Like any bubble, poker was bound to pop. We still play but not as often. There are still games but they're far smaller. The online action is slower and in danger of overfishing. I haven't played a single hand in weeks save the blogger freeroll over on Stars.
I considered calling this post "Folding" but I'm not sure we've fallen that far. Still, I'm less excited by the action than I've been in a very long time and much as Otis has blogged about the sorry state of the game, I'd like to take a stab.
The underground collapsed. The last big bust was at the Gaelic game. I wasn't there, none of us were, but it was enough to chill the whole scene. Evidently some of the deputies that night made some very specific, and accurate, refences to other rooms around town. Those games have been closed ever since.
Remember the robbery at the Black Stallion game? That was really the first blow. It pulled back the curtain on what we were really caught up in revealing something we knew but refused to admit. The underground games are shady and the straight flush jackpot is only a fraction of what any would be robber would have to gain.
Not long after than our friend Eddie the dealer said he wished he'd had his own gun during the holdup. That kind of wild west atmosphere was a gigantic turnoff for me.
I know underground poker still exists here but the "scene" such that it was, is dead. I won't be back. I can say the same for Otis and Badblood. Something we used to enjoy as much as 5 times a week is now reduced to ZERO.
Honestly, I think this is more troubling. One thing I can say about the underground games, I never played in any, in G-Vegas, where I didn't think the game was on the level. The same can no longer be said of online poker.
By far the most troubling example was what happened at Absolute Poker. The short lesson here is remove your money from that site immediately. It's as if every wacky online conspiracy theory, the ones we've always dismissed out of hand, played out in real life.
From what I've gathered through second- and third- hand accounts, an player there, someone working from INSIDE the site, was able to play there while ALL THE OTHER PLAYERS were playing with their cards FACE UP!
Other players grew suspicious when that inside player started folding hands he should have played (but would have lost) and playing and winning with odd holdings. It's impossible to bluff someone who can see your hand. The site is "investigating" the matter. I say it's freaking terrifying and, clearly, we'll nver be able to laugh off those morons who type "rigged" in the chat box again.
In this case, Absolute Poker WAS rigged.
The other incident happend at Poker Stars and was better handled by the site. A player who won a MASSIVE first place payout in the WCOOP was using multiple accounts during that event. At least, that's how it appears. There WERE two accounts logged into the same tournament. One of them was the known account of a poker pro, the other belonged to his "sister".
Stars took back the payout and redistributed the winnings. Still, this is far from being the only incident in which someone has been caught multi-accounting a big game.
As much as the risk of getting robbed or busted raises the risk of underground poker, putting money onto an offshore and online game that can be so easily cheated and insecure is just plain STUPID.
Why not mail me a check instead?
Furthermore, while federal law has not had any impact as far as established online players getting hands at the table, it HAS restricted the flow of fresh fish. There are now more rocks than dollars. It is now much harder to beat the rake.
Lately I've been too busy even for the little homegames that have popped up in town. I play in a drunken kickball league with some friends from work on Fridays. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday my daughter has soccer. On Monday that daughter has piano. On Thursday the other child has violin. Both of them have gymnastics on Friday.
Last weekend I went camping with most of my closest friends. This weekend the wife and I are vacationing in San Francisco.
I have a new boss at work and the big ratings sweep begins in a week.
I have a lot of things to do OTHER than poker. I've been on a rather extended break. It isn't permanant but I've enjoyed it.
About 2 weeks ago I played in 2 little SNGS on Stars. In both I folded away, playing decent SNG strategy, and got to about 4 or 5 remaining. In both cases I caught my first big hand, played my first flop, and exited the game.
My wife said, "Why do you play if you don't enjoy it?"
For the first time since my first flop, I didn't know the answer.