Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Briefs

I don't ask you folks for much, do I? Our relationship is a casual one, a little take, a lot of give, no demands. But just this once, I ask you heed my advice:

Read This Book.

I'm not even finished with it yet, but I feel like I can't get the word out quickly enough, despite the fact I lack the superlatives to fully describe it. I'll give you two things.

1. I always sleep on the train during my commute home after a hard day at the office. Uusally I'll board, read for 10-20 minutes and crash for the rest of the journey. The past two days, I've read the entire way home. The book gave me no choice but to do so.
2. While I was thinking yesterday that I had to alert you all to this incredible thing I've found, I ran across the following passage:

"I get it," Uncle Charlie said. "You feel intimidated because you started life with a seven-two, different suits."
"A what?"
"A seven and a two, different suits, worst poker hand possible."

Hammer Serendipity.


Missed last week's picks due to the vacation, but in the interest of full disclosure, I again went 2-2 on my NFL best bets, my second straight break-even week. I'm feeling pretty frisky about a couple games this week, however and sense a turning of fortunes.

Oakland -3 over Dallas
Though I have slight fear these Raiders might be one of those teams that just can't manage to win (a valid feeling with Norv "I'll stay on 16 against a dealer ten" Turner at the helm), they've played well and the Cowboys are their easiest assignment yet. Drew Bledsoe + Black Hole = 4 Dallas turnovers.

Tampa Bay -6.5 over Detroit
My brief flirtation with the Lions is over and the Bucs have arguably been the league's best team thus far. Stick with the hot pony.

Buffalo PK over New Orleans
Penalties, turnovers, permissive defense...same ol' Saints. So much for the feel good story of the year.

And the Run, Don’t Walk, Lock of the Week™

Jacksonville -4 over Denver
Road team after a Monday Night game rule in play here. As well as the Jake Plummer on the road against a very good defense rule.

Time to lay the heavy timber.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

All I Have To Say Is...

Holy Bleeping Bleep!

Poker Championship

I have registered to play in the
Online Poker Blogger Championship!

This event is powered by PokerStars.

Registration code: 9866710

Say My Name!

I think it was "OCab" which sent me over the brink. Or maybe it was "JRich."

I blame the idiot who first called Alex Rodriguez "A-Rod." Anybody know who that guy is? Give him a punch in the face for me. Suddenly, this oh-so-simple and oh-so-clever melding of the first initial and last name became a basis for EVERY FUCKING NICKNAME ON THE PLANET.

TMac. DLee. K-Rod.

This would only be a good thing if Pete LaCock was still playing. Seriously, can any of you even tell me who "OCab" is?

Creativity, where have you gone? The Mad Stork, The Splendid Splinter, Magic, The Broad Street Bullies, Sudden Sam McDowell. Those are nicknames. If The Kid were alive and in the American League today, he'd be TWill. Great.

Thankfully, we have poker. Devilfish, Texas Dolly, Johnny World, The Elegance, AlCantHang. The last vestige of artistry.


Now that the A's have been eliminated from post-season contention (and I've mulled a 12,000-word essay summation. Anyone interested in that? Thought not), I'm throwing my allegiance to the Tribe. What a great job Mark Shapiro has done putting that team together. Patched up that horrible bullpen, added Millwood to a glittering group of kids in the rotation and that lineup is flat out frightening top to bottom. Not to mention the highway robberies he pulled on Omar Minaya and John Hart to grab Sizemore, Hafner, et al. Jeez, I wonder if Hart's O-Ring has recovered yet. I bet he needed a couple dozen stitches to close that gaping wound. Einer Diaz and Ryan Drese for Hafner (who actually DOES have a good nickname, "Pronk"). I guess you could argue Hafner was superfluous to the offensively-loaded Rangers, but wouldn't you want to get back something for such a massive talent? Like, oh gosh, I dunno, some goddamn pitching? Or is running out 30 different has-beens over the course of the season (as they've done two years in a row) Hart's idea of pitching. Just an awful job and a perfect counter-point to Shapiro's excellence.

Let's go Tribe. The good people of Cleveland deserve a winner (I actually have no idea if the people of Cleveland are good, but I am giving them the benefit of the doubt).

Their inclusion would also save us from another breathless postseason of Yankee-Red Sox over-drama. As a baseball fan first, the idea of that rivalry is awesome. That awesomeness exists only in a vacuum, however. The current truth is, we have two bloated franchises, neither of which has a single player worth rooting for. We'll get four weeks of Joe Buck's fawning over Jeter's awesome leadership and Varitek's veteran presence, the grittiness of the clubs to overcome all obstacles on their meager combined payrolls of nearly $350 million. McCarver will emote over the brilliant acquisition of Aaron Small, while ignoring the egregious errors of Pavano and Wright and Brown and the 27 re-treads Cashman brought in (Nomo anyone?) before lucking into this Cinderalla Guy whose Midnight can come at any second. Not to mention over-the-top FOX promotions placing far too much importance on something we're already bored of watching, all while Buck and McCarver rub themselves under the table.

On another note, I'd like to take up a collection to entice Bob Gibson out of retirement to pitch a game against the Red Sox. Everytime those show-boating cocksuckers Manny and Ortiz come to the plate, Gibson can put one in their ear. Seriously, it's like they have a prop bet to see who can stand at home plate and admire their shots the longest. I can't believe there is not a huge outcry over this. It is unconscionable and it wasn't too long ago both these assholes would spend a lot of time in the dirt for this shit.

I blame the same guy who came up with "A-Rod."


Do I sound like a curmudgeonly old man? I'm not. I'm an irritated middle-aged man and I am not one of those, "Back in my day, everything was better" types. Almost everything is better now, except maybe the ozone layer. But traits like respect and character are no longer valued in popular culture. Instead we have self-promotion and blamelessness. It's tragic. While I'm at it, I'd like to request critical thinking come back into vogue.

Okay, so I'm a little curmudgeonly.


On to greater things, Pauly has published another edition of his excellent literary blogzine, Truckin'. I have again managed to extort him into including a tale of mine about being "young and vulnerable." Sorry, it's not about high school girls.

One of my favorite all-time stories is included, courtesy of Daddy and former blogger (I keed!) Human Head breaks his cherry. Sounds like things are going well at work for Head.

Please give 'em a look and thanks, as always, to Pauly for his hard work and timely blackmail payments.

I have also been remiss in not thanking the good people (these I actually know are good people, not to mention their quality content) at Oddjack and Lord Admiral Radio for their recent kind words/pimpage. I and my ego are eternally grateful.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Everything's a little swirly in my little corner of the universe these days. A feeling of slight unsettlement that is, surprisingly, not unpleasent.

I like to write in cryptic riddles.

I am not a "Type A" personality. I avoid confrontation whenever possible and have happily spent a life largely devoid of assertiveness. You may find these personality traits to be incongruous to an interest in poker, as passivity is rarely rewarded on the felt. And you'd be right, but there is a crucial diference.

Poker is a competition. In competition, I am fierce. The thing is, I've never viewed life as a competition. The corporate ladder has never been a destination. I rarely even think about it. While I have managed to pull myself solidly to the middle, it was never because of an intense drive to conquer the workplace. My promotions have been based entirely on my work, in which I've always taken pride, for myself, for my own satisfaction, rather than with an eye toward where it would get me.

Which brings me now to the fork in the road.

One trait I have always possessed is will. The times in my life when I have really wanted something, really NEEDED something, I have bent to the task with single-minded purpose. I have summoned, briefly, that assertiveness I usually lack.

And so I am compelled to do so again, not by outside forces, but by a rare inner drive. I'm jamming my foot into the closing door. I might come out of it with a fractured shin--and psyche--but I will not let the latch catch while I stand idly by, even if the morning line odds put me north of 20-1.

Because I have tapped an ambition, the very thought of which sends my head spinning and my dreams careening out of control. Most importantly, because I do not fear failing. Far more alarming is not doing anything as fortune whistles by.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Great Moments in Television

So, I've settled in for the season premiere of "The Amazing Race," which has occasionally managed to hold my attention over previous installments, largely when you have people who are dating screaming at each other for 16 straight weeks. It's a "family edition" this year, four relatives of various stripe making up a team. The host is introducing us to each group in his trademark dramatic style.

"The Aiello family," he says.

"The Paolo family," he bellows.

When an African-American family appears on-screen, parents and two kids.

"The Black family," the announcer intones, sending both me and the dear and patient wife into fits of laughter that have hardly abated, partly because every time they interview a member of the family, the CG identifier at the bottom says, "Black Family."

Monday, September 26, 2005

Shady's Back

A healthy dose of post-vacation malaise around the ol' ranch today. It's always nice to be home, but pending life issues like, say, alarm clocks tend to intrude on embracing the hearth too tightly.

This was the first time we'd been away as a family in almost three years. It's strange what you experience about folks, even those closest to you, when you're in confined quarters with them for an extended period. It's not like daily living, where you have work and school and play and family moments fit somewhere amongst all that. It's 24/7, sharing the evolution of the day, moods and meals. Oh gawd, the meals. I may never eat again.

I didn't exactly learn anything about the dear and patient wife and AJ. Nothing so tangible as that. It's more like a comfort, a meshing. They're wonderful and they make life worth living. The boy, it turns out, also travels pretty well.

"Daddy, your butt stinks."

When you spend roughly one of your 10-day vacation within the close and boring confines of the car, your four-year-old comes up with some pretty funny shit. Mine does, anyway. Our car rides were blissfully uneventful. Once you get into "central" California (it's not really central, but anything north of LA and south of SF is referred to as such), the road flattens and straightens. Drivers become infinitely more courteous than those I usually encounter in the concrete jungles of LA. The fast lane is used for passing only. The oblivious minivan going 60 and blocking traffic is a distant memory.

AJ slept most of the longest stretch (ten hours) and his probing questions were infrequent. Instead of the standard, "Are we there yet?" he preferred "How many more miles?" His response to the answer was always a brief and disappointed, "Ohhhh" and then he was onto the next game of "I Spy" or one of his dozen bug books.

Oh, and although I am not above having a stinky butt, I'm pretty sure I was innocent of the charges at that particular time.

Quick family poll. What was your favorite part of the trip?

AJ: Grandpa
Me: The Exploratorium
Dear and Patient Wife: The two times you fell down at park

Ah yes. We had a few hours to kill after arriving at my hometown this past Friday, so we decided on a tour of the local wineries which have become something of a cottage industry in the Livermore Valley. Nothing like a free Friday afternoon vino buzz to accost the dexterity. After sampling the wares, we headed to the park across the street from my childhood home to let AJ run out some of his pent-up energy. Twice I ended up on my back-side, Otis-style. Once when attempting to execute a classic swing jump; the other when I mis-judged the ground while showing AJ how to (im)properly slide down a fireman's pole.

The Mrs. is still laughing.

Daddy? Like to play a little Omaha?"

Yes, the poker thing is starting to rub off. Not entirely, however. AJ was holding a pack of cards when he asked the question. Baseball cards. I suppose we COULD play Omaha with cards of the A's team. "I've got a pair of underachieving outfielders. You?" (Though I would like to express my thanks to the Home Team for taking a day off from your month of mediocrity to give us an enjoyable afternoon win.)

One of the other habits he picked up on this trip was to imitate sea lions, which we saw the first day in SF.

I tried to play along with him, but I couldn't accurately compete. The one time I gave it my all, I sprained my larynx.

"I'm like the first humans."

He announced this proudly one evening in our SF hotel room. The occasion was his nakedness. He's very much in a nudity phase right now. When we arrive back home, the first thing he does is strip down to his underpants. When he enters a bathroom, his trousers are halfway to his ankles. Must be the European part of him.

I don't have any pictures of that. How about some strange Bavarians in lederhosen at Lombard St. instead?

As I said, I enjoyed The Exploritorium the most (as far as tangible benefits go). It's an interactive museum located at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. A lot of hands on exhibits/inventions for the kids to play with. A lot of the science is way over AJ's head, but that hardly mattered. I have fond memories of the place from my own childhood visits and, in fact, one of my favorites is still there to this day (it's been 25 years since I was last there). It's two concave dishes set 70 feet apart. You sit inside them and can carry on a perfectly normal conversation with the person sitting in the other. I remember being blown away by that at age 10 and it was cool to do it again.

The following photo was also taken there. It's a distorted room that gives off some cool effects. Although the picture doesn't quite capture it, I'm still using it for my next album cover.

I basically laid around all day today, pausing my ennui to do a few things that needed doing. I played some poker--to poor effect--just to pass the time. Vacation hangover stuff. I'm glad to be home. Less glad to be heading back to work. I'd rather just hang out with these two for another couple weeks.

Anyway, hello again. What did I miss?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Checking In

Lake Shasta

Lake Hammer

Friday, September 16, 2005

Parting Shots

Phishing scams, Nigerian billionaires who need help transferring money, pyramid schemes. Not one of these is a bigger shake-down than the fact I have to pay half of AJ’s pre-school tuition next week even though he won’t be there because of our vacation. The fee, I am told, is to “hold his spot.” Would someone care to enlighten as to exactly What. The. Fuck. that is supposed to mean? Like, a kid doesn’t show up one day and they start auctioning off his finger paintings? Thieves.

I believe I’ve reached a new level of maturity now that I don’t consider "Just chillin’, bro" to be a valid response to "How are you?"

But I’m still hip with the kids, apparently. Of the three books mentioned by Seth last night on The O.C., I’ve read two of them in the last four months.

Was very happy to have Survivor back on last night. Even though it is the catalyst for horrible reality shows across the dial, it really is compelling TV more often than not. The return of Stephanie is cool, too. Twenty bucks says CJ pitched a tent.

Though Jeff Probst has to be the least talented, most smug jackass on television. Okay, I’ll give you Trebek, too.

This little family road trip promises to be the first test of father-son travel relations. "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" I bought a taser to keep things under control.

I’m taking Barry Greenstein’s book, "Ace on the River" and Harrington Vol. II with me. I started the former. Have you seen this thing? It’s almost a coffee table book. Big and glossy and lush.

I’m feeling pretty damn good about myself after my NFL showing last week, so I thought I’d post my Best Bets for the weekend. I’m totally in the dark on the college game at this point of the year, so we’ll skip right to the pros.

Tampa Bay –2.5 over Buffalo
I like the Bucs ‘D’ against young Losman and Cadillac v. MaGahee is a push.

Detroit –1.5 over Chicago
I’m sticking with the Lions until they lose. Or until they play a team that is capable of winning 4 games this year.

New Orleans +3 over NY Giants
The Saints are my new favorite team.

And the Run, Don’t Walk, Lock of the Week™

Kansas City – 1.5 over Oakland
Green, Holmes, Johnson and Co. will have those aging Rai-duh defenders sucking wind by midway through the third quarter.


I may be able to blog/post picures sporadically from the road. If not, see y'all when I return. Good cards, love thy neighbor as thyself and, most importantly, let's be careful out there.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Breakfast of Champions

Greetings to friends old and new alike. Statcounter blew up tabulating my whole bunch of new--aka one-time, never to return to this steaming pile again--readers. I was trying to figure out what to call you folks in order to cut down on the word count. Maybe I’ll have a vote. I came up with Wheaton-ites, Wil-ians and Wheaties. Guess which one makes me laugh.

I am sincerely blown away that Wil not only has read this humble blog, but that he finds it worthy of compliment. I am not being falsely modest. That’s not my style (really, ask anyone. I once referred to myself for about a month straight in the third-person). I like some of the stuff I write here. I think I maximize my ability enough to make it worthwhile for me. Which is not to say it can compare to the Best of Wil (or the best of a dozen other poker bloggers out there). So, I am, imminently grateful, even while I’m trying to think up funny names for you.

I figured I’d write a little more about Vegas since the previous Trip Report might give the impression that I am some kind of badass card player. I’m not really. I’m learning. I do all right, but am fully aware I’ve only scratched the surface of the depth of knowledge required to compete regularly. As clearly illustrated by the following hand:

I make the standard pre-flop raise to $10 (5x the BB) with pocket 9s. Two callers, including the BB, and the flop comes a coordinated KK3. Checked to me and I bet $25 and am minimum raised by the BB. I call and we’re heads-up. The turn is another king and the BB pushes all in for $117.

As I type that, my call looks worse than ever. But call I did and he flipped the case king. Now, certainly odds were against him having the cowboy, but the action certainly supported it. Furthermore, he was pretty much the only unknown guy at the table who didn’t have a "Bluff Too Much" problem.

I’d like to place the blame squarely on the Corona Brewing Company and their all-too-effective distribution operations, but no. I called because I didn’t think it through enough.

On the subject of my fabulous reads, I am reminded of a story I haven’t related here, though I have told it to others elsewhere.

A couple months ago, I was stopped in the hall by a former colleague who had overheard me talking about winnning the satellite to play in the WSOP (see how I slipped that in there? Told ya, no false modesty). Turns out he’s a Poker Guy as well and we began to regularly converse about the game. I got the impression he was just starting out. Why? Because he asked me what a straddle was. Being a big fan and frequent wielder of the straddle, I was only too happy to explain its meaning and its Awesome Power. He also mentioned that he’d never played live before, only online.

This went on a couple weeks, us mainly re-hashing the latest WSOP event when I asked him what games he usually played.

"I only play no limit hold em," he replied. "Multi-tabling the $1000 buy-in on Party Poker."

I picked my jaw up off the floor and mustered an "Oh."

It turns out he’s friends with, and has been mentored by, a very well-known pro, often accompanying the pro to Commerce and sitting behind him while he plays big no limit cash games. It also turns out he’s pretty darn good, since he quit a few weeks back, with sufficient bankroll, I assure you, to earn his living on Party.

Talked with him last week and he’s running well. He said it took him a few days to settle in, to not be freaked out by the idea that poker was now his sole source of income, thereby perfectly articulating why I know I will never be in his shoes.

Being a pro has never been on my poker agenda. Nah. I’ve lived life on the financial edge and it did not agree with me. Nor I with it. I’m happy in the safety of my little cubicle, the work interesting enough to keep me intrigued most days (even if I did hear two dreaded words yesterday: "Efficiency Expert"). I have a family to support, unlike my single former colleague.

Which is not to say I don’t have goals in poker, demands I make of myself in order to play. No matter what level, I want to win. Losing stings. Ask AJ after I whipped his ass at Chutes and Ladders last night. That’s right. Two straight games. Routs, even.

Uh...where was I?

Poker satisfies a lot of my competitive instincts. It is the impetus for a lot of my writing. It is a fascinating exercise that spurs me to further study and, hopefully improvement. As I said, it gives me goals to shoot for. And, I’m beginning to believe this more and more, it is an excellent metaphor for life itself.

So, today’s poker—and life—goal? Play every hand the best that you are able.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I've lived out here in the Godforsaken Desert for 18 months now and I miss a lot of things about L.A. proper. Carnitas burritos from Poquito Mas, the occasional ocean breeze, a pitcher of Newcastle at Scotland Yard Pub. I'd lived near or within the city limits for so long that I knew exactly where I could find whatever--or whomever--it was I needed, at whatever hour. Not so out here in the Exurbs.

It's been quite a transition and, at times, slow goin'. Yet, I've no doubt I'm in the right place for now.

And so it is with poker. I haven't been playing much at all lately. I'm not even sure Bob and I would have made it into a Poker Room this past weekend if it wasn't for MrSubliminal sending us those hidden messages. I'd been in town for 6 hours by the time he convinced us to abandon blackjack and I'd yet to feel the impulse to check-raise a single douchebag.

It's not that I don't WANT to play. I do. But I'm picking my spots. Like goofing around with bloggers at the .05/.10 NL tables.

The result of this is not just added time doing other things that interest me, but also that I look forward to sitting at a table. This is a marked contrast with much of my poker life, relatively brief as it is, where I played regardless of how I was feeling. I sat because it's what I did, for too many hours a week.

When I decided to cut back a month ago, it was not an easy conclusion. Because I didn't want to cut back. I wanted to keep playing. It's my nature. But I knew it was the right choice. And I forced myself away...eventually.

With the benefit of hindsight, it's pretty clear to me I was on the verge of burn-out. There was little, if any, fun involved. Head down, bulling forward, check, raise, fold. Wash, rinse, repeat.

What's odd is that I'm really enjoying poker though I'm not playing. Talk about counter-intuitive. I've read no less than three poker-related books, only one of them that could be considered "instructive." Yet, there are lessons to be mined nonetheless. I've empathized with the wildly unlucky John Gale on the WSOP broadcasts. I've sweated others online, discussing hands and plays. I've gratefully received encouragement and support from my fellow bloggers, those who've trod this path before and are infinitely more knowledgeable than I can hope to be.

The result is a lot of thinking about Poker. Not about My Game. Not about My Bankroll. And it excites me. It makes me look forward to playing. It makes me play better.

Not so fast, though. I'm heading out on vacation with the family this Friday. A few days in Lake Shasta, getting back to nature, fishing with The Boy and his Grandpa. On to San Francisco, seeing old friends and taking the dear and patient wife to as many touristy spots we can cram into a week. I can't begin to relate how anxious I am to spend this time with them.

Sad to say, two months ago, I may have been mumbling about "two weeks without poker." Now, it's "two weeks without poker!"

It's been quite a transition and, at times, slow goin'. Yet, I've no doubt I'm in the right place for now.

Where There's a Wil...

Oh Life, you kidder. I was on Blog-Induced Tilt yesterday, one of those "What the heck am I doing here?" periods we all go through from time-to-time.

Then I awake today and see this.

Thanks, Wil. So this is what it feels like when holding the mortal nuts and someone bets into you.

And to all you first-time visitors, I hope you'll come back. I promise to be less drunk in future posts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Two Days in the Life

A series of non-chronological vignettes in which our Heroes invade Las Vegas and abscond with cash and liver complications.

Enlightened Poker Despot

Aladdin Poker Room. 1/2 NL. My Drunk Needle dangerously in the red. I flop top pair with J8o in the BB. My pot-sized bet is called by the Mouth-Breather to my left. Turn jack gives me top two and the dance is repeated. River 7 puts a possible straight out there and Barely Functional Retard pushes all-in over the top. As I ponder my connundrum, the drunken haze parts and I suddenly see everything clearly. Because Einstein flips his cards prematurely, showing 84o for lesser two pair.

I let him keep his extra money, taking only the amount of a call. Why? Because I am a humanist. And because I want others to share in his remaining stack. Okay, it was really because I had not yet decided to call his raise, so, in some strange chivalrous place in my brain, I do not punish him for his insolence. Dealers and players alike marvel at my benevolence. But also...

Don't Forget Your Chips

I owe a debt to MrSubliminal who rode in from the Soup Kitchen and rescued Bob and I from a -EV cornholing at the hands of Barbary Coast blackjack dealers. He ferried us off to the Aladdin where we each bought into the game for $100. As we walked away from the counter, the brush calls after us, "Do you want your chips?" handing Bob two extra stacks of redbirds to go with our buy-ins. Bonus poker.

Mistaken Identity

A phone call, as related by Bob's friend S.

"Is Bob there?"
"I don't think so."
"This isn't Bob's phone number?"
"Oh, you mean Bobby Bracelet?"
(Sighs; eyes rolling) "Yeah."
"Okay, hold on."

Soft Landing

I am an artist with the dice. My throws flutter like clouds, with the form and action of a Jamaal Wilkes jumper. All silk, no effort. Naturally, after hitting my second or third point, the suits start to get anxious. "All the way down, sir." Hah. I continue to rain numbers, soft kisses on the back wall. Pay the line. Then the comedians come out.

"These are the lightest dice we have, sir."
"Would you like to hit from the ladies' tees?"

Trying to unnerve me. Nice try. In for $100. Out for $225.

Otis, My Man

Through a Greyhound Mist, I see a 49er streaking to pay dirt on a punt return. Who the heck is #18? Otis Amey. Excellent name. Never heard of him before, though. Which is reasonable, as a graphic soon shows he changed his name from Fred this week.

Did I Say That Out Loud?

Cashing out of the Aladdin game, barely coherent at this point, the following conversation takes place:

Cashier Lady: That's 479 dollars, sir.
Me: FOUR-HUNDRED SEVENTY-NINE DOLLARS?!?!?! (Use of bold and all-caps denote the ferocity of my volume)
Cashier Lady: Stop yelling.
Me: I'm sorry. (Pushing her four dollars) Here, buy yourself something pretty.

Rule #1

I call an aggressive player's all-in on the River with unimproved AKs. He mucks before seeing my cards, saying, "You got me," then proceeds to mumble about how he "can't play with these players." I respond,

"You can't bluff a calling station."

Purple Profit Eaters

I go 7-1 in the sportsbook on NFL Sunday. The Vikes, and their 60 yards of total offense in the first half, ruin my morning 4-game parlay (thanks anyway though to the Bills, Bears and Jags). But I hit a 3-teamer (for $250) in the afternoon courtesy of the Lions, Giants and Cowboys (oh my). I lay a hundred on the Colts in the ESPN game and am so confident in my wager that I sleep through the first three quarters. In my room, not at the bar.

Killing Them Softly

Early on in our Aladdin poker session, I get 64o in the BB and call a wienie raise to $5. The flop is 875 rainbow. This is a hand I usually play pretty fast, especially online. It's far from impenetrable, but, you know what, let's try something different.

I check, pre-flop raiser bets $15. A call behind and I call, as well.

Turn is a jack. Ugh. Down to the third nuts, but we'll note the action. I check. Pre-flop raiser again bets $15 (I put him on AK, AQ based on the size of that one). Call behind, and I figure that guy for a 9 or a ten in his hand, figuring he'd let us know sooner if he was sitting on the straight. Unless he's playing it like I am. I call.

River is a King, which gives me an instant erection. I check. Pre-flop raiser bets $40 and other guy drops. I raise to $120. He calls. He mucks.

Final Stats

Hammers played by Blogger contingent: 5
Hammers successfully dropped: 4
Dial-a-Shots attempted: 1 (AlCantHang)
Successful Dial-a-Shots: 0 (AlCantAnswerthePhone)
SoCo Shots Consumed Regardless: 1
Number of times I thought I was gonna puke: 1
Number of times actually puking: 0

This Loud Guy Again?

For no reason that I can recall, I blurt out the following to a crowded lounge of gridiron fans:


Fortunately, the level of drunkeness in the room was pretty high and people actually appreciated the sentiment.

Michigan-based Additions to the Esoteric Blackjack Glossary

Bust Nasty v. Dealer, we kindly request you hit to 26.
Hognut n. Dealer, we kindly request you give us an 8 (derived from the similarity between a hog's testicles and the number 8 and requested using a hand signal/milking motion)


The proper response, as related by bartender Toby, to Excalibur employees' insistence on ending every transaction with a cheerful "Have a Royal Day!" is "Shove it up your Royal Ass."


I'd like to thank Bob, his Michigan traveling partners (fine people, salt of the Earth folks who good naturedly listened while I babbled on and on about the wonder that is AJ), MrSubliminal, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, Mandalay Bay cocktail waitresses and, last but not least, Otis Amey for the smashing good time.

Monday, September 12, 2005


I have weathered the storm that is Bobby Bracelet and returned home safely with all limbs and vital organs in reasonable working order. I don't look so good, but you should see Vegas. I will expound on my superior gambling prowess in greater detail later, but here's what you can look forward to:

1. Crushing the 1/2 NL game at Aladdin thanks to a special blogger guest
2. Blackjack is rigged
3. If you see me coming to the craps table, and this goes for everybody in the Universe, just pass me the dice. Amatuers.
4. Bob hates everything, including such innocuous items as sourdough bread.
5. The Nathan's hot dog at NYNY with chili and cheese is the greatest food of all time. With the 1 a.m. Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs at The Golden Gate an easy second.
6. If you have MGM/Mirage stock, sell now. Your quarterly earnings are going WAY down after the punishment I inflicted on the Mandalay Bay sportsbook on NFL Sunday.
7. I learned the proper way to request an 8 from the dealer.

See y'all in the Stars charity event tonight?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Runnin' on Empty

My little Vegas jaunt this weekend is coming in the nick of time. For one, if I go more than three months without seeing The Strip, I begin to loose feeling in my extremities. I love that first step-thru into a casino, out of the oppresive heat into the filtered air, the clinking of coins and slot machines like an orchestral movement of the highest quality. It can't be re-created anywhere. Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta once said, "Goals are like bread. I need them to live." I feel the same way about that sound.

But what I really need out of this weekend, besides a bump in the ol' PBR, is material. Bobby Bracelet's presence pretty much assures that. I've been in quite the fugue lately, devoid of ideas and more devoid of execution. Definite "ebb" time with the story tellin'.

Part of that, I suppose is playing considerably less poker. Also, I'm taking a trip with the family next week and have been doing a lot of preparation for that (unless the trip is to Vegas, there's no prose to be mined there). I see where that trip will also make me miss a blogger tourney on the 20th (details forthcoming from Iggy). I suppose I COULD play, the hotel having wireless access and all, but I don't think I'll mention it to the dear and patient wife. I also won't mention the Indian casino four miles from where we're staying for part of the trip. In fact, I don't think I'll mention poker at all over the 10 days for the express purpose of marital harmony. She's exceptionally tolerant, but infringing on the vacation might--no might about it--stretch her boundaries.

I will, however, probably blog from the road if I can manage to form a decent sentence or two.

So, I was where? Oh yeah, first up, Sin City. I love the smell of a raucous Sportsbook in the morning. I may be the world's worst sports bettor, but I'm gonna lay some wood nonetheless. Part of my problem is my dwindling interest in the NFL. Sue me. I'm bored by more than half the games I watch (plus it is the one sport the Mrs. hates). The Niners blow and it appears they will blow for the forseeable future. Hell, the entire NFC blows. It just seems to me the quality of play has fallen so much in the last few years and I scoff at the Patriots' claim of Dynasty because, really, what have they had to beat? You have ten bad teams, 15 mediocre ones and a handful that have their good days. Back when the Niners were habitual contenders, they had to contend with Ditka's Bears, Parcells' Giants, Gibbs' Redskins. You see any teams of that caliber in the game today? Me neither. Not even the Patriots.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, I didn't watch hardly any of the Pats/Rai-duhs game last night. It's not because I couldn't bear to hear the phrase "Tuck Rule," which sends me into a fetal positon every time I hear it since that officiating decision was not only The Worst Call in Modern Sports History, but also cost me a hundred bucks. No, it's because I got home well after it began, then ate, then watched the season premiere of The O.C. I think we all know now why I suck at football betting.

The premiere was disappointing. A decided lack of the things I love so much about the show: Marissa's comical over-wrought "acting", Seth's pithy one-liners, Kirsten in tight halter tops. Though it did include one scene of Sandy cementing his place as Greatest TV Parent of All-Time. Aside from that singular highlight, it was dull, predictable and totally lacking the charms it usually displays. This could be a harbinger of bad tidings.

Even worse was the new show which followed it, "Reunion." This would seem to be right up my alley as it's entirely age-appropriate (my own 20-year reunion is 6 weeks away). There's never been an effective entertainment retrospective on the '80s that has managed to capture that bizarre decade, not like "Dazed and Confused" nailed the '70s on the head (the John Hughes comedies are perfect microcosms of the Era, but view it in the present). So I gave this a shot.

Oh man. The '80s references are pretty much relegated to the soundtrack (and a hperbolic version of the clothing) and by the time they worked the 7th song into the first half-hour, I wanted Dennis Hopper to slice off my ears. Simplistic and contrived plot lacking in any surprise. Stilted dialogue to "mask the mystery," specifically in regard to the gender of the deceased. And worst, the incomprehensible casting of the "spoiled rich kid," played by a guy who couldn't act his way through a 7th grade production of "I Remember Mama." Ohmylord. He's so bad that it's not even funny, like our dear Mischa Barton. I actually wanted to injure him for the injustice he perpetuated on me for 60 minutes. Inconceivable.


Have a good weekend everybody. And some of you might wanna stock up on liquor and stay by your cell phones late Saturday night.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Kid

Let us get right to the big news of the day:

Season premiere of The O.C. tonight!

If you're not watching the Greatest Show in the History of Television, then you are...well...not a teenage girl. I'm not technically a teenage girl, either, but I play one on the internet.


I'm also excited about a new program on the Fall Schedule, "Bobby and Joe go to Las Vegas," premiering this weekend. Join our heroes as they evaluate porn slappers, comment on the hygeine and wardrobe of others and re-raise some douchebags.


Enjoyably dropped two buy-ins at the Blogger NL table last night. It's possible I may have over-played AJ once or twice. 'Course I also snapped off Iggy's hammer with it once, earning scorn. helixx and I titled The Blogfather by talking about Celine Dion and the time my buddy Salk had sex with a girl who had a stump where her left arm should have been.

Congrats to doubleas for securing a WCOOP seat in a cash qualifier last night and Chad, who got a seat in a Round II satellite in PLO.

Seriously, a guy logs onto the computer to fetch some Czech fetish porn and ends up with a 20-person chat conference, a blogger table and 11 Stars windows open sweating various players. I need like six new monitors and another set of limbs to keep up with you people.


Actually what I was gonna do online last night was write my impressions of "One of a Kind," the Stuey Ungar bio. I guess now will do.

All I'd ever known about Stuey was what I've read recently, advances for the book. I don't have any historical poker background due to my relative newness to the game. I knew his titles and reputation, but no nuts and bolts. I like nuts and bolts.

It was, without a doubt, a fascinating life and his upbringing made his path a fait accompli. His disregard for money is part of what made him a champion, but it's also what predicated his downfall. Stuey was the ultimate action junkie and the consequences be damned.

The book doesn't sugarcoat his addictions, even amplifies them, though all the while maintaining what a gregarious and generous person he could be. The words from Stuey himself--the book initially began as an autobiography project--serve as an excellent guide to his thoughts and motivations. How his goal was not only to win but to humiliate his opponents, a trait that cost him a lot of potential money since it was beyond him to sandbag or hustle his marks.

His friends remained legion, bailing him out whenever they could. They are complimentary to this day, despite being burned by his behavior on many occassions. He could not have been an easy man to live with, but was, apparently, an easy man to love.

The description of his poker exploits are incredible, will have you shaking your head at his remarkable abilities. So too, will you marvel at how easily he seems to destroy the good in his life.

The pictures are shocking, showing the transformation from his impish youth to a broken down degenerate in just a few years time. Oh yeah, and his wife and daughter are smokin'.

It's a quick read. Took me parts of just two days. A wild ride, to be sure, and in the end, a cautionary tale, a glimpse of what might have been had he managed to keep himself together.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Disturbance in the Force

In lieu of me actually having anything to say:

Daddy is shutting down SnailTrax. This is a sad, sad day for Donkey Fuck-o-philes everywhere. I get a lot of laughter, insight and comraderie from all the blogs I read, but none has ever given me more consistent and heartier guffaws than Daddy's tales of debauchery. He will be missed. And relentlessly badgered into reconsidering.

Because I am under the age of 50 and straight, I have never played Euchre. You silly people need to stop and think about what you're doing. This could end badly.

Jason's got a share left. We're gonna be rich, bitches!

One of the funniest lines of chat from playing with the bloggers the other night was this one from Iggy:

My VP$IP is 84%.

Speaking of Iggy, is there anything better than an uber-post to get you through those last couple, mightily dragging, hours at work? Jeez, talk about a beer to a man dying in the desert. There were no more pages on the internet for me to scan yesterday. And then I hit Bloglines for the 37th time. Thank you, sir. Sanity restored.

Bill "Billy Legend" Rini, defending WPBT Aladdin Classic Champion and all-around Humanitarian has the latest on the next WPBT live event in December at the Imperial Palace (known to some as the "IP," known to me as the "IP Freely"). Make your plans now (or change them).

I updated my blogroll last week. I have not only been remiss in adding, but subtracting, as well. I don't have any kind of philosophy as far as adding people, but if you haven't blogged in six months, you're gonna get cut. I know I'm missing scores of blogs out there, many of which are older than mine and for that I must apologize. I struggle to hit all the ones on my roll as it is. If you want a link, just ask. I'll be happy to add you.

Of course, one of my new adds, asia k, hasn't posted in a month. But her last one gave me--at minimum--a semi-boner, so I'll give her a few more weeks to work it out. Her blog, I mean.

The Poker Nerd is live-blogging his assaults on the WCOOP Events and has cashed in the last two. This is living vicariously at its best.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

In England, It's Spelled "Labour"

I'm paraphrasing here:

April: So you're taking our money and going home?
Me: It's all going to Charity.
April: Is that a stripper?

I got home Friday night utterly exhausted. Three hours of sleep, some of it on a train, dinner with the extended family and all I could think was to get into bed. But first, I had to set my fantasy baseball lineup for the next day--I was fighting for the final playoff spot, which I did not get. Lo and behold, a star-studded chat conference/micro-limit NL game was in full swing.

Suddenly, I found a second wind.

Playing with bloggers is always a fun poker session. Quadrupling up in 20 minutes is even better. Let this be a lesson to you all, I WILL play suited one-gappers to a pre-flop raise and I will chase until the chasin's done, which is really the only way to chip up against superior players. Be the Lemur. Yes, I won this hand, too.

I could have played all night, but I caught the Evil Eye, of the wife variety, about an hour in and reluctantly, though wealthily, ditched the game and headed to bed.

And I really did use the bulk of my profits to sign up for the first two Charity Events on Stars.


Woke up after 9 solid hours of sleep still feeling the effects of my varying sleep patterns. I am an old, old man. Played a $30 2-table SnG while watching my adopted homeland of Sweden crush Bulgaria 3-0 in a World Cup qualifier. I bubbled.

Did some house cleaning in preparation for guests on Monday, took The Boy to the park and watched my A's lose by a touchdown to the stupid Yanks.

Food for thought: When the A's were screwing the pooch in May, I was piling up mounds of cash in online poker. When the A's went nuts in the summer months, I was getting cornholed by Variance. Now that they're sucking again in September, I scored a Final Table payday. My two passions are linked, yin-yang style. So, while they likely won't be going to the playoffs--largely because of crushing injury problems--I might get rich again.

ANYWAY, I was well into my holiday weekend and still had yet to have a drink. Midway through the desultory first half of the US-Mexico, my fortunes changed.

I had already deposited AJ at Grandma's for the evening, so I was home alone. Now, the experts will say drinking alone is a sign of an alcohol problem. But what if you're drinking with others via cell phone? Yes kids, it was Dial-a-Shot time. On the other end of the line was the Michigan Mafia. Our liquor cabinet was a little thin, but there was some Canadian Club whiskey on hand and we drank to "unbridled jingoism." Seriously, I hate Mexico. Not the people, definitely not the country, but their futbol team. Buncha cocksuckers.

Los Estados Unidos 2, Mexico 0

The result qualfies the US for Germany 2006. Hug your local soccer MILF. By the end of the contest, I was working on a nice giddy drunk, chasing the whiskey shot with some Bass Ale. And after the traditional post-game Dial-a-Shot, I was in that rarified level of happiest drunk imaginable, a place my wife describes as me being "soft." Not a euphemism, jerks.

Shortly, I took my giddy drunk--and my wife--to the local Cineplex for a viewing of the immortal screen classic "Wedding Crashers." Good film to see with five drinks in ya.


Spent most of Sunday afternoon poolside at my sister's house. Prepared for the shindig by drinking a few post-breakfast beers and sweating Nerd in the WCOOP Event (congrats on the Monday cash, dude!).

I figured I was due for a post-alcohol/sun/cholrine crash upon arriving back home, but gosh darn if the Crazy Re-Buy wasn't starting forthwith. Armed with a fresh half-rack of Tecate, I dove right in.

I don't know what it is, whether it was my brief break, my more sporadic play, the successful Thursday tourney, but I'm back on comfortable ground. I played really well into the fourth hour when I ran into some bad luck.

First in on the button, I made a too large raise (6x) with AKo. I say "too large" because I did it on purpose. I want the blinds to read straight steal and call or raise. It worked. SB pushed (he had me covered) and BB called (he was short stack). Dang. I had to do some math. Certainly the BB has a strong hand. The SB, I can put him on a wider range. So, if I'm behind the BB, can I make enough money off the Big Stack to make a call worthwhile? The answer was yes. Unless the SB had AK as well. Which he did. BB had TT and they held up.

I was down to 20K with blinds at 1500/3000. I shortly got KK and pushed over the top of a raiser to get his money and the blinds. That was helpful. Back on the button I got AKo--deja vu--and pushed over the top of an MP raiser. Folds to him and his time bank starts to tick...

I had played with this particular player for much of the first two hours. He sucks. I was begging for a call, knowing I had him. I got my wish. He called with A8o. Ace-fucking-Eight.

Eight-high flop and no help for me. Crush.

Went out 60 from the money. Anger, yes. But no whining. I'll play that guy every day from now until the end of time. I love him. I love his kind.


Might be going to Vegas this weekend. Gotta find some random homeless person to look after The Boy and I'm in. Apparently some sort of mini-convention of WSOP participants going on.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I'm runnin' on 'em.

Alright, asshole. It's two o'clock in the goddamn morning. We ain't settling for 25th place.
--Me, to me

It was quite a confluence of events that led me to play poker last night. For one, I woke up wanting to play. The deal was sealed when I saw the announcement of a 20% reload bonus on Stars as my dwindling bankroll would be foolish to look a gift $120 in the mouth. So I re-deposited a chunk of what I'd withdrawn two weeks back and set out to work on my limit game. I two-tabled 2/4 for a couple hours and came out slightly on top, after some rough moments (and cleared about a quarter of the bonus). It was getting late, but I was feeling it. Any tourneys?

Ugh. 10:30, eh? That might be a little late for a school night. But for the first and only time all night, I said "Aw, fuck it." The field was of manageable size and I could always turn my 3-day weekend into a 4-spot.

My first table was a relatively tight group compared to the usual re-buy madness. I managed to work my stack (+1 re-buy) up to 5800 by the break and took the add-on. I chipped up a bit in the second hour, turning on the aggression in response to my tight table. Was slightly below average at the second break and playing well.

At Level 10, I made my move. Twice I got AA within a dozen hands and re-raised an early raiser each time. Got calls, but both let go on the flop. Then I hit a BB Special. Saw a free flop with 98o and found myself holding the nuts when it came down. I smooth-called the Big Stack in the SB. I still held the nuts when a Jack fell on the turn and min. raised his larger bet with no better draws out there. He called and fired again on the inconsequential river and I pushed. He called the extra 8K and I was peering over a top-15 stack of about 45K.

I got moved shortly thereafter, setting up the fateful TT hand, but I regrouped quickly. I pretty much stayed with this group for the next 90 minutes and showed down some big hands, allowing me to do some stealng as the blinds escalated. I won another big pot with 54o in the BB when I again flopped the nut straight.

I didn't get in any tough spots once we were down to three tables. I was right in the middle of the remaining players chip-wise and tightened things up (folding AQo and 88 pre-flop to moderate action, good decisions both). I busted a short stack with KK and then took a nice number of chips from a bigger stack with ATs.

Down to two tables, I busted a player, nearly doubling up with QQ. Shocking, eh, considering my history with those filty sluts. He had 88 and despite the late (early?) hour, I fairly screamed at the computer to HOLD!

After that, I was third in chips and easily folded/stole to the Final Table, where I continued to fold my way up the money ladder. There was one MASSIVE stack, with over 1.5 mil, more than the rest of the table combined. He was taking a lot of heat from the rail, mainly from the guy who he knocked out in 10th, Big Stack's 65s knocking of his Hiltons. Big Stack continued to call a lot of all-ins and won all but one. The two times he got Aces didn't hurt, either. We went from 9 to 4 in less than 20 minutes.

Big Stack had about 2 mil, second place had 320K, I had 200K and 4th had 190K. At this point, Big Stack was pushing on every hand. He took the blinds and antes for two orbits, me unable to defend with my 52o parade and everybody looking for a money jump. I felt like any ace or king would be good enough to defend so I made my stand in the BB with K4o. Big Stack flipped J4s and my domination held only as far as the River when a jack fell.

No sour grapes here, though. I missed that feling of late tournament poker. I'm gratefully filled with it today. Gonna need that adrenaline to make it through the workday. If this was Vegas, three hours sleep (including one on the train) might be enough. In a cubicle...not so much.

Jeez, all that griping these past months, all the self-flaggelation and doubt...and I get back nearly all my lost bankroll in 5 hours. I have so many more thoughts: peace of mind, reduced tournament play, self-confidence, all of which played a hand in last night's effort. I'll try to get it down at some point. Let's just say my attitude and focus last night was a marked improvement.

Last thing, since the tourney was on the first of the month, I'm listed pretty high on the TLB. I'm coming for you McEvoy.


Your favorite online poker rooms have organized a handful of charity tournaments for the victims of the disaster in the South. I hope to see all of you there. Here's a list and you can find out more information on the sites.

Poker Stars
Sept. 12 at 9:30 ET ($5)
Sept. 14 at 9:30 ET ($20)
Sept. 15 at 9:30 ET ($50)
Sept. 16 at 9:30 ET ($100)

All but a penny per entry goes to the relief efort and Stars is matching all contributions. Prizes for the Final Table and Good Karma for all.

Full Tilt Poker
Today 9:15pm ET ($20 + $10)

$10 entry fee goes to the relief effort and will be matched by Full Tilt. Some pros will likely be in the field.


Thanks to all for your comments and e-mails on my "Shooting Blanks" post from a couple days ago. As I said, I'm still quite optimistic about the whole deal and am well aware that our "hardships" don't compare to others with more drastic fertility issues. We are blessed to have AJ and could live happy lives with him as an only child (his thoughts may differ, though I'm certain he prefers the wholesale attention he gets currently).

It's just the whole biological clock thing and my hope to not be the oldest Dad at Little League. I guess that won't be the case as long as Tony Randall is alive.

What? Fuck.


I pulled out a bunch of old notebooks last week after Pauly issued an urgent call for Truckin' submissions. I ended up sending him that decidedly less-romantic vignette instead of the more heavy-handed stuff I found--"and there was much longing and aching and general pain of loss"--but I did find some items that bear further attention.

That bit about meeting my wife (in the flesh) was written pretty much in real time. There is, in fact, an entire notebook devoted to my musings on that adventure and I've had fun re-living some of it lately (especially the pornographic entires). The dear and patient wife has read only snippets (which I transcribed to her via e-mail after that initial meeting), so she was really seeing that piece for the first time. I'm happy to report it acheived its desired effect and she was delighted at some of the comments.

One little sidelight to the tale. We sat in that cafe for a while, disbelieving, our conversation constant, if a little awkward. We were consumed with the moment, as evidenced by the fact were were 3 blocks away before we realized we hadn't paid the bill.

During our courtship was the last time I wrote as regularly as I do now (even more regularly without the whole online poker thing getting in the way). Funny that she thought she was marrying a budding writer, but all she got was a stupid WSOP t-shirt.

ANYWAY, I hope to have some more of those stories in this space in the coming months and I promise not all of them are so lugubrious and lovey-dovey (and that none of them will use the term "lovey-dovey"). There are some that are funny (one hopes), others that are simply poor imitations of Ernest Hemingway (My "Moveable Feast" period). Without the daily poker to sustain the daily blog, I was moving more toward that prose-ish direction anyway.

In addition, there's a bunch of other stuff in those notebooks that was written before she came along, in those wild days of oat-sowing. One of the things I used to do was take a pad and pen to bars and jot down random thoughts (I could also dash off a bit of shitty poetry; you'd be surprised how much drunk girls love shitty poetry), though most of them concerned observations of others and scenarios I'd make up in my head. Like...

The group barreled into the bar intent on domination. Four of 'em all out of place in their crisp suits and starched collars, arms dangling and back-slapping each other in Forever Brotherhood as they stormed to the bar, causing the Rummy in the tattered shorts and flip-flops to look up and ask, "Hey kids. How was the prom?"

I'll be here all week.


I promised myself--and Le Blog--that I wouldn't post any screen shots of tourney finishes unless it was a win.

Regardless, I'm very pleased with my finish in the (Not So) Crazy Re-Buy last night, that being the later one with only 441 maniacs, as opposed to the Prime Time Version of thrice that many.

So, I give you this:

PokerStars Tournament #11805630, No Limit Hold'em
Buy-In: $10.00/$1.00
441 players
Total Prize Pool: $17610.00
Tournament started - 2005/09/02 - 01:30:00 (ET)

Dear JoeSpeaker,

You finished the tournament in 4th place.
A $1,232.70 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

It. Is. ALIVE!

I made one truly horrible play on the evening, allowing myself to get pushed off a better hand by being passive with TT with only one overcard (King) on the board. I take the pot with just the slightest hint of aggression. As was, I folded on the river when a 9 paired, thinking his all-in meant he hit it. He had 33. Ugh.

That dropped my stack about 30%, but I got it back soon enough.

And aside from that, I played perfectly, especially in regards to continually laying down solid, but second-best hands. No, "Aw fuck it" calls tonight, baby.

The only downside is it's 3 a.m. I get up at 5. Maybe.

More Maybe.