Bodog has always gone out of their way to be eccentric. Their marketing has always been unique, and their founder Calvin Ayre has always managed to find the spotlight. They are an extremely successful and well recognized brand around the world. Lately though I have to wonder what they are thinking.
I fully respect the decisions of a business. They are theirs to make and if I don’t like the way Bodog runs their business then I can play somewhere else. My problem is that their unique outlook at the industry is now causing problems for others.
Bodog once allowed rakeback. They allowed players that already received rakeback to continue receiving it but the formula changed. That formula is similar to Ongame’s Essence formula. That is no mistake since Bodog hired on some of the people from Ongame who believe in that type of method. The formula Bodog uses punishes winning players by giving them less rake than losing players. Bodog is obsessed with the thought that winning players are not desirable. The flaw in that philosophy is that if you run off the great players, the breakeven players are now winners. If you run them off, now your slightly losing players are winners.
Ending rakeback and changing the formula to run off the existing rakeback players was not enough. Bodog then decided that players should not be able to see full tables in their software. Now when you log into Bodog’s poker room it looks like a tiny poker room. I have to think this is a huge negative. Nobody wants to play in a ghost town, some people don’t even trust sites that are extremely small. This also caused a big problem with Pokerscout.com, a poker portal that tracks traffic on all online poker rooms.
Apparently after Black Friday, Bodog asked PokerScout to stop tracking their player counts. PokerScout refused and continued to display this information. It appears PokerScout’s position is that this is publicly available data that is newsworthy. To combat this issue, Bodog hid all of the full tables from their lobby. This kept datamining sites from being able to count players. It does not completely stop stat tracking datamining sites though as they can still mine the tables that are not full and when they fill up they can continue to monitor them. It seems this was only to stop PokerScout and it has only had limited success.
In a post on Calvin Ayre’s blog there are two reasons given as to why Bodog does not want to be on PokerScout. They state that skilled players will use that info to bum hunt. That is absurd, all PokerScout does is count the players and tables. It does not track any kind of player stats. PokerScout is mentioned in many mainstream media sites too, I am sure there are quite a few fish that look at their website on a regular basis. If anything it is free advertising.
The other problem they state is that they feel the U.S. Department of Justice can use that info in a case against them or that they are less under the radar if they are on PokerScout. While I understand that philosophy, I have a feeling that if Bodog’s time ever comes with U.S. authorities that poker will be the least of their concerns. The DOJ already knows all about Bodog, they do not need PokerScout’s info.
In that blog post they make a very damaging accusation. They claim that PokerScout demanded over $1,000,000 to remove Bodog from their player counts. The author of the article was not the person who this blackmail was made to, it was made to someone else. The author of that post has no first hand knowledge of this alleged extortion.
As a writer we all use anonymous sources. There are some stories that require them. My problem here is that Bodog is making an extremely damaging claim to one of the biggest online poker portals. Bodog needs to prove this statement or retract it. If anything like this was said, I would be willing to bet it was along the lines of “I wouldn’t remove Bodog for $1,000,000” and not this extortion Bodog claims. The thought that PokerScout would think Bodog would pay them $1,000,000 is so absurd that it is unbelievable to me. I am looking forward to Bodog proving this claim. If they do not prove it, the entire industry will know they were making it up.
One last thought I have about Bodog. Poker has become a necessary evil as it pertains to sportsbooks. Sportsbooks feel that they need poker to remain competitive. All sportsbooks have issues with their whales getting eaten alive in the poker rooms. After all, that is money the sportsbook would have eventually won. Bodog seems to have taken this concept to the extreme. It will be impossible to prevent whales from spewing in the poker rooms. The only way to stop it is to completely stop offering online poker.
Edit: I added a comment to the blog post on CalvinAyre.com asking for proof of this allegation but it was deleted.