Monday, February 16, 2009

Milestones (in Cluelessness)

Played a ton of hands over the weekend over on PokerStars. Thus was sitting at a couple of tables (occasionally three) when a number of those “milestone” hands were being played elsewhere.

Yes, elsewhere. Didn’t manage to luck my way into playing one of those hands with the juicy extra cash prizes attached to ’em. Not sure what the precise odds were for hitting one of those, but it felt like one in several thousand at least.

I assume most of those reading this blog were aware of the big promotion over the last few days Stars had to commemorate the dealing of its 25 billionth hand. Several promotions, actually. One of which was a series of cash prizes handed out every ten million hands starting with hand 24,850,000,000.

Those hands were treated sort of like “jackpot” hands, with every player dealt into the hand getting an extra cash prize, then the winner of the hand getting an additional bonus. The cash prizes were given out according to table stakes, meaning if the hand happened at a “Micro” table, everyone got $125 and the hand’s winner an extra $300. At the “Low” tables, all got $250 and the winner $750 more. At “Medium” stakes tables, everyone got $500 and the winner an extra $1,250. And at the “High” stakes games, everyone got $1,000 and the hand’s winner an additional $2,500.

There were some shenanigans early on, I heard, involving two-player teams sitting with each other at two dozen heads up tables and folding every hand, thereby trying to increase the chances of getting dealt a milestone hand. Stars actually had to suspend their “1-on-1” tables for the duration of the promotion in order to thwart that bit of blatant collusion.

The Milestone Hand is Currently Being Dealt!When one of the hands was about to take place, Stars gave a little announcement in the chat box. They also were linking to milestone hand tables from the main lobby, and a couple of times I clicked through to watch the hands take place.

Here was one of the milestone hands, a $0.02/$0.05 six-handed no-limit hold’em hand from Friday afternoon:

As I usually do, I changed the player names -- in this case to protect the clueless. As this was a “Micro” stakes hand, all six players won $125 just for being dealt cards. Then the winner stood to receive an extra $300 on top of that.

No one had more than $8.60 when the hand began. One player, out2lnch, posted both the small and big blinds (that is, seven cents). Before the flop comes down, there is a delay while PokerStars’ support announces in the chat box that it is a milestone hand. I believe there is also a banner-type announcement that briefly appears over the table pointing out the same. In other words, anyone paying even a little bit of attention should know something is up.

Of course, not everyone knew about how the promotion worked, specifically how the winners of these hands got extra cabbage. That was clear from how this one played out. Two players -- spacey & zoned out -- fold preflop! The replayer doesn’t show it, but zoned out actually left the table immediately after he folded. Clearly he wasn’t tuned in to what was going on here, and was probably surprised to see the extra $125 in his account later.

Two more players -- out2lnch & in a fog -- subsequently fold to einstein’s 15-cent bet on the flop. Then dopey folds on the river. No showdown, even!

Take the case of spacey, who had $2.22 when the hand began and folded preflop. That’s something like 135-to-1 odds spacey is turning down -- assuming he would have to commit his entire stack at some point -- by deciding not to play this one out.

If one hops over to the forums, apparently this sort of thing wasn’t unusual at all during the promotion, as many of the milestone hands saw players folding out, obviously unaware of what they were giving up by doing so.

The big one -- the 25 billionth hand -- went off sometime early this morning, around 4:45 a.m. ET or thereabouts. For that one, those dealt into the hand split a cool $100,000, and the winner stood to grab an extra $100,000 plus an EPT Monte Carlo package, a PokerStars Caribbean Adventure package, a WSOP Main Event package, and a World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) Main Event entry.

That hand ended up happening at a $1/$2 Omaha/8 table, and there was a bit of controversy as one player either accidentally folded his hand or there was some sort of connection issue that caused him to fold. If yr interested, Otis wrote it up over on the PokerStars blog.

I generally liked this promotion. Brought a hell of a lot of traffic to the site -- there were over 250,000 players logged on during the afternoon yesterday, with something near 60,000 of them playing cash games at one point. The best part about the promotion, of course, is that the players aren’t paying into the “jackpot” as happens on other sites. That is, they aren’t paying over and above what they’d be paying for rake in order to contribute to some “bad beat jackpot” thingy or the like.

Guess I’ll just have to try again when they get close to the 30 billionth hand. Only took Stars six months to deal the last five billion, so I’d estimate four or five months until that promotion happens. I know that’s a long way away, but please, try to remember: if you happen to get dealt into one of those suckers, don’t fold!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not too mention the waiting list that flew up to over 200 after the table was announced. Did all those people think the waiting list would get a cut as well?
Even funnier were those who saw the announcement and managed to occupy empty seats. Hint: when the hand was announced, it had started already, anyone arriving was too late. Still, in the chat, such people were surprised they weren't dealt cards.
Sometimes cluelessness borders on the edge of science fiction.

2/16/2009 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it goes to prove that poker is still profitable!

I saw a similar micro-stakes ahnd where someone folded to a $2.50 shove, despite getting monsterous odds!

Why do I never end up with those sort of clueless idiots at my tables?

2/16/2009 4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As many promotions pokerstars holds, this one actually drew me in. It was nuts once everyone realized what wad going on. I missed one milestone hand by the crushing blow that felt like

2/17/2009 8:54 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Ouch, Joe! Hurts just to read about that. I think the closest I came was more than a thousand hands away.

2/17/2009 10:26 PM  

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