Committing the Ultimate Poker Sin

Sunday, September 26th, 2004, 3:19 pm

Since I totally cashed out a few weeks ago I’ve only played poker once, and that was when I was cut off from home by Hurricane Ivan and spent a day at my brother’s place. I’ve missed playing, of course, but I’ve been busy enough that I really haven’t felt the sting. Even if I wanted to play I couldn’t, since I only have 73 cents in my Party account and, unfortunately, they don’t have nickel-dime tables.

But last night, and then again this afternoon, I wanted to see some cards in the air. Went out to dinner with a bunch of friends, and instead of going out to a bar afterwards my wife and I went home, since she’s not much of a night owl and it was approaching 11PM. With her safely in Dreamland, this would normally be a perfect time to fire up Party and play a little Hold-Em. But these aren’t normal times, so instead I watched football and did some work.

This morning we went to a big crafty-type fair they have ’round these part every September, and got home just as the 1PM games kicked off. My Steelers aren’t playing until tonight thanks to Hurricane Jeanne (aside–I’m getting lots of hits here from people who looked up Hurricane GENE by mistake), and with my yardwork done I had some free time to watch football and…play some poker?

I logged onto Party and Empire on the odd chance that they’d put $20 into my account to tempt me into playing, as they’d done several times in the past. No, they hadn’t. I sighed and decided to log off. And then I remembered that anyone can play poker if they want to. They just have to play at…the Play Money tables.

Did I dare? How low must one sink before he plays poker for fun instead of money? When I first started playing I didn’t have money in an account, but I’ve been playing nearly a year, I’ve had success, and I know that playing poker without money at risk is like betting on an exhibition football game. I mean, what the hell are you doing? Do something constructive instead, go read a book, volunteer at your church or something.

I decided that a twirl on the Play tables would be good research for the thing I’m writing. Don’t know exactly how it’d fit in, but I’ll think of something. So, OK, let’s play some poker, let’s see if I still have some chops after about a month on the sidelines.

First of all, Party and Empire have had some upgrades to their sites, upgrades that do not agree with my antiquated laptop. After the first hand is dealt the whole table is filled with this crazed white-noise type background clutter, with only my cards and the cards on the board showing clearly. So I can play, but it’s not easy on the eyes.

At Party you get $1000 in play money to start with. If you run out…you can get more. When I first started playing I quickly turned my $1000 into over $190K, which to my addled mind meant that I would soon be driving a Porsche around Pittsburgh with my poker winnings. Deposit fifty bucks, increase it two-hundred-fold in few weeks…yeah, so I’d be living on Easy Street.

Silliness, of course, even if my tiny initial stake did plump up rather nicely. I logged onto a $25 NL table, the kind I often played for money. I sat down with 8 other souls and sighed with delight as the first hand was dealt.

I picked up AQ suited. First guy bets $5, next guy is all-in, another guy all-in. What the hell? I call, flop an ace, triple up on the first hand. Next hand I fold, the guy two to my left goes all-in. The next hand the guy two to my left goes all-in. Next hand? He’s all-in. Hand after that? All-in. I played about 20 hands and he went all-in on I think 16 of them. The other 4 times he just called before the flop…and then went all-in after.

Oh, I had lots of fun those 20 hands I played. I soon had my stack up from $25 to $150, had AJ, flopped trip aces, made a full house on the turn, and had two guys call me as I shoved in half and then all my stack. Neither had an ace. Oy.

After 20 hands I’d had more than enough. This wasn’t poker. This wasn’t even gambling. This was stupid. And boring. With nothing at risk there was no reason to play tight, aggressive, smart, crafty poker. Folding seemed ludicrous. Betting seemed ludicrous. Winning a hand was like finding a penny on the ground. Woo-hoo.

If I have any readers who are thinking about taking the online poker plunge, do NOT dip your toes into the Play Money pond and think you’re getting a taste of what it’s like. Oh, you’ll learn how to use the interface, how the bells and whistles sound, but so far as how to actually PLAY poker, no. No no no no no. The folks you’re playing against aren’t even the fish you find at Party. How to describe them…they’re plankton? No, I think it’s huge fish who eat plankton. Even those players at Party who are Most Likely to Appear on the Menu of Long John Silvers would find the quality at the Play tables appalling. A waste of time, if not money. And no one has so much time in their lifetimes that they can waste it this way. Read a book, go help someone in need, call your Mom.

So again I’m shut out of the game. But no biggie. I’ll get back in once I get properly employed and get myself back up to speed. Have some other things I’m working on at the moment, which I will bring up in future posts. Other things to write about that will hopefully amuse. Hopefully.

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3 Responses to “Committing the Ultimate Poker Sin”

  1. Heafy Says:

    What have you got against plankton? That is what I call my current poker level, less than fish but more than algae.

  2. hdouble Says:

    So, the big question– were your play money opponents bots, simply there to juice up the games and make the human plankton think they can beat the game? I think this is likely.

  3. drawartist Says:

    i don’t think that sites run bots at their free-money tables, nor do i think elvis is living w/ hitler in argentina. it’s possible that G.W. Bush knew about 9/11, and that’s more likely than the idea that sites use bots at fake-money tables to entice play at real-money tables.

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