Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Piece of Cake

Four and a half hours to spare.

It's too early to assess what I've got here. The past 60 hours have just been a writing frenzy, though, incongruously, I feel like the latest stuff is closer to the tone I was looking for than the stuff I slaved over for a considerably longer period of time. I guess that's what the whole deal is supposed to accomplish, letting go of your inhibitions and just write. See how it comes out.

Regardless, it's too bad I won't be able to finish the novel, since I'm about to die from the effort.

Please to enjoy an excerpt:

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Actually, the format is all screwed up and it won't read well here and everyone will just get pissed off looking at it, so, if you really want to read something, I'll upload a portion to the NaNo site and you can read it on my profile page (JoeSpeaker), if you're so inclined (though you'll need to register).

I have so many people to thank for their encouragement and support (including one actual flogging), but don't want to miss anyone by singling folks out here. I hope you all know who you are anyway, but if there's any doubt, I will express my gratitude in nine days time (perhaps with something drinkable). Still, I'd be remiss if I didn't publicly acknowledge the dear and patient wife, who had to deal with an extra special brand of creative anxiety this past month. She remains my biggest supporter, my tireless confidante and the absolute joy of my life. And without her, nothing is possible.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Glasses Half Full

I am one of those self-deluding dorks who sets his alarm clock 15 minutes ahead in a mis-guided attempt to fool myself into getting up earlier in the ayem, so as not to rush through the morning in a stressful state in order to make my train.

"Oh god! It's 6 o'clock already!"

And then midway through my shower, I realize I've beeen had. By me. It doesn't take much, folks.

Perhaps I should have moved my calendar three days ahead so I could comfortably finish NaNo, instead of rushing toward the finish line. As of yesterday, I needed to average abut 5K words a day to meet the deadline. Last night, I pumped out just over that number.

And boy are my similies tired.

All this despite the fact I had to spend considerable time consoling AJ, who, after a doctor's visit yesterday found out he'll likely need glasses in the future.

"But honey, glasses are no longer the stigma they used to be. Rivers Cuomo changed all that."
"And that kid in 'Jerry Maguire' wore huge, over-sized glasses to maximum cuteness and comedic effect."
"Daddy, I ain't gettin' no kinds of laid looking like Jonathan Lipnicki."

Or something like that.


Poker? Not 'til Thursday. I fear I am cutting the Vegas prep pretty thin. Gotta keep the chops warm, so to speak. Though, if there was ever a perfect dry run, a final exhibition, the invasion of the Hollywood Home Game this Friday by Pauly, Grubby (and Grubette) is sure to be one where you want to play your starters at least three quarters.

Just what that game needs: More action.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Word Up

Winter, such as it is, hit Southern California over the holiday weekend, featuring a strident and chilling wind on Saturday night that knocked the contents of our patio to and fro and sparked the first complaints from the dear and patient wife, who, it should be remembered, lived in fucking Sweden for 14 years.

"Stupid cold country," she says. And, crazy as it might sound to those of you who live in frostier climes, she's right. It IS cold, relative to the balmy November we've had and factoring in the wind chill.

Who cares?

Um, I'm getting to that. My desert outpost is a pretty good reflection of the weather we'll see in Vegas 12 days from now. But Vegas is even harsher. If it's 100 degrees in the ol' Inland Empire, it's 110 in Sin City. Conversely, 45 is 25. And that desert wind? It'll go right through you. So dress accordingly. If the Yahoo! weather forecaster says 50 degrees for Vegas, figure it'll feel 30-35. Or, you can just never leave the casino, especiallly after dark.

Yes, pretty much every thought or event gets tied into the WPBT gathering. In that vein, lemme throw a couple things out to the group.

1. I was planning on getting in a live Vegas tourney aside from the WPBT Event and have settled on the $100+$10 at the Aladdin on Friday at noon. One reason is that it will probably be the only time all weekend where I'm not drunk and/or hungover (I'm driving in Friday morn). Anyone arrriving Thursday or early Friday interested in joining me, lemme know.

2. The dear and patient wife, after much cajoling from myself and very helpful bloggers, will be joining the festivities, though she's not flying in until Saturday night due to other committments. Generally, she takes a spa day during NFL Sunday in the Sportsbook (not a fan of Armour-Plated Wankball, the dear and patient wife). Any interest from wives and bloggers in joining her?


After my nice score this weekend, one thing has become perfectly clear: I play better poker against better players.

This is not a pat myself on the back statement. Quite the opposite. What it really means is I fail to adapt to lesser humans, consistently putting myself in bad spots against goofballs who treat their fold button like the ebola virus. My reads are fine (as in, the goofballs are not strong), but when I can't push 'em off second pair with a flop bet, why would I try again on the turn?

Because you're dumb?

It's possible.

Definitely need work in this regard.

As for the tourney win, I'm still pretty pumped up about it. Validation, I guess. I was gonna document a couple crucial hands, but I've decided against it. One play, in particular, was fucking masterful. But I might need it on Dec. 10.


Been a while since I updated my NaNo progress. Unfortunately, that's because there hasn't been much progress.

The primary reason I decided to take this on was to see if I was disciplined enough to sit down every day and finish the task. In that regard, I've failed. There are myriad reasons for this, but no viable excuses. I just didn't get it done. Yeah, I got stuck far too often, the words dribbling out in fits and starts. Yeah, I paid a lot of attention to my poker game, because I was on something of a roll and wanted to strike while the iron was hot. Yeah, I didn't have nearly enough forward planning on the story, causing me to get to a point and wonder which direction I needed to go. Regardless, I didn't do a good enough job of carving out a couple hours each day to bang away.

That said, I've got 35,000 words, which is easily the most I've ever written in story form before. And I work best on deadline conditions. So, I've got three days to sprint home.

The further bad news is that I estimate the tale is about a third of the way finished. Yikes. You know, some people, those with half a brain for instance, might start off with something a little lighter, a litttle simpler.

Not this jackass.

Congrats to Human Head for passing the mark with room to spare. Well done, sir. Otis looks poised to hit the mark, as well, and anyone who knows Otis wouldn't bet against him. Bobby? Well, Bobby's probably busy compiling playlists for his 72 iPods.

Also on the subject of writing, Pauly has published another edition of his excellent literary blogzine, Truckin'. As always, I'm honored he saw fit to include my story, which promises to be the feel good hit of the holiday season . This month's offering also features stories from the man himself, Human Head and Al, as well as a poem by Jaxia. Please head over and support your local wordsmiths.


Had a hilarious and wide-ranging conversation with Daddy on Saturday afternoon, evening, a sort of cyber boko-maru, if you will, and one of the topics was how to play AKo pre-flop from the SB facing 5 or 6 limpers.

Naturally, it depends. But, I'm still gonna pump out a bunch of drivel on the subject. But probably not until Thursday.

Stupid deadlines.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

There It Is!

Not my biggest cash, not a big field, but a win. A bleeping win!

For once, I got to play some Big Stack Poker. Went on a rush of cards with about 25 left, moving to the top of the heap. Down to two tables I took a ton of blinds and antes off short stacks trying to edge into the money. I began the Final Table second in chips and busted a couple players. We got to three-handed, all of us reltively even in chips, where we battled for a good 45 minutes. Back and forth, up and down, dip and feint. Finally, I doubled up off the chip leader--the primary aggressor most of the time--when he ran his 77 into my JJ. Suddenly, I had 80% of the chips. Four hands later, it was over.

Monkey. Off. Back.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Hair Today...

Regular readers of this space, random people on the street and anyone who has ever made my acquaintance know that there is one thing I value more highly than anything else in the known universe:

My hair.

I try to impart morality and character to my son. I try to infuse AJ with goodness, with a love thy neighbor as thyself mantra (unless of course thy neighbor calls a pre-flop raise with Q9s and and rivers his flush against your Rockets). I try to ingrain in him a love of nature, of the miracles of a leaf changing color, of a lizard's regenerating tail.

But if all that fails, at least he loves his hair.

It's been growing for about 5 months and he fusses over it like an septugenarian over her prize roses. I've asked him repeatedly if he wants a haircut, but he always refuses. He has taken a liking to my Crew pomade, a not cheap product that gives him the exact "porcupine" look he desires, though, truthfully, it's more of a mod-ish look, a classic carefully-coiffed-as-to-look-not-coiffed-at-all-shag-'do.

I couldn't be more proud.

And yes, this post is the answer to the question of "What does Joe think about when he's drunk and not playing poker?"

Friday, November 25, 2005

Imperfect 10th

I'm a slut. I'm easy. Trounce me time and time again and I will still come back to you, Poker, Fairest of All Maidens. I might even be forced to play you on a site that has taken Junk Kickage to an art form of late (see previous) due to my special brand of addiction.

Yes, fresh off a stuffing and an epic nap of tryptophantastic proportions, I logged onto the Poker Machine and, having missed the Full Tilt $12K Guaranteed, headed over to Lee Jones' pad to see if my entreaties had penetrated his cold, black heart.

Several hours later, I finished 10th in the Stars $20 MTT. I seem to be making a habit of these 10th place finishes. Perhaps I'll add a rejoinder to CJ's Top 10 Rules for Kicking Much Ass entitled "How to Bubble Out of the Final Table in Five Easy Lessons" (Lesson 1: Your End Game must suck long and hard).

Unlike the FT finish last Sunday, I did not spend the post-bust period kicking myself in my own ass. I was both lucky and unlucky all night, my stack as bi-polar as Axl Rose. I was lucky to have one of my all-time favorite donators moved to my table in the second hour and proceed to give me his entire stack almost immediately upon his arrival with such noted plays as "Calling with bottom pair vs. top set" and "Surely my unimproved AJ is good on this K-High flop." God Bless that guy.

I found myself rolling with a well-above par stack of 8K when I got QQ and just flat-called a raise from the loosest player at the table. Ten-high flop and all the money goes in. Aces for him. Yuck. I pushed the very next hand with A9o and got blinds and antes to get up to 3K. Two hands later, I pushed with 33, got called by TT and rivered a 3. Thanks, Lee!

Later, I cracked a short stack's KK with AQ, from there playing myself comfortably to the final two tables. Naturally, when we got to 10, I was the smallest, 20K below the nearest villan. Had a chance to fold into it, when a medium stack pushed with 88 and got called by a big's AQ. The 844 flop quickly dashed that hope. With a Harrington of about 5, I moved in with KQo and got called by...Aces. Thanks, Lee!

Many thanks to Jason for railbirding and providing counsel.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Site-Specific Tilt

It is with the utmost graciousness that I bow to Otis and the crew at Poker Stars for their continued support of the blogger community. Their words and actions truly are a model that forward-thinking companies should emulate. Deepest thanks for all your support.

Now, seriously, turn off the Doom Switch.

I shouldn't complain. I'm running reasonably well. Just not on Stars. Card dead? No problem. Ding Dongs sucking out egregiously? It happens. But being dominated every time I get a big hand (which is occuring approximately every 45 minutes)? This, in conjunction with the others, I can not countenance. Nor can various breakable items in my immediate vicinity.

I still love you. We just need a break.

When you want to hug it out, you can find me over at the fastest growing online poker room, trying to avoid CJ.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Um, Yeah...

I took a shot at the Full Tilt $50K Guaranteed last night ($200+$15 buy-in). I don't have the bankroll for regular attempts at this level, but this is the third time I've tried one (the first on FT). I've been feeling pretty good about my game and thought the time was right. Guess so.

I bubbled out of the final table on a play that I'm not sure I like. I was ahead and it wasn't an easy call for the chip leader (or maybe it was, I don't know) because it cost him 20% of his stack to match my push over the top of his raise. I had AJo. He had Q7o. And he flopped two pair.

As I told Hank, "I was trying to win." There were only 9 people between me and $16K and I had a good opportunity there to double up and give the Chip Leader a hit. Didn't work out. In retrospect...well, I wonder if the fact I lost the hand is coloring my thinking, but a call there and I still have 38K in chips after missing the flop, enough to make a couple-three money jumps, which were big at that point.

Satisfaction and a tidy $600 profit, mixed with the feeling of a lost opportunity. Of course, realistically, no way I coulda bested CJ (from whom I appropriated the above screen shot).

Thanks to all you rail birds. Makes these things a lot more entertaining.

Friday, November 18, 2005

A Look Back

My personal history is littered with the rusted artifacts of temporary obsessions. An old fishing pole I bought after catching two catfish in the Grant Line Canal leans withered and unused in a garage corner. I sold off my splintered drum kit after losing interest in the "rock star" lifestyle. The wedding photos from my first marriage are yellowed and....okay, better not make a joke out of that one.

I've had varied interests throughout my life, but few which have stuck around to have an impact. Thankfully, this blog--which will be one year old next week--appears to be one of the lucky ones.

Looking back, it's hard to recall exactly what spurred me to start here. A common reason I give is that I had no other outlet to talk about poker. I didn't know any other poker players. My wife had already had it up to HERE only five months after I embarked on my poker education and couldn't really add insight to questions of whether medium suited one-gappers should be played in late position in a family pot. One thing I can say for certain is that I was inspired by the blogs that already existed. I'd been reading Iggy and Hank for several months. I didn't have any knowledge, or any real intention, of where it would go. In fact, my first post grossly mis-characterizes what eventually ended up here.

But I know I caught a fever. I know that I found a place to rant and examine and get the poker thoughts out of my head. In doing so, an odd thing occured. I started writing. Not just reporting results and hand histories, but turning them into stories, narrowly focused stories, but stories nonetheless. In my opinion, things changed right here:

The Jack

That still might be my favorite thing I've ever written. It took me 15 minutes, at most (though I eventually revised it for an issue of Truckin'). I think it perfectly captures how I felt (yes, it's almost entirely true). It was also the first time I felt that muse tickling me in the back of my brain.

Suddenly, the blog became not about detailing my poker trials, but simply about the writing. It put a charge into me, awakened a dormant desire. I always had the nebulous dreams of writing, even had a few periods where I practiced the craft with some regularity. But never with any destination. And now, I had a destination every single day and an ass-load of material--thank you poker--to pour into it.

Things kind of snowballed from there. A week later I met AlCantHang and the LA bloggers at Commerce. Then my mad rush of tourney success in April and May. The June Blogger Get-Together and winning the WSOP satellite. And...and...and...

I've gone through some valleys as well. Some awful Variance hits, some psychological downswings, even some blog tilt, where I questioned the worth of continuing. Through it all, I've been able to keep a level of satisfaction. I'm able to look back and truthfully say I'm proud of a lot of what is contained here, despite occasionally cringe-worthy prose and play. And I've improved (sorry, your votes are not eligible).

Best of all, I've connected with a vast array of bloggers who have enriched my life in ways I still discover daily. Smart, funny, insightful people who inspire me to be here, who prod me into self-reflection and invention. I owe you all so much.

Here's where I dump on you some highlights of the past year under the guise of self-reflection. Don't fall for it.

From almost totally anonymous blogger ("almost" totally because I always had April) to playing in the WSOP, being invaded by unwanted guests, the honor of having stories published by Pauly, a Vegas weeekend to never forget, AJ's guest post, regularly tossing chips at the Murderer's Row home game, my battles with psychology and bankroll and finally, just plain ol' stupid running of the mouth (pick any).

So I sit here mildly surprised I'm still going, have yet to shrug off this committment and leave it behind in a dark heap. I marvel at what an important place this blog now occupies in my journey and the idea--once preposterous, but now possible--that it can go onward and upward from here.

Thankfully, I appear to be one of the lucky ones.

Answer Man

Thanks for all the guesses/comments on the quiz. These were two hands I played recently that made me just shake my head and wonder what people were thinking. Perhaps because we're all inured to being horribly sucked out on, that colored some of the responses, I really was never sucked out on, though the first did feature the always popular suck and re-suck.

Hand 1: He had KQo, so he was ahead, behind and ahead. What I found strange was all the calling. If he raises my flop bet, I probably call. Then we probably get it all in on the turn and he sucks out. But the river call is tthe strangest, in my opinion. He's got top two! What could I have been betting the whole way that he is behind? AT? Don't be ridiculous. Set? Well that's just seeing mosters. He certainly had a decent shot at all my chips by being more aggressive. Nobody hit it on the head, but Ryan was closest.

Hand 2: He had 33 and flopped the set. I dig the smooth check-call on the flop. I can even be persuaded the check on the turn is okay. But on the river? In this particular instance, he wasn't getting any more money out of me, so perhaps his actions are above reproach. But if someone hit those face cards, even has TPTK, you gotta build that pot. I even typed into chat at the end of the hand, "you know you flopped a set, right?" Several mentioned the set possibility--and thanks all for believing in my ability to dodge bullets--but only Mike mentioned 33.

Congrats to all the psuedo winners!


I played a litttle too much poker last night, getting involved in a couple 180s after the witching hour, fueled by an ass-stomping I delivered in a Full Tilt $20 SnG, five Bass Ales and the bad influence of a certain Spaceman who doesn't have to get up at 5:30 for work. Things were actually going well in the second one and I was looking at doubling up with about 45 left until the dingleberrry hit his gutshot on the river after going all in on the flop.

But the highlight of the evening was the FT SnG. It took a mere 45 minutes for me to run over the table. It helps when you get AA v. KK in the second level. It further helps when, in a family pot, you flop the unassailible nuts and have two people chase all the way to the river trying to hit the hand you already have, or, in one fella's case, the idiot end of the straight, which resulted in all his chips coming to me. All of which had me at over 6K in chips after 20 minutes. Had a 3.5-1 chip lead getting to heads up and took him out swiftly on an action hand. I have TT and raise. He calls and the flop is 987. I bet, he pushes and shows 87 for two pair. Ugh, though I have many outs, running queens included.

Pay me.


A local radio station is regularly featuring the R. I don't even know what to call it. It might just be the most hilarious piece of entertainment in history. The DVD has 12 "chapters" and has a series of vignettes, sung by R. himself, including the character of a white southern woman and I don't think I need to tell you that R.'s inability to nail the accent is pure gold. At the end of the latest chapter to be mocked by the morning team, R. finds a man in his house, who's been sleeping with his wife. He deduces this by the fact there's a cherrry pie on the table with a piece missing and his white southern wife IS ALLERGIC TO CHERRIES! AH HA! So he finds the guy hiding in a cabinet and...are you sittting down? turns out the philanderer is a midget. Because, presumably, "midget" kinda rhymes with "cabinet."

I think this DVD is gonna be my bounty for the WPBT. But I'll have to buy one for myself, too. Last, this is actual lyrical dialogue from the scene described above, when R. realized the guy is in the cabinet in front of which his wife is standing guardedly.

I said, "move!"
She said, "no!"
I said, "move!"
She said, "no!"
"Bitch, move!"
She moved!

Really, it doesn't get any better than that.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Thanks to all on the comments regarding previous. I think y'all pretty much covered it. It's a weak play, a dangerous play from the villain's standpoint, but one we need to be on the lookout for.

In that vein, here are a couple other curiously-played hands I was involved in recently. This time, try to guess what the villain is holding based on the action. Answers tomorrow:

1. In the BB, with blinds at 30/60, I see a free flop with QJo, along with 3 limpers, including the SB. Flop is Q72 with two hearts. SB checks and I bet 180 into 240 pot. One limper calls. Turn is a Jack, no heart. Giddyup. I bet 480 into 600 pot. Call. Turn is a King, no heart. I bet 800 into 1560 pot. Call. What does he have?

2. I raise 4x the BB (25/50) from MP with 99. Folds to a limper UTG who calls. Flop is AQ3 rainbow. Checked to me and I bet 150 into 275 pot. Call. Turn is 8, completing the rainbow. Checked to me and I check behind. River is a Jack. Checked to me and I check behind. What does he have? (This one is so mis-played by the villain that nobody might ever get it.)

Curiouser and Curiouser

Lately, I have been running across a play at the tables that demands some feedback, because I think it's completely wrong, but, then again, maybe I'm the idiot. So, being one to never shy away from my own inadequacies, let's examine it together shall we?

Specifically, this play has been popping up in multi-table tourneys, most often in the early stages.

I open-raise from the CO with 88, 3x with blinds at 50/100. The SB and BB call. The flop comes Q94 rainbow and the action is checked to me. I follow through with a standard continuation bet of 450, half the pot. SB folds and BB calls.

I think I can reasonably assume the BB caught a piece there, though the lack of a bet makes me think he's not too strong, perhaps even holding JT for the OESD, in which case hee didn't have the odds to call that bet, but that's hardly ever stopped anyone before online, so I don't discount it. What else could he hold that would merit a call? A9? Qx? I can certainly see him calling the flop bet with the former. Not so much with the latter. Did he flop a set of 4s and pulled a smooth call? Not unreasonable.

Generally, in this spot, I'm done with putting more money in. I took a shot at winning it right there and, with two overs, there are myriad hands that have me beat.

The turn is a 5, completing the rainbow. The BB checks again and, based on the above, I check behind. The river is another 9 and now the BB leads out with a bet of 240 into an 1800 pot. Well shit, I'll call that with air just to find out what the hell the guy's playing. I do and he flips QJ for the winner.

Now, here's the thing. To my mind, he played that hand poorly post-flop (I'm not one to call pre-flop raises with QJ out of position, but he certainly had the correct odds to do so in this instance). He flopped top pair and by check-calling, didn't define his hand. I suppose there is the possibility he has notes on me and knows I will agggressively bet post-flop after taking the lead in the hand, but I think that would be giving him a little too much credit. Regardless, his weak play doesn't give him any idea where he stands, a fact that is verified by his check on the turn. Now, MY check on the turn probably--and finally--defines his hand for him. And his smallish value bet on the river is the right play.

If I were in his shoes, I lead out on the flop, very likely winning the pot right there. So, here we have the conflicting issue. By playing the hand weakly, he extracted nearly 700 more chips out of me, as opposed to taking down the 900 pot on the flop.

Yet, it's still my opinion that he is, more often than not, courting big trouble by playing the hand this way. If he's up against AK, or even Ax/Kx, he's keeping it cheap for people to catch up. If he's up against AQ or KQ, he's got a calling problem. Even I, in the example, could have hit my set. And based on his play, any bets I make after his checks are going to be called. That hand is VERY vulnerable. If he's slow-playing his TP3K, then he's a special brand of idiot.

I'd like to know what you think. I will also be on the lookout for this type of play a lot more, as I've seen a half-dozen similar opponents check-calling top pair on the flop. I certainly need to add this to the range for certain players.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Got Any REO?

Alright, I admit it. I actually look forward to watching "Prison Break" every week. I typically have no problem with the whole "suspension of disbelief" thing when it comes to my entertainment, but this show features the most implausible sequence of events since the Ric Ocasek/Paulina Porizkova courtship. Furthermore, the lead character is impossible to take seriously as the only other thing I've seen him in is the preposterous "Dinotopia," which gets regular AJ viewings.

Yet, I watch. And don't even play poker while I'm doing it. There's plenty of action. There's plenty of Peter Stormare's always enjoyable over-acting (Swedes playing Italians = Comedy Gold). And...well...I really have no explanation for it. Perhaps it's the same gene that made me enjoy REO Speedwagon.


No poker last night. In the "what's new" department, I've been playing some .25/.50 PLO on Full Tilt, partly because it's the fastest game within my bankroll to clear their bonus. After playing tourneys almost exclusively on there, it was apparent I was gonna leave a lot of free money ont he table if I didn't find some more action. You certainly get it at the PLO tables. I'm not what I'd call comfortable with my PLO game, but I've seen a lot worse players than I (like a guy calling a river bet with a pair of aces) and that's really what it's all about anyway. So I sit and fold and peddle the occassional nut and the bonus whizzes by. And I'm a little profitable otherwise, so far.


Thanks to TO (not that TO) and Oddjack for running my Public Service Announcement. In their rush to demonstrate to the universe how smart they are, many people achieve the opposite effect.


Note to would-be Romeos who might try to hit on my wife when she's out with the girls. "Do you enjoy being married?" is probably not such a good opener.


Vegas is getting close, isn't it? I remember last May as I was getting ready to meet most of the bloggers for the first time (I had already met a few and had what one could call substantial online relationships with others). I didn't REALLY know what to expect, but I felt like I had a pretty goood idea. I think that was because I made it a point to participate in the events leading up to it, spent time reading and commenting on the blogs and generally "getting to know" people. I thought I had a good handle on what I was getting into.

What's funny about that is I ended up hanging out with people I didn't expect, having conversations I couldn't have predicted. And getting far more reward out of it than seemed possible.

For those of you coming for the first time, honestly, you have no idea what's in store. Sure, you have your suspiscions, you have your list of "things to do." All well and good. But all you really need is willingness and an open mind.

Looking forward to raising your big blind.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Helping Hands

Regular readers of this space know that I have a propensity to get all weepy and sensitive on occasion. I don't apologize for this. It's a big part of what I think is one of my strengths in writing, being able to tap into an emotion. And while I've struggled hitting that vein thus far in NaNo (though I continue to grind, albiet a few thousand words below par), I've got something for you here today.


I was 13, seeing my hold as #1 goaltender on my traveling soccer team slipping away. I was sharing every game, for the first time, with a new guy. This particular game was against our bitter rivals, Ballistic United from Pleasanton, the next town over. We were intimately knowledgable of each other, spending five years facing off regularly. We got along with them. Off the field. On, it was war. Every game with them was the most important game we played. Twice we'd faced them in the State Cup Final. We played them half a dozen times a year, in league, various tournaments and this day, in the League Cup. I took the field at the start of the second half, us holding a comfortable 2-0 lead.

They grabbed one back, nothing I could do. Then, in the last 15 minutes, I surrendured two more, leading to a demoralizing lost. I should have had both, getting a hand to each, but unable to keep the ball out. The last one was, no denying it, a soft goal. I had it the whole way, but at the last minute, the force of the shot overpowered me, bending my outstretch hand backwards and trickling into the net.

Inconsolable, I slumped against the post at the final whistle.


Poker is a curious thing. It's competition. It's competition over money. Yet, the most fun I have playing is against people I know. Even in the midst of the battle, there's a comraderie. These games are also the most intense, demand my concentration. With the glut of blogger/reader tourneys and satelittes, a full weekend slate lately, I've seen a lot of the same, familiar faces across the felt, people I talk to regularly, with whom I share my experience and limited expertise. And then these people show up trying to take my money.


I held my head in my hands against the post, not moving. Handshakes were exchanged, but nobody moved toward me. I think they knew. I think they knew I needed that time to settle. I don't know how long I had been sitting there when a shadow crossed my downward vision. I peeked up to see Mr. Bazan standing there. Mr. Bazan was the father of one of the Ballistic United players. Thanks to our familiarity with their team, I knew who he was. But I hadn't spoken to him. He smiled and leaned down to put his hand on my shoulder.

"Tough game, son."
"Yes sir."
"You know, you've beaten us a lot more than we've beaten you."
"Yes sir."

I raised my head fully and he stepped back to extend his hand. I took it and he pulled me up. Using my name, he said,

"You can't be perfect all the time. But you can give your best. You gave your best."

He guided me halfway toward my sideline, arm around my shoulders, and handed me off to my Mom.


I got the sense Mr. Bazan had been in a similar situation. It wasn't his words that resonated with me. It was his compassion. His simple action. He became a face I sought out at tournaments. He always had time for a greeting. I always had time to thank him for that day. I actually ran into him many years later. He still remembered my name.

I got to thinking about this because of the many conversations I've had with my poker friends out there. In the time that I've found my way into this community, I've been at both ends of the Variance spectrum, as have they. They've been there when I was bitching about the latest injustice and I've tried to do the same for them when they hit a bad run. We've watched over each other's cyber shoulder in various tournaments. We battle over pots and seats and stacks, but at the end of the day, we support each other. We have empathy for the trials we endure and praise for the steps we take.

It's not the words. It's the compassion. The being there. Enjoying each others success and trying to soothe our failures.

We can't always play perfect. Can't always be on the right side of luck. But we can play our best and we can remember that, even when it seems little consolation.

All I'm really trying to say is...


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cashing In

"I could hear you talking to yourself until 3 a.m."
--Dear and Patient Wife

Guilty. At the time, I was not actually aware I was talking to myself. In retrospect, I'm certain I was. Add the iPod issue and I'm sure my indictments of "Lemur!" and "Nice call, buddy" and "Hip Check!" were plenty audible enough to make it upstairs to our boudoir.

I was on the tail end of an evening-long poker bender, which began, innocently and soberly enough, with the weekly Wil Wheaton online/world's biggest home game. I'm pleased to report I avoided the rampant suckery I've exhibited in previous incarnations and finished a respectable 10th. Of course, I went out right after I bragged (faceteously) that I was the King of the Short Stack and if the remaining players were sitting around folding and waiting for me to bust so they could journey forth to their Final Table reward, they would be collecting Social Security before such an event transpired. Or perhaps two minutes after said proclamation.

Honestly, I didn't deserve to be there. I tried to put a move on Daddy, when short-stacked in the first hour. I called his raise in the BB with Ah4h, putting him on a medium pair (that particular read comes from the Wishful Thinking School of Poker) and hoping to pull a stop and go if the board cooperated. The flop came KJx, with no hearts, and I pushed at him. He happily flipped his AKo.

His chance of winning the hand at that point is a mere 97%, so you can see I really know the spots to pick for my so-called moves. Regardless, I assure you there were people present to verify the turn and river both came fours. My shame has scarcely abated and I promised Daddy that his first handful of drinks in Vegas will be courtesy of my Bad Beat Fund, which had quite a profitable weekend.

From that point, I am pretty sure I didn't cause any other players to throw things. Lost a race on the Final Table bubble and then pushed with less than 2 BBs and even less of a hand. But I cashed, and, as always, enjoyed the hell out of playing with you folks. Eternal appreciation for Wil and his efforts.

I had not begun talking to myself at this point. Had a little family interlude, taking the wife and AJ over to Mom's for dinner, but we returned in time for them to go to bed and for me to round up some degenerates for the $7K Guaranteed at Full Tilt. drizz and Jason joined me and 300+ douchebags on the virtual felt, the former getting moved to my table after about a half hour. Nothing much else to report. I got doubled up by an idiot early who thought I was stealing from the SB with 88. He pushed with K2s and thankyouverymuch. My only other big hand was QQ and I lost 1400 chips with that one to AA. I did suckout a split against drizz when I pushed over the top of his raise with...uh...AJ, as I am wont to do. Two pair on the board nullified his AKo advantage. None of us moneyed.

Yet, I was now well into the SoCo and it wasn't even midnight (my time), so...hey...look at that...a $10+$1 MTT on FT starting up shortly. It was already Sunday for drizz, so he passed, but April, who had been railbirding us earlier along with DJ helixx joined along with Jason. April and I moneyed, her finishing 24th (or so) and me 12th. I was happy with my play, getting in a couple hip checks, but went out disappointingly. The guy on my left had been raising my blind ceaselessly and I couldn't defend. But I knew I'd get one shot. I finally did with JJ. His usual raise was met with my 18K push and despite his range being any two cards there, he had a scary enough AQo. The RNG strung me out 'til the river before dropping the bullet. Would have put me second overall if I'd out-run him. Gah.

It should be mentioned by the time I busted, I was blind drunk, making comical typo errors in chat and making my happy drunk stupid jokes. Man, was I feeling it this morning, though AJ thankfully slept until 9, giving me enough slumber and allowing an hour to shake off the cobwebs before plunging into the Saturdays With Dr. Pauly tourney.

I'd like to tell you my finish was all about superior play and laser-like effciency, but that would not be truthful. I should have been out in the first hour when I ran my KK into Human Head's AA, but hit a diamond flush to double up and stay alive. I chipped up a bit and was sitting on the verge of the top 10 when I went on an unparalleled (in my experience) card rush. In a span of 14 hands, I got KK, QQ thrice and JJ twice. The first of the group was summarily sucked out by Easycure, who flopped two decks worth of outs. I then proceeded to knock out three players, causing me to type into chat, "It's possible I might have a hand if I re-raise." But really, who could believe I'd keep waking up with those kinda hands? Not Bobby Bracelet, who soon came over the top of my QQ re-raise with TT's the first time I've gotten the better of Bob at the poker table. I call it Revenge of the Razz.

From that point, I cruised to the Final Table, never less than third in chips. I was joined by Chad, who despite his protestations against tourneys, continues to top-bomb these blogger events; Colombo, Lord Admiral Quiz Master who my addled memory insists I have not played with previously (a pleasure, sir); Big Pirate, the chip leader and proud dropper of the Hammer Play of the Day; and on_thg, the most unwieldy and esoteric of blogger names, the Gary Trudeau of Poker Bloggers and now multiple WPBT Champion.

I didn't knock anybody out at the Final Table, but briefly had the chip lead after out-running the Pirate. Then I got involved in a hand I had no business sniffing. Down to three-handed (all of us having previously tasted the sweet nectar of blogger tourney victory), Pirate raised on the button and I called in the SB with Q8s. No biggie. I'll play that 3-handed. Then on_thg re-raised in the BB. And yeah, I was getting nice pot odds to call, but goodness gracious, I'm surely way behind. And I actually thought that. Huge flop or I'm done. KQ2 flop, none of my suit and I LEAD AT IT.

Yes, you read that right. Cost me another 18K since both the others flopped sets. Temporary lobotomy.

From there, I got all in in two 60-40 situations, the 40 winning both times, but me only once, the last putting me out when on_thg spiked his queen on the river.

As always, a fun time and special thanks to Dr. Pauly for bringing us together and congrats to on_thg, against whom I've played so much lately that one of us is gonna have to start paying rent, for earning his second WPBT bracelet.

Quick final note, I played the $7K Guaranteed tonight at Full Tilt and managed another cash, finishing 20th. People, if you've never believed anything I've ever written in this space, believe this: These tournaments could not be softer. More than a third of the field was gone in the first 24 minutes. That is a lot of dead money. All-in calls with Ace-rag (causing drizz to type in chat, "Nice hand Tiffany"), some raising from EP with K9o and enough minimum raises to extract the last of Baby Jesus's tears.

So yeah, good, fun, profitable weekend. I wouldn't say poker and I are "back together," but we're definitely flirting. Trying to taper the workouts, you know, peak in about four weeks time.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Peas in a Pod

To amuse myself, I was over at Daddy's site, because that's Ground Zero for Amusement, and I thought it would be funny to hit the "Next Blog" button to see what sort of hapless dunderhead had the good fortune to be juxtaposed alongside the Genius That Is SnailTrax, thinking it would be something bordering the other end of the spectrum, like the How to Be a Good Mormon Blog or the Pork Products Kill Blog. figures.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Nipple Play

(I should mention said Teat Fetish site was blocked by my benevolent employer's filter, so assume NSFW)

Move Along

I'm working on a post--yes, that's right, actually working on one instead of the usual unexpurgated drivel contained herein--but am currently snowed under with various projects and committments which have forced it to the back burner.

That said, I still block out a little time for a quick trip around teh intarweb in the morning and I ran across something over at Linda's Table Tango. Go read it. There's her usual excellent dealer notes, today a bit about Flack, Chan and Vahidi doing battle in chinese poker, but under that are a couple notes about the WPBT gathering and I defy you to tell me what's there doesn't make you pee yourself a little.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Doing a 180

It's raining in L.A. today. I am likely one of the few people who digs the rain. Always have, but even more now that I don't have to commute via car. Yes, complaining about how people drive in the rain in LA is about as fresh a bit as an airlane food riff, but seriously, a light drizzle and all manner of Hee-Haws appear on your local freeway. I mocked and pointed at them as I cruised by in my warm train this morning.

Speaking of Hee-Haws, it was raining Jackasses in the 180 tourney I played on Stars last night. I number myself among them, as I played two or three hands brutally (I'm really gonna need to stop making position bets with my second pair if dumbfucks continually check-call with their top pair. It's non-sensical play to me, to check your top pair on the flop, but if they see I'm gonna keep betting, then they're probably right. It's such a weak play that I can't believe I'm behind, but I might have the thought more often). I still finished 12th for my second cash out of three attempts in those thingees. And if my 99 had held up against A8o, I might have gone on and won the thing as the skill level was something more akin to a $5 SnG on Party. For example, a guy who was still in the tourney at that point made the following plays: 1) Putting in the third raise (an all-in) pre-flop with 66 (and sucking out on QQ); 2) Calling a re-raise and a re-re-raise with JTo (he lost that one, to me); 3) re-raising with Q3s.

And there were more. The thing about it is, everyone saw he was playing crap, so they called his huge bets with crap and invariably his hand held up or he out-drew them. I spent two hours begging for one more hand to double up on this guy and I could never get it. But, oh has he been tagged.

One more hand with that guy. He raises when I'm in the BB with JJ and I think "this is the one." Except the SB, a solid player, re-raises. Oh crap. Decisions, decisions. Push or fold here for me. I decide to fold, figuring the SB has me dominated. I was incorrect. All the money ended up going in pre-flop and it was Horrible Player's 99 v. SB's TT. And though I made the wrong decision, the 9 on the flop made it a fortuitous one.

I honestly can't endorse the tourneys highly enough. I'm sure they're not all as awful as the one last night, which was an affront to pokerkind. But I'll keep sticking my nose in them until proven different.


NaNoWriMo Update: I'm 1474 words short of the necessary pace, but not concerned about that. Thanks for all the comments and support I've gotten. Very much appreciated. This is exceptionally difficult for me, more than I thought it was going to be. I kind of wish I'd settled on a more breezy tale, but that ship has sailed. I spent a couple days wrestling over it, because I don't think it's "there." I don't think I'm hitting the right note with it, not entirely. But that's okay. Revision can come later. I'm simply focused on getting it down.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I garnered so much blogable poker content over the weekend that I'd need a month of Sundays to churn it all out. Alas, time is short and other demands are infringing. It's pretty difficult to jump back and forth between this and the novel, the blog being tales of Drunken Pokery and the other concerning a protagonist mired in abject misery at this point. Regardless, I'll try to hit the highlights of an ass-load of Weekend Poker.

The big highlight of course was my Sunday night tourney score. Of all the reasons my game is back on track, they all pretty much bloomed from a single factor: confidence. Confidence in my decisions, in my game, in myself. Poker demands we question our play, with regular self-analysis, rigorous study. It's the nature of the game. It's when you begin to DOUBT, rather than question your game, that trouble lies. I'm guilty of that. I let the bad beats affect my play, making me more timid, restraining myself from making +EV plays for fear of the underdog hitting his card.

One of the most obvious reasons I've felt much surer lately is playing with the bloggers. Those are the toughest games I play in, and with a couple notable exceptions, I've not been out-classed. HDouble's home game (aka Murderer's Row) is a prime example. I've had to play my very best to survive there and surviving breeds confidence. Same with the Dr. Pauly and Six-Gun Shootout tourneys. I didn't win, but I played as well as I was able. And the Re-Buy result on Saturday night...well, that one sent me through the roof, as evidenced by the fact I spent most of my Sunday morning sick...oh, and playing SnG satellites to the Stars $500K tourney, which I felt more than ready to take a shot at. Though I didn't qualify, it was through no fault of my own, consistently getting my money in with the best of it.

That's the mind-set I took to the $8K Guaranteed on Sunday night. And really, I can sum up the change in my game in just a few plays:

1. It's the first hour and I have just above the starting number of chips. I see a free flop of AKQ rainbow in the BB with A8o. I bet half the pot, feeler-style, and get one caller. The turn is a King and I'm not ccrazy about that, so I check. Caller bets 120 into a 480 pot and I immediately put him on a draw. He's got a jack or a ten. On top of THAT, I know exactly how he's gonna double me up, and it's not by pushing here. I call. River is a rag and I check. I actually said aloud, "Here comes the overbet." Sure enough, he bet 1100 into a 720 pot, which puts me all in. I insta-call and he shows his busted J9o. Passive me, self-doubt me doesn't play it that way, may not even win the pot.

2. I fucking hate pocket Jacks. In passive poker mode, I just call a pre-flop raise with them and hope for no overcards, playing them as cheaply as possible and easily getting away from them. Pussy. With blinds/antes at 250/500/50, I get JJ in MP and face a 3x raise in front. One factor is my position. A call and I'm almost inviting people into the pot behind me, especially the bigger stacks. Can't play it passively here, though a call would only amount to 10% of my chips, whereas a re-raise almost a third. But a re-raise would only be correctly called by 5 possible hands and the expectation that I get the 2200 already in the pot is worth the 3x re-raise to 4500. So I do, and it's folded around. Not passive poker. Not poker where you simply call and hope not to get drawn out on.

3. I was never involved in a race situation until I got to the Final Table. I didn't feel like I had to gamble to build my stack. I was aggressive in position pre-flop to keep myself comfortably ahead of the blinds. I pushed my big hands (though I never got AA or KK, I got QQ half a dozen times) and made strong continuation bets when I felt I was ahead. Not once until the Final Table did I get all my money in without being dominant (and flopping the nuts and getting paid off by top pair, no kicker is quite a hoot). I did arrive at the Final Table with the short stack (was in fact 10th with 10 left) and won both races while there. So often, especially early, I get the sense I need to build a stack by taking chances. I'm not saying that's wrong, because many times it isn't, but taking chances for the sake of taking chances, instead of playing solidly and working your way up is not the way to go. I mean, if anybody has experience playing on the short stack, it is I. But I'd lost the confidence, the patience, it takes to be effective doing that, leading to some fishy play in a misguided attempt to stack up early.

I guess that's about it. I really wish I could do justice to last Friday's home game with a kick-ass write up, but I'm afraid that is well beyond my skill level. Oh boy. Lots of alcohol, lots of laughter, record number of 15 players in the tourney, a new game that defines "Action", a broken glass, a walk into a closed slidiing door, mean whiskey drinkers and some pretty damn good poker play from all quarters. Hank announced this week's game, saying it'll be tough to top last Friday's but we'll try. I am of the firm opinion that if last week's game gets topped, someone will likely end up in prison.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


I have been mostly really happy with my tourney game lately. Have knocked on the door a couple times and come away short, but my decisions and timing have been generally correct. Was bolstered by the Re-buy result last night, knowing I had to tangle with some good players to get as deep as I did and knowing I wasn't out-classed.

I've hesitated to say I was on the verge of something, superstition and all, but I've really felt my game coming around. I played well in the satellite to the Six-Gun Shootout in the Desert this afternoon, making the final table and finishing 8th. And that was with HDouble and -EV on my left all day! I went out when I foolishly tried to out-draw CJ. Congrats to he and -EV for the seats.

However kids, that is not the end of the story. No, no, no. I'm here to tell you that was just the first Final Table I made on Full Tilt today. I finished 3rd in the $8K Guaranteed tonight for a cool $1200 payday. So much to say about it, but it will have to wait (or not come at all, everybody hates Hand Histories). I just...well...I did everything right.

Feeling a little vindicated. Glad I can read my game well enough to know when it's gonna pop.


Saturday, November 05, 2005


Nothing like being moved in the second hour of the Crazy Re-Buy at Stars and finding yourself at a table with players sporting a combined 224 Final Table finishes among them (only 9 of them mine). johnster with 79; Andy134 with 69; knickadam with 35; and to my immediate right, Davin Anderson. I mean, you can't break these guys up amongst the 1100 other doucebags? I've played against Anderson before and promised myself I wouldn't let him run over me, because he's very aggressive. First time in my BB, he raises 4x and I call with 6c5c. I, uh, flopped the nuts, 743 rainbow. Check-check and he bets a grand on the Ac turn. I min. raise and he puts me all in. He's drawing dead with AJo. That was 40 minutes ago. I've seen one flop since.

Nevermind, I just took a 15K pot off Andy with Kournikova. Flopped the K and he check-called me all the way down with JJ. Weird.

Two idiots just chipped up johnster, pushing on the flop with Ace-high against his big pockets.

I'm, uh, second in chips behind him at this table. I believe it was Sesame Street which said, "which one of these things doesn't belong here?"

I'm 99 of 375 at the second break. 99 paid. Pool of nearly $41K. I nearly doubled my stack (currently 22K) in the second hour, losing a few small pots, but winning two big ones. Good game plan.

I guess you could say being in this Shark Tank has got my blood flowing.

Davin Anderson just got busted. His AK got out-flopped by knickadam's ATo. Davin had 4 outs when he pushed on the turn (board was QTT7), but failed to convert.

johnster, who I believe topped the Stars TLB for Oct., wins another big pot with AKo v. AQ. he's got 62K. People are dying to give him chips.

I haven't seen a pocket pair in over an hour. The guy to my left defends his blind every time. And Andy is to his left. Not exactly a pair to trifle with.

There's potential here. Got a good read on a couple guys. Just need a hand with which to strike.

A9o gets the blinds and antes.

knickadam just busted Andy. Wow. AK v. JJ and adam flopped a boat.

There's no chipping up, but I am treadng water with steals. Still no pocket pairs. 120 of 247.


Is there anything better than aces on the button when the BB wakes up with a hand? No. I think not. KQ pushes over my 3x raise and I'm sitting on 38K. This hand should make fhwrdh very happy.

You know, johnster is an amazing player. He plays a lot of hands, wins a lot of small pots and invariably has a monster if it goes to showdown. Top notch.

Awwwwww, I've been moved. I honestly wish I didn't have to go. That was a fucking rush playing there. gotta keep the concentration up. Far fewer chips and pedigree here. Play perfect poker. Play perfect poker. Play perfect poker.

Gigabet, not at my table, just got knocked out. One less Shark.

AA again. I bust a short stack. Up to 40K. JJ next hand and I bust another short stack who had AK. Big Stack came along to the 994 flop too, but dropped when I pushed. Up to 59K. That puts me 28th of 177. And a one-way ticket to another table. Three bigger stacks here, one medium (33K) and the rest 18K or less.

Have I mentioned how farking hungover I am? Man, what a slosh fest at HDouble's last night. I probably should have slept on his couch instead of making the 70-mile trek home at 2:30. I wasn't so much drunk at that point as I was tired. If I didn't have to watch AJ today, I certainly would have. Next time I'll bring him and we'll both sleep there.

I've been listening to Arena Rock on DirecTV all day. Stupid Otis.

Congrats to Sir Waffle House for winning the Dr. Pauly tourney and to geek and proud for taking the Wheaton tourney. Bloggers blowin' shit up.

Big pot. TPTK with Big Slick no good vs. AA. Dude's got 127K now. Other dude has 13.

Guy with 127K now has 214K after another Big Stack, who was pair off his set of Queens. Sheesh. Back-to-back hands.

Blind defense rules. After a couple folding orbits, I call min. raise with Jd8d. Flop is AdKdx and my min. bet takes it. 60K. 34 of 146.

Break time. Roughly five tables off the bubble. Sitting in good shape. Gotta keep it together.

Languishing. Got a walk in my BB, but nothing else to report. Small stack to my immediate right and both spots to my left so I'm loathe to steal. Closer to the bubble is the spot for that. They have about 35% of my stack, so it wouldn't be an insubstantial decision if they come over the top.

I'm folding KQo without even thinking twice about it. That fucking hand. 17 from the money. I'm still in the top half of the field at 47th. My Harrington just dropped to 9 with the blind jump. Ugh.

Twelve to the money.

Got the blinds and antes with 33. They're nearly 6K at this point. Splendid. Seven to the money. One more orbit, probably.

I'm subscribing to the Joanne theory that making the money is Job One in these things, as I tighten up like a schoolmarm near the bubble. It's been workinig, but I haven't been able to go deep as I'd like. I'm wondering if there's a middle ground?

Bubble. At 57K, 45th of 101. Short stacks gettin' stole on. that's right, "stole on."

Money! I am officially profitable to the tune of $30.83.

Time to get some cards and make a run. 49K. Still top 50.

Fourth break. 54K, but right into the BB with the numbers huge at 4000/8000/400. 47 of 60 remaining. Time for some luck.

No such luck. Nothing to play, nothing with which to defend and a table full of big stacks throwing themselves around. Frustrating. Out in 51st.

I hung with the Big Boys though, didn't embarass myself and won some cash. All in all, a good day.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Short, The Sequel: Return of the Short

Alright, Jebus. All the clamboring for another post. You people need to let me be! I have things I have to do!

None off that really happened. I just had a couple quick things I needed to post.

I'm starting to pick up steam on the writing. I've passed the 5,000 word mark (10%), but still about 1500 words short of being average, but a) the day isn't over yet and b) I'm just starting to roll. Not the point of the post.

I need to bring a couple things to your attention:

1) Have you seen the Greatest Fucking Blogroll Ever? Easycure is a genius.

2) One of my favorite bloggers is TenMile, who recently met with nefarious and dastardly forces who contrived to hijack his URL. He was formerly at Poker Solstice, now occupied by an obvious shill site. You can now find him and his unique musings at Sippin' Whiskey and Poker. Beyond encouraging all of you to read his excellence on a regular basis, I'm sure he'd appreciate it if you updated your blogroll, too.


Can't blog. Writing. HDouble Home Game. Tonight. Poker. $6K Guaranteed. Full Tilt. Busted. TT. A5o. Called 4K cold. Things kicked. Tourneys. Poker Stars. Wheaton. Donegal Invitational. Tonight. Not Playing. Work. Poker Stars. Saturdays With Dr. Pauly. Tomorrow. Playing. Full Tilt. Sunday. Six Gun Shootout in the Desert Satellite. See Rini. Not playing. Soccer. Conflict. 4th and last playoff spot. Three games left. Playing first place team.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Up With People!

Things are continuing to look up on the poker front. Not UP UP UP, but certainly trending higher, if only one step at a time. I'm feeling solid in my game and it really boils down to one major thing: concentration. I'm focusing so much better in all aspects when I sit down now, a modicum of discipline I've lacked too often in the past. I've also slowed down. I have tended in the past to get caught up in the adrenaline, acting without running down all the potentialities of a hand. Lately, I'm taking much more time--not Tifffany Williamson time--but enough to grasp an individual situation better.

It has long been a trademark of my game that once in a hand, I'll play it pretty fast, especially online. And it gets me into trouble. Sure, we want to be tight-aggressive, but every situation may not call for that type of play. There are times you want to back off because you have a monster and want to milk every last chip you can. Times when you smell a trap and want to slow down, getting the sense you're second best. And even times when you have to forgo that continuation bet because of the texture of the whiffed flop. The result has been varied and better play, which also keeps you less readable (if in fact online players are paying attention and the jury's still out on that one).

Anyway, I've had a satisfying number of cashes the past week in MTTs. I'm still bombing out short of the big money, but it's certanly an improvement over coming up empty. Last night, I made my first cash (in the second attempt) in the 20-table tourneys on Stars. I finished just inside the money, in 17th, and very shortly went out when my AK got out-flopped by AQ. I had raised the blinds and one limper from the button and only the limper called. Qxx flop and he checked. This was, uh, one of those times I DID follow through with the continuation bet and was promptly raised. Worst part was, the continuation bet, while 3/4 the pot, was 70% of my stack. Hamstrung my own damn self. Dope.

But okay, my bad. Otherwise, I thought I'd played perfectly. I'm not gonna fire up an Adam Friedman-esque self-flaggelation (and seriously, I couldn't have possibly been more embarassed for the man). Chad was on hand for most of the second hour of the tourney which we spent laying in wait for the Extreme Donkey on my right. Oh man. Chad coined the term, "bi-polar chip stack," which was both funny and appropriate.

I had doubled up early--first level--with KK against JJ. Then I took out two approximately 1K stacks in a single hand at Level 3. It was raised 3x before it got to me and I called with JJ. A short-stack pushed over the top for 750 more and initial raiser pushed for an extra 300. I am faced with a tough decision here. I'm getting nearly 2-1 on my call, but JJ is so vulnerable here, especially with the potential that all the overcards will be in play. But I do think I have the best hand. There's a wider range these guys could be playing and perhaps partially counterfeiting each other. After a long wait, I call and see them flip TT and 88.


I get moved early in the second hour and the first hand there, I get a glimpse of what Satan hath wrought on my right. On a flop of AAx, he bets out (as he did EVERY TIME he was in a pot and first to act after the flop). He gets one caller and then pushes on the rag turn. Other guy folds and he SHOWS his 33. Oh, I know I'm gonna like this guy. That instinct is verified when he calls an all-in (for 2K!) with As2s. He's up against KK, but he spikes the ace on the river and begins to apologize profusely. KK can't help getting in some parting shots when Our Hero explains his play thusly (more or less),

"You have to give out some bad beats to win these tournaments. It's the nature of online poker. I knew I was taking a risk, but you have to play that way if you want to win."

A quick check of the pokerdb shows no MTT cashes for our sage and I can't imagine why.

Now he's got a nice stack about the same size as mine and he's raising pre-flop 3 of every 5 hands when he can get into the pot first. Once I get QQ and re-raise him, which he calls. My queens are an over-pair to the flop and he check-folds to my bet. I fleece him for another 800 chips in the same manner a while later with TT and he drops another 1500 to another player with QQ (which is what happens when you call pre-flop raises with T7o). So now he's down to 1500 chips (bipolar) and I'm sad. I perk up when he goes on a huge rush, lucking into a chop aganst AA when a straight hits the board, flopping a boat with 66 and busting someone and raising 4 of every 5 hands to get the escalating blinds and antes. He's up in the 10K range now as I, card-dead, fall to about half that. But I know, you know and the American people know that all I need is one. I get it at Level 7.

I get Rockets in the SB. It's wonderfully folded to our friend on the button who...get this...raises! I simply call and the BB drops. I'm not sure I need any help to get paid off here, but the point becomes totally moot when the flop comes AA7 with two hearts. I immediately begin touching myself inappropriately, pausing just long enough to check-call his 600 bet. A jack (not of hearts) hits the turn and I check again. He bets 2200. I love this guy. I'd like to keep him as a pet. Since I have but 3600 left, I go ahead and push there. Miraculously, he folds.

An orbit later, I have ATo in the BB and he open-raises, you know, just to change things up. Flop comes KQx, all diamonds. Min. bet and I call, my ten being of the diamond variety. Another diamond on the turn and he ups his bet. I call. Another diamond on the river and HE UPS HIS BET. I call. He shows...uh...32 of spades. And his once mighty stack is down to 1200. I darn near got it all (and, honestly, I probably coulda if I was a little less passive in that last hand or pulled a stop and go on the turn/river with AA).

So, to sum up, horrible player luckboxes into twice building a big stack, both times gives it to me.

We were down to 3 tables by the second break and I folded/stole into the money before AK boned me for the second night in a row. I deserve partial blame, coulda made a feeler bet and been able to fold with 6K or so remaining. Not healthy, but still breathing. Live and learn.


When you're in shuffle mode and the perfect song comes on at the perfect time, can we call that "serendiPody?"

Thank you. I'll be here all week. If Rich Hall were dead, he'd be turning in his grave.


Mr. Rini, in his continuing role as Kick-Ass provider of Vegas Fun and Frolic, has organized a trio of satellites on Full Tilt (fastest growing online poker room) for the equally kick-assed named, Six Gun Shootout in the Desert (how come we can't find a suitable nickname for the LA Home Game?) for WPBT attendees. Head over to his neck of the woods for all the details.


Despite roughly 5 hours of poker the last couple nights, I have managed to squeeze out better thatn 3,000 words in my NaNoWriMo quest, slightly below the pace I'll need to set. That's okay, beginning is always the hardest part for me and I'm trying to set up later conflicts without being too overt, which has caused me to pore over the words and phrases a little too closely. Hopefully, some flow is around a nearby corner.

I know Human Head, Bobby Bracelet and Otis are tilting at similar windmills. We might even be "writing buddies," which is just about the coolest thing one can be. Anyone else out there?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Conversations That Put Me on Tilt

Master bathroom, 6 a.m.

Dear and Patient Wife: I had a dream about Denise Richards last night.
Me: Yeah?
Dear and Patient Wife: We were totally getting it on, making out, going down on each other...
Me: (gurgles unintelligibly)
Dear and Patient Wife: It was hot. And you were watching.
Me: I think I'd better get back in the shower.
Dear and Patient Wife: But when you wanted to join in, she said no.
Me: What!?
Dear and Patient Wife: Yeah, she didn't want you. Said you were unclean.
Me: (kills self)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Spur of the Moment

I didn't plan on it, but this turned into a live tourney blog. I wasn't drinking, though, so it's not stupidfunny. Enjoy.

We have a pandemic, people. Prepare the vaccines. Stockpile the penicillin. Yes, of course, I'm talking about slow-playing big pocket pairs.

After last night's limping Jacks fiasco, I have seen limping Kings (in a 5-way pot) and Aces simply call a min. raise (at Level 2) pre-flop, in a 4-way pot. In the former, in which I was not involved, all the money went in on a KTx flop with two spades, but no thanks to the flopped set. He simply called a half-pot bet and saw a push behind, some jackass with 8s6s. The other guy called, too, with Ts2s. The Set dodged the remaining spades to triple up.

I WAS involved in the AA hand, calling the small raise with 66 from the BB. The flop was a ragged 8-high with two spades and I fired at it. Only AA called. The turn was another non-spade rag and I bet the pot, more than half my stack. He raised and I had to call. I spiked a 6. Then the fun began.

Dummy: I hope you rot in hell, you @$%^$%&&%
Me: keep slow-playing, @#$%head
Dummy: I've lost with aces six times tonight
Observer: maybe you should fold 'em
Me: or bet 'em
Observer: there's that

Of course, that was the only highlight of early the poker play. The flop avoided me like the plague in a 180-person tourney, despite having some excellent starting hands. When I had Jacks (twice) and 9s, the flop came all overcards and I had to drop. When I got AK (once) and AJ (once), I missed. Went out after pushing with tens at Level 4 and losing to AQ.

Fortunately, I was playing the $20 MTT at the same time, where I hit my Antichrist. I was up to 2800 at Level Two and got QQ twice inside of 12 hands. Got short stacks in both times. One had AA. One had KK.

Good shit.

Of course, I just snapped off KK with A8o, so things even out. Sorta. Back up to 2700.

I almost forgot. That other day when I lost with AA v. KK on the bubble, I also had KK once and ran into AA. He slow-played 'em, or I woulda gone broke. I raised in the CO and he called from the SB, as did the BB. Flop came AQx and they both checked. I smelled a rat and checked behind. The Q on the turn really put me on the defensive and when the SB bet a grand (into a 4800 pot), I dropped. The BB called, but folded to the pot bet on the River. SB showed. I typed in "nice play," because all the money goes in if he re-raises pre-flop. Much appreciated.

Wow. I just got QQ again and re-raised the open-raiser. He popped me back and I folded. He showed KK. Clutch.

Holy fuck. Very next hand it all goes in pre-flop and it's QQ v. AA.


It is suggested to the last guy who had QQ that it's no good at this table and he's shocked by the suggestion that he would lay down QQ pre-flop to an all-in. Uh, I just did. He then goes on to say the all-in guy might have had JJ, arousing a chuckle and the quote of the evening,

"I'd bet my car on Jacks, but not my house."

Well played, sir. Well played.

K6 in the BB is gold. I flop trips, check-raise a limper who calls. I bet 3/4 pot on the turn 8 and he pushes. I have a momentary pause, case king with better kicker? a tiny set? Visions of last night swimming in my head. I cast them aside. Punk thinks I'm playing at him and he's playing back. Yep. Pocket ducks. I win.

To sum up: T4265 at the break. 73 of 265 left. QQ no good.

The Big Blind been beddy, beddy good to me. Flop trip 9s this time, though I only get an extra 300 out of the SB, the only other player in the hand.

I have some very solid players at my table, but a couple of them are easily readable. Just took a pot from one because he advertised weakness. He min. raised and I called in position with 77. Flop of 998 and I smooth-called his 300 bet (same as the min. raise), looking to make a pressure bet on the turn if the card was ragged. Turn Jack. Not great, but he checked. My 3/4 pot bet took it down.

One of those players is not so readable. It's gank, Brett Jungblut. I'm getting a contact high from his avatar.

Big Blind again: AQo. Folded to short stack who pushes (for the third consecutive orbit). His A9o (probably the best hand he's had the entire time) is no g00t. T6610


QQ wins a pot. SB raises 3x and BB calls. Flop is J86 and SB bets the pot, BB calls. Turn Ace and SB bets 2/3rd pot. BB says, "damn JT. shoulda raised the flop" and folds. SB shows his QQ. Damn ace killed his action. And, uh, nice read BB.

That BB is the Big Stack at the table and he's not so hot. He HAS pulled himself to over 15K from a short stack (he was the QQ guy who thought AA might have Jacks), but he's done it by playing marginal hands and flopping big. He just knocked out a much better player in a kicker battle. Two Kings on the board and K9 beat K8, the latter being in the big blind.

We pause in this tourney report to nominate me for Parent of the Year. AJ is an extremely picky eater and getting him to finish his dinner is often a massive chore. Tonight was even worse thanks to the mounds of candy and Halloween cookies in the house. At one point, the dear and patient wife and I were finished and just hanging out at the table tryin' to cajole him into some Hamburger Helper. He flopped on the floor in Full Tantrum Mode, screaming, "I want a cookie." We let him go, as we are wont to do, when inspiration struck. I, too, flopped on the floor, screaming, "I want AJ to eat his dinner," mimicking his fist-pounding and kicking. The Mrs. broke up and, after a time, so did AJ, perhaps making the connection that such antics are ridiculous. He finished his food.

Yes, I'd been doing a lot of folding during that tale. Can't beat anyone into the pot, nothing to defend. Not a problem.

I get a chance to open in MP with QJs. Only the BB calls. Flop is 882 with two clubs (not my suit) and he checks. I make the standard Harrington continuation bet of 1200 and he calls. Ugh. Turn is a lovely queen and he checks again. I like my spot. I bet half the pot. And he pushes. Easy call to my mind, he's not shown any ability to conceal a big hand (like an 8 or overpair) and so it is. Uh...42o.

Dear people, keep check-calling when you catch a piece of a ragged flop. Let me hang around and catch my card. Queen river is the final nail and I double up.

The little stacks are gettin' antsy. Lost three of them in the last 3 hands. I didn't get any of 'em. As a result, we've got quite a few healthy stacks at this table. Five of eight over 12K. I'm fourth of those five.

Got caught in a semi-steal with JTo in the CO. Turned Broadway, but with three diamonds (I did have the Royal/Nut Flush draw with the Jd), but couldn't bet out QJ and ended up with a chop. Not sure how that affects my chances for steals.

To sum up: T12307. 28 of 83 remaining. 63 paid.

Probably gonna lay low until the money, blinds/antes at 300/600/50 so my Harrington Factor is fine. Hopefully in the cash within two levels and I can get a steal or two in as it tightens up.

Or I'll just take a walk in the BB with my suited Jackhammer. A very short-stack to my right who has yet to raise me when on the button or CO. Trying to fold to the money or so tight her ass squeaks. The player to HER right is a Big Stack who is also extremely tight. Came to the table an hour ago with 24K and has 28K now. He's played like 3 hands, all with pre-flop raises. I will be avoiding him.

Called a raise with AKo in the BB and whiffed. Both players in the hand flopped sets. Ugly. Glad there was no A or K on that flop. Down to T9857.

Guy played great poker for nearly two and a half hours and got busted with a flopped set in 67th, four from the money. Painful.

Got the blinds and antes with A3s from the CO. We are hand for hand.

In the money. That's what avoiding gank for 75 minutes will do for a guy.

Another walk in my BB. I love this girl, in a purely platonic poker way. I've had hardly anything to play. Folded 77 to a UTG raise from a short stack. If I didn't have five players to act behind me, I'd have probably played. No consolation that they all folded.

People are willing to gamble at this point. One hand and I could very well double up, though I still have enough chips to force a tough decision from big stacks.

The SB finally bets me off my BB. It was, uh, 62o. Good for her. Flopped two pair in the SB right after, so it's a blind push again.

Big Slick of Spades wins the race against a short-stack pair of deuces. Made me sweat it though. I flopped two spades to take the lead, but the third didn't fall until the River.

T16400. Harrington Factor of 10. I'm willing to gamble now that we're in the cash, try to build a stack to get me deep.


Famous last words. AKo in the BB. Button, tight big stack, raises 4x, which is bigger than his previous raises. I sense I've got a race and I decide to take the all-in shot, maybe even getting him to fold 66 or so. I'm right, though he doesn't drop his pocket 9s. Flop gives me a gutshot and backdoor flush draw. Turn gives me the flush draw and 17 bloody outs. None of 'em fall. Out in 51st.

Yet, I am at peace.

One Time Only!


One of the things I decided to do when I began this blog was to stay away from politics completely. It's not because I'm ashamed of my views or ill-informed. It's really quite the opposite. However, political discussions are highly personal, highly sensitive and necessitate a certain respect and delicacy. Real communication is highly physical and one often divines incorrect meaning from words on a page. The voice inflection isn't there, the body language, obvious sarcasm to one person might be a blatant challenge to another. No, my little corner of the Intarweb is no place for politics (unlike....say the Excalibur Poker Room at 4 a.m.).

But today, I make an exception.

I'm not here to judge Sam Alito's credentials or his leanings, but I wonder why it is that the dissenting opinion which is being held up by NOW and the Left is anti-abortion. Do you people really think a husband has no right to know his wife is planning to terminate a pregnancy? They couch it in terms like, "a woman doesn't give up her singular rights just because she's married," but I wonder, exactly, where the "singular" rights of the father/husband come in? Oh, I forgot, fathers don't have any rights. See most every child custody hearing since caveman times for evidence. We do, however, get to pay spousal and child support.

Planned Parenthood had the audacity to say Alito's opinion showed that he has "callous disregard for battered women." Of course. Right on. If I find out my wife is pregnant and that she wants an abortion, my reaction would not be to sit down and talk it over like the family we are, but rather to immediately grab a frying pan and start going Popeye on her face. It would be MUCH better if she did it on the sly. That would be quite a boost to our union. Thank you so much Planned Parenthood for your important work.

Oh, and nevermind that in two other cases, Alito sided with the majority in striking down state efforts to limit abortion.

I once dated a self-styled "feminist." For quite a while actually and she was always spouting ridiculous propaganda like this, all of which are based on the underlying notion that men fucking suck in all ways it is possible to suck. US Out of My Uterus! Break the Glass Ceiling! Equal Pay for Equal Work! Whatever. I'm not against any of that. But I am against the terms in which those arguments are couched, that I Am The Oppressor, branded guilty for all the ills of the world just because I'm with the penis-owning half of the population. Oh, and funny thing about that chick, she never once paid for dinner.

So ladies of Planned Parenthood, if you think it's cool to get knocked up and terminate without your husband's consultation, nice fucking marriage you've got there. Excellent. Take your IUD next time you pick up a hillbilly at the road side bar and maybe we can avoid these messy situations.

And I won't have to blog politics anymore.

Fight Club

My recipe for a personal meltdown:

Take one 4-year-old
Add six pounds of candy
A pinch of ultra-permissive Grandma
and Two Responsible Parents who would like everyone to enjoy a nice pasta-flavored dinner before we start mainlining sugar.

What you get is a Tantrum For The Ages, the likes of which my world has never seen, all over a chocolate Tootsie Pop, which is easily the worst flavor and not by a little bit.

Ah well, nothing a good beatin' didn't fix.

AJ went as Darth Vader, which is a little disappointing. I wanted to buy him a mullet wig and send him out as Joe Dirt, because it's much funnier to me and it IS all about me. Actually, he wanted to be Nigel and I thought that was a cool costume. Who's Nigel, you ask? Nigel is the dashing hero/narrator of the BBC's "Walking with Dinosaurs" (quick aside, I had a table captain in my $20 two-table SnG last night with BBC in his name and like most All Knowing Table Captains he had no idea what he was talking about, but he also went so far as to challenge another player to "check his results in" well, a bold bluff sir, since he was not listed at all; no, I didn't cash. I did enjoy being sucked out on a 3-outer).

ANYWAY, AJ watches that DVD regularly enough that he has memorized much of the dialogue. Did I mention it's 6-hours long? But yeah, Nigel was a cool costume, kinda like an Indiana Jones character. But you get a kid into the costume store and all they see is mind-bending marketing and bright colors at child's eye level and all of a sudden he's Darth Vader with a cheap mask and a cheaper cape. Boring.

The best treat he got--and I mean "best" as in worst--was a mini bag of popcorn with political advertising on it. Are you kidding me? Why don't you dickwads just go trick or treating yourself as a campaign sign? Maybe invite my kid in for a little socialist indoctrination? If I ever find out who did this, they will be advertising the outline of my fist on their cheek.

Oh, I'm all worked up. Sexy, idn't it?

I should probably mention I can't fight. I've been in a couple and they usually ended up with me being saved by people who liked me. I once got jumped at a backyard party. There was some live music--punkish--and the whole joint just had a bad vibe about it, a fact that was totally confirmed when I impetuously--though correctly--called a guy a "fuckin' idiot." He seemed to accept this keen insight, until a few seconds later when he landed a chickenshit haymaker to the back of my skull. What happened next is something you really only see in your better prison movies. A bunch of people just jumped on me and began to pound the shit out of me. Just random people. Hey! That guy's vulnerable, let's kill him. Blows were raining down on me from every direction. I was bent at the waist, hands covering my head as best I could and my only thought was "stay on your feet." I managed to do that long enough for my friends to notice it was I at the center of this Evil Storm. I heard Kool Breeze recognize my plight. Sweetest sound I ever heard. They literally began pulling people off me and hustled me into the alley. My face hurt for quite a while.

The first fight I was ever in was in 8th grade. A classmate had gotten on my nerves one too many times and I challenged him to a duel. After school. At the Softball Field. Typical school boy crap. I'd never been taught how to fight and it also never occurred to me, though it seems obvious, that I shouldn't try my hand with a guy who out-weighed me by 40 pounds, but that's what I did. He quickly got me in a submissive position as the crowd inevitably swelled. He popped me once in the nose while he had me in a headlock. Just once. Certainly he had plenty of time to jackhammer a few more in there, but he was benevolent. Me? I was wounded, mostly my pride, and with the gathering masses, felt I had to exert some sort of machismo to save face, leading to the classic line,

"If you let me up Steinhauer, I'm gonna kick your ass!"


Funny thing is, I ran into Mr. Steinhauer at the reunion. I figured he was coming based on the RSVP list and I had no qualms about seeing him. In fact, I told the dear and patient wife all about the episode and that I planned to thank him for teaching me a good lesson early on in life: That I should not fight.

So I see him at the reunion, heartily shake his hand and introduce him to the Mrs. mentioning our 8th grade showdown. I move away to buy some drinks and he ends up telling her that I WON the fight, unaware she knew the truth. A simple gesture, even a silly one, but it was pretty cool. He was one of the consistently gregarious and entertaining people at the reunion, where I did get some satisfaction out of small things, like that.

Okay one more and then no more walks down past violent lanes. Another guy at the reunion, Swaff, was something of a bully. He had an off-and-on role as my tormenter, but I still always liked him. In fact, would give him a ride to school if I passed him on the way. Mostly, it was just teasing, but it occasionally got physical, not with punches, but, for example, rolling me up in a wrestling mat at PE and then jumping on top of me. The only time I ever recall him really hurting me was once when he cracked me in the small of the back with a book or a binder or something.

ANYWAY, Swaff was at the reunion and I introduced him to the wife thusly, "This is Swaff, he used to beat me up a lot." I said it jokingly, with a smile on my face and he got a kick out of it, cackling deep in his throat and replying, "Well, I think we've all grown past that now."

It was REALLY funny.


I coulda wrote about poker today, but it woulda been short. Played the aforementioned SnG where I finished 8th after getting screwed on two of my bigger hands. Also played the $6K Guaranteed on Full Tilt...for 15 minutes. In the BB, I caught wired sevens. UTG had limped along with a VERY loose lemur in the CO and SB completed. Flop came AJ7 with two hearts. Lovely. I bet half the pot (80), not making a big display of my wonderful little set. UTG pops it to 400 and loose lemur calls.


Well, let's run this down. Loose lemur I immediately put on the heart draw. Next? UTG...limped with Aces? No. Limped with JJ? I can't imagine. AJ? Sure, I could see that. I could even see AK, because I HAVE seen it a lot lately. I've got the third nuts. What am I afraid of? UTG clearly has AJ! With nearly 1200 in the pot already and my stack at 1500, I push, getting heart draw to commit all his chips if he wants to draw. Both call.

UTG has JJ and dodges the heart draw (which wasn't even the nut heart draw as I'm sure you expected).

Thanks, everybody! That was fun! I've been trying to figure where I went wrong. If I could have gotten away from this hand. UTG certainly showed strength with his flop bet. Even if I just call, I'm going broke. I didn't think I needed to improve to win. I just made my read and played based on it. I was wrong. I could have given him more credit, but it's hard to see set over set, especially considering the unlikelihood of EP limping with JJ.

I dunno. Am I wrong?

And Away They Go

Teams ready?!


I'm sitting low on the porch, below the freshly painted railing. May has dawned with the heat of deepest August and between the bars I can see the waves shimmering off the new asphalt. The sky is an unreasonable blue, devoid of the usual dusty smog. The desert air is still, resting against the craggy hills that rise behind the tract to form the valley. I've got a rental truck full of possessions, my life encased in vibrant yellow, but I leave them for now. I need to relax. It's a stressful trip to the desert, especially behind the wheel of a lumbering, $70-a-day vehicle. I'm savoring the journey, my hair matted by sweat, my shirt discarded and an ice-cold Bud Light to my lips.

I've lived a lot of lives in a lot of different places. Moving has always seemed like re-birth. Whether running toward something and sprinting away from another, there's always been a siren's song in a whitewashed room, a shampooed carpet. I've got a system by now, ritualistic packing and unpacking honed by years of my own travels, as well as the assistance of others. It's transitory this life, sense of place and well-being always changing. I always find promise in creating a new home. Even my old furniture springs into bloom in a different setting.

My buddies are on their way to help, which makes sense. We've moved each other, lent a hand to mutual acquaintances and even lived together. I guess this is kind of the end of a cycle, this suburban outpost no longer within the confines of Los Angeles County, where we've all lived for better than a decade, in a few dozen different places, of course. That's one of the things about LA. You can move 10 miles and feel like you're in a different world. The hugeness of the area lends itself to finding little pockets of existence, in a nearby restaurant, a neighborhood pub. Nobody could investigate it all. But a simple change of address opens up a whole new pocket.

I've moved much more than 10 miles, however. This is tract home living, the American Dream. I won't find a 24-hour taco stand out here, not among the chain stores and tile roofs. Then again, at 36 years old, I'm less inclined to go prowling for a carne asada burrito at 4 a.m.

The house itself is too big, too impossibly clean to believe. I almost don't want to step foot inside. That first nick in the drywall will wound like a sharp jab. She's a virgin this house and demands a soft touch. I need to have a talk with the boys, with their elbows and the angles of the furniture and the narrow staircase. I want this to last, this perfect space. Maybe I'd better stop at just one beer.


I'll give you the rest in a month. Who knows, that might be it. But at least I got an early start.