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Posted by on Oct 8, 2012 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

Online Gaming: The Pursuit of Getting Players “In The Room”

Online Gaming: The Pursuit of Getting Players “In The Room


For those of us who follow the evolution of the gaming industry, there is a kind of fascination with how the online and land-based industry compete. Of course, it’s often the case that there is crossover among the two industries, but while the big Vegas casinos will have online sites, the majority of online casino operators do not have, and never will have, physical premises.

The interesting aspect is that the land-based industry never really suffered its moment of digital disruption in the same way as, say, Blockbuster video did at the hands of Netflix, or bookstores did due to the rise of Amazon. Casinos don’t close down in the same manner as brick-and-mortar stores on main street, citing the impossibility of competing with the internet. Both industries are in rude health.

The point is that playing poker, blackjack, roulette of online is something you might do, whereas going to the casino is an event; perhaps, something you would describe as momentous. That clear line marked between the two has been very important from a business perspective.

Live dealer games seen as huge success

Yet, there has always been an ambition within the online casino industry to replicate the real casino experience. As you might expect, that goal has been at least partially realized with the advent of live dealer casino games. Today, if you sign up to to experience live Hold’em, you’ll probably agree that they have made great strides in delivering on that promise. The cards, dealer, sights, sounds and strategy are the same.

Live casino has been immensely popular, giving players much more in the way of the experience of an “event” than, for example, the animated gameplay on dedicated poker sites. This is not to say that live dealer poker is better than the offerings of a poker site – any assertion like that is a subjective one – but it is much closer to the real thing than anything else we have seen online before.

Technology does not stand still, however, and the multi-billion-dollar industry in online casino game development is already firmly behind the next steps in creating experiences that truly rival the real casinos. What they want, ultimately, is to get players “in the room”; to allow you to take a seat at a virtual poker table and look into the eyes of your opponent.

VR iGaming industry set to take off

The side of the industry working on this has been tagged as VR iGaming, and the projects they are working on are surprising in their ambition. Much of it has to do with VR, of course, but there are also elements of AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality). The idea will be to eventually get everyone into the room, offering an experience that recreates real casino to such an extent that it makes little difference whether you are in Las Vegas or your bedroom.

We should make it clear that this kind of thing is not readily available yet. Software developers have been brandishing Oculus Rift Headsets, HTC Vive Pro Headsets and Touch Controllers at exhibitions, but it might be a few years before it is all readily available.

Perhaps surprisingly, online casinos are not alone in pursuing this kind of technology. The land-based casino industry is also looking to bring such experiences to life. The reason? Millennials. Land-based operators have realized that millennials are not as enthused about playing games of cards and dice as generations past, and they believe that the virtual experience might be the key to sustaining the industry.

Does the above mean that we will one day eschew the traditional way of playing casino games? Will sitting at the table chatting to the croupier with a cocktail be a thing of the past? Perhaps. But not in the way you might think. Why would millennials go to a casino to play the same games but in a virtual format?

Well, that’s the key. The industry has realized that the future of the casino industry is not to find novel ways to replicate classic games of the past, but to offer something entirely different: Skill games; gambling adventure games, where you defeat monsters for cash; playing poker in a virtual saloon that puts you in the Wild West. This is the type of experience they are aiming for. There will always be room for the classics, of course. But the pursuit of technology will soon look beyond getting players in the room, and put them somewhere else entirely.



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Posted by on Oct 8, 2012 in Blog, Music and Concert Reviews | 0 comments

Searching for Sugarman: Rodriguez on ’60 Minutes’



There are rare few moments of great television.

Last night offered us such a moment.

On CBS’ “60 Minutes,” the long lost hermit singer-songwriter Rodriguez was featured in the third segement.  This was one of the most heartwarming and inspiring stories I’ve ever seen on a program that has given us many extraordinary memories over the years.

The segment told the remarkable story of a long-forgotten folk singer from Detroit, simply named Rodriguez.  Forty years ago, he made two albums, both of which bombed commercially in the United States.  So, Rodriguez essentially quit the music business entirely and spent the next three decades working as a day laborer.  He stayed poor, living in a run-down shack outside of Detroit.

Meanwhile 15,000 miles away on the other side of the world, his records somewhow caught on in the nation of South Africa.  During the fall of Apartheid, he unknowingly became a huge star, although he never received a dime in royalties nor knew of his fame in that faraway land.  South Africans who knew every song and rang Rodriguez’s lyrics presumed he was dead.

But Rodriguez was very much alive.

This remarkable segment tells Rodriguez’s life story, which eventualy led to a movie which is out now called “Searching for Sugarman.”  The tale of how the movie, which debuted this year at the Sundance Film Festival, came to be is just as moving emotionally — shot largely on an iPhone by a one-man production team with no budget led by a broke Swede, who heard about this amazing Cinderella tale and decided to make a film which has now changed both of their lives.

If you cherish the notion that art is not a commodity but a state of consciousness, or if you simply want to sit back and enjoy a great story, I urge you to watch this clip:



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Posted by on Oct 7, 2012 in Blog, Travel | 4 comments

Where’s Inspector Clouseau When You Need Him?

 Inspector Clouseau


A few days ago, I lost everything I have ever written.

Every article — gone.

Every draft — gone.

Two half-completed books — gone.

Hundreds of World Series of Poker official reports — gone.

Thousands of personal photographs — gone.

Basically, everything I’m now working on or have nearly completed as a writer — gone.

So, what happened?

My laptop was stolen.

After spending 24 hours crying and another 48 hours throwing up, my next instinct was to write about the pain this has caused.  Even as I sit here now, three days removed from the loss, words cannot express what comes from being severed forever from the emotional reactions I had to different things over the years that were reflected in those very heartfelt writings.

When I felt happy, I usually wrote about it.  When I felt sad, I usually wrote about it.  And, when I felt angry, I almost always wrote about it.  That laptop was a basket case of emotional bedlam.

And now, it’s gone, likely transformed into little more than back-alley barter for the next $50 fix.

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Posted by on Oct 6, 2012 in Blog, Sports Betting | 1 comment

NFL Plays — Week 5

NFL Cardinals Photo



28 WINS – 21 LOSSES – 0 PUSHES —– (+ 14.8 units / 1 unit = $100)





Very solid results last week going 7-3 with the posted plays…..but should have made considerably more profit…..poor money management on what should have been a huge core.  I’ll still take a 60 percent winning percentage and a +14 percent gain of bankroll, any month.

Tougher card that normal, this week.  Going light with just four plays.  Wagering $1,750 this week.

Note:  All wagers are for amusement-purposes only.  I bear no responsibility for those who may decide to follow my plays.

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Posted by on Oct 5, 2012 in Blog, Personal, Travel, Video 1 | 0 comments

Nolan Dalla Interviewed in Cannes (France)

The following interview was conducted on September 30, 2012 in front of the Hotel La Majestic Barriere in Cannes, France.  Swedish writer and journalist Rikard Aberg is one of the game’s most inquisitive interviewers, as can be seen in this exchange.

I like Aberg’s style which is largely conversational.  He asks about several subjects — including health and fitness, goals and aspirations, Stu Ungar, and of course — the future of WSOP Europe.

These videos — of myself, Jennifer Tilly, Phil Hellmuth, Steve Dannenman, Brandon Cantu and others are posted at a Swedish-language site.  They will also be available at PokerTube shortly.

This video runs about 17 minutes.


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