Jun 112010

Since the software update earlier this week I’ve noticed that the “Sit Out Next Big Blind” option has been broken on the Party Poker client. Instead of waiting until the next time you’re the big blind it sits out immediately, a minor annoyance but I thought I’d get in touch with support and make sure it wasn’t just me:


Since the last software update it appears that the “Sit out next big blind” option is broken. When checked it sits immediately rather than waiting for the big blind.


It didn’t take long to get a response:

Dear Simon,

Thank you for contacting Customer Service.

Our technical team is already aware of the issue and is currently working towards resolving it as soon as possible.

I apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding regarding the same.

In case you have further questions, we will be more than happy to assist you. We are available 24/7 by e-mail and phone.

Thank you for choosing us as your online gaming site.


Customer Service

As a software engineer by day I can understand this bug slipping through the cracks… I’ve seen much worse. It was really just a chance for me to test out the response time of Party Poker’s customer service as I’ve never had to get in touch with them before. The good news is I’m happy to report, they are quick and friendly, much better than the last time I had to get in touch with the support on a large site that make or may not go by the acronym start with the letter “FTP”.

Now let’s see how long it takes them to fix the issue…

UPDATE: Logged in to play tonight and it’s all fixed. No software update required.

Aug 282007

Have you seen the new HellKat sit and go tournaments over at Party Poker? They are just like regular SNG’s only they have a maximum time which the game can last (5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes at this stage though the filters in the client hint that there may be longer games to come), at the end of which the prize pool is divided up amongst the top 3 chip stacks. As an added twist some of the games have a random finishing time (within 10% of the scheduled finishing time) that make it more difficult to predict how many hands you have remaining.

My initial thought on these games is “what a crap shoot” with most of the tournaments I’ve been watching quickly turning into all-in fests. However, it does seem there could be some interesting strategies to be tried. Especially in the later stages of the game. I’ve only played in one so I’ll reserve judgment on the idea as a whole until I’ve researched things a bit more, in the meantime consider this final hand from the HellKat tournament I just played in:

Let me set the scene, there are five players remaining:

SB has 670
BB has 5,160
I’m UTG with 3,720
UTG+1 has 7,730
and the button has 2,720

Blinds are 150/300 but that is almost completely irrelevant as the HellKat timer is at 14:45 and this is a fixed time tournament capped at 15 minutes. This is our last hand.

The cards are dealt and I find:

: :

What do you do here?

With my timer already beeping and all eyes on me I quickly consider the current state of the game, my options, my opponents likely moves and how this all affects me and my money chances. I do all this in the few scarce seconds you get to think in these things and then I fold. As the play moves around the table I double check the numbers in my head, I think I got this right…

  1. I’m third. The only way this can change is if the current first or second place player doubles up fourth place in this hand.
  2. First place will not play this hand as fourth place is going all-in regardless and if first loses he’s back to second.
  3. Second place will not call the all-in as a loss will put him out of the money.
  4. Since fourth has to push to have any chance of making the money and since I’m around 60/40 give or take against most random hands here it’s a big gamble to try and grab second place.

I’m convinced in this specific situation that folding is correct (and should have been done blind, though AK made it that much more interesting) however, if fourth and fifth place have more than 1860 in chips (half my stack) each here I have to play and in that case we would have been all-in preflop and I would have had a race on my hands for a chance at second place or nothing! That’s what these tournaments can come down to and while it’s interesting to try and run these scenarios in your head while under pressure at the table as the final minute ticks by on a clock it remains to be seen whether or not this type of game suits my style.

As far as a way to kill a quick 15 minutes goes though I can think of worse things to do.

Oh, by the way… the board after fourth and fifth place played the dead rubber of a final hand:

: : : : :

I’d have rivered the win and taken second. C’est la vie!

 Posted by at 2:57 am
Jun 072006

I’ve been so sidetracked with limit hold’em ring games lately that I’ve been neglecting my sit and go’s (SNGs) which is a shame because single table no-limit hold’em SNGs are my favourite kind of poker. I enjoy them because they give you a chance to play with and study ten opponents from the start of a tournament until the end, they really give you the opportunity to play the players much more than you get to in a ring game.

The other thing I love about them is that each one is different and you need to be able to adjust your game accordingly, there’s no getting up and finding another table or seat. You’re stuck there until the end and it’s adapt or bust… fantastic!

Since it had been over a month since my last one I decided to jump into one this evening over at Party Poker. I expected that since I hadn’t played one in a while I would be a bit rusty, this combined with the fact that this was my first time playing in a tournament on Party made me want to start out small so I signed up for a $6 game and waited for my opponents to arrive.

Arrive they did and we got started, first hand of the game went to the player to my directly to my left who took around 500 chips off the player directly to my right who was chasing a gut shot draw (against a big raise) vs a set of tens. I knew I was in for some fireworks!

Second hand in and I’m dealt in late position (one off the button):


Blinds are at the starting 20/40 and the under the gun player min raises to 80 and two players before me call. I don’t like these callers and raise it up to 200 in an attempt to isolate. The player on the button calls as does the small blind and one other player, we’re four handed to the flop:


Raggedy flop, no help to me at all but the action is checked to me and I decide to try a continuation bet. Half the pot feels right here so I make it 500, the player on the button smooth calls and the other two players fold. We see the turn:


The pot is 2080, I’m out of position against a player I have only seen play one hand in my life where he chased an unlikely gut shot against the odds. I have no idea what he would have smooth called with on the flop, but I like my chances that I’m now winning with my TPTK. I have 1300 in chips and he has 820, given the size of the pot I decide to put him all-in. He calls and shows:


Nice! Until, the river:


Giving him two pair and leaving me as the new table short stack with 480 in chips. Ouch, not the position I wanted to be in at this early stage. However, instead of tilting and blowing of the last of my chips on some crappy holding I decide to grin, bear it and do everything I can to make a comeback. So I start folding… and folding… players start dropping out but due to the blinds my stack has shrunk down to 390 and the blinds have already jumped up to 50/100. Things were looking grim when under the gun I was dealt:


But how to play them? An all-in bet probably would have sufficed here as my stack wasn’t really going to intimidate anyone but that would have been the obvious short stack move. I decide to min raise with the idea that I’ll either call a re-raise or push all-in on the flop. So, I raise. My old friend on the left (let’s call him lefty) calls, the short stack on the button re-raises all-in for another 64 the blinds fold and I call as does lefty. We see a flop:


I move all-in for another 127 and lefty calls. We turn them over:





The turn is the last ace and my opponents are drawing dead. I (almost) triple up to 1200 in chips but am still the short stack but at least now I have something to play with and it seems I’ve gained a little respect as the next hand I steal the blinds with a 3X raise holding JJ. I go back into fold mode and just as the blinds go up to 100/200 in the big blind I’m dealt:


Four players call around to me (including my good mate lefty) and with a stack of only 900 left in front of me I’m left with a decision. With four players AQo is vulnerable, I have to raise which pretty much commits me for the rest of the pot but I decide not to push all-in just yet. I make it 600 to go which lefty calls (I should mention he’s the chip leader right now – somehow!) as does one other player. My raise sucessfully knocked out one of the limpers and I’ve still got 500 up my sleeve to make a play on the flop:


The pot is 2000, I have 500 and the second nut flush draw. I’m 90% sure lefty will call me with anything and I run the risk of either of my opponents holding at least a king but I’m pot committed, I have to push and hope no one has the ace of spades. Sure enough, lefty calls, the other player folds and lefty shows:


For a pair of nines (a typical lefty holding ;)) which is excellent news me as it gives me 5 more outs (any non spade ace or a queen – the ace of spades was already an out) We see a turn:


The river is a jack and I take down a pot worth almost 3000 to move from short stack to second position. I then hit some nice cards and lefty doubled me up again my KK vs his 99 and I was the chip leader into the final four.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the details, this post is already way too long but to cut a long story short I came second (and more importantly I beat lefty – he went out in third). I would have loved first but lefty near doubled up my heads up opponent leaving me out stacked around 10 to 1 (I’d lost a few chips by this point due to the large blinds – 600/1200).

At the end of the day though it was a great feeling to come back from down and out with ten players remaining to take second. Just shows that the old saying “All you need is a chip and chair” is true – if you’re calm and patient enough.

Thanks for reading, if you got this far I’m impressed!

As a side note, if you don’t already have an account over at Party Poker use the code “SIMONPOKER” when you sign-up to let them know I sent you and get an extra $25 on your first deposit. If you use this code I get a bit of cash too which helps me keep this site on-line (might also help buy me a beer which is always appreciated!).

 Posted by at 11:41 pm
Mar 082006

While I was on my unscheduled break from on-line poker I received an e-mail from Peter S in London, UK who’s interested in getting started playing on-line poker for real money. Like most players entering the world of real money on-line poker he’s a little worried about the integrity of the on-line game. Hi concernt are not about the integrity of on-line poker rooms themselves, but more about the other players playing at these rooms. Some experienced friends of his claim they see a lot of collusion in high stakes games on-line and he was interested to hear whether I’d seen any of this happening myself.

Although I know about the possibility of other players colluding in on-line games, I’ve never really been that overly concerned with it. I have never had any reason to suspect that it has been occurring on the tables that I’ve played and have always believed that if I ever saw anything suspicious that I could just report it to my poker room, get up and move tables as one of the major advantages of playing on-line is the sheer number of different sites and tables to choose from.

My advice to Peter was just to be vigilant, not to play if things didn’t feel right and that it’s probably not that big a problem at the micro limits anyhow. I left it at that and didn’t really give it another thought until today when I listened to episode 64 of Card Club where the guys were talking about a player “ZeeJustin” who was allegedly caught entering multiple accounts into tournaments on Party Poker. These were high stakes games and his accounts would, according the the 2+2 thread here, often end up playing at the same table. The story is a long one and I recommend if you’re interested you go read it yourself, but to cut it short his accounts have been suspended and his funds (rumoured to be in the 6 figure mark) have been seized as per Party Poker terms and conditions).

In my opinion the thing that is so scary about this case is that the alleged cheater was a respected member of the on-line poker community and widely regarded as being a skilled player. Prior to this case I’d always thought of potential cheaters as players who just couldn’t master the game, losing players trying to win anyway they could. I was of the opinion that even when cheating, these players would still have trouble turning a profit against anyone with any experience. In this case we have an experienced, profitable player getting greedy and trying to cheat honest players out of their hard earned bank rolls.

So where does this leave the average player trying to learn the game? It’s hard enough learning how to become a profitable poker player without the risk of greedy, immoral, cheats trying to eat into our profits with these kinds of scams.

Well, the positive thing here is that Party Poker has detected and taken action against the cheating player. This is a good thing, but how many poker sites out there aren’t as proactive in detecting the cheats? Also, how many cheaters are out there avoiding detection? Unfortunately it’s unlikely anyone can come up with an accurate answer to these questions which is why as a poker community we need to be aware that these people are out there and educate ourselves in the methods they are using and how we can detect them.

I recommend all on-line poker players, whether new to the game or more experienced set aside sometime in their poker studies to look into ways players attempt to cheat at on-line poker. The best way to avoid the cheats is to be smarter than them, so educate yourself! Here’s some links to get you started:

Top 10 Ways to Avoid Poker Cheats – This is an excellent resource, I’ll be spending a bit of time trawling through all this information myself.

Player Cheating on www.onlinepokerfaq.com – Contains links to responses from some popular on-line poker rooms.

Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the state of cheating on-line. Have you had any experience with it directly? What do you look out for when playing? Leave a comment or drop me an e-mail!

 Posted by at 6:22 pm
Jan 272006

Tried out a new poker site today, wasn’t really looking for one but came across a free $10 (no deposit required) on VC Poker and thought I’d check it out.

My first impressions of this site are good, they offer a wide range of levels/tournaments in Hold’em, Omaha and Omaha H/L. What’s really interesting is the number of ultra cheap buy-in tournies, they have sit ‘n go’s starting from $0.10+$0.01 and multi table tournies in everyone’s price range! I can’t vouch for the competition, but at least you’ll be able to get plenty of practice in for practically nothing.

A word of warning though, watch out for the “speed” tournies, I accidentally signed up for one of these crazy games and was very surprised to see the blinds increasing every 3 minutes! Unless this is your idea of a fun poker game I recommend you stick to the normal speed tournaments.

Another thing I like about this site is the deeper stacks in standard tournies (2000 tournament chips compared the the normal 1500 or less).

Anyway, I’m off to check out the site a bit more and see if I can’t blow my free $10 on a few low limit tournaments. Any practice is good practice right?

BTW, to get the free $10 bonus enter “pokernews” under the “Promotions” section of the deposit screen in the cashier. If you’re wondering I don’t make any money off this code (in fact I’m probably making money for pokernews.com by promoting it), I’m just sharing it around ‘cos it’s a good deal!

 Posted by at 9:23 pm
Jan 172006

It’s a little out of my price range, but I just had to share the news that PokerRoom.com have launched a new daily tournament aimed at Australian players.

The “Aussie Daily” is a $50+$4 no-limit hold’em tournament and runs daily at 9pm ACT.

Being an Australian myself it’s great to see an on-line room taking notice of the Australian market. I only hope that others follow!

I thought I could resist, but no, I have to do it… Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

 Posted by at 5:33 pm
Jan 042006

In my post on December 13th (Change of Scenery) I mentioned that I’d started playing a few hands over at PokerStars, 3000 hands later I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the site.

At the time Chris mentioned that it was one of the toughest sites that he’d played on. So far I haven’t seen this myself but I have been exclusively playing 5c/10c limit which I think is a lot lower than the limits Chris plays in, I expect I’ll meet some tougher competition as I move up the limits or move into the no-limit games. I will admit though that you need to watch out for “rock gardens” (tables full of very tight, aggressive players) but most of the time there is plenty of easy money at the tables.

The site itself is nice, at first I didn’t like the table layout as much as Champs but it has grown on me over time and actually works very well, the lobby also is well laid out and it’s easy to find what you’re looking for.

The main selling point for me, however, is the sheer number of games and tables running at any given time, even during normally off-peak hours there is a staggering amount of choice.

So I guess you’re probably wondering how I’ve actually done in my time playing there? Well, here’s the stats:

# of hands: 3067
Hours: 53
BB/Hr: 4.66

So, I’m winning. This is a good thing, but I am still very new to the limit game and 3000 hands isn’t a huge sample to work with. I’ll be reevaluating things as I go, but for now I’m feeling good about Poker Stars…

 Posted by at 9:09 pm
Dec 132005

In my effort to practice my limit poker I’ve been searching for a site that runs more limit games, tonight I transferred half of my Poker Champs bankroll over to Poker Stars.

I chose Poker Stars because of the large amount of players/tables operating during peak Aussie times (i.e. offpeak everywhere else in the world).

Only downside is no deposit bonus, but at the levels I’m currently playing I wouldn’t be clearing one easily anyway. I’m going to move up a couple of limits before I become a “bonus whore”.

First impressions of the site are good, nice clean layout (once you turn of those annoying avatars), great selection of games, heaps of tournaments, around 5X the amount of players online compared to poker champs and best of all hand histories (if anyone affiliated with Poker Champs ever reads this – IMPLEMENT HAND HISTORIES!) meaning I can finally give Poker Tracker a run.

Will post my thoughts over the coming weeks as I get to know the site a bit better… stay tuned!

P.S. In all the excitement of work Christmas party hangovers I forgot to post “Joke of the Week” last week, I’ll make up for it this week… I hope :)

 Posted by at 9:25 pm
Dec 012005

I’ve recently been looking at expanding the number of on-line poker rooms I play at (currently I’m spending 100% of my time at Poker Champs). One reason is I just want to see what’s out there, the other is that I want a site that provides hand histories so I can start tracking my game a bit more closely (probably using some poker hand tracking software).

I’d played a bit of fun money recently on Absolute Poker and really liked the feel of their software but wasn’t that keen on the actual look, I think Poker Champs has spoilt me a little with their clean and simple interface… pictures of tables, cocktails etc. just don’t do it for me anymore!

I’m getting off track, the point of this post it to let you all know about the new skins site at Absolute Poker, there’s a whole range of skins from the clean and simple (my favourites) to the weird and wonderful. Also, until December 15th they are running competition where you can design your own skin for a chance to win $500.

To find the skins, head over to Absolute Poker and click on the “Table skins” link under the “Players Lounge” menu.

P.S. If you don’t already have an account with Absolute Poker I’d appreciate it if you signed up using one of the links from my site… it costs you nothing and you’ll be helping keep my blog up on the web :)

 Posted by at 8:27 pm