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    A good friend of CB's likes to play online poker while he watches TV. He plays on Pokerstars in the freerolls. Now Pokerstars says it is the biggest online poker site on the internet. The software is OK but they are not sophisticated enough to use Java. Their software has to be downloaded and only works on windows. IF they were bright enough to use java, no download would be needed as their screens would run on ANY platform! Now, on joining, there is, within the lobby, a preferences link which allows you to set up how you see things. On this is an option to turn off all pop up windows (which includes the announcements in the chat box). CB's friend has this turned off. After getting some pop ups he questioned this with the support, only to be told that some pop ups were compulsory and could not be turned off. He regularly is at the table in the middle of playing a hand when up comes another window. Obviously he doesn't look at it, he just closes it as fast as possible! He also says it interferes with his concentration as he is so angry when it happens and poker is about keeping your cool and reading the percentages.
    What is the object of this window? It has to be to advertise something the management wants to promote. How do they expect ANYONE to read their crap when it  is interfering with a hand? CB thinks that the senior management is infected with cretinism. Maybe they should all go to a marketing course. Perhaps that course might concentrate on overkill and customer alienation! Perhaps the cretinism may have rendered them all "no longer able to learn". The way a site like this makes money is in the REAL CASH MONEY tables. CB's friend has stated that he would never put real money into this site as he would be ever fearful of being in the middle of a serious hand only for ANOTHER window to appear over the table.
    Pokerstars has the nickname Jokerstars, given by the members. There has been some discussion regarding their software. Everybody knows that cards is purely random. There are some who believe that if you use the same deck for too long playing only one game, then the hands seem to come out matching the disciplines of that game. This is true of solo whist where the hands are stacked in suit order (hearts, clubs, diamonds and finally spades) and the deck is not shuffled. It does seem though that the principle stands up. Try playing cribbage for a couple of hours. Even though the deck is shuffled before each deal, the cards do tend to fall in cribbage hands. Now at Pokerstars, the randomness seems to vary with each discipline in the same way BUT it is excessive. To clarify this, take 5 card stud and 2-7 low card game. Both games deal you 5 cards face down. You may stand pat or burn any number of the cards. In 5 card, highest hands are welcome and in 2-7 you do NOT want straights, flushes or pairs etc.  The times you get a pair in 2-7 seems to far outweigh the times it happens at 5 card, thus the randomness in Pokerstars software seems to be affected by your desired result. Some say you can tell if you have any chance of winning after the first dozen hands. CB's pal was playing RAZZ, where the first highest showing card has to start the betting by "bringing in" the first bet, you cannot fold. He got the King in 7 out of 11 hands and was so happy about this he shut down the table and took an hours rest from playing. If  you play poker, go there and see for yourselves, CB thinks that Pokerstars needs a new set of programmers and the management ought to be introduced to a good marketing school, IF they can find any brain cells within the management function.   
    A final word of warning. When the pop up window appears, do NOT be quicker at closing it than it is at appearing. If you hit the X button, the pop up will freeze, locking your system and a reboot is needed. On reboot the system will go into disc check and it will find file errors, which it will fix. These "errors" are all in Pokerstars and you will lose the .ini file. This means you will have to re-input all your preferences. Let it finish appearing and use the close button to get rid of it.
    You will also notice, when playing that, if the time clock starts, you will have to click on the appropriate button 3 or 4 times. Somehow, the time clock inhibits your mouse clicks, thus making things worse. NOW you can see why they have been given the JOKERSTARS tag. Enjoy!

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The JSC Group March 2006