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Online Poker News Archives - December 8, 2004

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Copyright 2004 The Diamondback via U-Wire
University Wire

December 8, 2004 Wednesday

LENGTH: 860 words

HEADLINE: Online poker gives gambling a facelift

BYLINE: By Sam Sessa, The Diamondback; SOURCE: U. Maryland



   It's Monday night, but that doesn't matter to Evan Silverman.

   Sinking back into his black leather couch with a laptop on his lap, fresh delivery on the table and "Jeopardy!" on the tube, the senior criminology and criminal justice major is in the zone. He's playing online Texas Hold'em poker, betting real money on digital cards.

   It's been a year since poker became the rage among college students (courtesy of ESPN's "World Series of Poker"), and now online poker is the latest wave to hit the gambling world. For recreational gamblers, it's a hobby. For serious gamblers, it's an obsession.

   Silverman plays online for about four or five hours each day (once he spent
12 hours at it), usually at tables with $5 and $10 blinds hosted by He says most of his Internet opponents are "fish," or easy prey to any experienced player. He thinks professional players don't waste their time on small-blind tables and prefer higher stakes.

   "To be honest, I think there's a lot more fish online than live, and there's a lot more dead money on the computer," Silverman says. "You'll see a lot of times people will just piss chips away, piss money away because they're just clicking a button, and they pay you more money."

   So far, Silverman estimates his winnings at about $6,000 over the year that he's played -- much more than he ever won in live poker or during frequent trips to Atlantic City, N.J. He started with $200 in capital, and steadily built a bankroll big enough to finance a trip to Walt Disney World with his girlfriend.

   For Silverman, the advantages to online poker wildly outnumber those of playing live poker. While playing online, he can have two or three people looking over his shoulder offering him advice, he doesn't have to keep a stone face and he can blurt out when he has pocket queens.

   "Playing online gives me more of a rush, because I get to share the excitement with others," Silverman said. "You can show a lot more emotion."

   But online poker also has its drawbacks. Game speed is much quicker online, where playing a hand all the way to the end only takes a few minutes. Silverman estimates he plays twice the number of hands online that he does in live poker.
This means if your head's not in the game, your funds can quickly dip into the red.

   Alex Joffe, a senior criminology and criminal justice major, says he's lost about $500 since he started playing online. Whenever he gets a decent payroll, he says he likes to toss a good bit of it at an online game.

   "I like video games, and I guess it's just like a video game for money,"
Joffe said.

   Tables on seat 10 people. Buy-ins for regular games start at $0.50 and $1 and go up to $30 and $60. Other Web sites, such as, offer blinds as high as $100 and $200. The websites collect a small percentage of each pot, and they also charge fees for tournament entries.

   The buy-in for most tournament games at is $50, and first, second and third place win $250, $150 and $100, respectively. To speed up the game, blinds increase on a 10-hand basis, topping out at 300 and 600 chips a hand. Since a huge volume of people are logged in at any given time, new tournaments pop up every five minutes. Monday at around 8 p.m., more than 55,000 players were seated at 7,317 tables.

   Some tournaments offer huge payrolls for tiny buy-ins. Back in July, sophomore business major Zachary Maltzman won $17,000 on a $50 buy-in. Sponsored by, the tournament boasted about 700 entrants.

   "I actually jumped out of my chair before the last cards had been dealt, because I was drawing dead," Maltzman said. "I just ran around my house. It was euphoria. It's harder to believe, because it's online. Even though you realize how incredible it all is, it's a little screen that pops up and says 'Congratulations!'"

   So far, Maltzman has won about $30,000, mostly from tournaments. He hasn't gambled hardcore in a few weeks because of the time commitments tournaments require.

   "It's really stressful, and tournaments take a lot of time, and if I'm not gonna concentrate on them then it's not worth my time," he said.

   With most poker sites, the money is instantly transferred to (or deducted
from) your credit card or bank account when you cash out. The big payoff or the bank-breaker is just a few clicks away.

   "It's almost way too easy," said Silverman, who lives in a house with four other online gamblers. While his roommates mostly play for fun, Silverman counts on poker revenues to keep him from merely scraping by on a menial college job.

   "I look at it more like a job than anything else," he said. "It's not a steady job, but while I'm in college, I look at it as a steady income. I personally think that I will win nine out of 10 times."

   Winning takes time, Silverman says, but it's easy to forget about time when you're gambling. Silverman won about $4,000 on a four-day stretch, during which he rarely put his laptop down. Win, lose, it doesn't matter. Buy in with $50 and kiss the next few hours goodbye.

   "It sucks you in, and you can play all day," Joffe said. "Every hand's a new hope."

   (C) 2003 The Diamondback via U-WIRE

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