Where I’m playing: Online

In my “About” page, I mention that I am now playing online exclusively at Cafrino. I’m sure some of you have heard about the site, but others possibly haven’t. Let me tell you about it.

Cafrino is a free site, but it isn’t really a play-money site. Play-money sites are useless. You end up with people who play very poorly, if not all-in every single hand. Why bother to grind it out, if there’s no pain involved in losing? Just try to hit the jackpot every hand.

Cafrino is different, because there is something at stake. They offer real-money prizes, even though it never costs you anything to play. Instead, there is a constant stream of video ads playing at the right of the page while you’re playing. That’s how they earn their money, and that money goes into prize pools.

To get started, you play a series of ladder tournaments, which usually have to have three people to begin. You start at level 1, and Cafrino has seemingly acknowledged that those tournaments are a joke. They start as soon as two players sit at the table. Both players win tickets to level 2, although the “winner” receives one “Cafrino chip.” At level 2, they get a little more serious. There has to be a minimum of three players, and only the winner advances to the next level. The remaining tournaments are the same setup, with first place advancing, second place staying at the same level, third place going back one level, fourth (if playing) going back two levels, etc. Climb through the levels and win level 9 and you earn a ticket to a weekly $500 freeroll, played on Sundays at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Winning also higher level tournaments also pays higher and higher amounts of Cafrino chips. You can also get free Cafrino chips once an hour by pushing a button at the top of the screen. What are those chips good for? They are your entry into multi-table tournaments that pay real money, anywhere from a $1 prize pool to several hundred dollars.

The added element of there being something at stake in the gamesĀ  causes most (but not all) players to take them more seriously. There are, of course, always bingo players moving all-in at the drop of a hat, especially at the lower-level ladder tournaments or in the early rounds of the multi-table tournaments. Sometimes, of course, they get lucky and put together big stacks. And some otherwise serious players seem to adopt a “go big or go home” attitude early in the multis, looking to get an advantage early on, rather than grind out a small stack for three or four hours.

All in all, it’s a decent place to play. It allows me to get some practice against unpredictable opponents and to try out different styles of play. If you’re missing online poker, like I was, check them out at http://www.cafrino.com. There is no cost to join and never anything to buy.

Setting up shop

Getting the new site up and running, so that will take a little time. Please be patient.

In the meantime, a quick update. It’s been a few years since I’ve worked on my blog. Of course, I’ve lost my old one, although I think I have a copy of it, or most of it, saved somewhere. I will try to get the old archive posted, when time allows.

For anyone who is new to “evilbilly.com — Trials of a Poker Apprentice,” it was my online diary of poker … my history of playing, my thoughts about the game, and various tidbits of news and opinion. I began it Thanksgiving weekend of 2004, and I started it to chart the progress of my five-year plan to become a professional poker player, as ridiculous as that sounds. I kept it fairly active until around 2007, and it limped along with more and more infrequent updates for another couple of years.

So, it is now 12 years later, and my fairy tale dream of being a professional poker player still has not been realized. In fact, after awhile, I stopped playing. Then I got a divorce, which comes with a whole bag of life-altering shit. Meanwhile, online poker pretty much died in the United States. Soon, poker was just a game that crossed my mind very rarely.

Last year, though, the poker itch struck me, and I scratched it. I haven’t stopped scratching since. When I started back, my game was rusty, of course. But I devoted myself to practice and study, and I’d like to think maybe it’s getting better than it ever was. Maybe not, but I like to think it, just like I like to think I’m the best player at any table I play.

So, here I am again, playing in one way or another almost every day, reading almost every day, thinking just about every minute of the day, all about this crazy little game that seems to hold some meaning for me. And it’s only natural that I begin to write about it again. Maybe for me, more than anyone else, but that’s OK.

If you’re interested and want to follow along, welcome. I’ll be back soon with more updates.