The UIGEA turned out to be challenged from a number of directions. The story has been well covered elsewhere, and I don't know enough to do it justice, but my understanding is that banks are simply saying that they can't implement the complicated rules and are appealing to regulatory agencies. Like most court/legislative maneuvers, this will take some time to sort out.
Meanwhile, online poker remains as grey as ever. Money goes in and out to the sites still operating, and some payout systems still work (although fees have reached new heights).
I've been just too busy doing actually useful work to spend time playing much poker, but as a change of pace I often play on weekend mornings until it becomes boring. I decided, though, that I wouldn't deposit. Instead, I'd take from Chris Ferguson's challenge and try to literally get something for nothing.
Having played so much online, I have a number of player points on various sites. So, during the latter half of last year, I decided to see if I could build an online poker bankroll and/or win some prizes without ever redepositing even $1.
I started on a UltimateBet, because their player points are most valuable. Well, they are most valuable because you can actually play “cash games” for points, with a 2500 point buy-in and 10/25 point blinds. Since deep-stacked NL HE cash games against weak opponents are the best spots I've ever found for myself in poker, these games were ready-made to get me lots of points.
My first big win was to win my wife's holiday gift: an Ipod bought with
points on UltimateBet. This had the added bonus of fighting off
don't spend money on a music player for me; the one I have
basically works attitude my wife was taking. This way, I could
invest only my time and get her a gift that she actually really wanted
but couldn't justify the overpriced cost of Apple's (IMO, crappy)
Now, in the end, I roughly calculated that I got paid somewhere around $3/hour for the time it took me to play to win the Ipod. However, most of that time I could be doing something else like watching TV or talking with my wife. Those point games are extremely low pressure and easy to pick up chips without any hard decisions or good reads. (“Standard bad player” reading ability is all it takes to get the points.)
In next week's post, I'll talk about my next moves for building a fresh online bankroll using only the almost-cash-valued remnants of my former online pro status.