Monday, March 13, 2006

Catching Up, Always Catching Up

In a no-limit tournament, you have exactly one true weapon --- your chip stack. Wield it wisely and cautiously!

Sunday evening update! I had an absolute blast at the first ever Blogger Poker Championship at PokerStars, which has just reached the final table as I write this. (Even later update: Easy_Wind won the durn thing, and MattyWhoOwesMeALinkCuzHeKnockedMeOutDammit! took 3rd. My durned TT ran into his KK buzzsaw, in case you're not wondering. Not even a bad beat. Boo-hoo.) Nearly 1,500 bloggers entered, and I indeed "swagged" in this one, coming in 92nd after being short-stacked much of the way, garnering a t-shirt... which is plenty cool enough for a freeroll of this nature. ("Swagging" is hereby defined as placing in the "cash" --- read: merchandise --- in a tournament where only non-cash prizes are awarded.)

And it's the rare tournament indeed that keeps me watching and chatting after I've been bounced, which is what happened here, though I did sneak over to --- and win --- a $10 SNG while I watched and chatted.

Major ups to PokerStars for this one. Though I really wanted the damn monitor(!), the action was plenty tough later on and I'm satisfied with my result. I had a chance to run into some of the poker bloggerscenti, and had a great time chatting with them all. Up4Poker visited a table that had me, eventual-third-[placer Matty, April, Iggy, PokerNerd, and a couple of more well-known bloggers at it --- well, except me, that is --- and I'd like to toss Up4 special ups for not only given me a link, but putting it directly under Daniel Negreanu's entry. Thanks, but how are you gonna 'splain that one to Daniel?

I'd seen reports that some people thought it was an exceptionally loose and easy-playing tourney, and all I can say is, luck of the draw, doods. My tables were largely tight and present-and-accounted for; I didn't encounter my first blank player until into my second hour of play. But I was there for the chat as much as the game, and collectively, it was the best damn table-chat ever in a largish tourney... despite the all-caps cretin who GONZO'd at visiting bossman Lee Jones at the final table. Excepting that, the blogger tourney showed how table chat is supposed to be used --- a true rarity in online poker.

And now, back to the rest of our scheduled rambling...

A short piece will suffice here, to let [both of] my readers know that this isn't a cob-web site after all. I'm five weeks into my current temp-to-hire gig, otherwise known as Purgatory, and if you think I exaggerate, then change your mind: I'm answering calls all day dealing with health-insurance and pensions. From retirees who often view the call as the highlight of their days. Shoot me, please, shoot me.

Alright, it's not that bad; it pays more and is less soul-rending than the almost-as-recent gig as a CNA at South Elgin, IL's Alderwood Health Care Center, a nursing home surely a northern cousin of that place in New Orleans that let their residents drown in Hurricane Katrina. I left this place on short notice, preserving both my sanity and my accreditation in one fell swoop, because the CNAs at the facility were put into a position where compliance with administrative practices and state law was not only contradictory, it was physically impossible. And speaking of shooting me, please let someone do that before they stick me in a nursing home like that. And this, time, I'm serious.

But I digress. This is a poker site, after all, so I can't even go beyond the merest mention of my Thursday night cribbage league without risking the loss of your interest. As for the game with chips, I've been rotating my recent time between Party, Bet365 (Prima skin) and PokerStars. Despite Stars' minimal sign-on bonuses, I wanted to get a feel for the action there (hint: review in progress), and see just how tough the action is in general. Most of what others have said about Stars I find to be true, but that will appear elsewhere, very soon. And as should be obvious, I'll give the Poker Blogger Championship a go and hope for the best --- the tourney's tomorrow as this is written. That should be interesting --- I expect a heavy mix of better and solid poker players, sprinkled with a decent-sized number of people who have, relatively speaking, no clue. The early action may be highly entertaining.

Over at Party, in the wake of their ruthless actions concerning their affiliates, I've drawn down my account there to just $100 or so --- I simply don't feel comfortable there right now. In a way it's a twofold measure for me, because I can always reload when the inevitable Thanksgiving bonus comes around. But in the meantime, I'm moving into a new apartment in the next week or two, so having a little more cash on-hand is just fine right now, given my overall nonexistant budget.

The Bet365 Prima skin is one of those places that's just too profitable for me to not keep giving it some action. In addition to the nice freebies offered across all of Prima, Bet365's had monthly bonus programs for September and October that have been all but a pure $100 handout. Thank you, Bet365! Then, toss in the relatively easier Prima action --- though their software shows no sign of improving ---and Bet365's own customer-loyalty perks, and I simply can't stay away.

For instance, Bet365 has an every-Saturday $5,000 freeroll that you're eligible for simply by opening a cash account. Yes, it draws nearly 7,000 players every week, but it's still a damn site better than the pathetic crap that you find on Stars or Paradise. I took 140th out of 6,817 earlier today for a whopping $7.50 --- whoop-de-do!! --- but the point is this: I could do it while packaging up some mail and responding to stuff on the web. No muss, no fuss, and no risk.

Then comes Bet365's monthly $30,000 "VIP" freeroll, which is reserved for players who manage to achieve a whopping 200 raked hands in the previous month. Now think about it: nearly 7,000 players will logon and try their luck at a weekly freeroll, but barely 2200 players achieved the 200 raked hands needed to qualify for a freeroll with six times as much money at stake. Let's see...: One third the players and six times the purse (compared to the weekly $5K freebie) equals a freeroll with 18 times the overlay per player. In my second try two weeks ago I grabbed 52nd (out of 2200+) for a quick $120. Hey, I'll show up for that...

So where will you find me next? Hard to say --- I've been playing lots of $10+1 Sit-'N'-Gos lately, trying to work on my end game as much as anything, and have been showing a slight profit so far. There is a link to a separate page within my tourney notes section, for those of you not already bored to death. (Let's just say that I've been disappointed in my own play in these so far, but am still a bit ahead at these stakes, about $50 net for something like 25 tourneys. Not great; I can do better.)

I've been playing micro-tournaments as well, when I'm not chopping out a sign-on bonus somewhere. I've come close to decent paydays twice in the last few weeks, and took a final table bad-beat in one that ended my dreams of a new computer the following day. Out in 7th for a hundred and change --- drat. C'est la vie, sweetie!

One of the features that I've been toying with adding is a quickie review/comparison of the three leading poker "print" magazines --- Card Player, All-In and Bluff. The recent Card Player interview of Mike Matusow struck me as one of the most gutless pieces of journalism I've come across in recent memory; it was what those of us in the writing profession refer to as "kiss-ass journalism". And who the hell is Mike Matusow to deserve that?? Aside from that bankrupt offering, all three of the magazines suffer from internal inconsistency, but all have strengths as well. The reviews are definitely something for the "when I get around to it" file.

My search for the right type of software to make my crosswords and word searches interactive also goes on, and it's been fruitless and frustrating. I can buy the software for the crosswords easy enough, but the only wordsearch software around is garbage that builds the puzzle itself from your list. My professional opinion (as a writer who's also had dozens of puzzles published) is that such software invariably sucks --- the finished puzzles they churn out play like last week's fishwrap. But my search for the Holy Grail of wordsearch puzzle software continues...

Seriously, I'm starting to get a few e-mails from visitors, so thank you all for stopping by. I do appreciate your taking the time to visit my little electronic backwater.

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