May 2007
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Fifteen grand down the drain

Poker Stars dealt their ten billionth hand this evening.

It played out at a 1c/2c blind, no limit hold’em table.  The winner, justine0003, had a stack of $0.82c at the start of the hand, and dragged down a mammoth $100,003.31 pot with an eight-three suited.

For this promotion, Poker Stars were paying everybody dealt into the hand a $10,000 bonus, and the winner hand of hand #10,000,000,000 got their bonus upgraded to a cool hundred large.

These awards were to be increased further based upon your rank within the VIP program.  Conspiracy theorists may note not only that it’s impossible to earn any frequent player points (and therefore progress through the VIP program) at the stakes played on the chosen table, but that it was also 6-handed table, not the usual 9-handed.  The cost to PokerStars was precisely $150,000 – not to be sniffed at, but on a full ring mid or high stakes game it could have cost almost double that.

The winner’s suited garbage made a flush on the turn to beat a five-four offsuit, a nine-ten suited and one other hand that was mucked and is not visible in the hand history.  Four players were all in before the flop.  Two folded pre-flop.

Those two players probably made the worse mistake in online poker, ever.

Players inwooke and XTedForrestX, sitting on stacks of $1.73 and $2.95 respectively, folded after the first player to act moved all in with his $4.83.  An astute move by Rechargeable, because with a hundred grand at stake you’re going to play, but you want to be racing off your cards against as few players as possible.  You’d think nobody will fold here ever, but at least you can give them a chance to get it wrong.

Here’s what getting it wrong fold cost them: for a saving of $2.95 (let’s take the worst case scenario) they gave up a one-sixth theoretical share of $90,000 additional money.  That’s an expected return of $15,000, not to mention the few dollars in the actual pot itself.  It’s over 30,500 to 1 pot odds, and and even with a hopeless hand you’re surely no worse off than a 20-1 shot to strike it rich.

Playing scared is one thing.  Winning ten grand for nothing but then not wanting to risk three bucks on the best lottery ticket you’ll ever get defies logic.