Monday, November 22, 2004

Hip Deep in Poker

Ahh, 'tis a beautiful thing to have an entire week off (not counting being off last Friday), with nothing in front of you but mas poker, turkey, and, well, mas poker.

Our most benevolent god Gamblor is still smiling on me. Barring a catastrophic conclusion to the month, this is shaping up to be my best month ever. It's a little embarassing that casino bonuses are playing as large a role in the profit as they are, but, well, poker has been pretty damn kind, too.

The wife was very kind this weekend and let me grind out all sorts of play to clear assorted bonuses. Did very well with the PokerStars reload, as well as the InterPoker monthly bonus. Did pretty dang good with the PokerNow reload. Basically crapped out with the Party reload, only making $27.

Maybe it's just my contrary nature, but more and more I find myself seeking out sites other than Party and the assorted skins. I think undoubtedly, hands down, there are more fish (and more horrible fish) on Party than anywhere. That I won't argue. But anywhere you find a lot of fish, you'll find sharks. Not to say that most Party tables are shark-infested, but you will find decent players, even on lower limit tables like 2/4 and 3/6. Can't say the general level of play at those levels is amazingly good or tough to beat, but the schooling of fishies and decent players places makes it a little difficult sometimes.

I play a lot of different sites, chasing bonuses, and am routinely flabbergasted with just how bad the general level of play at some sites is. It usually comes with a price, as far as slow software, or occasional lack of available tables, but that's usually a small price. While it's a little self-defeating to share one's favorite, out-of-the-way fishing holes, we're all in this together. Here's a few of the lesser-known sites that I've had good success with, that you might not otherwise stumble across:

1) Aspinalls Poker

This is currently my favorite fishing hole, for assorted reasons. First off, Aspinalls Poker is a lot like some of the juicy Crypto sites that are tied to casinos, but with none of the drawbacks. You get a nice influx of casino players looking to play some of that there poker they saw on the TV and the software is actually pretty decent. It's not flashy by any stretch of the imagination, but it's fast, clean, and functional (if you can ignore the annoying avatars).

They offer all the standard fare, as well as SitnGos, MTTs, and other assorted tournaments. Almost all of the tournaments are re-buys, too, which is nice if you like that option. Majority of players appear to be European, which makes for some crazy aggressive play sometimes.

Aspinalls is currently offering a 25% initial signup bonus, up to $100 (deposit $400 to get the max bonus). They base the bonus on something they call Action Points, which you get based on the total pot in hands you contribute money to. Complicated sounding, yes, and they never explain the actual math behind it (I couldn't find it, at least), but it clears pretty quickly. I played two 2/4 short-handed tables and cleared it in about 6 hours. Cashouts usually take about 36 hours to hit my Neteller account, which isn't great but decent.

All in all, only good things to say. Really, really fishy play at Aspinalls, decent number of players at the tables, and a decent sign-up bonus.

2) InterPoker

This really isn't an out of the way poker room, as lots of bloggers play here or at least have heard of it, but sweet Jebus, what a ripe site. It's far and away my most profitable site, even subtracting the $90 monthly bonus, and lately I find myself sitting at tables here even after I've cleared the bonus.

InterPoker is tied to a casino so, like Aspinall's and other, you get lots of truly horrible players willing to fling money around. A nice added bonus is that they don't cap betting on the river in limit games, so you can occasionally encounter a maniac who will bleed off his entire stack, re-raising into you when you have the absolute nuts (this has personally happened to me twice). They also offer royal flush and bad beat bonuses on every table, regardless of the limit (the payout is adjusted according to the limit you're playing, though). They also offer a recurring $90 monthly bonus, and you only have to play 450 raked hands to clear it.

That's the good stuff. The bad stuff is that their software is absolutely horrible and is the slowest piece of junk around. Not only as far as the game play but also in regards to getting on waiting lists, buying chips, accessing your account info in the cashier, etc. It's also a pain to cash out the first time, as you have to wait for them to snail mail you a pin number that you need to cash out, which takes anywhere from 1-3 weeks to get to you.

All that aside, 'tis a pretty fishy site and has plenty of games going around the clock. If you can put up with the sftware interface, InterPoker is one of the more profitable sites out there.

3) TigerGaming

I'd never even heard of TigerGaming until a few weeks ago, so this is a very recent addition to the grand tour of poker fishing holes. It's a small, independent poker site based in Canada, with a roughly equal mix of US and Canadian players.

Software is decent, if a little stripped down. Definitely ain't slick and fancy looking but it gets the job done. The action is a bit slow and there's not much in the way of tournaments. They offer a decent sign-up bonus but use a homegrown system of Player Option Points (POP) that unlock bonuses. You get the points by winning a hand, and the total is based on the pot size of the hand you win. Long story short, the bonus clears fairly quickly.

TigerGaming does have one big drawback. There just aren't many players so it's pretty hard to find a table. Tournament action is pretty non-existent, for the above reason. There are usually a couple of games going at each limits at peak hours during the night, but during the day the site can be a wasteland, with no ring games whatsoever. You're often forced to sit short-handed to find a game at all, so if that isn't your cup of tea, beware.

So why am I listing it? I can honestly say that I've never seen such bad, bad play for real money at an online site. Never. I really don't know where these players come from, but I've truly seen people capping the betting pre-flop from UTG with 72s (because, you know, they're suited). Players sitting down at a 3/6 table and buying in for $20. Really. In full ring 2/4 and 3/6 tables it's not unusual to have 7-8 players consistently see the flop, with half of them playing ATC. Really.

You'll encounter some pretty nasty suckouts, due to the above, but also get paid off when you do hit. Simple, tight ABC poker serves you very, very well.

If you can find a table, TigerGaming ain't a bad place at all to play.

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