Sunday, April 25, 2010

Three online surprises

I have accounts at nearly every online poker site, or on at least one member of each network. There's a bunch of 'em--more than I can easily keep track of. The other day I was rummaging through the list, trying to figure out on which sites I still had some money that was sitting unused. I found that I had $14 on Bodog, which I haven't visited in many, many months. A tournament for $10+$1 was just starting, so I decided to join it and use most of the money that way.

I didn't cash, due to a bad beat and cooler one-two punch, but I was impressed with how awful the play was--much, much worse than I see when buying into tournaments of similar price on Full Tilt or Stars. Players were open-shoving for 25-50 big blinds, calling all-in with second pair/no kicker against opponents showing obvious megastrength , and other such mindbogglingly bad moves. It occurred to me that maybe I should try it again sometime soon and see if that was just an anomaly (although I recall making a similar observation a couple of years ago, which was the last time I did much of anything with Bodog).

Last night at about 4:00 a.m. I couldn't sleep, so went on with my task of looking through my online accounts. I found that I had over $100 on Doyle's Room. Then I remembered that a year or so ago I spent a few hours playing limit hold'em cash games there and raking in the bucks, because the players were so horrible. I had then moved on to other things and kind of forgot about it. But last night, as luck would have it, they were just about five minutes into a $10+$1 tourney, so, sleepless as I was, I decided to play. Let me tell you, these people made the Bodog players look like grandmasters. Most of them were Russian, I discovered by mousing over their screen names--probably an artifact of the odd time of day I was playing. On about my third hand, I flopped a full house, overbet the pot on every street, and got paid off all the way by somebody with top pair/no kicker/no redraw. That's how bad we're talking about here. It was not an isolated example.

Tonight I have a couple of hours to spend before I go to bed, so I decided to see what tournaments I could find at Doyles Room. They had one starting at 10:30 p.m., about 30 minutes from when I was looking. That seemed fine, so I registered, then turned on a Netflix movie while I waited. I kept the tournament lobby open, and was surprised to find that I continued to be the only name on the list. (Last night there was a prize pool guarantee that meant a substantial overlay; none in tonight's game.) About two minutes before the start, finally a second name appeared. The lobby continued to show three spots paying, however:

I was kind of curious what would happen if nobody else registered. The tourney info said the minimum number was 10. I had never seen an online MTT cancelled due to lack of registrants.

Here's what happens, at least at this site:

Notice the word "cancelled" under the main tournament heading. Strangely, though, nothing popped up announcing this, telling me I'd get a refund, or anything else. I wondered if they might keep accepting players for the first 15 minutes as they would if it were running, since our two names were still showing as registered. Nope. After a few minutes, the tourney lobby closed. When I checked the cashier, my account had been credited back with the entry fee.

I have a vague recollection that back in the 1960s and 70s there was a meme going around about "What if they held a war and nobody came?" Well, now I know what happens when they hold an online tournament and nobody comes.

Failing that, I decided to try Bodog again. I knew I would have to throw some money on there, but it seemed worth it to find out if the play was really as bad as my sample from a couple of days ago. The options didn't look promising, though. Click2Pay and eWalletXpress were the ones I recognized. I have had an account at the former, but when I moved from Minnesota to Nevada it got all screwed up with the change in address and banks. I got tired of trying to straighten it out, and abandoned it. I'm pretty sure that I did something with the latter company once, but don't remember any of the details, and didn't feel like investigating it. Then there is a "Rapid Transfer" option, which apparently involves going to a "retail outlet near you." No way I want to fuss with that. FTP and Stars have spoiled me with their one-click deposit methods.

The only other option was credit card. I thought this was pretty pointless, since U.S. credit card companies have refused to fund online gaming accounts for many years now. I remember being able to do it once, when I first started up with Party Poker in maybe 2004, but all subsequent attempts have just been rejected. But, what the heck, my current Visa card is just a few months old, through a local credit union, and maybe it would work. I gave it about a 1% chance.

Surprise, surprise, surprise--it went through in a matter of seconds! I don't know how or why, but it worked. My hunch is that Bodog is using some intermediary company that disguises to the bank what the transaction is actually for, though it's a transparent process for the user.

My third surprise, though, was discovering that I hadn't needed to reload after all. After the credit went through, it showed me having $114, rather than the $103 that I expected. In other words, I still had the same $14 in the account that I had had before playing the tourney earlier in the week. How could that be? Well, with a little poking around, I discovered that I had about $90 in "tournament credits" in addition to the $14. (I confess to having been so focused on the funding mechanism options that I didn't notice either of these numbers, even though they were staring me right in the face. D'oh!) I used to do a bunch of sit-and-go tournaments on Bodog, back before I moved to Nevada, and I guess that built up some credit, which has sat unused ever since.

Apparently my recent tournament entry was done with this credit rather than with my money. To test this theory, I went to a tournament lobby where resitration was open, clicked "register," and sure enough, the default option it gave me was to use the tournament credit rather than my money. The other day when I noticed a tournament was starting, I obviously didn't pay attention, and just clicked "OK" without really noticing what it was asking me. I assumed it was using most of my remaining cash, but instead it was generously letting me use my accumulated credits. I've really got to start paying more attention to stuff....

So those were my three surprises tonight: (1) An online tourney cancellation due to lack of interest, (2) you can still fund online poker, at least at Bodog, with an ordinary credit card, and (3) I can enter quite a few $10 tournaments there without having to spend any actual money, and if I make a decent cash in one of them, I'll just take back the $100 I sent them tonight.

I'll still be doing the bloggery things on Full Tilt over the next few weeks, trying to earn/win a WSOP seat, and probably still my occasional HORSE things on Stars, but otherwise I think that my online poker for the foreseeable future is going to be shifting to Doylesroom and Bodog. We're not talking a lot of it here--a couple of low-stakes tournaments a week is about all it amounts to. But who knows? Maybe I'll revisit playing cash games at these places, too, as they have been just revoltingly soft on my prior tries.

1 comment:

John Browning said...

Actually, it's not true that ALL cards (only most) are blocked from gambling sites. Most of the time, small local banks and local credit unions don't bother implementing this feature of their VISA/MC Debit cards. I'm not sure what the reasoning is for this, but it seems to be this way for a majority of small financial institutions.

And if it works at one site, it should be able to work at all of them. (I recall using mine for sportsbook, bodog, partypoker, and pokerstars).