taking an average of the 3 individual prizes & awarding the money evenly to players. So that's good. But unfortunately it created a lot of confusion, as players finishing in a tie have no way of knowing exactly what they win until after they're awarded a random amount of money, then have to manually add up 7th/8th/9th place money, divide by 3, etc. The tournament lobby SHOULD be displaying prizes for finishers 1-6, and then ONE prize amount for 7th-9th, not 3. Get it? And obviously it only got more confusing when satellite seats were involved, and lets say 8 seats were beind awarded, but 3 players were tied for the last 2. Confusing!

    So, long story short, UB decided they needed to fix this prize display issue before it could officially launch our new schedule. I've been given estimates from the Development team of about a month to do the permanent fix & run appropriate testing on things, so its not the end of the world. Personally I pushed for us to launch as-is since I know most of you guys here would understand the logic behind these unique prize breakdowns, but ultimately the goal is to attract as wide an audience as possible for these new events & confusing new players in their first BJT experience would potentially turn them off from returning... something none of us wants.

    SO! Time to get to the GOOD news!! I can officially release the new schedule we've all been waiting for, which will be in place when the new launch happens just as soon as the prize display issue is resolved. Here's what I've crafted:

    $100 ($5.50 entry)
    $250 ($11 entry)
    $500 ($27.50 entry, or play a satellite for $4.40)
    $1000 ($55 entry, or play a satellite for $6.60)

    Wednesday $2500 ($130 entry, or play a satellite for $16.50)
    Sunday $5000 ($215 entry, or play satellites for $5.50, $22 & $33)

    Replacing the Weekly $5k on the last Sunday of the month:
    Monthly $10,000 ($320, or play satellites for $5.50, $33 & $44)

    Mon-Fri Freerolls awarding seats to Main Freeroll on Saturday, where seats are given away to the big Sunday events!

    As a thank-you for everyone's continued patience (and hopefully some more help with a final round of testing in a few weeks!), there will be a series of freerolls giving away additional cash and/or seats to big events for the first few weeks of the new launch!

    So.... that's it for now. Thanks again everyone, rock on --

    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
  12. RKuczek

    RKuczek Member

    Thanks for the information

    Schedule and such look pretty good, nice to see some guarantees with reasonable buy-ins and satelites for the bigger tournaments. Hope this works out ok for UB, so they will keep it going and expand it.

    But a MONTH to fix the lobby display?
  13. leilahay

    leilahay Member

    I guess I am less excited after seeing the amount of the buy ins vs guarantee. I suppose I am used to Washington values. I might try some satellites but $55 for $1000 seems steep to me. I really want this to work but...
  14. Sandy Eggo

    Sandy Eggo Member

    Just because I also flinch at $40+ buy-in prices....

    $1000/$50 = 20 players to cover the guarentee

    UB is probably keeping the $5/pp as their cut just like in the Poker Tourneys.

    And while I used to play $35 buy-ins for an all cash paid-out with $500 added...that live tournament would only draw the regular 12-15 players (2, barely 3 tables)...and we'd bully our friends into playing just so the House wouldn't stop the weekly events.
  15. noman

    noman Top Member

    Yabba dabba do

    10 will get u 20. follow the queen. see the queen. where's the queeen? My opinion didn't need above 7 finish payoffs. Structure as proposed is better than the current sit n gos where only two of seven cash and second is less than 2x entry. Everyone seems to put more on percentage return on equity than dollar gain. I say, sometimes dollar gain, even though less a percentage return, is just as good or better. So you shave a few points to the house.
    You're playin in your underwear, or naked. Don't need to shave or put makeup on or dress up or smell good, or be in good humor to folks you might not like. Ha ha.
  16. LeftNut

    LeftNut Top Member

    At this point, I have no problem at all with the entry fees vs. the guarantees. That's figuring the word "guarantee" means a minimum payout which will increase appropriately when entrant count rises to a level which warrants the increase. And don't forget the freerolls, too. UB has to turn a profit on the BJT endeavor or the whole idea will come crashing down.

    The only thing I see missing so far is some idea of the scheduling for events. Deb and I (and a few others) are hesitant to plop a bunch of cash in UB accounts because we have no idea if the scheduling will allow us to play. Sure hope we can because the number of open entry live BJT's with decent rules and few dumb gimmicks has shrunk dramatically.
  17. Hollywood

    Hollywood New Member


    This is just phase one, guys: as soon as we are meeting these guarantees on a regular basis, I will definitely ramp them up to double or triple where they stand now, for the same buy-in. Which means that for awhile, there will be some decent overlays as things ramp up -- always a great bargain, no matter what the buy-in.

    Gotta show UB this kinda thing can be self-sustaining to justify the increase in guarantees tho... that being said, I think the entry level of regular daily/weekly/monthly events here is the best we're gonna find ANYWHERE right now. Its my hope that we can corner the market and truly create a home in cyberspace for all of us that love BJTs so much :)

    mikey754 likes this.
  18. leilahay

    leilahay Member

    Thank you. I will look forward to it. We played regularly on Bet 21 and probably will on UB. Satellites are always a possibility.
  19. RKuczek

    RKuczek Member


    Players always seem to want overlays in BJT. I would guess that is from playing in so many live tournaments that are run as promotions, where the house is subsidizing the game to attract side action or award their high rollers. If we want sustainable, fair, skill emphasizing BJT, we have to accept that the casino/site needs to make a profit, which means a -ev game, just like every other game in the casino or on the site, including poker and poker tournaments. The +ev needs to come from your playing skills, not from the house giving away money.

    A guarantee is good, not because it will always crate an overlay, but because it assures players that they will be playing for a certain minimum prize pool, so they are not wasting their time. So the tournament will tend to attract more players. But the house goal will always be to exceed the number of players needed to break even, so they can make a profit.

    A skilled player can have an edge based on superior play, and enhance that edge through playing satellites, which create the effect of more playing rounds for the edge to accumulate over. UB is offering that.

    If you have a problem with the house making money off of a tournament and having to depend on your playing skills for an edge, I would strongly urge you to consider concentrating on slot tournaments, which are always run as promotions and should give a nicely positive ev for all players through random chance, since that is what you are looking for.
  20. leilahay

    leilahay Member

    I really do not want to get into a pissing match over this. I merely commented that I was suprised at the cost of the tournaments UB was offering. Hollywood understood exactly what I was saying and I appreciate his response. For the last few years I have played 300-400 live tournaments a year and am willing to pit my skills against anyone on this board. I have no problem with the house charging a vig--isn't that what the 10% add on is? I played a lot on Global and Bet21 and probably will play some on UB. I just won't stay home to play them. I see a lot of money added to poker tournaments and have played in quite a few on another site. I guess I am dreaming to hope that blackjack could someday be the same.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2011

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