Friday, April 29, 2005

Vegas for Rummies

Five weeks. Cinco.

I believe that puts us on approach to the clubhouse turn. Welcome to this week's edition of "The Countdown," the world's lamest weekly forecasting show, where I attempt to fill blank cyberspace with unnecessary personal factoids and puerile musings on the upcoming WPBT Aladdin Classic. Let's get right to the program.

Inspired by the largest Human Head in the blogosphere's question regarding Vegas tips (of which mine were mocked--MOCKED I TELL YOU), I'll be introducing a new feature I like to call:

Vegas for Rummies

Let further mockery ensue.

My credentials are impeccable. Everything I say is gospel. You may or may not get arrested. Strict adherence is mandatory. Today's topic:

How to Deal with Hangovers

Stay home. Even if you don't drink, you will. It's like when I stay with my midwestern relatives for a few days and suddenly start saying things like "sodie pop." A few hours in the AlCantHang orbit and you will assimilate. It is inevitable. The only sure way to avoid a swollen cerebral cortex and a pissed off liver is to not leave the house.

Drink Non-Alcoholic Fluids. Eventually, you are going to reach a point where further alcohol consumption results in one of two things:
1. The saturation point where not even back-to-back-to-back Irish Car Bombs can move your drunk forward, or
2. Find yourself curled up on the cold tile floor of casino bathroom in a puddle of godknowswhat.

The key is recognizing that time. And mixing in some water. Or Gatorade. Flush out the system. Pee a lot. Also have plenty of these beverages available for the first thing in the morning. Futhermore, the weather in Vegas can be oppressively hot, akin to spending a weekend in Dom DeLuise's armpit. Hydrate, people. The heat/alcohol can dry you out in a hurry. Take steps and you won't wake up looking like Iggy Pop.

Don't forget to eat. You will be surprised how the simple tasks of daily life fail to translate in the land of round-the-clock gambling and drinking. At some point, you will surely exclaim, "Holy Shit! I haven't eaten today!" and you'll grab a hot dog or a bowl of chili or some jalapeno poppers. DON'T! Try getting a nice foundation in the morning (breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know), but stay away from the greasy stuff. Breads, cereals and muffins are preferable (the judges will also accept Krispy Kreme). And at some point during the afternoon/evening, take an hour or 90 minutes away from the table/bar to get a proper meal in you. I'd also recommend avoiding the 4 a.m. stampede to the cafe for three-egg omlettes, but then I'd be a hypocrite, because I LOVE THAT PART.

Sleep it off. Face it, you aren't going to sleep much. But a well-timed nap can do wonders. Don't go too long though, Van Winkle. I find an hour is about perfect. Make sure someone is available to bring you back to consciousness. If you like, G-Rob will kick you awake for $20.

Pain relivers. Anyone with experience in these matters can tell you the best pain relief for a morning hangover is a hit or six off the water pipe. If that's not your thing, Tylenol works too. Wait until after breakfast, though.

Hair of the Dog. Oh precious bloody marys. You are so fine and delicious. I find 4-6 of these bad boys after breakfast to be the perfect tonic. There's a crash, though. And that's a good time for the nap.

I hope this has helped.

Next week's topic: Tipping

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Boy in the Poker Bubble

I have not been overly enthusiastic about my play lately. Sure, I can hardly quibble with the results, but my game has become stale. It's as if I'm playing from muscle memory, the same moves showing time and time again. At the low buy-in, online MTTs, this is an acceptable strategy, an appropriate level to play basic, solid poker. But it also makes me want to slash my wrists sometimes out of sheer boredom.

So, last night, I sought to remedy that. To expand my palate, a desire which brought me to a pair of cheap qualifying tourneys. No, you don't get the results now. I will not be a slave to the inverted pyramid template of reportage, my strict avoidance of which derailed my print journalism career before it began. That and my inabiility to self-edit and love of the parenthetical phrase.

Not to mention my propensity to wander off-topic.

Now, when I say cheap, I mean CHEAP. I first tackled the Round 1 WSOP Freeroll on Stars (cost: 400 Frequent Player Points). A minute after that, I threw my hat into the $3 re-buy qualifier to the Poker Stars $350,0000 Guaranteed tourney. Maybe playing two MTTs at once isn't the greatest way to work on different styles, but it was far from boring.

To begin, I immediately re-bought, something I never do when playing the crazy $11 re-buy on Stars. In fact, this qualifier provided great practice for that tourney, and Lord knows I need it. My preferred weak/tight-style is debilitating in those re-buys, as is my limit of spending $40 on them. So I thought I'd double up my chips and take some chances.

I really wanted to work on my post-flop play. With less than sterling cards. So I used some of that doubled starting stack to limp, to call small raises, in the early levels, see if I could out-play some people for pots. Didn't work out too badly. Part of it is certainly the maniacal nature of the early levels. Chips are just a mouse-click away! Second pair is often very good. Two of a suit on the flop? You'll never get 'em off it. OESD? Forget about it.

If I had any kind of hand, I bet. Second pair from early away. If I got raised, fine, I'm out. If I just got calls, I stuck around. At showdown, I won more than my share. Enough to be the big stack at my table by the first break.

I also concentrated on maximizing my big hands. I have a tendency to over-bet my hand when it's clearly ahead if there is even the slightest draw possibility on the board. Been burned enough that those suckouts stick in my head. Which isn't really the way to go about it. At least not all the time.

For instance, I have QQ at Level 3 and raise it 6x (my raises in the first hour of re-buys are always higher than in freeze-outs because you get more callers, by and large). Three callers (see?). Flop comes ten-high with two spades. Now, normally, I bet more than half the pot here. I HAVE A BIG HAND EVERYONE! I want to take it down there, destroy opponents' pot odds, etc. That's all well and good. And it's the way to go the majority of the time. But what about showing less strength, giving JTo an invitation to (erroneously) call? Why does there HAVE to be a flush draw out there every single time two of a suit hit the board? And why do I fear the third will always fall? I think this is an area where I can pick spots to snag extra chips, based on reads of players and a little less fear.

It worked a couple times. In addition, you can STILL get paid of on your monsters by slow-playing. Again, slow-playing is not a tactic with which I'm entirely comfortable. In fact, I do it very rarely pre-flop (the major exception being when I'm short and NEED to double through with AA or KK). Post-flop, I'm a bit more amenable to slow-play because you can see what kind of cards are needed for opponents to catch up. I flopped a Broadway Straight last night and smooth called two fairly tiny bets to the river. I was heads-up by then and his river bet was a little bigger--200 or so. I contemplated how much to value raise. Then I realized, "Hey! It's a re-buy!" and pushed my stack (about T4000) into the middle. Yes, he paid me off with two pair, despite it seeming to any functioning human that he was beaten. The thing about it is, he made his second pair on the river. If I'd have bet my straight harder, he might not have been around long enough to give me satisfaction. Now, that may seem like the easiest pay in the world, and it is. The key is to recognize when I can take someone for a ride like that, instead of betting suckers out of it earlier in the hand.

I also wanted to work on defending my blinds. I do this a fair amount anyway with marginal hands (Ace-any, suited one-gappers), but I need to pay more attention to the price I'm getting. And what kind of raise I'm facing from where. My tendency to fold to even minimum raises if I'm holding garbage is a good thing the majority of the time. Can't lose anything playing that way. But can't win, either. Part of it stems from that lack of confidence I mentioned about out-playing people post-flop. That's stupid.

I got involved in a lot of pots last night from the blinds. Often, I missed and folded to bets. Sometimes, I hit, bet and won (or lost). A few times, I bluffed at the pot and took it down. Eureka! Defending my blind was definitely +EV for me last night. It forced me to knuckle down and read my opponents and far more often than not, I was right.

All in all, some good practice and some issues to work on further.

Alas, I got nothing out of my $9 (one re-buy and the add-on) and 400 FPPs but 4 hours of poker play. This despite the fact I was looking damn good in both of them for a long time.

With 50 remaining in the $350K satellite, I sat 7th in chips. Twenty-one seats were in the offing (with $154 to 22nd) and I had nearly double the guy in 21st. I was THIS close to pretty much assuring passage when I found KK on the button. An all-in from UTG (a little more than half my stack) and I could taste it. He flipped AQo and turned the ace. Brutal. There was cursing.

I went out in 40th a short time later when I over-played AQs.

A little about that hand. I raised in LP and the BB called. The BB was the big stack at the table and had been calling everything, including a pre-flop all-in by KK just a couple hands earlier. Big Stack had A9s and caught the bullet. So, I was happy he called, figuring I was in good shape. The flop missed me completely, ten-high, none of my suit. Big Stack bet out 9000, which was less than a third of the pot, so I read weakness and pushed. Talk about a connundrum. I know the guy is playing loosely and could have any two cards. And I know he's gonna call my all-in, because that's what he does. His bet, small as it was, should have let me know I was up against a made hand. Mistake on my part. Let his looseness give me false hope. He had 99 and I didn't improve.

The WSOP Round 1, well, frankly, I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about it. Not sure what I write here won't sound like whining.

Suffice to say, 9 seats advanced to the Round II on Sunday (to play for two seats to the Main Event) and I finished 10th. Suffice to say, that down to two five-handed tables, there was an overt (as in, agreed to discussion in chat) ploy by the other table to "fold around." Suffice to say I e-mailed Stars (prior to my going out, by the way) and they are looking into it. Suffice to say I don't think anything will come of it, and while their behavior compromised my chances, it didn't ruin them. Still pissed me off.

I was looking at a long Sunday of three major MTTs if I managed to qualify for those tourneys. Throw in the WPBT satellite and I woulda had the worst poker hangover of all time. Probably exacerbated by divorce papers.

Avoiding that for the time being is just another bright side to go along with the experience of playing differently than usual.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005



I've been utterly single-minded of purpose today and trust me when I say it is not a subject I would wish on my worst enemy. Just hours and hours of roiling the same stupid bullshit around in my head. Back and forth, back and forth with no decision in sight.


I was gonna be funny here today. I was gonna be breezy. I was gonna talk about the WPBT Fashion Review Show tonight on E! I was gonna talk about Liverpool holding Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. I was gonna talk about how a guy allowed me to suck out on him in the Stars $20 MTT last night when he slow-played his flopped set of Kings (I held QQ in the BB, checked around on the KJx flop; free turn card was a ten that gave me the OESD and paid very little--in relation to the pot size--to see the Ace on the river). I AM talking about those things. Let's move on.

I made another (minor) money cash in that tourney despite being card dead for 6 levels. You ever notice how when you never play any hands, you can steal like a fox on an attentive table? Only thing that kept me alive. I played tight/weak poker last night, odd considering I hadn't been doing a lot of that lately. Musta blown my aggressive wad in the WPBT satellite.

I did have one guy suck out on me huge in Level 2 when his AJ out-drew my Big Slick. I was down to T400. Not good. Not good at all. That same dickwad--directly to my left--proceeded to call EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of my pre-flop raises after that. There were four of them. I won them all and by the first break, had more chips than he. I also watched him almost triple up just before being moved from our table. I followed, to see how his maniacal play would go during the second hour. Er, make that 15 minutes.

I ask you, what kind of blithering jackass commits his entire 10K stack with only the blinds (100/200) at stake. That's what he did, pushing on the button with 66. He got called by the SB with AA. The SB had him covered.

Had a good laugh over that one.

I was down to 4x the BB after posting it midway through the third hour. Button raised and I pushed with A4 of hearts. He had J8 of hearts. and flopped two pair. As Glyph said, "Classic big stack play, push and suck out on the small stacks." I finished 52 of 680.

Anyway, enough hands.

In Pauly's comprehensive write-up of the WPBT satellite, I was outed. And I quote, might be the best-dressed poker blogger according to fashion experts Felicia Lee and Joan Rivers.

I had to laugh. Um, guilty? It is a fact that I spend way more time on my wardrobe than a vast majority of the heterosexual male population. I guess they coined a phrase for it--metrosexual--but I was metro before metro was cool, baby. Wait, it's not cool? Fuck.

I was trying to figure out how I acquired this personality quirk and have come to the conclusion that I've always had it. My mother likes to tell the story about how, as a 5-year-old, I would pull all my clothes out of my dresser in the middle of the night. Instead of sleeping, I'd build little "men" on the floor with my clothes, always color-coordinated right down to the socks (but really, this was the age of Garanimals clothing, so matching the hippo pants with the hippo shirts wasn't exactly algebra).

So, I've always been a little fanatical about my clothes. Of the two walk-in closets in our bedroom, I have the bigger one. If I spill a drop of coffee on my pants before work, I'm mentally ruined for the entire day, self-consciously trying to hide the stain when walking through the halls. And yes, I've thought extensively about what to wear to Vegas.

So there ya go, more about me that you never cared to know. Now I can get back to my mental volleyball match. This one's going five sets.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Welcome Wagon

So, thanks to my lucky WPBT satellite finish and a (slightly erroneous) link from The Blogfather (who has recently uber'd and announced another satellite this Sunday), my hits went through the roof the last couple days.

Perfect. I have nothing to say. So much for hooking new readers. Allow me to welcome all those first timers with a little about myself.

I'm boring and I suck. At least today. Some days, I'm less boring and suck less.

More about me: My favorite poker hand is AJ of spades. I'm a fan of Liverpool FC and the Oakland A's, neither of whom can manage to score lately. I like full-bodied English beers. I bear a passing resemblance to Ralph Macchio. In Vegas, I'm prone to drinking copious quantities of greyhounds and bloody marys. Lotsa Vitamin C. Don't wanna get shingles.

I did very much enjoy finding some of the bloggers I played with the other night and leaving some comments. I'll link you folks up forthwith. Any others out there with whom I played (sloejack? grasp? txchach?), drop me a note and I'll pimp you out.

My dear and patient wife reminded me of some things last night, some events in the tourney, as well as some chat. I had a pretty solid drunk on and outside of the play, a lot of things are fuzzy. I was apparently chatting about the dear and patient wife at some point. I vaguely recall it.

I do remember BG saying something nice about my Truckin' story, a compliment for which I didn't get to thank him enough, since I immediately got involved in an all-in hand, my first at the table. I'm honored, sir. Coming from someone of you writing ability, that means a lot. What's that you say, new visitor? You don't read Truckin'? You'd better start. When Pauly hits the book tour/lecture circuit, you can say you knew of him when. Like that time you saw Nirvana a a roadside bar in 1988 and just KNEW they were gonna make it big.

On to current events, it seems like the Freeway Shooting is back in vogue in LA. How very 1987. In 1987, I drove a white Nissan Sentra. They don't make those any more, with good reason. I often felt like shooting at my own car.

In other exciting news, a bunch of people are digging up my front lawn today. This might seem odd, since my lawn is less than a year old. But we live on a flood plain. And have a 40 ft. slope in our backyard. As such, in our little master-planned community, the lawns are all slanted--some in bizarre fashion--to facilitate drainage. Ours is one of those. It has a deep, v-shaped gully snaking right through the middle. Not attractive. And difficult to mow. I'm literally mowing sideways. It's like the villian's lair in the old Batman TV show.

So we're ripping it up. Running drainage pipes underneath, levelling it out, putting down a better grade of sod. It's gonna run me another couple final table finishes, so I guess I'll really have to step up my level of suckouts.

Yep, that's all I've got.


I've got more.

Meant to mention Otis is now posting regularly at The Official Poker Stars Blog. Why he decided to cover the Half-Million Dollar tourney on Sunday instead of the WPBT Event is beyond me, but he's the star of the show, so...

For the record, the winner of THAT tourney has never even been rumored to have, let alone twice confirmed, Huge Junk.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Black Sun Morning

A quick and comprehensive list of things that have gone right for me thus far today:

Glad we've got that out of the way. Clearly, I used up all my good luck last night. I'm thankful anyway.

Seriously, it's an honor to play poker with all you guys and gals out there. I do not exaggerate when I say I've never had a better time at the tables, real or virtual. Good play, good humor, good people.

For my part, I played okay. I hope this doesn't offend anyone, because I know there are at least a dozen people out there who not only could expect to win the satellite, but to compete in the WSOP event. I don't consider myself one of those. As such, I was having fun. I wasn't afraid to lose, which most definitely loosened me up, far more than my usual play in the online MTTs. A double-edged sword, to be sure, as I made a few dumb plays. But I also stayed aggressive, especially late, and that is often an aspect to my game that is left wanting. Certainly, the rush of cards I got at the Final Table aided my maniacal--for me--betting. At least until Bob turned me into his personal Cabana Boy.

Been quite a couple of weeks for me. Five top 25 finishes in MTTs. Two final tables. A nearly doubled online bankroll. I feel like I owe a lot of it to you folks out there. I learn from you regularly. Math, psychology, can find it all in this blogosphere. And if you want to laugh your ass off, marvel at inspired prose and see pictures of hot girls with lipsticked on their stomach, well, there's that too.

Despite all that goodness, I still have one request:

Let's do it again. Soon.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

What About Bob?

That is the most fun I've ever had playing poker. Which has nothing to do with my finish.

Congrats to Bob. He played his fucking ass off.

And I apologize to everyone upon whom I sucked out. That list is long, but includes BSN, who re-raised my steal attempt one from the button as a short stack--I had K9 of hearts--with JJ. I called, getting 3.5-1 on my reaming stack and made the flush, grasp (had 55 w/8x the BB and pushed only to be called by his AA in LP. I flopped a 5) and Hank. The last is particularly painful since Hank is my idol. I'm not kidding. I've learned so much from reading his stuff and I know he is a far better player than I. I raised on the button (at the final table) with JTs and he re-raised all-in. I called, grudgingly--about a quarter of my stack, and was dominted by his ATo. I made the flush. Yes, I became the exact person who kills me online all the time.

I dropped The Hammer twice early on, much to the dismay of The Mrs.

I just need to re-iterate:


P.S. 2-4 chopped the $840 for second, so it was also profitable.

God Bless Iggy and Otis for setting this up. And Bob, you'll have the most attractive, wild and degenerate railbirds in Vegas history. Do us proud.

 Posted by Hello

Friday, April 22, 2005

Regularly Scheduled Programming

Gather 'round boys and girls for this week's edition of "The Countdown," a regular feature from now until June 3. It's got a good beat and you can dance to it.

So here we are, another semana closer to D-Day (bloggers swarming the beach at Bellagio?), but it seems SO much nearer. Why? Because six weeks is a viable time-frame. Whereas seven weeks sounds like something made up, something to be used as...oh, I don't know...a weak reason for a blog topic? But six weeks...six weeks is useful, it's common, it's universal.

It's a standard length of time between haircuts.
It's a common length of a DL stint.
You could play Wimbledon three times.

I use the last only so I use the word "fortnight" in correct context. I like to do that at least, er...fortnightly.

This week's preparation has included more CD mixing and some brainstorming. The latter is to come up with a suitable bounty for whomever knocks me out of the WPBT event. Since I am known in your better poker circles as "The Librarian," my first thought was a nice poker book. But that ranks just below peet moss on the Dull Scale. I like a nice cigar, so combining that with the book angle, perhaps an Arturo Fuente Hemingway.


As promised, I’ve been reading (and commenting on) more blogs lately. Let me point you to some highlights:

High Plains Drifter pulled off a unique Double this week, making a Final Table in an MTT and getting an opponent red-carded in his soccer match. All he needs to complete the Holiest of Trifectas is to sleep with Pamela Anderson this weekend.

The Poker Nerd took down a huge prize in the crazy $11 re-buy on Stars after predicting the day before that he was THIS close to doing exactly that. Oh, to know one’s game so well.

While I’ve read both of those blogs for a while now, this is a newer one: The Tsunami Hitchhiker is another O.C.-based blogger and writes at an Hdouble-level of intellect. These guys make my brain sweat profusely. He's also advanced to Full Tilt's WSOP statellite for the main event. Give him a look.


As of last night, we’ve got 60 people signed up for the WPBT satellite event on Sunday night. Are there 40 more of you out there? ‘Cause that’d be kinda cool. I’ve always been listed as a longshot in the sportsbooks to make any sort of dent in this thing. After this week’s play/results, I’ll consider it a moral victory to last the first hour, something I haven’t managed in an MTT since last weekend. Yes, I’m horrible. Which doesn’t mean I won’t be at it again in tonight’s $20 MTT on Stars (starts at 8:30 PST if anyone wants to come by to observe the carnage). Usually, I’m stuck with family commitments on Friday nights, but both the dear and patient wife and The Boy will be engaged in other business this evening, leaving me home alone with A’s-Angels on the big screen, a laptop and a refrigerator teeming with alcoholic beverages. In other words...


Thursday, April 21, 2005

My Alibi

I have no idea how my WSOP Fantasy assignment turned into attempted manslaughter. I rarely have an ending in mind when I sit down to write. Hell, I rarely have a topic in mind. I just kinda go, which is why my Great American Novel remains under a pile of old underwear in my closet. It started out as an homage to my suburban youth and ended up with me getting carried out to sea by a huge wave that swept me off the rocks at Venice Beach when my buddy Kool Breeze and I were frying hard.

See, my literary skills are a little like that sentence. Rambling, unfocused, weird.

So that's how you end up with me shiving Hellmuth. I think I was also slightly influenced by darice and drizztdj and our recent outing as lovers (please don't stop reading the sentence there) of all things Stephen King. I think my Hellmuthian tale is somewhat derivative of a King short story called, "The Man Who Loved Flowers."

I must say, reading the various entries, I do not think we will lack for laughter in Vegas. Goddamn you all are good.

Anyway, my real blogger fantasy has nothing to do with Hellmuth and everything to do with side action with Evelyn Ng.

Did I say that out loud?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Blogger Fantasy Assignment

Per Badblood:

"Hey, that's my name!" The Boy shrieked as he jabbed his finger at the computer screen. "Daddy, you have my name!"

"Yes I do, AJ. Yes. I. Do."

"You're gonna call his all-in with that?" the dear and patient wife worried.

"It's AJ! And it's s000000ted! It's gold," I countered confidently as I clicked the button.

We were down to two, with one WSOP seat up for grabs. I had a 3-1 chip advantage, one I'd amassed thanks to an unbelievable run of cards. For much of the evening, I only needed a raise button. Bloggers kept running their monsters into my bigger monsters, grumbling about a fix. So rigged.

My last remaining foe was tournament stud The Poker Geek. I was glad to have him heads up. I knew he was strong. I also knew that nobody gets brutally sucked out more often than Chris. The Schleprock of the Blogger Community.

"Nice call!" chimed SirWaffleHouse from the rail.

Chris flipped his pocket rockets and saw the flop.

"Hey, that's not my name...JJJ," protested The Boy.


I awoke the morning of the WSOP Event with a mouth full of poo--figuratively sepaking--and a stomach bubbling with nervous bile. I'd pulled into my JUNIOR SUITE AT THE PLAZA, the night before intending to rest up before my crack at glory and riches. The assembled mob of bloggers would have none of that. I smelled like I'd showered in cheap whiskey and cheaper cigars. Should make for a good table image.

After a couple hours, cobwebs had started to form on my chips. I was scared. I was shaking like Katherine Hepburn hopped up on a eight-ball. I was surrounded by pros, aggressive amatuers and immediately to my left, The Poker Brat himself, Phil Hellmuth.

Finally, a hand to play. I looked down UTG and found The Hammer. The volume of the racuous blogger railbirds amplified in my ears. I channelled them. And gave them the sign we had agreed on the previous evening, a slight movement denoting I'd been dealt The Hammer. I slyly jammed my right index finger into my left nostril, leaving it there for two beats. The assembled blogosphere immediately fell reverentially silent.

I placed my card protector--a miniature figurine of former Liverpool star Steve McManaman--over my precious hand. And floated out a raise.

Hellmuth gave a chuckle that sounded like an indictment. Faster than you can say "man boobs," he pushed his chips into the middle. The table quickly folded around. My heart seized in my chest, breath coming in shallow bursts. I pressed the heels of my hands to my eyes, setting off fireworks behind my lids. So much running around in my head, a thick fog of conflicting allegiances. Suddenly, a voice from nowhere cut through, clear, precise and full of peace:

"Be The Hammer."

It was Grubby. Patron Saint of The Hammer. I aceeded to his wishes.

"I call."

Hellmuth fairly yelped and flipped over his aces. When he saw my hand, he started in. His diatribe was blue. It was endless. It was hilarious. Imbued with the calming spirit of The Hammer, I couldn't stop laughing.

The flop came AK5, giving him the set. "See?!?!?!" he berated. "You internet players have no idea how to play this game!"

The turn was a 3.

"I believe I have four outs, Mr. Hellmuth," I said, cloaked in inevitability. "Is that correct?"

The color in his face rose. "I swear...Unbelievable...I will rip off your head and..."

The River--Captial 'R'--stopped him cold. Four.

I braced myself for the verbal assault. A blogger-orchestrated roar rang off the walls of the Rio Hotel and Casino. I tucked my head as deeply as humanly possible between my shoulder blades, even as I rejoiced in their collective cheers.

And still I waited for the explosion that must come.

It came not in the form of frustrated words, but in the guise of a fleshy arm forcefully wrapped around my head, a soft, girly punch to my kidneys.

Phil Hellmuth was beating me up!

I toppled from my chair grasping at the table for purchase. I succeeded only in wrapping my fingers around my card protector, Little Stevie "Macca" McManaman. I couldn't see a thing, only feeling the full weight of Hellmuth on me, peppering me with mosquito blows, screaming in an otherworldly voice.

I fleetingly wondered if ESPN was getting this on tape. I faintly heard laughter and surprise from the assembled masses.

Finally, I reacted. Wielding Macca by his plastic base, I jammed him upward into Hellmuth's throat. His arms fell away, hands moving to the puncture, his screams degenerating into gurgles. Bubbles of blood ran from the wound. I was pulled away by rough hands, The Brat disappearing in an avalanche of security. As his face was pulled from view, I managed to lock eyes with him one last time.

"Do not fuck with The Hammer," I mouthed.

I did not win--or even cash in--the tournament. I did not go to jail. I did not kill Phil Hellmuth, the blow missing his jugular by mere inches. It did, however, crush his voice box. Beyond repair.

Nobody has literally heard from The Poker Brat since. Which is just as well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Suckouts for Charity

As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado.

I've always been leery of sponsored contests or competitions.

Wanna see second prize? Second prize is set of steak knives

Especially in the workplace.

Third prize is you're fired.

Yet, I'm just a few hours away from sitting down with nine colleagues for a little game of No Limit Texas Hold 'Em. Top two advance to the final table on Friday. Proceeds to benefit the United Way.

Proceeds being my $10 entry fee. Prizes offered are trophies and additional raffle tickets for a drawing. Perusing the list of raffle prizes, all in all, I'd prefer steak knives.

"What's your name, pal?"
FUCK YOU! That's my name."

It's a big company. I only recognize one name at my table and I've only dealt with him on a single occassion. I have no idea of the structure, talent level of opponents or if we're even playing with actual chips on an actual poker table with an actual dealer.

A, Always.
B, Be.
C, Closing.
Always Be Closing.

I'd still better win.


The dear and patient wife pulls a Stop and Go. She's good.

***** Hand History for Game 1915011663 *****
50/100 TourneyTexasHTGameTable (NL) (Tournament 11416678) - Mon Apr 18 18:59:05 EDT 2005
Table Table 35043 (Real Money) -- Seat 5 is the button
Total number of players : 7
Seat 1: (595)
Seat 2: (1650)
Seat 4: (865)
Seat 5: (1530)
Seat 6: (1760)
Seat 7: d&p wife (745)
Seat 9: (855)
Seat 6 posts small blind (25)
d&p wife posts big blind (50)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to d&p wife [ 2d, Ac ]
Seat 9 folds.
Seat 1 folds.
Seat 2 folds.
Seat 4 folds.
Seat 5 folds.
Seat 6 raises (75) to 100
d&p wife calls (50)
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 7d, 9s, 4h ]
Seat 6 bets (150)
d&p wife raises (645) to 645
d&p wife is all-In.
Seat 6 folds.
Creating Main Pot with $995 with d&p wife
** Summary **
Main Pot: 995
Board: [ 7d 9s 4h ]
Seat 6 balance 1510, lost 250 (folded)
d&p wife balance 995, bet 745, collected 995, net +250

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Top to Bottom

My weekend certainly did not lack activity. Some of it excellent, some of it good, some of it okay, some of it crapful. Let's go in descending order, shall we?

First of all, I am honored to tell you all that I have a story this month in Truckin', the excellent literary blogzine run by The Good Dr. Pauly. I've been an admirer of Pauly's since long before I began this silly blog. He's a fantastic writer and extremely supportive of our (not so) little "scene." That he saw fit to include my tale is very gratifying. If there is possibly one person who reads this blog, but doesn't make a daily visit to Tao of Poker and Pauly's related sites, I must say you are missing out. You're also kind of a dumbshit, but that's beside the point.

This month's issue also includes work from fellow poker bloggers Joanne, The Film Geek, and Grubby, as well as The Good Doctor himself. These are talented people. I hesitate to mention myself as being in their company, but I AM in the same issue. Please check it out and thanks for the support.

My 10th place finish in the Saturday evening $20/$2 MTT on Stars was also, I've decided after much deliberation, a highlight. I dunno, I want to win one of these things so effing bad. When I don't, I'm always a little bummed. But I've played as well as I'm able lately and this tourney was no exception. In something of a rarity, I found myself with a good-sized stack early thanks to a rush of cards and a tight-weak table. Going into the first break, I'd more than quadrupled my starting stack.

Slowed down a bit for a couple levels, but I went on another rush just before the second break and was briefly the chip leader. I stayed in the Top 15 the rest of the way. Down to 27 left, I'd only gone to showdown 8 times and had won all 8.

I wasn't paying any attention to my standing, to the climb up the money ladder. I was in it to win it. I played my cards when got 'em without fear of reprisal. Which is why I finished one off the final table, I guess. I pushed hard with my AJ and got knocked out by AT when he flopped his ten. What else can I do? It's AJ!

Took me a while to swallow it. Maybe I was titled a little, in an unusual way. My confidence and the good run of cards giving me an aura of invincibility and obscuring the potential pitfalls of over-playing my hand at that point of the tourney. Oh well.

Played in the $10/$1 MTT tonight on Stars and felt the same way. Iron-clad. Got cards early and often and was sitting with more than T10K midway through the second hour. And then it happened. I raised with JJ and the BB called. Flop came ten-high and I raised the BB all-in. He called with his Big Slick. On a pair draw. And he turned his fucking ace. Absolutely titled me. I dumped another chunk two hands later with KT suited and never recovered. Forced into push and pray mode after the second break, I twice picked up the blinds and antes, but then my 88 ran into AA. Twelve from the cash (which, for the record, would have produced a profit of $1.14).

Still a nicely profitable weekend and I'd be remiss if I didn't gloat over the A's taking 2 of 3 from the Angels, the "overwhelming" favorites to win the AL West according to their asshole broadcasters. Seriously, Phys and Hud, both ya'll can suck a dick. You are the worst thing about living in Los Angeles. I could go on for several paragraphs about how stupid and annoying they are, but that benefits nobody. Regardless, today the A's gave the impression they could hit major league pitching, an impression I have to withdraw after recalling that the underwhelming John Lackey was pitching for the Angels.

The only real downer of the weekend was my soccer team failing to pull off an unprecedented three-peat in the Long Beach Men's Soccer League Spring Cup Final. We were headed to a deserved 1-0 victory when our left back made a most basic and awful mistake, allowing them to equalize late. We then put on a clinic how NOT to take penalty kicks and fell 3-1.

Lastly, if you haven't already, go sign up for next week's WPBT satellite to the WSOP $1500 event. Currently 30 signed up, including yours truly. I'm only there to donate, however. Head on over to Iggy's and e-mail him for the password.

No Final Table for You!

Simultaneously a "nice finish" and a "goddammit" moment for me. Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Up a Creek Without a Straddle

Finally made it out last night to the remodeled poker room/casino of my local Indian tribe. Casino Morongo (which some of you might recognize from the Poker "Superstars" Invitational). Emphasis on the "Moron," at least in the early going.

It's a nice enclosed (non-smoking) room, 36 tables spreading 2/4 to 500 NL and a half-dozen limit Omaha8. Spacious, competent and friendly dealers and well-run. The board was a large, swanky electronic deal and the PA system was top-notch. Only drawback is the new tables, which have way too much give in the felt. Too spongy. Don't even try having a stack of more than 15 chips stay upright. No automatic shufflers. The cocktail service was a little slow, as well. I counted two waitresses for the room. Good news is there's a bar just outside and they have pints of Newcastle for $4.


I arrived about 9 and was seated immediately at a 3/6 table. All the limit games are Kill games at Morongo. My first hand was a kill pot (I didn't have to post). I look down and see ace-ten of diamonds and raise it up to $12. No use easing into it. I flop an ace and it holds up. Two minutes, one $80 pot.

My table had two of the worst players I have ever seen. Real live maniacs. Play any two and bet and raise with nada. One guy paid me off a couple times and went through 3 racks in two hours. The kind of guy you face online and can't believe he is anything other than a 14-year-old kid or a mildly functional retard. The kind who think J8o is a pre-flop raisin' hand. I hated to see him go.

I won a couple other pots, once getting two callers all the way with my flopped set of fives. Dragging another with a set of jacks.

At this point, I was up nearly 20 BBs, thought the exact number was impossible to figure since my chips were falling and sliding all over the giving felt. Even as I was amassing my empire, however, others were getting majorly sucked out. A good player (and good guy whom we'll hear from later) twice lost with his Hiltons to rivered flushes, even though he flopped a set each time. Them bitches were, in fact, a death hand the entire night.

They were soon the catalyst for dark times.

It's a kill pot and I get those ladies in LP. It's raised, I 3-bet and it's capped. Five players to the flop (as loose as this game was, it was even looser in kill pots), including the elderly woman to my left who had been dropping chips at an alarming rate. Flop comes jack-high rainbow. A bet, I raise, elderly lady and original bettor call. Turn is a rag. Checked to me and I bet. Old lady calls, all in for $6. Other guy calls. River makes me turn green.


Other guy check-calls my bet with second-pair and I beat him for the comparatively piddling side pot. Elderly woman, for whom I'd previously felt sympathy, flips J5o and yanks away my triple-digit pot.

Thus begins my descent into Suckout Hell.

I flop top two with KQs and lose to a rivered set of tens. Pocket Kings falls to AJo. Pocket 9s no good on an KKQ flop. Big Slick worked by JTs.

A good two-hour binge of chip dumping. I'm now stuck about 5 BBs and I have a decision to make. Pick up and get out while I've still got some meal money...

Or straddle.

Guess which one I choose?

By this time, the good guy/good player has moved to the seat to my immediate left. We were having a nice conversation, a minor salve to the beating the cards are giving me. He forever etches himself in poker lore when, without prior discussion or provocation, immediately three-bets my straddle.

The rest of the table is flummoxed, to say the least. By now, after a lot of player rotation, we've got a mix of mostly solid, tight players. Their looks of bewilderment and annoyance add to the fun. But several of them call anyway, even when I cap it blind.

The flop comes K44 with two spades. SB bets and I raise. Still blind. My buddy looks at his cards and folds. I admonish him for looking.

Turn is a Q, not a spade. Checked to me and I finally see what I'm playing: Q4s. You have got to be kidding me. I bet and get one caller who follows me to the river. I toss up my cards with a defiant, "Behold the power of the straddle!"

And I'm back up.

My buddy straddles my blind. The quiet, but amusing guy to his left straddles his. And we're off. Let's gamb000000000l. The other side of the table is less inclined, but for three orbits, there is much straddling. I win another pot in mine, losing a second with K3o when my pair of 3s is outkicked. Seriously.

I've pulled my stack up about 6 BBs and it's late, but I started this insanity , so I'll finish it. "Finishing it" means "staying until the table is short because people are pissed." To my dismay, nobody calls me "disturbing." I drop my meager profit in a kill pot and since we're 6-handed, I decide to rack up. Exactly even for the night.

Good fucking times. Even though I coulda walked outta there with a handful of racks had things gone a little better. Next time. I'll be back out there in short order. Maybe some of my Greater Los Angeles bloggers might enjoy a trip out to the IE? We've got plenty of extra beds at the desert compound.

Friday, April 15, 2005

T-Minus Seven Weeks

I'm officially starting The Countdown. You can start your own. You can jump on my bandwagon (which is, in truth, awfully roomy). Or you can completely ignore the fact that the Vegas Blogger Conclave is starting to peek over the horizon as a defense mechanism against 48 days of slow-moving drudgery. Me? I'm going to embrace the wait, stoke its embers and slowly, but methodically, build it into a raging blaze.

I've lost my bleeping mind.

I almost always drive to Vegas. From door to ostentatious casino entrance, it takes about three-and-a-half hours and a single tank of gas. If I were to fly, the trip would take roughly the same amount of time from door to airport parking lot to security check-point to flight to taxi waiting line to ostentatious casino entrance. And I don't really like to fly anyway. If I'm within 8 hours driving distance of anywhere, I'll road trip it. The romance of the open road, wind whipping about my head and shoulders, me singing along to the music in full voice. Even now that I don't enjoy certain fermented and chemical accutrements that used to accompany such events, it's still my idea of a good time.

I bring this up because the wait for Vegas is an excellent metaphor for the drive to Vegas. Flat periods of inhabitable terrain, seemingly endless stretches of monotony, anticipation straining the seams of sanity. All for that promise of neon at the end of the tunnel that hurls me ever forward.


Cibola is a mythical land whose seven cities' golden treasures drew the Conquistadors northward through the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of the Dead Man) Desert. In Stephen King's "The Stand," the character of Trash Can Man in drawn to Vegas, which he calls "Cibola." I've called it so ever since.

So, I figure it's time to start the preparation in earnest. I'm metaphorically starting the car for the desert slog. First up is music. I have a dozen CDs burned especially for Vegas trips, all with stupid punny names. I'll be making several more. The key to these is to chart the songs to coincide with the moods and spirit of the journey. From Barstow to Baker, that hour-long stretch of desolation, it has to jump. From Baker to Primm, up the mountain, down the mountain, it has to build, urgently and inexorably, to bone-rattling crescendo. Once I inch closer to that final bend in the road, when Cibola reveals itself in the valley below, it needs to mellow out, regulate the breathing.

Yes, I spend way too much time thinking about these things.

Which brings me to another issue I've been spending a lot of time on lately. Another item on the preparation agenda: My place in this poker blogger community.

I don't mean as a way to measure myself against others regarding popularity, ability, what have you. No, this is only an exhibition, not a competition. Please no wagering.

What I really mean is, "Am I doing my part?"

So many of you out there have been supportive of this humble little diary, a fact for which I am most grateful. Am I responding in kind?

See, I have a little problem. I'm a bad commenter. Much of it has to do with my retarded sense of humor. I often feel like the comment I want to leave will miss the mark. Or worse yet, be mis-interpreted and perceived as something less than a compliment.

Furthermore, my blogroll (is that a copyrighted word? Ruling?) is fairly emaciated compared to much of the community. I could validly claim time constraints, the hugeness of the community, etc. But that'd be weak.

So I'm taking steps. Part of the Vegas preparation will be to link, read and get familiar with all the blogs/bloggers listed as attending the Aladdin Classic. At the very least, when I make your acquaintance, I can say I read your blog. And if you don't read mine, all the better. I can drop a guilt trip on you.

There's that retarded sense of humor again.

I'll see you all soon.

In Cibola.

You'll know when I arrive. I'll be the one in the Conquistador's helmet.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

You'll Never Walk Alone

Looking for poker content? Move along. Nothing to see here.

No, today's subject is el jogo bonito, roughly translated from the Portuguese as "Footy goddamnit!" I know we have at least one, two fans of the beautiful game out there in the poker blogosphere, so I'm content in knowing I'm not writing this in my usual vacuum.

First, as you all no doubt know, Liverpool held Juve to a scoreless draw yesterday at the Della Alpi, pushing them into the Champions League semifinal on 2-1 aggregate. Waiting there is Chelsea.

Reds vs. Blues
Scousers vs. Ruskies
Me vs. Al

Loser has to wear face paint in the opposing club's colors during the WPBT Aladdin Classic.

That's just a suggestion. But the idea of Al in red face paint is funny. Me in blue? Not so much.

This is massive. In an oft-undewhelming year for 'Pool, Benitez has pushed the club to the brink of something special, despite a startling spate of injuries and the continuing suckage of Harry Kewell. Something to be proud of, though sitting 5th in the Prem remains inexcusable.

Shockingly, the Liverpool-Chelsea match is not the most important fixture on the slate. No, that would be my club looking to defend it's Long Beach Men's Soccer League Spring Cup championship this Sunday. We have, in fact, won it two years in a row and are playing in our fourth straight Final. Yeah, we rule.


I don't get a lot of hits from strange google searches. "Jessica Alba's butt" comes up frequently, but I never get the "dwarves" and "bestiality" types like others. I got a funny one today though, pertaining to my hometown.

"livermore" "granada bowl" "girls"

Dude, trust me. You do NOT want to date girls that hang out at Granada Bowl.


Here's a follow-up to that strange story I linked the other day. You will recall that a man was "kidnapped" in front of his wife by two guys. The wife called 911 and police found the suspects a short time later, at which time the perps professed the whole thing was a ruse, just to get the husband out of the house to play poker.

Um, maybe not.

"There's a chance someone was not completely forthright in their information,"

Ya think, Officer?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I Love Myself

I spent four hours in the nightly $20 MTT on Poker Stars last evening, trading bets and pots with 700 of my closest friends. I could see the mountaintop--the Final Table--from my seat. I could smell the homemade apple pie--a big payday--cooling on the windowsill.

I busted out in 24th.

You'd think that disappointment would be the ruling emotion. So would I. But not this time. Because I played my fucking ass off.

Poker provides plenty of humbling moments, events that assault the confidence and pummel the bankroll. So when I get a chance at satisfaction, I'll take it. Especially when I end up short of the goal. In this case, the result ultimately doesn't mean a thing. It stung at the time, for sure. I replayed my last hand over and over for a while. But contentedly. I felt like it was just one of those nights where I put it all together. "In the zone," as folks like to say. One of those nights of affirmation.

"I can play this game. And play it well."

Lately, I've been guilty of making (at least) one egregious error per tourney. They've often been fatal. The prevailing issue is stubborness. Continuing to push a big hand in spite of the betting telling me I'm beat. Forcing the action when I've got the worst of it. "But I have good cards!"

Last night, I had a couple minor mis-steps. But I didn't compound the mistake with what I've termed the "Aw, fuck it" call. I have AKo in LP and I raise 4x. Get called by the BB. Flop comes TT4. Checked to me and I follow-thru with a big bet. BB raises me. Folding leaves me with only 5x the big blind. "Aw, fuck it."

But not last night. Last night I folded it. Last night, I folded AQs in position to a big pre-flop raise. Last night, I folded pocket 5s to a re-raise. Last night, I had the patience to wait for a better spot. The confidence to play my cards well when I got them.

I successfully changed gears all night. I pressured the shorter stacks, avoided the big stacks with everything but top holdings, stole whenever the opportunity presented itself.

And risked my chips when I had an edge. Like the hand I went out on.

We're down to three tables. Ours is 7-handed. I have 13x the BB. It's folded to me on the button and I go after the blinds (1500/3000) and antes with Kc3c. The BB, who has me covered, calls. Well, I'm probably behind, but he's not THAT strong with just a call. The flop is 5c4c2d. So, let's see, that gives me one...two...three...a gazillion outs. The only hands I need fear are Ax of clubs or a set. Pretty small group, though one that fits with the BB's pre-flop call. This all goes through my head as he moves all-in. I call. He's got A7o, no clubs. I've got 17 outs. Twice.

I don't get one.

I could sit here lamenting how close I was. How lasting a couple more orbits probably gets me to the final two tables, gets me a sizable jump in the ol' paycheck. I could curse the poker gods for not hitting me on the turn or the river.

Instead, I'm beaming. So much of the positive reinforcement in this game comes solely from results and bankroll considerations. Today, it's coming from the satisfaction of playing well. Kinda nice.

I'll be able to hold onto it at least until the next bad beat.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Back in Black

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, poker.

Thanks to the A's turning their Home Opener into a feckless display of the National Pastime inside of three innings, I decided to fire up the ol' laptop for some poker mirth. Dropped into an SnG to try my, skill.

Just like last week, I had a little trouble over the weekend at the tables. Bankroll took another three-digit hit before I pulled out a win in $20 two-table SnG to get it back. Especially satisfying since I got to heads-up as a 5-1 chip 'dog. I immediately ripped the plug from the wall, ending on a good note and in positive frame of mind for the trip to Commerce.

Which brings us to last night. I'm gonna stick with the same structure for the time being. I feel a nice comfort zone, no doubt tied to my recent forays into the MTTs. As mentioned often, the starting chip counts and relatively slow blind escalation at Poker Stars are a good fit for my style.

Which doesn't mean I won't take a flyer on a hand. I had won a small pot in Level 1 with a continuation bet on a flop that missed me. In Level 2, I get Mr. October in LP and limp behind one other. The button then bumps it to 150. Both blinds call, as does the limper. Well, since I'm getting 5.5-1 on my call, I'll get in there and hope to hit a set of fours.

The flop comes Jc 6h 4h.

Giddyup. Blinds check and the limper--to this point the chip leader and very aggressive--moves all-in. I hate the flush draw, because it always seems to bite me in the ass, but it's a must call. He shows AJ of hearts. Great flop for him. But no other hearts come and I double up.

Of all the SnGs I've played at this level on Stars, this one was the quickest to consolidate to the final table. Level 4 is all it took. I had dragged a couple more small pots by this time and was sitting in second chip position down to the final 9. The leader--who we will hear from shortly--had nearly T9000. He must've run over the other table.

Anyway, here's where I get cold-decked. Folded an entire level. I really like to stay in raise-or-fold mode here and I fire out a button raise with JTs. The SB raises me, however, so I lay it down. A few hands later, I get pocket 6s and throw out my standard 3x raise. The BB, on the short stack, goes all-in. I'm not crazy about it, figuring a coin flip at best, but I call since I've got him covered by plenty. He shows A5o. Thankyouverymuch.

At this point I'd like to suggest that Poker Stars does NOT have to wait until the river to drop the Ace on me. Just give it on the flop. It's fine. I can do without the drama.

So now I'm middle of the pack chip-wise and tilting toward the lower end. I do a fair amount of folding and see the table take on a curious bent. The chip leader is getting involved in a lot of pots. He limps most often, but will call a raise behind him. In three straight hands he does this, each time following it up with a flop bet. He is raised all-in each time (one was a check-raise) and folds each time. He's bleeding chips and can't be happy about it.

I've folded to the bubble, but am 4th in chips with just 13x the BB. In the nick of time, I look down to see rockets in the BB. Pot is raised 3x by the chip leader (still, but just barely) and I call. That groan you hear is from the dear and patient wife perched over my shoulder. Yeah, I'm not crazy about being passive with aces either, but I need to double up here, or at least induce a flop bet and not be content with just 700 chips. His folding to raises is fresh in my mind.

"If you lose this, don't get mad. It's your own fault."

Thanks, honey. Flop comes with two of those damn hearts again, though one is an ace. Also a four and deuce. I check (GROAN) and he bets 800. Alright, alright, alright. I move all-in, assuming the fold. Except he calls. I think "Crap. He's got the hearts" in the split seconds before his cards are revealed. Um, he's sOOOOOted, alright. Queen and four of diamonds.

I can only assume his getting pushed around by others in recent hands had ratcheted up his frustration. And I'm back in the mix.

I get Aces again three hands later, but no action. The aggressive former chip leader goes out next, losing a kicker battle. Which puts us in the money: two big stacks (including me) one medium, one small.

I get involved in a pot with the medium stack when I call his 3x raise with A9s in the BB. I flop top two and fire out a pot-sized bet which he calls. The turn brings a scary king, but he just calls the same bet and I confidently put him on AQ. River is a rag and despite what I think is a good read, I don't push. I bet the same amount, saving myself a chunk of chips just in case. Turns out I was exactly right about AQ, according to the hand history. He's crippled and goes out in 4th shortly.

Soon, we're heads-up with me at a 3-2 chip disadvantage. My opponent has played real solid poker the entire tourney. Tighter than me, even. Patient and diciplined. To give you an idea, we played 53 hands heads-up.

I deal him a nearly fatal blow when we both get all-in pre-flop, me with TT, him with AJo. He doesn't catch and is down to T3300. Two hands later, we get all-in on the flop. I have A5s with four to the flush on a jack-high board. He has the jack. Twelve outs twice for the title. Alas.........

He's back from the brink and the cat-and-mouse game ensues. We play about 30 hands without any significant action. I catch a couple big hands, but can't get a call to my raises. Twice he folds his button when I'm huge in the BB: AQs and AA. I'm still have a better than 2-1 chip lead, but I make a mistake.

Unraised before the flop and I catch second pair on a Q9x board. I make a minimum bet to see where I'm at and he just calls. A six falls on the turn and he again calls my same bet. See, I'm worried about building a big pot here with my second pair. Want to minimize the damage if I'm beat. While at the same time, advertizing in flashing neon leters that I'm weak. The river is another six and he raises all-in over the top of my bet. After much deliberation, I call and he shows A6s. Um, remember back when we were trying to keep the pot small? Yeah, nice work.

Poorly played on all streets.

We're virtually even now and three hands later, we both get in on the turn. I'm holding 54o in an unraised pot and the flop is T87 rainbow. He bets the pot and I call with my gunshot. I get it on the turn. He bets, I re-raise all-in, he calls and shows the 9.


They don't call it the idiot end for nothin'.

Still, I was fairly satisfied with my play and the paycheck. Pulled us into the black for the week. I say "us" because the dear and patient wife continues her assault on the Party $5 SnGs with three top finishes (two seconds and a win) out of five attempts. Yes, she's totally screwing up my bankroll statistics, but as long as it's in a good way...


A quick note to the lady in the cafeteria who felt compelled to offer explicit step-by-step instructions on how to properly prepare her bacon and egg sandwich:


Please be aware of the 40 people in line behind you while you monopolize the single cook with your idiotic demands. I mean seriously, is that piece of lettuce REALLY considerably better than the other?

Thank you.


In my haste to get up the Commerce trip report, I neglected one of the funner periods of the evening. Yes, there was straddling. I think Glyph and Grubby supplied the peer pressure. I straddled The Poker Geek's blind, which Absinthe immediately three-bet. Geek capped it and off we went. I held Jc3d and stuck around until the end in order to catch the flush when the fourth board club fell on the river. Then Absinthe straddled my blind (don't think that one was bet any further), proceeded to get dealt pocket tens and taking THAT pot.

The lesson, as always, straddling pays. Unless you try it when you get dealt AQo, like Geek did on the next orbit. He didn't improve and my TT took it down. You could say the cards weren't being very kind to him on this evening. And you would be understating it a bit.


In further blogger news, I see my main man CJ has squeezed another table out of the Aladdin for the WPBT live event moving moi from the rail into the tourney. God Bless Us, Everyone!

And keep a good thought for JP.

Also, Iggy and Otis have organized a WSoP satellite for bloggers. Oh man. I'm happy to donate $30 to get a blogger into the $1500 event. And to watch his or her bid from the rail, drinking double-fisted, with the rest of you.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Los Angeles Dept. of Commerce

"I've got a jack and a seven," claimed the large fella in the 1s. The Poker Geek gave him the once-over, turned his gaze to the ragged board--which contained neither a jack or a seven--and bet out.

"I call," said the Round Mound of Can't Lay-It-Down. Geek flipped over third (or fourth or bottom) pair and dragged the pot. "He said he had a jack and a seven," he responded to our amused glances. So he did. So. He. Did.

When poker players kneel to pray, they face Commerce Casino. A mecca of looseness that would cause a Bangkok brothel to blush. One hand is all it takes to know--beyond a shadow of a doubt--that textbook poker will not be prevalent. It was here a chunk of the Los Angeles blogger contingent spent its Saturday evening/Sunday morning.

The 3s was a tight-aggressive player who wanted everyone to know that sitting at a 2/4 table--a pai gow table, no less; comfortable for seven players, crowded with eight--was a good two or three classes below his standing in poker life. He groused more than once about how he should be at the $100 NL tables, a fact that was curious considering he was buying into this game $20 at a time. In his hour or so at the table, he showed down only two hands: KK and QQ. Naturally, he lost them both. To bloggers.

Absinthe was the first to take him. Defending his BB with 6h4h, he called the pre-flop raise and flopped two pair.

Then Geek rivered a flush to beat his Hiltons. The best part about all this was overhearing 3s re-telling the beats to some buddies at the bar. Never did make it over to those NL tables, I reckon.

The 8s also liked the incremental buy-in method. Friendly enough guy, saw a lot of flops. Expressed some misplaced admiration when I laid down top pair (KJo with king on the flop) to The Geek's incessant raising. Of course, I didn't lay it down until the river. Until the river was the second queen on the board. Until Geek bet out again on the river (with his rockets).

At this point, I hadn't dragged a pot. Then I got aces and flopped a set. Only The Geek came to the river, which was the third heart. Thankfully, he was on a straight, not flush, draw.

By this time, two new players had taken over for Mr. $100 NL. A decent player with a calling problem and his better-than-average buddy. I sucked out (maybe) on the former when I (naturally) played my AJs like it was gold (and frankinsence and mhyrr). I was unimproved on a ragged board--a fact that did not sway me from betting--until I spiked the river ace. He showed his buddy his hand in disgust. Either he had a small pair or Ace-little or non-ace overcards. Tough to tell.

I also dragged my biggest pot of the evening--an evening which ended 14 BBs to the good--against the same (poor) guy. Capped on the first two betting rounds as my pocket 7s flopped a boat. He called me down from there on out with his Cowboys.

It wasn't all bad news for him. He hit quad Aces much later, three of them on the board. His buddy played him all the way, but didn't have a pocket pair. If he DID, the table would have shared the bad beat jackpot. So close.

Quick aside:

I have relatively little experience with live play. I hate that fact, because I enjoy it a great deal. But it's such a larger time committment and I already strain the dear and patient wife's capacity for approval as it is. But even in this small sample size, it's clear to me I play much more aggressively live. Looser, to be sure, as I called several pre-flop raises I wouldn't ever call online. But I'm also more willing to ram and jam my draws, see a turn with backdoor possibilities, etc.

I was trying to figure out why this is. Partly because I felt comfortable doing it, comfortable with playing my opponents after the flop with marginal holdings, comfortable putting others on a hand. It was something of a revelation to me.

Part of it is undoubtedly the human element. For several of the players, I had no need to see their cards to know they were playing garbage. A much more difficult determination to make vs. online opponents. Then there's the interaction. Playing with the bloggers obviously elevates the fun aspect, whereas online it can seem like work. A solitary grind. Plus, nearly everyone else who sat at our table was in "good times" mode. And there might have been beer.

I think another aspect is the slower pace of the live game (especially on a pai-gow table without an automatic shuffler). There's a psychology there I can't exactly pin down, but I think it makes a difference. Absinthe opined that boredom plays a factor. With the slower deals, the longer one goes without a "playable" hand, so it's more likely you'll take a flyer with marginal holdings. That sounds logical to me.

End (not so) quick aside.

At a later point in the evening, we were joined by Mrs. Absinthe, who took over Geek's seat (and no, I'm not ignoring the bad beat I put on him to grease the skids. My dread at relating it means I'm just saving it for last) and an Asian gentleman (and his sweating wife). Which sets up the worst beat of the evening.

I limp with ATo UTG and am joined by the Asian guy and two others. Mrs. Absinthe raises from the BB and all of us call. Flop is T6x. We all call Mrs. Absinthe's bet. Turn is a 6 and she bets out again. I know I'm beat, but I figure five outs and I've got right about the odds to call (it's late, you know). Then Asian guy raises it up. Folds to Mrs. A, who calls and I fold, knowing I'm now down to two outs.

One of which falls on the river.

For posterity, the Asian Guy played Q6o to Mrs. A's AA. A bad suckout. And I (correctly, though arguably a little late) laid down the eventual winner for the want of saving $4. The question, naturally, is would it have been better for me to have won that pot? Or worse? Or does it even friggin' matter. Having aces cracked by crap sucks no matter how you slice it. Considering how bad I felt about drawing out on Geek, I'm kinda glad it wasn't me this time.

Now I've managed to create all this build-up. Great. I suck. I called a flop bet I really had no business calling.

I was UTG again and limped with A9s (spades). Several other limpers, including the aforementioned Calling Station in the 3s and Geek raises from the BB. I call (loosely, but with the family pot...). Flop is all garbage with only one spade. I call Geek's bet anyway (here fish fish fishy) as does the Calling Station. Turn spade. Bets. River spade. Bets.

Calling Station has a Ks2s. So, I caught runner-runner with two spades out of play. I don't know what The Geek had. I didn't ask. I could only apologize. And hope not to be the object of a withering blog-lashing. Considering the vast amount of time I spend in this space complaining about people making bad plays getting rewarded, I am particularly chagrined. As such, I accept any and all retribution without complaint.

As penance I offered him a bed in my JUNIOR SUITE AT THE PLAZA for the blogger event in June, which he accepted. Actually, I did that much earlier, at dinner, but it sounds more magnanimous this way.

Dinner was an entertaining affair, with a lot of lively conversation about movies, books, poker, poker books, poker movies and poker. Glyph set the whole gig up. Little did we all know we were mere ammunition in an escalating war against April and the entire southwest. WPBT final table hero Bill Rini was in the house, complete with riotous tales of LA poker regulars. His buddy Mike showed up as well and he's got a brand-spankin' new blog. Grubby popped in later, fresh off a theatre bender, and proceeded to drag a couple pots on the NL tables (at least that I saw). I also relished the chance to express my admiration for his recent tales of stripper decadence with Pauly.

Last, and far from least, both Absinthe and The Geek attempted to drop The Hammer. Both had to let it go on the turn after pushing it the whole way. Cajones grandes to jam that bad boy on a 2/4 table at Commerce. One attempt did spawn an entertaining conversation with a couple other players about the spiritual cleansing powers of The Hammer.

I had a great time. Even making the hour-long drive home at 3 a.m. Can't wait for the next one. Thanks again to Glyph for setting it up.

Tease Me

I'll try to get the beer-by-beer account of Saturday's trip to Commerce up at some point today. A good time was had by all (I think). We had hammers (particularly bold in 2/4), blogger-on-bloggers suckouts (sorry Geek) and a Seinfeld-esque collection of supporting characters.

For now, I give you today's lesson on how NOT to get out of the house for a night of poker with the fellas. These Mensa-candidates really thought this through.


Friday, April 08, 2005

I've Got a Fever...

My dear and patient wife and I spent a (far too) considerable amount of our pre-marital courtship in a long-distance romance-type situation, separated, in fact, by an ocean. In addition to the obvious problems with this, another unforeseen ramification made itself known after the nuptials.

The Oakland A’s.

Specifically, my all-consuming obsession with them. Since the dear and patient wife had not lived in close quarters with me during a pennant race, my e-mails and phone calls were unable to fully drive home the insanity, the constant mood-altering hold the team has on me.

We were married in February of 2000. The previous baseball year, the A’s woke up and were in contention for the first time since ’92. They didn’t make the post-season, but the 2000 year was rife with promise. A young and supremely talented club, augmented by some shrewd Billy Beane trades, had most A’s fans legitimately thinking playoffs.

As such, I hung on every game from Opening Day on, more so than in previous years where a low finish was certain. And the dear and patient wife was shocked. How I’d be sullen and unresponsive after a loss. Ebullient and giddy after a win. She struggled to cope. Predictably, my behavior caused a confrontation.

We had planned to go out to dinner that night, as soon as the A’s-Yankees game had ended. Showered and prepared to head out, we watched the A’s take a one-run lead into the bottom of the 9th in Yankee Stadium. Jason Isringhausen came on to close it. He threw two pitches. To two batters. Both of which were hit for home runs.

I couldn’t go to dinner. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t summon the will to get off the couch. To pay the slightest attention to anything other than my own stupid misery.

This did not go over well. Nor could it continue. Even I recognized that.

To the undying credit of the dear and patient wife, she has come to understand my problem. She found in the A’s a team that she too could be interested in (though with the off-season trade of Mark Mulder, the club’s “hunk” factor has diminished in her eyes). She plays fantasy baseball. She sat attentively on Opening Day, wanting to know all the names of the club’s new faces. But above it all, she “gets” why I feel the way I do about the A’s. How they have been a constant in my life since I was in short pants. How the years of my life are measured and defined by the plot of the passing baseball seasons.

The biggest reason she can grasp this fanaticism is “Fever Pitch.” Nick Hornby’s largely autobiographical novel about an obsessed Arsenal fan is one of my favorites. The first line reads:

I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it.

And they made a great movie out of it in 1997. I showed her that film and she understood, for the first time, what it means to be “tied” to a sports team. From adolescent worship to wrapping one’s self in their success to feeling their failures. It explained fandom better than I ever could.

I will be boycotting the new version of “Fever Pitch.” I can’t imagine Jimmy Fallon managing to convey the depth of the first film or the novel. The original’s protagonist, Paul, is tortured, his head held perpetually underwater by his “affliction.” He is not glib, he is not funny. He is a pariah, cast out by his more “adjusted” friends. The woman who lifts his spirits cannot truly reach him like Arsenal can. Not yet.

Hey, maybe the trailer doesn’t serve as an adequate representation of the film. Maybe Jimmy Fallon turns into a “Rushmore”-esque Bill Murray. Doesn’t matter. It will never measure up. It will never MEAN what “Fever Pitch” really means. To me. And the dear and patient wife.

As for me, I’ve significantly reduced my emotional stake in the A’s. Yes, they can—and do—cause me to feel like I’ve been kicked repeatedly in the groin by a coked-up mule (take September 2004, for example), but I now just put a little ice on it and rejoin family life.

Now, about this poker problem...


Looks like an LA blogger mini-convention (I originally wrote that as a mini-blogger convention, which I guess would include only Iggy) is on tap at Commerce Casino this Saturday night. Look for the salacious details here on Monday, assuming I survive.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Senseless Apprentice

I mentioned yesterday about how I'd been "playing angry." I'm certain that emotional reaction stems from my competitive nature. I hate to lose. And throughout my athletic life, I've always pushed myself as far as I could go in order to prevent that from happening.

But nobody wins all the time.

I was having a discussion with good pal and frequent reader poker_ghost the other day. It began with us poking fun at guys who lose their shit when sucked out on (raises hand sheepishly), even in a $5 buy-in SnG. It's only five bucks, dude! But it really has nothing to do with money. It has to do with competition. Above the buy-in, in addition to losing because of someone else's horrid play, there's also that draining feeling of loss. I feel it every single time I bust out of a multi-table tournament. To varying degrees certainly, but it's always there.

Lately, I've taken my losses (which include both bad beats and poor plays) harshly. There have been four-letter words. Often combined with other words to make longer, mure vulgar terms. Occassionally, I would string together several, resulting in a non-sensical, yet decidedly filthy soliloquoy.

That's a good album title, "Filthy Soliloquoy."

I'm aware of how dumb my behavior is. I'm aware it detracts from my poker game. I am the type of person, however, who sometimes needs a hammer blow to the forehead to get my full attention. Ask anyone who's ever tried to have a conversation with me while I'm reading the newspaper.

Today's hammer blow comes from an interview with new Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff, who describes below what he wants out of his team and what he expects of himself:

"(I want them to) do their very best every day. That's all we can do. I prefer wins, but I don't want my competitiveness to get ahead of my good sense."

Let me repeat that.

I prefer wins, but I don't want my competitiveness to get ahead of my good sense.

Words to live by. Now, where is my good sense? I know it's around here somewhere.


I'm on track for my first losing week in a while, mostly due to my apparent addiciton to those $11 re-buy tourneys on Stars. Two of them account for 2/3rds of the week's losses. I really need to stop playing those. Or start playing them better.

Otherwise, I just seem to be making the wrong decisions at crucial times. Or find myself on the wrong end of the spinning wheel of fortuna. A couple examples from last night.

Playing .10/.25 PL Omaha/8, I have a solid low on the turn and four outs (the duece) to the nut low/straight. But I'm corruptable, facing a $7 bet and two other callers, so I lay it down. Duece falls on the river and I would have scooped the entire $90 pot. Ouch.

Playing the $20 MTT and getting along just fine. Average chip stack, 15x the BB and in the top 35 with the bubble approaching. I'd been cold-decked for a while, but had a good read on my table, one player in particular. He was one of the top 3 stacks in the tourney, immediately to my left, and he called a lot of pre-flop raises, eventually showing down marginal holdings like QJ or A9. He was catching quite a bit with those cards, though. Hence, his stack. I hoped I'd get a shot at him.

One from the button, I see A8s and with no action in front of me raise 4x (blinds at 300/600). Naturally, loose guy next to me calls. I'm probably behind here, but let's see what the flop brings. And it brings something very attractive: 8-high, backdoor flush draw. Now, I think I'm good here. Based on what I've seen from loose guy, he's got a couple big cards and just whiffed. I'd think a pre-flop re-raise if he was holding overpairs. I bet the pot, a bit more than half my remaining stack. He raises. Trying to buy it. I push and he flips JJ. I don't improve.

Remember those blue streaks I mentioned earlier? Well, I thought them, but didn't speak them.

I finished 10 off the money (73rd of 670) and it was entirely my own fault. I was just waiting to line that guy up, but trying to do it with A8s probably wasn't the most patient tactic. In my defense, I was hoping for the blinds with my pre-flop raise. In my further defense, I would have easily goten away from the hand if I didn't flop top pair. A bit unlucky there. But I forced myself into a pot I could have avoided.

Regardless, I'm working on not letting the losing, the competitiveness, overwhelm the lesson learned or the future play.


Halfway home to an epic All-Premiership Champions League semifinal. Road work to do for both my beloved Liverpool and Al's beloved Chelski, but I believe. And boy, if there's anyone in the world of football who's scored more clutch goals for his side than Frankie Lampard, I'm not aware of him. That second was gorgeous.

What could we possibly come up with as a wager for potential matches with such massive stakes? Maybe Al would have to wear my Steven Gerrard jersey in the WPBT Aladdin Classic. Maybe I'd have to climb atop a Plaza blackjack table and sing Chelsea songs. Permanent forehead tattoos? Naming children after Didier Drogba?

The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Slow Ride

Thr Granada Bowl, ground zero for 6th-graders with a hankerin' for video games, was a good four-mile bike ride from my house growing up. While kids don't measure distance, only reward, this particular trip was notable for its length and is lasting impression.

There were six of us, soccer teammates and long-time friends. But it's a cruel world at 11, a prime "Lord of the Flies" period of development. I lagged behind my friends in a crucial area: bicycling equipment. While they cruised along, eight, ten, even a dozen gears at their disposal, I pedalled furiously in one. My aging Schwinn, banana seat and all, was no match as the ride reached its halfway point. Winded, increasingly frustrated and downright sad at the widening gap between me and my partners, I contemplated turning back.

Nothing harms the soul like being left out. Maybe you were passed over when sides were chosen at recess. Maybe that first crush unexpectedly, but summarily, rejected you at the roller rink. Whatever the source, the pain is unmistakable. A dull, unreachable ache with no salve or remedy.

Please forgive my over-dramatization, but I felt left out yesterday. Disappointed and helpless to the reality of not playing in the Aladdin Classic.

Which is not the point.

As we reached the corner of Holmes and El Caminto, one of my friends realized how far behind I'd actually fallen. He stopped and waited for me, encouraging others to do the same. They ignored him, but Darren waited anyway, and rode along side me the rest of the way to the bowling alley.

The point is, I expect to meet a lot of Darrens in Vegas in two months.


I've been kinda burned out on online poker lately. I've been playing too much, playing too angry. I see a bad beat around every corner. Not the best mind-set to have.

But I tossed away some Frequent Player Points on Stars last night on a WSOP sub-qualifier. It was exactly what I needed. Little pressure, relatively short time committment and having my big hands actually hold up--with one notable exception.

Only 124 entrants and the final table got a pass to the next qualifier. I chipped up big early, even while playing ultra-tight. First, I limped in EP with 55. Flop came 985 with two diamonds. I bet the pot and got two callers. Turn is a queen of the non-diamond variety and I bet the pot again (which is now up to about 500) and get one caller. A black queen fills me up on the river and I push, assuming a fold from missed flush draw. But no, he calls. With A8o. Interesting.

Then AQ became the hand of the night. I yanked two big pots when my Big Slick held up against the Mrs., though one of the busted players claimed my win to be "BS." We all had a pretty good laugh at that one. After the second one--where I had the AK on the button and AQ in the BB pushed all-in pre-flop, I was the chip leader with about 50 remaining.

The tables remained pretty loose into the second hour and I had nothing to play. Msrginal hands out of position, crap in position. Got the Hiltons once in Level 6, but no action. Even so, my stack was in good shape relative to the blinds and I stayed in the 10-15 range overall.

Once the antes kicked in, the table got a lot more aggressive. A pre-flop raise would usually take it. It was at this point where I looked down to see the Hiltons again in the BB. There was a 4x raise to 800 from MP and a call from the button, making the pot already over 2K. So I pushed. Perhaps not the best move. The MP raiser folded, but the button called with AQs. Well, I got my money in while.....

Ace on the flop. And he had me slightly covered. Out in 23rd.

I could have perhaps given myself some fold equity by just re-raising instead of an all-in, leaving me ample chips to still mount an assault.


So, the dear and patient wife was giving me a hard time yesterday about how I failed to wish her "Happy Birthday" before I left for work Tuesday. Yes, yesterday WAS her actual birthday. We had, however, celebrated it on Saturday, complete with kick-ass food, drink and presents. We also celebrated it a little on Sunday with other family members. In my mind--and in my defense--the Birthday Celebration had already occurred, in rather drawn-out fashion.

It was pretty funny when I wished her Happy Birthday this morning before I left for work.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

I'm in Jeopardy!

Nothing like a three-day, weekend to stimulate my stupid cells.

Let's play a game.

"I'll take 'Adjectives' for $200, Alex."


"What is the A's opening Day performance?"

"Correct. You're still in control of the board."


"What is grossly over-playing ATs in the third hour of the Stars maniacal $11 re-buy tourney simply because it's the best hand--by far--you've been dealt in the past 45 minutes? Especially damaging vs. pocket kings.

"Yes. Choose again."


"What is the chance Liverpool gets the drop on Juve today in the Champions League quarterfinal at Anfield?"

"You're on a roll. Next"


"What is the first hour of the Stars $11 re-buy tourney? I mean, I know you can re-buy, but why would you WANT to over and over and over again when you can just fold that 54o instead of pushing with it? Is there a strategy I'm missing? I pointed out in chat that the play of certain people was more akin to keno than to poker. A point I made after doubling up on T5s who called my Hiltons pre-flop. The result was severe chastisment from several corners about how IT'S A RE-BUY! and how could I be so stupid as to expect anything else? My measured response was that the re-buy fact does not excuse far less than optimal poker play. The guy who pushed with 54o was in for $121, because he pushed with crap time and time again. I can surmise that he's gamb00000ling to double up, but doubling up once while dropping 10 buy-ins is kind of idiotic, wouldn't you say? But that's how you get $30K prize pools in 600-player tourneys.

"Correct, but could you please keep your responses to under a thousand words."

"Suck it, Alex."

"Okay, next clue. Here it is."

Excessive formation of scar tissue and, usually, subsequent painful swelling.

"That's not an adjective, but you're talking about my liver aren't you?"



This is my frank and honest reaction to finding myself on the waiting list for the WPBT Live Event two months hence at the Aladdin.

It's not an expression of anger, but rather of disappointment. It is MOST CERTAINLY not an epithet directed at CJ, who has what I'm guessing is a large--and largely thankless--job of pulling the whole shindig together. Nor is my status anywhere close to dissuading me from making the trip. In fact, not playing means not getting up for a 10 a.m. Saturday start time, so I don't have to worry about a Friday night curfew.

But I was really looking forward to playing. And it didn't occur to me that it was possible I wouldn't be. Which is my fault, I guess.

Who do I have to kill to get the Aladdin to add a sixth table?


Well slap my ass and call me Spanky.

Conceding an away goal is cause for alarm as it almost ensures Benitez will think "defense first" in Turin, never a good tactic in my book, but especially horrid when you employ Djimi Traore on your backline.

Quite a week thus far for the Reds, first topping Bolton (apologies to flipchipro whose lads were hard done by with that result) to move within a point of Everton for the last Champs League spot and now this. Could make it a historic seven days by grabbing three more points this weekend vs. City.

Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-ver-pool! LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII-ver-pool!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Baseball Preview

Regular readers of this space have yet to be exposed to the lunacy that is my baseball addiction. Which is ONLY because I began this blog in November, during the off-season. I think about poker a lot. For every poker thought, I have 5 baseball thoughts. Yeah, I know, it doesn't usually seem like I have actual thoughts. Well, I do. Which doesn't mean they don't often run into each other. The result is, as Nigel Tufnel so eloquently stated, " get this. And I don't want this."

So, with Opening Day around the corner, I present the first (and likely last) Obituarium Baseball/Poker Preview.

American League


KK: New York Yankees. The best starting hand in the preview for the best team on paper. Vulnerable, as we’ve the past few Octobers, to an Ace. Also prone to getting angry when losing with this hand and exhibiting uncouth behavior, such as girlie-slapping opponents.

QQ: Boston Red Sox. This hand always looks like a winner. Actually wins once every 86 years. Also, like the hand’s namesake, The Hilton Sisters, Red Sox players are vacuous idiots.

K7o: Baltimore Orioles. Well behind the top two, even with the arrival of Sosa. Would be a miracle if they got to September with any outs.

65s: Toronto Blue Jays. D’oh! Canada. Speculative hand best just left alone.

72o: Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Hammer. A terrible hand, but occassionally dangerous in the hands of a Master. Lou can, and will, drop it on you if you’re not careful.


TT: Minnesota Twins. Twin tens for the Twin Cities. Santana is a Perfect 10. Mauer could be the other.

KJo: Cleveland Indians. An exciting young team with a world of potential. Could flop big. Or leave you hanging.

T9o: Chicago White Sox. Perennial under-achievers hope change of attitude and personnel translates to better results. Does inexperienced manager Ozzie Guillen have the skills to play post-flop?

J4o: Detroit Tigers. Still on a spending spree trying to find respectability. Even a gold-plated Jack-Four off-suit is still, at the end of the day, Jack-Four off-suit.

83o: Kansas City Royals. Pee-yew. It’s teams/hands like this that make me wonder if we can add a “surrender” feature to Hold ‘Em.


JTs: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Over-rated and over-played. Owner Arte Moreno spending a lot of money on marginal players like Orlando Cabrera, hoping to get lucky. That is, for the record, the one and only time I will ever call them by their ridiculous official name.

77: Oakland Athletics. Now devoid of Aces with the trades of Mulder and Hudson, Oakland looking to surprise some people if they catch a set with their talented, but young, new rotation.

Q8o: Texas Rangers. Last season’s surprise, the Rangers did little to help themselves this off-season. Gonna need a lot of help to compete. More likely they’ll take a step back.

76s: Seattle Mariners. A right to improve off their 99-loss season, but probably not enough to matter. Bet on a fold before the turn.

National League


AQs: Florida Marlins. Excellent young pitching and the signing of Carlos Delgado give the Fish plenty of ways to win.

JJ: Atlanta Braves. Can never discount the Bravos, though the addition of bonafide Ace Tim Hudson is off-set by the geriatrics in the corner OF spots.

KTo: Philadelphia Phillies. After discarding joker Larry Bowa, the more relaxed Phils may finally play to their considerable potential.

87s: New York Mets. An off-season spending spree of idiotic proportions has Flushing buzzing about a return to respectability. It’s a bluff.

92o: Washington Nationals. I’d pay to watch Brad Wilkerson play. Then I’d leave the stadium after his ABs.


AKs: St. Louis Cardinals. The Red Birds pick up a Big Slick (6’6” and smoothest delivery you’ll ever see) in #1 starter Mark Mulder and still possess the game’s best offense this side of Fenway.

ATo: Chicago Cubs. Prior and Wood can take the Cubbies far as long as their various ligaments hold up. Northsiders will spend the summer watching Dusty Baker overplay his hand. Again.

QJs: Houston Astros. Last year’s NLCS participants lose their trump card in Beltran. Still might show down a winner, but they’ll need help.

T7o: Cincinnati Reds. After much deliberation, I can’t find anything clever to say about this team. Adam Dunn is fun to watch swing...and occasionally connect.

95o: Milwaukee Brewers. Even a steady parade of beer and brats doesn’t make this hand playable, or this team watchable.

62o: Pittsburgh Pirates. Ante up! The game is Baseball. We’ll have to teach the Pirates how to play.


99: Los Angeles Dodgers. I go broke on this hand a lot. Same thing will happen sooner or later to leveraged-to-the-ears owner Frank McCourt.

QTo: San Diego Padres. With Bonds out indefinitely, Pads will probably get heads-up with The Blue Crew, giving them a fighting chance.

J8s: Arizona Diamondbacks. Spent a lot of money they didn’t have for their Ace-Ace-led championship team of four years ago. Spent a lot of money they didn’t have this off-season on Russ Ortiz.

98o: San Francisco Giants. 98 is the average age of the Giants starting lineup. Team has changed its uniform to include Bermuda shorts with black socks.

73o: Colorado Rockies. The air in Denver is notoriously thin, just like the Rockies’ chances.