AKA ‘nuTTTz’, Al McDonald is the newest member of Team High Roller.
Hey High Rollers, we’d like to introduce the newest member of Team High Roller Radio. Al McDonald, an avid gamer, poker player & Twitch poker moderator for ‘Gripsed’ & ‘Upswing Poker’. AKA ‘nuTTTz’. Al has a strong technical background and here talks about a gambling nightmare; you’re leading an MTT poker tournament and the power goes out. Help!!!!
Costly Crash Late in an MTT?
By: Al McDonald
It’s just past the 10PM, 5-minute online tournament break. Six hours into what you hope to be a twelve-or fourteen-hour session, you are feeling relaxed. Thinking back to the countless hours of study, the thousands and thousands of hands you played in order to give yourself a real chance to be profitable in online poker, your confidence is high.Seeing the thousands of dollars up for grabs in the top places feeds you energy. The mental game training kicks in, ensuring you stay on track. You continue making good decisions. You’ve got this bad boy! No-one is as prepared as you are to win. Every read is right. The hero calls are paying off. It is all going just as you planned.You hear the sound of a distant “POP!” and suddenly it is dark. A few seconds go by before you start to fully understand the gravity of the situation.
“I am deep in three, 6-figure-prize-pool tournaments and my computer and internet are off! What the hell do I do now? HELP!”
It only takes a few seconds longer to realize that the little generator on your bicycle front tire is not going to save the day. You are well and truly at the mercy of events and circumstances that are out of your control. But are you really? Could you have protected yourself? Yes. Absolutely, most certainly, yes! Taking into account the stakes at play, at some point it becomes necessary to make serious investment in technical variance reduction.
Avoid internet and power outages late in MTT poker tournament!
The first part of it, like anything, is knowing all the variables. In the case of technical variance, it is a short list of three things:
1. Hardware failure
2. Power outage
3. Internet outage
This can be due to any one of a hundred different reasons, some preventable, others not.
The most obvious factor is to buy a quality system that is up to the task. Going cheap here is like trying to race INDY in your family sedan. Make sure you get system that can handle the heaviest load you wish to put on it and then some. When buying a system, consider maxing out the RAM and upgrading to an SSD drive to improve both performance and reliability.
Regular system maintenance can go a long way towards keeping a system running at peak efficiency. (I’ll get back to that later.) Even the best due diligence on housecleaning, however, will not stop hardware from eventually failing. The key to insuring against losses due to failure is redundancy, even if that means something as simple as a backup laptop capable of running the software load you require. Are you a smartphone/tablet user? Consider having your sites’ apps installed in case of emergency.
Some users, many top Twitch streamers, for example, will put a very large investment into redundant hardware that is capable getting them back on-screen very quickly. Four-monitor setups with dual gaming PCs create the ability for one PC to take over should the other fail. This enables the session to be finished with only a slight interruption. The issue of the failure can then be addressed later when your tournament life isn’t at stake.
Whenever a hardware failure takes your system down, it will almost never be a quick fix.
Repairs shouldn’t be attempted if also trying to play serious poker. Things such as replacing video cards or restoring data to a new hard drive are quite often day-long adventures.
Backup devices to login with are your best insurance against loss due to hardware failure.
When you have all the right equipment in place, this is one of the least troublesome issues you’ll face.
While dealing with power outages is relatively easy, it will not be cheap to do right.
Take into account what relevant factors apply to you and determine just how much you need to invest in protection. Things to consider are: location, type of residence, service consistency (outages and fluctuations), expected power consumption, runtime and budget.
Dependant upon what type of dwelling you reside in, your options can be different. Home owners have one option others will not: an external, automatic switch-over, backup generator. While an expensive option costing several thousand dollars or more when combined with basic battery backup devices on modems and computers, it provides seamless uninterrupted power. Natural gas may also be an option that ensures your off-the-grid power never runs out of fuel.
When renting or living in a place where an exterior generator is not an option, battery backup is your only option. Also called a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), these range from inexpensive units that provide mere minutes of power to serious boxes that can provide many hours of backup power. The greater the wattage and longer the power duration possible, the greater the price of entry.
Service consistency will often go hand in hand with location. Rural residents, who may have to contend with things like trees falling on power lines, will naturally be coupled with more frequent outages and longer downtimes. When an external generator is not an option and downtimes will be longer than most, getting proper backup power will be expensive.
How many devices you wish to run on emergency power is a critical consideration. Runtime costs money. Expect any battery backup that will provide power to multiple devices for an hour or more to start at the four figure price range. For multiple monitors, PCs, modems etc, expecting to last for several hours can easily land you in five-figure territory.
Depending on the stakes involved, you may potentially lose more with an outage than a solid battery backup system would have cost. Backup solutions are your poker insurance policy against losses.
Our modern age worst nightmare. More angry calls have been made because people have email they can’t get than any other reason in telephone history. As a Twitch streamer, a lost internet connection is a show stopper. As a stakes player, it can make you lose your mind and your chance of winning. This is where it gets all ‘good news, bad news’.
For most, the good news is that insurance is fairly easy to obtain. Salvation lay in cell phone service. Urban areas and many rural areas have full data and internet coverage as part of the cell service. Consisting of nothing more than a 4G- or 3G USB dongle and a service agreement, this option is the fastest way back to the interwebs should your main provider suffer a major outage. Switching to a mobile device for play can be an option here as well. Unfortunately, most mobile devices do not support multi-tabling. As such, a 4G dongle on a monthly contract can be a very worthwhile investment.
The bad news: If alternate cell service or a backup internet provider are not options, you are screwed. Blinding out. GG, us. Thank you for playing. Go pour yourself some of your favourite beverage and try to not toss your monitors against the wall. Breaking stuff is -EV.
To this point, we have discussed those things that are random and unpredictable. From here we will go into the preventable.
System Maintenance and Due Diligence
The software on your computer is 1000 times more complicated than the hardware it runs on.
Left to its own devices, the software will, for lack of a more fitting description, over time go insane. Not a little loopy, either; completely batshit crazy. A machine exposed to the internet is at even more risk. Exposure to the internet creates a ‘not if, but when’ certainty for trouble.
Maintenance items that are required for continued good performance are:
Defrag: Untangles the ones and zeroes that got mixed together during HDD use. Note: Don’t enable defragmentation on SSD devices. Windows does know better here. On mechanical HDDs, this should be run weekly during your non-grinding hours. (No defrag on Macs.)
Scandisk- Scans system for errors and drive defects. I recommend running scans on your HDDs and SSDs weekly on all critical-uptime systems. (Mac users run Disk Utility.)
Antivirus/malware scan- Up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software is a must. Run weekly scans and have on-access, real-time scanning enabled. Running a PC on the internet without this protection is only inviting disaster.
Backup, Backup, Backup
One of the most important aspects of keeping your data intact is to have a backup. Windows and Macs offer native backup solutions that are free. Purchase a USB drive that is at least three times larger than your main HDD and schedule daily full backups of your system. In a worst-case scenario of a HDD crash or SSD failure, you can install your operating system on a fresh drive and then restore all your apps and data from last night’s backup. Don’t be That Guy who loses years of hand histories and player stats to a lack of preparation.
As for due diligence, it is like any insurance and maintenance.
When you assess how much is as stake for you, that is your opportunity to consider how much you are willing to invest to protect it. If a four-figure investment can prevent you from a five- or six-figure loss, you should call.
Every single time.