Tonight I took a long stroll down what is an ever shortening memory lane. There have always been good reasons to keep New Orleans in our thoughts. I've had some incredibly good times there. So I've scanned the archives for some "Poker Blogger" connections to the Crescent City. Later tonight, I'll add my own facorite New Orleans Story. I encourage you to do the same.
Here's one connection for starters, from a site called "Legends of America"
Poker in the United States was first widely played in New Orleans by French settlers playing a card game that involved bluffing and betting called Poque in the early 1800's. This old poker game was similar to the â€œdraw pokerâ€ game we play today. New Orleans evolved as Americaâ€™s first gambling city as riverboat men, plantation owners and farmers avidly pursued the betting sport.More in this Poker Blog! -->
UP FOR POKER
The last time we wrote about New Orleans here, it was after a nasty bender here in G-Vegas. Otis wrote :
"Still, deep down, I know that my body will rally. There's something about Las Vegas and New Orleans that has always turned off all ill-feeling sensors in my body and allowed me to survive for days on end on little more than booze and buffet food (or, in the case of New Orleans, booze and bignets)."
That was a big post, or at least an important milestone for Otis. He's the last comment :
"Hi Otis -
I enjoy your blog. Would you drop me an email sometime in the very near future - there's something I'd like to discuss with you.
PokerStars Poker Room Manager"
You'll remember, we're due for another silly blogger get-together soon. Bill led the way in finding a time and place. Many of you voted from a long lost of cities and, remember, NO was almost the choice.
Ok, since there was no real way to get an accurate count with so many people saying things like â€œX would be cool but Y would work too,â€ I tried just count every place that got a positive mention as a vote. As of 11:51pm PDT on 6.14.05, we have the following tallies:
New Orleans: 11 votes
Tunica: 8 votes
Minneapolis: 1 vote (shocker)
Los Angeles: 1 vote
Atlantic City: 5 votes
Vegas: 11 votes
Niagra Falls: 1 vote
Reno/Tahoe: 4 votes
Cruise: 4 votes
Laughlin: 2 votes
Cantebury: 3 votes
So, basically, weâ€™ve got a tie for first between New Orleans and Vegas. Joaquin suggested narrowing it down to just two so the two tied for first seem like the obvious choice. Cast your votes!
Las Vegas won the runoff.
Here's a trip report from the card room at Harrah's.
Case in point: A few months ago, I was in New Orleans on businesses and decided to stop by Harrahâ€™s Casino. The waitlist was long, so I asked the floor boss to get me on any table as soon as he could. This turned out to be the $4-$8 Holdâ€™Em tableâ€¦which is an awful game. In the $4-$8 game at Harrahâ€™s New Orleans (or48HNO), you are likely to see seven or eight callers pre-flop, even after a raise or two. You canâ€™t chase anyone out of a hand, and even if you do have a strong hand, you are likely to lose to someone who played shit cards and pulled miracle cards post-flop. I once saw A-Ks lose to 4-8o after max raises pre-and post flopâ€¦with a flop of A-K-5. Turn was a 7 and River was a 6 giving the 4-8 moron the straight and a big pot. In summary, the 48HNO counts as poker, but just barely.
LAS VEGAS AND POKER BLOG (LAS VEGAS VEGAS)
One of the better sites out there for POKER REPORTING, had this from the WSOP event in New Orleans.
The $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em event attracted 259 players contributing to the $2,460,500 prize pool. The final six players making the broadcast table include well known professional poker player and magician, Antonio Esfandiari taking on a group of relatively unknowns. With the exception of Mark Cole, none have had a cash in a major tournament before this event. Completing the final table are Harry Cullen, Nick Mao, Corey Bierra, and Walter Chambers.
1. Walter Chambers Baton Rouge, LA $787,340
2. Corey Bierra, Atlanta, GA $433,050
3. Antonio Esfandiari, San Francisco, CA $221,445
4. Nick Mao, Long Beach, CA $172,235
5. Mark Cole, Greensboro, NC $147,630
6. Harry Cullen, Houston, TX $123,025
7. Imre Leibold, n/a, $98,420
8. Marlon Labbe, Lafayette, LA $73,815
9. Cyril Gittens, Miami, FL $49,210
Here's another trip report. It IS tragic, but we've all enjoyed Hurricanes when we visited.
I found myself at Harrah's in New Orleans just before Mardi Gras as a present from my soon to be ex-husband. Just typing that feels wrong and horrible and is the reason I stopped updating any of my sites. But that story is for sheverb. The Harrah's Trip is for the Poker Diaries.
Against my better judgement, I sat down at a $3/6 no limit table. I had a copy of Winning Low Limit Hold'em by Lee Jones with me, but I didn't really read it. Just skimmed some of the early chapters. My confidence was low because I had busted out on PartyPoker at the end of the year and wasn't doing well in the home games. My bankroll was right around $0 when I dropped the first $100.
And I dropped that $100, knowing that I would lose it. Do you want to know why? Because I had actually talked myself into believing that I was spending that money on a poker lesson.
Can you believe that shit?
The things people tell themselves in order to play poker.
The game was looser than what I had seen at the Hard Rock in Tampa. People who claimed to be veteran players at my table were busting out over and over again, bitter about the loose callers and dead money. Somehow, they didn't seem to realize that THEY were the dead money. Time and time again the made straight would lose to the suck out flush and the made flush would lose to the suck out full house. It was just unreal.
I nearly felt proud simply by making my $100 last as long as it did. Close to 8 hours in all. I won't tell you about what happened after I busted out and put $20 in a slot machine and won $40 in 30 seconds. No. I'll keep that to myself.
Then I left to drink Hurricanes, watch parades and catch beads. That's pretty much all New Orleans is good for.
Wes has a really neat post about his last trip to Louisiana. It was actually fairly recently. Here's a portion :
After a blistering first night in Orleans that lasted until sunup, I begged off on second night festivities about midnight. I knew I was going to be the one driving to Mobile and then back home and figured I could use a little sleep one night. Steve understood and stayed out while I made my way back to the W Hotel (We had a free room for three nights comped by Harrahâ€™s due to a previous trip Steve had made. He had gone into Harrahâ€™s after a week of selling beads at Mardi Gras with about $200 to play blackjack. He worked it up to $1000 and started betting $100 a hand, which got the attention of the floor supervisor. He worked up to a $2000 stack and realizing who was watching, he calmly made a $1000 bet. Of course he hit ten and had to double up, right? Twenty came and the dealer turned over a low number. Three cards later, the math added up to a push and Steve shrugged his shoulders and said, â€œWell, I tried.â€ Obviously, that is the way to get comped in New Orleans.) That night, I heard him stumble in about 4:00 a.m. At 10:00 a.m., beer in hand, I asked him about his night. He admitted that he had gotten lost on his way home due to his state, and had been taken under the wing of a local â€œlady,â€ the type that like to meet tourists. She must have realized Steve was in no shape to be a client or pose a danger and graciously walked him back to the hotel. I said, â€œSteve, did she make you pay for the walk?â€ He replied, â€œNo, and she gave me a free feel when we got here.â€ Like I said, Kramer.
With apologies to John Kennedy O'Toole...this is the Iggy bio from POKER SAVVY :
Ignatius J. Reilly
Iggy blogs about poker nearly every day, all the while bemoaning the loss of "taste and decency" in modern times. He lives with his mother in New Orleans.
AL CAN'T HANG
Al is the honorary drunken mayor of New Orleans, and I've heard a dozen stories. Here's one...
Reminds me of the time where I was sitting in the aisle seat and BigMike was booked in the middle seat. I was already on the plane well ahead of Mike and a lady had the window seat.
We were chatting along when BigMike started walked down the aisle. I turned to this poor woman and started saying things like...
"Oh no, you know that fat ass is going to sit next to me...."
"Crap, this happens to me all the time. Fat people smell...."
"Why don't you give him the window seat and sit next to me"
She was completely stunned. She kept telling me to shut up because BigMike was getting closer and closer. As he stopped at our aisle, I just said....
Her eyes were burning a hole in me.
BigMike looks down and says, "Hey Al, what's going on". I replied, "Not much, how you doing?"
When I looked over at the poor woman in the window seat, she had turned 3 different shades of purple and actually leaned over and hit me.
She was grumbling the entire flight to New Orleans. We got a nice chuckle out of that one.
HUMAN HEAD THINKS BIG
Another trip report. New Orleans was FUN!
For the second session at Harrahâ€™s in New Orleans, my wife and I were much better prepared, and we mopped that game (3/6 no kill) in the 4 hours we spent playing. These people were absolutely HEMMORAGING money, and for some reason only buying chips in $40 shots. I guess that was their idea of BR management. After drinks (plus wait staff tipping), and what I now realize was extravagant dealer tipping ($2/pot, bad HumanHead, BAD!), we still walked away almost 20 BB up. If given the chance I would have stayed at that table all night long. Friday at the Prairie Band Harrahâ€™s I plan on playing in the $100 NLHE weekly tourney, simply because Iâ€™ve never played a live one before. If the live tourney play is ANYTHING like the B&M ring game play, I think I have a damn decent chance of doing well.
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That's all for now. My New Orleans stories are coming soon. Please post your own. I think its important to keep thinking about what's happening. This is BIG!
Not long ago, I wrote a post here about Ultimate Bet. They totally screwed me on a tourney buy-in and I withdrew my roll.
SEE IMPORTANT UPDATES BELOW
After a good time away, I was lured back by the soft MTTs. Now they've done it again. If any of you, dear readers, put any real money into a Ultimate Bet account you are a fool. Just like me.
Tonight Otis and I bought into a $30+3 tourney. Both of us wasted more than an hour, then we both got screwed.More in this Poker Blog! -->
After an hour, my table froze. Not my connection, mind you, but MY table. Every other table in the tournament still ran. I freaked out and contacted what UB likes to call "customer support". Its a very silly name. They aren't CUSTOMERS and...
Later, other tables, one by one, began to freeze. In other tourneys, players who had invested HOURS to reach a final table, were booted from the game and frozen. All of us contacted support, while the cash games and SNGS kept running. They were still registering players for upcoming MTTs. SUCKERS!
In the 11PM tourney, players weren't frozen. Instead, they have no break. And the blinds DO NOT INCREASE! They've been playing 20-40 blinds for over an hour.
Here's the previous post BAIT AND SWITCH
Meanwhile, I WILL NEVER USE UB AGAIN. If you play at UB, when there are SO MANY OTHER SECURE SITES WITH SUPPORT, you're a damn fool.
At 7:30 PM THE NEXT DAY....still no refunds for any of the players. They've stolen all the money.
Thank you for contacting us.
First and foremost we do apologize for the inconvenience this situation
has caused for you. Our system has gone through issues of a technical
nature which we are working to resolve.
According to our records, your account has been credited as follows:
02:44:33 AM EST 08/31/2005 Refund RealMoney 60.50 TID 77080 buy-in
refund and chip equity.:Done on Admin Page
Once again, please accept our apologies for this inconvenience.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Customer Service Department.
So, after 36 hours, the problem appears to have been resolved. They've refunded my buyin and made up for the "chip equity", which is nice. Still, I'm VERY disappointed in 2 things :
1) This site seems to have technical problems FAR more often than most others.
2) Customer service should be LIVE. There is NO excuse for a company with this much profit margin not extending 24 live service, especially since the other sites offer it.
<-- Hide More
I'm still finished with UB, and I'm quite certain I speak for Otis as well.
I had to stop at the S&K on the way to work. We have this giant rear screen projector as part of the new fake-TV set, and I have to wear a sportcoat that fits. For a good year or two I had my weight totally under control, but as is usually the case, I lost focus and gained pounds. In my job things like weight and hairstyle, the dimple in my tie and the fuzzballs on my coat, are under constant scrutiny. My General Manager is the undisputed KING of dapper dressers and last week he called me into his office for a momumental chat.
Just moments before my last workday of the week, before a short vacation and knee surgery, he stopped me in the hall and said, "Make sure you come to my office before you leave today, we need to talk about something important."
Later that same day he asked again, in the way that any boss actually ASKS for anything, "Don't forget, you can't leave today without talking to me first."
So after my story was written, and all preparations were made, I visited the plush corner office ready for, at best, a dressing down. I couldn't think of anything I'd done wrong, but the first words out his mouth were these, "I hope you know I DO like you," he said, before turning to actually face me, "but you may take this the wrong way."More in this Poker Blog! -->
I suppose most of my life has been as unfocused as my writing. Every effort begins with a too-ambitious goal, obtainable only by too-strenuous determination, which I always half-accomplish. I'm actually struggling to complete this line of thought. I've been swept into a chat with TV'S Marc about Hurricane Katrina. I'll probably finish this post in a late night haste that comes from the frustration of another unfishished desire.
Every semester of my college career fell into that peak, rut, valley rhythm. I remember one semester, probably my junior year, when I'd grown so frustrated with my inability to actually SHOW UP for class, I punished myself with an impossible schedule. Each day of the week my first class started at 8AM which, I thought, would FORCE me to focus.
I went to class for an entire 5 day week. I gathered up the syllabus for every course. Then, I went on tour with Phish. I think I got a 2.5 GPA that semester, which is more a tribute to my choice of major (Philosophy) than my actual IQ. It's as if every failure in my life sets the stage for even greater ambition, a personal redemption, that can only disapoint me more.
My intorduction to online poker took a similar course.
I'd been over a year with DISH NETWORK which, as promised, gave the same channels as the unbearable Charter Cable for a much lower price. But one afternoon, a severe storm knocked that dish slightly off line. My wife actually climbed onto the roof, while fat ol' me just held the ladder, but we couldn't jam that pecker back online.
When I called the complany for a quickie repair they quoted me a one time price, of $200.00. That's right. $200.00.
I canceled the service and went back to cable.
So when I signed up for evil Charter, I got the whole ball of wax, including the high-speed cable modem. It's kind of amazing, after years of dialup service, to see how much faster life moves. I was so excited, I did something I hadn't done since I got the THRILLER album for Christmas, I called my friends to brag. That's when it all started.
"I got one of those cable modems," I said to Otis.
"Cool. Now you can play poker online," he said.
The truth is, Otis couldn't wait for me to take a stab at internet gaming. He'd FINALLY found something he could do better than me. But with nearly 2 dozen Drunk-a-lympics victories, a thousand FROLF wins, and a vastly superior fake TV voice, I knew I could hunt him down.
Speaking of Fake-TV...
When I met my wife, in 1994, I was still a dirty college bum. At the time, I owned just one pair of khaki shorts and they hadn't been washed in months. She didn't mind because I had, and still have, a fantastic head of hair. Still, I've never been known as a fashoinable lad.
My GM hates that. I've actually seen him engage a co-worker in a 10 minute chat, that never wandered from a single message...the appropriate size and shape of the dimple in your tie. The man loves his wardrobe.
So here I was, about to go on vacation, when he warns me about the news which I, "may take the wrong way."
"You see that bag, over on the chair," he said, motioning to one of a dozen padded leather chairs in his overstuffed office. "Take a look inside."
That plastic shopping bag was filled to the rim with brand new ties.
"Would you like to tie me up with some of your ties, TY?" I thought.
"Well," he stammered, "its just that many of your ties don't work. I'd like to give you some of mine. From now on, just wear the ties I give you."
So just hours after my new connection was hooked up and humming, I was logged into Party Poker. I dropped $100 into the GRobman account, and started in at a NL$100 table. Why risk the whole bankroll in one stupid gamble? Because Otis could do it, and I'm sure I'm at least that good.
So, just hours after my new connection was hooked up and humming, I put a SECOND deposit on Party Poker and moved to the little limits. Still, I was sure I'd make a profit soon. I set these goals for myself :
1) Make a profit by the end of the week.
2) Make a larger profit than Otis by the end of the year.
3) Make certain Otis is aware of my larger profit.
Needless to say, but said anyway, these goals were a tad overambitious.
I'm wearing the new blue blazer I bought at S&K. I covers my ENTIRE GUT. EXCELLENT!
I've gone with a white shirt and a pink tie that has small blue circles on it. The GM will love it. Its his.
My knee still hurts but I haven't had a Loritab all day.
I'm back on Weight Watchers.
I've turned a profit online. It took a long, long, long time. Truth be told, I've been fairly sucessful for several months now, but I'd dug such an enormous hole at first it took a great deal of time and effort to crawl out. I've shown a significant profit in live play for better than a year, but this latest achievement allows me to put a big check mark by online poker goal #1.
By my math, because it took me this long to achieve a one week goal, I still have another 5-10 years to surpass the Otis roll. I can promise you, goal 3 will take fewer than 30 seconds to accomplish once #2 is done. I just hope I HAVE 10 years to catch up.
Life is short.
So is Otis.<-- Hide More
This weekend, Mt. Otis finally recovered from Bradoween. It was nothing a little Stanley Steamer, Glad Trash Bag Co., and FEMA couldn't handle. There were many things left behind. A set of Copags and chips (recovered by The Mark), an Old Navy shirt (oddly, in my kid's nursery), two pair of sunglasses, a pair of girls high-soled flip flops, two coolers, two tables, and more gross stuff on my lawn than I care to inventory.
Also left behind was the Al Can't Hang Experience Banner. That belongs in Philly. As such, I'm going to hand-deliver it to Al next month. My only regret from Bradoween was working too hard and not spending enough time with my friends. As such, I hope to see many of you in Philly for the Bash at the Boathouse on September 24. Mrs. Otis and I are making the whirlwind trip and I recommend you do as well. In the extended text, I've offered a little incentive.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Roundtrip flights as of August 29
LAX to PHL--$234
CHI to PHL--$163
NYC to PHL--$300 (Screw it, drive you bums)
OKC to PHL--$266
STL to PHL--$249
AUS to PHL--$292
DET to PHL--$261
CVG to PHL--$297
WAS to PHL--$226
CLT to PHL--$273
DFW to PHL--$292
LAS to PHL--$268
Make it happen, cap'n<-- Hide More
I sat on the edge of my suburban tract, my back to the railroad ties, and my voice a cracked mess of overuse and abuse. When I tried to hit a note I could on almost any day, it came out in an ugly squeal. So, I leaned back, rested my chin on the edge of my guitar, and picked few notes as the first hints of sunlight started to rise over the horizon.
Like the poor young guns who hadn't lasted the night and passed out underneath trees or on storm drains, I was on the edge between finished and disaster. And when given a choice by Iggy and Daddy, I chose disaster. Because, I'm not finished until the party is. And if the waitress at the Waffle House doesn't notice that we're arriving by cab at the same time church services are starting, she certainly won't realize we brought our beer with us.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Starting at the end is easier than starting at the beginning. The beginning is so long ago and ethereal at best. It's five years ago when the party grew from the seed of a joke. It's five months ago when I got the first hint that this year would be different than the past. It's five minutes ago when I sat down to write this and could still smell the Southern Comfort wafting in from the garage.
My head tells me to begin this chronology and take you moment by moment through the tedium. But, my instinct tells me that even the most avid and loyal reader wouldn't make it to the end. If I were to delve as deeply as I felt it when G-Rob bounded from the car and ran into the Publix, if I were to truly express the friendship it must've taken to run across a black-tar-hot parking lot in search of orange-dusted cheez balls, well I fear you might just go running to Pink is the New Blog in search of real entertainment.
Instead, let us begin with the real fear. It's the fear any host feels on the precipice of his party. It's the fear no one will come. It's the fear the everyone will come and no one will have fun. It's the burn in your belly at lunch time when the first shots of Southern Comfort slide down your esophogus. It's getting caught hosing down coolers when the first guests start to arrive for a pre-pre-party poker game. It's finally showering and making it to BadBlood's "G-Vegas is Doomed" tournament.
Yes, that's where it begins.
Pregame at Blood's
Ever since the moment she grabbed a tiara and was hence dubbed the Pai Gow Princess, I've been a bit intimidaed by Heather. Off the table, she is as affable and cordial as you'd like. But get her around felt--any felt--and her eyes take on the icy glint of a hunter.
And so, as I sat down for my first poker of the weekend and found myself at her table, I did not feel at all comfortable. The tone her voice made me want to muck so badly that I was tempted to muck my discards after I'd already mucked them. You know, just for good measure.
As I sat in fear, players busted out around me and I had no playable hands. Somehow, I convinced myself to play with marginal hands and suddenly we were down to one table, then six-handed. When G-Rob offered his in-game interview with Gracie and said, expectedly, that he was the best player at the table, I had a brief fantasy that I'd bust him. And I did when he thought I was making a move and his thinking was basically wrong. By that point he'd been drinking for nine straight hours.
I only really thought about one hand the entire tournament. Gamecock raised pre-flop and I called in late position with K9s. The flop came nine-high and Gamecock pushed. I didn't figure him for a set (he would've let me hang myself with that one), so I had to take him off an overpair. It took longer than I would've liked to make the decision, but finally, I called. He showed JT for a gutshot draw and two overs. He didn't get there and it was only a matter of time before I cashed for the first time at Casa de Blood. The only things that made it sweeter were:
1) It was a first place finish
2) Team Scott Smith repeatedly calling out from the other room, "Why does Otis have all of G-Rob's chips?"
I wrote the above words over the course of a few days in five minute increments. Every time I stopped writing, I'd read the other Braodween posts and sit in awe. Something neat happened here this past weeked. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it has something to do with two conversations I had during the party. One was with my brother, Dr. Jeff. The other was with Al Cant Hang.
In both conversations, I'd looked up and scanned the party area.
"Not as big as past years," I mused, but not unhappily.
In both conversations, the reply was as obvious as it was true: "It's quality, not quantity."
The Bait Shack
In years past, I'd sit in the underground (literally, underground) bar and drink until I needed the raw wood booths to old me up. I've played tournament poker in the back room. I've found and lost my favorite bartender. My exploits are chronicled on the walls in black Sharpie. There was a time (a better time, I should add) when the bar was called "Wings Down Under." It was managed better back then and the entertainment was always better. Every friend who has ever come in town has been taken for at least one beer at the basement bar.
Last Friday night, after making a frantic run around town at 11pm to make sure one of my guests would be comfortable, I slipped into the bar in the ground and there sat everyonoe, already drinking. They raised their glasses, nodded their heads, and went back to drinking. Because that's what my friends do. Bless'em for that.
It was a shortlived stay at the Shack. We got there too late to tear it up and the newly passed (and somehow still antiquated) drinking laws downtown precluded a later stay. Still, the crew managed to have some fun.
As I licked one ounce of ranch dress from a plastic cup, I learned that my $5 payday could've been $100. And I couldn't have been happier. Prop bets that pay off big for something little are not nearly as sweet as prop bets that pay little for something big. The ranch dressing was no big deal. I would've let the bartendress lick it off my belly for $5.
Th Bradoween Open
Security was in place. My wife, kid, and friend Su sat on the front lawn pretending to be perfect little suburbanites. The kid splashed in his birthday turtle pool. A Merry Christmas banner hung on the front door. From the street, it would've appeared that the suburban family--even if a little confused about the holiday--was having a perfect suburban day.
What the casual observer would not have seen was the walkie talkie strapped to my wife's waist band at the small of her back. What they would not have seen behind the locked doors and drawn shades was a group of people 43 large, all sitting around four poker tables and ready to begin.
Security was a big deal this year, as the G-Vegas poker community had been set back two weeks before by a gun-happy poker raid in a neighboring suburb. Mrs. Otis was not keen on automatic weapon-wielding state agents crashing the party.
Me, I was ready to play some cards. A cursory drive around the perimeter showed no cops staging for a raid, and suddenly I was at ease. The Henry's BBQ had been consumed, Eva had started her run behind the bar, and the poker tournament (under BadBlood and eventually CJ's capable hands) was about to get underway.
There was only one problem: Across the red cloth, a "Poker Bitch"' shirt stretched across her chest, her eyes boring into me like she had seen my soul and it was perfect for dinner, she sat with a false look of innocence. I had drawn Cigar Girl's table.
It just so happened that her husband, The Mark, had drawn her table as well, and I hoped that would keep everything in line. It didn't. After tangling with her on the first hand, I backed down, then tangled with Uncle Ted who played the Hammer as masterfully as I have seen it played in ages.
As I recovered from the Hammer-Tilt, I looked down to find AKo. With the blinds still at 1/2, I made it seven to go. Cigar Girl called. The flop came down K93 rainbow. Finally, I thought, I am going to get the best of this girl. Unless she called with a pair of nines, I'm going to win this hand. I bet out 15. She called.
As the dealer prepared to lay out the turn, I decided she must have KQ or KJ and I was going to play the hand as if she did. So, when a four came on the turn, I put out a bet of 25, thinking to milk the most out of the hand (in retrospect, a bad idea). After some thought, she called.
I sat back and decided that if the river wasn't a queen or jack, I was going to push all in. And when the river fell as a ten, I didn't think twice before announcing, "I'm all in."
Cigar Girl looked up at me, looked down at her cards once, looked back up and with half a smile said, "I call." As the room started getting loud, my eyes darted to her cards. She was flipping them over. She was smiling. How could she be smiling? See, there is the queen. I knew she had KQ. Why is the room so loud? How is it that they are screaming? I won this hand. It couldn't be...that she had the stone cold nuts. In fact, she had QJ for a rivered gutshot.
I flipped my cards over and the room got louder. I looked up and Cigar Girl was looking at me. I couldn't help but think of a moment about eight years ago.
I was living in Missouri and basically living at the future Mrs. Otis' house. She had a roommate, a blonde chanteusse who looked a lot like the future 2005 American Idol winner. Her voice was angelic and dirty at the same time.
One morning, my girl had left me sleeping. When I finally dragged myself out of bed and headed for the bathroom, the roommate walked out, buck naked and wet, just out of the shower. Neither of us knew the other was in the house. The only words I could speak at the time were, "I just saw you naked."
Later, we'd see each other at a bar and she forgave me. But I know she saw the look in my eye. It was the same look Cigar Girl was giving me.
The look said: "I'm really sorry for that, but I really, really enjoyed it."
Having busted out first in my own tournament gave me time to take care of a list of other things that needed done. The bar needed more booze. The drinks needed more ice. The house needed more fans. And the Drunkalympics needed Cheez Balls. Three hours of fruitless searching left me with the realization that Cheez Balls must have gone off the market. I was left disappointed and with two bags of Cheez Poofs.
Throughout the night, I kept tabs on the tournament and smiled at every turn. From DoubleAs fixing the deck at the final table, to CJ, Heather and April taking over floor duties, to the entire Smith family making the final table, to Wes Nile Virus (The Big Pirate) and Dr. Pauly getting heads up, I couldn't have been happier with the result. When they agreed to chop so that the Drunkalympics could start on time, I knew I had some real winners in the room. Dr. Pauly was the winner on the ultimate hand, but both players deserve great thanks for their sportsmanship.
And so we were left with what I thought would be the last bit of shenanigans of the night. The history of the Drunkalympics lies partly in an immature man's need to find a reason to binge drink, but mostly in the unexplained competitiveness between me and G-Rob. Late nights in G-Vegas would often degenerate into G-Rob and I shooting hoops, throwing horseshoes, or playing Roshambo with the only stakes being shots of the most powerful stuff in the liquor cabinet.
As Bradoween has its roots in silly competition, G-Rob and I thought the Drunkalympics (previously known as the Dumb Olympics) would translate well.
If you were there, you saw what happened. If you weren't, Pauly posted the rules I wrote up for each event. As expected, G-Rob chose to be Team Good, and as expected, rather than draft with his team in mind, he chose his first draft pick soley on the basis that it would save him from possibly having to compete in the eating contest. While the battle between Good and Evil was epic, I believe it was G-Rob's selfish draft pick and the bad karma that came with it that resulted in Team Good's ultimate defeat.
In setting the lines-ups, the first thing I did was take myself out of the running for the Roshambo contest. I knew G-Rob would be expecting me in that slot and I thought seeing a fresh face would take him off his game. Marty, in fact, did suprise G-Rob, but not enough to squelch his dominance in the game.
Further, I knew Al would be in Team Good's slot for the water bottle basketball game. I didn't want Big Mike there for fear Al might be bouyed by friendly competition. I needed Al against somebody that might be confusing and intimidating. Dr. Jeff came in strong, hit his first shot and retired Al handily.
My biggest mistake of the night was not putting Big Mike in the trash ball comp. I expected to see Lefty in the cheese eating contest. My addled mind thought Big Mike would have a much better chance than me. In the end, I shoud've taken the fall for my team. I feel bad for asking Mike, who had already been on the Soco for a while, to do something so vile. I owe him a drink for that.
With my dominance at Trash Ball and Caps and G-Rob's uncanny ability to win even a Team Roshambo contest, it all came down to the final game of Flip Cup. In what was surely the most exciting event of the night, I chugged my beer fast (one of my specialties), but put my team in a hole by taking one flip more than Al to overturn my cup. The rest of my team performed marvelously. However, it was Daddy who emerged from the shadows to be the real hero, climbing out of the hole and winning the entire Drunkalympics for Team Evil.
Perhaps the oddest moment of the entire event was when I was standing at the keg, filling cups three at a time in preparation for the Flip Cup game. I heard someone say my name. I turned and there stood my newest neighbor, a young Baptist minister who lives across the street.
"I just wanted to come over and say hello and Happy Bradoween," he said.
There I stood, three cups of beer dangling from my fingers and a house and yard full of degenerate gamblers, drunks, and otherwise illicit sinners. It took everything I could not to beg off the conversation. So, instead of saying, "I'm sorry, I have to go. Team Evil is about to defeat Team Good," I said, "Well, thanks. Let us know if we get too loud."
Later, I would thank that man's God that he didn't show up thirty minutes later.
Not long after Team Evil finished its triumph, someone came up to me and said, "There's a big problem in your upstairs bathroom."
Never has a bigger understatement ever been spoken. I'm not going to go into the details, but somebody out there is one gross son of a bitch and if I ever find out who left my john that way, I'm coming to your house with G-Rob.
Twenty minutes later, I was still in the bathroom with a plunger. Mrs Otis rushed in with a look of urgency on her face.
"You've got to let this go," she said, a bit out of breath.
"I can't," I said. "If I do, people might start doing this in the yard."
"No, really" she said. "The girls need you to hold the hose for their wet t-shirt contest."
Somewhere around three seconds later, I'd hung an "Out of Order" sign on the door and was outside with a water hose in my hand. In front of me, four girls stood in ripped Hooters shirts, begging to be soaked down. A crowd had formed around them. I grabbed Dr. Jeff and asked him to run around to the side of the house and turn on the water.
He looked at me with more seriousness than I've seen in his face in years. He spoke calmly, but pointedly. "If you start this before I get back..." His threat trailed off as he darted away.
I felt the hose in my hand fill and get hard. Dr. Jeff ran back from the other side of the house with a trail of men behind him. When it was all set, I pulled the trigger and proceded to completely soak four large-breasted women. Somehow I saw more than I expected...and yet, was left wanting more.
I guess that was the point. All eight of them.
After conscripting a young girl to carry me to the store and begging the clerk to open up for one more sale, I replenished the beer supply. The keg had floated an hour before and the four cases of beer I had behind were almost gone. Along with the gallons of Soco, Vodka, Rum, Gin, Tequila, and the rest of the bar, the partiers had put a serious dent in a paycheck's worth of booze. I was so proud.
But, there comes a time, after months of planning, weeks of work, and a day full of stress that a host has to simply say, "Fuck it," and put the show on auto-pilot. So, I did.
Of course, when the party goes on auto-pilot, Otis goes to the bar. Eva, the hardest working woman in boozing, kept me happy all night. And as such, the night fell into brief, but I'm sure very meaningful, conversations.
At one point, someone came back with a report from the back yard. Team Scott Smith had climbed the the top of a Bradford Pear and was jumping back and forth between two trees like a giant Gene Wilder-esque Monkey. I asked that someone get him down, which they did. It only served free team Scott Smith to find the tallest tree in the yard, a giant Sweet Gum, which he climbed and probably should've died as a result.
Before I knew it, I was embarassing myself with a guitar, chatting up the locals, and trying to hold a conversation with Iggy and Daddy. My conversational skills, much like my musical talents, had degenerated as I entered the early morning hours. All I know is that I ended up at Waffle House with my beer still in my hand.
I took out the trash tonight. It took me half an hour. I just finished the dishes today. I surveyed the bar and couldn't believe how little was left.
I never got a good count on the number of people at the party, but, frankly, it doesn't matter. It was the best Bradoween ever and it was because of all the people who came from near and far.
Right now, I'm a lot like I was when I was four years old and the Charlie Brown special would end. I'd cry because it was so good and I knew I wouldn't see it again for a long time.
With that in mind, I think there is only one ay to handle the post party depression.
I'll see y'all at The Boathouse on September 24th.<-- Hide More
As a young left handed pitcher, my favorite pro was a crafty verteran with what I assumed was a similar delivery. I actually chose Steve Carlton as my baseball idol before I saw him play, I just admired the statistics on the back of his card. I'd happily swap any of the big rookies, and their more valuable debut cards, to my equally nerdy friends just for a late career action photo of a man who played the way I wanted to.
Rickey Henderson was different. I've never been fast and I'd only bat leadoff if the previous inning ended with our 6th man. We'd have those long debates up in my room about who was the better base stealer, and I'd take anyone over the arrogant swagger of the longtime Oakland A. The better the numbers on the back of Rickey's card, the more I wanted them out of my hands as if each base hit was another burning degree.More in this Poker Blog! -->
When Rickey played his last big league game in 2003, he had the best stats of any leadoff hitter EVER. Baseball loves statistics and in more than 100 years of record keeping history, Rickey is one of the best. Just look :
MOST STOLEN BASES --- CAREER
MOST WALKS------------- CAREER
MOST RUNS SCORED --- CAREER
CAREER HITS - 3055
CAREER HR ---- 297
For those of you who aren't big baseball dorks, those numbers have very special signifigance. Rickey Henderson is one of the greatest players off all time and is a certain first ballot hall of famer.
We've discussed this before. I'm am an absolutely horrible poker player. At Bradoween last weekend there was only one thing EVERYONE could agree on. "G-Rob is the worst player here."
That said, it seems unlikely that I'd find much in common with the best leadoff hitter of all time. But I think Rickey B. Rickey is the best hero a poker novice can have. You want to play poker? Are you a Pro? If not, Rickey is the man for you.
BACK TO THE MINORS
Here's something I found interesting on the BLOG "Nickel and Dimes":
My particular struggle is "where I am at?" as I've stated quite a few times recently. Should I be looking for higher stakes games despite a bankroll that's been stagnant for several months now? I win a little, then lose a little, win a stack or two, then lose it the next night. I feel like I'm chasing my own tail despite learning more about the game...
I think we've all been there. It seems like with all we've studied and learned we should be moving farther, faster than we are. I've read a few books and played more than a few hands of poker, both virtual and virtually illegal. My game has certainly improved and I've taken a few stabs at bigger limits. but I'm not playing for substantially more than I was a long time ago. Why go on?
NOT FOR TV
Like I said, Rickey left the BIG LEAGUES in 2003. But he still plays baseball. I found this quote from some TV station website...
Rickey Henderson, on playing baseball for the Newark Bears at age 45: "God gave me this body, this gift, these skills to play this sport. Until He says, 'Enough,' this is what I'm supoosed to be doing."
That's when he played minor league ball...in Newark. Not many players with the careers...or the money...he has would ever consider such a demeaning downgrade. Perhaps its because he knew another move was coming....San Diego.
IS THIS A JOPKE?
CJ was right. This dope is the commenter of the year :
"U POKER BLOGGERS ARE THE BIGGEST DOUCHE BAG LOSERS. POKER IS A WASTE OF TIME AND NOT COOL ANYMORE. ITS NOT COOL B/C DOUCHE BAGS LIKE YOU TAKE IT SO SERIOSLY. U ALL SHOULD HAVE STUCK TO MAGIC CARDS AND DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS. U ARE ALL GOING TO WAKE UP OUT OF THE FOG OF POKER AND REALIZE U WERE JUST WASTING YOUR LIFE MEANINGLESS UNFULLFILLING LIFE AWAY.
Two things: Firsat, he left this comment on my post, and on Al's. Of all the bloggers in all the world, WE take it too seriously? Wow! Odd Choice. Second, he went on to call AL a fat turd. I'm way fatter than Al. Get your facts straight bub!
It is odd to be criticized for taking a game so seriously. We've all heard it in one form or another.
There are those who consider it "gambling" and despise it as such.
There are those who see it as nothing but a card game, and thus, not worth ANY investment of time.
There are those who think going the extra mile, to write a free blog on the subject, is particularly lame.
They're absolutly right. It's almost as stupid as extending Little League baseball into a full time job.
This year Rickey Henderson is batting .267 as the leadoff hitter in San Diego. He's not eligible for the baseball Hall of Fame until 5 years after he retires, but he refuses to do so. It's true, he still has skills, but more importantly he LOVES to play the game. That's why he's a SURF DAWG.
The Surf Dawgs are in the Golden Baseball League. It's not even Single A minor league ball. It's totally independant of the major league clubs, and there's vitrtually NO chance of any player in the entire league EVER making any impact on the Big Leagues. So why in God's name would Rickey play? This is from the LA Times :
"I don't need anything," said Henderson, before the first of a three-game series against the Long Beach Armada at Blair Field. "Everything I need, I've been blessed to have. The love and the passion has to be there for me to still play the game way down here."
<-- Hide More
Rickey has no hope of moving up in limits. He's not looking for more fame. The MAXIMUM salary in this league is $3000/month. Rickey used to buff Otis' forehead with $3000, but he loves baseball and he takes it very seriously. Got a problem with that?
I was on the other side of the building, deep in one of those conversations that men only engage in after unhealthy libation. Most men will shun the doctor, barricade emotion, and put forth the cool facade, but somehow Southern Comfort has the same coercive chill as an hour with Dr. Phil. Yes, dear friend, I love you, too.
Only one thing could break our manly composure. Only one thing could shake us from our drunken faux-compassion. A visiting physician barreled around the corner, turned on the garden hose, and yelled, "You're late for the wet T-Shirt contest!"
Welcome to Bradoween V!More in this Poker Blog! -->
I Brought 3 Friends, A Banquet Table, and my "C" Game.
Actually we got there at noon, which was perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of the weekend. Friday night went just as scripted, except Al had me ruined before dinner and I don't remember much of the night. I've been told we made it downtown and finished all the SoCo at the bar... twice. My houseguests and I made it back to the pad by about 2AM and 80oz of water later, I was fast asleep.
I'm still not sure what the banquet table was for. I use it as a substitute for a real poker table, but Otis had those bases covered. So we strapped it, using 50 feet of rope, to the top of CJ's rented SUV and drove, slowly, to the party.
One of the most important parts of knowing Otis is the ability to anticipate stories that begin with, "Back when I lived on Juniper Circle...," and end with "...I woke up in the bathroom!"
If you've never heard one of those stories you have no context for the Mizzou Crew, and you've probably never heard Otis sing "ROCKETMAN" either, both of which count you among the blessed. Still, the crew is a blast.
Most of these guys travel cross country each year and nail every Bradoween. For most of the guys at this years event, they've now attended 5 straight. Poker blogger, JMC Automatic, is among the faithful. Normally, it's an insult to label people as "a group of degenerate drunkards," but I mean it this time with love. These people were already there when I arrived and most of them participated in the tournament. In fact, one of them knocked me out, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
CHICKEN AND PORK
Otis really spared no expense and deserves great credit. He may be a self-loathing gambler with an alcohol-poker-rocketman addiction and, yes, he's a poor judge of gravity, but the man takes care of his friends.
Early last week he called to say he'd spent a small fortune on booze, and you could float a pontoon in the gallons of spirit. He'd composed a dozen plans for the perfect poker tourney, and arranged for the best tournament director in the South to take charge. Perhaps most importanly, he provided a large catered lunch. In my business, it's common knowledge that anything catered gets good press.
Even when the food ran low, or when it was discovered we'd need another ingrediant for BG's sissy umbrella booze, or when we discovered a critical lack of DRUNK OLYMPICS CHEESEBALLS, Otis was prepared to shop for more. He was willing to leave the house in the middle of his own tournament for the comfort of his guests.
He had plenty of time. He finished 43rd out of 43. Dead Last. I went to the store with him because I'm a very good friend. I love Otis. I cashed in my tournament chips to go along for the ride.
I came in 41st.
THE TOURNAMENT...Hours 1 and 2
Otis and I hit the K-Mart on Wade Hampton. It's one of the few left around here after the bankrupcy shut down everything but the blue light itself. We came here for box fans and the aforementioned cheese balls. After a fruitless rummage for the canister of psedu-dairy air we had to ask for help in finding a fan.
We were directed to housewares.
Then sent to hardware.
Then sent to a display at the front of the store where everything was already sold out.
The woman at the customer service station says they're out of fans... in August... in South Carolina... because they're out of season. We later found them at WalMart along with what I thought was a fantastic treat. That would be one of the least comfortable puchases I ever made.
By the way, WalMart doesn't sell cheese balls either.
Neither does the Publix grocery store.
I realize this seems trivial, but this was about to spell big trouble for our friend and Otis' teammate... Big Mike.
THE TOURNAMENT Hours 3-6
Back at the big game there were other busted names, many of whom were good enough to win. By the time the superbly talented tournament director had also busted out. So had Foxy Maudie, Hotty Heather, Gorgeous Gracie, and um... the Mark. Luckily for all of us (read: suckout capable me!), they had bigger aspirations, a popsensity for booze... and an interest in ring games.
While Eva Can't Hang mixed potent LITs for every loser, we set up a table in the kitchen. $60 buy-in and blinds at a relatively affordable .25/.50.
Notable hands :
1) I'm in the SB and Maudue is BB.
I limp in and Maudie raises to $4.
I turn to Maudie and say, "I'm about to suck out on you," and then call with Q-8 of Spades.
The flop is 4-7-9 with two spades so I check and Maudie bets out.
Trouble is the chip denominations have everyone confused (I'd bet $1.25 meaning to bet $6 earlier) and she drastically underbet the pot. I called.
Turn gives me the flush and I bet small.
Maudie raises..and I push.
Maudie's set of 4s does not improve.
2) 3 players are in the pot after I raise in MP to $2 with A-10 Diamonds.
The flop is all low cards with 2 diamonds.
I check and BadBlood bets $8.
Heather raises to $16
BadBlood and I both call.
The turn is an Ace and I bet out $15.
BadBlood calls and Heather raises all in.
We both call.
River is a diamond and I push all in for a side pot which BadBlood calls.
BadBlood has K-J of diamonds for the King high flush.
Heather has a diamond flush with a str8 flush draw.
G-Rob has the nuts.
THE ACTUAL TOURNAMENT
I HAVEN'T EVEN GOTTEN TO THE PARTY YET SO JUST BEAR WITH ME
Let's just skip to the final table shall we. It's the main event, the part we all came to see. Actually very few of us came here to play poker, but this is the best of it and it certainly deserves a telling.
10 players remained and 5 were Palmetto proud (This is a South Carolina expression meaning they're homeboys). In fact, 40% of the final table was comprised of members of the Smith family. I've tried all afternoon to think of any event where a single family has shown so much dominance and the closest I can come up with is the Corleones.
The entire table looked like this :
Wes Nile Virus
Team Scott Smith
The Wolverine (also a Smith)
Uncle Brian (who knocked me out)
Honorary Feature Table bubble and 11th place finisher = Al Can't Hang
At the start DoubleAs held a massive chip advantage and Daddy was close behind. The Wolverine cut into both stacks with some very crafty plays. Then shortly after Uncle Brian (Stupid pocket Kings) busted out we had the hand of the century....******* For Much Greater Detail on this hand you must read the END of
this post a future post [ed's correction], but here's the short version:
Only two players, Daddy and The Wolverine see the flop :
The turn is a rag.
The river is a 7.
Daddy bets the river and The Wolverine pushes all in. Daddy says, "You have quads don't you?" Then he lays down, FOLDS, pocket aces.
The Wolverine shows the hammer, Quad 7s.
Meanwhile, the party was rockin' outside. Four pretty girls dressed, oddly, as Hooter's girls arrived. They brought dozens of their closest friends. My buddy Ted and his parents arrived and his mother who has very nice Hooters herself begged me to touch the muscles of her thigh. She'd been working out and, while I was uncomfortable, I hate to be rude.
Eva'd made me another LIT and a coupla carbombs too. I'd started tinkering with SoCo and had a head full of beer. After the previous night, it was easy to get the stupid flowing. Dr. Jeff calls it the "shampoo effect".
THE SHAMPOO EFFECT
You know how when you lather your hair and then rinse, you get a pretty mild lather of bubbles on the hair.
If you follow the directions and actually REPEAT the process you almost instantly get a full head of giant bubbles. The previous wash made the second one quicker.
Likewise, if you still feel last night's booze, today's is coming FAST.
Friends my buzz was moving like my Head and Shoulders and Al Can't Hang is a lousy conditioner. Therefore, I'm a bit sketchy on the EXACT tournament details but I can tell what I remember. Most of my memories begin at the DRUNK OLYMPICS...
SANS CHEESE BALLS
WHAT I REMEMBER
Pauly beat Wes (The Big Pirate). They chopped the pot and then had one had to determine a champion. It was Pauly.
Within moments the gospel spread and the great game was over. Millions of devout Pauly fans shed tears of joy, millions of pirates returned to their jobs at Capital One. Better still, the DRUNK OLYMPICS were ready to begin.
Otis, Al and I dragged a PA system with two speakers to the upper corner of the driveway, Otis plugged it in, and said, "Hello" to the crowd. They were all there by then, and even the Hooters girls perked up.
CJ and BG were the referees.
Otis and I were team captains.
As team captains Otis and I would pick two teams of degenerate drunkards. We'd compete in 5 individual events and several more team games.
The captains shotgun a beer for first pick. Winner gets first pick, loser gets to choose the name "Team Good" or "Team Evil".
Otis cheated at this event by starting the countdown before I had crushed a proper carb in the bottom of the can. Then I couldn't get the damn can open. I lost the pick and went with the silly and inappropriate monniker "Team Good."
For reasons you'll read in just a bit, Badblood the artificially lumpy was the obvious first pick. Even Otis is not immune to the obvious, sometimes, and he made that selection.
Then my pick, a head scratcher for the less insightful.
In one of the comments left here during Bradoween preparations LEFTY showed an interest in an event so disgusting and distastful I was willing to forfeit the whole damn thing. If LEFTY was willing to do it, much less win it, he was on my team guaranteed. I had no idea how strong a teammate he'd turn out to be.
Otis picks Big Mike.
Now blessed with the relative impunity of picking people that were truly good and decent, I selected ALCAN'THANG. My thinking was, even if we lose I'll assemble a team that won't puke on the yard. I guessed wrong. Again.
Otis picks his brother, Dr. Jeff.
I'm now building a team of ultimate blogger superstars with the pick of DR. PAULY. By this point the name "Team Good" is the funniest joke of the night.
Otis picks Marty Automatic
I already had Dr. Pauly and now I had his brother. This would be the most sophisticated pick of the draft. DEREK MCGRUPP is the consumate team player and his pure sacrifice in event 2 was pure class.
Otis picks his team alternate and plans to cheat again later by drafting Daddy
My team would now be complete with the drafting of our alternate... BONUS CODE IGGY. Unfortunately, we couldn't find him. He showed up just in time for the final, dagger twisting, Otis cheat.
TEAM GOOD met just near the front lawn for our first team meeting. We had a list of events and a good sense of our strength. A loss was virtually inconceivable barring something truly EVIL.
1.) THE ROSHAMBO
Me vs. Marty Automatic.
It's rock, paper, scissors and I'm a dominant force. I really like and respect Mr. Automatic but his AAA St. Louis game can't deal with a big league ROSHAMBO champ. I win the event 3-1 with a clutch display of "scissors cuts paper." It was a brilliant read. And Matry has a tell.
Marty took a penalty double shot of SoCo
2.) OVER THE TOP
Derek McGrupp vs. BadBlood
The highlight here was the entry. All grew silent as the PA boomed with the introductoin of BadBlood, backed with his own entry music... which sucked.
I think it was SLAYER.
Derek took his shot like a man.
3.) THE BAHAMAS MEMORIAL WATER BOTTLE TOSS
Al Can't Hang vs. Dr. Jeff
Al and I INVENTED this event. During our suprise visit to Nassau in January we grew bored while waiting for a seat at the NL tables. To kill time we started a prob bet: cash for a sucessful toss of a half-empty bottle into the trash.
Two bets changed hands before OTHER players around the poker room asked to buy in. Then the Bahamian GAMING COMISSION stepped in and shut the game down.
For Bradoween, Al was a prohibitive favorite. Unforunately Dr. Jeff found an unholy gust of wind shot from the depths of hell, and Al's shot blew long. Jeff sank his shot and team good is trailing.
Al doesn't consider the shot a penalty.
4.) Trash Ball
Dr. Pauly vs. Otis
Pauly takes his shot like a champ.
5.) Cheese Mania!
First Round Lefty vs. Big Mike
You may recall, 27K words ago, our fruitless search for cheeseballs. This was about to provide a Monty Python moment.
One year ago, at Bradoween 4, there was only one STUPID event. Two teams of 4 raced to devour an entire jumbo tub of Sam's Club cheese balls. It was revolting and hilarious. Still, it took so long to eat that much processed nastiness that the event cound NEVER be repeated. Or so we thought.
We'd planned to use small cannisters of cheese balls for each contestant but as we've said, they don't exist. So instead GIANT bags of CHEESE CURLS were brought in, one for each player. Remember folks, LEFTY wanted to do this and apparantly he'd done his research. He had two bottles of cool water preopened and positioned carefully next to his bag. He had a slow methodical eating method. He had guts.
Big Mike on the other hand...
The only request Al made before the event, "don't make me or big mike do the cheeseballs."
Well, if you've seen Monty Python's "Meaning of life"... we were all concerned Mike was a thin mint away from an explosive expulsion.
Lefty wins. [Ed. note: 7 1/2 minutes.]
Big Mike does not feel penalized by the shot, even as a cheese curl chaser, which is totally nasty.
6.) Team Roshambo
Team Good sweeps. We rule this event.
Team Evil fails to cheat and they all take a shot.
Al and Dr. Pauly vs. Otis and Marty
Otis cheats and Team Good Happily takes a shot
8.) Flip cup.
Otis urges Daddy to cheat and Iggy shows up. At the wrong time.
We drink more shots.
HOOTERS GIRLS, WET T-SHIRTS, AND ME
I did not witness the wet t-shirt contest. Any pictures of me at such an event are either forged, or they feature my clone. I hear there are several.
I had knee surgery this morning and the doc has me bumped up on Narcotics.
I can't focus enough to finish this tonight.
I'll do so later.
Let me just say...
People make life worth living. You people are helping me live a wonderful life.
Thanks.<-- Hide More
I didn't take many... but here they are. If you'd like yours added to this gallery, please email them to me.
Before you check out the pictures below, you could watch this little movie. It's mostly safe for work:
The Money Shot (Quicktime 6.5 required)
Or watch this movie, it involved GRob getting embarrassed, which means it's good fun for all:
Over the Top (Quicktime 6.5 required)
This is what happened after GRob dropped the HAMMER on me. My pocket T's lost to a 9-7-2 flop. For your reference, that adds up to a whopping T22.
My first Bradoween Open table featuring (clockwise from the empty stack): Uncle Brian (St. Loo Crew member), Randy (an original G-Vegas gambler), Boy Genius (he did not pass out), McCown (St. Loo Crew member), Lefty (my twin brother), EvaCanHang (official Bradoween bar mistress), Derek (he did puke 4.5 times), Guy I Don't Know (you can only see his arms), Wes the Big Pirate (you can barely see his arm), and Gracie (Bradoween official moving picture archivist).
Shep Pimpstein's fabulous Bradolantern entry. GRob's vegetable is playing the HAMMER. And those are jello shots. They didn't last long. Although NO ONE was drinking at Bradoween.
Big Mike (R) and my twin brother, Lefty (L). These were the two competitors in the cheese puff eating contest. Let's just say early money was on Big Mike. Just 7 1/2 minutes later, Lefty pulled an upset of '85 Nova proportions!<-- Hide More
There's likely a lot I will write soon about Bradoween V, but I need to thank a lot of people for making everything come off as good as it did. Bear with me.More in this Poker Blog! -->
* Mrs. Otis for putting up with this every year and always going out of her way to make sure everything comes off without a hitch.
* The Missouri Crew, Dr. Jeff, and Aaron for helping with set up in the waning hours before the event started (and apparently doing some cleaning up Sunday morning)
* The Can't Hang Crew for bringing the party, especially Eva Can Hang for making sure more booze was consumed at this event than any other in the past. She was more of a trooper than anybody.
* The entire Smith family for embracing Bradoween and making sure we got fed when the food ran out. Thanks to the good folks at Sub Station II for the emergency grub. You've got my business from now on.
* Heather and April for taking over shuffling and dealing duties at the final table
* Everyone who watched my kid throughout the day, especially Su.
* Uncle Ted for taking care of business.
* BadBlood for getting the tournament started and CJ for making sure it ended
* CJ and BG for running the Drunkalympics
* All the people who brought thoroughly unecessary but completely appreciated gifts (it's amazing how pegged you folks have me already)
* G-Rob for spending an hour and half with me driving around looking for Cheez Balls.
* All the people who used vacation time and spent the cash to travel from all across the country to make this mutated house party what it is, especially the brothers McGrupp, who could've easily spent some time with each other in NY after six months apart, but chose to come here instead.
* All the Hooters Girls for obvious reasons
* Everyone I have forgotten to thank here for understanding why I've forgotten to thank them here.
words about Bradoween V. At the moment, I'm feeling every one of my years in much the same fashion as a guy who drank until the sun came up and then went to Waffle House with Iggy and Daddy.
I owe everyone who helped out with this year's event a great deal of gratitude. The 'Ween was another fun event with poker, stupid games, and, yes, oddly enough, a wet t-shirt contest.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'll get around to a full write-up when my body stops hurting. Until then, a quick recap of the action:
Bradoween Open Champion: Dr. Pauly.
43rd (last...) place in the Bradoween Open: Otis
Drunkalympics Champions: Team Evil
Most Suburban: The Murdocks
Most Offensive: Shep
Brad-o-lantern exhibitionists: Chuck and Nancy, Shep
Most likely to draw a crowd with the words "we're about to have a wet t-shirt contest.": The Hooters Girls
Most likely to say "She kissed my pecker.": Dr Jeff, the Ostrich Jockey.<-- Hide More
It was Wednesday night pool table poker again, and I was hoping for a big turnout to help me get a little more tourney work before Bradoween weekend. We had 17 show up this time. And in Lousiana, we don't have to worry about the cops showing up.
I played pretty solid despite not getting very good cards. The best hand I saw early on was AQo. I raised it to 3xBB (150) and got two callers. The flop came down AKJ. I decided to get cute, which was pretty dumb considering the range of hands that beat me with that flop.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I checked and both players checked behind me. The turn was a blank, and I lead out for 500. I didn't realize the player to my left only had 725 left and he quickly pushed all in. I was committed and had to call.
"Well, I know I'm behind," I said, flipping my AQ.
"You sure are," he said, flipping QT. He played it perfectly, making a move on me I just didn't expect. When the miracle T fell on the river, however, I was relieved to split the pot. It shook my confidence a bit. I think I should have seen that coming.
Beyond that, I mostly played premium hands hard pre-flop and bet when ragged cards fell, scooping pots without showing that I missed most of the time.
We were suddenly down to 5 and the top 3 paid. I found A9o and raised it up to 3xBB. The player to my left had me outchipped and immediately went all in. A small stack called him and I mucked. He flipped pocket A's. We were down to 4.
The next hand, I catch A6s and I raise to 3xBB. The same guy immediately pushes all in again. It's folded back to me and I think long and hard before mucking. He flips American Airlines again.
I'm now down to just 1325 and the blinds are 400/800. My BB is all rags and it was called and raised in front of me. I decide to take my stand on my SB instead.
With 400 of my 525 in the pot, I peek down at Q6o. I guess it could have been worse. But then I hear the magic words "All-in." UTG raises it to 1400 pushing all his chips in. With the Big, Big stack in the BB, I knew he'd get a call. I could have made a stand, but I wanted that $20. I folded and watched the short stack go. Lucky me.
It turns out I would have split that pot. But it wouldn't have mattered. One hand later, I looked down at Ace-rag and it fell, knocking me out in third.
Unforunately, my buddy, "Steeley Dan" didn't learn from my play. In the second game, he was shortstacked, but in third place out of 4 players remaining. "Old Man" Chris was about to throw his last 750 in pot with the BB at 800.
Instead of waiting, "Steeley Dan" decided to make a stand with A5s against a healthy stack in the SB and a healthy stack in the BB. He only had 850 and the SB hardly thought about it before calling. "Steeley Dan" was fortunate the BB wasn't paying attention because he mucked despite needing just 50 more to call.
The SB had K6o, and a 6 on the flop was enough to burst "Steeley Dan's" bubble. Just one more fold and he likely would have fininished in 3rd and won $20.
I know we play to win tournaments, but sometimes, when you're struggling just to make the BB, playing to just finish in the money is the correct way to play. Never risk your tournament on the bubble when another short stack is about to make the mistake for you.<-- Hide More
I was working on a campaign story many years ago when a press agent called. My tiny station covered the buckle of the corn belt, though everyone there was in suspenders. The Democrat hailed from the west end of the state where people were as sparse as real breasts in Vegas. The Republican served as mayor in the city that housed the capital and the state university. The agent was from one of those campaigns.
By mid-October I hadn't endeared myself to either side. I'd only arrived in the state in August, and in just two months I'd embarrased one guy with comments he'd made about state employees, while the other threatened to kick me out of a press conference. Still, I knew the guys they'd hired to schmooze the media and even us rural mid-state stations got a hand job sometimes.More in this Poker Blog! -->
These days I devour political news. I actually do less and less political reporting, but I keep tabs on everything I can. Sometimes though the real story isn't in WHAT'S reported...but HOW we hear the lead.
Here's an example from this Sunday's WASHINGTON POST
US OFFICIALS SAY, "What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."
Later we learn that this source is a "senior" official. I'm certain he or she is exactly that. But why do you think this person said these things and then asked NOT to be named? This, my friends, is a "leak". But from whom?
Apparantly one of the midwestern candidates was involved in a bit a naughtiness. Or so I'd heard. The press agent made damn sure I heard. He called me, said hello, and then immediately went "on background". That means he wanted me to know ALLLLLL about it as long as HIS name and HIS campaign never appeared in a story.
Of course, I never ran with it. First, I didn't care. Second, it's awfully hard to confirm. Third, I considered the source.
Who exactly is SENIOR?
Of course, some people WANT everyone to know where the information comes from. Sometimes that's the most deceptive move of all, like a tight table image running a stone cold bluff. The situation says call, but THIS guy makes me fold. Really, attribution is the best asset a poker player has.
That deception makes me wonder about the universe of poker handbooks, maunals, and texts. Who do I trust? And might that very trust be my biggest problem?
Case in point :
Doyle Brunson's Super System
Ol' Doyle wrote the book that was, at the time, the step-by-step guide to poker EVER. Doyle used his years of experience and insight to give every novice player in the world a 20 year head start. It's like getting through K-12 on Cliff's notes and coming into college almost totally prepared.
Unfortunately for Doyle, it was also a play-by-play of his own knowledge and stlye. Suddenly every dimwitted homegamer with 20 bucks and reading glasses was ready to play. They weren't at HIS level, but they sure did improve. Now, tell me this, are we to assume that every successful pro in the world learned NOTHING from Doyle? Are they that open? Or is the attribution a better selling point than the actual content?
BACK TO THE POST
In journalism, the great Bhudda of anonymous sources is "Deep Throat". All of America wanted that man unveiled and, I suspect, no one more so than the people in the news biz. The Ol' Washington Post changed the way we all look at anonymous sources. Unfortunately for good journalism, it also changed the way politicians USE the media.
Take that earlier quote from Sunday morning :
US OFFICIALS SAY, "What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."
It sure SOUNDS like one of those off-the-record, answer the question, help the reporter, tell the truth leaks. We imagine someone handing out nuggets for big stories while in hiding from the boss, but this is almost never the case. Much more often those "unnamed sources" are releasing info on BEHALF of the big boss, or one of his spinning advisors. Both sides do it the same way. Want something to appear on the news without you having to be the bad guy who says it...leak it!
"I'm sorry, I didn't say my opponent fathered an illegitimate monkey lovechild while wasted on Jamaican hash," he says, "but that report's been IN THE NEWS".
Attibution is everything folks, without it you know FAR less than you think.
MY HOMEGAME IS SO COOL!
I was whining to Otis about my blogwriting the other day. As always, he was totally unsympathetic but willing to feign interest, which is all I ask. More than anything, I said, I wanted to write some anyalysisof my local ring game play. I've been in quite a few interesting hands, found moves that work against certain local styles, and I've found some interesting tells.
The problem, my whine continues, is many of those players READ this blog. Now, I'm not a very good player, actually I'm pretty lousy, so I doubt anyone would be getting any great strategic insight from my ideas. Still, I hate to divulge the one or two things I do that actually win an occasional pot.
I'm entirely aware of who arrogant this sounds by the way, no reason to point that out. Again, I SUCK AT POKER AND YOU'LL LEARN ALMOST NOTHING FROM ME, but I find myelf pulling punches here which is a disservice to the great blog CJ and Otis have built.
BY THE WAY
Mrs. Otis works for the KGB. Don't tell anyone you read it here, but tell everyone you heard it.
ONE MORE THING
When I told Otis I was entering this he told me not to. "Not your style man," he said before logging off. He was right, $20+2 LIMIT does not suit my maniacal aggressive play. But the deck assaulted me and I was, at least, smart enough to not fold the good hands.
Now I can afford Brad-o-ween.<-- Hide More
Iggy posted the link to Modern Drunkard's 86 Rules of Boozing.
It reminded me of the weekend, which I had largely forgot, but I know started with poker and ended...well, with these new rules for myself.More in this Poker Blog! -->
1) When the girl sitting next to you at the bar orders a shot with her boyfriend, don't say, "We'll have what they're having." This is in large part because it's going to cost you way too much and not get you drunk enough.
2) When you reach the bottom of your fourth beer, don't let your friend decide whether it's time to go home, because he will say he'd like to stay out and you'll say okay.
3) When G-Rob shows up, run away.
4) When G-Rob offers to buy a round, tell him you don't want a drink with 151 in it, because, if you don't specify, that's what he'll bring back.
5) When you offer a band too little money for a booking when they already have a contract, it's improper to ask them again if they'll do it for the same amount. It's even more improper to ask again. And again. And again. And it's further improper to then chase the band down the street asking for the same thing for the same amount.
6) When your friends have heard of your dismay at having been turned down by the band, refrain from telling the same story over and over again. And again. And again.
7) When a girl tells you her name is Stella, it's very proper (and still hilarious) to yell at the top of your lungs, "Stellllllaaaa! Stellllllaaa!" Yeah, even if she hears that joke every day.
Obviously, I need to do some more priming before this weekend. Else, I may be in trouble.<-- Hide More
Much has been written about the great annual G-Vegas festival. Few people understand the madness. As a 5 year veteran, I have certain perspective to offer. In fact, I've planned every aspect of this INCREDIBLE EVENT down to the minute. For now, I'll just brace you for Bradoween Eve...
It goes like this :
FRIDAY AUGUST 19THMore in this Poker Blog! -->
Mr. & Mrs. Can't Hang arrive at GSP International. At this point both visitors will make their way from the gate to baggage claim. They'll be the first bloggers to discover the amazing ease of South Carolina travel.
Which carosel? That one!
Just eliminate all the empty space that does not contain a carosel, and that small area you find will have your bags front and center.
Otis, BadBlood, The Hangs, and I make our way to a favorite wing and beer joint. We used to frequent this place on "Working Women's Wednesday". Actually, I have no idea why that is. It's at this point that Al will make another important SC discovery.
All liquor served in bars or restaurants here comes in a mini-bottle. It's the stuff you find in hotel minibars or on the airplane service cart. Shots here are 1.75oz, which means those "double shots" of Southern Comfort will pack quite a punch.
Pauly and Derek join the party.
Pauly says to BadBlood, "My God, you've started already!"
BadBlood is forced to sit down to conteract the swirling floor.
Otis looks for a chair, and misses.
Eva Can't Hang is relieved by the arrival of another female blogger...midget housewife "Iggy" and his great uncle "Daddy". Iggy and Daddy are DRIVING to G-Vegas so you'd assume they'd be quite tired already. You'd be wrong. Both bloggers are SO excited to see the old blogger crew, they unveil the secret donkey they've smuggled in the trunk.
Daddy, as always, holds a clinic.
Over a string of Guiness/Car Bombs/Southern Comfort/Fruity Umbrella Crap(BadBlood) the group debates the value of a quick pre-tournament poker game. The discussion lasts over 3 hours.
The "G-Vegas is Doomed BadBlood Tournament for PLAY MONEY ONLY(all poker ever referenced on this site is ALWAYS play money unless in a state approved setting)" Begins
Players are :
4. Austin April
6. Dr. Jeff
14. The Mark
With several alternates including:
G-Rob is out after trying a stone cold bluff on DoubleAs who later comments, "Felicia was right. You suck at poker."
This counts as another of DoubleAs great reads. I do, in fact, suck at poker.
The Mark busts out an shows everyone his souvenir citation. No other description of this will be provided here. You'll have to ask him.
Otis busts out, stands up, and falls.
The Axeman finishes second in the tournament after Pauly picks up an important tell. If the Axeman is IN the hand, he has the nuts. Pauly counters this by decribing the time he busted a hot movie star in a celbrity WSOP tourney. Axeman loses focus at the word "bust".
(AN ASIDE : Ever wonder why its the WS"O"P? Why does "OF" get a letter? Shouldn't it be TWSOP? That way the word "THE" doesn't get ripped off.)
BG arrives at GSP. He mocks the airport. This later privides enough content for an enitre BG pseudo-journalistic saga entitled "How I bought a Magazine at a Small Airport : The Woman Who Cut Line".
Entire contingent arrives in fabulous downtown G-Vegas. We begin the night at our favorite hole in the wall, THE BAIT SHACK. We love that bar because the beer is very cheap, and very few people there are likely to recognize us(me) during the drinking time when I still care about being recognized. Later, when I'm so intoxicated that I might actually do something embarrasing, I won't care who sees it.
Al decides to stage a daring rally after his inagural G-Vegas barf.
BG notes, "There was no Comfort in that SOCO"
This passes for humor because everyone there is drunk.
Otis, in fact, finds it so funny...he falls.
Time to get rollin'. Otis and I are quite proud of our tiny town and we're not letting anyone out with just one bar. Next up? Probably Tassey's, the G-Spot, or Connely's. We'll playit by ear. Probably Connely's just for that down home car bomb appeal. That bar is a few blocks away however, so it quite likely that about this time...
Our first serious confrontation when BigPirate confuses Iggy for an unusually convenient bar stool. April observes, "You should get your head out of your ass and pay attention WES!"
The joke is on April, however, Wes has IGGY'S head in his ass.
Daddy wishes Maudie were here. Everyone agrees because Maudie is HOT!
Otis offers to buy the next round. 22 car bombs and 22 Guiness later...Otis owes over $300. Otis has a heart attack....and falls.
Things are silly now. Few, if any, of our blogger friends are able to form complete sentences. We've broken into dozens of small conversations in which no participant uses more than 3 words at a time.
Pauly apologizes in writing to all of Las Vegas for using the phrase "Redneck Riviera". Forty angy South Carolinians wearing rebel flag T-Shirts give him one last swirly for good measure.
Derek points out to the same group of thugs, "Before the South can rise again, you'll need to get that car off your lawn."
All of us howl in laughter at this incredibly witty remark which, I believe, is stolen from "The Onion".
Last call downtown and the party begins to fracture. There are those, of course, with plans to tour the upstates finest in "adult" entertainment. I'm going to bed. I have a tournament tomorrow.
SATURDAY AUGUST 20TH - BRADOWEEN DAY
That's another post folks...<-- Hide More
It's been a full 14 months since I wrote the following:
I didn't peel my cards off the table again, preferring instead to eat her face with my eyes. Her cheeks pulled in as she drew in on the cigar. She pulled her cards off the felt one more time. I couldn't read her as well as I wanted. Remember, her beauty put me on tilt the moment she'd climbed out of the H2-Hummer. When she lit the cigar and bathed the table in a sexual wash of smoke and casual good humor, I decided there was no way I could play the game of poker ever again..
Since that time, the Cigar Girl has become a familar face and friend. We've played against each other several times, and her husband, now known as The Mark, has warned me more than once to not ever again consider eating his wife's face.
Tonight, the subject of that game long ago came up again during a $40 buy-in single table freeze-out. And wouldn't you know it, Cigar Girl went to the freezer and brought back a popsicle.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I don't think it was intentional, but I'm not sure. For some reason, I've become a bit of a target at The Mark. And for some reason, I think
Cigar Popsicle Girl knew she could put me on tilt.
When she hit the table with the striped, frozen phallic symbol, I couldn't help but comment on my inability to watch a girl eat a popsicle. I folded my big blind to a raise and tried to concentrate on how nice the new table The Mark was.
When my small blind came up, Popsicle Girl and a few others limped in. I looked down to find AK suited in clubs. I put out a bet that was around the size of the pot. Popsicle Girl was taking her own sweet time, her concentration focused on the frozen goodness in her hands.
I callled her by name and, in my best table captain voice, tried to sound commanding.
"If you keep focusing on the popsicle, I'm going to have to call the clock on you."
I sounded like the guy in the 80s movie who is trying to play the role of Patrick Dempsey and stand up to the jocks. That is, I sounded like a pussy. And Popsicle Girl knew it.
She grabbed her chips like they weighed less than 11.5 grams and threw them in the pot. Her eyes said, "Do. Not. Fuck. With. Me." Suddenly we were heads up and seeing the flop. Kxx rainbow.
I checked to her. Why? Because she'd been aggressive in recent hands and I knew she would bet. She joked, blowing her good humor in cold waves across the rapidly disappearinng popsicle's face. "I have a flush draw," she said.
I tried to joke back. "Remarkably," I said, "so do I." And I called.
The turn was the eight of clubs, the perfect card for me. Now the board had a king and three rags on it. What's more, I now had the nut flush draw.
"I check," I said, doing my best to sound as weak as I usually am.
She tilted the popsicle and threw out another bet. Her eyes glinted with some form of malevolence that only poker playing women can conjure. Her husband seemed in awe, somehow impressed.
With as much authority as I could muster, I raised, sure that my check-raise would send her to the fridge for a banana or plantain.
She thought for a moment, then called.
My read changed there. She had a king or a club draw, and if it was the king, it was almost certainly paired with a queen or jack.
I had decided, even before she called, that all of my chips would be in the middle on the river. But when then river came as the jack of spades, I hesitated for a half second. BadBlood was two seats away and, though he didn't say a word, I could almost hear his voice. "Trust your read," it said.
My read said I was 50/50 to be beat. Still, my hands moved to my chips and I put them all in the middle.
Popsicle Girl studied her popsicle again and paused. It was in that moment that I knew I had won. If she had made two pair, the call would've been immediate. The popsicle would've fallen to the floor and melted into the tile, just another failed tool in the mission to take down the man with serious visual stimulation issues.
"I guess I have to call," she said, covering my all-in by quite a bit. For one whole second, I felt like a man again. I felt like a man who could stand up to the girl who had put him on tilt fourteen months before. I wanted to say, "Show me king-queen."
But then, like a man who's been caught in a precarious and embarassing position, something clicked in my head. There was a glint in her eye. There was something there I hadn't seen through the frozen ice dancing in front of her face.
"I hope you don't have the jack" I said.
With the sneer of a true maneater, she glared at me and said, "Two pair."
And flipped over king-jack.
And again, there I sat, just off State Park Road, emasculated, eviscerated, and with no chips in front of me.
As I walked out, I made sure to invite everyone to Bradoween. I did not mention that all players who walk in will be searched for cigars, popsicles, and Chick-o-Sticks.
I need to win something soon and I may have just found the one shape that can put me on tilt.
So, in the past two weeks, The Mark and his wife have accounted for more than $200 in losses from my homegame bankroll. I swear, if they show up next weekend with $200 in Macanudos and Bomb Pops, I may just kick them out.<-- Hide More
Just overheard from my younger child's room:
AD : Waaaaaaaaah! Mommy!
MD : That's not good enough. You have to sound like you're hurt.
AD : Wahhhhhhaaahhh! Houwwwww! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
MD : That's good. But you wouldn't actually say "Ouch". It has to sound real.
AD : Oh. Oooooooooohhhhhh! Wahhhhh!
MD : See. Now daddy will give you dessert.
More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm putty. Pathetic Putty.
There's a really really nice new FROLF course in Greer, near my house. Any of you Friday or Sunday Bradoweeners want to play. I'll set that up. I loves me some FROLF.
RSVP for that.<-- Hide More
The "Doublewide Game" has been retired. Now, it's the "Pool Table Classic." Each week, anywhere from 8 to 16 people gather around the pool table for some Texas Hold 'Em action. What it lacks in comfort, it makes up for in green felt, not to mention cup holders.
Last night, 12 people showed up, and, reluctantly, we decided to play one table. I didn't mind so much. Patience is my game and with the blinds taking longer to come around, I could pick my hands and pounce.
About four hours later, we had finished two games and I had seen two hands. That's right. I played two hands.More in this Poker Blog! -->
"Old Man" Chris is the game's surly host. If he's not bitching about something, he's looking for his beer. He's a nice guy, but he'll let you know when something is bothering him. One night, it's the fact that the blinds moved from 200/400 to 300/600 instead of doubling to 400/800. God forbid we play a little poker before moving to the slot machines.
"Bad" Chad is the old man's son and another regular. He's got slow-playing down to an art. And by slow-playing, I mean I could call "Clock" on him every hand if it came down to it.
"Steeley Dan" is a co-worker who introduced me to the game. In fact, he's introduced me to a number of games, and hundreds of dollars in profits later, perhaps I should figure out a way to thank him. This isn't the softest he's ever brought me to, but it's close.
First game, I'm in the BB in the first hand with "Steeley Dan"' to my right in the SB. Blinds are at 25/50 and we start with 1200T. Four people call before "Steeley Dan" completes the bet. I decide to check without looking. I do it on occasion and announce I won't look until someone bets. Other times, I raise on principal just to punish the limpers. Perhaps I should have don the latter in this case.
The flop comes donw Ah-Qc-Tc. "Steeley Dan" bets the pot, 300T.
"Ah... you're gonna make me look. Watch out!" I say, before peeking down at Kd-Jc. That's right, the nut straight. I pushed all-in.
Frankly, I was trying to tell him to lay it down. I was trying to tell him he couldn't have a better hand. He obviously thought I was trying to put a move on him, and he called. He flipped Ad-Th.
"Looks like you guys will have an all-time dealer," I said with a smile.
I was an 81% favorite at that point. He had four outs. I'm not a fan of bad beat stories, so I'll keep it short. The Ac fillled him up on the turn and my miracle Kc missed the river. I was out.
Guess who became all-time dealer.
Mercifully, that game moved along exceptionally fast, finishing in just over two hours. We lost our first 6 players at an average of one every 6 minutes.
The second game started with just 11 players and I found "Bad" Chad to my right. He was UTG the first hand and he threw out a raise to 200T. I peek down at my cards and see AQs. Here's the thing about "Bad" Chad's play, he either limps or min-raises with monsters. He craves action and wants callers when he's got a big hand. I knew he didn't have a big hand.
I raise to 500T. He moves around the table with about half of them faking an all-in move, joking about me going out fast again. When it got back to "Bad" Chad, I considered immediately calling "Clock!" but I didn't. He went through his typical ritual of stacking his chips and counting and stacking his chips and counting before moving all in with authority. Paging Mike Caro!
I knew I had him beat, but by how much? I suppose he could have had a little pair and that would actually put me behind, but I didn't believe that's what he was holding. I really thought he might be on Ax and that would make me about a 3-to-1 favorite.
So why would he push all-in, I asked myself. Easy, he figured there's no way I'd call. He figured there's no way I'd risk going out the first hand in the second straight game.
And I suppose, if I were smart, I should have laid it down. After all, I could beat these guys if I played my game. I would be down to just 700T, but I've come back from worse. No mater what he's holding, he's got outs, and that puts my tournament at risk.
That last paragraph didn't go through my head before I called him. He flipped over KTo making me a 2-to-1 favorite. The T on the flop put me way behind and I never improved. I was out... on the first hand... again. I didn't volunteer to deal.
Thankfully, the second game moved about as fast as the first, and we managed to squeeze in a third game with 8 players.
I folded the first hand and went on to win it. That gave me a $30 profit for the night. I suppose I would have been in great shape to win either of the first two games, had my better hand held up, but that's poker. I want those guys making those plays against me every time, right?
Or was I stupid to risk all my chips on the first hand of a tournament?<-- Hide More
Near the press entrance, there are two elevators at Turner Field. The first is for fans who are too old or fat for stairs. The second is called the "press express," a two stop shuttle from the press box to the field. On Tuesday night I spent nearly 4 hours bouncing back and forth, meeting both shifts of elevator attendants, while my temper rose like the counterweight on every passing floor.
The lower level, down in the industrial core of the stadium, looks like the boiler room of every large building you've ever seen, except there are security guards every 15 feet. It's odd to walk past doors marked "Visitors bullpen" and "Braves Clubhouse" after decades of staring down at them from nosebleed seats. The corridor to the field itself is along the first base line, and we were allowed to cruise on out, as long as we stuck to the warning track.
The best part of the press box, is the lounge outside. There are hot dogs, chips, pizza and cokes served gratis for the writers. My photographer had 3 dogs, I had four, with chili. John Miller, the ESPN announcer was there, wearing too tight navy shorts and a hawaiian print shirt, shoving some sort of yellow pasta into his mouth. Skip Caray was there too, seated with 4 friends in the media lounge and clearly not enjoying his sandwich.More in this Poker Blog! -->
We'd gone, Mark and I, for a story about the man throwing the ceremonial first pitch, but the subject balked. We waited for him to meet us at the pre-determined spot from 3:15 until just one hour before the 7:35 start. We spent that last bit on the field. Our guy never showed up. The opening lob came from some woman, on behalf of the Georgia lottery. The story was a failure and I was not amused.
Luckily Mark is a hardcore Braves fan so HIS mood never changed. He was just happy to say he'd been THIS close to Wilson Betemint. In fact, between bites of mustard soaked meat, he was even more excited about seeing Skip Carey.
While we stood at the press entrance, Mark saw Skip sneak through the police door, "There's Skip!" He actually giggled.
It was the same in the canteen. Mark was excited and Skip was nonplussed. It's odd to see two people in roughly the same line of work, in exactly the same situation, have such different reactions.
About 5 hours away...
My family was still in Charleston, I'd left there at 7:00AM. We headed TO the beachhouse on Saturday morning and met up with mom, dad, sister, brother, and assorted signifigant others. My brother, after reading this MEGA-BLOG, had been hounding me for a poker game, and I'm always game. His e-mails went like this :
August 1, 2005
FROM : YOUNGER D
Hey! Bring your chips to the beach so I can school you at some poker.
August 2, 2005
TO : G-Rob
FROM : YOUNGER D
I was serious about that last e-mail, in case you were wondering.
Needless to say, I brought my chips.
In the Box
It was obvious Carey and Miller knew of each other. Most likely, they know each other's work quite well. Here they are, two of a very limited number of men who follow the sport they love from city to city, describing what they see. There are as many as 1,585,243 people who would consider that the coolest job in the world.
When Miller sat down to devour his food, I noticed Skip gave hime that "Hey there" handshake we give to old coworkers we haven't seen in awhile, but were never close with. Within seconds of the greeting, Skip sat back at his table of youngsters while Miller's fork picked up the pace.
Neither of them was outwardly excited by the press box decor. In fact neiter of them was eating a free dog. ASTOUNDING! Who passes a free ballpark dog? Not me, that's for damn sure.
SO WE TOOK $50 IN CHIPS
That's 3 stacks of 8.
8 $5 Reds
8 $1 White
8 $.25 Black
In the first game my brother smoked me like a 6'5" bong.
We played again.
This time he didn't even choke on the toke. Smoked again.
We played again.
I had a 98-2 chip advantage, and he still beat me. I was getting bored.
By now my mother was curious. She'd never played before, and I'm fairly certain my cursory explaination sounded like the Far Side, "What dogs hear." My pops played too. 4-HANDED... WOOO HOO!
This time its 8 chips a piece, with only one blind of a single chip.
She called every bet, and won every hand. Total Domination.
The only thing more obvious than Skip's lack of interest in ESPN'S John Miller, was his lack of interest in me and Mark. Our press badges have the words "NO AUTOGRAPHS" in big white letters on the front, and a million letters in tiny print on the back make it clear any unsolicited interaction with people off the field or out of the interview room could get us killed. Mark was frothing, and I'm sure it wasn't the chili.
Instead, Skip wasn't talking about baseball or how cool the view is up here. He was bitching up a firestorm about whatever it was that happened at WORK that day. It was the same droll watercooler crap that Jane from accounting prattles on about while waiting to send a fax. Nothing to see here folks, just a man at work.
The next night, my mom was really eager to play poker again but, believe it or not, I had no interest at all. I take poker seriously, and for some reason this family game felt nothing like the game I loved. I would have happily played checkers or Scatergories, or what-the-hell-ever, but POKER is not a family fun night game anymore. Sometimes it feels like work. But, so far, I still love this job.<-- Hide More
Please see the post below for my brother's first final table appearance
Playing from his home PC against a half dozen strangers from around the world, Kim won three hands with a pocket pair of aces, a two pair of kings and nines and, finally, by turning a full house from what poker pros disdainfully call "the hammer"â€"a seven and two of different suits.
Huh?More in this Poker Blog! -->
Indeed, as Oddjack rightly points out, the Newsweek article has turned "a poker blogging meme into mainstream acceptance."
But, Oddjack fails to give credit where it is due. If my history is correct (and, in a gesture of full disclosure, I will admit to at one point in my life believing Harpo Marx was a Britsh Prime Minister), I believe it was our favorite poker blogging, play writing, slot expert who birthed this little creation.
At PokerGrub, Grubby himself seemed a little embarassed at first for taking an old poker term and giving it a new poker meaning:
Okay, The Hammer isn't specifically the 72o hand. At least not officially. In poker, the hammer is defined as the last position (the cut-off), particularly when you're heads-up. The 72 offsuit got the nickname The Hammer from my home game, and my mission is to adopt it into legitimate Oxford Dictionary poker parlance. Let's make it official and play The Hammer on the hammer!.
While it may not be Oxford material yet, it's made one of the most mainstream American news weeklies. What's more, it actually appears in an About.com glossary of poker terms.
Folks, I think Grubby did it.
The Hammer is official.
And that kicks more ass than a toilet seat.
In honor of this achievement, I played this hand...<-- Hide More
Little Willie (the real Doctor) must be getting himself ready for that tough tournament action we'll all be facing in a few weeks.
He jumped into a Full Tilt multi with 167 other people and finished third.
It's fun to say you knew somebody when. As it happens, the poker pro who just won the WPT event in Paris is also a writer from the UK. I met Roland De Wolfe covering the EPT last year and had the pleasure of playing several single table satellites with him. I wonder how long it takes him to strip off the media badge and throw it in the trash.
Nice job, Roland.
It's 1:00 PM, which means I woke up early. Last night the last players left here at a little after 3. The game was a big success, I was up huge all night, but managed to tilt away a good $100 at the final FEATURE table. Here's the play-by-play, as scribbled in a reporter's notebook.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I've got the tables and chairs arranged. I use a big bedsheet to cover the banquet table in the living room. The breakfast nook in the kitchen will be table 2. My cards and chips are on one table and I'm waiting for Mr. Blood to arrive with more.
My kids love the poker setup, and they've climbed into the folding chairs to play what they think is Texas Hold-Em. It was at this time that my oldest, a 6 year old who starts first grade this fall, said those magic words, "Daddy, will you teach me to play poker?"
Dear readers, I almost cried.
A ring at the front door I didn't expect. The game was set for 8, and while a few of the regulars have been known to show up early, this is a bit odd.
My kids answer the door and Mrs. Blood is there. She's shopping for a new home and loves the house NEXT DOOR. She and my wife launch a broad-based conspiracy to acquire the property. I imagine a housewarming POKER-GAME/BARBEQUE of epic proportions. With adjoining backyards, I imagine a band, but I can't let Blood choose the music.
I tried to play this development off in a very cool macho disinterested way, but I'm pretty excited about the possibilities.
My wife and Mrs. Blood are watching a home movie that the Bloodette has burned herself. It's some sort of cowboy music played over photos of thier last trip to the beach. My wife swoons at the idea and now I've got to lug a camera around the beach this weekend.
Frustrated with the female bonding I headed for the store. I'd already arranged the booze for the night (tequila, vodka, and moonshine), but I still needed beer. The grocery is less than a half mile from my subdivision and I've never wanted to drive anywhere I could easily walk so... off the flop-flops flew.
I choose Diet Aspen brew. 12 pack.
My neighbors see me carrying Diet Aspen brew back to the house and one of them yells, "Hey G! Is there a bridal shower at your place tonight?"
It's $50 max buyin with .25/.50 blinds. Rebuys are, of course, highly encouaged.
First cards in the air. Blood and I have decided to handle the banking at separate tables. I decided hearts from the pile would get the kiddie tabe while the spades were in the living room. Blood captained there while I was, and still am, the ace of hearts.
MY TABLE :
2s Phil (Friend of Alan)
3s Alan (who claims to have been at Woodstock. That makes him one of the few people I know who was actually there OR just one of a dozen or so I know who have told me they were there... he also looks EXACTLY like Robert DeNiro, Fockers era. Plus, he's a friend of the aforementioned Phil)
4s Cardone (his nicknames include: Overdraft protection... and Call-done)
5s Rich (I'd post something about Rich here, but he won't stop talking long enough for me to concentrate on his features)
6s THE WOLVERINE (Youngest player at the game... and son of Shep Tiltstein)
7s Dymski (Who bought a Harley in Maryland and then regretted driving it back to the Carolinas)
I bust THE WOLVERINE when my AK catches an ace on the turn. He bet into me assuming his AJ was good. It wasn't and it was some time before he rebought. In fact, shortly afterward, his seat was taken by the late arriving TeamScottSmith.
I'm in a hand with Calldone. I make it $3 pre-flop and he comes along.
The flop is ace-rag-rag
I bet out $6 and he calls again.
The turn is another rag and I check.
Calldone bets 5 and I check-raise to $15.
I show the hammer!
Here's the thing: He's obviously playing the ace on the flop and his call on the flop bet seems to indicate that he thinks his pair is good. Then the turn card couldn't have helped me. What about the check-raise would make him fold?
That's the hammer baby.
TeamScottSmith has, in fact, arrived. He's got a bottle of "Forest Glen Pinot" and he's ready for one of the most entertaining table images in homegame history.
Scott's MO is always the same. Chat,chat,chat... finish the bottle of wine... and suddenly... WHAM!... too drunk to communicate. He's been running this scam on new players at the G-Vegas game since I've known him and its a damn convincing act. He knocks his chips on the floor, mispronounces words, and in general appears drunker than ALCAN'THANG in a river of booze. Scott is a pretty solid player so the ruse usually earns him so dough.
AN EXAMPLE OF THE STUPID BANTER
Rich asks Dymski, again, about the bike trip from Maryland. Mike says it would have been much better without the borrowed helmet and with much less rain.
Rich says, "How come you didn't take a more direct route?"
Dymski says, "I did go direct, right down I-77."
"No, no, no," says Cardone, "I-77 curves around so that you have to merge with another interstate."
"I'm telling you, I just made the drive, I took I-77!"
"Sorry man, I just don't believe it, I-77 has a curve and can't be the most direct route," insisted Rich.
And so for 9.5 minutes we debated the curvature of I-77. Neither side gave ground. Especially the side represented by the guy who was, in fact, ON I-77 a short time ago. Stupidity ensues and it's damn hard to get a hand dealt.
I change the subject by asking everyone at the table, "Sooooo, who's coming to Bradoween?"
CJ calls. We all drink moonshine.
I call Al. We all drink moonshine.
Sexy Maudie calls. We all drink vodka or tequilla.
Austin April calls. We drink tequilla.
MY NOTES GET ALL SCRAWLY
I've spent a good deal of time this morning trying to figure out why I wrote "Blood vs. Carter admin." in my notes. Was he related to a hostage? Did he resent the loss to Reagan?
Which reminds me... A few weeks ago I had a dream about Jimmy Carter. I was in a Taxi cab in Atlanta and Jimmy was driving. I decided to sit in the front as a gesture of respect to our former President. We'd talked for some time when, for no reason, I blurted out "Hyper-inflation! I mean can a phrase sound worse that that? HY! PER! INFLATION! Jeeeezus!"
Jimmy gave me shit for using the Lord's name in vain.
Anyway, it now seems the notes say "Blood vs. Cardone arm", which would makes sense, Cardone kept challenging Blood to an arm wrestle. I knew this wouldn't actually happen. It didn't.
I wrote, "The wheel". I assume that's in reference to a hand I played against someone. I don't actually remember at this point.
It couldn't be in reference to the music because I eschewed the Dead tonight for something we could all enjoy.
MY 5 DISK CHANGER :
1 Phish at Charlotte '94 disk 2
2 Phish at Charlotte '94 disk 3
3 Allman Brothers EAT A PEACH
5 Phish Picture of Nectar
BadBlood actually liked Particle. I was pleasantly suprised to find out that TeddyBallgame is also a phish-head. He prefers Widespread Panic, which is just wrongheaded, but I still find it acceptable.
Phil is busted and Otit joins our table. There was some confusion about this.
We were using different chips at each table and so I counted his chips at Blood's table to give him the equivilant amount at ours. What I didn't know was that Blood cashed him out. So Otit pocketed that cash and then took free chips at my table for about $75.
I don't blame Otit for that. He's an honest guy. I think we both just screwed up. Tommy the Axeman promises to collect the money today.
I raise pre-flop with the hammer and everyone folds to me
Dymski and I are in a big hand.
He limps pre-flop and I make it $4.
Flop is all hearts... queen high. He bets $6. I call.
Turn is another heart. Dymski thinks for a bit then bets $10.
I come over the top and put him all in. He goes in the tank and then folds.
I show the hammer. There's no way he plays a solid flush like that. I was pretty sure the hammer would work that time. Neither the 7 nor the 2 was a heart.
We're down to 1 table now after a substantial amount of attrition.
It looks like this :
1s BadBlood (our favorite Metal listening future neighbor)
2s Alan (I've got nipples. Can you milk me Greg?)
3s Shep Tiltstein (He earned this nickname last week at Otis' house. He was on wicked tilt at the time. Obviously. But the name sticks because he was previously... without a nickname)
4s Team ScottSmith (By now VERY fake drunk)
5s G-Rob (tall)
6s Tommy the Axeman (Once built a guitar for a woman he doesn't know. She plays in an 80s cover band and he's hot for her. For the record, they do a great cover of Billy Jean)
7s Teddy Ballgame (Exactly like TeamScottSmith... except Teddy IS actually that drunk. All hands played by Teddy feature the phrase, "Awwww hell")
8s The WOLVERINE (finally rebought. Twice)
9s The Mark (Known worldwide as the man who defeated BadBlood at arm wrestling. Also known for hosting a competing game which features No-Limit Omaha hi/lo.)
I'm in a hand with TeamScottSmith.
Scott bets $3 and I make it $8. He calls.
Flop is A-A-10 with 2 diaminds.
He bets $10. I call.
Turn is a 4 of diamonds.
He bets $10. I raise it to $35.
I show the hammer.
The very next hand... Scott and I are at it again.
I limp in with 4-6 of spades.
The flop is 3-3-5 with 2 clubs.
Scott bets 2 and I call.
The turn is an offsuit 7! Bingo! He bets $5 and I raise to $25. He calls.
The river brings another club and I'm concerned. He checks and I do to.
My straight is good.
That's the beauty of the hammer on the previous hand.
Teddy bets $3 and Mark makes it $18.
The flop is king high and Teddy would be golden with his suited slick.
He looks down to make a bet... and notices his cards aren't there.
Shep looks sheepish. He's mucked Teddy's cards. Nice hand Mark.
BadBlood's chair is taken away for cleaning after he rivers a straigh flush to the 8... in diamonds.
At this point, I've stopped taking notes. A good thing because now TeamScottSmith has a pint of Jim Beam on the table.
I finished up $30. I was up $200 when I got to the final table. I'm a bad poker player. That post is next.<-- Hide More
I was deeply scarred by that first blogger intervention last year. The memories are hazy, like a late summer here in the "G". Worse still there's a small tatto, shaped like the finger of a dwarf on the front of my brain. Otis and I have a love-hate sorta thing when it comes to booze, we love forcing more damage on each other's liver, and we hate each other in the morning...sort of like bran cereal in sour milk.
But the worst part of the Vegas bender was the vague suspicion that I'd had a great time. Most of my old Phish shows were just like that, a blank slate with a pleasant aftertaste. I remember chatting up the hookers at the SHERWOOD FOREST, and God knows I'll never forget their answer to, "What's the wierdest thing a John ever asked you to do?" But I have no idea what I injested that night. I always hated the idea that I was a central charater in a drama that I still couldn't recall.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Fear and Self-Loathing
So tonight I'm taking a different tack. 14 players will invade stately G-manor tonight. We're running 2 table of 7 each. As usual I'll be drinking heavily, but this time, I'm taking notes.
BUT G! Isn't that just what a good blogger does?
I say yes. Which is why Otis and CJ do it. I never have before so this is new ground. BadBlood will also be there and if we're at different tables, I'll ask him to take notes from that action.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Good question. Next!
WHAT WILL THIS NOTE-TAKING ACCOMPLISH?
Even better question. I should interview myself sometime. That would be really great TV.
Two things :
1) I've been trying to use the 2 or 3 weekly games here to devise a few strategy ideas that I hope will be helpful. They'll be helpful to me but, one less shot of moonshine would be helpful, and I ain't taking THAT advice.
2) I think these games have some truly facinating people and, because I enjoy the writing as much as I enjoy the actual poker content on this here blog, I hope they'll make a pretty interesting post.
SO WHEN WILL THIS MEGA-POST HAPPEN?
Actually, NOT a good question.
CAN I, A BELOVED READER, HELP?
Yupperooo! If you have my e-mail send me a cell phone number. If you have my cell phone, give it a buzz. We're gonna do dial-a-shot about 25 times tonight and I think the stupid buzz will make this thing fun. Get your drink on people.
Final proof that THIS homegame is the best in America.
See you soon.<-- Hide More
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I stood in the hallway, a backpack over my shoulder, and an ancient feeling of anxiety tied up in my gut. This was not my battlefield. This place belonged to someone else. By some quirk of fate, I'd slipped in. Maybe the real competitors needed a practice team, I thought.
The hallways were teeming with wide-eyed live poker virgins and girthy veteran gamblers. A half-eaten breakfast sat in my stomach and tried to work its way around my anxiety. I looked across the tournament area and saw a little number two hanging over a table in the back corner.
Just then, my brother and CJ walked up and asked a question I wasn't expecting.
"Is it Sweet Tarts or Spree?"More in this Poker Blog! -->
I always wanted to be an athlete. In kindergarten I kicked a ball around a soccer field. In first grade I got hit by slow fast balls as I tried to play catcher. By my late grade school years, I was missing baskets and running up and down the court in my Bearcats uniform. By sixth grade I was strapping on pads and playing football. It became my game of choice, though never a game at which I was very proficient. Somewhere along the way I earned the nickname "Teflon Hands." Still, I practiced hard and in the early years got some playing time.
My freshman year in high school, the team traveled to Ozark and I got put in the game. We drove the length of the field. When we hit the five yard line, the coach called a passing play, a curl pattern that I had practiced and practiced during the hot Missouri summer. When Danny Enos screamed "Hut!" I bolted into the end zone, curled around, and found the ball two feet in front of me. Instinct took over and my body somehow absorbed the ball. It was my first and last touchdown. I looked into the stands and saw my dad. His hands were in the air, his mouth open in a scream of pride like I'd never seen. It was as if that one twenty-second moment was enough payment for every game he'd been to and every game he would attend in the future.
Later, one of my teams (I forget which year) went undefeated. As the clock ticked off on the final game versus Rogersville, I ran onto the field, my hands in the air, my father's scream coming from my lungs. As I reached the other sideline, Danny, still the starting QB, looked at me and said, "What are you yelling for? You didn't do anything."
Though Danny and I went on to become good friends when we were older, it was a moment that never really escaped my psyche. It was a moment I was happy no one else saw.
Mostly because it was true.
The answer was "Sweet Tarts." Though I'd played a lot of poker with my dad and friends when I was in high school, my serious interest in the game developed a little more than six years ago. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, I'd step into the low-limit dealer's choice home game in town. I'd always carry two Diet Mountain Dews and two packs of Sweet Tarts with me when I went.
So, when I stood at the Rio sixty days ago and did my best to keep my breakfast down, I felt oddly touched that my brother and CJ had gone out of their way so early on a Vegas morning to seek out my candy of choice. Somewhere in my brother's eyes, I saw my father's pride. I saw that he saw me as a player, just like my dad had seen me as a player so many years before.
How I had I gotten here? How had I made my way from a low-limit cash game in Upstate South Carolina to pulling $1500 out of my pocket and buying into a tournament with more than 2300 players? How, when most people there were slumming in the low-buy-in tourney, did I see it as a defining moment?
Well, in short, I was ready to win.
Recently, I went to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting. Well, it was less a meeting than me sitting on my back porch with a beer in my hand. To no one in particular, I said, "Hi, my name is Otis and I have a gambling problem."
By the time most people have reached this point, they have lost their house, car, and wife, not to mention their bankroll and the rest of their life savings. Not me. My bankroll is flush, I have no debt except my mortgage, and my wife played cards with me and the boys the other night. What's more, I'm pretty on top of my limit cash game and am doing pretty well at $30/$60.
So, what's the problem? Where's the addiction in that?
Anyone who plays cards will tell you that "it's all just one long session." When you play cash games, you can't rely on a session's results as an indicator of winning or losing. And over the past two years of serious play, I am a winner. But the game isn't over. And it never will be.
That is the problem. Looking back, I never really wanted to be an athlete. I wanted to be a winner. Poker, I thought, offers that opportunity. To put a slightly more fine point on it, tournament poker offers that opportunity.
I had the one seat when I sat down in my first WSOP event. My brother and CJ had found a space on the rail and sensed my anxiety. I looked at Dr. Jeff and he gave me a reassuring nod, as if to say, "You don't care about the money, you're a good player, just have fun." It was true that I didn't care about the money. My recent poker successes had made the buy-in reasonable. I considered myself a good player and I wanted to have fun. But, I wanted to win. Worse, I wanted to not lose.
In the first level, I caught pocket aces and wanted to muck them immediately. Upon realizing this, I decided I'd never be a poker player. Still, when a guy in early position came in for a raise. I raised the pot and we went heads up. The flop came down Qxx rainbow. My opponent thought for two seconds and announced, "I'm all in."
I paused and looked at the board. I thought it was too early in the tournament for a stone-cold bluff. The range of hands I put him on was pretty small. I figured he had one of three hands: AQ, KK, or QQ. Finally, after what must have seemed like much too long for my tablemates, I meekly said, "I call."
My opponent stood and slapped two painted cards on the table. For half a second, I was sure they were queens. Then I looked again and saw reality--a pair of kings. The dealer laid out the inconsequential turn and river. I didn't realize that I'd been holding my breath since I'd called. I exhaled and let every bit of anxiety wash over the table.
A guy sitting across the table laughed as I raked in the chips. "It's okay," he said. "You can breathe now."
And I could. The anxiety was gone and the fun had arrived. I looked up to show my stack to my railbirds, but they had run off in search of some more excitement. Regardless, I was breathing again.
What I didn't realize is that I was breathing in an addiction like none I had ever experienced.
In the past few years, I have actually only "won" two tournaments, both of them WPBT events. I have monied many times and final tabled in three major multi-table tournaments. I also won a $12,000 seat in a WPT event that I didn't end up using.
But as far as "winning" goes, the WPBT events, as prestigous as they were, were the extent of it. Though I feel I get more respect that I deserve as both a writer and poker player, there is a part of me that wants more. There is a part of me that wants to be seen as a winner. More than that, there is a part of me that cares less about being seen as a winner as the absolute rush that goes along with beating everybody.
It's not just a rush. It's the best sex you've ever had, with the best looking woman you've ever known, followed by the best meal you've ever eaten, followed by some psychedelic wonder drug that nobody has ever invented running through your system like a sped-up hippy chick at a music festival.
In short, there ain't much better.
Over the course of the next six hours at the WSOP, I sat at three more tables and played, if not the best poker of my life, very close to it. I made one very good laydown that kept me in the tournament and picked my spots at the right times. My nemesis was pocket jacks, a hand that I still don't know how to play in early position and, in my mind, cost me doing any better than I did in the WSOP event. I played a little too tightly in the fourth level and it cost me a couple of opportunities.
All day long, the bloggers and my brother had been sweating me and living every moment as I lived it. At one point, after the aforementioned laydown, my brother eavesdropped on my opponent's conversation with his railbird and discovered he held pocket aces to my AK on a king-high flop. My brother looked at me and mouthed he word, "aces." It felt good to know I'd gotten away from the loser.
Though I played almost as well as I think I could've, the final hand hurt just as much as I expected. I'd been getting blinded off for an hour or so. We were ten minutes from the dinner break and I only had about 8x the big blind left. I'd survived 1800 players but was still about 200-250 players short of the money. While the money would've been nice, it wasn't my primary concern. I wanted to win. Winning was the thing.
A middle position player made a standard raise. I found AKo and didn't think twice. I pushed. My opponent thought for just a minute before calling with pocket tens. Needless to point out, I lost the race. I stood and stumbled for the rail. I know Maudie hugged me. I know G-Rob talked about food. Blood was there, too. So were others. I couldn't see. I don't remember.
I had lost.
In the two months since then, I've lived four of the weeks in Vegas. While I was there, I spent too many of my off hours playing tournaments. While I did well in the cash games and satellites I played, I couldn't crack the tournaments. I told myself the structures were too fast and that any donkey could win. I just happened to be the donkey who couldn't.
In my off hours since I've been home, I've played an inordinate amount of tournaments online. So far, the best I've done is a cash for $700, which doesn't even come close to covering the buy-ins. If it weren't for cash games, I'd be hurting.
I'm fully aware that for most people (obviously myself included) tournaments are a -EV proposition. While I enjoy the occasional game of craps, I don't have any real leaks...except tournaments.
Admitting it, I suppose, is the first step. I'm still working on the other eleven steps. That is, I'm still working on figuring out what the other eleven steps are.
Now, I know many people who would eat fermented shark (sorry, watched the Anthony Bourdain show last night) to have my problem. Of course, those are people who have a firmer grasp on the concept of winning than I do.
I walked out of the Rio, belly a-boil with Red Bull and Sweet Tarts. I hadn't eaten in ten hours, I had the remainder of an ignored hangover, and the cab line was an hour long. So, I started walking. I walked down the sidewalk, ignoring the heat, ignoring the scary people, ignoring everything except the fact I'd just lost.
When I made it to the Bellagio, I asked a security guard to point me to a cab stand. He asked if wouldn't rather take the tram. He pointed to Ballys, where I walked and couldn't find the tram. I was overheated, sweating cold sweat through my shirt. I was confused and likely on the edge of some sort of stroke. I found a cab stand and told the guy to take me to the MGM.
"Are you sure you don't want to take the tram," he asked.
It must have been something in my eyes, some wild yet forlorn blinking lost gaze. "MGM it is," he said.
When I got back to my hotel, I looked like Johnny Depp in "Blow" when his wife is having their kid. Mrs. Otis laid me back in the bed and wiped the sweat off my brow. She talked me down, then took me to the one place she knew I'd be better. She took me to The Castle and sat me down with my friends.
To play cards.
In the years since I was a kid, I've learned a lot about what people expect from me. In short, the people who love me only want two things. They want me to work hard and to be a good person. I do my best.
I've come to learn, however, that after years of thinking I was trying to win for other people, no one else really cares whether I win. I've actually only been trying to win for myself. Somehow, that makes it harder to do.
I need to find a way to reconcile my addiction to tournaments with my love for the game and my need to win.
In the meantime, I take comfort in the things I enjoy as much as winning. My kid's laugh, my wife's exaperation at my stupid jokes, and sitting next to friends at poker tables, learning from them, and laughing.
An I'm sure the day will come when I finally convince myself that I actually won a long time ago.<-- Hide More
So I don't have the writing skills of my UFP brethren, but what I lack in wordsmithing, I make up for in pictures.
Just to fulfill the poker requirement, here's the 4 aces I used to knock my Dad out of our family SNG:
Notice he was playing 45o into my preflop raise. Shame on you, Dad. Needless to say, I ran over my brother, sister and father in the two games we played.
Now, click "There's More!" to see pictures of my nephew, JP. It's why I'm posting in the first place...
In each of the last few years I'd mark off the days with an "X", a full cross from corner to corner. It made my At-A-Glance calendar look like a cheap hillbilly quilt. For awhile I'd make the slash right at punchout time, just after I logged out of the system. After a year or so that time moved up, and I'd cast the day aside before heading out to lunch. Now, I don't make a mark at all.
Of course, even the NAMES of days help mark the passage of life. I promise to kill the next co-worker who laments "another Monday". Its not as if Tuesday will be any different. Really, you're just waiting for the weekend, which means you're willing to fast-foreward nearly 5/7 of your entire life.More in this Poker Blog! -->
By MY math
I'm an overweight smoker with a high-stress life. When my wife makes a healthy meal I'm careful to avoid anything that ever, directly, turned the sun into fuel. I've started hitting the gym again and, while my workout is much the same as ever, it hurts a lot more than it ever did before. Today, before leaving for work, i heard this gem :
Older child : Mommy, what's a diet?
Mommy : You don't need to worry about it sweetie. You eat healthy food.
Older child : So who DOES use a "diet"?
Mommy : Well, it wouldn't kill your father.
When my lifestlye chokes me, it'll leave that frozen smile of marital bliss. God help me!
I figure that clock, the human sundial, can run another 30 years. That's the best case scenario. If so, that's 10,955 days (with 5 leap years included). Only 3130 of those days are on the weekend. It would be a shame to ignore the rest.
All this "life to the fullest" crap reminds me of THE MATRIX. The first film is super-cool, and one long action packed self-realization sequence makes it so. For 150 minutes we follow an emotionally stunted and verbally challenged computer programmer on a journey of self-discovery. Things are always happening or just about to happen, but they're never scheduled for 3:00 on Thursday. Even the character's name signals change, his nickname is "Neo". The film was a huge hit.
They made 2 other movies after that with the same characters and such, but both of the follow-ups suck. By the second installment Neo IS, and the plot just dies from there. Becoming is better than being.
The BIBLE is about Jesus' journey to our redemption, dear reader, and once that happens you've found the back cover.
Tonight I sat down behind the temporary set just a few minutes before 6. I'd already fixed the last of the stray hairs and my makeup was powder smooth. Our rundown was set 30 minutes before and the lights had warmed to thier fiery peak. The show was ready to air.
But, on every weekend shift, we're ready to start but ready to slide. Our lead-in is usualy a sport of some kind....we're NBC so its usually vollyball or arena football or golf...and live sports ain't over till they're over. That means I usually get an eyefull of sports that aren't too great, or which used to be great, or which NBC can afford.
Tonight was the "Champions Tour", which was called the "Senior Tour" before someone realized how pathetic that sounds. Sweaty old men wear collared shirts that haven't fit them in years while putting themselves to forgotten glory. Some of them haven't sniffed a good round since "Land of Confusion" was a breakthrough video, and these days there's not enough love to go 'round.
I wondered why these guys still do it. What did they hope to prove? Do they still need the money? Then it hit me, they're working on their game.
I talk a lot of trash. Especially when I'm facing a superior opponent. That's why I taunted BadBlood into an arm wrestling showdown I was sure he'd win. Its part of the reason I crawl into the Otis head before every poker game, its a tight fit but Otis has a Huuuuuuge noggin.
I had a long fit of distaste and dispassion about my hamster wheel. Then I simply DECIDED to enjoy it again. Yes, that's just the attitude that got Ann Richards elected governor, but sometimes its that simple. Life is a challenge, but without challenge why bother?
I enjoy these stupid homegames more every time we play. Some of the players are a challenge. So many styles to compare! I'm nowhere near the poker player I think I can be and the challenge is the reason I play.
There are 14,000 blogs out there that chronicle the sucess of the genius against the donkey. What fun is that really? Money is nice, but the thrill is cheap. I'm not that good, I'm a novice player, and I love the game as much as anyone.
I'm setting up a game for Thursday now. I have to hurry. After tonight I only have 1,564 Mondays left!<-- Hide More