I came aboard Hobby's yacht, Lazybuns. "Hi, Joe," Hobby said. "Say hello to Julie."
Julie's a regular at L.A. casinos; I gave her a cheek kiss.
"She's developing a new off-shore internet poker site."
"Really, that's a huge project."
Julie began, "We've got the structure in place. It'll be more user-friendly with many new features."
"OK," I said, "tell me about it."
"We want to attract more female players. Current sites are more male-orientated," I cocked my head questioningly as she went on, "and ours will be more fun. Instead of icons at player's positions, we'll have animated 3-D figures ... and instead of a chat bar the figures will talk what you type. What do you think?"
I didn't want to offend her, so I wimped out saying "I don't know; to me it doesn't ring a bell."
"Joe, tell her what you think," Hobby said, "She's looking for feedback, good or bad."
"OK. I have no idea if such an approach would attract a sufficient number of players. Maybe it would work, but to me the idea of being more user-friendly and talking bobble-heads ... well, it's not poker, it's a women's coffee klatch." I could see the color drain out of Julie's face and quickly said, "I'm sorry, you wanted me to be frank, but I could be entirely wrong."
"No, you're probably not. You're the third person who told me the same thing, though not so bluntly."
"How committed are you, Julie?" Hobby asked. "I'm not committed to this particular approach, but I'm on the hook to put something together. I'm a member of the Main Line Sisters. Do you know about them?"
"Yes," Hobby answered, "but I thought they were a bunch of wealthy old dowagers."
"Then it might surprise you that I'm a member. We've got a ton of money in our kitty, which mostly goes to charitable work, but every few years we have a fun project. The last one we did was financing a weird, full-length, animal cartoon movie. I can't tell you how much money that made, and it keeps pouring in.
Anyway, some of the sisters are online poker nuts. They suggested we start a poker gambling website. I thought I had this brilliant idea for one, but now I realize I was being very naive."
"Have no fear, Julie. You are in the presence of the world's most creative person," Hobby said pointing at me. "I guarantee he can come up with something."
"No you don't, Hobby! I'm sorry Julie. He has a bad habit of putting me on the spot, but this is way out of my league." Hobby could see I was adamant and tried to neutralize the moment by offering to make margaritas, a treat we couldn't pass up. In the meantime I asked Julie about her poker playing.
"Joe, I really enjoy it. I love the intrigue and excitement. I don't play high stakes games, but I could. I'm like Hobby; my family left me more money than I can spend in a lifetime. I'm not obligated to do this for the Sisters, but I don't want to disappoint them. When this project was introduced I convinced them I could run with it. But now, I feel my horse has been shot out from under me."
"Don't give up so easily, Julie. Your idea might be workable, or maybe you can come up with another idea."
"I won't give up, Joe, but could you just think about it ... maybe come up with a concept?" She looked so vulnerable, how could I resist. I smiled and said seriously, "I will think about it, Julie," which turned her on like a lighted Christmas tree.
"Well, I see you're smiling in anticipation of tasting the world's greatest margaritas." "Yes, Hobby," Julie said, "and also because Joe said he would try to think of a concept for me."
"Atta-boy, Joe." Hobby said as we raised and clinked glasses. That clink was a clear reminder that Hobby had done me once again. I'd have to concoct something.
After two more rounds of margaritas it was late in the afternoon; time to split. We were pretty chummy by then as Julie put her arm over my shoulder and asked, "When might I expect something?" "Give it a few days. If I don't hit by then, you'll have my regrets."
Later, I looked at many websites and let my imagination run free. What would be new, different, attractive, and practical? When Hobby called and asked how I was doing I said, "See if Julie is available tomorrow night. If she is, reserve a quiet table at the new Chasen's, which by-the-way is on you, big mouth."
"You've got something, Joe. That's great! I'm delighted to cooperate."
After a round of cocktails I began, "Keep in mind this is a concept. I have no idea how to create the software, administration, and other arrangements for an off-shore poker venue."
"I've done a lot on that already and have an operator lined up, Joe. Not to worry, we're just lacking a good concept."
"OK. The site's name is Shark Maker. Its purpose is not just to provide a place where players gamble, but to make them the best gamblers possible ... sharks. A wealth of data can be collected on each player, especially if they play a lot. It's not unusual for one to play 100-200 hands a day. That can be 5,000 hands a month or more. Each player will be given detailed performance results based on parameters such as: number of opponents at table; position; betting patterns; and the number of flops, turns, and showdowns seen with their resulting win and loss data.
"There's dozens of measures to apply, which can be shown graphically and for which advice can be given. Here's another thing-since the information is known for all players in a hand, without identifying anyone-the analysis can measure the effectiveness of bluffs, both given and taken, player aggressiveness, and many other aspects of play. Each person can check his rating daily and receive tips on how to improve their game.
When Sharks achieve a B or better rating, they are advised to play occasionally on other websites where they can make a killing!"
"Joe, you've done it again!" Hobby acclaimed.
"I'll accept a 'maybe'" I replied.