Some people say scent can inspire more memories than sight.
My entire kitchen smelled like plastic. The baby and wife were gone. The dog was disinterested. And my new Copags had arrived. I played heads up against myself and lost.
My entire kitchen smelled like plastic and the smell was leeching into the living room. All I needed was an excuse and at least five other people.
The smell of plastic was the excuse.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Two hours later, BadBlood asked what he could bring. I said a twelve-pack. His one-word ("Done") answer didn't at all indicate what would happen later. Even when G-Rob asked if I needed beer and I said, "Blood is bringing some, but bring more," I didn't really think much of it.
But then G-Rob walked in with a giant bottle of tequila.
There was a time (and a time not too long ago, and a time I think I've mentioned several times here) during which I would drink nothing more than Diet Mountain Dew while playing cards. I'd further hype myself up with Sweet-Tarts or Spree. Those were the days when winning or losing $50 was a big deal.
The play itself (mine especially) was unremarkable. I lost two buy-ins, all of it on two hands. The Mark made a still unbelieveable call for all of my chips (a substantial sum at that point, but he still had me covered) with an open-ended straight draw. Then I made an ill-timed semi-bluff (that turned out to be less than a semi bluff and left me with one out) against G-Rob. Other than that, I flopped a set against Blood once and those were the only hands of note for me.
In the post below this one, G-Rob chronicles the highlights of the night (my proudest moment is Mrs. Otis sitting down in her first live game and playing the hammer for a win). The rest of the evening is as blurry as the pictures I started to take.
So, instead of a write-up, how about a quick pictorial?
I mentioned the tequila. I didn't mention that, for the first time in a long while, EVERYBODY wanted to drink. BadBlood had walked in with a bottle of wine which was strong enough to destroy a cheap corkscrew and conjure images of Team Scott Smith. When it was gone, and the beer was getting low, Mrs. Otis found a tray which was reapeatedly covered with shotglasses full of tequila and, indeed, Everclear. At some point, Mrs. Otis was drinking rum out of mini-bottles while the boys from The Mark shot Everclear and chased it with diet soda. Then...G-Rob turned into a cocktail waitress.
When the drinking got heavy, the sidebets and prop bets started coming a little more frequently. After G-Rob re-raise my raise (and made the bet much too big to call), I bet him that my hand would win by the river. He agreed, I showed my AQs, he showed pocket tens (?). An ace on the turn meant I would've won. I ended up winning money on that hand. Later that night, I would find myself challenging The Mark to a $100 heads-up match (damned Michael Craig and his book about Andy Beal...). I thought we'd be playing Limit O8. Everyone convinced me I'd agreed to NL O8, which, even in my altered state, I'm pretty sure I would not have agreed to. Nonetheless, we played it out and I...well, I lost. The other contests of the night were mugh more interesting and involved none other than BadBlood's pythons.
Somehow, Blood (ever-confident about the ammo in his guns) had decided he could beat The Mark in a left-handed arm-wrestlling match. When the match began, Mrs. Otis looked on with fear and admiration (or a belly full of rum and tequila).
I looked on through a lens and could not believe what I saw. It was a bit like the time the next-door neighbor girl told me there was no Santa. Blood, face tangled in disbelief and horror...lost.
The loss, like something out of a movie, inspired G-Rob to believe he, in fact, has any muscles in his arms. Before I knew what was happening, G-Rob had taken The Mark's seat at the felt.
I suppose I don't even need to write the result...
Bouyed by beating up on G-Rob (a lot like beating the 16 seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament), Blood went on to destroy the Mark in a right-handed match. I only caught the middle of it through the lens, because I didn't want a record of it if Blood lost.
Frankly, it all reminded me a bit of the silliness that sometimes ensues in Vegas. And that reminded me I had a few pictures I hadn't posted from the June outing. I'll let them speak for themselves. I'm tired.<-- Hide More
In September of 1994 I sat on the filthy fabric of a striped Salvation Army couch, surrounded by the who's-who of degenrates. We'd end up there every day, gambling on heads-up matches of NHL '94, skipping class, and acting like filthy hippies. That's when inspirations struck. My buddy Scott saw an maazine ad with a picture of beautiful downtown Amsterdam.
At 5 AM on a cold damp Dutch December, four of us wandered out of train station in downtown Amsterdam with no reservations, no map of downtown, and no inhibitions whatsoever. Folks, THAT was the best New Year's Eve...EVER! Say what you want about the Dutch..'em people can throw a party.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Most of the great events of my life started off that way. Like the time I skipped midterms for a late night ride to Graceland....she had a credit card and I had a car. Just this year, I got an IM from an internet celebrity that simply said, "You wanna go suprise Otis in Nassau?". Three days later we did just that. Sometime ask me or Otis about He-Con...same sorta thing.
So Friday afternoon Otis opens the mail to find his new set of COPAG cards. It's a big deal for him because he's used to the $0.50 impulse buy, checkout line variety. I'm quite sure he was dissappointed that the new plastic cards don't come with little fishies or an American flag on the back.
At about 3:30 Otis found me on the teenage girl chatterbox device. He had a hankerin' for a game. BadBlood and I were immediately in, because we're losers like that. Folks, here's what happened to the best of my recollection :
If Bradoween is like this, we'll need medics on standby
The Game :
4s Shep Tiltstein
5s The Mark
6s F***Face Fire Fighter (Worst NickName EVER..thank Mrs. Otis for THAT!)
9s Frank the Tank
10s The Axeman
We actually started 6 handed, and had to break the game when the other 3 players arrived. Otis went to pick up "the Mark"'s table top while the drunken degenerate gamblers stayed home with his baby boy. (This is tottally false if you're from DSS)
As always we started serious. I went down a full buy-in when my pocket 10s found Stan's DoubleAs. Later I made that back with aces of my own against BadBlood's pocket jacks.
This is one of those stare-em-down games, long pauses to contemplate a call, frequent counting and re-counting of chips, long stares across the felt. BadBlood was struggling early and Otis was barely better. I took another buy in from BadBlood when he pushed with top pair against my flush and straight draw...I caught on the river. Hours later Otis would push all-in against my flopped Ace-high flush.
Blah blah blah..sounds so ordinary
First of all, its NOT ordinary, this is a G-Vegas home game which is always much more fun than whatever garbage YOU'RE slinging. The people at these tables are some of the more entertaining in the world, and you'll see every possible style within 5 minutes of grabbing a chair.
That said, this was much more than a typical G-Vegas home game.
Highlights include :
The Mark DESTROYS BadBlood in a left-handed arm wrestle.
The Mark chases Everclear with tequilla.
BadBlood chases and entire bottle of red wine with the same Jose Cuervo.
Mrs. Otis plays her first LIVE hand....and DROPS THE HAMMER for a win. (she outdrew my jackhammer)
Otis challenges the Mark to a heads-up $100 NLO8 showdown and loses (good night for the Mark)
Teuilla, 10 at a time, served on silver trays for the entire table...10 TIMES!
4AM and somebody decides to leave.
Another common thread
Most of the pictures from Amsterdam have that, "WOW! I bet that was fun" feel. I have a hard time writing about the trip because I'd spend most of the time decribing those pictures with very little independant recollection. I have that problem with the better trips I've taken. I remember having fun, and that's a pretty short story.
Soon you'll see some pictures from last night. I warn you, viewer discretion is HIGHLY ADVISED. I don't remember much, except this phone call from Otis at 1:15 this afternoon, answered by my wife :
Otis : Is G-Rob home
Wife : He's still asleep
Otis : Tell him to go f*** himself
I do know I finished UP a few hundred.
We'll let the pictures, whenever Otis gets around to it, tell the rest of the story.
AND FOR THOSE OF YOU COMING TO BRADOWEEN...YOU'VE BEEN WARNED! SO HELP ME PEOPLE, BRING A CAMERA!<-- Hide More
The Bradoween Open is--remarkably--almost full. However, the rules will be bent (and I'd be willing to sit 11-handed if necessary...) if a poker neophyte from the left coast wants to play.
One thing to consider...I like to see my name in print.
Nikki, it's spelled O-T-I-S.
Seriously, the girl wants traffic. Give it to her. Secondly, I'm serious about the Open. Seven seats remain.
First, I mean no disrespect. I don't mean to be macabre. And I'm not making a joke.
But this is messed up.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm not going to say anything more. Good taste and all.
(By the way, if something should happen in the morning before I wake up, someone please call CJ and have him remove this post. After all, I got dealt aces twice and kings once tonight before bed)<-- Hide More
NOTE : BE SURE TO READ OTIS' INVITE POSTED BELOW
We'd just finished our shoot and were standing on the Main Street bridge. The broadest gurgle of the Reedy River was over my left shoulder and the blazing sun on the right. I knew Sunday that this would be my Monday beat. We'd led the newscast for 2 days with warnings of the "HEAT ADVISORY" for the entire veiwing area. Usually when local news "experts" tell you the weather is too hot, cold, wet, windy or dry to venture outside....that's exactly where I end up.
After 2 hours of interviewing roofers and following the friendly staff at "Party Time Ice", we'd come to the part that features me. I stood with my face to the camera and my hand on the mike and prepared to record a tease. Veiwers always need a warning about what's "coming up!" We had a monster story about how regular Joe's were coping with the heat.
"I think its great that you're willing to go on camera like that," Mark smiled.
I looked down at my TV LOGO shirt, and found it so drenched in sweat my giant man nipples were naked against the polyester. Until then, I thought I looked pretty damn good. I thought I had kept my cool.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Beauty in the Eye...
HBO has this docu-garbage about life in the cathouse, the life and times of the average working whore. I hope they all make a good living. Few of them look like they've been living good. Most have a few extra pounds, which draws the eye from the spartan teeth and peroxide hair. Right now there may well be a website devoted to stretch marks and lingerie, but it ain't my bag baby.
I always wonder what happens above the bustier. What does a Vegas whore imagine as her own self-image. The answer we get from mirrors is like that of a tired co-worker who is always "fine" when you ask. You almost always see just what you expect.
The johns aren't much help of course. The fawn over their 3 bill bonk like an Otis in a river of Rogaine. They've contracted a service and are determined to get their money's worth. I'm still waiting for the episode when a client hands over his cash with a death row smile and says "you look like grandma...but let's see if the wrinkles are fun."
Poker players have the same problem. Its easy to believe your game is going tight and the sags are will hidden by a visor and an I-Pod. The other players at the table certainly aren't going to point out the flaws they've found. I often delude myself, through weeks of modest winnings, into believing I've turned a corner in my play. At least I get paid, and there's little time for introspection.
But when I play with certain players, the better ones of course, they're aware of every deceit. I sat to TightRandy's left last Thursday and he read me like a book. Normally I avoid most pots with him because his willingness to play is itself a tell. But after most hands he was able to smell my aggressive bluff. Usually it was the betting pattern that tipped him off. Betting that I thought was pretty damn smooth.
Headsup with BadBlood I ran into it again. I taunted him beforehand, just because that's how I play. I won most of the minor pots. But somehow he knew when my bluff at the turned ace was exactly that. Somehow he knew when I was betting the second pair. I had tells all over my face and he spotted them in seconds. Why was I so unaware?
As much I harp about observing other players, its just as important to watch ourselves. Win rates can lie and you're opponets lips are sealed. On the bridge downtown I only knew how bad I looked because my teammate took note. In a solitary game there's no backcourt assist. To find the flaws in another's game is simple, compared to real INsight...vision into ourselves.
I've played with dozens of players who felt that last tournament win...that one big take at home....that killer night online...put them on top of their game. It's easy to be fooled. Lately I think I've whored myself. I'm blind to my mirror tells.<-- Hide More
No real time to compete with G-Rob for Writing King today, but I thought it was worth mentioning that Bradoween V: Five Years in Suburbia is now less than four weeks away.
The guest list is already long and distinguished (you fill in the punchline here). I won't mention who is coming yet, but if they want to indicate their plans in the comments, I think you'll be impressed. What's more, we're cooking up the competition to end all competitions and we still have a couple of spots in the player pool left.
You wanna come? It's Saturday August 20th.More in this Poker Blog! -->
One other funny thing... I had completely forgotten this two-year-old e-flier from Bradoween 3D.
That's all for now.<-- Hide More
With Tom McEvoy taking a Sunday off over at PokerStars, someone had to step in for the $1000 heads up match. Enter wil wheaton.
The newest member of Team PokerStars battled against
Hendon Mob member European Poker standout Noah Boeken. I'd have to say wil was a bit of an underdog.
At one point, wil made a huge all-in call with 99 and an A-6-4 board. Some of the observers said it was a terrible call, but with just one overcard on the board, and wil short-stacked, it was the only play.
You also all be proud to know that wil dropped the HAMMER at one point. He was even short-stacked at the time.
The tourney came down to an all-in play, 78s for Noah and A2o for wil. The flop came T-6-6 with two diamonds that Noah needed. That actually made Noah a 58% favorite at that point. The turn was the Ace of spades and wil was suddenly 75% to take the match. The river was a blank.
Congrats, wil! It certainly wasn't easy, and you played well.
And although the chat was full of a few jackasses... some of it was a little amusing...More in this Poker Blog! -->
barnstorm [observer]: I think they should get William Shatner to play this tourney next week
harthgosh [observer]: ENISIGN CRUSHER MEET MASTER JEDI EXCLUSIVE
zigzag [observer]: who's next week.. Drew Carey?
Kru223 [observer]: next week it will be commander data
BeatTheBeat [observer]: hmm.. bigger star: Wil Wheaton or River Phoenix???
Onyx_Hokie [observer]: River's dead.. so probably Wil.
zigzag [observer]: next week should be either Whoopi Goldberg, Number One. or R2D2
timthegem [observer]: Do you have a holodeck in your house, Wil?
AcecardZ [observer]: can't play yoda in a sit n go... he'd FORCE you to fold
Onyx_Hokie [observer]: "This is not the flop you're looking for."
PorkPrince [observer]: wil knows all the cheat codes
PorkPrince [observer]: Go to yellow alert!
(After wil makes the call with pocket 9's.)
JrzyToGa [observer]: NOBODY PUSHES WIL WHEATON AROUND
RMC9 [observer]: Counsellor Troy couldn't have even made that call!!!
(wil pulls out his Magic trash talk. Noah is a world-class Magic: The Gathering player.)
Wil Wheaton: you wanna blow this off and play magic instead?
Wil Wheaton: i've got a great black and blue deck
James Doohan, the actor who played "Scotty", passed away this week. He starred in every movie and episode, and was a regular on the national dork tour. You can't have "Star Trek" without Scotty. But what do we know about our chief engineer? He's remembered for RECEIVING a command from someone else. I mean, is he anything more than "Sam the Butcher"? Sam's a BUTCHER, and he bangs ALICE. Not a compelling character, unless you're Alice. They're critical to the advancing plot, but as thin as the new post-heroin Otis. I know more about TIGER the DOG.
I never wanted to be Sam, and I'm only half-Scottish. Yet, its safe to say good books and terrible TV have ruined my life. A better man tries to focus his life around that which is morally good. I've tried to be the center of the action. I'd prefer to be the good guy, wearing the white hat, but DAMMIT I'm getting a hat, and black'll do in a pinch.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Look at me..doing a good deed!
That's always been a weakness of mine. I remember, I was about 15, and we went on this charity trip to New Mexico. It was a church group, a church to which I didn't belong, headed out west to build new houses for Navajos. I just wanted the free vacation and I thought there was an outside chance of getting some cool feathers in my cap.
On the first day, our group met about 100 others and we were divided up by skill. There were carpenters, plumbers, roofers, and painters. I put a check by "foreman". When I met my group of 15 folks for the very first time I was the least qualified, and I was in charge of the mission. For most of the assignment, which was to re-roof and re-paint some old Indian's home, I was just trying to arrange the perfect meeting with a very perky chested girl from Wisconsin. That actually worked out much better than the poor Navajos home. We had to get reinforcements from 2 other groups to finish the house in time. But I did get to know that girl.
The players at our game are getting better, there's no question about that. And I keep trying to convince them that I'm as bad as ever. This time, we had a fun group, with Call-Done, BadBlood, Rocket, the Tank, and Randy. These guys are all pretty cool and they all have different styles. I don't hope to be the coolest guy at the table, so I take the opposite tack : TOTAL ASS.
For Example :
The flop is Ace high. I have big slick and bet out, Chef Shep cold calls.
The turn is a Queen. I bet the pot again and Shep cold calls.
The turn is a total brick and I push all-in which Shep again calls.
I know exactly what Shep has, and I'm POSITVE it ain't more than and ace.
I say, "If you have Ace-Queen you win."
Shep says, "I don't."
I say. "Then you lose."
I'm still an ass, but at least I've raked the pot.
If the shoe fits
Sometimes "asshole" is just a bad habit, but you don't find all the assholes huddled by the side of the building in the rain. There's no law against us and, like it or not, we don't blend with you decent folk. Sometimes I find myself using "asshole" as default mode just based on the asumption that one of you will be smarter, better looking, or more deserving of the protagonist role.
What's amazing is how quickly I can change it back. If I'm surrounded by douchebags I can become more noble than you'd imagine. That's an even better role. Badboy turned good. What a great story to tell!
The game's over
So Thursday night after all the players have cashed out, only BadBlood and I remained. He was having a rough night, mostly due to poor timing. I had somehow managed to bleed away 3/4 of a $200 profit. As always BadBlood played the gracious host, and I had only one move to make.
"I know you're too cowardly to do it," I said, "but if you want to go heads up, I'll take the rest of your stack"
"Come on, you can't be serious," said BadBlood...who was, in fact, serious.
"Look, I'm happy to cash out, but I'm just saying, I dominate you always"
And so heads up play, good vs. evil began.
Tommy the Axeman was so captivated by the duel he stayed to deal each hand for 40 minutes after he cashed out.
BadBlood took about $25 from me and outplayed me on almost every hand.
All the world's a stage
The most natural outflow of this literary chip is unnatural competition. I'll try to beat you at anything. Competition has been the bedrock of my friendship with Otis for over 5 years now. We've competed at beer chugging, rock-paper-scissiors, fake song singing, shot slamming, put down dissing, and every other activity we've ever pursued. Never was the leisure activity introduced that we couldn't make into a fight. Somehow I'm always the bad guy there too. That suits me just fine.
More than anything, the competition drives me to the front of the stage. If I ever achieve anything in my professional career, its because I'm trying to one-up a co-worker. If I ever become a semi-decent poker player, its because I want to beat down the table. If I ever become a master of love its to have that unspoken edge against my lover's others. (I'm hoping that last one is only in jest).
Poker is the best outlet I've ever had for that competitve nonsense. It's perfect for a drama king like me because everyone is a major character and the competiton is so tightly tied to personality. I can divine so much about the character of my opponents simply by the way they play their cards. Its one of the reasons BadBlood and I have become such good friends. I know a lot about him by the way he raises and folds.
Into the soul with Mr. Hellmuth
At your next home game I challenge you look at the person to divine the style. You'll be suprised by what you find. An insecure child like Phil Hellmuth is a good example, I'd play some goofy hands against him because he'd want me to look up to him. I don't, and instead of letting it tighten my hand selection I'd do the opposite. If it weren't for luck..and a lack of respect..he'd win every hand.
I expect a hen-packed husband to play calling station.
I expect a Napoleon complex to bet maniacally.
I expect a failure of a man to play too tight.
I expect a sucessful man is prone to a nasty suckout tilting.
More than that our character flaws, the ones that you can't order from central casting to play a major role in post-flop play. The lifetimes of fears and secret motivations laid bare by a flush draw. In the game of poker all ten players, good or bad, are central charaters to the plot. In winning or losing we become critical players in their storyline as they do in ours.
Just watch out for the asshole with a need to be noticed. He's likely to play whatever style you don't. He wants to have someone else "Beam him up!".
He wants to wear a hat.<-- Hide More
There was a day when I didn't "know" someone in Vegas. That spot in southern Nevada was a fairy tale place where no one actually lived. We tripped the light fantastic (not to mention the fandango), rode through the worm holes, and emerged in a land of lights, concentrated sin, and blissful anonymity.
These days, I know people. Not in the "I know people" sense of knowing people. (I know people in St. Louis, though, and they know people, so that has to count for something.) In Vegas, I have familiarities. I figure that is as much as one can ask in a city where relationships are as tenuous as a string of good luck on the video poker machines.
And, yet, so it happened that I came to know someone in Vegas named Wil Wheaton.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It had been three weeks in what I was beginning to think of as the Lost City. I had already seen too much. I'd seen old men, drunk on booze and too many hours at the table, fall to the floor in a heap of old skin and liquor fumes. I'd seen poker mensch Barry Greenstein in a cab line, holding his books like children, and dodging the drunken twenty-somethings on their way to yet another club. I'd seen a guy sitting at a video poker bar at six in the morning and smirking at the poker players across the way like he'd prefer to eat them with BBQ sauce. At first, the way the guy drank coffee, talked to the hookers, and kibitzed with the bartenders, I thought he was a cop. Then, he struck up a conversaton with me and let on that he had been up for two days, had just popped a tab of ecstacy, and was going to stay up and play the next WSOP event in seven hours.
"You play better on x?" I asked, finishing off my beer and looking toward the elevator.
"The decisions are a lot clearer," he said.
The three weeks had been tough. Though I knew people, I still didn't know people. My work colleagues were involved in their own work and in bed well before I was done with work. Dr. Pauly was hiding under a massive workload and milking the high life at the Redneck Riviera for all it was worth. Everybody else was playing cards. So, I played cards, or else I slept.
When you're in Vegas for an extended period of time, it is easy to stop believing in people. Even when you grow up like I did, never being suspicious of people and always believing there is a good side to everybody, you start to see true greed and malevolence where you once believed it couldn't exist. You find yourself clinging to the faintest shreds of friendship on the hopes that, when it's all over, you'll still have an innocent soul. Over the course of those three weeks, I found myself seeking out an odd couple named John and Marie who played $10/$20 almost every night. In the odd hours just before sunrise, they were people who knew my name and always greeted me with a smile.
But that was about it.
Looking back over the past 31 years, with the exception of my family, there have only been a few people who have directly and dramatically impacted my life and future. Most of those people have been close friends or people who would go on to be close friends. I think only twice have complete strangers had such an effect.
The first was a guy named Andy.
There was a time when I was stuck in Mississippi, living lakeside in a one bedroom apartment, and staring so deeply into my navel that I eventually convinced myself I had belly button cancer. Andy, who went on to become my boss in TV for six years, took a shot on me when he didn't really have to. During my tenure under him, I did everything I could to make him proud. And I did, I think. I won a couple big awards and, generally, kicked ass as long as I could before television ate my soul.
When my soul was most of the way through television's digestive tract, Wil Wheaton came along.
The story has been chronicled here before, so I won't go deeply into the details. Suffice it to say, Wil is the reason I'm doing what I'm doing today. When he was offered an opportunity, he pointed at me and said, "Give this guy a shot." That was eight months ago and until earlier this month, we had done no more than exchange a couple of e-mails.
I had moved out of the Rio the day before and headed over to the Mirage. The change of scenery, while not necessarily convenient, was welcome.
I was due back at the Rio at 11:30am for a media event my company was hosting. When I arrived, the room was already buzzing with media types and deli sandwiches. In the middle of the room stood John Vorhaus.
I've always been a little in awe of John. I may be wrong about this, but I believe he pioneered the concept of "live blogging" a tournament as it is known today. When Wil pointed Stars my way, Mrs. Otis ran to the store and picked up a copy of one of Vorhaus' books.
"Study up on your competition," she said at the time.
I walked up to John and shook his hand when it was unencumbered by the sandwich meat he had piled on his plate. I'm relatively certain he had no idea who I was and even more certain he had no idea why I thought he was the bees knees. Nonetheless, he was friendly and, through bites of his food, accepted my fawning.
I went to work, snapping the pictures I was supposed to snap, and meeting and gretting with the best of them. Before long, I spotted John talking to a familiar face. I think I actually walked over and said something about "two of my heroes standing in the same room." Before I blushed, I snapped a picture, and went back to hiding in plain sight.
Wil was there to play in the main event of the World Series of Poker. After suffering a bout of mono and riding a hell of a rollercoaster, he'd made it to Vegas. I could see a bit of tension in his eyes and I knew he didn't need me waxing silly about how much he'd affected my life. So, I tried not to.
When the main event day came, I tried to be casual about sidling up to his table and knocking off a few shots of him and Darwin holding court at the table. I tried not to wince when I saw Paul Darden sitting at the table as well. And when Wil's luck finally ran bad enough to end him to the rail, I tried not to be the "aw, you'll get'em next year" kind of softy.
I think I failed on every count.
Wil was unsure of what he was going to do after the main event. Part of him seemed to want to go home. Part of him seemed to want to stay. He ended up staying to play in another event and we talked about how we should grab dinner or a beer or go play cards when we found the time. Of course, there is no time in Vegas.
When Wil departed his next event, he called my phone to tell me the news. I asked if he was going to stay in town for another day or so.
"No, I think I'm going to go home to my wife who doesn't fucking call my pocket jacks with K4 off," he said. He said he was in the middle of the room and getting ready to leave.
By and by, Pauly and I worked our way through the crowd and found Wil in the middle of a conversation with Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. It was a conversation they couldn't finish, because every time they tried, a fan would come up and ask one of them for an autograph or picture. Pauly and I stood by, railbirds to two kinds of celebrity.
In the days leading up to Wil's departure, he'd gotten back to writing and was turning every narrative corner like he was on rails. When we finally had a chance to chat for a second, I let him know as much.
That was half of what I wanted to do. I wanted to fawn over his writing and then buy him an entire bar full of Anchor Steams to thank him for making my life what it is today.
But before I could finish my fawning, Wil said he'd read one of my "Month in Las Vegas" entires titled "Card players."
"That would make a nice forward for a book," he said.
And before I knew it, Wil was wading back through the crowd and toward his wife and family.
I, myself, waded back toward my work station, absorbing the odd moment. Nine months ago, I thought, I was carrying a TV tripod down an icy street and doing one of a dozen live reports on yet another ice storm in northern South Carolina. Now, Wil Wheaton is introducing me to Jesus and complimenting my writing in the middle of the damned WSOP.
It was only after the moment became a memory that I realized I never properly executed my mission that week.
All I had planned to do was sincerely, personally thank Wil for giving me a shot when he didn't know me from Adam, Eve, the serpent, or the rainbow. And what did I do? Well, I guess I got so caught up in the chance to thank him, that I never really did it.
So, Wil...thanks, man. Your next case of Anchor Steam is on me.<-- Hide More
I guess we all need it sometimes. A writer for the Online Journalism Review provides the bloggers' ego bone tickle this week. Thanks for the nice article, Mark.
Courtesy the Best News Website EVER!
The Carolina Channel DOT Com
"Greenwood Police Make Arrest In Weekend Homicide.
Fight At Poker Game Turns Deadly"
GREENWOOD, S.C. -- Greenwood police have a man in custody in connection with a weekend homicide.
Investigators said they responded to a call at a home on Cokesbury road Saturday night.
Inside the home, they found George Carroll Freeman, 34, with a gunshot wound to the head.
Witnesses said the shooting happened after Freeman got into an argument with Freddie Edwards, 57, during a poker game.
Police questioned Edwards at the scene and arrested him.
Edwards faces several charges, including murder, non-negligent manslaughter, and weapons violations. "
"You know you look like Tiny Tim?"
We were leaning over the craps table in such a precarious position that at any moment the pointy dice could hop from the felt and stab us in our bloodshot eyes. The man that looked like Tiny Tim (and he really did look like him) was three holes down from me on the right. Grubby and Mike were in between us. Pauly stood on my left.
"Tiny Tim?" The guy seemed confused, like he'd never heard "Tiptoe through the Tulips. "People tell me I look like Jesus."
One of the craps dealers looked up and said, "Are you sure that you didn't misunderstand when people looked at you and said 'Jesus Christ!"
For the first time in a long time, I was struck by unexpected laughter. It came from somewhere deep, somewhere that moved me to not even think, but to throw the dealer a blue chip and thank him. Four other blue chips hit the felt in front of the guy. Not bad cash for insulting a guy.
It was my last night in Vegas. I had no plans to sleep before getting on a plane. And I was playing craps.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm not really sure how it happened, to be honest. Fourteen hours before, I'd been covering the WSOP and wishing for a few hours sleep. Just an hour before I'd been sitting at a video poker bar with Pauly, drinking a cold beer and thinking back on the crazy life we'd led in the past four weeks.
Mike, a friend of Bill Rini who I'd met a week or so earlier, had looked down the bar at me and shook his hand like he was about to roll the point for the tenth straight time. "Otis?" he said, and shook his hand again.
I stood more quickly than I thought I should. Before I knew it, I was walking for the craps table.
As Mike walked with me, he said, "Poker players always have one leak."
My stride might have slowed a bit as I absorbed that.
A leak? I don't have a leak.
Twenty minutes later, I was $100 up as Tiny Tim rolled the point for the third time.
Pauly screamed, "Thank you, Jesus!" and pulled several redbirds up into his rack.
For the next hour or so, Pauly would thank Jesus while Grubby and I would scream the number that was rolled, no matter whether it hit us or not.
"Five!" we'd yell in unison before looking down to see if we had any money on the number. The table behind us would let out a fantastic group cheer and we would cheer with them, because, hey, it's fun and we had Jesus on our side.
"Thank you, Jesus!" Pauly was on a roll, which is a good place to be when you're playing craps.
So, playing craps wasn't really in the plan. Ever. The only plan was to work and, when not working, play poker. But after several weeks, I just wanted something different. I wanted something with non-stop action and, even more, a place where everyone was on the same side.
At one point during the game, Mike looked down at his rack and fingered through his chips.
"Don't count," Grubby mumbled, as if it were a mantra. "Never count." He might have been Rain Man.
"There's not a lot of variance in craps," Mike said.
The words hit my head but didn't go in my ears. I was caught up in Tiny Jesus' fervor and his ability to turn craps water into come betting wine. In fact, it was almost a full five minutes later when I actually heard Mike's joke.
No variance in craps, indeed.
Perhaps if I'd been in a better state of mind, perhaps if I had taken some time to consider the implications of playing craps with Jesus on my last night in Vegas, I would've learned some lesson. Maybe something like always max out your odds, stop betting on the come when you already have every number covered, etc.
But I learned nothing other than this: Sometimes you just have to step away from it all, drink a beer, and have fun. That's why we play poker in the first place. If we were doing it to make money, and I mean, really make money, well then, we'd be playing more than writing, right?
Perhaps not. Perhaps that's a bit too far. But I know this. I play to have fun and when I'm not having fun, I don't want to play.
It's a bit like writing, I suppose. For, the only reason I sat down to write this post is because the echo of Pauly screaming, "Thank you, Jesus!" is still in my head and has become on of my fond memories from my last stint in Vegas.
Sometimes we just have to have fun, folks.
Otherwise, what's it all about?<-- Hide More
We were in Johnson City when we stopped for gas. Gulfman bought a half-tank and I fueled my tumor. Our TV Explorer was 2 hours north of the TV station and we still had 4 hours left. That's when I took the wheel for the rest of the drive, through the remnants of a hurricane and into my childhood home.
Ashland is Eastern Kentucky. It's one of a half-million cities that's described in chamber of commerce shorthand as either "Tri-Cities" or "Tri-State". Ashland has the honor of both fake names. In our overnight stay, Gulfman and I would find ourselves lost in Huntington, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio.More in this Poker Blog! -->
SPEAKING OF LOST
At the bi-weekly donkey's choice game I had boats crushed by quads..TWICE. On the first hand we played Omaha 8b and 4 players saw the flop.
G-Rob has 9-9-9
BadBlood has 10-10-10
Rankster has A-A
Rich has Q-Q-Q
Turn is :
G-Rob has 9-9-9
BadBlood has 10-10-10
Rankster has A-A-A
Rich has Q-Q-Q
River is :
G-Rob has 9-9-9-Q-Q
BadBlood has 10-10-10-Q-Q
Rankster has A-A-A-Q-Q
Rich has Q-Q-Q-Q!!!
My boat came in 4th!
I Stink for a reason
The last leg of out drive is a 2 hour tour along the hilly Kentucky border, from Pikeville on up. The homestretch is marked by the coal burning power plant just off to the right and the oil refinery just beyond. It had been raining all day and the dust from the countless coal trucks has become an thick grey airborn mud. When the wipers weren't pushing rain they were smearing fossil fuel.
Gulfman's from Long Island. He was stunned by my part of the world. I'm the son of an immigrant hippie and resident of the deepest hollow. I'm not entirely sure the G-man had ever seen coal before. In Ashland its piled up so high you need a half mile of distance just to see the clouds above. The police cruisers are emblazoned with the motto, "Where coal meets steel". Lame but true.
LATER IN THE GAME
Rank was down $400 and out of the game. The big winners had cashed out too, so by 2AM only me, BadBlood and Teddy Ballgame remained. I was up about $150 when the Donk-fest began.
Soon, the three of us were playing Razz, $10 max bet with a $3 bring in. Average pot :$80. After each hand TBG would scream loud enough to wake the NEIGHBOR'S kids, "I hate this stupid FUCKING game!" Then he'd deal it again. Teddy fears change.
Some Things Never Change
Ashland was a boomtown when the coal and steel industry was full of smoke and fire. Now it puts the Ash in Ash-land. Gulfman and I were there because the folks along Winchester Ave. had decided to try and make their own hometown look just like G-Vegas. They flew down here and met with our mayor. They toured the restaurants and boutique shops. They decided the only thing that kept their town from blossoming like ours was MORE TREES!
There's something sad about the attempted ressurection, like a Little League parent who dresses up in the child's uniform. Its an image makeover that's made of imagination alone. Ashland can never be G-Vegas. Trees are always nice though.
Friday at "The Mark"
Ten players for another $40 tourney at "The Mark". This is the place where people are most convinced I suck. I busted 4 of the players, including BadBlood, when he pushed shortstacked with A-x. I caught two jacks on the board to match my QJo.
That game was, as always, followed by an insane cash game. Mark has this wierd love of NL Omaha. The pots are insane. They have a joke there that there's no reason to make a pre-flop raise, everyone will just call. It's true, of course, which means smart pre-flop raises can make a man rich.
Unfortunately, its hard to play enough hands to make that kind of money. Remember, during the $2 million tournament of champions, when Doyle told Phil to hurry the F*** up! This kid, on every hand he played, which was most of them, took 10 minutes in the tank. When an opponent raised, he'd ask for a chip count...then FOLD. The first orbit of the tourney was 20 minutes long. We played 7 hands.
I won the tourney. I've won 3 of the last 4 I've played there.
We started covering our story at the bank downtown. One of the suits there was leading the redevlopment charge. When we pulled into town, I called him to ask for directions. He laughed and told us he was in the only big building in town. It's 11 stories tall.
After an earful of PR-speak from the banker we looked for one of the main street mainstays to help tell the story. We found Bernard, owner of the Hallmark store. He'd worked at that store before he bought it, and he'd been there for 32 years. Nobody was more qualified to talk about what it's like to be in Ashland's downtown.
Like all the other merchants we'd met, Bernard lamented Ashland's decline. He said the new card customers were shopping at the mall and the old ones were dying off. He knew my parents and knew their old neighbors even better, especially the ones who'd died. Gulfman shot video of him helping the one customer in the store while I browsed around. I saw plasic playing cards for bridge, which my mother used to play, and all I could imagine was the look of suprise on the G-Crews face when I whipped out KEM-like cards with cuddly kittens on the front. Good TIMES!
Eight is Better
I remember telling BadBlood (notice he's in ALL of my poker stories) about my new online game, by girlie IM.
G-Rob : Wanna play some Stud 08
BadBlood : What's the "0"
G-Rob: sorry. "o"
BadBlood : You're playing Stud-Omaha 8b?
G-Rob: Go to hell
So what if I'm stupid. I'm very tall. I'm also able to win regularly at the Stud hi-lo game on Party (Bonus code: Otis-Falls). In hand after hand people will call me down with cards that can't beat what I'm showing. They have no low. They can't beat my pair of Jacks. Why call the last bet? Sheesh.
Kudos to Tom Wolfe
Later that night, my mother's birthday by the way, Gulfman and I joined the family for dinner. Mom kept pushing a video shoot at the old steel plant. She says its the best way to show the decline of Ashland from industrial boom to information bust. Gulfman was unmoved. He pointed out the length of the story (90 sec.) versus the amount of video we'd already shot (1 hour). I told her we weren't there to talk about Ashland. The people in G-Vegas don't care and neither did we. The only thing we had any interest in were the things that directly related to our chosen hometown.
It wasn't until the drive home that I realized how true that was. As we passed that coal plant, on the left this time, I yearned for the hills of Greenville instead. I thought about getting home to my family, in my home, in my city of choice. I thought about dealer's choice.
Tom Wolfe is from Ashville, 90 miles to our north. He says you can never go home again. He's half right.
NOW PART 3 OF OUR STORY
Hope you like it. I actually worked hard on this one.<-- Hide More
Clonie, Isabelle, Carmel... and most importantly, Mrs. Otis!
It's all in this week's editon of...
Poker is a solitary endeavour. It always has been. It always will be. That doesn't mean, however, that we ignore our brothers and sisters in the poker community.
Last month, we lost one of our brothers. Read the story of Charlie Tuttle here. There's not always much we can do, but in this case, there is.
WPBT "Charlie" Tournament
When? 6PM EST Sunday July 17th
Where? PokerStars (Tourney #9680072 under the Private tag)
How Much? $20 - every single dime goes to Charlie's family
What Do I Get When I Win? The comfort of knowing you're doing something good for someone else.
No, Really... No. Really.
Get in the game. I'll see you there. Let's show people what the poker blogging community is capable of.
Pauly has a new crush. She doesn't blog about her own breasts. And she's not about to marry a crazy Scientologist. But this one has a little mystery to her...
And she's the subject of this week's edition of...
I like to tell people about that time I went to state. I was left fielder on an All Star team of little leaguers from lil' ol' Ashland. We won district and regionals, and hopped on a charter greyhound to Murray with the best of our 12 year old ambition. Murray has a cool boy scout museum with a ropes course that scared the hell outta Eddie Dixon. That was the highlight of our double elimination tourney. We lost the first 2 games.
Still, in a way, we were part of the state championship. And, by that same token, I was part of the WSOP last night.More in this Poker Blog! -->
BadBlood and I are always looking for a game. We play every Thursday at the very least. I hosted this time, we had 10 players.
1s : Moi.
2s : The Rocket
3s : The cleaner
4s : Tatwood
5s : Rankster
6s : Matt "Overdraft Protection" Cardone
7s : BadBlood
8s : The Mark
9s : AxeMan
In some ways, I'm playing against these 9 uber-sharks. In another, I'm tempting fate and stealing from the "PokerPundit". After my last homegame post, he left this in the comments,
"My bet. You will lose in 5 of the next 7 sessions."
HEY KIDS! AN ICEBERG! NEAT!
So here's the first buyin.
I'm in the big blind with a pair of garbage spades. It's raised 4x under the gun, but 5 people call and I decide the odds are groovy. Groovy odds would be my undoing all night. Perhaps there's a cosmic whack entailed for anyone who uses the word "groovy" while doing math. Still, the flop was pretty, all spades, and no paint on the board.
I'm first to act and made a $5 bet. With the blinds at .50 and all the pre-flop action, I was hoping for two things. I figured the bet was small enough to entice anyone who had strong overs or a piece of the flop to call. Plus, I assumed it was big enough that no one would put me on the flopped flush with that bet in early position.
Everyone folds around to THE MARK who raises it to $15. I instantly push for another $27 and he calls, showing top 2 pair. The turn is garbage. The river fills him up. G-Rob REBUYS! The Mark went on to build a monster stack, which he and several others would lose...to Blood.
AS FOR THE WSOP
We had our first dial-a-shot from Las Vegas at about 10:00 EDT. That was the first break out west. Otis, Pauly et al (who are doing a FANTASTIC job in their coverage by the way) called from the "hooker bar" and, in that bizarre way G-Vegas was part of the big game. I had the perfect hometown flavor, Moonshine. (CJ WILL SHOW YOU WHAT I MEAN WHEN HE POSTS A LINK TO THE MOONSHINE STORY >>>>HERE). [Ed. note: Link added]
The moonshine story airs Tuesday night, by the way, I'll post it here Wednesday. I think you'll like it.
But I digress.
The next MONSTER hand of the night was make or break for Dr. Blood. Needless to say, he's made like Pauly Walnuts.
The Mark: A Qo
MattyC: A Ko
The Cleaner: 9d 7d
Plenty of preflop raising here, especially from Matt Overdraft who has a nice premium hand. The Cleaner will ALWAYS chase a flush, especially with connectors or one-gappers. BadBlood had to call and The Mark certainly had odds to call with his hand.
Qh Td 8h (corrected for accuracy)
The Mark flops top pair top kicker. Blood pairs his queen. The cleaner is open ended. Matty has overs. More aggressive betting.
The Mark now has top two pair. Matty has top pair top kicker. The cleaner has an open ender with a flush draw. Blood is drawing to the nut flush AND the nut straight. Blood ends up all in here and everyone's still playing.
The main pot outs :
Blood needs any of the 4 remaining jacks or any of the 7 remaining diamonds and he has the nuts. That's what makes his 11 outs so outstanding.
The Cleaner needs on of 3 non-diamond 6s to fall for the straight. Any other diamond gives him the side pot.
There are only 2 kings left. Matty needs one of them for top 2 pair.
The Mark has the nuts with an Ace or Queen. He's also scooping if a non diamond..non-jack..non-6...non-king falls.
Got it? Good.
Blood catches the nuts. The cleaner has his flush. The Mark and Matty Overdraft suspect they're introuble but can't put 2 players (remember Blood's already all-in) on a runner-runner flush. More insane betting.
BadBlood takes the main pot of $215.
The cleaner mops the side pot.. $110.
So, more dial-a-shot stupidity..
The moonshine was getting to me now. I could tell it was affecting the Rocket too. Even BadBlood was feeling tipsy. Soon, The Mark was begging me to turn on the ceiling fan. The room wasn't warm, but we were.
Soon, the Mark was busted. He flopped an open ender and ended up all in against BadBloods Kings. Rankster, Rocket, and Tatwood cashed out. Matty and the Mark went home.
With 5 players and the night winding down, the cleaner was short stacked and ready to give away his remaining chips. I was in UTG and raised it to $4 with my pocket 9s. The Cleaner came over the top for another $3.50 and Kevin called the $7.50. I went over the top again and put Kevin all in for another $32 which he called, showing AJo. The cleaner had 57o.
I won the race. And, after 6 hours of play, finished UP $3.
BadBlood finished up $302.
Take that pundit. A winrate of .50/hour? EAT IT! More homegame madness tonight at The Mark.
And if you aren't playing in G-Vegas...or the WSOP...you're retarded.<-- Hide More
Otis plays in another WSOP event tonight. He's a 50/50 shot to either
A. Finish in the money
B. Fall onto the table and scatter chips everywhere.
Please root for option "A".
Unless...More in this Poker Blog! -->
Unless the cameras are rolling. Then we'd all prefer option "B".
Don't fail us ESPN. We all need a good laugh.
To that end, here's another little bit of S. Carolina joy from the newsfiles here at work...
"Two weeks ago, postal workers in Bluffton, S.C., heard a strange buzzing sound after tossing a package into a sorting bin. The building was evacuated, the block cordoned off. Within minutes, a state bomb squad helicoptered in from the state capital. The crack team secreted off the suspicious package and gingerly dismantled ... a vibrator."<-- Hide More
"Are you a card player?"
The cabbie had just picked me up at the Mirage. The sun was up, the card room was still full, and two drunk girls were slipping into the sunlight like a gator into the Everglades.
Am I a card player? I thought.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It was an obvious question. From the Wynn to Mandalay Bay, the only thing going on besides the National Hall of Fame Dance Competition was the World Series of Poker. At least 10,000 of the people in town were either card players or relatives of one. Since I was going to the Rio, I had to either be a card player or the prodigal father of some Jon Benet Ramsey-esque tart in tight shorts and sequins. Just the other day I was walking behind a swinging, barely-covered ass with the words "Get Some" written across the cheeks. It was only after passing by that I realized the girl couldn't have been more than 14.
"I've played poker before, but my real game is video poker," the cabbie was saying as I took another look at the mountains on the edge of town. There is a desolate beauty to them that makes me feel happy and sad at the same time.
"I hit eleven royal flushes last year," he said.
Am I a card player?
Despite the fact I'd been working 14-hours days, I'd still been playing more live poker than at any point in my life. As a narcotics officer from the Denver area said to me one night, "When you're this far away from your family, you have to do something to pass the time."
I'd become a fairly familiar face at the $10/$20 tables. The locals knew my name, the dealers had nicknames for me and asked me how my workday went, and I only had to raise my eyebrows at John the cocktail guy to get him to bring me my beverage of choice.
My wins and losses were, if not well-documented in writing, sealed in my brain like a cobra and mongoose in a fish tank. There was the night I took 11 stacks of red off a single $10/$20 table. There was the night I played in the $225 last chance tournament and got my money in with JJ versus ATs and A6o and lost. A6, the big dog, took it down. And there were many other nights, as endorphin-pleasing and eye-sucking as you might imagine.
As the cabbie prattled on about video poker, I couldn't help but smile a bit. During some dinner breaks, I'd go with Pauly to the hooker bar (so named because the hookers congregate there late at night to pick up horny tourists). One night, Pauly took a phone call and I absently slipped $20 in the jacks or better machine. By the time Pauly was off the phone, I'd hit quad aces and profited $180. On two consecutive liquid dinner breaks following that night, I hit quad deuces and quad nines. Pauly was agog. What he didn't know was that I'd hit quad tens, jacks, and sevens at the All American Bar and Grill while waiting on my to-go breakfast orders on various nights.
There was a time many years ago when I was sitting at a Pai Gow poker table in the middle of the night with some friends. A pit boss told me he didn't play many cards, but he played piano. I said I'd been playing guitar for about 20 years. He laughed and wiggled his fingers like he was tickling the ivories.
"Not piano piano," he said. "You know, video poker."
A person who plays video poker fast would understand. The strategies are so easy and inculcated that it's possible to play the game, drive a car, date, marry, and divorce a woman, while still finding time to eat a steak sandwich and go to the bathroom.
But piano players aren't card players. Fortunately, my liquid dinner indiscretions notwithstanding, I'm not a piano player.
But am I a card player?
Over the past few years, I've played tens of thousands of hands online. I've played in home games, hotel conference room games, hotel room games, bar games, and country club games. I've played in Atlantic City, France, Monte Carlo, Austria, and more times than I care to count in Las Vegas. My biggest tournament win (not including the $12,000 Party Poker Million seat that I didn't end up using) was around $8000. My biggest cash game night was a profit of about $4000 in eight hours. My losses are what you'd expect when playing at levels that can win you that kind of money. They never come all at once. It's a gradual slide that you fight off like a drunk friend who wants to go to Waffle House at 5am. That is, you get him to pass out two or three times, but you know before sunrise you'll be eating some sort of scrapple on toast and wishing you were in jail.
Now, I've spent a grand total of three weeks at the World Series of Poker. I've seen and recorded the most brutal beats, the most fanstic plays, and the slings and arrows that go along with big-dollar tournament play. I've stood in awe in some of the name-pros and aghast at some of the others. Just tonight, I got caught in a literal sandwich between Phil Hellmuth and Howard Lederer. As they both walked into the tournament area, I was walking in the other direction. None of us gave any ground as we stepped in between two tables. Before I knew what was happening, I was staring into Hellmuth's armpit while Lederer's stomach pushed against my elbow.
All I could think is, I'm being sandwiched by my idol and the guy I'd most like to see audited by the IRS.
But idol worship is tenuous at the WSOP. I find that the people I disliked, I dislike even more. And the people I idolized...well, they just seem like everybody else now. It's not much different than looking at the same mountains as you drive to work every day. They look amazing for your first month, but after that, they sort of fade into the background and you find yourself listening to talk radio more than looking out the window.
The rumor (apparently now confirmed by several sources, but none of mine) is that Gus Hansen is broke. I don't know if it's true. I'm not sure I care, but it's the rumor of the week. He skipped the entire WSOP, showing up just a couple of days ago to walk the floor and leave.
I get the feeling that for a majority of tournament players, the fine line between being broke and being a hero is a hard one to walk. So many of the name-pros play nearly every event. Only a few make final tables. Even fewer make mutiple final tables or win a bracelet. I knew a guy in college (a guy I idolized for some time) who hit on anything that even smelled of femininity. He got rejected, sure. But he got laid more than anybody else I knew. I get the feeling tournament poker is much the same. Shoot ten times, score once.
There was a part of me a year or so ago that believed I wanted to be a fulltime poker pro. I never really admitted it out loud or believed it for very long. But there were those nights (usually after a major win or great session) that I thought I could do it.
Are you a card player, he asked.
Over the past week, I've seen quite a bit. Last night, a 75-year-old man fell down beside me. I thought he just tripped. When ten security guys came to his aid and eventually took him by force out of the poker room, I realized he was drunk. Thirty minutes later, another man who had been playing $1/$2 NL all night was nearly dragged from the room by security after spilling a drink all over a table full of people who hated him. Last week, a man literally stood in his chair and rained handfuls of $100 bills down on the table while he was making a bet. All the while, two guys were sitting over at a back table playing Chinese Poker for $100 a point.
And all around them there are people playing everything from $4/$8 to games that could fund the Salvation Army for a year. Ask any of the 2500 people in the poker warehouse if they are a card player, and 99% of them will look up from their cards just long enough to say, "What does it look like, asshole?"
So, this particular night, I'd gone to the Mirage. Minutes before I walked out the door of my hotel, I'd been in the cash game area of the WSOP and found myself tilting for the first time in as long as I could remember. A tattooed kid from Alaska entered the flop in a capped pot and called my kings all the way down to the river with an ace, which hit on the river. No draw, three outs. When he check-raised me on the river, I lost my cool for the first time ever at a poker table. "Did you hit that fucking ace?" He turned it up. I scanned the board and saw two spades. "Did you even have fucking spades?"
"Nope," he said, as he pulled in the mountain of reds. "I just felt it."
I composed myself, mentally elbowing my side, and reminding myself that I'm not the guy that gets mad at the table. "I picked up the remainder of my chips, said "good game, guys," and walked out.
I needed a change of scenery and walked straight for the cab line. It was full of drunk 20-somethings, chugging their drinks so they wouldn't have to throw them away before getting in the cab. In the middle of the storm was the venerable Barry Greenstein, clutching an armload of his new books. I wondered why he didn't have a car. By the time I was done wondering, I was sitting in the card room at the Mirage.
I sat down at a $6/$12 table and ordered a hot chocolate. Before long, two kids from Denmark, in town to play in the main event, sat down at the table. One beside me was painfully drunk and very talkative. For an hour, he and his buddy battled, essentially heads up for bragging rights, not caring much who got caught in the middle. When one of them left, the guy sitting to my right seemed embarassed. He explained that they'd been drinking for a long time and were just blowing off some steam.
The kid then said he wanted to play his best game, regardless if he was playing $40/$80 or $6/$12. I smiled and thought it impossible. Then he surprised me and seemed to sober up immediately. He started playing a good tight-aggressive game. He pegged me for a solid player, it seemed, and stayed out of my pots. Before long, we got to talking. For a solid hour, we talked bankroll management, strategy, and all things poker and poker life related. I realized, just about the time the floor people put out finger sandwiches and danishes, that I was having a good time again. When I check-raised from the big blind with an open-ended straight draw and pushed an early-position limper off the flop, my buddy from Denmark whispered, "I don't know if you had it or not, but I like the way you played that."
Ordinarily, I'd take that kind of comment as the ramblings of a drunk kid or a seasoned pro trying to needle me a bit. This time, though, I thought he was being sincere. And I found msyelf thinking, You know, I like the way I played that, too.
I left the game later, a little bit to the good, and hopped in the cab. Eventually, I would get back to the hotel, walk into the elevator and slump into the corner. Before the doors closed, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson jumped in with wild eyes and the look of a guy who has been at a club all night.
"Howya doing?" he said.
"I can't complain," I said.
"You're about the only one," he said with a smile.
As he got off on his floor, he said, "Seeya around." I looked at my watch and realized he had just a few hours to sleep before his tournament started.
In the taxi, the cabbie had asked, "Are you a card player?"
At the time, I barely thought before responding, "Yeah, I'm a card player."
It was an easy response to an easy question. But sometimes, responses aren't answers.
And frankly, I'm not sure I know the answer to that question. What's more, I'm not sure I want to know.<-- Hide More
A favor...More in this Poker Blog! -->
I killed time at work tonight with some UFP archives. That Otis can write up a storm, and its been fun trying to remember the homegames-gone-by. In one I found something that was hurting his game, a lesson he learned the hard way, and found again how the inverse has kept me flush with imaginary cash.
Otis is an excellent poker player and would like to be recognized as such. It's well deserved.
I've become a very profitable player, but have spent years cultivating a very poor poker reputation. Pride is a seductive lover who will always leave you poor. Better lucky than good.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm just dumb and lucky.
Back when we started playing at the BadBlood homegame Otis had an unusually poor night. He said this in the post-game writeup...
"I hadn't played at this game before, I wanted to look good. I wanted people to see me as I see myself: A solid poker player."
To be fair, he immediatley learned his mistake. The last thing you ever want is a table full of people who are sure you're a solid player. Otis can't shake that now. Every hack card player for 50 miles has heard about his fantastic new career. They EXPECT him to dominate the game and it makes it very hard to cash in on monster hands. Plus, its like flying low with a bullseye on your belly.
These days I've noticed BadBlood has a similar problem. He's the first with a self-depricating remark, the first to denegrate his own ability, but he's an excellent player. Unfortunately, everyone's figured that out.
That leads to a problem that's really two-fold.
First, when you're playing with less-than-stellar players, there's no room for tricky moves. We do play with several solid players, in fact I'd say at least half are quite good, but we also play with a good many calling stations...maniacs..and newbies. There's a point in every hand where you realize they're NEVER going to fold and there's no point making a play. Some players don't recognize a check raise and they won't calculate pot odds. Without that BadBlood loses ammo. He can only see the turn with hands that are likely winners.
But, because BadBlood is recognized as a good player, many of the good players, who would recognize a move, are hesitant to call down his premium hands. Again, the EV is crippled. Somehow he usually turns a profit anyway, which is testament to just how much better he is. I still haven't figured out how to beat him, and I have no clue how he earns big wins.
I, on the other hand, have the opposite image. Take last Friday for example. After winning the tournament at "the Mark" all I could say to BadBlood on the way home was, "They all think I suck!!". More than anything, I was able to tell when the flop missed my opponent. The guy across from me, for example, actually SIGHED OUT LOUD...sometimes he's even mutter a curse underhis breath EVERY TIME the flop missed. Then he'd check. At first I was wary of a deceptive play, but it wasn't. He'd fold and I'd show the bluff. The whole table called me stupid.
After the tournament, we played a cash game, and a couple of the players talked about me like I wasn't even there.
"This is where players like him get crushed," said one.
"I hope he tries those idiotic plays on me," said another.
I doubled my buy-in, showing the bluff every time.
When CJ and I played at the Luxor on the last day of our Vegas trip I had another pair of players with similar opinions of me. They sat in the 8 and 9 seats with me down in the one. I found K9 of hearts in the big blind and called their 8 dollar raise. 3 players to the flop.
The flop was j,9,A with 2 spades.
I checked and 8 seat bet another $10 with a 9 seat call. I called.
The turn was a 7. I checked and the 8 bet another $10 with another call from 9.
The river was the third spade...AND BOTH PLAYERS THREW UP THEIR ARMS AND CURSED. Not only did they see the flush on the board, but they made It clear that they didn't have it. Both players checked, and both folded to my $50 bet. I showed my pair of 9s and they insulted me for 30 minutes.
BUT I'VE ALWAYS BEEN STUPID..
Thank God for that. On our regular Thursday dealer's choice game, I've been the biggest winner for 5 of the past 7 sessions, but somehow its all chalked up to luck. I'm happy to be that stupid. I've talked to BadBlood about that and he says its quite a blessing. I totally agree.
I remember, on our first blogger meeting last December, Pauly wrote about the various cover stories he used with the Las Vegas fish. He'd NEVER admit to being skilled. I didn't know then what a good strategy that was.
It only works in live games by the way, you can't do this online. Everyone's anonymous there. Otis KILLS the online game and I usually struggle with the grind. But in person, stupid is a blessing. Ignorance is bliss. Insults will buy your groceries.<-- Hide More
In case you think we're not working...More in this Poker Blog! -->
Flipchip took a shot of Pauly, Dan, and me with the rest of the WSOP media crew.<-- Hide More
It's 9:14 and raining in Daytona. In 5000 hotel rooms there are restless children rolling on unwashed hotel comforters while unhappy parents look for Nickelodeon on an unknown cable box. On the west side of town 100,000 fans sit huddled under cheap plastic parkas waiting for the race to begin. Up in G-Vegas two producers, one reporter, two sportsguys, an entire production crew, and one G-Rob wonder when this night will end.
The late news, billed as a special post-race edition, is exactly that. We don't start until the race is over. It was supposed to start at 7:00. We may not air the big story here until 1:30 or 2:00. God help us.More in this Poker Blog! -->
BUT A GOOD WEEKEND SO FAR...
I spat out a quickie on the Thursday homegame madness the other day. It's down yonder somewhere. Friday night took me to "The Mark", formally called the "State Park Game". I'm sure CJ will link up to Otis' original post about that venue whenever he edits this post.
I'd say the link should go.....
>>>>>>>>>Here! [Ed. note: Happy to oblige]
This time BadBlood joined us for a $40.00 tourney with 9 players. Maniac cash game to follow. BadBlood was uglier than a downtown Otis bender with a deck colder than my senior prom date. He finished 8th. I ended up in the final pair...heads up with about a 15x chip advantage. He seemed ready to roll the dice on any hand, and I always do.
Final hand :
He pushed all in.
I find 10-2o and say, "Aw hell, lets do it for Doyle!" and call.
I take down $260, (Again fake money. I especially enjoy the yellow $10 Monopoly bills!) for a dandy $220 net gain.
The cash game is especially bizarre, but always fun. Mark's a good guy and a solid mega-aggressive player. The rest of the table is just as ready to gamble. We started with NLHE and $1/$2 blinds. But that fell into dealer's choice.
2 players insisted, including "the Mark", on dealing NO LIMIT OMAHA 8b. The pots were insane. I scooped $150 on this insanity :
I have A,2,6,J all SPADES.
Mark makes it $15 to go which I smooth call. 2 other callers follow.
Flop is : 3,6,7 rainbow.
Mark makes bets another $15.
I figure I'm quartering the pot so I call again, and both players follow suit.
Turn is a K.
Mark leads out $20
I call again. One player to my left also calls.
River is another K.
Mark bets another $20
I call and the player to my left folds.
Mark has NO High. He played Ace-4 for the low.
I scoop the pot with the nut low and 2 pair (Kings and 6s) for the high.
Net result of cash game: +$160 in play money.
NOT TO STEAL FROM IGGY HERE :
But if you aren't playing poker in G-Vegas, you're retarded.
It's now 10:15, the green flag just dropped. I'm reading "One Hundred Years of Solitude" to stay busy. Its excellent by the way.<-- Hide More
That's all in this week's edition of...
Overheard at the WSOP...More in this Poker Blog! -->
* "Honey, you just can't be chickenshit at these things. You just wouldn't survive here. No offense." --Man on the phone with his wife explaining how his bluff got called to knock him out of the $3000 NL event
* "I'm on tilt." --James "KrazyKanuck" Worth sitting down at a lowly $125 single table satellite...with me...after he busted on the TV bubble in a $5000 event (Incidentally, I went on to chop that one, something I've done in my last three single table sats. Also, incidentally, the Kanuck is one really nice guy and it was fun to sit next to him).
* "Tell me your bad beat story:
$5 $2.50" --Seen in magic marker at a manned table in the hallway.
* "You're still here." --Ernie, the room service waiter who served me two weeks ago, then went on vacation with his family, then returned to find me in the same room.
* "She's been classically trained." --Dr. Pauly, at the hooker bar, while a Rio cocktail waitress danced on an elevated stage.<-- Hide More
It's been said, mostly by BadBlood and me, G-Vegas is where you'll find the best homegames. There's one damn near everyday. I play every Thursday, and on more than a few Wednesdays and Fridays. Tonight, I'm looking to 3-peat.More in this Poker Blog! -->
ALL GAMES PLAYED ARE FOR PLAY CHIPS. NOTHING TO SEE HERE I.R.S.
The Thursday games are my favorite. I never, ever miss that. They're played on a rotating basis. Every other week we play dealer's choice and in between is the NL game ($50 max .25/.50 blinds). So far this year, on Thursday's alone, I'm up $2700.00.
Last night was Dealer's choice at the Rankster's house. I'll give you one hand here:
LAST HAND OF THE NIGHT...Hold-em $3-$6
G-Rob raises and says..."I have a strong pocket pair"
Flop comes (9d Kc Qd)
G-Rob says, "I've just caught a set but I'm sure y'all will chase the flush."
Rank bets $3.
G-Rob raises to $6
Turn is (9h)
BadBlood smiles. G-Rob says, "Now I've got a full house."
Rank bets $6
G-Rob raises to $12
BadBlood says, "I'm gonna lay this down," and shows his cards to the Rocket.
He had (KQo) by the way.
Rank re-raises to $18
G-Rob caps at $24
Turn is (9c) and G-Rob is suddenly concerned.
Rank bets $6
G-Rob raises to $12
Rank raises to $18
Nervous G-Rob calls.
G-Rob shows pocket kings for Kings full of 9s.
Rank shows a QUEEN. 9s full of queens.
G-Rob loves Thursday night.
Tonight is a $50 tourney at "The Mark". Wish me luck.<-- Hide More