Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sure, Why Not?

Sounds like a great time, so count me in for the fun. Thanks to for the invite!

Friday, July 21, 2006

A "Bad Bolt" of My Vewwy Own

Thursday nights in East Online Pokerville tend to be a bit mundane. I fire up the two machines, enter two or three or four tourneys, turn the TV or the CD player on at very low volume, and then open a Media Player window on one of my machines so I can listen in on Lou Krieger and Amy Calistri's webcast, Keep Flopping Aces. I usually have the chat window open, too, among all the other stuff. I'm too busy playing and listening to type much into chat, but I toss in the occasional one-liner or pointed comment.

Such as last night, when Amy brought up the recent tale of a young man who was struck by lightning when playing online poker at his computer. I quipped that it was a "bad bolt" story --- received the requisite yuks, and went back to mostly quiet mode. I've been in the same situation, of course, deep into an MTT when a storm arrives, not wanting to turn off the computer and hoping that the power stays on for the duration.

Once in a while it doesn't --- though my worst technical-issues beat came about three years ago when I was high on the leaderboard of one of those thousand-plus-players tourneys on Party. We'd played down to perhaps 200 or so, that time, with maybe 130 cashing, and I was in third place when my ISP decided to disconnect all of Milwaukee's south side to do major network repairs and upgrades.

I think I took about 30th in that one, after my chips had been blinded off for close to three hours. But that's part of the online game; play long enough and it will happen to you.

What happened when I made my cheesy "bad bolt" quip? Just what you'd expect --- a power outage struck, serving up its own karmic justice for my lame pun only an hour or so later. We'd had a major storm here a couple of days ago, causing its own service problems, and a friend of mine who regularly monitors the emergency-service bands told me that a nearby transformer was literally glowing red --- paint boiling off the side of the thing --- when the service crews took it offline for emergency replacing. On that occasion the power had pulsated and arced wildly before they shut it down, and it was off for a couple of hours.

So when the power went off last night, I figured that the service company's emergency repairs had overlooked a related component connected to the blasted transformer, meaning that they'd have to go through the whole thing again. Too bad for me. I was at the final table in one small MTT at the time, and in the top ten in a second MTT at the same site. And I figured it for another couple of hours for repairs.

I groped my way down to the parking lot and decided on a late-night run for a milkshake, and then went over to that friend's house for some even later-night Scrabble action. But on the return, I saw that my guess on the cause of this second outage had been wrong. Seems as though a (maybe drunk) driver had lost control of his car and crashed into a relay box, coincidentally near to the same transformer that had failed earlier, and the meat wagon, lights-a-flashin', was just hauling him from the scene as I returned. Of course, this meant that the repair still hadn't been started, since getting an injured person cared for is naturally the higher repsonse priority.

So much for any hope I might get back to the poker tables in time to rescue that second MTT. When the power returned at two in the morning, I logged on to find that in the first tourney, where I'd already made the cash, I ended up in sixth for $120. And in the second one, I was blinded out in 13th when the top 10 paid. That probably took an hour or more, with the chips I had when everything went dark.

Blecch. Bad-bolt me, as well.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Taking His Ball and Staying Home

Like no could see this one coming:

From: "Bodog Press"
To: -me-
Subject: Conference Postponed; Rescheduled Conference Later this Year
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2006 19:29:00 -0500

July 19, 2006

LAS VEGAS -'s Founder and CEO Calvin Ayre announced today that the Marketing Conference would be postponed to a later date, in light of concerns raised by delegates who were expected to attend the industry's biggest event of the year.

"Bodog was receiving lots of calls from would-be conference attendees who are expressing a high level of concern over the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. government's recent actions against a company in our industry," Ayre said. "It is in light of these concerns that we have decided to postpone the Marketing Conference to a later date and at an international location. This decision also ensures that the focus of the conference will not be lost."

The annual Marketing Conference has presented opportunities for good discussion about marketing, customer service and about the growth of the online gamblĂ­ng industry.

In a letter sent to conference delegates, Ayre stated: "The actions taken by the authorities have nothing to do with our organization; we are simply acting prudently for all concerned. We will continue to lead the way in digital entertainment."

More details about the upcoming Marketing Conference will be released in the coming weeks.

. . . . .

Oh, yeah, it's a direct reaction to the arrest of BETonSPORTS CEO David Carruthers at a Texas airport. For my money, Bodog's cancellation of next week's event at the Wynn in Las Vegas was as sure a bet as anything in recent days. Click here to check out Gambling911's take on the matter.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together...

...particularly when an earlier one goes awry. My hopes of getting to the WSOP this week were dashed when I couldn't get all the workings into place. Between online-banking delays, ticket snafus, and a bit of a lag (my fault) in securing my press credentials from Harrah's, well, it just all fell through. Last-minute, you see, is only a few ticks away from not at all.

But that's the middle of the story. For weeks, I'd been trying hard to make a trip to Vegas occur, and it was the elusive stick-carrot and I was the donkey... a fitting metaphor at that. Dangling... dangling... haw-hee.

Cash was tight, as always, and though I'd been on my own rush of late (not the least of which is the Poker Dome thing) but I was still one good score away from making the trip. A couple of those juicy freerolls over at ended in frustration, especially one where I crashed out on the bubble with an average-sized stack when a top-20 stack called my all-in push on the turn. I had K-Q, the board was Q-J-10-7 with two clubs after the turn, and I had this opponent well enough marked to be sure that he was on a baby pair --- maybe 7-7, but not likely, or the flush draw, despite the fact that I'd denied his odds to chase with a healthy bet on the flop. (A big hand like A-K or A-Q he would have bet himself, along with a two-pair holding or other made straight.) Sure enough, he called my push for half his chips and presented the J-4 of clubs, then hit his garbage-y, fourth-nut flush on the river. Grumble, grumble. Gnash teeth. Slap monitor.

Dream wistfully of the chance to play in the blogger tourney (already done by then, of course), of meeting some people who have been very good to me and have injected some life into my renewed writing career, and of writing a few of those pieces I had planned. But just dream.

And log off.

But if I must tell a bad-beat tale, rest assured that there's more to the story. I turned on the other computer, the Hewlett-Packard Pavilion bomber on my right that runs Windows '98 and only about a third of the poker sites where I have accounts. Only a day or two earlier, Party Poker had dropped one of those "free $40" thingies into my account, and 400 hands later, that $40 was $75 and clear of other play-through requirements. I did the what-the-hell thing, and tried for a last-gasp score. It was $75 of found money, right?

(1) I tried a $22 shootout, and got shot out right quick. Haw-hee again.

(2) I tried one of the plain ol' $10+1 MTTs, and went nowhere in that one, too.

(3) I saw a late-night listing for another $22-entry event, a 7-stud tourney with $6,000 guaranteed in the prize pool. I tried that one, too.

And I took second in the durned thing, despite it being the first stud tourney I'd played in months. $1,078 and a miracle of timing. Party Poker just gave me a grand, quite literally for nothing.

Could I make last-gasp connections on Monday? Nope... too little, too late. But sometimes the hoped-for happens, if not exactly how we we envision. I wished very hard to make it Vegas this year, and out of nowhere came the Poker Dome miracle and a run of small-tournament successes that'll let me make the trip --- not quite the trip I expected, but nonetheless a make-giddy trip for a donkey-stakes player like me. The plans are coming together, and I now plan on being in Vegas beginning the 25th. My press credentials have come through, too, so I'll do the writer thingy through the 27th on a good series of WSOP-atmosphere and satellite pieces. On the 28th I'll move over to Caesar's and enjoy the other side of the coin, culminating in the Poker Dome experience on the 29th, flying back out on the 30th. It turns out that the episode I'll be on will be the first one to be filmed in the now-completed Dome, rather than the temporary studio at Harrah's that was necessitated by, if I remember correctly, ongoing construction-permit snafus.

While I missed the blogger tourney, there are a bunch of you that will still be in Vegas when I arrive, and I'd love the chance to say hi while I'm in town. I'm sure I'll recognize a couple of faces at the Rio, but anyone else, just drop me an e-mail and let me know.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bodog Followup

As you know, I recently detailed how the antics of Calvin Ayre's Bodog machine managed to have a news piece of mine removed from another location on the web. I've done more digging into the backstory of the Bluemoon/Bodog/Fox Sports Net legal situation, and I'd like to do some connect-the-dots commentary here, to explain what it is about the developments in the case that seems to have angered the Bodog camp and put them on the defensive.

As reported over at PokerBiz411 and other sources, the addition of Fox Sports Net as a second defendant in BlueMoon's amended complaint seems to have added a twist to the situation not fully explained elsewhere, at least in layman's terms. If I interpret the meaning of the "joint and several liability" clause as it's described in these other pieces --- and I Am Not A Lawyer, so take this as my opinion, and nothing else --- it seems that if a judgment was granted in favor of Bluemoon, then Bluemoon could (after appeals ad infinitum, of course) collect the judgment in its entirety from Fox Sports Net and leave it up to FSN to try to collect Bodog's share of the judgment from Bodog in turn.

Of course, Bodog is offshore, so they still wouldn't have to pay off the judgment as decreed in an American court. Would this leave Fox Sports Net holding the bag? That's the possibility.

Now ask yourselves this: Would Fox Sports Net (or any other network), thus having been burnt by Bodog, then be willing to run more programming that promotes Bodog's interests?

That's my read on it --- Bodog turns out to be not quite as immune to the U.S system as they think. Bodog may be in Costa Rica, but their success is dependent upon being able to aggressively market the United States. Should Bodog's planned publicity and marketing avenues be closed off to them, then it's a far harsher slap of finanacial reality.

One of the things I picked up on as I researched the Bluemoon complaints is that Bluemoon seems to assert that entire passages of text --- as excerpted from Bodog's marketing materials for the "Calvin Ayre Wild Card Poker" show, were lifted virtually verbatim from Bluemoon's proposal and pre-production materials. I don't say aye or nay; I merely note that if such is indeed the case, then the combination of laziness/stupidity by the Bodog person or people who didn't bother to check for the original source is... well... astounding. Let's not call it laziness or stupidity. Let's just chalk it up to chutzpah, as we consider the source.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Make Room on the Poker Dome Bus, Jen

A wild day and long night at Poker Base Haley, that's for sure.

Saturday's unplanned poker marathon began with a handful of SNGs at, waiting for the big event of the day --- the Blogger Poker Tour Championship --- to begin. To say I was pumped for the event would be a disappointment; to say I played well would be a clear misstatement. I went out just as the blinds became bothersome, and my KK was trapped by a set. Rock and a hard spot. I Go Home Now.

My sincere congratulations go out to all the winners... and indeed to all the qualifiers, just for being part of the fun. I see Ohio Mike has a nice writeup already, and I'm sure others are out there, too. And again, I'd like to thank for running this promotion, It's just one of many reasons that they've earned my continuing business, and why I finally decided to take the plunge and put up the banner over on the left, despite my staunch independence on most matters. They've been good to me, and I recommend them to others as well.

As for me, I had that emptiness inside that a big disappointment so often brings. I logged off for a while, had a beer, and had a couple of nearby friends join me to sit outside and watch this suburb's July 4th 1st fireworks... literally across the street. It was a fun if unordinary suburban display, accompanied by the standard background wail of frightened babies and agitated car alarms. Being accosted by two young Mormon women doing their missionarily duties, as I sat under a tree waiting for my friends, was just a bonus.

Back inside, I fired up two or three sites, including Mansion Poker. A couple of weeks ago, I'd told the KAP guys that I'd look stuff over and do a review of sorts on it for them --- even if sometimes my reviews aren't necessarily the type of commentary best suited for KAP's business and affiliate-link stuff. You need only look at my recent experiences with Bodog to understand why I choose to remain as independent as I do. Rest assured that you won't be seeing any Bodog banners here.

As for Mansion Poker, KAP and I have like-minded interests --- seeing how Mansion's unique promotions work, checking out the site's traffic, getting a feel for the software. They have some nice value-added tourneys, though my first two tries at the PokerDome thing were beyond frustrating. In both cases the entire Mansion system crashed --- the second wasting a good two hours of my play --- and when they finally got the system up and running, the PokerDome qualifiers I'd been in had been wiped from the board. Trust me, I really do not care about the one-penny entry fee, but investing hours in something that didn't run to fruition was a bad use of even this nickel-and-dimer's time. Per a response I received from Mansion's customer support (and they were prompt in their replies), a new series of freerolls for a British newspaper had repeatedly stressed some system and server capabilities. Here's hoping they've fixed the problems; judging from the numbers Jen Leo reported in her fun tale, traffic has tripled or better in the last couple of weeks. Despite that, with 388 runners and a promotional prize valued at $7,000 and the chance to swing at those big bucks, it's still a monster value.

But I still needed to play one of these PokerDome things to completion, for the sake of writing a first-person-experience post, if nothing else. And when I fired up the software, there was another Dome qualifier only minutes from starting.

Here's my penny, Mansion. Let's fire it up and try again.

A long, long four-and-a-half hours later:

I'll offer some of the highights in a bit, in one of these here forii where I post. Right now the Mansion software seems to indicate that I'll be on the July 29th taping, and I haven't received any followup yet. All I can say is that I was way calm when we reached the final table. I knew I was going to take the thing down, and I then had a run of cards that basically wrecked that final nine... including KK and AA twice each, all holding up. In the end, I was just mopping up the pieces.

I'm beat today, after two tough tourneys. I'm busy in a couple of last-gasp chances to earn enough scratch to get to Vegas for the blogger festivities, longer shot though it seems to be. It looks like I'll now be making a wonderful trip anyway --- thank you, Mansion Poker! --- but I'd still like to do the other as well.