Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Zen and the Art of Poker Maintenance

I am inherently a curious person. I get paid to find facts, after all. But it's a hobby I pursue in my leisure, as well. Lately, as you know, I've been looking for poker answers.

Since I am primarily concerned with the psychological issues in my game just now, there are obvious places to look for help (The Psychology of Poker, et al). I'll get there, I guess. But, right now, I'm poking around elsewhere, roads not traveled, looking for art in the trees, rather than in a museum. Which brings me to Robert Pirsig's classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

He uses the word "gumption" to describe that desire to tackle a task (or, in his more philosophical words, "describes what happens to someone who connects with Quality"), finding the purity of mind to fully "see" the trail before you. So, to solve your problem, you need gumption.

The gumption-filling process occurs when one is quiet long enough to see and hear and feel the real universe, not just one's own stale opinions about it.

Excellent. Exactly right. A perfect rendering of why I'm pulling back on my online play. With all the hands careening around in my head, my analysis of my play and that of my opponents, my rigid adherence to the rote lessons, there's no room for re-appraisal. Too much clutter. To much reliance on repetitive actions instead of careful analysis of other potential avenues, which are currently blocked.

Throughout the process of fixing...things always come up. These drain off gumption, destroy enthusiasm and leave you so discouraged you want to forget the whole business. I call these things "gumption traps."

We've all run into these traps in poker. It can be something like a diminished bankroll and its attendant effect on your psyche. Or something as simple as a bad beat. Or a hand poorly played. They sap your desire in varying degrees. But it's also part of the lure, is it not?

Motorcycle maintenance gets frustrating. Angering. Infuriating. That's what makes it interesting.

So, what are these traps, common to all of us? Many seem so simple, so obvious, but their impact on our poker game may not be similarly obvious. I'm only concerned today with those "internal" traps, our psychological reactions to both success and setback. These emotional influences that we first need to identify, then block the effect on your game.

Of the value traps, the most widespread and pernicious is value rigidity. This is an inability to re-value what one sees because of commitment to previous values.

These come up all the time, especially for the learning player. For example, you start out with ABC poker, a solid strategy in the No Fold 'Em games everywhere. As you move up limits--or to PL and NL games--you find that basic strategy is not conducive to improvement. You're too easily read, too easily pushed around. At this point, a natural evolution should take place. New lessons should be absorbed and assimilated. But you can't get there without "forgetting" what you've already learned. You've got to slow down, re-trace your steps, find out what applies in this new game and discard the rest.

Next up, Ego.

If you have a high evaluation of yourself then your ability to recognize new facts is weakened. Your ego isolates you...When the facts show that you've just goofed, you're not as likely to admit it. When false information makes you look good, you're likely to believe it.

Hooo boy. Show of hands? This apply to anybody? Nah, me neither.

Aside from the obvious drawbacks to an inability to admit mistakes, thereby repeating them over and over again out of sheer hubris, I've experienced Ego in a different sort of way. It generally manifests itself when I am playing well and results in an over-confidence. It's not the sort of thing one thinks about when summoning the concept of "tilt," but it is exactly that. Things are going well, I think, so that no matter what I do, this pot is mine. I am invincible. And those "thoughts" block any reception of clues that this may not be the case.

This next one has undoubtedly given me the MOST trouble these past months: Anxiety.

(You) chase after imaginary ailments. You jump to wild conclusions and build all kinds of errors...because of your own nervousness. These errors, when made, tend to confirm your original underestimation of yourself.

Wait, you say. You have ego problems AND under-estimation problems? Hell yes. The latter visited me at the tables during a period this summer when, no matter what I held, I was always second best. Pocket Queens? Hello, Aces.

The immediate effect of me consistently running into monsters was to conjure them every time I was in a pot. Turn the nut flush? Swell, but the board just paired on the river and you're beat to a boat. Bottom set? Oh, somebody's got to have top set. It made me play tentatively. The slightest aggression and I toss my TPTK. Pushing people off what I KNOW were marginal hands? Forget it.

The way out of this is not just recognizing it, but allaying your fears. Find understanding. The odds of set over set are small enough to not even worry about. It happens, it happens. Play your cards with no regard for the tough beat you took. Play them for the first time, making your best decision based on the intricacies of the hand, don't put a player on aces just because you've seen aces a lot lately.

Boredom means you're off the Quality track, you're not seeing things freshly, you've lost your "beginner's mind."

This trap has cost me a fair share of cash this summer. It's what happens when I sit to play while in the wrong frame of mind. When I play just to play, without motivation or proper attention, without a goal in mind. Without edge. It leads to loose play, an "Aw, fuck it" attitude, the exact opposite of what is desired. You have to be focused. You have to be willing. If you are not all of these things, don't play. Stop. Come back when you want to play.


The last thing I'm going to appropriate from Pirsig is a bit more hinky than above, more conceptual. At least to me. My pragmatic brain has trouble latching onto philosophy for the most part, but I thought this was kinda cool. The trap here is yes-no logic and his idea that there is a third potential answer, embodied in the Japanese term mu.

Mu means "no thing"...It states that the context of the question is such that a yes or no answer is in error and should not be given.

Reminiscent of "It depends" don't ya think?

Yes or no confirms or denies a hypothesis. Mu says the answer is beyond the hypothesis. Mu is the "phenomenon" that inspires scientific inquiry...

For example, doubleas posted and talked about the QJ hand at great length. If the question posed was, "Would you bet here?" (I know that wasn't exactly it), then a yes or no answer would be woefully inadequate. The answer, or answers, demand we not confine ourselves to those simple terms and by breaking from the bonds of those rigid parameters, we are able to discover truths (strategies) beyond those which immediately present themselves.


I'd recommend the book to any who've not read it. There's quite a bit of metaphysical wandering, but there's a palpable tension throughout the entire tome. It is also, at times, exhilarating.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


A bit of frustration bubbling over at Chez Speaker as, for the last six months, regular invasions have failed to yeild fruit. Poker? No.

Despite up-to-the-millisecond planning, strenuous attention to ovulatory detail and my relentless carpet-bombing of the dear and patient wife's fallopian tubes, we have failed to connect on Child #2. It's disappointing, but I take it some manner of stride, being the hopelessly optimistic sort and if there are motility issues, I'll get 'em sorted out. The Mrs., not so much, as these six months of failure SURELY indicate that she is barren at 34. So, when she called me today reporting a full flow of Results Negative, she was choking back tears.

According to the finest literature, you are, by definition, infertile if you have already conceived a child previously and then are unable to successfully procreate for a period of six months or longer the next time you try. I'm inclined to believe there's something to that--though I don't feel our issues are major--mainly because we pretty much scored on our first try with AJ.

But now it's unavoidable and sometime in the next few weeks I will be donating into a cup in a sterile clinic that better have a good stash of porn.


She's a little down in the dumps, though still manages to joke and refer to herself as an "Old Maid." So I thought I'd try to cheer her up with something, something I wrote nearly seven years ago.


Paris, France. Friday April 16, 1999

Here I am. Sweaty, tired, shaky. I have a beer--Carlsberg--and a smoke. I'm gonna smoke everywhere in this country. The bar is a mere 30 paces from our hotel, a fine potential spot to cap off the evenings, if you ask me. I was even greeted by a patron with a hearty "Bonjour."

At present, I look like Hell. Fourteen hours in the air and haven't been able to get in the hotel room for a shower yet. I have an hour to kill.

The pub is a simple place. Brown tiled floor circa 1970s American Tract Home. The red naugahyde chairs are comfortable enough, paired around formica tables. A wooden L-shaped bar surrounds the spartan work area. Regulars, or so they appear to me, are scattered about, drinking beer, wine and coffee, chatting aimlessly and keeping one eye on their ponies in the next race. A young cook stares at me intermittantly from the kitchen, while the kindly middle-aged owner serves me. Some glance my way, curious at the silly young man dressed in various shades of blue.

The beer is a pure elixer. I need it to calm me. I guess I will meet her soon. Two...two and a half hours. I am an unwieldy mix of excitement and terror. I see my face in a mirror and cringe. I reach into my head for topics to raise.

I arrived easily. Soon, I will explore further. As a place, I feel warmth in thsi pub. But as a setting for the most important meeting of my life, it will not do.


It is here, Cafe Voltaire in the Le Marais section of Paris, that we will meet shortly, far too soon for me to share my feelings of her. My clumsy attempt at romance has yielded an equally clumsy flower arrangement. Not content to accept pre-fab bouquets, I asked for cherry blossoms (and I guarantee you that was a conversation fraught with sign language and quizzical stares), which have meaning for her. What I ended up with is three rather homely cherry blossoms, entwined in enough cellophane to choke a moose.

I'm on my fourth beer of the young day, though it would be 11 p.m. in my sector of the world. I fear the crash which awaits me. But for now, I welcome the numbness. It's the only thing keeping me inside my skin.

This cafe is not exactly what I had pictured in my head. The Paris of my dreams consisted of a garden patio, wrought iron fencing--possibly white--and trelises of blooming flowers. Instead, I am on the inside of the glass facing a crowded boulevard. Cars and people scurry past, oblivious to the huge moment awaiting me. I have cleaned up well enough and my leather car coat doesn't peg me as a tourist.

I'm about to live a dream, almost separate from my actual life. It's invigorating and I'm far enough out on the limb that there's no going back. I'll be there for the next ten days regardless. I want suprise. I want new.

My flowers are drooping off the end of the wood table. Any moment now. My anxiety keeps sending my gaze to the beer tap. It's an ornate silver contraption, culminating in a skinny nozzle, a contrast to the wide-mouth taps of home. The beer meekly dribbles into a Y-shaped glass caressing the stem and settling leisurely. It's a nice metaphor. I am not impatient. I welcome the easy flow of what is to come.

Even so, my eyes dart around the place. To my empty glass, shards of foam hugging its sides. To the barkeep, who walks briskly by. To the tap and to the empty street corner where I expect her to arrive.


I never actually saw her arrive. She just APPEARED. Suddenly, she was. The light changed. I made my way from my chair somehow, legs devoid of feeling. We met on the sidewalk and embraced. My head swam. We sat and talked, though I could not possibly tell you what was said, a fact that didn't matter in the least. We touched. For the first time.

Soon, we were walking the city. Hand-in-hand, we paused to look in the shops. Chocolates, tapas, fresh fattened duck liver on toast, everything new. We spent the afternoon in a colorful restaurant where we drank way too much Sangria and laughed knowingly like old friends.

We stayed in that evening, my body stunned by the lack of sleep, jet-lag and the gorgeous woman beside me. She gave me a massage, we talked of our families and giggled over nothing and everything. Finally, I took her face in my hands, that beautiful, exotic face, and kissed. We explored each other like we would soon explore the city, uncertain at first, but with growing familiarity and intensity.

She lay beside me the next morning, a vision. She slept quietly, but with a questioning look peeking out from under her curly black hair. The answer is yes. I love her. I am sure of it.

News and Notes

Well, let's see, what's new...

Played a little poker this weekend, posting a slight win at the Morongo 4/8 tables on Saturday night. Found myself card dead for the most part, as well as facing a group of tight/passive players for the first few hours. Pre-flop raises took the blinds on several occassions. Won one big pot when a guy holding AJ mis-read his hand and 3-bet both turn and river when I held the nuts with KJ on a AQT9x board. The River was a thorny skank all night. At least three players stalked from the table in disgust.

Also took a (drunken) run at the crazy Re-Buy on Sunday night. Got in for my minimum ($31) and won a nice pot at Level 6 to take me above average stack, then got creamed by a BB Special. I open-raised from the SB, he called and I flopped top and bottom pair. He called my mild bet, then raised my more aggressive bet on the turn. I pushed. He flopped top two.


But I was a happy drunk at that point, so no worries.


Dr. Pauly has put out another edition of Truckin' his fine literary blogzine. I have a story in, which is neither fine nor literary, but hopefully gives you a laugh.


Michael Owen is headed to Newcastle. !@#%@&%&@*^^%!@$#%#$@

Watched the replay of the Super Cup on Saturday afternon and delighted in the crowd's rendition of "There's Only One...Michael Owen" (and it appears it affected Cisse, as well since he came on to score two lucky goals and divinely set up the third). I guess Benitez's style isn't a good fit for Owen, since Rafa likes to play with a lone target striker (hence Peter Crouch), but I still don't get it. If you have the opportunity to bring back a Kop hero, a proven scorer, you adjust your bleeping style.


US-Mexico this Saturday. Huge. Huge. Quite a double-header for me: A's-Yanks followed by the North American Grudge Match. Tis fixture always brings to mind an AP quote from a random Mexican after the US knocked the Tris out of the World Cup in '02:

"Why must they always treat us like rats and idiots?"

Greatest. Quote. Ever.

Three points and the Nats are booked for Germany. Might as well get it out of the way.


I had several strong reactions to the Video Music Awards the other night. Eva Longoria's moose knuckle, 50 Cent teasing his live performace saying he was gonna serve up a "melody," which would be a first, but I'm pretty sure he meant "medley," R. Kelly officially going insane right in front of our eyes and my tempered happiness at Green Day winning a handful of awards because I think "American Idiot" is an excellent album, but "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is easily the worst cut.


Is there a Doctor in the house? I have a strange phenomena going on right now, so strange that it's difficult to even describe. I'm getting some sort of heat sensation in my left buttock. It flares up for just a second, like I backed into a flame and then it's gone. It doesn't hurt, but it's annoying and has been bugging me for about a week now. No other attendant symptoms. Could it simply be that my left butt cheek is going through menopause?

Have I shared too much?

Anyway, googling "left butt cheek hot flash" or "buttocks heat sensation symptom" hasn't turned up anything useful. I did, however, spend a lot of time looking at various links after trying "need help with my hot ass" You know, for research purposes.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Joe Morgan is a Moron and I Hate Him

Does Joe Morgan's wardrobe make you want to watch 'Boogie Nights'?
--From Bill Simmons

Baseball post today. No poker here. Move along.

As an Oakland A's fan--and by "fan," I mean completely obsessed--I am now almost immune to the vast sea of Luddites who fail to grasp even the most simple concepts contained in "Moneyball," Michael Lewis' excellent examination of the small budget A's and their GM Billy Beane (who, admittedly, comes off as EXTREMELY arrogant in the book and is therefore a natural target from the baseball establishment).

I have come across some inane arguments AGAINST the A's philosophy (or what people believe to be their philosophy), but some stand out, like Jeff Gordon, an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch whose "review" of the book--which he did not read--consisted of quoting snippets of online anonymous reader comments at Or the demented ramblings of John Popper (pre-gastric bypass) look-a-like and Rocky Mountain News columnist Tracey Ringolsby, who wonders why such a wonderful system hasn't yet won a World Series title?

Baseball is all about the Old Guard, Protectors of the Game's Traditions (like keeping the whole steroid thing on the down-low) and Beane and Co. are undoubtedly up to something different. Not that these knuckle-draggers can divine what it is. It's not about OBP. It's not about walks. It's about money (Note to critics: The title is important). It's about maximizing your resources, exploiting holes in the marketplace, because you can't win an Arms Race with the $200 million payroll clubs. The A's are FORCED to do things differently based on economic imbalance in the game. And dim-witted "baseball" people, who've followed, swallowed and regurgitated the game's historic and inefficient philosophies, are threatened by that.

None more than Joe Morgan. I could go on and on and on about how he has something of a vendetta against Beane's A's, something that may or may not have anything to do with "Moneyball," which, he admits he has not read. See, Little Joe was part of a group that attempted to buy the A's back in the 90s. Selig and MLB pretty much shut that down (to my everlasting relief) as part of their crusade to remove the A's from Oakland--and perhaps baseball--entirely.

ANYWAY, I can't begin to describe the myriad instances where Morgan has completely mis-represented the contents of Moneyball, the realities of the A's organization and, indeed, contradicted actions occurring right before his eyes on the field of play. I will, however, give you the greatest article ever written (if this kind of thing interests you; if not People Online has a big Brad-Jen spread this week):

Say It Ain't So, Joe
Why does Joe Morgan -- the best second baseman in history and a prominent TV broadcaster -- hate Moneyball? And Billy Beane and his Oakland A's? And you, too, if you think the statistical revolution that's overwhelmed Major League Baseball has any merit.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Broken Home

I have written that the most obvious area for improvement in my poker game is in the psychological realm. This is uncharted territory for me and I have no real concept of where this line of study will take me, though I can hope at its conclusion. There is, however, one aspect that needs attention, one that is overt even to me. Complicating the issue is that this particular trait is one that didn't arise from playing poker, but one that is ingrained in my daily life.

As it relates to poker, the problem is obsession with bankroll.


I finished reading "The Professor, The Banker and The Suicide King" last week. I found it to be okay. There were details, but not much depth. I would imagine someone less familiar with the game and its players would come away wondering what the hell was interesting about this book. Because I do have some knowledge of the participants, I could divine the tension. But, ultimately, it came up short.

The most interesting passages were the players' thoughts on bankroll, the increased stakes that Beal demanded and how they did manage to take some of the players out of their comfort zone. Still, they continued to profess that they don't sit down at the table thinking about how much money is there. It's just the game and chips are the currency.

Furthermore, they've all gone broke at one time or another. Many times for some. It is inherent in their chosen profession. The only way to get to their level is to take shots, move up to the bigger games. All of them have taken shots and failed. This is probed most in depth regarding Jennifer Harmon, how she failed numerous times to move up into the Big Games, always falling back to her previous level, re-building the 'roll and trying again to beak through.

I don't get the sense these people are at peace with going broke, but I get the sense they accept it as part of the process.


I have a mortal fear of going broke. It's not simply the attendant feeling of failure. It's also guilt.

I learned some hard financial lessons on my way to adulthood (I'll get there soon, I'm pretty sure). You name it, I fucked it up. Bounced checks. Bailing on jobs. IRS audits. Massive credit card debt. Collection agencies with my phone number on speed dial.

Most of this was caused by just plain immaturity. But there were other factors, including ambivalence (partially brought on by rampant marijuana usage) and yes, gambling.

This irresponsibility somehow became a major personality trait and I hated it. So I fixed it.

Now, that's the good news. The bad news is that I am fanatical about money. From my former lackadaisical tendencies, I have swung 180 degrees to complete compulsion. I spend more time in Quicken than Courtney Love spends in rehab.

And I've treated my poker bankroll the same way.


"It's not about money. Money is just a way of keeping score."

Well, for me, it's been about money. I continually track my balance, even thinking about it during play. And that attitude is dead wrong. It's the wrong frame of mind in which to play. Because I'm playing to "get it back," which deflects attention away from the things I should really be thinking about: the play, my game, improvement.

As my bankroll tumbled from its peak in mid-May, I couldn't bring myself to step back and re-evaluate. Instead, I just kept chasing, determined to return the numbers to their previous heights. And while variance was definitely putting a size 11 boot in my ass, I helped the descent with this single-minded approach, which resulted in some poor play. The direct cause of that poor play was my own impatience. My desire to replenish the 'roll--and fast--led to overly aggressive play, to seeking the Big Score, rather than the methodical, reasoned approach that had been successful.

You can't play your best game if you're afraid to lose. You can't play your best game if you NEED to win. You can control only one thing: your decisions. You make the best decision you can and live with the results.


Maybe it's my Judeo-Christian upbringing, maybe it's the constant recriminations from my mother...whatever it is, I occassionally struggle to reconcile my poker hobby with my duties as husband, father and bread-winner. Here's where the guilt I mentioned earlier comes in. There's no guilt when you're up 4 Gs and the dear and patient wife gets a nice new patio furniture set out of my poker haul. But when you're looking at dropping $1400 over a four-month span, starting to think about going broke and how you can't possibly dip into family money to start up again if it comes to that...I think it's fair to say I've stayed up nights contemplating the idea that I am doing a disservice to my family with this hobby.

In the light of day, I'm almost certain that's not the case. I have personally gleaned great benefits from finding this little niche, which naturally flow to the Mrs. and AJ, as well. Nonetheless, that fear of going broke, of failure, of letting the game infringe on my responsibilities--financial and otherwise--as head of the household gnaws at me. Worse, I've let it follow me to the tables.


These are issues which I need to overcome if I want to continue sucessfully on the poker path. The alternative is quitting and I absolutely do not want that. I need to find that balance, life and game, responsibility and hobby, attitude and bottom line.

Accept that it won't mean the end of the world if I do, in fact, go broke. And play like it doesn't fucking matter.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Head on over to congratulate Jason on winning a WCOOP seat in a cash qualifier last night. In fact, you should be heading over there daily anyway for his reports from the WSOP Circuit Event in Tunica.

I had the pleasure of observing his play for most of the tourney and I must say he was ON POINT. He was reading the table perfectly and took nary a mis-step in the first three hours. A real treat to watch and discuss the hands as they were happening and in their aftermath. I've played with Jason plenty of times and have an abiding respect for his game, but I don't think I've seen him quite so damn good ever before. Very impressive.

Perhaps this isn't the type of behavior I had exactly in mind for my little poker break, but it was fun and instructive nonetheless. He and I (and drizz) also talked a bit about my hiatus. I hope it came across in the Monday post that I am very happy with the decision. Because I am. It's not a punishment. It's a positive step that I think will result in growth. Jason said it seemed like "my head was in the right place" and that's the way I feel too. And it's nice to have a support system, so thanks guys.

Plus Jason had some poker ego-boosting news for me and I always appreciate that kinda thing.


The more I think about the state of my poker game, the more I think the biggest issue is psychological. My skill level has reached a certain plateau. Some things I've learned have been forgotten along the way. Plays need to be tightened and leaks filled. And there are other levels to surmount. That's not all gonna happen in a couple weeks. Basic maintenance in that regard should be sufficient.

But my attitude, my response to tilt, my reactions to bad luck and variance...those are areas where I need a great deal of attention. The most noticable--and poor--response to variance has been my propensity to become passive. Not betting the best hand for fear an unlikely better hand is out there. Calling instead of raising. That's the most obvious. There are plenty of more subtle effects as well, including sitting down with doubt about my game, not giving the play my full attention, acting without thinking, not showering during a three-day poker bender....

These are the areas where I will concentrate most. My brain feels remakably uncluttered right now. Just waiting of inspiration and knowledge to rush in.


If there's one song in the universe that is most likely to make me burst out singing on the train, it's "Dandelion" by Audioslave.

A few words about them. When I heard of the Cornell-Rage marriage, I was pretty excited. Because I think Chris Cornell and Tom Morello are two unique talents and I was intrigued by what they could come up with together. I don't know exactly what my expectations were, but they were not fulfilled by their first release. Seemed to me like they were not in synch. On the latest ablum, however, they seemed to have meshed. It's not earth-shattering, just a batch of solid rock songs that highlight their strengths. And Cornell's voice hasn't sounded this good in years (I heard he quit smoking).

Top 5 songs on my latest iPod playlist:

Blood and Thunder--Mastadon
Would?--Alice in Chains
Jesus of Suburbia--Green Day
Is It Luck?--Primus
Kingdom Come--Coldplay


I, unlike some, don't get a lot of strange Google search hits. But occassionally...

free downloaded cheeses

I honestly have no desire to investigate further.


Oh boy. The trip reports are amazing. And hysterical. Thanks for sharing. After reading them, I was wondering what would be an acceptable excuse for missing Brad-O-Ween.

I can't think of one. Is it too early to RSVP for next year?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Poker World Reacts

The news that Internet Poker Hack Joe "The Librarian" Speaker has quit the online game has shocked the gambling world. Stunned reactions are pouring in from all quarters*:

Mike Sexton: Look at this Vince! The Librarian has gone to the matresses.
Vince Van Patten: Incredible, Mike. La biblioteca esta cerrado. Lending privileges have been revoked.
Mike Sexton: Indeed. I really don't understand this play, Vince.
Vince Van Patten: He's finished, chapter and verse. His plot exposed, his conflict resolved.
Mike Sexton:: You have any more?
Vince Van Patten: No, I think that's it.

Dr. Pauly: When I heard the news Speaker dumped the game, I was taking a piss next to a cross-dressing hooker. He/She was quite taken aback, thinking it was an unusual move. No more unusual than your gold lame dress paired with that massive Adam's Apple, I thought.

Felicia: Good idea. He sucks at poker. Maybe when he gets done crying all the time, he'll come back.

Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari: I love myself too much to care.

Iggy: Breaks are always good. Often one comes back as a totally different--and better--player. By that I mean, he should clear out his Party Poker account and when he's ready to return, do so under an assumed name, with a new bank account, using BONUS CODE IGGY!

Norman Chad: Boy, this guy shut it down faster than my third ex-wife on our honeymoon.

Chad: Pansy.

Boy Genius: This reminds me of growing up in Utah, barren wasteland of hopelessness. It also reminds me of the sub-plot in "She's All That."

drizz: I find, when it all gets to be too much, that listening to Nelson's first CD soothes me. Gunnar and Matthew have healing powers.

AlCantHang: First the smokes, now the poker. If this joker gives up drinkin', he's off the list.

Lee Jones: Joe Speaker has been silenced! His voice gone mute! At least he's got a couple grand to take away with him. Not a bad effort, Joe. I'm sure he'd liked to have had more, but my RNG started treating his nuts like a speed bag at Kronk Gym.

BadBlood: All this guy needs is two tickets to the Gun Show.

My Mother: Thank God!

Norman Chad: I gave up online poker once. It let me spend more time with my 7th ex-wife. I don't recommend it.

Bobby Bracelet: Pansy.

Grubby: I was telling this stripper about the time I split the atom and how it related to poker and she asked if I'd heard that Speaker quit. I hadn't, but I didn't care, because this one had a rump like a pomegranate that was fixin' to spill its juice and I wanted to be there to sop it up.

Vince Van Patten: The Library is closed!
Mike Sexton: You already used that one, Vince. In spanish.
Vince Van Patten: No!
Mike Sexton: Si.
Vince Van Patten: But I don't have any more puns. There's nothing funny about librarians.
Mike Sexton: Right, Vince.

Heather: He should get Matt Matros' book. Then his home address. And give it to me.

Jim McManus: This episode brings to mind an Andalusian parable, which I would happily relate had I not completely lost the ability to construct a coherent narrative.

Norman Chad: I haven't seen an exit this abrupt since the first time my 12th ex-wife saw me naked.

*Celebrity, blogger and celebrity blogger voices impersonated.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Chapter II

I work best under deadline conditions. Goes with the territory. I tend not to linger, powering through tasks with a reasonable level of aptitude to keep the train on the tracks. But I don't often reach all the way to the bottom. I don't make it to the last page of the instruction manual when I can get the thing working after 15 pages.

Which is how I have ended up with the state of my poker game.

That's funny, "funny" frustrating, not "funny" ha-ha. I've written this post in my head a hundred different times over the past 48 hours. It's been bouncing around in my skull for much longer than that. And yet, not once did it start out like the above.

But I don't work like that. Not well, anyway. So I'm just gonna dump it out, trying to hit the high points and hoping you can sort it out. Order amongst the chaos, one hopes. Sure, I would like this to be eloquent, to resonate, find some universal themes everyone can hold onto, but, again, that would take planning and sense. I'd rather just straddle that fine line between clever and stupid and see where we end up.

The upshot is I'm taking an overdue and extended break from online poker. I should say mostly, since I plan on occassional shots at the WCOOP with my frequent player points and I'll most certainly participate in any WPBT events. But that's all I'll have the funds for, because I cashed out almost all of my bankroll.

This is not some profound statement. I did not have an epiphany, a "Saul on the Road to Damascus" moment. It is, I think, part of my natural evolution. Poker and I are a relatively new item and our relationship is experiencing simple growing pains as I try to figure out where it belongs, now and for the future.

The biggest issue is that online poker has lost it's fun aspect. It's a houseguest that's over-stayed its welcome. Which should have been obvious to me many times recently as I hunched over the laptop, teeth gritted in defiance, willing the cards to fall my way. I'm sure it registered some place in my muddled head, but it took an incredibly enjoyable session to provide the contrast.

I cashed in the Crazy Re-Buy again on Saturday. That makes three cashes out of my last four attempts (and the fourth I only missed the money by 15 places when I ran my short-stack Hiltons into Aces). I've felt damn good about my play in these of late (44 notwithstanding), finding that solid footing that's seemed so nebulous these last three months. It's allowing me to step away in a positive frame of mind rather than a nagging doubt that I really don't belong in the game. I have much to learn certainly, but it's more of a remodel, rather than a wholesale dismantling of the foundation.

Another problem is that I've become a One-Trick Donkey. Or, as Matusow would put it, an Internet Tournament Donkey. Tournaments have been good to me, for sure, making up the bulk of my bankroll, but my undying favor toward them has shut off the other avenues of education. Playing NLHE tourney after NLHE tourney is a growth-stunting business, poker with blinders.

I've dabbled in PL Omaha and O8, but I can't go anywhere significant with those without more instruction. I love limit hold 'em and would do well to pull out Cloutier/McEvoy and SSH again for a refresher. Stud games? Well, let's not get crazy here.

I want to stress this is not a "I'm taking my ball and going home" deal because of the ass-whuppin' variance has given me this summer. It sucks and I've struggled to deal with it at times, but I've attained a measure of acceptance. I sure as hell wish I didn't drop four figures worth of lessons to get to this point, but, if it's all one long session, I'm still playing with Fish Money. And I am going to play with it. Just not online.

I need to find that zeal again. I need to go into a session in the best frame of mind, with that excitement that used to be so prevalent, but has become fleeting. I'm gonna spend "quality time" (©Big Pirate) with poker, at my local indian casino, at HDub's home game, with my books and blogs and websites and, perhaps most importantly, in my head, where my thoughts are not cluttered by the latest bad beat, but clear and free to absorb what the game is telling me, what I need to know.

Lastly, and it's painful to admit but full disclosure is the key, poker is getting in the way. Not overtly. I manage to take care of my business (if too often at the last minute; dealine conditions, you know). But there I was the other night, reading AJ to sleep. I was saying the words on the page, but my mind was far away.

How could he call an all-in with just a gunshot? And why did he have to catch? Could I have played it differently?

The End.

I closed the book and turned toward The Boy. AJ was dozing on my shoulder. I didn't realize he'd gone down. I didn't experience that moment with my son, relish his closeness, because I was caught up in a hand. It made me feel like a prime asshole.

One little thing here, one small moment there, all distilled into an obvious decision, one with which I am more than comfortable. A new direction, a fresh step, the next page in the manual.


Now, what did YOU all do this weekend?

Looking forward to the reports. I was fortunate enough to receive some Dial-A-Shot action this weekend, so thanks for that gang. I must say, the other end of the phone didn't sound like much fun at all. Nope, absolutely nothing that I'd be interested in. Not at all.

Envy. Such an ugly emotion.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Head Games

There are two main reasons I will not be yakking in Otis's side yard this weekend (when I puke, I like a little privacy). One, my poker bankroll is a little thin, not .25/.50 thin, but definitely "No Cross Country Travel" thin. All poker-related costs MUST be paid out of the PBR. On this point, I--okay, not me but certain other adults who live in my house--will not waver.

Secondly, my good friend Big Head is to be the recipient of a suprise 40th birthday party this weekend. No, he's not so good a friend that I've told him about this blog, so the surprise is still intact.

Before we both got married, procreated and moved two hours away from each other, he and I were pretty inseparable. We coached high school soccer together for four years, were roommates for three and continue to play together on Sundays, a ritual approaching the decade mark. In addition, I was the best man at his wedding.

Now that I've established the friendship credentials, it's time for a Big Head story. Let me just say, as a point of reference, that the Blogger Most Resembling Big Head in Word and Deed is probably G-Rob.

Big Head, Paddy and I were road-tripping it to Portland back in '97. Portland is Paddy's hometown and it was hosting a World Cup qualifier between the US and Costa Rica. Kickoff was set for 12:30 on Sunday afternoon. The site, Civic Stadium, is right in the heart of downtown Portland, surrounded by various pubs and microbrews, so our idea was to hit one up for early libations and breakfast.

Sadly, the idea was not an original one. Our pub of choice was packed to the gills, not just with football fans, but with FOOTBALL FANS enjoying a riviting Rams-Falcons tilt. We got one Bloddy Mary in before they ran out. Breakfast? Forget it. Not an egg to be found in this little corner of The Rose City. Undaunted, we switched to greyhounds.

By the time we stumbled out into the now-bright sunshine, I'd had 6 adult beverages. Or 20. Same difference. Big Head undoubtedly had more. It was noon and we were trashed. On empty stomachs. (Paddy, I should mention, had one, owing entirely to the fact he was covering the game.)

The first thing we noticed when moving to our seats was that our section was entirely populated by families. There would be no blue heckling of the Ticos. A minor bump in the road. We were...uh...vocal in our commentary on the match. Two keen football minds like ours can't stay silent long. We were also consistently on point when it came down to flagging the vendors with the 22 oz. Bud Lights.

Eventually, one young patron tired of our endless insights. From behind us we heard, "Be quiet!" It was a pre-pubescent squeaky voice and upon whirling around, we pegged our detractor as the chubby freckled kid on the aisle two rows up. Laughing, we turned our attentions back to the match.

The second half dawned still scoreless, though it was a watershed moment when we finally got a hot dog down our gullets. Suitably fueled, we continued to unleash our astute tirades.

Then, it happened. Big Head felt something ping off his prodigious noggin. It was a Reese's Piece. It's origin was clear. Big Head picked up the offending projectile, stomped to the chubby freckled kid (who instintively tightened his grip on his bag of Reese's Pieces) and tried to force the candy into the terrified kid's mouth.

"You wanna eat this?!?!?" he bellowed. Again, "You wanna eat this?!?!?!"

Chubby Freckled Kid's parents were slow to react, but when they did inquire as to the problem, Big Head laid the affair out for them completely, concisely and clamborously. Their meek and hurried response was, "Billy, don't throw things at people."

The story is long from over, but that's my favorite part. I'll spare you the details of Tab Ramos's glorious 78th-minute strike which gave the home side a crucial three points. And how our unbridled celebration of said goal resulted in at least one injury to someone other than ourselves. And how a barely coherent Big Head later managed to pick up a stunning 18-year-old waitress with the classic line, "You got purdy hair." And how the long road back to LA the next day was marked mostly by the sour post-bender stench of an incapacitated Big Head.

And now he's 40. It's been at least two years since he and I have gotten sloppy stupid drunk together. I am looking very forward to this weekend, because I know--I KNOW--with minimal prodding, I can get him there again.

Hmmmm. Maybe I'm the one who's like G-Rob.

Equal Shares

Among my numberous roles in life--husband, father, gadfly, racontuer--is that of the guy people come to for advice. I've done a lot of livin' in my 38 years and made enough mistakes that I've been able to absorb some lessons along the way, lessons I often impart to my younger acquantances.

Today's lesson is about your significant other. In relationships, the woman usually, though not always, insists on "sharing," as in the most intimate details. Your thoughts, your experiences, your very essence. Such openess will naturally strengthen the bond, bring you closer together.

As any good husband, I follow these tenets. I share EVERYTHING. But, there is apparently a limit. For example, your wife may not want to see the big glob of ear wax you q-tipped out this morning. At least mine didn't.

In summary, sharing is not compulsory, especially where body orafices and their contents are concerned.


I was home sick yesterday, finally trying to kick another in a long line of pre-school-incubated diseases. I followed the Sickie Plan to a tee: Sleep, drink lots of fluids, play three MTTs at once.

I cashed in one of them, the $20 Pot Limit Omaha. I dunno, maybe I'm a better Omaha player. More likely, the players are just worse. I finished 17th (of 150+) for a minor award, continuing my philosophy of nut peddling. Again, I ran into a Big Stack numbnuts chasing a single draw (flush) and hitting it on the River after all the money went in on the Flop. I had top set, but no re-draws. I accept my $11 prize, however.

A half-hour into the PLO, a $20 NLHE started. I didn't play much in that one, but made it into the third hour. Not many cards to get involved, but when I did get big hands, I doubled up. Until I ran my AA into 99, who flopped a set. You know, when you raise in EP with 99 and there's a raise behind you and a RE-RAISE behind that, does it ever occur to you that your 99 might be way behind?

For posterity, I'm two for my last six with AA.

The 15K Guaranteed Crazy $11 Re-Buy also began while I was in those two. It was a pretty dull affair as well. I nearly doubled up in the first hour and didn't have to throw any extra cash into the Kitty. In the second hour, I got drawn out on twice--a flopped set of 5s falling to runner-runner flush--and JJ getting flushed on the turn by Q6s. Fortunately, I managed to minimize the losses in those two hands. Q6s checked his flush on both turn and river trying to trap me. I didn't fall for it. Still, I eneded the second hour with just under 9K in chips, or just a grand more than I had at the start. Not good.

She may not have made me, but I spent much of the tourney to the immediate left of Tanya. I didn't say hello, lest we out ourselves as superior bloggers/players (and she might not even know who I am, as we only met for the briefest of moments in Vegas). There was one guy at my table who claimed I'd fleeced him in a cash game before. I didn't remember him (nor had any notes), but it must have been a long time ago considering I don't play many cash games and, uh, I don't remember doing any winning recently.

I went out at Level 9 with AJo. I really hate people who limp with Big Slick. really, really.

Then I did get some sleep.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Access Denied

So my cell phone rings last night and it's this weird fucking ring like something you'd hear at the horse track and the A's are blowing the goddamn game in Little League-ish fashion and WTF?! is up with this area code, I don't know anyone in this area code and "Hello?"

"Speaker! It's Bobby Bracelet."

I immediately begin to sweat. My eye starts to twitch. I know what's coming. He wants me to play Razz. "Bobby!" I say, hoping it disguises my primal fear.

"What's with declining the chat invite?"



I guess a few of the folks were having a little O8 party on Stars and had a conference room set up. I've taken to not playing poker a couple nights a week and Monday is usually one of them. It's my wife's day off, so we have a nice dinner. And there are no reality shows on TV, so we can spend some time together, making those memories that add fuel to our marriage.

Or I watch the A's while she plays her computer "adventure games," which is humorous since both activities cause us to shout at inanimate objects. A passerby might conclude we are having a bizarre argument.

So, anyway, that's why you punks (and punkettes) got declined, cyber-dissed by the Mrs. deep in the throes of solving the game's mysteries by going online to find the cheat codes.


I sense a rush of State of the Poker Blog Universe posts about to flow forth. I'm not gonna join in, mainly because I don't have a really strong opinion about anything.

Rini brought up link exchanges and as I said in his comments, nobody has ever asked me for one. The people I have linked are people who have inspired me, who continue to put out quality content. I know I'm pretty much a laggard as far as finding/adding new folks (as well as clearing out the deadwood), but I try.

It's interesting. Near as I can recall, I only asked one site to link me and that is only because they offered to do so (not to me specifically). I guess I wanted to be "discovered" organically. I guess I wanted people to add me because they thought it was worthwhile. I honestly got a big kick out of the first mentions I got on the more prominent sites. And that was because I know I didn't pander for them.

Which is not to say you shouldn't seek out those more prominent folks and direct them to your site. It's just kinda not my style. I was reasonably content to write in obscurity early on. Made me feel like I was working toward something. On the other hand, I was always happy when someone left a comment (and by someone, I mean April, who was pretty much my only reader for 3 months).

Really, the best way to get links, traffic and readership is to participate. Read the blogs, comment, link notable posts from your blog and play the WPBT tourneys. Reach out to other bloggers in your area. Get a home game goin' (or weasel an invite to an existing one). Invite Al out for a drink or 30.

At it's most basic, it's just networking, man. If you want to raise your profile, put in the work. Most of the people you are reaching out to were (are) in your shoes at one time. We're empathetic. That said, you are not owed you anything by your mere presence, so be nice.

And if Bobby Bracelet pings you on IM, DO NOT decline. Or you just might be getting a visit from the Michigan Mafia.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Dumb Plays, Boogers and Come Home Michael

I have nothing to say.

Never stopped you before.

Good point.

I was gonna re-hash my ignominious exit from the Crazy Re-Buy on Saturday night, but, in the end, I decided it won't be all that constructive to curious readers out there. It's pretty simple. I was on a bit of a rush, over-burdened with hubris, a little drunk and a lot stupid. No defense for that.

I didn't stop to think. "Steal" flashed into my head and I went forward--plunging, headlong into the abyss--from there. Stack size, range of hands, new table, position in tournament...none of 'em even registered.

Well played, sir. Well played.

Thanks though to the commentors who pointed out my idiocy. Very insightful, along the lines of "You're brown" or "You need a haircut."

I keed, I keed.

By the way, my pet nickname for pocket 4s is Mr. October. Maybe that had something to do with it. But I see '44' and I immediately think Reginald Martinez Jackson, even though he wore 9 with the A's. Is there a more famous 44 in the sporting world? I think not. Just for the record, after I think Reggie, I think Robert Newhouse.


Spent most of yesterday on yard work, the only quasi-interesting thing about that being that I have a sun-burned butt crack. Yes, I was sans shirt and bending frequently, driving all the Desperate Housewives in the tract mad with desire. Or repulsion.

This whole home-ownership thing is really quite the pain in the ass. We've lived in our home about 15 months and are slowly--and not so surely--getting it in the shape we want. But each project takes months and in the meantime, you still have to maintain everything else.

I finally renovated The Booger Room. What was once to be my den, and indeed it was where I first logged onto Party Poker, had become a storing house for all things AJ. It was just an absolute mess, so much so that the dear and patient wife and I just surrendered. Do with it what you will, my son. Someday, after you've destroyed it beyond repair, we'll figure out what to do.

That kind of thinking only works for a while on me, though. I get frustrated with mess. Which is not to say I'm the cleanest guy around. Just that I'm very likely to go off on a major cleaning binge when I get fed up. So it was the The Booger Room.

About three weeks ago, I got the idea to convert it into AJ's playroom. Why we didn't take this particular tack from the start, I don't know. It's the perfect spot for it. But it said "den" on the blueprints, so I guess we were brainwashed. I dismantled the desk and bookcase and removed the rest of the furniture. I steam-cleaned the carpet, resulting in a shockingly pristine shag considering the playdoh, juice and godknowswhatelse stains my boy perpetuated lo these many months. I white-washed the walls, removing crayon, pen, dirt and yes, boogers.

See, that's why we called it the Booger Room. AJ would pick himself a winner and casually wipe it on the wall. No matter how many times he was warned off this behavior, it persisted. He's gonna be quite a hit with the ladies, doncha think?

I brought in a TV for his video games, bought all manner of shelves and containers for his toys and last, but not at all least, held an hour-long lecture/demonstration with Booger Boy about the proper way to care for his shiny new playroom.

So far, so good. Of course, I've yet to figure out where to put all the shit that was previously in the den. Which is the point of all this. Now I have to do the same crap to another room. Then another. You'd think I'd run out of rooms, but there's this whole domino thing and I fear simply running around in circles for the rest of my natural life.

To wit: My mother is giving us this very nice old wardrobe which will go very nicely in our bedroom. Instantly, the dear and patient wife starts in with all the things that will go so well with this piece and how we can move x to y and q to....STOP!

I'm still a little shell-shocked from scraping boogers off the wall.


Disappointing start to the Premiership for Liverpool, their road woes from last term seemingly still an issue. They were the better club, created the better chances and Gerrard should have had a couple. But the attack is still fair, at best, failing to dent the scoresheeet even with a man advantage late on. New (and relatively new) boys Morientes, Cisse, Zenden and Sissoko were all sub-standard. When Baros is shipped elsewhere, it's incumbent upon Rafa to bring in another attacking option.

I have a fucking suggestion.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

It's Always One

7:14 p.m.: Alright, we'll see how this goes. I don't want to over-saturate the market with my drunken Re-Buy ramblings, but since I've had top finishes the last two times I've kept thsi running diary, I'm gonna go back to the well.

Getting ready to start. I'm gonna keep an eye on The Poker Nerd, as well.

7:16: Tonight's beverage of choice is Bass Ale.

7:19: Six hands contested already and not a single all-in. Tight group.

7:22: AA for Daddy. Three called my pre-flop raise. None my flop bet. Flop was ten-high, but with two-diamonds, and considering I'm 1-3 with aces today, I saw no need to bet anything less than the pot there. Chasing costs.

7:25: Pocket 8s are good when the flush doesn't come. He chased for all it was worth, though.

7:26: We have our first pre-flop all-in, which nets a fine haul of 30 chips. Well-played, sir. Well played.

7:27: Enter Beer #2. At 12 minutes per beer, I'll be dead by Level 15.

7:31: Okay, I'm not gonna fall in love with this little move, but I've limped with the previously mentioned 8s and just did it again with 9s. Flop was 532 rainbow and I bet the pot. One caller. Ax looking for the straight, I guess. He check-called a pot-sized bet on the turn (a King, which gave me momentary pause) and we check-checked the rag river. He had J3o. Well played, sir. Well-played.

That's over a thousand chips I've picked up in those two hands.

7:35: Yikes. The All-In Donkey on my table just pushed again pre-flop (third-time) and I had to call with Big Slick. He's got Kings. Of course I flopped the ace.

That's the kinda crap that usually happens to me.

7:42: Re-Buy count for All-In Monkey is 6.

7:45: I just got moved. A LOT more chips at this table, though I still have second-highest.

7:45: Nerd Alert! Last time, I promise. Hasn't had much to play apparently. Couple hundred below starting stack.

7:56: Question: During the Re-Buy period, with the board reading 66899, you have pocket 9s and it's checked to you. What is your value bet into a 1200 pot?

This guy went ahead and pushed in his whole 5K. And got called by pocket tens. Now THAT'S a value bet in the re-buy period. Pocket tens had 13K three minutes ago. He just did a double re-buy.

7:59: Back-to-back Hammers. I didn't play 'em. Woulda flopped two-pair on the second. I hang my head in shame.

8:01: It's officially dumb at this table. Four pre-flop all-ins. AJ, AQ, 88, 77. I folded 55. Guess what woulda won? Yep, fives, with a straight.

8:03: Lotta folding by me. This gives me an opportunity to tell you I reached another final table today. I finished 9th (of 142) in the $20 PLO this morning. Was 5th in chips when we hit the FT and got AsAh5s7h in the BB. Five limpers and I bet the pot, which was 10K (blinds at 1000/2000). Only the chip leader called. He didn't have much of a chip lead. Less than 10K more than I, in fact.

ANYWAY, the flop came 7s4c2h. I like that flop and push in my remaining 7500. He calls with Tc9c7c7h.


But I have re-draws. Two aces, 4 threes and back-door flush draw. I got none. In fact, he caught runner-runner clubs for the flush.

So, the question I have, considering my relative inexperience with PLO, was that a good call by him? I wouldn't call with that hand. But, as I say, I don't know. I know it's a post-flop game and he has straight and flush action, but it was a BIG raise. Late.

8:10: Ugh. I'm making bad decisions about when to play. I fold ATo to an all-in and a call and would have won about 6K. I play my KsTs, see a flop of KJJ, continue to call bets and make runner-runner flush only to lose to Axs. I should have bet it harder earlier and woulda, but for the jacks. At least I didn't raise on the river, so I saved my passive ass the rest of my stack.

8:12: Down to 3555 from 6800.

8:13: This late, I'm willing to gamble with my 3555. I lose, it costs me $20 to have just slightly less.

8:15: As I do against the table nit-wit. In the CO, I call his, oh, I dunno, eigth straight all-in with A2o. I woulda won, too, except for the pocket Aces held by the button.

8:15: So, I quickly re-buy, but not quickly enough, since I only get 1500 back before the hand is dealt. Same jackass (who managed to get both his re-buys) pushes AGAIN. I call with my JJ, as does AA from the previous hand. Jacks are ahead to TT and K4s and I triple up my 1500. Since I did "add-on" when I still only had 1500, I have 8150 (just below average) heading to the second hour (with the 200 add-on). In for $51.

El Nerdo de Poker sitting at 7755. No additional re-buys as far as I know.

Prize pool is a whopping $55,350. 135 places paid. I'm 395 of 1035 remaining (1428 began).

8:30: BOOOO-YA! That's right, I said "Boo-Ya!" Pocket kings and my raise is called by the Re-Buy Period Push Monkey. Flop comes JT7 rainbow and he check-raises me all-in. I pause. It's quite within the realm he has JT or Q9, or even J7 or 98. A lot of people push with any two late in the re-buy to try to accumulate, but this guy was ridiculous, leading me to believe he just plain sucks. And people who just plain suck have been eating my fucking lunch lately.

Regardless, I have to call. He shows a relatively frightening J8 for top pair and gunshot. Nine outs twice. He fails to get any. T13K. I was right about him just plain sucking, however.

8:38: Here's another question: I have mad respect at this table. Only a Lemur or someone with a huge hand is gonna call my raises. So, how do I get action if I want it? Lower my raises? Limp? (Ugh)

Right now, the blinds are only 75/150, so stealing (which would be my natural inclination) isn't really a lucrative option.

8:41: Hammer count now at 4.

8:44: Well, in regard to the most recent question, I'm folding so dang much that once the antes kick in, I'll start to pick up some chips with raises.

8:45: Down to 826. The Nerd is not one of them. I dunno what happened, but, considering his ability, I'll wager on bad cards and/or EEEEEEEEE-AWWWWWWWWWW.

8:47: Cue Aretha Franklin. QQ in the SB. A 3x raise from the CO and I bump it to 9x. Fold.

Now, the question is, what was he playing? A blatant steal? Then easy fold. Ax? Again, an easy fold, but I'm gonna guess Ax calls that re-raise 7 of 10 times, at least among the denizens with whom I usually consort around here. AK? An easy call, but perhaps not a +EV situation due to the lack of reverse implied odds. I think probably A9-A7. Solid open-raise hands in the CO and a solid fold, as well.

8:57: This is getting silly. I check with A9o in the BB. Flop is A87 and I bet 3/4 of the pot. All folds. Time to play the Hammer.

9:05: I played it all wrong, but I profitted more by doing so. 99 in the BB and I call a 3.5x raise. Flop is Qxx with two spades and I check (mistake #1). Raiser checks, as well. Turn is 9c, giving me a set and putting a second club on the board. I bet 3/4 the pot and he calls. My first thought is that he picked up a club draw with AK-AT. So when the three of clubs falls on the river, I check. He pushes his final 3500 in. It's almost a 9000 pot and...well...I'm not good enough to lay down my set. I call and he shows AKo.

9:10: Just gave back 1400. Open-raised with 33 in MP. And called a min. re-raise. Implied odds, you know. Flop missed me and I check-folded.

Stack at 17575. Above average. 170 of 585.

9:21: Well, back to Square One. After a lot of folding, I raise the BB from the SB and he calls. I have A2o and the flop comes K72 (wish I was hammerin'). I make a coninuation bet and he raises me into a fold. Back to 13000, after sniffing the heights of 19000.

But really, I ain't gonna win this thing sitting around and waiting for AA.

9:24: It's been a long time since I went on a rush of cards in one of these tourneys. I get some momentum--and chips--but then watch 30 hands of 74o. Perfectly illustrated above. I make a nice score and sit around doing nothing for a half-hour. When I do act, I drop chips. Is this a case of me seeing Ax and thinking it's the nuts because of the endless procession of garbage? Not in this particular instance, but overall?

9:34: I'm glad I didn't fold. Kournikova UTG and I min. raise (per Jesus. Ferguson, not Baby). MP call (who's short and gambling) and BB AQx flop. Checks all around. Rag, though second club, turn. Checks all around. Third club on the River and a min. bet from BB. 600 into a 4800 pot. I can't fold. Even if I'm beat, I can't. I don't. MP folds and BB shows JJ. Gotta be more agressive with that JJ, bud. A pre-flop re-raise gets me out, I'll tell you that.

9:39: Just cracked my 5th Bass (12 minutes per beer didn't exactly stay the course) and I'm not even buzzed. The Diary is suffering.

9:40: Pretty evenly matched at my table. I am the median, four above, four below with a range from 27K to 4600. I have 15K+.

9:44: Just witnessed the rarely seen suck, re-suck, re-re-suck. J9 v. 88 all-in preflop. Jack on the flop. 8 on the turn. Fourth diamond on the river to give J9 the flush.

The two of them are talking it over as we speak. Not in convivial tones, I might add.

9:46: I'm managing to steal once per orbit, but I'm devoid of cards. Winning pots, but not really getting anywhere.

9:48: So rigged. SB puts short-stack BB all-in. A4s for the former, A3s for the latter. Flop has a 4 and BB is headed for the door. Turn 5. River 2.

Which I'm okay with, since the BB has been overly agressive since he arrived and with less than 10x the BB, he's one to target.

10:06: Head. Meet water. As in barely keeping it above. I'm reduced to blatant steals (as in a recent one with The Jackhammer). I can hardly get cards that add up to ten.

10:08: Um, forget what I said. TT in the CO and I push over the top of a UTG raise. He calls with 88 and I am in the clover. Still slightly below average with 27K, but back in the mix.

10:14: Well, that was fun. I get moved to a new table. Very first hand, I get 44 in the BB. Big Stack raises on the button and I push. He has QQ.

Game over. 238.


You know, I hate myself. I figured a button steal, which I do WAY too often. Let's not forget I have NO read on this table since I just got here. And what bothers me most is almost three hours of solid play thrown away with stupidity. I'm not nearly pot committed and I've got plenty of chips. Just awful. There's no other way to describe it. To push all your chips in hoping for a fold or a coin flip...


I am finally drunk, though. Which just makes me wanna play on. That's the worst part, isn't it? Whaddya mean it's over? I wanna play! I've not yet read or heard a perfect description of the feeling one gets when bombing out of a tournament. Otis probably wrote one, but I missed it. Not that Otis bombs out of tournaments, but he's the likely contender for being able to relate it.

The key for a writer is his ability to "take you there."

Um, I'm gonna go ahead and stop this before it hits drunken-philosophical-I-LOVE-YOU-GUYS territory. This isn't "We Are the World."

Oh, and by the way, this decision has absolutely nothing to do with the fact AJ keeps shoving things up my nose, disrupting both my train of thought and my ability to breathe. Nothing at all.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Tales of the City

The average male sprouts an erection 11 times a day. That's just science, people. One of my daily tent-pitchings occurs at 8:05 every morning, without fail. The only real problem with this is that's roughly the time my train pulls into Union Station. So, depending on the type of underwear and pants I'm sporting, this phenomena can be fairly obvious when I move to dis-embark.

"Mr. Burgandy, you have a massive erection."

Whatever, I don't care. I'm surounded most days by older women in control-top pantyhose. I'm not going to remain in my seat until the moment passes. Self-consciousness is not my thing. So, I just get up, looking like a directional sign ("This way to Union Station!"), and go about my business. Today, however, I think I may have actually poked someone when the train lurched to a stop. Color me embarassed.

Yes, I've started off the day with a boner story. It only goes downhill from here.


Yesterday, I made my way a few blocks to the ATM near my office. At the front of the line were two statuesque people of Latin descent. Neither had on much clothing and even though obvious tattooed breasts bloomed from their clothing, one had the sense they weren't exactly BORN that gender. What a pair these two were. Missing teeth, acne scars, frizzed out perms. They were loud and talkative and flirty, mouthing husky "hellos" to the businessmen walking by. I managed to avoid their attention until after I had withdrawn a quick $40, but I passed right through their atmosphere on the way back to my desk. They both laciviously chirped at me in Spanish, peering over their sunglasses and giving me a once-over. I didn't get what they said, but I could figure out the jist. As I purposefully avoided eye contact, I shook my head and simply said, "Not today, fellas."


This actually happened a little while ago and I tried to fashion it into a story, but that exercise was futile, for a hundred reasons, not the least of which is that I suck. Truly, I scrapped it when it became some sort of spiritual crock of shit that I neither liked nor agreed with.

ANYWAY, I was sitting out in front of my building having a smoke. This act generally opens one up to the myriad bums--That's right, "bums." That's what we called 'em growin' up and that's what I still call 'em. If I ever become "homeless," I hereby give you the right to call me a bum. Or a wino. There's one bum who can't exactly speak, a wild-haired black dude who is reduced to bird noises and pantomime. He always "asks" me for a smoke and when I turn him down, he reaches for the one I'M smoking, as if I would give him a hit. Shit, I wouldn't even give YOU, dear reader, a hit off my butt, let alone this guy. But he repeated the dance every time.

I miss smoking.

But this story isn't about him. It was about this other dude who walked up to me one day with a twinkle in his eye. He wasn't as unkempt as your average bum and his pleasant disposition was a little disarming. I had already mentally prepared to give him my change before he even asked. When he did ask, he said, "I'm sorry to bother you sir, but I just need 67 cents."

I laughed a bit, the fact he had a precise number. An original tack, I thought. I reached into my pocket, dug out all my change and handed it over. Before I did, however, I counted it. I was gonna give him more than 67 cents, if I had it, but for some reason.......

I had EXACTLY 67 cents.

He noted that my mouth gaped. Smiled, nodded knowingly and thanked me. He was off before I could utter a word. What I was gonna say, I don't know. I only know it freaked me out for a few.


I really enjoyed the Al/BG exchange yesterday, as I'm sure everyone else did. Not only for the entertainment they provide, but for getting my inner machinery working to expoud further on their choices, as well as my own preferences.

For the record, I voted Loren, Welch, Carter, Cates, Casta, Alba.

The only real difficult choice for me was Alba, but Iggy's recent posting of those pictures probably swayed me in the end. Lynda Carter over Farrah was a surprisingly easy one for me, considering Farrah's obvious icon status. But they don't make women like Lynda Carter anymore (dig that hourglasss action), whereas I could hock a loogie at the local mall and hit a half-dozen Farrah wannabes.

Phoebe Cates wins the 80s because she was first. Because her coming out of that pool was a "Where were you when JFK was shot?" type moment for every adolescent male alive at the time. Tawny Kitain was a noble effort and the Whitesnake videos were also a destination, but...well, Tawny was also in "Bachelor Party," so her first impression was nowhere near that of Mrs. Kevin Kline's. The only other person from the 80s who could have possibly gotten my vote is Elle McPherson.

I'm also outraged that Selma Hayek was not mentioned at all. She is my easy '90s choice. "From Dusk 'Til Dawn?" Snake dance? Santanico Pandemonium? Ring a bell with anyone? She's still my #1, even if she was sporting the Frieda Kahlo unibrow.

You ever do those Top 5 Freebie lists with your significant other? You know, like Ross on "Friends" with Isabella Rosselini? As I said, Selma tops mine. The dear and patient wife's includes Andy Garcia, Chris Cornell, Christopher Noth, Antonio Banderas and, most recently added, the A's 21 year-old closer Huston Street. Cradle robber.


Speaking of the A's, you see that ending yesterday? I have never seen anything like that. Some bizarre stuff happening in Oakland. Usually, the A's are on the other side of such hapenings (Jeter's flip throw, Jeremy Giambi's non-slide, Byrnes not touching home plate, Tejada not continuing to run).

Kenny Macha's reaction?

"I didn't know what was going on."

Have at it, Larry.


Be sure to check out Jason's reports from the WSOP circuit event in Tunica.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Someone Got Outta School Early Today

That mythical place from whence the words come has been dry lately. Part of that is I'm over writing about the bad beats. Really thought I'd turned the corner last week, only to be pistol-whipped out of two tourneys the last couple days by two-outers. And I have no strategical advice to offer about how to actually win when an 11-1 favorite on the flop.

So, I awoke this morning figuring I'd have another day off, completely devoid of inspiration or gumption to fill the space. Then BG and Al came along with one of their classic e-mail exchanges (one of my favorite things on the entire internet) and the subject is something near and dear to my heart. Go read them. I'll wait.

So, anyway, BG references Jennifer Runyon, a fairly obscure blonde number from the '80s perhaps best remembered for her role as Gwendolyn in "Charles in Charge." I first met her acquaintance--mouth-wateringly so--in "Up the Creek," a another in a long line of "Animal House" wannabes, notable for the fact this one actually starred Tim Matheson, basically playing a slightly older, grubbier Otter. I seem to recall enjoying the film, partly because there was nudity, including a couple scenes involving Jeana Tomasina, another '80s favorite of mine who you might know as the brunette in the ZZ Top videos of that Era.

ANYWAY, Jennifer Runyon was one of "those" girls for me in the '80s. But, I'm not actually gonna write about Jennifer Runyon (coulda fooled us, ass). I'm gona write about her decade-later doppleganger, another sprightly blonde chick with a curious entertainment resume. In fact, I would say, among obscure, no-name, barely-working actresses, this one's got the greatest resume of all-time. Of the five credits on her IMDB page, two of them are "Dazed and Confused" and "Swingers."

Ladies and gentlemen, Deena Martin.

You may not recognize her from that shot from "Dazed and Confused," the best I was able to find, but she played the crucial role of Christy, the "skank shift" Vegas cocktail waitress/trailer-dweller in "Swingers." If she never does a single role the rest of her life (and odds of that appear pretty good based on her credits page), she will always be able to claim participation in two of the Quintessential Comedic Films which So Perfectly Captured Their Era.

I had the distinct pleasure to live in and experience both those ages. Yes, I was a bit young to partake like the characters in D&C, but with a brother six years my senior, I saw those guys walk through my house almost every day. Bad clothes, bad hair, much pot. "Swingers," on the other hand, well, it's no exaggeration to say that movie changed my life. For one, it was SPOT. ON. That Derby/Swing Dance scene was portrayed detail for detail (owing, at least partially, to the fact that most of the people who regularly hung at The Derby were in the film). There are at least half a dozen moments in that movie that I personally experienced. Sorry to say, most of those moments were Mikey's bouts of plummeting self-esteem. On the other hand, seeing my pathetic self 40 ft. high pretty much slapped me out of any self-confidence with the ladies issues I had.

That is not hyperbolic and I'll tell you why.

You know when Mikey drops those lame lines on chicks? "We're not in Kansas anymore" and "Lorraine, like the quiche?" I've done that. Not because I'm not clever enough to think of something a little more orignial. But because, at that time, I approached women with trepidation and being able to say ANYTHING was a victory for me. Naturally, what would come out of my mouth was the most simple rote response, which hardly would project my actual personality. The only thing I can say is that I never called ayone's answering machine six straight times at 3 in the morning (the most fabulous cringe-worthy scene in cinematic history).

So, Mikey showed me the light. And it wasn't three months after I saw that film that I found myself at the Derby with my roommate Paddy, who had set us up with some young vixens. We practiced our clumsy swing with them and I even took a bit of liking to one of them, a brunette UCLA med student. The problem was the much hotter blonde across the room who kept glancing my direction. So even while I was developing a connection with the future doctor, I was trying to figure out how to make my way across the room. I eventually did, trying to camoflauge my movements. I made good time with the blonde--no dopey jokes--and when her friends decided to pick up and leave, I got her number.

We left shortly thereafter and ended up at a Denny's with the first group of girls, including the brunette. She called me on my flirtation and said she saw me getting the other girl's number. Before I could even think, before some Mikey-ism came out of my mouth in feeble defense, I said, "Oh her?! She's the little sister of an old buddy of mine from high school."

She bought it and we eventually dated briefly. Mikey to Double Down in three months. And, for that, I'll always think fondly of Deena Martin, even if I never actually got to see either of those Derby girls naked.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

What a Boy Wants

Google game, courtesy of Gracie.

Joe wants some sort of illumination

Joe wants to de-program central Canadians

Joe wants to make sure that students at East Elementary School understand that they have access to a wide array of opportunities.

Joe wants to be your choice of destination.

Joe wants it known that he is "comfortable."

Joe wants to get rid of Sheryl. (Sorry Sheryl, it's just not working out)

Joe wants to hunt live targets.

Joe wants to go back to the piercing studio to buy the snake ring after all.

Joe wants to make the performing arts his career. He enjoys tap, hip-hop and praise dance.

Joe wants to be able to measure his manhood in centrimeters.

Joe wants to open a shop selling videos, magazines, sex aids and novelty toys

The Fix Is In

I was flipping channels last night and happened upon Monday Night Football. Though I taried but briefly, a little shiver rose in my gut. Mmmmmmmmmmm, foooootball.

How can I, San Francisco 49er fan, get excited about football, you ask? (Which reminds me of a joke: What do the Oakland A's and 49ers have in common? They both lose once a week.)

The answer, in a word...Wagering.

Football is widely perceived as America's Favorite Sports Pastime (with Jim McManus-bashing quickly closing in second), but I'm not really on that bandwagon. It's still good ol' baseball for me. But I never bet on baseball. Because I care too much. I'm invested emotionally. There is no need to add financial pressure to the mix. Trust me, I'm not being overly dramatic here. If you think I am, perhaps I can get the dear and patient wife to pen a guest post describing my behavior during the A's-Angels series beginning this evening.

But football, football is a social event. It's hitting the Corner Bar at 10 a.m. with your buddies. It's College Football Saturday with three TVs hooked up in the family room so as not to miss a play. It's the guy at Cirivello's in the LBC who brings the helmets of opposing teams (real helmets, not replicas) and periodically smashes them together in what I can only guess is a frustrated pique of adrenaline. And, above all, it's having a hundy on Cleveland-Cincinnati.

I am not a good football bettor. I set a pre-season stop loss in my illegal online sports betting account. When my deposit is gone, it's gone. It has never been not gone. But I get a good 10-12 weeks of fun out of it. Vegas? Forget it. I hemorrhage money in sportsbooks. But I always have fun.

Which brings up a story. Couple years ago, I put some cash down on the Friday Night ESPN game while in Sin City. It was New Mexico wanna say Colorado St. (though the exact team is not crucial to the tale, I am all for total recall). UNM was at home and favored by 1 1/2. Basically a pick 'em, but the home team on national TV angle is a nice one, so I went with the Lobos. This is Mountain West football, so you're basically looking at whomever has the ball last wins. It's Night Baseball with pigskin, so the game was predictably tied at 39 with a minute remaining.

I'd watched most of the fourth quarter from a bar stool at the Stardust, eavesdropping on a classic New York guinea-mobster type chat up every woman within a 20 ft. radius. It was entertaining (for me) and fruitless (for him). As the game wound down, he tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I had any money on the tilt. I affirmed that I did and he responded that we had something in common, though his wager was in the five figures. Presuming "bullshit" (this is the Stardust, after all), I turned my attention back to the game where the Lobos failed on third down and moved to punt the ball away. "That's that," I thought and let loose a noise that obviously illustrated my displeasure.

"Dont worry about it," my guinea friend assured me. "It's in the bag."

I turned to face him and he simply nodded smugly, totally assured.

As I pondered just how far this guy's delusions went, Colorado St. lined up for their first down play. Shotgun formation and the snap went...oh...8 feet to the left of the QB. The QB's reaction was to stare at the football as if it were an oblong manifestation of the ebola virus, before reacting just late enough to land on top of a lumbering defensive tackle who recovered for New Mexico.

The Guinea just clapped me on the back and walked away.

I won my $100 when the Lobo kicker was true at the whistle. But I've never been able to shake the idea that this football wagering deal is even more -EV than I ever suspected. That certain games may, in fact, be SO rigged.

Not that it'll stop me from getting down on Iowa St.-Kansas.

Monday, August 08, 2005

In the Light of Day

"Ace-Nine? Really? You called off your tournament with Ace-Nine? After more than five hours?"
--Me, immediately upon waking this morning

Yuck. I'm rather perturbed at that today. I'd like to say my reasoning was sound, or at least somewhat valid, but it wasn't. Yes, the range of hands I'm up against there is wider at that point of the tourney, but even accounting for that, my play is -EV all the way. I was short, down to 110K, but was in the SB, so still had an orbit to steal/double-up. I confess that last thought didn't enter my muddled brain at the time.

Ah well, opportunity possibly missed. Overall, I was quite happy with the result. Good thing I took a week off from poker. Since it was my winningest week in months.


No, I did not feel very good this morning. Considering the late-night carnage, I had every right to feel much worse, however. I skipped the ritual morning cup of joe, my decision made thanks to the esophogeal burning and a desire to sleep my entire train ride into work. I opted instead for a gallon of water and some Rolaids (Breakfast of Champions, that). I did need to hit up the cafeteria coffee bar an hour ago since I was THIS close to nodding off at my desk.

Late night/early morning microwaved barbequed hot dogs may taste good at the time. For the record, they don't taste good in the back of your throat at 5:30 in the ayem.

Still, all in all, another satisfying result.

Looking forward to finishing off the Hefes out on the patio tonight.

Crazy Train

We're coming to you LIVE from Level 6 of the Crazy $11 Re-Buy on Stars. Odd that I begin the running commentary at this point, you say? Well, I wasn't drunk before. Now I am.

I've got a slightly above average stack of T12K+ (that's fin to write, though, technically, it might be T12+K. Or not). Top 30% of chips currently. Only took me 5 re-buys and an add-on the get it.


Dropped two buy-ins with TT v. KQ. Two more with AK v. KT. Then doubled up late in the re-buy with AK v. A5. One add-on and you have $71.

The good news is I've nearly doubled my post re-buy period stack by not playing pussy poker. For that, I thank Bill Rini.

I got heads-up with Reigning WPBT Champion Bill Rini during the LA Blogger Home Game SnG (jeez, these titles). We went at it for a half-hour or so, with me finally prevailing. At which point, Billy Legend said to me, "I couldn't push you around."


So, tonight. I'm not getting pushed around. I am the aggressor.

8:57 p.m.: To wit: I've won only one hand at showdown (of 3, the losses detailed above), but 8 without showdown. Couple of those were flush chasers that didn't hit. One was kinda too bad since I flopped a boat. Was begging for a diamond. Still got a good chunk out of the guy, but value bet not called on the end.

9:00 p.m.: The BEST play I've made tonight, one that I often play differently, is raising UTG+1 with 44. For one, I've got some respect at the table with my raises. I've not shown down any crap. Two, both big stacks at my table call everything and largely suck, playing any two paint and any ace. So, naturally, they both calledn(one in the BB). Flop was A87, which I liked. So, I fired a 3/4 bet at it and they folded.

Not pussy poker.

9:03: I am currently in a three-orbit streak of folding. I got ATs once, but some guy went all-in for 7K (with 300 in blinds at stake), so I went ahead and folded that.

9:04: You're bad luck. All y'all. AcKc. I raise. Short stack pushes. Easy call. He's got KK. Dropped 3K.

9:13: Well, this is some crazy shit. Level 8. 200/400 w/25 ante. I open-raise on the button with QJo. Loose stack in the BB calls. Flop gives me an OESD and he check-folds to my bet. Nice. Next hand, I get AA. Same raise. All folds (dammit). Next hand, I get AhKh. Same raise. BB calls. He checks the AQx flop and I purposefully over-bet it. He pushes. Thank you. I call and he has AKo. Split. I fold a hand. Next hand I get AA again. Same raise. Which I wish I hadn't done. They had all just seen my AK, so...But since it was THE FOURTH TIME IN FIVE HANDS I RAISED PRE-FLOP, I'd hoped I'd get action. I did not.

I did get a fair amount of chips back. Coulda been SO much more, however.

9:19: Of course, when THAT GUY gets AA, some a-hole Big Stack calls (for an extra 7K when not nearly pot-committed) with 55.

9:20: Would you say it's a valid theory that a fair percentage of the Big Stacks in the second hour of these Re-Buys are crappy Luckboxes that sucked-out early? I don't know the percentage, but they're fairly easy to spot. See previous entry.

9:23: Mastodon. The album is called "Leviathan" (had it backward, Blood). Kool Breeze recommended it. It's HARD. Length of time it took me to figure I'm gonna like it? 17 seconds. True story. If that's your thing, get on it.

9:25: Break Time. Gosh. Had some good hands, but didn't accumulate like you need to. I'm 8K below average and sitting mid-300 out of 500. Okay as far as blinds go. For two levels.

9:31: We had AJ's birthday party today. Because we are both goofy and narcissistic, we had video of his infancy running on the TV during the festivities. Gawd, the things you forget. When he'd stand on his toy box to look out the window at the Garbage Truck. How he'd shriek some Velicorapterish noise at his Truck Book and would continue to do it incrementally until you told him exactly what kind of truck it was. Yes, he was obsessed with trucks. His first word was "truck," though it came out "guck," which considering the alternative just a single letter away, was a relief.

On one hand, you feel terrible for not remembering. On the other, well, you pat yourself on the back for recording it.

The interesting thing is that he's so different now, but still the same, if that makes sense. His angry face at two months is the same as his angry face now. But he really doesn't look anything like he did when he was born.

9:39: In the meantime, I whiffed on a flop with AQs, dropping a chunk.

9:42: How to play 99? Oh, those middle pairs. UTG+1 limped with it. A second limp and I see a free flop with 65o in my BB. Flop? 553. I check. Small bet from UTG+1 (what is your problem, dude?) and a push from Big Stack limper behind. Uh, I call? As does UTG+1 who loses his friggin' shirt (and tourney), as does Big Stack with 44. Ladies and Gentelmen, I have tripled up, through no skill of my own.

I will take Luck, however. Boy, will I take it.

9:48: When did Presto become a hand to call an all-in with?

9:51: I was never much a fan of the Hefeweitzen, but I've been drinking it almost exclusively for about a month. Perfect beer whenit's a million degrees outside. Light, but alcoholic. Excellent combo. I like the Widmer the best of the ones I've tried. I will, however, accept any and all recommendations.

9:54: More AJ stuff. Deal with it. I just gave him some M&Ms. The small ones. I told him to eat them fast so they don't melt in his hands (the carpet), so he shoved the entire handful into his mouth.

9:57: Stupid Kournikova. I don't know why I even bother with that stupid hand. Okay, I was first in. I don't know why I even bother with a continuation bet with an ace on the flop. Oh well, gave it a shot.

5600 chips lemured away.

9:59: A Big Stack at my table has doubled up two players already. I have queued up for similar treatment.

10:02: Level 11. 15x the BB (600/1200; 75 ante). Harrington calculates it differently, but I'm drunk. And no, I can't work the computer calculator.

Jesus Christ, people. Fine. Every orbit costs 2475, so I have a 7.4 factor. Math geeks.

10:05: I can foreshadow like a motherfucker. Previously-mentioned Big Stack just doubled me up, though not a bad play by him. KK in the BB for me. He raised. A call behind from another Big Stack and I push. Previously-mentioned Big Stack also pushes, betting us heads up. He had the Hiltons. I survive. It's odd that I refer to being a 4-1 fave as "surviving," but that's the way it's gone.

Oh, and, uh, giddyup.

10:10: Harrington factor now at 17.2 after grabbing blinds and antes with JJ.

Math dorks.

10:12: Down to one beer. Further penetration into this tournament will mean one of two things. The dear and patient wife will have to make a beer run. Or I will have to turn to shots of whiskey.

Danger Bees.

10:13: Those of you who have made it this far may have noticed the Big Blind has been a HUGE boon to me this evening. I just (correctly) folded J5o in the BB to a 4x raise (and call). Flop came 555.

I will not fold in the BB ever again.

10:19: Me: So, you gonna make a beer run?
Dear and Patient Wife: Fuck no.

10:20: AQ is bleeping KILLING me tonight. Dropped another chunk (to the same guy as last time, by the way, who is the Big Stack) when the flop came KJJ. Check-check. Flop is the third J and I go ahead and make a (relatively) tiny little bet, hoping it missed him and the bet will be perceived as value-ish. He called and I check folded to his river bet.

10:27: Got that chunk back, in, er, the BB. Qc2c and I called a min. raise (I told you I wasn't folding). Queen high flop, which I checked. Initial raiser made a continuation bet, got a fold and I pushed. I was not particularly happy about it. Until the guy folded. Then I felt okay.

10:30: Break time. 97 of 201. Just below average. Harrington factor of 7 with upcoming blinds and antes at 1500/3000; 150.

Math nerds.

10:40: I married the right woman.

"Okay, I'll go get your stupid beer."

10:41: I folded my BB.

10:42: Interesting, huh?

10:43: The Big Stacks at the table are raising every hand pre-flop. That's the way you do it. They're lined up to my right. Three of 'em. A Gauntlet of Force. Hope I get something to snap 'em off. 'Cause stealin's out of the question.

10:46: Okay, got one (blinds and antes). A9s good enough.

10:47: Here's my number one rule of parenting. If you want your child to sleep, let 'em stay up real late. They lay down and 90 seconds later, they're out.

Yes, AJ just went to sleep.

Point of clarification: AJ's regular bed time is 10 p.m. Why? Because the dear an patient wife doesnt' go to work until the late morning, so he can sleep in. Two, because I don't get home until relatively late in the evening, so if he went to bed at say, 8 p.m., like normal kids, I'd never get to see him. Plus, the wife is off on Mondays, so Sunday night is like Party Night around here.

10:50: Stop me if you've heard this one before. I just more than doubled up with Big Slick in the BB. UTG raised 3x. SB and I called. Flop came AKx. I had about the pot left, so I just pushed. UTG called with AQ.


10:52: So, those Big Stacks to my right? There's only one left. And he doesn't have much more than I. Currently sitting 26 of 146. Harrington Factor of 12.

Math dweebs.

10:57: Hand-for-hand, though the first money level doesn't quite return my investment.

10:58: Alright. It's official. I am playing strong poker. Again, with the Big Blind. I get TT. Short stack (about 30% of my stack) pushes. I'm gonna call," I say to the wife. Button raises all-in. "I'm gonna fold," I say to the wife. Short stack? A8o. Button? JJ.


10:59: Money! I'm now only down $13.

11:01: We turned off the AC a couple hours ago, but it's still fucking hot. So I just moved to remove my shirt (easy, ladies), until I realized I've gotten this far WITH a shirt and it's my WPBT shirt.

I'll suffer.

11:10: Played that one badly. 33 in the BB (natch). Called a min. raise to see a flop of KK4. Normally, that's the perfect flop at which to lead, but the Raiser in Question is the big stack, who has called Every. Single. One. of my flop bets. So, check-check. Turn is a ten, and again, with the fucking checking. Turn is a 4, rendering me obsolete. I fold to his bet.

Pussy poker.

On the other hand, if I make a substantial bet there and he calls, he most likely sucks out since, in the end, I only play the board.

11:15: Moved up a money level. This tourney is offically profitable. To the tune of...doesn't matter.


11:167 Sitting 57 of 97. Harrington factor of...uh, nothing.

Or close to nothing. AT on the button. I'm first in and raise 4x. SB pushes and it's only 4K for me to call. He's got aces.

I'm in trouble, though in position.

Oh, and I'm not 57th anymore, like I was when I started that particular entry.

11:21: Big Stack doubled me up. I pushed with A9o and he called with JTo. No improvement. One more, dude.

11:22: He just doubled up another guy the very next hand WITH A TERRIBLE PLAY.

I'm starting to like this fucker. If I can get another, that is. Otherwise, he sucks.

11:24: Deja vu all over again. 77 in the BB. Push from a short stack. I'll call. Push behind. I'll fold. AJ from the first guy. AA from the second.

11:26: Getting spooky. See entry from 11:22. Big stack raised. I pushed from my SB with AQo. He called with KTo. No improvement until my ace on the river.

I LOVE that fucker. Though he is no longer a Big Stack.

11:30: Oh boy. I just got moved. To a table with four--count 'em, FOUR--Stacks with twice what I've got. I liked the last group. You know, 'cause I knew the Big Stacks sucked.

11:34: This is beginning to run a bit late. Six hours 'til the alarm. And I've still got beers.

11:35: We have moved up another money level. I've doubled my buy-in. It's officially "worth it."

11:40: Break Time. 38 of 59. Harrington Factor of 4. Yikes.

11:48: Look who's got chips. Man. Big Blind again. UTG raise and I push with my......wait for it.......KK. AJ calls and I double up.

11:51: Mmmmmmmmmmm, big stack poker. 13 of 48.

11:52: Been a long times since I've been this deep in the Crazy Re-Buy. I think I had a 33rd place finish just after the Vegas conclave. I'm a little giddy.

And a lot drunk. I''ll lay 3-1 that I'm the most fucked up person remaining in this tourney. I'm on the precipice of wasted.

Which, when you think about it, doesn't exactly say a lot about my poker sills.

11:59: You know what's good? Microwaved barbecued hot dogs. With mustard and relish. Seriously. It's like the greatest meal one could conjure. Oh, and by the way, if you put ketchup on your hot dog, you're lame. And if you teach that behavior to succeeding generations, they will also be lame. I feel very strongly about this.

12:01: Past the witching hour. I just got moved and a HUGE stack is directly to my left. Somebody hold me

12:03: 19 of 41. My Harrington Factor is both low and inconsequential. I have 10x the BB (which is 20K).

12:05: Down to four tables. Pretty evenly matched at my table. Hig of 309K. Low of 125. Me at 165.

12:12: Focusing. At least once, I saw four down cards.

12:18: Jamie Presley's gotten down with like eight guys in this Poison ivy movie, but it's on FX so I haven't seen a single nipple.

See, focusing.

12:20: Down to 3 tables. I'm pretty short, though. 21 of 25 remaining.

Not so short that I'd push with A5o, however, with a raise in front.

12:27: Au revoir. Called a short stack (short or no, he had me slightly covered) all-in with A9s. Iffy, at best, but I figured a short stack would push with more marginal holdings, so......

He had Big Slick. No nine, no hearts and I'm out in 25th. First bad decision I made all night. It's always one.

Thanks for comin' along. I guess you were good luck after all.

Editor's note: I meant to go back and link all the bloggers I referenced here, but since I am stupid drink and it's late, I won't. Regardless, I respect and admire you all. And that's not just the beer talkin'.