Saturday, July 29, 2006

The sound of my jaw hitting the floor

Two relevant quotes tell this story:

"Prism Casino has sent $890.00 USD to you, and is currently in your Neteller Account." -- An e-mail tonight from Neteller

"Close your mouth, please, Michael, we are not a codfish." -- Mary Poppins.

And it only took four chat sessions, seven e-mails, and five weeks to make it happen.

When a loss is still a win

I lost twice today, and still came out ahead both times.

I went back to Gaming Club and churned $500 through their slot machines. The $75 balance I had in there was still usable, and in the end, although I lost $40 of it today, I still ended up ahead $35 overall. That's still a win.

The Gaming Club: +$35
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $4,217

And late tonight, I went to the local Happy Days brick-and-mortar for their midnight NLH $25 tournament. I got there at about 11:40, was placed on their alternates list, (8th place), and take the two $10 match coupons to the blackjack table. I buy in for $30, win with both match coupons, play several more hands, and leave with $65. I'm up $10 for the night. That's a win, in spite of my loss-yet-to-come.

The tournament started at midnight, and as I wait, the blinds go up twice. I finally sat down with my $5000 chip stack at about 12:45. I sat down in the $800 big blind (folded), blinds went up, and I folded my next hand at the $500 small blind.

My $3700 chip stack was already the second-smallest stack at the table, but I played tight, folding until I got A Q, and went all in in middle position. The player to my left called me; the rest of the table folded. He showed QTo, an ace hit on the flop, and I doubled up and took the blinds, up to $8900.

The very next hand under the gun, I'm dealt QJo, and raise to $2000. It folds around to an old lady I see every time I'm here. She's agressive, but I've seen her play some marginal hands. On the button, she calls. The small blind folds, the big blind calls, and we see a flop of rags. The big blind checks, I check, and the old lady goes all in. We both get out of her way, and my stack is down to $6900.

Blinds go up again just in time for me to hit them, but we color up, so I've got $7000 for the (late edit $500/$1000 $1000/$2000) blinds. I get crap cards on the big blind and fold to a raise. I get K 9 on the small blind, but fold to an all-in and a call of the all-in.

Three hands later, with a $4000 stack, I get Q Q (Kevin's favorite hand). Most players fold, but the old lady goes all in with her big stack. It's folded to me, and I go all in. She turns over K 7, and before I can gleefully realize that she's really only got three outs, the flop comes 3 8 6; she's hit her flush. As a nail in the coffin, the turn is K; I don't remember the irrelevant river.

Still, I'm up $10 for the trip. Better than a sharp stick in the eye.

(Note to those who care: On August 1, Happy Days is adding a 3 a.m. tournament to their daily schedule of noon, 7 p.m., and midnight)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bad beats: giving and taking

I played two tables at PokerStars last night, a $3 + $0.40 single table NLH sit-n-go, and a 1¢/2¢ NLH ring game.

Normally, at a low buy-in sit-n-go, you'll have several players who go all in early on. It's not a terrible strategy, if they've got decent cards, because they'll double (or triple) up early, and can then coast into the money. It's also not a strategy I like -- too much variance, not enough play.

Surprisingly, nobody did this at my table. We're 20 minutes in, and the table's still full. Nobody's more than +/- 500 from their initial 1500 chips.

Soon, though, two players drop out in consecutive hands. I've been in a few, but folded to players who represent stronger hands than I had. I'm down to about 1100 in chips, and the blinds are 150/300. I'm on the small blind with A 9. The whole table folds around to me, so I raise to 600 to buy the big blind's 300. To my surprise, he calls. The flop is A 6 3.

Does he have an ace, too? Is his kicker better? The only way for me to find out is to bet. I think I'm ahead here -- maybe he has a smaller pair, or is playing ace-baby. I've only got 500 in chips left, so I push all-in. He quickly calls, and shows J 6. I'm ahead, because he's only got a pair of sixes.

The turn is 9. I've now got two pair; only a six can beat me. Except...

The river's K. I get knocked out by his runner-runner flush. Doh!

I turn my attention to my ring game, which I play for about an hour, am up about $3, and I get dealt pocket aces under the gun. I raise to 8¢. This is designed to keep players with good hands in, and to scare out players with weak hands. It works -- the only player coming back at me raises to 20¢; everyone else folds. I hesitate for a few minutes to give the impression that I'm scared, then just smooth call.

The turn is 699 rainbow.

If he had a power hand like he represented, he's got neither a 6 nor a 9. In my mind, I'm clearly ahead. I can reel him in. I check. He puts $1 into the pot -- a huge bet at a 1¢/2¢ game. I call, fairly quickly.

The turn is a 5.

I check again. He's got nothing on me, right? He tosses another $1 into the pot. At this point, I think he might as well be playing with his cards face up -- he's got pocket kings or aces. I raise him to $2. At this point, he's probably thinking I've got a smaller pair, or maybe I've got A5 and think he's bluffing. He calls.

The river's a 3.

There's about $6.40 in the pot, and he's got $2.47 left in his stack. I bet $2.47, making it clear that I'm intentionally putting him all in. He calls, and as I expected, he shows pocket kings. I win, making about $5 in one hand.

This changed my table image a bit; over the next six hands, I won four of them unopposed after raising to 8¢ pre-flop or betting 10¢ after the flop. Fear me, little fishes.

(Like I should talk, playing at micro limit tables. I'm a small fish, in an even smaller pond.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Surprise - you've (not) got money (?)

From an e-mail from Gaming Club this morning, regarding last night's attempted withdrawal:
I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the inconvenience that you have experienced regarding the $25 free sign on bonus wagering requirements.

Kindly be advised that the new bonus system applied on the player who submitted the bonus after the 07/20/2006.

Please note that after you have disconnected via our chat conversation I have realized that you have not met the wagering requirements of the $25 sign on bonus as per old bonus system.

Kindly be advised that according to the terms and conditions of the bonus, you are required to wager $500 on slots and video slots only (excluding Progressive Slots) any withdrawal will be processed.

You have currently wagered $751 on Red Dog that is not the required games, and thus are required to wager a further $500 on slots and video slots only (excluding Progressive Slots).
we do hope that our sincerest apologies are accepted for the inconvenience experienced as a result of the inconvenience.

Hmm... so do I have a $75 to bet on the slots, or just $25? Answer pending...

Playing poker on company time

We had what I think is an annual picnic for the IT folks at work today. The best part was that I played two hours of cricket with people who actually knew how to play -- I'd never done that before.

The second, quite entertaining thing, was "Poker for Peanuts". Every half hour, six people would get ten peanuts each, and would play five card draw with them.

Yes, five card draw. I hadn't played that since summer camp more than ten years ago, I think. But it's poker, and the prize was five raffle tickets for a drawing going on with a whole bunch of prizes.

It was amusing. I bought one pot, lost to a flush with another, but mainly spent my time explaining main pots and side pots and what beats what.

At the end of 30 minutes, two people had busted out, the person to my right had 12 peanuts, I had 14 peanuts (after being down to two and winning a five person all-in), and the two remaining players were tied with 17 peanuts each. They each got three tickets, but I don't think any of them won.

Surprise - you've got money

No, not from Prism yet (although Chris@prism did send an e-mail begging for players to make a $2000 deposit to get a 60% bonus -- is that how he plans to pay me?). I received a letter in the mail this weekend, which says, in part, "You have the following open, but dormant account(s) with credit balances remaining at Belle Rock Entertainment", followed by my casino account number]. This is strange, as when I signed up for the account, the promotions manager e-mailed me, saying:

We are pleased to see you eager to start playing, but unfortunately your Casino Gaming Account ... has not qualified for the [$25] bonus.

If you would like to know why, please refer to the Promotional Terms and Conditions on the website.

I'd not bothered to try and figure out why, but when I checked today, there was $25 in there. A couple hours of wagering on Red Dog (blackjack's ineligible), and it is up to $75.

I won't count this +$75 until I get the withdrawal completed, though. They seem quite confused.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Don't remotely disable the network card

We had issues late today with a web server we administer, and the guy who was the expert on such things was out of the office for the day, so it was up to me to try to figure out what was going on. Pinging the full domain name... timed out. Pinging the IP address of the machine... timed out. Pinging the machine on the network... worked. Huh?

I called someone who knew more about these things than I did, and he checked the same thing. We remoted into the machine, and it has two network cards in it, with two IP addresses. One IP address returned pings, and somewhere along the way, the other one started returning pings, too.

One IP was dynamic, the other static. "What building are the servers located in?" the network guy asked. I told him. "That IP address doesn't sound like it belongs in that building." I checked with my team lead -- yup, that's the right building. "How long has it had this IP address?" I checked the properties of each. Four days plus. "Maybe disabling and re-enabling the dynamic IP network card will get it working again."

I clicked the disable button. Nothing appeared to happen. Clicked it again with no response, not even a button press.

It was at this point I realized I'd been sawing on the branch I was sitting on. In a cartoon, this would be the moment just before I realize I'd walked off of a cliff, but gravity hadn't taken effect yet.

The remote connection closed. Gravity took over. "Connection failed."

Road trip to the server building. Checked in -- and the server wasn't there. Wrong building. That's why the IP address didn't sound right.

Road trip to the other server building. Wait 20 minutes to be checked in. Find the server, click to enable. Remote access reactivated.

Note to self: don't do that again.

Winning 66 BB/hour sounds impressive, but...

Back to poker last night, I spent about an hour at two simultaneous 1¢/2¢ $5-max no limit hold em tables at Poker Stars, ending up $1.32. The best hand:

I'm dealt AK in early position. I raise to 8¢ scaring out most of the table, but with two callers.

The flop is 2KA rainbow. Beauty. I check. Middle position checks. Late position puts in 10¢. I merely call -- I want to keep these two players in. Middle position sadly folds.

The flop is a 5. Obviously, there's almost no way this put the other player ahead, unless he's holding 34 (unlikely as heck at this point). He's got about 85¢ left in his stack. If I go for all of it, he'll fold, I'm sure. I toss in 20¢, which implies that I think the 5 helped me, a lot. Or I'm trying to scare him out. He takes the bait and calls.

The river's a K, giving me a kings-over-aces full boat. I put him all in. He thinks about it for a while, pushes his last 65¢ in, and shows A5, "wow, nh, nh, thx".

Monday, July 24, 2006

Omaha hi/lo: fried brains, please

I've been reading up on Omaha hi/lo strategy, but my mind's just not getting it.

In my final hand tonight, I'm in middle position in a 25¢/50¢ limit game, and I'm dealt 3 4 4 3. Nice? No -- my strategy chart tells me this is a crap hand, and to fold it.

I don't fold it. I call the 25¢ blind, the guy to my left raises, I call, leaving four of us to see the flop.

T 9 6.

I've hit my flush on the flop. The big blind checks, the guy to my right puts in 25¢,I raise to 50¢, the guy to my left and the blind fold, the guy to my right re-raises to 75¢, and I call. He's representing that he hit the flush, too, and if he did, he hit it better than I did. I don't believe him, though.

The turn is 3.

I've got some kind of a full house possibility going on here now, although my well-cooked brain isn't able to figure out exactly what it is. My opponent bets 50¢, I raise, he re-raises, and I call all-in with my last 45¢.

The river is 4.

My opponent shows A 5 9 T. He's got an ace-high flush to beat my ten-high flush. I've got no full house. I've also got no low, so he takes that with his A,3,4,5,6. He brings in $6.50. I close out down $20 for the night.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Loss, win, loss

Not much to add, other than it's getting harder to find decent bonuses. On Thursday night, I played Europa casino's 100% $100 match, and customer support offered me another $50, with total WR of $2850. Blackjack is ineligible, so I played War. At the $1450 WR mark, I was down to zero.

At the home poker game last night, I ended up ahead $15.25. Good times.

And tonight, I played at Club Player, who advertises a 350% bonus up to $700, with a WR of 50x (really, really high). I deposited $199 (it wasn't clear that $200 would count), which gave me $895.50 to play with. I began playing blackjack at $50 a hand. After 120 hands, I was down to $795.50, and bumped up to $75 a hand. After another 120 hands, I was up to $1020.50, and bumped up to $100 a hand. But 44 hands later, I was down to zero.

Europa Casino: 100% bonus: -$100
Club Player Casino: 350% bonus: -$199

Something-out-of-nothing to date: $4,217

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Money from the Ho

Yesterday evening, after playing at DrHo888 for a few days, I finally hit my wagering requirements. Near the end, between hands, and during a particularly long shuffle, I brushed up on card counting strategy, and wrote myself a VBA card counting doc. In the final shoe, the count turned slightly favorable three times, enough to bet twice my normal wager ($20 instead of $10). Two out of those three times, I won.

DrHo888 100% match bonus: +$156
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $4,516

Monday, July 17, 2006

Slow Ho; go, Smo; oh no!

Slow Ho: For the last couple of days, I've been playing at the awkwardly named Dr. Ho 888 casino, based out of Macau. The name kind of makes sense, once you realize that 8 is some kind of lucky number in China, and that owner Stanely Ho, nicknamed "The King of Macau", is the worlds 84th richest person.

They offer a 125%/$125 20x non-sticky bonus, with no restrictions on the games to be played (other than prohibiting even money bets, or unreasonably safe bets such like red and black in roulette).

They offer games with live webcam dealers, but I'd heard that those games run pretty slow. They also offer what looks like Playtech software-run games, which is why I signed up.

Unfortunately, I didn't check it before I paid my money, and the Playtech tables are down. So, I've been playing simultaneous blackjack and baccarat, at the shockingly high minimum bet amount of $10 a hand. It's really slow, about a hand every minute or so. The dealers are decent to look at -- a few scuds -- but they've got that fake plastic "I'm on a webcam" smile, which really means, "Yay, I have all the dullness of being a dealer without the human interaction. When's my break?"

Because we're looking at real cards from a real blackjack shoe and real shuffles, I'm thinking that this has got to be a prime opportunity for card counting (normal online blackjack shuffles after each hand).

Go, Smo: At our irregular home game on Saturday, my cousin Smokey mentioned that he wants to try bonus hunting. I wish him the best of luck. I fear that he might be the kind of person who thinks that the roulette wheel has some kind of memory, or that a certain craps roll is "due", which will doom his efforts, but I wish him the best of luck.

If you're reading this, Smokey, a few more notes:

  • It took me 20 casinos offering free chips to get the $100 I started with. The list is on my May 28 blog entry. Truthfully, playing with these free chips are good training for the play that you'll do later at the non-sticky casinos.
  • Don't forget to read FlopTurnRiver and's postings.
  • Acropolis Casino has a good bonus, but an even better description of what a sticky bonus really is.
  • The forums at CasinoMeister are a good source of opinons on the various casinos; so's his Rogue's list. The Online Blackjack Guide is another resource, but much less useful.

Oh no!: I was playing super loose at the home game on Saturday. While Bill was urging himself with the mantra, "Don't play crap cards. Don't play crap cards," I was taking hands like Q9 and paying to see the flop with them. I lost my first $10 fairly quickly, then rebought another $10, winning a few small pots, then ending up decently ahead with a monster bluff against Phil. I was playing 83 and missed the board entirely, but my large bet on the river, representing top-card-top-kicker, prompted him to fold.

Eventually, though, the TV came on, playing a doumentary outlining a conspiracy to cover up the events of 9/11. I could have cared less, but three other players at the table were deeply into it, making each hand last 3-8 minutes long. Frustrated, and ready to go, I started playing my hands even stronger. I dropped back below $20, but eventually, I got pocket aces -- and ran into a straight on the river. A few hands later, I'm dealt A3 with a flop of A39, and bust out to an A9. $20 for five hours of poker, though -- not a bad evening.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Prism's too slow; SportsInteraction's too fast

Geez, Prism Casino does seem to be pretty sluggish. I sent this e-mail to Prism's accounting manager today:

Good afternoon, Chris. I've had multiple chats with Alex and Gabie regarding my recent withdrawal, and they recommended I contact you. I tried to reach you via chat multiple times, but you were either in meetings, you'd already left for the night, or you were out sick (hope you're feeling better today!).

My issue has to do with a withdrawal that was approved, but which never showed up in my Neteller account.

On June 21, I made a withdrawal of $1140. After the $250 non-cashable bonus was taken out, the remaining $890 was approved for withdrawal on July 1.

Last week, Mandy said that it should be done "any minute", probably on Monday, July 9. The $890 hasn't shown up in my Neteller account yet, and it's been two weeks since the withdrawal was approved.

Can you look into this for me? I'm thinking perhaps your staff may have mistakenly mistyped my Neteller account number. It's xxxxxxxxx802.

Thanks in advance for your help,

[signature, userID, e-mail]

To my pleasant surprise, I received a reply two hours later.

I do not see any problem with the withdrawal request. Our accounting department is just really backed up right now and they are trying to get all of these processes as quickly as possible. I will see what I can do to get this sped up for you.
It's been 24 days since I initiated the withdrawal. That's a heck of a backup.

Secondly, I played blackjack at Sports Interaction today (130%, $130 bonus, 20x WR). A couple times I got close to zero, and bounced back up, but in the end, a few hundred dollars short of the WR, I bottomed out. Ah well. 130% bonus: -$100
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $4,360

Off topic note: The image above is the cover for Richard Cheese's Sunny Side of the Moon. I heard about it on Coverville earlier this week. Good stuff.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

H.O.R.S.E. in the WSOP

Mike Caro's Wednesday night chip countIn case you haven't heard, for the first time ever, a HORSE tournament is part of the WSOP. As best as I can tell, rounds cycle through Hold em, Omaha, Razz, Stud, and omaha Eight or better. With a $50,000 buy in, many observers (myself included) believe that whoever wins this tournament is truly the best all-around poker player.

Card Player is live-blogging the event, and is posting (and graphing) up-to-the-minute chip counts.

I hope ESPN shows most of it. I'd love to see razz on TV.

Clueless stud player

I played 7-card stud on five simultaneous tables for a few hours tonight. A podcast I listened to this morning said that the best strategy is to wait for three high cards, or a pair of jacks or better, otherwise fold. Using that strategy, and deviating from it more than I should have, I lost $13.41. I'm sure I did a bunch of things wrong. They say that if you don't know where you are by fifth street, get out, and only once I knew that I had the best hand.

I'm the clueless stud player you want at your table.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Quickest withdrawal, like, evar

Last night's winnings from Club USA are already in my Neteller account. Wow. Rumor is that most casinos that run Real Time Gaming software do things really slowly, but this was less than 12 hours. I'll plug them here, even though their $10 table limits make true bonus hunting a challenge.

This compares very unfavorably to:

  • Prism Casino. The withdrawal took ten days to approve, and I'm still waiting for the money 11 days after that.
  • Vegas Strip Casino. The withdrawal was approved after 13 days, it's two days later and there's no money yet it arrived two days later.
  • High Rollers Lounge. See my previously documented battle with them; the remaining $275 showed up yesterday.

Prism and Vegas Strip, plus Silver Sands (an RTG that says up-front that there's a seven-day delay), account for about $3000 in outstanding funds.

As a point of reference, Most other casinos have taken 3-5 days.

Edit: Vegas Strip's withdrawal came in three hours after I posted this.

The terms, they are a changin'

In my big spreadsheet of casino bonuses, I had Casino USA listed as a 100% $100 10x sticky, which didn't allow baccarat, craps, roulette, blackjack, or pontoon to meet the WR. 10x is still pretty good if you can find a game to play (maybe war?) so I checked it out again today.

They'd changed their terms. Blackjack is now allowed, but the WR has increased to 15x ($3000). I signed up, redeemed the 100% match coupon, but just before I made my deposit, I checked the table limits.

Every single table game allowed under the rules has a max bet of $10.

I nearly left. I probably should have, seeing that the best strategy for stickies is to bet 15-25% of the account value until you reach a pre-determined target. That wouldn't be possible here.

However, I chatted with online help, and they confirmed that yes, indeed, they keep the limits low initially to weed out bonus abusers. Fair enough. I should have left at this point, but was in a playful mood after yesterday's big win, and didn't mind if I ended up down a bit. Carribbean 21 was available with its 0.19% house edge, so I made my deposit anyway.

It was a decent night. I never dropped below $170, hovered around $260 for most of the WR, but hit $300, then $400, as I crossed the $2000 WR line. When I hit $3000, I was at $402.50, so I tossed the $2.50 into a slot machine, where it quickly vanished.

The $400 withdrawal was more than I expected to make.

Club USA Casino 100% match: +$200
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $4,460

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Read this, go to jail, do not collect $200

Today, we've got two columns from the Seattle Times about the ludicrousness of Washington's new anti-online gambling law (which I'll refer to in the future as the Muckleshoot Protection Act).

The first column highlights a case where Bellingham-based is shut down: This column may be illegal (June 15):

The first casualty in the state's war on Internet gambling is a local Web site where nobody was actually doing any gambling.

[A] former Wal-Mart worker in Bellingham ... started a casino review called He worried about the new law but figured he'd be OK because his site has no actual gambling.

Not so, said the state. Writing about online gambling in a way that seems promotional can earn a cease-and-desist order, and potentially, a criminal charge. Boutte learned this when a Bellingham Herald article featured state officials saying his site was illegal.

[Even the] Seattle Times may be afoul of the law because we print a poker how-to column, "Card Shark," by gambler Daniel Negreanu.
"My suggestion to you is to remove from your paper any advice about online gambling and any links to illegal sites," [says Rick Day, director of the state gambling commission].

So even this column could be illegal?

The state's gone from trying to control gambling, which is legit, to trying to control people speaking about gambling.

It's hard to take coming from a state that bombards us with pitches for the biggest sucker's bet of all. You know, the one they call the lottery.

And from last Sunday, your subscription to Card Player may be in jeopardy. Are ESPN blackouts of the WSOP next? Read this while it's still legal:

On July 3, Harvill, an affable operations manager for Sprint PCS near Spokane, got the following letter from the publisher of two magazines he has subscribed to for years. "It is with deep regret that we must inform you ... " it read, "we must cancel all subscriptions to Washington State."

The magazines are "Casino Player" — a monthly review of U.S. casinos and hotels — and "Strictly Slots" — a guide to one-armed bandits, video poker and other mechanized means of gambling.

Hardly classic literature. But Harvill liked them. And now he can no longer read them, thanks to a twisted reading of the state's new law against Internet gambling.

The state says placing bets online is against the law. Fine. But the state goes on to say that even writing about Internet gambling in a way that's promotional is "aiding and abetting" an illegal industry.

So now two print magazines consider themselves banned in this state. It's not clear whether the publisher pulled them on his own or was asked to by the state. The letter vaguely cites "new state laws regarding the legality of online gaming."


(Thanks to the Card Club at Lord Admiral Radio podcast for pointing out the June column.)

A few close scrapes, but another big win

Silver Sands Casino is offering a 200% $200 bonus, 75% sticky, 30x WR ($9000). I deposited $100, and with the $300 in my account, started playing blackjack at $50 a hand. Target: $850.

Sweetest moment: dealt a pair of eights versus a dealer ten. Split them. First hand, got a 2, then a ten, for 20. Second hand, got a 7, then a 5 for 20. Dealer shows a 7, for 17. Plus $100.

Worst moment: Dealt a pair of twos versus dealer six. Split them. First hand, got a 9, doubled, got a 3 for 14. Second hand, got an 8, doubled, got a 5 for 15. Dealer shows a 3, then draws a 10 for 19. Loss of $200. Wacky.

Three times I was down to zero with $50 on the table. Three times I won. Eventually, I hit the $9000 WR, and was back up to $725. I dropped back down to D'Alembert out the last $125. It worked, and I ended with $860 in my account.

I talked to customer support, and they confirmed I met the WR, and that $150 of the $200 bonus was non-cashable, but would stay in the account for future play. I made the $710 withdrawal, which should take "about seven business days."

Silver Sands 200% $200 bonus: +$610
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $4,260

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Oops. That was sticky. And red.

Casino Elegance offered a 100% $50 match, which I took them up on, and then proceeded to play for an hour, $2 a hand, until it shrunk down to zero. Just now, I realized that it was a sticky bonus, which I should have played much more agressively, at $20 a hand or so. Oops.

I played two tournaments at PokerStars tonight, and got knocked out of the both. The second one I went out on the bubble, nothing notable about it.

The first one, a 180-player $4 + $0.40 NLH tournament, I was on the button holding K J. With four other players in, the flop came 7 K 8. The other four players checked, so I put in a pot sized bet, thinking that I'd scare out those who would think I was on a flush draw (or had already made my flush), and limit the field. Almost everyone else folded, except for a player who had either gone all in or bet more than 10x the big blind whenever he had anything resembling a hand. From the hands I'd seen him play, it looked like he was in on any single face card. He put me all in.

This didn't surprise me, from him, and I put him on a king plus a low card, maybe a flush draw in there, but not a flush.

Indeed, he showed K 5. I've got him dominated, right?

Well, the turn was J, giving him the flush. The river, 8, didn't help. Afterwards, I punched it into the odds calculator, and it turns out I wasn't much of a favorite at all, only 49% to 44%, with a 6% chance to tie.


Saturday, July 08, 2006 makes good

Back on June 27, I posted a blog entry describing how HighRollersLounge took my $275 in winnings because of a betting pattern that they did not approve of. On June 19, I'd bet $5 a hand, for $1800 WR, on War.

On June 26, I'd chatted with online support ("sir there is nothing more i can help you with."), and e-mailed the casino manager, Oliver Curran, through their support e-mail address. On June 28, having received no response, I sent him a private message through the Casinomeister forums.

When I'd still no response by July 3 (not even "we're looking into it"), I opened a case with Montana Dispute Resolution, which is the dispute resolution service for the casino software provider, Real Time Gaming.

Today, I received the following:

Dear Travis,

The casino confirmed that they made an error and wish to apologize for that. We have confirmed that $125.00 has already been paid to you and the balance of $275.00 has been credited to your account. Please proceed to either initiate a withdrawal or play with that balance.

Thank you,
The Player Dispute Team

I've initiated the withdrawal.

High Rollers Lounge Casino: Reversing the $275 reneg: +$275
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $3,650

I've got concerns now about my Prism Casino withdrawal ($890), but that'll wait until they actually say no.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Fall asleep. Win hands anyway.

The game is Omaha Hi/Lo, 2¢/5¢ pot limit. I'm dealt A T 3 2. The board is 4 Q 9. I'm liking the four, because if a 5, 6, 7, or 8 hits, I've got the nut low. A five gives me the wheel straight (A2345). The spades scare me a bit, but I raise from early position and get a few callers.

The turn is 7. I've got the nut low, so I try to figure out what I can bet to not scare others out. I go in for $1, and get one caller.

The river is 9. No flush possibility, so I bet the pot, $3.12. As the other player considers what to do, I come back to reality, and make the stark realization:

I don't have the nut low. I've got crap. A board of 4Q979 doesn't have a low possibility, and -- duh -- I can only use two cards from my hand, not the A, 2, and 3.

He decides I must have hit a full house with the last nine, and folds. I collect $3.12 and exhale.

It's time to start paying attention, lawyer boy.

Several hands later, I'm in late position, and get 2 J T 3.

The board comes A K 4. Again, I'm going for the nut low, one card to go, but this time, I'm awake enough to realize that I'm only using the 2 and 3 to get it. No, I'm not just one card away from a spade flush, I realize that. I make a minor raise to run off the riff raff.

The turn is 7, so I've made my nut low. I bet the pot, and have one caller.

The river is a safe looking Q, so I bet the pot again -- maybe I'll scare him off -- and he calls. I show the nut low, and he shows two pair, so we split the pot.

Except we don't. I get the whole pot. What the heck?

Yeah. That J T that I spent my whole hand ignoring? The queen on the river gave me broadway. Scooped pot of $3.17.

Wake up, lawyer boy. Wake up. Up $2.10 for the night.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Where we're going, we don't need... limits

Ahh... back to the stress-free poker life. I'm taking a break from bonus hunting until my outstanding withdrawals show up. I've filed a complaint with High Rollers Lounge's software provider, and will follow up with their licensing jurisdiction if I don't get satisfaction there. For now, it's back to the comparatively stress-free poker tables.

With a bigger bankroll, though, I can afford bigger risks, so after my meager 70¢ win on Monday night, I decided to play at the 25¢/50¢ no-limit hold 'em tables. If you look back through all of my old posts, you'll see that the online poker game I've played almost exclusively is limit poker.

Three simultaneous tables, $10 buy-in at each, +$21 overall. The hand I feel the worst about was when I held pocket red queens, and two other players started raising each other $1-$2 a shot when the board came T93 with a couple of clubs. I laid my queens down after throwing my first $1 in there, because I was pretty sure that one of them had hit their set, and another was on a flush draw. A third club came on the turn, one player went all in, the other called, and after the river, the calling player wins with... a ten for top pair? WTF?

But even more fun (but less profit), I simultaneously played Omaha 8-or-better at two 5¢/10¢ limit tables and one 5¢/10¢ pot limit table. If the play is as bad at the higher limits as at the lower, I definitely need to move up. I ended up ahead about $3 after an hour's play, but I'd bet that higher limits don't necessarily equate to better play, at least for the lower levels.

Want to make money online at O8B? Here's the three step process:

1) Google for omaha better "starting hands"

2) Only play those starting hands.

3) Profit!

Yeah, it seems to be that easy.

On a related note, the Ante Up podcast seems to imply that another good way to make easy wins is to learn and follow good basic Razz strategy (see Super/System), then play the Razz tables at Full Tilt. I'll give that a try one of these days.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A night at PokerStars means free toast

Yep -- back to poker. How rusty am I? Well, after making a $100 deposit into my never-before-used PokerStars account, I dropped 50 cents as the missed blind on a .25/.50 table, just before I had to leave to eat dinner. Stupid move.

Then I placed somewhere around 160th out of 180 in a $4 + .40 SNG tournament, losing to a set of fives.

But then I sat down at a $3 + .40 turbo, and placed second out of 10 players, earning $9.

This placed me up 70¢ at PokerStars for the night. W00t! That's about the value of a piece of toast from the company cafeteria. Yum.

Bad pontoon, no biscuit

I accepted InterCasino's 100% $100 12.5x WR again, and just like last month lost it all at Pontoon, $5 a hand at a time. This time, it was at the $925 WR level, so I lasted 16 hands longer.

-1 standard deviation would end me at $34.75, so I'm not sure how to account for this double drop. A double failure will happen about 10% of the time. If it happens next month, that's a 3% chance (although at this point, it's really 31%, since the first two failures have already happened.)

InterCasino's monthly $10 match: -$100
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $3,375

Uncharacteristially impetuous

Another month, another reload at William Hill (100%, $40, 10x playthrough, non-sticky). At $1 a hand, I played 137 hands, and was up $12.50, but the slow dialup connection I was using, along with my own impatience, led me to start betting $2 a hand, then $5 a hand. Three times, I was down to $20, and bet $10, pushing me back up to $30 or $40. On the fourth time, though, I lost two in a row, ending at zero.

Plenty of other reloads have come in, too. Casino Elegance and Everest Casino have both offered 100% $50 15x stickies, and InterCasino has again offered their monthly 100% $100 12.5x non-sticky.

William Hill monthly $40 match: -$40
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $3,475

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Bet it all on black

So I had my $100 "sticky type II" bonus, which I can play with, but can't withdraw, but which stays in my account until I lose it. Without doing a ton of research, I decided on French Roulette with a house edge of about 1.3%. Blackjack has a better overall house edge, but part of that edge is from doubling and splitting, so it's hard to tell what the house edge on one hand would be.

I'm glad my two brothers were here -- they urged me to go the winning way each time, and I'd have lost if I'd decided to bet on the color/oddness/range I'd originally planned to.

First bet: $100 on black.
Hit: Black 13.
+$100. Cash out $100.

Second bet: $100 on odd.
Hit: Black 15.
+$100. Cash out $100.

Third bet: $100 on 19-36 (high)
Hit: Black 29.
+$100. Cash out $100.

Fourth bet: $100 on black.
Hit: Red 23.
Balance: $0

Casino Elegance: $100 sticky II bonus: +$300
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $3,515

The $400 lunch break

After Thursday night's loss of $500, I took my lunch break on Friday to try and win it back. I signed up with Casino Elegance (100% $100 bonus, wagering requirements (WR) of 15x = $3000), which has a slightly different kind of stickiness to its bonus. You can play with it, and lose it, and like regular stickies, you can't withdraw it. However, if you still have it, it sits in your account and isn't removed with your withdrawal.

This didn't change the way I played -- $25 a hand until I got to $300 (at the $775 WR level), then $50 a hand until I built it up to my target of $600 (which I reached at the $1325 WR level). Then down to $2 a hand, 3 hands at a time, which I did until I had about $400 in WR left. I was at $521, and had fallen pretty far off my target, so I started to use the D'Alembert system. It seemed to be going nowhere, so when I had $100 in WR left and was at $550, I jumped back to $25 per hand, one hand at a time. And lost. And won, and lost, and lost. At $500, I jumped up to a $50 hand, and lost.

At $450, I play my final hand, betting $50 (you can tell this is gonna be good), and am dealt 3-3; the dealer shows a 2. Proper strategy says to split, so I do. The first hand is 3-8, which I double, and get a 7 for 18. The second hand I get a 5, then a K for 18. I've now got $150 on the table and only $300 in my account. The dealer turns over his hole card, which is a 9, giving him 11, and I nearly come unglued... but he draws a 6, for 17. I win $150 (plus my bets back), have hit my $600, and make my withdrawal.

So, for the last 24 hours, I'm only down $100, and I've still got $100 in the account to try and win with. Today's project: bet it all on one hand, and withdraw any winnings.

Casino Elegance: $100 match bonus: +$400
Something-out-of-nothing to date: $3,215