Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Soko, Baby, Soko

Many thanks to everyone for the supportive comments on my epic tome yesterday. And for, you know, just reading the damn long thing. If Blogger ever institutes a fee per word for my bloviating here I'm screwed. Damn screwed.

So after getting assorted chores done I sat down last night at the pokering machine, with ScurvyWife esconced in the living room watching American Idol, and a few hours of prime poker time available to me. The question, then, was what the heck to play, to kick off this little non-HE challenge? Omaha? Razz? 7 Card Stud?

Ha, that'd be far too easy and predictable. We're kicking off the challenge with some Soko, baby. And no, Al, I'm not misspelling that.

My plan at the beginning was to hit up lots of B2B sites, grinding out bonuses, as those are springing up everywhere these days. They all currently offer a €25 refer-a-friend bonus on top of whatever signup bonus you get, too, which is nothing to sneeze at. I made pretty nice coin playing at Martinspoker with the crazy Euros before, plus the peak hours on the B2B network are usually in the afternoon here in the US, which fits pretty well with my normal playing schedule. The network has decent traffic and spreads Omaha, 7 Card Stud, Stud/8, Triple Draw (hardly any games there, though), plus Soko.

To be honest, I had no idea what the hell Soko was. I'd seen it on their games tabs on the poker client before, giggled at the resemblence to the nectar of Al, and pretty much immediately forgot about it. Last night was the first time I'd actually played, and, wonder of wonders, it's pretty damn interesting.

Soko is basically just 5 Card Stud, but with a twist. Everything else is exactly the same (you're initially dealt one card down and one card up, betting round, then each player is dealt three more cards face up, with a betting round after each) but four flushes and four straights count, and are ranked above a pair. So you have your normal hand ranking down to two pair, then comes a four flush, then a four straight, then a pair, and then high card.

That seems a fairly insignificant change but it actually makes it pretty interesting. One drawback (as far as creating action) of 5 Card Stud is that four of your cards are showing, with only one card hidden, so it's not exactly an action game, as you can often tell exactly where you are in a hand, without a shadow of a doubt, as opposed to 7 Card Stud where the three hidden cards can disguise all sorts of hands.

The four flush/four straight wrinkle, though, adds some intrigue. If you're playing normal 5 Card Stud and have (random hole card) Jc Jd Qs 4h and your opponent has (random hole card) 3d 5c 10d 4d, you have the mortal nuts. Doesn't matter what your opponent's hole card is. You win with your pair of jacks. Your opponent is never going to call a bet from you nor attempt a bluff, as the entire world can see that you win, without ever flipping up the hole cards.

If you have the same hands at Soko, however, you're potentially in a world of hurt, as your opponent could have either a four flush or a four straight, both of which beat your pair of jacks. Even if they have neither, they have a great hand to bluff with, especially if you bet first with your exposed pair of jacks. If you bet your jacks and your opponent comes over the top with a big raise, with your pair of jacks in plain sight for everyone to see, it's pretty impossible for you to call with less than two pair. And odds are you don't have two pair. So you fold. Unless you think he's bluffing. Cue intrigue.

It's played as a pot limit game, with an ante and a bring-in from the highest card after the first two cards are dealt. There aren't an absolute ton of Soko tables running but there seem to be a decent amount of games running at peak hours.

Too early for any real strategy musings, as I've only played for a few hours. I finished up about 60 euros, though, and cleared a decent chunk of hands towards the bonus I was working on. I'm in the process of clearing a space in the sidebar, to keep a running tally of the non-HE challenge stuff. Which definitely needs a snazzier name, too.

Does anyone know of any decent strategy books on 5 Card Stud? Does such a beast exist? Any chapters on it in existing 7 Card Stud books? I did some general searches online but am coming up bone dry so far.

While I was playing Soko, baby, Soko I had my second computer grinding out the WR for the 32Red casino signup bonus, which is 100% up to $100/£100. I went the pounds route, as this one is a decent cashable bonus with autoplay that I hadn't hit yet. If you do it, be sure to do the "Casino Games" welcome bonus and not the slots one, unless you love the slots. The Casino Games one has a higher WR (30x) but it allows plenty of good games like baccarat, roulette, craps, video poker, and some blackjack games. I end up clearing it at autoplay Spanish Blackjack, which is allowed and has a low HA.

I finished the WR at about £300, which I was more than happy with. 32Red is also currently a pretty nice ongoing monthly bonus match of £50, but they watch your play pretty closely, and stop offering it to you if you just clear the minimum WR and then withdraw, etc. So I thought I'd play a little video poker and not just play the minimum WR on the welcome bonus, as a bit of cover play. Goal was to play until I hit £400 or dropped down to £250. Hit a nice little run right off the bat and stayed between £300-£350 for quite awhile, until I hit a boat towards the end and something else decent to push me to £400. Cashed out, called it a night.

So yeah, nice start to my little adventure, getting up nearly $600 right off the bat. And yeah, I know, it's quasi-cheating to include silly casino bonuses in the results, as they have nothing to do with poker. I agree. But it's a little hard to separate the two, as the last time I did the turn-small-sum-of-money-into-much-bigger-sum-of-money challenge the casino bonuses were definitely crucial in allowing me to step up in limits on the poker side much faster than I normally would have been able to. I guess it's more a nomenclature thing than anything, as what I'm really doing is a broader sort of Practical Challenge for Online Grifters and Gambling Degenerates to Turn $1,000 into $30,000 in a Year sort of thing, instead of doing it solely by playing non-HE poker.

I've also already done most of the good casino bonuses so far, too, so those really aren't likely to be a huge driver in the overall results. They should be good for a steady $200-$400/month but big scores like the one above are going to be rare.


AlCantHang said...

So you're saying I could drink Soco while playing Soko? Sign me up!

CC said...

Hey, you can't say you watched AI then not comment--what a horrible night to be sure! An abomination. Of course I was in the middle of donking off $700 on Stars at the time, but that noise from Idol didn't help me at all!