Halcyon Days of Online Poker – A Reminder

By Karaoke Phil

The Straight Flush Poker Tour (SFPT) recently expanded into my neck of the woods, on a pretty convenient night.  They moved into the St. Paul Saloon on Hudson Rd and play Monday nights at 7pm.  I’ve played there during their first two weeks and have been reminded of fond times from my early online poker playing.

I started playing Texas Hold’em in January 2005.  By July I had downloaded software and was playing online.  I don’t recall why but, my first room and first love was on the Ongame Network – Holdempoker.com.  Unfortunately they closed down after UIGEA and I made the move over to FullTilt.   While Ongame had been around (indeed the main skin Pokerroom.com – is now back), Holdempoker.com was a fresh start up skin having only begun cash play in April of 2005. 
The timing for me was perfect.  By the time I joined they had just started their freerolls – $250 a day paying out the top 100 spots.  I cashed a lot for about 2 months.  Not every day, but A LOT.  Why? I’d like to say that I was the “bomb” skill-wise, and while I think I had some skill, my cashing at the time was mostly due to the start up nature of the site.  See, for the first 2 weeks there were days where fewer than 100 people signed up to play.  It wasn’t until the third week or so that they began to break 300 people signing up. For a long time it was either, literally, free money or it seemed like taking candy from a baby – say, a 120 signups with the top 100 paid out, and skill wise I was certainly in the top 40.
The times have changed and I’d like to believe I’m now a far better player.  Still, the SFPT start up at the St. Paul Saloon had me reflecting on those freeroll days at Holdempoker.  How so?  I’ve never played a fresh start up bar in free poker before, but, get this, apparently there ARE people that don’t actually play a lot of Texas Hold’em.  Okay, it seems I may live in some sort of bubble.  As a new location there are a batch of the bar regulars who fit that “pretty new to Texas Hold’em”  category.  I had never been to the The St. Paul Saloon, but it seems like only 2 or 3 of the regulars have moderate or more experience. Similar to my online experience it takes some time to build the day/time recognition and to increase the raw number of players.  So, for the first two weeks we’ve had 14 and 11 players respectively.  I expect that to grow over the next few weeks, but for now it seems to me that skill-wise I’m in the top three (okay, I really think I’m the best overall) of a fairly small field.  In week 1 I went out in 6th after having two back-to-back A/Q lose to A/9 and K/T.  But, this past Monday I took second and the free bar tab that comes with it.
Unfortunately, I can’t play every Monday (won’t be there on the 23rd), but I’d love to have you stop out and experience it.  The halcyon days of online poker are gone, but you can relive a part of it with live play at the St. Paul Saloon!  At least until the field grows both in size and skill.