Wednesday, January 31, 2007
On that note, two interesting ideas have recently surfaced. The first is from everybody’s favorite Hammer Player, Hoyazo. Actually, he got the info 2nd or 3rd hand from a newer blogger, Don Morris (who will be added to the blogroll shortly) who linked to the info from Carmen’s future husband. Or was that Duggles’ future husband? I probably shouldn’t get those two confused. Anyhoo, Walgreens (and probably other retailers) sell prepaid Visa cards called Gift2Go. Apparently because they are preloaded, Visa doesn’t bitch when you use them to fund up the poker sites. And Hoy has verified that they work on both Stars and Tilt. I don’t know whether they can be reloaded, and thus whether the poker sites can do “credits” back to the cards or not. And they have to be purchased in $50 increments to work on the poker sites. Still, there is a ready to go, quick option to feed the poker machine. The second one is a related, yet different idea from my buddy, Troll. Troll is not a high stakes guy. He’s happy to play the microlimit SNGs and ring games, and win a few bucks here and there. He’s actually done fairly well for himself, and had a respectable online roll sitting in Neteller when the Instacash debacle happened. He managed to get most of his money back into Tilt, but was left with a small balance in Neteller that he’s hoping he will see. And like many of you, he’s spoken with very pleasant customer service folks in Canada several times. Apparently the new company line is (which I’ve suspected would be the case) that the delays are being caused by the 3rd party EFT companies that deal with US customers. Supposedly, they don’t want to accept transactions from Neteller, for fear that they’ll get pinched for doing business with accused money launderers or something. Again, I predicted this, so I’m not surprised. Troll’s idea for dealing with that, though, was very interesting and he did offer it to Neteller. Prepaid/preloaded Visa cards. The kind that some companies use for payroll transactions, gifts, and such. Neteller should buy a shitload of them, in amounts corresponding to the respective customer accounts, and send them to the customers. If the Visas are purchased from a 3rd party supplier (Gift2Go, etc.), then banks and other financial institutions shouldn’t even realize who they’re ultimately dealing with. I don’t know if that actually CAN be accomplished, but it seems like it should. Of course that assumes that Neteller really does keep all the players’ money in separate trust accounts, yadda yadda yadda. If Troll hears anything, it will be reported here in Teh Randomness.
As a third note, Hoy has a post on his totally ghey online diary in which he details his success with ePassporte. Short version, it ain’t as quick as Instacash, but the fees are fairly reasonable. He gives it two hammer thumbs up. Go check it out for the nitty gritty. And with that, I gots to get back to work. I have to write an Environmental Impact Report for the construction of an Ethanol plant that is going to intrude on Burrowing Owl habitat. What fun!!
Friday, January 26, 2007
And now the tie in to the title. Given the aforementioned financial issues, I decided to play some freerolls. As I've previously noted, I have PokerStars' client on a thumb drive, and registered for a 10 FPP $250 NLHE MTT freeroll and a .50 NLHE Turbo MTT. One started at 4:40 p.m. and the other started at 5:00, so I registered at work. No big deal, I figured I'd be home by 5:15 or so, and log in then. So at 5:05 or so, I'm shutting things down and went to close out Windows Explorer. As I pulled it up, I saw the PokerStars directory highlighted and decided I'd login and see how things were progressing. The results were this:
One hand played in the first one (AKs, flopped top two pair, somebody shoves and rivers a flush), and two hands in the second one (one BB that I checked and folded, and the death hand, AKo, again flopped two pair, again put all in, again beat by a river flush). I really thought about it, not logging in and checking. I planned to wait until I got home, but I wanted to see some pokery goodness, and figured I'd catch a quick hit before jumping onto the 5 freeway and crawling home. Must not do that again.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Lots of news out there, and none of it good. eWallets are suspending US operations right and left. Eventually, you're going to have to drive to the airport, fly to some obscure Carribbean island, and go to the world headquarters of Doyle's Ultimate Contact Tilt Dog Stars poker sites, and hand them your $50 so that you can play some $.10/.25 PLO/8. We may be witnessing the beginning of the end. Wil Wheaton had a great post on Card Squad, and Bill Rini had a great post on his blog as well. Definitely check them out.
My last couple of posts focused on the fact that it was (at the time) just Neteller that was being pinched. All the other executives appeared to be wise enough to stay outside of US territories and thus avoid being arrested. Now it seems that the financial ramifications that Neteller experienced when they had trading suspended on the London Stock Exchange and decided to suspend/eliminate US operations is having a ripple effect thru the industry. The eWallets are closing off US operations. Party, Paradise, Victor Chandler, and several other lesser-known gaming sites have prohibited US citizens from real money games. How long will it be before the other big sites start to feel the heat? When Party left, I took heart in what Stars, Tilt, UB, and the others were saying, that they were bound and determined to stay, etc etc. The Neteller Instacash thing was the first real warning shot (besides Party and Paradise) that I saw, but like so many of you I figured that it would be a while before the rest of Neteller's operations would get shuttered. Additionally, I figured that the majority of this problem arose from the fact that two former executives were stupid enough to set foot on US soil, despite knowing that they were wanted men. The news articles I'd seen seemed to indicate that the other executives were all planning to avoid visiting US territories and would, thus, keep their companies out of the glare from the 40 watt bulb being used on the Neteller guys.
I posted on my blog Wednesday night and Thursday night, a list as best as I could figure out of what eWallets were still functioning, at least on PokerStars (I have their client on a thumb drive at work, heh heh heh). Then the news of Citadel broke and another buddy of mine called me to tell me that half of the wallets I looked at had announced that they were suspending US operations. According to PokerStars’ US Players FAQ page, Neteller, Central Coin, and Instant eChecks are no longer available to US players. They do recommend ePassporte, which is apparently an online reloadable Visa card, and still accept other Visa/MC cards and cashier’s checks/money orders. Full Tilt is showing a similarly reduced roster of payment options, including ePassporte, Click2Pay, and Cash Transfer.
The sky does seem to be falling. The first step is eliminating the "easy" ways for us "terrorism supporters" to send our money to the gaming sites. Once that's done, all that will be left are the players who have existing bankrolls at the sites. The next step for the jack-booted thugs is to go after the players themselves. ISPs are going to be subpoenaed, bank records are going to be reviewed, and any deposit even from a paper check whose name can be tied back to a gaming site will come under scrutiny. At best, these players will somehow be taxed on their "income". At worst, they're going to be rung up on charges similar (in nature, if not scale) of the two Neteller guys. Finally, the big US stars are going to have to withdraw their support of the various sites (Team PokerStars, Team Full Tilt, Negraneu, Hellmuth, Doyle, et al) or emigrate somewhere so as to avoid their being pinched for supporting/participating in what has apparently become an illegal activity.
What it all means is: Home Game at My House! Everyone bring a case of beer and a hundred bucks. Just don't tell anybody...
Thursday, January 18, 2007
A related Yahoo/Reuters piece talks about how "(T)his is the first piece of news that will really hurt the likes of Pokerstars and Full Tilt." The article goes on to talk about how Neteller handled over 60% of Stars' business and more than 75% of Full Tilt's business. The article also mentioned that ESI Entertainment's Citadel payment processing unit was going to cease US operations as well. It also mentioned that this action is expected to cause a good number of US players to leave (primarily) PokerStars, which is where the majority of the PartyPoker players came after they pulled out of the US market. They now expect the Party ex-pats to return to Party, since the fishbowl environment of Stars is apparently going to die off.
There are still some payment options available to us Citizens of this Once Great Nation who wish to flaut the UIEGA (not to be confused with eating flautas, which are really yummy, but that's another story). As I posted yesterday, ePassporte, Central Coin, and Instant eChecks were all still showing as active deposit functions on PokerStars. That could all change by the weekend, but for now they're active. Here's a link to a piece in the Casino City Times. The main thrust of the article talks about which eWallets are likely to replace Neteller. The main ones they identify include:
CLICK2PAY - Full Tilt, Bodog, Ultimate Bet, Roxy Palace Casino, River Belle Online Casino and VIP.com Casino all use this one. Full Tilt is recommending this one.
ewalleteXpress - they're offering a new customer 10% bonus, but only Full Contact Poker and Bodog use this one.
ePassporte - PokerStars, FTP, UB and Doyle's Room use this one. Full Tilt is also recommending this one.
InstaDebit - UB, FCP, Roxy Palace, All Jackpots, and VIP.com. UB is recommending this one.
moneybookers.com - Bodog, UB, VIP, and All jackpots use this one.
InstaCash - Doyle's Room, PokerStars, and Full Contact Poker use this one.
The article has a detailed run down of all of these. Links are either in the article or at the poker sites (the list is cross-listed by both the eWallet site and the gambling site).
At this point I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do, but I will be checking out the alternatives and definitely watching the news to see what else happens. Hopefully, none of these executives will be stupid enough to enter US territories like the Neteller guys did.
Yahoo news has another story talking about how other sites will step up and take over servicing the US customers. It at least sounds like there's some hope.
Of course if I am right and the nature of the instacash is the sticking point, that's not going to satisfy the government for very long. There will eventually be another charge of racketeering, tax evasion (my prediction is that will become another big hammer that they start wielding, beyond what they're already doing), terrorism funding, etc., and they'll find another way to put the pinch on eWallets.
One other question, short of simply sending wads of cash directly to RiverStars, it seems as though it could be heading in the direction of simply sending checks or money orders to the poker sites or eWallets. If the UIEGA is hitting US financial institutions on doing business with gambling sites, who's to say that they would refuse to do a cashier's check (or even a personal check) made out to a gambling site out of fear of prosecution for allowing a US resident to conduct business with a gambling site?
Short version, there are still ways to get money to and from the poker sites (what's next, taxing money that comes into your bank account from "certain locations" (i.e. eWallets, gambling sites, etc.)), and they're likely to be functional for a while. Unless some sense comes to Washington (and despite their dislike of Dubya and the concept of Homeland Security, I don't see the Dems doing anything to repeal or even relax the UIEGA), though, I see a continuing assault on entities that do business with gambling sites, and a further restriction on our ability to enjoy an activity that we all know and love (and occasionally hate).
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
And now on to other crap. Much like San Diego’s weather recently, I have been running oh so cold. I had one tournament where I had JJ (jj are most certainly NOT ok) two hands in a row. The first one I got all in on a ten-high flop against two shorter stacks, AKo and QTh. I was alive until the river (oh riverstars) when the Kh fell, giving the shortest stack (QT) a frush and taking me out of the main pot, and giving Slick his pair of Ks to leave me with 250 chips. Very next hand, I got the other two jacks (first two were black). I was UTG+2 and shoved on one limper. I got called by the guy who had AK last hand. He had KK this time, and IGH very early. The really ugly one was this sequence:
Hand 1, $1 18 player SNG
Villain is UTG, Hero is UTG+1 with KTh
Villain raises from 20 to 40, hero calls
Flop comes down 7c Ah Js
With a nut flush draw, a gutshot to Broadway, and a backdoor str8flush draw, I figure I’ll call a “reasonable” bet and see if I can’t get something to complete.
Villain is first to act and shoves, I fold.
Villain is now BB and Hero is UTG with KcQc
Hero decides that Villain is a maniac and is concerned. Hero limps
3 other limpers and Villain raises from 20 to 40. Everybody calls.
Flop comes down Ac8s4c
Villain is first to act and bets out 120. With again a nut flush draw, a backdoor to Broadway and a backdoor Royal, Hero calls. Everyone else folds.
Turn is 6d. Villain shoves, Hero folds.
Hero is in the BB, but a preflop raise by Villain forces Hero to fold
Hero is in SB, but with 62off, folds. Villain amazingly folds preflop.
Hero is on the button and looks down to find Rockets (AcAd)
It folds to Villain who limps. Hero raises from 20 to 120. Villain calls
Flop comes down 7cTcJd.
Villain is first to act and checks. Hero bets out 100.
Villain reraises to 200. Hero starts giggling nervously and decides fukkit and shoves.
Villain calls, and flips over Th9c for 2nd , a gutshot str8 draw and a flush draw (that I have beat).
Turn is the 3s. Hero is praying for no 8, 9, or T.
River is…the fucking 9d! Villain has 2 pair and cracks Hero’s aces and sanity.
Story of my life. If Neteller hadn’t restricted their operations, I’d send you a dollar for the story. Das poker.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Monday, January 08, 2007
This past weekend had so much potential. DAPGF was going out with friends both Friday AND Saturday evenings...Hoff's got time for pokah!!!! Fresh off making my New Year's Resolutions, I was set to play some winning poker. Why not start off with the riskiest thing I could find...$3 Rebuy Madness on PokerStars. I bought in for $3, did the initial double up (in for $6), and had an above-average stack at the first break. I did the add-on, so I was around 15k in chips and in for only $9. I was feeling good, sitting just outside the money (3800+ players, top 702 paid). At one point before the 2nd break, I was in 715th place and feeling good. 2nd break came and went and then I (finally) got moved to another table. Normally I get moved around a lot in MTTs. I know everybody gets moved, but I seem to get moved a lot. Here, though, I hadn't moved once. Then I moved and wound up 2 seats to the left of the big stack table bully. I watched him pop random raises at any point, any street, with any two cards. They weren't even calculated Hoyazo raises either (i.e. betting 2664 preflop at 400/800), just random tilty raises. I really tried to stay out of pots with this guy, just because who knew if he would hit a flop. As an example, I called a "roughly" 3x raise preflop with AJh, flop was all low and all black. He bets and I fold. That kind of crap. Finally I woke up in the SB with AKc. He fired off a preflop raise of 2500 or so at 400/800. I smooth called, figuring him on a tilt steal. Flop is rainbow rags. I knew he was on nothing, and I knew if I checked, he'd bet out. So I led out, firing out a 2/3 pot bet. He shoved over top of me (had me covered 2 to 1). I called and laughed when he flipped his JTo over. Turn is a brick and I'm grinning at the idea of doubling thru the biggest ass hat at the table. Sure as hell, the Td falls on the river, cracking my Big Slick and sending me home in 1141st place.
Shortly after that disaster, I jumped into a .25/.50 LHE table. Not sure why I was playing that level table, but I did. My first hand should have really told me something, when I posted my BB (in MP) and got dealt K7h. Occasionally I'll play that hand, but very rarely. So I check my BB and see the flop. K74. Noice! Top two pair. SB bets, BB raises, I call, CO raises and button caps it. The blinds fold and I call. Turn is a Q, and I bet out. CO raises and I call, figuring him for AK because of his raise preflop. River is a brick. I check, he bets and I call. He flips over his KQ 2 pair and takes a chunk of my stack. All I could think of was Resolution #4 from my resolution post: stop overvaluing my hands post flop and/or playing marginal hands. I never gained traction on the table, and left down $8. At that point, DAPGF came home, I walked the dog and went to bed.
Saturday. A New Day. A New Hope (much better subtitle than that damn Celine Dion song). Things are gonna be different! So I jump into a $6.50 45 player SNG. In the past, I've pwned these things. Hand 9, I get dealt A9h. UTG fires out a 4x raise preflop. Now, unless the preflop bet is outrageous, I'll play s000ted aces and call preflop raises. So UTG+1, me, and the CO call. Flop is Ad 7h 8h. TP medium kicker, nut flush draw and backdoor str8 flush draw. UTG+1 (aka villain) bets out 300 into a pot of 515 or so. Everyone folds and I call. Turn is a 2d. Villain bets out enough to put me all in. And in violation of one of my Resolutions and two of my self-imposed rules (never go broke with 1 pair, never go broke on a draw), I called. The river is a useless Q and villain flips over his AKo for TPTK, sending me home in 40th. Now, because he didn't do the raising preflop I really wasn't sure what he had. After the flop, I had him on a stronger ace then mine or maybe a flush draw (diamonds or spades). I can't figure out why I called his turn bet. I don't recall being particularly tilted or anything...I guess it was just my donkaliciousness rearing its ugly head again.
Saturday (later). A New, New Hope. A new idea of playing lower buy in tournaments. A $1.75 O/8 2 table was spinning up, so I jumped into it. Level III, I get dealt 7h 4d 9h 9d in the BB. The entire table limped, and I checked. Flop is Kc Qs 9s. SB shoves. There's a str8 draw on the board, but I figured that if he hit it, he wouldn't shoved, so I called. I did get worried when the guy to my left called as well. I'm praying for the board to pair, but the turn is the Ac and the river is the 8c. The guy to my left flips over a JT for the early 9 to K, improving to Broadway. The guy who shoved flipped over Jc 4c, on first the str8 draw and then completing the 2 outer flush, stacking both of us. I think (I can't be certain, but I'd like to think) that if the first yahoo hadn't shoved on the flop, the flop bet would've been reasonable. When the Ac fell on the turn, I'd like to think that would've scared me enough to fold to a bet. My stack would've been cut severely, but I would've still been alive. As it was, I went out in 12th out of 18.
Saturday (later still). A New Desperation. I jumped into a $1.75 18 player NLHE and won the damn thing! Of course that didn't completely erase my losses, but it helped ease the pain.
Let's try something different. Full Tilt Ring. .10/.25. Jump in for $10. In short order I've actually doubled up, thanks to two boats in a row! And then the bottom fell out. The last boat had me at UTG, so the next hand I was in the BB. I forgot to uncheck the "post blinds" button, so I figured I'd just check/fold and call it a day. I was nicely up, making up for some other SNG losses earlier, and figured that there was no way I could do any serious damage to my stack. A couple of people limp, and I get to check my 9h 8h. Flop comes down 7h 6h Kc. Ok. OESFD. I check, and one guy bets out $1. Everyone else folds and I call. Turn brings the Td. Ok, it's not the flush, but I've got a well-hidden straight. I check, villain bets out $2, and I reraise it to $5. He calls. River is the Jh. Misses the SF, but I do make my flush. I put villain on a KT for two pair, and was hoping that he didn't have the heart. I shoved, hoping that representing my flush would cause him to fold. Instead he flipped over the KT of...wait for it...hearts! Yep. His 2nd nut flush stacked me and I promptly took the dog for a walk and went to bed.
From here on out, no more "auto post blinds". No more!
Friday, January 05, 2007
In my efforts to keep up with the Joneses (or at least the Hoyazo’s), I figured I may as well get some goals for TYOTH. I’m not saying how realistic these may be, but they’re what I’m aiming for.
1. Build the total bankroll to 4 digits (before the decimal). The tail-end of ’06 gave me a good start on things, and even though I stumbled right at the beginning of TYOTH, I think I’ve got a little mo’ to build on. I don’t particularly care if the whole b/r is at just one site, or if it’s spread out over several. I’ve got a small positive balance right now and I don’t want to deposit anything else (unless of course a stupid reload bonus comes along and I don’t have something available to transfer). Right now I’ve got positive balances at PokerStars and Full Tilt. Over the summer, during the darkness, I played freerolls on Pitbull Poker and Royal Vegas. The action at both was suitably fishy, but I’ve heard of some people having difficulties getting money out of them. I did download UB and played some play money Pineapple, but I haven’t funded it. Likewise Full Contact Poker. Obviously I want to have enough depth at Stars or Tilt to keep playing if I pull $50 or so to load up another site, so I’m sure it will be a bit before I start playing elsewhere. Still, it is a goal.
2. Get to the point where my SNG cashes are greater than 50% of the time. Unless I play wildly varying buy-in amounts, even making the min cash 50% of the time is generally +EV. I would love to have it be above 70%, but I am trying to be realistic.
3. Get to the point where I finish in the top payout levels of my SNGs at least 30% of the time. By this I mean 9 player – 1st place; 18 player – 1st or 2nd place; 45 player – 1st thru 3rd place. This is where the ROI really climbs, and that’s where I want to be. If I’m cashing at least 50% of the time (see #2) and more than half of those are top level cashes, that should really help out the b/r.
4. Strengthen my discipline. In studying the hands where I busted out or took a big hit, I was either playing a hand that I never should have seen a flop with, I overvalued whatever preflop value my hand may have had against the actual post-flop value (i.e. 2 overcards on a small flop or 3rd pair decent kicker), or I chased a draw that I really shouldn’t have. Those are the biggest leaks in my game, especially the 2 overcards scenario. You all know the drill, you have something remotely useful like AKo or AQs and bet it up preflop. The flop comes down rainbow rags. You fire out a bet that you hope will just take it down, and it doesn’t. And you bet on every street, and finally fold on the river having bled down your stack against somebody who flopped a set and wasn’t going to let it go for anything. Must stop doing that.
5. Learn to adjust my game to ring play. I mostly play SNGs, or MTTs depending on whether I’ve got the time. I’ve always liked the SNGs, and playing a bunch of freerolls over the summer got me accustomed to large-field MTTs (i.e. 6k players). When I first started cashing in some of the freerolls, I was obviously not winning large amounts. Generally not enough to buy in to a SNG. So I played some microlimit ring games. I did alright, but they play differently than a SNG/MTT does. I can’t exactly put my finger on what it is. Maybe because the blinds don’t increase, you don’t get that added benefit from stealing blinds. Picking up $.15 because you raised preflop and everybody folded does not increase the stack substantially enough to help, the way later rounds in a tournament do. Maybe it’s because you can (subject to b/r limitations) always re-buy if you bust out. Maybe it’s because the low/microlimits just don’t seem big enough to matter. I know they do, but I have found myself playing much more marginal hands than I do in tournaments, because it only cost $.10 to call the BB. I do that with my T7s, and maybe the button pops a 3x raise. Well, he’s on the button, so it could just be a steal. Besides, it’s only another $.30 to call. Fukkit. And I whiff the flop and fold. Or worse, catch part of the flop and bleed myself dry on a lesser flush or an OESD that never completes. I know there’s money to be made at the cash tables. My buddy Troll has been playing microlimit ring for a while and he’s built up a decent b/r. Pauly and Don are always talking about playing ring tables, and doing rather well at it. No reason why I shouldn’t.
So there. Some not completely unreasonable goals for TYOTH, here at Teh Randomness. See ya out there.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
2006 was a pretty crappy year, with a few highlights. First, I started playing real money poker and actually made a little, including a 45th place finish in a PokerStars Rebuy Madness tournament. Never having the schedule available to play in the WWdN, I was still able to play and girlie chat with so many of you at 3 new tournaments...the MATH, the Mookie, and the DADI. Then The Darkness befell me at the end of May. My game went to shit. My bankroll went to shit. My bank account went to shit. Pretty much my life went to shit. If I hadn't been able to attend the WPBT Summer Classic, there would've been nothing good to write about. Seeing all of you who attended really gave my spirits a boost and helped get me thru a very difficult summer. And because the b/r went in the toilet, I was forced to play freerolls. The upside of that is I really got to hone my game in a hugely fishy enviornment. If you think the $3 Rebuy Madness is a push fest, try a 10,000 player freeroll. Crazy stuff.
But into the fall, I actually cashed in a few on FullTilt. Small cashes to be sure, but enough to hit a few ring tables and build it up. Then enough to hit a few $1 SNGs and build it further. Then early in December I was offered a job!! Good pay, great environment, just a few miles from Casa de Hoff. Just in time for the holidays and just in time for my unemployment insurance to run out! Whew! Cut that one close! And to top it off, I cashed in enough SNGs on Tilt to grow the b/r enough to reload on PokerStars. Right after Christmas I'd managed to grow FullTilt almost back to where it was before I reloaded Stars. And until New Year's Eve, I had almost doubled up the Stars b/r. I hit 3 bubbles or bubble+1 plus a horriffic beat at a .10/.25 table (my boat sunk by a rivered str8 flush by some yahoo playing a 56s000ted thru a 3x preflop raise) to push the Stars balance below my reload. I've still got a bankroll, but it's taken a few hits. Still, I'm in much better shape now than I was thru most of 2006. And I'll take it.
So may your aces hold up, may the deck hit you square in the face, and may you always have a kevlar cup ready to protect your junk from a kicking. Unless I'm at the table! See ya 'round the room in 2007.
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