When the poker player's lifeline fails

In April, Info Security Europe conducted a survey on the streets of London where they asked Londoners which household utility they couldn't live without. Of the 1,000 commuters polled, 38 percent said they'd be most stressed out by not having the internet. Only 32 percent said that not having water would be the most stressful resource to live without.

In a similar survey in 2012, 17 percent of responders chose the internet.

When asked how long they could manage without the internet, 27 percent of responders said they couldn't cope at all, 25 percent said they could last a day, 29 percent said a few days, and only four percent admitted that they don't need the internet at all.

This past Sunday marked the first day of the 2013 Spring Championship of Online Poker. When the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event wrapped up, I decided to late-register for the SCOOP 2M. Unfortunately the internet went out at the venue, so, knowing that I could find a place to grind in the nearby Monte Carlo Bay Hotel, I quickly bagged my things and headed over.

Upon entering the lobby, I heard the familiar ding of an elevator door about to open. When it did, more than $14 million in career tournament earnings poured out. Five poker pros, most of whom were carrying laptops with multiple SCOOP tournament tables open, had also lost their internet, and were off to a nearby hotel to continue grinding. I followed Faraz Jaka, Mohsin Charania, Paul Volpe, Griffin Benger, and Sorel Mizzi as they raced out of the hotel, and continued on to my own living quarters, which were unfortunately 20 minutes away on foot.

According to EPT Live's Joe Stapleton, he also encountered a handful of poker players in the lobby of the same hotel later on without internet. One of them was Ana Marquez, who currently sits in 16th in the 2013 Global Poker Index Player of the Year race.


Poker is all about adaptability. When your opponent plays one way, you can counter with a different strategy. When you go on a downswing, you can step away from the game or drop down limits. In the middle of a hand, if the turn card or the river card changes your perceived equity, you can check, bet, or fold. There are always options available for poker players to get them out of difficult situations.

What online poker players can't account for is internet connectivity. It's an invisible kryptonite, floating around individuals while they play, and striking at seemingly the most inopportune times. When connectivity is broken, it literally leaves players lifeless - they connect compete without wifi or a working ethernet chord. Players can try and counter a failed internet connection, but troubleshooting the internet can be much more difficult than reacting to an opponent's check-raise, especially if you're in a hotel with no access to the modem or router.

Thus, you sprint out of your room, laptop in hand, and you find the nearest internet connection. It might not be the optimal move, and the internet could return as soon as you leave, but you need to regain your invisible strength. You must re-discover the most important resource possible, according to 1,000 Londoners, the internet.

The five players I bumped into and Marquez eventually found the internet. None of them made major runs that night, but on Day 2 of SCOOP, both Volpe and Marquez earned watches. Volpe took down Event 4H: $2,100 Badugi, denying Shaun Deeb his sixth SCOOP watch and earning $34,780, while Marquez won Event 5H: $1,050+R NLHE turbo, earning $255,035.10.

A few weeks ago, the PokerStars Blog ran a competition for the "sickest setup," and a lot of really cool grind stations were submitted, but maybe we should've checked for kilobyte per second speeds. Massive monitors and soul reads are nothing without a strong internet connection.

Rich Ryan
@PokerStars in PokerStars news