Thursday, June 30, 2005

Increased Ventilation, Reduced Moisture

I am prone to getting lost in my own head, preoccupied with mysteries of existence, both great and small. It can be difficult for outside forces (like...say...a wife) to penetrate that bubble, as my single-mindedness and complete concentration repels everything around me.

Occassionally, this habit works against me, as the mundane details of daily living are ignored. Those pesky details seem to always present themselves in a lightning bolt of reality, shocking me back into the here and now.

Fuck! I don't have any clean underwear!

You know, as an example. This may or may not have happened this morning. I may or may not be "hangin' free," as the kids say. Quite a way to begin my 39th year on the planet wouldn't you say? Still can't take care of myself.


Thanks to all for the birthday wishes/jabs. I can take the age jokes. I'm still very much in touch with my inner juvenille. Cheers also to ScurvyDog who shares with me this momentous day of our creation, though I did it first.

I like to tell people that I was born in 1967. The Summer of Love. In San Francisco. 'Tis all true. It would be a much better story if my Dad weren't a stockbroker and my mother a doctor's office secretary. Neither of 'em could tell Haight from Ashbury, Moby Grape from Grape Ape.

My Dad grew up in SF, the eldest son of a Filipino immigrant. That's where I get my gambling genes, from Grandpa Benny. He died when I was 6, my only real memories of him being a few visits to his classic Victorian in The City by The Bay. How the smoke swirled around his head in the hazy room, curtains drawn tight against the midday sun. He frightened me more than anything, his playful pidgen English an unusual experience, a foreign threat.

When I told my Dad about winning the seat to the WSOP, he remarked how I am the "continuation of my grandpa...just a little more responsible about it." Wasn't always that way. I had a mad jones for the ponies in college. Dropped a lot of food/beer/weed/rent money at Del Mar, and later, Santa Anita and HollyPark. Yeah, I liked handicapping, trying to figure out the puzzle, but I mostly liked the adrenaline, the unmatched feeling when your horse is rollin' at the head of the stretch and Trevor Demnan blares its name.

My addiction to the track slowly abated, bored by the game's lack of true superstars, horses that stuck around (John Henry, Great Communicator, Best Pal) instead of quickly retiring for the exhorbitant stud fees. Dirt-level claimers and maiden races fail to provide the same excitement. Though it's hard to match a spring day in the Santa Anita infield.


These were some of the thoughts I was thinking yesterday as my underwear drawer lay starkly empty. I've always had a gambling spirit. I've always applied it in various ways and ultimately learned how to keep it from being a counter-productive (read: bank account/family attention sucking) hobby. But I wonder if poker, like the ponies, will be a passing fancy for me, as it surely will be for a lot of the people we see across the virtual felt these days.

I can't imagine that's true. I have actual goals I want to reach in the game. Goals beyond simply "winning money." I see paths of inquiry, forks in the intellectual road. I want to travel them all. Far from simply holding my interest, poker demands I actively pursue knowledge, seek answers and understanding. Which, naturally, leads to more areas to investigate.

That's the true lure, the never-ending quest for The Truth. If that quest sometimes leaves me bare-assed under my slacks, so be it.

Plus, I still have to master Razz.


I got in a nice session last night. It's my birthday, I can't lose! Right?

Quick aside to you sports bettors: I should have alerted you to the fact the streaking A's never lose on my birthday. In fact, my favorite Oakland A of all-time--Dave Stewart--threw a no-hitter on my birthday. I'll get ya next year.

So, anyway. I had my aces cracked in the $20 MTT, putting me out at Level 3. He had Kings and made runner-runner quads, his SECOND quads of the tourney. Maybe it was his birthday, too.

I hitched up my last remaining pair of clean underwear and won a $30 two-table SnG. Yes, you read that correctly. I DID NOT fuck up when I got to heads-up play. My 4-1 chip advantage may have had something to do with that.

So I went to bed with a smile on my face, again pondering those deep thoughts, like how a guy could call a re-re-raise all-in with pocket 9s.

Not sure I'll ever solve that one.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

This Day in History

Today Wednesday, June 29, is the 180th day of 2005. There are 185 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight: On June 29, 1776, the Virginia state constitution was adopted, and Patrick Henry made governor.

On this date: In 1954, the Atomic Energy Commission voted against reinstating Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer's access to classified information.

In 1966, the United States bombed fuel storage facilities near the North Vietnamese cities of Hanoi and Haiphong.

In 1970, the United States ended a two-month military offensive into Cambodia.

In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty, as it was being meted out, could constitute ‘‘cruel and unusual punishment.'' (The ruling prompted states to revise their capital punishment laws.)

Birthdays: Movie producer Robert Evans is 75. Songwriter L. Russell Brown is 65. Actor Gary Busey is 61. Comedian Richard Lewis is 58. Actor Fred Grandy is 57. Rock musician Ian Paice (Deep Purple) is 57. Singer Don Dokken (Dokken) is 52. Rock singer Colin Hay (Men At Work) is 52. Actress Maria Conchita Alonso is 48. Actress Sharon Lawrence is 44. Actress Amanda Donohoe is 43.

Internet Poker Hack Joe Speaker is 38. And he wants a pony.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Jill Hennessy is not that hot.

I mean, sure, she's hot in a vacuum, but as a former model/current actress, she must be graded on a curve. When I see starlets in person, as I did with Ms. Hennessy yesterday, I need to be awe-stricken in order to push the grade higher. Like the time I saw Sela Ward at a Morrocan restaurant and choked on my couscous because she was so digestive system-stoppingly gorgeous.

Jill (can I call you Jill?) was coming down the steps of City Hall, in the midst of one of many location shoots I have to dodge on my daily walk from Union Station to the office. Yes, I stared at her. She has bobbies, right? But the former Law & Order star hardly jumped off the page (Quick digression. Hottest L&O female sidekicks? I'd go with Carrie Lowell and Mariska Hartigay as 1 and 1a). She looked the same as she does on TV. Maybe a little taller. Same is fine. It's better than worse (coughCameron Diazcough). But hot? I'm voting no. Out of my league? Sure. Out of this world? Uh uh.

My poker travails were a little like Jill Hennessy last night. Hot, but not somebody-get-me-to-a-cold-shower hot.


Notched a second-place finish in a $30 two-table SnG on Stars. Had the pleasure of playing with The Poker Nerd a few seats to my left. A pleasure because it's always nice to play with bloggers. Not so much a pleasure because these things are his bread and butter and he's a proven tough player. But there we were, randomly ready to do battle with 16 douchebags.

The deck clobbered me from Hand One, in which I got aces UTG. I managed only the blinds. We had a classic calling station seated between Nerd and I and he paid me off several times. I steadily chipped up with some more big hands (and some not so big ones) and was looking good with 11 players left.

Then the Poker Gods really decided to shine on me. Payback.

I got aces again and simply flat called a raise in front. Heads-up, he bet out a fairly small amount into a Qxx pot with two hearts. I made an obscene over-raise hoping he'd put me on a bluff. Or at least a flush draw. Thought it was gonna work, but he folded.

Not five hands later, I see a free flop in the BB with Q4o and hit two pair. I check-raise the same fella as above, who pushes with his Q6. I manage to avoid the suckout and I just KNOW how he's feeling. No way he was gonna let me raise him out again.

Shortly after consoidating to one table, I got those damn Hilton Sisters and flat called a 4x raise in front. Ragged, seven-high flop and raiser pushes his entire 4K stack into a 1200 pot. Weird. I call and see his A7o. Guess who's the new chip leader?

I remained in the lead until the bubble, though I dropped a bit of my stack. Nobody was really short, with The Nerd holding about 14x the BB. Sadly, he bubbled when his TT ran into AA. AA had been the short-stack and had several times pushed all-in over the top of a pre-flop raise. Not once did he get called. I remarked to the dear and patient wife how none of us knew what kind of cards he was playing, making him tough to call/read. He pulled himself back in and was now a threat.

I'm so tempted to go with a Revenge of the Nerds joke here, but I'll pass. Just know there were several to chose from, Gilbert. I did indeed avenge my blogger brethren, knocking AA out in fourth. Of course, he had AA again. No match for my AKs as the board came KQTQK. Not only a palindrome, but a winnah!

Got to heads up where I became Jeremy Roenick. As in, a complete ass. Did you see what he said?

We're going to try to make it better for everybody, period, end of subject. And if you don't realize that, then don't come. We don't want you at the rink, we don't want you in the stadium, we don't want you to watch hockey...I say personally, to everybody who called us 'spoiled,' you guys are just jealous.

Nice one. Your league is on life support and you insult the remaining 8 hockey fans in the universe, adding that they shouldn't help pay your salary. That'll work. I forsee a brilliant post-hockey career in marketing.

Anyway, I got tooled heads-up. Every raise I made was re-raised. I had hands, too. When I finally did come over the top, I was dominated. Picked the wrong one, methinks.

Meanwhile, I was also playing in the $20 MTT on Stars, along with Alan, though we never sat the same table. Had a much better time of it than lately and cashed in my second straight MTT, finishing 36th of 712. Cracked aces for the second time on the day when my JJ flopped a set. Damn if it doesn't seem like I run into aces a lot these days.

A minor reward, to be sure, but I was pleased with my play. Made no major mistakes and played my game regardless of my chip count/standing.

That's my stop-gap solution for what has been ailing my game lately. Too much attention paid to peripheral issues. Chips in relation to blinds, chips in relation to other stacks I go to war with. That's the only info I need.

Thanks for the responses to my psychological problems (the poker ones, I mean). I'm aware, and guilty of, the Drunken Sailor issue. I should have been a little more specific because that really wasn't what I was hinting at. No, lately I've tended to get more passive with a big stack.

This happens most often in the Re-Buys where even 18K in the second hour isn't a "big" stack. Everybody has chips. And it is my goal during the second hour to keep the pots small, keep them reasonable, not risk too much unless holding the mortal nuts (which I have not been doing a whole lot of lately). Lately, however, my opponents have not been so obliging. So I end up folding to a big bet after putting a couple Gs in the pot. That shit adds up. And it makes me easy prey for aggressive players, as I'm continually showing weakness.

The other thing is, as mentioned before, I have been running into dominant hands for like a month. I wait for my spot, get it, and still end up dominated. It's caused some VERY passive play from me pre-flop, such as not re-raising with a big pair like Queens. Or limping with 8s behind three other limpers. Because I'm afraid. Because when I have re-raised recently, I'm getting called behind. And eliminated.

There is no way to be consistently profitable playing that way. Contrast that with short-stack play where you HAVE to push those hands hard, where you don't have the "luxury" of waiting for aces and you can see my plight.

So I made a conscious effort to push my big starting hands last night. Lucky me. Twice in late position, I raised a couple limpers. Twice, an early limper pushed all-in over the top. I called the first one (dammit) and cracked the aces. I folded the second one, with AKs. I'll bet anyone $100 it was aces or kings.

So...see...I'm not making this shit up. It's happening to me over and over. But I know, you know and the American People know it's just a statistical anomaly, an outlier. It'll pass, it'll regress to the mean. I just gotta stop playing in fear.

That, or online poker is rigged.


I don't know if any of you noticed, but Your Oakland Athletics are playing some great fucking ball these days. No, they're not likely headed to the post-season this year, but that young pitching staff looks to have a bright future. The Kids in the field are showing promise, as well. And Mark Mulder's ERA is one bad inning away from being over 5.

The lesson, as always, Billy Beane > Everyone.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Home is Where the Weeds Are

We speak of it only in reverential tones around Speaker Manor: The Slope. It is Moby Dick, inspiring fear and awe in equal measure. Over 2400 square feet of steep obsession. I have conquered half of it. I continue to hold it to my breast.

We were shopping for homes in the midst of Southern California's largest buying frenzy in over a decade. We'd find a place we liked and three weeks later it would be out of our price range. We'd stumble into another faceless development only to find a triple-digit waiting list. We'd arrive hours early to a new model opening only to find people who'd been camped out a week.

Frustrating? Oh yeah.

The end result was being pushed way the hell out. As in 70 miles from downtown LA where I work. It was literally the LAST place in the extended area where we a) could find an affordable home and b) had garnered a reasonable slot on the ubiquitous waiting lists.

Which is where we found ourselves on an unseasonably hot October morning in 2003, grappling for shade with 150 others. The bounty was 18 new homes. We were 40th on the list that day, but our first choice was one of the least popular, owing mostly to the fact it was the only floor plan for which there was no model home. Of course, a week earlier we had infringed on the new owners of the same model and had a look around their finished product. Nice folks.

After a long morning and afternoon, only one home remained: the one we wanted. There were two names above us on the list, neither of whom had selected that plan as one of their choices. We were home free.

Until the white trashy guy just above us on the list, flush with cash from the booming meth industry, announced he'd consider our model. He'd like to go take a look at the home site. The saleswoman, who clearly preferred the good-looking couple with the precocious tot, sighed and reluctantly ferried him away.

For endless minues we waited, the dear and patient wife on the verge of tears, AJ inconsolable over my not letting him eat grass. Finally, a familiar car turned the corner and the saleswoman got out. Alone.

"He didn't like the slope!" she shouted at us. "Come into my office."

That's how close we were to NOT buying a house. More than three years we'd saved for a full down payment, denying ourselves a lot of pleasure in doing so. When the development released the next phase of homes a month later, the price of our model increased 20%, out of the range we were comfortable paying.

So I love that slope. Even though it damn near killed me this weekend.


There was poker last night. Somehow, I managed a minor cash in the $11 Crazy Re-Buy on Stars, finishing 87th of nearly 1200. I say "somehow" because I never had any chips. In fact, at the end of the third hour with 135 places paid, the stats told the whole story:

Your position is 214 of 214

The details are relatively unimportant. I had less than one BB left and got lucky to stay alive. Then I got Aces and tripled up.

It was my first cash in the Re-Buy in my last four attempts. It was notable for another reason compared to the others: It was the only one in which I had to play short-stack poker the entire affair. In a couple of the prior tries, I had a buttload of chips in the second hour, but didn't manage to break into the money.

There's something going on here. I don't quite know what it is exactly, but looking back over my past top finishes, it seems I'm "better" playing with fewer chips. I don't mean so few that it's "push and pray" time. But I clearly make better decisions with a larger percentage of my chips on the line than I do when I'm flush.

I have some ideas as to why this may be. And, at least some of it is perception rather than reality. By that I mean my psychological reaction to having a bunch of chips vs. not having hardly any. Anybody have any experience with this? Any pertinent literature to suggest? I'd be much obliged.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

My Weekend



Saturday, June 25, 2005

If It Wasn't For Luck...


Drunk, angry people should not blog. Exhibit A is below. I'll leave it up, though. I am an open, sometimes retarded, book.

Hopefully, I'll get another chance today to "raise some douchebags" as Bob so eloquently puts it. I have a ton of yardwork, which I probably won't be able to finish in one day.

That bad beat happened in the $5 re-buy qualifier to the Stars $700K Guaranteed on Sunday. You'd have thought it was a freeroll based on the level of play. There were four guys who got horribly beated out who hung around to berate their vanquishers. It's a little embarassing. Blogging it is so much more dignified.

Back sometime with more tales of Hellmuthian woe.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Welcome to My Life

Yeah, it's a bad beat hand history. I don't fucking care.

I sit patiently waiting to pick off the fucking asshole playing any two suited, the guy who has already cracked kings and aces with Q5s and Q9s (flopping two pair both times), the guy who has seen his stack fluctuate from 5000 to 40000 to 15000 to 30000 because he plays EVERY FUCKING HAND.

And still I wait. As my stack stays the same for TWO FUCKING HOURS because I'm not getting involved with even the best marginal hands against these complete morons. I raise with AKs, get called and when the flop comes JT8, I KNOW I'M BEAT. So I fold. And wait.

Here's what it gets me:

PokerStars Game #1968227158: Tournament #9110825, Hold'em No Limit - Level IX
(300/600) - 2005/06/25 - 02:18:11 (ET)
Table '9110825 10' Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: loki2121 (29075 in chips)
Seat 2: Kevin Canada (4057 in chips)
Seat 3: DEHM (36988 in chips)
Seat 4: poolboy#2 (32415 in chips)
Seat 5: JoeSpeaker (19565 in chips)
Seat 6: hunkybilly (32400 in chips)
Seat 7: Taknapotin (22767 in chips)
Seat 9: marek66 (37018 in chips)
loki2121: posts the ante 50
Kevin Canada: posts the ante 50
DEHM: posts the ante 50
poolboy#2: posts the ante 50
JoeSpeaker: posts the ante 50
hunkybilly: posts the ante 50
Taknapotin: posts the ante 50
marek66: posts the ante 50
poolboy#2: posts small blind 300
JoeSpeaker: posts big blind 600
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to JoeSpeaker [Jc Js]
hunkybilly: folds
Taknapotin: folds
marek66: calls 600
loki2121: folds
Kevin Canada: folds
DEHM: folds
poolboy#2: calls 300
JoeSpeaker: raises 2400 to 3000
marek66: calls 2400
poolboy#2: folds
*** FLOP *** [8c 8h 2h]
JoeSpeaker: bets 6000
marek66: calls 6000
*** TURN *** [8c 8h 2h] [5c]
JoeSpeaker: bets 10515 and is all-in
marek66: calls 10515
*** RIVER *** [8c 8h 2h 5c] [9h]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
JoeSpeaker: shows [Jc Js] (two pair, Jacks and Eights)
marek66: shows [3h Qh] (a flush, Queen high)
marek66 collected 40030 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 40030 | Rake 0
Board [8c 8h 2h 5c 9h]
Seat 1: loki2121 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: Kevin Canada folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: DEHM (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: poolboy#2 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: JoeSpeaker (big blind) showed [Jc Js] and lost with two pair, Jacks and
Seat 6: hunkybilly folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: Taknapotin folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: marek66 showed [3h Qh] and won (40030) with a flush, Queen high

I fucking hate poker.

Bringin' 'Em Up Right

Blogger now lets you post pictures directly. This eliminates a lot of pain in the ass-ness for me. Expect photo posting to grow exponentially.

This is AJ and I at Santa Anita a while back. One of my favorite pics ever.

Online Poker, The Government and You

The name is Dikshit. Anurag Dikshit. He's the largest shareholder in PartyGaming and he's very, very soon going to be very, very rich. That should make up for all the teasing he got in elementary school.

"It's pronounced Azzz-weee-pay!"

Where was I? Oh yeah, I was gonna talk about the PartyGaming--parent company of Party Poker--IPO, but that's not nearly as interesting as the whole "Internet Gaming is Illegal in the U.S." thing, is it? Quite a black cloud on the offering, even though it appears to have little present effect on investors' thirst.

I'm a lassiez-faire guy. The government takes FAR too much interest in personal choice in this country. Always under the guise of the public interest, which is really just another power trip more adequately described as their inate desire to "save us from ourselves." You know, like Prohibition. That worked out really well, wouldn't you say?

So we've got Elliot Spitzer running around putting the squeeze on banks. We've got Arizona Senator Jon Kyl whipping up the Congressional frenzy, charging Internet gambling, among other laughable claims, "encourages organized crime (and is) rife with fraud and abuse." Exactly. And smoking a doob finances terrorism. The Justice Dept. sends out its menacing letters to any magazine (Esquire) or media outlet (Discovery Channel) that accepts money for online gaming advertising.

So far, the online sites have found ways around these meddlesome tactics. But what's next? A question pertinent to PartyGaming as it prepares its IPO.

Right now, the US has applied the Interstate Wire Act to Internet gambling cases, but there are legal questions about the validity of that application, such as the Act being limited to sports-related gambling and the debate as to whether it's appropriate for wireless communications, such as cell phones and wireless internet connections.

There have been no less than four legislative attempts to prohibit online gaming, each of them failing. I wonder if the $9 million deposited in policians' coffers from online sites has anything to do with that? Nah, I'm not that cynical.

Well, yes I am. And that's really the industry's best chance for some kind of understanding. Money. Not just in the form of "donations," but as a carrot to dangle in front of our elected officials.

It really comes down the the government's desire to regulate everything. A thumb in every ass. Because regulation means taxation. And taxation means money. That's what they really want. So, how to go about it?

Clearly, regulating the borderless world in which the industry now exists is nigh impossible. You have severe juristictional issues, dealing with apathetic foreign governments which are profitting from an enterprise they deem legal.

A 1999 survey indicated 86% of Americans had gambled at least once in their life. Horse racing, lotteries, Indian casinos, Vegas, Atlantic City...all permissable activities. All REGULATED activities. So do the same with online gaming. Allow established US gaming corporations to operate online casinos. Companies like MGM Mirage, Harrah's, etc. have massive name recognition. You don't think they'd immediately grab sufficient market share? You don't think they'd pay top dollar for existing online sites? By linking the online operations with a land-based casino/multi-billion dollar company, the government gets its oversight.

Sure, they'll have plenty of restrictions: higher level of age and identity verification, assurance of game integrity and the like. Not unwelcome changes. And Uncle Same will get a chunk of money. Further, that money can be used for education, for treatment of pathological gambling (and possibly, god forbid, school textbooks), much more effective means for "saving us from ourselves" than simply outlawing the practice.

The biggest hurdle to this type of thinking, near as I can see, is reconciling the "legalization" of online gaming with the stated "moral values" of the party in power. I don't think Dr. James Dobson will like this. But, last I checked, this is a Democracy, not a Theocracy, and I think the people are speaking, as in nearly 87% of PartyGaming's revenue comes from the US.

The stakes are raised. Let's see a flop.


I have to thank Div over at Poker, Pique and Parenthood for the inspiration. Div writes lengthy, literate essays about a variety of subjects, including, naturally, poker. There's the added bonus of seeing the view from across the Pond. I encourage anyone who doesn't read him regularly to do so.


Okay, so I lied. I WILL occassionally play MTTs on school nights. Like last night. I got home earlier than usual, just in time to jump into the $11 Crazy Re-Buy on Stars.

After nearly three hours, the event simply comfirmed that I Hate Poker.

Kidding. Sorta. I was happy with my play. I was happy to spend a bulk of the evening chatting with other bloggers who also railbirded my "action."

But I feel like I should get some sorta reward for playing well. Not be card dead for three hours. Not only getting three pocket pairs all night and not winning the pot in any of those instances. Not patiently waiting to snap off the LAGs at my table, only to see my biggest starting hand of the night be second best, sending me out 50 from the money.

I was a bit frustrated. But I stayed patient and it still didn't work out in the end. A reasonable amount of time it will, right? Right? RIGHT?

Thanks again to BG, Heather, drizz, Chad, Joanne, Felicia and April for hanging out and talking about boobies.


The galacticos are coming. The galacticos are coming.

Real Madrid is playing an exhibition against Your Los Angeles Galaxy next month here at the Home Depot Center. And while Real no longer employ The Greatest Midfielder Ever in Steve McManaman, they do have Michael Owen. At last check. Could change any second.

They've got a couple other good players, too.

Yes, I'm going. Jealous?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Friend

Pauly is playing in the WSOP Event today, backed by myself and a bandwagon full of bloggers. Send him some cyber love and positive mojo.


Played some poker last night. Not very well in my estimation, but well enough to post a nice profit. I've decided to forgo the MTTs during the week. For one, they haven't been treating me very well. But more importantly, when I do manage to get deep into them, I end up wide awake in my bed at 2 a.m. A couple times recently those late hours have led to extremely unkind and unproductive days at work.

Call it an over-reaction, but poker is my hobby. I love it, but I gots to take care of bidness. And I started to worry the poker was infringing on my responsibilities, like work and family.

So I'm sticking with the ring games and SnGs during the week. I really should be playing SnGs more often anyway. They're right in my wheelhouse and have been my most consistent game for the last six months or so. They were definitely the foundation that allowed me some good MTT results, so I'm doubling back to focus more on those.

Grabbed a second in a $30 two-table affair on Stars last night. As I said, I was unimpressed with my play. Too tight, too unwilling to mix it up with the monkeys. Typical aggressive internet play that I countered passively, instead of pushing back. I just didn't want to get pot committed before flops. It worked out.

Unlike Party, the Stars structure (higher starting chip count, slower blinds) lends it self to post-flop play at the early levels. Yet, many still treat it like a pre-flop game. I'm gonna guess I'm above-average in skill against the majority of the fields I'll see in these things, so I guess my thinking is that I don't want to get into big early pots where I have no fold equity.

Let me explain. Early on, I get 99 in the BB. Six players limp (15/30) and I can't have that, so I bump it big to 200. I get 3 callers. Now, luckily for me, the flop comes 7-high and my bet takes it down. But here I've sacrificed nearly 20% of my stack (was at about 1200) and I'm not much of a favorite to survive that flop. It's not the wrong play, but, against these types of players, it's a dangerous one.

The end result was me doing a lot more limping with hands I usually raise with, even in position. I don't think that's the way to go. But it felt safer against this group.

Of course, the hand that made my tourney--doubling me up into the chip lead with 6 left--was when I called a minimum raise with A9o in the SB. 952 flop with two clubs. I bet and was raised 3x. I felt like it was a club draw looking for a free card (figuring this particular player's minimum raise negated chance of an over-pair) and called. Turn was a non-club undercard and I pushed. He called with A5o. Thank you Mr. Nutball.

Naturally, Mr. Nutball took me out heads-up, where I sucked. Sure, he got better cards than I the entire way, but some judicious folds and I could have held out longer, hoping for the tide to turn. Regardless, I'll take the place and the cash.


Some new linky.

Eva, also known as MrsCantHang, has started her own blog. Despite what you may have read, SHE is really the life of the party, not the old man.

Speaking of Al, I'm one MTT final table away from The Bash at the Boathouse. That and one signed permission slip from the Mrs.

I have been completely remiss in not having The Big Pirate on my blogroll. I am, at times, a little slow. Had the pleasure of meeting Wes in Vegas, where he and I suffered a similar WSOP fate at the hands of those dastardly Hilton sisters.


I have tried many times to put down my thoughts on Charlie. Other people do it better and, honestly, I'm not qualified, based on the simple fact that I've never head to deal with the loss of someone this close to me.

But I can say something about Jason. If you can judge a man by the company he keeps, Charlie must be one helluva guy. Not to diminish the heart-warming acts of Greenstein, Luske and the other pros, but Jason's been there day-in and day-out for his friend, offering all the comfort and compassion he is able. Without him (and the help of Pauly and Felicia), none of that happens.

We're thinking of you today, J. All of us. And we're so sorry for your loss.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Barry Bracelet

Greenstein wins one for Charlie.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Pay to Play

Bleh. Bleh bleh-bleh, bleh-bleh-bleh.

That's what my brain is kicking out at this point. I figured what better way to start out the post. I surely couldn't find an actual lede, so that's what you get. Hey, I'm not charging you anything for this so take your complaints up with Pauly's neighbors at the Redneck Riviera.

Heh. I can still stumble onto (force) a segue with the best of 'em.

Pauly is quite literally TEETERING ON THE PRECIPICE OF SANITY to bring you the latest and greatest from the WSOP. Between the no sleep, his drug- and violence-addled apartment complex and blogging Hellmuthian tantrums, he's one small mis-step from The Dark Side. So, I'm not going to tell you again. Make sure you check out his coverage, as well as the fine photo and textual work of the Las Vegas Vegas crew.

World Series of Poker Live Blog
World Series of Poker Photo Gallery
World Series of Poker News
World Series of Poker Podcast

I've also got 1.66% of his ass--left check, just below the waistline--in Wednesday's NL Event at the Rio, so get to clickin' so he's in the right frame of mind to dominate the field.


Definitely got my poker in this weekend. Enjoyed it almost completely, despite getting stuck a couple hundred. But I deserved that.

First, the dear and patient wife took me out to Morongo on Saturday night for a little live action. This is my third time out there and I am amazed at the poor level of play. Just stunned. Makes me wanna give everybody a big hug.

Quick table synopsis:

Seat 1: Older woman who was quite solid. I mentally referred to her as Maudie.
Seat 2: Pescado. That's Mexican for fish. Went from a rack to all-in in 45 minutes. Won that hand and had doubled up by the tme I left thanks to two HUGE suckouts.
Seat 3: The "beneficiary" of one of those suckouts. Had the temerity to complain about bad beats when everybody had clearly seen the shit hands he was playing earlier (big fan of second or third pair). So when five people follow your Aces to the River and one crackes 'em, you only have yourself to blame, Chief.
Seat 4: I am, occassionally, a Bad-Ass Motherfucking Card Player.
Seat 5: Loose/passive military guy. Good company.
Seat 6: Horrible player. No rhyme or reason to many plays. Chased until the chasin' was done.
Seat 7: Stereotypical ultra-aggressive Asian dude. Built some nice pots. Didn't win any of 'em.
Seat 8: Shops at the WPT Champion Store. Hat. Sunglasses. Stoic. Won zero pots in my recollection. (Later: Asian twenty-something with little idea what he was doing)
Seat 9: Much older lady. Card-dead or just plain out of it. Didn't play many pots.

Played 4/8 (full kill) and finished up 9 BBs in about two-and-a-half hours of play. Solid return. Was even more, but got a little frisky with QQ in a kill pot, capping it pre-flop. Thanks for the AA8 flop, fucker. I actually had QQ hold up earlier, as well as JJ, the latter a first for me in limit poker. Board was ten-high, which allowed the numbskull in Seat 8 with the ATo to raise me on turn and river. God Bless that kid. He was surprised he lost. I casually mentioned that I HAD raised on every street.

Someone wanna explain to me the psychology behind everybody wanting to play kill pots? Hey! The stakes are doubled! We can play even crappier cards! I'd wager it's like the lottery, folks looking for the big score. Every kill pot was minimum 7-handed to the flop. Naturally, I folded two hands which would have won kill pots. The first was 85o UTG, which you can understand (flopped the nut straight). The second was KTo in MP. I could have played that one. King woulda been good, though I'm sure I wouldn't have been crazy about betting it.

Speaking of big scores, my table missed the $18K Bad Beat Jackpot by a single card. Seat 2 flopped quad 9s and Seat 7 held QT of diamonds, needing only the jack on the turn or river for a straight flush. The Jackpot actually hit at another table later that evening.

I was real satisfied with my play. Folded pocket 8s, even though they were an over-pair to the flop (bet and raise in front). Sure enough, I was third best at that point to QQ and a set of 4s. My coup de grace, however, was the following:

Held J9o in the BB and the free flop was T83 with two clubs. I bet out on my draw--per Abdul--and got two callers. Turn paired the 8 and I fired again, one caller dropping. Thanks to some reading, some tutelage and some live experience, I'm playing the player now (Seat 6). He's been chasing all night. Dropped his first rack (that's $200 with the $2 chips) and was halfway into his second before he sucked out a few folks. Classic donkey. I watched him out of the corner of my eye as the river was dealt. He sighed. His shoulders slumped.

No help for me and no flush, so I fire again and he insta-folds.

I was feelin' pretty good about me at that point. Even though I dropped my winnings at the blackjack table (with the dear and patient wife booking a small profit), I went home with a little hop in my step.


As related in painful fashion last week, I totally fucked up my chance for a cheap seat to the Stars $500K Guaranteed yesterday. No matter, I bought in for the full $215, the price of my insolence.

I'd love to talk about how I rose from the grim ashes to redeem myself. Hell, I'd even like to write about getting massively sucked out on the bubble. But neither of those things happened.

I played really well, maybe the best I've played in a while. Made a big laydown with TPTK to a flopped straight. He pulled the ol' "check, then dump half your time-bank before pushing all-in over the top" move on me. I, uh, didn't buy it. Slow-played pocket Kings to perfect effect and maximum extraction. Went into the third hour with an above average stack and sitting in the top 30% of the remaining field.

At which point my cards went straight to hell. One pocket pair: deuces. No ace-big. One KJ. The third hour is when the blinds/antes escalate rapidly. I had just been moved and my new table was ultra-aggressive. I had a hard time getting first into the pot and was only able to steal twice. Naturally, I had to surrender my BB every time. By Level 12, it was push monkey time; not just for me, either. Sucked.

I finished 316 of 2497. 225 got paid. KJ is what I went out on, holding only 3x the BB while UTG. Got called by AK and QQ, with QQ busting two of us AND going onto win the tourney for a sweet payday of $77K.

It was a good experience. I felt like I belonged. Didn't feel like anybody ran over me or played me. Just didn't get anything to play at the crucial time. More importantly, it got my juices flowing. Online poker hasn't had that effect on me lately. Which is not to say I'll be regularly buying into the big Sunday tourney, but it was nice.


This is not a bad beat story. It is simply being laid down for historical purposes. I didn't even get upset.

Played the Crazy $11 Re-Buy on Saturday afternoon. Had a classic re-buy lunatic to my right. All-in half-a-dozen times at Level 1; always in LP. Was 6 re-buys in before I even got a shot at him. Just wait for a hand and pounce.

I get TT . He pushes in front. I call his Q9o. Q on the flop.
I get AKo. He pushes in front. I call his AQo. He flops Broadway.
I get AKo. He pushes in front. I call his K7s. He flops the flush.

I shake my head, chuckle lightly and leave the tourney--and $51--before the end of the re-buy period.


There's some tragic fuckin' news out there in the blogosphere. It is not right. Know that we're thinking about you guys. Your families are in our prayers. Anything we can do--ANYTHING--just say the word.

Friday, June 17, 2005

For the Dads

As I will spend this Father's Day weekend being fanned by palm fronds and massaged by buxom brunettes, I have asked my three-year-old son AJ to fill my blog quota. Happy Father's Day to all you fathers and sons and daughters out there.

Sunday is Father's Day and my Daddy says he's not going to do anything all day. In fact, he said he's not going to do anything all weekend. That's what Mommy gets for turning her birthday into a week-long carnival of events and sloth. Knew that would come back around. Wait'll you see what I'M working on for MY birthday. One of 'em is going to have to take an extended leave from work.

Anyway, Daddy says this is his weekend to sit around, be lazy and get pampered. I think "pampered" is a code word for poker. My Mommy and Daddy use code words all the time. They don't think I know what they are talking about, but I do. By the way, they also don't seem to know I can spell, either.

Since Daddy's not doing anything today, tomorrow, maybe ever, I thought I'd take over the blog. Boy, he never stops talking about this thing. I never hear the end of it:

"You should read what Pauly wrote today."
"Daddy is hilarious.
"Mini-Blood can check-raise his mother and you can't even keep your room clean!?!?!"

That kind of stuff.

Daddy's teaching me to play poker. We beat Mommy the other day. We had a match of 5s and Mommy didn't have a match but she bet anyway. I thought she had a bigger match, but it wasn't true. I wondered why Mommy would lie about her cards? Lying is bad, Mommy and Daddy said so. But Daddy said it was a "bluff" and bluffs are okay. Again with the code words. When I broke the lamp the other day and told Mommy I didn't, it was just a bluff. I think I did it wrong, 'cause I still got in trouble.

Grandma doesn't like it when I play poker. She doesn't like it when Daddy plays, either, but I like when Daddy wins because it means I get to go to Legoland. Mommy says Daddy was winning a lot a little while ago and that we'll get to go very soon, but now Daddy is not winning very much, so I'm not sure if we'll ever get to go. I suggested a "Legoland Stop-Loss." Daddy said he'd think about it.

Poker makes Daddy talk to the computer. Sometimes he doesn't say very nice things. I always have to remind him to say "goodness gracious" instead of some of the bad words he uses. What's a fucktard?

Sometimes when Daddy plays poker I like to climb all over him. I like to see the cards, the funny avatars and type "monkey" or "diplodocus" into the chat box. Daddy usually lets me. But sometimes he tells me to go away. I noticed he does this alot when the fucktards are around. The fucktards make Daddy angry. They make him smoke more cigarettes. I don't think I want to meet these fucktards, either.

Daddy was explaining something caled "The Gap Concept" to Mommy the other day. I thought it meant we were gonna go shopping for clothes. My Daddy likes to go shopping. He's funny with clothes. He makes sure everything I wear is the right color. I don't understand a lot of what he says, but apparently "pleats are out." He's very meticulous--hey, I'm almost four, I know what "meticulous" means--and never wants me to touch his clothes. Sometimes I like to pull on his shirt and hide my head inside. He hates that. The only time he doesn't seem to care about his clothes is when he plays poker on the computer. "Daddy, why did you take off your pants?" I ask him and he says, "Because I can."

I have had to go to bed early all week. Mommy said she and Daddy had to get busy on something and could only do it when I was asleep. What does "ovulation" mean?

I think it's another stupid code word. Probably for poker.

My Name is Ozymandius, King of Kings

Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair

Upon further reflection, a nudge from Human Head and the fact that thinking about Wednesday night no longer gives me chest pains, I've decided to lay my stupidity bare for all. In addition, I do think there is a noteworthy lesson or six after all.

There are two main issues:

1. Why was I in the hand at all
2. Why did I play it the way I did

The first is the inexcusable part. I had 116K in chips, second overall. With only 14 players between me and a seat, I was damn near a mortal lock. First through 22nd got the same result. There was no need to chip up. If memory serves, those sitting near what would eventually become the bubble were in the 45K-50K chip range, with blinds at 2000/4000, 400 ante. I only had to fold. I'd been doing just that for a half-hour already.

Let's not linger on that part too long. It's pretty simple. I'm an idiot.

In keeping with my idiot status, I open-raise 4x from the CO with Big Slick of Hearts. The BB flat calls. Okay, I think. A speculative call there, blind defense, whatever. I think I'm probably ahead.

Flop comes K74 rainbow and BB bets out 12K. Small bet into a 35K pot, methinks. A feeler. I double it.

Now, some of you may be shaking your heads already. I don't blame you. I see it now. I so totally didn't at the time. Even when...

He re-raises me to 36K.

Under normal circumstances, it would all become clear. He's got a monster. He flat-called and made the teaser bet because he wanted action.

My problem here (and not for the first time) is failing to change my initial read mid-hand. His re-raise told me all I needed to know, fit perfectly with the previous pieces of the puzzle. I just needed to stop and think. Step back for a second and put it all together.

I didn't do that. I plowed ahead with nary a pause, putting him--and his Aces--all-in.

As I said yesterday, it was pure hubris. All night I'd been running over people. I could do no wrong. I was invincible.

A pretty simple read in retrospect. I had it wrong from the start which caused me to dump about a third of my stack, but could have saved myself another 40K--and likely my tournament--had I allowed myself to think it through.

No, I shouldn't have been there in the first place. Once there, however, I made it infinitely worse due to a total lack of concentration.

The lessons? Take your pick:

Always be alert. Always ponder all the possibilities. Always assess all the information your opponent gives you. Never be afraid to alter your read. Take your time. Don't become so full of yourself that it inhibits you from doing all of the above.

And know how to locate the fold button.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I wrote a long-winded post this morning about my inexplicable poker play last night. I wanted answers. I wanted catharsis. I pretty much failed. I did, however, throw up in my mouth a couple times.

I thought I'd post it anyway, as a cautionary tale. It then occurred to me, correctly, that nobody reading it could possibly be as stupid as I. You all know where the "fold" button is, right?

I'm embarassed, but not so embarassed as to hide the affair. Moreso, I'm sickened and can't yet shake the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Not that I don't fully deserve it.

I came to a nebulous conclusion that I'd just momentarily lost my mind. That I was over-confident, bursting with hubris and acted without thought. Bad fucking combination.

You can't relax for an instant. You can't let your concentration wander, because one mistake--ONE--can ruin four hours of hard work.

I was playing the $3 Re-Buy qualifier to Stars' Sunday $500K Guaranteed tourney. I was second in chips with 36 remaining. Twenty-two seats given away.

I finished 32nd.

It's every bit as bad as it sounds.

I hope I learned a lesson. We'll see.

WPBT in Vegas II

Editor's Note: I have combined all my Vegas trip reports into a single chronological post here. Not as a blatant attempt to get you all to re-read them. No, that's akin to a crappy sitcom "Highlight Show" where you know the writers are just sitting around saying, "I got nuthin'. I know! Let's combine crappy moments from previous airings in order to bilk advertisers!" No, this is for posterity, a succinct (not) single rendering so I can find the entire sordid affair quickly. You are, of course, welcome to read it again, but I'd suggest taking some dramamine first.

Thursday: So It Begins

I used to have a female (platonic) roommate who was very handy in pointing out when I was being flirted with. What can I say? I'm the oblivious sort.

For once, I didn't need her--or anyone--to tell me the woman in the worn dolphin shots and dirty tank top was luvin' my shit.

We'd just finished a fine meal at a local sushi joint. Felicia had set the whole deal up and it was well-attended by a host of famous bloggers. I made re-acquaintence with PokerProf and LA-based poker hero Bill Rini. I had ridden over with The Epic HumanHead and his delightful wife, who seemed to have no problem being referred to as Mrs. Head. In fact, the three of us had enjoyed a few drinks prior to the ride over. Great people with whom I spent a good twenty minutes trying to convince them to procreate. Maigrey and Gracie brought some estrogen and class to the proceedings. They also brought some poker blogger groupies with them, a trend that didn't continue to the lengths I'd figured. I thought there'd be men and women of all stripes trailing the travelling caravan of blogerati, chicks with leather minis and torn "Jopke" t-shirts. Or maybe I dreamed that at some point. Fellow WPBT satellite winner Big Pirate showed up with his buddy Tim, who, despite being a ManYoo fan was good company.

The only real problem with the meal was the lack of taxis trolling this particular strip mall well east of The Strip. The restaurant called dispatch for us, but facing a wait of 40 minutes, we decided to wander to the street corner to try and flag a couple down. It was then we saw the bus stop.

I've been to Vegas seven gajillion times and have NEVER had the experience of riding mass transit. Hoover Dam, my ass. THIS is a tourist attraction that should not be missed. Ten blocks of pure bliss, I tell ya.

I'm not sure how it started. It has been alleged that I somehow engaged the woman in conversation. I'm almost certain that's not true and that she just jumped into a now-forgotten discussion. I did, however, make eye contact with her and may have given her a smile. Not the dazzling one reserved for my dear and patient wife, but still a kind, maybe even understanding, grin.

From that point, she wouldn't leave me alone. Sitting next to Rini, I edged closer and closer, trying to obscure my face behind his Card Player magazine. Her enunciation was poor. I got a third of the words she barked and none of the meaning. I giggled to myself over the half cig she held between her fingers, that she had to save the butt for later consumption. I pulled out my notebook to record the moment, but immediately relinquished it to Head. Here's what he wrote:

I can't believe the dirty-faced chick just stuck a tallie of Red Dog in between her giant saggy tits after a healthy swig and healthier cackle of drunken madness.

Yes, she was smuggling Red Dog. Yes, you can apparently still buy Red Dog. Yes, she was storing it in her shirt. She was also a few bicuspids short of a full set.

We eventually got to The Strip, disembarking near Caesar's. We walked the rest of the way to the MGM, a healthy-sized Las Vegas block. A long trek for some. Me, I was happy to be back in the fresh air. With people in proper dress and a majority of their teeth.

Looking back, I think the encounter was beneficial, as Felicia was finally able to experience the full weight of my heterosexuality, the magical hold I have on the opposite sex. Power of this kind does not discriminate, sprinking my undeniable pheremones to the lowliest Vegas Crack Whore on up.

Of course, when we got to the MGM she nearly immediately pronounced Helixx to be far betteer looking than I. I couldn't argue. Very handsome man. I mean that in the most heterosexual way possible.

Hand of the Day: I had 4/8 (half-kill) table at MGM pretty much in a head-lock. Tilted one or two players when I rivered the nut flush after three-betting the whole way. Couple seats opened up and a new guy sat down in #2. He looked awfully familiar, but the goatee...I'm not sure. I went for it anyway. Otis! And I was right. We stood, introduced ourselves. It was a sincere honor for me to meet Otis, for many reasons, but one in particular. BadBlood immediately took the 9 seat and G-Vegas was looking to put a hurt on LA. (I had met Mr. and Mrs. Blood earlier in the day. Thanks much for the CD, my man. Got me through a rough--tired--stretch on the drive home. Great bleeping stuff.)

So both Blood and Otis wait for their BB to post. We're talkiing about assorted things. BB finally gets around to Otis and I peek down to see poket cowboys. I give him a look, a grin and a shrug that says, "Aw man, I have to" and raised it up. Nothing like making a first impression. He didn't defend in mock anger (I think it was mock anger) and I eventually pulled the pot. I think it might have been better if I had The Hammer.

Thursday Evening: And Boom Goes the Dynamite!

As previously mentioned, I was crushing the 4/8 game at MGM. I only got sucked out once. But I wasn't feelin' it any longer. Because, little by little, bloggers were trickling into the room. And I was now the lone blogger at my table. I had hands to shake and shots to buy. Little did I know this would be my final winning poker session.

Playing poker with bloggers is -EV. Drinking with bloggers is considerably more expensive.

I cashed out my racks and headed to the rail for a smoke. I ran smack into BG. Bobby Bracelet was nearby and I got my first taste of the whirlwind that is Bob, who, if you didn't know, played in the World Series of Poker. I meet my longest and most loyal reader/blogger April.

Okay, back up. Earlier that afternoon at the Excalibur, I ran into my hero and writing patron, Dr. Pauly, as well as Derek. A serious thrill for me. And Pauly was gracious enough to introduce me to others at the MGM. Now, I'm no shrinking violet. And it's safe to say that by this hour I was totally plowed. Still, if I'd had the good sense (yeah, fat chance) to step back, the whole scene would have been overwhelming. Instead, I thrust myself headlong into the breach.

Minnesota was in the house: Professional Poker Player Chris Halverson, drizz who huddled behind his trademark excessive buy-in for the 2/4 mixed game and Chad, whom I'd been very anxious to meet, primarily due to his kick-ass sense of humor. Maudie and The Fat Guy, whom I'd briefly met on Fremont Street earlier were there. Al had commenced holding court...and drinking...and roping me into drinking. Twist my rubber arm. An urban legend was already making the rounds that CJ had taken $1200 out of a 4/8 game in an hour. The Man himself revised the total down to $350, a still impressive number. G-Rob seemed kinda sober. I would remember later that that was the last time G-Rob seemed kinda sober. I finally wormed my way into a handshake and conversation with the guy everyone was crowded around, fella by the name of Iggy.. Like Marcia Brady and Davy Jones, I'll never wash that hand again.

It was sensory overload. I had SoCo. I bought Bob some crazy fuckin' drink with hazelnuts or somesuch in it. I talked tunes with Helixx. I fawned over BG. I wrote in my notebook: "I am officially fuzzy."

For me, this was a surreal experience. Blogging can be a solitary pursuit. It certainly began that way for me. In the absence of such an outlet, I needed somewhere to put my poker thoughts. And I learned/laughed so much from the rest. As I told several people, it was entirely their faults that I was standing there amongst them. At the beginning, never did it cross my mind that I'd be accepted as one of them, or that some would consider my blog worthy of attention. To say I was flattered by some of the kind words would be an understatement. Floored, is probably better. Thank you all so much.

Time whizzed. Not that I had any concept of it. Everywhere I turned, there was a conversation to hold, a new face to place with the words. Somewhere, in the back of my head, I knew I needed to get to bed. There was this little poker tournament I was supposed to play. But I couldn't tear myself away.

Ultimately, the lure of the dice led a bunch of us back downtown to The Plaza. Bob, BG and I headed straight for the craps table and...uh...proceeded to drop $100 in five minutes. Between the three of us, we rolled a single number and no points. Clearly the Craps Gods had not been alerted to our arrival, to our rarified place in the gambling universe. To the fact that I, and, if you haven't heard, Bobby Bracelet, would soon be World Series of Poker participants and therefore worthy of better treatment.

What? Oh yeah, the World Series of Poker. Cards in the air in 7 hours. Alarm in 4. Should probably get some sleep. Oh well, I think I'll sit with the rest of these degenerates at 2/4 for a while.

A while comprised less than a single orbit. I started to weave in my seat. I lost focus, like someone rubbed Vaseline on my eyes. I honestly didn't remember if I'd even signalled my departure (though others assured me I did at least grunt a "Good night"). I only recall that I hurriedly racked up and dashed upstairs, where I may or may not have "racked up" a little Teriyaki Salmon on The Plaza's pristine carpeting.

Apparently, the party continued.

Friday Morning: Smells Like...Victory?

The Plaza stinks. Literally.

You know when you walk into a Vegas mega-resort and the cool, oxygenated breeze hits you, causing you to raise your head, close your lids and bask in its cleansing wave of purity? Walking into The Plaza is not like that. There, your first facial tick is to wrinkle your nose and wonder, "What the fuck IS that smell?"

I settled on long-dried urine at first. Eventually, due to the lack of a sharp tang, I guessed feet. But it was Chad who finally pegged it: Old people. Exactly. It smelled like impending death, like the adolescent field trips to the Rest Home with my church choir.

But the smell at The Plaza had nothing on the taste in my mouth when I woke up on Friday morning.

I had circled the wagons to make sure I wouldn't Hellmuth my first WSOP event. Wake up call? Check. Alarm? Check. Regardless, I was still in half-REM when The Poker Geek and Mike burst through the door around 9:30.

I'm up, I'm up.

I stumbled into the shower, which had the added bonuses of a) a low, brain-shattering whine from the pipes and b) improper drainage, allowing you to wash in ankle deep water. The Plaza stinks figuratively, too.

All things considered, I didn't feel as badly as I might have. Head was in fair shape, stomach only slightly jumpy. Lethargy was my biggest issue and the adenaline soon went to work on that. But Fuck! it was bright out.

Grabbed a taxi with Bobby Bracelet and others for the ride to the Rio. Had breakfast with the rest of the WSOP blogger contingent: Otis, Easycure, Wes and Russell. We also found out that The Poker Nerd and HDouble had been unceremoniously shut out of the Event. Negraneu breathed a sigh of relief.

The breakfast, was, um, good. Tasting, I mean. But I couldn't eat. Every bite was a chore. My nervousness was rising. My hangover was rejecting every succulent morsel of sausage, egg, biscuit and gravy. Even the mouthfuls that I managed to swallow felt like jamming a cannonball through my urethra. I picked at my plate for a while, but never got close to finishing half of what lay there.

As we walked toward the Pavillion, I dialed up the dear and patient wife. She didn't answer, so I started to leave a message. And I went mute. I literally could not fucking talk, the words abruptly choked off. I recovered after a few seconds, blurting forth a torrent of babble. A telling moment, I thought later. A funny one too, when I listened to the message. I sounded like a man headed for the gallows.

We took a few photos beneath the WSOP banner (whomever has those, I'd love to get a copy or six. Please let me know how) and tried to pass the time while the clock counted down on the big screen above our heads. Finally we took our seats.

We were a half-hour into the Event before I was able to unclench my butt cheeks. Damn, I was tense. I had to be one of the most inexperienced players there. I tried real hard to focus on what was going on around me as I folded garbage hand after garbage hand, but I didn't see anything of note. I didn't see any professionals at my table--or even any professional-type play--so I slowly began to relax. Still, no cards for me. I voluntarily saw a flop once (w/KdJd) in the first 5 orbits. Since we were 11-handed, that is A LOT of shit. Best hand I had was ATo. Under the gun, naturally, where I folded it.

Finally, I pop out a raise with AJo and get the (25/50) blinds. A few hands later, I get pocket 9s in MP and raise 3x to 150. I get one caller behind and we see a pretty benign flop: J82 rainbow. I fire at it, little more than half the pot, and he calls. Hmmmmm, that call was not a confident one. I certainly think I'm still ahead. Or that I can push him off a better hand with a good bet. The king on the turn gives me pause. A scare card for me, for sure. But for him, as well? I debate for a moment and give it a go. BAM!

What followed is the longest three minutes of my life. In fact, it was probably 20 seconds that SEEMED like three minutes. Jesus H. I may or may not have solid myself just a little.

Ultimately, he called. And unless I river a set, I'm F.U.C.T. River is a queen and there is no even marginally reasonable hand I could possibly be ahead of now, so I check and fold to his all-in, waving adios to about a third of my stack.

I was in deep trouble after dropping another chunk f chips on Big Slick when April showed up to railbird. Brought me some luck just in the nick of time. I limp UTG+1 with AJo. Weak play, but I actually wanted action here. I'm down to T450 and fading fast. I was hoping for a raise and I was gonna push my Boy for all his worth. I get my wish. Button raises to 150, going for what he soon admitted was a steal. He still called my all-in with T9s. I showed my cards to April before I showed them to the table, getting a nice laugh from her. I flop a jack, avoid his gunshot draw on the turn and spike another Hook on the river to double up.

They busted our table shortly thereafter and I moved to table 18, Seat 2. Which brings us to the hand of the day. I'm gonna tell it really good this time, Chad.

Hand of the Day: I was down to T825. The break was on deck. I'd had to pee for a solid 45 minutes. In fact, I'd once gotten up to scope the toilet, but soon realized there weren't any nearby, so bolted back to the table so as not to miss a hand. But now, with only a couple minutes left in the level, I contemplated getting up and beating the crowd. I wish I could tell you why I didn't. I had planned to for some time. Yet, when the announcement was made that the break would begin after the next hand, I remained rooted to my seat. A thought flashed through my head, "Hey, I made it to the first break!"

Dumbass chicken-counter.

I looked down in MP to see those skanky Hilton Sisters. I raised 4x to 200. Folds to the button, a young Asian guy who was even more metrosexual than I: professionally pressed dress shirt, carefully molded hair--gel content was a push--and schoolboy glasses. Little bastard comes over the top for 600. I stand defiantly and shout "You + Poker = Sucks!" and slam my remaining chips into the middle. He seems confused. Maybe he doesn't speak Fillmaff. He wants to know how much it is to call. 225. He wants to know how many chips I have left. None. He knows he's behind, has over-bet his hand, but he's getting nearly 8-1 on his call, so has no choice.

He sees my Hiltons and begins to weep silently. With one hand, he wipes his tears, with the other he flips AJo.

Oh God. Not AJ. Anything but AJ. Ace spikes on the flop. Young Asian Guy's tears turn to joy. Me? Shattered. Gutted. Pissed off. So I killed him. His chips were distributed to the remaining living players at the table.

Editor's note: Some Hand of the Day events may have been exaggerated/falsified for dramatic effect.

I wasn't the first blogger out. Just barely. Easycure went out just a couple hands before I. Of course, he got knocked out by a former bracelet/Academy Award winner instead of a bookwormy Asian. And he and I BOTH outlasted a few thousand other random people. It was cool to meet EZ, whom I've matched up against in several online events.

I was immediately disappointed. I didn't expect to make a big splash in this thing, but felt very fortunate for the opportunity. I'd hoped to use it as a learning experience and get involved in some play to advance my game. Thought I missed out on that. And I was beginning to feel more comfortable as the minutes went by. So I was bummed to not be able to push deeper. In retrospect, there were definitely some positives, namely that I don't think I'll be such a timid pansy next time I wade in to a similar event. I mean, I hadn't planned on playing in this year's WSOP, but I got to anyway. Surely, that can't be all bad.

I finally made it to the toilet and headed straight to the bar after that for a Bloody Mary. Went back to the Pavillion and found a group to continue sweating Bob, Otis et al and look around for some famous faces.

Jason, resplendent in his Jopke cap, went off in search of a Hellmuthian photo. Sadly, The Poker Brat was packing a couple meaty bodyguards. BG put the over-under of the muscle's combined felonies at six. We saw Devilfish (who made the final table) playing nearby, but a lot of the marquee faces were wandering around just like us. There were rumors of dozens of bad, bad beats.

I'd dressed for the long haul with both a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. It was starting to get stuffy in the room and at one point I mused aloud how "I wish I weren't wearing pants." Evelyn Ng, who was nearby, nearly fainted at the prospect.

No, that didn't really happen. I did get a quizzical look from Heather, however, who wondered if I had an exhibitionist streak. Obviously, considering I play much better online than live, perhaps no pants was an idea I should have mulled.

Several bloody marys later, a brush with greatness. Or at least with better-than-average hotness. I was standing in the lobby smoking a butt with Al and BG when we spotted Clonie Gowan hanging out in the "Put a Bad Beat on Cancer" booth. After a round of jokes centered on the idea of getting a picture taken with the three of us smoking in front of the booth, I hear a Dainty Voice behind me.

What follows is a fictionalization of actual events.

"Excuse me," The Dainty Voice says. "Can I bum a pen off you?"

End fictionalization of actual events

"Sure, Clonie!" I say, perhaps a little too loudly, as I whir around to face her and offer (the thing she asked for).

BG, charming sonofagun that he is, did most of the talking. I'll let him relate the details, but, suffice to say, if you ever are facing Clonie Gowan in a pick-up hoops game, we've got a solid scouting report for ya. Sadly, it didn't occur to any of us to get a photo with her. At least not until she was gone.

We shortly headed back to Sao Paolo for some grub. "Grub" might be too kind a word. We joined up there with Maudie, Pauly, Derek, Bob, Heather, Jason and others (I think; sorry, no notes) for perhaps the worst $18.99 buffet in recorded history. Yes, the hamburgers were surprisingly tasty considering their appearance. But I probably managed to eat $3.00 worth of food. I lifted lid after sterno-heated lid, only to find a rogue collection of blackened, over-cooked meats, some of them barely recognizable. "Survivor" contestants eat better than this.

We soon high-tailed it back to Stink Central (thanks for the ride, J), where I took immediate leave for a nap. Oh, blessed nap. How I love thee.

Friday Evening: He's Only Mostly Dead

I had played it beautifully. For those of you who recall my weekly Vegas Guides, I am forever extolling the virtues of a well-placed nap. Now, Vegas is a difficult place to snooze. As action junkies, we get too amped up and the final result is fighting through those tired barriers to the point where sleep chooses you, not the other way around. But I had followed my patented recipe to the T.

1. Drink way too much the night before.
2. Don't sleep.
3. Start in on the bloody marys in the afternoon.
4. Wait for the crash.

For those of you scoring at home, the crash came about 6:30. I flopped on the scratchy Plaza bedspread and died for a while. I can't conceive of my mental and physical state had I still been playing in the WSOP. I'll go out on a limb and guess not good.

Felt great when I awoke a few hours later. Took a shower/ankle bath, donned my Vegas finery and made out for the Excalibur.

I have an image to uphold, you know. Perhaps the metrosexual/borderline gay image isn't one I would have chosen for myself (I prefer swashbuckling attacking midfielder), but, as I told Pauly, when you get a hook, you have to go with it, grow the seed planted in the public conscious. So I was wearing my Vegas shirt. Upon seeing it a few years back, a friend dubbed me "Johnny Bravo" after Greg Brady's musical alter ego. Okay, seriously, that's TWO Brady Bunch references in my trip report. You'd think I'm completely bereft of more recent pop cultural touchstones.

Er...moving on.

I stopped in the Plaza gift shop for some Gatorade, my sentry against dehydration. The cashier, a lovely octegenarian, slowly processed my transaction, flashed me her still-girlish smile and said, "I love your shirt." Ladies, get out your walkers and sensible dancing shoes, Daddy's on the prowl tonight.

I love the bleeping Excalibur. It holds a special place as the site of my first foray into blackjack, my maiden voyage into casino poker (7-card stud about 5 years ago) and, most importantly, where I dragged my first live Texas Hold 'Em pot. I'm always excited to go there. I've never had a losing poker session there. Yep, you see where this is going.

If you were standing at the rail and hocked a loogie in any random direction, you'd have hit at least two familiar faces. Every table was on various levels of blogger-induced tilt. G-Vegas had commandeered one and was spinning Hammers into Quads. -EV was value calling his nuts and straddling with abandon. drizz had his table quite literally titled, the weight of his $12,000 initial buy-in to the $2-$6 game leaning the felt his way. It was at this last table where I planted my ass in the two seat, along with Billy Legend and The Sundance Kid (yes Mike, you are now The Sundance Kid. Rini's earned a sidekick).

The play was uneventful for a while. I chatted up the congenial fellow--name of Gary--in Seat 1, who seemed a pretty solid player. Early on, he was showing down some darn good hands. It was just a smokescreen, because he quickly started showing down some crappy hands. Let's say he was prominently involved.

No hand of the day today. Too many entertaining ones to recount. I limped along in a family pot with A4 sOOOOOOOOOted and saw a flop of Axx rainbow. drizz led out, was called by Gary and I raised 'er up. This is one of those subtle plays of mine. I call it: I HAVE AN ACE! ANYBODY ELSE?! Folded around to drizz who gives me that Paul Bunyan stare and says, "I think you have me out-kicked" and mucks. Uh, doubtful. Gary calls. Turn gives me another club and the flush draw. Gary check-calls. River is no help on the flush and my four doesn't even play as a kicker, so I check behind. Gary shows A4 sOOOOOOOOOOOted for a split pot as drizz leaps across the table to strangle me. He was a little steamy for five minutes there. I enjoyed that.

Soon, I peek and see my first Holy Grail of the weekend. It sings to me like the Sirens and it's $8 to go for anyone wanting to fuck with The Hammer. Only Gary has the sack. Flop is exceedingly raggedy with a deuce and again with the check-calls from Gary. I catch drizz's eye and I guess I have a tell because I immediately know that HE knows what I've got. Turn is a ten and boy is this getting repetitive. River is another ten and, you guessed it, check-check. Gary flips 52 sOOOOOOOOOOted for the split pot. I had him out-kicked until the River! Hammer Suckout Alert!

So, I'm doing fine. I pulled another pot with Cowboys and am up $25 or so when the Sundance Kid decides he wants Apparently, he was unaware I played in the World Series of Poker earlier that day. But he went ahead and three-bet my pocket kings anyway. Cap!

Hooray, flop comes AQx. Sundance tries to get fancy with a check, but I check behind. Even someone with my limited capacities knows there's not a single hand he could be holding that is not now ahead of mine. Turn jack gives me outs, so I call his $6 bet. River is a rag, I muck my Kings to his bet and he shows his AQ. Which is where it all turns sour. The poker, that is. The experience is still sweet as honey.

I wandered around the room, sweating various folks, various folks wandered by to chat with me, including the lovely and talented MrsBlood, with whom I discussed child-rearing at length. Never did get the correct steps to teaching pre-schoolers the check-raise, however.

Our table broke and I continued my wanderings, eventually taking a seat at another star-studded $2-$6 table. -EV was on my right in the two, the always excitable Matthew Lillard to my left, followed around the table by Pauly, Bobby Bracelet, Chad, Derek and Tim. Here comes the gambOOOOOOOOlery.

"I believe it's your straddle, sir." So it is. LIVE 4! And away we go. Some straddles cost me a chunk. I fold a lot of rags. A poor unsuspecting guy claims the one seat from a departing Tim and immediately raises behind Chad, who says, "I don't think I like the new guy." In this case, first impressions are wrong, since New Guy spread his entire rack around the table in 45 short minutes. I won a nice pot off him, the only one I remember getting against this group, outside of the blind with The Hammer. I can't be sure. It's really murky right about here. I wrote down my session stats (dropped $35 on the first table; $41 on the second), but nothing else. Been wracking my brain to remember something other than the nearly continuous laughter, but there's nothing to grab onto. All I get are quick little snippets, barely there and indiscernable, like a Tool video (YES! a cultural reference from after the Nixon Administration!). It's possible Bob might have worked his WSOP participation into the conversation.

The next thing I recall is a Pauly-led expedition, the first leg of which was a futile attempt to find--and heckle--Otis at a Pai-Gow table; the second, a vital stop at Krispy Kreme. I can't imagine working the Skank Shift at the Excal's Krispy Kreme is a rewarding gig. Our Fried Dough Specialist did nothing to deter that hypothesis. Obviously stirred from more important matters, he grumbled through the 12 or so orders. We were imminently grateful, nonetheless. Manna from heaven them there doughnuts.

The caravan headed back downtown, where I couldn't begin to tell you what occurred. I know for certain I made it back to my room. And dreamed the dreams of the damned.

Saturday Morning: Tournament of Champions

If one's biggest problem when waking up in Vegas is tiredness, I would count that as lucky. Such was my good fortune on Saturday. Despite the late night debauchery, I was about as fresh as could be expected. Gimme a jolt of joe and I'll be ready to go.

I did have some concerns about The Poker Geek, however. I vaguely recalled his shadowy figure coming into the room some time after I crashed. I now saw that he wasted no time in hitting the sack. Sprawled across the other bed, he was fully clothed. Shoes included.

I shoved him awake (G-Rob unavailable for the traditional kicking) and he said he'd meet me downstairs in a few. Face scrubbed, deodorant applied and I'm off to Seattle's Almost Mediocre for some coffee. Ran into Maudie and BadBlood, none of us talking all that much. Too much effort. The Sundance Kid soon arrived as well as The Rooster. The first group headed for the cab stand, the second waited with me for the The Geek, who finally emerged dressed to the nines for The Cure Aladdin Classic.

The ride over was uneventful, except for the part where Joaquin disparaged the great Michael Owen. I gave him a severe beating for that, but so skilled am I in the art of ass-whuppin, I didn't leave a mark.

Headed straight for the bar upon our arrival, where I saw a really cool guy in a hideous Chelsea shirt, prompting my first chorus of "You'll Never Walk Alone.'' There may have been others. I don't know. The bar would become my home away from homne soon enough, since I made no impact whatsoever in the tourney.

My starting table:

Seat 1: G-Rob, looking a little rumpled. Claimed his pipes were backed up. Repeatedly.
Seat 2: Austin John, who graciously lent me a quarter later for a newspaper and took on the role of table aggressor early.
Seat 3: Mr. Subliminal, final table participant and winner of Bust-Out Orator of the Universe
Seat 4: Marty! I forgot Marty! It's what happens when I write without notes. Don't take it personally, man. Just 'cause I remembered G-Rob had to take a crap and forgot you.
Seat 5: Yours very truly. I'm a folding machine. Today's hand of the day is 97o.
Seat 6: fhwrdh, great to see again and catch up with Full Tilt's Golden Boy
Seat 7: Felicia, uh oh
Seat 8: Alan, who is Geek (checked his fantasy baseball stats during the HORPSE game at the Nugget later in the day) and Proud (didn't try to hide it).
Seat 9: Bobby Bracelet, uh oh
Seat 10: flipchipro, the life of the party. Couldn't get him to stop talking

There weren't going to be any easy tables in this shootout, but I'll put ours up against anyone's for difficulty quotient. And we were easily the most subdued table, probably owing to the lack of Dropped Hammers.

G-Rob got bounced with AA against 66 when the case six flopped (I had folded A6o), so he was able to retire to his "office" without having an "accident." Felicia's Big Slick rivered flipchip's Hiltons. I generally didn't get involved. At the break, our table broke and I was sent from the frying pan into the fire, i.e. a table featuring Otis, Hank and ScurvyDog. There were others, but I was only there briefly and have no notes. Sorry. I love you all. Promise.

I had T1400 with blinds at 200/400. I had gotten a break with the table change as I was slated to be the BB before mine broke and sat now in MP. Still, I folded until my BB. Scurvy pushed on the button and I looked down to see nines. No choice. Call. He had jacks. I picked up outs on the turn, making me open-ended, but no Sound of a Suckout this day. Scurvy earned my plentiful bounty of the genius "Homeboy," and I'm glad to see he's digging it. So much so that he's gonna quit his job!

Carpe diem, my brother. And godspeed.

At that point, I started wearing a path in the Aladdin shag betwen the tourney room and the bar. Yes kids, It's Bloody Mary Time, It's Bloody Mary Time, It is a drink so fine, It's Bloody Mary Time.

Got to sit a bit with fhwrdh--who graciously comped my first--and see where life was headed. I also took the opportunity to further weasel my way into an invite to the Infamous Home Game. Watched The Geek play video blackjack, plied with SoCo shots from some dude in a Chelsea jersey. Sweated the final few tables, constantly reminding CJ of his huge chip lead, much to his increasing annoyance. I think he frittered a chunk of it away just to get me to shut up.

Congrats to Billy Legend, of course, as well as all the final table participants, including Tsunami Hitchiker and Hank's buddy, giving LA 30% of the last 10. We've got the numbers, people. You don't want none. The New York Times calls it "Flooding the Zone," sending massive numbers of talented people to chase a big story. That's us. Only we're after pots.

Scared? Yeah I know. Now that everyone knows what I look like, it's harder to be intimidating.

Many thanks to CJ for hooking us all up. Much appreciated, sir.

Saturday Afternoon: Heartbreak Cantina

This little blogging hobby demands attention to detail, to the smallest event which can be used to expose universal themes. As poker players, we are trained to be observant, to extract truth from incomplete information. It is these convergent skills which led Bob and I to ponder a great mystery:

Why is it no longer important for an Elvis impersonator to look, sound or act like Elvis?

A group of us were walking from the Aladdin to the La Salsa Fiesta. Plenty of sights worthy of commentary on the journey, like the effort of the porn slappers and why anything less than a "double slap" illustrates a guy who's not fully committed to his career. I re-iterated my desire for a porn slapper t-shirt, the ones that read "Strippers Direct to You," a gripping sentiment, not to mention a solid business plan since, as Jason remarked, it eliminates that pesky stripper middle-man. We passed a guy in a pig suit beckoning one and all to the Harley Davidson Cafe. "Good gig," I muttered. "Squeal like Ned Beatty," offered BG.

We passed several Elvi (yeah, I think the plural is "Elvi") and wondered why this phenomenon has taken on such routine existence, how the streets became clogged with white jumpsuits and mutton chop 'burns, removing the mystique of the Fake Elvis Experience. Further, some of these guys aren't even trying. This is The King, people! He deserves better. Elvis impersonators are now ordinary, where they used to be a destination. No panties are being thrown at the guy poorly simulating "ah....thankyouverymuch" outside the Jamba Juice.

So how to get ahead in a world of sub-standard Elvi? It obviously no longer matters if you can nail it. No, you have to have a hook. Something to set you apart. You can be the Middle Eastern Elvis and Jailhouse Rock it with the sitar. Monkey Elvis, a simian riding on the back of a (hound) dog. Or how about Cerebral Palsy Elvis starring in "All Shook Up?"

I may have crossed a line there.

True to form, an Elvis invaded our little fiesta shortly after our arrival. I immediately christened him "Booger Elvis" since he more closely resembled Curtis Armstong of "Revenge of the Nerds" fame. This was not a hook, just an unfortunate circumstance. He sang a few songs, not coming close to invoking the dulcet tones of Big E. Yet, his arrival still sparked the crowd. There was dancing. There was swooning. There were flashbulbs. I have in my possession a hilarious photo of Booger Elvis crooning in the ear of AlCantHang. The look on the face of the latter can only be described as giddy, as if he's just been hooked up to a SoCo IV drip.

So maybe I'm wrong about the whole thing. Maybe any approximation of Elvis will do. Especially when liquor is involved.

Trust me, liquor was involved. We got there a good 90 minutes before the Fiesta was set to begin and we were a drink or two behind even earlier arrivals. Ridiculously large margaritas flowed like water. The wait staff was a little overwhelmed, often showing up with drinks nobody claimed to order. No matter, there was always a taker.

My buddy Paddy calls it the Shampoo Theory. You know how you can put a substantial amount of shampoo in your hair and still it sometimes fails to produce a valid lather? Then you go back to the bottle for just a drop and all of a sudden it's Bubble Central? The same with alcohol. With all that I'd ingested the night before, it only took a few drops to send me back into drunkeness.

I finally got some food--mmmmm, carnitas burrito--in my belly, though I wasn't consciously hungry, despite the fact I'd only eaten two Krispy Kreme donuts in the past 22 hours.

And then I zoned out. Partly because of the grog, partly because of the US-Costa Rica World Cup qualifier on the TV. Sat like a stone for 45 minutes, occassionally shouting tactics to The Poker Nerd over the increasing din of the party around me. I'm an animal. I once shined a pretty festive wedding reception to watch SDSU and BYU play for a spot in the Holiday Bowl. That's my own wedding reception, mind you. I am not above anti-social, sports-related behavior.

But I was snapped out of it at halftime. Did somebody say shots?

Al, Bobby Bracelet, Chad, myself and a revolving door of others (JP, Otis, Joaquin, Derek) adjourned to the bar to sample some of the tequilas. After sampling a couple of the offerings, Al reached into his retirement account to splurge for a $45 shot of tequila. No, I don't remember the brand, but it was in a nice looking bottle perched, but not secured, high above the bar. Okay, I don't quite get that. Makes it hard to take surreptitious swigs from a bottle you need a ladder to reach, but with the standard behavior one finds in a bar--in Vegas--you'd think this High Roller tequila would be in danger of crashing to the ground. All it takes is one flying beer glass or two meatheads crashing their bulk into the bar.

We passed the shot around as if it were liquid gold, sipping briefly and savoring the taste. It was magnificent.

You know, Al's not just the guy who drops large chunks of scratch on liquor, both for himself and others. He's a very conscientous guy, as evidenced by his repeated trips to go "check on the party." He'd set it up after all and wanted to make sure everybody was having a good time. All the time. Thanks for the tequila, Al. And for the party.

Kasey Keller was standing on his head in the US goal, staving off the Ticos long enough for Landon Donovan to grab a brace to put the game out of reach. That insurance goal set off a round of "Ole, Ole, Ole-Ole." Even the creepy karaoke barker came over with the mic and joined in. Three points, baby.

The shin-dig was winding down, but I had one last task to perform, that of exposing my massive fanboi self to Otis. The annointing with oils and ritualistic washing of the feet probably gave me away. But I had to corner him. Otis quite literally altered my life for the better. I needed to thank him for that. I hope I managed to convey the depth of my appreciation in a lucid manner (doubtful).

Sigh. I guess the Razz Hand of the Millenium will have to wait for another day. These trip reports are longer than "The Deer Hunter."

Saturday Evening: Donkeys Alwasy Draw

We caught the first cab back to The Plaza, the one reserved for WSOP particpants and their honored guests. Sorry guys, another should be along shortly. No, I don't see any either, but that is not my concern.

Ah, The Plaza. What can be said that already hasn't? Well, for one, walking into that tomb after the revelry of La Salsa was a serious buzzkill. The Poker Room? Anybody got a straight razor? Some Prozac? Dead. Solid. Depressing.

They didn't have enough dealers to spread a HORSE game for us, so we headed out to Fremont looking for the hook up. We barged into the Golden Nugget where John, the floorman, welcomed us with open arms.

"What can I do for you guys?"

Can ya set us up a HORSE game?


How about a leggy blonde waitress in black hot pants?


Simple. It was almost like we were "known." Whales. On a slightly smaller--2/4--scale. So some of the dealers were new and didn't exactly have a handle on all the games. They did just fine.

The lineup:

Seat 1: Empty (later Pablo)
Seat 2: Yours Very Truly. Stud Fish Extraordinnaire.
Seat 3: Alan, who broke the laws of The Straddle and paid dearly
Seat 4: The Always Excitable Matthew Lillard, who claims he's not really Matthew Lillard though his name is Matt and can belt out a similar high-pitched maniacal squeal as the "Scream" actor
Seat 5: StB, fresh off a Final Table appearance in the Aladdin Classic
Seat 6: Nate, Michigan Ringer
Seat 7: Bobby Bracelet. This Fucker is Always. At. My. Table.
Seat 8: Chad, another with a paycheck from the Aladdin Classic. Yeah, this is gonna go well. Because there's another in...
Seat 9: BG, giving me a run for the "Who Can Lose the Most at a 2/4 Table" Award.

This was the most fun I've ever had losing $100. Except for maybe 3 minutes there at the end when I missed my 700th draw of the evening. Otherwise, a laugh fucking riot.

Stayed right around even for a while. Right up until Razz, in fact. I have no earthly idea how to play that game. I knew I had to keep an eye out for dead cards and I actually tried. So, here it is, The Infamous Razz Hand, and after all this buildup and the fact the hand's been re-played for most bloggers several times already, I'll caution you to be prepared for the letdown:

My first four cards were 6432. That's pretty good, right? There was raising. I bricked on 5th, pairing my three, while Bob and BG both caught nice-looking cards. There was raising. I bricked again on 6th with a Jack while Bob and BG both caught nice cards. Memory seems to insist that Bob caught a three. WELL WHAT THE FUCK?!?! I'VE GOT TWO OF 'EM RIGHT HERE! That's roughly what went through my mind, if I've got that right. Perhaps I don't. Whatever. There was raising. In fact, there was capping. Me? I just kept calling as the Michigan Mafia raised each other, with me in the wash cycle between 'em.

It was my read that BG had already made his hand, seven-high. And that Bob was still drawing. Me? I know I'm drawing slim, but the pot...she eeeez so beeeg. I kept muttering this every time I called a raise.

I actually caught a card on the river. An 8. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but if they were BOTH drawing, I may yet pull it out. BG actually checks, as do I. But Bob has never met a bet he wanted to pass up and fires. BG responds,

"Just once, I gotta check-raise Bobby Bracelet."

I hate you both. I hate me, too, because I call, Bob 3-bets and thankfully, BG just calls. My 8 makes me third-best. Bob and BG had close to the exact hands, seven-high, except Bob went to the ace and BG only to the duece. I think Bob sucked out on 7th. I don't really know. Best estimate of pot size is around $130. I'd just dumped half my stack in a game I don't know how to play correctly.

Good strategy.

I made my way through the HORPSE lineup (yes, it was now HORPSE with the introduction of Pineapple). Alan made a sweet play when he discarded a 9 in Pineapple and took the pot with a strong flop bet. With The Hammer. He discarded to play The Hammer. Fuckin' Sweet.

He then made a moumental mistake in Hold 'Em, much to my benefit. He stradled my BB, Austin Matt threw in a Dead 6. I called the bets blind and Alan capped. Except HE LOOKED. At only one card, but he looked.

The flop was A9x and I bet, still blind. Alan raised. You !#@%!%@*&. I called, still blind. I think we were now heads up. Turn was a rag and I finally looked at my cards. A9o. Heh.

I checked, quickly and deceptively, causing Alan to bet his ace (what I loudly assumed to be his ace). I raised. Forget poker face. I was cackling loudly, reminding him again that he ruined his straddle by looking. River was a 6 and he called my bet. It's a good thing for him he didn't look at his OTHER card: A six. Mighta got into a raising war there. So, I did get to take down a nice pot, one of very few. The fact I played it mostly blind tells you what kind of skill level I had on display this night.

I stayed about the same until Stud came around and dumped all of it in two hands. The first one, I have no regrets about. First four cards were AQJT of Spades. Paired the queen on 6th street, but that was the only improvement and I fell to Nate's two pair. No Kings and only two spades were dead. Can't catch a friggin' draw.

Then, frustration set in. with only about $25 remaining from my buy-in, I chased an OESD on 6th and 7th, failing to catch, dropping the last of my stack and pounding the table in frustration. Er...sorry about that, fellas. A quick walk and smoke and I was over it. Though I did expose my donkey side for all to see. Look Ma! No brains!

I wanted to publicly thank John and the Nugget for treating us so well. I made a point to let him know how appreciative we were for the service and I promised to pimp his room for my dozens of readers. Get thee to the Nugget. Nice room with plenty of TVs, pleasant dealers and a nearby snack bar. Our two waitresses over the course of the evening were excellent. Yeah, and...uh...smokin'. I'll definitely donk there in the future. Though I inexplicably keep wanting to call it the Golden Nugent. Musta been the Michigan influence at my table.

Gracie, Heather, April, Scott and others were also at a nearby table and seemed to be doing quite well. Maybe ask them to gauge the level of competition.

I had quit drinking a little earlier, having reached maximum capacity. The decadence was catching up with me. I squeezed in a quick final craps session that ended with me down $90, but did roll a few points. A substantial chunk of bloggers were milling about and I announced my intention to hit the sack. At midnight. I caught far less shit than I expected.

In fact, as I made my way around the room, I was struck by the easy comraderie, the heartfelt words from both sides and, dare I say it, simple affection. Words truly do fail. Just an impressive group of people, in every way imaginable.

Driving through the desert the next morning, Vegas became more and more distant in the rearview. My thoughts, however, stayed behind. Still do.

One last tidbit. Before I hit the road on Sunday morning, I took a quick tour of the casino floor in hopes of spotting any bloggers to whom I'd not bade farewell. I won't mention his name, but I did see one, walking toward me from about 20 yards away. I began to raise my hand in greeting when I saw him more clearly. He was, as my friends like to say, "looking, but not seeing." So I passed silently, him never making me. It was then I realized he had on the same clothes as 24 hours previous at the Aladdin Classic.

Vegas, baby. Vegas.

Final Results

Poker: -$59
Craps: -$130
Blackjack: -$60
Video Poker: -$20
Bar Tab: ~$500