Positively Nerd Street

Pr0n for the poker nerd. Hardware, software, gadgets, etc; like poker, but from the future.
ElkYHearthstone

Like many other poker players Bertrand Grospellier -- ElkY as you may know him -- is a true gamer at heart.

One of the most successful poker pros of all time with $10.9m in live tournament earnings ElkY began his gaming career as a professional Starcraft player in Korea at the age of 20.

As if he didn't already have enough gaming passions, he recently started playing the latest online phenomenon Hearthstone.

We asked him a few questions about his new obsession.

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Crypto Chips

There are Bitcoin poker sites but Crypto Chips is taking it one step farther and introducing physical Bitcoin-branded poker chips.

Owner/founder Ken McGrail manufactures the chips as a hobby and got into it after he got bored with mining Bitcoin.

Crypto Chips are standard ceramic 39mm, 10-gram poker chips that have been branded with logos from various digital currencies.

McGrail decided to skip the substandard sticker technique of adhering graphics to the chips and went instead with superior ink injection printing.

They are not only available for Bitcoin but you can also order LiteCoin, Dogecoin, Darkcoin and 85 other unique designs.

Buy Bitcoin Poker Chips with Bitcoin

Since they don’t actually represent individual Bitcoin hashes, like some other coins, what are they for?

Some people use them as knick knacks to give to fellow Bitcoin fans. You can also buy a complete set and play poker with them.

Because Bitcoin is entirely digital the market for physical Bitcoin products has actually been substantial.

McGrail originally considered making metal coins but after a trip to Vegas realized light-weight poker chips were far superior for his purposes.

The chips cost $2.50 a piece with free shipping and you can pay using Bitcoin, Lightcoin, Dogecoin and a variety of other cryptocurrencies.

You can purchase Crypto Coins poker chips here.

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1770 Shaun Harris and Dogs

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban once said that a sure sign of failure for a start-up is too much promotional gear.

Take a quick look at the poker industry and you’d likely agree 99% of the time.

The unregulated online gaming industry in the early 2000s, before the UIGEA passed in 2006, was the wild west of online poker.

The marketing teams for these sites pretty much went on a bender that lasted for years.

Promos went far beyond just branded swag. It was over-the-top, excessive, ridiculous, greedy and downright sexist at points as online poker sites did absolutely anything they could do attract new players or generate publicity.

Here's a closer look at some of the strangest, craziest or improbable promotional campaigns that online poker sites have run over the years.

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negreanulondon

Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu is arguably the most popular poker player in the world. But there’s an entirely different game that’s grabbed his attention lately.

After a recent widely-popular foray onto Twitch.tv for streaming poker, Negreanu has taken one step closer to the video game world by getting his feet wet with card game/video game hybrid Hearthstone.

As Negreanu himself put it on Twitter:

“I can not stop playing #hearthstone this game is incredibly addicting and fun. Soooo much fun!”

Negreanu’s not the only famous poker pro who has taken up the Hearthstone. In fact his PokerStars teammate Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier (who used to be a pro StarCraft player) has been streaming plenty of Hearthstone on Twitch.tv as well.

Mike McDonald, Benny Spindler, Gabe "GWalls" Walls and even 2011 WSOP champ Pius Heinz have also mentioned playing Hearthstone in the past but Negreanu is by far the most well-known poker pro to profess an appreciation for the game.

Poker pros are hardly the only people interested in Hearthstone. The game recently passed 30 million players and is frequently one of the most popular games on Twitch.

So could an old-school poker pro like Daniel Negreanu actually make the switch to an up-and-coming pro Hearthstone career? Ha, no.

The money involved with poker still dwarfs Hearthstone. Negreanu recorded $10.2 million in live tournament results last year. Winning the Hearthstone World Championships only got James “firebat” Kostesich $100,000 last year and that was by far the biggest Hearthstone event.

Here are Negreanu’s Tweets about his new-found hobby:

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play along 2

What’s arguably the #1 feature of poker on TV?

Accessibility.

Sports fans may never be able to go one-on-one with Lebron James or shelf a wrister on Henrik Lundqvist but they sure as hell can 3-Bet a famous TV pro. Or, at the very least, make fun of the way they play pocket jacks.

Well PokerStars is going one step farther with its new Poker Play Along app that actually lets players interact with TV poker programming.

During every PokerStars TV broadcast, such as an EPT or Shark Cage, players will be able to actually play along during certain segments.

It’s perfect for poker as you’ll finally get to guess what the correct play in certain situations would be whether it’s call, raise or fold.

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Griffin Benger 2

Former Counter-Strike legend Griffin “shaGuar” Benger is officially streaming on Twitch.tv but it’s not for the reason you might think.

First off, Benger isn’t streaming Counter-Strike.

Benger’s actually been out of the pro video game scene for quite awhile.

Instead the Toronto native is streaming online poker and giving some incredible insight into what he's thinking when he's at the virtual tables.

This isn’t a complete surprise since plenty of pros including Jason “Jcarver” Somerville, Jonathan Little and Dan O’Brien are already streaming online poker on Twitch with considerable success.

Benger’s background, however, is unique since he was one of the most famous Counter-Strike pros and a member of the original Team NoA.

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Pure Holdem poker

The last thing the world needs is another shitty poker video game.

For years game makers have been shoving bad poker game after bad poker game down people’s throats with no real idea of what makes the card game so compelling.

Pure Hold’em, an upcoming game for Xbox One, PS4 and PC, is different than its competitors in one major way:

It’s not really a poker video game.

It would be much more accurate to call it a poker simulation.

The team at VooFoo Studios has painstakingly re-created the entire poker experience with one of the most detailed poker tables you will ever see along with individual chips, cards and seats.

You even hold down LT to peel back your hole cards so there’s a little bit of a sweat to see what you have.

The game also offers most major poker variants including cash games and tournaments with various stakes.

It's clear the developers have a good understanding of poker as they even include basic strategy tips in the loading screens.

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Apple Watch Poker

Is Apple set to change the game again?

The imminent Apple Watch has financial analysts scratching their heads wondering if Apple might once again completely turn a market segment on its head.

The big question that we care about, however, is whether the Apple Watch will have any applications for poker.

We’ll take a close look at the upcoming watch in this article and project some of the possible uses for poker.

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PokerStars Play Real

It goes without saying that there are an almost limitless number of poker-related apps available for iOS or Android.

The problem is that the vast majority of them are garbage.

Fortunately we dug through a stack of them and found five apps that were fun, entertaining, informative or at least interesting.

Keep in mind most of these games are free-to-play and do’t compare to the full real-money experiences that you’d get from legit poker companies like Full Tilt, Party Poker or 888poker.

Instead these games are casual enough that you can play them while at a live poker table or if you’re on the bus and don’t feel like wagering actual money.

Check below for five new poker apps that are actually worth downloading for your smartphone or tablet.

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prismata

What’s the perfect game?

Is it poker? Or maybe chess? Starcraft?

Prismata is an upcoming strategy game that defies all attempts to define it by drawing on influences from an incredibly diverse cross-section of games.

It’s quickly garnered the attention of famous poker players like Mike “Timex” McDonald as well as professional video game players like TrumpSC and Kripparian.

We’re going to take a closer look at the game today and investigate why it could be the next big online game.

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Mike McDonald HoloLens

You know how heads-up displays, or HUDs, have changed the way people play online poker?

Well Microsoft’s pie-in-the-sky Sci-Fi headset HoloLens that was announced this week could bring exactly that kind of tool to live tournaments.

Here’s the skinny on the futeristic device:

It’s a self-contained headset, somewhat similar to Google Glass, but more advanced because it will actually overlay 3D holograms onto your real-life environment.

While HoloLens offers some features of Virtual Reality headsets like Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus it actually has even more potential because VR devices are limited by their screens.

HoloLens has a transparent screen/lens so it can project objects onto your real-world settings. This is Microsoft’s promo video for the device:

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Bitnplay

Another week, another new Bitcoin poker site.

Between Bryan Micon’s original SealsWithClubs, the new Michael Mizrachi-backed GetLuckyPoker and the old-school heavy Breakout Poker it’s getting pretty easy to get lost in the shuffle.

So why should you care about Bitnplay?

Well it remains to be seen if Bitnplay will find success (it hasn’t launched yet) but it offers a few unique features that you won’t find on the other sites.

We’ll take a closer look at three of the major features in this article.

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Ante Up Poker

This week the Internet Archive released more than 2,300 classic video games for free in-browser play including a handful of poker games.

While most gamers are tickled at the thought of nostalgic favourites like Wolfenstein, Prince of Persia and Super Street Fighter II there are plenty of obscure games to be found when you comb through the massive free library. 

We spent a couple hours perusing the database to see if there was anything poker-related in the archive. It turns out there was and if you are ready to deal with a few glitches and awkward controls then you’ll be treated to some of the greatest 16-bit poker action around.

You can view the complete archive of all 2,300+ titles here.

In addition to the following titles there’s also Amarillo Slim's Dealer’s Choice but we couldn’t get past the second screen unfortunately.

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Poker stream jcarver

Want to get better at poker? Some very-skilled poker pros are giving tons of information completely free on services like Twitch.tv.

The theory used to be that once you found a way to beat poker you kept everything you learned a secret. Giving away that information was giving away your edge.

Well, an entirely new generation of poker player is taking a vastly different approach by live streaming themselves playing online poker.

The following is a quick-start guide to getting started with poker livestreaming.

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iphone 6 pokerstars

With much fanfare and hype Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ in a high-profile keynote earlier today.

While more and more poker players seem to be hopping on the Android train these days the iPhone remains one of the most popular handheld devices amongst poker players.

There’s a good reason that most online poker sites have developed special apps just for iOS devices.

Today’s announcement actually heralded a number of new features (including an entirely new design) that could potentially benefit poker players who use iPhones to play poker.

Here’s a look at six ways the iPhone 6 will be a vastly superior way to play online poker than previous iterations:

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Chess 2: Sequel

Game designer David Sirlin has done the unthinkable and created a sequel to the classic game of chess that introduces poker elements to the board game.

It’s not like people have been clamouring for sequel to the 1,500-year-old game but Sirlin believes he’s created a game that’s simply more fun to play.

Sirlin thinks the problem with traditional chess is that it’s basically a perfect information game. There are no random elements to the game and there isn’t any hidden information. It’s hard to attract new players if they can’t even get lucky.

Poker is the complete opposite. It’s an imperfect information game with an element of luck.

Sirlin actually got the idea for Chess 2 when he was working in the video game industry. In particular he was working on balancing issues in Street Fighter HD Remix.

He told Kotaku:

I was working on [the balance of] Street Fighter HD Remix many years ago and also going to lots of Street Fighter tournaments. I was just kinda thinking a lot about the different types of games, how chess is kind of on one end of the spectrum and poker's on the far opposite end in terms of how much leeway you have to out-guess your opponent. In chess it's super rigid and very much about memorization and patterns. In poker there's a lot of reading of what you think is going on in people's minds.

Sirlin saw elements of chess and poker in the way people played Street Fighter. He wanted to create a game that offered players the chance to use the rigid, mathematical patterns found in chess with the adaptive nature of poker.

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laptops 2

Here’s a little secret for you: most online poker software is incredibly easy to run on almost any computer.

Online poker sites have a serious incentive to make their software compatible with even the most antiquated laptops so they can increase their market share.

In fact, we built a premium grinding station in 2009 and honestly it would still play every piece of poker software you could throw at it.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the experience is the same on every computer.

There are a couple features that are particularly important for online grinders. One is screen size (likewise resolution) because you’re going to want to multi-table and another is mobility because most poker players want to travel.

Over the last five years there has been one significant upgrade that will help speed up your poker sessions. That’s the transition from old disk-based hard drives to flash-based solid state drives or SSDs.

SSDs will help you load anything on your hard drive much faster and that includes your poker client. Is it necessary? Nope. Is it awesome? Yes.

Some people will argue about the benefits of a beastly desktop computer brimming with scorchingly-fast silicon. It’s a good choice if you want to play 3D games at max settings but these days it’s hard to see them as anything more than overkill for online poker.

Instead of buying a desktop just attach a couple high quality monitors to your laptop and you are good to go.

Here’s a look at three great choices in 2014 (feel free to add your own in the comments!):

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hearthstone main

Wildly popular free-to-play online card game Hearthstone continues to top mobile gaming charts and the recent Curse of Naxxramas expansion has gamers buzzing.

Of course the skill + luck format of the game makes it a natural fit for poker players and many are joining in on the action including former world champ Pius Heinz.

We decided to fuse poker and Hearthstone by creating 32 cards that represent some of the most famous characters and incidents from the world of poker.

Looking for a "Jesus on Tilt" card? Or maybe a 3-Bet card? We’ve got you covered.

While these cards will never, ever, be used in an actual Hearthstone game they have some interesting (if a little overpowered effects).

Feel like you could do better? Give us your own suggestions for Hearthstone poker cards in the comments section below.

(Also, check out Five Things Online Poker Could Learn from Hearthstone).

Special thanks to Fr.PokerListings.com’s Fred Guillemot.

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online poker

Online poker can be overwhelming for someone just getting into it, but over the last five years the biggest poker sites have made some huge improvements aimed at helping newcomers to the game.

Most recently, Party Poker introduced Casual Cash Game Tables for example. Players are only allowed to play one table at a time, which the site hopes will encourage new players to splash around chips without fear of running into serious grinders.

The hardest part for online poker sites is to protect new players without hurting the hard-core grinders.

It remains a tight-rope walk but here are five of the best features online poker sites have introduced over the last five years to help new players (feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments).

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card table

There are two distinct forms of poker: 1. Online poker, which you play on a computer usually against faceless opponents and 2. Live poker where you are face-to-face with other players.

The Card Table on iOS attempts to link together those two forms of poker by utilizing a community iPad and individual iPhones.

While The Card Table isn’t strictly a poker game (you can play most card games) it’s one of the first apps that lets you play a local online poker game without the need for internet.

Here’s how it works:

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Lobby

The much-hyped PokerStars 7 client is finally in an open Alpha test and players are getting a first-hand look at the potential future of online poker.

It’s been a long time coming.

Screenshots of PokerStars 7 initially hit the Internet in 2012, which means the software has been development for over three years now.

It’s not exactly clear why it’s taken so long (there were some initial complaints about the look of the new software in 2012) but the latest version looks very solid.

We got a hold of the new software and thought we’d post a few thoughts from playing it for a few hours below.

It’s worth nothing that PokerStars 7 is not only a good thing for PokerStars players. When it comes to software PokerStars has always been a leader but they got so far ahead that other sites were playing catch up for the last few years.

PokerStars hasn’t changed much over that time because it hasn’t needed to. The new software will likely provide a new benchmark for other sites.

Don’t be surprised if you start to see similar features trickle down to 888poker, Party Poker and iPoker over the next couple years.

In other words: everyone wins.

You can test PokerStars 7 for yourself. Details can be found when you head over to this page. It's currently only available for for real-money players with Windows.

Check below for some notes about the Alpha-version of PokerStars 7:

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ShareMyPair

One of the worst things about poker is the countless bad-beat stories you run into in nearly every level of the game.

No one really wants to hear bad beat stories but even when players are retelling hands it’s an excruciatingly-long process that tends to be riddled with errors.

Put it simply: people are terrible at talking about poker hands.

Anyone who’s experienced “…and then the turn came trey of spades… Or was it a deuce? …Actually I think it was the king of clubs…” knows what we are talking about it.

New app ShareMyPair attempts to streamline the process by letting a poker players cram all their hand details into the program and ending up with a slick animated video of the hand, similar to online poker hand replayers.

Best of all you’ll usually be able to watch the complete hand in a matter of seconds instead of minutes.

The service has already been utilized by noted pros such as Phil Hellmuth and Jonathan Little who shared a few key hands.

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oculus poker

Could the new Oculus Rift virtual reality headset change the way we experience online poker?

It’s not out of the question as the Rift represents perhaps the biggest leap in gaming since 3D characters were rendered for the first time in the 90s.

Poker technology has remained relatively stagnant over the last five years with many clients that, at least visually, haven’t changed very much since the late 2000s.

We’re going to take an in-depth look at the Oculus Rift and propose two unique ways the VR could be utilized in an online poker setting.

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Screen Shot 2014 03 20 at 11.59.46 AM

It’s astounding how many poker players still fail to put their staking agreements in writing but a new service hopes to help streamline the process.

Officialize.it is a new website that lets two people enter into an agreement with each other by digitally connecting Facebook profiles.

The service can be utilized online and in real-time, which is perfect for online grinders who may hail from drastically different area codes.

Part of the agreement-based system is based on reputation. If anyone reneges on the agreement the other party can easily publish the complete document.

Because Officialize.it is web-based it’s available on Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android-based devices.

Staking Disputes Can Happen to Any Poker Player

Those who don’t believe a staking disagreement could happen to them would be wise to remember perhaps the biggest staking dispute ever at the 2006 WSOP Main Event.

Jamie Gold won $12 million, the biggest prize ever awarded at the WSOP, but partner Crispin Leyser nearly lost his portion of the prize (worth $6 million) in part because they failed to put everything in writing.

The bottom line is: don’t take unnecessary risks. You can also just write up documents manually, scan them, and send to your staking partner.

You can also use e-signature, which is hypothetically even more secure, but more complicated than Officialize.it.

However you do it, get something beyond a verbal agreement or text message.

Check out a video of the service below:

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Fizzbin

Outside of the odd game of Open-Face Chinese or Courcheval, poker has remained relatively unchanged for decades.

There’s something timeless about the game and there’s a good chance some form of Hold’em or Draw poker will be played 100 years from now.

That said, what other poker-like games do you think will be played in the future?

Poker has actually played a huge role in Sci Fi pop culture and nearly every series has some form of the game.

It’s easy to see why as poker is a great plot device to develop characters that’s been used on everything from Friends to Training Day.

But what are these poker-like games in the future?

Well for one they seem to have a lot of suits. If there’s one thing to be learned from the various games featured on Sci Fi shows it’s that more suits = more futuristic.

Here’s a look at the poker games played in the background of some of the most famous Sci Fi shows.

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