For the last five years, wifey Kim and I have traveled to Cape May, New Jersey with our friends Mori and Genny for a summer vacation. In the first year, we merely stopped there on our way down the East Coast. The next year, we stayed for a week. After that, we stayed in a 3-bedroom, 2-bath apartment of sorts in a B&B-looking house with Mori, Genny, their daughter and our son. Since the four adults get along so well and the kids are the same age, its an ideal scenario.
This year, I traveled with an iPad and iPhone, but no laptop. My laptop crapped out on me months ago and I never replaced it, since I do not use one with any frequency. On day 2 of the trip, I realized I was in goddamn New Jersey, one of three states that offer regulated online poker. I had an account set up years ago at a couple of sites, and when I logged into one using my iPad, I found $160 waiting from me from last year.
From then on, I played a little bit, almost every night. Not too much, since we were with other people and I wanted to be sociable, but enough that I was probably less sociable than I should have been. Fortunately, my friends and wife understand me and there were no issues with my play.
The highlight came on day 3 when I placed 2nd out of 49 players in a tournament for $200 or so. The rest of the time, I mostly played SNGs and some very ineffective ring games. For the week, I was up only $40 or so, but it was better than being down that amount.
I have a couple of observations about online poker in NJ, most of which is not pretty. I was surprised at how hard it was to find a game. This is obviously due to the limited player base in NJ, but disappointing nonetheless. A 6-person SNG at normal stakes can take a long time to get started, so it was near impossible to plan my sessions, because I could be waiting 30 minutes or more before an SNG starts. I even had trouble finding a cash game once. I imagine if the site could take on a larger player base, like TonyBet Poker, this problem would quickly evaporate.
The added problem is that when poker is not available due to a smaller player base, those with the gambling bug may be tempted to click on the little link to the online casino, where you can lose your money much faster with significantly reduced skill elements. So, the lower player base may be funneling people to a more profitable part of the online gaming market, to the casino’s benefit and player’s detriment. It’s not even like they offer sports betting, like TonyBet does, so you are stuck with electronic slots and table games that can go very fast.
Finally, while I was glad to be able to log on and play on my iPad and iPhone, the software is far from ideal. Once you are in a game, it is good enough, but I could not get a grasp on whether it was possible or feasible to play multiple tables, I could not figure out how to unregister once you register from a tournament and close out the tournament’s lobby, and several times, I could not even log in. I had to literally uninstall and reinstall the app several times on both devices when it would randomly start working. I haven’t had a chance to download TonyBet poker software or the TonyBet Poker mobile app, but I have to imagine it is better than what I experienced.
The final thing that playing for a week made me realize is that online poker is a double-edged sword for me. On one hand, I like the freedom to play whenever and wherever I want. On the other hand, I forgot how the ups and downs of online poker can really affect the mental state of the player. Fortunately, I was able to take a step back and not let it affect me too much, but I did find myself thinking about it a bit too much (as in, “I hope the connectivity issues are resolved by tonight) and thinking about it a bit too much after (as in, lying in bed thinking, “I probably should’ve folded there”). But that’s all on me; it ain’t poker’s fault.
Until next time, make mine poker!