Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

February 2010

Now: How exactly do I get at this without seeming to cast aspersions on business people? 

Well, as an old saying might be updated, one must occasionally think outside the carton to break eggs and make French toast.

For the past several years, poker has been creeping its way from smoky basements and back rooms to card clubs to casinos to charity events to television to online gambling. Texas hold ’em and blackjack have become so much a part of our experience that when political commentators, financial channel talking heads, and football analysts use the terms “double down” and “all in,” most of us know what they’re talking about even if, as often as not, they don’t.

I’m pretty sure online gambling is not legal in the United States, but the Internet being the wild frontier it is, you can easily download software for PokerStars.net, PartyPoker.com, and more. You will have a reasonably difficult time getting in a “money” game — that is, a virtual table where you risk real money against a bunch of weirdly named avatars who may or may not have hacked into the site so you’re more likely to lose a hundred bucks than redeem 13.

Not to worry. You can play “play-money” games on those sites for FREE to your heart’s content — all night; all day; all week.

It’s simple. You figure out a great alias — mine’s “bzejack” — or, like mine, a not-so-great or even silly alias. Then you are given play money — $2,000 — and join a table dealing the game of your choice, and start playing. If you lose your grubstake, not to worry: As long as you’re broke you can get another stake. 

I did this several times before I found a way to pick the right time to bluff, check-raise, go all-in, and like that. After I amassed the incredible — to me — sum of $37,219.75 in play chips, I started joining tables with larger limits, doing well enough to eventually buy into top tables with $100,000. Actually went bust twice after that and started over with $2,000, but now I’m several million up.

So here’s the extra point. Some aspiring business people have found a way to make real money at these play-money sites. They “sell” losers as many as 25 million play chips for $14.99 real PayPal dollars. It’s not that hard to do — sell ’em, not buy ’em, I mean.

You set up “private tables” controlling all 10 seats. Then you have one player win “all-in” as fast as the dealer will deal. With enough of these private tables, and enough shill avatars logging on to other less-than-full tables pitching messages like “goto ChipsRme4U2 and buy chips cheap,” you could run this 24/7 and make minimum wage, no sweat.

Shouldn’t business people bright enough for this be able to devise better credit default swaps or something?