As a kid, I think it's safe to say, few people knew less about the pop culture world. By the fifth grade I could name the person who held every cabiniet post in the Reagan administration, but I couldn't name 3 songs on the "American Top 40." I remember, at the YMCA day camp, with a group of kids whose stay-at-home moms really needed a break, they'd play name that tune with current pop songs. The first kid to guess from my team guessed "Private Eyes" by Hall and Oates and, because I now knew the name of THAT song, I guessed it for every song thereafter. Evidently our counselors didn't have that album.
Also in the fifth grade I started wearing parachute pants, and hanging out with kids who would carry strips of linoleum around from house to house. Back then the single greatest songs in my world were, "Din Da Da (Din Do Do)" from the BREAKIN' 2 : ELECTRIC BOOGALOO soundtrack, and oddly enough "1999" by Prince. My neighbor Michael had both albums, and even then I resolved to make New Year's Eve 2000, the greatest party of my life.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I've had some truly fantastic year end celebrations. In '94/'95, the lovely not-yet-bride and I rang in the year with a few college buddies at a bar in Amsterdam. For several years the biggest party in town was at the house of Otis. Last year, I hosted myself.
Oddly enough, the best years of my life came after the WORST New Year's parties. Like in 1991, when my friend Matt Piatt and I hung out on his couch and watched Sportscenter. Whoooopeee! The next year, my senior year in high school, ranks in the lifetime top 5.
2000 was like that too. I spent the night at work, I was live on the air at midnight. The worst planned, worst executed, and in retrospect, funniest night of television I've even been unlucky enough to witness. I had a fantastic year.
THE YEAR IN POKER
2005 was, with almost no comparison whatsoever, the peak of personal poker so far. I won a rather signifigant amount of money in my live play, at least large compared to buy-in. I broke almost completely even during the Vegas trip in the summer, and won a little in December. I had a rather exciting year in G-Vegas.
Perhaps most important is, with the exception of a few relatively brief droughts of self confidence, I leared to trust my reads and make the plays I knew were right. I'm sure CJ and Otis will back me up, I'm a far better player than I was 12 months ago. It's a tribute to the you, dear reader, that I remain the worst player alive.
Here are the biggest lessons I've learned :
1) You can tell relatively early in any game, ring games mostly but tournaments too, just how much the buyin means to any given player. I first realized the power of the overstepping mind during the WCOOP on Stars. Funny thing is, I was given a free entry into a $200+rebuy event and treated it like I'd bought in for $20K. I did use the add-on at the break, and that too $200 from my own pocket, but it was never more money that I'd be comfortable with in a normal game.
Actually, I'm very comfortable at about that limit. In Vegas, I'll come loaded with quite a few buyins for the $200 NL game and won't blink an eye if the first couple of them vanish. Actually, I would be upset, but I figured I'd try to look cool with the preceeding sentence. In G-Vegas, I regularly play in a $200 NL game every Monday night. The buy-in has never been a problem there.
The problem with the WCOOP was, I was well aware of the other players. I knew I was swimming with some real sharks, real poker pros, and I was timid in that pool. Normally, I think you know this by now, I'm an unusually aggressive player and that's the style that suits me best. Somehow I grew timid in that uncomfortable surrounding and I made several plays I immediately knew were wrong.
Players outside of there financial comfort zone will be passive more often than not. It is profitable to take advantage. Recognizing this will allow you to take advantage of a timid player almost from the start... without having to watch 2 hours at the table first.
2.) Look for the fish in a wolf-suit. Every homegame in America has at least one. You know him well. He's the guy who likes to break down each hand, usually in an incorrect fashion, using cool poker words. He hasn't been at your table for 5 minutes before he's hit you with "nuts, suckout, gutshot, big slick, big lick, and 'The Brunson.'"
Dr. Pauly's written a good bit about this. He's absolutely right. A good poker player goes to great lengths to convince you he sucks. There are hundreds of people in G-Vegas who actually think BadBlood's name is "Mr. Donkey" because its the only thing he calls himself. BadBlood is excellent at poker. Beware the guy who says he sucks. Of course, I am the exception that proves the rule.
Usually there is a tremendous amount of ego involved in poker. It's why so many of us have a hard time writing about our really bad runs. People want to fit in and be percieved as a solid player. Of course, if you are a solid player, all those chips you keep winning will sorta make that case. If you suck... time to start talking.
I GREATLY strengthen my aggression against a guy who likes to talk poker.
Of course, beware of people who play "the hammer".
I was playing over at Frank the Tank's last Wednesday, it was a $60 tourney where I played like crap, when someone dropped a huge hammer bluff. Weird thing about it was: a) I'd never seen this guy before and b) he called his hand "the hammer."
One of the players at the table, an older guy sitting to my right, asked him, "why do people call that hand 'the hammer'?" A third player, at the end of the table, another guy I'd never seen before, chimed in, "That's what it's always been called... like Big Slick... it's what all the pros call it."
I was stunned.
BadBlood, who was also at my table, chimed in with this nugget of truth, "Actually, it was invented by a friend of ours, a writer named "Grubby"."
The entire table laughed at what they obviously thought was a joke. BadBlood didn't bother to insist.
HEY! WE'VE GOT GAS
So back to the big party for a bit.
I rang in the new first number, the biggest bash of them all, the long awaited year 2000, in the breakroom at a station in Georgia. I worked as the weekend anchor there and was stuck on that special night.
We got the assignments at about 11:42. Here's the News Director's plan:
We'd go live at exactly 12:01, cutting into the national celebration and the dropping NY ball, to bring you a very special West Georgia news update. It was 15 minutes long, until 12:16 AM.
Our main female anchor, Teresa, was to hold down the fort. She'd sit at the main news desk and handle everything there.
The main male anchor, Phil, was out at an ATM. The premise, at least what I assume was the premise, was to demonstrate that the Y2K bug hadn't crippled the banking system. We'd be watching Phil make a withdrawl.
Our main weather girl was stationed at a big gala downtown. She's blessed with the ad-lib gift and was almost certainly the one thing we couldn't screw up.
One reporter, Jon, was downtown, using the same live truck, talking about the festivities in the street.
I was in the breakroom, telling viewers the lights were on, the water was running, and yes... the stove still had gas. No need to panic folks.
So at 12:01 Teresa welcomed the drunken, and now disappointed viewing audience, and told them we'd be taking control. Then she tossed to Phil.
Phil did his best to calm the Y2K fears. Then he took his debit card out of his wallet and put it in the machiene. "Looks like we have a problem," he excitedly declared, "It will not let me make a withdrawl!"
After several minutes of dramatic number bashing, rivaled only by the climactic photocopying scene in "THE FIRM," Phil left confusion in the air as he tossed it back to the desk.
"Gosh!" Teresa declared, "We'll try to find out the extent of this Y2K problem! But first, Let's check in with our weather girl downtown...."
Sure enough, this went off fine. Our weather girl introduced us to her husband and son, and they talked among themselves. I'm not 100% positive she knew she was on camera, but still, it was the greatest success of our night.
So, glowing from this unexpected success, Teresa tossed to Jon downtown. Jon forgot to use a microphone. We watched his lips flap for a full 90 seconds before we finally cut him off.
Now, in the breakroom, I was ready to get it done. The ND himself was running my camera... he'd forgotten to schedule a photographer. He'd also forgotten to get a mic. I ran into the studio and grabbed the weather girl's wireless one, but the breakroom was out of range. When Teresa tossed, all she heard was static.
So, now unhappy about the two failed shots, Teresa had to update our lead. Phil had called in. His failed withdrawl wasn't Y2K... nossir... his wife, afraid of Y2K, had just made the MAXIMUM DAILY WITHDRAWL. He couldn't get anymore. Folks, the banks are fine.
It was 12:06
The News Director ran back to the studio and held up a handwritten sign. It said, I kid you not, "CAN YOU FILL 10 MINUTES??????"
Teresa was not amused. She said, and I quote, "I guess we just can't handle this, I'm going home. Have a happy new year!" Then she took off the mic and walked directly to her car.
The ND was fired on the next Monday.
After a few decades of waiting for this party, I ended that New Year with a cup of coffee and a very excited prayer from my Evangelical ND. It wasn't what I planned.
Later that year, I got a much better job in a much better place. I moved from an apartment to a house. My first child turned one and my second was concieved (the best and most underrated part of having kids). And I moved to G-Vegas that year.
I'm at work again. You can tell I'm at work because this post is 10,000 words long and makes no sense. Instead of hitting a party, I'll head straight home for the ball's fall. Not the party I'd planned.
But this year my contract expires at the place I call home and I may be moving again. I hope I'm just as lucky. I also hope that this will be the year I drop the label, "WORST POKER PLAYER ALIVE!" But I'm not sure I can ever be lucky enough.<-- Hide More
I remember the eyes of the Bahamian Gaming Board members. The whites had grown large against the dark faces as they stood on the rail and watched hundreds of people dig thousands of dollars out of their pockets. The Gaming Board was beside itself.
Poker? People are acting this way because of poker?More in this Poker Blog! -->
The action games were a twenty minute walk to the main casino. There, the odds were against all the players. The casino officials were doing their best to lure the crowds to the casino for $25 mininum bet craps. Instead, the poker players were lined up ten-deep at every table looking to play...poker.
That was almost exactly a year ago, at the beginning of 2005, a year that's been called everything from the downslope of a fad to the continuation of a revolution.
So, which is it?
On the bubble?
It's usually one of my drunk friends trying to be serious, or a relative who can't quite grasp what I do for a living who asks, "So, how long do you think it will last?" They mean the poker boom, or, in their minds, the poker bubble. In their eyes, I see a muted form of pity. They know I've staked my profession, and most recently my family's financial stability, on an industry that is widely being described as a fad.
I usually answer, "I dunno. A year? Twenty years? I'm not worried." It's usually an answer that doesn't satisfy the people who want me to realize I've put all my eggs in a very fragile basket.
Just the other day, I saw a story online at CNN Money. It was, in essence, an obituary for the poker industry. The evidence was overwhelming. Walgreens and Wal-Mart were having a hard time selling poker chips, so they were moving them to the back of the stores. Mr. Moss, I have to let you go.
Like the reality TV boom--which despite my repeated insistence that it must die, it lives on--when poker started to look popular again, every manaufacturer in the country started adding poker products to the line-up. "Cash in while you still can!" was the battle cry. Soon, cheap poker sets started showing up at Barnes and Noble and CVS.
And apparently, the chips were selling for a while, but have since not been selling as well. This has the economy wonks in a masturbatory lather. "Kill it. Kill the industry! Give us something to talk about! Die, poker, die! (Which, later they would claim in court was German 'for the, poker, the')"
I thought about the chip sales falling off and wondered if there had been a time during the beginning of televised baseball in which bats and gloves sold like hotcakes. Eventually, nearly every kid on the block had one. Bats and gloves last for a long time, so there was no reason to buy new ones. Kind of like poker chips and plastic cards, now that I think about it. Did some economy wonk say baseball was dead?
I kept digging through the story looking for some further evidence that poker was dead and I was screwing a corpse (necrophilia never having beeen among my top ten fetishes, I was a little worried I'd turned an ugly corner). Apparently some father of a teenager said his son was at once time excited about the game, but now never talks about it.
That was about all the evidence I needed. The simple fact that a teenager couldn't keep his attention focused on something for longer than a year was certain evidence the game that supports my family was rotting in a grave.
People talk about poker like it is the dot com boom, a time of heady investment in which venture capitalists sprung erections over smart young kids and the stock market followed along. Eventually, when not everybody could be the next big thing, the bubble fell sticky on the floor, bunch of rich people lost money, and a bunch of smart young kids lost several years of their life.
Poker is not the dot com boom. The bubble, when and if it bursts, will not happen all at once. And it won't be because of slagging poker chip sales. Frankly, other than an attack by the federal and state governments on online and home game poker, I can't think of any one force could seriously damage poker popularity in the near future.
The problem for our society is that it spends so much time looking for action, growth, movement, and the 'next big thing' that it never has the patience to ride out a good thing. It kills its babies before they can be truly productive. We live in an ADD culture that is hopped up on perscription speed and not content to watch a movie that lasts more than one hour and 42 minutes. That's why our society at large has a hard time accepting poker as a long-term proposition. We are surroundded by action junkies who want to be in on every hand instead of waiting for cards that will pay off. People with that attitude may think they can handle poker, but they are really looking for Pai Gow. Trust me, I know.
In short, the people standing at the side of the table screaming for the river card that will sink poker are the same people who are betting the Don't Pass line at the craps table (no offense, CJ). I like to think of them as Andre the Giant's neighbors. "Damn, Martha, the boy is getting big. Jesus, Martha, he's getting huge--like eight feet tall! Wait, he's not getting any bigger. What's on TV?"
Protesting too much?
There have been and will be people who suggest I'm the relative of the terminal cancer paitent who insists his loved one has a chance. They further have or will suggest that since I have such a vested interest in poker's viability that I can't be objective about its ability to sustain itself as a viable industry.
I've thought about this a lot and have come to believe, surprisingly, that I'm right and those people are wrong. At least for now.
I won't pretend that I have any greater evidence than slagging chip sales to support my assertion that poker is not quite done growing and hasn't even considered dying yet. My evidence, like the economy wonks, is anecdotal. Nonetheless, I offer it for your end of year thoughts.
Those are just three little things that knock my socks off. Every one of them is amazing in its own right. That's to say nothing about the millions and millions of dollars being wagered at any moment in online and brick and mortar poker rooms.
So, in short, 2005 was a year of unsustainable growth. I can accept that. Anything that continues to grow that fast will implode under its own weight. I think 2006 will be a year of growth for the industry, but not nearly as large as it was in 2005. Within a year or two, we might see a plateau and maybe even a soft decline. But, as near as I can tell, despite Walgreens soft plastic chip sales, poker is here to stay for a long time.
You may or may not have noticed that I have not written a lot about my personal play in the past six months or so. Unless there was a great story to go along with a game, I didn't see much reason to explain my reasoning behind calling with my aces even though I figured Shep held a better hand. Unless there was some great help I thought I could offer with explaining why I took two or three big shots this year, I just kept it to myself or private conversations.
So, how did I do this year? Well, my record keeping has not been as good as one might imagine (something I plan to rectify in 2006), but I know I set a bankroll goal for myself back in June. It was seemingly unattainable at the time, but things changed around mid-summer and I never looked back. I hit the goal and then bested it by another 50%. No one is more amazed than me.
I'm playing online regularly at levels that I would ont have comprehended even a year ago. I'm also fairly happy with my tournament game, although there is some tweaking that needs to happen for me to think I'm any good.
My biggest personal problem is my apparently inability to translate online success to good live play. That, by the way, is another New Year's poker resolution.
But, my resolutions and goals will have to wait for another post.
After all, it's New Years's Eve and I'm going to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in two days.
Happy New Year, all. Thanks for making it one of the best.<-- Hide More
I can count the number of times I've been drunk on one hand. Some of you probably think that's rather sad, but it's not a big deal for me. I could drink if I wanted to. My family has a fine history of good drinkers (anyone who's bellied up to the bar with my Dad or brother would know that, right G-Vegas?). [Ed note: My sister can drink, too.]
The last time I was drunk it was my going away party before leaving for Lafayette, LA. The fine folks in Greenville decided I needed to drink... a lot. G-Rob was my personal bartender it seemed (which is never a good idea). If you don't know, I'm not a fan of shots. And I can't count how many shots of Goldschlager (don't ask) I did that night, but the bottle was empty and I figured I was done.
Until G-Rob approached me with a full shot glass of a dark liquid. It was Jager. I was too drunk to decline (despite screams of horror from my stomach), and when the liquid touched my tongue, my stomach had enough. Next stop: the bathroom. (If G-Rob decides to embellish I threaten to pull out the Champagne story.)
Oh, and someday I'll tell you about the fruit bowl of Vodka.More in this Poker Blog! -->
This all brings me to a magical morning in the Mandalay sports book. I didn't get a wink of sleep the night before and I hoped to get there in time to secure comfy seats. No luck. Eventually BG and On_THG met me. They had a prop bet going on number of bloggers who beat them there. BG had the over and lost. [Ed note: BG had the under and won.]
We snagged some seats in the horse racing area and BG began showing off his knowledge. Unfortunately, it didn't translate into much in the way of winnings for him. It's not that he didn't know (because his analysis was staggering at times), but the tickets always seemed to be just one off. It was a tough run for him, but I'd take his word on the ponies any day.
Of course, I ran up to the window with a $1 2-3-4 exacta box and it cashed for $90 when the 50-1 shot came in second. There was no analysis there.
And then it happened. The horse that changed my weekend.
Too Drunk to Call
I'm not sure who saw the name first, but I think it might have been Donkeypuncher. But with a name like Too Drunk to Call, I think AlCantHang would have kicked our ass for not playing it. [Ed note: The Princess spied Too Drunk to Call, which means Donkeypuncher spotted Mr. Otis, the 40-1 shot we all lost money on.]
I decided on another exacta box. I put Too Drunk with the two favorites. They're loading the gates and dozens of bloggers are waiting in breathless anticipation. Suddenly, we see the 1 horse running around without a jockey and then we hear the 2 horse busted through the starting gate. Both would be late scratches. The 2 was the favorite, and on my ticket.
I ran up to the window and replaced the 2 on my ticket with the 5 horse. I had no good reason, but I also didn't have a lot of time.
Soon, they were off, and miraculously, Too Drunk went wire-to-wire and the 5 horse finished placed. It was a $189 exacta. My gambling weekend was turned on a dime.
The Second-Half Bets
The NFL betting wasn't going as well. I played a few early game parlays and put some money on the Jags to upset the Colts. I knew the Jags would cover, but I put some cash on the money line. Unfortunately, the early games were not good to me.
I did, however, bet four second half lines and I won three of them. I think the 2nd half lines are one of the best bets in Vegas.
When the late games rolled around, I hit one of my three parlays and won 5 out of 6 second half bets. Had my Eagles pulled off the upset in overtime, I would have won two more money line bets there, too. Instead, it was a tidy sports gambling profit for me.
Shouldn't I Be Playing Poker?
Thus far in the trip, I'd played very little poker. I mean, I sat at lots of tables, but that's different. There was a $125 tourney at the MGM Sunday night, and I wanted to give it a shot. I ran back to the hotel to change and headed to the monorail for the MGM
That's when the call from Otis came and I found out the tourney was full. I was really disappointed. He said the alternate list was full, too, but he could get me on an alternate-alternate list (whatever that means). Dejected, I told him to go ahead, but that I'd likely find a NL game when I got there.
When I finally arrived, I found out I was the 18th alternate. Not a good way to start. The finish, however, was a thing of magic...<-- Hide More
From the Did You Know? Desk...More in this Poker Blog! -->
**Marty points out Daddy's old blog has already been hijacked by a porn shill site. Either that or Daddy is taking on a new genre of writing. Or...Pauly is looking into other money-making opportunities.
Regardless, despite my respect for Daddy's decision, I miss the donkey fucker already.
**The WPBT is actually listed on an acronym-finder site.
**Taking a shot can be a very good idea sometimes.
**I miss Al.<-- Hide More
The lovely bride had a look of deep concern. We'd opened all the presents under the tree and, without me even noticing, I'd never unwrapped her gift to me. She looked under the Frasier Fir. She crawled behind the couch. She lifted the chair, and had that moment of discovery. I knew the present rocked.
The last time I was this excited about a present, I'd just opened Michael Jackson's "Thriller". I stopped opening the rest of my stuff and sprinted up to the turntable in my room. I called my best friend, also named Michael, and he'd gotten the record too.
I came (THIS) close to calling Otis about my I-Pod NANO. It's damn cool folks. Damn. Cool.More in this Poker Blog! -->
THIS JUST IN
I was just that excited on my last night in Vegas. I'd won at every no limit sesson and had huge nights on Friday and Saturday. I walked away from a massive win streak eager to tell everyone, at great length, about my play....but people who are running bad aren't always eager to hear about someone else's luck. That's what it was, after all, I'm the worst player in the world.
The first NL session was right after I arrived. I came straight to the Excalibur from the airport. The last shuttle, at least the last for some time, was just about to pull away and was totally full. I remembered some great advice from Dr. Pauly and gave the driver a $20 to let me stand...and hit the Excalibur first. He was happy to play along, though I almost fell out the damn door on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Excalibur, if you've never been there, has a poker room wedged between the bathrooms and the Star Wars slots. It smells like a million burning Marlboros, with the smokers rail just inches from the outer tables and the room itself has that dirty dust covered effect with a threadbare maroon carpet and dealers aged well past perfection. It makes the whole "Middle Ages" motiff that much more real. Think Tower of London.
I suppose the folks had done that whole "Storming the Castle" thing. They were all there en masse. I sat with a few folks at a 2-6 spread game and lost about half my stack. As bad as I am at all forms of poker....I am far worse at limit hold-em. At the lowest limits it negates my agressive style. I then sat at a $200NL game right along the rail closest to the bathrooms. After 2 hours of play, I was up $40. Then The Mark passed out on the felt and I had to head back to the IP. That was my worst NL session of the trip.
THE G-VEGAS GAME
I've played in 3 games since we got back home. I've lost every time. At the Monday night "big game" I lost 1.5 buyins. Both times I went in with the better hand.
On Wednesday, during a $40 tourney, I managed to bluff my entire stack into the second nuts. I had 3 pair. It lost.
On Thursday, I fell back 3 buyins before catching back up to even. Then I played 3 handed until the wee hours with BadBlood and Teddy Ballgame. Teddy crushed us both. I went home broke.
As I told BadBlood last night, yes we talked about poker on Christmas Day, I'm really struggling with those losses. I made much more than enough in Vegas to cover the money and I'm not worried about that. I'm also happy to contribute to anything that cements my reputation as a horrible player. That can only pay off....eventually. (For now, I still DO suck at poker). What bothers me most is I've been losing because I've played poor poker. I've bluffed too often. I've misread opponents and applied the worng strategy in the wrong places.
For the past month or so BadBlood's been losing too. But he's MOSTLY played well during that time. He can write it off to variance. I have only myself to blame. That sucks.
HANGING OUT! AT THE MGM (ALSO ON THE WAY)
Let me just say : I can't post one of the most embarrasing stories from the Vegas trip. Catch me online sometime and I'll fill you in. Even the porn slappers were shocked by my...um....hanging out.
We'd played at the Aladdin for hours. Several bloggers joined me in a $100 tourney there which, as the worst player ever, I busted out of rather quickly. I found a seat at a no-limit game with Otis, CJ, Gamecock, and Dr. Jeff and we tilted the universe. Actually, I tilted the universe. They played pretty good poker. I took a few bad beats. Still, I finished up about a half a buyin.
The real magic was at MGM.
It's easily my favorite room. The dealers are good for the most part and the beer babes are well appointed. Plus, the players are easily the worst on the planet.
At my first table, I sat to Russ Fox's left. There was one VERY aggressive player to his right and another loose agressive in the 9 seat. At one point, with 2 seats open two cowboys, who obviously knew each other, sat down. The game was $1/$2 NL. One cowboy bought in for $60, the other for $80. Both went all-in on the first hand they saw. Both went broke...got up...and walked away.
FOR THE A.D.D. READER
I was sitting at the airport bar in Atlanta with a guy who worked for an international engineering group that has a lot of federal business. He said he was just returning from Alaska.
"Why Alaska?" I asked.
"Because they said I could work on systems in Iraq for 3 months, or a remote missle base in Alaska for 6," he answered, "I chose Alaska"
Life is all about choices.
NOW BACK TO THE SHOW
I stood up from that first table, said goodbye to Russ (an excellent player by the way, who took a buyin from me at the Aladdin in July), and went to the mixed game with Joaquin. I cashed out up about $250.
After losing about $100 of that, playing ever hand to the end in Razz and Stud, I went back to NL.
This time, I had the perfect table and, for some reason, I couldn't make a bad decision. I sat in the 3s and a pretty cool guy from Michigan (there aren't many) sat to my right. To my left was a very loose aggressive player with a similar player next to him. They colluded all night, but I made $400 of the pair of them. The rest of the table was a revolving cast of horrible...folks I do mean HORRIBLE..players.
I built my stack to about $700 and then took a break for booze.
I sat back down, and in about 3 hours, I was up to $1,400.
I made reads like I never could before and, finally learning a lesson from Badblood, once I made a solid read....I trusted it and played accordingly. A player making good reads should never second guess.
I cashed out with enough money to cover the trip, all my spending money, and have a little left over.
The next night was all profit. Signifigant profit. With a blogger tournament in between.
BUT THAT'LL HAVE TO WAIT
You know, here's the real post...buried like the left bower. I've had writer's block lately (can't you tell??) and its affecting my whole life. Really its my job to write, every day at work, and I've lost my mojo there. I still care about the reporting, as much as if not more than before, but the new ideas just aren't there.
You may have noticed my posts here have gotten fewer in number, and I wonder if that's to blame. It was the best Vegas trip I've ever taken and for some reason I spent so much time trying to remember the details that I can't even remember the plot.
I did drink too much. What else is new?
I also cut back on sleep. But who sleeps in Vegas?
I think the problem is, I spent so much time playing good..solid...poker, that I neglected almost everything else. Everything else, of course, is the stuff worth remembering.
Usually I pity those poor retired jocks who can remember in sickening detail ever bead of sweat on an opponents play durning that big game one night. They remember al the statistics and they remember final scores. Of course, we all remember that. If we don't we can find it online. What was really exclusive to him was the way it felt to play and the way he interacted with the other players. That's the story the fans REALLY want to hear.
Sports is a soap opera. Really, so is life.
I played the fool in Vegas, so focused on making money that I neglected my friends. At one point, I saw Badblood that night at the MGM. The tables, and a lifetime of bad luck were eating him alive. He was standing near the rail, heavy coat draped across his arms, chatting with the Mark and CJ. After the day he'd had, BadBlood wasn't interested in more MGM poker.
Of course, I was running well. I couldn't leave a table where the maximum buyin was $200 and I had at least 7 times that many chips. So I let them go to the nice restaurant, for time together and a great meal. I sat alone, with 9 strangers, at the damn table 'till 4AM. I walked home by myself.
I finished 14th out of roughtly 100 in the blogger tournament. The top 10 places payed and there were added prizes for the next 3. I played for 4 and a half hours to make the ultimate tourney bubble. It was fun. C'est la vie.
So we hooked up with a big group, me and Blood..and Brad and CJ..and Wil (sorry about the Trekkie jokes....not because they're lame...but because they're so damn uncreative. I bust the chops of everyone I actually like. I can do better)...and gamcock..plus an old friend from Boston named Jay. After a long seach for the monorail, and a few drunken prop bets, we again stormed the castle.
This time, after donking another $100 at another $2-$6 spread game with my friends, I found another $1/2 NL game.
Again...I cashed out big. Up about $900.
You know, the more I describe the big wins...and goddammit I ENJOY BIG WINS...the more the stories bore me. I think I made some wrong choices there.
I'm glad to have won a lot of money. I needed to come home in the black, but I should have had dinner with my friends.
I should have been willing to actually try at $2-$6 just because its the game my friends wanted to play.
I should have called Otis about that I-Pod. I love my friends. Life is better when we share.<-- Hide More
Thanks for making this the best Up For Poker year yet.
More... better... to come.
Until then, have a perfect holiday.
(CJ Update: I'd like to echo G-Rob's thoughts. Thanks to all of you for making this such a tremendous year. 2006 will be even better!)
(Otis update: I'd echo what G-Rob and CJ said, but it just seems so trite now. So, I'll take this opportunity to wish you a happy New Year and Happy Valentines Day. Oh, and okay. Merry Christmas and Happy Chaka Khan).
Two years and three months, 577 entries, 3772 comments, millions of hits and one too many bad beat stories.
We're worn out.
Otis, G-Rob and I need a break. It's hard to be ghey cubed with our multiple blogs and, frankly, no one's reading this stuff anyway.
Up For Poker is taking a break. We're going to re-tool, refresh and re-something else (it always works better in threes). Look for a return of Up For Poker sometime in the next 6 months.More in this Poker Blog! -->
(And you all didn't think I could bluff. To clarify... THIS IS A JOPKE.)<-- Hide More
A great dinner and a good night's sleep didn't exactly accomplish what I had hoped. I woke up with a pounding headache the morning of the WPBT Holiday Classic. I told everyone I ran into and (thank the Poker Gods) April H. had some migraine medicine.
That would only be the start of my pain. The rest would come when cards went into the air.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Playing Poorly and Paying For It
I really, really, really, really hated my play in the main event. And I feel really bad about it. I'm not sure why I played the way I did, but it was really out of character. You can see my starting table in my picture post. My tourney came down to just a few hands.
Limped with ATs, called a raise by Joanne, flopped nut flush draw and rivered a pair of T's, but lost to QQ and was crippled. Poorly played on all streets. I got lucky enough to triple up when my pocket 6's held up, but I donked it away a few hands later. FellKnight raises to T500 and Performify calls. I push all in with T1500 holding AJs. I was really hoping for some folds because I thought maybe Performify's call showed weakness. FellKnight did lay his hand down (he would have flopped the winning set), but Performify said, "Do I really want to race here?" It was obvious to me that he had AK at that point, putting me on another small pair. I really wish I had taken the opportunity to imply BIG pair, but I didn't. I flopped a gutshot, but my Q never came. Out in 98th out of 107.
I decided the best way to hide my disappointment was to get to work. So I kept track of the bust outs the best way I could from there on out. There was some serious cash on the three-player last longer bet so I had to make sure the right team got paid (Congrats, Team Loo).
Eventually, it got down to the final table and Jaxia, Pauly and I conducted final table bust out interviews. Congrats to Gracie for 2nd and, of course, to StudioGlyphic for the win.
Never Play From Ahead
The Shootout in the Desert was next, and it was even more disappointing. When FactGirl, Biggestron, -EV, Spaceman, Royal and I finally sat down, we found out this thing was a crap shoot. It was T1000, 25/50 starting blinds and 10 minute levels.
The first hand I flopped top pair with QJ and won a pot. The second hand I called -EV's all in with KQ and bettered his KJ to knock him out. A few hands later, my pocket 7's lost to Spaceman's A5. A few hands later, my A4 lost to Royal's KT. And finally, my pocket 4's lost to Royal's AKo and I was out. That's 5 hands, getting my money in the pot ahead every time, and finishing next to last. Spaceman and Royal chopped.
The Fabled "wil list"
Apparently, it's not the place to be. I didn't even know it existed until an ill-fated monorail ride.
We're on our way to Storm the Castle and just got off the monorail when wil started a story about how he once got stuck in a monorail for 30 minutes and joked he almost ran out of air. I, quietly, remarked, "Good thing someone had a phaser." Whoops.
"You're on the list!" wil said, pulling out a notepad with an actual list.
Thankfully, G-Rob came to my rescue, "No wil, it's like this," pantomiming his best Star Trek communicator, he tapped his chest, "Beep, Beep... put CJ on the list... Beep, Beep."
That put G-Rob higher on the list than me. Yeah, me!
The Castle, Need I Say More.
Storming the Castle was the highlight of the trip for me (well, I suppose the little tourney win was cool, too, but we'll get to that). I arrived and sat down at the first $2-$6 spread blogger game I could find. That meant a game with StB, Shep, Alan, Dr. Jeff and Dimebag Dave. That worked for me. We dropped Hammers with impunity and straddled like we were rodeo cowboys. It was a blast.
Then things got even better when the lovely Change100 decided to join us for some donkey poker. She took the seat to my left, and with a little prodding, straddled me the first chance she got. That lasted about 4 or 5 orbits before we decided perhaps straddling was a bad idea. As it became clear we weren't really playing poker, the straddling returned late in the evening. I didn't have a better table-mate all weekend long. Oh, and we both lost. In fact, I had to rebuy (there's no shame in rebuying!!!).
The poker was just one part of the night, however. The prop bets were flying. I got into a rhythm with Dave and Marty every time the wheel was spun. I was Blue, Dave was Yellow and Marty was Green. Dave took the early lead, hitting a few times, but then Yellow went cold (just ask G-Rob). In the end, I think I finsihed down a few bucks. I did, however, win a big prop bet when Otis, Gamecock and I battled over the next commercial break on ESPN. I said a car commercial would come next, Otis a fast food commercial, and Gamecock a beer commercial. Thank you, Toyota.
I Should Have Gone to Bed
The donkey poker finally broke up, and I went in search of a Craps table. I really wanted to throw some dice while in Vegas. I was visited briefly by Change100 and Drizz, but there was no brining me luck there. I quickly dropped $300.
I took two black chips and headed back to the poke room. I did not know why. I found Otis at a NL table and decided that was the best place for my $200. About 10 minutes later, that was someone else's $200. I think I bluffed after a busted flush draw. Whatever.
Then I dropped into a seat at the TV table for some Vegas Hold 'Em with wil wheaton. About 5 blind hands later (yeah, I decided not to look much), I was out another $80. What was I doing?
It was very early in the morning by then so I ran back to the room, took the contacts out for a bit, changed clothes and cleaned up. I decided I wouldn't sleep before heading to the sports book.
Ah... the sports book. Now that's where the money is!<-- Hide More
I don't like exclamation points. I'm not sure why the forefathers of punctuation decided to include a mark that indicates decibels. They would've been much better of to create a mark denoting sarcasm. Or, better yet, a punctuation mark that is indicative of flirting. That way, when G-Rob writes, "Otis is balding~" I would know that actually means, "You wanna sleep with my wife?" Who knew the tilde could be so hot?
My disdain for the exclamation point often translates into a rather reserved demeanor. While I can be a bit bouncey, smiley, and silly after several drinks, I rarely yell.
Of course, if you'd been with me in Vegas on the recent WPBT trip, you would never know that, for it seemed I took every opportunity to scream at the top of my lungs.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Being reserved was easy in Thursday's early hours. Aside from an exciting trip to Fat Burger with Dr. Jeff, BadBlood, and the Brothers Smith (where we ran into Chilly), Thursday afternoon and evening were pretty laid back. I assumed the role of a rock in a no-limit game at the MGM. I played in the MGM $125, final tabled, but didn't make the money. Then, while waiting for something better to do, got hopped up on goofballs while playing the biggest limit game running at the MGM that night (a whopping $4/$8 half-kill game) where I proceeded to cut a bankroll artery and spew bloody chips all over the felt. In limit, it's all about pushing the edges and I pushed every edge over the edge. The guy to my right couldn't believe how bad I played. I think he might have called his financial consultant and asked him to figure a new swimming pool into the 2006 budget.
Even when I sneaked over to the Excalibur and played even worse poker (and had my only winning session of the trip), I sat quietly. At one moment, while sitting at a $2-$6 spread game, I played worse than I thought possible. On one hand, I cracked a guy's set of kings with 25 suited in diamonds after rivering a flush (In my defense, the guy let himself get runner-runner beat by refusing to raise with top set). There were a couple bloggers around who wanted to hoot and holler. I shushed them. I felt bad for the guy. And I vowed to not do it to anybody again. But then my A6o looked really good on a board that flopped a six. When the turn fell, I was heads up with a gentleman who didn't speak a great deal of English, but had seen me runner-runner the guy a few hands earlier. With one card to come, there were two flush draws on the board. The man stood from his chair, took his entire chip stack, and moved it into the middle of the table. While his exact words escape me, it was something to the effect of, "Alright, you and me, you suck out artist. Put it all in right now." I responded with something like, "I think I'll just call for six dollars." Imagine my surprise when an ace fell on the river to give me aces up against...his pair of kings.
And somehow, perhaps to keep from getting killed in a language I didn't understand, I didn't yell. I sat sheepishly and stacked the poor guy's chips. The dealer was well compensated.
Finally, I decided to move to a No-Limit blogger game where I met a guy I can only remember as "Lima, Ohio." I recall a brief conversation where he schooled me in the pronunciation of Lima. As I recall, it's like the bean, not the city in Peru. I only recall one hand at that table. I raised pre-flop with pocket tens and Joe Speaker popped me back. I simply called and we saw an ace-high flop. Sensing there was only one way to win the pot, I bet the pot. Speaker thought for a few seconds before folding pocket queens face-up. Hubris overtook me and I rolled my tens. Speaker was non-plussed, but I didn't yell.
Later we moved to a new table where Rose was happy to deal us a little PL O8. When a British guy sat down, I wanted to yell to the rafters that, "Hey, this dude is from England! He plays this game for real! Run! Flee! Retreat!" Instead, I said much the same thing in a calm, if increasingly inebriated, voice.
So, when did I yell? Well, right after that.
Heather conscripted me and a few others to hit the Pai Gow tables where I could really strut my stuff. And before I knew it, I was yelling about everything. Included below are the things I recall yelling. Others who were there can fill in the blanks.
1. Who's winning over there (while pointing at a craps table)??!!!! Cuz we're winning over here!
2. Cocktails! (with a hard emphasis on the first syllable)
3. Boy, some steak and eggs would taste really good right now! (While eying the stingy pit boss)
4. Where's Marty?! (A man who had vowed to play Pai Gow with me, but instead did the patented Iggy Bender--frankly, a better decision)
5. Pai Gow! (in concert with my fellow players, which at one point moved the stingy pit boss to dryly remark to the dealer, 'I think you might have a Pai Gow there.')
The ensuing hangover turned Friday into what I've come to think of as a "Quiet Day." And then Saturday hit. That day is a post in itself if I can ever steel myself to write it. However, there are two things I remember yelling too many times.
1. Checks!!!!! (Which after a couple yells, apparently summoned the floor, who asked me to keep it down. I, again apparently, responded with something like, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to have so much fun.")
2. Cocktails!! (See above)
All in all, my yelling makes me ashamed.
And yet, for some reason, as I prepare to post this, I'm smiling.<-- Hide More
If Thursday was a blur, Friday wasn't much better.
I know my plan was to get up early enough to get to the Aladdin noon tourney, but my body wasn't cooperating. Going to bed at 6am that morning probably didn't help.
When I finally staggered into the poker room (running on no sleep and less food is a bad idea), the tourney was seated and it was full. There were enough of us stragglers, however, that they opened a new table.
I was happy to see fhwrdh sitting to my left, but, unfortunately, he wouldn't last long.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Cracking Cowboys and Busting Out
A few hands in, fhwrdh plays his Hiltons hard, as he should, especially with a J-high, no straight, rainbow flop. Apparently, his opponent thought his pair-draw was solid and he called with AKo. An ace on the turn and fhwrdh was tilted out of the tourney. I'm not sure I'd have taken as well as he did.
My first big hand is pocket deuces. I limp to see a flop and it's raised after me, a standard raise. Since I'm already in the pot, I decide to see if I can get lucky and call. The flop is 9-3-2. I check (because I'm tricky like that) and my opponent makes a pot sized bet. I push, he calls, and flips his cracked Kings. Sorry pal.
And that's the last hand I remember. When our table broke, I took up a seat to Michael Craig's right. He was an exceedingly nice man. And I don't know what happened, but I think I played a total of three hands at that table before busting.
Getting Rich in NL
I hate doing anything that boosts G-Rob's self-image, because he can be a tad bit insufferable at times. I doubt I'm giving a news flash here. Nonetheless, any time I have a chance to sit at a poker table with him, I'm going to do it.
I played pretty well, doubling up when Dr. Jeff's Hiltons ran into my Cowboys. I'm not sure I would have played it any different than him. The money went in pre-flop, but a rainbow flop of undercards wouldn't have helped him lay it down.
Other than that, I can't remember a single hand of my own. Maybe I should start taking notes.
What I can remember is the most brutal suckout I've ever seen live (G-Rob tilted) and the Gamecock dropping quads on Otis to close the session. Perhaps I'll let them tell those stories. And I can also remember laughing, hard, every couple of minutes. G-Rob was in fine form, especially when an Aladdin dealer sat down to play.
All I know is that G-Rob took this dealers money when the dealer had about 35 outs after the flop. The dealer was a little steamed and was surprised at G-Rob's call. G-Rob explained he liked his hand an even had outs if he was behind. The dealer then described each of the 450 different ways he should have won the hand. To which G-Rob responded:
"To be fair, I didn't put you on that."
Maybe you had to be there, and hopefully the rest of the G-Vegas crew will back me up on this, but we couldn't stop laughing. The timing, the delivery, the tilt-inducing words... it was pure poker humor magic.
The Lion Roars
If it's the MGM, it means one thing: PHORSE... or HORPSE... or whatever you want to call it. The Rooster got the mix game set up, and the bloggers turned out in force.
I think I was there for maybe an orbit and a half before realizing I hated this table. It wasn't the company of the bloggers, because they were a lot of fun. It was the play. We had two or three non-bloggers who seemed to pull the right river at the right time, time and time again. I'm pretty sure Dr. Jeff suffered most of the hits.
That's when I got up and joined the even more -EV HORSE game. Naturally, we added a P for Pineapple because that's what we do.
My tablemates were: Drizz, Daddy, BG, Performify, Gamecock, Biggestron, TeamScottSmith and more (someone help fill in the blanks). I'm not sure I ever folded a hand, but, amazingly, I didn't lose that much money. Yet again, I remember almost no hands, except one.
We're playing Pineapple and I look down at the underwhelming 872o. Needless to say, I raised it up. After all, after dropping the 8, I'm sitting on the HAMMER. And really, who wouldn't drop connectors to keep the HAMMER?
The flop was A7x (I think), and I lead out and got called. Was I scared? Of course I was, but I trusted the HAMMER. The turn was a blank and I bet out again. And got called. Worry crept up. Could I really avoid an Ace in little limit Pineapple. The river was another blank, but the HAMMER compelled a bet. And this time, my persistent oponent folded. Dropping the HAMMER in Pineapple is a beautiful thing.
$80 for Dinner is +EV
The mix games were still going strong (with a waitlist twice as long as any other game), but I was dying of hunger and we had a 10:30pm reservation at N9ne. Dumb name. Great food.
I jumped into a car with April and her friend Eric. The drive reminded me why I would never have a car in Vegas. Traffic sucks. We finally arrived and I sat down with BG, Bad Blood, PokerProf, Biggestron, April, Heather, Shep, TeamScottSmith, THE Mark and Eric (I hope I got everyone).
My dinner consisted of an iceburg lettuce wedge with blue cheese and bacon, a 12 oz. filet mignon, a lobster tail, and steak fries. Mmmmmmmmmmmm... The steak was amazing. The lobster was fabulous. And the fries were good enough that I was sorry I couldn't finish them. It's the most I've ever spent on a meal, and I wasn't disappointed in the least. I must do more nice dinners next time I'm in Vegas.
With a stomach more than full, the next thing on my mind was sleep. It was about 3am when I got back to the IP and I was ready for bed. After all, I had to be sharp to defend my luckbox status in the WPBT Holiday Classic!<-- Hide More
I arrived in Vegas more than 3 hours after I should have. My 8:14pm touchdown quickly changed to close to midnight. You'd think flying from Lafayette, LA to Atlanta, GA to Las Vegas, NV would help me avoid the snow delays. Of course I was wrong.
In fact, I didn't even get out of Lafayette on time. I arrived in Atlanta after my connection was supposed to leave and since it was seemingly the only plane in the Delta fleet to get off on time, I was stuck on a later flight. Not a lucky way to start the weekend. But I shook it off.More in this Poker Blog! -->
When I finally got to the Imperial Palace, I just wanted to dump my stuff and find the rest of you wherever you were. I wasn't thinking too clearly, which explains this conversation:
"Would you like a room with a view which will be noisy, or a quiet room with no view?"
"Of the strip."
"Sure, I'll take a view."
Loud Karaoke bar 1, CJ 0.
I dropped off my stuff, hopped on the monorail, wound my way through the MGM and approached the Excalibur. That's when I got my first genuine smile. Walking towards me was none other than my old friend Reilly and his friend Boston Jay. A bear hug and hellos exchanged, I knew I was going to have a great time.
How do you play this game of poker?
For some strange reason, much of Thursday night/Friday morning was a blur. Maybe it was the vanilla and diet Coke I hammered when I got there. Okay, I'm lying. The waitress mixed up my Coke with the Princess's vanilla and diet and one sip was all I could take.
I do remember announcing a suckout on Dimebag Dave (St. Loo Crew) preflop with my offsuit JackHammer. He caught K-high on the flop, but I did have bottom pair. His check-raise on the turn certainly couldn't push me off the pot. And, naturally, the Jack on the river was a winner. That would be one of the last appearances of the Luckbox for quite a while.
Eventually I moved to the NL table because I decided I wanted to actually make money (the 2-6 spread was killing me). Falstaff was already there and seemed to be enjoying it.
Just a few hands in, I picked up A2 on the button and called the BB. Four of us saw a flop of A-7-2. The SB lead out for more than was in the pot. I re-raised him and he insta-pushed. Huh?
I tanked. I just sat down. I was nursing wounds from the blogger spread game and I couldn't believe I was unlucky enough to run into A7 or 77. I mean, is this how the weekend would go?
The guy had just moved to our table, so I had no read, and simply had to go on instinct. I had to have the better hand. I called, he flipped A6 and I exhaled. The deuce on the turn was a nice touch. That's a good way to make back my money!
Pot Limit O/8? Sure, why not?
I'll give you lots of reasons:
Any guesses on whether this game was +EV for me? I think we were a few hands in when I thought I had a pretty good hand. Of course, I'm rather clueless about this game so I have no idea what a good hand is. What I do remember is that I missed everything for the high and was hoping my 2nd nut low would hold up.
I didn't want to spend much on the hand, but TheMark decided to pot it. Dammit. I went into the tank before finally calling. I've learned to detest the word "quartered."
I avoided most hands from that point forward before the big hand. It was a massive showdown between TheMark and
Dr. Chako some British dude Dr. Chako for hundreds of dollars in the pot. Had I stuck around with my two pair (isn't two pair gold????) I'd have crushed for the high and they would have quartered with the nut low. However, better O/8 players than I seem to think two pair is a bit weak. That's the last time I fold that hand!!!
Pai Gow with Otis and the Princess
Of course it was a bad idea, but I couldn't take anymore PLO8 for obvious reasons and Pai Gow actually seemed to be +EV by comparison.
It didn't take long for me to get up about $50. I love this game! The dealer was missing and I was seeing cards. Who doesn't love Pai Gow? Especially with pros like Otis and Heather at the table.
Then something happened. I was following Heather's rule that you double your bet every time you lose. Ten became 20 became 40 became 80. That's right, $80 on a Pai Gow hand. It was only after I lost this hand that Heather mentioned she'd never bet $80 on Pai Gow. I suppose I should have bought in for $160 and tried again, but I wasn't that supid.
I was stupid enough, however, to rebuy for $100 (no shame in rebuying) and proceeded to quickly lose that as well. CJ is a donkey when it comes to Pai Gow.
Amazingly, Otis finished up at the table but the rest of us were ready to go and I needed some sleep. From the table to the cab stand, we lost Otis. Is anyone shocked?
I settled into my bed at about 6am hoping I would get up in time for the Noon tourney at the Aladdin. I was down $190 at the poker tables and $200 at the Pai Gow tables. How's that for a start to the weekend? Thankfully I was up 1,487,300 in fun points and there was much more to come.<-- Hide More
I had pieces of roast beef sandwich in my teeth and wondered if the Vegas lights were so bright that the midnight walking crowd could see my sloppiness. I passed the Bellagio, the Aladdin, and countless rocking nightclubs as I walked the length of The Strip alone. No one could see the roast beef. I wasn't smiling.
Porn slappers looked at me and backed away. They could see I was in no condition to consider the $69 two-girl special. They could see I was ill-equipped to do much of anything in bed.
They were so wrong. Twenty minutes later I was under the covers watching the National Finals Rodeo on a flickering Imperial Palace TV set.More in this Poker Blog! -->
There are times in life when you we all reach a point at which we say, "What am I doing with my life? What am I doing to myself?" Less than one week before this moment I had turned 32. All in all, I didn't consider it a bad age, as many of my friends are approaching 40 and still rolling along well. Still, on this night, I felt old and used up. A decade earlier, a 36-hour bender would've been easy. Now, it was cause for concern. I felt terminal.
It was Friday night and I had forced myself, in an act of personal punishment, to walk once again from the MGM to the IP. There would be no cab ride for a guy who had once again treated his body like a playground and lived through an ugly, hungover day with little more to show for it than yet another Otis Got Drunk story.
Indeed, I knew there was a problem when I asked myself why I even bothered going to Vegas, playing poker, and hanging with the Bloggerati. As I walked by the Barbary Coast and shielded my eyes from the roaming cowboys' belt-buckle reflections, I didn't like myself very much. It was one of those moments where you ask yourself, "What do I contribute, anyway?" and hear nothing but piped-in Muzak in response.
And so it was as I studied the intricacies of bull riding scoring and color commentary that I found myself wondering if maybe I had reached the end. Unlike a year earlier when I had lain in bed and wondered if I might die, now I wondered if I might forever survive in the personal purgatory I had created for myself. It was, in fact, an unpleasant internal debate.
And then I woke up and it was all better.
It's age, I suppose, and the growing pains that go along with it that makes a broken down half-writer wonder if he's got the stuff to continue. I attacked last December's WPBT event with the intention of partying. I attacked June's gathering with the intention of playing serious poker. In both cases, despite what I consider a lackluster performance in June, I think I succeeded. Last weekend, I figured I would try to do both. I'd try to mix a bender with serious poker. I never really achieved either. I futher hoped I'd come away with some good writing fodder. That still remains to be seen.
I purposefully did not write anything on Monday, afraid I wasn't quite in the right mind-spot to do anything justice. I also hoped I could avoid rampant introspection and self-loathing. On the latter, it seems I might have failed.
So, I thought maybe I would give up on the trip reports and let the other writers out there tell the stories. There were so many tales I saw happening or heard about in passing. They were the tales that make the WPBT trips worth the week's worth of fatigue. And then I thought back and remembered how many times I laughed over my four days with the bloggers--the hard, belly laughs that make the liver pain seem minor in comparison.
There was one moment as we killed time at the Aladdin that I sat at a table with Dr. Jeff, Gamecock, G-Rob, and CJ. Our antics had drawn a crowd of players and dealers who wanted to get in on the action. Gamecock came into a pot for a raise and I found pocket kings. I popped him back and he smooth called. The flop came out Qxx. He checked it to me and I bet at him. Again, he smooth called. The turn was a jack This time, Gamecock bet into me. I thought for a few minutes and couldn't decide what I was going to do. Sensing my indecision, an older man sitting in the one-seat looked at me and said, "Don't let him make a punk out of you!" The table couldn't help but laugh. I couldn't help but laugh. Apparently, I couldn't help but push in the rest of my stack either. Cue the insta-call and Gamecock's turned set of jacks. Oh, and for a little extra laughter, cue the fourth jack on the river to give Gamecock quads.
Talk about making a punk out of me. I'm still laughing.
And that's the thing. That moment was stone-cold sober poker where I got a little unlucky but made a far worse decision on the turn. And frankly, I don't care, because I will forever remember the one-seat waking up and goading me into a call. And I'll remember my friends laughing, which I can't help but enjoy.
To be sure, I was unhappy with my performance--both the Party Otis and Poker Otis--over the weekend. And to be sure, I'll make some corrections in the future (let me hear a collective "Yeah, right!). However, I can't regret this past weekend for one reason.
Over the course of four days, I saw the eyes of the people who had never done this before. Sure, they'd played poker. Sure, they'd drank. But never had they done both with such a large and perfect group of people. From Gamecock, to Mean Gene, to Joanne, to Wil Wheaton, I saw people having a whole new brand of fun.
And then there was this: After once again walking the length of The Strip, I walked into Mandalay Bay's sports book to throw down my one sports bet of the weekend (Chiefs push--go figure). The early crew was already there and everyone was holding a horse racing ticket. I figured BG had finally pulled everyone into his realm. And then someone told me it was the only race that meant anything. After all, Mr. Otis was the fourth horse in the ninth race at Hawthorne. Suddenly, thanks to CJ, I had a ticket, as well. Over the course of the next hour I watched the odds move from 20-1, to 45-1, to 55-1. And everyone was cheering for Mr. Otis to fall out of the gate. And again, I was laughing.
For four days, I surrounded myself with people who I have come to respect and love as friends. They are the reason I bother to write. They are the reason I am honest with myself.
I'm still collecting my thoughts from the past four days and am interested to see what pops out of my head. I just wanted to thank everyone for a great weekend, for putting up with my shenanigans, and for making this weekend another I won't forget...
especially the crew that played $2-$6 spread limit with a half-kill, Vegas poker style, with two celebrities, dealers who loved us, floor men who hated us, and a cocktail waitress that brought me an entire glass of olives.
See, that's why I go.<-- Hide More
I don't have the time or the concentration to effectively communicate what a great time I had, but here are some random thoughts that should help me tell the full story later...More in this Poker Blog! -->
Poker bloggers are some of the best people in the world, new and old friends alike. I already miss you all and can't wait for next time!<-- Hide More
Back now, alive again, with a new spirit and a much larger bankroll. I won more at poker in the last 2 days than in the previous 6 months combined and I doubled the money I took to Vegas. I want to do a good bit of blathering about the poker action, but first things first.
This was my best trip to Vegas. The rest of the reports are great. I just had to burp this out. It's good to vent.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I had a bad feeling about the trip but only because I'd been warned so often. I left for the GSP Jetport at 5:00 in a cold mist and strong wind. Just after pulling into the ultra extended stay lot, the good people at American Airlines sent me a text update on the cell, "Flight Originally scheduled for 5:55 will now depart at 7:10." That would still let me make my connection to Vegas.
So I walked, with only a carry-on bag, to the main terminal and found an unusual crowd. At each counter, long lines of twisted, angry faces spitting and fuming at the poor saps in airline issued grey. Here's where karma intervened on my behalf. I stood at the back of the line at the AA counter and waited my turn, appaently the only person who found that necessary. Two business types cut right past me and heard me mumble about it. "Hey, sorry, we're in a hurry," on on them said, which clearly, the rest of the people in line at the AIRPORT couldn't claim.
Those two dopes were in line to catch the same flight to O'Hare that I'd been alerted to earlier. I told the taller one about the delay and he thanked me saying, "How do you like that, we cut line and he's still nice."
"Sothern Hospitality," I replied.
So, armed with this new information, my two new friends decided thay didn't need to wait in line at all. Then as they moved aside, ANOTHER COUPLE, this time a short middle aged woman with extremely tight curls and an extremely angry scowl, actually pushed me out of the way while her tall unhappy husband simply followed along. She said, and I think this is the unversal mantra of the selfish, "I'm in a hurry!"
I stepped aside and let the bitch have a rant. She seemed to think the snowstorm in Chicago was all caused by Larry from American. I think that was probably true, but nothing a new shampoo couldn't fix. He needed to brush his shoulders though. Several times I heard him ask the woman if there was anything he could do to help, but she didn't want help as much as she wanted to vent.
So during her rant, the other ticked agent cleared and called me to the front. I showed him my cheap Hotwire ticket and asked about the connection to Vegas. "You'll never make it," he said, "and I think your flight will be cancelled altogether." Then he smiled and added, "Let's see if we can get you to Vegas tonight."
Sure enough, he found a seat on Delta through Cincinnati that would get me to Vegas 90 minutes before the original flight from O'Hare. I took it. The woman next to me stopped screaming long enough to hear that, but to her dismay, there was only 1 seat left. Both she AND her husband could have gone if she wasn't such a bitch. The original line cutting men would be on that flight if I hadn't been nice.
So, after 3 trips between the American and Delta counters, I was booked on a 7PM flight to Cincinnati where I would catch an 8:20 to Vegas. The airline change upgraded my fare and sent me to a higher class of passenger, which subjected me to the in depth search at the airport. After careful examination, the guy from TSA found my lighter.
Upstairs I waited for that damn Delta flight and by 7:30 it hadn't arrived. In fact, there was still no attendant at the gate. At 8:00, I had one of my many conversations with my travel planning friend Ted who suggested I make another plan. I found a flight to Atlanta which was delayed an hour itself.
In Atlanta my 9:30 flight to Vegas was delayed by another 3 hours and I had to find something to do. I'll give just a few minutes to guess what I did...
...got it yet?
That's right, I went to the bar.
I'd ordered a double SoCo and a Sam Adams when a very pretty young girl asked, "Is this seat taken?" about a chair two spaces away from me at the bar. I said no, but she took the chair next to me anyway. Up close she wasn't so young and was still clutching to the haircut of a 15 year old cheerleader... how 'bout those bangs. She ordered a budweiser and a tequila, then proceeded to talk, without interuption for an hour.
"I'm from Orlando," she said, "and I'm off to Denver to meet my new boyfriend."
I'd noticed she'd shown a Massachusetts ID to the bartender, but she acted suprised when I asked her about Boston. "Never been there," she said.
"I left my mom's house this morning so I could go meet Greg, and I haven't seen him in 12 years, since my ex-husband moved in with him."
"He and my ex- are still best friends, but I talk to Greg on the phone sometimes, so now I'm moving in with him to see if that works out," she explained.
I was starting to feel the buzz, but was damn sure this would be my best bet of the trip. I had doubts about this relationship.
Minutes later, I paid my tab and struggled back to the gate. I cracked open a Scientific American and some a-hole kept reading passages aloud over my shoulder. It was my buddy Ted from G-Vegas. He was delayed on a flight back home.
At 12:45, delayed by 3 hours, I left Atlanta for G-Vegas.
INBOUND TRIP TOTALS
FLIGHTS BOOKED :
Las Vegas (delayed)
Drinks Consumed (6)
Life Stories Heard (1)
BACK HOME FROM McCARREN
I stood up from the Excalibur table at 4:00AM, up about 4 buy-ins at the time, and cabbed it back to the IP. I grabbed my bag, and a sweatshirt and said goodbye to Mr. Blood.
Ted, old friend and travel expert, called me to say my flight was overbooked, and I could probably catch something later. I had high hopes. So I caught a cab downstairs, had a long chat about income inequality with the cabbie, and waited for my jet.
The flight was full, but not overbooked, and with a strong tailwind we made it to Dallas 10 minutes early. Everything in Vegas went as planned or better, everthing else is shit.
Somehow there was still a plane parked at our gate. Somehow all other gates were full too. Somehow it never occured to the good folks at American to just wheel a ladder to our jet. I spent a full hour PARKED on the runway in Dallas and now my flight was 45 minutes late.
So when I got to my G-Vegas connection the door was already closed. There were actually 9 people from my Vegas flight hoping to connect here, and all of us were screwed. The only other direct flight was 6 hours later, and there were only 2 seats available. The surly gate attendante offered to get me home through O'Hare, but I'd had enough of THAT bag. I called the airline myself.
3 hours later I found a flight to Charlotte. It left on time. That got me on a flight to G-Vegas, that was delayed for 3 hours by mechanical trouble. I got home at 10PM.
Why I won so much money in Las Vegas.<-- Hide More
Want to get in the mood for Vegas? How about a look back at Vegas craziness as seen through the eyes of the Up For Poker crew...More in this Poker Blog! -->
WPBT Aladdin Classic
WPBT Holiday Classic
Otis "I'll see your Guinness and raise you one egg salad." Three tables, one playground, half-drunk" "Let's Get to Saturday, shall we?" Decisions, decisions" "The Holiday Classic through Otisian eyes" Bordering on the Adriatic From rock gardens to Sherwood Forest." You don't have to go home...<-- Hide More
With less than 24 hours to touchdown, I'm left with too much to do and too little time to do it. There's work, side work, packing, dog kenneling, errands, etc. I've done my best to cover everything I can in advance of the WPBT trip this weekend.
However, one thing remains undone.
So, I give you...More in this Poker Blog! -->
How to Play Pai Gow Poker (Version: Otis)
First, if you don't already know the rules and basic strategy of Pai Gow, go learn. That's not what this is about. This is about how to play optimal Pai Gow Poker while under the influence.
1. Play drunk-- If you are not already intoxicated when you sit down at a Pai Gow Poker table, you're going to have to start getting there as soon as you sit down. Summon the nearest cocktail waitress with the following phrase: "Hey, darlin', you have time for me right now?" Smile when you say it. Then put a dollar chip beside your drink holder and say, "There will be one of those sitting there at all times. Just take it whenever you bring the next drink." Then smile again.
2. Beg the dealer to deal him/herself a Pai Gow-- Ideally, you want the dealer to draw the worst possible cards and let everybody win. You should beg for this at all times and appear genuinely hurt when the dealer draws even halfway decent cards. However, if the dealer cooperates, you must--must--yell "Pai Gow!" at the top of your lungs. Make sure your table yells along with you. High-five each other and stack your chips.
3. Act smug-- After you have completed #2, people at nearby tables (usually those who are losing at roulette) will start to stare at you with annoyed looks on their faces. Look at them and offer a smug smile that says, "We win, you lose, sucker." After you've done this a few times, wave them over and ask them if they'd like to play a game where they can win. If they won't come over, make sure to wave every time you win.
4. Beg for the Dragon-- In some casinos, you are offered the option of playing an empty seat's cards in addition to your own. This is usually called The Dragon. Every player can take the option in rotation. It is your job to beg for it every time it is offered. If necessary, offer to buy the Dragon from your tablemate. If he refuses, look very smug when he loses both hands. Then wave at him like you've been waving at the roulette players.
5. Play the bonus-- If your Pai Gow table offers the option of a bonus bet for high hands, you must--must--play it. If you don't have dollar chips/coins, ask for change. Keep in mind, you will never, ever win. However, each time you drop the coin in the slot, thoughtfully tap the felt and say, "This is the time. I feel it."
6. Make sure the pit boss notices you-- Your antics to this point will surely have drawn the pit boss' eye. He may think you're running some scam. Set him at ease. Call him over and ask him about life, things, and whatnot. If he says, "Life is not whatnot," laugh like you think it's funny. About two hours into the game, start talking about how good steak and eggs would be. If he fails to get the hint, you need to add a bit to your Pai Gow cheer. Any time the dealer draws a Pai Gow, scream, "Pai Gow--Steak and Eggs!!!!"
7. Consume the Official Drink of Pai Gow-- If you want to be a real champ, order a Greyhound every time the cocktail waitress comes along. If she is especially cute, see if you can draw her into a quiet lament about how Salty Dogs aren't allowed because the salt can get on the felt. If she sheds a tear, give her a red bird and tell her to go have a Salty Dog on you. It's up to you how many sexual overtones you want to use.
8. Engage the dealer-- It is your job to be or act inordinately interested in the dealer's name, pronounciation of the name, and country of origin. Do not let up until you could write a paper about all three subjects.
9. Do not be ashamed-- While Pai Gow games work better as group activities, do not be ashamed if you are the only one at the table. At 2am, you have a job to do, and if you have to go it alone, so be it.
10. The Disclaimer-- I play Pai Gow as described above. Please be aware that any of the above can result in going broke, getting slapped, getting barred from the casino, or waking up with a hella hangover.
So, um...who is with me?<-- Hide More
This story begins like so many stories from the city in the middle of the desert:
I remember it better now than I did the morning after.
It was the night I learned to roll low in Las Vegas.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Before I head for another Top Ten list (the lazy but quick way to write), walk with me into the Excalibur Poker room. See, it was here I first met the poker bloggers. It was here I embraced my inner donkey. It was here that I realized that Vegas not only offers to fill you full of drink for free. It also allows you to grub for free. It ain't good, but it's the way to roll low.
With that in mind, here is another in a series of pre-Vegas Top 10 lists.
How to Roll Low in Vegas and Still Have Fun
1. Drink for free-- Now, this is a bit of a misnomer, because you aren't really drinking for free. It's going to cost you on average a $1 tip for a drink at the tables. However, a buck is much cheaper than paying for drinks at the bar. If you're on a limited budget, never, ever buy a drink at the bar. Even if you're at a bar with friends, don't buy. The only exception to this rule is the Otis Quads Method, under which you can turn $20 into $200 without much thought at a video poker bar. There, you'll get free drinks for your play. Be aware, this is a learned skill and is not to be experimented with unless you are prepared for disaster.
2. Eat for free-- Find a poker room that offers free food. The Excalibur has a nightly dinner buffet that offers--in rotation--Mexican, Italian, faux Cajun, and American food. It's free to players in the room and it will fill you up. It's not gourmet, but it's free. The Mirage puts out finger sandwiches and cookies early in the morning. I believe the Aladdin does as well. Eat as much as you can. If there's no free food in the room, pay a little homage to the Tilt Boys and order a meal in a glass (bloody mary with extra olives and celery). It's free!
3. Eat on the cheap-- If you're failing to fill up on the free food, I would suggest you are not working hard enough. Your punishment should be not eating. Seriously. It's not as important as people say. However, if you still feel like you should be nourishing yourself, don't get sucked in by the restaurants. Do not get me wrong. I love a nice sit-down meal. But that's for when you've got some money in your pocket (with money in your pocket I can recommend Delmonicos in The Venetian). So, find a freakin' snack bar. And I don't mean a deli. Find a snack bar and fill up. New York/New York has $2 slices of pizza. Little John's (or is it Friar Tuck's?) has 2 fer $2 tacos. Also, don't forget Fat Burger. Oh, and don't be buying a soda. Take your food back to the table and get a free drink.
4. Play small to start-- Just as there is no pride in playing big, there is no shame in playing little. If you don't wanna risk more than $200, do not play anything above $2/$4 limit or $1-3 spread limit. Given, you'll get eaten up by blinds and tokes, but if you take $200 to the the next biggest game ($4/$8), you're just one bad session from being bust for the trip. If you feel like you can risk $500, feel free to move up to $4/$8 limit, $2-$6 spread limit, or even a $1/$2 NL game. Just be careful. No need to be creative. It's not easy to find a $2/$4 or $1-$3 game, but they are out there. They are readily available at the Luxor, MGM, and Excalibur. Before my game took off, I once spent 13 hours at a $2/$4 table. And I had fun.
5. Be prepared to nut-peddle-- At the lower limits, creative play means you'll likely lose. Nobody is going to lay down their hand, which means bluffs are worthless. It's all about value betting the hands you know you are going to win and pushing the edges. Sit back and wait for your winners, drink your free drinks, eat your free food, and wait for the monkey to come on the big screen.
6. Conserve-- Budget a given amount you're willing to risk per day on the trip. You're going to want to have fun and if you go broke on the first day, you will have nothing to do for the remainder of your vacation. Trust me, you don't wanna be broke in Vegas.
7. Play a tournament-- Now, this is contrary to my belief that most low-limit tournaments in Vegas are crap-shoots and not worth your money, but if you're on a strict low-rolling budget, consider entering a $25-$30 tournament. It's a good way to play poker for a few hours without risking very much money. What's more, if you you hit the lottery and win the thing, you'll be rolled for the rest of your trip.
8. Talk to folks-- This is "blogger trip specific" but if you're there for a meet-up, your best conversations will happen off the poker tables. Sure, you're going to have a good time when slinging chips, but you're going to get to know people at the bars, waiting for a table, or having a quick bite to eat (make it free!). Talking is a great way to spend time but not money.
9. Pick your spots-- While I would suggest you not do any -EV gambling, if you feel you must, find cheap tables. Usually you'll find them in cheap casinos. The Boardwalk and the Barbary Coast usually have lower limits. You could also go downtown where the tables are the cheapest. However, you're going to get eaten up by cab fare that way. Also, I'm a big proponent of Pai Gow, the slowest of the -EV games.
10. Don't worry-- If you spend every hour counting how much you have left in your pocket, you're not having any fun. You're not a pro player, so make sure you have fun and don't worry so much.
How do I know all this? Because I've done it all. I'll admit, it's nice not to worry so much these days. However, I still enjoy the time I spend scrounging for free food and drink and playing fun poker.
That do, Scott?<-- Hide More
At Thanksgiving I eat too much and pretend to be interested in the Detroit Lions. On Christmas I always get a new package of socks. On the 4th of July the rest of my family flies up to Louisville while I stay here to work. Not all traditions are good, but they are traditions nonetheless.
So without further ado...More in this Poker Blog! -->
THE OFFICIAL SEMI-ANNUAL BLOGGER-VEGAS PROP BETTING LINES
1. Speaking of tradition, this one's a classic. I have to admit, Otis is on quite a roll here, without a single Bradoween crash. It was a stunning turn of events and devastating to your humble bookmaker. On the other hand, during our last homegame, drunked Otis crawled into bed with an even more drunken TheMark. Therefore the new bet here:
HOW MANY TIMES WILL OTIS FALL OR SNUGGLE? OVER/UNDER 2
2. Bradoween brought its own strange baby. At one point, I ran to the back deck to see TeamScottSmith leap from the top of one tree to the top... or middle after some snapping of twigs... of another. Later the same Smith climbed to the top of a much taller and more dangerous tree.
HOW MANY TREES WILL TEAMSCOTTSMITH CLIMB IN VEGAS? OVER/UNDER 1
3. During our first Vegas gathering, Otis and I shared what can now only be described as a sort of pseudo-hallucinogenic visit to the 5AM bar. It was a weird mixture of the real and false, like watching C-Span on acid. By then we'd both gone about 32 hours without sleep.
WHICH BLOGGER WILL GO ON THE LONGEST SLEEPLESS BENDER? PICK ONE
4. Last night I drove a single mile down the road, to the casa de Blood, and found the master of the house inside. I asked her where BadBlood was, and she pointed to the corner of the room where he sat with 4 dozen Bibles in his left hand. He was flexing and curling with the word of God, and I was puzzled by the serene look on his face. BadBlood was praying nobody would ever find out his awful secret... he can't arm wrestle left handed.
a.) HOW MANY BLOGGERS CAN BEAT BADBLOOD AT LEFT-HANDED ARM WRESTLING? OVER/UNDER 5
b.) POKER GEEK TO BEAT BADBLOOD - 1,000/1 odds
c.) G-ROB TO BEAT BADBLOOD WHILE EATING A TURKEY SANDWITCH - 3/1 odds
5. The first time we invited some very generous pro players to visit our conclave, it was an unmitigated disaster, at least for some of us. The aforementioned bender took place the day AFTER a much longer and more destructive streak and this meeting of the minds happened right in the middle. I remember they had some pitchers of water set out for us, and I remember drinking them ALL DRY. God I was thirsty. This summer, when we played the Aladdin classin, CJ issued a stern warning about the hooliganism, and sobriety was much higher.
NUMBER OF BLOGGERS WHO ARRIVE AT THE WINTER CLASSIC TOTALLY SOBER? OVER/UNDER 35
6. In the Aladdin classic I played uncharacteristically tight. I finally found AA in middle position and pushed. I was called by an earlier raiser who held 66. I was thrilled when Joe Speaker told me he'd folded a 6. Less thrilled when the case 6 appeared on the flop. Last December, at Sam's Town (which, as the crow flies is about 4,000 miles from the strip), I went out 18/30 when I got shortstacked and pushed with a naked ace. Felicia auto-called and won.
FIRST PERSON KNOCKED OUT OF THE WPBT WINTER CLASSIC? G-ROB, NO OTHER ANSWERS ACCEPTED
7. When we flew down to Nassau for the PokerStars WPT event, Al and I spent some serious time in a bottle. At one point, we drank the bar completely OUT of Sothern Comfort. The bartender spent the next 30 minutes rummaging through the Atlantis resort for more. Of course, it's blogger tradition to have SoCo shots and we'll all have a few. So the question is:
WHEN WILL THE FIRST BLOGGER LEARN THAT HIS/HER CURRENT BAR IS OUT OF SoCo? NAME THE SPECIFIC TIME AND DAY
8. While most of our Vegas time will be spent in the card room, there are few things better than a blogger party in the sportsbook. Last December we took over the one at Mandalay Bay (which is quite nice) and sang the Sand Diego Super Chargers song with Al. I won good money there. Plus the Bengals covered the spread against the Pats, which won me a full $100. This time, I'll be in the book somewhere when the Kentucky Wildcats play the Indiana Donkey Felchers on Saturday afternoon.
HOW MANY BLOGGERS JOIN ME THERE? OVER/UNDER 1 (Daddy)
9. Now for the ones that we just need a name to answer.
WHO WILL WIN THE TOURNEY? PICK ONE
WHO WILL LOSE THE MOST MONEY ON STUPID -EV GAMES? PICK ONE
WHO WILL PASS OUT FIRST? PICK SOMEONE WHO ISN'T BG
HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL HIT ADULT ESTABLISHMENTS WITH MR. BLOOD? OVER/UNDER 13
WILL THERE BE ANY DAMN DRAMA WITH SO MANY PEOPLE COMING THIS TIME?
(Hasn't happened yet, but perhaps we've been lucky.)
There are two dangers in packing your bags for Las Vegas. You can be too prepared. Or you can be ill-prepared.
I have been guilty of both.
So, I offer this Guide to Packing for a 3-4 day trip to Las Vegas.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Here's my formula for packing...
1. Underwear = amount of days traveling + 1
2. Socks = amount of days - 1
3. Pants = amount of days divided by 3
4. Dress shirts = 1 per week
5. T-shirts = amount of days divided by 2
6. Cash = $1000 per day in Vegas
Folks, that is a formula for success and pure Pauly. But, if you will, please let me further expand the rubric.
1) Pack one bag and make sure you do not check it at the gate. Carry it on. One of the greatest time-wasters in all of Vegas is waiting for cabs. Sometimes it's a necessity. When you're at the airport, however, it is not. If you check your bags, you are playing a very -EV game with the baggage carousel. If you have one carry-on, you are already 10-20 minuntes ahead of all the baggage-checking tourists. That alone can cut an hour out of the time it takes you to make it off the plane and to your hotel. If something bad happens and you do get stuck with a long line (it happens if a big plane lands ten minutes ahead of yours), try to find a porter who looks grease-able and slip him $10-$20. This will occassionally work. If it doesn't, the lines aren't unbearable. But, the one carry-on bag rule still applies. Why? Well, even if the line only takes 15 minutes, trying to lug one or two bigger bags through the throngs of humanity can be a burden. One duffel or carry-on with wheels is the way to go.
2. You do not need everything in your closet. Pauly has written at length about this is in the past and heeding his advice is always a good idea (unless, of course, he's been awake for three days and smells of stripper perfume, at which point I'd suggest weighing your decision carefully). A few thing to keep in mind. You likely will miss out on a lot of sleep. It's like you're only there for a couple of days. Denim is heavy, so I'd recommend you wear one pair of blue jeans on the plane and pack something else in a khaki or otherwise lightweight fabric. If you're going in the winter, it will be colder than you think. But sweaters are heavy as well. As such, I like a fleece or some sort of warmish sport coat that can be worn against the chill and worn inside, but if it gets too warm in the casino, can be taken off without making you nude. A pair of socks and drawers for each day. One fewer shirt than you think you need.
3. Personal health and well-being are a big part of making your trip/bender a good one. If you are a drinker, I have found a cocktail of OTC products that works very well to make the morning after much easier to handle. I calll it the Otis Cocktail. Before going to bed, stop and get a bucket of ice. Stand at the sink and drink two bar glasses of ice water. Then, take three advil, two Pepcid (or other acid reducing product), and two Pepto Bismol tablets. Wash them down with one or two more glasses of ice water. Take a glass of water with you to bed and have a drink or two when you wake up having to go to the bathroom. Then, when you wake up for good, repeat the cocktail, but substitute the advil with two Excedrin Migraine. Those pills are laced with caffeine and can give you that extra jolt you need to start the day. Then, throughout the following day mix a good blend of caffeine and water as you sit at the tables. It ain't perfect, but it's the best I know.
4. Cash is king, as we all know. It is a matter of personal preference whether to keep your pocket cash and poker bankroll separate (I've done both and prefer the division of money, but it's up to you). However, one important thing to think about is denomination. For instance, in many (if not most) casinos, $20 bills don't play. That is, if you're playing in a game with a buy-in of more than $100 and your stack is running low, it will do no good to back it up with $300 in $20 bills. They won't play. You'll need $100 bills for that. At the same time, you don't want a pocket full of Franklins. Otherwise, what are you going to tip with? A good mixture of denominations is key. (Also, remember Pauly and Grubby's advice about $50 bills being bad luck).
5. For all of those still thinking about #2, and saying "But, wait I wanna go clubbing?" I can't help you there. I'm not a club-boy. Clubs are good for trolling for girls, but I'm all married and stuff and don't really know how to talk to girls. However, if you wanna go clubbing, it shouldn't add to much to the weight of your carry-on because the kids ain't wearinig much these days. Oh, and if I were to go to a club, it would be Drais for reasons you will only know if you go sit at the Barbary Coast around 4am.
6. If you're a blogger, a 4" notebook and pen is a good idea. I'm okay without it, but, again, if you're a drinker, it ain't bad to have a little memory backup.
7. Technology is another matter of personal preference. Me, I pack the laptop, cell, and charger. Pauly recommends a camera, which is not a bad piece of advice. However, I usually don't carry one when I'm not working. Unless you have a camera small enough to fit in a pocket, it can be quite a burden and, if you're like me, you stand a decent chance of leaving it somewhere.
8. Print out Bill Rini's list of phone numbers and keep them in your pocket. It's nice to know where people are. At the same time, don't abuse the technology. Indeed, we'll all want to hang together, but I can attest that you can run up quite a bill with dial-a-shots across the poker room. A quick "Where?" text message can go a long way.
9. Back to money. This has it's own section because it shouldn't be with any of your regular bankroll. You never know when you will need a ride, or a buy-in, or a drink, or anything when you've just went broke. Now, I'm not saying it will happen, but if you keep a lot of money in your hotel safe and have had a bad run at the tables, you need a little sumptn extra to either get you back to your room or hold you over until you can recoup. Keep a stash in an unused pocket, your shoe, your bra, whatever.
10. Finally, the intangible: Bring a good attitude. It's all just fun. We're all just folks. And it's all about a good time. If you don't pack that good stuff, it ain't worth going.
I waited for three days. Three days and none of the Up For Poker crew managed to type a single word about Friday night. We all have our excuses, I suppose. I spent 36 hours testing myself to see if I have what it takes to survive a four-day Vegas bender (jury out, but the foreman gave me the stink-eye on the way to the deliberation room, so it doesn't look good). CJ was on the road home to Loosey-Ana. G-Rob had to do his hair.
So, what happened?More in this Poker Blog! -->
"There's no way I'm getting away from that hand."
G-Rob had the look on his face. If you've not seen it, it is the TV anchor version of "I usually play such trash hands, it is inconceivable that I lose when I flop perfect with a real hand." That is, he'd actually woken up with a hand and got beaten by a better hand. It wasn't his fault. I would never imply that. I also wouldn't admit to doing a little dance when G-Rob busted out of the 17-person $50 freeze-out first.
So, that's what happened. It's less important that I went on to bust out in third (ignoring the fact I should've won had it not been for a AT vs. Hammer suck-out three-handed against The Luckbox). It's less important that Wolverine and CJ got heads up and The Luckbox sucked out again for the win.
Other fun, but less important things:
* The Mark busted out right after G-Rob while making a move on a QQQ flop. The Luckbox looked him up with AK.
* I managed to not get seated with Cigar Girl, and that likely had a lot to do with my success.
* Shep Tiltstein literally tilted too hard in a plastic chair. Someone has a picture somewhere... [Ed. note: Picture added.]
* I actually won a race against The Big Pirate when my 99 held up against his AK.
No, none of that is important. What is important is that, with G-Rob and The Mark being the first two out, trays of Southern Comfort started making the rounds every time someone busted out. Remember, there were 17 players.
Among the late-evening issues this caused:
* SoCo, when spilled by an errant Otisian deal, can make chips sticky
* Bumping the stakes up to $2/$5 NL and my not having a firm grasp on the rules of the much-fabled Pinizzle. When holding JTx on a flop of 789, it is a bad idea to push in your entire stack. Why? Cause it ain't the nuts. It's not even close to the nuts. Even your opponent (who has you crushed with a holding of QJT) doesn't have the nuts. SoCo-addled neurons don't know that. It makes it worse when you wrongly accuse yourr opponent of sucking out when he was ahead preflop, post-flop, and at the river.
* At some point around 3am, I was in bed with The Mark. I'm not sure exactly why, or that I want to know exactly why. Let's just forget I brought it up.
Regardless, I'm not sure I have much of the young man left in me. I turned 32 yesterday and I feel double that. I am either not conditioned for this kind of behavior anymore or I'm too old for it.
I guess we'll see here in a couple days, eh?<-- Hide More
I saw "DN0024" push his chips to the middle on at least two dozen hands and I called him 3 times. Aggression wins tournaments and this guy was Hitler on meth. In a way, everyone loves a player like him, I'd seen him get all-in preflop with hands like T3o, K5o, and every single naked ace. The strange things is, he actually won most of them, like some strange all-knowing poker savant. Still, he doubled me up... 3 times in a single tournament.
But ol' DN got me thinking about just who these morons are, what brings them to the table and what they're thinking when they GET there. Today, my friends, I publish the results of several minutes of thought... distracted only by the TV and a new tournament I just entered.
I know... Indulge me.More in this Poker Blog! -->
"TIT_Monger41" on Stars is a MANIAC
Just 12 more hours until Melinda's birthday, and her father has no gift. Andrew Douglas was short, balding and extremely pissed off. The aisles as Toys-B-Good are like the levels of hell with the slutty tart dolls called "Cindy" and "Barbie," each a small plastic temptation to sin. Andrew hated the children here for being spoiled, for looking so damn happy, and for knowing what they wanted. Shopping for Melinda sucks.
After 40 minutes of "Rescue Hero" walkie talkies and "Power Ranger" modeling clay, Andrew finally found an aisle that felt like these stupid stores should. From floor to cieling were the Parker Bothers greatest hits, and the Milton Bradely classics that children were SUPPOSED to enjoy. But Melina HAD all these games. The ungrateful bitch took every box of dice and plastic markers with her when her mother moved out.
Andrew needed something more obscure and the answer, even by the standards of the zit faced teens who stock this revolting ensemble, was worth an entire floor display. The "Texas Hold-em Started Set" in a metal tin with real plastic chips and two sets of cards. Melinda would appreciate this gift because all the kids like to gamble. Besides, Andrew stood a fair chance of learning the game himself and winning back his alimony one hand at a time.
At the party, Melinda stood in her newest jumper, walking now on a toddler's unsteady legs. Her blonde-in-a-bottle bitch of a mom waited by the door unwilling to let Andrew pass. "You know you can't be here," she said with a scowl. Andrew liked that he could "read" her tough expression as thinly veiled fear.
"This is my daughter's birthday," he said with a patently evil smile, "and I've brought her a present." And he threw down the unwrapped tin to the wide brick porch. The lid, still wrapped in a tin ring of plastic popped open with the loose chips inside now scattered on the brown untended shrubs.
But Andrew knew he couldn't stay. He stomped back to the car and headed to the brand-new apartment. Once inside he logged on to the Tandy Color computer he'd found on discount and souped up for online use.
Andrew found Poker Stars and used his adult chatroom name.
He turned the last $500 from his checking account into online chips, and resolved to make these arrogant assholes PAY. He's all in on every flop. Each bet is suicide and murder.
"M_TOENAILS" is tight and PASSIVE
He sat in the downstairs employee bathroom with his pants and designer boxers holding his ankles together and his heart was beating fast. Mark thought this would be the perfect time to purge the bowels, loosened by the Rice Chex and Coffee, but there was always some other bastard in here. When he'd walked in, one of the two stalls on the wall was already occupied and the urinal in use. Mark really needed to crap, but couldn't let Jerome, the IT guy, see him enter the stall.
Mark went straight to the sink and removed the $40 cufflinks emblazoned with the company seal (which at SuckTite plastics WAS actually a seal with smile) and rolled up his sleeves. He could hear Jerome flush and zip before walking past the basin and right back to work. Mark resolved to get to the breakroom food long before Jerome, and his germ-filth hands from now on. And when the door swung shut our hero made his move.
Once inside the unoccupied stall Mark dropped his pants to cover his distinctive shoes, and pulled his boxers over the exposed part of his pants, so noone could recognize his clothes. In his mind, he knew he should wipe the seat, but he wanted to sit down fast before the next door stall got chatty.
When he finally got his ass in the position he wanted, he couldn't contain the crap. Luckily, the first long extended drop was as silent as a copperhead to the pool. A noisy emission could have triggered a disgusting commentary from the unknown entity next door. Plus it would draw attention to his own presence. The stall is for shitting, but Mark didn't want people to know HE did such things. Even better, the single emission was the last of the business he had. With luck, he could wipe... flush... zip... and wash before his neighbor (what is with that guy?) grew wise.
Then it happened.
Just as he stood to rake a huge wad of cheap paper, somone new wandered in. The shame of his crouch, did others sit and scrape?, was too much to bear. He tried to stand motionless so as to appear invisible. His eyes scanned the sliding latch to be sure it was locked, his legs strained to bear his crouched weight, his cheeks burned with shame.
Moments later, the newcomer was gone. The neighbor was still silently sitting, (Mexican food we presume), when Mark cleaned up and rushed for the door, running straight past his cube, and out to the car.
Driving hope, wiping tears this time, he vowed to conquer his fears online. As long as noone noticed. He'd wait for the perfect hand, and PUUUSH.
FEHLJIGLOP on Stars is SOLID
He wakes each morning to the Northern Lights over his Copenhagen home. Most men his age eschew the Northern camouflage of a solid white tunic and slacks, but Bjorn Fehljiglop was a man who liked to blend in.
At the age of 6, Bjorn developed his first true love, a hairless puppy he named, with American irony, Bradley. He didn't actually love the dog, he loved making another living creature bow to his every whim. When he barked "sit", or the Nordic equivilant of the same, the dog would dutifully comply. The animal, a possesion, would eat, sleep, and shit only when Bjorn allowed. That's what drew him to poker.
By the age of 12, Bjorn could exert a Zen like control over his own emotions, and a Houdini mastery of escape. He could wiggle through the difficult hands, and calculate the probablity on any hand. He could read opponents minds, knew them better than they themselves, and was always a favorite to crush... and then he found Poker Stars.
Winning there was easy. First the cheap single table SNGs, then the large buy-in rings. But, again, Bjorn Fehljiglop doesn't play for the money. He plays to make an American bark to his command. This time his pet is Otis.
Each night, playing under his own last name Fehljiglop crushes the big tournament games. There is big money to be won, but even more important, there's always a blog post from Otis. Otis spent years honing the craft of the written word and now his words were all devoted to one series of Copenhagen cards. Felhjiglop is the only muse.
Tonight, last night, and tomorrow, there's a grumpy balding American hunched over a keyboard, with one eye on his own big tournament and another dutifully following his master.
"Hand #189451232, Fehjiglop re-raises pre-flop and everyone folds," writes Otis, "Another masterfull Nordic move!"
Fehljiglop always wins.
OY... MORE I WANT TO DO... BUT I HAVE A HOMEGAME TO ARRANGE
Thanks for indulging this stupidity.<-- Hide More
I haven't discussed this with Otis or G-Rob, but that's okay. They're just going to have to deal with my bravado whether they like it or not.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Up For Poker is issuing a challenge to any other threesome in a last-longer for the WPBT Winter Classic. Here's how I figure it will work:
1) Final results of the three entrants will be added together, lowest total wins.
2) Each member of each team will throw in $5 and the winning team will split the last-longer prize pool. (All teams are playing against all teams and the winning team will win the total prize pool.)
So find your team, and leave it in the comments. I'll bring a list to Vegas and you all can hand over your money. After all, you think anyone can beat the combination of Otis' skill, G-Rob's agression and my luck?<-- Hide More
It was just after 2am. I had three beers in my belly and PokerStars' screen burned into my corneas. I'd just finished watching BadBlood embarass a bunch of 180-SNGers. I'm not sure I've seen anyone play a final table stack much better in recent weeks.
Now, it was bedtime and Mrs. Otis was already dreading what would happen in about five or six hours.
"I'll Rock/Paper/Scissors you in the morning for who has to get up with the baby."More in this Poker Blog! -->
I couldn't believe what I just heard. I said, "Really?"
Through her pillow, she said, "You know, Roshambo."
I tried to ignore my gambler's arousal and said, "Okay." It was the kind of okay that men offer when someone offers to buy them a beer, pay for their lapdance, and take care of their student loans.
My wife, while fiercly competitive, rarely challenges me to any sort of contest. The simple act of competing against her was more than I could ask for. Plus, if I won, I wouldn't have to wake up at 7:30am.
Pshawwww...me win at Roshambo? Sadly, while I like to think I'm a master (and tend to beat less experienced players), I tend to collapse under pressure. G-Rob routinely beats me (except for one glorious night outside Uncle Ted's house in which I turned G-Rob into a panty-wearing pre-school girl in front of a group of people).
I shoved my face in my pillow and smiled. It was time to get in her head.
"So," I said, "What are you going to throw first?"
"Rock," she said, "or scissors, or paper."
Little bitch was messing with me. I started to get a little worried.
"So, best two out of three?"
She answered quickly. "No, just once."
And then I figured it out. She's been reading Jesus' Favorite, a bet-loss blog written by a friend of fellow poker bloggers Wil and Shane. Annie lost a Roshambo bet with Wil and ended up having to write a blog (which, incidentally, is just priceless).
"That Annie is one funny chick," the wife had said.
The next thing I knew it was 4am and I was stuck between throwing paper or rock. A part of me said to come out strong with rock and show the little woman who she really was. But, as she slept peacefully, I thought she might be on to me. Coming out with a first-throw-rock is the equivalent of a small-penised man buying a Porsche. False masculinity, and all. And so, I drifted off to restless sleep with paper on my mind.
The human alarm clock woke up just before eight. Mrs. Otis rolled over and said, "Ready?"
I tried to clear my head. Had I decided on Paper or Rock? And why was my lap-dance dream still grinding on my brain? "Yeah, ready."
My brain woke up. Don't throw rock, you bastard!. I listened just in time and threw out paper. My bleary eyes saw her hand...
She'd thrown paper, too. She'd put me on rock before she even went to sleep.
Like heads up poker, there's no room for error in round two of a Roshambo match. And no time (like four hours of drooling on your pillow) to consider the move. I had less than ten seconds to decide. And then it hit me. She was going to double throw on me.
I threw scissors and looked down to Mrs. Otis' double-paper.
Back to back papers, indeed.
In the equivalent of a poker room fist-pump, I buried my face in a giant feather pillow and pretended to snore. Mrs. Otis got up and trudged across the hardwoods. "You cheated," she said.
And I couldn't resist, "Next time maybe we'll play a little heads-up hold'em for kid duty. Whatta ya say?"
She was out of the bedroom before she spoke again, but I'm pretty sure I heard the words, "Cocksucking bastard prick-cocksucker."
Ladies and gentlemen, I woke up this morning to December 1st. The November Slide, if only by definition, is over and it ended with me mercilessly trouncing my wife in a high-stakes Roshambo match.
One week from this very second, I'll be inbound for Las Vegas.
The timing couldn't be much better.<-- Hide More