Friday, December 31, 2004

Monthly Casino Bonuses

Unlike poker bonuses (where poker rooms at least always collect a rake, even when paying out bonuses), casinos don’t offer a ton of good reload or good monthly bonuses, because they cost them money, especially if you’re a smart, savvy player. The initial signup bonuses listed in the strategy guide are all much better, more profitable bonuses, but, sadly, you only get to do them once.

As far as good monthly bonuses, make sure you do the Crypto monthly bonuses at InterCasino, TotalBet, UKBetting, and Will Hill. These are nice, no-risk bonuses that you can quickly knock out, especially since you have PINs for all of them now. If you do these every month (and multi-table in their poker rooms for a few hours for the ones that offer additional poker room bonuses), you can expect to average about $200-$300 a month. Remember, too, that they all let you cashout before you meet the WR, so they truly are risk-free. Some months you’ll make next to nothing from them, other months you’ll hit it big.

(If you’re a US player, you can signup for UKBetting and TotalBet and get the monthly casino bonus, despite their claims otherwise. Signup on the poker side and use that account info to login on the non-download casino side. Deposit money there and you’ll get the monthly bonus match. You can access the non-download casino at the following links: and

  • Will Hill: 100% match up to $40, $800 WR, monthly.

  • InterCasino: 100% match up to $100, $2500 WR, monthly.

  • TotalBet: £25 bonus for £500 WR, monthly.

  • UKBetting: £25 bonus for £500 WR, monthly.

  • Littlewoods: £50 bonus for £1000 WR, monthly

    There’s also another family of casinos that offer decent monthly bonuses of $30/€30. While these aren’t great bonuses, they’re okay, with reasonable WR. Here’s the info for those:

  • Cherry Casino: 30% match up to $30, $750 WR, monthly.

  • Casino Domain: 30% to $30, $750 WR, monthly.

  • Casino Euro: 30% to €30, €750 WR, monthly.

  • If you’ve got a sizable bankroll and an active account at Casino-On-Net, they also offer a good monthly bonus during their monthly 888 bonus day. Check the promotions day at the following link to see what day of the month the 888 day is:

    To get the bonus, deposit at least $888 on the event day and they’ll give you a bonus of $88, which has a WR of $1,760. The expected profit on this bonus is about $80.

    CoN also usually offers a Happy Hour day each month when you can get a 10% bonus, up to $200 on any deposit. The WR is 20x bonus, or $4,000 if you deposit $2,000 and get the full $200 bonus. The expected profit on this bonus is about $180.

    The only drawbacks of these monthly bonuses at CoN is that they take a week to process cashouts and require large deposits, so a good chunk of your bankroll will be tied up. They also tend to frown upon players who only deposit money for promotions like this, and will usually ban you after a few months if all you do is deposit the maximum for bonuses such as these two that are +EV.

    And that’s really about it, as far as good monthly casino bonuses.

    Thursday, December 30, 2004

    Longest Day Ever

    Wow. There are literally five other people at work today. I honestly should just go home but I'm the token boss for my workgroup. Of which exactly one person is here. That being me.

    For any fellow casino junkies out there, as of yesterday CasinoCounty no longer exists, having just been absorbed by StarLuck. GoldenStars is gone, too, having been absorbed by AceClub. If you had a CasinoCounty or GoldenStars account, they moved them over to the new respective owners and gave you a free $5 for the hassle, so you might want to check those accounts and see if you have token free cash there.

    Speaking of casino bonuses, I just revamped the beginner's guide to casino bonuses, reflecting the above changes and adding some new casino bonus opportunities. Most of the new additions involve some decent Crpyo monthly bonuses at InterCasino, TotalBet, UKBetting, and William Hill (and the procedure to get them, as it's a little convoluted for a few of them), as well as adding Lasseters to the hitlist. There's also new info towards the bottom about the iGM Pay bonuses at StarLuck, PlanetLuck, and AceClub, which are good bonuses if you haven't done them yet.

    Hopefully today I'll get up a strategy guide for monthly casino bonuses in general, as well as a more detailed strategy guide for maximizing the value of poker bonuses. I guess that's the bright sid eof work being a ghost town, as far as mucho free time to crank out assorted degenerate gambling drivel.

    Not much to report on the poker front. I've largely been taking it easy the last week, spending time with the wife, catching up on other stuff. I need to buckle down and finally clear off the BoDog signup bonus as I've got a decent chunk of money just sitting there. I don't care much for the bonuses that require you to contribute to a pot to get credit towards them, especially when there are never stud games going (which are nice for clearing bonuses such as that). I have a hard time being disciplined playing under those conditions and end up playing too many gapped suited connectors, K10o, Kx suited, and other largely craptacular hands I should just muck.

    There's an interesting thread on 2+2 from a guy who claims to have designed a working pre-flop bot that will auto-fold certain hands for you, based on starting hands requirement that you input into its settings. He's mainly pitching it as an aid for savvy multi-tablers, but there was the expected alarmist bitching that such a tool was unethical, that it'd dry up the pool of fishy money by tightening loose players, etc. Which cracks me up, on all sorts of levels. Do people really think that gamboolers who like to raise with 28s will suddenly stop, if only they had a tool that would fold bad hands like that for them? Or that someone prone to gambooling and playing too many starting hands would take the time to research, buy, and properly setup a tool like that? I can't say I'm in favor of widespread access to such a tool, as I can't see any way I'd personally profit from that, but I really doubt that the handful of people it actually helped (who would otherwise have never tightened up and gotten a clue on their own) would have much of an effect in the grander scheme of things.

    On a completely different tangent, I think it'll be interesting to see how the whole online poker scene plays out in upcoming years, as far as the juiciness/fishiness/average profit for good players. Especially in relation to the demographics that the current poker boom seems to be reaching the most. Most of the anecdotal evidence points to young, white middle-class males being the fastest growing demographic that is suddenly flocking to and obsessed by online poker. Which makes sense, as they're largely computer-savvy, equipped with good rigs and broadband connections, and likely have some disposable income (or parents willing to substitute as such). And yeah, many of them will get bored of poker and move right along. And money of them just want to be a badass like the sunglass-wearing badasses on the WPT, quickly losing interest and never trying to improve their game.

    But I do wonder, though, if there's not a danger looming when that generation of poker players are done cutting their teeth. We're seeing a huge influx of them right now, which provides a nice pool of fishy money in the short term, but I don't know about the long term. If I had to create a profile of an Internet player that I feared most (as far as sucking up fishy money that otherwise might be mine), it would be someone who had the hand-eye coordination and inclination to multi-table, lots of free time with no other work or family obligations, and fearlessness borne from no larger financial concerns such as debt, rent, mortgage payments, etc. In a nutshell, a sixteen year old kid who lives at home and gets enough of an allowance to build a bankroll but doesn't have a job.

    I know I would have killed for an opportunity such as exists now when I was 16. Hours and hours and hours to play, a financial incentive and the ability to make money from your bedroom, and a game in which accumulated superior skill wins out over time. Would. Have. Killed. For. That.

    Wednesday, December 29, 2004

    Save Me, Wee Baby Jebus

    Sweet merciful Jebus I'm bored. I work in a department of 80 or so people and there have been maybe 10 of us here each day this week. With absolutely nothing to do. Other than sit here and cry about the fact that we have the wee, low corral-type cube walls that enable anyone to see what you're doing on your monitor at any given time, like, umm, playing poker or blackjack.

    The wife and I went out last night, sort of on the spur of the moment, grabbing a decent steak and seeing Life Aquatic. I'm not sure I'd say that it's my favorite Wes Anderson movie (Rushmore probably is) or even his funniest movie (Bottle Rocket) but man, seeing that movie really, really makes me want to get off my ass and do something creative. I really enjoy his movies as they somehow seem to suggest a much larger, simpler, interesting world, just lurking around the corner, but doing so in such a simple, understated, almost cartoonish (in the best sense) way.

    What else, what else. I guess I'll do the obligatory setting-of-goals-for-2005 thing. 2005? Really? But it was 2000 just like, umm, a couple of years ago, right? We're almost halfway to 2010? Really?

  • Write more. And no, not about poker. I got the damn MFA in Creative Writing. I write well. I need to get off my ass and do something about it. I'm willing to spend ginormous amounts of times each week working on poker and side business stuff, yet I'm not willing/able to make myself write for even just 5 hours a week. This is bad and needs changing.

  • Keep the current mix of poker/gambling time steady. While my wife probably doesn't agree, I think the current 10-15 hours a week I spend playing poker/blackjack is about right.

  • Be more active about exploring job options. I have a pretty cushy, mindless, decent-paying job in the corporate world right now. Except I have essentially no hopes of further advancement, nor will what I do day-to-day likely every significantly change. It's not the worst job in the world and I'm largely left alone. It won't kill me to stay here for a few more years. But I don't need to just sit here, bored, and instead need to be more actively exploring escape routes and options.

  • Related to the above, I need to keep plugging away with my affiliate marketing side business. I've built it up to the point where it's fairly well diversified and a decent little stream of money each month. That's good, but I have to keep at it. Lately I've been slacking here and not replenishing or expanding the pool of affiliate sites and pages I have, so some are inevitably decaying and falling by the wayside.

  • I need to focus more time and energy (hopefully at work) on currency trading. I cautiously dipped my toes into those waters in the last few months and am doing okay. It's a lot like poker, really, as far as generating nice supplemental income if you're disciplined, informed, have well-defined goals, and stick to your guns. It also takes advantage of the fact that my day job requires sitting in front of a computer constantly monitoring business events and news around the world.

  • Wipe out my remaining student loan debt. It's under $8,000 now and there's no reason to keep paying the bloodsuckers any more interest, even if it isn't much interest.

  • As far as poker/gambling, I'm shooting for an overall profit of $20,000. I think that's a pretty conservative goal, though, that I can beat pretty easily. I still plan on chasing plenty of bonuses at lower limits, but I also want to regularly start sitting at least one higher limit table every week.

  • Play more B&M poker. It's fun. I hardly ever get a chance, though, due to geography. I'd like to take at least two weekend trips to Louisiana as well as two weekend trips to Vegas during the year.
  • Tuesday, December 28, 2004

    The Poker Bonus Trail

    The Poker Bonus Trail

    I likes me some poker bonuses. In 2004 I collected $5,890 in total poker bonus money, playing on 19 different sites. Except for a few very brief spells here and there, I was almost always playing with a pending bonus of some sort. Between initial sign-up bonuses for new players, monthly bonuses from Crypto sites, and reload bonuses, it’s not very hard to always play with a bonus overlay.

    The obvious question with chasing poker bonuses is a simple one: is it worth it? I’m pretty convinced the answer is a resounding yes, but I’ll play fair and lay out some pros and cons. (I’m assuming you’re familiar with the whole poker bonus concept and underlying issues; if not, go read this.)

    If you’re just starting out on your poker quest, building a bankroll and experience, I think poker bonuses are invaluable. They insulate you from the nasty effects of variance and give you nice short-term goals to shoot for. They also teach you to manage your bankroll well, as far as maximizing the value of signup bonuses that require a certain amount to take full advantage of. They’re also easy, free money, which can help you build a bankroll more quickly to get you to higher limits that you might be shooting for.

    As far as negatives, the biggest is that you’ll have to make peace with playing on sites you don’t necessarily like, as far as the interface. We all have our own little peculiarities and preferences, liking the software on one site but hating the interface on another. If you’re going to chase bonuses you simply have to let that go. You’ll also have to deal with the occasional slow cashouts from poker sites, although that’s fairly rare these days and usually never takes more than 48 hours for most sites.

    One crucial skill is the ability to multi-table. And the more tables you can handle, the better. Bonuses get more valuable with each table you can successfully play, as each additional table dramatically increases the rate you clear the bonus at, allowing you to collect more bonuses on other sites, etc. If anything, I think the need to multi-table is a positive factor, as I’m a pretty firm believer in multi-tabling being a necessary +EV skill to possess overall.

    Some people prefer to start chasing poker bonuses with a separate bankroll, so that they can more accurately track the progress and overall profit. I think that’s a fine idea and it’s pretty easy to do. While it’s best to start with a poker bonus bankroll of at least $500 (so that you can get the full value from signup bonuses at Party and skins) you can do it with as little as $100, if you hit the sites in a particular order. Shortly I’ll post a poker bonus strategy guide for both scenarios.

    With no further ado, I’m going to list all the poker sites I chased bonuses at in 2004, with a brief summary of my experience, particular issues, etc. I’m also going to rank them in the order that I’d do them, if I could start fresh with a $500 bankroll. (Remember, though, that a strategy guide for chasing bonuses on a more limited bankroll is coming soon.)

    The Official ScurvyDog Poker Bonus Hitlist

  • InterPoker

  • Yep, kiddos, that’s right. InterPoker has one of the best bonuses out there and it’s a monthly recurring bonus, which you can get each and every month. The monthly bonus is typically a 100% match on your first deposit, up to $90 ($100 in some select months). In order to claim it you simply have to play 450 raked hands (500 raked hands when the bonus is $100).

    Aside from a great monthly bonus, the players at InterPoker are really, really soft. InterPoker is a Crypto site, which means that there are lots of players in the poker room who enter from online casinos. Lots of bad, bad players. Lots of bad, bad players who like to gamble and throw money around. You likely see where I’m going with this.

    On the negative side, I’m not a big fan of the Crypto software. The waiting lists aren’t very functional and the action is pretty slow, compared to Party and other sites. It’ll take you a bit longer to get your raked hands in but not terribly so. Multi-tabling is really helpful here, due to the generally slow action. The game selection isn’t as huge as at some sites but there’s generally always plenty of games, especially at lower limits. Keep in mind too that the smallest limit tables they have are $1/2.

    The other annoying thing is the cashout system, as they use the Crypto ECash processing platform, which requires that a pin number be snail-mailed to you before you can withdraw money. It generally takes about a week from when you signup for the pin number to get to you by snail-mail. This is annoying but there’s really no way around it. Once you have the pin number cashouts are pretty quick and are usually processed within 24 hours. Just remember that on your first deposit that that deposit money (plus any bonus money you collect) will be tied up on the InterPoker site for about 7-10 days and not available to withdraw.

  • Will Hill

  • Again, probably a surprising choice, but it’s got a nice bonus, much like at InterPoker. Will Hill offers a monthly recurring bonus, too, except this one is slightly different, paying you £5 ($9.68) per hour that you sit at a table, up to a maximum of £25 every month. It’s strictly based on your time at the table, not raked hands, nothing else.

    Which is very nice, given that it’s a Crypto site and the action is generally slow. Keep in mind, too, that it counts for each table, so if you pop open three tables and play for two hours total, you’ll clear the entire bonus. That’s nearly $50 in bonus money that you can clear half-asleep, with your eyes closed. And you can collect it each and every month.

    As far as games and tables, it’s exactly the same as InterPoker. All the Crypto poker sites feed players to the same tables, similar to Party/Empire/skins, so they’re all basically the same site, as far as limits, player skill, etc. The only difference is in the bonuses offered by the individual sites.

    While it’s a Crypto site, Will Hill doesn’t require a pin number to withdraw money. (It’s the only one that doesn’t.) So you can signup, clear the bonus, and immediately cashout, with most withdrawals processed in 48 hours. Then wait until the next month rolls around and repeat the process.

  • Paradise Poker

  • Paradise doesn’t have a spectacular bonus so there’s no real reason to rank it #3, other than I’m assuming you’re doing these in order and trying to maximize the bang for your bankroll, as well as waiting for a pin number from InterPoker to cashout.

    The reason to do Paradise third is that they give a 25% initial signup bonus, up to $50. That’s a decent bonus, not great, but it only requires a deposit of $200 to get the full value from. I’ll repeat this later, but the cardinal rule in bonus chasing is to never, ever leave bonus money on the table. Always maximize the value of the bonus, especially the initial ones, as you only get one shot at them.

    Paradise has a nice site, lots of players, lots of limits, great tournaments, all that jazz. You’ll have to play a certain number of raked hands to unlock the bonus, which is dispensed to you in $10 increments as you clear it. It clears fairly quickly, even at lower limits. You should be able to bang this one out pretty quickly, given that it’s a relatively small initial bonus.

  • Pacific Poker

  • Pacific offers a 25% initial signup bonus, up to $100 (deposit $400 to get the full bonus). They use a slightly unique system to clear it, as you can only withdraw the bonus once you wager a total of 20 times the bonus amount (total wagering of $2,000 if you get the full $100 bonus).

    The only catch is that Pacific's software doesn’t allow for multi-tabling, so you’ll only be able to play at one table. This slows down clearing the bonus slightly but not horribly so. The redeeming factor is that the players here are truly terrible, as many come through the casino sister site of Pacific Poker, Casino-On-Net.

    Decent software, plenty of games available, all that jazz. Cashouts are pretty slow, taking up to five days sometimes, but they’ll eventually come through.

  • Party/InterTops/Empire/PokerNow

  • Many of you likely already have accounts on Party or one of its skins, so you probably know the drill with these. I’m not going to break down the terms for each site, as they’re all roughly the same. Each typically offers a $100 initial signup bonus (usually requires a $500 deposit for the maximum bonus) based on playing a set number of raked hands. These bonuses clear pretty quickly and these sites are the highest traffic ones out there, with tons of players at every limit.

    What you may not know is that you can have accounts (and get signup bonuses) at all of these sites, including Party/InterTops/Empire/PokerNow. Technically speaking, they claim you can’t, but in reality there’s nothing stopping you, as long as you use a different email address/computer when signing up. You can use the same address, same Neteller account, same everything except for email address, as that’s the only piece of data they check for to prevent multiple accounts. To be safe, signup on different computers that have never had one of the skins installed on them. Or, if you’re comfortable editing your registry, simply uninstall existing programs, and in the registry editor window, on the lefthand side, go to these folders:


    In the MODE folder, on the right hand side, you’ll see a field named UCID. Right-click on UCID and delete.

    Collect the initial signup bonuses on all these sites. Then wait for reloads, as they’re pretty good about offering decent reload bonuses over time.

  • Caribbean Sun
    This is another Crypto site, just like InterPoker and Will Hill. They offer a monthly recurring bonus of $40 for playing 250 dealt hands. Pretty easy and painless to clear, especially if you multi-table. Not the biggest bonus in the world but it takes a minimum of effort to clear and it’s there every single month.

    Like all the Cryptos, the players are pretty bad, willing to gambool it up. Also like almost all the Cryptos, you’ll have to wait for a pin number to be snail-mailed to you before you can cashout. Cashouts are processed quickly, usually within 24 hours.

  • TotalBet

  • This is exactly like Will Hill, in every way but one. TotalBet offers the same monthly bonus, paying you £5 ($9.68) per hour that you sit at a table, up to a maximum of £25 every month. It’s strictly based on your time at the table, not raked hands, nothing else.

    Same bad Crytpo players, same cashout process. Available each and every month. You’ll have to wait for the pin number to be snail-mailed to you before you cash out.

  • UKBetting

  • Exactly the same as TotalBet and Will Hill. Monthly bonus of £5 ($9.68) per hour that you sit at a table, up to a maximum of £25 each and every month. Pin number required to be able to cashout at UKBetting.

  • PokerPlex

  • PokerPlex offers a $50 monthly bonus for playing 300 dealt hands. ‘Tis another Crypto site just like all the others, same soft players, same nice recurring monthly bonus. Like the others, you can only cashout when you get the pin number snail-mailed to you.

  • AbsolutePoker

  • Absolute
    is a bit unique in the poker bonus world. On the one hand, they offer one of the largest initial signup bonuses out there, a 35% bonus up to $210 (deposit $650 to get the full signup bonus). They also offer regular reload bonuses nearly every weekend, up to $200 maximum in total bonuses. The bonuses are also released to you in $10 increments as you clear them, so you don’t have to wait for one lump sum bonus payment.

    On the down side, their bonuses are difficult and slow to clear, as they require you to play a lot of raked hands to unlock them. Their software is also pretty terrible, as it’s resource intensive and slow to act. It’s also occasionally hard to find a game to play at, as their overall site traffic is fairly low. Players in general are fairly tight, as many are here for the bonuses, and are in general savvier, tighter players. Cashouts are really fast, usually within a few hours.

    So this one is a mixed bag. I usually play at Absolute only when I run out of other juicier bonuses. That said, Absolute can be a great site to build a bankroll at, if you’re willing to sit and grind and grind. Because they release the bonus in increments and because they offer regular reloads, you can use this site to build a bankroll quite easily. Ignore trying to maximize the initial signup bonus and deposit what you have. You’ll get a 35% signup bonus on it. Clear that bonus, withdrawal, and wait for the weekend, when they offer reload bonuses. Deposit your bankroll (which is hopefully larger now from the bonus you just cleared) on the weekend, get the reload bonus money, clear it over the next week, and withdraw before the weekend. Re-deposit, get a new reload bonus, repeat until you build a roll to go after other bonuses. You can only do this at Absolute, as no other site offers as many regular reload bonuses.

    You won’t make as much per hour at Absolute as at other sites, given that the bonuses take longer to clear, but you are guaranteed a steady stream of bonuses, if you’re willing to sacrifice some hourly earn rate for building a bankroll.

  • The Gaming Club

  • The Gaming Club offers a very nice initial signup bonus, up to $300. Even better is the fact that they only require a $50 deposit to pursue it, as the bonus is released to you in increments of $20 when you acquire enough points on their system (which gives you points based on both the limit you’re playing and whether the hand was raked). So while you can deposit whatever you want ($50, $100, $300, etc.) you’re still eligible for the same total $300 in bonus money.

    That said, The Gaming Club loses points for constantly changing the terms of their promotions and for making it difficult to track your progress towards. As I type this, they’ve recently changed the terms on the signup bonus, so that you can only unlock a certain amount of the bonus at certain levels (i.e. only part of the total bonus can be claimed by playing at .50/1 tables, while an additional part can be claimed at ½, and even more at 2/4).

    Players are pretty loose and game selection is decent. Cashouts are processed fairly quickly, usually within 48 hours.

    Just make sure you check the terms and conditions before signing up and that you understand them. It’s a good bonus, especially if you’re building a bankroll, since you can potentially get $300 in bonus money on a $50 deposit. It’s also released in $20 increments, which always helps. I’d move this bonus much higher on the list if the terms were more straightforward, less-complicated, and not changing constantly.

  • Aspinalls Poker

  • Aspinalls Poker offers a 25% initial signup bonus, up to $100 (deposit $400 for the maximum bonus). You clear the bonus by accumulating Action Points, which are given to you for contributing money to a pot. This is slightly annoying, as you have to contribute money to a raked pot, not simply be dealt cards in a raked pot as at most sites.

    The bonus clears reasonably quickly and the players are pretty terrible. Again, this poker room is tied to a casino so you get some truly bad players willing to throw all sorts of money around. The software is decent and they offer a good number of games at all limits.

    One negative is they have a casino mentality as far as cashouts, which take days to processs and which you often need to email them a scanned copy of your driver’s license and utility bill to receive. They’re completely reputable and they will pay you, they just take awhile to do it and require identification documentation.

  • PokerStars

  • You all likely know PokerStars, so I won’t spend much time here. Great site, tons of players, all sorts of games. They don’t offer a signup bonus but they do offer a decent number of reloads throughout the year. If you don’t have an account, create one and deposit a token amount in there. Play a few hands then withdraw. The point of that is that you’ll be eligible for future reloads they offer, which are generally in the $100-$150 range. They’re similar to Party reloads in structure, taking a bit longer to clear, and against slightly tougher/tighter players.

  • PokerRoom

  • Good site, decent number of players, and it’s one of the few sites out there that Mac fans can play at. They offer a decent 20% initial deposit bonus, up to $100 (deposit $500 for the full bonus). You’ll accumulate points based on raked hands, which unlock the bonus in one payment.

    The only downside to the PokerRoom bonus is that it’s very slow to clear at lower limits. If you multi-table 2/4 it goes pretty quickly but it takes a good bit of grinding at lower limits. Players are decent, not too loose, not too tight. Cashouts are usually processed within 48 hours.

    Not a bad bonus, not a bad site. Definitely worth doing if you’re finished with juicier bonuses.

  • Bodog

  • Not a bad site and they offer decent signup and reload bonuses. The players are pretty bad and loose, as many come from the casino and sportsbook. The only major downside to the bonuses are that they require you to contribute to a raked pot to make progress towards clearing them. Because the site traffic is fairly low in general, you’ll have to play quite a few hands to clear the bonus, since there are almost never many stud games running. The loose players, though, make up a bit for the slow clearing bonuses. Cashouts are really fast, sometimes in just an hour or two.

  • TigerGaming

  • While they do offer a signup bonus, this one is only probably worth it when they offer a 100% signup bonus match, as they do periodically. This site is a very low traffic site, sometimes with no low limit games at all during off-peak hours. They also use a homegrown system to track your progress towards bonuses, which only gives you points towards clearing the bonus when you win a hand.

    On the bright side, the average player on TigerGaming is really, really bad. It can be a lucrative bonus but you have to play many, many hands to clear it (and win hands, not just contribute to the pot), given the nature of the points system. Cashouts are quick, processing within 24 hours.

  • UltimateBet

  • Slooooooooowwww. Great site, great software, lots of tables available, but man, this bonus clears slowly. They offer a nice signup bonus and decent reloads but man, it takes forever to clear the bonus here.

    Monday, December 27, 2004

    2004 Poker Year in Review

    My Year in Poker: 2004

    Overall it was a good year, by whatever benchmark you want to measure it. Despite having to cash out the bulk of the bankroll twice (once to start the year to pay for my house then a second time to pay for my wedding), I ended the year with a decent bankroll and nice overall profits.

    For the year I showed an overall profit of $17,263. While I don’t have a completely accurate accounting of my time at the tables, I’ve got good ballpark numbers, which work out to an hourly earn of a bit over $22/hour. Not quit your day job numbers but nice part-time, supplemental income numbers.

    Of the overall profit of $17,263, bonuses accounted for $5,890. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. It’s probably a good thing, if one assumes that similar bonus opportunities exist in 2005, as I can be reasonably certain of reproducing my overall profit results from 2004. It could be a bad thing, however, as I cleared the majority of the bonuses at ½ tables and could have potentially showed a higher overall profit if I’d been playing winner poker at higher levels, instead of chasing so many bonus dollars at micro limits.

    Aside from the actual numbers, I feel like I made good progress in my poker game itself. I’ve got a much better handle on selective aggression, better feel for short-handed play, and more tournament experience. Above and beyond all that, though, is that I’ve got a much greater awareness for the game, both at the table and away from the table. I’m finally absorbing a lot of the material I’ve read and, more importantly, gotten to the point where I can determine what to use and what to toss away. Yes, there are many great poker books out there, but blindly adopting any one style, with no regard to your strengths and weaknesses, is a dangerous thing.

    I’ve finally, finally gotten better about tracking my play and results, both via PokerTracker and by old-fashioned Excel spreadsheets. I can’t emphasize enough how important and helpful that is. Your brain is a sneaky, conniving beast and will always strive to selectively edit your perception of things to suit its own nefarious purposes. Don’t let it. Track and account for everything.

    As far as particulars, here goes:

    Top Ten Poker-Related Lessons I Learned This Year

    1) Poker is a grind. It just is. There’s no magic bullet to cure your poker ills, no panacea for horrible beats, suckouts, and bubbling in tournaments. Moving up (or down) in limits won’t cure it. Playing SnGs and MTTs won’t cure it. Playing NL won’t cure it. Playing PL Omaha won’t cure it. Successful poker players win money in the long run by grinding it out. It’s just that easy. And just that hard.

    2) Party Poker is not where it’s at. This is sure to cause raised eyebrows and counter-arguments but Party (and assorted skins) isn’t the most profitable site to play at for skilled players. It just isn’t. Playing at the assorted Cryptos (InterPoker, Caribbean Sun, Will Hill, PokerPlex, Total Bet, UKBetting, et al.) is far more profitable. No, really. Even if you discount their monthly bonuses they’re more profitable. The simple reason why is that they have casinos that constantly feed gambling idiots with money into the poker room. Which is exactly the same reason why Pacific > Party. As far as tournament offerings, you can make a good argument for Party, but as far as ring games go, Party ain’t the place to be.

    3) SnGos are fun but –EV. MTTs are fun but –EV. I fought this battle for a long time but I think I’ve finally made peace with it. I really enjoy SnGos and MTTs but they don’t make me money. Or, more importantly, they make me much less money than I’d make sitting in ring games. I know people occasionally post amazing SnG results, showing them to be highly profitable, but almost everyone I know (and trust) that’s played in a significant number of them usually ends up break-even overall. The variance is through the roof and while you have great runs you also have back-breaking dry spells of no cashes.

    4) Discipline > patience. I used to equate these two but I think that’s a mistake. Patience is good but it leads to nut-peddling too often, leaving too much money on the table when aggression would pay off. Discipline, however, is much more powerful. I used to remind myself to be a patient player but now I battle to be a disciplined one. Patient players wait to be paid off; disciplined players punish others for making mistakes while constantly fighting to avoid the same mistakes themselves.

    5) Bonuses are your friend. If you’re building a roll, building experience, building confidence, poker bonuses can be your very best friend. You won’t show a profit on every bonus you chase. It’s not guaranteed money and it can be frustrating at times, playing on sites you don’t particularly like, carefully managing your bankroll, etc. But bonuses are the best way to rapidly build a bankroll and greatly speed the learning curve, as it buys you time to make mistakes and learn without having to dip back into your wallet repeatedly.

    6) Be aggressive. This is hard for me and doesn’t come naturally. I’ve posted about this more in-depth elsewhere, but aggressive poker really does win. I think the key is realizing that, but, more importantly, finding the level of aggression that fits your own playing style. Don’t just mindlessly follow the guidelines and suggestions in SSH. I’m not saying they’re wrong or that the style the advocate isn’t optimal, but that you have to be comfortable with the level of aggression you employ. Amping up the aggression knob from 4 to 10 will likely result in one thing: turning you into a frustrated, losing player, even if 10 is the theoretically correct setting. Gently turning the same aggression knob from 4 to 7, though, might make a huge difference in your results.

    7) Life > poker. Poker will always be there. Yeah, I know, when you’re in the grip of poker addiction you want nothing more than to be slinging chips. But guess what? Poker will always be there. That’s the beauty of online poker. It’s not a trip to Vegas where you have to cram in the maximum number of table hours into a small window. Online poker ain’t going anywhere. Enjoy yourself. Get exercise. Do other stuff.

    8) Only play when you can play. I used to hop on for quick mini-sessions, trying to squeeze in a few orbits before work, before going out for the evening, etc. And would inevitably find myself getting involved with marginal hands, not pushing hands as hard as I should from fear of losing too much in ten minutes, etc. To the point where that would be bouncing around in my head, even when I was sitting down and firing up the computer. The simple solution is just don’t do it. If you have any doubt, just avoid it. Remove it from the equation.

    9) Set specific goals. Don’t just wander aimlessly around from table to table. Don’t tell yourself that all you want is to “improve” your game. Even if money doesn’t motivate you, use it to set specific goals and targets. It may be arbitrary and results-oriented but you’ll go crazy if you don’t set yourself demonstrable, transparent goals. Argue against being results-oriented all you like but it’s virtually impossible to set an aggressive monetary goal (and reach it) without your game improving as well.

    10) Use thy tools, but don’t abuse them. PokerTracker is great. I love it. You should love it, too. But don’t be obsessed with it. Far too often I see people posting constantly about improving their aggression rating, lowering or raising their VP$IP, etc. Don’t let yourself be consumed by the tool. It’s great for harvesting data on other players, great for identifying trouble hands that you tend to become involved in too frequently, and great for showing your positional stats. But when you find yourself acting at the table in a way with the effect on your PokerTracker stats in mind, you’ve got a problem. Tools like PokerTracker are great for when things go awry and you’re looking for leaks but not so great when you’re trying to address larger strategic issues in your game.

    My Sordid Poker Past

    Yeah, I know, it ain’t done yet, but I’m back at work, with absolutely no work to do, so you’re just going to have to suffer through the obligatory year in poker review.

    Stepping back a bit, though, I should probably give a quick and dirty version of previous poker years, as I’ve only had this blog up for a few months. It doesn’t really impact this year, in and of itself, but I think it’s important, as it fleshes out my mindset a bit and where I’m coming from. Plus I like reading similar things on other blogs. So you’ll get my sordid poker history first, followed by the actual year in review post.

    I started playing poker in high school, if you can count silly-ass dealer choice games like guts, acey-duecey, and Indian poker as “poker”. We’d play a good bit but it was basically an excuse to drink beer that someone’s brother bought for us. Ditto for college and grad school, except we were old enough to buy alcohol. I can’t say I learned anything worthwhile at all (in a poker sense) from all those hours. It was very fun but try as I might I can’t think of any valuable poker lessons learned by sticking a card to your forehead and wagering money.

    The funniest thing about those games is that we avoided any real poker like the plague. I don’t think we ever played hold ‘em. Not one single, solitary time. There was the obligatory five-card draw and stud game every now and then but that was about it. I always did well in these games, though. I didn’t bully people, didn’t bluff, didn’t force the action. I was always pretty patient, even playing ridiculous games. I couldn’t have explicated it at the time but I think I’ve always had a pretty good intuitive grasp on the power of being patient and getting your money in at the right times, whatever gambling pursuit it is.

    Fast-forward to late 2001. I was single, making good money, saving money like crazy, and had a lot of free time on my hands. I still don’t remember what the original impetus was but I started playing online at Party. I ponied up $500 and started playing me some hold ‘em.

    I had no idea what I was doing. I hadn’t read a book on hold ‘em, hadn’t played hold ‘em with friends, nothing. I started playing $2/4 because, you know, that seemed about right, based on how much I deposited and what most people had in chips at those tables. Hee.

    On the bright side, I’m pretty competitive when it comes to games and sports, and I pick things up quickly. It didn’t take getting slow-played more than once or twice for the little light bulb to go off in my head, and my monkey brain to go “Ahh, if you have a huge hand you don’t necessarily want to bet and raise like crazy.”

    So yeah. I was completely ill-equipped to be playing at those levels but I actually managed to make that first deposit last a couple of months before busting out. By then I was hooked and immediately reloaded for another $500. That lasted a month. Rinse and repeat.

    Midway through 2002 I was about $2,000 in the hole, addicted and frustrated. Like I said, I’m pretty competitive and, to be honest, I’m used to being better than other people at games and hobbies I take seriously and play a lot. The money itself wasn’t a huge issue. What was painful was the bruising to the ego and pride.

    So I stopped playing. For three whole months. And I bought poker books. And Turbo Texas Hold ‘Em from Wilson Software. And I did all those things that anyone should do before leaping into a complicated, strategic game that has little to do with truly gambling.

    So after my little self-imposed hiatus I returned to Party in July 2002, ready to rock and roll with what I vowed would be the last $500 I ever had to deposit, ready for the winnings to roll in. And promptly busted out again. Heh.

    But I was finally starting to get it. The most important lesson (and maybe still the most important lesson) is that I finally realized that poker is a grind. It just is. I kept insisting on playing at levels above my bankroll because I wanted the money to mean something, avoiding the micro limit tables like the plague. That was partly because I was generally flush with cash in a larger life sense, but I think that particular dynamic is one that many, many poker players wrestle with, at a variety of levels.

    The next level up is always there, teasing you. It’s far too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that moving up a level is where the “real” poker is at, where the real money is to be made. Where you no longer get sucked out on and can truly dazzle the players at the table with your wit, cunning, and skill. In the end, though, the only difference is the color of the chips. Your long-term success is still measured in tiny, tiny numbers, as far as BB/hour. It’s always a grind. It’s always hard. It’s never easy or exciting or glamorous. The same things that frustrate you about poker will always frustrate you, no matter what level you play.

    Once I gave up any lingering notion of quickly amassing a poker fortune, things turned around pretty quickly for me. I stepped down to $1/2 and kept reading and studying. Other people have written about this, as far as reaching assorted plateaus in one’s poker journey, but I finally hit the first big one in late 2002. I wasn’t losing money. I was even, gasp, making a little bit of money.

    2003 was a pretty steady climb upwards. I went on a bit of a rush early in the year, bouncing back and forth between 2/4 and 3/6 limits. I started bonus whoring, playing different sites. I also had a nice cash in a Party MTT that suddenly pushed my bankroll over $5,000. This was right before I met my wife-to-be, so I was still single, still hoarding savings, and had just gotten a promotion at work. So what do I do? I start sitting at 15/30 tables.

    Yeah, I know. That’s not grinding it out or learning one’s lesson. To be slightly fair, I did know most of the risks and was aware I was taking a shot. But I was also backsliding a bit, still trying to find a way to make poker a full-time, lucrative gig. Still clinging to the notion that if I could not play with idiots then all the reading and studying and cogitating I had done would really pay off, when I finally sat down with real players.

    Long story short, I was woefully unprepared to sit 15/30, lacking not only the bankroll but also the skill. I thought I understood the game much better than I did. I hadn't successfully eradicated the notion that there's a way to beat the grind, that skill always translates to success and riches at the poker table. Ill-equipped, in every way.

    My only saving grace was the fact that I tend to play tightly and revert to rockish nut peddling, especially when I step up in limits. Well, that and the poker gods decided to bless me with decent cards. Amazingly enough, I didn’t flame out. I actually nearly doubled my roll in the two months I played 15/30.

    My other saving grace is that I’m pretty conservative, despite loving to gamble. And pretty self-critical. I was still reading and absorbing poker strategy and content pretty voraciously, lurking at assorted online forums. I realized I was in way, way over my head and ran like a scared little girl

    Looking back, I don’t regret either decision one bit. Jumping all the up to 15/30 was a horrible decision but a good experience. Running away was both a good decision and a good experience. Yeah, the fact that I made money makes it easier to say all that, as opposed to busting out, but it doesn’t change the basic lessons learned. Idiots occasionally get lucky. Poker is still a grind.

    I dropped all the way back to 1/2 and 2/4, kept bonus whoring, kept grinding out small, steady profits. I had some down months but they were only marginally negative, while the profits in positive months became steadily larger. I ended 2003 with an overall profit of just under $14,000 for the year.

    I also cashed out almost all of that when I bought a house. I’d met my wife by that point and was playing less poker in general. Heading into 2004 I felt pretty good about the general state of my game, and my ability to grind out a decent profit, but was a little worried about the lack of a bankroll. Given all of the expenditures for the house and what-not, I was going to have to build a roll from scratch

    Sunday, December 26, 2004

    Merry Christmas +1

    So the holidays weren't too bad, all in all. The in laws stayed with us, but they're pretty good in laws (except for having recently found Jebus, but that's another story) so it wasn't too stress inducing. I was a good monkey and played no poker or blackjack at all while they were here. They're pretty happy with me in general but they really don't like the fact that I "gamble" at all, to the point that we basically just don't discuss it.

    It's funny to suddenly realize that I've passed the magical child/adult Christmas present line, where I give many more presents than I receive. My wife made out like a bandit this year, largely due to the benevolence of online casinos. Thank you, casino monkeys, from the bottoms of our hearts.

    I did get some Home Depot gift cards, as well as a new electric razor, a couple of Xbox games, and a telescope from my mom. So I guess I'm not entirely old and boring and grown up. I also bought myself some computer innards to get a spare workstation up and running that my brother-in-law had sitting around, which he gave to us. I was going to use some gambling profits to buy a larger, nicer monitor to make multi-tabling easier but I think I'm going to the opposite route and just set up another PC with side by side monitors. A wee bit of a cludgy solution but then I can clear Party/Party skin bonuses much faster (8 tables total, 4 on each monitor) and have a dedicated PC for harvesting PokerTracker data. It'll take me awhile to get used to the Rain Man act of working two mouses simultaneously but I think I can handle it.

    Yes, I know, I'm beyond hope.

    So I got back on the sticky bonus horse today, depositing $300 into Club Dice, getting an immediate $500 bonus to start with $800. I immediately lose six $50 blackjack hands in a row, dropping down to $500, kicking myself, repeatedly. I claw my way back to even, hang around, get up to $1,100 or so, almost cash out and run with a $300 profit, but don't.

    Then I immediately get slammed back down to $600. Visions of my USA Casino debacle are running through my head. I start betting $100/hand and win a few hands. And then a few more. And a few more. Every double down comes through for me, every split. I tell myself I'll stop and cashout when I lose a hand, not counting pushes. Except I keep winning.

    When I finally lose a hand I'm at $2,274. I just sat there and stared at the monitor for a few minutes. Then I cashed out. Giggling. That's about a $1,500 profit for 20 minutes or so of work. Or, you know, $4,500/hr.

    Honestly, though, what happened there is a freak of nature and sticky casino bonuses are really, really risky (read my previous post about busting out completely at USA Casino for a good cautionary tale) and my ridiculous luck today isn't the norm at all.

    But hey, I'll take it. Thank you Gambling Claus for the slightly delayed Christmas gift. Now if I could just not get sucked out on anymore trying to clear the damn Gaming Club bonus I'd be a happy camper.

    Friday, December 24, 2004

    Merry Christmas

    Hope everyone out there is having a happy, safe, fun-filled holidays, assuming you celebrate such holidays this time of year.

    Why Yes, I'll Take Another Party Bonus Please

    And you thought you were done with Party bonuses for the month. Hah.

    Code is COMPBONUS, 20% to $100 (deposit $500 for the maximum bonus). 500 raked hands to clear, with 30 days to clear it in.

    One word of caution is not everyone is getting this code, so it isn't guaranteed, and it likely won't work for you if you've gotten an IGM bonus in the past or have bitched at them about a previous bonus to the point they comped you a bonus. This isn't a public bonus code per se, and is apparently intended for comp purposes. But it works for most people and is still active as of this morning.

    Thursday, December 23, 2004

    Grindy Grind

    Still grinding away at assorted bonuses. I don't normally have this much free time to devote to the poker so when I gots it, I try to maximize it. Since the last update I've finished off all the Cryptos, the PokerStars reload, and am halfway through the Gaming Club one. While I'm clearing the TGC bonus at a nice clip, I can't seem to make any overall headway in my bankroll. I've lost the last six hands when I was dealt AA, keep getting out-boated, out-flushed, etc. As I'm typing this I just dropped another 10BB when my set of aces got beaten by a rivered two-outer. Why are thy punishing me lke this Gaming Club, when I have done naught but sing thy praises?

    It's been a mixed month, as far as bonus whoring results. The Party reload wasn't so great, as I only cashed out ahead +$110. I did clear it in about five hours though, so that isn't so horrible. (If you want to blaze through bonuses on Party and related skins, learn how to play Omaha Hi competently, pop up 4 $1/2 6-max Omaha Hi tables, and watch the bonus fly by. Nearly every hand is raked and your decisions are pretty easy, as you fold pre-flop 90% of the time, so it's easy to play 4 tables.) I kicked arse on the Empire account-specific reload, though. Did pretty well on the Cryptos. Basically broke even at PokerStars.

    It's interesting to take stock and look at my bonus whoring efforts over the last six months. I track all deposits and cashouts in a spreadsheet, as while PokerTracker is nice, it doesn't capture bonus information and I also play on a lot of sites it doesn't support. I'm working on an uber post with more detailed results, but it's pretty interesting. It's a bit hard to quantify the actual value of chasing specific bonuses themselves, since your general play is always mixed in, but the results are pretty dang encouraging.

    One of the more interesting things is the variance involved. Exact same site, exact same player, exact same bonus, widely different results. Which is to be expected, I guess, but I would have thought the variance wouldn't be as high as it is in some cases.

    But yeah, hopefully next week I'll be able to get all sorts of uber posts up, regarding bonus stuff, casino stuff, and the obligatory poker year in review post. Work is going to be a graveyard with no one there so I should have plenty of spare time to kill with such silliness.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2004

    Mmm, pokery...

    So I've got the whole week off from work. While I've got assorted chores to do and holiday bidness to take care of, I've also been logging a steady diet of poker and blackjack the last few days.

    Can't say I have any grand epiphanies or insights to relate. In a good way, poker increasingly has become a grind, in that I've pretty consistently been hitting my marks for months now. I'm probably guilty of getting a little lazy and complacent, cruising the 2/4 and 3/6 waters, chasing bonuses hither, there, and yon. But, you know, supplemental income is nice and it beats the hell out of actually working for it.

    One nice trend of late is that I'm getting better about shutting it down when I hit my stop loss limit or my profit goal for the day. Yeah, it's arbitrary, and yeah, the cards can heat up and erase a -30 BB hole in a matter of minutes, but honestly, that's not the norm. More often than not you keep playing, keep pressing, keep playing less than your best game and digging a deeper hole into your bankroll.

    I have a harder time quitting when I make my nut for the day, especially if it comes quickly. I usually mentally block out a certain amount of time for playing, normally a couple of hours here and there. It's hard to give that time back, especially if I'm up, but lately I've been forcing myself to do it and I think it's the best course of action. Honestly, I loves the poker but there's a whole wide world out there and too many freaking more worthwhile and enjoyable things to be doing. As long as you're at whatever arbitrary goal you set for yourself (assuming it's a monetary one), don't be afraid to walk away if you're up big early. Party Poker ain't going anywhere and the cards will always be right there, waiting for you the next day.

    Monday, December 20, 2004

    Beating Sticky Bonuses (Or, You Know, Getting Beaten By Them)

    Gotta post the bad with the good, I suppose, as them's the rules. So I ground out many, many poker hands today towards assorted bonuses and was a little burnt out. As well as a little frisky, what with my casino successes lately. So I decided to give the USA Casino signup offer a go. (I'm not even going to link it, as you don't want to go there. Heh.)

    The USA bonus is an extra $555 if you deposit $300 or more, with a wager requirement (WR) of just 8 times the bonus plus deposit. So you deposit $300 and get $555, starting with $855. Sounds great, right? Not so fast, partner. It's a sticky casino bonus, which means that when you cashout, it's subtracted from your first withdrawal and it disappears for forever.

    So you get the full bonus and play for awhile, have fun, and do relatively well, only losing $25 when you meet the wager requirements. You've got $830 when it's all said and done. Which would normally be sweet, if it wasn't a sticky bonus. Because it's a sticky, the casino subtracts $555 when you cashout, so you only get back $275.

    In a nutshell, that's how most sticky bonuses work. They seem great on the surface but it's hard to make a profit from them if you wager normally, betting $5 or $10 a hand, etc. You get a lot of money to bet with but it's basically cotton candy money, as it all goes poof and disappears when you try to get your grubby paws on it.

    That said, sticky casino bonuses can be very profitable (but not for the faint of heart or ye of limited bankrolls or limited discipline). If you're willing to make very large bets (and, more importantly, willing to keep pursuing more sticky bonuses), sticky bonuses are +EV. Highly +EV. They give you so much extra money overlay that when you bet big and win, you more than make up for the times when you completely bust out. For each one you set a target goal that, if reached, makes you play across multiple sticky bonuses very profitable.

    Let's say you play 10 sticky bonuses, all at different casinos, all which give you a $200 bonus on a $100 deposit, with a 4x deposit plus bonus wager requirement. You start with $300 but keep in mind that $200 will be removed when you cashout. Your goal is $600 for each bonus, which, if you hit it, will give you a profit of $300 after the sticky bonus is subtracted. Once you hit $600 (as long as you've met the WR) you'll cashout. You play until you hit the goal or bust. Your goal has to be high enough to make up for the other inevitable washouts you'll have pursuing similar sticky bonuses. While you could cashout when you're $25 ahead, even after the bonus is removed, this doesn't help you in the long run of chasing bonuses and is actually -EV, despite the fact that it appears to be booking a profit.

    Let's say you completely bust out 7 times. The maths say you'll bust out ess than this but let's be pessimistic. That's -$700 total ($100 deposits for each of the 7 casinos). But the other three times you hit your goal of $600 and cashout, which nets you a profit of $300 per casino, for a total of +$900. So overall you make $200, for maybe an hour or two of clicking buttons (remember, you're making very big bets so you either meet the WR and hit your goal or bust out really quickly).

    That's the basic theory behind chasing sticky casino bonuses. As far as what "betting big" means, there are a few different schools of thought. Some people say put it all down on one hand of blackjack, betting the entire $300. Others say to bet half your balance on one hand so that you can double or split if need be. Lately there's more support for betting sizable but smaller wagers, something in the range of $50-$100 per hand, just to give yourself a little wriggle room and to clear the WR in a more efficient fashion.

    All of which is a long-winded circuitous way of introducing my USA Casino debacle today. I deposited my $300, got the $555 bonus, and started betting $75 a hand, shooting for a goal of $1,600. (Keeping in mind that the $555 sticky bonus gets ultimately subtracted and that I'd like to pursue other sticky bonuses that require a $300 deposit which might completely go down the drain if I bust out there.)

    Things don't go so well, then get a little better. Some nice assists from the blackjack gods and ten minutes later I'm sitting at $1,400. This is, ironically, where sticky casino bonuses get really hard. Because I can stop making big bets and play off the rest of the WR at small bets and cashout, booking a profit of $745. Which isn't bad, for ten or fifteen minutes of work.

    But that's a -EV play, in the grander scheme of things. You have to maximize the value of the bonuses that come through for you and not punk out, as sticky bonuses are only +EV overall if you max out the winning sessions.

    So I bet $200, just needing one hand to come through to get to my goal. Drew to 20, dealer whips out a 5 card 21. Bet $200 again, get smacked down. Then I scale it back to $50 bets, tread water for awhile, then get smacked down again and again and again. At $500 I go back to $200 bets, tread water for a bit, then bust out completely. Nothing. Nada. No soup for you.

    Which stings, obviously. There's nothing quite like seeing a +$700 profit turn into a $300 gaping hole in your Neteller account in the span of fifteen minutes or so. But them's the breaks, and, like suffering a horrible beat in a huge pot, it's all one long session, and you'll come out ahead in the end if all your individual plays are +EV.

    Which leaves me about to turn the computating device off for the day and watch some football and eat some Kung Pao chicken and pretend this day never occured. La la la la. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    Sunday, December 19, 2004

    'Tis the Season for Bo-Bo-Bonuses

    Man. Christmas is definitely coming early for all the bonus hounds out there. I've managed to clear the Party December reload, an Empire account-specific reload (check your accounts as some people got a GET15 reload recently), a couple of Crypto reloads, and about a third of the way through the Gaming Club reload. I've still got the PokerStars one to go, as well as PokerPlex, which I might or might not get to.

    I have to say that I'm really liking the Gaming Club changes in regards to bonuses. Bonuses there used to be a bitch to clear but this one is flying by for me with the new changes. Be curious to see if they keep pushing the envelope and offer consistent reloads and other bonus-related promos. I'm not a huge fan of their interface (why the hell are the call/fold/raise check boxes so freaking small?) but they players are pretty dang craptacular, especially at the lower limits.

    I've been absolutely killing assorted casino bonuses lately. I realize the pendulum swings both ways, which I guess means I'm in for a horrible streak o' random bad blackjack luck, because I'm making out like a bandit right now. At the moment I'm 5 for 6 with the bigger sticky bonuses, which works out to a nice chunk o' change. It'd be nice if one of the poker sites/casinos got a little more aggressive and expanded into offering interest-bearing accounts (which Party actually used to do, back in the day) as I'd jump on that in a heartbeat, even for a nominal interest rate, as opposed to simply letting cash set in my Neteller account.

    Thursday, December 16, 2004

    Aggressive Poker

    I'm still flying in a nice little holding pattern in poker, grinding out nice gains at assorted levels. I couldn't follow through on my original plan to cut back on the bonus chasing in December and focus on single-tabling 5/10. I think bonus chasing is in my genes, and, more importantly, I enjoy it. I'm probably leaving money on the table in the long-run by continuing to bounce around sites, multi-tabling microlimits of 1/2 and 2/4, but I'm still hitting weekly profit goals and still having fun.

    It's interesting, taking stock of your game periodically, especially when you couple that with tools like PokerTracker and blogs. It's easy to overlook one of the huge benefits of keeping a poker blog, which is, quite simply, having a record of your thoughts over time. Yes, vanity is cool, plugging into a larger community is cool, building friendships that would otherwise never exist is cool, but the real value, if you're serious about improving your game, is being able to pull back and see the evolution of your thoughts and game over time.

    Tight, aggressive poker wins. There's no doubting that. But as much as we read that and underline it in our Sklansky books, it's hard to maintain it in our games. Playing tight and aggressively goes against many natural instincts, especially those of the general type of people drawn to poker to begin with. If you like to gamble you're constantly fighting the urge to play less than premium starting cards. If you excel at games of skill and logic you're constantly fighting the urge to constantly engage the maniacs and idiots at your table, eager to display your superior skills.

    Compounding the frustration is even when you're a good tight, aggressive poker monkey and bide your time, 25% of the time the flop will absolutely destroy what you just thought was a premium hand that you raised it up with. Someone bets, someone raises, and you muck your hand and sit there, folding hand after hand, for another orbit or two.

    Tight, aggressive poker wins. It just does. But it's a constant fight, for me at least, and I still can't say I always end up on top. That said, I can definitely chart improved results in my game with dedicated efforts to banish the conservative, weak tight mouse lurking within me. And I can pluck a few individual examples from those efforts that seem to have paid off with the most bang for the buck.

  • One thing that's helped me immensely is multi-tabling. That seems a bit counter-intuitive ay first but I think it's important, for the vast majority of us. If you're very, very patient and disciplined then you have no problem mucking non-premium after non-premium starting hand. I'm not that patient. Multi-tabling helps me curb that impatience and not get involved in pots with marginal, trouble starting hands, since you see more total hands and don't have to wait as long for a playable hand. For me, multi-tabling also streamlines the decision making process and, as a by product, play more aggressively. Do I have a hand? No. Fold and move on to the next table. Yes? Raise.

  • "Call" is a dirty word. Yes, I know, in many cases calling is correct, but by and large if you choose to play two cards and the flop improves your hand, you need to raise. If you find yourself often thinking "Well, I've got a good hand, and it's probably the best, but I really don't want to raise," then you need to re-think what starting hands your playing. If you're going to play J10d and the flop comes Qd 9s 2d and someone bets, you have to raise. Why else were you playing J10d and what else could you possibly be hoping for? If it's not a hand you feel comfortable raising you should likely fold. The margin of error you make by raising when you should fold (or folding when you should raise) is usually miniscule; the margin of error of calling when you should raise or fold is often much larger.

  • Don't fear the check-raise. Too often in the past I would slow down when a scary flush or straight card hit on the river, potentially wrecking my likely best hand up to that point. Bah. If you're not getting check-raised you're not playing aggressively enough and not getting the most value from your winning hands. Being proud of never getting check-raised is like being proud of never being hungover.

  • Don't assume you're beaten. If it's a big pot and one more bet to you on the river (and you're reasonably sure it'll just be one more bet), call. This is one of the few times that call isn't a dirty word. Remember, everyone else is reading the same Sklansky/Miller/et al books and amping up their aggression, firing away with overcards even when the board misses them. Calling one last bet on the river when you're likely beaten isn't a sucker bet. It's the correct call, as it only takes one of those big pots to slide your way to make the other nine losing calls a profitable play.

  • Don't overcomplicate things. If you have a hand, bet it. Yes, I know, slow-play monsters, blah blah blah, but it's easy to fall in love with the tricky play. It also calls attention to yourself, if anyone at the table is half-aware. You can't discount anyone holding anything at low-limit Internet poker (and calling to the river with it) and it's easy for a slow-play to bite you in the ass.

  • Play the chair, not the player. Position is very important in every form of poker. In brick and mortar poker, the person sitting in it is also very important, as far as demeanor, possible tells, etc. Not so in Internet poker. Unless you're using PokerTracker and other applications to give you real-time stats on the player (based on a sufficient number of their hands in your database), don't try to come to any conclusions as to whether they're a maniac, a calling station, etc. You don't have enough information to make that judgment. Odds are someone else will be in that seat in thirty minutes anyway. Only in very extreme cases (they obviously don't know how to play, are obviously tilting, etc.) should you alter your game based on a read of the player. Otherwise just play the chairs and focus on your own game, your own cards.

  • Don't bet when you have nothing to gain and/or a call means you're beaten. You limp in on the button with Kd 10d and three others limp in. The flop comes Ad 2c 6h. Checked to you and you check. Flop is 8c. Checked to you, you check. River is 10h. Checked to you. Do you have the best hand? Very likely. Should you bet? Hell no. If you bet, odds are everyone will fold and you'll take the pot. Which is exactly the same size pot you'll win if you check and your hand is best. You gain nothing by betting the majority of the time. If you bet and get called, odds are some passive player had an A with a weak kicker, or one of the blinds had a junk hand like 10 2 or 10 6. Someone might even be slowplaying a set. The very rare occasions that someone calls with a hand that you can beat don't occur often enough to make the bet a good play.
  • Tuesday, December 14, 2004

    Bonuses Abound: The Gaming Club, Lucky Nugget Poker, and RiverBelle Poker Signup Bonuses

    As if any of us poker bonus chasers needed more bonuses to chase after, but...

    The Gaming Club (as well as Lucky Nugget Poker and River Belle Poker) have finally changed their largely craptacular signup bonuses into pretty dang good ones.

    The key difference is that you no longer have to contribute to a raked pot to accumulate redemption points for the bonus, and instead just need to be dealt cards in a raked hand to earn points. They've also adjusted the points per limit: 25c/50c - 1 point per raked hand, 50c/$1.00 and above - 3 points per raked hand.

    They've also upped the maximum you can get in bonus money, from $200 to $300. There's also no set amount you must deposit as you simply redeem the points you earn for bonus money as you go, up to $300 total.

    The only real drawback to their bonus system is that you only have 30 days from when you originally deposit to claim as much bonus as you can. So it'd probably be smart to save them until you have a good chunk of time to devote grinding out the hands. As far as I can tell, you can hit all three poker rooms for the same $300 max bonus.

    (Edit: I'm hearing conflicting things about whether you can claim the signup bonus on all 3 of the sites listed above. While the terms and conditions of the sites say that you can only claim one bonus from the group, apparently people have successfully claimed bonuses at all three in the past. It's probably worth giving it a shot to see if it works, as they don't require a massive initial deposit to chase the bonus and you'll be able to see fairly quickly if they're giving you a bonus, as you get it in increments and not a lump sum.)

    You Know You've Been Playing Too Much Blackjack When... get dealt 74o and immediately think "Sweeeeeeet."

    Mental Health Days Rule

    So I called in sick to work today. I ain't sick. Ha.

    To be fair, I've called in sick exactly four times in the five years I've been with the company I work for. So I'm due a few sick days. Cough.

    I've managed to be fairly productive, including a trip to the post office. Plus I've not only managed to work off the InterPoker monthly bonus hand requirement, but I was dealt pocket Queens seven times in the process. Why do I remark upon that point, you ask? Because they're running a special holiday promo today where if you're dealt pocket Queens you get an extra $10 bonus, regardless of the outcome of the hand. The eternal pessimist in me is always sort of doubtful in regards to promotions like that, imagining some goofy-haired professor type sitting by the InterPoker servers, giggling as he turns a big huge black dial to "No pocket Queens". But I guess I'm, umm, just a pessimist.

    Monday, December 13, 2004

    No Cruise for You

    Didn't win a cruise in the World Slots Championship semifinal last night. Didn't even really come close. I had the lead briefly with about 5 minutes left in the final round but some yahoo hit a ginormous jackpot and put it away. Such is life.

    This week is going to be a rough one. I have all of next week off, so I'm just trying to make it through this one with a minimum of hassle and/or stress. It doesn't help matters that we're completely reshuffling and reorganizing job descriptions and general duties the day job, with all sorts of hoopla and running around and what-not. Don't mind me, quietly sitting here, twiddling my thumbs.

    Can't think of much interesting to relate, poker-wise. If you don't mind playing on Cryptos, InterPoker is running some pretty decent promotions for the next 12 days, including deposit match bonuses and other assorted fun. I also didn't realize until last week that US players can sign up for TotalBet and UKBetting (which also use Crypto software). They both offer decent recurring monthly bonuses (25£ total) or 5£ per hour that you sit and play at a table. It's obviously not a huge bonus but I almost prefer it to the PokerPlex and Caribbean Sun ones that require a certain number of deal hands, as at least with the hourly ones I don't get pissed at how freaking slow the Crypto software is and how long it takes to get in x number of raked hands. WillHill also offers the same monthly bonus for table hours and, unlike TotalBet and UKBetting, doesn't require a PIN number to be snail-mailed to you to cashout.

    Updated the Beginner's Guide to Casino Bonuses this morning and added a detailed explanation on recommended minimum bet size. I'm still working on a bankroll management tip sheet, as well as a few other expansions.

    Recommended Minimum Bet Size for Casino Bonuses

    One thing to keep in mind with casino bonuses is not just the overall dollar amount of the bonus but also the WR, as that determines how much you can potentially expect to earn per hour. A $20 bonus that takes you ten minutes to earn is in some ways superior to a $1,000 bonus that takes 100 hours to complete. It’s pretty subjective, though, and depends on your own personal circumstances. If you really, really need some extra money, and don’t mind grinding through many, many hands, you’d prefer the larger bonus, even if it takes you much longer to complete. If you’re more focused on your hourly earn, you’d prefer the smaller bonus that you can complete quickly.

    On a related note, I’d like to present a few different scenarios as far as what your minimum bet should be. By and large (especially for people just starting with casino bonuses) I highly recommend that you start with StarLuck and PlanetLuck, and that for both you bet the minimum $1 on every hand. While that means you have to grind through a lot of hands, the odds are good that you’ll emerge with a nice profit and have a cushion for future bonuses. But let’s look at the math behind that (and future) strategies, with an eye towards hourly earn and overall profits.

    You deposit $100 at StarLuck and get a $100 bonus, giving you $200. You have to wager $1,600 total. Betting the minimum of $1, that means you have to play 1,600 hands. Of those 1,600 hands, though, you’ll be splitting and doubling on some, so you’ll probably only have to actually be dealt 1,500 or so hands.

    Assuming you’re new to blackjack and consulting the basic strategy often, you’ll probably only be able to play around 200-300 hands per hour. That puts you at 5-8 hours of playing for an expected profit of $90, for an hourly earn of $11-18/hr. (Keep in mind, though, that the point of betting the minimum on the early bonuses is so you have the necessary bankroll later for the bigger $200 bonuses from casinos like Casino-on-Net, where your hourly earn will be $30-40/hr or so.)

    Granted, the strategy of betting the minimum on the first few bonuses isn’t going to make you rich. It’s very safe, though, and designed to build a bankroll for you to pursue further bonuses with. Let’s look at the math, though, as far as the risk and reward of betting more than the minimum.

    In the above example for StarLuck, if you bet the minimum of $1 there is less than a 0.01% chance that you will lose all your money before you wager $1,600. It’s virtually impossible to bust out if you bet the minimum. If you bet $2 on each hand, there is about a 0.5% chance you’ll bust out. Betting $3 a hand creates about a 2% chance of busting out. Betting $5 a hand is about 4%.

    So that’s not so scary a prospect, betting more than the minimum, and betting $5 a hand allows you to meet a WR of $1,600 in just a bit over an hour, as opposed to 5-8 hours if you bet the minimum of $1. Why in the world would I recommend that you bet the minimum, then, when betting $5 only causes you to bust out 4% of the time?

    There’s more to it than just busting out, though. Your goal in all this (hopefully) is to make a profit. The more you bet, the larger the short-term swings will be. As your bet increase, so does the variance. If you’re just getting started in casino bonuses and/or on a limited budget, the variance of betting anything more than the minimum can wipe you out, especially at the beginning.

    Here’s some math to chew on. Using the same StarLuck example, your expected profit is $90. That never changes, no matter what the size of your bet is. If you bet the minimum of $1 per hand, your standard deviation will be about $45.00. Your results, on average, will be within 1 standard deviation of the expected profit about 65% of the time. So 65% of the time you’ll book a profit of between $45 and $135 when completing the bonus at StarLuck.

    Keep in mind that when we say 65% of the time we mean just that, nearly a majority of the time. Not always, not guaranteed, simply 65% of the time, and actual results can still fall outside that range of 1 standard deviation. Or, more simply, roughly one-third of the time your results will fall outside of 1 standard deviation, causing you to make less than $45 or more than $135.

    If you bet $2 a hand, your standard deviation is $65.00. So 65% of the time you’ll show a profit of between $25 and $155.

    If you bet $3 a hand, 65% of the time you’ll show a profit of between $10 and $170.

    If you bet $5 a hand, 65% of the time you’ll show a profit of between -$6 and $186.

    So let’s combine all that. If you bet the minimum of $1, 65% of the time you’ll make between $45 and $135. You will essentially never lose all of your money. It will take you about 5-8 hours to complete the wagering.

    If you bet $5 per hand, 65% of the time you’ll lose $6 or make $186. You will lose all of your money 4% of the time. You’ll complete the wagering in 1-2 hours.

    With that in mind, it’s pretty easy for me to recommend betting the absolute minimum when starting out, especially in a beginning casino bonus strategy guide. While you won’t make as much per hour, you’ll book a profit the majority of the time, with no risk of losing your entire $100 deposit. You’ll slowly and steadily build up a bankroll with no risk to your initial investment. Yes, in some individual cases you’ll be making less than minimum wage, but in other cases you’ll be making $30-40/hr, all from the comfort of your home, all for just clicking buttons on a computer. You’ll also become comfortable with the world of casino bonuses and be positioned to profit even more from more advanced, trickier bonus strategies.

    Betting $5 per hand greatly increases your potential hourly earn but it also greatly increases your risk. Not only do you have a decent chance of losing money but you also have a 4% chance of losing everything. Betting $5 per hand places you within 1 standard deviation of losing money. While your expected profit is still $90, you’re just as likely to lose money as you are to make money, given the variance created by betting more than the minimum. Yes, you have the potential to win more, and you’ll complete the bonus much more quickly. You’ll also have the potential to not only lose more, but also the potential to lose everything, that 4% of the time when you’re very unlucky.

    All that said, there’s definitely a middle ground. When recommending a strategy to others, I advocate taking the ultra conservative path, betting the minimum, grinding it out and locking in a profit. My own personal strategy, though, is to bet the minimum on the first few and then gradually increase my minimum bet slightly on later casinos, once I build a cushion of profits. But I understand the risks and am willing to risk a bit to increase my hourly earn.

    It depends on your bankroll, too, as if you’re starting with $500 (and understand the risks entailed in gambling) you can bet more than the minimum, as your bankroll is large enough to ride out the short-term variance that comes with larger bets. If you bust out on one casino but triple up on the next, you’ll show a nice overall profit. But you have to have a bankroll large enough to absorb the risk of busting out on one or two casinos.

    For people just starting out, though, with limited bankrolls, I highly recommend betting the minimum, or very close to it, especially for the first few casinos. You only get one shot at these signup bonuses and it’s important to make the most of it, instead of putting your investment at risk by betting more than the minimum.

    Sunday, December 12, 2004

    That Was a Crazy Weekend of Gambling

    So yeah, no Las Vegas but sweet Jebus, the cards are running hot right now. I made out like a bandit on three sticky casino bonuses this weekend and *cough* hit a decent jackpot playing *cough* video slots at StarLuck. I worked off the monthly Crypto bonuses at UKbetting, TotalBet, and PokerPlex, and finished off the Bodog initial signup bonus.

    Keeping my fingers crossed that the good mojo will continue, as I have another shot at a freeroll for the World Slots Championship semifinal tonight at StarLuck, where I have to strategically outslot four other monkeys to win a free Caribbean cruise.

    Again, many thanks on the assorted feedback I've gotten for the beginner's guide to casino bonuses. I'm expanding it a bit and will soon have sections on bankroll management and assorted number crunching for grinding it out and betting the minimum versus the risk/reward of betting more than the minimum. Just as a general headsup to anyone who hasn't yet done the Reef Club bonus, the scurvy knaves increased the WR on it to 25x. It's still a profitable bonus but keep that in mind. Hope to get the additional stuff up tomorrow as well as some more general tweaks.

    Saw the Gourds play at Antone's on Friday, which was cool as hell. I was sort of afraid it'd bring back back ex-girlfriend flashbacks (who literally and figuratively introduced me to the Gourds here in Austin) but nay, no bad flashbacks, only Gourdy goodness.

    Chores, food, then some hardcore slots action.

    Thursday, December 09, 2004

    Investing in Poker

    (Note: An analyst I ain't, so take what follows as exactly what it is, my two cents on possible ways to invest in poker, if you think the boom will last. This isn't a solicitation to buy or sell any of these stocks. Just my two cents. That's it.)

    Investing in Poker

    While buying a copy of SuperSystem2 is definitely a good poker investment, there are also traditional investment vehicles open to poker fans and anyone else who feels the poker boom is here to stay. So how exactly can the savvy investor cash in on the poker boom, you ask? Good question.

    If you believe that the rise in popularity of poker will significantly impact the bottom lines of casinos and the gaming industry in general, there are all sorts of investment possibilities. The most obvious are companies such as Harrah’s, Caesars, MGM, and Mandalay, that own and operate major casinos (many of which are expanding and opening/re-opening poker rooms.) The equation is pretty straightforward: more people playing poker = more casino revenues.

    That said, the correlation isn’t necessarily that direct nor that lucrative. Poker rooms really aren’t that profitable overall to casinos and, until recently, had been on the decline, for that very reason. While the poker boom will likely result in more patrons in casinos, they’ll only significantly contribute to the bottom line if they behave like typical tourists (i.e. no marathon 36 hour sessions at the poker table.)

    Aside from those issues, gaming stocks in general have been on a tear in the last few years, with many currently nearing 52 week highs, fueled by both merger activity and increased profits. While most P/E ratios are still in the 20-30 range there’s not a tremendous amount of upside, based on their current valuations.

    A more direct option to cash on the poker boom is WPT Enterprises, our friends who bring us the World Poker Tour (WPT). Aside from the televised broadcasts of WPT events (which the company licenses the rights to the Travel Channel), WPT Enterprises also collects member casino host fees, sells corporate sponsorships, and hawks branded merchandise. That said, the vast majority of the money they make comes from their licensing agreement with the Travel Channel.

    So poker is popular, the WPT is popular, the Travel Channel shows are cool, sounds like a good deal, right? If poker keeps booming then the stock can only go up, right?

    Not necessarily. While the present is rosy for WPT Enterprises, it’s hard to imagine the future being much brighter. In their most recent quarter ending October 3, 2004 the company reported $3 million in revenue, with an operating loss of $520,000. Given the fact that the company went public on August 13, 2004, it’s impossible to compare recent results to past financial performance.

    That said, it’s difficult to recommend investing in WPT Enterprises, poker boom or no poker boom. Especially since the stock quickly doubled after its IPO. While it’s retraced a bit, trading now at $12/share, it’s still sitting there with a whopping trailing P/E ratio of 437, during what should ostensibly be a boom time. Will televised poker continue to draw record audiences, translating into continued growth in licensing and sponsorship revenues? Maybe, but I personally wouldn’t bet on it, especially until the company proves that it can use its position to expand into other significant, revenue-generating operations.

    To be fair, the company is debt free and has over $30 million in the bank, as well as upside potential due to it being the first mover in licensing the television rights to major poker events. If you feel like gambling a bit on future potential, WPT Enterprises wouldn’t be the worst gamble, but I’d definitely wait to try to get in at around $6-8 share.

    Okay, fine, you say, so what the hell should I invest in, if I think poker is here to stay and want to take advantage of it? Patience, grasshopper, patience. There are two poker-related stocks that look attractive to me. One is an obvious play and the other is less conspicuous.

    CryptoLogic (and its WagerLogic subsidiary) licenses gaming software and services used in various online poker rooms and casinos. The company provides the software backbone that enables the owners of poker sites and casinos to do business. While the bulk of its business comes from licensing casino games, the company is increasingly seeing returns from its online poker operations.

    In the most recent quarter ending September 30, 2004 the company reported $15.6 million in revenues, with earnings of $2.9 million. Online poker revenues increased 55% and accounted for 20% of total revenues. CryptoLogic has $77 million in the bank with no debt whatsoever. While shares have been on a bit of a tear in the last year (up over 80%), it’s P/E ratio remains reasonably attractive at 23. The company also pays a .05 dividend, which currently yields 0.9%.

    In addition to the positive raw numbers listed above, the company typically signs long-term contracts with poker rooms and casinos, many of which are difficult to replace. While there are other providers of gaming software, switching over is a costly decision, once you’ve established a site and dedicated player base. So not only does the present look pretty bright, but the future as well, with added room for improvement in earnings if poker continues to boom.

    So what are the negatives? With any online poker-related company, one can’t forget the quasi-illegal nature of playing poker online in the US right now. Will the US government (as well as state governments) continue to largely turn a blind eye to the millions of US citizens gambling online every day? Probably. But it’s not a guarantee, and while enforcement of such a law prohibiting online gambling would be next to impossible, you do have to consider the damage that would be done to the valuation of publicly-traded gaming stocks if such news came out.

    Another less conspicuous play on cashing in on poker is Neteller, which trades on the London Stock Exchange. Like CryptoLogic, Neteller is an infrastructure provider for the online gambling world, supplying the payment processing system that lets all of us gambling fiends deposit and withdraw money from online casinos and poker rooms.

    Once a distant second fiddle to PayPal, Neteller suddenly sprang into dominance when PayPal stopped dealing with gambling-related payments. While some sites do have homegrown transaction processing systems, Neteller currently has a hammerlock on providing an online payment system for gambling sites.

    In the quarter ending September 30, 2004 the company reported revenue of $21.9 million (up 112% from the comparable period in 2003) and net income of $8.6 million. Gross margins were an impressive 69% and the company ended the quarter with 1,060,167 registered members using its payment system. For the nine months ending September 30, 2004 the company reported $55.0 million in revenues with net income of $20.0 million.

    For Neteller, business is obviously pretty good. They’ve got a nice position in a field with few competitors (especially given the strangely puritanical avoidance of the gaming industry by existing transaction processing providers) and can scale up their business with little cost. Plus much of their advertising is done by either word of mouth or by the gaming sites themselves, by dint of offering Neteller as a deposit/withdraw funding option. They also benefit greatly from new poker and casino sites springing up, especially when they all offer promotions competing for new players. Neteller gets paid for each and every transaction they process, so the more transactions (activity that mutltiples when players move money into and out of new sites), the better.

    As far as downsides, there are a few. The company’s P/E ratio is in the 80s and it’s within striking distance of its 52 week high, with shares having run up over 90% in the last year. Like other gaming companies, the company’s bottom line would suffer if gambling laws were suddenly forced in certain regions of the world. It’s also slightly difficult to find information on, due to its trading on the LSE, and not exposed to the general investing public and analysts as much as companies such as CryptoLogic and WPT Enterprises.

    That said, Neteller is crucial to online gambling and well poised to profit from future growth. Barring a sea change or new entrants into the transaction processing field, Neteller looks like it could definitely be a profitable gaming diamond in the rough.