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High On Poker

Old Habits

July 10th, 2018
It’s amazing how easy it is to fall into old patterns. When online poker effectively died in the US, I found myself with a lot more free time.  I started to play more video games, do more art, and my home was well attended. Then something happened.

Dave Roose of many a poker trip texted me about his friend’s online game. $40 buy-in paid via a third party system to correspond with “play money” tournaments on Pokerstars. The group ballooned to 30 or so members but games rarely got more than 10 and sometimes we could not reach the requisite 5. Like any home game, though, it had its own momentum. Early on, games started once or twice a week. Then people got the poker bug and there were stretches of nightly games for a week or two, sometimes with 15 players and enough rebuys for 23 total buy-ins. Inevitably though, players either realized they weren’t winning, got bored, or took it for granted that a game would always be available, and the game dried up. Lately, it’s been hard to get a game going more than once a week, if that.

Unfortunately, I had caught the bug for poker again, so when the home-online game began to dry up, I found myself with an itch but no scratch. I was concerned about choosing a random poker site because of what happened with the UIGEA and concerns that anyone in the market would be a two bit operation that would abscond with the funds. But then I learned from a group chat with some poker bloggers (former poker bloggers?) that they were playing on a new site without any issues. I was very uncertain of real money poker post-UIGEA, but the new site had a weird loophole system built into its funding scheme and used a legitimate third-party fund transfer service that, at the very least, I knew was legit. I attempted it cautiously, expecting there to be exorbitant fees or cash out issues, but after the first successful deposit and withdrawal, I was off to the races.

Since then, my play is practically daily again. I’ve also had solid results playing mostly SNGs and MTTs at the $20 to $50 buyin range. I’m still waiting for the other foot to drop. The sites payment processor changed, for example, so I did a new withdrawal to see if the change signaled a death spiral akin to the older sites post UIGEA. Fortunately, it all worked thus far and I’m playing with profits.

I find myself of two minds about my re-entrance to online poker. In moments like this or when I’m simultaneously playing two MTTs, doing dishes and listening to a podcast, I tend to wonder how healthy this is. I love the game with a passion, but is playing nightly healthy, mentally? When I used to think of going pro, the thing that stopped me was the reality that even when I’m ostensibly cool and collected, my mood can be affected by my results or play. I’ve had many a night lying in bed stewing over a bad call or beat. But most of the time, I’m happy to have my favorite pastime back. One in which I can exercise my brain, my need for competition, and perhaps most important for making it feel worthwhile, win money. That money aspect cannot be overlooked. I’m on a good run. I have returned to a place where I legitimately feel better than most players or fields with the results to confirm it. It’s easy to fool oneself when playing poker, blaming losses on bad luck and wins on skill, even if the reverse is true. But my consistent success against large and small fields has reminded me that I do have a mind for this game, even if the game is a fickle bitch.

So, for now, I will continue my poker binge.

Until next time, make mine poker!

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