July 2019
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He ain’t heavy, he’s my monkey

Here are some of the photos Claire and I submitted for the PokerStars "Monkey Madness" promotion, and some others that didn’t make the cut., from our trips to London and Salzburg earlier in the year.

Monkey at Buck House:

The weather was just grim the whole time we were there, which makes the photo a bit dismal really.  This was the best of a gloomy bunch.

If the sky looks crap, crop it tight to avoid the sky.  Fine in theory.  But in this one, somehow we managed to completely miss two girls with their heads up a statue’s arse. 

Monkey at the foot of Nelson’s Column:

I really like this angle, but the picture could benefit from just the slightest hint of colour in the horrible English sky.  It’s one of the reasons I’m finally learning to use Photoshop…

Monkey at Thorpe Park:

I thought we’d have big fun taking him on some coasters.  Two problems though: not only the shitty weather (surprise) but also half the park was closed, so this was actually the only photo op we got.

Monkey in Salzburg:

Nothing says Salzburg like a statue of Mozart.  In fact the whole town is nothing but Mozart Street, Mozart Museum, Wolfgang’s Bar and Grill, the Amadeus toothpaste factory, etc.

The only other famous thing associated with Salzburg is The Sound Of Music.  So why on earth wouldn’t there be a painted lifesize cow to celebrate this?

Of course, I would have taken some photos of Monkey in Las Vegas if the competition had allowed for it.  Unfortunately, the closing date was this Wednesday, so the timing was just slightly wrong.

However I did use a little trickery to try to create some "Monkey <3 Vegas" shots.  I’ll set those to post on here tomorrow while I’m on a plane, and then try to take the real thing next week.

I’m actually packed now too.  So is monkey.  Vegas here we come!


Here, have a dollar. In fact no, brother man, here have $1.50

A couple of days ago I was kicked off the iPoker network while playing on two tables.  I knew it wasn’t a problem with my internet because I was still connected to PokerStars at the time, and carried on playing without incident.

A similar thing had happened earlier the same day, when I wasn’t playing at the time, just datamining.  However the second time I had (carefully chosen) seats on two tables and by the time I reconnected (which took less than 30 seconds) I’d been booted and someone else was sitting to the left of my good buddies, SirFishio and McDonkalot.

This happening twice so close together seemed a bit weird.  I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but I wrote to support on the offchance that they could use the information to help find a problem, which I suspected was coming from the network itself.

The result, basically, is that I think they tipped me.

Chris, please be informed that it been determined that you were in fact
disconnected from the table "Hastinapur" (1509348483) as a result of temporary connection problems with the card room.  As a result, a refund of $1.50 will be credited to your poker account shortly.

I didn’t expect any compensation.  As far as I know, I didn’t lose anything through being timed out.  I wasn’t involved in a hand and I’m pretty sure from the hand histories that survived that I’d not posted a blind recently.  So I missed out on playing a few free hands, out of position, and even if I could put a value on this, it wouldn’t be much.

So, a buck fifty?  Kinda random, but thanks I guess.

They went on:

However, your connection problem from the "Agartala" (509182411) was not due to any connection problems on the side of the card room.

So while they acknowledged that one was a connection problem with the card room, the other one – at exactly the same time – apparently was not.  Riiiiiiiiiight.

This makes my head hurt, but I guess I’m $1.50 up on the deal…

Freerolls and one-outers

It’s apparently over a year since my last royal flush.  I broke that dry spell last night.

Royals are always pretty, but even more so when you get there against an otherwise identical hand.

We both flopped a broadway straight and we capped the flop.  He led the turn and just called my raise, and I was delighted that he decided to pay off my river bet after I made The Best Hand In Poker with four to a flush on board.

It’s not quite as long since I last had quads, but they have never looked prettier than when I managed to hit that last remaining card in the deck to win a massive pot.

$56 is massive for $1/$2.  He’d raised pre-flop and I called from the small blind with a couple of other players involved.  I put in 4 small bets on the flop when I was behind, then won 4 big bets on the turn and 4 more on the river after I sucked out.

It’s the first time for literaly years that I can remember hating the four-bet cap in online poker.  Even with a possible flush out there, I’m sure this one was going to the felt if only they’d have let us!

PokerStars VIP club changes are worth more than $2

In a marketing email randomly signed by Daniel Negreanu, PokerStars have announced that you now don’t have to be quite as important to become a VIP.

It seems to be great news for the player.  Instead of having to earn 1,500 player points in a month to be crowned SilverStar, you only need 1,200.  The price of GoldStar has also been slashed from 4,000 monthly FPPs to 3,000, and PlatinumStar from 10,00 FPPs to 7,500.

So what’s it actually worth?

If you currently have no VIP status with PokerStars (they call it BronzeStar, but it means NoStar) then by reaching the SilverStar level 300 points sooner you can use the 1.5x multiplier on points 1,200 to 1,499 this month.  That’s a potential 150 more points than you would have got last month, and in real money (1 FPP = 1.6c) it’s worth $2.40.

Then because you reach GoldStar 1,000 points sooner than before, you’ll be earning 2x on points 3,000 to 3,999 instead of 1.5x.  Get over 4000 points this month and get 500 FPPs more than you would have done last month.  That’s another $8.

Shoot for PlatinumStar and you will be earning a 2.5x bonus on points 7,500 to 9,999 instead of 2x.  That’s 1,250 more FPPs than previously, worth $20.

The revised point thresholds are only a quantifiable perk if you are moving up a level in any given month.  There’s a little value in being able to retain your status by playing less poker, but how much that’s worth all depends on how much you play the following month.

Not really worth getting excited about then.

Six way showdown

Remember the last time you saw six hands all go to showdown?

Me neither.

Sure, three of them ended up all in, but this was still a whopping $100 pot at $2/$4 limit hold’em. Enjoy!

Deoghar 2/4, hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

Preflop: Hero is in the BB with T K
UTG moves all-in for $4, 1 fold, MP calls $4, 2 folds, CO-1 calls $4, CO calls $4, Button calls $4, SB folds, Hero calls $2.

There aren’t many hands I fold for 11-1 immediate pot odds, in fact there’s probably none.  I’m certainly going to see a flop with king-ten.

Flop ($25) 5 J Q
Hero checks, MP checks, CO-1 bets $2, CO moves all-in for $4, Button raises to $6, Hero calls $6, MP raises to $8, CO-1 calls $6, Button calls $2, Hero calls $2.

Up and indeed down.  Calling 3 bets cold on a draw?  Well, it’s currently a $6 call to win $37, with the possibility of other callers to sweeten the deal.  Or if it gets capped (as it did) I’m paying $8 to have a shot at $47 or more.  The worst case is that I get about 6-1 on a draw that is better than 5-1 to make the nuts on the next card.

Turn ($61) 2
Hero checks, MP bets $4, CO-1 moves all-in for $3, Button raises to $8, Hero calls $8, MP calls $4.

The two players who still have money left could cap it again with me stuck in the middle, and the card was a complete brick so that’s fairly likely given the flop action.  However I’m still drawing to the nuts.  My outs are discounted slightly for Ah and 9h making a possible flush, but that’s unlikely to help the two villians left in the main pot.

If MP just calls here, I’m getting 11-1 on the call ($8 to win $88); if it goes to 3 bets it’s 7-1 ($12 to win $96) and even if they cap it then 5.5-1 ($16 for a shot at $104) is still worth hanging around for.

River ($88) K
Hero checks, MP bets $4, Button calls $4, Hero calls $4

I’m almost certaily beaten, but I did just hit top pair so I’m not letting it go for one bet.  My hand has to be good just 5% of the time for this is a profitable call, which I’ll admit is still a bit of a stretch, but the downside of tilting after seeing I folded the best hand in a $100 pot would be far worse!

UTG shows T Q
MP shows J J
CO-1 shows J A
CO shows A 4
Button shows 5 5
Hero shows T K

MP wins $100 with Three of a kind, Jacks.

Ten billion silver jubilees

This is really only marginally interesting, even to geeks like me, but it grabbed my attention for a few minutes.

PokerStars are approaching their 25 billionth poker hand, and promotions abound.

This includes a 25% deposit bonus up to $250 maximum which sounds great, until you realise the daily deposit limit on almost every payment method is $600.

I already emailed support and got my limits increased just for this, which was pretty easy but it took a few hours to get it cleared so if you’re planning on maxing out this bonus don’t leave it until the last minute.

Every million hands leading up to #250,000,000,000 some fireworks will go off and the table that’s dealt a hand number ending in six or more zeros will have some free money thrown their way.  Expect to see more 1c/2c tables running than you ever thought possible as the big one approaches.

Anyway, I noticed something funny was going on in the lobby this evening as they began streaming a live update of how long until the next hand, and who got lucky in the last one.

Turns out you needed to restart the client and download an update for this to work properly, otherwise it scrolls through this code, which I’ve crudely pasted together:

After the update, this is what you see:

Unless the milestone hand is actually in progress, in which case the message is slightly different.

So what do we learn from this about the the PokerStars software?  Not much, only that the scrolling text area in the lobby is not just displaying a fixed message pushed down from the server – it’s actually capable of some rudimentary program logic.  Why?  I don’t really know.

And we can see that inside the brain of the operation they actually refer to every billionth hand not as a "milestone" but as a "jubilee".

As I said, marginally interesting at best.

Royal flushing

I finally made the Royal Flush Club on Empire Poker!  One last marathon session yesterday made sure I reached the giddy heights of their top tier – and earned the right to the promised $100/month no-strings deposit bonus.

I didn’t expect fireworks, but I was hoping for something to mark the occasion.  A congratulatory email, perhaps (with details of how I get my free money, preferably).  There’s been nothing yet.  But I definitely made it:

Played 33, cashed in 7.  The in-the-money results were far from spectacular though, and if it wasn’t for a 3rd place finish in a 60-man $30 tournament, which landed me $371, I’d have wiped out almost all of the good work I did last time.

As it is, I ended up down $226, which is offset slightly by $25 cash back from redeeming the points I earned.  I paid $67 in tournament fees, so that’s a reasonable rakeback rate (37%), but that’s only the case when you play dozens of tournaments on the same day (because of the "number of tournaments squared" rule for bonus points) .  Otherwise it’s virtually worthless.

I can live with that result given the luck I had, and knowing that one or two results going slightly differently could have turned things right around.  I bubbled in a satellite for a $172 seat, and my session ended with aces getting predictably cracked.

I open-pushed, got called by ace-jack and the harmless king-high flop turned to disaster with a ten on the turn and a devastating queen on the river.

Pretty standard.

The other nine times out of ten, I’d have been sitting on a stack virtually guaranteed to make the money ($90+) and in good shape to fight for the top prizes.

Anyway. hit me with that deposit bonus Empire Poker…

Chipping me up

I signed up to a couple of weeks ago.  This is a site where you can buy and sell small pieces of action in poker tournaments.

It’s a bit like what I already do with some of the live tournaments I play, but it’s running around the clock and you can buy shares for anything upwards of a dollar, mostly for online poker.

I have had mixed success so far backing players, but tonight it’s my turn to hold my hand out asking for money.  I’m playing two tournaments on PokerStars: the Sunday Warm-Up ($215) and the Daily Eighty Grand ($55) – although the Eighty Grand is actually guaranteed at $125,000 today.

I offered half of my action in the $55 tournament and it sold out in minutes.  So I decided to go for something a bit more ambitious and have listed 75% of the $215.  I’ll still play this regardless of how many shares I sell, but if you want a piece head over to and snap one up.

Or contact me directly if you can’t be bothered to set up an account at  To say that their web site could benefit from a usability study is an understatement, but if you can get past that (to be honest, it took me a few attempts) the underlying service is really rather good.

Live updates (click graphs for more details):


EDIT: Sunday Million, finished 890th from 4069 runners.  Went out with the best hand (A5 vs 95) obv.

EDIT: Eighty Grand, finished 45th from 4460 runners.  Bit better :)   Won $401.40, of which 40% goes to my backers.

Marathon Man

I’ve been needing a reliable way to get up in the morning, as various combinations of three alarm clocks placed strategically around the bedroom just wasn’t working as effectively as it should.  You can only blame jet lag for about a week, after that I wasn’t even fooling myself.

I may have found an answer: pre-register for an online poker tournament before going to bed.

I bought in to a tourney starting at 8:20am, set an alarm for fifteen minutes before and it turned out to be totally unnecessary.  I was bizarrely wide awake just before it started ringing.

How does this work then?  The prospect of knowing that if I oversleep I’ll struggle to get going before lunch and then be playing catchup all day hasn’t been enough to get me going before 10am so far this month.  But the thought at the back of my mind that I might not be able to play every single hand in a $20 poker game if I’m not up on time apparently does the trick.

So why put myself through this ordeal, and on a Sunday morning too?

Quite a while ago I looked at the Empire Poker VIP Club and thought it looked like a good deal for tournament players, providing you can play quite a few tournaments all in one sitting.  Their points are awarded one per dollar of entry fees, plus a bonus amount equal to the square of the number of tournaments you play in a day.

So if you play one $10+$1 tournament, you get 1 base point and 1 bonus point.  If you play ten of the same, you get 10 base points but 100 bonus points.  It gets to the point where the value of the tournaments doesn’t matter, it’s all about the volume.  It can be quite a significant bonus if you’re prepared to concentrate your play to the extreme.

Compare this to cash game players, who are awarded points equal to the square root of the number of hands they play each day.  So you get 1 point for your first hand, then it takes 3 more hands for the next point, then 5 more, 7 more, 9 more and so on.  Seems like a funny way to reward loyalty to me if the more you play the harder it is to get something back.

Anyway, this seemed like a great way to reach the top tier of the loyalty program, and the attraction of that was a $100 monthly deposit bonus with no play requirement.  $1200 a year just for moving your money around?  Yes please!

So having a marathon day every now and again to help achieve this status was once part of my master plan.  It seems I just forgot about the plan as the last time I did this was almost a year ago.  The end is in sight now though, so you never know…

I’m hoping to play 40 tournaments today.  Results will follow, unless I can find a way to graph it and then a graph will follow

10:30 – There’s no better display of awesome poker skill than to take down a stupidly fast tournament.  Officially I have the 1st place in a $30+$3 turbo after we agreed a chip count deal.  I walked away with $432.89, which is enough to cover my buyins until at least 3pm.

10:55 – Runner up in a satellite.  4th place pays $7.60.  It cost $11.

12:15 – 3rd in a 30-player $20 limit tournament for $120.  Would have been at least 2nd if not for a miracle comeback by a player with 0.2BBs.  LOL donkaments, etc.

12:30 - Scraped 3rd in a $22 shootout after making an awesome call with Q2 and sucking out on ace-rag, giving me $24.16 in the bank and entry into the next round.  Claire just brought me pizza, she is awesome obv.

13:00 – Choked in round 2 of the shootout.  Still, 4 cashes from 9 results (and 3 games still in progress, 1 final table 3 from money) for +$298 is running pretty good.

13:20 - Bubble boy :(

15:45 – Scraped into money in a $44 tournament with 10 paid, then made it to 8th place for $144.

18:30 - Won $177.75 for 15th place in a $30 rebuy tournament.  I didn’t rebuy or add-on.

18:40 – 42nd when 40 get paid.  Basically bubbled again.

19:40 – 9th place got me $83.20 in a $22 tourney.  That would be $366.60 up on the day if I stopped now.  But I’ve only played 29…!

21:15 – 15th in a 331 man turbo for $33.10

21:20 – A bottom level cash in a $33 tournament for $54.60.  Currently up $371.30 with 2 games still running.

21:40 – Down to playing only one table for the first time since I started, over 13 hours ago.  My brain hurts a bit.

23:25 – I am heads up at the end of a $22 Omaha Hi/Lo tournament with 68 runners.  Not bad for someone who hasn’t really got a clue how to play that game.  He has a 9:1 chip lead so I figure I’m almost certainly getting 2nd place for $272.

02:05 – Got to round three of a $22 shootout, winning $43.31 and $46.20.  One more tournament (number 40) is still running, and I’m going to play it like I want to go to bed.  Because I do.  I’ve been playing online poker for nearly 18 hours.  So assume it’s all over.

This will have earned me 1,668 VIP points, which is worth $33 in real money (equivalent to almost 50% rakeback – I paid $68 in fees today) and puts me just 1,118 points away from the Royal Flush Club – so it won’t have to be quite such a marathon next time.  33 tournaments should do it..!

(Note: To earn 1,668 VIP points in a day playing ring games would have needed me to play nearly 2.8 million hands).

Not a bad result at all really: 11 cashes from 40 is pretty phenominal (and obviously unmaintainable) and $601.81 is a very nice chunk of profit.  Sometimes I do run good.

03:45 - What do you get if you cross woohoo with zzzzz?  I cashed in the last tournament for $88 but there’s no way I’m going to be awake at 8am again…

The triple blind steal

I can rarely resist trying to steal the blinds when there’s extra dead money in the pot from a player who posts out of position.

However when there are two posters and you’re playing limit hold’em, I’m not sure exactly how profitable it can be to make a one-bet bluff into that kind of field.

All of the other players should be able to call one extra bet with pretty much any old crud when facing at least 5.5-1 pot odds.  After all, if they don’t like gambling, you’d think they’d wait for their big blind.

I still couldn’t resist having a stab when this situation came up though, and it only bloody worked.

It’s not the most spectacular hand history in the world ever, but I liked it.

iPoker Network Limit Hold’em $2.00/$4.00 (10 handed)

Preflop: Hero is Button with K 2
SB posts $1.00, BB posts $2.00, MP3 posts $2.00, CO posts $2.00
5 folds, MP3 checks, CO checks, Hero raises to $4.00, SB folds, BB folds, MP3 folds, CO folds

Total pot: $11.00