Well, I'm back on the horse again.
No, not heroin. I've never been hooked on that, but sometimes it feels as if poker might be just as addictive, and even more damaging financially. I mean, you can only shoot so much heroin into your arm at a time, but you can lose every penny you have, and then some, in less than a day of gambling.
Pokerstars introduced their home games, and it is genius. I spent a week recruiting new customers for them, revitalizing old customers, and depositing money into my long dormant account. The club is going great, and even though we paid over $50 in rake for three hours of poker last Wednesday, that's a little under $20/hour for a table, a dealer, and a bank to deal with the money so friends from all over the country can get together and play. I think it's worth it. Of course, now I have the poker bug again and have been playing a lot of online poker.
Well played Pokerstars, well played.
I've been playing on .10/.25 no-limit, 20-50BB fast tables. I think the play is actually worse at this level than at the lower blind tables I usually play at. Unfortunately, I've noticed a trend. There are hundreds of players at this level who buy in for the minnimum ($5) and wait wait wait, then go all-in pre flop no matter what position they are in or who has bet in front of them. They usually just pick up the blinds, but every once and awhile somebody calls. The players who shove usually have premium hands, but I have seen A-x a couple times. If they double up, they immediately leave the table. It's annoying and frustrating to play against players who use this no-skill, dishonorable strategy. If you call them, you know you're going to be coin flipping for half your stack (because like all good-hearted intelligent players, you've bought in for the max), and there is no way to get any action out of them unless it's pre-flop all-in.
I began to notice that a huge majority of these players were from China. Specifically Hu Nan, and Quizongh Houang (there is a chance I might be mispelling that. A 100% chance actually). Was it just that this strategy was wildly popular online, and since there were so many Chinese players it just looked like they were doing it the most, or is there some academy in those specific provinces with an Asian version of a Tony Robbins/Phil Gordon hybrid preaching to massive seminars, telling the emerging Chinese middle class that they can win big with the "Power of Min Buy-In Shoving!" I can just picture it now. A packed conference room at the Hu Nan Ramada by the airport, with hundreds of starry eyed poker wannabes furiously taking notes, as the guy with the headset microphone repeats the one, lame, simplistic mantra: "Buy in for the min, go all-in for the win" over and over and over. They probably hand out cheap plastic folders of "study materials" with their mascot, a cartoon Shaolin monk named Min By-Yen. They undoubtedly sell books in the lobby, but I can't see how they'd be longer than one page to explain their pathetic technique.
Or maybe it's a Chinese government scheme to exert even more power over the global economy. Maybe there are huge rows of pokerbot computers in a secret bunker in Xiang-Xhoung (again, with the spelling) province, where the world's wealth is converted to Yens, 20BB at a time.
Either way, the plethora of Chinese shove monkeys (that's not a racial slur, it's a poker slur) have made playing at these tables predictable and unenjoyable. I'm not surprised that next week Pokerstars is eliminating the 20-50BB tables at this level. If people are going to use this bullshit strategy, then they're going to have to do it at a higher level, where Pokerstars gets a bigger rake each time.
Well played Pokerstars, well played.