September 2007
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Finally paydirt!

I’ve been playing promotions with Sporting Index whenever they’ve offered anything that looks favourable.  These are usually offers to refund your losses if you play a set amount on their novelty games, but I’ve always come out losing and getting the refund.

If, like today, the requirement is ten bets with a refund of net losses up to £30, I’ll usually play an even money bet nine times and then lump whatever I have left on one final no-lose bet for the win.  In what must be close to ten previous efforts (I wrote about a couple of them here and here, and then stopped counting) the bet that matters has always lost.

Not that I’d ever imply that online gambling could be easily rigged, oh no.  Especially not stupid novelty games like "soccer shootout" where a cartoon footballer that you cannot influence kicks a ball at goal a few times and gets awarded points if he scores against a computer-controlled goalkeeper.  The number of points you get is related to where the ball hits the net – just like real life.  Goooooaaaaaallll!  You win, well, let’s say six points this time.

Assuming that their roulette game is fair, and forgetting that games of chance don’t have a memory, then was definitely owed before I hit a massive £26 profit today.  Nine bets of £2 betting red all the way with four wins and five losses put me in good shape for one last bet… and it came in!

Party Pants

I’ve had a bonus offer from Party Poker sitting in my inbox for nearly a week now.  It actually expires at midnight tonight, so I’ve really left it until the last minute.  The problem is that I just can’t find a way to convince myself it’s worth depositing for.

This is a pretty depressing time.  Any Party bonus in the past has always been a must-play situation.  I’d hate myself if I found I missed one.  Until just now, it’s always been a number of raked hands that’s required to clear the bonus.  You contribute rake on roughly two-thirds of the hands you play at low stakes fixed limit hold’em (even at $0.50/$1) and on about half the hands at any no-limit from $0.25/$0.50 upwards.  It’s always been really easy to clear their bonuses at low stakes, even with a raked hand requirement equal to 10x the bonus dollar amount.  Play no more than 2000 hands for a $100 bonus?  I’d get eight-tabling and bash it out in two very manageable evening sessions, and only go a little square-eyed in the process.

Those days are gone.  Instead of counting raked hands, you now have to earn a set number of PartyPoints to release a bonus.  In the case of the bonus I’m about to let expire, it would be 6 points per $1 in bonus.  I’ve also just had another bonus offer that’s even less generous at 8x points per $1.  Frankly, I’m not sure why they think I’d take the second if I ignored the first, but it’s nice to be missed nonetheless.

So, earn 600 points for a $100 bonus?  What does that mean exactly?  It’s complicated.  Playing the old standard $0.50/$1 or $1/$2 limit you earn 3.5 points for every 20 raked hands so that’s nearly 3500 raked hands needed to clear this bonus.  There’s only seven days to meet the requirement before you lose the bonus completely so that would take me every evening.  Because obviously I’d never dream of playing poker during work time.

No limit is no better, with 20 hands earning you 3 points at $0.25/$0.50 and 5 points at $0.5/$1.  Double the blinds again and it’s still only 8 points per 20, and I never really got the hang of playing more than 4 tables of no-limit anyway, let alone trying to 8-tabling a $100 buy-in game for any length of time.  I just can’t see how a casual player has any chance of doing this at small stakes any more in the seven days allowed.

$2/$4 limit is clearly the level where they start to make some serious rake, as the reward value shoots up to 11 Party Points for every 20 raked hands.  That’s triple the rate of $1/$2!  I’m fairly happy playing $2/$4 and for a juicy bonus I’d be prepared to open up as many tables as I could fit within my field of vision.  It would leave me with a much more achievable release condition for the bonus – 1100 hands.  11x raked hands is almost back to how it used to be.

Just one minor drawback: nobody actually plays $2/$4 on Party!  I’ve been keeping watch all week.  Tonight there are actually two full tables, but the second has only just started up.  There was just one table struggling to get going at 6pm UK time, so I think I’d struggle to get in enough hands even if I played as many as both tables all night, every night.  Nope.  I just don’t think I can do this with poker.

So how about the casino?  I’ve started to get back into playing blackjack for casino bonuses again (more on this will surely follow) so I could play it through that way.  But it says you earn one Party Point for every $200 bet, which would make the total wagering requirement a cool $120,000.  Compare that to the $500 bonus I just got from Sky Vegas for $10,000 in action.  It’s not even close to being worthwhile.

Even if you could find a way to do this (you’d either have to use a bot, or play $100 a hand, surely?) and even if their blackjack game is excellent (and fair, of course), just a 0.1% house edge would win back a theoretical $120 for the house by the time you’d cleared the bonus.  No value there whatsoever, and I haven’t even bothered to check out their blackjack rules – I know it’s going to have a higher edge that 0.1%.

Their sportsbook then – a last resort?  The best rate you’re going to get on a straight wager is one point per $5 in bets.  On popular sports it’s $10 or $15 for the point.  If I deposit $500 for the $100 bonus, let’s say I can earn 100 points through risking it all on a game.  If I win and double up, I could risk it all for 200 points, and then I’d only nede to put $1500 on the last game to get to 600 points.  It’s possible, but it’s not for me.  If you’re not putting your entire bankroll on every game, sports just won’t happen fast enough to get through the bonus in 7 days.

I guess I can understand why they’ve had to tighten up, because they were literally giving away their chips with these promos.  Whenever I’ve calculated just how much, it’s been very good news for the player: for a $100 bonus, they were paying out $45 more than the rake I had generated at $1/$2 limit, and $65 more than their revenue from $0.25/$0.50 no-limit.

The only other option I can come up with is to deposit a smaller amount – it’s a percentage-based bonus – and play enough hands at $2/$4 in a week to earn maybe $20.  You know what… I just can’t be bothered.

A huge ever growing pulsating foam that rules from the centre of the ultraworld

After I took the picture, I had to check.  Indeed, on my can of expanding foam it says "360 degree application" and "quickly fills large, awkward holes and cavities".  But it definitely doesn’t say anywhere, even in small print, "in zero gravity conditions".

Hence, I’m sure, the reason for this spectacular filling disaster on the side of a house in Longton:

This is not my mess, I hasten to add.  Admittedly, I could have been capable of overestimating the mighty power of expanding foam and trying to fill a high-up crack from the bottom, but I’d like to think that if I started off expecting to beat the laws of physics, I’d at least be smart enough to give up once I’d spotted the signs that I just wasn’t that powerful.

There were plenty of warning signs.  The footpath tells the story:

Clearly it’s someone else’s job to clean up stray filler once it’s fallen onto – or in the vicinity of – a public street.  Plus, the longer you leave it, the easier that’ll be.

I have to wonder whether the master craftsman actually used a ladder or was reaching up high to fill the gap from underneath.  So I’m going to keep my eyes open for a mysterious figure walking around town that looks a bit like this.

The triumphant return of Team Donut

After my spectacular break-even performance at the Orleans Open in July, I’ve decided to put together another sponsorship package for anybody who fancies a piece of my action.  It was great fun last time (not just for me, I’m told) with the live chip graphs and all the winning. So let’s give it another shot.

Well actually I’ll be trying to putting something together along the same lines for my Christmas Vegas trip.  I doubt there will be a festival on – it’s very unlikely over Christmas week (as it’s the quietest time of year) or over New Years (as everybody is too busy getting drunk, or getting their tits out, or watching others get their tits out) – so I’ve not quite worked it out yet.  I’m thinking it will probably be a crawl along four of the major cardrooms, playing whatever the best value tournament is at each.  It’s only a ten day trip, but I’m sure I can figure something out.

In the meantime, I’ve come up with another adventure to share.  This time it’s a real shot at greatness and fortune – albeit a long shot.  And I’ve left it until rather late to start begging for money too.

Two weeks today – Saturday September 21st – I intend to play a £330 super-satellite at The Vic to try to win entry into the EPT London Main Event.  That’s a £5500 buy-in, so there’ll be one seat awarded for every 18 players in the satellite.

I’m quite keen to double my chances of getting there by having two attempts to qualify via a satellite, and so I’m going to sell myself off in small chunks to try to get there.  Here’s the deal.

The bankroll I need for the two days rounds up to £700.  That’s 2x £330 for the poker, and I’ll use the other £40 towards accomodation in London – I don’t think that’s exactly taking the piss.  A 1% share will therefore cost £7.00.  I take many different payment methods – but a player-to-player transfer on a poker site is usually the easiest, and makes it easy to pay out winnings too.


That was for the benefit of anyone who was just skimming the blog.  They’ll go back and read this entry in ful now, maybe.

Ideally I want to sell 50% – a pretty big chunk, but that way I’ll still be paying the same amount to play as I was always going to but will have doubled my chances of making it to the Main Event.  This is more about the chance of getting to play in a major tournament than it is about winning a life-changing jackpot.  Although half of £750,000 isn’t exactly insignificant…

However, with just two weeks to go I’ll be amazed if I come anywhere close to that.  So:

If I sell 30% or more (£210) then I’ll definitely play two satellites.  It’ll cost me no more than £450 for the two stabs, and that’s just about within my budget.

If I sell less than 30%, I’ll only play one satellite.  I’ll offer backers the option to take double their percentage in the single tournament, or to withdraw completely for a refund.  So if you bought 5% for £35 and I only played one satellite, you’d could actually end up owning 10% of me when I make it into the money and onto the TV table.  With Vicky Coren sitting to both my left and my right, hopefully.

If I intend to play two satellites but win a seat in the first one, then I can’t double the percentages, or I’d end up with nothing left for myself!  So in that case if I was allowed to play the second and sell the seat, I would.  Otherwise I’d play another £330 tournament, like the second-chance event at the Vic on Saturday 29th.

Sounds good doesn’t it 🙂  To get involved or if you think you can pick holes in my masterplan, email chris at

Rock, scissors, paper money

I got a $10 free play use-it-or-lose-it bonus on Ultimate Bet today.  I can’t remember the last time I played anything on there properly, and I’m sure last time I logged in was just to play through another $10 bonus, which I moved all in with – and lost – in one hand of poker.  I’m not complaining though if they keep giving me free money to come back, and then don’t realise if it didn’t actually work.

I thought I’d give their Roshambo a try.  That’s Rock, Paper, Scissors played online for real money and as far as I know it’s still unique to UB.  I sat down for one $10 game, and was happy to assume this would be a coinflip.  It’s played as a best of three contest (whereas the World Series of Roshambo – you think I’m making that up? – is a best five-out-of-nine format), so I really don’t think that’s long enough for anybody to figure out my playing style.  If indeed I even have one.  Does a skillful player have a long term edge?  Possibly.  But with just two or three throws deciding the winner, not today.

Naturally, as I sat down at the table I cranked up a screen recording program so I could make a video for the blog, but as I clicked to start the game and then to start recording, the game window just blacked out.  The recording tool uses an overlay window to mark the area of screen you want to record, and the application started to die so the overlay blocked everything I needed to see.  In a bit of a fluster, I tried to drag the game window onto another part of the desktop but just ended up slightly resizing the dead screen recorder program.  Then everything else froze.

All I could see was a small corner of the game window with a timer in it, ticking down from fifteen seconds.  Things didn’t recover quickly enough so the timer ran out and I had no idea whether I’d somehow forfeited the game.  Maybe it automatically made some kind of gesture that always loses.  A fly, perhaps.  A fly would be swatted by paper, if it was rolled up the hands of an irritated human, or crushed by rock, if the rock was rolling fairly quickly down a hill and the fly had it’s back turned, or dropped from a reasonable height.  I really don’t know what horrible death would occur with scissors, but a fly certainly couldn’t beat them.

In fact, I’d thrown paper.  Twice.  Without choosing it, and without seeing it.  I only found this out from the game history feature, and it actually worked out pretty well for me.  The other guy was going for the avalanche gambit (rock, rock rock – you think I’m making that up?) and I crushed him.  Well, actually I covered his ass with paper, but you know what I mean.

So, in the end a pretty decent result for a totally free game that I had no control over.

However, I still have absolutely no idea how the game is played online, and I’m just not interested enough to try it again with my own money.

Nobody puts Baby in a box

God bless Ikea.  It’s not really the job of a furniture store to offer practical parenting advice, but they’re doing it anyway.  Do not put your baby inside a plastic box and close the lid.

Interestingly, this label – officially my favourite warning label ever – only appears on the storage boxes that are large enough to actually fit a small child.  Or The Amazing Yen.

I thought maybe it was a Swedish thing, and that there might actually be a type of plastic box that can be used to store babies.  A way to flat-pack your family, for a quiet night in or for hibernation during the cold, dark winter.  But alas Google couldn’t shed any light on this: baby storage box only finds containers for the kid’s stuff, not the kid itself.

So there must be a gruesome back story, surely?