Review: Poker Ace Portable Tournament Director

Do your run poker tournaments at home? Do you also play in these tournaments? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to both questions, you know how much work it can be to keep track of time, blinds, and everything else while still trying to concentrate on playing poker. The Poker Ace Portable Tournament Director (PTD) will make your life much easier and make your poker tournaments more enjoyable.

Poker Ace Portable Tournament Director

The first thing you’ll see when turning on the PTD are two options:

  • Start New Tournament
  • Set Preferences

I chose preferences right away and was presented with:

  • Backlight
  • Brightness
  • Contrast

Not a whole lot to configure as far as the preferences go. It took me a few button presses to figure out which buttons actually changed an option and which one moved to the next option. The button use here was actually very confusing and the opposite of what you’d expect it to be.

After selecting to start a new tournament you’re presented to choose from one of 10 structures. Eight of the structures are preset (but still editable) and two of them are for storing user configured tournament structures.

Once a tournament structure is selected, you’ll be prompted to choose:

  • # of players
  • Buy in
  • Addons
  • Rebuys
  • Rebuys/Addons end of level

The next screen to come up is the payout structure, which is editable just as the tournament structure details are. Finally after everything is set you’ll be prompted to start the tournament. As soon as you press a button, the timer will begin and PTD goes to work. The screen displays the level, time remaining for the level, current blinds, next blinds, ante, and how much time is left during the rebuy period. During the last 10 seconds a beep will come from the device every second as a warning.

What didn’t I like?

I didn’t think the device is very user friendly. I mentioned the button use during the Preferences screen earlier in the review, but there were several times when I didn’t know which button to press. For example, when ending a tournament, the screen displays “Are you sure you want to end tournament?” but it doesn’t give any options such as Yes or No. Also, when I first was choosing a tournament structure I couldn’t figure out how to edit anything, so I had to consult the manual and found the Edit option was all the way at the bottom of a long list on the screen. This should be at the top. Using a device such as this should be as intuitive as possible and the manual should be a last resort, not required reading. A little more time spent on User Interface design and the manual wouldn’t even be needed.

The buttons don’t always bring up the next screen or change an option right away.

The beep used during the last 10 seconds of a level is not nearly loud enough. I tested the PTD by myself in quiet room and I could barely hear the beeping. If you’re playing a tournament with any kind of noise at all, you’ll need to have the PTD strapped to your ear to hear it.

Overall

The Poker Ace PTD – Portable Tournament Director is a great little device to use for your poker tournaments. The biggest challenges using the device are during setup, which can be done well before a tournament. The PTD runs for $49.99 at the Poker Ace PTD web site. I think it’s very good value for the time and hassle it will save you during a tournament.

Going Cold at Caesars Palace

As mentioned before, I was in Las Vegas on Friday night and early Saturday morning on a layover coming back from San Francisco. One of my college friends picked us up at the airport and gave us a ride over to Caesars Palace. We checked our bags and headed for the poker room.

The Caesars Palace poker room is definitely one of the nicest rooms I’ve played in. Dave and I were seated at a 3-6 limit table in the back corner of the room behind a divider wall. This kind of sucked because cocktail service tended to forget we were there. It also seemed to be a prime spot for the air conditioner to blow on us all night. I’ve never been so cold in a casino in my life and I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt the whole time.

There’s really not a whole lot to say about my play at the table. I didn’t get many playable hands. On the hands I could play I usually missed the flop. If I’d hit top pair, either all scare cards would come on the turn and river or someone would suck out on me with their 3-4 out draw. After awhile I started to play hands I know I shouldn’t have played. We played from about midnight until 5:30 in the morning when our table was the last 3-6 limit game and we lost our 5th player. I ended up losing $96 on the night.

We walked around the casino a bit and had breakfast in a cafe by the reservation desks. Took a taxi and got back to the airport about 3 hours early for our flight. I’m not sure why we didn’t try and get on an earlier flight by standby, but that’s a whole other story.

One Week Until Las Vegas

At this time next week I’ll be on a flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas, coming back from MacWorld. I have a 10 or 11 hour layover in Vegas for the night. How convenient hey? The plan is to hit up Caesar’s poker room this year. I think the last time I played poker was during last year’s Vegas layover, so my game is definitely going to be rusty.

Quick Las Vegas Visit Planned

Each year I attend the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, CA. On the flight home, we try and schedule a long layover in Las Vegas, NV. This year is no different. I’ll be landing in Vegas on Friday, January 18th at 10:16pm and flying out on Saturday, January 19th at 9:25am. The past two years we’ve played low limit hold’em at the MGM, but I think we are going to try Caesar’s this year. We’re looking for a card room that will stay relatively busy during the time we’ll be playing, so if you have other suggestions, let me know.

I think the last time I played poker was last year on the Vegas layover. My game is going to be a little rusty!

Full Tilt Poker Affiliate Withdrawals Are A Pain In The Ass

Withdrawing funds from a Full Tilt Poker affiliate account is a pain in the ass! I can’t even get the site to keep my logged in long enough to request the withdrawal. Once I can get it to go through the funds are transferred to my poker account. Then I need to log into the software and request a withdrawal there. That initiates the funds to be transferred to ePassporte and then finally I can transfer the funds to my bank account. What a process!

Poker Stars Affiliate

I just fired up Poker Stars for the hell of it. Went to the Cashier and I had $600 from affiliate payments sitting in my account. Talk about a great surprise! Merry Christmas to me!

Poker Buzz Faded

What happened to all of the poker buzz in the United States? Two or three years ago you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing a conversation about poker. Now it rarely happens. I believe the legislation that put a lock down on online poker really hurt the poker industry in the US. I know I haven’t played a single hand of online poker since it came about. But I also hadn’t played for quite some time before it passed.

My main reason for quiting was that it took up way too much of my time. There are much better things I’d rather be doing and it’s paid off for me. I dropped 25 pounds and work out nearly every day. I bought a house which is a lot of work. I spend more time golfing and doing other things I enjoy. I’m no longer sitting in front of my computer for 3-4 hours a day watching the cards go by.

If you’re someone who has stopped playing…why?