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Online Poker News Archives - February 8, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Nationwide News Pty Limited
The Australian

February 8, 2005 Tuesday All-round Country Edition

SECTION: FEATURES; IT Today / Computers; Pg. 32

LENGTH: 754 words

HEADLINE: Poker hopefuls put their cards on the e-table


In the past 24 hours, about $US180 million ($233 million) was wagered in online poker rooms worldwide, and Boyd Leys wants a slice of the action.

Five months ago, Leys, 50, packed in his $US65,000-a-year job with an internet publisher and joined a growing number of poker enthusiasts emboldened by the boom in online gambling to take up the game full-time.

In the first online tournament he tried he got amongst the money, but with an average monthly take of just $US300, he has few illusions about becoming an overnight poker millionaire.

"I just want to be able to make a living at it," he said. "Basically, I'm going to give it another three months, and if I can create sufficient income I'll see where it goes."

He spends six hours a day playing $US50 and $US100 buy-in games on sites such as PartyPoker. com and

"Obviously, I take breaks in between," he said.

"I don't just sit there and drool on the keyboard for six hours."

Television coverage has driven phenomenal growth in poker, and nowhere more so than in the virtual gaming rooms that litter the internet.

In January 2003, about $US11 million was wagered every day on major poker websites.

Two years later, the daily average has grown to $US180 million, according to, a Canadian company that tracks the industry.

With as many as 1.8 million players active at any given time, poker sites are expected to pull in more than $US2 billion in gross revenue this year. So what attracts people like Boyd Leys to give up comfortable jobs for the insecure world of internet poker?

"Well, for one thing you can work in your underwear," said Matthew Hilger, a poker writer who forsook a career in banking to become an online poker professional four years ago.

According to Hilger, some wannabe pros have an overly romantic view of the job.

"The fun and thrill of playing online poker is not quite the same once you start playing 40 hours a week in front of your computer," Hilger said. The dreams of online players are embodied by Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, who stunned the traditional poker world by stepping from the obscurity of the internet ranks and walking off with the coveted World Poker Series titles in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

"After seeing those two win, everyone from the bellboy to the chief executive suddenly wanted to play the game," said Bill Seymour, 63, a 10-year veteran of the World Poker Tour, who now coaches online players at

"A lot of the people out there just haven't got a clue," Seymour said.

Four sessions with him would give any online player an advantage over 85 per cent of their cyberspace rivals, he claimed.

Logic suggests that highly skilled players such as Seymour would make a mint fleecing amateurs on the internet, but the virtual environment robs them of a key weapon in their armoury -- the ability to read flesh-and-blood opponents for signs that they may be bluffing or holding a sure-win hand.

"Playing bad players can be a liability for a pro," Seymour said.

"They call when they shouldn't and bluff when they shouldn't and, worst of all, win when they shouldn't." As Barry Shulman, editor of Card Player magazine points out, the element of luck is the great leveller in poker.

"A decent golfer will almost never beat a top professional, but a decent poker player can beat the world's best on any given day," Shulman said.

If the faceless nature of online play is viewed with suspicion by the pros, it is happily embraced by the likes of Leys, who can build up hundreds of hours of competitive poker experience without having to brave the intimidating atmosphere of a bricks-and -mortar casino.

"Because of the anonymity there's absolutely no fear other than losing your money and, perhaps, looking bad in front of people you've never seen," Leys said.

Even in virtual poker rooms passions run high, however.

Most online sites offer players a chat facility, and although foul language is prohibited, sore losers find ways of getting their message across.

"They'll call you all kinds of names. There's a lot of stars and dots and dashes and f-blanks," Leys said.

Playing alone in front of a computer screen can also prompt behaviour that would result in immediate ejection from a real casino.

"You can curse and yell and scream and nobody will know," he said.

"That's one of the things you've got to guard against, because it can be very debilitating for your play," Leys said.

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