Monday, February 27, 2012

The Big Deal

The tables turned for me Saturday as I slid into the dealer’s chair.

The event was The Big Deal, a fundraiser by the Decatur Jaycees to raise money for the Red Cross.

This casino night included a couple dozen blackjack tables, a few roulette and craps tables and a handful of slots – in the form of those Japanese skill machines.

About a few hundred people bought $25 or $30 tickets to get 500 in play chips and then tried to build up their money to buy raffle tickets for the chance to win prizes.

There were five poker tables set up, but most were empty for the first hour. Finally, a couple of games started, but I was sitting alone.

Two women and a man walked up and asked the game.

“Texas Hold’em,” I replied.

The idea was to deal 5-10 blinds NLHE on each felt.

“We don’t really know Hold’em very well,” one of them said. “Can we play five card?”

“Sure,” I said. “I’ll deal whatever you want to play.”

So I became the lone table offering a non-hold’em game, and we played five-card draw all night (with deuces wild.)

A couple others joined. Most people who sat down quickly scurried to other tables when they learned what we were playing, but these folks had a good time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I went to Tunica...

...and the only thing I caught was this cold.

Actually, I probably got it from my son, who was diagnosed with some respiratory virus yesterday. I finally broke down and visited a doc-in-a-box this afternoon after I developed a major earache. The nurse gave me a steroid shot so I am much, much better at the moment.

I spent most of my Saturday in Tunica in the hotel bed, sleeping off my sickness. Well, that and the poker. I brought a limited bankroll so I was playing with short money. It didn't help when I lost some right off the bat on Friday, and the monkeys finished me off Saturday morning. I ended up playing mostly small games -- primarily $4-$8 Omaha Hi-Lo with a half kill.

Lot of chasing, lot of hitting by my opponents.

At least the comps were exceptional, as usual for Tunica. I played about two hours of $1-$2 NLHE at Gold Strike Friday night and scored a breakfast buffet the next day (value $10).

At the neighboring Horseshoe I played about eight hours over the two days before going broke. When I asked for a comp, the shift manager said I only had $5 in comp dollars on my card. Since I was supposed to get $1 an hour something was amiss with the computer system. It didn't matter, however, as she granted me a lunch buffet (value $19) anyway.

In total, $30 plus dollars in comps (when you consider the tax I would have paid) for about 10 hours of play.

I wonder what kind of rate Canadian poker might bring.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tunica Yeehaw!

Headed to Tunica this weekend for a little poker action.

Got the itch for sure, since I just don't get out much anymore -- my last casino trip being to Vegas last summer.

I'll stay at the Gold Strike with my pal Brian. A tip to the wise if you've never been to this land of cotton fields and casinos: Gold Strike is your best bet. This casino has nice rooms (at reasonable rates), a good poker room, and is 100 yards from another casino with a poker room that might even be a bit better (the Horseshoe).

I miss that poker mural they had at the Shoe when they used to have the room at the front of the casino.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

WSEX is run by idiots (in case you were wondering)

Here's my next-to-last rakeback statement email from WSEX since they close tomorrow.

Hilarious how they forgot to mention the site is closing while promoting their VIP tournament and deposit bonus in this form email.

Perhaps a bigger question: what did I do with that $16,741.49 in rakeback over the last six years???

Dear TuscaloosaJohnny,

We are pleased to present you with your weekly World Sports Exchange Pay Stub. This sum has been posted to your account during the rakeback procedure. Now more than ever, it truly pays to play Poker at

WSEX Pay Stub Details:

Last Week's Pay: 5.69

Your lifetime Pay to date: 16741.49

Largest player payment this week: 276.57

Along with offering you the very best pay incentive program - Get Paid To Play, World Sports Exchange - The Original Online Sportsbook is your home for so much more. We have pioneered the online sports betting industry, and for the past 12 years it has been our goal to provide you with the very best wagering experience. Straight wagers, Live Betting, parlays, teasers, and proposition bets, we have them all. Try our "No Download" Casino, the mobile casino games.

We are thankful for your loyalty with us over the years, and we very much look forward to see you participating in at our Poker Tables. As you might already know, we run a $2,000.00 VIP Bonus Event Tournament every Sunday. To participate players must simply contribute $50.00 or more for the previous Week in rakeback or win a token in any of the Daily Qualifier tournaments.

Additionally, World Sports Exchange is pleased to offer a 100% Poker Deposit Bonus up to a maximum of $1,000.00 USD!! Deposit money at and we will start tracking your 100% Poker Bonus up to a maximum of $1,000.00 USD.. YOU MUST EMAIL after you have made your deposit. Enter “Poker Bonus” in the subject line. Please go to our webpage,( and click on 'Promotions' for more information.

If you have any questions regarding your weekly statement or anything else, you can always reach us via live chat, email ( or toll-free at 1-866-234-0575.

Best Regards,

World Sports Exchange

Monday, February 13, 2012

Keeping tabs with online poker regulation

I’ve been keeping close tabs on the various discussions of federal regulation and intrastate regulation of online poker, and there has been plenty of chatter taking place in recent weeks.

As the author of this article points out, state legislatures are now going into session so there should be plenty of debate on the merits of online poker in the coming months. Hopefully, we can get somewhere on the issue.

Intrastate poker is no good for me as a player (as I said before, you can forget about any online poker in Alabama anytime soon – although we had plenty of “bingo” machines across the state in recent years before the governor’s office shut them down). However, intrastate poker could provide plenty of opportunities for me as a writer, perhaps through blogging about the games for the companies that operates the games or by writing weekly newspaper columns for publications in the states in which the games are held. Truly, there could be lots of opportunities if I hunt hard enough.

I take exception with the author’s comment that 15 million Americans “illegally play poker online” every day. In fact, zero Americans do so, because it’s not illegal for us to log on and play. I think the author is trying to emphasize his overall point by writing false statements. The point he is trying to make is plenty valid without resorting to these tactics.

The best point he makes is this:

The argument that this is an expansion of gaming and somehow corrupting the moral fiber of the nation is as old as the Wishbone offense. It is no longer relevant, with 48 of 50 states having some sort of gaming and, 43 states having more than three types of legalized gambling. With millions playing online in their living rooms or offices without any controls, wouldn’t it be in the best interest of law enforcement and financial regulations to manage this sub-culture of illegal activity?

Indeed. Indeed.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

WSEX is closing WPX

World Sports Exchange announced in an email to users Friday afternoon that they will shut down the poker software on Wednesday -- leave it to them to do it on such short notice, by the way.

No great surprise, really, given how little traffic they've had for a long time. What few players there were around were terrible, though, and I and others made a killing...too bad we may never see our money...

Dear Poker Customers and Affiliates,

It is with great regret that we announce the closure of World Poker Exchange.

As of 1pm ET on Wednesday 15th February 2012, our poker software will no longer be available, and any active poker room balance you may have will be transferred to your World Sports Exchange account. Rake will be paid out as normal on the following Monday.

We deeply apologize for the inconvenience caused. Our attention is now focused on improving our sports betting and casino products.

Thank you for playing at WorldPX, and we hope you continue to enjoy playing at World Sports Exchange Sportsbook and Casino.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at, or call (866) 234-0575.

Poker room software inquiries may be submitted to


Management & Staff

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jimmy Sommerfield retires

If you are a serious poker player in the South, you almost definitely know who he is. If you are from other regions you may have heard of Jimmy Sommerfield. He mostly conducted WSOP circuit events in this region, and also assisted at the big WSOP each summer.

Sommerfield recently announced his retirement from directing on 2+2. Evidently, he's going to open his own auction house in Southaven, just a hop, skip and jump from Tunica.

Here his post:

I started in the poker business some 18 years ago, because I was a bad 1-5 seven card stud player. Yesterday , I turned in my resignation as Tournament Manager for the WSOP. I will be resigning the WSOPCE effective March 1, 2012. I will be the Tournament Director at the upcoming circuit events at Choctaw, Tunica, and Palm Beach.

This decision was based solely on the fact that I want to spend more time with my wife, 3 daughters and my first grandchild that was born this morning. I want to thank Ken Lambert( First Poker room manager that had enough confidence in me to promote me to Tournament Director of Horseshoe), Jack McCleland( For teaching me all the ins and out of directing Major Tnmts), Jack Effel (For allowing me to be Poker Manager at the WSOP), All the staff and dealers that work for PTC( For their hard work , dedication), and a special thanks to all of the players that have supported me and PTC. There are also many other people in the business that have been an inspiration to me. I hope that somewhere in my 18 year career, that I have made a difference for the Poker Industry.

Thanks to all, and I hope to see you in Choctaw, Tunica, and Palm Beach!
Jimmy Sommerfeld

Jimmy's a great guy, and his wife, who assisted him at many tournaments, is also a great person. I had the chance to speak to him a number of times along his career, and once interviewed him for a Q&A for Rounder. He'll definitely be missed by those on the tournament trail.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Poker & Survivor

Follow this link to read the recent article by Gary Wise on poker players and how they fare on Survivor.

Like Gary, I’m an avid fan of the show, having watched it since its first season. I also see plenty of parallels between success in poker and success in Survivor.

I find it interesting that Albert Destrade plays poker as his primary occupation, a fact that was not discussed on the show. Unlike Jim Rice, he kept his cards close to his vest, no? (Never mind that he mostly walked around shirtless.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Treasure Island's gonzo promotion & "soft" Vegas rooms

Those of you who keep up with the goings on in Vegas may have heard about this crazy good promotion that Treasure Island is running. You can earn up to $599 in cash back by playing up to 60 hours a week. (Why $599? That's for tax reasons.)

They pay you in cash at the end of the getting a paycheck without the check. In addition, you get the standard $2 in comps per hour played. So if you grind for 10 hours a day, six days a week you'll earn $599 in cash, plus $120 in chow (or whatever else you spend it on there).

As one 2+2 poster wrote, "If I was in Vegas I know where'd I'd be." Yeah, me too.

Nothing comes easy, though. In reading more discussions about this promotion online, I hear plenty of people complaining about how tough the games at TI are during this event -- which the manager said has an indefinite end. They say you have eight sharks and maybe a tourist or two per table, as the wise grinders of Vegas are making their way to this room.

That reminds me of the question constantly posed on 2+2 that asks which room or rooms have the softest 1-2 games in Vegas. The correct answer may be all of them...and none of them.

You can think of it like "market correction" in business. Any Vegas room that gets the reputation of having plenty of "soft" play will attract the better players, and over time that room would probably become tougher than the average room for a period. That way, the average skill level in a room is elastic. I'd say that TI will become a harder place to win during this promotion, and will continue to be for a short time afterwards. Still earning $12 an hour in cashback and comps may still make the room a good bet if you play smart.

I do have one theory concerning "soft" Vegas rooms, though. Since Mandalay Bay attracts plenty of convention traffic, and is in an inconvenient location on the south end of the Strip, that room probably has a better chance than any others of being consistently "soft." Or maybe I just think that because I've always won the few times I've played there.