Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Hero Returns

No, not me. See bottom.

I'm back. No big pronouncement. No news. Hell, no optimism. But I'm back. Because I miss being here and if everything comes out a little cynical right now--as much as I hate that--so be it.

First, group hug. My sincere appreciation to all of you who reached out--both poker friends and non. Even more to those whom I burdened with my issues, ruining large chunks of their weekend evenings being forced to listen to my drivel. I'm grateful for your insight and lucky for your support. And if you can find a slot in your nightly prayers for me, I'll be indebted.

No, I'm not dead or dying. Though it sometimes feels like it.

Anyway, enough.


I played the $540 NLHE event last Thursday at Commerce. It was an uneventful three and a half hours during which I folded garbage hand after garbage hand and saw all of five flops. One flop I didn't see was when I held my only pocket pair of the evening, JJ, one off the button. I simply called with a raise and call in front of me, watched the button also call (sheesh) and the SB move all-in. The SB was not short, nor was he a tourist (is there a better poker word than "tourist" right now? No, there isn't). He was a good solid player who doesn't make a position steal on FOUR players. We all laid our hands down (AQs, AKo) according to the two who acted in front of me and a QQ for the SB (button preferred to remain mysterious). I showed my JJ before mucking to the guy on my right, a genial older gentleman. After the hand, he responded, "Very good control. You are not like these other kids with their push push push." I didn't have the heart to tell him I'm 38.

A few orbits later, he folded his AQs face up in the BB to my UTG raise with...uh...AJo. He said, "Anyone else, I play ace-queen there." So, I guess you could say I kinda had a table image. Folding 29 of every 30 hands pre-flop will do that for ya.

I am a little annoyed on the hand I went out on, because I will not normally play AQs that hard, but chip counts and escalating blinds dictated I make a move. I coulda done so on a hand where I could have been first in the pot however. Pushing over the top of KK? Not so much.

So, apologies to all my backers, but I did what I could with what I was dealt. And no matter what anyone tells you, I DID NOT chop a single-table satellite prior to the MTT to come out ahead for the day. Didn't happen, nor did the several pocket pairs I got at that table while I was, you know, theoretically, trying to find a rhythm for the tourney. You know what? Forget I said anything.


There WAS some good news on Friday, which I celebrated by pulling on my Liverpool jersey, working on my touchline-sniffing goal celebrations and, finally, rubbing one out to the following photo while "You'll Never Walk Alone" played quietly in the background.


No, I'm not ashamed.

He's the King of the Kop
He's the best of the lot
Robbie Fowler

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Bloggus Interruptus


Circumstances have arisen which demand my undivided attention. The blog is going dark for an undetermined while. See you on the other side.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Sum So Large My Brain Rejects It

Six. Figures.

Witness Greatness.

Murderer's Row, represent.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Leading off, Ryan has Brought The Noise (and The Funk and, quite possibly, The House) at the LA Poker Classic, making it to the final 18 of Event #1 ($330 NLHE; 1100+ entrants), resuming this evening at 7. I'm sure he will appreciate your good vibes, congratulations and expressions of awe.

Second, here is where this starts.


"You had a set," she said, after a time. It was not a question. He didn't respond, barely moved, in fact, the slow rising and falling of his chest the only perceptible motion.
"I laid down aces, you know," she continued.
"I know," he managed with a hoarse croak. She half-turned toward him, her soft breath on his neck, fingers coming to rest on his bare thigh where she began to trace shimmering lines with her nails. His skin rose and chilled at her touch.
"I'm still not going to tell you what I had," he said.
Her room was sparse, a bed, an end table and a cluttered dresser, all mere outlines in the gray dark. Regardless, he knew their meaning.
"I knew you'd be good," she said.
"You know everything."
"About you, yes."
"You think?"
"You're not hard to read, Tom. I pegged you at the bar, right?"
"So tell me more."
"I don't think so."
"Typical man. All closed off."
"Not exactly. Wary..."
"Of me?" she fairly shrieked, offended.
"Of everybody. Guarded, leery, cautious..."
"What are you, a fucking thesaurus?"
"Just enriching my word power."
That quieted her for a minute. "No small feat," he thought to himself.
"Is this a poker thing?" she asked. "Never reveal to much?"
"No. It's a me thing. Just happens to fit with poker."
"That why you got divorced?"
"Who said I was divorced?"
"You did."
"No, I didn't."
"You didn't say you weren't. At the bar."
"Are you married?"
"Why you fucker," she yelled, pushing herself up and punching him in the chest. He flinched from the blow and lifted his lids to see her face. The look there was less anger than surprise.
"Don't know as much as you thought, huh?" he asked, his mouth in a firm line.
"Get out!"
"If you say so." He pulled is legs over the side of the bed, turning his back to her.
"Why'd you come here?" she asked.
"Isn't it obvious?"
"What about your wife?" The question came out like spit.
"Maybe she's part of the reason."
"Getting back at her?"
"No," he said, reaching for his pants and tugging them on. He stood and turned to her. "It was nice to touch a woman again," he said, sighing. "To feel a little passion."
She watched him quietly as he dressed. Several times, she started to say something, but nothing seemed to fit. She lay back down, her head propped in her hand and watched him go. He opened the door and paused.
"Suited paint," he said, not turning around.
"King-Jack. Of hearts. That's what I had when I check-raised you off your aces." And closed the door behind him.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Binge and Purge

Quit being such a morose cocksucker.
--Random, and bossy, voice inside my head



I think it was New Year's Eve and The Bracelet and I were on the girlie chat device gossiping about fashion, the latest on Simpson-Lachey and basically how boys are, like, SO stupid. Anyway, as he was getting ready to wade off into the hard drinking cesspool of Amateur Night, I mentioned that he should tell all the besotted Michigan ladies that I said, "Hi."

Which is funny. Or would be if he actually went up to random people and said, "Joe Speaker says 'hi.'" And they'd look at him like all, "Who's Joe Speaker?" and he could explain, "He's that guy...you know him...can't stand to hear 'Against All Odds' by Phil Collins because it was the first song he saw on MTV when he got home that day that Kristin Waters broke his heart in 11th grade even though after that painful episode he still lent her his Scorpions 'Love at First Sting' album so she could tape it and he really has no problem listening to 'Rock You Like a Hurricane.'"

Hey, it's a unique conversation starter. I encourage everyone to try it and report back to me the results.

Speaking of openers, I was at this party in Portland, OR one time and the hosts had the greatest book in their bathroom. It was full of pick-up lines translated into many foreign languages. Not just pick-up lines, either, but sexual suggestions as well. My buddies and I pored over it for quite some time, laughing hysterically. You haven't lived until you've mastered "You fuck her, while I suck her tits" in Farsi.

ANYWAY, there was one line in the book that I adopted as my favorite pick-up line and it worked splendidly. Not so much quantity, but quality. The line is "Would you like to come live in my country?" Of the tens of thousands of women I tried it on, two (maybe three) laughed or returned anything other than a blank stare. The point is, that those two (maybe three) turned out to be highly compatible mates (for a brief time) and the rest, well, they're just stupid and it wouldn't have worked in a "It's not me, it's you" way.

From the Irony Department, no, I didn't use it on the dear and patient wife and yes, she DID come to live in my country.


The funniest response I've read to the news that horse-faced Hillary Swank and sad sack Chad Lowe were separating was, "I guess she's moving onto greener pastures."

That's gold, Jerry. Gold!


I was (have been; am) regarded as "nice." Mothers love me. I was brought up to be polite and deferential to elders. I've been known to lend out my record albums to girls who jilted me.

The fact of the matter is, I'm not that nice. Every single fucking day, I get perturbed by someone. I have no patience for ineptitude and even less for obliviousness. But I don't write about it much, because, frankly, that's Bob's terrain and he rules at it.

But April has a recent post about much the same thing, about how in an effort to remain "nice" or civil, she bottles up all that frustration which eventually boils over. I'm the same way, but the caging of my frequent disgruntlement is less a desire to be outwardly cordial than it is a personal disdain for confrontation, and really, where am I going to get by haranguing the cashier who puzzles for two minutes over somebody handing her a Kennedy Half-Dollar?

But that rabid avoidance of confrontation works against me a lot of the time, like when I REALLY need to address an issue or a someone.

There are a few people in my life right now who are going through some problems, problems not uncommon to the population at large, fixable problems with a change in attitude or behavior and my help is neither wanted nor solicited. Regardless, I should be sticking my nose right in the fucking middle of it because I love these people and I can help them and I can do so without judgment. Life is fucking hard and it'll be fucking hard even if you run away from everything, which I concede is a romantic notion, just chucking off the chains of responsibility and running free for a time, but, in the end, it won't fucking help. You'll wake up one day to the same problems. Only you'll be alone. Life is not puppy dogs and Quads Beetches! It's boring and trying and infuriating and we are all unhappy from time to time, which is exactly when we should turn to our friends and family for support instead of shutting them out and spending all that time in our own heads distorting everything until there's nothing but bleak landscape where all that is good in life can't shine.

And I think that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Preparation Ache

Seeing as I'm a week away from playing the $540 NLHE event at the L.A. Poker Classic (and planning some satellite action for other events) and considering this has been a goal of mine since LAST year when I attended the event slash AlCantHang Traveling Road Show slash Experience, I should be in a pumped up poker frame of mind.

I don't mean to worry the good folks who have purchased my various body parts, but I'm not. Couldn't be further. I'm trying to locate my gumption, but, at present, it's gone missing.

I played the $69+6 on Full Tilt last night, which is not one of my regular stops on the online tourney circuit, but I felt like I needed something different to try to shake me from my malaise. I find that when I bump up the buy-in from my standard level, I tend to concentrate a little more. It worked. Sorta. I found my proper level of aggression, jamming big raises into multi-limper pots with TT twice and coming out of it unscathed and with chips. I position re-raised a passive guy to win a small pile and my stack was above par at 4K when the first hour ended. I then succumbed to what has been my MAIN problem: Card Dead Tilt. After being card dead for a half hour, I get a suited Big Slick and re-raise an early min. raiser. The guy two to my left, after a relatively long pause, pushes in his last 3500. Folds to me and I insta-call. Because I have Big Slick. Best hand I've seen in 5 orbits. Finally I get to see a flop. He's got Jacks or something and we're racin'. Gotta play here.

Of course, I would never push over the top of a raise and re-raise with anything less than KK. And had I stopped to ponder that question, rather than be blinded by my (relatively) shiny two cards, I could have--and likely would have--folded, still had an M above 12 and not had his Rockets put me down to the felt.

The next part, I'm not so sure about. Because I wasn't pissed. I knew I played it poorly, which usually sets me mumbling and pacing for a few minutes. Last night, nothing. Is that growth? Acceptance, learn and move on? Or is it apathy?

Stay tuned.

I was pretty happy with how I'd been playing (with a couple exceptions) before leaving for St. Louis. My results weren't at all that stellar, but my decisions were rock solid. Then I came back and found a lot of non-poker shit in disarray, shit that makes the game seem worthless in the grand scheme of things. I've tried to compartmentalize, push the rest of the stuff out of my brain when I'm playing. While I've been moderately successful at that, I can't push it out the rest of the time and have therefore not had a chance to ponder my game away from the table, something I try to do as often as possible (you know, like in the blog). But, right now,it's just not as important.

Which is okay. The timing just blows.


The LAPC starts tonight and at least two of Murderer's Row's finest will be playing the $330 NLHE event. Head on over and offer your best wishes to change100 and Ryan.

Also, CJ's headed to Tunica to win that event.

You know what, typing all that DOES get me a little fired up. I think I need to go to Commerce this weekend and soak up some atmosphere. That might be the way to go.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Fucking January.

Life has got me short-stacked, dealing me a bunch of garbage and forcing me to pick and probe from a foundation of sand. As a result, I'm completely distracted, which manifested itself in a brief, but piss-poor poker session last night. At least I had the good sense to shut it down after about 90 minutes of idiocy (and was the tiniest bit impressed I managed to last into the second hour of the tourney considering my total jackasstistic attempt at playing solid poker). Writing? Forget about it.

So, in lieu of a rundown of my trials (and to stave off the commentary regarding "pussy" and "stitching up my gash"), I will jump on the backs of the proficient among you to carry me through the day.

Congrats to Blood for taking down the weekly Wheaton tourney. I had the final table up as I paid off monkeys hitting their river draws against me in the Stars $20 MTT. The Blood is Rising.

I was as big a fan of Oddjack as anybody, but its untimely demise does mean we get to read more of BG's stories, and for that I am imminently grateful. He's got a way with making the personal universal and the latest about the girl who gave him a swagger is no exception. I think we all probably experienced something similar to a certain extent. My swagger-giver was a girl named Kristina, the first "girlfriend" I had after my divorce. She was no beauty queen, but cute and fun and adventurous. She, more than any other, pulled me out of my pit of self-loathing, helped me like myself again and find some purpose in what had become an aimless existence.

Lastly, The One and Only Factgirl took down the $16K Guaranteed on Full Tilt last night. She's my hero.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sweet Lou

There were 37 of us in all, five generations emanating from my grandparents, the newest arrival (and only member of the 5th generation) making the scene just 11 days ago. My grandparents, both in their 80s, didn't know we were all going to be there, made to believe only my Mom and Uncle would be making the trek from Southern California. But there we all were, clustered by the door of the church reception room to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary when they arrived. They don't see too well any longer, so only registered our attendance one at a time as they hugged us through their tears. Not a single eye in the room got through the moment without shedding a few.

Family is a curious thing. I didn't grow up with many of my cousins--the two who live in LA being the exception--and rarely see them more than once every couple of years. We live fairly disparate lives, country versus city, hunting and fishing versus poker and writing, but when we get together, it's like we've never been apart, as if we've shared every experience.

Such is the reason you'd have found a handful of us closing down Al Hrabowsky's (The Mad Hungarian!) bar near the new Busch Stadium on Saturday night (and may or may not have found us--reports are still fuzzy--at a certain after-hours Centreville establishment that may or may not feature adult entertainment, but, if pressed, you certainly didn't hear it from me). Such is the reason you'd have found me (age 38), my uncle (age 51) and two cousins (aged 34 and 29) cowering behind the dumpster in the far reaches of the church parking lot, hiding from Grandma who'd be mortified--and none too silent about her displeasure--to see her kin smoking at church. Such is the reason you'd find a crowd of people in the garage of my cousin Dona Sue's (that's right, Dona Sue) house, telling tales on each other and throwing back St. Louis's finest ales (Bud, Bud Select, Busch) as our kids ran around in the snow, laughing and pelting each other with crude snowballs. Such is the reason you'd have found us all in Church on Sunday morning, some of us (cough*Brad*cough) still reeking of the previous evening's revelry, shooting each other knowing, smiling looks when the preacher hit a particularly appropriate note about our current condition and sinful excursions. Such is the reason you'd have found the whole crew, five generations all, crowded around a couple TVs, all of us rooting for the Steelers, simply because it's my cousin Paul's favorite team (and because Mike Vanderjagt is a dick).

Such is the reason that, despite the cold, the rigors of traveling in large groups with small children and time away from the poker machine, I immediately miss them all when I leave.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Table Change

"You're a little bit weird, aren't ya?" she said.
"Why do you say that?" he responded, surprised.
"You never talk."
"That makes me weird?" He eyed her over the top of his sunglasses, before turning back to his cards. "Maybe I'm just shy."
"Are you?"
"No. Maybe I'm just impossibly arrogant."
"Are you?"
They both folded on their action and continued.
"I've seen you here a dozen times. We've sat at the same table at least half of those..."
"Eight. And and you never even acknowledge me."
"Nothing personal."
"Are you gay?"
"Ha. Now why would you say that?"
"You get manicures."
"You never talk to me."
"I never talk to anybody."
"You never look at my boobs."
"Yes I do. Hard to miss 'em most days."
"And I'm not gay."
He pushed out a raise, getting one caller at the other end of the table. She continued to stare at him during the hand, but didn't speak. He fired again on the turn and river, mucking instantly when the final call came.
"Over-played that one," she charged.
"Can't bluff a calling station."
"Not that one anyway."
"You bite your lower lip when you're bluffing."
"You squint your eyes when you want a call."
"You get a little too drunk and bleed off chips late at night."
"You flirt too much with the old dudes and it doesn't always work." And then to the dealer. "Chips?"
"Chips on 12!" the dealer shouted. The chip runner was there instantly with a rack of reds.
"You could use a break after that hand," she said. "Let's go get a drink."
"Okay," he sighed, stacking the chips and handing two to the runner.
"You're steaming," she said as they exited the room.
"Because you played it poorly."
"I think we've established that."
"But you don't tilt when you get bad beat."
"Not usually."
"I've got a good read on you."
"I know."
They pulled up to the bar. Jack and Coke for him. Margarita (rocks, salt) for her.
"So, do you have a good read on me?" she asked.
"I do."
"Just poker?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, how come you don't put a move on me."
"Like a check-raise?" he said, smiling his first smile.
"You know what I mean."
"Never thought about it."
He chuckled and averted his gaze toward the back of the bar. She was still looking at him. He could see her in the mirror. She was attractive, for sure.
"Okay," he said, turning back to her. "You like attention. That's why you talk so much at the table. You want people to notice you. You know, somewhere in your head, that you're desirable, but you can't quite bring yourself to believe it, probably because of the way that asshole treated you. Poker is your revenge. You get a superior look on your face when you out-play one of those pretty boy punks."
"Fuck you."
"Hey, it's your game."
"You know what I know about you?"
"More revenge?"
"You make a good living, but you hate your job. Poker is your escape, from that, from the rest of your life, which you can't believe has gotten this boring. Divorced, maybe. Ignored her too much and now you regret it, but won't do anything about it. You'd rather pretend it didn't happen, that it wasn't your fault, than confront the issue and be proven right. Or wrong."
He nodded his head slightly, but didn't say anything.
"You're running away," she finished.
"Yeah, from girls who talk to much."
"Might wanna request a table change."
"Good idea."
He drained the last of his Jack and Coke, savoring the mild burn as it swam down his throat. "Play some cards?" he asked.
"Definitely," she said, sliding her glass across the bar and standing up. "You thumb your cards when you have a big pocket pair."
"You tap your right foot when you're on a draw."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Fruit of My Loins

Due to much pre-trip planning and an absence of poker play, I have drafted my four-year-old son AJ to do his second ever guest post (you can find the first right here). Take it away, son.

Daddy and I are going to St. Louis this weekend for Nana and Papa Jude's wedding anniversary. They've been married for 65 years! Mommy says she'd be in an institution if she had to spend that much time around Daddy. Papa Jude is really funny. He likes to tease and tickle me. He's REALLY old, like one hundred seventy billion! I can't wait to ask him what it was like to live when dinosaurs weren't extinct yet.

Dinosaurs are like the most awesomest thing ever. I wish I was like Nigel on the Discovery Channel and could (deep, serious voice-over) "Walk With Dinosaurs." My favorite dinosaur is Kentosaurus, 'cause it sounds like my Daddy's name. The Kentosaurus had one of the smallest brains of all dinosaurs, which makes sense. I got a mechanical dinosaur for Christmas that I named "Trudy" because it's a Trudon and no matter what Daddy says, it's a boy. I got "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" for Christmas, too, and Daddy is reading one chapter to me every night. Don't tell him, but it's boring. They've only been to Narnia like twice, that Edmund is a first-class prick and there's no stupid Lion, just a goofy Faun named Tumnus, who plays a flute. That's real cool, Dad. Flute-playing goat-people. Why don't we both put on a pair of tutus and sing show tunes? But he's really excited about reading it to me so I try to lay there like I'm paying attention when what I'm really doing is calculating how many outs I have with the nut flush draw and two overs.

Daddy says he's gonna miss poker while we're gone, though he said maybe we'll go to the boat to play a little Omaha. I rule the school at Omaha. You get four cards, did you know that? I do. And there's more action. Daddy's teaching me how to check-raise some...um...I forget the word...is it "douchebags?" I'm not sure what that is. I better ask somebody at church. People at church know everything.

Speaking of Omaha, Daddy wants me to pimp (I dunno what that means, I swear) the DADI Special Omalympics O8 tourney tonight on Stars. His busy schedule prevents him from playing. I said I could play instead, but he says four-year-olds can't play on teh Intarweb (whatever the heck that is) and that I'm a different kind of "special." Two guys named Jordan and TripJax are the masterminds behind this series of events and Daddy says they deserve both your entry and patronage.

We don't get to go to the Zoo on our trip this time, because Daddy says it will be too cold and rainy, plus we have lots of parties to go to for the anniversary. When I was a baby, I thought St. Louis was just a Zoo. I had fun at the Zoo with Grandma and my cousins and Daddy. I even liked the penguin house...Quiet, Daddy! It's my post!...and I DID NOT, no matter what Daddy says, cry and get scared 'cause it was so dark and cold. I'm a big boy.

Remember how Mommy and Daddy were trying to give me a little sister or brother? They still haven't but Daddy says he's got 127 million boys and they're all moving fine. I don't know what that means, either, but Daddy says it's like a race and he had to put a bunch of his boys into a cup so the doctor could find out if they could run. They can run apparently, but they can't shoot.

Grown-ups are weird.

I wish I had a little brother, who I could teach how to play Hulabaloo and checkers and to do a funky dance, though I have noticed that little babies smell like poo a lot.

Have you guys seen the Taters song? Second awesomest thing ever besides dinosaurs. Since Daddy showed it to me, I've watched it 732 times. Mommy started talking about the institution again. Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew.

Well, I guess that's all I have for you this time. Blogging is really hard. Especially when you can't spell. But I'm sure this is way better than having to read Daddy's whining about being sick or losing to a turned 6-outer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

We Aren't the Champions

After going all Guest Postal over on Pauly's site yesterday, I have been asked for several autographs and fielded at least one request for a pair of my soiled boxer-briefs (too which I directed the young lady(?) in question to the toilet paper dispenser in the third stall from the left in the main MGM bathroom). Fame comes quickly to those who do the Tao and I'd like to thank the Good Doctor for the opportunity.

Of course, some folks were shocked--Shocked! I say--that I would share all my hard-won knowledge with the unwashed masses. I assured those who feared their Donkey tables would now be over-run with Rampaging Speaker Clones that I had left out a goodly portion of nuance. That was the ball-peen hammer version. You can also crush plenty of online bugs with various sprays, traps and European cheeses.

I moved to display my awesomeness last evening in the $8K Guaranteeed on Full Tilt and, as luck would have it, I went deep, despite enduring ceaseless mockery from the IRC crew who kept quoting me to me. So, I'm going to quote myself today too, which on the Obnoxious Self-Importance Scale comes in just above Referring to Oneself in the Third Person.

Shove in your chips, force your opponents to make mistakes.

I doubled up in Level Two with AKs. The flop came down A87 rainbow and I got one caller to my pot bet. Said caller check-raised me all in when a ten hit the turn. His KT was not good.

I further chipped up to T4350 on the last hand of the first hour with one of those subtle plays I alluded to earlier and the exact details will cost you $5.

Now that, theoretically, a bulk of the worst players have been eliminated, your table will become more cautious, giving you prime opportunities to pick up the blinds and antes with a ramped up aggression.

Yes. And no. I had the distinct pleasure to sit with the worst player of all time pretty much the entire second hour. When she (had the Robin Quivers-esque avatar, so I'm going with she) sat down to my immediate left, she had 25K and proceeded to limp into every pot. That is not an exaggeration. Furthermore, she would call any raise after she limped. I won a couple pots off her when she called my open-raises and folded on the flop. I also lost a fair-sized pot to her when she pushed over the top on a scary turn card. At that point, I was short at T2500.

I'm pretty close to push mode now at Level 9 and see The Hiltons in the BB. Big Stack limps (surprise!), Button raises and I push. Both call, the button with Axo and Quivers with...uh...J6s. The Hiltons hold and I triple up.

Don't Be a Pussy

My new-found stack enables me to grab some pots late in the second hour as the bubble approaches. I get moved and find two top 10 stacks to my left, as well as a return of the Quivers lady. At Level 12, I raise with AKs and she pushes from the BB. I insta-call (as her range is ANY TWO) and she flips a suited SMTL. That's right, she pushed with 83. We both pair the flop, I two-pair the turn and double thru. At which point, I can't stand it any longer and get snarky in chat:

"Couple more of those," I type, leaving the "idiot" inferred. The response is something along the lines of "I'm drunk and I'm the chip leader," which is no doubt true, but it set off a Bash Fest at the table, as previously sucked-out-by-her-madness players chime in with such gems as, "I was hoping there was a reason for your pathetic play."

In the interest of ending the suspense, let me just say, that at the second break, with 62 players left, she was indeed the chip leader. She finished 47th, two off the money. It was a spectacular flameout, occurring within 20 hands, the last when her KK--one of only two premium hands I'd seen her hold all night--ran into AA.

All the while, I continued stealing when I could and got into the money with a top 20 stack.

Keep Pounding

I did what I could. One thing about stealing is you have to beat people into the pot. My table made that rather difficult for me, but I got in a few where I could. And the guy who had the BB when I was in the CO finally got tired of it and snapped. I opened with A5o and he was the only caller. He shoved in his last on an A65 board. He showed 82s. Thank you, Mr. Nutball.

Get lucky. Or, better still, don't be unlucky.


Here's where our tale goes awry. I made two great fucking calls when down to two tables, each of which, had I won, would have given me a stack of nearly 100K.

The first, I open raise 3x (blinds at 1000/2000) with AJo. The button pushes in his last 16K, so it's 10K for me to call into a 25K pot. I'm sitting with T50000 at this point, so I have tons of fold equity, but I also am not nearly crippled by a call and a loss. With my pot odds and stack, I almost have to call and very likely am getting a great price to do so. I do, but his 55 holds up. What? I lost a race? Late in a tourney? You don't say?

Regardless, I was happy with the decision and kept going forward.

I grabbed the blinds and antes a few times and soon we were down to 10, the Final Table bubble. I had 42K left, 7th overall, but an M down to 6+. With the blinds at 1500/3000, I open raise to 10K with 88. The SB calls and we both see a flop of 652, two spades. Me likee. But the SB throws the whole thing into confusion with a push.

My initial fear is a bigger pocket pair, but I am almost certain any pair over 8s gets re-raised pre-flop, especially 5-handed. A smaller pocket pair that hit its set is possible, but them's Monsters. The most likely holding, I decide, is two big cards. If it's two big cards in spades, I'm behind.

Going deep is your first priority. You are not going to get a solid return on investment from multi-table tournaments if you settle for minor awards. The big money is at the Final Table and a couple trips there can pay for months of bubble finishes. Yes, it can be frustrating to bubble, especially if you have a stack that was comfortably positioned near par.

I have 32K left. One off the Final Table. Money jump from 10th to 9th is $90.

I don't play to finish 9th. Money jump from 10th to 1st is over $2K.

I trust my read of two big cards. If they're spades, prepare to dodge. I call. He flips AQo, including the ace of spades.


Great call. Nearly a 3-1 favorite at this point, two cards to come. 96K Pot. Final Table (soon enough) and third overall in chips, not that far behind first.

A queen spikes on the turn.


That's about as frustrating as it gets right there, folks. Four hours of solid poker, an excellent chance to finish on top and Poof! Despite the final hand keeping me awake well after I laid down my head, despite tortured dreams of Queens--including cameos by Elton John and Freddie Mercury--despite visions of online poker immortality, I'm comfortable with the way it all went down. I'll take that spot any day of the week.

Though I'm thinking CJ might be onto a little something with this whole, getting-in-while-behind thing.

Monday, January 09, 2006

High and Low

Poker is really strange. Or maybe it's just me.

I played four online tournaments on Saturday, cashed in none and performed worse than I have in recent memory. The thing is, I knew before I sat down that I was in no frame of mind to play, which is one of those little clues I should be able to pick up on by now.

Even before the $16K Guaranteed started on Full Tilt, I was in a state of agitation, almost like I was FORCING myself to play, because, well, that's what I do on Saturday nights at seven o'clock. When the first three orbits gifted me nothing in the way of playable cards--a continuation of the last two weeks on the virtual felt--I was seething. As such, I pushed my AJo blindly, angrily, into AKo when I flopped nary a pair.

April popped up into the FT chat box, saying I was primed for a comeback, but my 90 remaining chips were less horrifying than the idea that "PEOPLE SAW THAT?!?!?" Oh my lord.

I yanked myself away from the poker machine and had some "Me" time. I was acutely aware of my stupidity. Apart from the indefensible play was the certainty that I should have seen it coming. Should have passed on the tourney and saved my $26 for another day.

I'm not really sure the origin of my poor attitude. I didn't play much during last week because I simply didn't feel like it. So perhaps the days away from the game compelled me to get back in, eventually winning out, even as my mood resisted.

In the course of 45 minutes, I think I shrugged off that agitation. I think I came back with a better attitude. I definitely came back with a little beer buzz. None of which helped.

I busted out of the $69+$6, though I played better. Not excellent, but more patiently. I was card dead--repeat--and pushed with the worst hand. C'est la vie.

Then I played the $8K and here's where we hit rock bottom. I actually had a stack, was playing solidly into the third hour (by this time, I was a little hammered). I see a free flop in the BB with Q4o and check when it comes 766. Only one other person is in the hand and he checks, as well. The turn is a queen and I'm certain I have the best hand. I check and he bets the pot of 800, which I min. raise. Just trying to be cute. I know I'm ahead and I want to milk that out of him if I can, though I have the idea he's folding. He doesn't. My thought is that he has a bit of a straight draw, 98, T9. The river is a lovely Jack of hearts and I push out my fancy little value bet of 1400. He pushes. Ha Ha! Sucker! Your busted draw bluff will not work against me!

I insta-call and he flips K9 of hearts. I celebrate. The virtual pot gets shipped to him.

I never saw the flush board. Never registered the two hearts on the flop. Never saw them, in fact, until I pulled up the hand history.


I remember the last time I mis-read a board. It was almost exactly a year ago. I folded when a fourth spade fell on the river and a guy pushed on me. I folded my full house. Must be something about those pair boards and flushes.

Aside from the obvious embarrassment (yes, people saw THAT play too), I took it pretty well. I wasn't angry as much as I was self-critical. Sure, everybody makes a mistake like that once in a while, but this was more like an "I told you so" moment. As in, your mind is not right to be playing and right there is the most glaring evidence as to why.

Worst of all, I think, is that this is a lesson I've already learned. I preach it often. Take your 'A' game to the table. If you are not feeling that 'A' game, stay away. I've bled off plenty of buy-ins to know better.


Sunday morning, I was able to put it all behind me. I woke up feeling fine (I did hit both my NFL playoff bets on Saturday), settled in with some coffee and signed up for the $6K Guarantee on Full Tilt. I played my 'A' game--with the exception of one hand where I picked the wrong time to gamble in a battle of the blinds--and finished 12th, losing a race as one of the short stacks just shy of the Final Table. But I was pleased with my play and attitude.

Took the rest of the afternoon off and watched some football/de-Christmasized the house, before logging in for the $16K. Um, I played fine in that one too, for the 5 minutes it lasted. Crash!

I, and others, quickly departed the severed Full Tilt for the $11 Crazy Re-Buy on Stars. Again, I brought The House (that being my particular house) and cashed. A minor award (finished somewhere in the 120 range), but one that was maximized by my cards and play and if I win that LAST race, I've got bullets to spare. I didn't, but I did play four hours of solid poker, while both enjoying myself and being focused.


I remember a soccer game I played when I was ten years old. It was a friendly, but it was memorable because it was played in front of about two-thousand people. It was the League's annual picnic and the Main Event was my team against an older high competition club from our town. We were the reigning State Champions and that was part of the draw.

I don't think our coaches put too much of a premium on the game, but we did. Pride, the swell of the spectators...whatever it was, we played with championship intensity, sort of a little brother vs. big brother mentality. The crowd was active and loud and it spurred us. We not only won 2-0, but we dominated the older kids, who were no slouches themselves.

Two weeks later, we played them again on a lonely Saturday afternoon. There was no crowd, just two teams getting in a game in an abandoned park. No intensity, no buzz, no motivation. No 'A' game.

They beat us 6-0.


Lesson learned this time? Jeez, I hope so.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


We all know the power of The Hammer. The Jack Hammer has been known to tilt entire poker rooms. But there's a new kid in town that may, in the end, surpass them both:

Snowman-Tater Legs

It's eight-three (suited versions are allowed) and its origins, while most certainly involving alcohol, are mysterious. "Snowman" is obvious, but "Tater Legs?"

"That's what Oil Can Dan calls it," said ephro
"But what does it mean?"
"I don't know. I'll ask him next time I see him."
"Perhaps the bigger question is why he's called Oil Can Dan," observed fhwrdh
"Oh, I know why they call him Oil Can Dan," said ehpro. "It's because he's always covered in tar."


HDouble dragged a nice pot with SMTL (as those on the inside know it), getting ephro to call his value bet on the river. Every three on the board elicited a cry of "Tater Legs are good!"

FNG (Fuckin' New Guy) HighPlainsDrifter broke his Murderer's Row cherry with a second place finish in the tourney. He was out-chipped by about 30-1 when getting heads-up with change100, but managed to climb back in to make it a match for a while, before The Junkgrabber (who continues her splendid run and knocked me out in 4th, the third straight tourney where she's managed that when down to the final few and no I'm not bitter) finished him off.

I ended up with a mountain of chips in the cash game, mostly on the back of a turned boat that made Rini go broke. Though Henry continued to contend I had HIS chips--by the transitive property--since Bill had rivered him twice earlier.

The most entertaining hand was when three of us--me, Katkin and Ryan--got all-in on the turn with a QTxK board. Each of us showed KQo. I could not push them off with the very real threat of AJ.

Goddamn these folks make poker fun.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Shaky Forecast

Murderer's Row game tonight, which always gets me a little tight in the trousers, but the idea of a Muderer's Row bachelor party?

I suggest you tether your livestock securely.

Congrats to the future Mr. and Mrs. Geek. Coco really does have the nuts this time.


Well, we here in Southern California have apparently survived another tough winter. It was a difficult week, but I'm happy to report (mostly) blue skies and highs in the low 80s have returned to our little corner of paradise. There's only one thing wrong with that, however.

It's Earthquake Weather.

Sure, "Science" (making little finger quotes in the air) will tell you that there is no link between seismic activity and dry, airless, uncommonly warm weather. To which I say, "Hooey!"

The destructive Northridge Earthquake in '94 was preceded by absurdly calm January weather, as evidenced by the fact I was naked when the whole thing went down. Further evidenced by the fact my roommates and I spent the whole rest of the day shirtless and drinking beer in our front yard (we had to wait in line at a destroyed 7-Eleven while Arabs sold their available merchandise from the front door; Many people were there for bread and water and "supplies"--doing it again. We bought a case of beer and some smokes). I think that's plenty of proof. I'd start nailing shit down if I were you.


Here's a list of the fine folks who have agreed to back me in my foray into the LA Poker Classic event. As a token of my appreciation I'd like to urge all my readers to visit their sites and ask them for money. Thanks also to the many of you who offered. I will come begging to you next time I whore myself out.

Bobby Bracelet
Sell the Kids

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Whiskey in the Jar

"Do me a favor. Just kick my ass, okay? Kick this ass for a man, that's all. Kick my ass. Enjoy. Come on. I'm not asking, I'm telling with this. Kick my ass."
--Artie Fufkin

Playing the part of Artie Fufkin today is USC coach Pete Carroll. No, not because he went for it on fourth down. Anyone who's watched the way he's operated down there in South Central knows that is exactly the style that's gotten his team where it is. No, I would like to know What. The. Fuck. he and his play callers were thinking on 2nd-and-7 during that same series when they called a play for...wait for it...the fullback. With all those offensive weapons, with keeping the clock running a major issue, he calls for a pass in the flat to the least athletic player on the entire team? Why not just put Rudy in the game? Try the ol' Statue of Liberty?

I was aghast.

Not that I wanted USC to win. I grew up instensely disliking the big, bad Trojans and retain most of that today. But Pete's a likeable guy and I've enjoyed watching their offensive juggernautness all season long. And to just give it away at the end there seems sort of a shame. That said, Vince Young is not human. His throwing motion would be more appropriate in the Special Olympics discus ring, but the man can get it done, and he got it done every game when you know the opposing team's defensive scheme was focused totally on keeping him contained. No bleeping way.

So, congrats to all our Austin bloggers out there. I hope you had a safe and enjoyable riot and your hands have not frozen into that ubiquitous Hook 'Em Horns signal. Now that the season's over, perhaps us proper Devil Music Worshippers can reclaim our symbol.

On the subject of finger-related salutes, I'd like to offer a big Eff You to poker. Fucker. Those 180s at Stars are SO goddamn soft, yet, I can't seem to find my way clear to winning one. And when I sacrifice crucial sleep time, playing into the wee hours and take a one-two junk kick on the bubble, well, I believe the line I typed into IRC sums it up:

JoeSpeaker is furious

And tired.

I passed on my morning tumbler of java this morning in favor of a full-trip sleep on the train. It did not go well. Two stops from downtown, I woke suddenly, feeling very nauseous. I could taste last night's whiskey rising in the back of my throat. My whole body started to shudder. I was going to puke.

I puke loudly. I could never be a homosexual because of a major gag reflex. When foreign objects find their way into my throat, I yak at a high volume, summoning guttural sounds like those at the monkey cage at your local zoo. Which is why the idea of rushing to the bathroom, having my rasping heaves echo throughout the train, did not exactly appeal to me.

We've all been there, the mental game you play with yourself when such a circumstance arises. Relax, you tell yourself. The room will stop spinning at any second. Focus. I was taking a chance. If the bile started to boil over, there was no way I'd make it in time. But if I gave in and went ahead, I was sure to fail in keeping it down. So I stayed in my seat and steeled myself against the waves. My chest began to burn and sweat broke out all over my body. I shifted my weight to find comfort. The AC cooled the sweat, making me shiver all over. I felt like I could feel the two aspirin I took this morning burning a hole in my stomach lining. Even my lower digestive tract began to rebel.

And just when I thought the end was very fucking nigh...relief. Loud, malodorous relief, in the form of a rumbling fart that I, eyes closed, iPod firmly inserted in ears, simply pretended did not happen. As far as public displays of baseness, that probably rates a solid 8 on a scale of 1-10. Yet, even at age 38, farts are funny. My biggest problem was not hiding my embarrassment, but containing my laughter. Behind my lids, I imagined the faces of my fellow passengers, people I see most every morning and I came to a single conclusion: I'll have to find another place to sit from here on out.


Many thanks to all who've responded to my offer of a piece of me (though, after the preceding, I'm sure some may be reconsidering). I'm all sold out, so, if I haven't contacted you by e-mail, please do not send money. Once I get everything straightened out, I'll list the generous (and mis-guided) folks who have anted up.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Broken, But Unbowed

January has always been my least favorite month. As a kid, it seemed to drag on forever, likely because it marked a return to school after two glorious weeks of Christmas gluttony. The days are short and dark, the re-birth of spring--and baseball--seems hopelessly distant and the inclement weather--yes, even in Southern California--precludes any meaningful outdoor activities.

I find myself fighting off a malaise whose origin is unknown. I must've sat down to write five or six times in the past week and, with one exception, have struggled mightily, the first time that's happened in a long while. It's frustrating as hell, because I haven't been short of topics, just execution.

And then my brother-in-law--the cop--took a bad beat on the job the other night, getting hit by another squad car, breaking--nay, shattering--his leg in four places. He's had one surgery already, complete with titanium rod, and will undergo at least one more in the coming months. It's difficult to say he got off easy, but when the Police Chief calls and says there's been an accident, my sister and the rest of us were pretty relieved it was just this. He's a helluva cop, my brother-in-law. I've seen him in action: calm, compassionate and authoritative, but without that power-tripping mentality one too often sees in our men in blue. Now he's gonna be laid up for about a year, which causes all sorts of logistical headaches for the family. Naturally, we'll all help out wherever we can.

But this is not a pity post. For once, I actually have a couple events to look forward to this desultory month. First up, I'll be heading to St. Louis in two weeks for my grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary. That's a big number. Jebus. It's always great to hang out with my midwestern cousins, all of whom are hilarious in a number of ways. My California-based cousins and I are always treated like bad influences on the locals when we go back for these reunion deals, when the reality couldn't possibly be further from the truth, despite the fact I once got thrown in the brig at Busch Stadium for buying an under-age cousin a Bud.

I remember one time, my cousin Paul and I (we're the same age) saw the sun come up in a roadhouse bar across the Mississippi from The Lou, after an 8-hour binge that included titanic foosball struggles with gap-toothed trailer girls. Guess who got in trouble when we showed up at Grandma and Grandpa's at 7 a.m.? It wasn't Paul, who was more than happy to stay silent and play the local rube, which he most certainly is not. But I was livin' the white trash dream, baby. I, nor any of my family, make any apologies for our humble beginnings in the farmhouses of Iowa or the clapboard houses of Cahokia, Ill. While my generation is worldlier, with more vices, we are still closely tied to the ones before us, all of them God-fearing people with simple beliefs and pleasures. We'll share those that weekend, with a big party planned for Saturday and another celebration at the church on Sunday. Both will be dry. Then we'll try and find ourselves a roadhouse bar.

The other event is the LA Poker Classic, beginning on the 19th. I've decided to play the NLHE Event on the 26th and will likely enter at least one Super Sat to the main event. I was (am) fully prepared to fund my buy-in to the $540 event, but it was brought to my attention that some people might actually LIKE to purchase a piece of my action. I can't imagine why, but I'll offer anyway. If you'd like to stake some of your hard-won money on an Internet Tournament Donkey, send me an e-mail or a comment. I'll accept $27 (for 2.5% of the winnings) or $54 (5%), since that makes the math easy. You can just transfer your preferred amount into my Poker Stars or Full Tilt accounts. Please alert me when you do it though, so I don't over-sell as you know, I know and the American people know this offer is WAY too good to pass up.


So, January, starting off with the same ol' crap, but it has possibilities. Oh yes.

Quick Update at 5 p.m. (PST)

I have already gotten a pleasantly surprising response on this and just wanted to note where we stand. Not too much action left.

In for full shares ($54):


In, but for an unknown amount


Tentatively in, based on previous conversations

Princess (for $54)
Jason (unknown)

Thanks to all.