A Year of Online Poker

It was about a year ago that, like an idiot, I went to Stop and Shop, bought a Western Union Money Order, and sent it off to Coast Rica! That $250 was our stake to play a little poker. Who would have thought, a year later, it’s still there – and larger than when we began?

It’s time for the backstory. I had been playing poker very infrequently for 20 years or more. I thought I was good. I was awful. Since I didn’t play often, I didn’t lose much. It was harmless fun.

With two casinos in Connecticut, I was invited to a Press Poker Tournament for charity. It was the kickoff to Foxwoods’ World Poker Finals. Somehow, entirely by luck, I came in near the top and won $1,000 for Blue Jeans for Babies.

I am not being modest. It was luck – blind luck&#185.

As the day progressed and the tables were consolidated, I found myself playing with Jan Fisher of Cardplayer Magazine. I had no idea who she was, but when I found out I wanted her to tell me how I played.

I was waiting for some nice words of encouragement – but she said nothing. She thought I played poorly, but was looking for a way not to say it.

Jan Fisher turned me around as a poker player. She doesn’t know she did, and I’ve never thanked her. If you see her, tell her.

By the time August of 2003 came along, I had tightened up my game enough to break even. Considering the house takes a cut of every pot, that’s not bad.

It didn’t take me long playing online before I realized I’d have to tighten up and be even more disciplined. I did. Though to this day, my biggest losses still come when I lose my sense of discipline.

With a computer, it is possible to play hundreds of hands of poker a day – often while doing other things at the same time. This is the kind of experience that good players used to take years to get.

We now sit with $900 of profit (could be more or less – I’m playing now). I won’t quit my day job. I have to believe that’s as good or better than 70-80% of the other people playing online. The online casino has collected thousands and thousands of dollars in fees while I’ve played. They were taken from me, but replenished by others.

The most important part is, I still enjoy the game. I get frustrated when I play poorly. I enjoy being strategic when it helps me win.

&#185 – As I got closer and closer to placing in the money, I became more and more nervous. Playing for big stakes, even when it’s not your own money, is nerve wracking.

My Wristwatch Obsession

I’m not sure when or where it started. All I know is I have this uncontrollable obsession as far as watches are concerned. I have between 10-15 of them; more than anyone needs.

This addiction has always been easily satisfied while walking down Canal Street in Lower Manhattan. Everything on Canal Street is a knock-off, and I would assume (though how could I really know) watches are no exception.

Years ago I bought a very lightweight, somewhat flimsy Rolex on Canal Street. I wore it, until I saw some real Rolexes, and it faded to sock drawer obscurity. There have been other similar stories.

Over the past few years, the quality of Canal Street watch has grown. What had been $5 and $10 items could now go over $50 (though the low end stuff was still there).

Two or three years ago I bought my first ‘better’ Canal Street watch. It’s a silver toned calendar watch with stopwatch that passes for a Breitling. I think I paid $35… maybe $45. It’s one of my favorite watches to wear.

Over the past few years I’ve looked for a watch that looked like a Breitling digital/analog model. I finally found one on a website that I now know is located in Malaysia. The price was $85 – no checks, no credit cards, just Western Union.

I sent the money and as soon as I did realized what a mistake I had made! I had no recourse, since the Western Union money order is the same as cash. And, even if I did have recourse, it was Malaysia! I’m not sure what language they speak there, but I haven’t been able to identify it after having read Malaysian webpages.

When no watch came after a month or so, I wrote Cal, my contact, to ask what was going on. He put me off, telling me things sometimes take time. When the delay persisted, I got angry, and Cal said he’d just send another.

Looking at Cal’s IP address on his emails (left like fingerprints at a crime scene) it looked like he was in Singapore (though I sent my money to Malaysia). He was stalling me while he got as much business as possible from this website – and then he’d disappear.

Disappointed, I wrote off the $85 to experience. I’ll never do this again.

Then yesterday, the watch came!

It’s a little larger than I would have liked, and not spot on to the pictures I’d seen, but it’s very, very nice. The face is black. The LCD readout a subdued gold. There is a logo of a single seat, combat type, jet airplane on the face. It is substantial in weight, especially the band. The back of the case is slightly convex with fancy tooling.

If it is not real, it sure is a beautiful fake.

I’ll stop and have the band sized on my way into work today.

Poker obsessed

This is ridiculous. I have become poker obsessed.

I have a few days off and went to try and play on-line. Pokerstars.com have some free tournaments, with 1,000 entrants. Before I could figure out how to enter, it was full!

I’m willing to put some cash into this, but my credit card company will not approve payments for Internet gambling (they being smarter than I). There’s a method where you tie your checking account… need I go further? That’s not happening.

What I will do is bring some money to Stop & Shop and wire it to Costa Rica via Western Union.

Even as I say this, I realize this is probably a dumb thing to do. However, I will limit my loss to less than what I won this past weekend and see what happens.