About Bluff Avenue
What is Bluff Avenue?
If you've ever played poker online, there are probably a lot of things that you liked about it: the speed, the convenience of being able to play from home, not having to count chips or shuffle cards. But you're generally playing against people across the internet, people you don't know, people you'll never meet. The poker is there, the money is there, but if you're like us, it feels like something is missing—the social side to the game.
Contrast that with your home game—it's Thursday night, you're at a table with 7 or 8 of your buddies. Everybody's having a great time, enjoying the cards, the conversation, the camaraderie. The action is loose, people are playing for the fun, not for the money. You don't have someone berating you for drawing to that inside straight.
We found ourselves thinking, "wouldn't it be great if there were a poker site where we could just play our home game online? We'd totally use it." Well, we never did find one, so we ended up deciding to build it, and what you see here is the end result of several months of work (and of course play!). It's a site for poker enthusiasts, made by poker enthusiasts.
How is Bluff Avenue different?
There are a lot of poker sites out there. What's different about Bluff Avenue? The focus of Bluff Avenue is to be a poker site that brings the social side to the online game. To us, this means a few things:
Playing with friends
On most other poker sites, you pick a table to join from a huge list of public games. The people at each table are random, the chances of you knowing one of them pretty much zero.
On Bluff Avenue, you can create a private group for you and your friends. In this group, you host your own private games where you play with your friends. Each group has its own "bank"—a pool of virtual money that is used to keep score.
Using TableTalk VoIP, you can voice chat live with your friends at the table! No special downloads or set-up required. All you need is a microphone.
It's poker your way
On most other poker sites, the games are pretty plain vanilla. Straight up Texas Hold'em (or other poker variations), with none of the more interesting rules you see in more casual home games or on televised poker shows.
On Bluff Avenue, when you create a private group, you create the games, and you choose the stakes and the rules. Use antes and live straddles to raise the stakes; check in the dark or show one of your hole cards while in a hand to make your opponent second-guess himself; rabbit hunt to see if your flush draw would've gotten there; even play the Seven Deuce Game, where anyone who wins with the worst starting hand—a seven and a deuce—gets paid by everyone at the table! You'll never know if Dan over there has pocket aces or 72—it really livens up a game!
Create your own cash games or scheduled tournaments and sit & go's of up to 90 players!
On most other poker sites, you can play for play money, or you can make a deposit and play for real money.
On Bluff Avenue, public games are played for Bluff Bucks, a fancy name we've given to what is basically play money. Games hosted in private groups use that group's "bank", which is a pool of virtual money among the players in that group. Bluff Avenue tracks player's group bankroll balance and winnings, and you can use the group leaderboard to keep score with your friends.
What you do with the scoreboard is up to you. Have the loser for the week buy a pizza for the next live game!
What's with the 72?
72-offsuit is commonly referred to as the worst possible starting hand in Texas Hold'em. Both cards can't be used to make either a flush or a straight, and the hand has little potential to make a good pair.
The only thing it's good for is, well, bluffing! So what better hand to be the official hand of Bluff Avenue? Plus, it rhymes when you read the logo like a street address!
Bluff Avenue was started as a side project in the fall of 2008 by Kevin Tao while he worked on another web start-up, Zoji. Kevin, a die-hard poker enthusiast, enjoyed playing in home games, local leagues, and would often play heads up online with a couple of his friends for play money.
He really enjoyed the online games against his friends, moreso than the ones against anonymous people he didn't know, and thought it'd be great if there were a site where he could play against his home game regulars in a full ring game online. It would be icing on the cake to be able to play all the optional rules he and his poker friends used in their home games, including straddles, checking in the dark, and the Seven Deuce Game. After he failed to find any existing sites that fit the bill, he decided to build it, both for fun, and to use it with his poker friends.
Over the next several months, using Zoji's social networking core as his base, he built in poker features, including a game engine and a Flash client. With the invaluable technical assistance and advice (and not to mention "play testing") of his Zoji business partner Dan Shen, he managed to get the site up and running as you see it today.
Bluff Avenue is based in Seattle, Washington.