Poker face.

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Today was a pretty relaxed day, partially by choice and partially due to the weather; the rain has been torrential and unrelenting. I won’t complain though, having travelled around so much lately it’s been nice to just stay in for a change, and I’ve managed to get a few bits and pieces done into the bargain.

Between updating my CV and Résumé I have been able to work on some songwriting, catch up on some quality reading time, and get some maintenance work on my skateboard done: cleaning the bearings (which got wet and locked up), brushing down the griptape, changing my trucks’ bushings, and swapping in some new wheels. The biggest downside to the weather is that even if the rain stops at some point overnight the skatepark will likely still be wet tomorrow, which may seem insignificant to a non-skater but believe me slippery ramps and rusty bearings are a nightmare. But, this is England and unless you are lucky enough to be near an indoor skatepark (which for me is an hour’s drive without traffic) at a certain point in the year you either skate on wet ground, or don’t skate at all.

I also tried something completely new to me today: online poker. Since my early teenage years I have played a lot of poker with friends and on the computer (though against AI rather than online), practising as much (and as many poker variants) as possible, devouring books and online resources on the topic (my favourite being the High Stakes Poker podcast). And it is no secret to those who’ve known me as an adult that I am partial to the occasional trip to a casino (though blackjack is my preferred game; quick, relatively cheap, and one in which skill can make a difference – unlike pure luck games such as roulette or craps, which have never appealed to me).

If I were more interested in the money than the game I may have explored online poker sooner, but the truth is that I am not. What I enjoy most about poker is calculating probabilities and trying to read my opponents’ body language to figure out where I stand in a hand. I’m not much excited by the risk of financial loss (which is of course the most likely outcome – there are more losers than winners at any table or tournament), and I’m not motivated enough by the promise of a large payout (which, save for an elite few, is highly unlikely anyway). What inspired the decision to give it a shot today was an advert promising free cash to play without a deposit (which turned out, of course, to be loaded with terms and conditions). Upon reading that the company also offers a “play money” (free-to-play) mode – much better suited to my needs – I downloaded the software straight away and got stuck in.

I played two sit and go games. In the first I reached the final two before more or less throwing the game (finishing second), satisfied with having made my target of a prize winning position, and won the second outright. I did enjoy the games, and can see myself returning for a quick game or two every now and then, but I won’t be playing for real money online any time soon. If I’m going to pay to play, I’ll pay for the casino experience: a real dealer, real cards on a felt table, and the ability to play the game as it is played best – reading your opponents’ tells and getting a feel for where you stand beyond the values on the cards. But until my next casino visit I’ll gladly take the free practice.


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