Haley's Poker Blog

No bad beats, but still a poker blog... hence the anguish.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Content Thieves Again: The Poker Blogger Freerolls Fun-'n'-Sponge

Ever wonder how many people are willing to try penny-ante scams when a few bucks are at stake? Just mention the word "freeroll" and watch the drool start to dapple the floorboards. I was reminded of this while doing some long-overdue work on my own links page. Having a decent blogroll is like any other thing in this world --- if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.

This doesn't mean you can't visit other sites to see what other links are out there --- that's the essence of web-surfing itself. So if you've seen an upsurge in your site's own blogroll from an IP in the NW Chicago suburbs, it's probably me. Just checkin' things out.

But an oddity occurred --- I noticed that the blogrolls showing the participants in a couple of "poker blogger" tourneys showed marked contrast to those found on more traditional poker-blogging sites. I've done some checking, particularly into the links over at the poker.com "Poker Blogger Tour," a series of events with a largish prize to the eventual winner. Sure, I'll play in these tourneys from time to time --- my bankroll's too minuscule to not take a shot when some of these freebies roll around.

So what's the deal? What's worth the post?

Just the noticing of how vast the difference is between a well-managed freeroll and a poorly-managed one, which leads into the examination of why these sites are offering the freerolls in the first place.

For a recent well-run example, we don't need to look any further than Matt Crystal's work for the $1,000 blogger tourney sponsored by pokersavvy.com. Decent affair, and smallish, too... by the time Matt was done weeding out the scammers who tried to sneak into the tourney, there were only 30 or so of us left. The tourney had two drawbacks. First, even with the overlay of perhaps $30 per participant, it still wasn't enough to interest some of the biggest-name, highest-stakes bloggers. (As for me, I go 0-for-2 on those counts.) Second, the event was at Titan Poker --- the favorite online destination of... damn few. But I've blasted Titan Poker elsewhere --- let's just say that getting a pure freebie was about the only way I was ever going to return to the site.

Well, I took fourth in the thing for $100. Thank you, Matt and PokerSavvy. I've even run that up to $135 or so, playing a few SNGs and a smattering of low-limit ring games. But it's getting that money out of Titan that will no doubt be the greatest tribulation.

As usual, though, I've digressed. Let's go over to the different-flavored beastie, that of the "blgger tour" at poker.com. Here's a link that shows the current list of bloggers (loosely stated) itself. I'd recommend this one, or this one, or maybe even this one, or possibly this one. I could even cite flaming turdlets like this one, but I'll cut the guy some slack --- at least he's making a half-assed try at it. Looks like he's happy about the free money he's already received from poker.com and he'd like some more, please!

Note that these aren't the only examples --- poker.com's blogroll has a flaming outbreak of ass pimples all over it.

Funny stuff. Which explains why simply programming a macro to check to see if your promotional banner is present on a given site is a shit-poor way of verifying these blogs. (Pardon my French.) It's also obvious that poker.com is catching on to the depth of the scamming they've suffered, as can be seen by this hilarious comment from their current tour page:

"Don't bother emailing us if you just chasing freerolls and have no intention of becoming a regular blogger. The same goes for anyone we have let play until now that does not have a regularly updated blog. Get writing on those new blogs of yours or you won't be playing in event #4!"

I sincerely doubt that many of them will even bother to check for that text... at least unless and until their invitation to another freebie doesn't show up as expected.

It's easy enough to ride poker.com for doing a crappy job of adminsitration, but the truth is that in the pursuit of raw numbers, it can make sense to take such an approach. Maybe poker.com can say they have 100 bloggers participating, as opposed to perhaps the 50 or so that would be left after the normal application of a crud filter. That's 100 poker.com banners floating across the web, right? Much better than 50. Easy to sell that to a boss who doesn't check the details, particularly if he's not likely to find out that 50 of those banners aren't going anywhere except back to poker.com itself.

That's the nature of advertising, business and so on: when in doubt, don't believe the hype. So why the appearance of the above admonishment, then?

Here's the likeliest explanation. Because the first prize is a trip to the WSOP, and it's already been established around the theme of "poker blogger," Poker.com is setting itself up for big-time embarrassment if it sends out a "blogger" to the WSOP who doesn't know his umlaut from a hole in the ground. This appears to be a step to protect poker.com's own image.

That said, there's one type of scammer that I really can't stand --- the plagiarizing kind. Content thieves. Asshats, as Bill Rini would say. And there's at least two of those in the current poker.com blogger-tour lineup. Here are the links:

"Limbo74 / Poker Articles" --- at http://pokerarticle.blogspot.com

"Poker: Daily Tips..." --- at http://dailypokertips.blogspot.com/

The first one has stolen several advice columns from FullTilt and a longish piece from F-Train, slapped WSOP and WPT logos at the top, and has passed the stuff off as being a blog. The second one, assuming it's not the original author himself, stole most of his stuff from pokertips.org. By the way, pokertips.org seems to be quite the target for content thieves --- here are three more (not even counting some foreign-language ones) you might want to help wipe off the face off the Internet: The Poker Strategist, http://www.potwatch.com/ and GoldenPoker.ws. Feel free to contact the content's creators and help get these turds rightfully flushed.

Obviously, slapping down content theives is like playing Whack-a-Mole, but it still has to be done. So we'll return to poker.com. Will they do the right thing and remove the two thieving "blogs" from their tourney? We'll see.

LATE UPDATE: Usually when I take a swipe at someone, I do them the nominal courtesy of letting them know I've posted something of interest via e-mail. Good or bad, I do this --- and so I sent off a letter on the above over to poker.com. Oh, yeah, they answered. Twice. At length.

So I won't modify my original post -- it remains above, warts and all --- and if it upsets anyone who stumbles along and reads it, well, them's the breaks.

I was chided for my lack of "journalistic professionalism" in the above, with the admonition that I should have pre-written those folks for their side of the story. I chuckled at that --- this is a personalized blog after all, and when I'm on my own dime, I'll say and think what I wish. When I'm writing the stuff that I get paid for, then yes, there's a higher threshold. But this is my space; Heere be Dragyns.

That said, to paraphrase Kris (the poker.com rep), she wondered why I was so angry about the above, and the truth is I'm not angry at all. I just try to write with energy, be direct in what I say, and sometimes people take my bluntness as a form of anger. It is both my writing style and a direct reflection of my personality --- I have some sharp edges. Yet except for the two content thieves, I find this whole thing to be darkly humorous... and that's the stuff I enjoy writing about. And as for the content thieves, well, that's more a writerly public service than anything else. LadyXTermn8r, even.

But, seriously, though, I do want to take the time to thank Kris for her very lengthy and sincere replies. I've had other stuff going on for a couple of days and I'm just getting back to this. I see that it generated a comment from Matt at PokerSavvy as well, and all I can say is, thanks Matt, and can I get a plug or a link from ya sometime? :-D (The comment's over at the blogspot version, not the main site, for those of you reading this on the home domain.)

I'm shameless, I admit it. But I do appreciate the good works that these sites are trying to do in supporting poker bloggers. May we support those who are in sincere in their efforts in return. I think poker.com made a big statement here, in announcing a couple of changes to their tour structure in the wake of my (and perhaps others') post.

Although one small mystery remains. Despite the fact that I duly copied and pasted the code into both of my blogger sites, it doesn't seem to want to display properly. Is this a problem with my computer's Flash installation, a glitch in the blogger-tour code, or something else altogether? I know it's been verified, or else I wouldn't have particpated in the first events, nor would you be reading this, in all likelihood. Still, I wonder.

Fun time. Here's one of those gossip stories that's gathering steam on the internet, and I wrote about it for my other blog here. Go check it out. But, just on the off chance that the tale is true, then I think you'll see a few dozen of these stylin' t-shirts at the WSOP:

T-shirt sizes available are Men's XL, 2XL and 3XL.


Blogger pokersavvy said...

Hi Haley,

Matt from PokerSavvy here. Great post. Thorough, well-written and entertaining.

As you surely know, scamming and spamming are pervasive in the online poker world. For our first blogger freeroll at PokerSavvy, we ended up with 47 participants. I think about 40 were bonafide bloggers. The other 7 or so were people who managed to squeeze the password from a friend.

In the 2 days leading up to the tournament, we had about 250 additional people try to register. They used every possible angle. Many created blogger accounts and had a blog that was simply empty. Others created blogger accounts and then copied and pasted real bloggers' content into their own pages. Still others would claim to simply be the real blogger - they'd fill out the form and then claim that doubleas or tripjax was their URL. Somehow, though, I doubted that those guys had migrated to a Latvian or Polish email domain. Others resorted to flat-out begging for the password. You can read my account of the whole mess here: http://www.pokersavvy.com/__plog/index.php?blogId=1.

Poker.com and Pokersourceonline are both listing hundreds of bloggers as registrants for their tourneys but it's a total joke. Probably 20% or less are real bloggers. (Not to mention that Pokersourceonline is listing their event as a $25,000 freeroll in their ads but then one learns that in order for that prize pool to be reached 2401 bloggers must play. But anyway). Rooting out the scammers takes time and effort - I think I spent a good 6 hours going through every URL to confirm its legitimacy. My preference is for smaller events that actually attract real bloggers - simply to say we have 350 participants when 300 are scammers doesn't appeal to me.

On to the choice of Titan Poker. I read your review of the site and it was certainly less than flattering, but it was fair. We ran the event at Titan because our rep there was quite eager to redeem Titan in the eyes of bloggers as they hadn't made the best impression in past events. Furthermore, they were willing to put in the modest amount of time needed to setup an event like this whereas the employees at most poker rooms couldn't be bothered to set something up. If you have difficulties cashing out please let me know and I will do my best to help you. If there are issues, we'll take these events elsewhere in the future.

Lastly, as to the first event not attracting the "marquee" bloggers. I don't get why that's a drawback from your standpoint. Each additional participant reduces the $21 overlay/player. Furthermore, the 40 legit bloggers who did play included some very high-profile veteran bloggers like doubleas and tripjax. Ultimately, though, I think these events are great for introducing new bloggers to the community. Everyone starts somewhere, and someone, perhaps even you, is gonna be the next Iggy. So we welcome any and all bloggers who are making a real effort, regardless of their renown.

Anyway, thanks for participating and for your post and we'll hope to see you at the next tourney.


5:51 PM  
Anonymous limbo74 said...

I wrote my defence at not only bloggerpokertour blog but also by blog http://pokerarticle.blogspot.com/

I wish there would be at least apology about that "stolen" business..


12:25 PM  
Blogger Haley said...

Lol. Keep wishing, limbo.

You are a thief --- the fact that you're fully admitting where you took the stuff from doesn't change the fact that you took it in the first place. It is called "plagiarism." Further, you didn't just take it, you slapped it onto a page that you're then using for personal gain.

Further, it's darn nice of you to offer to remove the stuff if you're notified specifically to do so by everyone from whom you've swiped. What an offer.

You may be a sweet man (I have no way of knowing this), but you're absolutely clueless when it comes to international copyright law. You know that little round "C"-inside-a-circle thingie? It means it's someone else's work, not yours.

Now, if you had contacted the people who wrote the stuff, asked for permission to reprint it, and then put a "Reprinted with permission..." of, then that would be totally cool. Or even if you excerpted something, that's okay, too. To "excerpt" means to use a small sample of something to illustrate a point. It's legit.

Maybe if you offered to translate the things into Turkish, perhaps, you'd have a defendable position.

Right now, you just look like someone who's really, really sincere about putting someone else's stuff on your site so you can try to make some money off of it.

I am laughing at you, sir. Now go away.

3:14 PM  

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