Monday, January 31, 2005

Excuse Me While I Whip This Out

We interrupt our previously scheduled trip reports for my unsolicited reaction to the recent posts from a couple high-ranking members of the poker blogging community.

I'd like to say, for my part, that I am a big fan of both Boy Genius and Pauly and have been from the moment I found their blogs. I enjoy their writing, their insight and, most of all, their humor.

Which is exactly the point I think they are both missing:

They are inspiring.

It is their ability which has contributed to the mass increase in poker blogs. It is something I think they should know and take pride in. Furthermore, their gracious and voluntary support to the nascent blogs/poker players has been a catalyst, the proverbial liver in the HCL.

No time any longer to offer that support? Fine. No problem at all. I, for one, am not offended by that.

Uncomfortable with unwanted attention from anonymous circles? Ibid.

I've mentioned this before, but it goes to the heart of what I'm saying. When I first set out on this poker journey, months before the idea of my own blog ever fermented, I e-mailed HDouble with some of the problems I was having on Party's low-limit tables. I did this because I respected his knowledge, which clearly comes through on his blog. And I was plenty appreciative when he quickly and benevolently replied with his usual insight.

And I think, perhaps, that is the impression that most have of y'all long-timers. A willingness to lend a hand. As such, the explosion of new blogs and their authors' assumptions that they are, or will be, a part the community is not an unnatural expectation based on the enviroment which you have created.

So, now the poker blogosphere is a little out of control. Demands are being made you're not willing or able to accomodate. I get it. What I gather from those posts is the feeling that people are out for a piece of you, a piece of those friendships you've nurtured and cemented. And you are loathe to allow a parade of strangers (some with questionable motives) into something you hold close.

The trip reports from the Vegas Blogger Tourney were a perfect storm. They were intimate, hilarious and thorough. They brought us newbies into the fold, even if only as observers. It's apparent now that it meant much, much more to those involved. It didn't entirely translate to the rest of us. Because it couldn't. Not even with your best words. And the instinct now, from what I gather in the posts, is to protect that.

That's fair.

I just think it needs to be (re-?)stated that it was the openness of the community--real and imagined--which helped spawn the frenzy in the first place. If it's necessary for there to be a change in that regard, it's going to be abrupt for some, take some time to accept.

Me? I am, as always, completely devoid of expectation.

Though I expect to get my ass handed to me on Wednesday at 6.

I'll see you all there.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Hanging in Commerce

"Something retarded happened."

This is a sentiment which follows me around wherever I go. However, in this case, I was not the subject of Al's observation. Rather it was a $4/$8 Hold 'Em table. It was strewn with so many $1 chips--and a $5 bill--that you could scarcely find a sliver of green felt. Capped on every street. Yet, the exposed cards--four of them--were a Who's Who of crap: Ten-high, two clubs. Six people were in on the turn action and they were not pleased. With anything. They argued loudly over who's action it was. They got in each other's faces, demanded respect and bleated about table changes. The dealer, whom Al observed was milliseconds away from having his head explode, pleaded, cajoled and sighed, alternately leaning forward to promt players and collapsing back in his chair in mute surrender. It was a train wreck. Finally, the river and more trash. Before a single bet fell, the loudest of the complainers rifled his cards at the dealer, slammed his fist on the table and shouted what I can only assume was an expletive in a foreign language. I resisted reminding him of the "English Only" rule. One of the quieter players--karma, baby--dragged the pot with two-pair, tens and sixes. As we walked away amazed at what we'd just witnessed, Al, ever the humanitarian, said, "Good thing it wasn't a split pot. That dealer wouldn't have made it."

Welcome to Commerce Casino.

My smartest play of the evening was deciding to valet my car after spending a good 15 minutes--15 minutes at the end of a two-hour trip, during most of which I had to go to the bathroom--driving around the convoluted and utterly jam-packed parking lot. Yep, I'm a genius like that. Club me over the head repeatedly and I'll eventually duck.

The place is massive, a maze of rooms--both large and small--jam-packed with poker players. The riffling of chips like a symphony of a gazillion crickets. My first stop was the ballroom where the tournament was being held. It was empty as all the players were on break, but at least I had a primary surveillance point. Plan B? The bar.

Imagine my complete (lack of) surprise to find the bloggers there. Crowded into a back table were fhwrdh (whose blog name I can now concisely pronounce, thus saving me several minutes a day trying to figure out what the hell it means), the Las Vegas Vegas Crew, Grubby, Felicia and Glenn, HDouble, StudioGlyphic, Bill Rini and, naturally, leading the charge La Familia CantHang.

Some ( wife) might find this an awkward situation. I have no real connection to these folks other than a few comments on their blogs and a well-spent $3.30. More than half of them had no idea my blog even existed. Doesn't matter to me. I'm comfortable most anywhere and, at its most basic, there was a common thread of poker. That I found other threads was not surprising. And this is very quickly veering off the intended path. So...

I walked to the table with my pint of Newcastle, clapped a hand on the shoulder of America's Wingman and it was on. Introductions around the table, various looks of un-recognition and I took a seat between Al and fhwrdh (I should mention I can type that name from memory). I had an interesting talk with the latter (interesting to me; he might differ) about our various corners of Southern California living. As a Liverpool fan, I had to make a wager with Al on the outcome of the Carling Cup final (a bottle of Ketel One vs. a Bottle of I'll Give You One Guess), inspiring a round of Chelski songs. I had arrived too late to see my investment in the tourney, as Al had already gone out. He and Glenn related the details and I was happy my man went out swinging.

Regarding before, I MAY have been mildly intimidated at meeting Felicia. Of course, she didn't know me from Adam and she has her reputation as being plain-spoken, perhaps even blunt (two chracteristics, I should mention, I generally admire in people). So when her first comment to me was to ask if I was gay, I was far from offended. I'm not sure she was entirely convinced that I'm not, but you can't blame her. How many straight guys wear lime green turtlenecks to casinos?

What can I say? It's a good color for me.

The table soon broke, thanks to HDouble and Felicia heading back to the tournament and, stop me if you've heard this one before, the bar running out of Southern Comfort. I had managed to be the recipient of Al's generosity and suck down a single SoCo before this calamatous event. Trying to return the favor, I asked Al what he drank if no SoCo was avaiable. "Nothing," was the reply. The man has a monogamous relationship with his booze.

More to come...

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I Am a Rock...

My stats from the first hour of the $22 MTT going on RIGHT NOW on Stars:

2 out of 7 times while in big blind (28%)
- 2 out of 6 times while in small blind (33%)
- 5 out of 46 times in other positions (10%)
- a total of 9 out of 59 (15%)
Pots won at showdown - 5 of 5 (100%)

Currently 27th on the Chip Leader board at the break.

E-mail me if you want to buy 1%.



I'm still a rock. Much to my detriment. Got mostly cold-decked and when I got cards, nobody would call my pre-flop raises, even a minimum raise with AA and 3 limpers in front of me. Got put out with a set of 10s. My pre-flop 4x raise was re-raised and I called. Got a 10 on the flop, along with a Jack and an 8. Went all-in, Big Slick called and caught his gunshot on the turn.

Out in 166th.

Night of Stars

I had gotten the distinct impression from various online sources that the players at Poker Stars were superior to those on Party. That the tournament structures favored the more learned over the maniacal play that is de riguer at the smaller buy-in Party tournaments. And while the extra chips and blind structures at Stars do theoretically give an advantage, my experience last night (small sample size alert) flew in the face of conventional wisdom.

I figured I'd stick with my little stack on Stars, Party Poker not treating me well at all. Played some $25 NL, again with a bankroll disadvantage. Didn't have any trouble doubling up. Had one big hand that gave me most of it. And some stone bluffs on my loose-passive table. It was getting late, but there was an $11 buy-in MTT starting at midnight, so I bought in with part of my evening's profit.

The stat tab on Stars is pretty cool. I could monitor how many flops I didn't see. Not even in the blinds. My table was a raise festival. Not minimum raises or 5x raises, but 30x raises and all-ins. At level 1. We were not in Kansas any more. I had two playable hands in the first 30, AQo and 77. I folded both to multiple raises in front of me. You weren't going to be first in the pot unless you were UTG.

Soon, we had the tournament chip leader at out table. He got that way by being terrible. He called a pre-flop all-in with 105s. He made his flush to win. He called a pre-flop all-in with K9o against AA. He made a boat to win. He called TWO pre-flop all-ins with A5o. He made a wheel. I didn't know whether to rejoice, knowing I'd have a chance at all those chips if I got a hand, or terrified that no matter what I played, he'd out-draw me.

Anyway, with the higher chip counts, there is less urgency to do anything silly in the first hour. I could fold all the way and more than half the field would be thinned. No hurry.

I finally get AK on the button and--SURPRISE!--no raises in front. Just a couple-three limpers. I raise 5x, knowing I won't get any folds, but I'd like to build a pot if I can. Again, the extra chips at Stars aid in my decision. I get 3 other callers, including--SURPRISE!--Mr. Chip Leader.

The flop comes K96, all hearts. It's checked to me and I bet 300. Folded around to Mr. Chip Leader who calls. Now, I have NO IDEA what he could be holding. But I'm sure I'm ahead. If he flopped the flush, he'd have gone all-in. This is not a player who, to this point, has exhibited even the slightest bit of subtlety. So I put a check-smooth call beyond him.

The turn is a harmless 3 of clubs and he checks. I go all-in. Oops. Did I say harmless? Mr. Chip Leader shows 93 of diamonds for two pair. The river offers no help.

So, sit back and ponder the the brain-power that allows someone to call a 5x pre-flop raise with 93s and a 300 bet with bottom pair and three hearts on the board. It didn't even tilt me. It just made me shake my head in wonder.

I'll be happy to give you his handle if you like. I know I'm gonna be looking for him every time I fire up Stars. He was also from around here. I invited him to join me at Commerce tonight. He demured.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Chicken Soup For the Poker Player's Soul

I'm sick.

Stayed home from work yesterday, giving me the chance to catch up on my online poker playing...I mean, sleep. Back in the cube today and wishing I wasn't.

I'll be back later with reports of my School Day wanderings through Party and Poker Stars and my anticipation/outright terror regarding the blogger meet-up on Saturday in Commerce.

Wanted to turn your attention to a new link on the page, that of Otis' latest gig, The European Poker Tour. Enjoy.


I've been having some stomach issues for the past couple weeks. Nothing major, just discomfort, heartburn, etc. Which made my decision to have a carnitas burrito on Wednesday night a curious one. Sparing you the gory details, I was up much of the night, my body purging itself of the demon pork. Weak and dehydrated, I stayed home on Thursday.

But not too weak and dehydrated to spend the bulk of the morning/afternoon on the couch playing poker.

I fired up Party and got bounced pretty quickly in a couple $20 SnGs. Cold-decked for the most part and I was forced to push with iffy hands as the blinds hit $150/$300. I've been running really poorly on these lately, with only 8 in-the-money finishes in my last 26 and only a single win. I'm willing to chalk a couple of those up to fishy plays, but, for the most part, it just hasn't been going my way. So I decided I was going to change it up.

As such, I moved on to a $25 PL table and a $1/$2 full ring game. After an hour or so, I'd managed to re-coup about half my earlier losses. Then I bought into the $6 MTT on Party.

And I played great. Stayed focused for the entire time, my big hands held up, I made some timely steals. I hovered just above the average chip count for most of the first two hours, before I made a huge score early in Level 14. Flopped a set of 8s and got two callers to my all-in. Pushed me up to T26000 approaching the second break with blinds at 500/1000. We were down to about a 100 and I was already in the money (such as it was) and planning on playing the same game that had got me here.

Ah, the best laid plans....

I was second-highest stack at my table. Big Stack had about 45K and was throwing it around liberally. In my half-hour at the table, he'd gone all-in, from various positions, six times. Never got a caller. So, when I got pocket Jacks in the SB and he moved all-in UTG, I had a decision to make. The safe and sane play would have been to fold. Having no information on what types of hands he was pushing with, I would basically be calling in the dark. I reasoned that I was likely ahead, based on the percentages, perhaps even dominant, if he was holding a middle pair (small pair seemed unlikely). I figured middle pair or Big Slick. If he had a pair higher than mine, I think he'd probably try harder to get some callers.

Basically, greed took over. I talked myself into calling. Rather, I talked myself into the possibility of doubling up at that point, putting me among the top 5 chip leaders and giving me a solid shot at making the final table (thereby actually earning a monetary amount to make this thing worthwhile). So call I did.

Big Slick, indeed. Suited. The ace on the flop put me out of my misery in a hurry.

I made $2.75.

I was too impatient there. Sure, I had a coin flip, but I wasn't in a situation where I NEEDED to win a coin flip. I still had 25x the BB and could have waited for a better spot, could have waited and picked off the smaller stacks. Disappointing.

I took a little break, cleaned myself up and had some food (very little). Then I decided to play over on Poker Stars. I just opened an account this week in order to play in the WPBT event next Wednesday. I opened it for the minimum amount of $50, of which I still had $28. What the heck, I figured. I'll just go blow it to get familiar with the interface.

I bought into a .50/1 NL table (min buy-in $25; max $100). Yeah, I know. I'm at a huge disadvantage already. Especially when I look around the table and see stacks upwards of $300. So, I'm resigned to doing a lot of folding and I do just that while I figure out how to follow the action around the table. Having only played at Party Poker, I immediately noticed how less obvious everything is at Poker Stars. Took me a few orbits to get a rythym for it. I must say I DO like the slower dealing of the cards when people are all-in. Very dramatic.

Anyway, I finally get a playable hand and am able to limp in LP with A10s. The flop comes 10-high with two hearts (not my suit). A check from the BB and a $4 bet from MP. I raise to $8. Both call. No heart or overcard on the turn and we repeat the process, except it's a $5 bet which I raise to $10. No heart on the river and two checks to me. I bet my last $8. Two folds and I have more than doubled up. YEEEEEEEEEEE-HAAAAAAAAWWWWWWW. Me likee the Poker Stars.

I sit for a few more orbits, but get nothing to play, so I leave the table and wander around the lobby to see what kind of action Stars is offering. What? What's this? A $11 MTT starting in 5 minutes? Sold.

About 1200 players in this one and if I do well, I might be cutting it dangerously close to conflict with "The O.C." Not to mention my dear and patient wife coming home from work to see me hunched over the laptop at the end of an 8-hour poker bender. But you can't stop me.

The first hour is uneventful. I win a few small pots, none going to showdown. Get moved once and just before the break, I double up with my pocket Kings. Then it starts. Roller Coaster City. I start getting hand after hand. The kind of run of cards that the action junkies crave. I'm in to see roughly half the flops for a good 20 minutes. And I end up right about where I started. So frustrating. I'd win a big pot, double up, and just as quickly get cut back down by a suckout, or a monster. That would be the recurring theme of this tourney. I had too many big hands get shown up by bigger hands. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We've hit Level 7 (when the antes kick in) and I'm still hovering around T3750 when I get aces UTG. I limp, hoping for the chance to re-raise. Doesn't happen and five see the gorgeous flop: A55. The SB makes a minimum bet (200) and I smooth call, as does another. Nothing on the turn and the SB puts me all-in. As I call, I mutter, "Your five is no good here." The other fella calls, too and I wonder what the hell he's thinking. Sure, he's likely got an ace, but with two people in the hand, he's GOT to figure there's a five out there. Anyway, he had an ace. The SB indeed had a 5. The (very dramatic) river is a rag and all of a sudden I'm sitting at nearly T12000.

Having absorbed the lesson from the earlier tourney, I am content to sit back and wait to pick on the smaller stacks. We're approaching the second break and down to roughly 200 peopple, with the top 99 getting paid. Before I have time to reflect on my nice new stack, I get AQs one from the button. I limp with it and the BB goes all-in. He's short, and it costs me T1600 to call, which I am the only one to do. He flips Q10o. Oh happy day! Briefly. "No ten!" I say as the flop comes KJx. And I quickly amend my statement: "No ace!" Turn is, in fact, an ace. "Ten!" Nope. And I'm pissed.

I fold a full orbit until I see pocket 9s. I am first to act and raise it 4x. All folds to the SB who comes over the top all-in. He's a small stack, too, and it costs me less than T1000 to make the call, which I do, hoping for a coin flip. Nope. Pocket Qs. And I'm screwed again.

So you see, I've pretty much got the hands AND the opponents I wanted, got to apply the lesson I learned earlier and it's STILL not working out for me. Wait, it gets better.

Two hands later, I get pocket Jacks. Two limpers to me and I push. Folded around to the second limper who calls. He shows aces. And he has me covered. At this point, it would have been advisable to send all children from the room.

I go out about 70 from the money. I dropped my above average stack to nothing in a span of 20 hands. I slammed a door.

At least I'm comfortable with the interface. And was done before The Mrs. got home.


Am really looking forward to Saturday. Trying to negotiate an early release from the IE (dropping The Boy off at Grandma's as early as possible), so I don't miss a single minute of the AlCantHang Experience. Seeing him Drop the Hammer would be priceless. Was checking my online bank statement this morning and the sight of


sent me into a giggling fit from which I was barely able to recover.

I've also booked a room at the hotel there so I don't have to worry about negotiating the drive home Saturday morning. THAT is a sentence the 26-year old me never thought he'd write.

I'm reasonably sure the NL tables with those guys will be an overwhelmingly -EV situation for me, so I'll be over at the $2/$4 tables. I'm brown. And I look like this, more or less.

Anyway, I'll try to give an update on here about what time I'll arrive once I figure it out. StudioGlyphic suggests 7 p.m. is an opportune time for everyone to get together. Works for me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Bonus, Baby

Not my train.

Guy wakes up in the morning determined to off himself and ends up a mass murderer instead. Sheesh.

Seems like any thought that comes to me to put down here might come off as insensitve. So, I'll leave it at that. And my condolensces to the victims and their families.


Despite that, no more maudlin thoughts today. In fact, only good news to report, minus a little self-flagellation. In my further quest to forcefully insert myself into the poker blogosphere, I have committed to joining the SoCal crew (plus American's Wingman) at the LA Poker Classic in Commerce this Saturday. Still have some details to work out, but I'm going. If you're going to be there, I'll be easily recognizable as the guy walking around looking like he's concussed. You can check out StudioGlyphic or HDouble for more info.

I've also signed up for the next installment of the WPBT tourney on PokerStars, taking place next Wednesday at 6 p.m. PST. It necessitated me signing up for PokerStars. It necessitated me negotiating an early release from work that day. Such is the level of my committment. Such are the lengths I will go to embarrass myself in this contest. I'm very much looking forward to it. My handle over there is JoeSpeaker. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the reference (no it's not my real name; not even close).

I finally cleared my January Reload bonus on Party last night. Though not without more trial and tribulation. In the end, however, I was reminded of the intangible tenets of playing the No Fold 'Em games: Patience, Discipline, Emotional Stability.

As you may have gleaned from my previous post about my bonus clearing, I had been running bad. I exacerbated that trend with some poor play. It's so easy--for me--to see the showdown hands of my opponents and make the erroneous connection that I too can play Q8o and pull some big pots. Doesn't work that way. But I let my frustration get the best of me this past weekend and it cost me.

I ran into much of the same problems last night. I fired up a $1/$2 full game while I was playing a $20 SnG (in which I finished 2nd). As usual, most hands were automatic folds or raises and on the latter, I got pummelled. Pocket Queens? No good. Nut flush on the turn? No good to a boat on the river. It was a replay of the weekend. But part of my focus was on the SnG and I was able to compartmentalize the frustration I was feeling and keep at my task.

After the SnG ended, I added a $25 PL table. And it became the catalyst. About a dozen folds in, I peeked at pocket rockets. Max pre-flop raise and two callers. Pot bet on a ragged flop and one caller. All in on a garbage turn card and one caller. Blank on the river. He showed second pair and doubled me up. SEE!?!?!?!?!? That's how it works. Sure, that same guy caught a set on the river on Saturday, but...and stay with me here...HE'S NOT GOING TO DO IT VERY OFTEN!!!!!!! This is what I was screaming at myself inside my head. I admit it. Sometimes I wonder what the hell is going on. I know, in the deepest reaches of my soul, that those who play crap cards will be punished in the end. Yet, when absorbing suckout after suckout, I begin to question my play. I tilt. I play scared. I play stupid. And I fail to remind myself that what I'm going through is natural. I shouldn't need pocket rockets to remind me.

So, I was emboldened. And refreshed. I proceed to take down two monster pots on the $1/$2 game in the next 10 minutes. And I cleared my bonus. And chalked up a nice win for the evening. Ninety minutes of frustration wiped out in 10 minutes. YooooooooHooooooooooo!!!!!!!! Lesson alert.

Like Herb Brooks told the US Men's Hockey Team in 1980: Play. Your. Game.

I hope I absorbed it this time. I guess I won't know until the next. Keep the frustration in check. Accept it as a necessary part of this pursuit. Don't relax your standards. Wait for the big hands. And bet the hell out of them.

I was Mr. Long Call early on last night. The betting told me I was beat. Sure, I had pocket 10s with only a single overcard, but when the SB led out on the turn, I knew I was behind. I called that and the river bet, too. His two little pair plenty good. AND I KNEW! I'm prone to do this stuff when I'm tilting. Really gotta stop.

Play. Your. Game.

Get out of the way when you think you're beat. Avoid the long calls. Trust your reads. It'll turn. But only if you keep it together.


Seems like I do this a lot lately, but I don't tire of it. Go give Otis a pat on the back and a Bon Voyage. I have no problem reading other blogs and recognizing they are superior to mine, in their writing, their poker skill or knowledge, whatever it may be. I see them as something to aspire to. I have admired Otis' work since the moment I found his blog. "I'd like to be able to write like that someday," I thought. And now he's going pro. Very inspirational. Maybe I can't write or play poker very well, but I know talent when I see it!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A Bargain At Any Price

I online poker while my wife watches...a lot of reality TV shows. There might be one or two which have escaped her notice over our nearly five years of marriage, but I doubt it. "Survivor" is the only one for which I'll put away my laptop to watch with her.

Dear Hollywood, you can change all that. I propose to you America's Wingman, the travels of a color-blind, poker-playing booze-hound as he drops in on unsuspecting bloggers across the globe. It'd be like "The Osbournes," without the accents or the shrewish wife. I'd pay good money to watch it.

God Bless Al.

I only live an hour from Commerce Casino. There are no impediments to my showing up there this weekend. Except for two. I can't take The Boy (The Mrs. works Saturdays) and I almost assuredly could not navigate that hour home at the end of the night.

I've got four days to come up with solutions for both.

And don't forget to get your piece of Al. I hope to be buying rounds on Saturday with my 1%.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Enriching Your Vocabulary

My son has created a term, a collision of words he uses to describe something flattened or an unfortunate victim of a smash-up:


Said with the impatience of a 3-year old, desperate to describe what he sees with a minimum of pause.

I could not think of a better definition of how I feel today. Utterly and completely rundover.

I spent a fair chunk of the weekend trying to clear my January Reload bonus on Party. I had withdrawn some of my Party stake for Vegas and waited to re-deposit until I could get 20% back on my money. Since I have a very busy week, I knew I'd have to make a big dent in the raked hands to be able to collect the bonus.

I'll spare you the details, but suffice to say, the bonus just might cover all my ring game losses. You name it, it happened: horrendous beats, missed draws, poor tilt-induced plays, monsters swallowed by bigger monsters...

One interesting tidbit: I watched a guy--on a $1/$2 full ring game--run his table stake from $80 to $235 in 45 minutes. It was unbelievable. He saw every flop, regardless of raises, caught monster after monster (he beat my pocket Jacks with A10 when he flopped a set) and even won when he showed down king high. Everyone at the table knew he would play any two. And none of us could punish him for it. I was seeing too much green to exactly calculate his win %, but I swear he won 8 or 9 in a row at one point. Never seen anything like it.

Anyway, I had contemplated writing something about how coming back to online play last week felt like a big let-down from the previous weekend's live revelry. I even came up with a vulgar metaphor. That will have to wait. Even as this weekend's beating reinforced what I was feeling.

So, coming up, a couple days away from Party thanks to real life. Good timing.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


100/200 TourneyTexasHTGameTable (NL) (Tournament 8906593) - Sat Jan 22 20:11:30 EST 2005
Table Table 14919 (Real Money) -- Seat 6 is the button
Total number of players : 3
Seat 3: Hero (2037)
Seat 6: ItFolds (2407)
Seat 10: bigt103 (3556)
bigt103 posts small blind (50)
Hero posts big blind (100)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ Ac, Qc ]
ItFolds raises (350) to 350
bigt103 folds.
Hero calls (250)
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 9d, Kc, Jc ]
Hero bets (100)
ItFolds calls (100)
** Dealing Turn ** : [ Tc ]
Hero bets (100)
ItFolds raises (500) to 500
Hero calls (400)
** Dealing River ** : [ Ah ]
Hero bets (1087)
Hero is all-In.
ItFolds calls (1087)
** Summary **
Main Pot: 4124 |
Board: [ 9d Kc Jc Tc Ah ]
Hero balance 4124, bet 2037, collected 4124, net +2087 [ Ac Qc ] [ Royal Flush -- Ac,Kc,Qc,Jc,Tc ]
ItFolds balance 370, lost 2037 [ Qs Ad ] [ a straight, ten to ace -- Ad,Kc,Qs,Jc,Tc ]
bigt103 balance 3506, lost 50 (folded)

Friday, January 21, 2005

My Name is Joe S.

Stupid soul-searching.

Blame G-Rob.

Addictive personality?


Under the strictest definition of "addiction," my thirst for all things poker certainly qualifies. I've fallen for the game in the hardest way possible. Large chunks of my day are eaten up pondering its mysteries. And, of course, I play. A lot. I really don't have a problem with this.

I was born with a natural curiosity. In fact, my profession concerns finding information. I find that poker also satisfies that need. The more I play, the more I quest for knowledge. The more I learn, the more questions present themselves.

Even among those who lead the most "exciting" lives, existence is largely a series of mundane events, fortified by bursts of activity. Poker has afforded my life more frequent bursts. There's the competitive aspect, the intellectual demands and, dammit, watching that bankroll grow.

If the above seems a rationalization, a self-induced pass, for the inordinate amount of time I've been spending at Party Poker, well, it's not. See, I know addiction. Real addiction. The full negative connotation kind that sends folks running for 12-step program brochures and online help sites. This ain't that. Playing poker a few hours a night isn't going to cost me a job. It isn't going to take the place of my family's love. Or get in the way of my reciprocating tht love. It isn't going to de-sensitize me from my daily responsibilities or inhibit me from meeting those obligations. It isn't going to bankrupt me or send me to a shady side of town looking to score.

I've said too much.

Which is not to say there aren't issues. I have a family and it's no stretch to say they've been neglected at times due to poker. I've sought to (been prompted to) remedy that. There's a balance there, a need to keep poker compartmentalized, away from my duties as husband, father, provider.

It's a tight-rope, to be sure. And I fall. Less and less as time goes on and I find that spot in my life where poker fits.

Addictive personalities get a bad rap. As often as said traits become manifested in self-destruction, they just as often result in passion, in a constructive drive to improve. The passion the poker blogging community holds for the game is palpable. And I'm convinced that's a good thing.

Frolf, however, is a different story.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Long Day's Journey Into Night

The best tonic for what ails you is to get stuck in.

Occassionally, I'll have some nerves before a big soccer game. Spastic energy, butterflies, whatever. The surest way to make it go away is to get into that first tackle. Seek some contact, feel the hit. And poof. Nervousness gone and instinct takes over.

I had gotten stuck in with my AJ (it only occurred to me recently that I broke my Vegas hold 'em cherry with a hand that, when written, is the initials/nickname of my son. To which I reply, "Fucking cool."). I started to settle in. We were only 7-handed at the table. Unusual for a Friday night, I thought. I continued to assess the players. I've already described two, and don't think my selection of the 8s was an accident. With four available spots, I quickly scanned chip sizes and demeanor, almost immediately choosing to sit to the left of the rock and to the right of grumbling Nick/Kevin, who obsessively fingered his (mostly empty) rack of chips.

The one, two and 10 seat were open. The balding--make that bald--gent in the 3s you know already. To his left was 'Nawlins, a 50-ish guy with a Bayou accent. He didn't claim Louisiana as home, but he'd spent a lot of time there. Next came Big Ben, an elderly fella in a Steelers foam hat. New, that hat. Bill wasn't even shaped yet. In the 6, an overweight Asian dude from Gen Y.

From what I'd seen, the crew was mainly loose/passive. With the exception of The Rock and 'Nawlins, they all saw a large percentage of flops. If they missed, they'd fold. Nick/Kevin was an exception and he showed down some skeevy hands in the first couple orbits, like an unpaired K9o. A calling station of the first order. A drunk guy, happy to bet, but seemingly unhappy to be playing. He would continually chastise other plays/players, especially those first to bet after a flop. "It's so OB-vious," he'd say. "You need to learn how to slow-play." But he'd go on ahead and call them anyway.

I sat with that same group for about 45 minutes. Not a lot of table chatter. Not a lot of exciting showdowns. And then, the party showed up.

Action J seized the 10s. The Groom took the one. Just rolled into town for a bachelor party. The former was a big fella, with an equally out-sized sense of humor. I liked him immediately. Not 90 seconds into his arrival, we started jawing. Both from for a bachelor for a soccer, soccer..don't get soccer...a lot don''s baseball boring?, baseball's the shit...well, soccer is like baseball, if you understand it past the basic level, to its fundamental bones, to it SUBTEXT! how every pitch alters the direction of the strategy...WHOA!...

Suffice to say, Action J had found in me a kindred baseball geek.

The Groom, for his part, didn't come all this way to fold. Nosiree.

Soon, I found a pair of 8s in LP. Three limpers, including 'Nawlins. Well, let's see what we can do around here, methinks and I raise it the max, up to $8. Nick/Kevin calls. Action J calls. The Groom calls. Baldy calls. 'Nawlins calls. Big Ben calls.

What. The. !@#$!!$#^#^#?

Pocket 8s not so good in a 6-way pot.

Unless flop comes 832, which it does. It's checked to me and I want to check, but there are two diamonds free cards. I bet $6 and all fold. Loose-passive. I throw up my 8s and say, "I only bet with the nuts." Action J is the only one who laughs.

I'll not go through the rest of my hands. To sum everything up, I didn't really play a whole lot of them. But nearly every flop I saw hit me, sometimes ridiculously so. I flopped a set of aces twice (once with AQo, once with A9s). I caught a set of 10s with A10. I limped with cowboys and got three callers to the river, once of whom registered a comical look of shock at showdown. When I held AQ, the flop came Q-high. When I held KJ, it came Jack high. In 6 hours, I went to showdown 9 times and lost once. And that was only because Action J was goading me.

And I got to see some truly awful poker playing. A studious-looking young man had assumed the 7s after The Rock left. I heard him muttering to himself several times, "Chasing too much...too loose," a little pep talk. He wasn't catching much, but when he did, you knew it. He raised Baldy's $6 bet after a 789 flop. Raised him on the turn. raised him on the river. Baldy kept calling, adding at the last, "Do you have the straight?" Action J answered:


Baldy also paid me off another time with top pair, no kicker, a look of disgust registering at showdown. Action J commented:

"I'd be disgusted too if I was playing jack-duece."

We were having a blast. I'm nice and lubed up by now. Nick/Kevin had gone away some time earlier and finally, a 20-something Asian lass assumed the 9 seat. Briefly. She played a single hand before looking at me, then at J and demanding, "Can one of you change seats with me. You talking back and forth is giving me a headache!"

Well, that kinda attitude does not sit well with me. But you know what? Good times. We're here to have good times. Fine, bitch. Take my seat. I resolve to get my revenge with the chips.

So I move. And Action J and I continue our running commentary, most often aimed at The Groom, who's a good guy with a rapidly diminishing stack of chips. J himself appears to be a solid player and he's doubled up at this point. Though, the Jack Daniels would get to him later--he'd even toss his chips in the pot with an announcement: "Loose call! This is a loose call!"--and by the time I left for the evening, he was stuck about $60.

Where was I? Oh yeah, so, what do I get my first hand in the 9s? Pocket 10s. I raise the max, resisting the strong urge to shout, "Six dolla make you holla!". Five callers, including Asian Headache Chick. Flop comes nine-high and only one caller to my bet: Asian Headache Chick. "I sure am glad I switched seats," I say. "If I was still in my old seat, I might be chasing this pot against a made hand." J is kicking me under the table.

Turn is a rag and I bet after she checks. She tosses me a look of pure hatred and folds.

"I LOVE the 9 seat!" I exclaim.

It is soon the witching hour and the promise I made to myself is broken. I was going to go to bed at midnight. Early kickoff, needed rest, sleep it off. But there's no way I can leave the table. No. Way. So, I make what was perhaps my finest play of the evening:

"Waitress? Can I get a water?"

The primary result of this move is me sobering up as the table degenerates further into drunkeness. At least three players are completely off their shit. Others are still just bad.

A Powers Boothe look-alike has assumed the 4s from 'Nawlins and immediately takes on the role of Whipping Boy. He plays too many hands, to be sure, but he also takes three brutal beats, including losing on the river with the Hiltons and pockets Js, the latter of those a two-pair suckout than can only happen in your nightmares: Asian Headache Chick holding 107o and calls with her second-pair all the way and catches a five-outer. Whipping Boy takes it all pretty well, though I swear I can see steam coming off his head.

Amidst this ever downward spiral of sobriety and poker acumen, I find myself holding rockets in LP. My max raise has no effect and we have seven players see the flop. Ace and two spades. Only The Artist Formerly Known as Asian Headache Girl Whom I Am Currently Calling The Suckout Queen in the 8s calls my bet. No spade on the turn and she folds it. "Too bad," I say, flipping up my cards. "I wanted to hit my quads and spin the wheel." She still doesn't like me very much, a fact I enjoy. She's taken to bantering back and forth with Mr. Studious in the 7s and J accuses them several times of "working together." After one such playful accusation, I add, "Yeah, together they're going to see every single flop."

It is soon two and I grudglingly head to bed with 3+ racks of chips.

I could have danced all night.

Before I go, I have a question for the poker literati regarding tipping. Everyone I played with over the entire weekend tipped a buck (if they tipped anything), no matter the pot size. Me? Well, I'm a loose tipper, especially when gambling (and winning) and alcohol are involved. Can't hurt to have the dealer (and kamra) on your side, can it? I try to tip in accordance with the pot size and toked as high as $4 this weekend. The question is, am I a sucker? Am I giving away too much hard-earned profit? What are the general guidelines, if any?


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Jack

A thick haze hung over the city like a shroud. Dark brown, almost black, it obscured even the gaudiest of the city’s iconic buildings. “Looks like the Apocalypse is early,” I muttered to myself as I descended into its heart.

I could feel its weight pressing down on me, even as the skyline came slowly into focus. It was forbidding, unlike its usual promise of adrenaline and excitement. My ever-increasing anticipation as I neared its limits was crowded out. Something else rushed in.


I could feel it coagulating in my bones.


It was still there an hour later. I sensed the same haze hanging over the poker room. I had selected the eight seat, wedged between a pair of players. To my right, an older, genial gentleman with towers of chips, ascending in height like bars on a cell phone. He was fully charged. On my left, a dead ringer for actor Nick Stahl, though he said his name was Kevin. Nick/Kevin bent over his chips, mumbling derisively. I sat uncomfortably—claustrophobic—with my shoulders and elbows jammed inward, never moving except to throw another hand away. I’d been here 15 minutes.


When I first arrived, I lugged my trepidation over to the poker room. I leaned self-consciously on the rail, looking for signs. What exactly, I couldn’t say. I saw nothing to lift me from my gloom.

I had lay awake several nights in the past two weeks, eager for this moment. I envisioned a boisterous bacchanal, chips flying, ice cubes clinking and laughter and despair in equal measure. Instead, I saw serious faces and rigid spines. Skepticism greeted every movement. Every bet spawned a silent, and thorough, interrogation.

As I walked away, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. How could I think that I, someone so new to the game, someone who had usually played against the endless and faceless online, had any business being here. In real life. In a Las Vegas poker room. “This is where poker players live!” I shouted inside my head.


I peeked at my cards almost hoping to again throw them away. “I’m not ready for this,” I thought. I need more study.

My hand revealed ace and jack of spades. On my action, I recklessly pulled a pair of chips from my stack, nearly toppling it in the process.

“I call.”

“Why are you shaking?” Nick/Kevin sneered. He eyed me contemptuously from below, hunched over his chips like a squirrel and his acorns. I ignored him. I know why I’m shaking. He doesn’t have to. I pressed my fingertips against the felt in a vague attempt to quiet the tremors.

“Four players,” the dealer declares, and turns the flop: Ace of hearts, king of spades, five of diamonds. I exhale, only now realizing I’d been holding my breath, and immediately hope it wasn’t audible. Two players check to me and I can barely remain inside my skin.

“I bet. Six dollars.”

I throw the blue chips out there quickly, one stack of three and sliding three more toward the pot in a nice straight line. “Hey,” I think. “Not bad.”

Nick/Kevin punctuates his call: “You’re still shaking.”


In all honesty, I had played live Hold ‘Em before, back when I first caught the itch for the game. But I really didn’t have a concept of the game then. I was having fun, like a golf game with your drinking buddies. But this...this was something different. I have something at stake now. Hours of reading poker books. Tens of thousands of online hands. A reputation to uphold, even if it’s merely a reputation I’ve hung on myself. This is for me. Can I play this game? For a couple months, I’ve been of the firm belief that I can. What if I’m wrong?


Only three of us now, and the dealer flips the turn card: Jack of diamonds. My heart starts jack-hammering in my chest. I look down, almost expecting to see it visibly fluttering my shirt. I belatedly realize I’ve just made a mistake, a tell.

“You like that jack, huh?” Nick/Kevin says. It’s not really a question. Checked to me and I bet again. He nods to himself, “Yep, you like that jack,” and folds.

The three seat, to this point only existing on the periphery of my thought process, calls my bet. I finally fixate on him, Nick/Kevin’s mumbling becoming quieter and further away. He’s older, probably his 50s, with the deep tan of a man who works outdoors. He’s wearing reflecting sunglasses and is far too bald to try salvaging a hairdo, which hasn’t stopped him from trying. I stare straight at him with what I hope appears to be confidence. In fact, I can almost convince myself that it is. My gut churns, but, for the first time, my mind is calm.

“Two players,” the dealer notes and drops a meaningless 4 of spades on the river. “No flush for ...”

My thought is interrupted as he reaches for chips. I take a momentary pause. Two check-calls and then he bets into me with a seeming rag on the river? What the hell is this? Could he have just check-called Broadway on the turn?

I’m knocked off stride. My vision of how this hand ends has just been corrupted. It’s all I can do to keep from shaking my head and showing my confusion. I can’t solve this riddle, so I throw out my six chips and ask for the answer.

“Pair of Kings,” the man says and I’m certain I’m not hearing him clearly. I lean over the table for a closer look at his cards: King. Two.

I hurriedly grab my cards and hurl them at the felt. “Two pair,” the dealer says from far away. “Aces and jacks.” He pushes the pot my way as my head swims. I can’t suppress the grin. I don’t even think I want to.

“I knew you liked that jack,” someone says.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

I can't feel my legs.

It's going to take me a few days to distill everything into a coherent narrative (or as coherent as I can be), but here are the numbers from the weekend:

Soccer games played: 4
Soccer games won: 0
Soccer games drawn: 2
Goals scored: 1
Goals against: 4 (nice defense, at least)
Number of players present for kickoff on Sunday at 9 a.m.: 6
Blackjack hands played: 0
Craps bets made: 0
Football bets placed: 0
Poker hours logged: 13
Hours of sleep: Less than 13
Profit from poker: $291

I had extreme gambling tunnel vision. I finished up $200 on Friday night after a marathon session in the Excalibur 2-6 game. And I was loathe to give any of it to the house on the -EV games BECAUSE I WORKED SO GODDAMN HARD to win it. It was easily the most rewarding poker session of all time. Not just that I won, or that I was pleased with my play, or that I didn't suffer a single suckout, but I had a table full of some very fun people (including a couple guys in the midst of a Bachelor Party who had me in stitches much of the evening). In addition to those guys, we had some uptight folks with whom to verbally spar, including a young Asian lady who demanded a seat change less than 2 minutes after sitting down.

Details to follow...

Friday, January 14, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinking Rest

What's the best way to prepare for what promises to be a long weekend in Vegas, filled with debauchery, soreness and battered livers? Right. Stay up half the night chasing the Bad Beat Jackpot on Party.

Boy, am I dumb. So much for conserving energy.

Actually made some money on those tables last night, but also took some brutal beats to temper my enthusiasm. Had aces cracked twice, the second time by quad nines, with the case coming on the river while I held a set. Needed another ace on the board. Another popular river beat was having second or bottom pair call my TPTK all the way down and spike their 4 or 8 or whatever their other crap card was.

The Jackpot is up over $660K as of this writing. Guess what I'm going to do for the next 90 minutes until the caravan heads for the desert?


Thursday, January 13, 2005

I Hate Myself and Want to Die...

Precious little poker content today, as I only played a single $20 SnG last night, which I won. “You’re not going to play any more?” my dear and patient wife asked. I didn’t and it seems to me I have a lot easier time shutting it down for the night after a win. Hmmm, a psychological issue that needs to be explored there at some later date? Guess I should figure out what it means. I played that tourney about as well as I’ve played any. Successfully bluffed pots, had great reads and put pressure on my opponents. Especially in regards to betting on flops while holding little more than overcards, a tactic I am loathe to use under most circumstances at this stage of my development/ability. But I was right on every time last night. And I was certain I had the right reads before I made my move. Yes, I’m a little pleased with myself this morning. It’ll pass.

Also dropped about $20 at the Bad Beat tables. Found my set of 3s was third-best of three sets. Unlucky. Jackpot was up over $500K last night. Nor did I win the lottery.


When I first started this thing, I gave a rough outline of what I expected I’d talk about on here. Turns out, it’s mostly been poker. Which is fine. This poker blogging community is a life-force in itself and nothing would please me more than to be pulled fully into its orbit.

The problem, as I see it, is that my knowledge of poker is less than adequate to write about it consistently and eloquently. A sure sign of that is the focus on my own play, relating of the results, hand histories, etc. It’s all I really have to go on. I couldn’t hope to delve into poker theory like Hdouble as I can’t think on that level yet. Again, I’m plenty okay with that. A large motivation to start this thing was think about my play, my information gathering, and to set it down. When I put thoughts to paper—so to speak—it makes it concrete for me, a random spewing of random ideas that takes an actual form, assisting in my study. Since a great deal of my present thoughts revolve around poker, it’s only natural they would find purchase here.

Of course, the other motivation was to write regularly again, like I used to before I had a wife and child to entertain on a nightly basis (they might call it something else). I have always been highly critical of my own writing and I’m just plain despondent about what I’ve managed here so far. It’s my nature. Yet, and here’s where this thought comes full circle (one hopes), I was VERY happy with my little essay on the A’s ownership change the other day. Upon reflection, I’m sure that has everything to do with the fact that I am FAR more knowledgeable about the A’s than I am about pretty much anything else in the universe (it’s an under-appreciated skill). Which led to the conclusion that someday maybe I could write as well about poker, as long as I continue to gather information and experience. It also led me to the certainty that I need to write about other subjects, as well, such as the ones I mentioned in my very first post, to satisfy the writing jones.

As such, I’ve got a big music treatise just WAITING to explode out of me. It’s all jumbled and spastic right now, reminding me of the childhood science movies with the ping pong balls and the mousetraps. I hope to bang it out before I head off on my Vegas weekend. If not, this will be all until at least Monday.

Last thing, if Al isn’t the funniest person on Planet Earth, I don't know who is.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Horror!

Disclaimer: This post will only be funny to people born in 1970 or before. Perhaps not even then.

I took a bad beat at the barber shop this weekend. He cut me too short on the top, so that my hair sticks up. My only recourse is to push it straight back and shallack it down with gel, which is, at best, half a solution. Furthermore, he left it too long on the sides leaving me with serious "poof hair" potential.

I just caught a look at myself in the bathroom mirror.

Slap a gold chain on me and I'm Denny Friggin' Terrio.

I've got Dance Fever, baby!

Big Money

My name is Elmer J. Fudd, Millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht

I'm a sucker for the big score. I play the lottery when it goes north of $50 mil. I fill out my March Madness bracket every spring thinking of hitting all 63 games and a million bucks.

I know this is not realistic. However, the price to pay is small. And for my $5, I get to dream about actually hitting one of these things, which can be rather fun. At it's most basic, I'm paying money to let my imagination run wild. Charging myself for my own thoughts. Don't judge me.

It is that same impulse which drives me to the Bad Beat Jackpot tables on Party when the amount hits $300K. Which is where I found myself last night. Now, doing this causes me to move up a level. While I have the bankroll for 2/4, I'm most comfortable at 1/2 right now as far as limit ring games. But the lowest for the BBJ is 2/4. While I hesitate to call my play at 2/4 "optimal," I have had some decent results there, though not the one which brings me there time and time again.

Within minutes of sitting my table, I get pocket 3s on the button. Several limp and I call. I flop the set, though there are two hearts, an ace and a 10. A bet from the SB, calls all the way around and a raise from me. An agressive play, as I'm not going to push out the flush or straight draws, but I want to charge the ace-rag and/or second-pair holders. Turn brings the King of hearts and it's checked all the way to me. I've not been on the table long enough to know if a trap is being set, but there's only one way to find out. My bet is raised by the SB (crap) and folded around. I reluctantly call. Hello! The river is a 10, filling me up. I raise SBs bet and (sadly) he just calls. Broadway straight NO GOOD.

It soon became clear the SB from the previous hand was a hyper-agressive maniac. I saw him make the same play over and over, smooth calling the flop and check-raising the turn. Got a number of people to lay down their hands. He fared about 50-50 when it went to showdown, and I got to see him show a couple hands where his signature play wasn't warranted. I waited to pounce.

I was up about 11 BBs inside an hour after flopping top two pair in another hand, when the make-or-break moment came. I was in the SB and caught AQo. It was folded around and I raised. Mr. Hyper-Agressive called. Here we go. Flop comes A J 9 rainbow. I bet and am called (shocker). Turn is a King. I bet and am raised (shocker). I re-raise and he shows his true worth by simply caling. I've got him. I know I'm ahead and put him on Ace-rag or King-rag. River is an 8. No harm to me, I think, and bet out. He raises. Is this guy kidding me? He's trying to bet me out of it when I've been leading out the whole way? Still, for the first time in the hand, I get a gnawing feeling at the base of my skull. And I just call. He flips A8 for the river'd two pair. I proceed to pull my hair out.

That hand cost me 7 BBs and I pretty much treaded water from there on out. Walked off with 3 BB profit, which I gladly accept, but oh, what might have been. I only showed down four hands in almost an hour, winning three of them. Could have been a big night. Still, I finished on the plus side and I felt real comfortable at the table. My reads were right on the majority of the evening and I let go of the hands I needed to let go of (I tell ya, small and medium pocket pairs are damn near useless in these games). Since I'll spend a bulk of my time in Vegas at the 2/4 tables, the session gave me a little boost of confidence.

Sadly, I couldn't carry that feeling over into the SnGs. Played a pair last night and finished with a third and a fourth. During both, I felt like I was walking though a minefield in over-sized shoes. Do you ever get those tables that are real chatty and there are a couple guys who feel the need to have a dick-size contest:

"I've got a $28,000 MTT win at Tunica. What's on your dance card, fish?"

Et cetera.

I'm always amused by it (when our Tunica champ went out in 7th, there was further merriment) and I never believe a word of it.

But I digress. The reason I had so much time to enjoy the chat was because I had no hands to play. Saw one flop from the BB and that was it. In the first 27 hands. Still had not pulled a pot when the blinds went to 50/100, so I basically had to play fold or push from that point on. Naturally, the chip leader was just to my right, so he put the pressure on when I was in the blinds. I came over the top once with not much of anything and got a fold. Hmmmmmmmmm. So I switched gears. And started throwing my chips at everything that moved. Much to my surprise, it worked. I got no action and chipped up to nearly T1600 and was back in it. I'd like to think it was because they noticed how tightly I'd played the first 4 orbits.

It was more likely because it was simply a pretty meek group on the bubble. A lot of folds all the way around, folds to raises, not any action at all. I was barely the second-highest stack, both 3rd and 4th less than T200 behind me, trying to fold into cashing. As I've previously mentioned, I'm not timid on the bubble. I'm here to win. I like being agressive. I'm still not sure if it's a good philosophy or a leak. One of these days.

Anyway, in the BB, I get 8s. As is his wont, the SB--and chip leader--raises me 3x. Now, odds are I'm in a coin flip situation here. I can stand to fold. It'll leave me with only 5x the BB, but others are in similar straights. Or I can double up, virtually assure myself of the money and draw even with the chip leader. I think I have to come over the top. Making a play at first, instead of hoping for third. It's how I feel.

So, I'm all-in, SB calls and shows J10o. Well, coulda been better (A5o, for instance), but I've got the coin flip. For a moment. Flop is J J 10. Gee, thanks. I'm gonna stand by my play, though. Anybody wants to talk me out of it, I'd be more than happy to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Back to Poker

If you haven't already, be sure to head on over to Cards Speak and read about the latest blogger to parlay his ability into glory.

hdouble's was one of the very first blogs I came across when I began my online poker odyssey and is always a smart and informative read. Furthermore, after I ran into a few struggles early on, I e-mailed him about my issues. To my surprise, he quickly and graciously responded, offering his invaluable insight and encouragement. Kudos to a deserving gentleman.


I didn't play any poker last night. Too much Jack Bauer. But I'll be back this evening, concentrating on limit ring games and perhaps some $25 NL tables in preparation for my Vegas trip. I've been poring over some of my poker books the last few days, trying to re-assert the principles of the No Fold 'Em games I'm likely to encounter this weekend. I feel ready. I'm looking forward to it.

A's Thrown to the Wolff

We interupt our regularly scheduled poker bloggery for the following:

Oakland A's to Be Sold

The Oakland A's owners, who have for a decade cried financial wolf, are selling out to a Wolff, hotel owner-developer Lewis Wolff. In a San Jose Mercury News column today, co-owner and mouthpiece Steve Schott says "it's time" to sell the club. The whole thing.

It has been previously rumored that Wolff--who has worked as a stadium consultant for the A's for over a year--would exercise an option to purchase half the team, the portion held by Schott's co-owner Ken Hoffman. To A's fans tired of seeing their marquee players walk away--or, more recently, get traded--this news is manna from heaven.

Or is it? What exactly will this mean for the future of the franchise?

The most widely held belief is that this opens the door for a move from Oakland to the the more lucrative South Bay. Wolff has longtime ties to the San Jose area and has been scouting potential ballpark sites as part of his consulting gig with the A's. However, this change of ownership doesn't lower the significant hurdles such a move would face.

First of all, the Bay Area has been notoriously averse to publicly financing sports venues. Except in the case of Al Davis's voodoo. Secondly, the Giants continue to claim "territorial rights" over the San Jose area.

Now, the Merc article mentions that Wolff and baseball commissioner Bud Selig were fraternity brothers and are still friends. Could that signal a potential panty raid on the San Jose area? As we've seen previously, if the Head Used Car Salesman wants something, he'll usually get it, the engineered tomfoolery behind the Expos-Marlins-Red Sox ownership shell game a prime example. More recently, he got the Expos into Oriole territory in the Capital.

However, Selig has always sided with the Giants and owner Peter Magowan when it comes to the Bay Area market. The two combined to scuttle a proposed A's sale ten years back to a local ownership group. Selig has long maintained the A's "can't survive" in the market, in their ballpark. Astute observers see these proclaimations not as another publicly-financed ballpark extortion attempt on the populace, but as an inate desire to rid the area of the A's all together. It is difficult to believe that the fact Selig and Wolff did keg stands together 40 years ago would change this fundamental belief.

As for the potential for Wolff to be a more free-spending owner than the oft-despised Schott-Hoffman partnership, again, don't hold your breath. The recent trades of star pitchers Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder could not possibly have been made in a vacuum. Wolff already has close ties to the team and his interest in owning a share has been well-documented. Under those circumstances, is it possible Wolff directed the owners, and by proxy GM Billy Beane, to move those players? It's more possible than not. If you're 3 months away from buying a house, do you want some input into what is being done to that house? Or do you just let the current owners paint it kelly green and gold and worry about it later?

The financial realities of operating in a relatively small two-team market and a decrepit football stadium will remain. Right now, Wolff's main selling point seems to be that he's not Schott or Hoffman, who have a reputation for not being pro-active enough to change the A's fortunes. Yes, like Wolff will, they have faced obstacles. It was their seeming reluctance to tackle them head-on that alienated their fan base.

The best chance Wolff has for success will be if he parlays his enthusiasm for the team and the area into a willingness to confront the issues facing the club. Even against long odds, he'll at least get the fans behind him.

It's been quite a while since Schott and Hoffman could claim the same.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Four's a Crowd

"Did you hear that? Our baby's all growns up. You're growns up and you're growns up and you're growns up."

There were two watershed moments in my life when it dawned on me that I was an adult. The first was when I filled up the gas tank, instead of just getting five bucks of unleaded. Walking back to the kiosk with my change, my gait was a bit more jaunty, my back was a bit straigher and my self-esteem...ah, who am I kidding, my self-esteem remained just above empty. Still, I remember it like it was yesterday. In fact, it was yesterday.

The second was when I went to Vegas and shared a room with a single buddy, as opposed to eight. Instead of an early morning wrestling match for available blankets and using a wadded up shirt for a pillow, I had a full queen to myself, even if I only used it for two hours per night. One of those events that takes on a biblical quality each time I recall it.

Which brings me to this weekend. Through no fault of my own, there are going to be three other people in my room. The only thing I can think to compare it to that first summer after your freshman year of college when you moved back home with your parents. All your freedom, all the wide-eyed observations and action in your new world are shattered, if only for 10 weeks. Your siblings are annoying the living crap out of you, your out-sized sense of importance is battered on all sides by these people whom you've left behind, whom you've GROWN PAST. So, it is with sense of dread that I approach our soccer weekend in Vegas. Which is not a slight at any of my team/roommates. They are all fantastic fellows, minus the part where they didn't book a room soon enough, so were stuck begging for space on my floor.

Adding to my misery is the fact that I will actually have to get a decent amount of sleep this trip, a Vegas first. With a minimum of four games in two days (and potential for 6 in 3), drinking until incapacitation will not occur. In theory. I'm gonna need at least six hours per night. In theory. I'm going to need to keep hydrated. I'll also be logging serious jacuzzi time.

The plan is to play poker most of the day Friday and I'm getting in relatively early. Unlike blackjack and craps, I can't play poker with any degree of skill when wasted. So it will force me to remain relatively sober, keeping me primed for Saturday's soccer games. Then, depending on our results, I might just drink myself into a stupor on Saturday (if we can still advance, I'll take it easy; if we're out...giddyup). Our last game ends right about the time the NFL playoffs start, so a bar, a sportsbook and an attentive cocktail waitress might just be the spot for the following seven hours. And then I could pass out relatively early for Sunday's games. Or--OR!--I could stay up all night -EV gamb000ling with all my football bet winnings. Theory dis-proved.


Jack Bauer is back on the air. Goddamn I feel verile when I watch that show. It's the yin to my yang.


Strange thing I did regarding this blog. Or, other people think it's strange. See, I didn't tell anyone about it. Not even The Mrs. until about two weeks ago. I guess I wanted to write what I wanted to write without having my friends and family comment on it. I didn't want the knowledge that they would be reading it to cloud what I wanted to write. But the cat's out of the bag. One of my friends found it. And now they all have it. Which I'm fine with. To prove how fine I am with it, I'm linking the friend who found it. A couple things about jules. One, he's not fat. But making fat jokes ABOUT him is funny. You'll have to trust me on that one. Try it in his comments section. Second, he's a great guy and his new blog looks interesting (especially to Bay Area folks), even if he can't spell "restaurant." Still not convinced? He has pictures of Jessica Alba's butt.

That's the end of this post, so don't feel guilty about clicking on jules' link too quickly after that last sentence. Au revoir.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Waiting for the Sun

Let's say you're an average, run-of-the-mill guy. You've got some wit. You're not ugly. You make the median income. You're having a nice time at your local watering hole, chatting with friends, perhaps arguing vigorously over various events of the day. A regular procession of women walk by, some of them ignoring you, some stopping by for a word, some passing by with a quick glance. Yet, none grab hold of you, shake you to your core.

In the back of your mind, you know she will come. The shining light, the burst of energy, the MOMENT. Impatience batters you--an ever-increasing wail in your ear--to the point where you'd rather end your suffering--settle--as opposed to going on.

Yet, you persevere. You KNOW there is something better out there for you. And finally, after what seems like an endless parade of lessers, there she is. She doesn't just show up, nothing so mundane as that. No, she appears. As if conjured from thin air. One moment, she doesn't exist. The next, she's every thought you've ever held.

That's the way I felt when I first laid eyes on my dear and patient wife. And the part about her just appearing...that's exactly how it happened.

Now, there's a point to this. Imagine that just as you are pulled into this woman's orbit, as she begins to MOVE you, another comes and takes her away.

That's kinda how I felt when, four-handed, short-stacked and patient, I catch pocket kings. And the guy I most want to target--Mr. I'll Call an All-In With Any Two Cards and Somehow Manage to Still be in the Goddamn Tournament--calls and flips aces. Puts me out on the bubble. After a long line of 83 offsuit. It was, no exaggeration, the first hand I had to play in 30. And I have to see aces.

So yes, I've reduced the greatest moment of my life--metting The Mrs.--to a poker hand metaphor. Nicholas Sparks, I am not. However, it must be pointed out that I've short-changed her here, for the purposes of my tale. She's been Pocket Aces from Day 1. And she holds up every time.

By the way, what are the odds of two players catching pocket aces in the same hand? How about when they are heads up? Because it just happened. Disappointing, to say the least, from the standpoint of a 3-1 chip underdog.

Holy Party Poker

***** Hand History for Game 1409075195 *****
NL Hold'em $20 Buy-in + $2 Entry Fee Trny:8516551 Level:1 Blinds(10/15) - Saturday, January 08, 19:19:10 EDT 2005
Table Table 14279 (Real Money)
Seat 10 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 2: ( $800 )
Seat 5: ( $800 )
Seat 6: ( $800 )
Seat 7: ( $800 )
Seat 4: ( $800 )
Seat 3: ( $800 )
Seat 8: ( $800 )
Seat 9: ( $800 )
Seat 10:( $800 )
Seat 1: ( $800 )
Trny:8516551 Level:1
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Seat 9 [ 7h 8h ]
Seat 3 raises [60].
Seat 4 calls [60].
Seat 5 folds.
Seat 6 folds.
Seat 7 raises [600].
Seat 8 folds.
Seat 9 folds.
Seat 10 is all-In [800]
Seat 1 folds.
Seat 2 folds.
Seat 3 is all-In [740]
Seat 4 is all-In [740]
Seat 7 is all-In [200]
** Dealing Flop ** [ Ad, 6h, 7c ]
** Dealing Turn ** [ 5s ]
** Dealing River ** [ Tc ]
Seat 7 [ Qc, Qd ] a pair of queens.
Seat 10 shows [ Jc, Jd ] a pair of jacks.
Seat 3 shows [ Kc, Kd ] a pair of kings.
Seat 4 shows [ Ah, As ] three of a kind, aces.
Seat 4 wins 3225 chips from the main pot with three of a kind, aces.

Update: Mr. Trip Aces turned out to be a calling station of the first order. By the end of Level 3, he had blown more than 2/3rds of his stack. If he paid to see the flop, he stayed until the river, regardless. And he saw a lot of flops. I mean, he could have posted "away and fold," come back in 40 minutes and been in the money. Never underestimate the retardedness of your typical Party Poker player.

For the record, I pulled a second and, get this, am now up a dollar--a single, a buck--for the week. Now, I know this arbitrary weekly accounting doesn't paint an adequate picture. Life is one big poker session, and all that. But I'm the guy who balances his checkbook three times a week. I'm the guy who calculates pot odds when playing nickel-dime-quarter with his family. And I'm the guy who needs to know how far up or down far down I am at any given moment.

But I'm working on it.

Do Not Call List

I just played 4 hands in the tourney without a call button.

One went to the river.

Good thing I'm comfortable with raise and fold poker.


I've decided to make this a running diary of my tourney, since it seems I'll be here a while. At the end of the first hour, we've only lost 3 players from my table. And even those guys didn't go out on bad plays. Tight, solid players all the way around. We're trading chips back and forth. I sit with T1585 at the first break, about T300 below average. 1075 players remaining. Nearly half the field trimmed, but no free chips to be had at my table.

My big hand was Big Slick of spades. Two spades and a King on the flop. Got one caller to the river. Was hoping he was on a flush draw and it hit. It didn't and he folded to my bet when another King landed on the river. Still picked up about T600 there.

Pocket Queens. My death hand. Lost with it 3 times last night. I call a 3x raise pre-flop one from the button. Flop, naturally, is A K A. Pre-flop raiser bets 100 and I raise to see where I'm at. He calls. Uh oh. Turn is another King. Are you shitting me? Now all I've got is a kicker. He checks, I check. River is a rag. He checks, I check. He has Q10s and we split it. If I wasn't so goddamn gun-shy from that hand, I could have taken the pot with a bet on the turn.

Pocket 7s in the BB. A minmum raise from the CO. I call. One over card--a nine--on the flop. He calls my T200 bet. Rag on the turn. He calls my T200 bet. Ace on the river. He raises my T200 bet all-in.

Bastard. He slow-played me, or spiked his overcard. I'm 90% sure it was the latter.

Two hands later, I'm down to T960 and I push with 8s. Pre-flop raiser and blinds fold and I chip up to 1310. Nice.

And I'm out. Limp with KJs and flop comes Jack high. I push and get called by limping pocket Queens. My death hand, with a twist.

Shorter diary than I had hoped.

Don't CalI it a Comeback

I was all set to blog today about my negative running: the bad beats, running into monsters, frigid decks.

But I won't.

For one, variance is a fact of life. After the tremendous two weeks I had prior to this one, I knew it couldn't last. Sure, it's frustrating, but it's a fact of the poker player's life. And it's when things aren't going well that you really have to hitch up your shorts and concentrate on playing your best. In fact, despite the beatings I've been taking on the SnGs, I've managed to mitigate the losses with some good results in the limit ring games. Such that my bankroll has only taken a relatively small hit when compared to the run of the last two weeks.

For two, I just ran over a table. Absolutely crushed it. Everything I touched turned to gold. Quite a contrast to last night's bloodbath (It was literally a bloodbath. I got a bloody nose at one point). I was up pretty late and went to bed with a brutal suckout lodged in my head. Note to fish: Keep playing K10o to my 5x pre-flop raises, when I'm holding AA. I'll get it eventually.

Anyway, onto today. I doubled up early when flopping top two pair and calling an all-in. Thanks. Then I got AQo one from the button. I limped (Level 2) and four saw the flop. And oh what a flop: K J 10, rainbow. A 100 bet from MP and I smooth call. The SB comes over the top for 400. MP calls and I put 'em both all-in. Really, it could not have played any better. SB was on a bluff-draw--holding Qx, and MP had AK. I now had T3500 at Level 2.

Every hand I got for the next two orbits, every raise I made pre-flop, was respected. Didn't have to play one of 'em. Then, we rolled into a predictable pattern. The player to my right kept raising my BB if he was first in. EVERY time. I couldn't get anything to defend, though I contemplated coming over the top a couple times. I could spare the chips if called. But I resisted. Helping that discipline was the fact that I kept raising the BB to my left and winning those chips back.

Late on, I' still the overwhelming chip leader and I get The Hammer in the BB. I'm telling myself I'm coming over the top of the SB raise no matter what. Alas, his raise was all-in (slightly less than half my chips) and I wussed. But I get A8o in the SB and prepare to raise the BB...again. When the following chat appears:

Seat 4: ok
Seat 4: i,m ready
Seat 4: raise it
Seat 4: you do every time

So, apparently, I've perturbed him. I don't exactly know what to make of his challenge. False bravado or he's finally got a hand to defend. We're four-handed and he's the short stack. The challenge does give me pause, but my lead is so huge, I can handle a hit and I might even be ahead.

I wasn't.

I put him all in and he had A9o. But I catch the 8 and finish him off. Hooray! I get to suck people out, too. Quite a change of pace.

Emboldened, I call an all-in in the BB a short time later with A3o. The SB, the perennial raiser, shows A6o. I catch the wheel on the river to put him out.


Now it's just me, with T7880 and what you might call a small stack. He doubles up once, but is finished a hand later.

Our long national nightmare is over! A full week between SnG wins. And the win puts me down a negligible amount for the week. There's a lesson here. I'm too dumb to fully grasp it, but it has something to do with just continuing to play your best, no matter what the results. If you're a good player--and I'm certainly not yolking myself with that title--if you play well, it'll turn. Something about less focus on bankroll and results vs. honest evaluation of play, too. I really need to work on handling the emotional swings. I spend way too much time in the fetal position after a suckout. And way too much time in self-congratulation after a win (this post being Exhibit A).

Okay, everybody calm down.

I'm gonna play the $5/$1-multi today on Party, because...well...I like playing for four hours for the change to win $25. And I like running through a hail of gunfire in the first hour of ridiculous bets.

Friday, January 07, 2005

A Matter of Degrees

Oh, the weather outside is frightful. In my cubicle, it's not exactly delightful...

It is absolutely miserable outside. One of the bleakest weather days I can recall in my Los Angeles history. The much-ballyhooed rain isn't exactly torrential (edit: now it is), but it's falling sideways. Up to 60 mph winds have been forecast and it's a bitterly cold wind at that. It is days like these that riding the train to work is truly worth it.

Yet, through all the grayness and gloom, there is a bright, shining light on the horion, giving off considerable warmth:

I'll be in Vegas in a week.

Too bad I'm gonna miss this by a day. Having heard Eric Chavez interviewed on dozens of occassions, I'm reasonably confident I could bust him out inside a half hour. This is the guy who, when asked about Paul McCartney--who was playing a concert next door to the Oakland Coliseum--replied, "Who are the Beatles?"

Regardless, preparations are beginning in earnest. I'm fine-tuning the compilation CDs for the boring drive through the desert. The key to every disc is to slot the up-tempo numbers at a time when they are most necessary, during the flat wastelands south of the Mojave, provide a little giddyup to the monotony. I'll actually have a couple teammates in the car with me and that always helps.

After six-thousand e-mails and endless research, we're staying at Excalibur. Rates are surprisingly cheap for a holiday weekend (less than less illustrious and worse located properties such as Orleans and Stratosphere) and with all the blogger--and other--tales of the softness of the Excalibur poker room, it's a perfect choice. At least the dealers should show a hint of recognition when I drop The Hammer.

We got our schedule revised, too. No more 8 a.m. starts. Moved to 9 a.m. on both days and that hour seems like 10. Could be very crucial.

I have to say something here. A couple of my teammates, very good friends of mine and participants in many of our Vegas runs, are not coming. Their wives won't let them. Now, that's fine. I'm not one to judge. But it DOES illustrate how lucky I am to have a dear and patient wife who not only allows my frequent Vegas trips, but indulges my interests, such as soccer and poker (and, uh, other -EV gambling exercises). And I'll tell ya, when she comes along, those are the best trips of all. She loses her mind a little bit when going off on a bender. Not in a bad way. Just in a way where she doesn't remember much. One time, I was playing blackjack and she was peering over my shoulder (and sucking down whiskey sours). The table was lively and the dealer was very entertaining. So much so that my dear and patient wife felt compelled to shout, "C'mon dealer! Give my baby a BJ!"

There was about a 90 second delay in the dealing of the next hand, such is the extent to which hilariy ensued.

Playing has been a grind this week. The Bad Beat Jackpot on Party was up over 450K last night, so I was taking a shot at it (as I have all week). Alas, somebody hit it, somebody not named me. I did post a bit of a profit there for the week, however. A good thing considering my uneven week in the SnGs. Six out of 16 in the money, none of them wins. The latter is REALLY frustrating as I've been heads up 4 times this week and TWICE had my opponent all-in when ahead. Both times I got drawn out on. Now, I'm not one to complain about second- and third-place finishes, profit is profit. But I like to win. And if I don't win, I'm unfulfilled.

Which may explain my all-too-often bubble finishes. Four-handed, I'll take risks if I have a hand. I'm not content to wait for someone else to drop. Is this an error of aggression? Putting the cart (winning) before the horse (cashing)?

A good example of a bubble finish last night. I've got T1050, blinds are 150/300. A vulnerable position, but there is a lower stack (T800) to my left. I get Ad9d on the button and push. BB, and chip leader, calls and turns 10s and I don't improve. Right move? Seems to me I have to play that hand there. The result, and the possibility of being able to fold into the money, makes me question it. Should I?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Wisdom of Hellmuth

"If it wasn't for my man boobs, I'd win every time."

Shake It Up

Quite an eventful evening/early morning for me. First, the power went kaput around 9:30 last night, while I was in the middle of getting cornholed on Party Poker. Luckily, or not, I was on the laptop and had enough battery power to get me to 6th place in a $20 SnG. That, and some plain bad luck on the 2/4 bad beat jackpot tables, and I was down early. The mood was cool, though, with all the candles. Our house looked like a Police video.

I'm happy to report that even though I was losing on the BBJ tables, I saved myself quite a few bets. Didn't get to play much, and when I did, I ran into monsters. Got KK in the small blind and four others saw the flop, despite the betting being capped. Like the recent hand I showed, I was going to bet it aggressively, but I slowed down on the turn. I hadn't improved and one player was raising every chance. So I simply called on the turn, having to put in just a single bet, and when the third diamond hit on the river, it got checked around. The Raiser did indeed have AA. I also managed to throw away TPTK a couple times when it appeared--and was confirmed--that I was beaten. One hand was somewhat memorable. I get Suited Slick on the button. A middle position raise, a call in front of me. I call and SB calls. Flop comes A Q 6 with two clubs (I'm not holding clubs). SB checks, MP bets, a call and I raise, worried only about a set from MP. Everyone calls and I'm no longer worried about a set from MP and put him on kings or jacks. Turn is the 7 of clubs and previously meek SB bets out. Uh oh. I figure flush and I'm drawing dead. Both others call and I fold. River is a rag and I was right, but not exactly right. SB turns over A7o for a winning two pair. A check of the hand history shows MP had Kings and the other also had Big Slick. Good to know that the heavy pre-flop underdog could pull it out.

I have to say that Cloutier and McEvoy's book has helped me in this regard, re-inforcing the idea that your session results depend just as much on hands you don't win as on those you do. Avoiding the long calls, quickly getting away from "Walking Back to Houston," etc.

And it paid off later. The power eventually came back on and I flopped the absolute nuts on my first hand back on the 2/4 BBJ table. Got to see a free flop from the BB with 10 8 of clubs. To my extreme delight, it came down J 9 7 of clubs. Another player also had 10 8 for the flopped straight. Another had the ace of clubs and made the flush on the river. No skill involved here in getting the pot to triple digits, but my profit was greater thanks to the earlier lay downs.

Managed to pull off a second in a $20 SnG later as well (one of three for the day in the money). Lost in the end to a maniac. This guy (thankfully, two to my right) raised nearly every pot pre-flop. Called big raises with ludicrous hands (he knocked out Big Slick with 82s). Naturally, he held a big chip lead. I hadn't had much to play and was sitting about T700 in Level 3 when I got a run of cards. Mr. Maniac paid me off every time. I even limped into the pot when he was in the blinds, knowing I would get a chance to re-raise. He didn't disappoint. I was the chip leader inside a single orbit. He then knocked out the bubble when he flopped a set of queens. Bubble Boy had top pair on the board and was fixin' to get paid off. He couldn't believe Mr. Maniac made a real hand.

I knocked out third place and we were about even in chips. He raised me every single hand. I won some, folded some and then got AQ. He raised, I put him all in. He called with K3o and put me out. No wins this week. And that's the second one I've lost when all-in and ahead. Frustrating.

Then I was rudely awakened this morning just after 4 by an earthquake, maybe the strangest earthquake ever. It was a single jolt, a quick splash of ice water. And then it was done. They always seem longer. For perhaps a millisecond--which dragged on in slow-motion--there was the question of whether it would "catch," like a car engine. Long enough for me to anticipate it. Long enough for me to worry about The Boy. Then, it was gone.

We got a couple others later on, the biggest one as I sat in my car at the trains station. It seemed more of the rolling variety, but that may have just been my new shocks. Nothing serious. I'm a veteran of a dozen earthquakes and am generally not shaken by them (haha! Very Punny!). The only one that ever really induced terror was the Northridge Quake 11 years ago. I was living not far from the epicenter for that one. It also occurred around 4 in the ayem. My first thought was that someone was breaking into my apartment. The windows rattled like the opening bars to Captor of Sin. Then the ground roiled. I was physically pitched out of bed, landing on my knees. Next, I was tossed in the general vicinity of the closet, where I waited out the storm. Unlike previous experiences, the ground didn't just roll this time. It bucked. Violently. For what seemed like an awfully long time.

I've often read that it's these smaller jolts, many of which we don't feel, that relieve stress on the fault lines. I'll take that. Even if it merely postpones The Big One. I also think that if we had one of those quick jolts every day at 5:30 in the morning, I'd never again have to use the snooze button.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different...

The creator of the Bundt cake pan died. Front page news in the Twin Cites.

Everyone has a story to tell about the Bundt cake, one of church socials or block parties, the neighborhood potluck or a backyard barbeque. Aside from providing "regular folds to make it easier to cut," this invention did much more, like lead to an explosion of super-moist cake recipes.

But, and I can't stress this strongly enough to you parents, your child's birthday is NOT the time for a Bundt cake. There isn't even any damn frosting. Don't gyp them, as my parents may or may not have gypped me.

What am I babbling on about? I dunno. I just don't have any remotely interesting poker content and this thing is called "The Obituarium," after all. And I like saying "Tunnel of Fudge Cake."

Monday, January 03, 2005

Action Hand

Thought I'd update this, now that I've had some time to digest the hand. Although, the thoughts I'm going to write are prety much what I was thinking at the time.

***** Hand History for Game 1387290690 *****
$2/$4 Hold'em - Monday, January 03, 23:12:03 EDT 2005
Table Bad Beat Jackpot #984965 (Real Money)
Seat 9 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 1: ($124.75)
Seat 2: ($158)
Seat 3: ($183.75)
Seat 5: ($5)
Seat 6: ($25)
Seat 8: ($10)
Seat 9: ($46.5 )
Seat 10:($101)
Seat 7: Hero ($160)
Seat 4: ($214)
Seat 10 posts small blind [$1].
Seat 1 posts big blind [$2].
Seat 4 posts big blind [$2].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ As Ac ]
Seat 2 folds.
Seat 3 folds.
Seat 4 checks.
Seat 5 folds.
Seat 6 raises [$4].
Hero raises [$6].
Seat 8 folds.
Seat 9 calls [$6].
Seat 10 folds.
Seat 1 calls [$4].
Seat 4 calls [$4].
Seat 6 raises [$4].
Hero calls [$2].
Seat 9 calls [$2].
Seat 1 calls [$2].
Seat 4 calls [$2].
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess there are a couple folks out there with high pocket pairs. And a couple folks out there with garbage.

** Dealing Flop ** [ 5d, 2s, 9c ]

This is just about the greatest flop--if it has to miss me--one could hope for in a 5-handed pot holding pocket Aces.

Seat 1 checks.
Seat 4 checks.
Seat 6 bets [$2].
Hero raises [$4].
Seat 9 calls [$4].
Seat 1 calls [$4].
Seat 4 calls [$4].
Seat 6 raises [$4].
Hero raises [$4].
Seat 9 calls [$4].
Seat 1 calls [$4].
Seat 4 calls [$4].
Seat 6 calls [$2].
At the risk of giving away the ending, the guy with the worst hand and almost no draw has, at this point, called seven bets

** Dealing Turn ** [ Jh ]
Seat 1 checks.
Seat 4 checks.
Seat 6 bets [$4].
Hero raises [$8].
Seat 9 raises [$12].
Me, to wife: I think someone just made a set
Seat 1 calls [$12].
Seat 4 calls [$12].
Seat 6 is all-In [$5]
Hero calls [$4].
** Dealing River ** [ Tc ]
Seat 1 checks.
Seat 4 checks.
Hero bets [$4].
Petulant. A bet made out of spite. Had no idea what seat 1 was holding, but I had already figured out Seat 9 had me. Could have saved myself two big bets.
Seat 9 calls [$4].
Seat 1 raises [$8].
The unmitigated gall of this guy. Chases a ridiculous hand, gets his miracle runner-runner, THEN CHECK-RAISES!?
Seat 4 folds.
Hero calls [$4].
Seat 9 calls [$4].
Seat 1 shows [ Qd, Kc ] a straight, nine to king.
Seat 4 doesn't show [ Ks, Kd ] a pair of kings.
Hero doesn't show [ As, Ac ] a pair of aces.
Seat 9 doesn't show [ Jd, Js ] three of a kind, jacks.
Seat 1 wins $36 from side pot #1 with a straight, nine to king.
Seat 1 wins $122.5 from the main pot with a straight, nine to king.

That pot would have made my week. What occurred to me later was, considering those starting hands, that's about as close as I've ever been to hitting the bad beat jackpot.

KQo vs. capped bets pre- and post-flop with only a double-gunshot draw. I can't even conceive it. The unusual thing about the hand was the lack of chat after the hand. No complaints, no aquarium tapping. Just stunned silence.

Ah well, I had a pretty good idea when five people stayed for the flop that my chances weren't great, though I perked up with that flop. And I erred by not checking the river. I'd feel a lot better about it if the jagoff with KQo didn't pull the chips.

Branching Out

I am as much a New Year’s Resolution kind of guy as I am a Dressing Up in Fishnets kind of guy. Which is to say, not at all. The turn of the year is simply a convenient marker to examine one’s life. I take shots at introspection more often than that, not that I meet with regular success.

So, this is not a magna carta of “must do’s.” This is not a laundry list of solutions to smoothing out the wrinkles in the linen shirt that is my poker life (congratulations to me for the worst metaphor ever). It is simply a kick-off, a celebration, of the first New Year where I am a regular poker player--more importantly, a serious poker student—and what hills I expect to climb on my way to (hopefully) greater knowledge.

* Play more multi-table tournaments. Two- and three- table SnGs, the smaller buy-in tourneys on Party ($20, $30). I’ve been successful with the single-table format, but, as discussed here previously, it is largely because of my tight style. Can’t fold your way mostly to the money in the multi-table format. I need to develop my skills here, especially in loosening up during the early orbits and playing better poker than my opponents after the flop.

* Play more B&M. Indian casinos are sprouting and expanding around me like weeds. The closest is 20 minutes away. I can’t envision truly growing as a serious player with the overwhelming majority of play coming online. It’s too lazy, too anonymous.

* Find a nearby home game. Anybody know one? Area code 951? I’ll bring liquor. And a cheery disposition.

* Play more ring games. Sensing a pattern here? I’ve become so comfortable with my single-table SnGs. I like the format, I’ve been successful, but am I learning much at this point? I think a little. Some knowledge and experience is trickling through. But it’s specialized. I’m a long-snapper. Growing as a player demands I expand my palette.

* Read more poker books. Got one for Christmas, and it had been so long since I picked one up, I’d forgotten how enjoyable and inspirational they could be. When you can take that inspiration and apply it directly into action...giddyup.

* Don’t flake on the blog. Goodness knows I enjoy writing here, but it’s not exactly a haven for instant gratification. Yes, at it’s most basic, I do it for me, but a goal for anyone who writes has to be to inform or entertain others. I’d like to manage that last part. So, basically, write gooder.

* Get my ass handed to me at the late-night $25 NL blogger table.

* Less focus on bankroll. Yes, to move up limits, I need to build my stack. The two go hand in hand. But to be able to COMPETE at the higher limits, there needs to be a focus on my continuing education, not just the numbers in my account. I could go on posting a solid ROI at the $20 SnGs, but that does not automatically prepare me for playing at higher levels. Emphasis needs to be equally placed on improvement and learning.

* Avoiding tilt. I’ve made strides in this area. Big strides, I think. I’m no longer apt to dive right into another game after taking a beat (or making an error) that strongly, and negatively, affects me. Still, letting go of the sting of such hands is taking longer than it should. Furthermore, I need to recognize the more subtle forms of tilt, those that cause me to play at below my abilities. Playing “scared,” playing without maximum focus (i.e. also watching Chelsea beat Liverpool), playing after drinking for 8 hours.

So, there it is, a rosy look ahead at 2005. May it bring good cards to us all.