Well, I did just about as poorly as I thought I would. I won one showdown. You can read that again. I finished 37th out of 77. Here's the raw report:More in this Poker Blog! -->
Took 4 hands for the table to see the first flopâ€¦ I raised on the button with A-Q off, and got re-raised. I called, the flop was garbage. He bet 100 and I folded. Not worth it. It took 6 hands for us to see a turn. Iâ€™d say our table is tight.
Big Slick in early position. Raise 3x and called. Flop is K-T-J. I bet 75 and the guy comes over the top all-in. I fold. Not worth it. He claims KJ. Itâ€™s mstephen, same guy who beat me last time.
Iâ€™m already down to 1175... Only really played two hands, AQ and AK, both times forced off. Could be a long night (umâ€¦ I mean short tourney).
I limped with suited connectors and, of course, got raised. Thatâ€™s it, time to play the only strategy I know. Fold, fold, fold.
Hammer in the BB. Everyone foldsâ€¦ HAMMER wins.
I just realized if the table is going to be very tight, I need to adjust and become more aggressive. The most aggressive player is winning the table right now. Too bad Iâ€™m not a good â€œaggressiveâ€ player.
First big hand and a flush beat a straight. Elguacho doubles up at mstephanâ€™s expense.
I raise 3x BB with A-T s and everyone folds.
Weâ€™re already up to 25/50 blinds and Iâ€™m down to 1115. Hardly a hand worth playing at this point.
Raised with K-J o in late position and everyone folded.
Pocket 4â€™s in the BB and short stack limps in front of me. I figure Iâ€™ll put him all in, but itâ€™s raised by the small blind and I fold. Flop is Q-3-4 and Iâ€™m pissed. Of course, short stack had pocket Qâ€™s so the small blind saved me money!
A-8 s, and I raiseâ€¦ small blind calls. Flop is red, Iâ€™m looking for black. He goes all in and I fold.
A-T s again and I raise 3x BB. They all fold.
K-Q s and I raise from first position. Everyone still folds. I just raised 2x BB.
Iâ€™m down to just 940. I havenâ€™t really won a hand. Blinds are at 50-100 for just 4 more minutes, then 75-150. Ouch. Gotta make a move.
Down to 765 with blinds only and weâ€™ve hit the point where itâ€™s all in or nothing for most players. I just folded K-Q o in first position because I wasnâ€™t willing to go all in with it. Flop would have missed me so I donâ€™t feel so bad.
BB, and itâ€™s 8-3 o, great hand. Amazingly I get to check it through, but the flop is nowhere close and I canâ€™t bet it. After my pathetic 9-5 o SB hand, Iâ€™m down to just 540.
One entire circuit, one face card (Jack), no connectors, no two of the same suit. Ouch.
Q-3 s in the big blind and itâ€™s raised in front of me. I have to fold.
Rockets in the SB, I better double up!!! Instead, I triple up!! Flop doesnâ€™t help them, and itâ€™s so fast, I donâ€™t know what they had. Iâ€™m up to 1320.
Just folded A-8 s on the button when it was raised and re-raised in front of me. BB then went all in. Glad I folded.
First break. There are 47 people left, and I am in 42nd place with just 1020. I need to make another move. Maybe Iâ€™ll get American Airlines again.
A-2 o in first position and I briefly considered moving all-in. Iâ€™m not that stupid, am I?
9-3 s in BB. Ugh. Iâ€™m down to 720.
5-3 o in SB. Double Ugh. Iâ€™m down to 570.
Another circuit with no face cards. Iâ€™m about to go all-in with nothing and pray.
Mstephan just made a HUGE move when his KK beat QQ and AK with 2 all-ins. Heâ€™s up to 8790.
6-6 in the BB and Iâ€™m going all-in. Except everyone folded.
3-3 in the SB and Iâ€™m going all in. I get called by J-10 and a J on the turn does me in. Had to make the move. Iâ€™m out in 37th. What a terribly boring tournament for me.<-- Hide More
There were only two ways you would know I was sitting in a mexican eatery. First, there was a basket of corn chips and salsa sitting next to my monster beer. Second, two Hispanic guys sat behind the bar intently watching Univision on the big screen TV. With those two exceptions, the basement restaurant looked almost exactly like it did when it was an Italian spot a few years ago.
Olympic Boxing had been on TV when I came in. I found myself thinking that any sport broadcast in Spanish sounds like soccer if you're not watching the screen.
G-Rob was there waiting when I walked in. He'd already downed half his beer before I walked in six minutes late. We figured a big beer from The Cactus would do us well before we venutred across the street to what I'd started thinking of as The Quilt (QLHT--Questionably Legal Hotel Tourney) hosted by fellow poker blogger, BadBlood.
I'd been out of live poker commission for the two weeks since my kid had been born. I'd missed out on four games at The Mark (formerly known as The State Park game), a Greenwood tourney, and a trip to Tunica. I was stoked, rowdy, and a little nervous.
And I had to pee.More in this Poker Blog! -->
In the bathroom, one urinal had been ripped off the wall and there weren't any paper towels in the dispenser. The restaurant had certainly seen better days. Me? I'm trying to work up my confidence, holding my whang and going over hypothetical hands in my head.
When I came back to the bar, G-Rob was interested in the TV. Moreover, he was interested in the tanned, buxon women gyrating in bikinis.
"This is a good show," he said. We'd been talking about novelist Christopher Moore. G-Rob's remark reminded me of something Biff, or better yet, Coyote, would say.
One of the Hispanic guys said, "Caliente."
I don't know why I felt the need to translate, but I looked at G-Rob and said, "Hot."
He raised his eyebrows as if to say, "Indeed," and went back to watching. When the announcer's voice went through a machine gun rattle of words ending with "Caliente!" G-Rob looked suprised.
"Oh, the show is called Caliente?" He though the guy had just been commenting on the women.
My phone rang and I noticed it was BadBlood on the line. He was calling to give us the name of the suite where the tourney would be held.
G-Rob and I finished our beers, said "Gracias" to the guys at the bar, and headed for the door.
"Caliente," I said.
BadBlood had extended the invitation a couple of weeks before. I'd been dying to make it, but was unsure if I could due to baby-producing factors. When I finally got the all-clear, I mentally prepared for a good showing.
26 players in a hotel conference room.
$50 buy-in with no rebuy.
Four tables covered in Green table cloths.
A couple cases of beer
$100T in chips
50 minute levels beginning at $1/$2 with a ten minute break at each increase
Top five finishers get paid.
The room was largely full of unknowns to me. I knew Teddy "Tight" Ballgame, the Rankster, Emerald City Derrick, Greenwood Phil, Tatwood, G-Rob, and BadBlood. The other 18 players were wild cards. I sized them up one by one, judging each card-holding book by its cover.
I got set the Diamond Table with this motley crew:
Seat One: Brad A-hat (not short for asshat, by the way)
Seat Two: David the Mute
Seat Three: Danny C-Gar
Seat Four: Otis (Otis LOVES drawing this seat by the way)
Seat Five: G-Rob
Seat Six: Mr. I'm going to get creamed by BadBlood's quads so soon that I didn't have time to properly introduce myself.
Seat Seven: BadBlood
Seat Eight: Stevie Broomcorn
I already knew BadBlood was the table favorite. I knew G-Rob would be loose, even though I told him to play tight. I figured Brad A-Hat and David the Mute for solid players and the rest of the guys to be middle of the road to poor. My pre-game predictions had BadBloood, Brad A-Hat, and me leaving the table alive.
I was wrong.
Memorable Hand #1--
During the first level, I'd done my best to establish myself as a tight player. I'd done everything I could, including proclaiming "TIGHT!" every time I raised (times that were very few and far between). I was within seconds of breaking out the old "tight as a 16-year old cheerleader" line when I looked down and saw pocket jacks.
I barely had the words out of my mouth when G-Rob announced, "Raise."
Maybe he hadn't heard me. See, I had said, "Raise." By that I meant, "Get the hell out of my way, because I'm tight, see, and when I raise I have a hand that will make yours look like a kid who pissed his pants at recess. Move over."
Before I could get a read on G-Rob's re-raise, Brad A-Hat had called. I pondered the hand for a couple of seconds and simply called. I put G-Rob on a big ace (likely AK) and Brad A-Hat on tens.
The flop was as ugly as it could be. Three hearts (I didn't have a heart) and an ace. I thought for a moment about betting out and trying to scare off the competition, but it was early and I hated the hearts and an overcard.
I checked, G-Rob bet, A-hat called, I folded.
The turn was a blank and the river brought another heart.
G-Rob turned up A8o. A-hat turned up A9o. A-hat's nine was a heart and he raked the pot.
To review: G-Rob re-raised with a naked ace and A-Hat called a re-raise with a naked ace.
I thought about turning to G-Rob and asking him if he remembered me telling him to play tight, but decided to wait for another time.
Later, G-Rob forced David the Mute (a man who in an earlier hand didn't re-raise on the river with the stone cold nuts) to lay down a hand and later claimed to be holding 37o. I still don't believe it.
Memorable Hand #2--
One thing that's not all that fun is to establish yourself as a rock then immediately find pocket aces. That's what I did.
I wasn't entirely sure how to make the most of the hand and immediately cursed myself for a raise that seemed too small the minute my chips hit the felt. I double cursed myself when I got two callers, Brad A-Hat and Danny C-Gar.
The flop was ragged as hell and ten-high. I loved the flop until A-Hat announced he was all in. C-Gar folded and it was to me. If I called him and lost I would be nearly out of chips.
I went in the tank and thought. First, A-Hat established early on that he was happy to almost play Any Two Cards. It had served him well on a couple of hands but in recent minutes he'd been floundering and was running out of chips. Second, an all-in bet seemed a little excessive if he'd flopped a set of tens. That left two possible hands as far as I was concerned. I fgured he either had AT or had flopped a ragged two-pair.
I returned from the tank, counted out more than 2/3 of my stack and called.
A-Hat turned up K6o for a king-high stone-cold, risking his tourament life bluff that ran smack dab into my two aces...which held up beautifully.
BadBlood started laughing at me for taking so long to call with aces.
I reiterated, "Tight," but in my head I was thinking...caliente.
Memorable Hand #3--
I knew it would happen eventually, although I had been purposefully avoiding it. I got into a hand with BadBlood.
Not too long after my pocket aces, I found snowmen, 88, in middle position. I raised (altough not very big, as I recall) and BadBlood cold-called.
The flop: JJT.
I believe I checked the flop, fearing that BadBlood might've cold-called with AJ or AT on the button. He checked as well. The turn was a blank. The river, another jack.
At this point, I don't figure BB for a ten, jack, or big pair anymore. He woud've made me pay for that. So, there I sat with jacks full of eights. It's not a hand I'm willing to risk my tourney on, but I start to think it's good and bet it. BB called and turned over pocket nines, the only hand I didn't consider that could've beat me.
He said he'd put me on a big ace. I couldn't tell if my eights scared him or confirmed what he probably believed all along: I was playing too tight for my own good. If my preflop raise had been a little bigger and I had been aggressive on the flop, I think I could've won the hand.
With that, I went into the second break with nearly the same amount of starting chips I had to start the touramament.
The third level began with...
Memorable Hand #4--AKA, How I Own Super:System but apparently don't apply it in my play
By this point, Greenwood Phil had been moved to our table and to A-Hat's seat. Phil is a helluva player and one of few in the room I believed could tangle with BadBlood.
I was enjoying the tournament and while I wished I had doubled up by the third level, I figured I could make a move shortly as some stacks started to dwindle.
Enter...the Hilton Sisters.
I found them under the gun and raised. Looking back, I think my raises were much too small to garner any respect. Online, I always feel very comfortable with the size of my raises. With the blinds at $5/$10, I should've raised at least to $30, but if memory serves, I only bet $20.
Greenwood Phil called, which worried me a little. However, as he had only called , I figured him for jacks or perhaps a big ace. Danny C-Gar--without hestiation--re-raised.
For a moment, let's consider what Brunson has to say about pocket queens. First, while he groups AA, KK, and AK together for a chapter and other pairs together for another chapter, he talks about QQ on its own. Why?
"...because it's a particular hand that deserves sepcial treatment," he writes.
Here is the wisdom of Brunson: He'll raise from almost any position with QQ, because it is, in fact, a good hand. However, if he is re-raised he'll simply call. And if he has raised and someone wants to put him all-in, he likely won't do it unless it is an unusual situation.
Here's what he has to say about going all-in pre-flop with QQ:
"If you get called you'll usuallly be up against AA, KK, or AK...in which case you'll be a big dog or just a small favorite. You can pick a better spot than that to get all your money in." --Doyle Brunson
Most people see Brunson as a hyper-aggressive player with a hyper-aggressive strategy. However, the above statement is fairly conservative.
And so there I sat. Dannt C-Gar hadn't won a great many hands and those he had won hadn't been too spectacualr. When someone asked him why he had brought a cigar that sat near his chips, he'd seemingly been honest. "Just to look cool, I guess," he said.
At one point I had asked if he planned for it to be a victory cigar. He had said no.
Still, there I sat with my raise on the board, a call from a strong player, and a moderate re-raise.
Doyle would've cold-called amd hoped for the queen on a the flop. If it didn't come, he'd play conservatively until after the turn.
And what do do?
Of course. I did what any novice to intermediate player would do in such a situation.
"I'm all in," I said sounding as confident as I possibly could.
I figured Greenwood Phil would lay down his hand. He's smart enough to know that I rarely bluff and when I do, it's not going to be against a solid player like him. But Danny C-Gar, I was worried about.
C-Gar went in the tank. I immediately started wishing he'd just fold. Reality started to set in.
C-Gar awoke and announced, "Okay, I'll play."
Before he had a chance to turn over his hand, I said "I think we're going to be racing."
Sure enough, there it was: AK of diamonds.
BadBlood tired to offer some drama by becoming Mike Sexton and saying something about the classic race. But I knew before the flop hit that I was done.
The ace came off on the flop. An overkill king came on the turn. Neither of my two outs materialized and I was bounced.
And so there I was. Out in 17th place, way out of the money, and looking for some reassurance.
In my head I said, "That's poker. He gambled and won." I looked to BadBlood to tell me the same thing, but he didn't.
I rapped the table with my knuckles and stood up in search of a side game. I found one quickly and lost $20 in a titlting hurry to a guy who looked like Amir Vahedi.
I stumbled out into the lobby for some fresh air but didn't find any. I went back into the conference room and looked for someone to tell me I got unlucky. But no one did.
It was only on the way home that Brunson started ringing in the back of my head. What was that he said about Queens being a different kind of pair?
I barely had time to say hello to my wife and kid before running to pull Super:System off the nightstand.
Yep, there it is in black and white: Otis, you're a damned fool for playing your queens like that.
I laid awake most of the night, running the hand over and over again in my head. Had I simply called the raise, I would've folded when C-Gar bet the ace on the flop. I still would've lost but I would've not lost everything.
My poor play resulted in my buy-in becoming a $50 lesson in how to remember what I've read.
Now, I'm 45 minutes from beginning the Monty Memorial.
I'm hoping thic post served as some sort of catharsis and I can get back on the horse. Otherwise, I'm going to declare myself Poker Bitch and find some nice hiatus hole.
Caliente, indeed.<-- Hide More
For some people, poker is a way of life. It's all they do, it's all they think about.
For the rest of us, poker is just a diversion. It takes us away from the "real" world, if only for a time.
For all poker players, lessons learned at the table (or virtual table) can be applied to everything we do. Here's just a few:More in this Poker Blog! -->
The Four-Way Stop Sign
You and another car hit the stop at the same time. Who goes first? The law says you defer to the car to your right, but we know that no one really knows the law, so choas often rules.
A poker player will approach the stop, wait for any sign of weakness from the other driver, and make their move. A poker player is trained to sense hesitation and act on it.
I'm sure studies will prove that poker players spend less time at a four-way stop than other drivers.
The Contract Negotiation
You could always be paid more. That's just the way it is in life. Whoever signs your check has the money to give you a raise, but how are you going to get it?
It depends. What kind of hand are you holding?
Are you the hard-working, essential-to-the-office kind of employee? If that's the case, it's time to ram and jam. You have no reason to fold. You're holding the nuts, and your boss knows it.
Are you the play-computer-games, poker-blog-at-work, wait-until-the-last-second-to-get-anything-done kind of employee? If so, you've got one choice. Bluff. What's the worse that could happen? Well, except for busting out...
The Singles Bar
This is where pot odds clearly come into play. How big is the pot (i.e. how attractive is the target)? How much will it cost you to win that pot? And if you spend the money on that pot, how confident are you that another opponent won't be going home with the pot instead?
It's a difficult world, and poker players should have an advantage, as long as they get away from their keyboard every now and then!<-- Hide More
A running commentary on the sad state of affairs at Pacific Poker (to be read from end to beginnning if you care about chronology:
Iggy has heard back from Pacific. It appears there is a make-good in the works.
[SEE UPDATES BELOW! They are in reverse order with the most recent at the top.]More in this Poker Blog! -->
[CJ UPDATE #2]
By now, I'm guessing most of you have received the "make-good" e-mail from Pacific Poker. If you didn't here it is:
This is Mike Herea, the Promotions Manager here at Pacific Poker.
I would like to humbly apologize for the non-appearance of the
guinessandpoker.com tournament which was scheduled for August 22nd 2004. We experienced unforeseen circumstances which have stopped us from starting
this event. I would like to ensure you however that we are doing our
best to make sure that there will not be a repeat.
Iâ€™m aware that you were scheduled to play in this tournament and as a
gesture of goodwill and to show how much I value you, our member; I have
credited your account with a $25 bonus â€“ so donâ€™t wait logon today and
The good news is that the guinessandpoker.com tournament will be
rescheduled and you will be updated â€“ more details to follow.
Again please accept my sincere apologies and thank you for your
anticipated understanding in this matter.
Good Luck at the tables and play well.
Additionally, Iggy reports Pacific will add $500 to our private tourney prize pool when we reschedule. Nice to see real action on their part.
[END CJ UPDATE #2]
[OTIS UPDATE #1]
Here's my response to Pacific's "sorry" e-mail (below):
As I'm sure you know by now, The Monty Memorial was a 75-person tournament in memory of a noted poker writer's pet cat that passed away recently. While that may seem silly to you, the tournament and its origins meant a lot to the people who played.
If that doesn't help Pacific understand, perhaps the negative public relations will. Beyond being fans of the tournament organizer, more than 2/3 of the participants maintain websites about poker. Some of the participants maintain the most noted poker "blogs" on the intertnet, with readership in the thousands every day.
A majority of the paricipants did not have accounts with Pacific prior to the tournament organization. I think it's safe to say that most of them will not have Pacific accounts after last night's debacle.
Like any customer who has been wronged--no matter how unintentional the mistake was--we require an explanation of what happened. The tournament was set up weeks in advance and resulted in dozens of people establishing accounts with your business.
So, here's what we want to know: What happened? Why did it happen? What are you going to do to fix it?
My phone rang at 9:30am. The Privacy Director function saved Pacific Poker from an ear-reaming. I checked my e-mail a little bit later to find this:
...This is Fernanda a Member Support Representative at Pacific Poker.
I have tried to contact you today (08/23/04) in regards to the
Restricted Tournament but unfortunately I could not get through as the
privacy director you have on did not recognize the caller.
First of all, please accept my sincere apologies for the cancellation of
the tournament mentioned above, which will, unfortunately, be postponed
until further notice. I would kindly ask you to keep an eye on your
E-mail Inbox as our Promotions Department will be contacting you soon at
firstname.lastname@example.org for further information in this matter.
Thank you for your patience, understanding and cooperation in this
Thank you for choosing Pacific Poker.
Member Support Representative
Uh-huh. Now, let's all say it together: Cashout and find a new home for the WPBT.
What I fnd amazing is that the support team over at Pacific still isn't saying anything different than it was last night. I've always found in dealing with angry people who have been wronged that an EXPLANATION of what happened help ease the sting of getting screwed.
That must not be in the Pacific Support manual.
Keep readng to find out what the support team was REALLY doing last night.
[OTIS UPDATE #1 ENDS]
[CJ UPDATE #1]
I imagine the rest of the poker blogosphere received this email tonight:
Please accept our sincerest apologies for the non-start of the Monty
Memorial Tournament as organized by "Iggster".
I can assure you that this matter is being fully reviewed by our
technical department, and you will be contacted by our Promotional
department regarding this matter as soon as possible. We do appreciate
that this has caused great inconvenience to yourself and the other
players, and will be taking this into account.
Your satisfaction is our top priority and we are always willing to
listen and understand our member's needs and concerns. We value your
time and thank you for your patience.
Member Support Representative
Now let's see how they really respond. I'm already pissed I haven't heard back on the $11 they stole from me when I got bounced after registering for an SNG and before it started. Just got the form e-mail, and nothing since. This could be the end of Pacific Poker. Otis loves his boycotts!
[CJ UPDATE #1 ENDS]
Let's take a peak inside Pacific Poker's support office, shall we?
Support Guy: Have you seen the latest edition of our company newsletter. It says we're raking in money hand over fist.
Support Girl: That's not all you're doing hand over fist. I've seen what you look at on the Net.
Support Guy: Seriously, it says we're doing so well that our support staff is so swamped we can't answer e-mails for a week.
Support Girl: I thought we were supposed to delete e-mails as they came in unless they had Dutch Boyd's name on them.
Support Guy: No, no. That was when we working for Poker Spot. Now we pretend like we're fixing the problem...
Support Girl: Oh, yeah, now I remember. We pretend like we're fixing the problem while we use the customer's rake money for self-gratification stimuli.
Support Guy: I'm finding you very attractive right now.
Support Girl: You want to roll around in the rake?
Support Guy: Wait, we may have a problem.
Support Girl: It's okay. I'm on the pill.
Support Guy: No, I mean, we were supposed to set up a tourney for a majority of the online poker blogging community and we didn't.
Support Girl: I thought you were doing it.
Support Guy: I was going to until I clicked on a "boobies" section on Fark.com. I've been busy.
Support Girl: So what should we do?
Support Guy: Just tell whoever calls that we're working on it, and we'll get to it after we finish rolling areound in the rake.
Support Girl: Should I call Public Relations?
Support Guy: You know what they'll say...
Support Girl: That's right...
Together: Whatta we care? They're only our customers!
From an automated e-mail support response:
Please be informed that due to the success and popularity of Pacific
Poker, we have received an unprecedented influx of emails from our
members. We have been overwhelmed with emails and as a result, our
response time has lengthened significantly.
Member Support Manager
"...due to the success and popularity of Pacific Poker"
Just cutting and pasting that to get ready for a week-long tirade of flames.
Pacific support says it is taking care of the Monty problem. They took my user name, first and last, phone number, and a portion of my password.
They said there has been a delay and they will CALL ME when the tourney is supposed to start.
HUH?<-- Hide More
1) Hat of good fortune firmly planted on the noggin. Make note to not call it "lucky hat" as that always results in bad luck and pisses off the hat's fortunate ways.
2) Bottle of Guinness from the same sixpack as a bottle I drank during my WPBT III win. I drink it as an homage to blogfather, Iggy, as well as a nod to the cosmic implications of actually finding a hidden bottle of Guinness in my fridge.
3) Open web browser to take notes on the tourney and provide an Instant Tourney Report (unless I bust out in the first 15 minutes, at which point I'll just whine at some point in the future).
4) Mental note to make every effort to bust out The Fat Guy (I really want that Gourds disc).
5) In an effort to channel Pauly (who, I agree, has a good chance of bieng the mystery blogger), the three-disc live Phish show from Charlotte July 2003.
6) And a picture from my college years to prove that if I'm fortunate enough to bust Al Can't Hang, I'll be able to hold my own.
Circa 1993, Laws Hall, University of Missouri
Tell me I'm not ready.
When I do it, it's called masturbation. When you do it, it's called poker supremecy. Hardly fair, I think.
If it weren't for online poker, I may become a Luddite again. Technology has turned us into a nation of nancy boys, school children, and nuns. I know this because the only glowing TV monitor in my bedroom is the video feed from my kid's nursery. I know this because I haven't worked in seven days, TV sucks, and I don't know what to do with myself. I haven't had a beer. I've barely seen the sun.
I'm not sure exactly why I blame technology, but it seems like things that plug in are mostly to blame.
That and my lack of poker skills.
See, I've been running as bad as George Thoroughgood after an evening of nightputting with Satan himself.
And for those of you who don't have a stream of conciousness to English dictionary, allow me to translate:
Otis is ripe for the picking in the upcoming Monty Memorial Poker Blogger/Reader Tournament.More in this Poker Blog! -->
For those new to the poker blog writing/reading community, the past several months have played host to the World Poker Blogger Tour, a series of poker tournaments organized by some of the greatest bloggers in the online community. The fourth stop on this tour will take us back to Pacfic Poker, home of the WPBT III, and home to my second WPBT victory.
I have been fortunate enough to win two of the three events. I say this with no small amount of humbleness, for Mean Gene has been no slouch himself. I feel he may be the Dan Harrington of the blogger community.
Hey, that's a fun aside. Let's all play. In the comments section, pick a blogger--any blogger--and assign her/him a personality based on a TV pro. That should be fun.
Nonetheless, as confident as I have been in the past about my poker ability, and as humble as I have tried to be (again, it is spelled O-T-I-S) in my wins, I can't help but think I'm in a world of trouble come Sunday.
Top Five Sign Otis is Doomed
5) While reacquainting himself with the Pacific interface, he accidentally signed up to play a Heads-Up tournament, placing 24th out of 96 entrants after his ace-high flush got rivered by a Q3 boat.
4) $50 bounty on his head
3) Since the last WPBT event, Otis has twice played live poker with poker blogger Bad Blood and has been revealed for the fraud he really is. BadBlood bubbled in the last event, but cashed in Otis' home tourney. Otis=afraid of Bad Blood.
2) Pride cometh (or is it goeth?) before the fall.
1) The Otis Choke (made famous in every event Otis has ever played in, including but not limited to disc golf).
In a chat bar to me today: "Arrogance in the hour of triumph is never forgiven or forgotten."
I have no idea where the quote originated, but I like it. I would've appreciated it a lot more had it not come from a guy who pushed in with J2s on a flush draw against my two pair, which eventually became quads and knocked him out.
I can't think straight right now, so I expect no triumph on Sunday night. I should be easy pickings.
Since I don't think I'll cash this time, here's Handicapper Otis with a Top Five Blogger prediction (I can't rank the readers, but I predict at least one places in the top five):
Fifth Place--BadBlood finally breaks his online tourney bubble streak and cashes.
Fourth Place--CJ, webmaster and founder of Up For Poker, having already seen blog-partner Otis bust out before the first break makes a move with big slick and gets caught by pocket aces, held by...
Second Place-Maudie. After watching Felcia get bounced along with other WCPB, hdouble, Maudie decides she's going to win it all...for womankind, for mankind....for FELINEkind.
First Place--In a win designed only to secure the SoCo bounty on his head, Al Can't Hang takes down top honors. The only question: Will he share?
Here ends the least cohesive poker blog entry I've ever written and a perfect example of why I should neither be blogging nor playing poker right now.<-- Hide More
Well, as you guys may have, or will, notice, I did not live blog the first two episodes of the Main Event. I was occupied at the time (while watching, thankfully) and could not do the blog thing at the same time.
In the end, I'm glad I didn't try to because these episodes did not have the same kind of storyline the previous final tables have. It's difficult, however, because ESPN was attempting to put an entire day's worth of play into one hour. That's not an easy thing to do.
So, here are some thoughts from Day's 1 and 2...More in this Poker Blog! -->
Because of the 2500 entries, the WSOP was forced to split the opening session of play into two days. Half played day 1 and half played day 2. That's what made up the two one-hour episodes we saw tonight.
Only a fraction of the time was actually spent at the "featured" table. Much of the time was spent checking in on some of the most familiar faces in poker.
It didn't take long for Chris Moneymaker to bust out. I almost felt bad for him. He had a tremendous amount of pressure on him. He's been the face of poker for a year, although he's obviously parlayed that into a lucrative celebrity career. The hand he went out on was bizzare. He bluffed a K-K-x flop with AT off. His opponent had the K and Moneymaker was dead.
I felt real bad for Men the Master. He was the first superstar we saw get knocked out. He had Pocket Rockets against KQ of hearts. The flop brought two hearts and Men went all-in and got called. The heart on the river knocked out the Master.
Daniel Negreanu went home early. I like watching him play and was sorry to see him go. The problem with his play is that he apparently decided to play the players instead of playing the cards. He took stabs at pots he had no business being involved in. You can rarely bluff bad players off marginal hands. When Negreanu's KQ went up against AQ after a Q hit the turn, it was all over.
I don't think we got to see it, but Phil Ivey went home very early as well. Scotty Nguyen joined him on the rail, but I'm not sure how. Sam Farha also hit a run of bad luck and his 99's lost to quad Aces. I guess if you're going out might as well go out to that! I also saw John Juanda go down, but I don't remember how.
Even with those names going home, plenty are left. Howard Lederer, Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, Paul Phillips, Dutch Boyd and Scott Fischman. There's plenty more and I anticipate the coverage getting better and better as we approach the final table.
ESPN had to give us a taste of these huge names because if they didn't, we'd all wonder why we never saw them. With that expectation, there was no way for ESPN to develop any kind of cohesion in the coverage. As we whittle down the players, we'll start to see some of the poker we want to see.<-- Hide More
It started at about 3:50 pm on Friday the 13th. I'm not sure if that's an omen or not.
It was a marathon session, lasting about 15 hours. I'm guessing that's longer than any tournament Otis has ever played in.
But there's no question this was Otis' best session ever. This was Otis' biggest jackpot. This was Otis' WSOP bracelet.
At 5am on August 14th, 7 lb. 11 oz. Dylan Price was born. If that's not a poker name, I don't know what is! Mommy and baby are doing just fine.
Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Otis!!!!!!
(To here it from Otis' own mouth, just go here.)
Despite the fact that the WPBT's next tourney is a little more than a week away, I am about to tell all of you about a pretty big hole in my game. It's up to you to decide whether I'm only doing this to set you up or not.
I think I play pretty solid poker. I generally make money when I play, and that's a good thing. If I lost as often as I played, I'd be broke right now. That would make me a compulsive gambler, and I'm hoping to avoid that label for as long as possible.
But I digress...
I have a problem. I could make more money if I figured out a way to eliminate a huge hole in which my money manages to disappear.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It's what Gary Carson would call "Fancy Play Syndrome" (FPS) in his great book about low and mid limit poker.
There's a few things that fall under the FPS category. I manage to avoid most of them. I don't bluff too often. Bluffing is only effective when done sparingly. The check-raise is an important weapon in any good player's arsenal, but if you do it too often, you run out of bullets. I don't check-raise too often.
And then there's slow-playing. That's when you flop what you think are the nuts, only to allow players to draw into hands that are better. I'd like to say I know when to slow-play and when not to, but I can't.
I can't help myself. I check the BB with 74 offsuit only to catch a flop of A-7-7. Jackpot! I check, it's bet, a few callers and I simply call. The turn is a blank. Looks like this pot is all mine! I check, it's bet, there's one caller, and I raise a little, finding two callers. The river... and Ace. What the hell was I doing? I check, there's a big bet and I make a crying call. I'm an idiot.
This happens again and again and again. In the above example, it's possible he may have called me no matter what, figuring I didn't have the 7. The point, however, is that I never forced him to make a tough decision.
Poker is a game of decisions. The player who makes the fewest tough decisions is usually the winner. Making easy decisions is, well... easy.
I like easy decisions. Like my first hand tonight in the BB when I check with 52 of hearts. The flop? How 'bout A-3-4 of hearts. Does it get any better than that? The only problem is that no one caught anything resembling a hand and I only made a few bucks. In that case, slow-playing was the only way to go. I had the nuts, and only the worst luck imaginable could beat me.
I've got to learn when to force my players into a tough decision, and when to allow them to set the pace. Winning at poker isn't about how many hands you win, it's about how big the pots are. But if you slow-play every time, you'll throw a lot of money away.<-- Hide More
The time is upon us, Up For Poker readers. The next stop on the World Poker Blogger Tour will be the Monty Memorial Poker Blogger Tournament hosted by the blogfather, Iggy (August 22nd at 9pm ET).
As two-time champion in the WPBT, I'd be remiss if I didn't encourage all readers of Up For Poker to head to Iggy's site and sign up through his link. The tournaments are a blast and the competition is fantastic. I've found that some of the best poker players are poker writers. Last tournament, Iggy invited both bloggers and readers and it made the tournament even better.
Here's the thing: Baby Otis is due to arrive any day now. As it is my first kid, I have no idea what that will mean for my poker playing in the near future.
Still, I just don't see how I can NOT defend my titles.
So, here's my plan:
1) I'm buying in.
2) Um...I don't have a #2 yet.
How's that for a plan?
Welcome back. Tonight I'm live-blogging from my couch with my laptop computer and wireless internet. It's much more comfortable than my office!
And tonight, ESPN features the $5000 Limit Hold 'Em Championship and the $5000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship. I'm looking forward to both because I enjoy playing both. I just wish I could play as well as them...
So without further ado, here's this week's WSOP.More in this Poker Blog! -->
8:00 pm CT
The players at the final table for the $5000 LHE are: T.J. Cloutier, David Chiu, James McManus, Ellix Powers, John Hennigan, Danny Dang, Patty Gallagher, Jan Sjavik, and An Tran.
8:02 pm CT
McManus looks at Big Slick and bets. Powers raises with pocket 9's. Hennigan re-raises with his Hilton Sisters. McManus calls, as does Powers. Big first hand. The flop is 9-2-T and Powers shakes his head. Those bluffs likely won't mean much. He checks, Hennigan bets, McManus folds and Powers raises. Hennigan calls. The turn is a K. Powers bets and Hennigan calls. The river is another K. Powers bets and wins the pot. McManus is probably glad he folded before the turn, and he tells the table how happy he is.
8:04 pm CT
Dang bets with AJ. Cloutier is short-stacked and calls with AJs. Chiu calls with his pocket 8's. The flop is 2-6-T. Chiu probably figures he's in good shape. It's checked to Cloutier who bets. Chiu calls and Dang folds. The turn is a 9. Chiu is way out in front and this time he bets. Cloutier raises all-in. Chiu has to call with his pair and gutshot straight draw. The river is a 5 and, unfortunately, we lose the table legend. Cloutier is out in 9th.
8:07 pm CT
Commercial. In case you're wondering, my Phils are tied at 2-2 with the Rockies going to the 8th.
8:09 pm CT
Powers has Q6s, and he actually raises. Wow, that's a unique play. Dang, in the BB raises with AKs. Powers calls. Dang bets in the dark. The flop is 9-5-3, and Powers picks up his club draw. He raises and tells Dang to put the rest of his chips in, which he does, all-in. The turn is the 9 of clubs and Dang is out. Powers is a little rude about it. I don't like him. Dang is out in 8th.
8:11 pm CT
It's time for the Powers profile and he talks like he's Johnny Chan. I doubt he's that good, in fact, I'm sure of it. We learn Powers lived much of his life on the street. He says he's never had a job, except playing poker. He's the reason I'll never go pro!
8:12 pm CT
Powers now raises in the dark before the hand. Hennigan calls for the floorman, but I'm not sure why, it's Power's turn to act. Chiu calls with his pocket 6's. Everyone else folds and Powers looks at Q7s and actually raises. I don't think he'll be around long. Chiu calls. The flop is 3-A-5 and Powers has another club draw. He bets. Chiu calls. The turn is a Q, giving Powers a pair. Powers bets and Chiu calls. Then Powers bets in the dark. The river is an A and Chiu should probably lay down. Powers sure does talk a big game. I can't wait to see him get knocked out. Powers takes the pot. McManus tells Powers he's disrespecting the game. I like McManus, loved his book.
8:14 pm CT
Commercial. I'm glad McManus spoke up. It's one thing to try and shake up a table, but I prefer people to respect the game. However, with money on the line, you do what you have to to win. I'm sure Powers realizes he's outclassed, so his best bet is to shake up the competition.
8:17 pm CT
Suddenly Powers is the short stack. I think we missed a few hands in there. McManus bets with QTs. Powers calls with K8s. Could be a fun showdown. The flop is 7-3-4 rainbow. Both check. The turn is a 7, giving McManus a spade draw. Powers bets and McManus calls. The river is a 5 of diamonds. Powers bets and McManus just calls. Hmmm... should have been a fold or a raise. Can't call with a Q high. And Powers is letting him hear about it.
8:19 pm CT
Hennigan tells everyone Powers is "good for poker." Maybe he's been reading our blog about villains. Now Powers is out in the hall talking with spectators. Funny. Powers is now out on the sidewalk telling his stories. Amazing. Meantime Hennigan and McManus are discussing the merits of Power's game. It's like Otis' blog post on ESPN! Powers love the camera.
8:21 pm CT
Powers is on his way back after getting off the phone. It's folded to Powers who raises with A4s. Chiu re-raises with K9. Powers re-raises and Chiu calls. The flop is 6-3-J. Powers checks and Chiu bets. Powers calls. The turn is a T giving Chiu a straight draw. Chiu bets and Powers calls. The river is a 4. Chiu bets and Powers calls. It's another pot and Powers strategy is clearly paying off. The table is not playing well. At least ESPN is making them seem like bad players.
8:23 pm CT
Commercial. My Phils are still tied. They've got a runner on 2nd with 2 out in the 8th.
8:26 pm CT
McManus bets his pocket 6's. Powers will likely bet. He's got Q7s again. And they're clubs again. Powers calls. The flop is 9-7-6. Powers checks and McManus bets. Powers raises and McManus re-raises. Powers raises again. McManus just calls. Powers is in trouble. The turn is a 4 and McManus can't be beat. Powers bets and McManus raises. Powers calls. The river is a deuce. Powers checks. Hey, what slowed him down? McManus bets and Powers calls. Not smart play by Powers, but it was bound to happen.
8:28 pm CT
It's time for the John Hennigan profile. He's called "Johnny World." Cool nickname. He's also a top-notch pool player. I hope I don't run into him in a bar. He's an action junkie. I can relate.
8:29 pm CT
Sjavik looks at Q8s, and it's the first time we see him play. Powers is all-in with J9s. I think we're about to say goodbye to Mr. Powers. Hennigan calls with K4s. McManus calls with 62 from the SB. Tran is also in with 64. The flop is 7-4-Q. Powers likely can't beat 4 other players. Hennigan bets his pair of 4's. McManus folds. Tran calls with his pair of 4's. Sjavik actually folds top pair. Wow. The turn is an 8 and Powers picks up a big draw. It's checked around and the river is an A. Powers is done. It's check-check and Hennigan gets the pot. Powers is out in 7th. I'm glad he's done, his act wore thin.
8:32 pm CT
Commercial. My Phils actually knocked that run in from 2nd and lead going to the top of the 9th. Tim Worrell is on the mound for the save with Billy Wagner injured, and he promptly gives up a lead-off double. Typical. Hold on a sec! The next batter hits into a fielder's choice, and the runner is out at third. That's better!
8:35 pm CT
We peak at the outer tables at the $3000 NLHE tourney. We get a peak at Johnny Chan, Annie Duck and Daniel Negreanu. Oh, look... Ben Affleck is also playing.
8:36 pm CT
Gallagher raises with the Hilton Sisters. Sjavik calls with A4. Chiu also calls with KJ. The flop is 8-7-T. Gallagher bets all-in. Sjavik calls with his A. Chiu calls with his gutshot straight draw. The turn is a 5. It's checked. The river is a deuce and Gallagher wins the pot. She's still alive.
8:38 pm CT
It's time for the Patty Gallagher profile and she tells us she's a bitch. Okay. If she says so. We also learn she talks like a sailor. Guess she has to fit in somehow...
8:39 pm CT
Joined in progress... Sjavik is all-in and I bet he's on his way out. The river gives Hennigan a win and Sjavik is out in 6th.
8:40 pm CT
Chiu sees J9s and moves all-in. Gallagher sees pocket 7s and calls from the SB. McManus has Q4s and he calls from the BB. The flop is 4-5-7. Gallagher is in great shape and she checks. McManus also checks. The turn is an 8 and Chiu has a straight and flush draw. Gallagher bets and McManus has to fold bottom pair. The river is the A of spades and Chiu is out in 5th. That's another dangerous player gone.
8:41 pm CT
Commercial. And I find my optimism was misplaced. After the fielder's choice, the Phils gave up a walk, a double, an error and a walk. It's 1st and 3rd with the Rockies up 4-3 and just one out. Phils suck.
8:44 pm CT
We're down to 4. McManus bets A5. Gallagher calls from the BB with T9s. The flop is 8-T-T. Great flop for Gallagher. She checks, hoping to trap McManus again. McManus bets, Gallagher cold calls. The turn is a 5 and that's bad news for McManus even though he gets his 5. Gallagher checks again. McManus bets again and Gallagher raises. Alarm!! Alarm!! McManus calls all-in, knowing he's in trouble. When the hands are flipped, he sees he's drawing dead and goes out in 4th. Gallagher is on a roll!
8:46 pm CT
It's a check on the outer tables and Ben Affleck is busted out. Maybe we'll see him at a final table some day. He's being taught by Annie Duke, that can't be all bad! It's time for "The Nuts." Phil Hellmuth is telling us how to sniff out a bluff. This is fun. It's a lie detector test with Norm Chad. We learn amazing facts about Norm Chad and the fact Phil can't tell what's true and what's not. Eventually, Phil gives up. I think he's better reading at the poker table!
8:48 pm CT
Tran bets JT. Gallagher calls from the BB with 75s. The flop is 8-9-A. Two straight draws but Tran is in much better shape. Tran bets, Gallagher raises, Tran re-raises, Gallagher calls. A couple of pot stealers. The turn is a 7 and Tran gets his straight. Tran bets and Gallagher calls. The river is a 5 and Gallgher gets two pair. That's bad luck. Gallagher bets, Tran raises and Gallagher calls. Big pot for Tran.
8:50 pm CT
Commercial. The Phils get out of the inning without any more damage on a fly out double play that ESPN.com lists as: L Gonzalez flied into double play, left to center to pitcher to second, V Castilla doubled off third. That's weird. Left fielder caught it and threw it to the center fielder? The pitcher, then second and he's doubled off third? Guess I'll have to see the replay. [Ed. Note: Should have recognized the typical ESPN.com mistake. There was no double play. It was a sac fly and Castilla scored. It ended up being the winning run.]
8:53 pm CT
Gallagher is short-stacked and bets KQ. Tran calls with 65s. The flop is 2-3-4 and Tran has four leaf clovers coming out of his ears. Tran checks, to trap Gallagher and she bets. Tran calls. The turn is a T. Tran checks again and Gallagher bets. Tran raises and Gallagher has to go all-in. When the cards are flipped she realizes she's drawing dead and out in 3rd. Trapped twice by Tran. She leaves by giving everyone the double-bird. That's gotta be a first for a WSOP final table.
8:55 pm CT
It's heads up time, Hennigan and Tran both looking for bracelet #2. Hennigan bets A9. Tran raises with KQ, figuring he's got the better hand. Hennigan calls. The flop 2-7-2. Where's the HAMMER when you need it!?! Tran bets and Hennigan calls. The turn is an 8. Both players now have a strong spade draw, but Hennigan's is better. Tran bets and Hennigan raises. Good play. Great read. Tran calls, hoping for a spade. The river is the 4 of spades and Tran is in big, big trouble. Tran bets and Hennigan raises. Tran re-raises figuring his K is a winner. Now Hennigan is worried about the boat and just calls. Big pot for Hennigan. Tough break for Tran.
8:57 pm CT
Tran is seriously short-stacked now. Hennigan is about to win this one. Tran is in the BB and goes all-in in the dark. Hennigan calls in the dark. And here we go. Hennigan looks at J8 and Tran Q7. The flop is 7-6-J and Hennigan is way out in front. The turn is a 6 and the river is a T. Tran is out and Hennigan wins the title. Well played.
9:00 pm CT
It's time for Omaha. But instead of live-blogging it, I'm going to go play some poker of my own. Enjoy watching! It should be fun because Daniel Negreanu is facing Howard Lederer. I hope they make it to the end!
Dateline: Las Vegas, NV, September 2003
As the beer took hold, wrapping its maternal hug around the main-line adrenaline of a winning 13-hour session, I stood up. I racked my chips, nodding good wishes at the 1am drunks who were just sitting down. I hated to leave them, but I had friends waiting on me. And I'd been sitting for so long that variance was bound to come in for the graveyard shift.
Joey Two-Hands was with me and had been working up a good bender for the better part of our sit. Seven hours ago he'd flopped two monsters and raked two pots full of confidence. Since then, he'd bled away his wins, rebought a couple of times, and drank the Luxor bar dry of Jack and Coke.
I cashed out and led Joey out of the Luxor and onto the motorized walkway that led into the Excalibur. We laughed our way through the maze designed to keep us in the building, not looking anywhere but forward, anywhere but toward a Pai Gow table full of similarly drunk college buddies.
We escaped the Excalibur and didn't look around. We focused on the steps that would lead us to the walkway to New York, New York. We hit the conditioned air again, sat down, and drank with our buddies for four hours. When Joey decided to bet a miniature breath mint for the dealer, we decided it was time to head back to the rooms.
I was in little condition to be the designated walker, but somebody had to. Somebody had to lead Joey out of peril and into a room at the MGM. We crossed the catwalk over Las Vegas Boulevard, never looking anywhere but forward, embracing the freedom of tunnel vision that only Las Vegas and New Orleans can provide.
When we reached the MGM, Joey looked at me and said, "I want to hit you. Can I hit you?"
Declining the offer, I led him to the elevator to one of the towers, never looking back over my shoulder, never once looking for anything suspicious.
We'd do it all again the next day, not realizing or caring that two video tapes with footage of both the Excalibur and MGM were sitting in a prosecutor's lock box thousands of miles away.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The news broke this week in an exclusive story from the Associated Press. According to sources in the federal government, terrorist cells in Detroit and Spain were both found with video tapes of high-rise hotels in Vegas, specifically Excalibur, MGM Grand, and Bellagio. The federal officials allege that both Vegas city leaders and casino executives were asked to review the tapes, but most in the government and gaming community refused. The implication from the federal officials was that the folks in Vegas were afraid that if they saw the tapes, they would be forced to act, and any action or admission of the tapes could have an effect on the Vegas tourism industry. While the tapes seemed innocuous enough (in some cases, they looked like vacation videos), experts testified that the videos followed terrorist handbooks on how to disguise terror surveillance video.
Since the story broke, Mayor Oscar Goodman, law enforcement officials, and gaming executives have all denied the allegations. MGM officials concede that they saw the tapes and they've been working behind the scenes with security personnel.
While the key federal source in the story seems credible, we're instructed to not forget that he is currently under investigation for prosecutorial misconduct in a Detroit terror case.
All of these facts or fact-variations leave the casual reader and Vegas tourist in an awkward position.
First, you want to believe that anyone who has solid knowledge of any sort of terror threat would broadcast it to the public at large and let the public decide for itself how to react.
However, at the same time, one could easily believe that Las Vegas officials didn't see any clear and present danger in the tapes, and as such, didn't see any reason to alarm the public, and by extension, hurt the city's bottom line.
Since September 11th, 2001, I have stayed at a nice hotel in Midtown Manhattan. I had a drink with my wife on top of the Sears tower in Chicago. I played poker at Bellagio. I slept in the MGM Grand. I was propositioned by hookers in the Excalibur.
It's been a good three years.
About three weeks after the terror attacks on New York and Washington D.C., I stopped watching TV on any regular basis. I used to be an avid 24-hour news watcher. After the attacks, I couldn't stand it anymore. I started to get most of my news from online sites.
Since that time, I haven't allowed myself to be afraid of terror. I've tackled New York, Chicago, the Caribbean, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Dulles International. The only time I felt any nerves at all was when our plane left D.C. and doubled back toward the city after only ten minutes in flight. Smoke in the cockpit forced an overnight stay in D.C. and one less night in A.C. That was the biggest calamity I've faced in three years of America's fight against terror.
Now, I'm being told that one of my favorite vacation spots in the country may or may not be a terrorist target. The leaders of that city may or may not have hid relevant information about such terror potential.
And I'm conflicted.
An open letter to terrorists:
In the little burg of Greenville, SC, the local police department is upgrading all its radios to 800 megahertz. The move will allow the department to better communicate with other agencies and departments in the area. When explaining the necessity, the assistant to the Chief brings up the inability of certain New York agencies to communicate during the terror attacks.
A forty-five minute drive through the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains drops you off at a nuclear power plant in Oconee County. For a period of time, the slightest mistrack by a amateur pilot would summon a flurry of F-16s from an nearby airforce base.
At the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport mail facility, someone recently left a vile of Ricin poison for authorities to find.
In the middle of Greenville's downtown, a river falls over a 30 foot drop, shooting a new spray of water over a newly manicured park and multi-million dollar footbridge.
They call the bridge "Liberty."
Maybe it's because I didn't go upstairs at 9pm last night and log on to Empire. Maybe it's because I watched TV instead. For lack of something better to watch, I checked out "The Grid" on TNT, a fairly well-produced international terrorism drama.
The simple theme of the show is this: Terrorism is real.
However, as I watch, I can't help but thinking, "It's just TV."
Frankly, that's my biggest problem. I can't see terrorism as something real. Terrorists don't strike communities like Greenville, SC. I have a greater chance of getting hit by a car on Rutherford St. as I do getting hurt in some terror attack.
Even now, as the news screams about Las Vegas, I just don't get it. In fact, there's a part of me that wants to schedule an impromptu trip to Vegas in spite of the dire news.
There are those in the fear-mongering community who would suggest that my views are akin to the tunnel vision I get when I'm in Vegas. Pay no attention to the terrorist behind the curtain, so to speak.
There are other who would suggest that my simple acknowledgement of the fear-mongering is one step toward allowing the terrorists to win.
Just the other day on my other blog, the Sesame Street terror alert warning went from Bert, to Bert/Ernie (NYC, DC). I smiled, sickly, because I'd been waiting to see what would happen when the terror alert changes.
And Ernie has always sort of been my favorite Sesame Street character.
Perhaps it's my looking for a sense of place in the American dialogue, but I see myself as the prototype for the American terror watcher. I can't grasp the concept until it is real.
It has only been three years since I stood at our local airport, and explained to people getting off their plane that America was under attack and they wouldn't be going anywhere for a while. It's only been three years since a friend called from her Manhattan apartment to explain the chaos that was overtaking America's city. It's only been three years since I wanted to vomit every time I saw the planes hitting the towers.
Now, I feel guilty that I heed no warnings, that I openly taunt terrorists to take their best shot at America. I feel guilty, because when/if it happens, I will have been one of the people who wasn't paying attention.
At the same time, I feel a general and increasing unease at the beginning of every new day. I find myself watching television again and checking news websites on a more regular basis, only finding respite in the virtual world of online poker.
My friends who don't understand poker ask how I can spend so much time involved in a game. They ask how I can sit in front of a computer for hours on end, tossing around twenty-dollar bets like they were pennies. They half-joke about addiction and my need to see more sun.
I have no real justification, other than that I'm winning.
Still, there's a part of me that admits that poker is a world I understand. Poker is a world where I know when I'm up and I know when I'm down and I know that the successes and failures are based almost entirely on how I conduct myself in the game.
That is, poker is playing guitar on the back porch. It's sharing a six-pack with a buddy on the deck. It's tossing the ball with the dog.
They are the parts of my world that are constant in their ability to get better every time I do it.
They are the parts of my world that I know.
And everything else, everything I see on TV, everything that is in the news is the opposite. It's playing every hand blind and hoping the hands of fate don't feel homicidal.
At 30 years old, I feel guilty for embracing the things I know so strongly.
And I seek the courage to better understand everything else.<-- Hide More
I learned a valuable lesson at the Paragon Casino this weekend. Actually, it'd be more appropriate to call it an expensive lesson. Either way, it's one I'll never forget.
It started well enough, when I checked into an outstanding room. My contact at the casino sure does know how to make someone feel comfortable. I didn't think it'd matter much because I didn't plan on spending much time there.
I wish I had spent more time there...More in this Poker Blog! -->
Session #1: Saturday Afternoon
I got seated a little bit before 3pm. I was at a table without an automatic shuffler so it moved a little more slowly than I was used to, but I didn't mind. I bought in for $100 and settled in for a long session.
Things didn't go so well. I lost the first hand I got invovled in, and never again approached the $100 level. For the most part, I hovered around $40-$60 until I finally busted out.
Did I play poorly? Yeah, I'm sure I did. I was really playing with the casino's money. In the three trips I've made, I was up close to $2000. That's including the $1500 from the bad beat jackpot. So maybe I was a little cavalier with the money. I made loose calls and bad reads and the money just evaporated.
Even when I made good plays, however, I often saw my hopes float down the river. Every set I flopped fell to a flush. Every flush I found floundered to a full house. I couldn't catch a break. When I chased the flush, it never came. I don't want to blame the cards alone, however, because it takes a lot of bad plays to lose as quickly as I did.
At that point, I did what I thought was the smart thing. I got up. I felt a tilt coming on and I didn't want to compound bad play with irresponsible play. I promised I'd be back that night and I walked away.
Why, oh why, did I stop at the craps table?
I like to throw dice. Craps is the only game on the casino floor you should ever play (if you're going to play). With the 10X odds the Paragon offers, the house margin is down to just 0.184%. You can't find a better bet anywhere in the casino (except in poker, where your edge is based on your skill and the relative skill of your opponents, but we all know that!).
The dice were cold. In fact, despite their red color, I swear there was a bluish glow. I quickly figured out why the guy beside me was betting "wrong." It certainly paid to play the Don't Pass.
I obviously didn't figure this out quickly enough, because just five minutes later, I had lost $150. Yes, that's the compulsive part of the gambler rearing its ugly head. I tilted. And I tilted at a place where the money can disappear very quickly.
Session #2: Saturday Evening
I caught the news and a little SportsCenter then some dinner at the 50's style diner. I felt refreshed and focused and ready to play. It didn't take long to get a seat. In fact, I sat right down, in seat one at table 5. I'm not a big fan of seat one, it's kinda hard to see the table. This time I bought in for $200.
It didn't matter much what I could see because very little changed from the afternoon session. Looking back, I think I pressed a little more than I should have hoping to win back what I lost. Again, I didn't play my game.
Here was one of the few bright spots. I'm dealt K6 of clubs in MP and I call the BB. Seven of us see a flop of K-6-x, two spades. No help for my flush, but I did flop two pair. I bet out and get three callers.
The turn, of course, is a spade. I check, figuring one of the three callers caught his flush. There's another check and then a bet. I call and a third player calls as well. Why do I call? I don't know, maybe I'll catch my boat. When the river comes, it's a miracle 6. In fact, it's the 6 of spades, putting four to a flush on the board.
I bet. And it's raised by a guy who checked last time. I figure him for the Ace of spades. The third guy in the hand angrily folds, I figure him for a little flush. I re-raise and get a stunned look from the original raiser. He glances back at the board, and suddenly realized the boat possibility. He has to call anyway, there's too much in the pot. I flip my hand and take my only big pot of the day.
The last hand of my night wasn't successful at all. The guy beside me was about to go all in, and he was doing it blind. I was in the small blind when I got dealt K8o off. Not a hand I normally would play, but it only cost two bucks to see the flop, so I called.
Only three of us are in the hand for a flop of 8-8-J. Well, can't complain about that, can I? I bet, the blind hand raises and we both call. The turn is an A. I bet again, the blind raises again to go all in and we both calll. The river is a blank, it doesn't fill a flush or a straight. I figure I'm in great shape at this point. I bet, the other guy raises, and I start to worry.
I begin to slide in my call as he asks, "You got pocket Aces?" That could only mean one thing. He's sitting on pocket J's and the only hand that can beat him is Rockets. I flip my lowly K8 and I'm down to $100 of the $200 I started with. I decide it's time for bed.
Session #3: Sunday Morning
I got down to the poker room after the first table had already filled up. That means I'd have to wait for the second table, but I didn't mind. It wasn't long, and I got to sit in my lucky seat.
It wasn't very lucky this time. The first hand, I'm dealt J9 off. I figured one of my problems from the day before was playing too many hands, and since I'm in an early position, I throw it away. The flop, naturally, is Q-T-8. By the end of the hand, it's clear my nut straight would have held up.
A few hands later, I get dealt QJ off, and I decide to play it. The flop is K-T-x, two hearts. I check and the guy to my left bets. Two of us call. I wonder if maybe he's playing top pair. The turn is another K and the second heart on the board. I figure I should fold, but, for some reason, I call again. Three of us are still in. I still figure if I catch a straight, I'll beat the other guy's trip K's.;
The river is a 9 and I fill my straight. It also happens to be the third heart, but who's staying in for the runner-runner flush, right? I check, and the guy to my left bets. Then, to my shock, the guy at the end of the table raises! Alarms should be going off, right? He just caught his flush.
As I think about it, I can't believe he'd be playing for the flush. Why spend the money for hearts on the turn and river? I still think I have the guy to my left beat and figure maybe the guy at the end of the table also has the straight. I call the $16 and the guy to my left raises. Damn.
It's clear I just threw away $16. If he's willing to raise, he's clearly got the boat. The guy at the end of the table calls the raise, and I throw my straight away. The showdown is K's full of T's vs. a heart flush. I was beat two ways and still throwing money away. Chalk that up to a terrible read.
Another hand that seemed to epitomize my problems came late in my session. I'm dealt J9s in late position and I play it. The flop is Q-T-7, two diamonds. I'm sitting there with an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw. I've got about 15 outs at this point. The dealer was shooting blanks, however, and I got no help on the turn or river.
It didn't take long for my $100 to disappear, and I wasn't willing to spend any more money on this trip. Now I'll have to lick my wounds for next time. And there will be a next time!<-- Hide More
Some personal annoucements...
First, I'm heading back to the Paragon Casino and Resort this weekend. In fact, through some personal contacts, I'll be staying at the casino for free tomorrow night. That means more time at the poker table (and craps table, I can't help myself). You can expect a report by Monday at the latest.
And speaking of Monday, I'll finally be online at home again. I bought myself a new laptop computer and I'll be on Cox High Speed Internet. That means a return to the virtual poker tables.
Enjoy your weekends, I'll definitely enjoy mine!
For a long time, I called myself a traditionalist. In one extreme period, I referred to myself as a Luddite. Eventually, I coined then settled on the best description of my philosophy on sport, gaming, and life in general:
I'm a neo-purist.
That means I don't like artificial turf. That means I think the addition of the three-point line, while deviating from tradition, added an element to the game that now is indispensible.
That means I think we should dance with who brought us. If for some reason said dancing partner wants to learn a new dance step, then so be it, but it better be a good dance move and not some silly cabbage patch dance.
That is a long way of saying the following:
Manufacturing poker villain personalities for the sake of better TV is a road that will do nothing but eventually make the game as enjoyable to watch as most of the reality shows on TV now.More in this Poker Blog! -->
For an abbreviated discussion of the topic, make sure to take a look at the comments section of CJ's live blog of the most recent WSOP ESPN broadcast. There is decided dissention about the place poker villians hold in the game of poker, and by extension, televised poker.
Witness: Steve Fishman, after a lengthy round of high-fiving, after-thought handshakes, and declaring his "Crew" the ring-leaders of a poker coup d'etat, takes the Nestea Plunge onto the felt.
Witness: Poker Brat, Phil Hellmuth, declares that if it weren't for luck, he'd win every game of poker he played.
Witness: Phil "The Unabomber" Laak runs behind the dealer in mid-hand to get a glimpse of the river card before his opponent.
Witness: Every point-and-poke, fist-pumping, suckout scream that you see on almost every televised broadcast.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the current trend in professional sports. You know the one. It's the belief among certain "superstar" players that their talent, and more importantly, their personality should be respected more than the game itself. From sock-Sharpie autograph signings to end-zone cell phone calls, there are players out there who honestly believe the game is more about them than it is about...the game.
Sure, it's no new thing. There was the Ickey Shuffle. There was the Superbowl Shuffle. Shoot, the Babe even called his dinger in the days before reality television created characters ad naseum.
But, here we are, on the cusp of a poker revolution. It's a players revolution. It's an Internet revolution. It's a television revolution.
Here we stand on the summit. We can go down either side of the mountain. It is here that players and television producers will be forced to make a decision. Do we go down the road of Survivor, The Mole, The Casino, and Big Brother? Or do we treat poker with the respect that we treat other legitimate sport?
Now, it's not an easy prospect to grasp. First, there is the argument that even legitimate sport has personalities. The media cover those personalities. Players create those personalities.
That said, the following fact must be recognized: Television has been covering legitimized sport as long as TV has existed. It has already established tried and true ways to cover sports in a way that offers respect that games deserve. That is...it's already established.
Poker, however, while already established as a game, is maturing to TV in the environment that gave us some of the worst reality television ever created. And that's a dangerous place if poker hopes to legitimize itself in the public eye.
Intelligent viewers realize that, despite lacking actors, more than 50% of reality television is manufactured. Storylines are devined with clever editing. Non-actors or their producers mold personalities that aren't necessarily true. In the end, it's entertainment, however false and misleading it may be.
And it is in this environment that poker and reality TV clash and beg the question: Do we cover poker as sport or do we cover it as reality TV?
I suspect it is no secret that I believe the media should cover poker just like the networks cover sporting events. That doesn't mean the media has to ignore personality. That doesn't mean it can't be well-produced and interesting. However, I suspect there is a tacit agreement among some players and some TV producers: You play the role of a villain, and we'll make you famous.
Further, I believe poker has its real personalities and its manufactured personalities.
Personality-creation does not mean the people themselves can't actually play poker. Most of them are World Class Players. It just means they are paying as much attention to being a celebrity as they are being a poker player.
Here are some comparisons of some of the more pronounced personalities of the game (and I invite anybody who actually KNOWS these people to affirm or deny the following is true):
REAL: Scotty Nguyen--> Odds that Scotty would still be using the word "baby" and tossing back bottles of beer if the cameras were turned off. 100:1. Total WSOP Bracelets: 4
MANUFACTURED: Phil "The Unabomber" Laak--> Somebody tell me that Laak always wore that damned hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses before he got on TV, and I'll take back my manufactured label. Otherwise, it sticks. (Note: I find Laak likable and would probably want to party with the guy, but when he's playing poker, I'd rather watch him...just...play...poker). Total WSOP Bracelets: I think the number is zero. Correct me if I'm wrong.
REAL: Men "The Master" Nguyen--> "The Master" seems to never shut up when he's playing on TV. I bet if you ask any rounder in Vegas, they'll tell you Men doesn't need a lav mike to talk. Total WSOP Bracelets: 6
MANUFACTURED: The Crew--> These guys are a reality TV producers wet dream. Brash, well-bankrolled, and bawdy. They know the more they act out, the more famous they become. Total WSOP Bracelets: I believe the number is a collective three.
REAL: Daniel Negreanu--> It seems Daniel plays the role of villain more off-camera than he does on. His recent public blow-up with Howard Lederer and Annie Duke seems in stark contrast to Daniel's on-camera performance. Total WSOP Bracelets: 3
MANUFACTURED: Chris Vogl--> The anti-personality. I delcare him manufactured because I believe his "I'm a dignified, non-gambling, only-in-it-for-the-money Brit" to be a load of BS. Total WSOP Bracelets: 1
REAL: Chris Ferguson --> Sure, Chris has gotten his fair share of ESPN attention for his card-throwing ability, but if James McManus is to believd in Positively Fifth Street Ferguson was a quite a character even before television. Total WSOP Bracelets: 5
MANUFACTURED: Phil Hellmuth--> This was a tough one, because Hellmuth was obviously a World Class Player and World Class Personality before TV poker. Nonetheless, he's been doing nothing but playing to the cameras for two years. "Hey ESPN, I'm about to fold pocket kings pre-flop!" Stll, not to be ignored...Total WSOP Bracelets: 9
Please feel free to add your REAL and MANUFACTURED in the comment section.
Don't get me wrong. There is a role for personality in poker, perhaps even more so than in traditional sport. Amarillo Slim had it locked up two decades ago.
But--at the risk of using a painfully trite phrase--let's keep it real.<-- Hide More
Tonight on ESPN's coverage of the 2004 World Series of Poker, we get the $3000 Pot Limit Texas Hold 'Em championship and the $1500 Razz championship.
Coverage of the PLHE final table likely won't be able to convey to the viewers the slight difference this game has from NL. That's because the final table coverage often shows nothing more than a series of all-in bets. I hope we get to see more than that!
Razz, on the other hand, should be very interesting. It's a version of 7-Card Stud where the low hand wins. Anyone who's played it knows it's a fascinating game. It's also very difficult to play well, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I know too little about Razz to truly live-blog it, so you'll have to settle for just PLHE.
Enjoy...More in this Poker Blog! -->
8:00 pm CT
The players tonight are Phil Hellmuth, Gavin Griffen, Gabriel Thaier, Phi Nguyen, Frank Sinopoli, Ram Vaswani, Tom Lee, Gary Bush and Jerry Reed.
8:02 pm CT
It's going to be Hellmuth's night on ESPN. We've already heard how great he is (final tables, bracelets, winnings, etc.).
8:03 pm CT
Sinopoli raises with his Presto. Vaswani raises with Big Slick and Sinopoli calls, and he's got the smaller stack. We're about to lose our first player, I'm guessing. The flop is 7-2-9. The turn is an 8. The river is a 3 and Sinopoli is alive and well, and telling everyone about it.
8:05 pm CT
Hellmuth is talking it up. What's new? Tom Lee raises with A4s. Hellmuth has the Hilton Sisters and he re-raises. It's back to Lee and he goes all-in. I think we're definitely losing our first player now. The flop is 8-2-J. The turn is a 9 and Lee has his club draw. The river is a club. Amazing!!! Hellmuth gets beat by runner-runner club. That doesn't bode well for the bad boy of poker.
8:07 pm CT
First commercial break. I've got nothing to watch and the Phils don't start until 9:05 CT.
8:09 pm CT
Jerry Reed out in 9th. Phi Nguyen out in 8th. I'd call that uncerimonious. We didn't get to see their hands! Thaler bets with Big Slick. Hellmuth calls with his pocket 10's and then decides to check in the dark. The flop is Q-8-K. Bad news for Hellmuth and Thaler bets. Hellmuth talks directly to the camera and throws his cards away. He had to, but he makes it sound like it's brilliant.
8:11 pm CT
More Hellmuth talking to the crowd. He does tend to whine a bit. Now it's time for a profile and we get to hear from his mom. Awwwww. We learn Phil has given away 8 of his 9 bracelets. That's nice... but it's not like he would need all 9. It's amusing to watch his family playing poker. That's like my family.
8:13 pm CT
Second commercial break. Prediction time. Hellmuth is about to bust out. We've already done the profile and heard an awful lot from him. His time is drawing to a close.
8:15 pm CT
Griffin plays his KQs. He has a chance to be the youngest bracelet winner ever. Vaswani has pocket 4's and is considering a play. He calls. The flop is 2-6-5. No help for Griffen and Vaswani has a gutshot straight draw. Check. Check. The turn is a 3 and Vaswani has his straight. Vaswani calls and Griffin should definitely fold. Why stay in the hand? He actually raised big. Uh oh. I'd call that a bad read. Vaswani goes all-in, now Griffen has to fold. Bad bluff.
8:17 pm CT
It's time for a Vaswani profile. We find out he's part of a London version of Dutch Boyd's "Crew." Maybe we'll get an old fashioned rumble some time. Features like these make me crave an Olympic version of poker. But I guess that's what the WSOP is already!
8:18 pm CT
Hellmuth looks down at 69o and calls from the small blind. Griffin checks his K5s. The flop is 5-6-J. Hellmuth is in better shape and they've both got a pair. Griffin bets enough to force Hellmuth all in and Hellmuth calls. I sense a suck out. The turn is a 9 and Griffin has a flush draw. I don't sense that two pair holding up. And the river is the 5th spade... Hellmuth goes out to another runner-runner flush. You can't exactly say he played poorly there. Hellmuth is out in 7th. And we lose the most interesting player at the table. And it's time for a little whining... maybe he's entitled. "If there weren't luck involved, I guess I'd win every one," Phil says as we go to break.
8:21 pm CT
8:24 pm CT
We're down to 6 and we get another Phil interview. We hear he played perfect again, but still lost. Phil, better than anyone should know that that's the way poker goes.
8:25 pm CT
Sinopoli looks at KJs and bets. Griffin has Snowmen and raises enough to force Sinopoli all in. That's a tough call, especially without an Ace, but Sinopoli calls. The flop is 6-J-8 and although Sinopoli gets his pair, Griffen gets his set. The turn is a 6. Only a J saves Sinopoli and only a 7 comes on the river. Sinopoli is out in 6th. Griffin is on a role since his bad bluff earlier.
8:26 pm CT
Bush bets with pocket Rockets. Vaswani is in HUGE trouble with Cowboys. He raises enough to force Bush all in and, naturally, he calls. I feel bad for Vaswani. The flop is 2-J-Q. Those face cards must have been scary. The turn is a 4 and the river is a J. Bush doubles up.
8:28 pm CT
We get a peak at the outer tables and the game of Razz. Dutch Boyd is playing there, and we get a flashback to 2003. Then we hear more about the "Crew." Zzzzzzzz.
8:29 pm CT
8:31 pm CT
Thaler gets Crabs. That sounds bad. He's got pocket 3's and bets. Lee raises with pocket Rockets. Thaler calls and he's in trouble. The flop is K-4-5, no help. The turn is a 3!!! Wow! Thaler is alive. The river doesn't help Lee. What a brutal beat!
8:34 pm CT
Griffin has AQ and bets. Vaswani is in the big blind with JTs. He says all-in, but actually can't go all-in yet. It's just Pot Limit. That's a tough call for Griffin who has Vaswani well out-chipped. Griffin bets to force Vaswani all-in. Good read. Vaswani calls and needs help. The flop is 2-7-5, no help at all for Vaswani. The turn is a 3, still no help. The river is just a 6, and Griffin knocks out Vaswani in 5th.
8:36 pm CT
It's time for the Griffin profile. We find out he's 12 years old. Okay... that's an exaggeration. He's 22 and has been playing poker online for a couple of years. He says he's been "playing good recently." Guess that means Otis has to go to the WSOP next year!
8:37 pm CT
Lee bets his pocket 8's. Griffin raises with A8s even though he's well behind in the hand (but obviously doesn't know that). Lee calls all-in, great read by him. The flop is A-7-3. Wow, another lucky draw by Griffin. Lee has just one out. The turn is a K. The river is just a 5. Griffin actually gets a flush and Lee is gone in 4th.
8:39 pm CT
8:42 pm CT
Thaler calls the BB with A6. Bush calls from the SB with 56. Griffin just checks with 75. The flop is 6-4-4. Pairs for Thaler and Bush, a straight draw for Griffin. Griffin bets and Thaler raises. Bush is worried now, thinking he had the best hand. He throws his away. Probably the right move. Griffin will probably call with his open ended draw. No reason to raise... but he does anyway, and raises big. Thaler is talking like he wasn't respected. Sounds like Thaler doesn't have a read and throws them away. Griffin wins the pot. Nice bet. I wouldn't have made the same play.
8:44 pm CT
It's time for the "Nuts" again and the next installment of "Blind Man's Bluff." We're down to just 3 players, so thankfully it's almost over. Suddenly, Moneymaker shows up and buys in. Guess this game has different rules. Looks like Vahidi is about to knock out Scotty Nguyen. I suppose we'll see more next episode.
8:46 pm CT
Some chatting gone on now. Thaler likes to talk. Makes me miss Phil a little. Griffin calls with 89 and the other players are shocked he didn't raise. Thaler calls with 76. Bush also calls with J8s. Flop comes 6-A-K. Thaler gets his pair. And everyone sticks around for the turn and it's a J. Tough to bet those 6's now. Griffin bets with absolutely nothing and Bush has his J's. Bush is torturing himself now and throws it away. Everyone thinks Griffin has a great hand, but he's got nothing. Another great play.
8:50 pm CT
Thaler suggest they all go in in the dark, but Thaler is the small stack, he might as well suggest it. Griffin looks at pocket 7's and bets. Thaler gets the Hilton Sisters and has to raise all in. Griffin will likely call, figuring it might just be overcards. He's well behind and needs a miracle. The flop is 6-8-4 and Griffin actually has an inside straight draw. The turn is a 9 and now it's double gutshot. The river is a 5 and Griffin sucks out again. Amazing!!!! Thaler is crushed in 3rd. What a tough beat!
8:52 pm CT
8:55 pm CT
It's heads up time. The internet kid vs. the veteran tournament player. Griffin raises with K5 and Bush calls with J7. The flop is 6-T-8 and it's a straight draw for Bush. Bush checks and Griffin will likely bet... nope he checks! The turn is a K and Griffin is in great shape. Bush checks and Griffin bets strong. Bush has a gutshot straight draw and nothing more. It's time to throw them away, and he does. The rabbit cam shows Bush would have made the straight. Ouch. It was still the right play.
8:57 pm CT
Bush raises with 7's. Griffin has Cowboys and he's practically got this won. He re-raises hoping Bush will call all-in. He does and finds out he's waaaay behind. The flop is T-6-J and Griffin is even farther ahead. The turn is just a 5. The river is a J and Griffin is the youngest bracelet winner in WSOP history. Congrats!
9:00 pm CT
Time for Razz. Hope you enjoy it. I know I will. And wow! What a table. We've got TJ Cloutier. John Juanda. Dutch Boyd. Howard Lederer. This is going to be fun!
"Sir, you should know, the heads have to be cleaned every six months."
Who is this guy?
That's what I was thinking. Who is this 22 year-old guy trying to sell me an extended warranty on a video camera? I didn't buy an extended warranty on my car.
Who is this guy?
"You'll be replacing this battery every year, and the warranty covers battery replacement." The sales pitch was sad in its relentlessness.
"You can stop," I said. "Just give me what I want."
The Best Buy kid walked away, dejected, collecting the firewire, digital video camera, and tapes. I felt the slightest taste of victory in watching him work.
And then it hit me like a drunk's suckerpunch.
Just look at yourself, Otis. Look what you've become.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It was like I was watching myself through one of the store's security cameras. Or better yet, one of those films they used to show in high school. This one was titled, "The Anthropology of the Man Nearing Fatherhood."
However, to me, I saw it as a Animal Plant show, like the "Alligator Hunter."
Painfully Austrailian voice track: "Crikee, mates, we've found one. Look down there in the video cameras. That's his natural habitat. See, that round woman beside him. She's carrying his young . Crikee! Looks like it could come out any day, doesn't it? Now, watch as he spends way too much money on a piece of electronic equipment that he'll only use use to shoot video of a baby that only the grandparents will want to see! If you keep a close eye on him, you'll see him asking another more experienced man to help him put in a thing called a "child safety seat." That SUV doesn't look so manly now, does it, mates?"
And that was the first half of my day.
I was on my way to get a haircut, hopefully the result of which would be two-fold. First, after a day of looking like the American prototype for the "Almost Dad", I needed a fresh look. Maybe all those people who saw me wouldn't recognize me as the guy that just dropped $700 on a piece of video equipment. Secondly, while the last two weeks have been very kind to me online, the last couple of days had not and Mene Gene has some interesting ideas about the success of poker players relative to their haircut. It was worth a try.
However, much like Mean Gene's plight, the girl who guts my hair was busy and I was left with a free afternoon.
That's when the voice in my head started again.
"Hey, Otis, check your voicemail, man."
Sure enough, there it was. An invitation to a $100 buy-in tourney at the State Park Game, now known simply as The Mark.
We should begin with an admission here.
I am not a wealthy man.
I should not be spending hundreds of dollars on a video camera. What's more, I shouldn't be buying into $100 tournaments at The Mark right now. My online bankroll is up several thousand dollars, but my home bankroll had sunk below $800.
But Mrs. Otis, on the edge of labor, had some things to do and I had some time to kill.
Of course, you know what I did...
When I arrived at The Mark, only a few others had shown up. This was not like the Friday night games I've written about in the past, where the booze fuels all-in bets and you can never be sure if your opponent has low pair or a royal.
Saturday, the boys were drinking iced tea (one and half cups of sugar per pitcher, according to the host's wife). The cars in the drive were Hummers and Corvettes. This was not a night of drinking, crapshoot cards. This was going to be an afternoon of serious poker.
Flush Eddie was jonesing to play. "How about some $4/$8 until everybody gets here?"
It was a five-handed game. We each bought in for $40. My AQ helded up for a boat against Mark's trip Queens. AK paired an ace on the board to snuff Flush Eddie's pocket jacks. Within 40 minutes I had won my buy-in to the tourney, plus enough to buy dinner later that night.
It was then I decided the title to this post: Freerolling at The Mark.
Since I was playing for free, I relaxed a little. The double-shot of Absolut I had poured into my limeade soothed the nerves a little more. I felt my game coming on.
Mark surprised me by setting up the tourney the way I like them. Unlike Friday night games where each chip is valued the same, players pick their own seats, and the blinds are run off an egg-timer, Mark had gone the extra yard and set up the tourney as follows:
A $100 buy in gets you $3000 in tournament chips. Levels begain at $10/$20 and increase every 20 minutes as monitored by his freshly downloaded Poker Clock (incidentally, I was introduced to Poker Clock by the Greenwood Crew, and if you have't used it for your home tourneys yet, you are really missing out). Rebuys are $100 and will get you $2500T if you bust out in the first four levels. Payout: 80% to first place, 20% to second (again, a little top-heavy for my taste, but that's the way the majority ruled).
We had nine players around Mark's nice new table. $900 sat in the pot. I looked around the table to my left.
1) Flush Eddie, the red-Hummer driving niceguy who suggested the $4/$8 game
2) The Captain, the Captain Morgan fan who I'd never seen before.
3) Mark, the black-Hummer driving host of the game.
4) Brian, an easily-respected visor-wearing player who plays at almost every game at The Mark, big or small.
5) I'll call this guy Not-Gary, becuase he reminded me a lot of one of my best friends from Missouri, but that wasn't his name
6) Chuck Sneer. I dubbed him, at first, The Sneer, because he can look downright menacing behind a set of shades. Later, I learned his name was Chuck and decided he was too nice of a guy to only call him The Sneer.
7) Juan Corona, the Corona-sharing stickler for detail
8) Nick, the tanning business operator
My first four hands should've indicated to me that I should run to my car, grab a notebook, and start taking notes. In four hands, I was dealt 66, 77, and TT, all of which made sets on the flop. I don't think anyone called any of these to the river, but I raked a healthy amount of chips nonetheless.
In the first two levels, I never fell below my original $3000T. The table had started to joke, because my Queens were holidng up almost every time I had them. If I held a Queen in my hand, no matter how small the kicker, it held up.
As a result, I got cocky.
I limped in with Q5o in late position and a Q came on the flop with no overcards. I bet out and Chuck Sneer cold called. Curious. The turn was a blank, I bet out, he cold-called again. Very curious. I put him on a Q with a weak kicker. There wasn't much of a draw on the board. The river spiked what I figured was the case queen. I put out a large bet, expecting Chuck Sneer to fold. He did me one better and put in a huge raise.
That was when The Sneer came into play. I tried to look into him. I wanted to see his kicker. After a couple of minutes of serious thought, I mucked my hand, turning up the queen. The table couldn't believe I had laid it down. At the time, I felt okay about the laydown, and was only mad at myself for playing Q5o in the first place. Later, though, as I started watching how Chuck played, I realized that river raise was only a playing device for him. Eventually, someone he put on a weak flush called one of the river raises with a big flush. It was then I realized Chuck probably didn't have the fourth Queen and had bluffed me something fierce.
While demoralizing, it was not a huge defeat for me. I had developed a certain amount of respect at the table and was using it to my advantage. I worried, though, that the weakness I showed with my queen trips would start to hurt me.
That's when it happened...
One hand before the rebuy period was over, I found KK in the big blind. Brian came in for a big raise and got called by Not-Gary. I raise, Brian went all in, Not-Gary called his all-in and went all in himself.
And there sat my pocket cowboys looking back at me with a look of terror, truly unbefitting of their name. Couple of complete wussies, if you ask me.
They actually looked up at me from their spot on the felt and said, "Fold us. We're weak. One of those two guys has aces and we'll lose. It's SAD for cowboys to lose."
I actually thought about Hellmuth for a second, when he called the ESPN crew over during the WSOP and told them how monumental it was that he folded his KK. I looked around for someone to brag to that I was about to lay down pocket kings pre-flop.
Then one of the kings looked up at me and winked. "Just kiddin', bud. Call their asses."
I called, but still not sure of myself completely, told the two other players, 'Show me your aces."
And they did. Unfortunately for them, they needed to combine their hands to have pocket aces. Both of them showed AJ. Both of them.
The flop came all little cards.
"No aces..." I muttered.
Nick looked up at me and said, "I folded one of them."
After the turn came with another blank, that meant there was one card left in the deck that could beat me.
And it didn't come.
The cowboys held up and my stack sat at ~$14,000T going into the first break.
The first break also indicated the end of the rebuy period. Mark, Brian, and Not-Gary had rebought, Nick had busted out and decided he was finished.
That put the total prize pool at $1200.
I called Mrs. Otis to make sure she wasn't in labor. She asked how I was doing, and I said well, as long as the baby doesn't come while I'm playing.
After the break, even with the rebuys, it started to go quickly. I busted out a couple of players, so did Flush Eddie.
Before long, we were down to four: Otis, Flush Eddie, Not-Gary, and Chuck Sneer.
I found AQ in late position, and felt ever-so-slightly uncomfortable calling Chuck's raise. I felt my hand was good, but when he bet out after an ace came on the flop, I started to feel like he might have AK. I raised to see where I was in the hand and Chuck re-raised all in.
I thought for about 30 seconds. I felt like he likely had AK, but if he didn't, I could bust him and get it down to three players.
I called and Chuck turned up a familiar hand. AJ, the same hand I had busted Brian and Not-Gary on. He didn't improve, shook my hand, and took off.
I was pretty close to Flush Eddie in chip position, but I sort of felt like he was a little ahead. Not-Gary was not quite short-stacked, but he was obviously in third place.
He played a good tight-aggressive game throughout thetournament and it served him well, even when we got shorthanded. He even started to build his stack a little bit. That's when my money-clip started talking.
"Just say the word, 'deal', man. They'll take it. Nobody is here for the glory. Split it three ways."
But I couldn't make myself do it. Even though I was playing for free, even though busting out on the bubble would kill my faith in the game of poker, I couldn't make myself offer a deal with three players left.
We played three-handed for about 30 minutes. Everybody played tight, not wanting to give up too much.
"The big hand is coming," Not-Gary said.
He was right.
I was in the small blind and hadn't yet looked at my cards when Not-Gary, from the button raised the amount of the pot. I started to mutter something about him being a thief, but chose to look at my cards instead.
The boys were back.
"Hey, Otis," the cowboys waved. "Feel like folding us this time, pussy?"
I looked at Not-Gary, "How much do you have left?"
He counted it out confidently , "About $4500T."
If I lost, I would be the table's shortstack and in danger of the bubble. If I won, I was in the money. I still had Flush Eddie behind me, but didn't think for more than a couple of seconds before announcing I was all in.
Eddie folded immediately and Not-Gary called, flipping up A3 of hearts.
The cowboys looked proud.
To make them prouder, one of their buddies came on the flop and Not-Gary was, in essence, drawing dead the rest of the way.
We were down to two.
I started trying to count Flush Eddie's chips and noticed he was doing the same thing to me. We both came to the same conclusion about the same time, but Eddie was first to speak: "Mark, how much is in the pot?"
Mark was at the end of the table experiementing with Poker Clock.
"Want to chop it?" Eddie asked.
I did the math in my head and realized that with my win in $4/$8 before the game and half the $1200 pot, I had just paid for my new video camera.
I only had to say, "Yep" and Mark put $600 in my hand.
Eddie and I counted out our chips just for the fun of it. I had him outchipped by about $3000T, which once heads up play begins is not a significant margin. I could've played for several more hours and lost. I'd take my share of first... in a second.
You know, I try to play it cool when I win. No jumping around, fist-pumping, point and poke maneuvers for me. Still, winning makes my balls feel like they are the size of honeydew melons. Winning makes me feel like I could impregnate a new woman every day. Winning makes my shoulders huge and my head clear. The endorphins and adrenaline that course through the bloodstream have to be equivalent to some sort of drug.
While I have been occasionally posting $1000 days on Empire, I rarely return from home games with a significant roll of cash.
So, it was hard to play it too cool when I got home and Mrs. Otis asked how I did. I just tossed her the roll and told her to count it.
She obliged me and played the role of the impressed wife very well.
Today, my back is a little sore from sitting at the table for hours yesterday. My new video camera is charged up and ready to play with. And the lawn needs to be mowed.
Cue the Austrailian guy again: "There he is again, mates. Back in his den. Look how big his testicles have grown in the last 24 hours! Crikee! But don't get too used to that, mates. As soon as he starts mowing the yard, he'll be all normal again."
Heesh.<-- Hide More