I'm crazy. Hear that, pops? I'm a damned loon. Watch these cards I'm about to play. I'm wacked. My noodle is cramped. I'm a three year-old with a temper and a handful of reds. I'm a smart player's worst nightmare. I'll river you before the flop hits the felt.
Fish, you say?
How could a fish carry all these chips, sir?
See, I'm crazy. Crazy like a fish. A clown fish, see. Now scoot your fish-eating butt over and deal the cards.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I've developed a problem that's been profitable in the short term. In the long run, if I had entered and won Jeremy's Poker Tracker give-away, I'm sure I'd see the expectation turn way negative.
I play the first and last hand of every session, at least to the turn.
Why? Well, of course, because I'm a damned idiot. Two-six off? Cap it, I say.
Actually, it began when I started to realize I was playing with many of the same players I saw every night. After a few weeks, they had good notes on me, and people had stopped paying me off. I hate not getting paid off.
My bank-roll that I built to $939 from $20 was stagnant.
One night a week and a half ago I posted my first hand on the button. Three-eight spades. It was raised twice before it got to me. I called the raises, flopped a flush draw, made it on the turn, and capped the river bets for a big ol' pot against high pairs.
I'm crazy, see.
The calls of a "river rat" scrolled across the chat bar. I checked all my notes to see who they were talking about before realizing they were talking about me.
Indeed, players, I'm a river rat.
This is no new strategy. The big guys change gears and play ultra-loose all the time. It's not me, though. I like my bets and raises to be respected. Still, I like to get paid off.
I'm such a "cake and eat it, too" chump.
Eventually, my opponents realized that their notes were right about me. I play premium hands aggressively. When in doubt, on a draw, etc....fold.
Which is why I started finishing every session with the same play. I drew four cards to a 2-6o to make a gutshot straight on the river with my 6. 'Night, folks. See you tomorrow.
While this has been a little fun, it's also been a little embarassing. And frankly, my bankroll is still stagnant. I'm still in the low $900s since my last report.
I fear I'm afflicted with the boredom of discipline. I fear I'm on the cusp of disaster. I'm in no position to move up to a $5-$10 game, but that's what my inner child wants. Baby wants big pots, baby.
Until then, I'll be the disciplined player, bookended with craziness on the first and last hands.<-- Hide More
My bankroll at Ultimate Bet is $0.00. Over at Empire Poker, it's $0.00. At little-used U Play Poker it's $0.28 (I'm not sure how to blow the rest of that).
Don't worry. I didn't go on the craziest tilt of my life. I actually made a withdraw of as much as I could before my move. The rest I squandered at the Omaha tables (fun game, wish I knew how to play it).
I'm going to start over...More in this Poker Blog! -->
First, I'll have to decide where to play.
I personally love the set-up of Ultimate Bet. It has the best SNG and tournament formats. You can play up to 4 tables at once, and the mini-view option makes it easy to follow.
From what others say, Empire/Party is the place to go to make money. Of course, I've made money at Ultimate (in the end, it was about $1250 in less than a year), but it's not like I'm raking in the big bucks.
That brings me to True Poker. Otis is already raking in the big bucks there, but he's a good limit player. Limit is not my forte. I'll certainly have to check out that site, but limit is just a change of pace game for me.
I'll have to open an account at Planet Poker, just so I can participate in the Sunday night blogger tourneys. Can't wait for that! Unfortunately this all has to wait until I get myself a new home computer. That might be a few weeks away.
The most appealing choice at this point is to try my hand at some old fashioned flesh and bone, brick and mortar poker. Down here in Cajun Country, I'm surrounded by live poker rooms. And the slow pace, and single-table necessity of real poker may help my limit game develop.
More than anything, I need to play again!!!! This time off is killing me, and I'm pretty sure my game has suffered because of it. That means giving money away before I start making it back. See ya at the tables!<-- Hide More
"You see that guy over there?"
"Sure. Couldn't miss him. His face is all flushed and he keeps looking at his reflection in the bar mirror. He's been acting like somebody gave him a big check and offered him oral pleasure."
"That's Otis, dude."
"No way. The way I hear it, every time Otis starts to look like that, something bad happens."
"They call it the Otis Choke."
"Yeah, man. The Otis Choke. That's some scary stuff."More in this Poker Blog! -->
In short, friends, the Otis Choke is the stuff of legend. It's like watching a fawn tread on a hockey rink. It's sort of pretty, sort of silly, and bound to end in ass-crunching disaster.
My lengendary status as a last-minute Choker didn't begin in poker. It reaches back to my childhood, to high-stakes games of House Rules Monopoly, to games of Buffalo Ball in the driveway, to weekend-long Frolf tournaments.
No matter how well I perform, no matter how large my man-parts seem, no matter how strong an opponent I am besting, in the end something painful and heart-wrenching will happen. Something no one expects. I trip and break my nose. My big toes fall off in unison. I get distracted by a passing turtle and cold call a capped bet with 3-6 off.
Keeping all of that in mind, I tempted the Otis Choke Steering Committee with my last post here at Up For Poker. In it I described the sea of fish at True Poker and my recent streak, in which I turned a $20+$2 buy-in tourney into a $196 win, then parlayed that win into $400 playing only $1/$2 limit hold'em.
Simply stating that should've been enough to melt my computer hard drive and get three speeding tickets. I should've been rebuying within 48 hours. And then something odd happened.
I kept winning. And kept winning.
I kept grinding at $1/$2 and built the bankroll to $500. I had no intention of moving up to $2/$4 until I hit $600. That would've been a safe 150 big bets. But yesterday morning my wife got called into work at around 5:30am. I couldn't go back to sleep and hopped on TP. Nobody was playing $1/$2. Nobody.
The Shoulder Devil couldn't sleep either. He'd been up all night snorting coke with Keith Richards. He sat on my shoulder, tapping his fingers on my noggin, and whispering "do-it-do-it-do-it-do-it...where's keith, keith stole my dope, do-it-do-it-do-it."
So, I sat down.
Now, it's not like $2/$4 is some vast wasteland of pirates and sharks. I know that. It's low-rolling just like $1/$2. But simply going up in limits before I intended to was enough to get the Otis Choke Train (by Hasbro) rolling.
Then a funny thing happened. I kept winning.
Between yesterday morning and right now (Sunday at 6pm), I've been winning.
A quick check of my bankroll shows that I have turned my initial $22 buy-in into $939...plus my $2 big blind.
There are three possible explanations for this:
1) The True Poker $2/$4 Fish are swimming in the same water as the $1/$2 fish.
2) The Otis Choke Steering Committee was still sleeping when I jumped limits yesterday and now figures to wait until I prematurely jump to $3/$6 before ruining my life.
3) While inebriated Friday night, I accidentally sold my soul to the Shoulder Devil (I was wondering where he got the booty to buy the blow).
There is also the possiblity that I'm playing a little bit better poker. Since True Poker only allows me to play one table at a time, I'm getting better reads on individual players. There are also fewer players at True, so I'm playing against the same people a lot more than I did at UB. That also allows for better reads. I'm also developing a reputation for strong play and I've found the tight players who will fold to a well-timed raise. Lastly, most people low-rolling at True are doing it with pathetic bankrolls. The $2/$4 table I'm on right now has players with bankrolls of $34, $10, and $60. That's not many big bets and it looks to me like they are playing poker like you might play blackjack at the end of a long night. All of it on two hands and hope.
I'd allow this post to continue, but I hear the Shoulder Devil on the phone. He just called the Otis Choke Steering Committee and suggested they meet for dinner.
Read: The next post from me should be titled "Here's How I Blew It."<-- Hide More
I just got back from yet another weekend in Vegas with the buddies. Seventy-two vodka and sodas, 43 hours of poker, 12 hours of table games, 3 comped hotel rooms, 3 buttermilk chicken wraps, and 1 tournament final table later, I'm back and survived to tell the tale.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I got into Vegas Thursday night around 9pm, on the recently re-added nonstop on America West. Finally America West seems to be once again taking competition with Southwest seriously for the Austin-Vegas route, so prices have become more reasonable lately.
I went out to meet several of my college and gambling buddies for one of our several-times-yearly weekends of gambling, drinking, check-raising and general carousing.
After getting in, I headed over to the MGM Grand to check in to my room and got situated. I dropped off my bags, and changed into my first poker outfit of the weekend â€“ my "You have no outs" t-shirt and my ridiculous green poker visor.
I was hoping the Las Vegas tram would be open, but the system is still in testing and now not scheduled to open until April 1, so I cab over to the Bellagio and meet up with the three of my buddies who are the early arrivers for the trip. We go put our names on the poker list, two of us for 15/30 and the other two low-roll it up on 4/8. Play some pai gow poker while we wait and end up $101.50. HOT.
I sat down at an absolutely awesome 15/30 game in the Bellagio poker room. Two things have happened since the last time I was in Vegas: I've gotten better, and the 15/30 players have gotten worse.
The table was a loose, gambling table where most flops were seen 4-way or more and any two cards were good at the showdown. I started up the trash talk by directing players to the 1-5 seven card stud tables after they lost showdowns, which served to liven up the table even more. Fellow check-raiser and world-class stud player "JZ" was at the table with me, and the banter was lively.
I played a pretty good number of hands and was winning handily after a couple hours. Here's an example of the types of hand action that we were seeing at the table:
I'm sitting on the button with JJ. Action goes call, raise, fold, fold, call, fold, fold, I call, SB calls, BB folds, UTG calls. Flop comes A48. SB bets, UTG raises, raiser calls, next player mucks, I muck, SB calls. Turn and river come 8 and K, both rounds go bet-raise-call-call, and UTG and SB end up splitting the pot with A6o and AQo! No idea what the third player was in with.
My one memorable loss from the evening was in a 6-way flop that came Q55 and was checked to me on the button holding 33. I put out a bet and was smooth-called by JZ holding Q5o... after demonstrating his abilities as a passive preflop calling station and ultra-aggressive post-flop any-two-worth-a-three-bet play, he was due for one payoff from me, and he got it there.
At the table we ran into an old friend we used to work with and play cards with in Austin, who apparently has been honing his play because he was significantly better than he used to be. By about 5am myself and him were the big stacks on the table with $1350 and $1100 in front of ourselves, respectively. Around then, 2 of the table loose-maniacs busted out, and were replaced by 2 well-rested, showered, rock-looking players. Probably should have been a warning sign, but I kept playing - and guzzling down vodka sodas - right down to about 7:30, by which we were 4-handed. I had been treading water, but got involved in two rough heads up pots which I got thoroughly beat on for about $150 each. I decided to call it a night/morning, and ended the session +$414.
Friday morning we woke around 11am and hit the Bellagio. I felt like complete, hungover, unrested, ass, not a good omen for the tournament at 5pm. But into Noodles, and one dim sum lunch and thirteen glasses of water later, I was feeling top of the world. After lunch I went to the poker room to register for the tournament, but to my dismay the tournament was already sold out and they were onto the alternates. I wouldn't normally take an alternate position â€“ I think they're terrible value compared to sitting in the beginning of the tournament â€“ but the Bellagio tournament was the big tournament that weekend so I took 15th alternate position and signed up for some 15/30 to warm up.
While we waited for our seats at 15/30, we settled into some pass-the-time $50 blackjack in the double deck pit outside the poker room. First, a small diatribe about continuous shuffle blackjack â€“ I avoid it wherever possible. Why? Have you ever noticed that continuous shuffle machines have a small optical sensor on the card dispenser, right at the correct position to read the index of the card being dispensed? Can you think of a good reason to have that there, other than the machine keeping track of which cards it's dispensed â€“ and therefore which are about to come back into it and be reshuffled into the machine? Neither can I. It freaks me out. If the purpose is just to count the cards being dispensed, they could easily do that without an optical sensor at exactly the position of the card index.
Anyway 30 minutes of blackjack later and I was up $165 and ready for my seat. JZ convinced me to finish the last few hands of the shoe. I reluctantly agreed. I had streak-bet up to $100 a hand, and the next hand got blackjack - $150, followed by $150 11 vs 7 double win, followed by $250 20 vs 17 win and the end of the shoe, a $700 wait that was well worth it!
My seat was ready and I settled into another nice, loose 15/30 game. I took notes on two hands during this brief session before the tournament.
I get dealt AA in middle position, raise into an uncalled pot, player to my left re-raises, called by both blinds, I call. Some players would criticize not three-betting in this position for value, but the way I had been playing in that session, three-betting would have cried AA and I think the marginal value of post-flop action outpaces the pre-flop value of a raise, which was certainly not going to knock any of the three players out. Flop comes 345 with two spades. Check to me, I bet, re-raiser calls, SB folds, BB raises, we both call. Next card comes off the 9 of spades. Check to me, I bet, my left raises, BB calls, and I muck my hand. I don't have a spade and am sure one of the two players had a spade draw on the flop. The last card comes off the J of spades, the BB check-raises and the player to my left flat-calls with the A of spades while the BB shows 25 with the 2 of spades!! I nearly puked when I realized how terrible my fold on the turn was â€“ I hadn't been playing for long enough to realize how truly terrible the two players were. I mean the player to my left flat-called with the nuts, after being check-raised by the lowest possible flush! I was relieved that the last card came off a spade, because if I had seen a showdown where ace-high got beat by two 5's I would have been on pure aggression tilt for the rest of the day.
Next hand from this session: I got KJo in the BB. The terrible player friend to my left raises and gets five callers. I call and we have 7 to the flop. Flop is 459 rainbow. I check, player to my left bets, and everybody calls around to me. I figure, OK, worth a loose jerk, throw in three reds and the next card comes a J. I check, and the action is checked around. River is another 5, but I get the sense there's not one player with any pair other than maybe a baby pocket pair. I bet and everyone folds to the button, who raises. I think, guess I was wrong, and call him down. He flips over 72o â€“ the hammer â€“ for a stone cold bluff and I take down a pretty nice pot with top pair!
I ended the short session before I got called for the tournament up a few bets, but feeling relaxed and ready to bring my game. I was the 15th alternate and got called about 40 minutes. The crazy thing is there were 57 alternates signed up -- who would take being the 57th alternate?! By that point you begin the tournament with a stack that's about 60% of the average chip stack, it just makes no sense. Even taking 15th was hard for me to swallow.
I love the structure of the tournament â€“ 40 minute levels, reasonable starts and increases in blinds, plus a nice overlay from all the alternates coming in short-stacked. I found the players to be decent but not nearly the caliber of WSOP play.
On my first table I was seated to the right of a very tight-weak player, who let me milk his blinds at just about every opportunity. I had no really playable hands for the first three levels (2 hours), so ended up just blind stealing with absolute garbage. By the end of three levels we were down to 100 players from 157, meaning all the alternates were in the tournament. I had worked my way up to $2550 in chips entirely from stealing blinds, and had been at a low of $1350.
After the break I saw this hand. Blinds were 100-200, UTG raised to 600, button re-raised to 1200. I was in the SB and looked down at AKo. I think one of the biggest holes in my game that I've patched up is playing AKo in positions like this where I'm already looking at significant represented strength. My new NLH tournament self made an easy fold, UTG called for a heads up flop. I kicked myself when the flop came K96 rainbow, until UTG went all-in and was called, flipping up pocket 9's against the button's pocket 6's!
My poor run of cards continued, but my good run of successful blind stealing did too and by the time we made it to 200-400 levels I had worked my way up to $3700 in chips when I got into this hand. It's folded around to one off the button, a chronic blind-stealer, who makes it $1500 to go. I'm in the SB and see JJ and move all-in. He calls me and flips up AQo. The dealer deals the flop and as he flips the cards in the air I see the top card of the flop is a sweet J! Unfortunately, when he spreads them, I see that the other cards are T9 giving my opponent an open ended straight draw. Luckily the turn and river come A5 and I double through.
A little later, my table breaks and I get re-seated to the left of the first poker personality I recognize in the tournament, Tomer Benvisitsi. I was somewhat surprised that I didn't recognize more players in the tournament, but I guess it doesn't draw them week-in and week-out. Tomer busted out as soon as I sat next to him so I didn't get a chance to play with him. Next time Tomer. By this point we were down to 58 players and I was still sitting on about $7k, feeling OK about my chip position but better about my play, which despite having almost no good hands had managed to build a respectable stack.
My table broke very quickly after I sat down at it, players were dropping like flies. I got reseated in the corner. We were down to 41 players when I got my this hand. I was dealt KK under the gun. Blinds were still at 200-400, and I still had about $7k. I made it 1200 to go, and was smooth-called by the player to my left, who I hadn't seen much of. His stack was slightly smaller than mine. The flop came A94 rainbow. I bet out 2000. He thought for a bit and just called me. The turn came a T. At this point I thought he either had something like AT and I was dead in the water, or he had made middle pair on the flop and figured me for something like pocket 8's. I also realized I had overcommitted myself on the flop and really should have gone all-in if I was going to make that bet, so I compounded my mistake by going all-in on the turn. Once again, he thought for a bit, and then called all-in and flipped over A5o. I was dead in the water, and kicked myself doubly because before the flop I had told myself to check and fold if the flop brought an A. No help came on the river, and I busted out a few hands later in 41st having to go all-in before the blinds hit me.
I was bummed for my terrible play on the last hand, but felt good about how I had played up to that point. I am definitely going to play in that tournament again next time I go out.
I met up with my friends and tucked into three things that cheer me up: a buttermilk chicken wrap from Sam's Snacks, heavy consumption of vodka-sodas, and a little trash-talking casino war. Yes, it's a stupid game involving no skill and huge house edge. But making war jokes with friends and dealers is fun. It also proved to be a very easy way to drop $100.
I went back to some tipsy 15/30 at a much tighter table than earlier, and managed to blow a couple hundred while I waited for a spot at the 2/4 no-limit game.
The Bellagio very recently changed their $100 max buyin 1/2 no-limit game to a $200 max buyin 2/4 no-limit game. On Friday night, it looked like a very lively game, and the list was a MILE long. Maybe longer than I've ever seen a single game list. I got a seat in about two hours.
The game was really lively, with a lot of loose aggressive types, including myself. I was already somewhat drunk, and managed to cultivate a very maniacal table image without losing any cash. It's nice to get into a NL game and go crazy early, but get enough good hands that you at least break even by the time your wild man image is firmly embedded in the minds of the players enough that they're due to pay you off.
Unfortunately, I never really got to the payoff part. Or I did, but did not get a payoff J My first big hand, an aggressive player made it $15 to go UTG. Two callers, and I'm on the button and look down and see KK. Sweet lord, I'm not going to allow myself to get killed twice in one day by KK! I make it $85 to go. UTG re-raises all-in for another $115. The other two players get out. I call, and to my terrible dismay see my opponent flip up AA. Yikes. Rebuy!
About two hours later, I've built my $200 rebuy stack up to $450, and then drained down slowly to $300 when I get into this hand. I'm in the BB. Mid position player calls, his left raises to $15, button calls, I look down and see KK. "Redeem thyself!" I mentally shout at my cowboys and raise to $50. Limper folds, the other two call and the board comes down Q93 rainbow. I check to the raiser, who thinks for a beat and makes it $50 and I instantly put him on AQ. I had been playing with him for about four hours and was sure he would have either thought longer and hollywooded it up with a set, or checked with a set or a mid pair. The button folded, and I raised him all in for $200 more. He instacalled and I felt good when he flipped over AQo. I'm a 4:1 favorite, until an ace falls on the turn. No waiting for the bad beat in this town!
That day will live with me as the day I was killed by cowboys; in the three times I played them, I got busted out of a tournament and taken for $500 in a 2/4 no-limit game. Coincidentally my net for that session at 2/4, which lasted until about 7am, was just under -$500 :(
I headed back to the MGM and got a solid Vegas four hours of sleep. I don't know what they put in the air there but I need some for my house. We woke up at 11am recharged and ready to go to the low-roller tournament at the Orleans.
Of the eight of my buddies out in Vegas, only me and one other have any real tournament experience. But the $73 buyin at the Orleans was low enough that I convinced 5 of them to enter with me. Fueled by Fatburgers and caffeine, we were ready to roll.
After registering, we realized that I had made a terrible mistake â€“ it wasn't a no-limit tournament, it was a limit tournament! Huge error. I don't mind long-level limit tournaments like they play at the WSOP, but I *hate* short-level limit tournaments, and we were looking at 15 minute levels for a 135 person tournament. It also had $5 bounties for busting out players, another thing I hate since the bounties don't really give an incentive to bust out players more than already existed and just shrink the prize pool. Still, it was too late to de-register, so I took some nice trash-talking and berating from the friends, sucked it up, and got ready to play.
I hated the structure of the tournament. 15 minute levels are insane, especially when half the field is 65+ with a one arthritic hand minimum. Play started slow, we got $375 in tournament chips (rebuy of $600) with the levels starting at $10-20. I think in limit tournaments, you should start with at least 20-30x the initial big bet, and the blinds should not more than double every two levels of no less than 30 minutes. They get pretty nutty pretty fast when that's not the case, but hey that's just me. I can still play at that level, it just turns mostly into a game of swooping in and picking off short stacks who have been forced to go all-in.
The tournament started fairly uneventfully. Two of my friends had the dubious honor of being among the first ten to bust out, but I was staying alive. Playing tight and waiting for good spots. Unfortunately, they weren't coming very quickly. I was getting blinded down and not getting much opportunity to make good plays. I found that my stack had dwindled down to $375 and I was looking at $50-100 blinds after just under two hours of play. I was getting desperate.
I was sitting on the button, UTG raised with two callers. I looked down and saw AT of clubs, and decided to make a stand. I re-raised, and all three called. I had just $75 left so was ecstatic when the flop came down: ATT! All checked to me, I bet and got all three to call. UTG ended up having a mid-pocket pair, another player with ace-baby, and the last with a baby pocket pair. I quadrupled up to stay alive.
A while later, I had played very few hands. The levels were 100-200 blinds. I was dealt AT again, this time offsuit, on the button with about $1200 in chips. All folded to me and I made it $400 to go, called by the BB. The flop came AT3, another AT miracle. I was check-called until I was all-in and he flipped up A8o, giving me the winner and a nice double-up.
I was still short-stacked, but so was most of the field. I didn't keep track of how many players were left at what points, but I kept just below the average chip stack for the next few levels. I managed to make some nice increases at the hands of baby stacks, and keep treading water.
Before I knew it, we were down to 20 players left and I was still alive, but precariously short-stacked. By this point the blinds were at about 400-800 and I probably had 3000 in chips. I selectively stole the blinds, and won a few hands outright, but mostly was playing raw survival limit poker. It was tough. JZ made it to the second last table with me, but ended up busting out in 17th position. Meanwhile I treaded water, watching others bust out and just managing to stay alive.
The tournament paid ten spots, and everyone obviously knew it. Play got excruciatingly tight when we got down to 14 players left. I was in an absolutely terrible position; I was the second or third lowest chip stack, and the three players to my left were all among the top five chip stacks! My options for blind stealing were extremely limited, and I was facing sudden death at any time.
My chip stack dwindled further, but so did others; I went all-in a LOT of times during this period, mostly when facing sudden death in the next round of blinds. I survived my way, sputtering and choking, down to 12 players with the blinds at 1000-2000. I had 3000 in chips left and knew that I was going to die very soon. Worse yet, there was only one player with a lower stack, and she was behind me so I'd hit the blinds before her. Then, all of a sudden, a miracle â€“ one of the mid stacks at the other table walked into a monster, but so did his opponent! A larger stack bustout and we're down to 11. I still have to best this woman, who was becoming my nemesis. Every time I thought she'd bust out she managed to squeak a win. In her defense, she probably thought the same about me.
With the BB about to hit me, and the action down to 6-handed, I was looking at being bubble boy. My buddies were all on the sidelines, cheering me on â€“ the only peanut gallery there. I managed to double up playing A8 from early position, making it through another round of blinds, when I heard those two sweet words from the other table: "ALL IN". Play stopped at our table as we watched the action, which was fine by me because it meant more time until I got nailed with the upcoming BB. Sure enough, another mid stack busted out, and I jumped out of my chair and hollered. Both me and the other chip midget had made the final table! My buddies went nuts and did their best European soccer impersonations.
We got over to the final table, and although I was still in the money, things were looking grave. The blinds were at 2000-4000. I was a close contender for chip midget with 8000 in chips; the woman had 6000. Nine of us were sitting at the final table, ready to start the action; the tenth, who happened to be chip lead, had run to the bathroom.
I was calculating the odds of me making 7th instead of 8th when one of the players at the table spoke up and asked if everybody just wanted to do a 10-way split. It would equate to $746 each, which was between 4th and 3rd in terms of prize money. I usually hate deals, but this was the sweetest one I had ever been offered! I did my best reluctant buyer impersonation, and to my amazement all the players agreed! I couldn't believe it.
Well, almost all the players. Mr Big Stack was still in the bathroom. He came back and everyone was all smiles and speaking at once, getting him to agree to the deal. He said no, but one of the guys quickly said, "how about we all give you $20?" and he instantly agreed! I literally jumped out of my chair and screamed for joy. And then instantly realized that maybe I was acting too happy â€“ which I evidently was, because the player to my right, who also had a large stack, said he didn't want to do the deal and just wanted to play it out! I was mad at myself, and the dealer started dealing out the first hand of the final table. Some of the players called over the floorman, though, and he said the deal was made since everyone had agreed to it at the same time. Sweet poker mama in poker heaven giving me a poker payout I was happy! I had been looking at $200-300 for 8th-10th and instead walked away with $720. Awwww yeah.
Saturday night we celebrated with dinner at Shintaro in the Bellagio, my favorite restaurant in the world. If you have never been there, go there. They have a $75 tasting menu that is absolutely amazing. Also if you have the tasting menu they will seat you on the balcony, which has four small tables and the best view of the fountain show you can get. They have a new chef and the tasting menu wasn't the best I've had, but one of the courses was mini deep fried shrimp in a chili sauce that we all agreed was the best shrimp we had ever had anywhere.
The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful, which is my way of saying I was too hopped up on vodka-sodas to take notes. I played a drunken Saturday night of 2/4 NL at a very rocky table that was the polar opposite of Friday night and got sha-moked; I got reamed at pai gow poker, then won an assload in blackjack, then lost an assload in blackjack, then won an assload in pai gow poker, then lost half an assload in blackjack. I sat at a 30/60 table but after one round realized it was the scariest table I've ever played at in Vegas, including the table at the WSOP where I was sitting between Negreanu, Scotty Nguyen, Cloutier and Allen Cunningham. The players all seemed to know each other and kept looking at me and licking their lips and trying to cover me with olive oil and barbecue sauce, so I decided to move back to 15/30. I played poker until 9:30am, and so Sunday was mainly spent in a state of extreme tiredness. We ate breakfast at America in NYNY, which I have an inexplicable affection for, I slept a few hours at my friend's room in the Venetian.
My flight back Sunday night was not until midnight, so I hit the 15/30 tables again but immediately realized I was way too tired to play effectively. Instead, I frittered away the last few hours of my trip playing an assortment of pai gow poker, pai gow tiles, and blackjack, and getting somewhat smeared to the wall by all of them.
I made it back into Austin while the sun was rising, exhausted and ready to fall into the arms of my lady friend. And plan my next trip to Vegas :)
Celebrity sightings: there was a large 10/20 NLH game going at the Bellagio the whole time I was there. Chip Jett and Phil Gordon played in it. Chip Jett played through at least 18 hours straight, maybe more. Cris Carter (the wide receiver) was there, playing 20/40 omaha and getting killed, and then later I saw him jump into the 10/20 NLH game for a few hours. I actually put my name on the 10/20 list just to buy in for the minimum ($600) so I could make jokes to Cris Carter about catching cards, and to say I had played cards with him, but by the time I got called he and the other poker personalities I recognized were no longer in the gaqme. I also saw Phil Ivey, Mike Laing, Johnny Chan, and I think Can Kim Hua. Troy Aikman and Marshall Faulk were wandering around the casino but not the poker room. All in all, a great tripâ€¦<-- Hide More
There's that little guilt pushing on the mebranes of my noodle. It slips in when I let my mind think about nothing, and then I think about something I don't really want to think about.
I think about how I've been unfaithful.
Lord, I never thought I would write such a thing.
After so much time, building a relationship, nay, building true love, I've been unfaithful...More in this Poker Blog! -->
...to my online poker site.
I started playing on Ultimate Bet one year this month. It's been good to me. It's given me other people's money and allowed me to play on it for 365 days.
And I like the site. It's simple and has all the qualities that I like in an online poker room. It allows me to play multiple tables at once. It has a wide variety of games and tables. It has a wide variety of tournaments.
And then came the World Poker Blogger Tournament II. That wild and motley crew of poker writers sucked my into their vortex of beer, poker, and weblogging.
And so I downloaded True Poker. And so I won the tournament and ended up with $196 in True Poker chips. I could've just deposited it all into online money site and transferred it over to Ultimate Bet. But I didn't.
I decided to stick around True Poker. What harm could I do with $196 that wasn't really mine anyway? I set two rules for myself.
#1--Don't lose the $196.
#2--Don't play a limit too high for a $196 bankroll.
At True Poker, that means playing $1/$2 limit Hold'em. That also means washing the fish scales off your chips when you rake them in. Or, at least, that's how it seems right now.
In two short sessions I've turned $196 into $400 playing only $1/$2 limit Hold'em.
Sure, that's not exceptional, but it's been easier than play at UB recently.
The ease in which I've doubled my bankroll can be chalked up to one of two things:
#1--A lot of new, fishy players at True Poker.
#2--A grand conspiracy to make new players at the site believe it's a great site by feeding them winning cards.
I'd much prefer to believe the former is more correct than the latter.
But here is eveidence that both may be correct: Just yesterday, I raised UTG with pocket nines. The table had grown to respect my UTG raises and everybody but the big blind folded.
The flop: 9QQ
Internally, my pancreas celebrated (that seems to be all it does these days, celebrate good flops). The BB bet. I raised, he called. I put him on a Queen and danced around a little bit.
Bet. Raise. Call. Hmmmm. Why's he betitng into me now? I figured him now for maybe KT, but I'm afraid of QJ.
You're thinking, I know, why would a guy call a UTG raise with KT or QJ? And then bet and call raises on a draw? That True Poker, baby.
I actually did this: I typed "Damn it" in the chat bar. I was sure now that he had a Q and my flopped boat just sank. I was so sure of it that I wanted to complain to the table before he even bet. Was that pride getting the better of me? Yes. Yes, it was.
He bet and I just called, waiting to see his Q2 or whatever other tripe hand he called my UTG raise with.
The table had been needling this guy for a while about being a calling station and I actually saw the chorus of "lol" chat before I saw his cards.
I flipped up my pocket nines to reveal the boat for the win.
That's True Poker, at least in the $1/$2 limit hold'em rooms.
So here's a quick review based on two ring game sessions (see previous entry for the tournament play review):
WHAT I LIKE:
*My favorite feature that differs from UB is the ability to see when other players are reviewing their cards. True Poker actually makes you remember your hand or be seen looking at it. While good players will use this to their advantage, it's a way to spot tells in the ubiquitous poor players.
* The graphics are pretty cool. You never know what the room atmosphere will look like. Sometimes it looks like the back of a bar. Sometimes it looks like a vast atrium. Sometimes it looks like a country club meeting room.
*The avatars are pretty neat, although the selection is pretty slim. I didn't really want to be a cowboy, but I didn't feel like being a 70s disco king, gang banger, martini drinking playboy, or woman.
WHAT I DON'T LIKE:
* The avatars' constant talking can get on your nerves if you don't turn it off. So, turn it off.
* The chat bubbles make the screen really, really busy.
* You're only allowed to play one table at once. Why? No clue.
* Play moves much slower than UB.
* Fewer tables.
* While I don't like micro-limit games for limit play, I should point out that True Poker has no micro-limit games (in fact, nothing below $1/$2) and that could turn away some players. The good side to this is that people who buy in hoping for microlimit are playing above their skill level and are calling, calling, calling.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to consult my therapist about the longer-lasting psychological ramifications of my poker infidelity.<-- Hide More
...and it's been a long time since I lifted anything heavier than a pint glass.
And honestly, surely to goodness and mercy, I thought I'd be among the first out. I mean, really, I only contribute to this poker blog while maintaining Rapid Eye Reality for all my other ramblings.
I must have cheated.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Twenty-eight players began the $20+2 tournament. The tourney paid five places. After surprising myself and my dog (good luck mutt, she is) by finding myself at the final table, I also found myself in danger of busting out on the bubble. I didn't want to do that.
Then, I started catching cards. Hand after hand, I caught. I caught a few quick hands against the formidable Pauly McGrupp. Other players would later say Pauly went on tilt after that. I wouldn't say that, but that's what others implied. Screw'em, Pauly.
Pauly went down, leaving me and Chris. I think had him covered by about 3-1 when we went heads up. He took a few, I took a few. And then came the hand that everyoone said went WAY too fast.
I'd need the history to tell it dramatically. Suffice it to say, before the river I went all in with top pair (sevens) and a flush draw. Chris was all in with two pair. I pulled the flush on the river for...
1. $196 Otis B Dart
2. $140 ChrisHal
3. $112 PaulyMcGrupp
4. $84 STICKandMOVE
5. $28 FeliciaLee
Again, bragging is for the weak and I'll chalk my win up to really good cards at the end. However, if anyone else wants to stroke my ego, there's a comments section around here somewhere.
Now, on True Poker...
It was an interesting site and I didn't mind playing there. However, it is really busy, with a lot on the screen and talking 3D characters (the robots scare me), etc. Still, the graphics are nice and the site seems well-run.
On the tournament side, the blinds jumped up really, really fast. A lot of good players suffered the wrath of blinds rather than the wrath of other players.
Perhaps if I can track down some hand histories i can write a better recounting of the tourney. If not, I'm sure the other better bloggers out there can take care of it.
Just remember, it's spelled...O-T-I-S.
Okay, one piece of smack talk. There, I'm finished.<-- Hide More
The small town of Springfield, TN was shocked today by a shooting spree. The community of just 14,000 people isn't used to this kind of violence. Three people are dead and another is critically injured.
So far, police aren't commenting on a motive except to say they believe the shootings are connected. WKRN, however, has confirmed that all four men were part of a poker game last night.
I guess it's all speculation at this point, but it sure does reinforce my reasons for playing online or with friends. The chances of being shot are pretty slim.
By the end of the night I was half-drunk (maybe a little more) on tequila and playing the role of the house in a game of low-stakes blackjack in an effort to keep the people drunker than me from driving home. I had my $100 in winnings in my pocket and no fear of the sunrise.
Which was a good thing, because the sunrise was coming on like a plump girl at closing time.
Looking back at the past ten hours, it was a surprise that anybody survived.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Of course, this was how the CJ IS LEAVING GOODBYE TOURNEY ended. To tell the whole story would be too frightening and might open up three TV stations to lawsuits. Instead, the highlights:
* The full complement of 16 players was still in the game after about 30 minutes of play. The first all-in showdown: 66 vs. 66. Chopped pot and much screaming ensues.
*A couple hours later, as two tables prepared to consolidate to one, there was significant grousing from Table 1. It appeared a hold'em neophyte--certified dead money--had been cleaning the clocks of his opponents. A couple people whispered he might have hustled the room, but I knew better. The man had a horseshoe up his ass the size of South Carolina and it was going to carry him all the way to the end of the tournament. More on Horseshoe in a moment...but first...
*We were down to just a few players at the final table. We were getting close to the money. Horseshoe Man was the chip leader, followed by Greenwood Phil. I was third and had a decent chip lead over CJ, who was getting dangerously close to being blinded out after suffering a seriously bad beat earlier in the game. I suspected he'd been buying some pots, but had nothing to call him down with. That's when I peaked at my hole cards and found American Airlines.
I made the decision without ever actually making the decision. I limped, merely calling the small bet before me. As I hoped, CJ moved all in. With two other players in the pot and chance to build my stack considerably, I labored over the decision, hoping my indecision would move at least one other player to call.
Eventually, feigning great fear and trepidation, I called. Despite my best efforts, the other two players wisely folded.
I looked up at CJ and offered only, "Sorry, buddy." I flipped over my aces and watched as he flipped AT unsuited.
The flop brough KQx. I squirmed only slightly in my chair. I knew I was more than a 90% favorite going into the flop and wasn't looking so bad after it.
The turn was a blank. I became a bigger favorite.
I muttered, "Nojacknojacknojack," as English Andrew peeled the card off the deck. CJ said later he saw paint on the card. I only saw a giant, chip stealing jack fall to the green felt.
I said bad words and ran into the other room.
Fortunately for the Up For Poker team, CJ's win allowed him to finish fourth and didn't hurt me so bad. I finished third.
*Horseshoe was on a roll. He'd been playing everything. Every five minutes Greenwood Phil muttered, "You just can't play against the guy." Team Scott Smith (consisting oddly only of Scott Smith) was ready to take Horseshoe down.
Smith found Big Slick and bet it big. Horseshoe called, as he was wont to do. The flop was full of blanks. Smith bet big and Horshoe called.
The turn came in the form of a K. Smith: All in.
At this point, we all really expected Horseshoe to fold. While he played a lot of hands, he wasn't calling many all-in bets.
Horseshoe: Call. He turned over pocket queens and grimaced as he saw Smith's Big Slick.
One card left, QQ vs. KK. Only two outs for Horseshoe.
And one came on the river.
The room erupted like it hadn't all evening. Not even my aces getting cracked had caused such an explosion of pain and disbelief. Horseshoe cemented his nickname and went on to win the first tourney of the night.
*The insanity didn't stop there, but my ability to retain it all ended after a few shots of celebratory tequila (actually a no-no in my personal rules of playing poker). I can only offer than I won the second tourney of the night. That's the only thing I can brag about.
So, that was CJ's going away tourney. I'm expecting him back for Bradoween 4's poker tournament in June...and all of you as well.<-- Hide More
I'm on a crusade to get Wil Wheaton in our next Poker Bloggers Invitational. First, he's a poker player. Second, he's a blogger. Third, he's blogged about playing poker. Guess that means he qualifies! So Wil, if you're reading this, drop me a line and get in our game!!!
More important, for the rest of the Up For Poker regulars, Wil is in the middle of one hell of a poker story over at his blog.More in this Poker Blog! -->
You can start here with "lying in odessa - part one" and then move here to "lying in odessa - part two" before moving here to "lying in odessa - part three" and then wrap up here with "lying in odessa - part four."
Here's just a taste:
This goes on for a while, until I look at my pocket cards and find AJ on the button. Mrs. Beautiful calls, Mr. Director checks, and I call. The flop comes J-4-7. The bet is checked to me, and I move all-in. Mrs. Beautiful looks at her cards, then to me. I take a deep breath, and look down at the board. I'm pretty sure I want at least one call, but it's still nerve-wracking. If I blow this, I go home with nothing.
The only problem with inducting Wil into our group of poker bloggers is that he immediately becomes the best writer among us (after all, he's been published!). I don't mind though, with stories like this, he belongs!<-- Hide More