The Joys of Online Poker
By Keith 'The Camel' Hawkins / February 2005
I've racked my brains, but I must confess I cannot remember a time when every poker players' favourite thief of time first entered my life.
I certainly cannot recall what I used to used to do in the evenings. I probably did what most normal people do now. Down a couple of pints, buy a large doner with extra chili sauce and slob out in front of the telly watching a crap video.
But now there's no contest. Providing I'm not on my travels it is about 1-8 I'm sitting in my extra comfy leather swivel chair pitting my wits against various other saddos from around the world.
I've been an addict pretty much from day 1 of the internet poker boom. In those days it was basically just a two way choice between Planet Poker and Paradise Poker. I downloaded both and the superior software caused me to go with Paradise.
In those days it was purely limit holdem with no tournaments or sit and gos. The biggest game was $10-20. I used to spend many hours when I should have been working playing Erik123 (before he was internet poker's first zillionaire) heads up.
As time went by other sites joined the market. Bigger games started appearing. The choices of type of game on offer increased dramatically. Not just pot and no limit holdem were added to the portfolio but omaha, stud and various types of hi/lo.
I have always enjoyed tournaments more than cash games. And the superb software and excellent structures of Pokerstars (the tournament specialists at the time) lured me over.
So what are the particular pleasures of online poker that cause me to spend as much as 8 hours a day plying my trade?
Well, there is the obvious of course. Making a living without ever having to put on more than a pair of boxer shorts (I apologise unreservedly for putting the image of me in my boxers in your mind) let alone leave the front door.
But there are many others. Let me share a few secrets with you.
Winding up the obnoxious players is a favourite pastime of mine. Ashley Alterman told me he only used the player notes function for two reasons. If he knows the player IRL he writes their name down. If they behave badly at the table he notes down "arsehole". Then if he faces that opponent again sometime in the future he does his utmost to wind them up. It really is an excellent plan.
I find the obnoxious online players fall into three basic groups:
1. Whinging Scandanvians. The three 'Stars players who immediately spring to mind here are Nibbling, Riverloser and Mongeron. They find any reason apart from their own bad play to excuse a loss. Either their opponent made a mistake and got lucky or they claim the software is skewed in favour of others. I would bet good money it was a whinging Scandi who dubbed the site "Riverstars". Annoyingly they often hang around after being knocked out of a comp berating other players and being generally irritating.
2. Macho Young Americans. These guys (and I would guess it's almost always guys) think poker is a test of manhood. If you outdraw them in a pot or beat them in a heads up match they take it as an afront to their manhood. They immediately challenge you to a 5k heads up match despite the fact they only have $39.17 in their account.
3. The Generally Rude Dipstick (GRD). This species is found the world over. Aussies, Yanks, Brits, South Africans and Europeans all have their fair share of this breed. They abuse bad players. They swear and cuss. They call you every name under the sun. They want bad things to happen to you. A player once said to me "I hope you die of cancer" after I won a heads up match against him. The one unifying characteristic among all these GRDs is they wouldn't say boo to goose in real life, let alone call you unpleasant names.
Winding up the obnoxious player is great fun. After they've been outdrawn, be sure to say nh or well played to his opponent. Give them plenty of reason to doubt the honesty of the software. Say, for example, "I've never seen a hand like that in a B&M cardroom" when they lose a hand in unusual circumstances. And then just imagine them sitting in their Philadelphia home, steam coming out of their ears and trying desperately not to throw their keyboard out of the window...
Briefly, a few other of the extreme pleasures of online play:
The chance to do something else while you play. While I write this I am currently in 31st position from 207 players in a $55 NLHE Event on 'Stars. But, whatever your bag, there is of course something to interest you on the internet to read while you play. I'm told some people read about tropical fish, some play chess, some work out their NBA bets for the upcoming evening. It's even rumoured that if you look hard enough there is some porn on the internet too.
You'll have the opportunity to try out your dance celebrations when you outdraw a particularly obnoxious opponent. Believe me, it's about the only exercise I get these days!
You get the chance to really mess with other players heads. The other day I played a tournament on Garry Bush's account. Suddenly the tightest player in Europe was raising like a maniac. Players must have thought their notes were all wrong or Garry had been dealt the best run of cards of his life. Whatever, the trick worked and I came third in the tournament.
Finally, you get to vent your emotions like you never could in a cardroom. If you think Norbert from Wisconsin has played like a dummy, you can scream obscenties to your heart's content at him. You just might get some strange looks from the cat while you're doing it...
In short, online poker really is the nuts. And you'd be nuts not to have a go at it.
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