Trying out

I’ve been playing on Pacific Poker for a while now but, spurred on by a visit to the Poker Den today I thought I might see about trying to win myself entry to that. It looks a slightly bizarre tournament, to be honest, but does have the advantage of being less than 5 minutes walk from where I live.

So, I downloaded the Party Poker software and deposited some funds. Not wanting to go straight to a real money table I went into a no-limit pretend money one. No good cards came along, until I got pocket Kings. I raised a decent amount, just about everyone called. The flop came – all low cards, no flush draws, no straight draws, no pairs – so I reraised, and just about everyone called. This went on for the next two hands and then someone on the table won with an 8 6 off suit. My conclusion: the pretend money tables were even worse than the Pacific Poker ones for quality players.

The interface itself I didn’t really like. I don’t see the point of having little pictures of people around the table – it just takes up space that could be used for the cards. The chat window is also incredibly small and so much goes through you can’t really follow it. The other thing it could really do with is keyboard shortcuts. On Pacific, you can raise with the cursors and press ‘C’ for call or ‘F’ for fold (these keys are a bit close together for my liking…). Not so on Party Poker, it’s mouse control all the way, and it can get a bit tiresome. The only thing you can use the keyboard for is entering your bet in figures.

I decided I was familiar enough with the interface and joined a $10/$1 no limit tournament. There were ten players around the table. First hand was nothing, then second hand I was dealt poket queens. I raised a little over twice the blinds and had one caller. Perfect for that kind of hand. The flop came up: A Q 9. Even more perfect. I checked, he bet, I raised, he called. Excellent, so he has got an ace, and probably a strong one at that.

Time for the turn: another ace. Even better. He’s on a set, I’m on a full house. As long as the board doesn’t pair, or he doesn’t have a nine or a queen then I’m made. I made a smallish bet, he raised, I called. The river: junk. I bet again, he went all in, I called. Second hand and I’d doubled up and knocked my first player out. We were down to 9, with the first 3 places paying.

There wasn’t much else for a while. I bet a few hands, bluffed a few, and seemed to win every pot I was involved in (which were all small). Then, pocket kings. I raised the blinds, a decent raise, a short-ish stack re-raised, I put them all in. They called, and I saw I was up against aces. Bugger.

The game went on, I had a few cards, and somehow ended up down to the last two. We were on level terms after I called his all-in on the flop with some decent pot odds of a queen high flush that didn’t come off. A couple of hands later and I was ahead, then I looked down at pocket 10’s. Pretty good. I raised from the small blind, he went all in, I called and saw he had A K off. Luckily, my 10’s held up and I was the winner of the $50 first prize.

Winning my first money game should really make me feel warm towards Party Poker, and if I was the suspicious type I would be thinking there was a conspiracy in favour of me as a new player. The only thing that I liked about it that I don’t see on Pacific, though, is the way all-in’s are handled. On Pacific it’s shown in the same way as any other hand i.e. first round from the dealer, so you don’t see later mucked hands. On Party Poker, as soon as someone’s all-in and no more bets can be made the cards are turned over and the flop, river and, very dramatically, turn are dealt. Much better.

The other thing I didn’t like was that I couldn’t find out where I was in a tournament. First, it was hard enough to get into the next tournament. (It was a scheduled event, I was typing, something popped up, whatever key I was pressing at the time closed the window and I had to find my tournament again to get back in.) Then getting back to the lobby was hard enough, and once there although it shows the chip size of each player, I couldn’t find a way to rank them so I didn’t know where I was.

All in all, I can’t see Party Poker pulling me away from Pacific Poker. There are just too many things about the interface I don’t like, from the way you get into tournaments to the tables themselves.

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