Welcome to the South Carolina Welcome Center.
First, we'd like you to enjoy all the amenities of our clean rest rooms. We have information services and free maps to help you navigate the foothills and beaches of the Palmetto State.
Please be sure to be careful as you cross over Lake Hartwell. Don't eat the fish, either.
And please pay no attention to those signs advertising poker casinos. First, we've gotten rid of them all. Second, it was only video poker, anyway.
Lastly, if you brought a rabid, amphetamine-crazed, homicidal chicken with you, please report to Agriculture Commissioner Charles Sharpe.
He's been expecting you.More in this Poker Blog! -->
But first, let's get a few things clear:
We South Carolinians--at least those who are the most vocal--loathe gambling. It may not be a mortal sin, but neither is hypocrisy, and we loathe that, too. Or something like that.
That's why we stood firm on the issue of video poker. Because we couldn't negotiate significant tax revenue from the proceeds of video poker play, we all got together, stood on our moral high ground, and got rid of all the machines. Well, almost all of them There are still a few around and that keeps our State Law Enforcement Division agents busy.
When the law enforcement officials aren't busy running over illegal poker machines with bulldozers, their colleagues on the municipal and county vice squads spend a decent amount of time busting up backroom craps games.
See, we loathe gambling.
Well, you have to understand, it's for the children. A couple of years ago, we realized that we were putting a lot of people in prison, not fully funding medicaid, and squandering our portion of the cigarette lawsuit settlement (pay no attention to our subsidized tobacco farms for they are just part of our tradition).
Because we were spending so much money on everything else, our education system had sunk to #49 in the nation (thanks, Mississippi).
Suprise, surprise. The sale of lottery tickets and the rake the state takes from it can contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the state's education coffers every year.
Bring on Powerball.
So, we hate, nay, loathe gambling, unless it helps the children.
And those damned Catawba Indians that want to play high-stakes bingo can just go back to their reservation. What? Oh, they're already there? We'll have to find a way around that.
Oh, I see you did, in fact, bring your chicken with you.
Around here, we prefer to call it a gamecock. You'll notice our flagship state university's mascot is Cocky, the gamecock.
You're going to need a map to Aiken County.
First (nudge, nudge) you should know that cockfighting is illegal here (unlike those gambling heathen states, Lousiana and New Mexico). So, as you transport your gamecock, we suggest you paste a Tyson Food sticker on your truck. Fools'em every time.
I notice you also brought your new set of high-grade titanium spurs. Good choice. If you are pulled over by our law enforcement officers, here's what you say:
"Oh, goodness no, officer. Cockfighting? Of course not. That's barbaric. No, no. Pokey the Chicken here wears the spurs to ward off those menacing Chick-Fil-A cows that have been causing so many problems in the poultry community."
If that doesn't work just ask, 'Do you know Agriculture Commissioner Charles Sharpe?"
You might have heard recently that Mr. Sharpe was arrested and indicted on corruption charges surrounding his protection of a cockfighting ring. You might have heard a SLED agent was arrested as well. Well, that's just those pesky federales messing around with a states rights issue. We suspect we have some friendly judges around here that might be able to take care of the problem.
So, we loathe gambling, unless it is tradition.
Plus, cockfighting is nature. We here in South Carolina suspect most people will understand it is natural for two chickens to tear each other wing from breast in the farmyard.
Unnatural, you ask?
Well, poker for one.
God created chickens. He did not create cowboys full of rockets. He did not create a game in which 666 is often a winning hand. He did not create a game in which two Kings together, or two Queens together is a natural and winning union. God believes that King/Queen (suited, by the way, because we don't like that integration stuff) should be the winning hand in any game.
So, let's get this straight:
Lottery gambling--For the children.
Cockfighting--Illegal, but since it's a matter of tradition, you might be able to pay off a government official to help you out.
Poker--Satanic, unAmerican, and possibly homosexual.
So, thank you for stopping by the South Carolina Welcome Center. We hope you enjoy your stay in the Palmetto State.
Oh, and if you find yourself having an original or rational thought, please follow your map to some other heathen state. We don't want your carpet-bagging ass, anyway.<-- Hide More
As I watched the WSOP on ESPN, I caught a commercial for the Mighty River Poker League. It's a Louisiana based poker club that promises to send someone to the 2005 WSOP.
Of course, I had to check it out. It turns out there's a Baton Rouge league and a Lafayette league. You pay a membership fee ($50) and monthly dues ($15) to enter and receive 5000 points. You use those points to enter tournaments and the top 200 points winners at the end of the season get to play in a tournament for one seat in the 2005 WSOP.
I think it's a brilliant idea. Each tournament also has a separate prize pool for those who want to play for money as well (extra $25 entry fee, and 100% of entry fees are paid back out).
That's all the good news. The bad news is that the Lafayette tourneys are played on Thursday nights at 6:00pm, and I'm lucky if I'm out of work by 6:45pm. Still, I think I'll look into it. The first points tourney is on August 19th. Maybe by then, they'll push back their start times!
If you're looking for some good non-poker content from some poker writers, be sure to check out this month's edition of Pauly's Truckin'.
Oh, yeah. I was a contributor this month.
The broadcast networks have wisely decided to forgo any Democratic National Convention coverage tonight. After all, with the World Series of Poker on ESPN, who's gonna watch Teresa Heinz Kerry?
If you want to watch some impressive women, tonight's your chance. ESPN kicks off with the $1000 Ladies Limit Hold 'Em championship followed by the $5000 7 Card Stud event.More in this Poker Blog! -->
8:00 pm CT It's all women around the final table. Of course, only women were allowed to enter, so it stands to reason. Featured tonight are Tracy Phan, Susie Isaacs, Sarah Casey, Renee Wexler, Millie Shiu, Karina Jett, Jeena T. Burnett, Crystal Doan, and Bonnie McHugh.
8:01 pm CT Wexler is already all-in with A8. Burnett calls with QJ. Casey calls with 62 from the SB. Phan also plays with her 62. The flop is 3-7-6, three hearts. Amazingly, both 62 players have a pair. The other two have flush draws. Burnett folds her flush draw and Casey folds her pair. It's heads up. The turn is another 6 and Phan is in great shape. Wexler needs a heart on the river. But it's a club and Wexler is out in 9th.
8:05 pm CT Annie Duke tells us she doesn't play the women's event because she can beat the men. She's probably right.
8:06 pm CT Burnett goes all-in now with K3s. I hope she doesn't lose... she's kinda hot. Shiu calls with A6. Hmmm... Burnett is married to a former NFL player. The flop is Q93 all hearts. Burnett is ahead, but Shiu has the flush draw. The turn is a 5 of diamonds and the river is a 9 of spades. Burnett is still alive.
8:08 pm CT Commercial. Howard Dean is speaking at the DNC. Wonder if he'll scream? He's still got the craziest eyes in the Democratic party... except maybe Nancy Pelosi.
8:11 pm CT Burnett is all in again with QT. This is limit poker, so we must have missed her losing some hands. Phan calls with KJ. Burnett is probably gone this time. The flop is J38. Burnett is now looking for a 9 or Q. The turn is a 3, no help. The river, just a T, and Burnett goes out 8th.
8:12 pm CT We get a glance at the outer tables where they're playing Omaha Hi/Lo. We're getting our second peek at Annie, and a profile. I guess that means there's no way she makes a final table down the line because why waste the profile here? I think the opinion of Annie Duke is split out there in the poker world, but I like her. Except I just learned she's teaching Ben Affleck to play... so it's her fault.
8:15 pm CT Doan raises with A3s and gets called by McHugh with A8s. The flop is 9-T-6. A bet and a call. The turn is a K and Doan gets a flush draw. She moves all in. McHugh calls. The river is the 7 of hearts and Doan doubles up.
8:16 pm CT Commercial. Dean is still talking. That's good, that means his head hasn't exploded yet. Oh... and now he's done. Walking off the stage as "We Are Family" plays in the background and a lot of old, unattractive women clap and sway to the beat. This is supposed to make someone vote for John Kerry?
8:18 pm CT Casey is all in with AQ, Shiu has 4's. And we just get to see that Casey didn't pair the river so she's out. That's an unceremonious exit for our 7th place finisher.
8:19 pm CT Doan bets her QT. McHugh looks down at A3s and calls. The flop is J-A-K. Doan flops the nut straight and McHugh is about to go all out with top pair. Only a runner-runner saves McHugh. The turn is a T. Now a Q will split the pot... but it's just a 7, and McHugh is out in 6th.
8:20 pm CT Another peek at Annie Duke and we learn she's alive with just 27 players left. I guess they have to show her because a lot of people might have tuned in tonight to see her.
8:21 pm CT Jett (the hottest player remaining) bets with QJs. Isaacs has at least an Ace and raises. We don't see her other card. Jett calls. Isaacs bets before the flop. The flop is 7-K-J. Isaacs bets again before the turn, going all in. Jett is calling with her pair of Jacks. The turn is a 2 and the river a 4. Isaacs is out in 5th.
8:23 pm CT It's time to learn abou the Jett family. Chip Jett (Karina's husband) is also a poker regular. They've got a kid and they split parental duties depending on who's in a tourney at the time. What a weird way to grow up for that kid.
8:24 pm CT Commercial. CNN's talking heads are breaking down something or other. I caught a glance of Mo Rocca from The Daily Show. Is this what legitimate news coverage has come to?
8:27 pm CT Four left, and they were all born in Vietnam we learn. Phan calls with K6s. Jett raises with A7. Phan calls. The flop is 7-9-5. Jett has a pair and Phan a straight draw. Jett bets, Phan raises, Jett re-raises, Phan calls. The turn is a 3 of diamonds. Phan has a flush draw as well. Jett bets and Phan calls. The river is a diamond and Phan gets her flush. Jett is pissed about losing the hand, and it's true, Phan did chase a little, but that's limit poker.
8:29 pm CT It's an Annie Duke update and she's still alive. We also learn that Eric Seidel and Doyle Brunson's son are in this tourney.
8:30 pm CT Shiu looks down at pocket T's and raises. Phan has K8s and calls. Jett has 4's and calls from the BB. The flop is T-4-3. Shiu has trip T's. Jett has trip 4's and Phan has her straight draw. Everyone is in the pot with lots of raising. This one is capped. All the women decide to stand. It's a big pot! The turn is a K now Phan has a pair. She's gotta stick around with the draw no matter what. Jett's in terrible shape and goes all-in. Only the case 4 saves her. Phan needs a spade. The river is a 5 of hearts. Shiu wins the hand. It's funny watching the women interact (was that a sexist comment?).
8:33 pm CT Commercial. More pontificating on CNN. Booo-ring. Time to check on the Phils and, of course, they're losing to the Phish. That's the way it always works. I'm not sure why I even care about baseball season.
8:36 pm CT Quick tourney update and we learn Scott Fischman (of the Crew) has won two bracelets now.
8:37 pm CT It's time for the Jennifer Harmon profile. She's not playing either, but it's because she needs a kidney transplant. She was born with the condition. That's really sad. Harmon is one of the brightest personalities in the poker world. She's still playing, just not as much as she'd like. I can't imagine playing in tourneys with a medical condition like that. She's scheduled for a transplant... lets hope she doubles up!
8:39 pm CT Annie Duke update. She's up against Eric Seidel now. She takes the pot and seems to be doing well.
8:40 pm CT Phan is all in with Q5s. Shiu calls with K9. Doan has AQ and raises. Shiu is disappointed, she wanted to be heads up, but she calls. The flop is K-K-3. Phan can say goodbye and Doan probably should get out of the way, but she bets anyway. Shiu just calls. The turn is another 3 and Doan can't win the pot, but bets anyway. Shiu calls. The river is a 3 putting a boat on the board. Doan checks, Shiu bets and Doan calls. Shiu flips the K and takes a big pot. Phan is out in 3rd.
8:42 pm CT Phan tells us her money is on the more-experience Shiu.
8:43 pm CT Commercial. Obama bin Laden is speaking at the DNC now. What's that? Oh, he's name is Barack Obama. Yeah... I know... you've never heard of him. Get used the name, the Democrats plan on shoving him down our throats.
8:45 pm CT It's time for the "Nuts" again, and it's another edition of Blind Man's Bluff. We've got 5 great players at the table. I'm rooting for Clonie for obvious reasons. Clonie eliminates Layne Flack and Mike "The Mouth" Matusow.
8:47 pm CT The money is on the table, and we're heads up. Doan has a big chip lead at this point. Doan has T8 and bets. Shiu calls with her pair of 4's. The flop is 8-4-6. Shiu could hardly ask for a better flop. Shiu checks, Doan bets, Shiu raises. That should set off alarms, but instead, Doan re-reaises. Shiu re-raises and Doan calls. Terrible play heads up. Shiu goes all-in in the dark before the turn. The K on the turn means Shiu can't be beat, but Doan calls anyway. Huge pot for Shiu.
8:50 pm CT Time to check the final table of Omaha Hi/Lo and Annie is there, in the final three. Why wasn't this event featured by ESPN? Eric Seidel is there, too. What a great match up! Annie knocks out Seidel and Annie is one player from her first bracelet!
8:51 pm CT Doan looks at 76 and calls the BB. Shiu checks with THE HAMMER. The flop is 7-3-6. Doan gets two pair and Shiu has top pair. Shiu bets and Doan raises. Shiu calls. The turn is a T. Shiu should get out of this pot. Shiu checks and Doan bets. Shiu calls? Why? The river is an 8 and Shiu should run. Doan bets and they start talking. Doan promises she got her on the flop and Shiu doesn't believe her. Shiu folds and Doan shows her the 76. It's getting ugly. Cat fight?
8:53 pm CT Commercial time and I care more about Annie Duke's final table than the ladies event. Is that irony? Obama is taking, and because he's black, we get a cutaway of Jesse Jackson. Hey CNN, find a little creativity!
8:55 pm CT The two final tables are going at once, and Annie Duke's final table clearly has the bigger crowd, but we're checking in on the ladies table. Shiu is in trouble again. Doan bets her 85s. Shiu goes all in with 65. Guess that's what you call dominated. The flop is Q-7-3. Shiu has a gutshot straight draw. The turn is a 9 and Shiu now has a flush draw, too. The river is a 7 of clubs, however, and Doan is the ladies champ. Good, now that that's over, let's get over to the Omaha final!
8:57 pm CT Annie is killing whatever no-name guy she's playing. Guess Annie made the right choice on event. She's probably going to make 5 times what she could have made in the ladies event. It's all-in time and Annie's got a good Hi/Lo hand. The chump has next to nothing. Annie is way ahead on the flop. The turn clinches it. Annie Duke has her first bracelet! And she gives brother Howard Lederer a big hug.
9:00 pm CT It's time for the Stud event, so my live blogging has ended. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy.<-- Hide More
The swimminess, those shimmers that rise over the red cinders, the way the humidity hangs a burlap curtain over your mouth... they are all things I remember from the summer of 1990.
I remember the run lasting longer than it normally did and being almost deathly afraid to stop. I remember, but barely, opening my mouth and letting the cold ice water shoot from my stomach and on to the football practice field below my feet. It had barely had time to mix with the contents in my gut, so it didn't taste too bad.
Over my shoulder, I knew he was standing there, his hand likely grabbing at his crotch, at the cancer that would one day kill him.More in this Poker Blog! -->
His name was Reuben Berry. He'd been a pro football coach in Canada and had fathered a son, Todd, that would one day go on to coach Army's football team. I knew he was watching me, even if he wasn't.
Rube had a way with words. No one knew for sure at the time why he'd moved from Canada down to a small town in southwest Missouri to coach a small-town football team. They only knew his pre-game and post-game speeches were poetry.
I was not a good football player, but I stayed on the team for years. The pride I saw in my father's eyes when I caught my first touchdown pass was too much to quit the game. Still, I was not any good.
Ol' Rube had a way of complimenting his players.
"See Schafer over there? You hear his balls drop? Just like a big bull. Boooom! Boom!"
It was the highest of praise for Rube to hear your balls drop. When a linebacker laid a hit on a running back, you could hear Rube screaming from 80 yards away, "BOOOOOOOOM!"
Early on in my not-so-illustrious career as a wide receiver, I occasionally took on the name Teflon Hands.
Nothing stuck to them, least of all, the ball.
For that reason, and a few others, no one was as surpised as me on the day I found myself running at a dead sprint down the sideline, looking back to see Danny throw the pefect spiral, watching over my shoulder as the ball reached its zenith, appearing to be painfully out of reach. No one was as surpised as me when I threw my body into horizontal flight, extended my arms, and snatched the oblong ball from the air.
I crashed into the sunbaked mud, wishing that the catch had come during a key game rather than a hot, afternoon practice.
But then I heard it, loud from across the field. It was Rube's crazy injun voice, bellowing through the haze.
"You see Otis over there? You hear his balls drop?"
I waited, rolling over on the ground. He was was going to make my day.
"You hear'em? ....tink, tink."
He actually said "tink, tink."
I loved that man, but I'm still not entirely sure why.
I was not a good football player. In fact, I was so bad that I often found myself playing out of position on the practice squad.
One afternoon while playing the role of linebacker, a real sonofabitch (also real talented) named Manary blindsided me with a star-shooting block that left me out of breath and seeing God.
When I finally got up, I found that I was a worse football player than I had been before the hit.
The hit had been so hard, it had scared me. For a week or so, I was ineffective as any sort of player. I had gone from a poor player to a scared player.
Ol' Rube had been right after all.
Tink, tink, indeed.
It's not been too long ago that I mentioned I had cash-placed in a big tourney and was wondering what I should do with the proceeds. Several of you warned me to not get in over my head too quickly. Others of you said make a run at it and ride the lightning.
While I'm a little ashamed to admit it, I rode the lightning like a whore on dollar day. And I rode it well.
In the past several weeks, I've watched my bankroll grow beyond what I thought it could.
Put it this way: In February, when I played in my first WPBT tourney, my online bankroll was $200. By June, I had added a zero to the end. As of this weekend, I had doubled the four digit number doing little more than playing $5/$10 and $200 PL on Empire Poker.
Variance had not paid a visit in some time. I was starting to get a little cocky. Again, I started having those little fantasies in which I was pulling doen an extra grand a week.
Then it happened.
It was a small event really. Just insert your best aces cracked story and that's what happened. It cost me about $200 (the amount of my bankroll six months ago, in case you haven't been keeping score).
I thought I was okay. I promised msyelf I wouldn't let myself tilt. And I don't think I did.
But something was wrong. My stacks kept getting smaller. My win rate on sit-and-gos was getting sad.
Over the course of three days, I bled away about $1000. I couldn't tell you where it went.
About four hours ago, I sat down. Within half an hour, my cowboys got cracked in a pretty large pot.
I almost stood up to take a break. And then it hit me just as hard as that Manary screwball did 14 years ago.
I had been playing scared and on the defensive ever since I got my aces cracked and lost $200. I was so afraid of losing my newfound bankroll, that I was losing my newfound bankroll. Tight-weak, all day long.
I made a resolution. Either start playing my normal tight-aggressive game again, or take a month-long hiatus.
It clicked within 30 minutes.
Over the course of the last three hours, I have rebuilt my bankroll to the same place it was last week. I achieved most of the recovery by quintupling up at the $200 PL game I've been playing (see right). The rest came on a $5/$10 game. Somehow, I had made myself stop playing scared.
I wish that my football story had a better ending. I wish I could tell you I went on to play semi-pro ball like Hdouble did. But I didn't.
Instead, I grew my hair long, joined a garage band, started listening to Uncle Tupleo, and started gambling.
Now, 14 years later, I still play guitar, I still listen to Tupelo, and I play cards every day.
You know, Rube never liked the way I played football, but he always seemed to respect me. I'm not sure I ever knew why, but I always felt that way.
While recovering what I'd lost of my bankroll is no big deal in any metaphysical sense, I sort of feel like it was a victory, because I realized what my problem was and corrected it.
That old sonofabitch taught me a lot in those days.
I can almost hear him whispering "tink, tink" from his place in the great beyond.
I miss ya, Rube.<-- Hide More
...just a brief entry to freak out a little.More in this Poker Blog! -->
A few weeks ago, I sat in a poker tournament across from a guy I'd never met before. He was a friend of a fellow poker blogger. He came along to pony up the $50 buy-in, have a little fun, and bust out of the tourney first.
In case you don't know, when I'm not a poker playing Otis, I'm a journalist who often covers the court system.
Flash forward to a criminal trial I covered all of last week: The last witness on the stand (and perhaps the one that convinced the defendant to cop a plea) was a guy by the same name as the guy who played in the tourney.
Turns out, he did not only have the same name, but also the same DNA.
Now, I'm fully aware of how small a world it is, but it freaks me out a little bit that a poker blogger I only met a month or so ago also happens to be friends with a guy who played a major role in a case I've been covering for the past year and a half.
Small world, my ass.
That's just freaky.<-- Hide More
"Be the ball, Danny."
If you say that to a friend of mine, she'll look at you and smile. It's the smile of a person who knows she should be smiling, but really isn't sure why.
You might follow up with the tell-tale "Na-na-na-na-na" golfing Zen phrase.
The smile will fade slightly. She'll look at you and offer something like this:
"You're talking about the 80s, aren't you?"More in this Poker Blog! -->
My friend, BB, grew up during the 80s. She's a striking, girl-next-door, all-American brunette. In another life, she might have worn something Molly Ringwald-ish, but I see her more as an Ally Sheedy, or a more intelligent, early Demi Moore.
Regardless, at the time we were all yucking it up to Fletch, Caddyshack, and Weird Science, her family was trying to avoid lions, tigers, and a stray elephant.
Her parents were missionaries in Zambia and BB, in effect, missed the 80s.
After nearly four years of forcing 80s movie references on her and seeing the smile of the 80s-less, her husband and friends decided they'd had enough.
Which forced me into Sam Walton's Warehouse of Horrors.
When you walk in the door, the smell of new tires hits your nose like unrefined petroleum on an August afternoon. The old lady checks your card to make sure you're not trying to illegally buy in bulk. Once you cross the tire threshold, a cavernous expanse of clothes, TVs, and bulk cheeseballs opens before you.
Oddly, I felt the need to welcome BB and her husband as we walked into Sam's. It's not like it was my house or anything, but somehow I ended up with a membership to the place and they needed some bulk items.
While Joe and BB trolled the aisles for a five-pound block of cheese and a three pound sack of pepperoni, I made my way to the book aisle. While not a metropolitan library, Sam's is not a bad place to pick up a mass-market book on the cheap. The discounts are usually 40% or better.
Joe and BB were trying to decide if three pounds of Italian sausage was too much. And better yet, how many mushrooms is too many (no snickering, Pauly).
I picked up The Da Vinci Code and flipped through it. The cover price had been reduced to $14. It's hard to find a trade paperback for that much anymore. I read a couple of paragraphs and tried to decide if my pop culture fire base needed a little stoking. Everybody is talking about the book and God and Da Vinci. After a couple more sentences I decided I wasn't in the mood to confront theology-based fiction. Anyway, I preferred Chistopher Moore's Lamb, the Gospel According to Biff. Maybe I'd re-read that instead.
I threw out my back picking up Bill Clinton's My Life. I nursed my vertebrae back to health by picking up John Grisham's new pamphlet. That's much lighter. After ruminating on how a popular author needs no more than to write a novella to make several million dollars, I headed back over to find Joe and BB.
"Ragu. It's gotta be Ragu. Garden Chunky Style." Joe was insistant. If it wasn't Ragu, he wasn't going to buy a gallon of it.
I obviously was not yet needed.
I wandered back into the book aisle. That's when I saw it.
As recognizable as any name-brand logo on the market today, there it was: The WPT poker set, complete with a deck of cards.
Before completely wrecking myself, I did, indeed check myself.
I looked over and saw the cases of Box-o-Wine, Lee brand dungarees, and pre-made salad by the 55 gallon barrel. No doubt, I was in Sam's Warehouse Club.
I let my eyes fall back to the book rack. Before I could clearly focus back on the WPT set, I saw the word: SUPER.
No, surely not.
I pulled the book off the rack.
At one time, Super System's claim to fame was that it had never before been sold for less than $80. At the beginning of the most recent poker boom, copies were going on eBay for about $40 a piece. I picked mine up at Walden Books for a little more than $30.
I flipped the book over and stared at the back cover.
I've seriously tired of the countless news articles, Internet columns, and television news broadcasts about the poker boom. I've done everything I can NOT to write about poker slipping into the mainstream.
But how can I ignore the fact that the bible of poker is now being sold in Sam Walton's Bulk-o-Rama?
I'd pontificate a little on the above facts, but I think they speak for themselves.
Holy bucket of cheeseballs.
I led BB and Joe into the checkout aisle and prepared a great game of manipulation and trickery. The plan was to use my membership card, but let BB pay for the groceries. As it turned out, my game was unnecessary.
The check-out clerk said, "You're Otis, aren't you?" It's good to be recognized...sometimes.
I allowed that I was in, fact, Otis (or some facsimile thereof), BB paid for the food, and Joe and I talked about getting up a new home game.
Which leads us to tonight.
While there likely won't be any poker played, we will finally educate BB on what it's like to be a true child of the 80s.
Joe spent the day making homemade pizza. Then tonight, on two screens...
Screen 1 - "The Breakfast Club"
Screen 2 - "Fletch"
Screen 1 - "Ferris Buellers Day off"
Screen 2 - "Caddyshack"
Screen 1 - "Heathers"
Screen 2 - "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"
Screen 1 - "Princess Bride"
Screen 2 - "Weird Science"
If you have to ask which screen I'll be watching, you really don't know your Otis very well.<-- Hide More
Here we go again...
After dabbling in 7 Card Stud and Omaha Hold 'Em the past two weeks, ESPN will stick to just the classic card game tonight. We've got the $1500 NLHE final table followed by the $5000 NLHE final table.
While last week's events featured familiar faces like Paul Phillips, Mike Matusow and John Juanda, this week's events don't seem to have any top pros. Some have made it to some big final tables, but there's no Phil Iveys in this bunch.
That doesn't matter much, though, because poker is poker, and I love watching. As usual, go here and listen to "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.", and then head back here.More in this Poker Blog! -->
8:00 pm CT First up, it's the $1500 NLHE featuring Tonio Scali, Scott Fischman, Scott Epstein, Rollo Johnson, Mike Magazu, Kent Washington, Jason Vriyayuthakorn, Gaya Awada, and Blair Rodman.
8:01 pm CT 813 entrants in this one. We learn three dealers are among those playing for this title. Jason V. is first all in with pocket 8's. Fischman comes all-in next with rockets. Reminds me of Moneymaker's 8's last year, when an 8 on the turn knocked out Aces. The flop is K-K-3. The turn is an Ace, and that's it. Jason V. is out in 9th. Good... that's one long last name.
8:04 pm CT Washington bets with his pocket 8's. Scali, with his short stack and Yankees hat, moves all in with K-8 suited. Ouch. The flop is 6-T-5, all hearts, but Scali needed spades. The river is a 7, and Scali is out in 8th place. This one is moving fast.
8:06 pm CT Awada bets iwth his pocket 10's (Jackpot hand!), and then Washington comes over the top all in with the Hilton Sisters. Decision time for Awada. He's gotta figure Washington for a bigger pair, and that means fold. Washington had a big enough stack that he didn't have to go all-in unless he had something big. Awada throws his hand away. Right play. Washington shows his Q's. Why'd he show?
8:09 pm CT First commercial break. There's no All Star game to distract me, but a check on the Phils shows they're trailing Atlanta 2-1. Bah.
8:12 pm CT Two dealers are in front right now. That includes Fischman (a former dealer) and his Hookers (J's). Washington looks at Big Slick, unsuited, and moves all in. This time, I think he'll get called. Fischman has a big stack. Of course, he might be thinking about those Q's from above. Does Fischman risk a big part of his stack pre-flop? Some consider J's a medium pair. If that's the case, maybe you fold. Fischman does... showing his J's. Washington doesn't show this time. Dutch Boyd doesn't approve of showing. Now Fischman is chatting with Boyd and friends on the rail.
8:15 pm CT It's time to learn about "The Crew." Fischman is a member, along with Dutch and some unknowns. They say they're taking the world by storm. We even get a slow motion walk down the road. Cheesy.
8:16 pm CT Johnson moves all-in with pocket 6's. He's an amatuer and short-stacked (I'm not saying he's short-stacked because he's an amatuer). Awada calls with A3o. Why? Guess it's because he sensed that A-K-Q on the flop. The turn is a Q. The river a 7, and Johnson goes home in 7th. Tough beat. Bad call by Awada, but sometimes you get lucky.
8:17 pm CT Second commercial break. Denzel Washington in a remake of The Manchurian Candidate. Yeah, that's brilliant. Remake what's considered one of the greatest movies of all time. No chance of a bomb there! Or is Hollywood making another political statement? But I digress...
8:20 pm CT It's the government mandated Chris Moneymaker interview. But we also get a taste of poker blogger Paul Phillips. Now there's a player! Daniel Negreanu has become an ESPN favorite as well. He's got a squeaky voice. But he sure knows how to play.
8:21 pm CT We're down to 6 when Washington looks down at AJ. He raises. Rodman looks down at Get Smart and moves all in. He's a bit short stacked, so it's a good move, although he must have hated to see the raise in front of him. With 9's, he's probably hoping for a bunch of folds. Washington has a decision to make, and he calls. It's a coin toss. J-2-K on the flop, and Washington is way ahead. The turn is an 8. The river is a 7. Rodman is out in 6th. So far, pocket pairs have had trouble against over cards.
8:23 pm CT It's time to learn about Kent Washington. He's known as "Raiseitis." Apparently he moves all-in a lot. What a terrible nickname.
8:24 pm CT Magazu moves all in with K-?. The pocket cam didn't pick up the other card. Washington has A8. It's only a few chips to call, so he does. Magazu hadn't looked at his other card, either. It's just a 5, and he's in big trouble. The flop is T-9-4. The turn is a 3. The river brings a Q, and Magazu is out in 5th. Perhaps it pays to look at both cards before moving all in. Washington has a huge chip lead now.
8:26 pm CT Third commercial break. My Phils now trail 3-1. They suck. I don't know why I care so much. Wait... they've got two men on and no one out in the 8th. Why do they tease me so?
8:28 pm CT It's another glance at the outer tables. We see Men the Master and Jesus. It's time for the "Nuts." Week 1, Ferguson cut a pickle with a card. This tim it's a carrot. Boring. I want more chip tricks.
8:29 pm CT Epstein (WSOP rookie) moves all in with K5. Didn't he remember what happened last time with this hand? He's in the small blind at least. Fischman has K7s. He's got a HUGE advantage in this hand. That's what they call dominance. Fischman calls. It didn't cost him much. The flop is 5-2-9. It's a miracle! The turn is a 7. It's another miracle! The river is a Q, and Epstein is out in 4th. Imagine going from ecstasy to agony in just two cards.
8:32 pm CT We're down to just 3 (all dealers), and we're getting a feature on how dealers play poker. Apparently they're more aggressive than most players. I'll have to remember that. I guess they watch a lot more poker than I do! Norm Chad says dealers lose more than they win.
8:33 pm CT Washington plays his Q9. Awada has Get Smart and moves all in. He's the short stack. Can Washington really call? No way. He calls anyway. Horrible move with that hand. The flop is J-3-J. The turn is a 2. Suddenly they're each on flush draws, but Washington's heart is bigger. The river is the A of diamonds, and Awada doubles up. What was Washington thinking?
8:34 pm CT Fourth commercial break. Phils are within a run with a runner on and 2 outs in the 8th. They'll still lose. ESPN.com says the count to Burrell is 5 Balls and no Strikes. That's a little unusual.
8:37 pm CT Washington's lead isn't so big anymore. Awada looks down at Cowboys. He simply calls the big blind. Slow player. Washington has A5s. He raises. Awada now gets to decide how to best take Washington's money. Awada moves all in. Can Washington call again? I doubt it. Fischman heads over to Dutch Boyd and says he wants to play heads up with Washington ("He's a sitting duck.") Washington actually calls. The flop is 5-J-T. The turn is a Q. Now he needs a K, a 5 or an A. The river is just a T, and Washington doubles Awada up again. I don't think Fischman will get his wish.
8:39 pm CT We get to learn about Joe Awada now. He's an immigrant who started with the circus. He became a juggler and that brought him to Vegas. Then a car wreck ended his juggling career. Quite a story. Now he's a Casino game inventor. Is that one of the coolest jobs ever?!?!?
8:41 pm CT Fischman looks at 87 in the SB and calls. Awada looks at K8s, and checks. The flop is 8-3-4. Fischman could be in trouble. Fischman checks. Awada bets out. Fischman immediately raises. He must have thought he had a read on Awada, but that read is wrong. Decision time for Awada, and he moves all-in. I'm sure the "Crew" member wasn't expecting that! He has to lay it down. Awada could have had anything from the BB, Fischman has to fold (how many times have I said that?). Fischman thinks Awada is on a draw. He's wrong. Fischman folds. The raise was clearly a mistake. Thanks to the rabbit cam, we learn the turn would have been a K and the river a 3. Fischman would have been killed in the hand.
8:44 pm CT Fifth commercial break. Let's see if the Phils lost again. Whoa!!! It's tied in the top of the 9th. We'll see...
8:46 pm CT Washington looks down at Crabs. Pocket 3's aren't great, but he's short stacked and it's short handed. He moves all in. Fischman calls with AQ. It's another coin flip. So far, pocket pairs have been dead. The flop is A-6-8. Washington is dead like the rest. The turn is a 4. The river is a K, and Washington is out in 3rd.
8:48 pm CT Well, I think like many, I'm rooting for the casino game inventor over the "Crew" member. Fischman seems like too much of a punk for his own good. It's the upstart vs. the veteran. Fischman says he might be the best player there is. Um... sure. Awada shows the proper respect. And you have to respect that. Go Joe!
8:49 pm CT Awada plays his 85. Interesting. Fischman sees a flop for free with his T9. The flop is 5-9-8. Jackpot for Awada. Fischman bets. Awada raises. Does that worry Fischman? Remember how he played top pair earlier. Fischman calls. The turn is a deuce. If Fischman thought he was ahead before, he's gotta think he's ahead. Fischman goes all-in!! Decision time for Awada, the shorter stack. Awada knows the 2 didn't help him. Awada calls. Fischman is in trouble. The river is a 5, giving Awada a boat. That loose call with 8-5 became a huge hand. The "Crew" is crying.
8:52 pm CT Sixth commercial break. Phils didn't score in the top of the 9th and Braves have a man on with two outs in the bottom of the 9th.
8:54 pm CT Awada is the chip leader now, and he's got Presto. He raises. Fischman looks at Big Slick and he re-raises. Awada thinks about it, and looks very concerned. Is that a tell? He calls. The flop is 9-7-4. With rags on the flop, Awada has to be happy. Fischman goes all-in, apparently representing a bigger pair. If I'm Awada and my read was two big cards, I have to call. Awada does. He's been reading his opponents like a book. The turn is another 9. The river is a miracle 7. Wow. Awada was a 4-1 favorite, but the two pair on the board gives Fischman the best kicker. Sometimes the better play doesn't always win the hand.
8:57 pm CT Fischman is the overwhelming chip leader now. The "Crew" just might get their bracelet. Fischman goes all-in with A6s and Awada calls with K7s. The flop is A-K-4. Fischman is a big favorite. The turn is an 8. The river is just a J, and Fischman is the winner. Lucky bastard. It happens.
9:00 pm CT Next up, it's the $5000 NLHE with Young Phan, Thomas Keller, Salim Batshon, Martin De Knijff, Lee Watkinson, James Edward Sousa, Frank Sinopoli, Phillip Marmorstein, and Eskimo Clark.
9:01 pm CT Sousa looks down at my exact Jackpot hand, TsTh. De Knijff calls with pocket 9's. Phan is short stacked with the Hilton Sisters, and he moves all in. Decision time for Sousa. He's asking for the count, and calls. Can De Knijff call? Not likely. He folds. Heads up Q's vs. T's. Phan is a big favorite. The flop is 2-J-3. The turn is an A. The river is another Q, and Phan doubles up.
9:05 pm CT Sousa has AQs this time. Now he raises big, announcing he's on tilt. I doubt anyone believes him, it's not something you usually announce. Clark goes all in with Big Slick. Everyone else folds. Sousa is in big trouble, but calls anyway. The flop is 4-2-Q, but Clark has a flush draw. The turn is a T, now Clark has a straight draw. The river is a K, giving Clark a better pair. He had quite a few outs, but was behind going to the river. Tough beat for Sousa this time, of course he was way behind before the flop, so maybe things evened out.
9:07 pm CT First commercial break. The Phils are in extra innings. Guaranteed disappointment.
9:10 pm CT Clark calls with 65s. Keller (a newlywed) raises with Cowboys. Sinopoli has to make a decision with Get Smart. He calls. It's back to Clark, and he has to fold. Keller and Sinopoli see the flop of 6-2-7. Keller checks his K's and Sinopoli bets. It was a great example of slow playing by Keller, but the exaggerated sigh might have been too much. Keller raises. Sinopoli might think he's beat, but he has to go all in with his short stack. Sinopoli is way behind. The turn is a 3. The river is an A, and Sinopoli is out in 9th.
9:13 pm CT Marmorstien goes all in with AQ. He's short stacked. De Knijff calls with pocket 8's. Heads up. Let's see if pocket pairs fare better this episode. The flop is 5-3-6. The turn is a 4. The river is a 4, and Marmorstein goes out in 8th. Good, he was wearing the dumbest hat I've ever seen.
9:15 pm CT Time to learn about De Knijff. We learn he's one of the top players in the world. Pretend I didn't write that thing about to top pros up above. (And no, I don't know how to pronounce it).
9:16 pm CT Batshon raises with AK. Sousa goes all in with AQ. Batshon calls immediately. It's the exact same situation Sousa lost with last time. The flop is A-9-4. Sousa is in trouble. The turn is a T. The river is a miracle Q, and Sousa doubles up.
9:18 pm CT Second commercial break. It's an annoying Toyota commercial with Kenny Maybe yelling. Is Kenny Mayne's 15 minutes up yet? Stop the presses!!! Phils lead 4-3 in the top of the 10th. Bobby Abreau comes through again! I guess it's Billy Wagner time!
9:20 pm CT We get an "all-in" montage of Sousa here. Apparently Sousa plays a little loose. He's now a chip leader again after that series of plays. Whatever works.
9:21 pm CT Keller (nicknamed Thunder) raises with his pocket Q's. Sousa calls with 45. Huh? The flop is K-2-K. Sousa immediately goes all in. That has to make Keller pause, but Keller has to figure he's the leader, right? These are the two big stacks. Keller suggest Sousa might be on a draw. The problem with the call is that in 2nd place, it might be better to wait until later to get your money in the pot. It's a good bluff. Keller lays it down. Sousa shows 45 off. Keller is slightly stunned. That's okay, he's still got a big stack.
9:23 pm CT We get a peak at the Stud Hi/Lo tables and get introduced to some ladies like Annie Duke and Cindy Violette (who won a bracelet in that Stud Hi/Lo this year, and was in Playboy years ago).
9:26 pm CT Third commercial break. Runner on first, none out for the Braves, still 4-3 Phils. Come on, Wagner!
9:28 pm CT Keller gets pocket J's and raises. Phan gets Big Slick. We've seen a lot of big hand showdowns at this table. Phan re-raises. Clark has a pocket pair of his own, 8's. He's gotta fold though with two raises in front of him. Keller has another decision to make. What's his read? Over cards? Bigger pocket pair? Smaller pocket pair? Whatever it is, he figures his ahead when he moves all in. Phan has to make a decision now, and calls. Someone will have a huge stack and someone will be in trouble. The flop is T-2-5. The turn is another T. And the river brings a 7. Keller doubles up and Phan is in big trouble now with just 4K.
9:31 pm CT We learn a little more about Thunder now. We learn he's really, really smart. And he come to Vegas straight from his Honeymoon. I wonder how he got the nickname Thunder? Perhaps his size? He's a big man.
9:33 pm CT Phan is forced all in with 62 against someone's pocket 8's, and Phan is out in 7th.
9:34 pm CT Fourth commercial break. One out in the 9th, Andruw Jones is still on first (who spells it Andruw!?!?).
9:36 pm CT Guess what, it's a Moneymaker-mention. Can't go a show without that!
9:37 pm CT Sousa raises with AJs. Clark goes all-in with his very short stack on AT. Sousa rudely asks, "Do I have you covered?" Guess he thought he was being funny. The flop is Q-K-9. Both have straight draw. The turn is a 6. The river is just a 5, and Clark is out in 6th, and leaves without shaking Sousa's hand. Clark seems like a sore loser.
9:38 pm CT It's time to learn about Mr. Sousa. He says poker legend Johnny Moss taught him to play and says Moss called him "one of the greatest poker players." Um... okay.
9:39 pm CT Bashon gets A8, and has to go all in with his tiny stack. Sousa calls with J8s. He's got a huge stack, so why not? The flop is 9-J-3. Sousa is now way ahead. The turn is an 8, which doesn't help Bashon. The river is just a 7, and Bashon is out in 5th. He does shake everyone's hand.
9:41 pm CT Fifth commercial break, and I learn that Billy Wagner loaded the bases with just one out. But Marcus Giles grounded to third and Jones was out at home. Then J.D. Drew (one of the most hated athletes in Philadelphia history) lined out to first. Phils win and move back into a first place tie! Go Phils! I never lost faith!
9:43 pm CT Suddenly Keller is playing classical piano. Never woulda guessed. De Knijff best with his A9. Watkinson has Ducks. He started this table in 3rd, and now he's in last. He moves all in. Interesting call. De Knijff calls immediately. It's a coin flip. The flop is 5-8-7, giving De Kniff a straight draw. The turn is an 8 giving De Knijff even more outs. The river is a 6, filling the straight, and Watkinson is out in 4th.
9:45 pm CT It's time for the "Nuts." It's Blind Man's Bluff. That's amusing. It's a table full of famous faces. Amir Vahidi knocks out both Phil Gordon and Mike Matusow. I'll be interesting to see how that "tournament" winds up.
9:48 pm CT Keller calls from the SB with J6. Sousa has T5 and sees the flop for free. It comes J-T-J. De Knijff would have flopped a boat. Sousa moves all in even though he's drawing dead. Keller has to call with J6. Sousa says, "Make this real quick," and Keller does saying, "I'll call." The turn is a T, and Sousa thinks he's alive if another T comes, but De Knijff folded that other T. The river is a 6, and Keller knocks out Sousa in 3rd.
9:50 pm CT Sixth commercial break. Dammit. It's another stupid Toyota/Kenny Maybe commercial. Where's the mute button?
9:53 pm CT Keller vs. De Knijff (who we learn is nicknamed "The Knife"). Now I know the both have cool nicknames. De Knijff is apparently coming off a WPT title. Tall order for Thunder.
9:54 pm CT Keller has a 3 to 1 chip lead. De Knijff best with J8s. Keller raises with AQ. De Knijff calls. The flop is 9-4-K, including two diamonds he needs. The "Knife" goes all in, and Keller has to fold. The flop didn't hit him at all.
9:55 pm CT Keller bets with his 64s. De Knijff calls with K9s. The flop is 2-9-3. Keller bets, wrong time to bluff. De Knijff raises all in. Again, Keller must fold. It probably hurts to get pushed around. Keller is still the chip leader, though. He's been smart not to double up the "Knife".
9:56 pm CT Keller bets out with Jackpot. De Knijff calls with K2s. The pocket 10's are way ahead. The flop is 9-4-2. De Knijff is on a flush draw and has the decues, but he checks. Keller bets out and De Knijff goes all in again, figuring he'll push "Thunder" around. But this time, Keller calls. The "Knife" needs a club, a K, or a deuce. It's a coin flip. The turn is a 9 of spades. The river is another 9, and Keller wins the bracelet with his boat. Well played. The last couple lay downs were very important. Don't underestimate the value of folding.<-- Hide More
As I drove home in the early morning hours, the lightning danced from cloud to cloud, but, to my relief, it wasn't raining. The roads in Hessmer, LA were dark enough as it was. I kept one eye on the winding two-lane highway and one on God's impromptu light show. That's when I hit the armadillo.
I didn't just tap it, it was the 55-miles-an-hour, no-time-to-slow-down, flush-with-the-front-right-tire kind of hit. I'm sure I killed it. I think it's the first armadillo to die under my car.
But you're not here to read about how the armadillo lost. You're here read about how I lost, and, unlike the armadillo, I lost in style.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I drove in to the Paragon Casino parking lot and it was still raining. I hopped out of the car, and sprinted for the door, realizing my wallet was still in the car. A sprint back to the car, and back to the door, and I was inside, ready to play cards.
I got my name on the list for 4/8 Hold 'Em and there were 4 ahead of me. There was just one table playing at this point, so I was sure I'd be waiting until they got enough for a second table.
Last time, I waited by throwning money away at the craps table. I was determined not to do that again, so I settled in with a couple of players at the Pai Gow Poker table. You couldn't lose much there, right?
A short time later, I was down $35 and wondering when Pai Gow became so difficult. I clearly should have taken this as a sign, the cards weren't with me. I got up and decided I'd wait in the poker room until my seat opened.
It wasn't long, and I dropped into seat 4 at the newly opened table 5. The same seat at which I won my last $300. I bought in for a hundred, with $40 left in my wallet and a $25 chip in my pocket. I didn't figure I'd need to dip into either.
I was wrong. My flushes never hit, my pocket pairs never flopped a set, and every premium hand I saw got beat by small two pairs. I kept repeating to myself, "Variance, variance, variance." After all, I owed this table after taking so much last time, right?
The $40 was already gone, and I only had a few chips left in front of me. That's when I pulled out the $25 chip to make the rest of my stack feel better. I wasn't going to violate my rule of never visiting a casino ATM, so this was it. It would be a short trip unless something good happened, really soon.
That "something good" happened.
I'm sitting in early position when I get dealt pocket 10's. I had been calling this hand "long distance," but after this hand, I think it deserves a new nickname. I call the big blind and about 6 of us are in the pot.
The flop is A-8-A. That's not too bad. With a couple of Aces on the flop, the odds of someone holding an Ace are diminished. And my 10's beat any 8 out there.
I check and the grizzled little man to my left bets. He's wearing an old gray Members Only jacket, a black baseball cap and thick glasses. He doesn't talk much, and often has to leave the table to catch a smoke break at the slots. It's a good thing he didn't leave for this hand.
There are two other callers before it gets to me, and I call. The turn is a deuce. I check again and Mr. Members Only bets again. Does he have the Ace? I don't have a read on him. In fact, I'm really bad about reading people. It's something I'm working on.
Everyone else gets out of the pot, and I call. He may not have the Ace, right? The pot was big enough and, frankly, this is one of the best looking hands I've had all day.
The river is the third Ace. Except for, perhaps another 10, I couldn't have asked for a better river. I'm Aces full of 10's, and even if my opponent pairs the board, I'm still a winner. At this point, only pocket J's, Q's or K's, or the case Ace beat me.
I check, he bets, I raise him, he re-raises (uh oh), and I call, flipping my 10 of hearts and 10 of spades. He flips a 10 of diamonds, and that fourth Ace. I probably should have known I was beat all along, but I kept playing it. About half my remaining stack was in that pot, and I was close to going home.
The dealer picked up my pocket tens and turned them over in front of her, then began shoving the pot toward Mr. Members Only. That's when a couple of players at the other end of the table said something about a jackpot.
My ears pricked up. I glanced up at the red flashing ticker above the tables as something about a "Bad Beat Jackpot" scrolled by:
"For 10% of the Jackpot, in 7-Card Stud or Texas Hold 'Em, Aces full of 10's beaten by 4 of a kind, and in Omaha..."
I didn't need to read any more. I spoke up as well, "Hey, that might be the jackpot." The dealer stopped and started to recover our hands. I could tell by the looks on everyone else's face that this dealer might have just ruined our chance at the cash.
You see, money was at stake for everyone at the table. The Jackpot was at about $33,000. This hand would qualify for 10% of that, or about $3300. The "losing hand" (that's me) gets 50% of that, or $1681, the "winning hand" gets 25% of that, or $841, and the rest of the table splits the remainder (8 players get $105 each). Not a bad deal, huh?
Once the cards were recovered, casino big wigs were called to the table. The dealer started counting out all the cards in the deck to make sure they were there. Big wig #1 called security to check the tape and get the hand certified. Big wig #2 gave us a hard time by telling us how many ways this hand didn't qualify. Thankfully, he was just joking.
A half hour later, and after clearing up the fact that my name was not James Christoph and my address was no longer in Knoxville, TN, I signed a couple of documents including something about taxes. Guess it's time to ask someone's advice on writing off my losses!
In the meantime, I had called Otis, my brother, my sister and my parents (they weren't home, so they've got a weird message on their answering machine).
Shortly after that, they arrived with the cash, and they counted it out on the table. I tipped the dealer $120. I have no idea if that was too much or too little, but no one seemed to complain.
I played for about 6 more hours and actually won back some of the money I had lost earlier, but it didn't matter. I could have lost every hand and been satisfied.
Of course, with my new found riches, I was playing a lot more hands, including The HAMMER. I'm UTG when I look down at 7-2 off, and I call. What the hell, right? Six are in the pot when the flop comes A-4-A. I bet out and everyone folds. I flip my cards and mumble something about The HAMMER. I don't think anyone was impressed.
For the rest of my session, 10's were clearly my magic cards, winning me quite a few pots. And I've decided I'll no longer refer to this pocket pair as "Long Distance." From here on out, it's "Jackpot!"<-- Hide More
The danger in writing about poker is that people will read about it.
That may read strangely to you, but it was something I'd never really considered when I sat down to write up my first trip to the State Park game.
It was something I didn't really consider when I mentioned how the host's wife's beauty put me on tilt. It was something I didn't really consider when I wrote the game sat on a razor's edge between dangerous and safe.
It was something I didn't really consider, indeed. That is until I decided to go back tonight and one of the player's said, "You know, I read that web site you have."More in this Poker Blog! -->
Therein, friends, lies the danger of writing about poker.
There's a chance people will read it.
So, when word of Up For Poker came up in pre-game conversation, I looked for a quick exit. For instance, I wasn't sure how comfortable the host would be knowing I found his wife tilt-worthy.
Then one of Greenville County's finest said, "You know, I walked in the other day and my Lieutenant asked me if I was the one that played in the State Park game."
That can't be good, I thought.
"How did he find the site?" I asked, throwing back a mouthful of beer (that's a nervous habit of mine by the way. Whenever I get a little nervous, I drink whatever is in my hand to the bottom of the glass. It keeps my mouth from saying stupid things).
"Oh, they read all kinds of shit up there," he said.
"The names have been changed to protect the guilty," I said. It was a declarative statement, but I'm pretty sure it sounded like a question. I wanted the answer to be, "It's cool, man."
"Damn right," he said.
That was good enough for me.
I walked into the billiard room that had been coverted to a poker room. The host (he still hadn't mentioned me mentioning his wife) had built a brand new ten-seat poketr table with a padded rail. He is a genius with building that kind of stuff and is already talking about building a new one. A better one. I may contract him to build one for me. I was itching to sit and play.
I could immediately tell that the poker crowd wasn't as rowdy as the last time I visited. The room felt calm and it calmed me down. I took the eight-seat at the end of the table and bought in.
In the State Park Game, your buy in gets you $50 in tournament chips. Blinds start at $1/$2 and double every 15 minutes until they reach $10/$20. Then they stop going up. Only the top two finishers get paid, and second place barely gets anything. In essence, it's winner take all.
The stucture is fast. If you don't double up in the first two levels, you can forget about winning. While it doesn't allow for the best poker in the world, it does make for quick tourneys and allows for two or three games a night.
Once I realized I wasn't going to get beat down for writing up the last game I attended (some of the guys even took to calling me The Writer) I settled down, situated my beer, and got ready to play.
A couple hands in, still during the first level, I'm dealing from the button. It comes to me with the man called Bear calling the BB. I look down and see 88. I raise three times the BB. The Firefighter called, as did Bear.
I burned the top card, dealt out three and flipped them over.
It was at this point that I considered an ugly possiblity. I had just dealt myself the nuts. I'd only played at this game once before. We had just started to play and I dealt myself the ever-loving nuts.
That's no way to makes friends.
I thought for two seconds and considered laying them down. After all, the Firefighter led out big and Bear raised. But I held the ever-lovin', papa's got a brand new bag, slap your mama it's so good nuts.
I looked around for my beer to keep me from saying something stupid. I couldn't fiind it.
That's no way to make friends, either, but, yeah, that's what I said.
I simultaneously cheered and gulped when the Firefighter said, "Call." You could've knocked me over with a poker chip when Bear, too, said, "Call."
What? It occured to me that maybe I'd misread my hand. The Firefighter puts out fires, Smoky Bear prevents forest fires. And now my head is on fire.
I turned over my cards to show my top set. The Firefighter groaned and turned over The Hilton Sisters (QQ). Bear, inexplicably, turned over A7.
I did the quick math. Only the two remaining two bitches or two running cards beat me.
The Turn brought a four, giving Bear the gutshot straight draw. Now six cards in the deck beat me. Four remaining fives, two remaining queens.
As an aside, I have to wonder how Siegfried has been getting along since Roy did the floppy tiger dance. I only wonder, because somehow The Hilton Sisters just weren't enough for that hand. They needed a third queen and Siegfried came on the river.
When that happenens to me, I always black out for half a second. I never know exactly what I do or say in that moment. All I know is as I came to I was pushing the Firefighter the pot and saying something about his lieutenant being able to read about that one on Monday.
In retrospect, the guy played a good hand and played it just as I would have (although, if I were him, I might have put me on a position raise pre-flop and re-raised me to see where I was in the hand). So, if I wasn't going to win the hand, I'm glad he did. If I'd lost to damned A7 on a gutshot straight draw on the river, then I might have said a few things that wouldn't have won me any friends. What's more, I had the Firefighter covered and beat Bear's hand, so I was still in the game, although severely wounded.
I was able to control my emotions and not go on tilt. My head lasted until the second hand of the second level when I found Big Slick spades. The host called my raise (not quite three times the BB). The flop came K8x rainbow. I bet, he called. The turn was a Q. I bet almost my entire stack. He cold called and I knew I was screwed. The flop was a blank, but it didn't matter. The Host had me with Q8, two pair.
"I would've folded before the flop if your raise had been bigger," he said, almost apologetically.
I'm not quite sure what I said, but it's advice I'll take. I should've at least raised three times the BB. Why I didn't go the extra couple bucks I don't know. I'm not quite sure why he called my big bet on the flop with second pair, but that's moot now.
Player out at table one. Otis was unceremoniously dispatched to the rail.
I played in a cheap side game until the second tourney started.
This is not a summary. This is it:
I folded my way to fourth place out of eleven entries. I was shortstacked and pushed in with AQo. Bear, the huge stack, called my bet with KQo. I'm a huge favorite to double up, but Bear flopped his K and I didn't improve.
And so the second trip to the State Park game ended in defeat. Twice.
But there was victory in this, friends: Nobody seemed overly pissed that I wrote up the last game. What's more, I got invited back. That's more poker to play and poker to write about.
That'll do for me.
And, Lieutenant, give the Firefighter some light duty next week. I think he hurt his back raking all my chips.<-- Hide More
I need your help. I've got a project to do concerning the best poker rooms in Vegas, and I value the input of my readers and fellow poker bloggers. I'm looking for your recommendations, your experience, your thoughts. You can email them to me by clicking here, or just leave your thoughts in my comments. Your guidance will be greatly appreciated!
I've always thought of a "mea culpa" as something you might run into in a back waterway in Venice. It sounds slimy and, perhaps, a little on the dangerous side.
In reality, it's something people don't say enough.
Which is why I need to take a brief diversion from our regular poker passion to consider the value of our community of poker players and writers.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I've long believed green felt could've torn down the Berlin Wall. Few substances and even fewer fabrics have the ability to bring together such a wide variety of people, backgrounds, and mindsets. Maybe booze, but green felt is better to set your chips on.
If not for the inherent competition in the game, it could likely serve as the world's greatest relationship therapist.
I believed that even before CJ invited me to begin blogging here on Up For Poker. But once we started here I discovered something even greater. You don't even have to have the felt. You don't need chips. You just need a love of the game.
In the past year I've come to ethereally know some of the best players, writers, and thinkers out there in the poker world. In a few short months I felt myself actually thinking about these folks and talking about them to my wife. How one guy lost his job. How one guy was nursing his pet back to health. How one guy is on the road living a bohemian life.
That was pretty odd for me, to be honest. I typically care about a small circle of people and the rest be damned.
Then I figured it out. Most of the poker bloggers out there are the Northern Otis, The City Otis, The Backwoods Otis, The Left Coast Otis, etc. Or I am the Midwest/Southern version of them. That is, while all living different lives, we all spend, perhaps, an inordinate amount of time focusing on a game we love.
More than that, perhaps, most of us have an understanding that we're not only focusing on a card game. As we grow our game and our understanding of it, we grow our minds. We have a better understanding of how people work, how relationships exist, and how to make decisions based on experience. We are people who realize that poker is not just a means to play, or not just a means to a profitable end, but a means to some sort of greater understanding of our own minds. If we can understand why we make decisions in a game, me might better understand how or why we make certain decisions in our life.
Now, maybe that sounds a bit heady. Maybe I'm over-glamorizing the game. Maybe I've developed some romantic notion of poker that more experienced or more jaded people might view as an idealistic perception of an otherwise brutal pasttime.
Maybe. I dunno. But I know this: Since I started playing every day, I've started understanding a lot of things a lot better. Poker can be a stabilizing factor.
But even better, writing about poker is therapeutic. It helps me write about life, people, and stories through a lens that we all can understand. If I just wanted to write about anything, I'd stick to the blog I've been operating for the past three years. But here, CJ gives me an opportunity to filter many of my thoughts through a green-felt-lens.
It was in the writing and reading of other poker blogs that I came to know all these other folks out in the ether, the folks I appreicate, admire, and respect.
All that said, I think I went and offended one of them.
Sometimes in my overtaxed head I find a way to make real certain passing notions. I've done that recently.
So, this is a very public way to offer a private mea culpa to one of my fellow champions of the game.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled poker insanity.<-- Hide More
Right now on Fox Sports Net, you can watch the LIVE broadcast of the final table of the American Poker Championship. It's delayed 5 minutes to lessen the chance of cheating.
I suppose it's still possible for someone to jack into the feed before it goes out live and then transmit that info to a player at the table. It's just very unlikely.
One of the biggest problems with live poker is the potential to be very, very boring. I'll say this, though... so far so good!
Tonight, we get the $1,000 No Limit Hold 'Em final table and the $2,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hold 'Em final table. The NLHE event shouldn't be anything special, although I'm hoping for more than a series of all-in bets. The Omaha event, on the other hand, is highly anticipated!
As usual, before reading on, I suggest you go here and listen to "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy." That'll get you fired up!More in this Poker Blog! -->
8:00 pm CT
(Clemens has already giving up 2 dingers. 6-0 AL)
The players for the 1K NLHE are: Daniel Negreanu, Mike Matusow, John Juanda, Paul Phillips, Lee Markholt, Ram Vaswani, Gerry Drehobl and Reggie Cardiel.
8:01 pm CT Negreanu comes in with 56s, Markholt comes all in with AQo, followed by Vaswani's all in with Cowboys. Negreanu naturally folds. Vaswani flops a boat and turns quads. Ouch. Markholt is out in 8th.
8:03 pm CT We're learning how to play again.
8:04 pm CT Juanda gets A9o and makes a bet. Negreanu gets one of my favorite hands, JTs, and he calls. Everyone else gets out. The flop is T-J-4. Negreanu checks to Juanda who makes a stab at it. Negreanu comes way over the top and Juanda has to fold. Nice play.
8:05 pm CT First commercial break... checking in on the All Star game, and the NL has a runner on second with Scott Rolen at the plate and two outs. Rolen gets plunked and Sosa comes up with 2 on and 2 out. Sosa shatters his bat, but singles knocking in one.
8:09 pm CT We're back. About $366,000 will go to the winner. Negreanu is the chip leader and gets pocket 10's ("Long Distance?"). Vaswani comes all-in behind him with pocket 3's ("Crabs"). Negreanu calls and the crabs are in trouble. The flop is 2-2-8. The turn is another 8 and the river is a 6. Vaswani is out in 7th.
8:11 pm CT It's time to meet the Negreanu family. His mom packs a lot of food apparently. (The NL only got that one run, 6-1 AL after one inning.) And apparently Negreanu's friends only win because his mom is cooking.
8:12 pm CT Phillips gets pocket 7's ("Sunset Strip"?) and he moves all-in. It's a shame he didn't have pocket 6's for Phillips 66, right!?! Matusow is considering a call. We don't know his cards yet. He calls with AJs. Everyone else folds. It's a pocket pair vs. sutied overcards. The Flop is Q-6-T, the turn is a 9 for the diamond draw and a straght draw. The river is a 5... no help for Matusow despite about 27 outs. Poker blogger Paul Phillips doubles up. Mike and Paul chat it up. Definitely better characters at this table than last week!
8:14 pm CT Second commercial break... the AL hasn't scored again, but The Rocket is on the bench. Big Ben Sheets is tossing out there now, and Randy Johnson is in the bullpen. AL's got a runner on now with one out.
8:16 pm CT We're glancing at the other tables now as they play Omaha and Moneymaker is apparently trying his luck at this game.
8:17 pm CT Cardiel gets AJo and makes a bet. Juanda has 85s, and decides to play it. Hmmm... interesting. In fact, he moves all-in. Why? Does he have a read? Looks like he's trying to push around an amatuer. It doesn't work. Cardiel calls. The flop is 9-3-6, two diamonds and Juanda has a flush and straight draw. The turn is another 9, no help. The river is an 8 and Juanda amazingly doubles up. Lucky bastard, right?
8:20 pm CT Matusow looks at A4o. He moves all in. The "Mouth" makes a play, he's pretty short-stacked. Juanda has AK, and you gotta play Big Slick. He calls. Juanda is a huge favorite. The flop is 4-5-T, and Matusow takes the lead. It's getting crazy at this table! The turn is a 3. The river is a T and Matusow doubles up. I guess it's only fair after Juanda's last play. Matusow is living it up now... what a character. Negreanu is giving it back.
8:22 pm CT It's time to learn a little more about the "Mouth." He tells us he loves to talk. And then he proves it. Quite a few players have rolled their eyes. That's fun though, I love it. At least he respects the game... unlike Vogl, last week's winner. Matusow promises no "blow ups."
8:23 pm CT Third commercial break and the NL hasn't made up any ground. Still 6-1 AL and Mulder seems to be doing just fine. Damn that Mulder is good, isn't he? Ooooh, it's time for Barry Larkin's swan song. Was he good enough to warrant a "final season pity appearance?" Maybe his last seven injured seasons have soured me on him.
8:25 pm CT Back to poker. We've still got 6 players. Cardiel (an Ultimate Fighter) bets with "Long Distance." Negreanu looks down at QJo, and as the small blind, figures he'll take a stab at the flop. It comes Q-Q-3. Negreanu is one lucky guy, huh? Negreanu slow plays with his check, and Cardiel bets big, figuring there's no Q over there. Negreanu calls, and Cardiel wonders if Negreanu has the Q. The turn is a 5 and Negreanu checks and Cardiel bets again. Now Negreanu is fooling around with the amatuer and he smooth calls. The river is a 7. Negreanu goes all-in. More great play. Cardiel moves all in, showing he's an amatuer. He's out in 6th. Negreanu is a huge chip leader.
8:28 pm CT Matusow gets KTo and just calls the BB. Juanda gets A8s in the SB and he decides to just call. Phillips in the BB looks at K6s and he just checks. Three see a flop of T-7-7 and Phillips gets a flush draw. Matusow bets on his tens. Phillips considers a call. Matusow sings the Jeopardy theme. Phillips calls. The turn is the 4 of hearts and Phillips gets his flush. He bets out 20K and Matusow asks for a chip count. Mike can't call. He has to know the turn was the flush. Matusow goes all in anyway and knows he's dead. The river has to be a T or 7, but it's just a 2 of hearts. The "Mouth" is out in 5th and poker blogger Phillips gets more chips.
8:31 pm CT Going into the fourth commercial break, Matusow says what we're all thinking, "I'm not sure what made me do that." It was a terrible call. Phillips bet guaranteed he had the flush. Why else would he just call after the flop? The Big Unit is on the mound now and the AL has two more runners on base. Looks like the Yankees will have home field in the World Series.
8:34 pm CT Moneymaker busts out in Omaha long before the final table. What a name he's made for himself. The biggest in televised poker? It's a shame guys like Johnny Chan and Eric Seidel aren't more famous (at least they were in Rounders). Of course, my guy is The Professor.
8:36 pm CT Four left. Three pros and a fish. Negreanu gets "Long Distance." It's a popular hand tonight. Drehobl calls with J-8o. The flop is 2-J-8 and the both check. Drehobl is slow playing. The turn is a 3 and Negreanu bets out. Drehobl is playing this well and calls. Negreanu is shocked. The river is an Ace and Negreanu certainly can't bet. He just checks. Drehobl bets 50K and Negreanu thinks he's got him read with Ax suited on a flush draw. He's wrong, but he's a loser either way. Negreanu calls knowing it's a loser, but he wanted information and it cost him a little.
8:39 pm CT "Dead money" Gerry Drehobl gets a profile. Quite a coup for an amatuer. He came to Vegas in an RV. Wow. He's been playing for just 6 months and this is a family vacation. That's like a dream of mine (except the RV part).
8:40 pm CT Drehobl looks down at pocket Q's ("The Hilton Sisters") and he bets out. Juanda's got AJo and he's probably remembering the J8o Drehobl played earlier. Phillips gets pocket 8's ("Snowmen") and he moves all in. Phillips likes medium pocket pairs. Drehobl has to call and that means Juanda will get out of the way. Phillips is way behind. The flop is 6-A-T, no help for the poker blogger. The turn is another T. The river is a 5 and Phillips is out in 4th. The amatuer, Drehobl, actually becomes the chip leader. What's going on!?!?
8:42 pm CT The fifth commercial break starts with an ad for the DVD of Rounders. The NL is still getting its ass kicked, 6-1. Boooo-ring... they should all be watching poker.
8:44 pm CT We get to see some chip tricks now in the weird feature "Nuts." Of course, I'll watch Evelyn Ng do anything. I gotta say, the chip tricks beats last week's "cut a pickle with a card." I've been working on my shuffle, it's not bad.
8:45 pm CT Juanda gets AQo in the SB and just calls the BB. Hmmm, why not raise? Negreanu has 89s and the flop is 3-A-K putting Negreanu on a flush draw. They both bet. The turn is a 9 giving Negreanu a pair, but he's still behind. Juanda makes a big bet and Negreanu really must consider folding. He's wondering why Juanda would have just called the BB if he had an Ace. And if he doesn't have an Ace, why is he betting now? Negreanu calls. Amazingly, Juana moves all in in the dark... before the river. I've never seen that in televised poker. The 5 of clubs on the river doesn't help Negreanu, and he folds. That was fun, but if the heart would have come, Juanda was out. Weird move.
8:48 pm CT Juanda looks at A9o and bets. Negreanu gets KQs and moves all in. Drehobl must love watching this. Then he looks down at "The Hilton Sisters" again and moves all in. Juanda has to fold. And Negreanu knows he's in big trouble. The flop is 8-3-3, only one diamond. The turn is a 5. Negreanu needs a K. The river is a 7 and Negreanu is out. Lo, how the mighty have fallen. Drehobl is slaying the dragons. Negreanu says what we're all thinking as well... this amateur may actually outlast the pros at the final table. We'll see.
8:51 pm CT Sixth commerical break and the All Star game is in a commercial as well. The game is back, and it's still 6-1 AL.
8:54 pm CT The money is on the table... not quite as impressive as the money from the Big Event. We're heads up: amatuer vs. pro. It's final thought time from the final two. The only advantage of the amatuer is that he might be hard to read because amatuers are usually unpredictable. Juanda still has to be the favorite, right?
8:55 pm CT Juanda gets T5s and calls the BB. Drehobl has 82o. The flop is 4-K-3 rainbow, no help for anyone. Juanda bets 20K and Drehobl has to fold. Why full with your chips when you've got nothing? He does fold. Good lay down.
8:56 pm CT Drehobl looks at Cowboys. It's easy to play when you get the cards sometimes. He bets 48K. Juanda looks at ATo and might actually raise. He just calls. The flop is 7-Q-7. That should give Drehobl pause. He checks and so does Juanda. The turn is a 6 of clubs and they both have a flush draw, but Juanda's is better. Drehobl checks and Juanda bets. Drehobl raises. Nice play. Juanda re-raises all in. That's a shock. Drehobl calls and flips his Kings. The river is 4... of spades. Juanda is out and the amatuer wins his bracelet. Wow. It's not like some duffer wins on the PGA tour. Makes me wanna head right to Vegas for the next WSOP!
9:00 pm CT
(The AL is now up 7-1.)
It's time for PLOHE. The players are: Chris Ferguson ("Jesus"), Robert Williamson, Chau Giang, Ming La, Jeffrey Lisandro, Paul Maxfield, Mike Wattel, Dave Colclough, Karsten Johansen.
9:01 pm CT I'm a fan of Omaha. It's my second favorite game. Ferguson plays the first hand with AK85. Williamson has KK44, double flush draw and calls. Lisandro plays A965. The flop is 6-Q-6 and Lisandro has trip 6's. Ferguson checks and Williamson bets his flush draw. Lisandro moves all in. "Jesus" gets out of the hand. Williamson asks for a count. He's gotta figure Lisandro for a 6. With his first bet, he almost has to call, and does. The turn is a 9, giving Lisandro a full house and Williamson's flush draw is irrelevant. The river is another 9 and Lisandro doubles up.
9:05 pm CT It's time to learn Omaha, and I'm guessing a lot of people are watching this a little more closely than the Texas Hold 'Em explainer. Giang gets KQT7, double flush draw and he bets. La calls with JT97. Ferguson calls with AJ55, double flush draw. The flop is Q-3-2 rainbow. It's checked all around the turn is a deuce of clubs. Giang has two pair and the club flush draw and bets. La folds, he was already dead. Ferguson doesn't have much and probably has to fold. He does. The rabbit cam shows us Ferguson made the right play because the Q wouldn't have helped him at all.
9:08 pm CT First commercial break. The NL is still down 7-1 with a runner on first in the 4th. Now there's two on.
9:11 pm CT It's time for the "Jesus" profile. The NL just scored to make it 7-2 with runners on 2nd and 3rd. We're learning that Ferguson has a photographic memory.
9:12 pm CT La gets AA99 rainbow and bets enough that Ferguson would have to move all in. Ferguson is so short stacked he has to call all in with 9542 rainbow. Ouch. The flop is 7-Q-T, no help at all. The turn is a 3 giving Ferguson a straight draw. Only a 6 will help, but instead it's an Ace. Ferguson is out in 9th. "Jesus" is crucified. (Hmm, that was pretty blasphamous.)
9:14 pm CT Giang raises with AK87, double flush draw. Maxfield calls with 8765. Connectors are good cards. The flop is 8-4-2 giving Maxfield a lot of draws including flushes and straights. Maxfield bets all in. Giang is considering the call while the table chats about geography. Giang calls. He's ahead but now, but an underdog in the hand. The turn is an A, putting Giang ahead in the hand. The river is a K, and Maxfield goes out in 8th.
9:17 pm CT Second commercial break. We've got some interview with The Rocket going on. I'm not sure why. He's getting a bunch of awards. Now it's in commercial. Oh well.
9:19 pm CT Wattel gets AQT8 rainbow and he bets. Williamson gets KK97 and he bets even bigger. It's folded around and Wattel has to decide whether to go all in. He does. Williamson is a 3-2 favorite. The flop is 5-K-A, putting Williamson way ahead. Wattel needs a J. The turn is a deuce. The river is a 6 and Wattel is out in 7th.
9:21 pm CT We get a comparison between American poker and European poker. The wimpy Euros prefer Omaha. It's clearly a wimpier game, wouldn't you all agree? We learn table talk is banned in Europe. How boring. From both sides of the pond, they agree the Americans are bolder and brasher and the Euros are fancier and more passive.
9:22 pm CT Karsten Johansen goes out in 6th, we never see the hand.
9:23 pm CT La plays AQJ8. Williamson calls with 7654. The flop is A-6-5 and Williamson has a big hand with two pair a flush draw and an open ended straight draw. La has the Aces but probably needs to fold. Williamson likes to talk and I like watching him. Especially since he said he'll bring the gold to America. Now a Euro is complaining about Williamson talking. Screw the Euros!!! (No offense to any of my European readers.) La calls. Williamson is an 83% favorite. The turn is a T giving La a few more outs. The river is a Q of hearts and Williamson's flush knocks out La in 5th.
9:26 pm CT Third commercial break and the NL is actually making a run. It's now 7-4 going to the bottom of the fifth.
9:29 pm CT Williamson gets AA64, single flush draw and he bets big. Colclough bets big with QJT7, double flush draw. Williamson raises and Colclough has to go all in. The flop is AJ8, giving Colclough a flush and straight draw. The turn is another Ace and it's all over for Colclough in 4th place.
9:33 pm CT Williamson looks at AJT8, all hearts. Too bad he can't use them all. Williamson bets. Giang plays QT42 from the SB. Lisandro raises with AQ76 and Williamson calls. The flop is 5-J-7. Lisandro has his flush draw, Williamson has his pair. Lisandro bets and Williamson moves all in. Lisandro calls, he's actually ahead in the hand. The turn is a 6 giving Lisandro two pair. The river is an 8 giving Williamson a better two pair, and Lisandro is out in 3rd.
9:36 pm CT Fourth commercial break and the baseball game is also in commercial. I'm guessing the AL is still ahead. It's back and Thome is in the game. All right! It's still 7-4 AL. Just put a few men on base in front of Thome and he'll get the NL right back in this one!
9:38 pm CT Heads up action for $188,000. Two pros battling for this bracelet. We're now learning more about Williamson. It seems he'll gamble on anything, including kicking a ball on a roof. It's a bet he lost, twice.
9:40 pm CT Giang looks at KQQ9 and bets. Williamson has QJ98. Both are looking at a club draw. The flop is 8-6-Q. Giang's got a set, Williamson two pair. Giang bets big and Williamson raises. I'm sure he thinks top two pair is the best hand. It's not. Giang is an 84% favorite and he moves all in. If Williamson calls, he could be eliminated. He calls. Looks like we're about to see a suckout. The turn is a 5 giving Williamson two straight draws. The river is a T and Williamson doubles up. Yep, I'd call that a suckout. Giang is getting bleeped. Williamson is explaining his hand to the crowd. It probably wasn't the best decision, but sometimes you get lucky.
9:43 pm CT Fifth commercial break. Uh oh. The AL got a couple more and it's a 9-4 lead. Now a Thome grand slam doesn't even tie it. The NL sucks.
9:45 pm CT Giang has Q866, double flush draw. Williamson's got KT97 and calls. The flop is 3-6-5 and Giang has a set of 6's and a diamond draw. Williamson's got a worse diamond draw and a straight draw and bets. Giang moves all in and Williamson calls. The turn is a J. Williamson can only win with an 8. The river is another J and Giang wins with a full boat.
9:47 pm CT It's time for the Giang profile. Guys like Howard Lederer are singing his praises, he must be pretty good.
9:49 pm CT Giang plays 7542. Not a great hand. Williamson raises with K864. Giang calls. The flop is 8-6-2. Williamson flops top two pair, but he's actually an underdog because of all of the draws. Giang moves all in and Williamson calls. The turn is a T. Giang has 5 cards that bring him a straight. The 9 comes on the river and Giang doubles up again. Williamson got his money in with the best hand, but he was still a dog. That's Omaha!
9:51 pm CT Sixth commercial break and the NL has two on, 1 out and they're down 5 runs. Jack Wilson (who?) is at the plate. He flies out weakly. What did you expect, it was Jack Wilson. Thome is up. A homer here and it's a two run game. Come on, Jim!!! Some guy from Tampa Bay just struck him out. Like I said, the NL sucks.
9:53 pm CT Williamson bets with K854, three spades. Giang checks his BB with A962, two clubs. The flop is 3-6-9, two spades. Giang bets with his top two pair, Williamson has a straight draw and a flush draw. The turn is an A. Giang's top two pair just got better. Giang bets enough to force Williamson all in. Giang is a 3-1 favorite, Williamson should fold, can't risk it all on a one card draw. Williamson calls for the rabbit cam and folds. The river card wouldn't have helped him, so he made the right play.
9:57 pm CT Williamson is in big trouble now. Giang looks at KT86. Williamson has AA72 and raises. Giang calls. The flop is 9-3-7 giving Giang a straight and a flush draw. Williamson moves all in and Giang calls. It's Rockets vs. the draws. Giang is a huge favorite. The turn is a 4. Now Giang is just a slight favorite. The river is the K of diamonds and that's the flush Giang was looking for. He's the champ of Omaha. Williamson finishes in 2nd. Now that was fun to watch!<-- Hide More
Head on over to wil wheaton's blog for fish on -- part one. His poker reads are not to be missed!
Aside from chip-shuffling, nothing makes you appear like a poker pro in a room full of amatuers like the use of solid poker lingo. Since mentioning pocket 9's and it's lack of a good nickname, I've had a few searches for "poker hand names" funnel people to Up For Poker.
With that in mind, let's see how much we can help people out:
Pocket 2's: Ducks Not sure exactly how it got this nickname, but Paul Magriel loved saying "Quack, Quack" during his appearance on the World Poker Tour. I think that had more to do with his betting then with pocket two's, but maybe there's a connection.
Pocket 3's: Crabs I'm assuming this nickname comes from the shape of a 3. I suppose you could say it looks like a crab. I thought you might use sports to jazz up this nickname. The number 33 is pretty famous in NBA history thanks to Larry Bird and others.
Pocket 4's: ??? I'm not sure this one has a nickname yet. I'd like to call it Syracuse. "44" is the most storied jersey number in Syracuse University sports history. It was first made famous by Jim Brown (the greatest pro running back and greatest college lacrosse player in history), and later worn by college basketball standouts Derrick Coleman and John Wallace.
Pocket 5's: Speed Limit and Presto It's named speed limit for obvious reasons, but I prefer Presto. Here's the explanation I found for the nickname Presto: "Comes from what one says when revealing a pair of fives as one's holecards. The term was coined at the Big August Rec.Gambling Excursion and evolved from what a blackjack player says when turning over a blackjack."
Pocket 6's: ??? Any suggestions. When thinking of 6-6, Route 66 comes to mind. It's known as the Mother Road, but I'm not sure that makes a great nickname. There's also Phillips 66, so maybe the nickname "Phillips"? I need some inspiration here...
Pocket 7's: Hockey Sticks That's the only nickname I could find, and I don't think I like it. Dave Foley on "Celebrity Poker Showdown" wanted to call them "walking sticks," but I think we can all agree that anything related to CPS is a bad idea. I think I'll start pushing "Sunset Strip" for the short-lived but hugely popular "77 Sunset Strip" TV series from the late 50's to early 60's.
Pocket 8's: Snowmen I think Vince Van Patten once called this hand "octopus," but I'm not sure that ever caught on (and two of them would be octopi, right?). I've also seen it called "Little Oldsmobile," but I'm not a fan of that (Oldsmobile would be 8-9, both based on Oldsmoble car models).
Pocket 9's: Get Smart This hand was named by fellow poker blogger Lord Geznikor after I asked for some suggestions. Get Smart comes from show-stopper Agent 99. It's one of my favorite hands, and I was concerned no one had given it a nickname yet. If anyone has anyother suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments.
Pocket 10's: ??? I was shocked to discover there were no accepted nicknames for pocket 10's. I suppose you could call them "Dimes" for obvious reasons. I think I might go with "Long Distance" after all of those 10-10-### commercials.
Pocket Jacks: Hooks or Fishooks Again, it's the shape of the "J" that gave this hand its nickname. Poker players aren't always the most creative bunch of people. I prefer to call this hand "Hookers." It's just more fun.
Pocket Queens: The Hilton Sisters As far as I can tell, this is a poker bloggers creation. Pauly has made this nickname more popular through his little contest. This hand has also been more traditionally called "Ladies." And until the recent tiger mauling, it was known as "Sigfried and Roy." I think Paris and Niki will hold this title for at least a little while.
Pocket Kings: Cowboys I've actually seen this hand have the alternate nickname of "Kong," "King Kong" or "Gorillas." I don't think any of those have the charm of "Cowboys" especially considering the game we're playing is Texas Hold 'Em.
Pocket Aces: Rockets or American Airlines The latter is my personal favorite, but the former is certainly more well-known and very appropriate. I've also seen this hand called "Bullets" and "Eyes of Texas." I'm not too sure of that last one.
And, of course, the last hand lingo that any good poker player must know is "THE HAMMER." That's the best hand in poker: 72 offsuit.<-- Hide More
The multi-table tournament had just started. The $200 Pot Limit game was going very well. I'd flopped a set on my first hand. The Hilton Sisters held up on the second hand. The fourth hand was big slick. I made the ace on the flop and forced an angry BB to lay down his cowboys. He kept vowing, "I'm coming to get you, Otis." That surely boded well for me. I was already up nearly two hundred dollars.
But DirecTV was nudging my noodle every couple of seconds. It's coming on! The Cincinnat Kid is coming on!
If only I had TiVo.
I thought for a couple of seconds and decided I would swallow my pride and do it the old fashioned way.
I grabbed an old VHS tape, popped it in the bedroom VCR, and went back to my game.
A few hours later, I finished my game $250 up (the cards ran a little cold after the initial lightening ride). I busted out in 9th (that's the third time I've done that) in the multi.
Although it was starting to get a little late, I decided that perhaps Steve McQueen might be able to offer me something in the way of guidance.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'll admit from the outset that I'd never seen The Cincinnati Kid. While I like old movies from time to time, I've never been a big fan of films produced in the 60s. More than anything, the films' scores almost always give me the redass.
Nevertheless, I had to see THE poker movie. How could I converse intelligently with my poker brethren without a good base of knowledge on the McQueen flick?
As the film started and McQueen, heretofore known as The Kid, started his mad dash through the train yard, I thought to myself, "They should really re-make this movie and update it for people of my generation."
Thirty minutes in, I realized, "Oh, yeah. They did re-make this movie. It's called Rounders."
For those who have not taken the time to see the film, here's a brief synopsis (my apologies to the readers who know every line of the film by heart). Warning: If you've not see The Cincinnati Kid and plan to, there are more than a few spoliers in here. You've been warned.
The Cincinnati Kid is rolling tough, switch-blade games in the roughest parts of New Orleans. He's looking to make his bones. He wants to be The Man. Thing is, he's not. Lancey Howard (Edward G. Robinson) is. At the same time, The Kid is fighting to maintain a relationship with his girl, Christian (Tuesday Weld), and fighting off the advances of his father figure's wife, Melba (Ann Margret). That father figure, Shooter (Karl Malden), is fighting a massive debt and his inability to repay it without giving up what he values most, his honesty and integrity. The movie culminates in a marathon game of five-card stud in a New Orleans hotel suite.
At the risk of pointing out the obvious and perhaps repeating what other reviewers have, let's review the obvious comparisons.
The Kid=Mike McD
They are both young, experienced players who are bent on making their bones in the poker world. The money doesn't matter as much as being the best. Integrity and fair play are important to both players.
What I find funny is what the 1965 poker eyes saw as a Kid. I don't know how old McQueen was supposed to be in the movie, but in reality his was 34. Mike McD was a law student. Today, early-20s kids are playing on the net and busting the pros at the WSOP. However, some of those kids of today are like Chris Vogl, the engligh brat who won Event #1 of the WSOP this year and proudly proclaimed to the ESPN cameras that he didn't care about the glory. He only wanted to money. That's another post for another day, but let me be the first to say that Vogl is an oaf. Keep playing for the money, kid.
If you're like me and watched The Cincinnati Kid after you watched Rounders, you might think at first that Karl Malden is the Rounders equivalent to Mike McD's law professor. Turns out, Shooter is Worm almost through and through. He's in debt up to his ears. The only way he can dig out is to cheat. His cheating ends up putting The Kid in jeopardy. Sound familiar?
It's actually not as much of a question mark as I make it out to be. Howard is a combination of Teddy KGB and the WSOP. In Rounders, McD has to make it through KGB to make his run to Vegas. In The Cincinnati Kid, Lancey Howard is the both brass rings wrapped up in one.
Both are the guys who are turning the screws on the protagonists' best buddy. Both are vicious and unrelenting.
While not exactly the same, the plot points are similar. The Kid's girl doesn't understand his poker and only wants him for love. Melba (a painfully sexy Ann Margret) just wants a piece of the Kid's ass because of who he is. The Kid has to fight to keep the game honest because he wants to win for real.
Upon a little reflection, here's the official analysis of The Cincinnati Kid vs. Rounders:
The Cincinnati Kid is Rounders if Rounders stopped when McD lost his roll to KGB. Simple as that.
Rounders is The Cincinatti Kid, plus the tale of what happens to the Kid after he collects his thoughts and gets back in the game.
Here's an interesting tidbit about 1960s America vs. 2000 America.
The Kid loses the game, but gets the girl.
Mike McD wins the game but loses the girl.
Both are Hollywood endings, but for different generations. They both follow the same theme of "we must sacrifice to succeed," but the movies differ in what success actually is. I think that is an interesting window into a forty-year gap in America's thoughts on success and love.
Speaking of girls, and forgive me for saying so, but give me Tuesday Weld and Ann Marget any day over the supermodels of 2004. Most of today's actresses don't hold a candle to Ann Margret's hyper-aggressive sexual come-ons and Tuesday Weld's girlish innocence. And the bodies on those women...
Sorry, my wife is pregnant. I've been a bit, uh...lonely recently.
So, that's the dimestore analysis after only a night of sleep and three Diet Mountain Dews. I'm sure many more parallels can be drawn. Those are simply the ones that come to mind first.
I wonder what the next great poker movie will be?<-- Hide More
Those of you who play on Empire Poker might have heard a growl from across the ethereal poker room last night. It wouldn't have been hard to spot the source of the noise. It sprung, nay, erupted from the avatar known as Otis.
While I'm the first to defend online poker rooms for the massive task of managing tens of thousands of players at once, I'm also not going to be a mindless shill for them either.
So, please step inside for a rant against my homesite and, well, one of its players.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Rant #1: I bought in for this?
In recent days, Empire's multis have been experiencing a problem so serious that it threatens to discredit the effort to be a serious, reputable poker room. In two consecutive tourneys I've played, the entire game locked up. Every player is forced to sit and watch the screen do nothing. If you leave, you lose your buy-in. If you sit there, you're forced to watch mindless chat among bored players. You're also forced to watch the blind level go up without having a chance to play. After 30 to 45 minutes, the game springs back to life, but the blinds are a few levels higher. The crapshoot begins.
This first happened to me when we were two from the money in a 145-player multi. I ended up cashing in 9th place, but I can't help but think it hurt some of the other players. It happened again last night on the second hand of the tourney. Many of the other players said this has been happening for a while. It's a major bug in the system and severely discredits Empire's already weak tourney schedule.
Rant #2: You unbelievable weakling
This is no new problem, but it was the first time it cost me money.
I was in a $200 PL game last night. I raised on the button with AKs. The player UTG re-raised $20. I called. The flop came ATT rainbow. UTG (JacksRHI) bet the pot (~$50+). I thought for all of two seconds. Right now, AA, TT, and AT, and Tx beat me. I figure he's not going to re-reraise UTG with AT or any other naked T. The only way to know if he's holding American Airlines or TT is to...of, course, re-raise the amount of the pot.
When he didn't call for ten seconds, I knew I was out in front. No way he's going to think that long if he's holding the boat or quads. But then he didn't call for another five seconds. Then another five seconds.
The sonofabitch timed out and used his disconnect protection to see of his 77 would turn into a boat. To see those cards fairly, it would've cost him the rest of his stack.
My hand held up and I raked a sizable pot. But it should've been $87 bigger.
I know some sites have gotten rid of their disconnect protections for tourneys. I'm starting to think they should get rid of them all together. It's one thing when it only means the difference between winning and losing a few bucks. But when it's a few hundred bucks, that's a different story.
Disagree? Wait for it to happen to you.
Rant #3: My atheletic supporter works better than this
After both of these issues happened in the same night, I clicked on the 24-hour support button. I'd noticed several weeks ago that the 24-hour support function was inoperable. Turns out, it still is. When I e-mailed the off-line support about the tourney problem, I didn't even get an automated response.
True Poker, while replete with flaws, at least always has a host online to answer questions. How in the world Empire can operate without online supoprt is beyond me.
So, there ya go. I'm unhappy with Empire Poker. Perhaps I'm more unhappy because I'm more successful at this site than at any of the others I've played. The players are weaker, the pots are easier to rake, and they offer a variety of good games. Their multi-table tourney schedule sucks, but I probably shouldn't be playing too many multis anyway. Despite the great overlay on Empire's guaranteed tourneys, my EV is never that great.
I'd be curious to hear what other Empire players think. I'd also be curious to hear from Party players who also play at Empire about which skin they'd rather play at.
Rant ends here. Better writing to come later.<-- Hide More
On some Tuesday nights, I plan to live-blog the WSOP telecast on ESPN, as long as Texas Hold 'Em is being played. Enjoy.
I think we've all waited for tonight with anxious anticipation. Well, except, perhaps, for PokerProf who was there when it happened. For most of the rest of us, this will be our first chance to see the 2004 World Series of Poker. Before reading on, I suggest you go here and listen to "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy." It's the catchy song you've been hearing on the ESPN promos.
Okay, now that you're ready... read on...More in this Poker Blog! -->
7:00 pm CT I'll be back from dinner in an hour and ready to shuffle up and deal!
7:55 pm CT ESPN has extensive coverage on its website. As expected, we'll get to see more than just the $10,000 NLHE tourney. Tonight, it's the final table of the $2000 NLHE tourney featuring: David Chiu, Carl Frommer, Brian Haveson, Anthony Lellouche, Tuan Nguyen, Shawn Rice, Charlie Shoten, J.C. Tran, and James Vogl. In fact, the first 12 episodes will feature alternate events, followed by 10 episodes of the main event.
8:00 pm CT It's time!
8:01 pm CT There's already been a half dozen Moneymaker references.
8:02 pm CT Lon and Norm are back. Good, I think they do a nice job. Our first televised hand features rockets for James Vogl, the chip leader at the final table. Haveson, in the next seat, gets the unfortunate Cowboys. What terrible luck. A pot size graphic has been added? I don't remember it from last time. Could Haveson have laid it down? It was a re-raise from the chip leader, maybe you fold. I wouldn't have, he had to call. 24-year old Vogl has a HUGE chip lead and Haveson finishes in 9th.
8:05 pm CT We're learning how to play Texas Hold 'Em now. Thousands of more fishes just decided to lose their money online.
8:06 pm CT Lellouche attempts a blind steal with J4o, and runs into KK in the small blind. Chiu moves all in and Lellouche calls. Chiu was the tiny stack at the table. Chiu doubles up. He's the only braclet winner at the table, it's not a good idea to give him chips like that.
8:08 pm CT First commercial break.
8:10 pm CT J.C. Tran gets unceremoniously dismissed in 8th place, we only get to see the river card. Must have been one boring hand.
8:11 pm CT Vogl gets Big Slick suited. Lellouche goes all in behind Vogl with the Hilton sisters. Vogl's gotta call, and he does. It's the classic showdown, Lellouche is a slight favorite. But the flop brings the Ace and Vogl just gets richer. Lellouche goes out in 7th when the Hilton sisters don't put out.
8:13 pm CT It's the first profile, and it's of Vogl... think that means he'll win? He's a backgammon player first... wonder why there's a correlation between the two "sports?" He's crediting the cards like any good modest player will... but it takes more than cards to win.
8:14 pm CT Vogl gets a lowly A6o, and Chiu looks down at Big Slick. He has to move all-in. Nguyen (not Men or Scotty) has to go all-in with pocket 7's. That means Vogl has to fold. No reason to give away part of his huge stack. It's another classic confrontation. No help on the flop, or turn, or river. Nguyen doubles up and Chiu is in serious trouble. Big Slick is 1-1 so far.
8:16 pm CT
Second commercial, and the first thing we see is
an anti-gambling a responsible gambling commercial.
8:19 pm CT We're getting a taste of some of the other familiar players in other events: Jennifer Harmon, Daniel Negreau, Dutch Boyd, Men "The Master," Minh Ngyuen, and Phil Ivey.
8:21 pm CT Shoten is short-stacked and goes all-in with KTo. Vogl has to call with JTo because he has such a huge stack. Rice gets AJo and amazingly goes all-in behind them both. Vogl rightly folds. It's KT vs AJ. The A hits the flop and Shoten is on his way out in 6th.
8:23 pm CT Vogl moves in with KJs. Chiu and his short-stack look at ATo and calls the bet. The flop is K-9-4. They both check, and Vogl watches an Ace come on the turn. It was a bad play by Vogl because Chiu moves all-in with his Aces. Vogl has to fold, but he calls, why? It's bet on the flop and fold on the turn. When a 6 falls on the river, Chiu doubles up again. Vogl's inexperience shows.
8:26 pm CT Third commercial break.
8:29 pm CT Vogl gets K9s and gets in the hand. Chiu looks at KQo, and it's a tough hand to play. Does he think Vogl has the A? The flop is Q-9-7. Chiu gets top pair and Vogl gets second pair. Vogl goes all-in putting Chiu in a tough spot. Now Vogl is goading Chiu into a call. Why? Chiu calls and Vogl is giving more chips away. More inexperience. No help on the turn or river. Vogl mumbles that he thought he was suited. The river club would have been a flush then, but I'm not sure I believe him. Chiu doubles up again.
8:31 pm CT It's time for the Chiu profile. Don't tell me Vogl blows his huge chip lead! If he does, at least it's to a bracelet holder.
8:32 pm CT Rice gets pocket 9's, one of my favorite hands. I'm still looking for a nickname. Chiu gets Q3s and, as the big blind, he decides to call Rice's raise. Rice flops quad 9's. Wow. I told you those 9's were go. I think we'll see Rice checking a whole lot. Chiu takes a shot at the pot and Rice cold calls. On the turn, Chiu catches 3's. He's gotta figure Rice for over cards. They both check. The river is an A. Chiu definitely can't bet now. He checks and Rice bets... Chiu has to fold, but he calls!?!?!? Rice flips the 9's, how's that feel? Suddenly, Rice is the chip leader.
8:35 pm CT Fourth commercial break, and it's Levitra. Can you say "target audience?"
8:38 pm CT Rice looks at AQo, and raises. Frommer gets Hookers and has to move all-in with his short stack. Rice and the big stack has to call, and it's yet another classic confrontation. AQ vs. JJ. Will overcards win this time? Probably, the Q-5-4 puts Rice at a huge advantage. When the Q comes on the turn, it's almost over. The 8 on the river doesn't help Frommer and he finishes in 5th.
8:39 pm CT Is the Rice profile now and we find out he learned the game watching Amarillo Slim. Not a bad teacher at all. And he gets Slim's seal of approval. Rice says he's not scared of anyone, but he respects them. That's the right attitude.
8:41 pm CT Vogl looks at Presto. We haven't heard much since he donated his chips to Chiu. Nyguen calls with J9s. It's another coin flip, but no one is all-in yet. The flop is A-T-6 and Nyguen gets a club draw. Nyguen checks and Vogl forces him all-in. Nyguen calls. The turn is another T. But the Q is no help and Vogl finally wins another hand. Nyguen goes out in 4th.
8:42 pm CT Fifth commercial break.
8:45 pm CT We're introduced to Chris Ferguson (or "Jesus"). And now it's time for a feature called "The Nuts." Hmmm... show me poker. We get to watch Ferguson chop a pickle in half by throwing a card. Pretty lame.
8:46 pm CT With just three left, Rice raises on the button with A6o. Chiu gets K8s, and has to play from the SB. Vogl sees KTs, and he has to call from the BB. It's a family pot. The flop is Q-5-4 rainbow, and Rice is still in the lead. Everyone checks and we see the 7 on the turn. It's ugly, but Chui bets out big. It's a semi-bluff, he's got a bit of a straigth draw. Vogl is on the best draw (a flush) and he raises big. Chiu throws his hand away. Oooooh... the rabbit cam shows us the river would have been a 9 of spades. Rice would have won the pot. Chui is lukcy he folded.
8:48 pm CT Chiu is short stacked with AJs, and he moves all-in. For the first time, we get the "How much do you have?" question from Vogl. He's got just K3o, and he has to fold. Rice gets pocket 4's and has to call with his big stack. The flop is 8-9-5, the turn is another 9, and the river is a 10. Chiu is out in 3rd, and Vogl and Rice breathe a HUGE sigh of relief.
8:50 pm CT The $40,000 top prize is carried out to the table, and we move to the sixth commercial break.
8:53 pm CT We get a "polar opposites" feature. Rice vs. Vogl, quite a contrast in style. Vogl starts to sound more like an idiot, going on and on about luck.
8:54 pm CT Rice is at about 900,000 vs. Vogl's 70,000. Rice bets out with ATo. Vogl calls with K9o. Both playable hands heads-up. K-Q-T of spades on the flop. Rice moves all in, because he's go the A of spades and bottom pair. Vogl has top pair and a straight draw, but it's a tough call. And Vogl folds. Where's the rabbit cam!?!? Guess we only get that on the river.
8:56 pm CT Rice gets pocket 4's again. He raises to 30K. Vogl has pocket 7's and a HUGE advantage. Vogl raises to 100K. Rice moves all-in, and Vogl calls. Rice is kicking himself. The turn is 8-T-7, and Rice is dead. The turn is an 8 and Vogl is now a big leader at 1.3 million. Rice is down to 275K.
8:57 pm CT Vogl bets 30K on AQo. Rice moves all-in with KQo and moves all-in. Vogl calls, and Rice is in bad shape. The flop is 9-8-4. The turn is an 8. And the river is (look at the clock and guess), not a K. It's a T and Vogl wins event #1.
8:59 pm CT Rice tells us he's disappointed to win $200,000 and we all know how he feels. Non-poker players probably think it was a stupid thing to say. Vogl says with those cards, his Mom could have won in an hour and a half. I don't like Vogl.
9:00 pm CT It's time for $1500 7 Card Stud with Men "The Master" Nguyen, Minh Nguyen, Ted Forrest, Jim Wheatley, Chad Brown, Michael Mueller, David Feder, and Peter Brownstein.
9:14 pm CT I don't know enough about 7 Card Stud to really blog about it, but it's not bad to watch. Let's just say I'll never play this game for a lot of money!<-- Hide More
Boredom can be a sadist.
It shoves a poorly-manicured thumbnail in your navel and twists. It drags you by your nose into dark corners where ne'er-do-wells skulk and rodents feed on trash. Perhaps more dangerous, it hangs you from a mountain summit and says, "So, you wanna play, huh? Well, then let's play."More in this Poker Blog! -->
Limit Hold'em has been boring me recently. I usually play $3/$6 limit on Empire. The variance has been a little high recently. That was of little concern to me. Variance is variance. I was getting a little tired, though, of playing perfect poker and losing. And, of course, even the most disciplined among us tend to tilt a little when the bad run runs too long. When that happens, I'll be the first to admit, I'm not playing perfect poker.
I was on the verge of something we all do from time to time. I was about to take a break. I was going to try to wrap my head around the game without playing it. Bobby Baldwin's chapter in Super System was about to get some serious work. I like to call myself a a limit player who dabbles in no-limit tourneys. If I was going to talk like that, I needed to back it up.
I see Limit Hold'em as a beer drinker's game. It's a steady game, well-paced, with little room for disaster unless you choose otherwise. Sure, it's possible to have a few too many and wake up wicked hungover. But there's little doubt, you made the choice to do that, and the hangover usually isn't that bad.
No-limit, as we all know, is for people who like to ride the lightning. It's a shot-drinker's game. If you choose to have one drink and wait for the nuts, you're going to be okay. But if you're really committed to playing the game, you've got to be willing to be hungover for three days. You've got to be willing to go broke.
As a semi-professional drinker, I know both games pretty well. I've suffered the victories. I've suffered the hangovers. I've made some decent money and I've almost gone broke a couple of times.
Simply put, those are the devils I know. And, frankly, I've been a little bored.
A bored poker player can be as dangerous as a bored drinker. When one gets bored, he starts to experiment. That brings us to Otis' latest experiment in chasing the high.
Two-hundred dollar buy-in Pot Limit.
After a recent final table finish in Empire's $25,000 guarantee Sunday night tourney, my bankroll was such that I could afford to lose $200. On a bored evening, I recently sat down at the $200 PL and decided to play.
I won $350 in a 45 minute session.
I stood up, and rightly, went out for a drink or ten. I ruminated over the possibilities for most of the evening. It seemed way too easy. I had hit and run the table for a sizable chunk of cash. There was a part of me that thought I had just found a poker utopia. Like anyone who buys a lottery ticket, I had visions of grandeur. The 45 minute session had just crowned me king of the poker world.
Of course, when I was thinking, I was drinking. I was no king. I was a guy sitting at a bar and trying to negotiate with the bartender. The Bait Shack had recently increased its draft price by 50%. I argued that since I had been drinking there since they opened, I should be grandfathered. I should get every third beer free. They didn't see things my way.
The next day, I sat back down and lost every bit if my winnings in two hands. Most of it left my stack when a guy called $150 against my king-high spade flush with AJo. He held the ace of spades and the fourth spade came on the river.
I considered myself no worse for the wear. It was an experiment in riding the lightning. I survived and vowed to return to $3/$6 limit as soon as I stopped cursing.
Had it not been for Pauly asking me to write a little something for his blog-zine, I might never have ventured back into the world of $200 PL. But since he asked, and I was writing, I thought I'd sit and play a little more. I entered a $20+$2 multi and sat at a $200 PL table.
It became a four-hour session. I wrote the piece (hopefully to be featured in an upcoming edition of Truckin') and played steady poker.
When I stood up, I had placed 9th in the tourney. What's more, my $200 buy-in had turned into $733.
So, here I sit, 12 hours after a very nice winning session. It was not a hit and run. It was steady poker, played well. I remember laying down top two pair to a $90 bet when there was a possible straight on the board and two to a flush as well. I had my head wrapped around the game and didn't feel like I was riding the lightning. I felt confident and sober.
Still, as the title of this post suggests, I know I'm walking a fine line. While my bankroll could stand a slight correction, I don't know that I'm qualified or wealthy enough to play at that level.
More interesting, however...what is Otis going to do?<-- Hide More
I didn't want to play the pair of fives... especially after it got raised behind me, but I was in the hand now. The flop didn't hit me one bit. I should get out, right? The raiser bet out and there were a couple of callers in front of me. It's just 4 bucks, right? What the hell...
4th of July checklist:
Watch patriotic parade... CHECK See fireworks... CHECK Go fishing... CHECK
I jumped in my car Sunday with one goal in mind: poker. I drove the hour and a half to Marksville, LA, home of the Paragon Casino. The last part of the directions said, "Turn right on main street, the casino is 3.0 miles on the left." Fine, except for one problem... the Marksville 4th of July parade.
45 minutes later, I finally made that 3 miles and made it to the casino. Needless to say, I saw a lot more of the parade then I wanted to. I found the poker room and got my name on the list for a little 4/8 HE. To kill time, I hit the craps table. About an hour later, they called my name. I was up $2 at that point and decided to leave that as a tip.
Back in the poker room, I bought in for $200. I frankly didn't know how I'd do and figured I might sustain some losses before making it back. I thought I might even project the image of some young kid who doesn't know what he's doing. Maybe that would help me get a few callers when they shouldn't be calling.
I'm in seat 4. The table consists of an older woman in seat 7, a twentysomething guy in seat 8, and old Cajun men in every other seat.
The first hand I'm UTG and I look down at pocket 9's. That's one of my favorite hands. I think I'll have to come up with a nickname for it. I call. Six of us see a flop of A-9-6. It's checked to me, and I check as well. When the button finally bets, I raise. So much for the table image I was planning to project. Instead I'm check-raising on the first hand. Think that got their attention?
The button calls, and gives me a scowl. The turn is a blank and I bet and he calls. The river is a blank, I bet, he calls, and his A-7 falls to my trip 9's. I think it's going to be a good day.
Next hand I'm in the BB with K-9 suited. It's actually raised in front of me, but I call since I'm already in the pot. Five of us see a flop of 9-6-2, rainbow. No help for my flush, but I've got top pair with a good kicker. I bet out and get a bunch of callers. The raiser didn't raise again, so I put him on two big cards.
The turn is a 9. Trip 9's in back-to-back hands. Oh yeah, it's going to be a very good day. I bet out and get three callers. The river is a blank, I bet out and they all fold. Two big pots and it's been less than 5 minutes.
Suddenly, I realize I'm fishing. My line is in the water, and I'm going to get a lot of bites. In fact, if I just drop my net in, I'm sure they'll just come swimming in.
A few hands later, I get pocket J's. It's raised in front of me and I call. The flop is 8-8-x. I bet and the raiser calls me. The turn is a 9. I bet and the raiser calls me. The river is another 9, I bet, and the raiser says, "Damn that 8," and shows me Cowboys before tossing them in. Wow.
At this point, I figure variance has to kick in eventually. You may win a few pots, but you have to lose some, too. Fortunately, I've found one of the loosest tables I've ever seen, and these people don't know what they're doing.
Of course, not ever hand was a winner, and a few cost me money. The first was Cowboys. It was my only premium hand that didn't hold up.
I raise in late position and get two callers. The flop is 7-x-x. I bet and get two callers. The turn is another 7. I bet, the next player calls, and the last player raises. Ugh. I know he's got the 7, I should fold, right? I call, as does the other player. The river is a blank. I check, the next player checks and the final player bets. We both call. He flips 9-7s, which not only cracks my K's, but the other player's American Airlines. It made me feel better knowing I would have lost either way.
A little while later, the same guy beat my pocket 8's when his K-4o caught two 4's on the board. Of course, those kinds of hands just encouraged everyone at the table to keep chasing and chasing and chasing. How could I complain about that?
I got pocket rockets twice, and both times they held up. The second time, it was raised in front of me, so I just called. I figured he did me a favor, and I got to hide the strength of my hand. The flop was harmless. He bet and I called. The turn was the second 10. Now I was a little worried. He bet and I just called. The river was the third 10. He checked this time, I bet and he called, flipping pocket Q's.
Presto won for me twice. The first time, my 5's amazingly held up with a board of A-9-6-4-2. Four people were in the hand to the river, and the only other pair was someone holding K-4o.
The next time it won, I really hurt an old guy on oxygen...
I didn't want to play the pair of fives... especially after it got raised behind me, but I was in the hand now. The flop didn't hit me one bit. I should get out, right? The raiser bet out and there were a couple of callers in front of me. It's just 4 bucks, right? What the hell.
The turn brought the magic 5. I checked, Mr. Oxygen bet and I raised him. He gave me a look and called. We were the only two left. The turn brought a second 9 giving me a boat. I bet and he reluctantly called. I turned over my fives, and gave him a sympathetic look. He threw his Cowboys across the table. I really hoped he didn't die right in front of me. (He didn't.)
There were plenty of other hands, like when my 7-3s caught a flush on the turn and I pulled a ton of money out of the twentysomething guy at the table. Unfortunately, he tried to re-raise me on the river, but put money in before announcing and the dealer made him just call. The next hand, he stayed with me to the river and my K-Qs won with just a pair of K's. I'm not sure why he was in that pot, but I didn't complain.
When the old Cajun men got drunk and obnoxious, I got up and walked away. Having them drunk didn't necessarily make it easier for me to win, it just made it less enjoyable. I took my $500 to the cage and cashed out. Five hours of poker, $300 profit, $60 and hour, 7.5 big bets an hour. A good day's work.
On the way out, I pulled my $100 chip out from craps earlier and thought I'd give it another run. It was quite a rollercoaster, but in the end, I lost it all. Oh well, I was up $200 for the trip. I could hardly complain.
During the drive home, I caught the tail end of the Bunkie, LA fireworks show. That really made my 4th of July complete.<-- Hide More
Hypothesis: Poker, while always a wonderfully American and often suburban event, has become popular enough to overshadow our nation's independence.
Proof? I drove an hour from my home today to a Fourth of July party (complete with red, white, and blue decorations) that was more poker tournament than family gathering.
Analysis: That's exactly the way it should be.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I hit the road with the wife the morning and met BadBlood and friends at the Independence Poker Open in Greenwood, SC.
It was a family event, complete with holiday streamers, a BBQ, a pool for swimmers, and--most importantly--a room set aside for poker.
Twenty-three people ponied up $50 a piece to take a shot at the final four paying spots. The room was full of attorneys, engineers, TV personalties, a judge, a preacher's wife, and some other business-types. Badblood and I added a blogger element to the room(although we fit into the other descriptions as well).
Because I'm sort of in the mood to keep drinking (there was a keg keeping the tourney going), I'm not going to write a full tourney report. Instead, here are a few hands of note.
On the second hand of the game, on the button, I see the Hilton Sisters (QQ) staring back at me. I put in a 3xBB raise. Only the SB calls me. The flop came 9TJ (the nine and ten were spades). I bet the pot and the SB called. The turn brought the 8 of spades, making my straight but putting a flush on the board. I checked, the SB put in a reasonable bet. I called. The river was the 6 of spades. I checked my queen high flush. He made the same size bet as before. I called to see his 72 of spades. My QQ turned Q-high straight turned Q-high flush got killed by 72spades...a straight flush 6-10. My stack was diminished by more than 2/3 of my chips. On the second hand of the game. I later learned the guy who played the 7-2 had recently run for county prosecutor and lost. I vowed--no matter what--to make sure I outlasted him. And I did.
The host's brother (who claimed never to have played the game before) was running over the table. He was the first to double up when his pocket cowboys made a set on the flop and a boat on the river. I was severely shortstacked and none-too-happy to see 10-6 of hearts in the BB. Fortunately, no one raised it to me. I checked. Two sixes fell on the flop. I slowed played them and cold-called a reasonable bet. The turn brought a ten and made my boat. I checked, then hemmed and hawed over whether to call a large bet from the self-problaimed Newb. I also checked the river when it came an Ace. Newb put me all in. I obviously called and doubled up. He didn't show his cards.
At the first break I was sitting at an exact 75% of my starting chips. We consolidated to two tables shortly thereafter.
My stack was getting short. I re-raised all-in with pocket nines. The big stack at the table called with K9s. The nines held up and I doubled up.
Perhaps my biggest mistake of the day, although it cost me nothing...sort of. Everyone folded to my small blind. I had A3of clubs. I decided to raise to push out Teddy Ballgame. He'd been playing very conservatively. He cold-called. the flop came with rags, but two clubs, giving me the flush draw. I put in a big bet and he cold-called again. I put him on a middle pair or second pair on the board. The turn paired my threes. I can't remember if I bet and he called or we both checked. Regardless, the river was a rag. We both checked and both turned over A3 to split the pot. Had I been more aggressive, I could've taken that pot from him and it really would've helped my chip position.
After bluffing the big stack off a pot, and wisely laying down some unsuited face cards and small pairs, I picked up a nice pot when my big blind rag cards made a pair of threes to an under-aggressive big stack. It carried me to the next break and the final table.
I started the final table with 2800T, below the average chip count but on par with more han half of the final table particiapants. I had enough for a few orbits and the blinds were skyrocketing. I never saw a flop at the final table when I pushed in from the SB. I had rags, but not enough money for the BB the next time around. I wanted to steal the judge's BB. He called and had two overcards and they held up. I was out in 6th.
Badblood, true to form, busted out next...on the bubble. He and I are trying to come up with a psychological profile of players who finished consistently on the bubble.
Now, I've been writing for about 45 minutes and I still want to go out drinking...but I'm killing a Empire $3/$6 game. I'm up $233 in 45 minutes.
What's a poor boy to do?
Incidentally, Greenwood Phil ended up with the $575 win. As he was born on the fourth of July, it was a nice birthday gift for him.<-- Hide More
I guess I'm not the only family member winning poker tourneys these days. And, in fact, I've never bested 468 other players to take a title. Those Ultimate Bet tourneys can get pretty crazy, so here's to Lefty! Looks like "Huck Finn" is doing just fine on the river!