I recently asked for suggestions from readers on how to solve the problem of wanting to play heads-up online SNGs with my nephew without somebody else grabbing one of the seats before we could both get it. There does not appear to be a good solution for Full Tilt Poker.
So instead I decided that the best approach would be to switch to a less heavily used site. But which one? UltimateBlecch and Absolute Puker were out of the question, for obvious reasons. I would have considered Cake, but a recent post on Red Bull and Poker nixed that. Before you put any money on that site, be sure to read what Ted found when he tried to cash out. What they put you through and what they charge you is nothing short of obscene. I finally settled on Bugsy's Club. It's a perfectly decent place, though a little clunky and inelegant in execution, and it's nearly dead. That's not what I want most of the time I play online, but for this specific purpose, that's a highly desirable quality.
Ben created an account there, with the fine screen name "IrwinMoneybags." Bugsy's Club doesn't have a super-easy funding mechanism like PokerStars does (see here); you basically have to use an e-wallet service or buy a specific type of gift card. Rather than bother with that, I just transferred a few bucks to Moneybags, the ability to do which is apparently a brand-new feature in the site's software.
An advantage of Bugsy's Club, I discovered, is that they offer heads-up SNGs as low as $1+.05, perfect for playing for funsies. A disadvantage is that there is no player search feature. (I confirmed this by writing to their customer support help desk when I couldn't find such an option. The response verified that they don't offer that function, but hope to implement it with their next software upgrade.) However, the site is so small that it's not hard to find somebody. Every table has a name, and there aren't many of any particular type. Right now I see that under the "heads up" tab there are two NLHE tables each at $1, $3, and $5. So I just took a seat in one of the cheapos and told Ben via IM the table name, and he took the other seat. There was not another soul in sight on the prowl for these games, so virtually no risk of facing an interloper. It's a pretty good solution to the problem.
So hear this, Full Tilt and PokerStars (because I'm sure they hang on my every word): You're missing out on big action by not offering a mechanism by which one can selectively choose one's opponents for a heads-up SNG grudge match. Me and my nephew are taking our $2 elsewhere!
We played two games last night--split decision, making us 3-3 overall so far.
Oh, another slight problem with Bugsy is that the hand histories will not import into any online hand displayer/converter that I have tried. Which means that if you want to see the sick call Ben made against what I thought was a well-timed bluff, you'll just have to slog through the hand history text the old-fashioned way:
Hand Number: 558,325,743
Table Number: 7,865,205
Event Name: Sit & Go Table Hotsy (#4865388)
Event Started: Monday November 24th 6:50:35 PM CST 2008
Event Type: Real Money Heads-Up Satellite
Event Buy-In: $1+$0.05
Total Prize Pool: $2
Game: No Limit Hold 'em
Level II: 50/100 Blinds (25 Minimum Chip)
Starting Chips: 10,000
Seat 1 : Rakewell starts with 9,550
Seat 2 : irwinmoneybags starts with 10,450
Seat 1 : Rakewell has the dealer button
DEALING HOLE CARDS
DEALING FLOP [ 6c 4d 6s ]
irwinmoneybags bets 575
Rakewell calls 575
DEALING TURN [ 2s ]
irwinmoneybags bets 875
Rakewell raises 2,225 to 3,100
irwinmoneybags calls 2,225
DEALING RIVER [ 7c ]
irwinmoneybags bets 1,750
Rakewell calls 1,750
irwinmoneybags cards were Qs 7h
Rakewell cards were 7d Js
irwinmoneybags wins 11,350 with two pair, sevens and sixes
SUMMARY Hand Ended: Monday November 24th 7:05:45 PM CST 2008
Total Pot: 11,350 Board: [ 6c 4d 6s 2s 7c ]
Seat 1 : Rakewell (small blind) lost 5,675, showed hand [ 7d Js ]
Seat 2 : irwinmoneybags (big blind) bet 5,675, won 11,350, net +5,675, showed hand [ Qs 7h ]
I still can't decide if his call of my bluff-raises on the flop and turn there were Stu-Ungar-brilliant* or completely idiotic. Either way, it worked, and put him a long way towards winning the match, and I had to take the next one in order to keep even. Anyway, it was fun, and it appears that Bugsy's Club will be the new home of the series of great uncle-nephew heads-up challenges. I shall keep you posted as I proceed to crush him like a bug! :-) *Perhaps Ungar's most famous sick call was this hand, as recounted by James McManus in this article:
After his victory in '90 and a dominant run in the live games, Matloubi
began to be spoken of as "the new Stuey Ungar." Ears burning, Stuey challenged
Mansour to a series of heads-up, winner-take-all matches for $100,000 each
during the Four Queens Poker Classic in February of '91. Brimming with
confidence, Mansour happily put up $50,000 and sat down to play. After a seesaw
battle between two aggressive champions, Stuey had about $60,000 when he opened a pot for $1,600. (The blinds were $200-$400.) Mansour called with 5-4 offsuit.
On a rainbow flop of 7-3-3, Mansour checked to Stuey, who bet $6,000. Mansour
called again. Both players checked the king on the turn. When a queen appeared
on the river, Mansour had missed his draw. Even so, he smelled weakness in Stuey
and moved all in for more than twice the size of the pot. Stuey stared him down
for 10 or 12 seconds. "You have 5-4 or 6-5," he coolly announced. "I'm gonna
call you with this," though all he could show Mansour was 10 high.
When he saw the two hands, even Phil Hellmuth was startled. "Wow, what an
unbelievable call! Stuey can't even beat a jack-high bluff." Mansour later said
he felt "like a bulldozer just ran over me. I still love Stuey, but what the
heck is going on!" As Barry Greenstein and others have noted, Stuey "was a hard
player to bluff, since he was an expert at figuring out when his opponent was on
a draw that didn't get there." The extremely narrow range of hands Stuey had put
Mansour on, 5-4 or 6-5, were just about the only two he could beat in a
showdown, so it took total confidence in his read to call a bet of that size.
"When a guy makes a call like that against you," Matloubi admitted to Hellmuth,
"you just give up. It's like he's taken all of the wind out of your sails. I
decided that I couldn't play any more heads-up no-limit hold'em, at least not
that day, if not forever." Stuey's defeat of Mansour and the way he'd
accomplished it cemented his reputation as the game's reigning no-limit genius.