Thursday, March 31, 2005

WPBT Recap

I took a health class one time which encouraged what seemed to me a strange method of quitting smoking. The text suggested power smoking ciggie after ciggie, thus making yourself ill and theoretically turning you off to the evil tobacco forever and ever. I laughed then and now at that method, since loading yourself up with all that addictive goodness as a manner of quitting would prolong your withdrawl symptoms.

Yet, after 10 hours of poker and blogging yesterday, I'm ready for a break from the tables. Yikes. I over-indulged at the Hold 'Em buffet. Too much starch. I feel literally awful this morning. My back is yelping, there have been two nosebleeds, only one of which I initiated with over-aggressive picking, and I lapse into double vision once an hour. Add that to the seeping guilt over my 24-hour disregard for parenting and husbanding, and you have one motherfucker of a poker hangover.

That said, I had a blast. I wish I wasn't playing in that $5 re-buy when the WPBT event began. Early details from the latter are a little fuzzy. I know I was seated with Bob, stannum and John-Paul in the beginning. Later joined by Chris Halverson, who was replaced by pokerprof. I know there was at least one other blogger there, but he escapes me just now. All apologies. If you're out there, lemme know and I'll edit.

I chipped up a bit in the first hour with a couple big pockets (aces and queens, I think). Those extra chips helped me bet stannum out of a pot where I held 99 and he held 88. There was a king on the flop and he raised my bet. I called and then put the pressure back on him on the rag turn with a T500 bet. I certainly didn't know I was ahead, but I figured with my extra chips I could get him to fold a better hand (like TT or JJ) with that king out there. Fold he did, and a good one at that.

Then my JJ ran into Big Slick and a river ace to cut me in half. That one hurt. Instead of a Big Stack, I'm back to starting chip level at the break.

Second hour is fuzzy, too. I blame the beer. Other tough hand was all-in pre-flop (I raised, was called in one spot and re-raised by the pokerprof) with AQs. prof showed KT and third player Big Slick. I thought I was in Suckout Heaven when I flopped a queen. But there was also a 9. And prof hit the Jack(pot) on the turn. You sonofagun. I did get the side pot from Big Slick, however, and was still in it, though just barely.

I managed to pull myself back up to about T1100. Then I pushed over the top of a 4x raise with Big Slick. Pre-flop raiser called with KT. Turned a ten to put me out. And that, folks, is how reader mad_scorpion gets his name in the blog. He promised to start reading here as penance for his brutal infliction of suckouttery. Just kidding, bud. You played well. I finished 25th of 109, a slightly better result than my 144th place standing last time out. Thanks also to Glyph (LA Blogger Solidarity is a beautiful thing), Pauly and others for sweating and entertaining.

I stuck around to watch the finish, resisting the overwhelming urge to provide Vince Van Patten-esque commentary at the Final Table (Iggy's stack dwarfs the others; pumpkin carves out another win). Seriously, you folks don't know how close you were to being subjected to that tripe. Congrats to GameC for his win and to all the others top finishers.


Okay, so I really am an addict. Despite all of the above, the endless hours of poker, blogging, drinking and my complaints about it all, I played some .10/.25 NL Omaha Hi/Lo while sweating the final table. I, um, tripled my buy-in. In 20 minutes. I'm new to the Omaha game, but feel like I'm picking it up in leaps and bounds. Of course, when you twice turn a wheel and get nimrods to pay you off, it's easy to profit. Which is exactly what happened last night. I'd wager there will be a big jump in the Omaha content in this space in the coming weeks. As such, can anyone recommend a good source for Omaha knowledge? A site, a book? Appreciate it.

I AM actually gonna take a break from the tables. Definitely tonight, probably Friday and definitely Saturday, which is the dear and patient wife's birthday. Nevertheless, I will have a post up tomorrow, one I've been working on for a while. Don't get too excited, it's about baseball. Opening Day is Monday, you know. A national holiday around my house. Maybe a running diary on Monday if I re-gain the feeling in my legs.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Wednesday Poker 3000m Steeplechase (Cont.)

4:37: Picked up a thousand chips with 99, moving all-in over the top of one limper and a 3x raise. Thanks for folding, kids. I'm usually not that aggressive, but I'm 3 beers in. Not to mention I'm the tightest player BY FAR at this table and one would think somebody noticed along the line. We'll see. It's time to turn it up.

4:49: First Test of Above Theory: So far, so good. 4x raise one from the button with A8o gets the blinds.

4:54: A8s in MP takes the blinds, as well. Looks like folks are tightening up. At this point, it would be correct to comment on changing gears in these tourneys, how it was crazy loose early and seems to be tightening up now, which is natural. And my idea is to be opposite. Tight early, aggressive later. It's a theory. It's a plan. I have no doubt, after mentioning it, that it will bite me in the ass.

4:57: Anyone ever been literally bitten in the ass? I have. Eight-years-old, tennis ball over the fence, neighbor dog caught me on the left butt cheek. Little sucker actually hung there for a while as I tried to fend him off. I'll show you the scar in Vegas. You don't even have to ask.

4:59: AJ just showed me a picture he drew. It's "an alligator reading a book." No imagination problems.

5:00: One hour 'til the WPBT. Up to 60 combatants. Boy, I hope I don't embarass myself again. I might fold the first 6 levels.

5:08: Congratulations are in order. I made a good fold, my first of the day. A9o in the SB and I complete. Flop comes AJx and I toss out 200 to test the waters. Am raised to 600 by a limper. And I fold. She (her name is OhioPrincess, so I assume it's a "she" unless Iggy is gender-bending his screen names again) is proud to show her pocket Js. Better kicker and I go broke on that hand.

5:14: Alright. My first big pot of the day. Pocket 7s and flop the set. One comes along until the turn on a flush draw. Folds on the river. Plenty of chips to play relative to the blinds. Not so much in relation to the other players, but plenty of time.

5:15: An all-in over the top of my 4x (800) raise with 66. I have to let it go. T7500

5:18: 4x raise with Big Slick UTG+1 gets blinds and antes. Here come the cards?

5:19: Wow. Folds all the way around to my BB (J6o). First time since the Carter Administration.

5:21: The Earth is back on its axis. With two limpers in front, I limp with KT of diamonds. Flop is all black. That's what happens when I'm looking flush.

5:23: Think I've got a pretty good read on this group. Which will naturally lead to a horrid mis-read in the next five minutes.

5:24: Living dangerously. 4x (1600) raise UTG with 66. I get folds. I know the UTG raise gets extra respect--or should--but I surely don't want callers there. And it's a long way around the table.

5:27: Gonna try to take the blinds with Mr. October in LP. Until the 3 raises in front of me. Had a better hand than the guy who won the pot (unimproved Big Slick). Woulda been put to the test, for sure.

5:29: Big Slick from the previous is a huge stack and willing to call most anything. Must watch out for small pre-flop raises.

5:31: He'll pay a brother off, too, calling an all-in from the nut straight with middle pair. And expresses surprise.

5:32: He'll pay a brother off again with bottom two pair. The same brother. Who now has more chips than the former Big Stack.

5:35: Primus' "Frizzle Fry" gettin' us in the groove at present. This disc was the soundtrack for a good 18 months of my life. Right after college, I lived in a rented house with 3 buddies from high school. It was dubbed "Castle West" or, more often, just The Castle. It was an ironic name. A more appropriate one would have been "Hovel West." It was a very "Tale of Two Cities" time of my life. I've never had more fun. I'd never been more miserable. That might not make much sense, but trust me. I bang out the saga in this space at some point, a meandering tale of drug use (not abuse; okay, maybe a little), rock and roll, missed opportunity, broken hearts, spiritual lethargy and plummeting self-esteem. I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. I would never want to re-live it.

5:40: Hey look! A poker tournament! At the second break I am 189th of 244 remaining with a "stack" well below average and 13x the BB. Two smokes left.

5:40: Twenty minutes until the WPBT. 90 registered. Gonna be tough to blog and play two tourneys at once. (Another excuse to suck in the event)

5:45: Serious bidness now. No limping. No drawing past the flop. A lot of chips in play and folks are using them.

5:48: Big Slick pays another brother off. This times it's me. I double up with AA vs. his 66. I now have more chips than he does. Gotta love raising two limpers in front, having one call and the other re-raise. I didn't slow-play 'em ghost. Standard 4x raise.

5:51: When I grow up I want to of the harvsters of the sea. Yes, I'm singing along. Loudly.

5:56: AH HA! I folded to a min. raise from loose-ass Big Slick in the BB with a playable hand (QTs). Aces. Got a guy's whole stack, too. Yep. History repeating.

7:05: As I said, no way I can blog while playing in two tourneys. I'm down to one, falling out of the re-buy in 81st. Never could get a playable stack. Things were going well in the Blogger tourney until I lost a coin flip with JJ vs/ AKo. Ace on the river cut me in half. Still in it, but a relatively short stack. All for now. Re-cap tomorrow. I'm done. D.O.N.E.

Wednesday Poker 3000m Steeplechase

I occurs to me that documenting my play in such a complete fashion truly reveals what a donkey I am. Well, in my defense I never really professed to be anything different. Even donkeys get the odd good result. It also occurs to me that this is not very entertaining.

So, time to drink. Not that pouring barley and hops down my gullet makes me funnier. It does, most definitely, make me more stupid, and that's where the entertainment lies. In theory.

3:30: It's crazy re-buy tourney time. 681 entries.

3:31: I only play strong hands in these things and I never re-buy off the top. Generally, that makes me an anomaly. In a perfect world, I don't re-buy or add-on and get a nice over-lay on my money. I am willing to re-buy and add-on, but not to excess. Two re-buys and an add-on is my self-imposed limit. But I'll dump out after one if I'm not feelin' it.

3:37: Alice in Chains "Dirt" on the turntable. ANOTHER band with a dead singer that's better than Pearl Jam.

3:39: I see there's another big fan of Mary Louise Parker out there. Boy Genius is a learned man with impeccable taste. I wonder if he has eliminated Billy Crudup from his life after the soul-scarring treatment of our MJP. And for what? Claire Danes? With that 12-year-old boy's body and face like a broodmare? Please. MJP is a woman. A Wo. Man. Her West Wing character is the first TV personality to stir my loins to this level since Pinky Tuscadero and Kelly from the Mickey Mouse Club, the latter being the one and only person to whom I've ever written a fan letter. Gimme a break, I was 11. Back to MJP, she's the only reason I made it through the interminable "Angels in America" on HBO. And the sight of her post-childbirth with her milked-up chestal area was enough to send a man into convulsions. You'll never see Claire Danes fill out a dress like that.

3:42: Whenever you see a long paragraph, assume a lot of folds.

3:46: Regularly five to the flop. Not my bag, baby.

3:36: All we have to drink in this house is Tecate, the Mexican Pabst Blue Ribbon. Which was fine when I was 20 and had the digetive system to manage it. Clearly, I could have planned this better.

3:48:During current Hold'em session you were dealt 22 hands and saw flop:
- 1 out of 3 times while in big blind (33%)
- 0 out of 3 times while in small blind (0%)
- 1 out of 16 times in other positions (6%)
- a total of 2 out of 22 (9%)


3:49: Jesus, I'm almost out of cigs, too. Might as well be shipwrecked.

3:54: You know it's a re-buy when people call an all-in w/ATs at Level 2. T3000 is only two clicks away. That guy's in for $20.50 already and still has the same chance to do well as, say, someone who hasn't re-bought yet and doesn't mind sitting around with T1300 and waiting for a shot.

3:58: WPBT update: 41 entries. Late rush coming? Or will I get my first Top 100 finish?

4:00: I wonder what happened to The Rooster? That was the nickname we gave a co-worker who loved Alice in Chains more than life itself. He was also the reason for one of the most outrageous laughing fits I ever had. You know those where you can't breathe, let alone talk? And talk is what I needed to do. This was right after college when I took a second job in a well known coffee chain that was not well-known at all at the time. William Katt, the star of "Greatest American Hero" came in the store and after I took his order, I walked into the back room humming the oh-so-catchy theme song to the show. The Rooster picked up on it and began singing it. At the top of his lungs. With the door to the back room open. I couldn't inform him that Katt was there and he might want to stop. I was dying.

4:06: That doesn't read very funny. A had to be there moment, I guess.

4:08: I never make flushes in NL. Never. Even when I have big suiteds. Suited connectors? Forget it. I hate flushes. Flushes are gay. By which I do not disparage homosexuals. It's an idiom. Ayway, I don't play suited one-gappers or Axs or Kxs unless it's a family pot and I'm in LP. I don't make flushes then, either. A lot of people DO play those hands and those are the types that make flushes. All the time. Against my big pairs.

4:11: Just won my first pot with T7s in the BB. Made the nut straight on the turn. Got paid on my value bets. Which begs the question: Would I have gotten paid off by re-buy lunatics if I went all-in? The more I think about it, the more I think yes. File under "Next Time."

4:13 I'm 513th in chips of 554 remaining. But I'm only in for $5.50.

4:14: Gettin' a little bitchy in chat. Loose all-in calls coming out on top. Every hand seems to have one pre-flop.

4:15: Level 4. Here's where I'm willing to call with speculative hands and either double up or go broke. Doubbe up and take the add-on and I'm getting a nice overlay. Go broke and re-buy twice and add-on and I'm in for $20.50 which isn't much. I prefer the former, naturally. Or I get nothing to play and re-buy once and add-on for $15.50. I have no idea if this is proper play or not. Haven't read much on the subject. Really just lookking at bankroll considerations and buy-in related to the prize pool.

4:18: AJs all-in pre-flop vs. AQo. Both flop a pair; jack on the river to give it to the massive underdog. I hate poker. Even though I wasn't in this hand. Still, it reinforces what I've been trying to tell you people all along: AJ is gold.

4:22: Big pre-flop raise with Big Slick. Called in four bleeping places. I shouldn't play these things. Flop comes Jack-high and I fold. QJo enjoys my chips.

4:26: I should shut up. I played K6 of diamonds on the button with 5 limpers. Made my flush on the turn.

4:27: In my defense, that was exctly the sort of speculative hand I was talking about earlier. If I go broke on it, no biggie. As is, I more than doubled up. I'm still liable to bet T900 or so on another hand to try to a) get more chips or b) fall below the re-buy level. Worth taking a shot, I think.

4:30: And there's AQ to fill the bill. And break me. AK. In the last hand of the level. So, timing is everything. Two re-buys and an add-on. T5000 and an investment of $20.50.

4:32: AJ--my son, not the hand--just whacked me in the forehead with a spoon. When I strongly suggested he not do that because it hurts, he whacked himself in the forehead. I'm thinking nuclear physics is in his future.

4:35: 485 players remaining, me at 356th, average is T9000. Prize pool is $13,830. 54 places paid. Three smokes left.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday Poker 10K

And we're back...

Calling this a "Marathon" over-stated my stamina a little bit. So, consider it revised. I can only hope it doesn't turn into a 400 meters.

I'm freshly shorn, freshly scrubbed and freshly filled. It's called a Farmer's Burger and it's two pounds of greasy goodness that no bun can hold. Two patties, cheese, guacamole, onions, lettuce, tomato, 1000 Island dressing and a miniature defibrilator.


Anyway (back) on with the show.

12:53 p.m.: We're seven minutes away from the start of Tourney #3 in the drive for the WSOP Freeroll. It's now or never. Absent a result here, I think I'm out of it. Which probably won't preclude me from playing another tourney if I choke this one away early. Depending on the circumstances, of course.

12:56: "Top Gun" is on. the first time I saw this film I was pissed off. That's because I was only watching it (not really watching, more like drinking and playing Bong Darts) because the cable company fucked us all and we weren't getting the Leonard-Hagler fight we had ordered on pay-per-view. It finally came on in the 7th round. Only slightly before a house full of 40 drunken college students stormed the cable office with torches and empty kegs of Moosehead. Does anyone drink Moosehead any more?

1:00: And away they go...

1:01: 527 competitors, $10,540 prize pool, 54 places paid.

1:01: One hand and I'm moved. Too bad, had a pretty good read on the table.

1:03: Music: Nirvana Box Set, Disc 2.

1:04 Uh oh. We have a table prompter. A guy who just lost nearly his entire stack with Big Slick calling QQ's pre-flop push "questionable." Of course, he has "420" in his name, so he's probably a little high.

1:06: He's all-in with Big Slick again and falls to TT. "Walking Back to Houston." Where the pipe is, presumably.

1:14: Dropped 400 with AQo to short-stacked QJs. Crock. Of. Shit.

1:16: Got most of it back with KQs and flopping trip Queens. Flop raise is folded around. I don't think it's any coincidence this hand occurred just as my favorite song in the Box Set began. It's a cover of VU's "Here She Comes Now." I encourage everyone to hear it.

1:22: Speaking of Nirvana, anybody read the Sports Guys totally erroneous rendering of the great Nirvana-Pearl Jam debate? Just awful and factually incorrect.I get personal preference and if he thinks Vedder & Co. "surpassed" Nirvana prior to Cobain's suicide, he's entitled to his opinion. But to pass that off as everybody's preference at the time is provably wrong. I researched several Critic's Lists from 1993 and "In Utero" topped "Vs." in Every. Single. One. This is a subject about which I am admittedly obnoxious and unwavering in my belief, so I'll just leave it at that (to the relief of people who know me).

1:29: 400 meters, it is. I just flopped trip queens again with KQ. Got all-in vs. AQ. Unbelievable. T100 left. 2x the BB for those of you scoring at home.

1:31: Funny. AA and all get are the blinds. Up to T175, though!

1:34: Funny. AA and all I get are the blinds. T250!

1:37: Split pot with AQ and a blind steal and I'm up to T412. Not dead yet.

1:39: Jesus. JJ now. No callers.

1:40: This is considerably more action than I usually get in the first hour. The first two hours.

1:41: More blinds with AQ. This is silly. T562.

1:43: That's two AA's, two AQ's and a JJ in 12 minutes. And a flopped top pair in the BB w/Q4o. T662

1:43: AK now in the SB. I just completed. Flop missed me. Probably coulda stolen it with a big pre-flop raise. Limper and BB both had Jack-high. Tenative play there.

1:46: AQ again. We're all-in. AJs doubles us up. Lookee there! T1374. IT IS ALIVE!

1:50: I do not recall a rush of starting hands like that ever. I'd like to request I get them next time in the 4th hour of a tourney, not the first. Not that I'm complaining.

2:00: Survived the first hour, in the most literal sense. Blinded down to T1074, with me in the 150 BB to start hour two. Haven't seen a flop since the last all-in, which is a reasonable application of the law of averages based on all the big cards I had during Level 3. I did fold QJo when UTG, a hand which would have flopped top two. Of course, I would have lost the hand to AQ with the ace on the river.

2:05: Looking on the bright side of things, I'm used to playing with a relatively short stack at this stage of these tourneys, owing to my ultra-tight m.o. in the first hour. Was down to T450 on Monday night at Level 6 and finished 41st, so there is some precedent. Gotta find wake up with a hand to push here in an orbit or two, however.

2:08: How about KK? Good enough. Doubled up on 88. A little room to manuever now with 12x the BB.

2:11: For no other reason that to fill copy, the avatars at my table: Chappelle as Little Jon, a kick-me dog (Bichon frise or whatever they're called), Phillip Seymour Hoffman, an eagle, Elisha Cuthbert, AJ and three wholly uninteresting people without custom avatars.

2:12: Suited Big Slick takes the blinds.

2:16: Two callers to my 4x raise with AQ. Flop the ace and folds. Nice.

2:21: Solid score with 88 against unimproved AKs who check-called flop and turn bets. T4323, 67th of 166 remaining. Whudda thunk?

2:23: Current playlist is Chevelle. It also bears mentioning that I moved to my lucky chair prior to Level 5. It's far less comfortable than the couch, but I'm willing to sacrifice.

2:25: New avatar at the table. It's an anime-style chick. Or a very pretty boy. Um, moving on...

2:27: Elisha Cuthbert just tried a button steal with a Brunson, got re-raised by the short stack/Anime Girl-Boy in the BB with KQs, called and flopped two pair, but lost to runner-runner flush.

2:30: Big stack at the table (Eagle) is 2nd overall and gamb0000ling. Says one player, "(He's) looser than Jenny McCarthy."

2:32: Pretty loose table in general. Several all-ins on draws. Players dropping quickly. Avatar update: We've been joined by a Futuristic fighter Buy, a Camaro and Jacksonville's Fred Taylor. It's open season now on groin jokes.

2:35: Went for a late positioon steal with JTs (a hand I hate more than almost anyone I know) and the BB calls. Checks the ragged board and folds to my bet. Whew. Memo to self: Stealing on this table might be hazardous to your chip count.

2:39: Antes kickin' in. Time to steal. What? Oh yeah.

2:42: AQ costs me T600 when two kings flop and I run and hide lke the little girl that I am. Still have 15x the BB, but will have less than 10x at the next level. Nothing I haven't faced before and by "before" I mean "always."

2:48 A 4x raise with 77 UTG+1 gets the blinds and antes. I hate that play.

2:49: I hate this one more. Called a min. raise in the BB with A7s. Raise was from Big Stack, who, as I've mentioned is extremely loose. I flopped the 7 with only one overcard. Check-check. Hey, I might be good here. Turn is a 6 and I check-raise all-in. Oh good, he has AA. All of a sudden he's nuanced. 92nd place. That's 3 tourneys this week where I've gone out against slow-played AA. You'd think I might learn. In this case, I used his looseness as an excuse and never got around to running the slow-play possibility thru my head.

2:55: Up next, the $5 re-buy at 3:30. See you then.

Wednesday Poker Marathon

Welcome Sports Fans to the one and only Wednesday Poker Marathon. Before you enmesh yourself in the pending idiocy--or more likely, click away from this drivel as quickly as possible--please go sign up for the WPBT Event this evening at 9 p.n. PST on Poker Stars (password: the hammer). Presently only 29 people signed up. While such a number allows me to safely finish in the top 100 this time, I'm very much a member of the "more the merrier" school.

Let's rock.

8:48 a.m.: First up on the agenda is the $20 MTT on Stars beginning in 12 minutes. "The English Patient" is also beginning on HBO at the same time. Our sound man Bernard bets me $10 the movie lasts longer than I do. He's on.

8:51: We're starting the day off with coffee, while wondering at which point it would be kosher to hit the bottle.

9:00: Game on!

9:02: 451 competitors. $9,020 prize pool. 45 places paid. Don't you people have jobs? Seriously, it's a great world we live in when you can roll out of bed and find a poker tourney before the crust falls from your eyes.

9:05: Okay, I've had about as much of "The Englsih Patient" as I can take.

9:06 Double up. Pocket cowboys.

9:08: AJs is gold. Win a small pot.

9:18: How NOT to play pocket cowboys. Limp, flop a set, smooth call a $40 bet, smooth call a $40 bet on the turn, call off all your chips to a river all in with 4 to the straight on the board.

9:20: There's some short on an HBO channel with Mary Louise Parker. Damn, she does it for me. The voice, I think, is a big part of it. And she seems smart.

9:25: KK is an epidemic at this table. Five hands worth in the first 25. They're 3-2 so far, the second loss running into AA.

9:27: Mary Louise Parker just poisoned a guy.

9:28: First Hammer of the day. I folded in shame to a raise. Don't judge me.

9:30: "Deadwood" is a great show. Best use of "cocksucker" in entertainment since "Glengarry Glen Ross."

9:31: Level 3. Time to rock. any requests? No? Green Day it is. "American Idiot" is superb. Talk about your power pop. More hooks than a BASSMasters event. "Jesus of Suburbia" is the best multi-part epic since "Temples of Sphyrnx."

9:35: Stagnating a bit here in the tourney. A couple pre-flop raises (not a great deal of respect for those around here) and missed flops drop me down a bit. Still, since I'm usually ultra-tight the first hour, I have more chips than usual. A big-time LAG arrived at our table a few minutes ago and is throwing chips around with relish, to good effect so far. The runner-runner straight helped.

9:41: I don't care if you don't, I don't care if you don't, I don't care if you don't care

9:45: Level 4. Just dropped a chunk to a small stack who out-kicked me.

9:48: Good news. I caught the LAG. My QQ vs. his ATo. Bad news. He out-drew me. Bernard wins the bet.

10:00: No tourneys for another 3 hours. Bombing out in the first hour sortra ruins the whole "marathon" aspect of the running diary. But the tourneys are stacked up like trucks at the Mexican border this afternoon, so I'll be back then. Right now, I'm gonna go get a haircut.

We Are Family

Editor's note/update: I've been trying to post this stupid post all day but stupid E-Blogger is being stupid. Really, it's all very stupid. Anyway, the evening's drive for the Top 100 stalled miserably, though losses were re-couped and profits credited with a win in a two-table $20 SnG and, get this, a shocking double-up on an Omaha Hi/Lo PL table.

Anyway, I'll have a running diary beginning in 8 hours or so on Poker Marathon Wednesday. If this stupid thing works.

This is what my life has become:

Sitting at work and get pinged by a poker-playing buddy who wonders why I'm playing a $5 SnG on Party, since he knows it's below my usual level. I'm not, of course, the dear and patient wife is. So he sweats her and keeps me updated.

She just slow-played a flopped boat and took all the chips when a guy made a flush on the river!

That's my girl. Three in the money finishes (one of each) in five attempts. That's right, five attempts. Addicted, much?


I am on the cusp of a marathon poker session. In my quest to qualify for the Poker Stars tourney leaders freeroll for 4 WSOP seats (top 100 tourney points players from the months of March, April and May), I have taken tomorrow off from work. Which means I'll be up late tonight, first trying my hand in the $20 MTT at 8:30 local time, followed by the $10 MTT at 12:15 am. And I'll be back at it bright and early tomorrow morning in the $10 re-buy and $20 MTT. After that...we'll have to see.

The problem is, I don't know how Stars goes about allocating tourney points. Obviously, the finish is the prevailing factor. But are others taken into account? Like number of players, amount of buy-in, etc. so it's hard to gauge exactly what kind of results I need.

I figure I'll need a final table slot or a couple top 20 finishes in those four to have a realistic shot at the Top 100. I'm currently ranked in the mid-300s (I don't know exactly because I cashed in the $20 MTT last night--41st of 700--and the standings weren't updated when I went to bed). I'm about 600 points short. If I can make up half or more of that by tomorrow afternoon, I'll have to play in the Wednesday evening tourneys, as well (while also joining the revelry of the WPBT event, which, at the very least, gives me a built-in excuse for sucking against my fellow bloggers). If I get shut out in those four, I'll have to give up the ghost. It's a long-shot, but the tourneys have been profitable anyway, so it's not like I'm pissing away bankroll for an unreachable goal. And I'll be free to enjoy y'all's company while also trying to not suck. Hope to see everyone there.

I might even try to have a running diary in this space. Which means I'll have to drink. If I must.

As an added bonus, I'll also be home for the US World Cup qualifier vs. Guatemala. Must win game after the relatively poor performance in Mexico on Sunday.


So I was passing the time prior to the Sunday night $20 MTT on Stars by watching the final table of the $500K Guaranteed tourney. Not real earth-shattering on the entertainment scale, until it got down to four. One player wondered if anyone wanted to talk deal. Silence. For a good five minutes. Guess not. Then one player got his stack whacked in half and he decided "he'd talk" about a deal. A third player said sure, he'd listen. The fourth? Donde esta? The other three players continued to inquire. He remained silent. Lee Jones jumped in and asked for a response. None came. As the dear and patient wife and I watched in fascination, it came to me. The guy was trying to tilt the others. They were so focused on talking deal, on getting his attention, that they weren't giving full weight to the game at hand. And Silent Boy was taking their blinds, moving from second to first in chip count, with the margin growing ever wider.

After a few minutes, the idea seemed to have dissipated, play resumed normally and quiety. Then all of a sudden Silent Boy jumps into chat with a mysterious and utterly non-committal, "I'm here." He's a good-sized chip leader at this point and his "appearance" sets off another frenzy of requests and pleas to talk about a deal. None are answered by our reluctant hero. One of the other players goes so far as to ask Lee Jones if the other three can split the 2nd-4th place money. Um, that didn't go. It was borderline pathetic. Like the Algebra Club repeatedly asking the head cheerleader for a date while she copies their homework.

This soap opera repeated itself after a player was eliminated. Did he want to talk deal now? And again, Silent Boy completely ignored the table. Until he stuck the needle in later by typing in, apropos of nothing, "Hello."

Even down to heads-up, the other player couldn't resist asking one more time. Silent Boy is brilliant. Had the others completely annoyed/distraced. And he won. Took down $140K for the top spot.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Going Home Again

--John McEnroe

I just got an invitation to my 20-year high school reunion. How is that even possible? Just put me in a box and bury me already.

I've always managed to trick myself into thinking 1985 wasn't really that long ago. High school memories are still fresh, if a little exaggerrated. I never worried about the passing years, the gray hairs. I didn't bat an eye when I turned 30.

But 20 bleeping years? Ugh.

I never play the "I'm so old" card. I just don't feel it. Lord knows I don't act it. All a state of mind. Part of it is the fact that I, like many of my generation, purposely prolonged our adolescence. Or at least resisted getting tied down with family and responsibilities as early in life as our parents did. Consequently, my carefree days of "youth" really WEREN'T that long ago. But I feel old.

Regardless, I pulled on my adult diapers, put my teeth in and went to the site for the reunion information. Of all the respondants--forty or so--I have a strong desire to see exactly one of them. And curiosity to see a couple others. The list does not include the half-dozen friends I still have from high school, none of which is interested in attending.

Schotty, in particular, has an interesting take on his lack of excitement. He wants high school to stay high school. When he thinks of people from those days--women, mostly--he wants to think of them the way they were, young and fresh and full of promise. Not the way they might be now, bitter, fat and balding. I can see the lure of that view.

But back to the one person on that list who I'd give up both eye teeth to hang out with again. Nade, we called him, and he is/was a folk hero. Goofy as hell, in looks and deed. A constant source of entertainment. A guy for whom we mounted a grass roots campaign to get him elected Homecoming King, a title for which he could not have been more ill-suited. We got him into the Court, anyway. He was equally unbelievable as a wrestler. One look at him--his muscle definition could be benignly judged as blob-like--and you'd have no idea. But he was quick as a mongoose, had incredible balance. And strode to the mat during every home meet to the strains of Metallica's "Seek & Destroy."

He made the state meet our senior year and my crew of four road-tripped to see him wrestle, drinking Bud every mile of the way. We loved that guy, man. And when he saw us show up, unannounced, he was genuinely moved. A cool moment.

Foremost in my memory today, however, is that Nade used to host the card games. Yes, the seeds of my poker odyssey were sown way back when. You read all these stories today about how poker's popularity is ruining the youth of today. Well, guess what? It was ruining the youth of yesterday, too. During the last couple years of high school, we'd play at least once a week. Usually more often than that. Almost always at Nade's house, which, owing to his 15 or 20 siblings (I lost count) had more comings and goings than a train station. We played a lot of Pee Wee, three-card low ball with two draws. Nickels on the first two betting rounds, dimes thereafter. Marsh showing down his Ace-Duece-Trey with his patented "You wheel you deal!"

One time, I was in such a hurry to get to the game that I dinged both our family vehicles, one into the other, while backing out of the driveway. After my stern parental talking-to, I still wrangled my way out of the house and into the game.

I remember my first bad beat, the brutal change of fortune on 7th street, Jackafee's flush trumping my trip aces, a hand I KNEW I was gonna win all along. I remember a weekend in San Luis Obispo, a few of us visiting college friends there, where I bested Swaff--the one among us universally considered a shark--to the tune of $25 on Friday night. And gave it all back to him on Saturday.

I used to lose a lot, in fact. I was there for fun, for the rush, perhaps even for the illicit qualities of the activity. Surely a nice Southern Baptist boy can earn some street cred in the poker game. Yes, I sing in the church choir, but LOOK! I'm also gambling.

Old, my ass. Fine, I'm 37. If that's old, so be it. But I'm sitting here with a grin on my face, easily recalling these moments, swimming in them.

I'd love to go to my reunion, get drunk, sit across the table from Nade, Swaff, Marsh and play a little nickel-dime Pee Wee.

Or, if they're amenable, some no limit. I've been practicing.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Once is an occurance. Twice is a coincidence. Three times? I'm sensing a trend.

It would seem I must endure the trials of Job in this poker journey. It further seems that absorbing those tribulations will lead to redemption.

For the third straight weekend, I got stuck a couple hundred bucks. Went out of the $20 MTT on Friday night thanks to my absurd belief that getting my money in while a 93% favorite would result in doubling up. Nope, AA is no good against AQo. There's nothing quite like that feeling. I look forward to playing those tournaments. I expect to play a while. Going out in 45 minutes because of a vicious beat...well, let's just say I was no fun to hang out with for a half-hour.

Folded up the poker tent for the rest of the evening, but was back at it first thing in morning in the $11 re-buy. Lasted into the third hour but never managed a servicable stack. Also lost a chunk again with AA, this time to pocket tens. That hand sucks.

Next up, the $20 MTT. Out in 20 minutes. Rivered flush.

Moved on to actual life for the remainder of the afternoon, but came back for the $10 MTT. Warmed up for it by dropping $80 playing $2/$4. Just unbelievable bullshit. The prime example: I raise with KQs and get 4 callers. Flop is KQ6. I bet and raise for all I'm worth and with the river to come, I'm heads up. River is a 6. I bet and am raised. I call and he shows 62s. He never had a flush draw.

So now I'm going into this tourney playing pissed off poker. Which means aggressive poker. Which means I make another final table. Barely and briefly, but I was there. Ninth place finish out of 1600. Not too shabby. And made back all the money I'd lost.

The proof of my agressive play was in the middle rounds. I stole with impunity. I spent 90 minutes with a solid, tight player on my left. And I took his blinds a lot. One time, I raised four hands in a row from the blinds and late position. Didn't get a call. My stats show I won 46 pots without showdown. Again, I managed all this while making dinner. Jambalaya with spicy smoked sausage courtesy of Emeril. BAM!

I never had a big, comfortable stack. But one hand defined the night. We were down to 20. On the two-table bubble. I was 16th in chips and hoped I wouldn't have a tough decision, so I could pick up the extra $40 for getting to the final 18. As is natural at that stage, the table was extremely tight. Any pre-flop raise would take it. Several times, it was folded all the way around. Twice while I was in the BB. That tight, solid player I mentioned earlier? He was second in chips. And now on my immediate right. His positioning was very advantageous to me throughout the night. To him, apparently, as well, since he won the whole enchilada. Congrats to you, sir.

Eventually, I got pocket 9s in the SB. UTG pushes all-in. He was easily the loosest player at the table. I'd seen him make big raises with marginal hands previously. Yet, a call was risky. Because of the stage, it would be unusual for players to push without premium cards. That was my thinking. But also, it's reasonable to think a smart player could take advantage of the tightness. I didn't think he was playing garbage, but I thought I had at least a coin flip.

So I called.

He showed A6s. Well, alright. My 9s held up (BAM!) and that pretty much pushed me to the final table. I was the shortest stack when I arrived and pushed early (I had only 5x the BB) with KJs. I was called by 99 (not so bad) and AA (bad). No miracles and my day was done (though not quite).

The tale of the tape reads three straight weekends of getting my ass/bankroll kicked and being saved, in the end, by 4th, 12th and 9th place finishes in that Saturday night $10 MTT. I think I like that tourney.

So now there's a need to decompress, to wind down after 4+ stressful hours. And I'm pretty drunk. The Red Hook ESBs are lined up on the kitchen counter like a dorm room's window sill. In this morning's carnage, I counted 9. My training for Vegas continues. Starting to stretch myself out.

Anyway, the early morning hours beckon. No way I can stay up/lucid long enough to play another MTT. Don't really feel like risking a cash game in my state. I KNOW!

I'll make some popcorn. And play .02/.04 Omaha.

Oh man, what a blast! I've done some recent, though minimal, study on the game. I can kinda discern a good starting hand. And I'm much better at reading the board. I love the changing nature of the hand. I'm on the nut flush draw! Now I have top two pair! Let the record show I won 59 cents. That's nearly 15 BBs.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Resurrection "Humor"

As if my stupid joke about Easter and a weekend beer binge wasn't enough to put me on Hell's waiting list, I've managed to jump to the front of the line.

As resident expert on the dead and dying, I get a lot of questions regarding mortailty. For instance, my boss just asked me if the Pope is gonna die anytime soon.

"Yes," I said. "He's gonna die today. But he'll be back on Sunday."

Make sure your boss isn't Catholic before you use this one.

Rivers Run

I was not quite in the right frame of mind last night as I entered the $20/$2 MTT on Stars, along with 750 of my closest friends and one mortal enemy: The River. The previous evening's beats had me seeing monsters under the bed, suckouts in my dreams, my broke ass thumbing rides back to Loserville (though, Loserville is lovely this time of year). And it didn't take long for the trepidation to affect my play.

Second hand of the tourney, I get pocket Cowboys in the BB. Several points of limpage and I bump it up to a hundred. I get one caller. Good news: I flop a set (does anyone call this hand "The Klan?" Can I get a Van Patten ruling on this?). Bad news: Flop is all hearts. I chuck 200 into the pot and, after a time, villain calls. Okay, I'm ahead. I KNOW I'm ahead. Then again, I've been ahead several times recently, only to get waxed late. That is no excuse for what I do next.

Turn is a rag and I check. I CHECK? I have the best hand. My best read is that I'm up against the case king or he's holding a single high heart. And I check?!?!?!? Here. Take a free card. Draw out on me.

Except he's an idiot and bets. A fair amount. Well, that unclogged my retard artery and blood began flowing to my brain again. I raised all-in. He called and showed QJo, the queen being of the hearts variety.

Here we go. As is its wont, Stars likes to throw down a dramatic card on the river. Only this time, it wasn't detrimental to moi. It was...the case king.

Double up.

Better than that, the monkey left my back, the weight left my shoulders, the burden left my soul, the cliches ran out. And I stopped playing like a timid nincompoop.

I doubled up again in the first hour, raising with Presto! and getting two callers. The flop came AA5 with two diamonds. Oh, this is not going to end well for somebody. I bet half the pot, hoping to bring the flush draw along for a ride. One caller. Rag turn and I make the same sized bet, giving him ample pot odds to call. He does. The river brings what I'd hoped for. Diamonds are forever. They're also no good here. He's all-in and I get paid off.

Thus ends any semblance of excitement or interest for the next 90 minutes. I win a few small pots. Folks are still calling my pre-flop raises, but folding on my flop bets. I'm easing along with a big stack and waiting for another chance to show down a monster. Doesn't really happen.

Still, in the third hour, I'm looking solid. Top 30 in chips, above average stack and a good feel for the table. It's tough to steal mostly because it's tough to be first in the pot. I drop about 20% of my stack when Big Slick misses the flop. My attempt at taking it anyway is raised and I'm forced to fold.

And we're on the bubble. My stack has been eaten up a little, so I'm gonna hold out until assured of cashing, then switch back to aggressive mode.

Ah, the best laid plans...

We are down to 64 players, one from the money, and I get Cowboys in the BB. I push all-in against 3 limpers. I get a call from a guy I cover by T2000. That's the good news. The other good news is he has 66. Naturally, he makes his set on The River.

So rigged.

That's a joke, of course, but the number of two-outers I've seen in the last two days (not just in hands involving me) has been inordinately high. Just bleeping brutal.

I ease into the money, holding only pocket change. I can post one more round of blinds. Stars has the benevolence to give me a pocket pair when the BB comes along. Not so benevolent that it could be higher than 3s. It's not exactly payback when I spike a 3 on The River to triple up and stay alive, since my stack is still T20K below where it woulda been had I not got sucked out on 3 hands earlier, but I accept this small token of improbability.

I still have to push with any semblance of a hand and I do so an orbit later with Mr. October. My fours run into The Hiltons and the two-outer well is momentarily dry, putting me out in 52nd. A small profit and some tourney points. I'm gonna need a big finish in the next few days to close the gap to the top 100. I might have to play more than one tourney at a time. I'm also gonna take Wednesday off from work for a final push and to get good and drunk before the WPBT event.


An open letter to Landon Donovan.


Don't do it.

You are a world class talent. Perhaps the best this country has ever produced. But you will never be a world class player unless you consistently face a high level of competition. MLS is not that level. You have been too good for the league for three years.

You've only been back in Germany for three months. I know your previous tenure there was nightmarish. I know Leverkusen is a dreary industrial town with dreary unfriendly Germans (of course, you're from freakin' Redlands, which isn't exactly a mecca of California sun and surf). I know you're not yet getting the playing time you desire.

Nobody said it was gonna be easy. And giving up this early will lend credibility to the rap against you: that you lack the dedication to make yourself the best player possible. That you prefer comfort over sacrifice, even at the expense of your development.

I hope this story has no legs. I hope you re-consider. It's a joy to watch you play the game. But if you're just going to coast, if you're just going to stagnate, I'll get bored with your game soon enough. And everyone involved with US Soccer will be poorer. Including you.



Happy Easter, everybody. I may have some weekend content, particularly if my Blood Alcohol Level--like Our Lord and Savior--rises again.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Stay Classy

My thoughts on last night's stalled drive toward the top of the tournament leader board/WSOP freeroll, courtesy of (a paraphrased) Ron Burgandy:

"Go fuck yourself, Poker Stars."

Bitter, party of me.

But I shant whine about bad beats, all of which occurred within 15 minutes of each other at Levels 3 and 4. I will, however, present them here without judgement or observation:

1. My AA goes down to TT, him all-in pre-flop, with a ten on the river.
2. My 99 goes down to A5s (who called my pre-flop all-in), despite me flopping a set of 9s because of runner-runner for the straight.
3. My TPTK with AJs goes down to pocket 7s, who calls my flop all-in, and turns a set.

The end result is that I turned off the computer--roughly--and did puzzles with The Boy for the remainder of the evening. It was a good, calming time. He was so appreciative of my attention, in fact, that he climbed into bed with us around 4 a.m. and promptly peed all over me.

It's been a rough 14 hours.

Oh well, my misfortunes pale in comparison to, say, Pat O'Brien, who, in addition to public humiliation, apparently has a fairly limited vocabulary. He's a communications professional ferchrissakes! He can't come up with anything other than "you're so fucking hot" and "let's go crazy?"

So, listening to Pat is definitely a cheering up experience. So is watching the future fighter pilots of America get their groove on. I shouldn't laugh. Who among us wouldn't cringe if a camera caught us doing some of the things we do when we think we're alone? Aw, who am I kidding? This goofball is hilarious. Especially when he sits down at the end, but the rhythm has most definitely got him and he has to get back up again. By the way, C&C Music Factory? Is that REALLY the best we can do for dance music in the 21st century? Not that I'm an expert. I only dance under threat of imprisonment and am therefore not up on the advances in the genre. But surely...

I have little to offer today. I'll leave you with a separated at birth, the perfect hackneyed device for my uncreative self:

Oakland A's outfielder Bobby Kielty
Heat Miser

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Back in the SnG Groove

Here comes our hero, striding confidently across the room and assuming his place in front of the laptop. Another multi-table tournament beckons and he is full of assurance, brash even, as he chases glory. Stars in his eyes, visions of online poker immortality ricochetting inside his head, he registers and prepares to dominate.

He is--I am--a jackass. A jackass who lasts a full 25 minutes.

How dare these players not respect my large raises? Don't they know who I am? Don't they know I have two final table apearances and two other top 15 finishes in the last month? Doesn't my fearless all-in bet inspire cowardice? The immediate mucking of marginal hands?

No, dipshit. Not in the first hour.

Ah, hubris.

Yes, I'd been feeling pretty good about my game. Then I went out and got involved in two races in the first two levels of last night's tourney. Lost a third of my chips on the first. The rest on the second. You can't win the tournament in the first hour, but you sure can lose it. So I did. I should know better. Pocket Js and pocket 9s not exactly the premium Group One hands with which you want to involve yourself in an early raising war. Yeah, I was called by marginal hands, KQs and AJo (I told you that hand was gold), respectively. I should have known I would be. Later in the tourney perhaps, when it tightens up, my bet probably takes the pot. But not then. Never then.

Oh well. All part of my continuing education. It's a pretty endless learning curve this poker, isn't it. I'll go back to school tonight.


All was not a total loss on the poker front, however. Shortly before the tournament began, good pal and frequent reader poker_ghost pinged me with news that the fish were pooling on the Party Poker NL tables. So I headed straight there after crashing out of the Stars tourney. I didn't see the loose tables he promised, but I have a theory about that. I think the really, really poor players lose their nightly buy-in(s) fairly quickly and quit for the evening. As such, you end up with better players with bigger stacks as the hour gets late. I didn't hit the site until midnight East Coast time, so I guess I missed the feeding frenzy. The one NL table where I did play, I saw only a couple pots bigger than $10 in an hour. I was also playing some $2/$4 during that time, where the action was much looser, and, at the end of the session, mildly profitable.

Then I fell off the wagon.

There was a time when a large percentage of my online poker attention was taken by the single-table SnGs on Party. And they were profitable for me, if occassionally frustrating. But after a six-week run of poor results, I swore them off forever. I hadn't played one since February 10th on PP. I hadn't WON one since January 21st.

Jumped into a $20 SnG last night for old times' sake. Won it fairly easily. Didn't go to showdown a single time until I was already in the money. We were a long time at six players, but then one guy took out three in short order, including 4th and 5th in a single hand. I finally showed down a hand when my ATs took out the short stack's K8s. I was at a 3-1 chip disadvantage, but it didn't stop me from being aggressive. A couple hands in, I raised with Q7o on the button. He called and I flopped trips, along with a jack. He minimum bet (200), I called. Same on the rag turn. Same on the rag river when I raised him all-in. He called with KJo and I had the upper hand. I pushed him to the brink and finally all-in with KQo. His A8o stood up, however, and it was back on. He pulled slightly ahead, but then I crippled him with a four on the board flush. We both had top pair/crap kicker. In fact, neither of our kickers would have played, an issue rendered moot by the fourth club on the river, making the 3c in my hand good enough. Good ol' Ace-Jack took care of him a few hands later.

Felt good. And maybe best of all, it didn't totaly re-kindle a desire to play those things more often. I think I will drop by more frequently however, just for a taste.

Yeah, that doesn't sound like a guy who just had a beer for the first time since rehab. "I can have just one!"


So much going on in the football (not soccer, dammit) world. And I know that's why you all come here. Sorry.

Liverpool beat Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday, moving to within 5 points of the final Champs League spot in the Premiership. The only thing that can compare with Liverpool winning is Everton losing. And the Champs League quarterfinal matchups were drawn on Friday, with a potentially explosive semi in the offing between the Reds and the Blues. Explosive meaning it's another opportunity for me to lose a bet to Al. Gotta get by Juve first. Not the best draw for 'Pool, but not the worst.

Lots of World Cup qualifiers this week, too. We'll be watching the dear and patient wife's homeland (Sweden) battle Bulgaria on Saturday. And, of course, the NAFTA Grudge Match at Estadio Azteca between the US and Mexico on Sunday.

Both countries have their best teams in recent memory and are in good form, so it should be a well-played game. Nearly impossible to win in Mexico, in that stadium, at that altitude. I'll settle for a point.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Ghost of Easters Past

Ah, Easter Week. Being the product of a strict Southern Baptist upbringing, Easter Week was filled with a ton of events, most of them having little to do with bunnies or eggs. There was the Good Friday cantata, a full evening's rendition of the Passion. I always enjoyed that show, as it generally included some relatively hip religious cuts and a full band. I occassionally got to wave some palm fronds around.

There was the Easter Sunday sunrise service. Nothing like getting up at 5 a.m. to stand in the spring chill.

And always--ALWAYS--there was the Easter Outfit. Had to have a new church ensemble every spring. I remember a few in the early '80s that were so horribly pastel-ly as to make Cyndi Lauper blush. That I continued with that standard of fashion into my sophormore year of college is NOT THE POINT. The the point is I now recognize the error of my ways.

Obviously, I've strayed from my religious background, what with all the drinking and gambling and, monogamous marital relations. I don't mean to get all into a deep religious conversation here. No, only trouble lurks that way. I am thankful for the moral and ethical foundation growing up Christian has given me (not that it's the only way to acquire such a foundation). I can run the table when "The Bible" turns up as a "Jeopardy!" category. And I'm a believer in God, if not a regular practitioner of worship. It's hard to have that kind of faith. It's hard to have that daily belief and adherence to the tenets of Christianity. Especially when you're 14-years-old and a forward girl named Gina touches you in a certain tingly place as she shoves her tongue so far down your throat you think she might block your windpipe.

Um, where was I?

Oh yeah, I was using Easter to re-live an adolescent sexual adventure. And you wonder why I don't go to church any more.


Tonight I'll continue my quest for online MTT greatness and a slot in the Top 100 tourney players for March in the $20 on Stars at 8:30 PST. As part of my preparation, I've been re-reading Clouitier and McEvoy's "Championship NL Hold 'Em." It really does pay to go back and read this book as often as possible. With the many tourneys I've played lately, a lot of the situations they describe are fresh in my mind, situations which are nearly idential to those I've seen recently. In fact, I faced almost an exact replica of one of their examples just the other night.

I was in MP with pocket tens and made my standard 4x raise (blinds were $50/$100). I got one caller behind me and then a re-raise to $1200 from the button. The BB called the $1200 and the action is on me. What to do? It was still early in the tourney, and my tens aren't gonna be much of a prize in a multi-way pot. Even if I'm ahead right now (no guarantee of that), I'm going to be facing at least two, and maybe all four of the overcards to my pair. So, I folded. All three of them ended up all-in and the pot was $11K. Two had Big Slick, one had AQo. None of them improved. Which doesn't mean I didn't make the right play. Just made it at the wrong time. Still bugged me a little.

Then I read this morning that TJ recommends a fold there. Walked me through a similar hand and said toss it. Unequivocally. Really reinforced what I was thinking, which is nice. You know a book is helping you if you're nodding your head while reading it. I also happen to favor their conversational style over the more pedantic poker authors out there (*cough*Sklansky*cough*).


I've created a monster. Or you have. Or the Travel Channel has. Whomever is to blame, the dear and patient wife went two-for-two in the money yesterday in the $5 SnGs. Both thirds, as she seized up and went passive late on. We went through the hand history last night and had a poker theory discussion for a good 20 minutes.

I get the sense she's hooked.

I've been remiss in not mentioning how she's been hanging out over my shoulder during my recent tourney forays. Even proven to be a very good sounding board for certain plays/situations. In fact, the hand I mentioned above, she was on the record for a fold even before I was.

It's really true what they say, behind every mediocre online poker hack, there's a beautiful, smart woman who smells nice.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Down on the Upside

My patented seminar on going from the outhouse to a junior suite at The Plaza in 5 easy lessons will be accepting students shortly. Please make your checks out to "Lucky SOB."

Yes, it was another roller coaster weekend of poker for me. Absorbed a whuppin' in the cash games, beginning with assorted river beats, continuing with tilt-fueled donations and ending with clumps of my hair falling out.

Then I went and finished 12th in a $20/$2 MTT on Stars. And followed it up by finishing 13th in a $10/$1 MTT 24 hours later.

In the former, I spent the whole four hours with a short- to medium-stack. Nearly 800 players and I just barely managed to survive every step of the way. Just three people off the final table, I was first (and all-) in on the button with AK of diamonds. The BB called with A5o and spiked a five on the turn to put me out. Bad beat, but there was some satisfaction to get that far, based on the generally poor cards I was dealt. I only saw 11% of the flops and it wasn't because I was playing extra tight. Still, it was a good time. Had some talkative folks to play with the last hour, a nice environment. I was thankful for every increased pay level and felt lucky to have lasted as long as I did. Another final table would have been nice, but the finish was more than I probably could have asked.

The latter, well, the latter continues to gnaw at me. In stark contrast to the previous tourney, I had a lot of cards to play. Sixteen-hundred players and I was one of the chip leaders from the first hour on, thanks to flopping the nut flush and quadrupling up (God Bless the flop smooth call). Stayed pretty consistently in the top 50 into the fourth hour when I rocketed to 3rd overall--down to five tables--by winning a race, my AQs out-running pocket 9s. I was still 4th when we got down to two tables, but even with that standing, I didn't have a lot of chips relative to the blinds, roughly 15x the BB. After being forced to fold an entire level, I was down to only 9x. We were 7-handed at my table, with two of the players covering me. My chances of folding to the final table were becoming slimmer as the shorter stacks chipped up. I was running out of time and my cards were suddenly cold.

Finally, I got JJ on the button. Folds to me and I push. The chip leader calls from the BB and shows AA.


I'm still not over it. Nice timing. It bugs me mainly because I really thought I had a chance to win this one. Cards were coming, I had been making good decisions, I have gained some experience playing late in these things. I felt like I went from a certain final table slot to out in such a short period of time. All it took was one. I EXPECTED to do better. Which is a good mind-set to have, I suppose. But I was sorely disappointed.

Regardless, those two finishes made it a profitable weekend, an idea that was preposterous around 3 p.m. on Saturday.

So, for the near future, cash games out, multis in. For one, the top 100 in tournament leader points for March get a freeroll to a WSOP main event qualifier (top 100 from each month of March, April and May play for 4 seats). I'm far from ready for that event. Odds are, in fact, I would soil myself before I would win a single pot, but if it's bleeping free to qualify, who am I to turn that down? I'm within hailing distance of the top 100 right now and a couple more good results could make it very interesting.

I'm also going to take more stabs at qualifying for the $350K guaranteed Sunday tourney on Stars. I tried the $3 re-buy on Saturday afternoon and did okay. The level of aggression in those re-buys is not a manner of play I'm entirely comfortable with, so perhaps a different route would be advisable. Not this week, Sunday being Easter and all, though with my bankroll "resurrections" of the last two weekends...

You'll all be happy to know that I also managed to finish painting the dining room this weekend. Okay, so maybe it's only the dear and patient wife who's happy. And me, because it's over. For you interior design afficianados, the color is "terra cotta pot."

Yes, I finally got the Mrs. some pot.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Get Well Soon

I was all set to be my usual dumbass self here and now, complete with how the cards are treating me as if they were an ex-girlfriend. My anger was palpable. I take it back, less anger than frustration, which was pushing the needle into the red zone. Just an abyssmal run of luck and an equally brutal exhibition of "skill." But I took a run around the blogoshere first and...

It doesn't matter. It's just cards. It's just money.

Please join me in sending out your good thoughts and prayers to Felicia.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Better Half

It's both exhilarating and disconcerting to receive a phone call from your wife informing you that she just won a $5 SnG on Party Poker. Exhilarating because she was so damn excited and proud of herself. Disconcerting because I wasn't there to help her.

I keeed, of course. Considering her poker background consists entirely of watching me (and the WPT), winning is a bit of a long-shot. I perused the hand history of the game and she really did play quite well. Won a medium-sized pot with a stone bluff on the river. Dragged some calling stations along for a ride when she held the nuts. And tore second-place a new one when heads up. Her only real issue was allowing some players to stay in hands too long, opening herself up to a river suckout, by weak-betting with the best of it. Luckily, she escaped.

I guess my Party account is now mostly hers, due to my attention to Stars.

Also on the dear and patient wife front, I'm taking her and a friend out to the local indian casino next Saturday. Poker and designated driving for me, blackjack, nightclubbing and drunken revelry for her and her pal. Finally get back on the live play horse. It's a part of my game I really want to develop. Live play offers that edge of adversarial action that is missing from online play. It's something I need to work at to become more comfortable, considering my non-confrontational personality. I think I'm probably going to try some NL action this time out, which will be my first live experience with that structure. Or I may wuss out and stick to limit. I'll keep you posted. By the way, if any LA area bloggers are interested in trying out the new poker room at the Casino Morongo a week from tomorrow, let me know. Why one would voluntarily drive out my way is a mystery, but more peculiar things have happened.

Played no poker last night, absorbed as I was in March Madness and playing "I Caught a Monkey" with The Boy. It's a thoroughly hilarious game of our own design. Hilarious to him, for some unknown reason. Hilarious to me, because it's hilarious to him. He's been sick lately (in fact, we devised the game waiting in the doctor's office on Wednesday), not just with the flu, but with pink-eye as well. As such, his self-esteem has probably suffered as Mommy and Daddy insist he not touch us with his infectious hands.


For inquiring minds, the CDs I purchased as self-congratulation for my final table finish last week are the following:

Shadows Fall -- The Art of Balance (For me. Excellent)
Various Artists -- "Garden State" soundtrack (For the Mrs., though it contains a couple songs from The Shins, whom I like)
Kings of Leon -- Aha Shake Heartbreak (For both and a little disappointing. Mellower and lacking the Allman Brothers-esque boogie of the first release)


This weekend could go either way: A lot of poker or a lot of painting. Either way, I'll try to get drunk and post something, stupid.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Live at The Plaza

All apologies for the inactivity in this space. Been having a hard time getting the brain to synch up with availability. When I felt like writing, I didn't have the chance. When I managed some down time, inspiration ran dry. What I usually do in those instances, as my readers will know, is get drunk and ramble on about nothing in particular. Sadly, that was not a viable option.

None of which is to say that poker and bloggery hasn't been very much on my mind. Chiefly, where to stay for the WPBT event in June. The blogger cognescenti has chosen downtown--specifically, The Plaza, for Ground Zero, and it would seem natural to follow (if slightly like inviting oneself to the party). But I had a few concerns about that site, so I did what my Daddy long ago told me to do when faced with a difficult decision: create a list of pros and cons to see which comes out ahead.

So, onto the tale of the tape:

Pro: With the crew of bloggers already committed to The Plaza, it'll be some kinda party. I like a party.
Con: That same crew damn near killed Otis last December with their party.
Pro: Downtown is less populated by annoying tourist types.
Con: Annoying tourist types made me a lot of money in the Excalibur $2-$6 game in January.
Pro: Less crowded and thus more opportunity for a bloggers-only craps table.
Con: Craps is -EV.
Pro: I take a lot of ribbing from my friends, family, neighbors for always seeking out the cheapest hotel in Vegas. To my mind, there is no more ridiculous waste of gambling money than to plunk down $200/night on a Vegas hotel room, a room which will only see the likes of me roughly 15% of my stay.
Con: Cheaper hotels more likely to be the subject of a "Dateline" expose showing how dirty the bedspreads are.
Pro: If the bloggers DO kill me, at least they'll be nearby and theoretically will find my body quicker.
Con: Or dispose of it in the desert.

Pretty tight race. The Plaza wins out, though. I am throwing my liver on the mercy of the bloggers. I have secured a junior suite at the Plaza for $80/night. Why a juniopr suite? I have no idea. Maybe so I can say, "yeah, I've got a suite at the Plaza." Or maybe so there's room to set up a makeshift bar.


Played a little bit of poker yesterday. Broke even in the cash games, no thanks to my first try at limit in a while. "Sure," I says to myself, "let's dial down the stress and play some $2/$4." I then proceed to get bad-beated nearly down to the felt within 15 minutes. Just as I get set to re-buy--my remaining $10 not bucking up the ol' confidence--I get dealt cowboys. Well, good. But also, well crap, since I'll only be betting to the turn, at best. But, when a short-stack is all-in early, you get a lot of callers. True in this situation, as well. Six to the flop (all paying my raise). Six to the turn (only got one bet in there) and four to the river (again, only one bet). The board was crap and a king came on the river, so I took it down. The bizarre thing is, I needed that two-outer on the river. Why? Guy made two-pair on the turn. Sevens and twos. Yes, he played The Hammer. No, he didn't know it had a name. He's just dumb. Because he didn't raise it pre-flop.

One other hand to mention. Not because I got runner-runnered, but because of the immediate ratholing of the opponent in question. He was a short stack at the .50/$1 NL table. I found pocket 9s and flopped a set (board was 9-high and included a 6). I made a small bet and he went all in. I called and started counting my money. Turn is a 10. River is a 10. He shows T6o for the bigger boat. And fucking leaves the table. Almost before the cyber chips slid his direction. I know who you are, asshole. And I'll tell anyone who wants to know who you are, too.

Played a couple tourneys, as well. The first was a Stars FPP qualifier to the $350K Sunday tourney. I don't know what it is, but if I don't pay actual money for a tourney, I tend to suck. No difference in this one. Yikes. Didn't last a half-hour. The less said, the better.

Bombed out of the $10/$1 re-buy on Stars in 170th. I was going good there for a while, sitting in the top 40 in chips at the first break. Had to re-buy twice, but went from T1500 to T11000 at Level 4. More than doubled up with AA when three people called my big pre-flop raise. I then flopped a boat and AJo went all in. Sorry. Then, a hand that could not possibly have been played any worse. I was in the BB with J3s (clubs). A minimum raise from MP and three callers. I call, as well, paying an extra hundred for a potentially huge payoff if I can catch a monster. The flop comes Ac Kd 6h. Oh well. I check and prepare to fold, but it's checked all around. Turn is Qc. Well now. Here's something. Draws to the nut straight and second-nut flush. I check and pre-flop raiser bets $500. Into a $1000 pot. Two calls behind him and I'm getting a huge overlay on my call. River is the 10s. As we like to say 'round these parts, "Daddy's got the nuts."

Because it's still in the first hour, because re-buys are still available, because people are not shy about dumping a bunch of chips at this juncture, I just shove my whole bleeping stack into the middle. Pre-flop raiser calls me, his stack just below mine. Flips AQo for top two. Boy oh boy oh boy. I appreciate that, really. He didn't even re-buy and I can imagine his disgust played a part in that.

Didn't make it through the next hour. Chipped up early to T19000 with AA again, but my table was in hyper-agressive mode. Had to fold a couple pre-flop raises. Big stack forced people all in with regularity and once pushed me off the best hand. I had pocket 7s and he called a 4x pre-flop raise. Flop came with two overcards (ten and queen) and two hearts. I threw out another 4x bet and he came over the top all-in. I'm either well behind if he paired or slightly behind if he's got hearts and overcards. I folded. He did have hearts. The six and the three of hearts, which he was happy to show me. So, I was a 2-1 favorite. Hard for me to put him on those cards with the pre-flop raise, so I just shrugged and accepted being outplayed. Then came over the top of him all-in on the next hand. I had ATs and he folded. Small consolation.

I went out in Level 8. The guy directly to my left had twice re-raised my pre-flop raises, causing me to fold (one was a steal; one was AJo which suddenly didn't look so good for an all-in). The third time he did it, I called with my pocket jacks. He showed kings and it was beddie-bye time.


One last thing. I've gotten this question several times now, the latest from Glyph, on the origin of my fake blogger name, Joe Speaker. It is the name of the protaganist in one of my favorite books, Homeboy. I'd encourage you to read it if you like tales of degenerates (this particular degenerate is a strip show barker/heroin dealer in San Francisco's tenderloin district) and redemption of degenerates. A ton of colorful characters, a somewhat lightweight though engrossing plot and a genius use of language, some of it made-up (a hack might even say the dialogue "crackles"). It's out of print, but your local library might have a copy. Or I can bring mine to Vegas if you are so inclined.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Yo Adrian! We Did It!

"Mr. Speaker?"
"I believe this rear-end belongs to you."
"It does. Thank you."
"You know, you're the fourth person who's handed me my ass in the last 12 hours."

Yes, it was a brutal Friday night/Saturday morning on the NL cash game tables. My crowning achievement was playing my flopped set of nines like a drooling noob, allowing an opponent to turn a set of tens. I proceeded to give him my entire stack, some $130 worth. Very slick of me.

So, what's a man to do? Personally, I threw the laptop through the bay window, kicked the dog and wept quietly. (Note to PETA: I don't have a dog, or a bay window for that matter. It's a metaphor, ferchrissakes.)

What I actually did was take AJ to the park, spend the rest of the glorious day outside and try to put it all out of my mind. When I'm on a bad run, I get conflicting feelings. I don't want to play because I get the sense I won't be at my best, play defensively. But I also want to get back to erase the negative vibes from the last beating. And I also just like to play, dammit.

I pondered the pros and cons of the choices and came to the conclusion that a small buy-in MTT would be just the tonic. Not risking much of the bankroll and potential for hours of play. I wasn't yet fully prepared, however. I needed something to boost my confidence, something to hold onto in the coming storm, a talisman.

What better than a bottle of Southern Comfort?

Okay, now I'm ready and What. A. Ride.

The tourney didn't start out too auspiciously. I spent the entire first hour as a virtual spectator, winning only a couple small pots and dropping one of consequence. By the time we got to Level 6, I was down to 5x the big blind and waiting for a hand with which to push. I laid it on the line with 66 one from the button. The button called and we were heads up. He had AA. Well, that was fun.

But you need some good fortune in these things to get results and I caught the Anti-Christ on the flop.

"I know who you are Damien.
"Why don't you say it, Mark."

Okay, so lucky-ass me doubles up. Still a pretty weak stack into Level 8 where I start the rush. I double up twice before the second break with big pockets and I've got some chips to toss around. And toss them around I did. In the third hour, I went from T12000 to T90000. Won two races (my 44 vs. Big Slick was the most exciting/nerve-wracking of the bunch) and again got lucky when I put a smaller stack all-in. I had twice his chips and found A9s on the button. He called from the BB with AKs. Hearts and 9s were what I needed. I flopped the latter and it held up.

So now I'm in big business. Only one problem. It's coming up on dinner time. I'm supposed to make dinner. The dear and patient wife will be home in a half-hour. I'm going to go out on a limb and say I was the only participant remaining who was grilling swordfish while playing. I also had the foresight to call the dear and patient wife (who, if I haven't mentioned it before, is also lovely and talented) and warn her of the poker decadence she might find upon her arrival. She had the good nature to summon Adrian from Rocky II:

"Okay, but I want you to do one thing for me."

Dah. Dah-Dah. Dah. Dah-Dah. Dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-DAH! Daaaaah-dah-dah-dah-dah.

Yeah, I love that song. Gets me every time. Bill Conti is the shit.

So there we are at the dinner table, deep into the 4th hour, a spread of swordfish, roasted potatoes (with garlic and olive oil), corn on the cob, salad and, uh, the laptop. I was the big stack at my table and picked up some pots by coming over the top in late position. Never got a call. Then, the hand which basically got me to the final table.

We were down to about 60 and a huge stack appeared at my table. He had T240K, twice my holdings. With blinds at 3K/6K, he open-raised for 24K. In the BB, I found Big Slick. Now, it must be mentioned, that AKo treats me like a ditch digger at a Debutante Ball. A smaller stack and I would have pushed him in, but fearful of risking my entire tourney on the hand, I just called.

The flop came KJx. I bet the pot, more than half my stack. He used up half his time bank before raising me all-in. During the wait, I got the distinct impression I was ahead. Easy call for me. No damn choice. He flipped QJo for second pair. No change on the turn or river and I'm in 3rd overall chip position. I'm also hyperventilating and bouncing around the kitchen like I'm hopped up on goofballs. The dear and patient wife is howling gleefully and knocking back another shot of SoCo. The Boy only looks at us queerly.

From that point on, I didn't get involved in any big pots. Made enough pre-flop raises/steals to stay at roughly the same chip count. Didn't fluctuate much as people kept getting knocked out and I climbed the money ladder. Literally no stressful decisions to be made and suddenly I'm at the final table.

Where I got severly cold-decked. I'm not complaining, believe me. There were four realtively short-stacks and they went out in short order. I pushed a couple times, but got no callers. With four of us left, there were two huge stacks and two small ones. The other small stack ended up winning the thing. He was very agressive and pushed often. I got the Hiltons in one hand, but no callers. Finally, down to just 5x the BB, I pushed with 77. Ran into QQ. And that, my friends, was that.

I was just totally, spent. A shell, mentally and physically. But I was also buzzin'. My highest finish, my biggest payday. Got lucky, for sure, but I played damn well, too. Despite my exhaustion, I couldn't sleep for the longest time. Re-playing hands in my head, re-living the rush, listing the CDs I was gonna buy with the haul.

Just an awesome feeling. Thanks to all for the comments.


Now I'm off to my niece's birthday party, depriving me of tonight's HORSE tourney. Good luck to all.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Boy, do I have a story to tell you. Posted by Hello

Friday, March 11, 2005

Insert Snappy Headline Here

Inspiration in short supply today. Unlike workload. Let's go the the videotape.

Solid poker action last night despite a reprimand from the dear and patient wife, after I bombed out of a post-Survivor two-table SnG on Stars:

"You're gonna play again!?!?!?"
"Yeah, I gotta get my $22 back."

Which I did. And then some. Made sleeping in the garage a little more palatable.

Most of my haul came when I doubled up with pocket aces and smooth called pocket kings all the way to the river, where I raised him all-in. He paid off with a perfectly benign board showing. Really, what could he do? Any among us who would've laid it down? I think not. Not in my previous experience anyway.

Found two NL tables very much to my liking. A rotating band of maniacs and a handful of solid players just itching to take 'em down.

Is there anything more life-affirming than the turn check-raise? Goddamn I feel verile when I pull that one off. Of course, you need reasonable players around who recognize the power of the play. I LIKE having some good players at my tables. Easier to get a read. Easier to find spots to bluff at pots. I know that's counter to what is considered prime money-making poker. I guess it's a comfort zone to me. Still working on that "handling variance" thing. With better players, you can minimize the soul-sucking beats, at the expense of winning huge pots from idiots. So, at this point in my development, I prefer a mixture of the players. Allows for different types of plays, which is good experience as far as changing gears, targeting your play toward the type of player, etc. I can both wait for the monsters and isolate the morons and steal smaller pots against the tight/passive group. It's been working, lately.

My poker game right now is akin to a functioning alcoholic. The NL ring games are my work. I get up early, take the mornin' train, adequately perform my duties to keep the family in clover. Pocket a little coin. Then I come home, start binging on liquor, two-table SnGs and multi-table tourneys, giving back I've earned.

Such is the price of getting experience in those MTTs.


Big thanks to the Poker Geek for his kind words. The sleep-deprived have always been my target demographic. Memo to self: To increase traffic, make Chris laugh.

Also in LA blogger news, a big pat on the back to F. Howard H. for scoring a gig at Full Tilt. I had the pleasure of making his acquantance in Commerce last month. He's good people and well-deserving of this opportunity.

Keeping with the theme, I ran across another local blogger (and by local, I mean he's just a quick 4-hour jaunt down the 91 from me). As such, The O.C.'s High Plains Drifter has been added to the blogroll.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Due to the mind-numblingly boring nature of last night's poker session, I'm bringing in a couple special guests* for today's report.

Mike Sexton: We're coming to you LIVE from the family room of internet poker also-ran Joe "The Librarian" Speaker.
Vince Van Patten: It's so quiet in here you can here a bookmark drop. One of those paper thin ones, you know, the kind that wouldn't make much noise. Hence, it's very quiet.
MS: Right, Vince. The Librarian is decked out in the home jersey of Liverpool's influential captain Steven Gerrard.
VVP: And no pants.
MS: That's right. No pants.
Dear and Patient Wife: You guys wanna hold it down? I'm trying to watch American Idol here.
VVP: Ohhhh, a strong rebuke from The Missus. Clearly she prefers Paula Abdul to Abdul Jalib.
MS: Noted. Let's get to the action.
VVP: The Librarian has folded 150 hands in a row. You could read "War and Peace" in between the flops he's played.
MS: Right, Vince. But look. He's checking out his hand. Pocket 7s.
VVP: He's gonna limp with it here. Try to pick up some late fees.
MS: And here's the flop: 10s 7d 4s. He's flopped a set, Vince.
VVP: He has indeed, Mike. Three sevens. Jackpot.
MS: Oh, and look at this, he's gonna check it! Even with two spades on the board!
VVP: This kid's got ice water in his veins. He's seen how tight the table is and he's gonna gamble on a big pay day.
MS: He's just gonna call the small bet here. Anonymous internet player has a pair of sixes and put $2 in the pot.
VVP: Let's see the turn.
MS: A ten! Oh boy.
VVP: The Librarian has filled up like the book return bin at closing time.
MS: Let's see what he does here, Vince. He checks again! Let's see if his opponent falls for it. He does! He's moved in for $4!
VVP: And another smooth call. This is a disaster for the anonymous internet player. The Librarian is binding him to this hand. He's read him like a book here, Mike.
MS: Let's see the river. A five! No help to either player.
VVP: What's The Librarian gonna do here?
MS: He's gonna bet, Vince. The question is how much? He wants a call here.
VVP: Ten bucks. And he gets it! The Librarian has scooped his biggest pot of the evening!
MS: Compelling play from this young man.
VVP: We'll be right back.

MS: Let's go to Vince, who's with our champion.
VVP: Thanks, Mike. So Joe, whaddya gonna do with the evening's winnings?
JoeSpeaker: Uh, it was only $3.75, Vince.
VVP: Regardless, a splendid display of patience and power in your game tonight.
JS: Well, I felt like I really had to focus in order to stay away from the 60 hands of ten-four off-suit.
VVP: Right.
JS: And it's pretty hard to fuck up when you make a boat on the turn.
VVP: Right.
JS: I guess what I'm saying is that I've known hamsters with the brain power to have played my hands.
VVP: And you certainly hit the Habitrail hard tonight.
JS: I don't know what that means.
VVP: Now let's go to Shanna Hiatt.
JS: She's here?!?!?! Why am I talking to you?
VVP: No, she's not really here. Just wanted to get your reaction.
MS: So there you have it folks. Tonight's big winner, naked from the waist and flush with Happy Meal money, internet also-ran Joe "The Librarian" Speaker.

*Celebrity voices impersonated.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Red Letter Day

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone

Liverpool is tearing Beyer Leverkusen a new one. Up 2-0 in the tie today; 5-1 on aggregate. By all accounts (okay, it's one account and it's not even mine), the Reds have dominated in BayArena from the opening whistle. Can't beat effing Birmingham in the Premiership, but going to the last 8 of the Champions League. Bizarre. Updates as they are warranted.


Onto the poker.

Put on my fins and wet suit and dove into Party Poker last night. As previously mentioned by myself and others, the new blind structure on the NL games is manna from heaven. Only got about an hour of play in, owing to a dining room re-decoration fiasco of startling proportions, but it was enough.

I spent a few minutes on table selection, about the most I can stomach. Didn't see anything too fishy, so I just got into the highest average pot tables I could. While total boob spottings were minimal (there was one sub-human who blew his entire buy-in in two hands, his first two at the table), the play was predictable. Always helpful in no-limit.

I had two tables up and scooped a pot on my very first hand. KdTd in the BB and flopped two diamonds. I bet out, because I like to. Am I wrong? I dunno, it's been a profitable play for me, as long as I pick my spots. Sort of a spin on the raise for a free card play. It's deceptive. Anyway, I get one caller. Turn is a rag and I go ahead and make a half-pot bet again. I'm thinking I'll at least generate some later action if I show down a busted draw. Called again. River bricks and I fire out a small bet. Happily, I induce a fold.

Okay. This might work out.

Later, against that same guy, I play a flush draw the same way. Only I have position. He check-calls me to the river, where I don't catch. I check behind and he shows top pair. Saved a bet, at least.

Then I nearly double up with a couple hands on the other table. It would have been much more, but both my victims were short on funds. First, I limp in LP with 44. Mr. October. Family pot and the flop comes down KQ4 rainbow. Daddy's gonna get paid. A $2 bet in front and I smooth call. Sadly, I am the only one. Duece on the turn and I smooth call the $4 bet. River blank and I call his $5.30 all-in. He's got aces. Thank you Mr. Dumbass. Dear everybody at my table. Please slow-play aces. Thank you.

Next, I see pocket 7s and again get to see a flop for four bits. Seriously, it's the greatest thing ever. The 11% of the time you flop that set, you are going to have people throwing money at you. I flopped another set, along with a 5 and a 9, two spades. A $1 from UTG and I bump it to $3 with those draws available. Only UTG calls. So, I'm figuring he's made already. He bets $5 on the brick turn and I raise to $10. He pushes his remaining stack of $20 or so. I actually stopped to take my time and think this one through. Could he have flopped the straight? Played 86s from UTG? Not impossible. But unlikely. I think A9 is more like it. So I call. River's a red jack and he shows two pair, 9s and 5s. Well, I guess he COULDA played 86 from there. Either way, gimme my money. The Librarian puts another player on the shelf.

Um, yeah, that's funny to me.

Meanwhile, over behind Door #2, I'm abusing this one poor fella. He's not terrible. But I know what he's thinking before he thinks it. Just have a laser-lock read on him. First hand I got into with him, I was again betting out on my flush draw (the nut draw this time) and hit it on the turn. I check-raised him and he paid for the river. He didn't call my value bet, however. Scant moments later, I get Big Slick and flop an ace with two diamonds (of which I have none). He calls my bet and the turn brings a King of diamonds. Top two, but that flush chance. Yet, I feel like I can check it and know for certain what's going on. No way he bets without the flush, based on my previous check-raise. No way he has the patience to NOT bet if he does have it. He checks. River blanks. I value bet and this time he pays me off. I love it when a plan comes together.

I only dropped one pot of any significance, about $10 of TPTK to a set of 9s. I folded my flop-starved overcards like a good little boy. A nice, easy-goin' night of profit at Party.


3-0 to the Reds, 6-1 on aggregate. Baros in the 66th. Tough one for U.S. International Landon Donovan. His first start for Bayer and they've been hopelessly outclassed. BayArena is now seeing more subs than San Diego during Fleet Week.


Did anyone see where the U.S. lost to Croatia in the Davis Cup? With Agassi and Roddick playing? Craptacular.

The Davis Cup is one of those events to which I used to pay a lot of attention. Tennis in general, really. Johnny Mac remains one of my sporting heroes. He ALWAYS played in the Davis Cup. Unlike some of these prima donnas today. Anybody remember the 6+ hour battle he had against Mats Wilander in the Cup? One of the sets was 18-16 (no tiebreakers back then). I watched every shot. Rivited.

But tennis is pretty much ruined now. There's nobody with McEnroe's artistry (though Roger Federer has every shot), Borg's quiet cool or Conners' tireless and manic intensity. The advent of "power" tennis, with the huge serves and short rallies, aided by equipment and conditioning advances, has taken the subtlety out of the game, by and large. I'll still tune into Wimbledon. Or The Open. But I won't be rivited. As for the Davis Cup, I forgot it was even on this weekend. So you know where that stands.


It's a final. Liverpool "comfortably" into the quarters. Whudda thunk?

Go you Reds.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Makin' Babies

This post is rated PG-13 for sexual situations and overt lunacy.

Some people like to splash cold water on their face first thing in the morning in order to shock themselves awake. Me? I have the dear and patient wife to help get the day started.

"I want a baby."

Right now? With the crust still hemming my eyes closed? What is with you people? It's like the whole pregnancy/no sleep/diaper-changing thing never happened the first time around, despite the fact you spent a full 18 months complaining about it.

Of course, I'd love to have another kid. I just want him/her to come out a year old.

So now we have to keep track of the prime insemination times (there I go again with the romance). The dear and patient wife is walking around with a stopwatch. This weekend, I finally got my musical cue, courtesy of, first, Rod Stewart

Oh no not again
It hurts so good
I don't understand

followed by Kool and the Gang.

Ovulate good times
Come on!
It's an ovulation

As an added bonus, I can't get either of those songs out of my head. So yeah, my wife is goofy, in a wholly endearing way. And it's nice she gives me the heads up, so I know I'm gonna get some action. Despite our 5 years of marriage, I still harbor the dread of sexual rejection, based on decades of social conditioning and, it must be said, first-hand and repeated experience.

Enough with the stage setting, the point I need to get across about this--the public service I offer to you, faithful readers--is that you should probably refrain from impetuously yelling out "SWIM!" at that magic moment of potential conception. See, apparently, your dear and patient wife/girlfriend might find this uproariously funny (or grossly inappropriate). Laughter causes certain stomach muscles to contract, at the expense of "other" muscles, some of which I long suspected were merely rumors spawned by your finer men's magazines. The contraction of these "other" muscles, I have since discovered, is important to something called an "orgasm," which, apparently, women can have. I know, who knew? The end result, of course, was that by making my dear and patient wife laugh, I inhibited her ability to obtain this once in a lifetime experience.

Don't let this happen to you.

It was REALLY funny, though. And a good story to tell the possible child when they are old enough to have sex. Like, in 30 years. Which should be long enough for me to read up on those "other" muscles.