Saturday, December 31, 2005

Touch Me I'm Sick

I'm still sick. Going on 4 days worth of flu-ridden misery. I'm not one to complain about illness and I rarely get laid up for such an extended period of time. In fact, I can only recall twice in my life where I've been knocked down to a significant degree. One time was my senior year in college. The week before finals. Fucking cute. I got a major stomach flu, the kind where I had to write my extremely long PolySci term paper--that was half my grade--15 minutes at a time because that was as long as I could stay upright. Somewhere in that week-long haze, I drove myself to the hospital, very nearly getting an unscheduled lift when I fell asleep at the wheel. Fortunately, I was at a stop light. Then I fell asleep in the waiting room. Then my wonderful health care provider initially diagnosed me as having appendicitis, despite the complete lack of pain in what would generally be considered the appendix area, and, you know, pain there would be a symptom of appendicitis, I think. I managed to convince them to rule that out--after another wait/nap in the waiting room--and they settled on stomach flu, for which they prescribed nothing.

The other time was equally inconvenient. I was visiting Sweden for a mere 5 days, meeting the dear and patient wife's parents for the first time. After a day and a half in Stockholm, my body rebelled against the pristine air and I spent pretty much the rest of the time in moderate delirium with a temperature of 104 degrees. Whenever anybody talks about socialized medicine and how wonderful it would be if we had a workable system here in the US, please note that, after a wait of nearly 3 hours at a Linkoping health clinic--yes, I slept in the waiting room that time, too--I was sent on my sicky way with a few echinacea tablets to cure my Super Flu. Excellent. The kicker to that story is that about two weeks after my return to the US, there was a major story in the local Swedish newspaper about a nasty strain of flu that had hit the area and experts traced its roots to America. I infected an entire country.

I was thinking about this second case as I lay wide awake in bed this morning circa 4 a.m. "You should be resting!" says the dear and concerned reader and you're right. But I had a sneezing fit that not only woke me, but soiled my bedding to an alarming extent and I couldn't get back down. So I got up, fired up a tobacco cigarette (I miss weed most when I'm sick; nothing takes one's mind off a raging sinus headache more than the recuperative herb) and wrote a story. About a delirious sick guy. It has potential.


I was up until one playing/watching poker. I busted out of two Full Tilt tourneys, both when holding KK, which brings the total to four times in the last 10 days that I've been busted out of FT tourneys with KK. That's what you get when you lay a bad beat on the wife of an FT programmer. Consider me chastened.

After destroying several family heirlooms, I raibirded Bobby and his run to a third-place finish in a 20+2 MTT on Full Tilt. He had KK hold up twice. Better still, he dropped a hammer on the final table. Nice goin', dude.


Looks like our plans for New Year's Eve have been scuttled by my Ill. I can't drink (so you know it's bad), though I seem to recall mixing cold meds with about 4 beers generates a remarkable buzz, complete with the inability to enunciate multi-syllabic words. People were inquiring as to whether I'd recently had a stroke.

2005 was a good year in many ways for me and those close to me. If I had to sum it all up in a single word, this year brought Possibility.

I wouldn't go so far as to say I was in a rut, because there's a negative connotation there that I didn't feel. But, approaching 40, filling the roles of Dad and Husband, satisfied with my career path, I had the faint idea this was it. This is how it is and how it will be; the road is long and straight. I wasn't particularly chagrined at that idea. I find enough humor and verification in my daily life. The problem is when you set your mind to process only the mundane.

I'm prone to fugues. Anyone who's ever tried to get my attention when I'm "deep" in thought knows this. I'm distracted, unavailable. I'm running down so many scenarios in my head that I can't see a foot in front of me. More often than not, these mental ping pong matches are tinged with worry, about finances, performance at home and at work, tasks not yet begun or completed. And I get so wrapped up in them that I'm not open to new experience.

That changed a bit this year. I found inspiration. In this stupid game of poker and, moreso, in the literate musings of dozens of similarly minded individuals. I read, and learned from, so many and if I didn't quite say, "Hey! I could DO that!" I did, at least, think, "Hey! I'd like to TRY that!" Quite surprisingly to me, it opened up a long dormant creativity, a fact which excites me every single morning when I awake. In one unexpected swoop, a goal that I long harbored, but upon which I rarely acted, became a primary raison de etre.

It's a perfect storm of sorts. Poker united my competitive and inquiring self. Writing allowed me to get out of my head, clear the mundane bricks which stack there and seal off the possibilities. A year ago, I was relating bad beat stories and endless hand histories at the $10 SnGs on Party. Now I'm actually proud and protective of what I (figuratively) put to paper, have played in the World Series of Poker and will have to file an income tax return listing a five-figure poker profit.


Best of all, I am enriched in countless ways by my new friends. Thank you, all of you, for your company and humor, your advice and support, your openness and honesty.

Cheers. Let's give 2006 a proper ass-whuppin'.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Pseudoephedrine Dreams

I had a dream last night that my buddy Triple J called me on the phone, which is something he never does, preferring to send me cryptic three-word e-mails and anonymously comment on my gayness here on the blog, which is ironic since the reason for this dream call was to ask how my other friend Sveek was looking.

And I have to say Dream Sveek, conveniently popping up in time, looked pretty good, with a starched and pressed midnight blue shirt and tie, though his pants were a little snug. I prefer some give in the crotchal area of my slacks, though I wasn't wearing pants at the time, since I was asleep and I only sleep in my pants after too much Jaegermeister.

Then I had a dream about my parents who, though long divorced, decided to move to Vegas. I didn't get the back story why they were suddenly reunited, but was excited at the prospect of moving to Vegas until informed that I would be party to the move. Would, in fact, be a primary facilitator of the move, thereby totally screwing up my schedule for at least a week. I started mentally counting the hours I'd be spending in rented trucks on lonely desert roads before realizing there is no way in fucking hell I am going to do this because it's just ridiculous and it's also a dream.

Nyquil rules.


Interestingly, none of my best friends play poker. Part of that is that none of them live near me any longer so are unable to feel the full weight of my bad influence. In Triple J's (also answers to Salk and Horowitz) case, this is surprising since he is at least partially responsible for my introduction to the poker craze as he was the first to alert me to the WPT broadcasts, which is where my interest was spawned. If I were handicapping the group, I'd say he has solid potential, for success and for humor, since he's the most easily and hilariously tiltable human I know. He'd be like Hellmuth if you added in the certainty of things being thrown. And next to me, he's got the most gamble in him.

Sveek (Donny 7, Ron Don Majaworski, Little Buddy) would be a solid analytical player, with a strong handle on the math, but he'd get bored easily clicking and folding. Doesn't have a lot of gamble in him (the operation of motor vehicles excepted), but possesses an effective Nordic arrogance that could be intimidating.

Kool Breeze (Brent, Bread, Roll, Rollie Kol) would benefit from a live environment, his exceptionally affable--and somewhat goofy--personality the perfect table image. He's also most likely to put in the study and practice time to improve.

Schott (Stick, Throck) is hard to figure. He's always been the most cautious and I've rarely seen him wager. He is, however, an athlete and competitor, as well as even-keeled emotionally. I think he'd be tough, because he's my teammate and we rule at everything.

Of course, none of these wienies are man enough to take me on.


I had way too much fun for a sick guy in that tourney last night. Thanks again. It has been brought to my attention that full disclosure is necessary, since it really is totally unfair what I did last night. Most of you can't even be expected to deal with me on the virtual felt, let alone when I pass the baton to Bobby Bracelet.

See, my computer ESPLODED! about five minutes before the second break. It not only closed all my running programs, but froze as well. I called my wingman in Michigan to play my stack, as I was sitting 6th with about 13 left, when it all went down. After some clever machinations (okay, I couldn't recall my Stars password, so we had to get a new one), Bobby sat with my stack coming out of the break. In addition, I stayed on the line with him and we played it together. That's right, two of the greatest minds in poker playing a single stack.

Being the heat of the moment and all, it didn't occur to me at how much of a disadvantage the rest of the field unknowingly found itself. And yes, during those 8 minutes or so of tandem genius we managed to cut the stack in half. NO MATTER! It was unfair to expect mere mortals to compete with this two-headed poker diety (Bacchus and Priapus?).

But it was I, and I alone, who, recovered from the computer problems that ailed me, rivered the Jack against facty. It was also I who dropped the hammer UTG. Regardless, should such complications arise again, well, tough.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Way With the Ladies

I cracked facty's AA with JJ at the Final Table (for which I have earned deep scorn from the whole of the community AND the dear and patient wife), then got pwned by change100 heads-up. It was all very Murderer's Row incestuous. But not in a creepy/strange-uncle-we-don't-talk-about way.

Mucho thanks to Jordan and TripJax for the swell time, not to mention the rest of the field and assorted hangers-on for the hilarious chat.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

All the Cool Kids Finish 4th

After a trying post-Vegas spell of poker, I wiped out two weeks of losses with a couple fine finishes in tournaments the last two days. Hooray for me.

I'd been running into some bad bleeping luck, kids and I gotta tell ya, I still love my game. I hug it most every morning. Sometimes I pet it surreptitiously on the train. Yes, I've graduated past the "Oh Shit, I've dropped $400 in two weeks, my game must suck!" self-doubt that plagued me this summer.

Which is not to say I won't donk off a buy-in at a 3/6, 6-max table when WAY too drunk to be near the poker machine.

Ahem. Moving on.

I finished 32nd in the $11 Crazy Re-Buy on Stars this Sunday. Those weekend mega-prize pools (over $65K in this instance) used to be one of my favorite MTT windmills at which to tilt. But I hadn't played the weekend version in a long time. Partly because it was a major suck on the bankroll for a while there and partly because Full Tilt has gotten most of my tourney action. I was a single bad beat away from having a top 10 chip stack, but I had sucked out earlier, so no complaints.

Then last night, I finished 4th in the $50 at FT. drizz was simultaneously making Erik Seidel his personal valet/shoeshine boy at an O8 final table. He finished fourth, too. Thanks to all you mIRC geeks/sweaters and especially to Alan for his Harrington bot.


It was a nice, relaxing Christmas weekend, the most strenuous activities being assembling AJ's various toys. My extended family managed to not have a meltdown, which is always a concern, as such things happen about half the time during holiday get-togethers. Mainly because my sister is insane. I took some more shit over the poker thing from my more religious relatives, who were not impressed by the dear and patient wife's new diamond earrings which were purchased on the backs of my dead money opponents. Thankfully, I still get points for being AJ's dad, even when he tilts the entire feast.

AJ: I remember crying on Santa's lap.
Dear and Patient wife: Honey, you were only four months old. How could you remember?
Grandma: Okay, what was your favorite part about being a baby?
AJ: My favorite part about being a baby was sucking on my mommy's boobies.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Fake Trees and Sap

By a vote of 1-1, we elected to get a fake Christmas tree this year, the wife's one vote trumping my one vote. Tradition, smell, the joy of living things, I argued. Mess, cost, the two hours spent straightening with the faulty tree stand, she countered. As usual, we went her way.

A few weeks back, I set about erecting this abomination. In further insult, it's actually self-lit. I set about plugging this into that, shoving shafts, fluffing branches that hung on hinges. It wasn't hard, but I was still sour. Who puts a tree together?

This time of year can be frantic, the pressing crush of the local mall, the rickety ladder foiling attempts at linear light-hanging, the pressures of time and family and planning. It obscures the reason, stresses the motions instead of the motive.

So there I was, my knees pressed inconveniently to the hardwood floor, grumbling about the artificiality of it all. I clicked the doohickey, bringing the tree to its representation of life, when AJ, who had quietly come to stand behind me, draped his arms over my shoulders.

"Thank you, Daddy," he said unexpectedly, in a voice that could end the world's pain and suffering.

"You're welcome, buddy," I replied, turning to accept his full embrace.

"The tree looks great."

"Yeah," I sighed. "It sure does."

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Word From Our Sponsor

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Great Moments in Selective Memory

Enjoying the hue and cry from the rabidly self-centered Red Sox fans over Jesus (Judas?) Damon signing with the Yankees. Um, you guys do recall how you acquired Damon, right? As a free agent. Just four years ago. When he signed with THE HIGHEST BIDDER.

At some point in the last four years he achieved some kind of mythical status that elevated him above the usual "Professional Athletes Care Far Less About Their Team Than You Do" status? Gimme a break. Yeah, he was sort of an iconic figure that helped wipe out your lifetime of suffering. And what did he do almost immediately after? Cash in. Books, Queer eye, he dumped his first wife and married a trophy. His agent is Scott Boras! You can't possibly really be this dumb.

So now he's betrayed Red Sox Nation. That's a laugh. He was never part of you. You were a way station. Just another 'ho.

At least you got a ring as a tip. Now please, STFU.


Since I already covered most of Sunday in an earlier report, this will be more like filling in the blanks of the entire weekend. Please to enjoy the hilarity.

After scoring with "Too Drunk to Call," I hit two other horse races on the day. The first was another placed solely on the name: $4 across the board on AJ Melina. Despite being impeded on both turns by the same goddamn 10 horse, the gutty namesake of The Boy finished just a nose back in second.

Then, thanks to a gracious gesture by BG, who lent me the use of his chair and form, I handicapped the 8th at Aqueduct within an inch of its life, resulting in a huge payoff when my 16-1 shot crossed the wire first. Thank you, I accept the $153 from your sportsbook.

With some 50-odd bloggers in the book, in the poker room, in the bar, in the alcove off the bar, it was a great afternoon filled with humorous anecdotes--like Dr. Jeff ripping up his ticket, which was a push and Al "sticking the landing," which I unfortunately missed--and great conversation. I keep saying this, but it's true: That was a highlight (which brings the total number of "highlights" to roughly 184).

Cashing in the MGM tourney was cool. Playing three live tourneys over the course of the weekend, and playing them well, gave me a nice dose of confidence and cemented my plan to play at least one LA Poker Classic event. There were no real notable hands/plays in the MGM deal, though I was first seated at a table that approximated the temperature of the Arctic Circle. The MGM had sprung a leak and we were smack dab in the middle of the chill flow. Despite wearing two shirts at the time, I still appeared to be smuggling peanuts. My nipples could have cut glass. Normally, chattering teeth would be a pretty reliable tell, but not this day.

I did get lucky once, at the Final Table, when I insta-pushed with AJ. The short stack in the BB called with A8o, but the initial raiser had JJ. I sucked out a Broadway straight on the river, thanks to Derek calling for it. The JJ guy was BY FAR the worst player at the table. I'd sat to his left for about two hours earlier. But his play was not the most offensive thing about him. No, it was his orange fleece hoodie that was bright enough to rival the Aurora Borealis. Seriously, the color extended two inches off the actual garment. Had I been under the influence of even a mild hallucinogen, I might have been tempted to eat it. Guess he was just taking a quick poker break from hunting season.

There is little doubt that CJ's been on a luckbox streak of fantastic proportions, but playing those final two tables with him, I got to see his skills close-up and I guaran-fucking-tee you there is infinitely more to his game than good fortune. He expertly played hard at one pretty boy, ultimately tilting him to the point he called with much the worse hand, bombing out in 9th after being the chip leader 15 minutes previous. When you consistently put yourself in position to win tournaments, as CJ does with these types of adroit moves, the luck will find you. One of my all-time favorite sayings is, "I never saw luck jump on a man sitting in the shade."

Late night in the CantHang suite was...well...beyond awesome, despite me drinking a vanilla Stoli and Cran, which tasted like Robatussin that had gone past its shelf life. Yuck. I REALLY wanted to go back to Casino Royale with the late night crew, but I could no longer feel my legs.

I'm really good with names. That is mainly because I used to be really bad with them, a foible that did not mesh with my choice of profession. So, I created this little ritual I do whenever I meet someone, the secret of which you can purchase from my website in four easy installments of $19.99. What often happens then, especially with large groups, is I remember people's names and they don't remember mine, which always creates this hilariously awkward situation for them. It happened at least half a dozen times that weekend, where people look back at me blank-faced and say something like, "" Since I enjoy that moment so much, I never help them out. So, sorry if one of those was you (*cough*Performify*cough*). But I had fun.

My wife is reading all your blogs. She doesn't read the "poker stuff," though. Just a little tip if you want to target the hot wife demographic.

Yes, EZ, I had totally forgotten that.

Speaking of easycure, he's raising money for cancer research. For the price of a low buy-in SnG, you can cure cancer! That's +EV, both in a karmic sense and, considering the way some of you guys smoke, a pragmatic one.

On that note, remember it is always far better to give than to receive during the holidays and the whole year through. I hope you all create wonderful memories this season with your families and friends. Best wishes and monster flops to all of you from myself, the dear and patient wife and AJ.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Longest Day

I got a reasonable amount of sleep prior to the WPBT event, Chad and I cabbing it back to the IP around 2:30. My decision was pretty much made for me when I look a long draw off a nearly full Newcastle pint and the liquid stopped about a quarter of the way down my esophagus. I'd reached my saturation point. As I'm not a "Puke and Rally" guy--I'm more of a puke and pass out and spend the next two days complaining about the feeling in my mouth because the bile stripped off all my teeth's enamel guy--I set the beer aside, apologizing to whomever it was who purchased it for me, and headed for the exit.

Upon waking from fitful sleep, I found drizz and Chad--wow, he really does follow me around; might explain the bell he gave me to wear around my neck--in the lobby and we headed out on a fruitless McGriddle expedition, ultimately ending up at Starbucks for a coffee, a $5 bottle of water and a scone, from which I managed all of three bites. Man, I ate horribly this time out. Violated all my own rules, but I was really only hungry once during the entire trip and satisfied that particular jones with a Quiznos.

Up to the sweet tourney set-up room, complete with free swag and, you may have heard, an OPEN BAR. Giddyup.

My starting table:

1. Reader Dave
2. Trump Josh
3. Poker Prof
4. Dr. Jeff
5. Me
6. Marty
7. F-Train
8. Whiskeytown
9. Stuido Glyphic
10. Slayre

And yes, that list comprises the whole of the notes I took that weekend.

Marty informed me when I sat down that if I was in a pot and he had a hand, he was pushing all-in pre-flop so I wouldn't out-play him after the flop. He wasn't kidding. Our table could have been called Sahara Desert, as in, no rivers. The only one we saw was on the last hand before the first break (more coming on that). I think we only saw two turns, as well, so I guess we could have been the NASCAR table, too. Pre-flop raises generally took the blinds. We did have a few pre-flop re-raises. Once, I re-raised Reader Dave with AA. He folded his hammer face up. F-Train came over the top of me (not for the first time) with Kings. I, too, folded my hammer face up. Glyph limped UTG and I popped it to 400 with A9s. He moved all-in. Gah.

So, I'd dropped to about T1900 right before the break when I found AQo on the button. I open-raised 4x, the third or fourth time I'd raised on the button. F-Train, presumably tired of such antics, called out of the BB. The flop came QTx and Train led out for 800. I pushed and he reluctantly called the extra 700, having pot committed himself. He flipped J8o for the gutshot, which didn't come.

After the break, I busted Human Head, who'd taken over Reader Dave's seat, with 66 against his ATo, extending his run of losing races and inching into drizz terriroty. Next was The Mark, who was in for Josh. I sent him and his short stack to the rail, my QJs out-flopping his Big Slick. Grubby was there briefly, long enough to see his JJ dominated by Kings. Ed from Openers filled the 10s for a departed Slayre and a short-stacked Shep took over for Whiskeytown. And yes, my memory fucking rules.

Marty came over the top of my MP open-raise with what he later said was tens. Laying down my A6o wasn't that hard, though. My next time in the pot, I raised 3x (blinds at 300/600) with AQs and Train pushed all-in. I immediately read him for a middle pair, as that raise screamed it didn't want to see a flop. Fine. What do I do with the information? I still had T5400 (and a M Factor of 6) if I fold. But with 1800 already in and another 4700 to call, I'm clearly getting good odds (2-1, methinks) if my read is right. Still...

What clinched the call for me, eventually, was the stack I'd have if I won the race. I'm pretty sure I'd have been leading the tourney at that point. Call I did. He flipped 55, I wished him luck and we were off.

The flop brought me an ace, along with a backdoor straight draw for Train. The turn...crush. He hit his set and I was drawing dead. Yes, I simply lost a race, but the manner in which it was dealt...cruel. I lamented it for some time afterwards. I was feeling very solid in my game and despite giving away some chips, I'd managed to build a good stack. I really liked my chances if I take that pot and one of my pre-trip goals was to do well in the tourney, unlike June where I played like a ninny.

I DID have 700 chips left and pushed with AQo on the very next hand. Dr. Jeff had to call from the BB and his Q3o was victorious, earning him the greatest bounty ever. Out in 42nd. Congrats, of course, to Murderers Row's own Glyph, who made it two straight WPBT titles for the world's toughest home game, even if he hates tournaments and had to tilt Kong to build his stack.

I drowned my sorrows in FREE bloody marys and multiple hallway conversations with busted, 2/4 donking and over-sleeping bloggers, occassionally dropping back into the tourney room to sweat the remaining participants. Once they got down to the final table, I had to take my leave. The dear and patient wife was flying in and I promised to be rested and (relatively) sober for a late night. I managed a quick, though ultimately unsatisfying, nap and prepared for her arrival.


The dear and patient wife touched down fresh and a little tipsy, thanks to a rushed glass of wine on the 50 minute flight. We headed downstairs to find out the gameplan and introduce her to the people she's heard me yapping about for over a year now. Who should she meet first?

None other than Iggy, who we literally almost ran into. Strangely, he was coming from the dark corner of the Geisha Bar. Okay, that's not strange. But there was nobody else there. He quickly claimed Chad had just left and I patted him on the shoulder, saying, "Sure, Ig. Whatever you say." Before long, a half-dozen more bloggers (BG, StB and...uh...others) had walked by/stepped up and the wife's head was spinning with the intros. The word was that the Castle was again being Stormed, but first, she and I headed up to the IP Sportsbar to connect with Murderers Row.

Pretty much the whole crew was there, including, much to the wife's glee, the redoubtable MrsHDouble and the delightful facty. While the three of them jabbered over girl/poker widow stuff--often in some incomprehensible foreign language--the boys and I discussed the tourney, specifically the Glyph (A3s) v. fhwrdh (KK) hand, ultimately agreeing that Glyph had pretty close the correct odds to call the all-in. None of this made Kong, still with whiskey in hand, feel any better.

Eventually, we monorailed over to the Castle, HDouble showing off his passable Swedish on the way, earning me scorn from the wife. "Henry speaks Swedish," she charged. "Why don't you?" I responded that comparing my brain capacity to that of Henry's is about the most unfair matchup in the history of time.

At Excalibur, it was a whirlwind of introductions, from the poker room where G-Vegas and Wil had commandeered a table. Many compliments for the wife, wrapped in insults toward me. Yes, I know she's out of my league, but must you use qualifiers like "WAY" and "ANOTHER STRATOSPHERE" and "LIKE A DIFFFERENT SPECIES ENTIRELY?" Fine, if you must. We moved on to a Pai Gow table with Train, Pauly, Heather, ephro, Grubby and Jaxia. Pauly immediately started hitting on my wife. Seriously, she was awed to meet you all and very flattered by your comments.

From there, she wanted to get her gamble on, so we found a $10 blackjack table and bought in for $100 each. I got cold-decked from the start and the dealer had no intention of ever breaking 21. I haven't seen so few busts since 5th grade. I went through my stack pretty quickly, losing every double down, while the wife kept her head just below water. Her blackjack method is to raise her bet one unit after each win, but every time she got to $20, she lost. While broadcasting that fact, I said, "Some people would stop betting $20." Not the wife! Down to the felt, she got dealt an 11 against a dealer 6 and I had to go back into my wallet for the double. She got an ace and the dealer had a 5 underneath. Cute.

We then went for the +EV play at Sherwood Forest Bar where we ran into Mr. and Mrs. Head. While the former and I discussed our writing projects and our similar issues, the latter was cleaning up on Video Poker and chatting with the Mrs. After a few rounds, we went back to the poker room, where I found Spaceman and his better half, who would be the wife's spa date the following afternoon. Finally, I pulled up a seat at a 1/3 NL table, determined to recoup my blackjack (and bar) losses.

G-Rob, who kindly showed off his TV News voice to the wife earlier, immediately pulled up stakes and headed to a cowboy table to make some scratch. Chad sat for a short while, but left, though I didn't notice for another 20 minutes. Those who did stay--in the face of my awesome poker prowess--included April, drizz, Colombo, Falstaff and DonkeyPuncher. Surely you've all read about the suckout/TQB! beatdown DP inflicted on our favorite kilt-wearing blogger. I nearly played that hand--one of my first at the table--with 76s and would have gone broke with my flopped trips.

The wife stopped by to say she was going to a bar "with the girls" and was going to miss the insanity that would soon ensue. Live straddles, wheel spin prop bets, blind hand-playing. It all went down. I played a hand blind in the SB to April's live straddle, betting out on the K54 flop. A surly cowboy to my left was the only caller and from there, we checked it down. I won the pot with...uh...QQ. Let it never be said I don't know how to play my mosters. I won another pot with JJ and assured myself of my first winning session.

I also took a shitload of tip money off G-Rob. He was off check-raising Cowboy douchebags at another table, but would stalk over and slam a bill on the table after every prop loss. He had yellow on the wheel. It came up exactly zero times while I was there. After about 10 consecutive losses, he would stand up in the middle of the room and implore the wheel. Once, it seemed to stop on the last yellow slot. He raises his arms in triumph, screaming. Then it clicked over. He fell to his knees, like Willem Defoe in "Platoon," wailing in some otherworldly voice. It was gorgeous. I'd further give him some stick every time he dropped off another buck. "This small blnd is brought to you by G-Rob," I'd announce. "Looks like AJ's going to an Ivy League school!" I'd predict. The look on his face...well, it's priceless. God Bless G-Rob.

Falstaff and I welcomed a newlywed to the table by betting two bucks on the color of his wife's hair. I won that one, too. I finished up by about $150 on prop bets. Let that be a warning to you all.

After about 90 minutes, the wife called and said the Bar Crew was on the move to Casino Royale for some cheap craps. "I'll be right over."

Henry, ephro, MrsH, facty, Chad, Lori and I headed to the most ghetto casino on the strip, a place where I once rolled dice with two honest-to-goodness dwarves, who sat on high bar stools. So I have good memories of the place. The tables were packed, so I got us a round of drinks ($3.50 total) and waited to pounce. One jackass had like $6 left in his rack, but was only playing $2 on the pass line. A spot finally opened and ephro and I split the action. Hank rolled a bunch of numbers, but no point, to give us some working capital. When the dice got around to me--and I've tried to tell you people this before--I went off on a 25 minute roll. I hit a hard four for the point when Henry and I both had $5 on it, resulting in a leaping/awkward high ten, an arms-raised strut away from the table and a high-pitched scream that partially tore my larynx. I talked like Bette Davis the rest of the weekend. I hit a couple more points, had upwards of $30 on every number and was raking in the chips. If I coulda hit one more, we'd have been rich! Alas, it was not to be. Though I wiped out the blackjack losses from earlier.

It was now past 4 in the ayem and the day finally came to an end. Well, after the wife and I had breakfast. I set my alarm to get in some football bets in the morning and by the time I finished brushing my teeth, she was out. But she was smiling.

Next: Sunday in the Sportsbook, Tourney Cashes and Random summations from an unforgetable weekend. And then I'm done. Finished, I tell you. Kaput.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Red Dawn

I'm still reeling from Vegas. I haven't had more than four hours sleep per night since I returned and, oddly, only one can be attributed to a poker bender. Saturday night, I stayed up until 4:30 a.m. to watch Liverpool dominate Sao Paolo for 85 of the 90 minutes, only to lose 1-0 in the FIFA World Club Championship. It was a travesty. The Reds had 3 goals pulled back, two of which were definitely in the "dicey" range. They had 17 corners to the Brazilians' zero. My frustration kept me awake another hour after the final whistle.

Friday night, Daddy and I united our respective drunks and took some cash to a 3/6 6-max table in the wee hours. Good Lord. Those tables are where brain cells go to die, which put us in unique postion to exploit our opponents. We chatted the entire time, trying to tilt the revolving door of donkeys. I don't know if it worked, but after we adapted to the nature of play, we ended up not losing (I ended up $3; Daddy about $25). I was stuck $85 at one point, mainly because I flopped top two with ATo and gave a bunch of chips away to a flopped set of 9s. First time that particular jackass had a hand all night. Within twenty minutes, I had gotten it all back from said jackass. I had the bright idea that playing those tables might assist with some holes in my tournament game, namely the occassional lack of aggression and post-flop play against random hands. Don't know if it translates, but there certainly is an adapatability factor that can't hurt. And I think if I can stay on my game through the swings, I can profit at that level. At the very least, it's something different and a good way to keep my (neglected) limit game somewhat respectable.

In the serendipity arena, Daddy recommended a book, which I purchased while Christmas shopping on Saturday. I cracked it yesterday and made it as far as page three before I had to put it down. It's the weirdest thing.

It's a curious reflection: What are most people afraid of? Of doing something new, saying a new word of their own that hasn't been said before--that's what sccares them the most. But I'm rambling. That's why I never do anything--because I ramble on to myself like that. Or perhaps it's the other way round; I ramble because I never do anything.

If you've read my latest story in Truckin', you'll notice the above thoughts are eerily synched up with the narrator. The Truckin' story is a psuedo excerpt from the novel I'm writing. It's the same narrator, though that episode doesn't occur, and I initially wrote the story to try to get in touch with the character before beginning the novel. I was not sure I'd REALLY gotten in touch with him yet. Until I read the above.

So, I've only finished 3 pages of the book Daddy recommended, but I wrote like ten of my own. And that's partly why I was up late last night. That and laundering underwear.

More trip report? I know they're around here somewhere. Just can't seem to channel them.


Finally got into the Christmas spirit this weekend. Shopping for four-year-olds will do it every time. I can channel my inner kid pretty easily and made several impulse buys, a couple of which made the dear and patient wife roll her eyes. She and I also got an early gift from my forgetful mother who bought PSPs for my two teen-aged nephews. Of course, she did the same thing last year. I suggested she get them new laptops instead, since I'll be due for an upgrade in a year's time.


The LA Poker Classic at Commerce Casino is a little over a month away. I'm definitely gonna play a preliminary event and, if I can grab another big tourney cash (or six) in the next couple months, I'll play some super sats for the Main Event. The cash games promise to be juicy as well. They were last year. And I suspect Murderer's Row will be out in force.

Book your tickets now.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Gonna take a little pause in the trip reports for a few reasons. I have much more to document (no shit, ya long-winded motherfucker), but probably won't start getting it down until after the weekend.

Primarily because I picked up my novel again last night. I'd set it completely aside since the end of November, a typical method of mine. I've thought about it a lot, though, and the direction it's going, aided by some important coversations this past weekend with Human Head and Pauly. I plunged back into it last night and got all fired up, to the tune of about 4 hours sleep. I'm gonna hit it hard this weekend, too, and I'm loathe to let the trip reports sap my energy/muse.

I also am way behind on Christmas shopping, so much of the daytime hours this weekend will be spent fighting the crowds and my own impatient nature.

I did play some poker this week. Interesting, it was. I finished 12th in the FT $8K Guaranteed on Tuesday night. It was quite possibly the most boring three hours of my life, finish and payday notwithstanding. Gawd. A serious contrast to the previous weekend. I was a) sober b) alone and c) not at all challenged by the field. So I may get drunk, IM every last one of ya and play a large buy-in tourney this weekend, if I can find the time.

I am very much enjoying others' takes on the weekend. You folks are hilarious. Before I take this short sabbatical, I must, once again, thank Bill, Prof, HDouble, Otis and all the supporters at Stars and Full Tilt for a wonderful event. Your hard work is appreciated amidst all the tomfoolery.

I'd also like to say how happily overwhelmed the dear and patient wife was with the people and experience. I asked her to do a guest post, but she's not the extroverted giddiot that I am, so she simply told me to pass along her thanks. She had so many nice things to say about people and we spent the whole trip home re-hashing some of the high points. So many times I tried to explain to her how special this group is, how welcoming and entertaining, but it's difficult to convey the depth of camaraderie until one experiences it. Suffice to say, she felt the full weight of fellowship. She hated to hear me talk about what a great time she was going to have, didn't want me to raise her expectations to an improbable level and leave her ultimately dissapointed. What she found out was that there was no way I could over-sell the bloggers, for you all exceed standards every time out.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Photographic Evidence

Courtesy of fhwrdh

When my wife saw the next picture, the following conversation took place:

Dear and Patient Wife: (Mockingly) You look so happy!
Me: I was giddy.
Dear and Patient Wife: You're an idiot.
Me: I'm a giddiot.

Courtesy of Bill Rini

Off The Mark

I got into town about 11 on Thursday night after a leisurely shot thru the desert. Al called for a dial-a-shot during the journey and asked me if I was near a bar. "No," I said. "But I'm just outside of BAR-stow." I slay me.

He said folks were headed to the MGM as soon as they got a nice drunk on in his penthouse suite. I upped the cruise control to 95.

Check-in was painless, but in my haste, I forgot to request a room on a low floor. Since I am both mildly claustrophobic and acrophobic, I generally try to avoid high places and long elevator rides. Naturally, the ONE TIME I forget, I get the 18th floor (of 19) in a hotel where the elevators stop on EVERY FLOOR in both directions. But, aside from the faint smell of chili dogs in my room, I have no complaints with the IP.

I hustled over to the MGM, first verifying with The Princess that this was indeed where all the cool kids were hanging out. I spied a few faces, all of them in serious poker action. I hovered behind The Rooster while he was in a hand at an NL table, checking it down. "That's power poker," I whispered as he raked the pot with his pocket 8s.

According to the Minnesota Chapter, G-Vegas was over at Excalibur, so drizz, Chad and I headed over there, stopping at Sherwood Forest for birthday shots of tequila before taking a seat at a 1/3 NL table with BadBlood, CJ and, over there in the 4s, confident smirk on his face, The Mark.

I have read with great interest and fascination the write-ups of the various G-Vegas home games. They seem a lot like Murderer's Row, raucous but serious, drunken but literate, action-packed but still played at a high level. So I knew The Mark. And I had a good idea what I was in for. He did not take long to authenticate his reputation.

Second hand I'm dealt is AQo and I raise to 10. The Mark comes over the top for 20 more. I can't lay down--show weakness--this early, so I call, figuring I'm behind. But the flop comes Q-high with two spades. "Wanna check it down?" asks The Mark, stridently. "Nope," I say, and bet 50. "Okay," he calls. Turn is the third spade and I sigh and check. The Mark barely hesitates before shoving in enough to put me all in. "You can't call that," he says.

I can't. Two hands. Eighty bucks to The Mark. I tighten it up after that, not wanting to get myself into an all-out pissing match, which is not at all my style. The way to counteract aggressiveness is to trap and I eventually got my chance.

In the meantime, everyone at the table is buying shots for drizz. We're catching up and it's plain that The Mark is a great guy. He's needling me a little, good-naturedly, and I come right back at him in the same spirit. Goddamn I missed you guys. At some point, we're joined by Otis and Dr. Chako, the former responsible for the only hand I (obviously) played poorly all weekend, the latter tripled up in short order with a serious run of big pockets.

I was treading water, basically, folding and talking and laughing, when I picked up queens. I raised and The Mark called. The flop brought me a set and I underbet the pot. The Mark, sensing blood in the water, pushed me all in. I called before he even got his chips out. "Wanna see 'em?" I said. "They're pretty," tossing the ladies face up. The Mark had outs (a gutshot, I believe), but he missed 'em and I was back near even.

I have found recently that the underbet is an awesome force against aggressive players. You don't want to do it too often, especially when there are obvious draws on the board or if your hand is vulnerable, because you'll give folks odds to call and make their hand. But in the right spots, it's a weapon.

I had a similar hand/situation on the Sunday MGM tourney. I had let a villain bet me out of a couple pots earlier. He was pretty aggressive in position. Then I got AQo in the BB and called his CO raise. Flop came Q-high and I bet 600 into a 2200 pot. (Pauly happened to be standing behind me at that moment and later told me his first thought was, "What a pussy bet"). The villain did as planned and shoved his remaining 3K into the pot with...uh...unimproved AJ. Thank you, sir.

ANYWAY, where was I? Oh, fucking Otis. He raised and I re-raised with Queens. He called and bet out nearly the pot on an Axx flop. I folded my queens face up. He showed me his tens. As I said, only bad hand I (obviously) played all weekend. But, then again, Otis is better than I am. I lost another substantial pot in there somewhere. I wouldn't remember it at all if it wasn't for the fact I know I was down to $40 and re-bought for another hundy. Soon enough, I picked up KK UTG and limped.

Yes, you heard that right, I limped. Blood helped me out by raising to 15 and I smooth called. Flop was ragged with a 9 and two spades and again I underbet the pot (becoming rather predictable, isn't it?). Blood pushed--he had about $70--and I called. He showed A9 of spades for 14 outs twice which is exactly the kind of mess one can get in when slowplaying Kings. But as a microcosm of the way the cards treated Blood all weekend, none of his outs materialized and I was back up to a respectable stack.

The Mark had been doing a lot of folding (so you know his cards were shit) and was itching for more action. He persuaded the floor to spread an O8 game--a no-limit O8 game--which was my cue to rack up (down $60) and head to the craps table.

But first, one more thing happened during the session. Pauly and Derek showed, straight from the airport, and greeted everyone at the table. As they walked away to further introductions, the guy on my left said to me, "So, you guys are all bloggers?" Stunned, I could only muster a "Huh?"

"That was Dr. Pauly, wasn't it?" he said. Heh. Sonofagun is world-wide. Spotted by a random guy--Matt from Lima, Ohio. Matt turned out to be a nice guy and darn good player, though perhaps he had some insight into the manner of blogger play as he'd sit back and snap off our donkey aggression with big pockets. I figure he was up about $300-$400 when the game broke.

I couldn't get anyone to roll dice with me, though I did have visits from Otis, Dr. Jeff, Bill and Mike. In retrospect, I think it was less to see how I was doin' than to get a closer look at the two smokin' Texas blondes on my right. That's okay. No offense taken. The table was cold from the outset and I'd run my $200 into about $40 when I got the dice. I rolled a couple points and a passable amount of numbers to get me back in fighting shape. Then this bookish Asian kid went off on a 30-minute throwing jag that netted me close to a couple hundred. I walked away after that, up $75 after dealer tokes.

I heard the unmistakable rumble of a Pai Gow session and followed the bruhaha to find Otis, CJ, Princess, April, drizz and Gamecock. Otis tried to goad me into playing, but I never win at Pai Gow. But when I took a a $25 prop bet off him (I bet Heather's hand would beat his), I sat down. Least I could do. I dropped a few bets ($50 worth), but had fun anyway, especially seeing the glee in Otis's face when holding a Salty Dog. Alas, it was now past 6 in the ayem, meaning I'd passed the 24-hours without sleep barrier and I trudged off into the night, exhausted and chuckling to myself.

Made a brief stop at the IP where Murderer's Row had comandeered a blackjack table in the Champagne Pit. I never exactly found out what that was supposed to mean, but it's nothing like the Champagne Room, I've been assured. Despite a great desire to pull up a seat, my brain stem was in the process of shutting down, so I was forced to demure.


It was my idea to get a bunch of bloggers to play the noon tourney at the Aladdin on Friday morning. Were this not the case, there is no way I would have left bed to get there in time. When I woke after four hours of sleep (yes, I set my alarm), my head was sheathed in a skull cap of pain. Every square fucking inch throbbed. I fumbled my way into the bathroom in search of water and extra strength Excedrin.

I perked up a bit when I got downstairs because of one of my favorite occurances during these blogger get-togethers: random sightings. I saw Al standing in the taxi line, headed for the O8 tourney at The Orleans. After he'd gone, Iggy, Chilly and StB literally fell out of a cab, finally making it home (at 11:30 a.m.) from the Excalibur. Iggy hung out and smoked with me while I waited in line. I was pleased to get a chance to talk at length with him over the course of the weekend, something I missed out on the first time. He doesn't like to hear it, but I am not lucky enough to experience these weekends if it wasn't for Iggy. And for that, I am eminently and forver grateful.

I hopped in a cab, but it was hijacked by three thugs before we could get moving. Yes, Blood, CJ and The Mark piled in, also headed to the Aladdin for the tourney. Here we go again.

Bloggers (and their brethren) comprised nearly 10% of the field of 93 as us four were joined by Dr. Jeff, Otis, Gamecock, fhwrdh (who brought along his lovely wife facty who was every bit as wonderful as I long suspected), Poker Nerd and Whiskeytown. I played well, finishing 14th. Down to three tables, The Mark and I--the only two bloggerati remaining--were briefly seated together (him on my immediate right, where I like him) and made a last longer bet that never materialized since we were eliminated at roughly the same time on different tables and didn't have accurate chip counts. I finished either 14th or 15th, just off the 9 that got paid and was pretty happy with my performance. Though the guy that busted me (I lost a race) also took out an entire family (Jeff and Otis) on a single hand. A highlight was watching The Mark make a boat and pull some extra chips out of author and WPBT attendee Michael Craig, who nevertheless out-lasted both of us.

While most of the early bust-outs got into a cash game, I again demured. Though my head had stopped being so pissed off at me, I was going on 20 hours without food and the IP called for nap time. I'm glad I listened or I might missed Friday night, which you may or may not have heard about already.

Next: The WPBT...or How F-Train Crushed My Soul AND This Big Blind is Brought to You Courtesy of G-Rob

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Legends of the Fall

We're still at the MGM on Friday night, though the sequence of events is hardly chronological. Think of it as Pulp Fiction-esque, minus the cursing and stilted dialogue.

I met the Card Squad that night. First up was my second-favorite Canuck (sorry Joanne, Luc Robitaille is still Number One) and, though I can't recall it with any clarity, I must have belted out a screeching chorus of Joooooo-AN-A-DA at some point.

Later, I took my drunk ass over to a certain 1/2 NL table and tapped a certain Wil Wheaton on the shoulder. I tarried but briefly, partly because I was a little self-conscious, partly because Paul Phillips was there and I didn't want him making fun of my flowery metrosexual shirt and partly because Wil was in a game and I was just standing there, semi-tongue-tied like a big Gork (half Geek/half-Dork). Regardless, he was as gracious and complimentary in person as he has been previously toward this foolish little corner of the Intarweb. I left, allowing him to continue crushing the table, though I did get a chance to talk to him in some greater length at other points of the trip. I think I made an impression. Or rather, I think my wife did.

I had met Derek in June, of course, but was pleased to spend a bit more time in his company this time around. There may have been laughing and his fetish for $500 chips was uncovered.

As mentioned, most of the evening, I was 'round the corner at the bar. I like that bar. It's where I first met most of the bloggers six months ago. They have Newcastle. The bartenders are quick with service and tolerant of the bloggers' desire to tilt most everyone. Some were serenaded, some were flattered, all were engaged at levels to which they are probably unaccostomed and performed admirably. Maybe because, tilt efforts aside, bloggers tip like motherfuckers.

At one point, I was standing there with Chad, across from--and facing--the bar. TrumpJosh, whom I'd met earlier and had filled me in on the meaning and origin of "Slainthe" (Gaelic for "cheers") was talking to Rini. When all of a sudden...

People falling is funny. America's Home videos has been on...what?...15 years. But on that show, you see the set up and you know what's coming. Uh oh. It's a pinata! Someones gonna catch one in the junk! In the case of Josh, there was no warning. One minute, he was there, his left elbow leaning on the bar. The next, his feet were above his head. When his legs went out from under him, he grabbed at the bar with his free hand, but missed, the attempt only serving to put him more off balance. With his other hand, he cradled his beer. His full pint of beer. Impressively, he managed to hold onto it, saving a shattered glass cleanup on Aisle 4. More impressively, he managed to throw 12 of the 16 ounces right into his own mug.

There's that beat after something like this happens. Uh, what's the protocol here? That was the funniest thing I've seen in my entire life, but...uh...maybe he's hurt. I stepped to give him a hand back up, getting there late, as his feet where already under him. He was embarassed, but provided insight anyway,

"I just fell and threw my beer in my own face."

Aaaaaaaaaaand...there it is. Chad and I doubled over immediately. There was no way to stop it. I'm aware this is quite possibly one of those "had to be there" moments. But let me try to illlustrate Just. How. Funny. it was.

The next morning, I found Chad and drizz in the IP casino. I took one look at the former and said, "Dude, the first thing I thought of this morning was Josh falling and I started laughing all over again." Not only did Chad confess to doing the exact same thing, but we then proceeded to laugh uncontrollably about it AGAIN. It would not be the last time either. So, for this trip, Otis was definitely off the hook.


Well, now that I've confirmed what an insensitive jackass I am by telling tales on Josh, I'll tell one on myself, which, thus far, has only been heard by the dear and patient wife. You might even say it was a bit of karma.

That same night, Otis, Mike and I moseyed on over to play some craps. I was still riding high, Phil Gordon's money in my pocket, so I bought in for $200 at a $10 minimum table, higher than my usual stakes. It wasn't half bad to start, but the end came quickly. Like three immediate seven-outs in a row to decimate the chips we'd protected so fondly.

However, somewhere in the middle there, a guy rolled for a substantial amount of time. He wasn't paying off my numbers often enough to get me unstuck, but he wasn't crapping out, either. The problem was, I had to pee. Bad.

I may have the world's smallest bladder. Especially when drinking. Twenty minutes between pit stops. Tops. The longer this guy rolled, the closer I got to having a serious accident. I was moving around uncomfortably, trying to stem the flow. I manipulated myself. I leaned against the padded railing, trying to cut off all leakage. Still, the roll went on interminably.

When it ended, with me not substantially richer, I was off like a shot. And here's where I'd like to throw out a hearty "F U!" to the MGM and their architects for having the nearest bathroom sitting on the other side of 80 yards of slow-walking geriatrics. Jesus. This is one of the bigggest casinos around and they have like two rest rooms. The WSOP set up at the Rio was better than this.

Well, I got there. Barely. I thrust myself toward a urinal and unzipped, the presence of porcelein starting my process. But I couldn't find it. No, not that. I couldn't find the easy access hole in my Hanes boxer briefs. And the train had begun to sail, if you catch my drift.

I didn't panic, but I wasn't swift enough, either. By the time I sprung free, I'd say 3 ounces had already found their way into my underpants. It was funny. And humiliating. Knowing I'd have to take steps, I unbuckled my belt and pants button, which aided in a quick chicken walk to a stall once I'd managed to wrap up my business. Working hurriedly, I got my shoes and pants off and descarded my skivvies, not too much the worse for wear. My pants took only a small hit, which was covered by my untucked shirt. I needed to pat myself dry, but otherwise, I came out of it pretty well, though, probably the next afternoon, a poor MGM janitor found my soiled shorts stuffed in his toilet paper dispenser.

AND THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how I ended up going commando at the MGM on Friday night.

Next up: Jousting with The Mark and Matt from Lima, Ohio

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tiltboys: The Lost Episode

Update: Before reading this, you might want to check out F-Train's excellent prologue of the event.

I didn't play a single hand of poker on Friday night at the MGM. Not to say I wasn't in the mood to gamble. Hell, I tried to match Daddy drink for drink for a while there. That's gambling. Sweet, sweet Newcastle.

I showed right at 8 and table-hopped the room, greeting old faces and encountering new ones, such as fellow baseball geek DonkeyPuncher, Jaxia, Colombo, TrumpJosh and Falstaff. Oh, you'll be hearing from/about those kids later.

Soon enough, a big bear of a man appeared saying, "Let's just get this over with. I'm Daddy," which was the prelude to a fantastic night spent at the bar behind the poker room. I can't tell you how much I'd been looking forward to meeting the man after admiring his writing (and commentary) all these months. I was not disappointed. The conversation was wide-ranging and hilarious, even, dare I say, deep. It was my sincere pleasure.

The first bet I made was on a featherweight title bout. Word filtered down that F-Train was a bit of a Roshambo hustler. It smelled like a challenge. Or perhaps that was bacon. Regardless, since I personally suck at the game (AJ routinely beats me), I had to find someone to stand in my stead. Mrs. Head filled the bill.

I met Mrs. Head (and I'm going to call her 'R' from now on in the interest of anonymity and the fact that going through blog life as Mrs. Head is not an albatross I would wish on my worst enemy) in June and within 15 minutes she had taken her rightful place on my list of "Favorite People in the World." Delightful, fearless and, as they say, easy on the eyes. She stepped up, confident smile on her lips, steel and moxy in her gaze. She dispatched Train. Ruthlessly. And Iggy paid me ten bucks.

Somewhere between stupid drunk and really stupid drunk, I got the bright idea she should take on Phil Gordon. The Big Lug was holding court in the poker room, on Mega-Tilt, according to my sources, but still...this is Phil Gordon, Tiltboy, Master of the Black Art of Roshambo and Angle-Shoooter extraordinare. If R had any fear, it never showed. Armed with my fresh hundy, and another from her supportive hubby, she tapped Gordon on the shoulder.

He unfolded out of his chair, rising to his spectacular height. I found him more handsome in person, though I'm sorry to report to the ladies that he had freakishly small hands and feet. Still, he cut an impressive figure, his royal blue shirt the color of a perfect summer day.

Upon accepting the challenge, he immediately began to size up R. He firmly laid down the rules (one, two, shoot), attempting to plant his flag in the terrain (that's not a euphemism, people; it's a metaphor). He angled for best 3 of 5, hoping for a longer contest and better read. "No," our heroine stated, never batting an eyelash. "Two out of three."

The money was on the table. The poker room went quiet. They split the first two, random people rising and crowding around. It was drama. Pure and simple. Then, the deciding hand:

One. Two. Rock.

And rock.

One. Two. Rock

And rock.

One. Two. Rock.

Gordon goes with three straight rocks, a Level 12 play right out of Super System 2. There are only a handful of people in the world who can make that play, people. Fewer still who can beat it. Seeing it, the crowd let out a collective gasp, slowly turning their eyes and attention to R. It was only a second, but the tension made it seem like a lifetime.


Every time I replay this moment, the phrase "and the room exploded" comes to mind. I'm willing to concede that is perhaps an embellishment on my part. I am certain that I let out a massive "Whoop!" which was my first real exhale since the contest started. I know I wrapped her in a hug of jubilation and danced a giddy little jig while stacking my green chips, chips I graciously let April touch later as a peace offering, considering her titled state after she found out her intended was in the poker room and not a single one of us drunken ding dongs gave her a call.

I know I spent the next two hours on a gambling high of epic proportions and the next three days triumphantly re-telling the tale. Because it was, quite literally, the greatest gambling moment of my life.

Phil was gracious in defeat, though as he sat down, he said, "Don't blog this." Sorry Phil. You lose again.

Back to Front

Let's begin at The End, shall we?

I had promised the dear and patient wife a nice dinner on Sunday night. She'd spent the day at the spa while I attempted to drink the Mandalay Bay sportsbook out of vodka. I was having a great time, betting the ponies and hanging around with the group, when The Bracelet ("I've been here an hour and I haven't bet on anything yet!") convinced me to parlay my pony winnings at the blackjack table. A half hour later, I was stuck $220, bringing my losses at that evil fucking game to about $500 for the trip.

And I was pissed.

With the crowd headed over to the MGM, I said, "Good. Let's play some poker. I gotta get my money back."

What I didn't know was that a tourney was starting forthwith. And, in a fit of forgetfulness and blackjack-induced tilt, I signed up. It wasn't until an hour or so in when the dear and patient wife called as to my whereabouts that I realized that nice dinner wasn't gonna be possible if I went deep in the tourney.

I went deep in the tourney. Fourth place, to be exact, for a $920 payday. In addition, I cross-booked 10% with CJ once we got down to two tables and, not surprisingly, he won the thing. When CJ offers you 10% late in a tourney, I suggest you take it.

Thanks to the payday, and the company of the various bloggers sweating the tourney, the wife was appeased. She, in fact, had an excellent time hanging at the bar with everyone while I played. I am grateful to you all.

We eventually did eat, though beef fajitas wasn't exactly what she had in mind. From there, we headed up to Al's posh penthouse digs for a couple more hours of continued drinking and conversation before I blacked out. And that, friends, is what it is really all about. I have stories, big stories, funny stories, that I hope to do justice to in the coming days. Vegas is all about the flash and glitz, being ostentatious. But these blogger weekends are just as notable for their small details, simple but priceless moments shared with good friends. I made a promise to myself that I would play less poker this time around, freeing myself up for precisely this kind of experience. I did just that and was rewarded in countless ways. Not the least of which is that the dear and patient wife got to encounter everything and everyone I've gone on about over the last year. So, most of you have a new reader.

The tourney cash was great, wiping out all my blackjack losses and then some. But I would be hard-pressed to say I got any more joy out of that than I did from taking another dollar off G-Rob on wheel spin prop bets at the Excalibur. Because the latter is still making me laugh.

I don't see myself stopping any time soon.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Too Hungover to Blog

I wandered into the Mandalay Bay sportsbook, a little dazed from lack of sleep. A motley crew of bloggers (redundant) had taken up a row in the horse racing section, watching first quarter football and dropping the odd bet on the ponies.

"Joe," they said, collectively. "You've gotta bet on this horse."
"Why?" I asked.
"Look at the name."


Let the record show there was a mini-riot when he crossed in front. And I'll give you one guess which blogger also cashed the $190 exacta, an exacta he only bet after one of his horses was scratched at the gate. Think Luckbox.

It was, as expected, a fabulous weekend. More fun than anyone should be allowed. I was so happy to see everyone, to have them meet the dear and patient wife, to get to know and play with some new faces.

But there was plenty of the unexpected as well. Raking $200 on the ponies, prop bets with G-Rob and Phil Gordon, Otis not falling but TrumpJosh falling in such spectacular fashion as to keep us laughing about it for three days afterwards, my first live Final Table and dozens of other incidents, nearly all of them legal.

I'm a little too fuzzy to get much of it out now, but I'll give it an effort in the coming days. For now, I'll settle for this and a huge thanks to everyone for another unforgettable trip.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What To Do, What To Do

I seem to have emerged victorious over the germs which inconveniently assaulted me the past two days. Got a few turnovers in the backcourt from my defensive specialist zinc and Vitamin C drained a couple key treys. As such, the team bus will be leaving tonight for Vegas, instead of in the morning. A shootaround is tentatively scheduled for 11 p.m. at the IP. I will be calling all of you from the road to ascertain your whereabouts and to make you entertain me during the monotonous drive through the desert.

Gonna be a long day. A bunch of folks out there already, others on their way, which means blog reading is thin this morning. Damn you all. How the fuck am I supposed to fill an 8-hour work day? No, work is not a valid suggestion.

Played a little Omaha with the boy last night. Got stuck almost immediately, but then came back to break him, prompting this admonition from the dear and patient wife, "Flopping the nuts against your four-year-old is nothing to be proud of."

My WPBT tourney bounty is...well...I'm not going to tell you, but it's been mentioned here recently and it's the funniest thing I've ever seen/heard that is not a comment or post from Daddy.

T-minus 14 hours.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Cough It Up

Trying to hold onto a thought right now is like trying to catch dandelions in a tornado. Jebus. I went to bed early last night because I've got the beginnings of a cold on my hand (scratchy throat, projectiles of mucus) and figured it would be one of my last chances for actual rest. I laid there at least 4 hours, my brain hopping from one topic to one topic. Yes, it was all aspects of a single topic. Wanna guess?

So, I'm mainlining zinc tablets, have a 64 oz. bottle of OJ on my desk and am calling around Vegas to see which casino serves the best hot spiced rum. If I can't beat this thing back in the next 24 hours, I will probably delay my arrival until Friday morning, instead of lighting out straight from work Thursday night. The extra twelve hours of sobriety and that one last slumber could be all the difference.

Regardless, I was in full planning mode last evening, punching in dozens of cell phone numbers, doing laundry and creating a three-and-a-half-hour long playlist for the drive out. I bought myself an iTrip this weekend (what? I'm the only person who buys stuff for himself when Christmas shopping?) and crafted a masterpiece, paying careful attention to having the songs come on at the appropriate times, like, say, Mark Lanegan's "Driving Death Valley Blues" when I hit Baker. And "Sin City" by AC/DC dawning when I round that last curve. Yes, I spend copious amounts of time figuring these things out.

Speaking of copious amounts of time, Chelsea hasn't scored on Liverpool in the Champions League over four legs--six hours worth of play. That's gettin' to Peter Crouch territory. The Reds top the group, despite little to no attacking flair, but with a defense sporting five straight CL clean sheets. Boring? Perhaps. Effective? Yes. Who am I to question Rafa and the Champions of Europe? Would it be too much to ask for Rangers in the first knockout round?

Speaking of draws, World Cup draw is this Friday circa 12:15 p.m. Vegas time. US just missed out on a seeding. That's probably a fair result and obvious when you realize the rankings take the 1998 World Cup into account, an abyssmal, Steve Sampson-led (3-6-1?) performance in which the Nats finished DEAD LAST while also losing to Iran, a game I watched at...wait for it....Excalibur. It all comes back around, don't it?

The way the pots are organized, the US could be in for a tough time, since they're grouped with arguably the weakest bunch (Asia and the rest of CONCACAF). What is certain is that they'll get a Euro team, a #1 seed and odds are, an African nation (the other possibilities are Australia and the two "weakest" South American teams). Depending on how those balls fall, they could be in for it. It's safe to say they won't get a soft group, not the way it stacks up.

Speaking of soft, have I mentioned lately how much I love the Full Tilt tourneys? About two months ago, I was a little stressed out. After withdrawing a Vegas bankroll, I was left with slightly less than four figures in my online accounts. I hadn't been that low in a long time. Jason and I were discussing it one night, about how I saw Vegas as a deadline, a short-term finish line by which I needed to build bankroll. He rightly pointed out that was the wrong way to think, everything's long-term in this game, but it nagged at me nonetheless. Then I finally took Hank's advice. He had told me several times, "The tournaments at Full Tilt are really soft." I put $350 in on Oct. 15. After taking out an extra chunk for Vegas this week (me=drunken sailor), I have nearly $5K in there. Yowzaa. Hank also said, this past Friday in fact, "You're gonna hit a big win in one of those things soon."

The lesson, as always, listen to everything Hank says.

One more word about the Spaceman. He has watched over my cyber-shoulder many, many times in these tourneys and is a great help, whether confirming my decisions or questioning them. Quite honestly, there is no way I win that Sunday tournament without his counsel. I'm very appreciative, buddy. The down side is if I get seated with him for the WPBT since he pretty reliably put me on hands all night long.

Oh well, at least he's on my team.

See y'all soon.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

'Twas the Night before Vegas

Twas the Night Before Vegas, when all through the 'sphere
Degenerates were stirring, the day's finally here
The Bracelet is hung, thrice confirmed says the tale,
he hopes to make quads, telling girls he's a whale
Otis was nestled, all snug in his bed
while hammers and Pai-Gows danced in his head
Gracie in her kerchief and Hank in his cap
hunched over the abacus, figuring math
When deep in the desert, there arose such a clatter
Dings and bells, a nine-dollar steak platter
Into McCarron they flew like a flash
Tore open their wallets and pulled out their stash
The neon sparkled like a huge growing pot
Mr. Subliminal shifted on his state-sponsored cot
When what to their wondering eyes should appear
a dwarf, with a Guinness, who grinned ear to ear
He rode on the back of a donkey named Laddy
an ass who got twitchy when she turned to see Daddy
The doors opened up, the carousers they came
and Chairman Bill Rini called them all out by name
Now Absinthe, Now Wheaton, Now Sundance and EZ
On ephro, On Glyphic, On F-Train and BG
To the tables they go, poker sirens they call
now bet away, raise away, bluff away all
And then, in a twinkling, cards in their hands
a convergence of genius from far away lands
I raised with the Hammer, it was folded around
When into the fray AlCantHang came with a bound
With a tray full of shot glasses, 3 dozen at least
all filled to the brim, an amber-tinged feast
A bottle or four were slung on his back
and Big Mike and Eva carried more in a sack
Mean Gene raised a glass, to the Steelers and State
Chad responded "Skol Vikings, Brad Johnson is great!"
BadBlood was flexing, throwing goats and a chair
The Prof ducked in time, never mussing his hair
Maudie wasn't so lucky, hard metal on skull
The Princess raised often, her winning gets dull
Joanne and Travis walked around saying "eh?"
The Poker Geek's girlfriend taught him how to play
Franklin and facty traded one-liners like Pryor
EV had to re-buy, 'cause drizz's stack was higher
Grub took a bad beat, change100 got high
Spaceman did too, visions of Krispy Kreme in his eye
Pauly was re-charged, though his aces were cracked
but he did spin the wheel right before Derek yakked.
on_thg with his goddamn four syllables
spied an Omatard and got ready to gamb0000l
Chilly and Marty brought news from St. Lou,
"CJ's a luckbox and G-Rob is too"
The Aprils were fawning, Phil Gordon was near
The Rooster protested, said "Stud is right here"
StB hit the bar, drank straight from the tap
The Venetian panned "Gigli," said "J-Lo is crap"
Human Head started to bobble, his eyes getting glassy
"Thuder Down Under," he said, "Man, that show's classy."
Shelly was junk-kicking, Alan just straddled
The Donkey Puncher was way SoCo addled
The party wound down, off for sleep and a shower
The tournament starts in just over an hour
And all you first timers, from Cali to Maine
I'll take notes this weekend, for when I do this again.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Today was supposed to be a good day. It's not.

I read about Pauly's grandmother. Then I heard that a co-worker, a colleague of mine for more than 15 years, died over the weekend. She was a whip-smart woman, far too young, who did a lot for me over the years to advance my career. I, and all my co-workers will miss her dearly.

I've had trouble filling this space lately. Part of it was a full-on writing hangover from my NaNo sprint. Part of it was the rigors of the season, getting to those myriad tasks and details I neglected over the past month. But the biggest part that I couldn't find anything to matter.

Last Monday, I got a call from a friend, a former co-worker who was my partner in crime on the job at a time when things weren't really going all that well for either of us. It was a shit gig, completely devoid of critical thinking, full of mindless repetition. But he made the nights go by easier with his humor and his mania.

He went to the hospital last weekend with a "splitting headache," which turned out to be a brain tumor. He was immediately rushed into surgery, which was successful. He's facing some radiation treatments, but, as of this writing, he's expected to recover fully, great news for he and his family, including his one-year old daughter.

Another friend, a man who has enriched my life in countless ways, who is responsible for nearly every one of my memorable experiences in the last 10 years, is preparing to have open-heart surgery in a couple weeks. He has been, quite literally, a father figure to me, talented, selfless and tireless. I owe him so much. And I pray he will be well.

This is the part where I remind everyone what's really important in life, but, knowing my readers, that's unnecessary. But maybe I need to remind myself to make that effort to give to others, the way these people have given to me. You don't get anywhere in life without the love and support of friends and family. And it's no fun going anywhere, if you can't bring others along, share your knowledge and friendship and love and laughter.

I'm going to see my grandparents in St. Louis next month. They're in their 80s and are celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary. You ask them about their lives, ask them their accomplishments and they always say, "look around you." It's their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren, each of us a part of them, infused with their wisdom and nature. Their time is short. But they'll never really leave us. Not as long as their memory remains. To be cherished, to be shared and, most of all, to serve as a reminder of how to live.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

It Is So On

We chopped 3-handed. $3K each and winner got the extra $480. That would be me.

I will have more to say, but it's late and, well, I'm retarded.

But a quick thanks to my railbirds--Jason, Heather, Alan, facty and April--who will receive their due in the morning.

I got the first round, kids.