Decided to cancel my subscription to PokerXFactor yesterday. Although I rarely used this over the past couple of years it was still a sad moment in some ways. After joining in 2006 at the very start I have some great memories attached to this site… which was one of the front-runners in the poker training sphere.
I first heard about it on a podcast* which I listened to regularly on my round-the-world travels back in 06. Called ‘The Circuit’ featured Joe Sebok and Gavin Smith – usually with guests and was (at the time) an entertaining hour of banter, news and the occasional hand discussion…. One day Johnny Bax and Sheets were guests. They had a brand new concept, videos of pro hand histories via a replayer.*
This just reminded me of another podcast around that time, PokerDiagram with Henry and Zog… a couple of random guys who narrated SNGs live, their playing while getting drunk on cocktails show was a classic! Anyway, seems so old hat now that youtube and internet video in general is the norm – at the time this was cutting edge stuff – how fast things change!
Johnny Bax stories while crushing high stakes tournaments, Kevin Saul raising any-2 then finding some way to win post-flop, Eric ‘Sheets’ Haber thinking SNG strategy to the 17th level of ‘he knows, you know that he knows…”, Eric ‘Rizen’ Lynch showing us his Sunday Million win, Annette Obrestadt posting her win in a 180 SNG without looking at cards in the user hand-history section. People organizing themselves into study groups… in 2007 / 8 the place was buzzing.
From there, more and more pros joined, videos were expanded into game formats beyond the core of tournaments and SNGs. Bax and Sheets chronicled their exploits in big live tournaments and had a real following… Mindwise, the guy behind the site, compiled bad beats at xmas – it was all good.
Staking / Rakeback
With so many opportunities to make money, my perspective is that there was an inflection point where PokerXFactor stopped being a community first and foremost and started to become a process for getting more money into the pockets of the owners.
Key to this were staking efforts – players who did well with the training were given the opportunity to be staked in return for a percentage of their profits. I will not name any names here, as this post is supposed to be a warm anecdote more than anything else. Just to say that this was a huge operation and a ton of online tournament pros were staked after being ‘discovered’ through PxF at one point.
Add to this the Rakeback deals which players were encouraged to take, and you can see the effect of money… this was put back into making videos. Though the quality of the early efforts was starting to tail off in 2009 – and competition from other training sites was getting pretty damn intense.
Post Black Friday
Of course, Black Friday and the subsequent closure of Full Tilt / AP / UB had a huge effect on the staking, rakeback business and with the core audience of PxF US players it must have taken away many subscribers too.
Things evolved, new worldwide players found the site and Canadian / Latin American and European players featured in the videos. For me the vibe, the soul of the site just fizzled from here. Sheet’s chat sessions were a cheap way of getting serious pro coaching, and different pros made real efforts to keep the content varied and fresh. Despite the efforts of Fox, Hadfield13, Beanmo and others the site has really just limped along since then.
After meaning to cancel for a long time I hit the switch yesterday, enjoying a fresh new BelowAbove video last night as a final goodbye. I spent a fortune overall at $25 a month for 6 years. The quality training, great memories and the sheer entertainment value made this worth every cent. My feeling is that this site might come back to strength if and when there is legal poker in the US once again. Things move on and there are now a lot of alternatives when it comes to training sites. My plan is to test some of them out and let you know how they go as we go through 2013... starting with tournament poker edge and drag the bar.
GL at the tables, Mark
PS: No comments on this blog for now, you can comment or discuss articles and blog posts over on our Facebook group instead http://www.facebook.com/sngplanet
Submitted by Planet Mark on Fri, 01/04/2013 - 13:50