Winter has finally taken over Australia and it's getting very uncomfortable outside. Every night it gets pretty cold (5°) and most of the day it is raining and there's a cold wind. You can feel a big difference these days when you walk the streets of Melbourne. The otherwise lively city cools down and there's not too much happening. People rather stay at home or at least indoors, the parks are abandoned and there are significantly less venues happening every weekend.
Now this is not as big of a problem as it seems, because most of the time I'm in the office anyway and also I found something to do during cold and rainy winter evenings - something else than going to the pub!
A few weeks ago a friend asked me if I know Poker. For years I've been hosting a poker venue in my old student flats kitchen, but for the last two or three years I had to do without this regular treat. Fist of all, moving to Australia totally prevented me from playing with the old gang and after moving out of my student apartment after I've finished my studies we never really found a nice place such as the dirty kitchen, where people spat on the floor and nobody was bothered by it but everyone still felt comfortable.
So this friend of mine here in Australia took me to my first poker venue here in Melbourne. He himself just started a week or so earlier to play in the 888 Poker League. The word "league" might be a little bit misleading though. You would expect that you sign up and then have to play every week in a certain venue. It's not like that though. You can basically show up whenever and wherever you want to any of the million venues in town. Every night there are different pubs and bars that host these tournaments and anyone can join. This requires to join the league, but since it is for free to sign up, I guess nobody is really bothered by that. The tournaments themselves usually cost $11 entrance fee, start around 7:30 pm and usually finish before 10 or 11 pm - of course this depends on how good you play or how early you get kicked out.
Usually there are around 15 - 25 players - sometimes even more. Once there are only nine players left, the final table is played. Where I play winning the tournament usually is worth around $130 to $150, around $70 for second place and $40 for third. The league has a point system and if you play pretty well you get an invite at the end of the month for a big tournament with big bucks - usually around $10.000. So far I've only got one invite for my first month where I've won one tournament and got a couple of 4th/5th places as well. But I didn't go to the tournament. They are usually on a Saturday, start early in the morning, go on until deep into the night and are way outside of the inner city. So a lot of inconvenience for me - especially the getting up early thing...
The good thing though: in Australia poker winnings are tax free!
The first time I won I've got $130 and the second time was $150 and this finances future evenings if you consider you only pay $11 per tournament. In total I don't think I'm making money, but I would say I almost break even.
Regular visitors of my blog might have noticed the poker statistics on the right hand side of the page. I've added every game I've played there since - and not only the weekly $11 tournaments - but also some private games we've done so far (hence the difference between the two mentioned tournament wins and the four in the statistics).
I currently try to make it to a tournament twice a week and what I really like about those games is that the players are not the dicks you would expect in a casino which want to come over arrogant to get you off-balance and make stupid calls. Most of them are actually very likable and they also don't take it too serious. And even the better players simply don't care too much about a faux-pas like a misdeal.