So, I got this cryptic email from the future, telling me that Party Poker has deducted $5 from my account on April 1, 2007. I don't remember that happening, of course, because it hasn't happened yet.
Our records indicate that your account has become inactive.
An inactive account is any account that has not logged in for 180 consecutive days. Inactive accounts are subject to a $5 administrative fee, which has been deducted from your account balance on 01-Apr-2007.
As you are registered in a restricted country, you may wish to remove your balance from your account. You need not close the account as zero balance accounts are not charged an inactive fee.
*TERMS & CONDITIONS If you do not access your Account by "logging on" to your Account using your Account name and password for any period of 180 days, then after those 180 days (the "180 day grace period") your Account (and any related account with any ESP) will be deemed "Inactive". If your Account becomes Inactive, then the Company is entitled to charge you an administrative fee (the "Inactive Account Fee"). The Inactive Account Fee shall be deducted from your Account Balance at the end of each calendar month in accordance with the Inactive Account Fee Schedule.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our Customer Care team is available 24/7.
Note: Please do not disclose your password to any individual/organization claiming to represent or representing any of our ‘Party’ brands. If you receive an email or telephone call from anyone asking you to provide your password, please report it to us immediately. Our Customer Care team is available 24/7 to assist you via email.
I tried my hand at low limit no limit tonight. I played a $1/$1 no limit table at Ocean's 11. The buy-in was just $20, and I played for about an hour and a half and walked away with $77. That was pretty fun. I might try that again. Friday night, I played a house game with two Hold'em tournaments. I came in third on one, earning back my buy-in. The other one I won, splitting the pot with another player who, like me, got tired of going head to head shortly after 1 a.m. Chop chop. Good night.
I have to brag briefly about my poker tournament last night on Party Poker. Once we got to head to head play, with an almost even chip count (4065-3935), with 250/500 blinds. I drew aces in the small blind, and made a 1000 chip raise pre-flop that was called. (He had K6 suited.) The flop came out 9-6-3 and he bet 500; I raised to 1000 and he called. The turn brought another 3 and I bet 1000 after his check and he called. The river brought another 6 and he went all in with 935. I called and my aces and sixes lost to his full boat of crap.
I had 130 chips left and had no choice but to go all-in three times straight. Then, by choice, I went all-in another 4 or 5 times. He kept calling with garbage, hoping to outdraw me and knock me out. Before long, I had the chip lead again.
After about another 15 hands, I won the tournament and $150.
Once you know the basics, the key to winning money at poker is table selection. You don't have to be great. You just have to be better than the players at your table. So, obviously, you want to play mostly against players who are weaker than you. I think I've found my niche in online poker: the $20 ten player tournament.
The $10 tournaments are too wild. Too many of those players view every tournament as a pure gamble. After all, they probably bet $10 or more on a hand of blackjack. So why not see if you can fill a two-spot inside straight with two runners after the flop? Why not see if two more spades come on the turn and the river to see if you can make a jack-high flush? If you lose, you are out $10, and you can play another tournament. No big deal.
That's not poker, though. That's just cards.
The $30 and higher stakes attract more competent players. I still do well, but I don't win consistently. But the $20 limit hold'em single table tournaments are perfect. They attract the weaker, newer players who don't make good decisions, but still play poker. Every once in a while, I'll suffer an amazingly bad beat, as someone calls all my raises with crap and outdraws me. But usually I can hang on for a win, place or show (3rd place gets double the buy-in) even after a bad beat or two.
In one play last night, I was short stacked from the time we were down to six players. I had "blown" most of my chips on one starting hand with KK and another with a small pair that flopped a set. But I hung in, folding a lot of garbage while three straight idiots blew their chips on missed draws, and before long, I found myself in the money. Then, with the blinds at 250/500, and me down to 316 chips (the other two guys had 4162 and 3522), I started getting some cards worth playing. Three hands later, another guy was out and I had 1600 and the other guy had 6400. Twelve hands later, I won $100. I love this game.
I'm a decent poker player. I've played in a regular home game for a couple of years now. I haven't kept track, but I'm pretty sure I am to the positive in live home games.
The online gaming, however, was a learning experience. I'm not going to say how much I spent on "tuition", but I will say that the number was north of three large. It was more than a year before I started winning consistently.
I am now, however, in the black. After losing more than three grand, I have won more than three grand. I'm actually going to have to declare gambling winnings on my next tax return. Woo hoo!
Many people fear Friday the 13th. I do not. If I did, I'd have been hiding in my den, sucking down horse tranquilizers, and nursing my sore tooth and gums while watching on TV as my vacation destination gets torn apart by winds like wild animals tearing prey into bite sized chunks. Instead, I was playing a cash poker tournament at a guy's house against nine other decent Hold-em players.
I thought it was a bit like tempting fate to play two poker tournaments on Friday. Since luck is a big part of such events, and since winning the thing pays almost as well as my day job, a less infamous calendar spot would have seemed more prudent. But more importantly, I didn't know if the horse tranquilizers were going to impair my judgment. Impaired judgment = impaired cash totals.
It turned out to be very lucky. Two tournaments. No re-buys. Two first place finishes. I took about six guys out by calling their all-in bets. Only one guy doubled-up. Only one of my all-in bets was called, and I beat him. That's very good luck.
Those of you who know me well know that I really enjoy playing poker. I have an account at PartyPoker.com, and I play $10-$30 tournaments several times a week. In fact, every weekend, when I work on financial records and non-billable tasks like that, I almost always have a game of Texas Hold 'em going in the background.
A tournament win is only $50-$150, but it can make my day. A great hand, especially if I trapped someone into betting into it, can have me cackling like a jackal for ten minutes. A Royal Flush is enough to last me a weekend. Like the British common man, I have an affinity for Royals that can lead me to make bad decisions. A big bet on fourth street will draw a call from me almost every time if I have a Royal Flush draw.
It's a bit warped. I filed a case today that is likely to generate a generous six figure fee, but tonight I will go to sleep excited not about that, but about this:
(I've photoshopped out my poker screen name.)
It's my first Royal Flush in several weeks. A few players at the table commented that it was the first they had ever seen. (Rookies!) I only won $11. But a Royal Flush drawn on the river is ten times as sweet as a Royal Flush on the flop. Running cards on fourth and fifth street are even sweeter. That was almost as sweet as it gets.
"Those casinos are pretty smart," said the talking head on my television set. "They know that gambling has a bad image, so what do they do? They take one letter out of the word, and suddenly, it's not GAMBLING, its 'GAMING'." As I sat and wondered whether he was talking about the B or the L, it occurred to me that he's almost right. Even though the mob is no longer involved in every little corner of the gambling world, casinos are still pretty evil.
Casinos, essentially, cheat their customers systematically. Everyone of normal intelligence knows this, which, I guess makes it okay that the edge always goes to the house. Well, almost always. Sometimes, the gambler cheats. This is illegal, as it should be. Card counting in blackjack -- another exception to that rule -- is not illegal, but if you look like a skilled card counter, like attorney Ernest Franseschi, Jr., you will get booted and banned by every casino in town. Franseschi filed a lawsuit against MGM Mirage seeking to force MGM to include a disclaimer on its California advertising that reads: "It is the policy and practice of MGM Mirage particularly to target skillful and/or winning players and bar such persons from gaming at our properties; only losing and/or unskillful players … are not subject to being targeted to be barred from MGM Mirage casino properties." I haven't heard about Franseschi's lawsuit for a while. I hope he wins, but I don't think he will. He's overreaching -- he even complained that the casino surreptitiously photographed him while gaming. Franseschi obviously never looked up and asked what all those giant dark balls were in the ceiling. MGM will fight to the death, because casinos always prefer to mislead people with their advertising.
I hate those ads that promise "high payout rates!" A high payout rate is something like 97%. That sounds pretty good -- a reasonable fee to the house, right? Well, if you play $1 slots, plopping the normal $3 in each time, and you pull the arm ten times a minute (I've seen much faster play than that) your expected loss, per hour, is $54. Ouch.
Among the most evil advertising was Isleta Casino Resort's TV commercial featuring a young woman who suggested that the solution for those daunting stacks of unpaid bills from the holidays was to go to the casino and win money. "So, the holidays have passed, and those credit card bills just keep piling up?" an announcer says. "Well, Isleta Casino Resort comes to your rescue."
How wicked is that? Isleta is one of New Mexico's largest Indian casinos. Until recently, people in Albuquerque used to joke: "How many Indians does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Eleven. One to hold the bulb, and ten to drink until the room starts spinning." Now the Indians are preying on the poor, addicted and desperate people in their community.
Notwithstanding my hatred for casinos and the people who run them, I have to admit that I do a little gaming myself. In fact, tonight, I played two small tournaments at PartyPoker.com -- coming in second and third out of fields of ten. It doesn't pay as well as my day job, but it's much more fun.
You have to be careful, though. If you get too involved in poker, your friends will start looking at you funny when you brag about how you got into some three-way action last night and totally trapped two dudes into going all-in when you were sitting on a pair of queens.