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Sunday, September 03, 2006

"You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em"

Well, there's now a new addition to my very short list of vices. For the past several months or so, after seeing it played quite a bit in tournaments on television, I've toyed around with the idea of learning to play poker. But apart from UNO and being a pretty good hand at blackjack, card games really aren't my forte at all. But something about being able to play poker had some kind of allure for me. I didn't really know where to start though.

And then last week at the TV station, while we were running a weekly sports show, I caught a commercial for something called Bodog.net, where supposedly you can learn to play poker quite easily. I checked out the site and a couple of days ago signed up for a free account. After that came downloading the Bodog.net poker client (about 5 megabytes or so). Then it was just a matter of watching others play it before jumping in myself...

Here's the Bodog.net poker screen (take a wild guess which player I am :-) No real money at stake here: when you sign up with Bodog.net you get $1,000 of play money, and you can come back and get more if you get wiped out at the tables again and again and again. Bodog.net is not to be confused with Bodog.com, which is a real play-for-money online betting venue (they're run by the same company though, a Costa Rican outfit called Bodog). Bodog.net is strictly for fun and learning... and I doubt I'll ever play for anything higher than a coupl'a stacks of nickels anyway.

So at Bodog.net the main game is Texas Hold'em: each player is dealt two hole cards and then there are five community cards which along with your hole cards you make your full hand. It's said to be the most popular variety of poker played these days, and the one used in all those televised poker championships. I knew nothing about Texas Hold'em but after going over the easy-to-follow instructions on the Bodog.net page and then actually playing a few rounds with other people, I found myself getting the hang of it pretty well. I've probably played ten games so far since taking the full plunge last night: I won more than six hundred "dollars" in one game, then make some really stupid decisions and lost it all before going back to the main page to beg for more play-dough. After the last hand I played I had about twelve hundred in my account. That'll probably get wasted before the night's over unless my loved ones can't stand to see what's become of me and stage an intervention to make me stop before I start wagering away my unborn children.

Seriously though, if you've ever wondered what it's like to play a real poker game and don't know where to start but don't want to put your paycheck in real jeopardy, give Bodog.net a try. And who know: maybe this is just the first step on the path that will someday find me being a high roller in Atlantic City or Reno or Cherokee :-P