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.

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