Sunday, April 04, 2010

One of these things is not like the others

The above ad for Victory Poker appeared in the February 24, 2010, issue of Card Player magazine. It left me scratching my head.

Let's look at the lineup of instructors. David Chicotsky? OK, sure, he has a solid track record not only of personal performance in online poker but in teaching others how he succeeds. Antonio Esfandiari? All right. Maybe not stellar, but has certainly succeeded in both tournaments and live play enough that I'd agree he has things to share. Andrew Robl and Brian Rast? Both young, but certainly with pretty impressive early reputations. Dan Bilzerian I've only heard of from his appearance in last year's WSOP Main Event coverage, and Keith Gipson is completely unknown to me. But maybe their excellence exceeds their reputation.

In the next block, we have Alec Torelli, Lee Markholt, and Paul Wasicka--a very impressive trio, from any of whom all of us grinders could probably learn a thing or two. Danny Wong and Eugene Katchalov are both in that "early but promising" category, so no complaints there. Sander Lylloff? No clue who he is. But since I don't closely follow online poker whizzes, or tournament poker circuits, or European poker, maybe he's a genius I haven't heard of.

Moving on to the "consultants," Joe Navarro is certainly well-known in poker training circles (though I personally think he tends to make too much out of too little), and Sam Chauhan has some ringing endorsements for how he has helped well-known poker pros, such as Esfandiari, get their lives and minds in order. Dan Fleyshman I have never heard of, but maybe he's a whiz at money management, a vital aspect of success in poker.

But now we come to the bottom of the page and see this: "Sara Underwood, 2007 Playmate of the Year."


What the hell does this have to do with the game in question? Does she teach a seminar in strip poker, maybe?

I assume that whatever services Ms. Underwood provides to Victory Poker, they do not come free. So what value, exactly, does her presence on the staff add for members? Some portion of their subscription fees go to her--what does she provide them in return? I don't get it.

More generally, I'm baffled by the large photograph at the top of the ad. We see six of the trainers apparently in a poker game, though none of them have cards, and at least one of them has his chips strewn in a mess rather than stacked in an orderly fashion. They are drinking martinis. Apparently Victory Poker teaches its students that drinking booze while you play is one of the tickets to success. That's a rather odd precept.

Five of the six men have attractive young women hanging on them. Bilzerian seems to have missed out. What--is he gay? Did his date stand him up? Does he have bad breath? I don't know. But apparently Victory Poker, in addition to recommending that one consume hard liquor while playing, advises that one's poker play is optimized by having female models stand at one's side. Again, this seems like rather peculiar advice to me.

Yes, I realize that using attractive young women to sell a product or service that has nothing directly to do with them is hardly stop-the-presses news. I also get that this photograph is meant to convey a general image, to trigger an emotional reaction in the prospective client, and is not intended to be scrutinized too closely or taken too literally.

But I find it instructive nevertheless. It tells us a great deal about what this company thinks of the people whose money it is trying to earn. It believes they are too stupid to see through the shallowness and idiocy of this kind of advertising. It believes they are stupid enough to think, "If I sign up for lessons here, I will soon be having non-stop drunken parties with supermodels." Consequently, I have to conclude that its poker training videos (at least I assume that's the core of what they sell, though I haven't logged on to the site to verify that) are geared to such customers--people who aren't taking poker seriously on its own terms, but only see it as a means to their ridiculous fantasy lifestyle.

Given that insight, then, perhaps instead of kvetching about this ad, I should thank Victory Poker for publishing it. Their having done so makes it crystal clear that if I want serious poker training, I should select one of their competitors--one that caters to players who are more realistic in their goals and aspirations. Because I have no desire to learn to play poker while drinking and having models on my arm, and because I am not foolhardy enough to think that I will ever become megabucks rich from the game, I am obviously not the kind of person that Victory Poker is trying to attract. I will, therefore, be happy to pass them by without further consideration.


A commenter suggested that this is a playing site, not a training site. I assumed the latter because of the subheading in the ad: "We made it. We'll show you how." Absent any other clues, doesn't that suggest it's a training site?

Well, I was wrong. It does indeed appear to be a site for playing, not training. The "instruction" tab on the web site is just rudimentary information. I gather that this is part of something called the Everleaf poker network, which I confess I haven't heard of before. Strangely, I can find no mention of either Victory or Everleaf at's frequently updated list of sites accepting U.S. players. Maybe Americans can only play on the free side of Victory. I don't know.

But although my assumption was incorrect about what this site is offering, isn't that all by itself a pretty big indictment of the efficacy of the ad? If a reader can't even tell that it's a playing site rather than a training site, it seems to me that the ad has failed in a major way.


Here's more about the Everleaf network. This reads like sponsored copy rather than an independent review, so take it with a grain of salt. It lists 28 rooms, not including Victory, and says that the network has fewer than 300 players at peak hours. That's about 10 players per skin at PEAK! I assume they can all play against each other, but still, that can hardly keep many games going. Here's a news item from January about Everleaf's merger with another network.

Sounds like a pretty rinkydink operation to me. But who knows--maybe with the name recognition of some of the people they've lined up they'll make a critical threshold of players.

BTW, Victory's site oddly separates its "players" from its "pros," the former being the group pictured at the top of the ad (plus Underwood), the latter being the group in the box at the bottom left. It's not at all clear what the distinction means.


There are some who call me... Tim said...

I always liked SJU. Cute face, cuter smile, smoking body (pre-boob-job - have not seen it since). Kudos to Playboy for giving her the "opportunity" to show her body to us.

Sadly, she has since whored herself out to such shysters as Kevin Trudeau ( That puts a definite damper on her even being a spokesmodel for any poker joint.

Brendan said...

They represent a poker room, not a training site, I thought. They aren't there to teach you, they are there to shill for the room.

Anonymous said...

Dan Fleyshman is the former founder and CEO of Who's Your Daddy energy drink. He's most famous for taking the company public, cashing out his stock, and leaving the company's investors holding the bag. (Stock: WYDI.OB)

Bluejack said...

Or... maybe it's a joke? I mean, what's with the martini motif?

That's just weird.